post written by: Marc Chernoff

8 Ways You’re Wasting Your Life


8 Ways You’re Wasting Your Life

One of the hardest challenges we face in life is to simply live in our own skin – to just be right here, right now, regardless of where we are.  Too often we needlessly distract ourselves with anything and everything: food, booze, shopping, television, tabloid news, online social networks, video games, cell phones, iPods, etc. – basically anything to keep us from being fully present in the current moment.

We use compulsive work, compulsive exercise, compulsive love affairs, and the like, to escape from ourselves and the realities of living.  In fact, many of us will go to great lengths to avoid the feeling of being alone in an undistracted environment.  So we succumb to hanging-out with just about anybody to avoid the feeling of solitude.  For being alone means dealing with our true feelings: fear, anxiety, happiness, anger, joy, resentment, disappointment, anticipation, sadness, excitement, despair, and so on and so forth.

And it doesn’t really matter if our feelings are positive or negative – they are overwhelming and exhausting, and so we prefer to numb ourselves to them.  The bottom line is that every one of us is an addict, and what we are addicted to is avoiding ourselves.  Acknowledging this addiction is the first step to healing it.  So begin today by just noticing with curiosity, and without judgment, all of the ways in which you avoid being in your own skin, right here, right now, in this present moment we call life.

Here are eight reasons so many of us miss out on life as it’s happening.

  1. The fear of missing out. – If you feel anxious because you constantly feel like you’re missing out on something happening somewhere else, you’re not alone.  We all feel this way sometimes.  But let me assure you, you could run around trying to do everything, and travel around the world, and always stay connected, and work and party all night long without sleep, but you could never do it all.  You will always be missing something.  So let it go, and realize you have everything right now.  The best in life isn’t somewhere else; it’s right where you are, at this moment.  Celebrate the perhaps not altogether insignificant fact that you are alive right now.  This moment, and who you are, is absolutely perfect.  Take a deep breath, smile, and notice how lovely it is.  Read The Power of Now.
  2. Avoiding pain and defeat. – Not to spoil the ending for you, but everything is going to be OK – you just need to learn a lesson or two first.  Don’t run from the realities of the present moment.  The pain and defeat contained within is necessary to your long-term growth.  Remember, there is a difference between encountering defeats and being defeated.  Nothing ever goes away until it teaches you what you need to know, so you can move on to the next step.
  3. Holding on to what’s no longer there. – Some of us spend the vast majority of our lives recounting past memories, and letting them steer the course of the present.  Don’t waste your time trying to live in another time and place.  Let the past, go.  You must accept the end of something in order to begin to build something new.  So close some old doors today.  Not because of pride, inability or egotism, but simply because you’ve entered each one of them in the past and realize that they lead to nowhere.
  4. Retelling a self-defeating story. – If we continue to repeat a story in our head, we eventually believe that story and embrace it – whether it empowers us or not.  So the question is: Does your story empower you?  Don’t place your mistakes on your mind, their weight may crush your current potential.  Instead, place them under your feet and use them as a platform to view the horizon.  Remember, all things are difficult before they are easy.  What matters the most is what you start doing now.  Read Awaken the Giant Within.
  5. Attempting to fit in by becoming someone else. – The hardest battle you’re ever going to fight is the battle to be you, just the way you are in this moment.  We cannot find ourselves if we are always searching for, or morphing into, someone else.  In this crazy world that’s trying to make you like everyone else, find the courage to keep being your awesome self.  Be your own kind of beautiful right now, in the way only you know how.
  6. The picture in your head of how it’s supposed to be. – What often screws us up the most in life is the picture in our head of how it’s supposed to be.  Although every good thing has an end, in life every ending is just a new beginning.  Life goes on – not always the way we had envisioned it would be, but always the way it’s supposed to be.  Remember, we usually can’t choose the music life plays for us, but we can choose how we dance to it.  Read The Last Lecture.
  7. Berating yourself for not being perfect. – Don’t be too hard on yourself.  There are plenty of people willing to do that for you.  Do your best and surrender the rest.  Tell yourself, “I am doing the best I can with what I have in this moment.  And that is all I can expect of anyone, including me.”  Love yourself and be proud of everything that you do, even your mistakes.  Because even mistakes mean you’re trying.
  8. Waiting, and then waiting some more. – Stop waiting for tomorrow; you will never get today back.  It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past.  It doesn’t matter how low or unworthy you feel right now.  The simple fact that you’re alive makes you worthy.  Life is too short for excuses.  Stop settling.  Stop procrastinating.  Start today by taking one courageous step forward.  If you are not sure exactly which way to go, it is always wise to follow your heart.

