Recently, while communicating with friends and acquaintances on Facebook and MySpace, I’ve been reading the user status posts, and also the information sections where people describe themselves, and have been coming across self-descriptions in which people state that they are happy and live life to the fullest.  It’s an interesting statement to make, and I’m glad to see so many people who are happy with their lives, but I sometimes wonder what living life to the fullest looks like to other people.  

So that is my question, if you’ll be so kind to indulge me.  What is a full life for you?  

Specificity is what I’m hoping for here.

Thanks in advance.






10 responses to “Fullest”

  1. lucy Avatar

    Yeah, I don’t think I’ve ever described myself that way, but I’m one who’s always thirsting for more. It’s an interesting request you’re making here, and I’m curious to see what kind of response you’ll get.

  2. Christopher Barzak Avatar

    I totally get the thirsting for more. I was just curious as to what other people would say their fullest looked like. I know that what it is for me has got to be different from others. I think it’d be a nice collection of fullests, if people have them to offer. 🙂

  3. brooxie Avatar

    this is coming from the gal who never once expects happiness from life, because happiness means there’s nothing left to fix or improve or add to, and if that’s the case, then i’m no longer needed…so i settle for contentment, which seems much better to me anyway.

    anyway i think a full life should be implied. everyone’s life is already full, whether they realize it or not. maybe people who state it do so because they doubt it.

    if i *had* to define the marker of a full life, i would say it would have to be sunday mornings in bed with a dog, several cats, the love of one’s life, and a good book to read aloud…plus, you know, a satisfying job and stimulating learning experiences daily and love and good food.

    Thanks, Brooxie! That’s a great list of what makes you feel full. 🙂

  4. Haddayr Avatar

    I am endlessly discontented and often feel empty, angry, and frustrated. Because of this, I harbor suspicion toward people who claim to be happy. Are they lying? I wonder. Are they stupid? Do they have some part of their brain or soul that I had removed in the 80s?

    I think, frankly, that people who claim to “live life to the fullest” really just enjoy using trite phrases. How do you know if you’re living life to the fullest? Do you never zone out and waste time on Internet quizzes? Do you truly enjoy every single minute of your constipation and that stupid argument with your neighbor? Do you just have low expectations?

    I know where you’re coming from. I have days like this, too. Somedays are just good, and somedays are just really, really bad. On my bad days, I have to force myself to look at the good, if I can, instead of the trite and daily bad news that’s been brewing for years now. It’s a delicate balancing act, for sure.

  5. Haddayr Avatar

    Okay, now I’ll tell you what I think “living life to the fullest” would look like: doing whatever I wanted and not being held back by fear. If this is not specific enough, I’d say physical fear, fear of failure, especially in my writing, and fear of looking vulnerable.

    If I always did what interested me and went for it, and didn’t start asking “what ifs,” I’d say I was living life to the fullest.

    Awesome response. 🙂

  6. lucy Avatar

    For me, living life to the “fullest” would mean being absolutely comfortable with myself all of the time in my varying roles…never worrying about looking foolish, or fat, or out of touch. I think if I had that, I would feel sated.

    This sounds very balanced, and I’m not surprised. 🙂

  7. Theodora Goss Avatar
    Theodora Goss

    I like Haddayr so much! 🙂

    This is a very interesting question, Chris, and one I’ve been thinking about lately. I might have to ruminate on my own blog about it and then post something here.

    Haddayr is great, I know. 🙂
    Looking forward to any response you may Dora. It seems like such a simple question, but it really isn’t, and then suddenly it stuck out to me, and I had to wonder what other people would make of it.

  8. Debra Weaver Avatar

    I too, would never describe myself as living life to its fullest . Whether or not one is enjoying life, happy, content, or miserable, so long as one is alive one is filling their allocated time. The issue becomes whether or not there is a value placed on it. Is it good bad, happy, sad, miserable, joyous? It is such a subjective concept. My guess, is that I may not agree with someone who says they are living their life to the fullest. In fact, the comment tells me very little about the person.

    I know, Deb. It’s a hard question to answer, because it’s so subjective, and I found myself wondering while I started thinking about it what the fullest is for me. I constantly feel like my life is full, but is it full in a way that is true contentment and things and activities of my own choosing, or just full, as in busy. LOL. I think this came to my attention at the New Year switch, when I start evaluating the previous year, each year.

