More than a year ago, I had a thought. What if I took all of the things that are supposed to make life more fulfilling and healthy and positive and introduced them one by one into my life? All of them.
I had to try it.
The obvious start was to give up drinking. I quickly realized that alcohol subtracts everything from life and gives nothing meaningful in return. The impact was immediate and visible. Suddenly, I was spared the empty conversations, the dull listless mornings, and the appalling loss of time.
I went to the gym five times a week and started running. I kept a journal every day to describe my mood and to keep a record of my progress. I began meditating for twenty minutes every night before going to sleep for the recommended eight hours. In the morning, I listened to upbeat music and avoided the news.
As each negative thought came into my head, I stopped. I looked for its origin, its meaning. And I ended it. I stayed away from negative people. That was a big one. People love to complain but it serves no purpose. Listening to people complain is like planting negative seeds in your brain that will eventually grow into a vast forest of destructive thoughts.
I started to dream. I formed a dream of how good my life could be and I pictured it in every detail, regularly throughout the day.
I monitored my diet. Which foods made me feel awake and energized and which ones made me sleepy and down? I discovered that the effect of food on the mood is far more dramatic than I had imagined. Yes, I still ate chocolate and ice cream.
I spent more time with the people I love. I became far more interested in their lives and stopped taking them for granted. I found that true joy can come from a thousand daily interactions with the people you care about. I smiled a lot. People mostly smiled back at me. Happiness is infectious.
It is now more than a year since I began this experiment. Was it a success?
No. It was a spectacular, life-changing revelation. It has been the single best year of my life. I feel shockingly alive. I have achieved ten times my prior output professionally and personally. I wake up every morning knowing what it truly feels like to be alive and present in the world.
And sometimes, just sometimes, I feel this incredible sense of exhilaration that I have never experienced before. I could be standing on a subway platform or walking up Broadway. It doesn’t matter. The feeling is one of overwhelming joy and excitement at not only being alive but of the possibilities of this life. Here and now.
And then I think I could live forever.