Living Life To The Fullest

You often hear a phrase when someone passes away, that they “lived life to the fullest.” What do you picture when you hear that expression? I believe we have a cultural bias that leads us to picture people climbing mountains, or skiing down mountains, or jumping out of airplanes, or white-water rafting, or eating and drinking and socializing in extravagant and noisy ways.

But what about the canoer silently paddling across a lake at sunrise? What about the mother who stares lovingly into her newborn’s eyes? What about the couple engaged in thought-provoking debate? What about the person who reads a book or watches a movie that moves them to tears? Are they too not living their life to the fullest?

Often I think our modern society would probably not agree.

I have felt in the minority about this for some time, thinking that people just took for granted that this “big” approach to life was the only acceptable way of getting the most out of it. Then I came across the following passage from Kevin Cashman’s “Leadership From the Inside Out” which makes me realize that there are others who realize that a full life can be defined in many different ways.

Here is what Cashman said

Our fast-moving, never-catch-your-breath, externally focused culture is designed “perfectly” to avoid genuine contact with the deeper levels of ourselves. The background and foreground “noise” of our lives is so dominant, we rarely get a chance to connect with any silence within us. In fact, we have become so stimulation-oriented that even our “fun” and “happiness” have become associated with ever-increasing high doses of artificial distraction. Most people go on vacations and have so much fun that they return exhausted! Others strap large rubber bands to themselves and then jump off bridges to experience “the thrill of living”! Although fun, work, achievement, play and exhilaration are all important parts of a fulfilling life, too often these experiences are an addictive search for the next stimulating experience to fill the void inside. We become “junkies” to external stimulation, always seeking our next “fix” to make us feel good. The proliferation and easy access to increasingly tiny, wireless electronic devices designed to save us time and to entertain us contribute to lives in which we are connected to everything else but ourselves. This type of “I’m stimulated, therefore I am” mentality often lacks the true joy of living. We have become a world of human doers having lost connection with our heritage as human beings.

I believe there is great wisdom in that passage.

To truly live life to its fullest, we have to be ready to slow down, to listen, to reflect, and to really connect with ourselves first.

I love that last line – we have become human doers rather than human beings. Our young students are exposed to this mindset, this stimulation, this expectation all day, every day. I believe that it is our duty as a school to help them to recover . . . to again become human beings.


  1. Grant Kavanagh says:

    Thank you Mr. Sturrup, this piece was thought provoking, especially the difference between human doers and human beings. We are so constantly be bombarded by advice telling us to capture our youth and not waste our youth, I believe being youthful isn’t entirely about being young and energetic. it is also about not wasting your youth in selfish goals trying to experience silence or serenity in youth is far to rare these days.