How long is our life?

April 26, 2024

We usually measure life by chronological age. Yet, some say, "I did not truly enjoy life. I did not live." So, how long is life then, not in physical, chronological terms, but in the real life we deem worth living?

The following expression offers guidance: "Life is not measured by how long you breathe, but by how many moments take your breath away." This means experiencing something so profound that it leaves you breathless. Experiences that close our hearts, such as hate and inhumanity, shorten our lives.

To be left breathless, we must be present. Our mind is quiet, our body is where it should be, and our heart is open to feeling. If this is true, perhaps we can reverse this sequence and create experiences that prolong our real life by having more awe-inspiring moments.

To open our hearts to feeling, we must overcome the fear of being hurt again. Perhaps we've been hurt in the past, causing our hearts to fear feeling again. Can you take the chance to feel? Then, bring your mind to where your body is, calm it, stop thinking, and just start feeling what surrounds you. You might have a breathtaking experience. It's there, waiting for you to be open to it. To feel it.

It won't happen in a busy city, fighting traffic, or during work meetings. It happens when we encounter something that doesn't activate our mind, but deeply moves us, like a piece of art, a painting, music, or even a sports competition where our mind isn't active, but we are deeply absorbed in the game.

The less we think and the more we allow ourselves to feel something that opens our hearts and takes our breath away, the longer we truly live. In my case, it was watching a bride dancing with her father at her wedding. The love they expressed for each other took my breath away. Or a mother in Bosnia hugging her son who returned from a captive's camp, not knowing if he was still alive, yet there he was in her arms. Generosity. True humanity. Expressions of genuine, honest love. Love without fear.

I wish I had this insight years ago. My life has been very short. I've spent most of it in my mind, not present. My mind is always in the future, processing information to make decisions or analyze situations. It's been the secret to my success in my career but may be the reason for my failure in life. I'm constantly working on my mind. At day's end, I wonder where the day went, and when Christmas music plays, I wonder where the year went. I don't remember the details of what I did. I've only served others. Not myself.

A "successful" client once told me that all he remembers about his children is when they were born and when they got married. Nothing in between... How long has he truly lived?

The more time we spend experiencing love, the longer our lived life, rather than mere existence.

PS: I owe much of this insight to my son, Topaz Adizes, author of the book "12 Questions for Love: A Guide to Intimate Conversations and Deeper Relationships"

Written by
Dr. Ichak Adizes