Once in a while, I like to take a step back from my daily concerns and ask myself what it means to live a good life. What would I be thinking about each day? What would I be saying and doing? The people quoted here sometimes have different views on these matters. That’s why I’ve included many different perspectives.

God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well. ―Voltaire

Whether we’re religious or not, all of us have the gift of life. The question is how to best use that gift. Hopefully, the quotations and reflections that follow will help to answer that question. Let’s get going.

In a gentle way, you can shake the world. —Gandhi

In other words, that getting going need not be earth shattering. Here’s a similar quotation from the author Joyce Sequichie Hilfer:

Life is made up of a few moments all strung together like pearls. Each moment is a pearl, and it is up to us to pick the ones with the highest luster. If we do not have time to do great things, take a few gentle moments and do small things in a great way.

And if we miss the opportunity to pick a lustrous pearl, no need to fret; in the next moment, more pearls will appear for us to pick up and gently shake the world.

If all you can do is crawl, start crawling. —Rumi

To me, this refers not only to our bodies, but to our minds. Some mornings, it’s a challenge to take on the day ahead. And so, I’d add to this quotation: “…start crawling with compassion for ourselves over how hard it can be even to crawl sometimes.” Our knees may get scraped, literally or metaphorically, but at least we’ll be moving—physically or mentally—and once we’re moving, the odds are the day will get better.

Do not say, “It is morning,” and dismiss it with a name of yesterday. See it for the first time as a newborn child that has no name. —Bengali poet and philosopher Rabindranath Tagore

This is a poetic way of saying, “This is the first day of the rest of your life.” That expression may have become a cliché, but it’s one that works for me. I like knowing that I can start over each day—even if I’m only able to crawl.

What if today you gave yourself permission to be outrageously kind? What if you extended as much good will and kindness as you can possibly muster to every person you meet? And what if you did it with no thought of reward? I’m sure of one thing: it will be a day you will never regret. ―author Steve Goodier

I hope you’ll resolve to try this one day. Not only will it be a day you’ll never regret; it will be a day you’ll never forget.

We must embrace pain and use it as fuel for our journey. —Kenji Miyazawa

This quotation sits at the front of a chapter titled “Can’t Get No Satisfaction” in my book, How to Wake Up. Why can’t we get no satisfaction? In my experience, it’s because we refuse to accept that pain and sorrow are inevitable experiences, including in a life well-lived.

To be honest, I’m not always able to embrace pain and sorrow. But when I can at least gently acknowledge how hard they can be to bear, it softens their oppressive feel and this opens the door to finding a measure of peace even in the midst of their presence.

Read it on psychologytoday.com