I believe in listening. Listening is everything that is antithetical to our modern culture. Listening takes effort. It makes you focus on one thing. And sometimes it forces you to come into contact with things you don't want to hear.
One important skill I've learned in life is to know when I'm listening to something that brings me joy instead of something that's just filling my ears with noise. When I know I'm doing that second thing, I'll put my phone down, take out my headphones and just listen. It amazes me that we as people will actively choose to interact with things we don't care about in order to avoid facing some void in our life.
Louie C.K. sums it up well in this interview on Conan:
The thing is, because we don't want that first bit of sad, we push it away with a little phone or a jack-off or the food. You never feel completely sad or completely happy, you just feel kinda satisfied with your product, and then you die.
I believe that we need to face those bits of sad. We need to face those bits of loneliness. Those are the times that define who we are. Unless you want to be a film or television critic, I believe very few people have found themselves on the couch while watching Netflix and eating Cheetos. So many times we revert to that because we're too tired or scared to pursue what we really want. I've done it. I've done it a lot. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, it just rarely leads to that immense personal growth and change that so many people seem to desire.
The thing is, people get lost about what it means to be living your fullest life. Some people think that involves staying up late in clubs, dancing, and getting sloshed. NO. I hate going to clubs. I reserve dancing for special occasions, and I drink far less than I used to. All of those things would not constitute my best life.
I think living your fullest life is allowing yourself to come to terms with all of those feelings, anyway you can get them. Maybe that means running a couple miles every day, reading that book you've always wanted to read, or just catching up with a friend. I believe you need to actively put yourself into a situation that forces you to confront the possibility of every emotional gradient in life. Don't resign yourselves to being "kinda satisfied with your product." That's not living
Confronting these things allows you to grow into yourself. So many people don't want to do that. There's a quote from Rog Bennett of the show Men in Blazers that I love. This is from a speech he gave to his son on his son's bar mitzvah,
"The secret to life is about knowing how to be yourself and being at ease with it all."
I believe that is so true. And it starts with listening.