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I’ve often wondered why we don’t live more fully. Why don’t we savor every moment of this great opportunity called life? The average person uses only 10 percent of his or her potential during the course of life. What happens to the other 90 percent?
I have a theory I’d like to propose. In my theory, there is a vision of reality that controls everything else about us and our lives. Each of us perceives reality differently.
Our vision includes the way we look at ourselves, the way we look at other people, the way we look at life and the way we look at the world around us. Such a vision is inside you and there is likewise one inside me, but it is a different and distinctive vision in each of us. This vision controls and regulates our ability to live and to enjoy.
I’d like to suggest that the quality of every human life is determined by such a vision. The ability of every human being to participate in life, to join the dance of life, and to sing the songs of life is controlled by this vision.
I’d like to suggest that everyone has one dominant life principle, a generalized accepted intention of purpose that is applied to specific choices and circumstances. It may be difficult to lure it out of the subconscious regions to face examination in the light, but it is there. In each of us is a set of needs, goals or values with which we’re psychologically preoccupied.
There is something, in all the zigs and zags of daily living, which dominates all our other desires. This life principle runs through the fabric of our choices like the dominant theme in a piece of music. It keeps recurring and it is heard in different settings. Only you can answer for yourself, just as only I can answer for myself: What is my life principle?
Some people are above and before all else seeking safety. They avoid all places where danger might lurk, even if opportunity could be waiting in the same place. They will take no risks, make no gambles. They stay home at night and reveal their deepest selves to no one. It is better to be safe than sorry, they say.
The same kind of thumbnail sketch could be made of a person whose primary concern and life principle is duty, recognition, money, fame, need, success, fun, relationships, approval of others, spirituality or power.
It is important to realize that we’re creatures of habit. Every time we think a certain way, seek a certain good, use a given motive, a habit is forming and deepening in us.
And so it is with a life principle, whatever it may be. With each use it becomes a deeper and more permanent habit. And in the twilight of life our habits rule us. They define and dictate our actions and reactions.
We will, as the saying goes, die as we have lived. People who in old age prove quite self-centered and demanding, as well as those who are mellow and tolerant, didn’t become so in their last years of life. Old cranks have practiced all their lives, just as old saints have likewise practiced all their lives. They practiced different principles.
What you and I will become in the end will be just more of what we decide and try to be right now. There is a fundamental choice, a life principle, which one day will possess us in the marrow of our bones and by the blood in our veins. It is a certainty that we’ll die as we’ve lived.
Bob Mueller is vice-president of development for Hosparus, an author and motivational speaker. The views expressed in this column are those of the writer.