If you're someone who knows me then you know that one of my biggest idols is Bob Goff. Bob Goff is an author who writes about all of the whimsy that comes with life's twists and turns and the endless love we all have to share with the world. His books are jam-packed with stories of adventurous tales and bold acts of giving.
My favorite quote from Bob reads, "Being engaged is a way of doing life, a way of living and loving. It's about going to extremes and expressing the bright hope that life offers us, a hope that makes us brave and expels darkness with light. That's what I want my life to be all about - full of abandon, whimsy, and in love."
If this quote doesn't offer the most tremendous insight into how we should approach our lives, then I'm not sure what does because what could really be more powerful than living in a way that constantly expresses the joy of what life has to offer us, so much so that even the darkest of times feel bright?
With all of the ups and downs that come our way, instinctive reactions like stress and anger can easily consume us. When you feel stressed or angry, the last thing you probably want to do is engage in anything-- or anyone! These uncomfortable feelings are natural and likely to be experienced many times throughout our lives, but I think that these are emotions that we must engage with just as much as we engage with happiness and excitement.
Being happy is really fun. I honestly don't think there is anyone who doesn't like being happy, but what if we could learn to appreciate our other not-so-fun emotions, such as stress and anger, just as much? What if we could even learn to like them?
I'm pretty sure that I heard some gasps through the screen after that one... but bear with me for just a little while. I'll explain what this seemingly absurd idea really means.
If you are engaged in something, it means that you are present, involved, and interested. People can be engaged in a number of things: sports games, a classroom lesson, a conversation - anything, but being engaged in various activities doesn't automatically translate to being engaged in life. Living in engagement means living with incredible hope and an appreciation for all things. For this reason, living engaged should be everyone's goal; I know it's mine!
It is important to remember that living engaged doesn't mean being engaged in just the good things, though; it means digging deep into the bad things too. It means embracing and exploring fear and anxiety instead of ignoring it. It means appreciating the feeling of stress and working to connect with your sadness.
Every single moment of our lives are purposeful and special and we must always treat them this way. Experiences and emotions come and go and some may cause happiness while others cause pain, but they are all worthy of our heart and mind's engagement simply because they are present.
Living life this way is hard work, but I think that if we try and live this way we could truly, "expel darkness with light." Afterall, dark times can really only affect you if you let them.
Imagine what it would be like if you felt sad, but instead of immediately wishing it would go away, you acknowledged and engaged with how it feels and why you are feeling that way.
Although this may not conquer your sadness all together, it shows you engaging with something life threw at you that you may have much rather sprinted away from than confronted and that is bravery. It is these actions that will help lead you to the path of a life of full engagement.
It's not about trying to change your personality or make things that are really tough easy. Instead, it is about actively taking steps to be full of hope, wonder, and whimsy because when you have those three things, I truly believe that you can dream bigger and love harder.