Are You Living Life on Away Status?
There’s a popular line from a song that says “Everybody dies, but not everybody lives.”
I tend to agree. I believe a lot of people are living their lives on “away”. If you use Microsoft Office or Lync or other instant messenger tools you may know what I’m talking about. If not, let me explain. When someone is signed up to Lync and connected to your account you can see their status. There is a small circle next to their name. The circle is either grayed out (they are not signed in), red (they are busy or in a meeting), green (they are signed in and available) or yellow. The yellow circle next to a contact’s name means that they are technically online, but they are not doing anything. They have not touched their computer for at least five minutes. Their status says “away”.
Away = technically here, but not active. Not purposeful.
There are a lot of habits that cause people to live their life on “away”. I often see people post marijuana comparisons on Facebook such as the infographic to the left. Marijuana doesn’t kill they say. It doesn’t cause cancer. “Marijuana is safer than peanuts!” Here’s the thing – weed makes people go “away”. Right? That’s the purpose of it. It may not kill your physical body if you believe the infographic. However, it does kill your spirit. It kills your mind. It kills your purpose. You can’t create a purposeful, fulfilling life while “away”. No, you have to be present everyday as much as possible to create a life you love.
My aim isn’t to influence you to not consume weed although I do think you should avoid it. I want you to understand what it is costing you. I want to teach you how to not live your life on “away” status. Avoiding drugs and alcohol is one of those ways. When you are high, just like the status on the instant messenger, you are here. You are signed in and online. You’re not dead. Yet you’re not present. You are not living.
The same could be said for alcohol. I know people who have to drink a beer or liquor every single day. They say things like, “I just want to relax.” or “I need to unwind. Take my mind off of things.” What that basically means is, “I don’t want to think right now.” So your brain is away. Your thoughts are away. Your feelings are away. You can’t be “away” for the bad things and then be present for the good things. When you’ve adopted a lifestyle that drives you away you miss it all. You can’t plan and create strategies for your future when you’re not fully present. You can’t enjoy life’s beauty when you suppress your thoughts and feelings.
I’m not saying don’t drink alcohol. You certainly shouldn’t drink it everyday. Like weed, alcohol makes you go away. Could you imagine? Everyday after work you go home and put your life status on away? You’re only fully present at work. What does being away everyday after work cost you? Perhaps, your relationship with your partner and kids suffer. Perhaps your health suffers. All your dreams and goals and all of the beautiful things of life suffer.
You just cannot prosper and grow if you’re not present. You cannot live your highest purpose if you’re not present.
Being “away” isn’t just about what you put in your body. It is also what you put in your mind. Some people are addicted to playing video games or watching mindless TV (like reality shows). Why? Because it is an escape. They get to escape their thoughts and their feelings. They can spend hours upon hours fully focused on a game. They can direct all their attention to someone else’s life. All is good in the world.
How can you transform your life if you never want to experience it? How can close the gap between where you are and where you want to be if you avoid thinking about it? Sure, going “away” helps in the moment. It relieves your disappointments and hurts. In the long run, it does nothing. In fact, it actually causes more disappointments and hurts. You’ll look at your life and think, “Gosh, I haven’t done anything. I haven’t accomplished anything. This isn’t where I thought I’d be at this point in my life.”
That disappointment can lead you deeper into despair. It’s a cycle: I don’t like my life. I’m stressed and disappointed. –> Let me take my mind off of things –> I don’t like my life. I’m stressed and disappointed. I’m not where I should be. –> Let me take my mind off of things.
So maybe you’re not into drugs, alcohol, video games or TV. Is it still possible for you to not be fully present in your life? Of course. We tend to get stuck on autopilot. We’ve done the same things for so long we can do them without thinking. You might have a routine that you live by everyday that is pretty much on autopilot. You just do it without thinking about it. Automating some aspect of our lives or days can be extremely beneficial provided what’s automated is good for us. For example, waking up and drinking a glass of water may be something that you just automatically do. That’s a good habit to have on autopilot.
The problem is when much of our day or routine is automated. At some point, those sets of routines may have been the best thing for us. We may have set out purposefully to create a routine that drives our life in the direction we want to go in. When we automate our life to the point that we stop thinking, planning, creating, and deciding we’re “away.” Are you purposeful about what you’re doing on a daily basis? Are you reevaluating your life on a regular basis?
We can avoid living life “away” by being present. Think about the words we use to say we are going away: escape, relax my mind, take my mind off things. To be present in our lives and to show up fully and intentionally we have to purposefully use our mind to our advantage. Reflect on life. By honest with yourself. When something pains you don’t try to get rid of the pain as soon as possible. Feel it. Examine it. Learn from it. And then decide what’s the best path forward.
When people are “away” they are not using their mind. They are not thinking. That may be intentional just as in the case of drugs and alcohol. It may just be due to neglect as in the case of being on autopilot. If you want to be present make it a point to think your thoughts and feel your feelings. Explore these thoughts or feelings on a regular basis.
Allow yourself to dream. People don’t want to dream because it hurts. “What happens to a dream deferred?” It breaks your heart. What happens to a mind that never dreams? It gives up. It goes “away”. Dream on purpose. Don’t worry about the heartbreak. Let your dreams make you come alive. Let your dreams awaken you. A broken heart is easier to heal than an “away” mind. A dream deferred can be restored if your mind is alert.
Strategies to stay present:
- Listen to audio books and self development CDs in your car instead of the radio
- Attend self development seminars in person
- Surround yourself with people who live life on purpose
- Talk with a professional