“To live well is to work well, to show a good activity.” – Thomas Aquinas

At a certain point in life thoughts may turn to how well you’ve lived, how much you’ve accomplished relative to your goals, how well you’ve treated those you love and care about. Most of all, however, time seems to slip on by without too much self-reflection.

Maybe it’s time to slow down and think about what it means to live well — and how to do so graciously and with full intention.

For many people, activities performed daily tend to form a boring kind of schedule. Other individuals, though, find a sense of security in the sameness of doing something day in and day out. There’s a familiarity to it, you get good at it, and you always know what’s next. This is a good thing.

It can also help you to live well.

To Live Means to Act

Consider that to live means to act. You don’t live by merely lying on the couch being a slug. That’s existence, not living. No, to live means you participate in life. You initiate action, conceive of goals, craft plans to help implement and work on the desired outcome, and dive in. Not every action will immediately result in successful completion of the project, task or undertaking, but you learn from everything you do – even those actions that turn out to fall short of the intended goal.

Being busy is something most people are advised is an antidote to loneliness, helps stave off depression and self-pity, and keeps us in a constant state of movement. Again, doing things often puts us in contact with others and that’s also a good thing for humans crave the companionship and interaction with other humans.

But what about only going through the motions? What happens when you don’t give a project or task your full effort? Are you still living well? Or are you shortchanging yourself, trying to cheat and still reap the reward?

The truth is that everyone cuts corners now and then. Whether it’s a lack of time, energy, financial or other resources, making ends meet by shaving off an item or two or a step now and then is something we all do. That doesn’t mean we make a habit of it.

To Live Well Requires More

To live well, especially when you come to the latter part of your life and are looking back at decades of activity, means that you go with your heart and your head and give it everything you’ve got. Then you know that it’s all your effort. You can take pride in this, for it also reinforces your commitment to living life well.

No matter what stage of life you’re in, teaching yourself to live a zestful, rich life comes with practice and conscious intention.

Here are some additional tips on how to live well:

  • Put forth complete effort.
  • Be in the present.
  • Surround yourself with people you enjoy and can relate well with.
  • Always strive to learn something new each day.
  • Forgive yourself for your mistakes.
  • Make it a point to let go of grudges.
  • Help someone else, and do so without any expectation of something in return.
  • Find the beauty in small things – a delicate flower, the sound of your child’s laughter, the sight of a brilliant sunset, the touch of your loved one, the heady aroma and taste of a satisfying meal.
  • Explore what piques your curiosity.
  • Follow your dreams.
  • Never give up on what matters most.
  • Be fully accountable for your actions.
  • Live with integrity.
  • Find the lesson in mistakes, large or small.
  • Enrich your spirituality through prayer, meditation, self-reflection, yoga, walks in nature.
  • Express gratitude every day for all that you have.

Remember that life is much more than mere existence. It can be fully satisfying, productive, loving and enriching. To achieve a well-lived life, one of solid well-being, be willing and ready to act with courage, enthusiasm, commitment and determination.