Photo by: Eliot

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43 Comments

  • I’ve finally realized 6 out of 8 of these thing’s and have been working on them. Time to tackle it all. Thanks for the push.

  • LOVE this! So often we distract ourselves to ease the pain, when in fact all we’re doing in prolonging it.

    Great post!

  • As usual, a very nice post - subtle points that make a world of difference.

  • Wow, 6, 7 and 8 for me. Didn’t even really notice it before. Thanks again.

  • There are only two things in this world.

    one is real. one is illusion.

    I’m real.

    Everything else in this world is illusion ( Wat i see, touch, taste, feel all are illusion that my mind manupulates as they are)

    So give value to real thing. and dont bother about illusion.

    This is my happiness mantra

  • “We usually can’t choose the music life plays for us, but we can choose how we dance to it.”

    Couldn’t possibly say it better myself. Wonderful post.

  • I just love your webside:)

  • Grest post! The last sentence of #2 brought me such comfort after reading it. Thank you!

  • Very difficult to face but oh so true… but what if all I think my life deserves is being wasted…
    Not a very positive and productive state of mind I know but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one to feel that way…

  • What a lovely piece, but what an unfortunate title. How is one supposed to share this with someone who needs to read it without hurting his or her feelings? Could you please change the headline to something more affirming, like “How to Make the Most of Your Life”? Even “How to Avoid Wasting Your Life” would be a bit better.

  • Great opening line to this post!

    I believe Point #7 “Berating yourself for not being perfect,” is one that most people struggle with on a daily basis. I wish people would realize that no one is perfect. Heck, even Mother Teresa wasn’t perfect and she was the first one to admit it. Lighten up and know you’re doing the best you can. If you want to change or shift your lift, find GOOD coaches and teachers who actually walk their talk and allow them to help you shed that which doesn’t work for you anymore. You can be like the phoenix who rises from the ashes to be reborn.

  • 6 and 7 is something that I am working really hard to stop doing. I even have a sign in my bathroom that says “You don’t have to be perfect and are in the right place.”

  • What a great post.  And while not all of those reasons are actually identical to what I’ve been going through, I see a lot of wisdom here that I need to take to heart.

  • Commonly uncommon… I feel good & inspired by reading this. But, you know, why don’t these inspirations stay always? Why do they fade as time passes?

  • So timely, these words, and SUCH a great reminder! Thank you, they were just what I needed to read this morning!!!

  • merci marc & angel for the wonderful post!!! so true.

  • Marc,

    Great Points! Why is it that we can so easily fall into the trap of always wanting more and never being satisfied. I find myself pushing so hard toward success sometimes that I have to force myself to slow down and just enjoy the journey. Each day is a wonderful gift with no guarantee of another. This post serves as a good reminder that life is meant to be lived not wasted.

  • I wish I could have found this site many years ago. But still, I am thankful to its authors for this great job they do. I can’t get enough :)

  • Thank you so much for always opening my eyes with your meaningful life lessons! :)

  • Thank y’all for this amazing site. It’s nice to see the positives being emphasized instead of the usual junk on most other websites. Every post i’ve read so far is insightful, intelligent and speaks directly to me. I could go on for days with compliments seriously. Great job.

  • Couldn’t agree more about the ‘berating yourself for not being perfect.” My wife does that alot to herself and I try to tell her to stop that nonsense, but it’s just one of those ingrained habits I guess. She thinks she always could’ve done better and “should” be a certain way.