  9. Theodora Goss Avatar
    Theodora Goss


    Here’s what I posted on my blog:

    This is of course a purely personal response, but first, I think there’s a difference between living a full life and living life fully. (There, I know, speaks the writing teacher. And I know I’m using a slightly different terminology, living life fully rather than to the fullest. I find the phrase “to the fullest” awkward and annoying.)

    Whether you live a full life depends on what you have in your life. I have quite a lot in my life: my work, my family, and of course my writing, which is separate from those two things and has to do with a strange, almost desperate impulse, which I can’t quite explain, to make what is inside my head (dreams, ideas, stories) manifest in some way on the outside, to give form and substance to my interior life. Is my life full? I don’t think so, because there are things I would like in my life that I don’t currently have. I would like more music (a piano, specifically). I would like a garden. I would like to learn Hungarian. (It looks as though I may be going to Hungary this summer, which will give me the opportunity to practice.)

    Whether you live life fully – that’s a different question. That has to do with how you live your life. I think you live life fully when you decide what you want to do, try as best you can to do it, and accept the consequences. I think I’ve tended to do that. But living in that way may not lead to happiness. It’s not a particularly easy way to live. What it does lead to, I think, is a sort of awareness, because you’re living in the world intentionally, purposefully. You’re, in a sense, fully aware and alive. But the moment you decide what you want to do, you risk failing at it. And so you live with the constant awareness of failure, and when you do fail (because you will, no one succeeds without failing), you will be fully alive to that too. And failure, no matter how used to it you get, feels awful. Failure, for writers, happens as often as you send out stories and receive rejections. And that’s just one minor example.

    I like to deal with the fear that living life in this way can produce by reading the life stories of my favorite writers and artists, and noticing how often they failed. With a sort of pleasure, I’ll admit. I mean, no matter what you do, your life is not going to be as deeply awful as Charlotte Mew’s or Vincent Van Gogh’s, you know? And yet they created gloriously. They lived fully.

    Back to that awkward phrase, living life “to the fullest.” I don’t think anyone does that. Who among us is brave enough?

    Wow, what a thoughtful response, Dora! Thank you for this. It articulates a lot of my own feelings as well. By the way, Joyce Carol Oates wrote a really interesting essay about failure and how in many ways it can be fuel for artists, which I enjoyed reading when I came across it in her collection of essays, The Faith of a Writer, I believe it’s called. You might find it engaging to read at the moment, too.

  10. Theodora Goss Avatar
    Theodora Goss

    Thanks, Chris! I’ll look for the collection. And I really like Oates anyway.

    At the moment I’m particularly interested in failure and what one does with it, for some reason. I think it’s more than just a personal thing. It’s part of a sort of national mood, a zeitgeist. (Ha! I think that’s the first time in my life I’ve found a way to use zeitgeist in a sentence. I’m so proud. 🙂

    LOL, zeitgeist is also one of those words I would love to have more opportunities to use, Dora. It’s such an awesome word.

    I’m interested in failure, too, and what one does with it. It’s a national mood right now, but it’s been a local mood here in Youngstown for the past thirty years or so. Around here not many people are flinching at all of this recession/depression talk. It was the local experience since the late 70s, really. Nothing new. A community that’s been trying to figure out how to make a new identity for itself and grow healthy again after loss of industry, as well as local political corruption that necessitated federal involvement to oust the corrupt from the political scene by force. There’s a sort of malaise that comes along with failure, I think, but there’s so much you can use it it for, too, I think. I’m not sure if my community as a whole has figured out what to do with it, but individuals and small groups of people within it have, and one of the things I think that’s possible is to use failure as fuel to accomplish something in opposition to the feeling of having failed. I think so much of what we do with failure is how we see it. Is it something that means we’ve been defeated in some way, in such a way that you accept that failure as a kind of final judgement. Or is it something to see and treat as just another setback in the long version of the story. So much depends, I think, on whether or not a person has a sense of story, of not being trapped in the eternal now, of being able to look both backwards and forwards in time and realize that things are changeable, but mainly if you can take upon the responsibility to do the changing, in whatever way that you can. I’m a little afraid to see how we as a nation will respond to it, since I’ve seen how difficult it’s been for this small city to climb out of the hole (still climbing, and probably will be for a long time to come). I hope it doesn’t last as long as it has locally. If so, we’re in for some desperate years. Hopefully it will be something that we can use to change things, if we can get out of the trapped feeling of the eternal now.

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