The Cycle of Life

I once heard about a survey carried out in a nursing home. The senior citizens, many of whom were close to death were asked if they had any regrets and the results revealed that most of them were unanimous in their regrets, some of which are presented below: 

  1. They regretted not taking enough risks
  2. They regretted not spending time with family.

That was all. Nobody remembered who got married or who had children first, who built the first house or had a fleet of ships and cars. At that age, all of that had no meaning. It was all about having fulfilled purpose and relationships. This has inspired me to some thought of recent, after which I found out that I am at a tensionable position. I am fighting between being satisfied with what I have and have achieved, and the desire to do better without losing touch of my relationships.

Now, this in itself is a challenge for me. If I stay content and too complacent, it would yield suboptimal results because I’ll be drifting and would not be getting close to my true potential. But if I push too hard, I may never enjoy what I have and I may burn myself out. So it would seem that the optimal solution lies somewhere in the middle between the extremes.

Steve Pavlina agrees in his article ‘The Cycle of Life’ and I have shared excerpts below:

“On the one hand, you have complacency. Think of this in positive terms as enjoying what you have and being at peace with your current situation. And on the other hand, we have ambition and effort, the desire to keep moving and to improve yourself.

The perceived conflict comes about as a choice between here and there. Stay put or move on. Which is better? Is a perpetual balance between these two extremes the right answer? Like 50% complacency and 50% ambition?

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Let’s try a perspective shift … one that eliminates the problem entirely.

This problem arises from the assumption of a static view of life — that every moment is the same as every other, that if being ambitious is the right choice now, it will still be the right choice tomorrow.

In life there’s no status quo. Think about the momentum of different areas of your life right now. What’s expanding? What’s contracting? Instead of thinking of complacency vs. ambition as some percentage mixture in the present, think of long-term cycles of expansion vs. contraction. Cycles of ebb and flow are a natural part of life.

Notice what type of cycle you’re in right now. If you’re in an expansion cycle, then push your ambition as far as it will take you, and forget about complacency. If you’re in a contraction cycle, then take a break from ambition and spend time on your inward development.

One of my favorite treatments of this subject can be found in the Bible in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.

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To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace.

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Life is constantly cycling through expansion and contraction phases.

Sometimes we’re able to go out and do no wrong. Other times we run home licking our wounds. By recognizing what kind of cycle you’re in, you can flow with it instead of fighting it. In a contraction phase, this means spending a lot of time thinking and journaling, reading, working on personal development to build your skills, going to school, spending lots of time with family. In an expansion phase, it means taking on some ambitious projects and stretching yourself, joining new clubs, meeting new people, taking on new responsibilities, enjoying new experiences.

Sometimes these cycles last for years. So just as a stock investor needs to know when to buy and sell, you must listen to the signals from your own life (both internal and external) to learn when it’s time to expand or contract. Every day is different. Sometimes buying/expansion is right, and other times selling/contraction is right. You don’t balance the two. You cycle between them.

What happens in your life when your decisions are out of phase with your current cycle? What happens to a stock investor whose decisions are out of phase with the market?

Problems also occur when we get stuck in one phase for too long. A prolonged contraction phase can lead to depression (both in the stock market and in your personal life). A prolonged expansion phase can build stress and anxiety. Life requires cycles of exertion and rest — that’s what makes us stronger”.

I think understanding the aforementioned prompts us to check and be sure what season we are in and what our lives are calling for. Should I be contracting or expanding? Is this the time to reinvent myself in private or express myself in public? What is your life calling for right now?

Have a blessed week ahead.

@eloxie

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