  • Our minds can really fool us. It’s time to take notice of what really IS the truth in our lives. Great reminders here.

  • “Not to spoil the ending for you, but everything is going to be OK ” Thank you, I completely agree with everything here. You just got to be in the moment and not worry about what else might be going on without you. Excellent post!

  • I’ve been reading your blog for quite some time. You break a lot of life problems down so well. The point above on waiting was great. I do a lot of pushing life off until later or trying to force myself to do things because I feel I should. Life should be lived in the moment at its fullest at that moment. Whatever that means, at the moment. Great post. Inspirational, as always.

  • Beautiful post! This is just what I need to ready today. Thank you.

  • Another excellent post!

  • What a co-incidence !! Thank you.

  • As a bloke we are programmed to keep a stiff upper lip be tough and just get on with things. But as Dylan sang so poignantly: Times They Are A Changing.
    I wouldn’t have read these brilliant articles years ago, too busy being a “macho” chap,being one of the lads. But what I have learned is all of that was crap and so destructive too as that meant emotion was suppressed and kept inside, no wonder I used to get into fights and trouble. So keep up the good work with your fantastic words and life lessons, as they reveal positive ways to get us blokes through this crazy thing called life.

  • Excellent post. Your words are always life changing for me, thank you.

  • Hey everyone. Thanks so much for the added insight and positive feedback.

    For the few who commented and emailed asking that the titled be changed to something more positive, I understand your thinking. I kinda thought the title was a bit harsh myself when I re-read it before publishing this post. But then I stuck with my instincts on this one. This post is meant to be a wake-up call. It needs an opening title that shakes ya up a bit.

    Hope everyone is having a happy, productive week.

  • I think the title is perfect. Wasting a lot of time lately doing pretty much everything on this list. Needed a good kick in the rear. Thanks. : )

  • Waiting gives us time to think. And think. And think. I often fall prey to the paralysis of analysis. So that’s why I’ve thrown the no-think method into the mix. It sounds dangerous. And it is. I often end up in situations where I don’t know what’s going to happen.
    It’s wonderful.

  • This article really opened my eyes to some things I need to work on to better myself… Thank you!

  • Beautiful insights that unlock the mind to a world of possibilities! Keep up the good work hey! Cheers..

  • Another great offering! Thank you for these wonderful reminders.
    Leah

  • Good post Marc. I always read your blogs and love them, thx :)

  • Very nice points I must say.. I especially loved the part which says we can’t choose the music life plays for us, but we can choose how we dance to it.. :)
    Its so true and a fact that whatever is not in our hands is not something we should think much about. Thinking about the shortcomings in life doesn’t change anything. Instead we should try working hard towards the things which are changeable and in our hands.

    Very well written article but the title didn’t connect well to the content. I thought that this article is going to be about “how we sub-consciously kill our time in life” after reading the title. Anyway, very nice content.. :)

  • I enjoyed this…
    Not to ruin the ending for you, but the big yellow guy is gonna keep popping up every morning. The little sparkly guys are gonna keep shining away every night. And those big, incessant waves are going to keep kissing that shoreline.
    Most of what we worry about will not matter in a week, a month, a year, a decade’s time… It’s time we started living our today in alignment with that fact.

  • The best in life is not somewhere else,it’s right here where you are,at this moment I find the views in the article are awesome useful! Always searching around for the best anxiously, I forgot to know the best meet is just right in front of me.

  • Hello!
    A friend has been suggesting I do a blog or some type of public offering. She is a friend of yours and sent me to your site as an example of what she is talking about. I am so very impressed-thanks. I live a life of kindness, which means I have few regrets and much contentment. The writing here is top notch and the sentiments are “right on the money”. I find it to be a semi-sad commentary that people do need reminders of what constitutes “a good life”, but I am glad you frame them in such a clear and nonjudgmental manner. I am sure I will continue viewing your site and look forward to hearing what you are saying! Thanks.
    D. L.

  • Thanks so much, many thoughts discussed here that I need to understand right now…

  • That helped. Thanks.

  • Thanks. Needed this post.

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