How to Build a Meaningful Life…One Ordinary Moment at a Time

Recently a friend sent me the following message via Linkedin:

“I envy your courage. You are living as we all should. I enjoyed reading your biography and feel blessed that I had the opportunity to work with you many years ago in DC.”

This came as a bit of a shock to me, the idea that anyone would think that I am living as we all should. Granted, I can see how the bio on my website would give that impression.

My bio talks about how I traveled through Central America, South America, and Eastern Europe.

It talks about how I lived at a yoga center in Pennsylvania and a retreat center in Wisconsin.

My bio talks about how I volunteered with street children in Mexico and cancer patients in the Philippines.

All those experiences and many more are 100% true.

But my life changed dramatically when I moved to Bogota, Colombia in 2012, settled down, and eventually got married. Oh sure, I’ve had a few adventures since then but nothing that compares to what my life was like before.

My wife often complains that our life is boring. And she’s right. We rarely do anything particularly exciting.

In many ways, that’s how our life has to be. Living in a city of 8 million with horrible traffic and definite safety concerns – particularly at night –  limits what one can do.

So yes, most people who looked at my life right now would say that it’s boring.

And you know what? I’m 100% okay with that. Because even in the midst of a relatively unexciting life, my life is full of meaningful moments.

Moments which add richness and texture to my life. Moments that leave me feeling fulfilled.

And these moments happen every single day.

Let me give you some examples:

  • Falling asleep with my wife’s snuggled next to me, her head pressed into my chest.
  • Eating my wife’s cooking which at its best is simply amazing and unlike anything I’ve ever tasted before.
  • Being inundated with slobbery kisses from our boxer Brandy to the point of cracking up laughing.
  • Taking Brandy on her early morning walk, giving me space to think and reflect on my life.
  • Watching Brandy and and our beagle Chloe fight/play, amazed that Chloe never backs down despite her much smaller size. And equally amazed that Brandy never hurts Chloe, despite her much larger size.

I could go on and on with lots more examples, but I think you get the point.

I treasure these moments. I treasure them deep in my heart.

I’m 99.9% sure that no one will ever write my biography. But if for some reason someone does, these moments would NOT merit a mention. They’re far too ordinary, far too mundane.

Yet that’s where life is lived. In the ordinary, in the mundane.

We often reject these moments for those very same reasons. We crave excitement. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a bit of excitement in our lives.

But we also need those small moments to add richness and texture to our lives.

And those moments are all around us. Every single day we have the opportunity for meaningful moments in our lives.

But first you have to wake up. You have to pay attention. You have to savor those moments and hold them deep in your heart.

Otherwise you’ll miss them completely and wonder why your feel so disconnected from life.

In the wake of my recent Elephant Journal article in which I wrote about my friend who died too young, a woman reached out to me.

She told me that her 16 year old son had died a year ago in a car accident. She told me that her favorite moments with her son were the small, goofy moments.

And then she wrote the following:

Life is made up by a series of moments, strung together, not by by the time spent trying to get to the next biggest thing that may or may not make us happy.

I read that and my soul screamed YES, YES, YES!!!

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This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Thanks for this reminder.
    With our modern, western lifestyles we all rush from one thing to another, missing all the “moments that make up a dull day”.
    Too often I see parents who are too busy videoing school plays, to actually enjoy their child’s performance – or even to see it.
    Mindful living brings these moments back into the foreground, and far from being boring, give a richness of experience that is increasingly missing from the lives of the modern connected human.

    1. Thanks for the wonderful comment Sandy! Years ago, at a friend’s wedding, I was so focused on taking photos, that I completely missed the ceremony. I vowed NEVER to do that again.

      Mindful living is hard but absolutely worth it!

  2. This is a wonderful article.

    Every time and this thought was generated by your other commenter; I go to a concert or some event, and I see everyone with their iPhones held up trying to video it, I’m stunned.

    They’re watching something and somebody for whom they’ve bought tickets, and they’re watching it on their cell phones.

    Usually, from my experience, the video is horrible anyway because it’s jumpy and shaky.

    Again, thanks for reminding me what’s important.

    1. Thanks Cyndi, I appreciate the positive feedback! I agree re: videotaping though I suppose people have to go through that process in order to eventually learn that it has limited value.

  3. I could not agree more!

    Sharing on my Flipboard Magazine Serene Reflection and on g+.

    Good wishes!


    1. Thanks Sangeeta! Really appreciate your sharing my thoughts with others.



  4. Loved the message of enjoying the simple life!!! I can relate to the article as well as some of the comments. Lots of memories lost to taking so many photos in years past and the highlight of my evening is usually a quiet after dinner glass of wine sitting with my husband as our dogs entertain us much like you described yours. I gave your article a share on my Facebook page.

    1. Thanks Nancy! I appreciate the share. Here’s to the simple life!!!

  5. Great article. It made me recall times mom and I went on small car trips, we did nothing exciting but they are great memeories

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