“Every man dies; not every man really lives.”
William Wallace, Braveheart

My teenage son and I were watching the video of Braveheart, starring and directed by Mel Gibson. It’s one of my favorites. Brad told me that he and his buddies used to watch it often at his school in Maine. It had been a couple of years since I’d seen it.

It’s the story of the legendary William Wallace in his valiant struggle to free Scotland from the oppressive King Longshanks of England. It’s a bloody and violent film (although not gratuitously so) filled with treachery, injustice, betrayal and courage.

For me, one of the most profound lines in the entire movie was uttered by Sir Wallace shortly before he was tortured and executed by his enemies. The princess of Wales was pleading for his life and begging Wallace to swear allegiance to the King, thereby avoiding a slow and excruciatingly painful death. She says to Wallace, “If you do not, you will surely die.” To which Wallace responds, “Every man dies; not every man really lives.”

It was as true in the fourteenth century as it is today. We will all surely die. The only question is when and where. If we have the chance to reflect upon our life before we pass, will we say that we truly lived?

Most people in the twilight of their lives have more regrets for what they didn’t do than what they did. They wish that they had done more, seen more and felt more. They wish that they had lived with more gusto.

Don’t let that happen to you. Life is not something to be endured. Life is meant to be lived full out. But most of us, for a variety of reasons, have pulled back-we live carefully and guarded-not allowing the full expression of who we are and what we believe.

Be enthusiastic! It’s contagious. John Wesley said, “Set yourself on fire and people will come for miles to watch you burn.” You don’t have to be flamboyant about it either (although it might help). Genuine enthusiasm lies just beneath the surface and is always bubbling to the top. What many people think of as enthusiasm is simply exuberance pasted on the outside.

It’s always been amazing to me that people will demonstrate more enthusiasm and excitement for their favorite sports team than they do for their own life. They think nothing of acting a little (or a lot) crazy rooting for their team but have little or no enthusiasm for the BIG game-their life.

I invite you-no, I implore you-to look carefully at how you’re living your own life. Where are you just going through the motions? Where are you not living full out? What would your life be like if you gave your all-to your job, your family, your community, your beliefs, to your mate? Living full out is the only way to really live.

Forget about what people might think. Like Mel Brooks said, “If you’re alive, you’ve got to flap your arms and legs, you got to jump around a lot, you’ve got to make a lot of noise, because life is the very opposite of death… You’ve got to be noisy, or at least your thoughts should be noisy and colorful and lively.”

That way, when your turn on the planet is done, you (and others) can say you lived your life, you REALLY lived.

Copyright 2002 Michael Angier & Success Networks. Part of Success Net’s mission is to position you for greater success. Download their free eBooklet, KEYS TO PERSONAL EFFECTIVENESS from the Success Networks Website. Free subscriptions, memberships, eCourses, eBooks and SuccessMark Cards are available at http://www.SuccessNet.orgInfoPlease@SuccessNet.org