Curing the Zombie Virus and Living Life

With AMC's television series “The Waking Dead”  premiering this month and all the zombie hype for Halloween it's easy to conclude that our culture may have a slight obsession with zombies. Well what would you think if I told you that certain forms of zombies actually exist?

At my job I work with the general public and so I interact with and talk to a large variety of people. Some of the people I assist are homeless, some of them are very wealthy, but most of them fall somewhere in between. Some are friendly, some are unbelievable rude, and some are just a heart beat away from being a zombie.
Have you ever met someone like that? Someone who is so lifeless and stiff? Someone who could fall under the category of the "living dead”? 

I always wonder what causes people to become so lifeless, and I've come to the conclusion it’s a “self protection/preservation” technique. They believe it would be easier to go through their days feeling nothing at all, than to feel the hurt and disappointment that sometimes happens in life.

I never judge these people to harshly because there are days (more than I’d like to admit) where I’ve felt like a “walker”. Not that I get an urge to bite someone’s arm off, but I just stumble out of bed and walk through my day without much joy, excitement, or feeling. I get so caught up in finishing assignments, going to work, and paying bills that I’ve stopped living. My heart is still beating, and my lungs are still breathing -but I have stopped living. I’m just going through the motions. 

When was the last time you felt alive? Really alive?  

If you have a hard time answering that question then you may have “turned” - but don’t worry, you still have a chance of coming back and making a full recovery. I have a few suggestions for fighting and eventually overcoming the symptoms of the "zombie virus".

1. Live with passion. Living with passion doesn't necessarily mean that you have to quit your day job and move to a different country - although you could.  Living with passion means that you have found that thing that gets you excited to wake up in the morning. It could be something as simple as that new recipe that you've been wanting to try, that perfect picture you've been trying to capture, or today could be the day you run farther or lift more than you ever have at the gym. Your passion may be something more complex; graduating from college, raising awareness about a social issue, or helping "at risk" children and teenagers in your community. 

If you can't find your passion, then you may need to create it. You may need to try new things, go to new places, meet new people, and get out of your comfort zone to find out what your passion is. 
“It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.” ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

2. Set goals. Setting goals goes hand in hand with having passion for life. Have a dream and then set a goal to make that dream a reality.  Goals help give direction and purpose to our lives.  Write down your goals and look at them everyday. Then get to work achieving them. 

3. Live in the moment and focus on the important. Start Living - really living - by being in the moment. Do those little things that are important. 

In the play "Our Town" by Thornton Wilder a character who as died looks back on her life and says,

 “That's what it was to be alive. . . To spend and waste time as though you had a million years. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?--every, every minute?”  
Do we realize the minutes that make up our lives? Stop and fully take in the wonderful moments that happen everyday: the sound of your best friend's laugh, the way your significant other holds you, or the taste of your favorite food. These things may not always be the same. Are you letting these moments pass you by because you are to preoccupied with what's on your Facebook news-feed or worrying about tomorrow? Make an effort today to be fully present and to focus on those people and things that are most important to you.

(Toby Keith has a song titled "My List" . It's one of my favorite songs about living in the moment.) 

4. Move your body.  Zombies walk around aimlessly looking for something to consume. Don't thoughtlessly move through life.  We've all know of the physical and mental health benefits that come from exercise but how many of us follow the experts advice? Many people approach exercise as a chore, but we should be moving our bodies for enjoyment. Find that activity that you enjoy. It could be shooting hoops with co-workers after work, going on a walk with your significant other, or a yoga class. Move your body with meaning and purpose- move for enjoyment and fun. Plus if you are fit and in shape, if a zombie apocalypse happens, you'll have a better chance of survival.  

5. Find up lifting humor. Have you ever seen a zombie laugh? Me either. 

I'm sure that some of your best memories include the people you care about and lots of healthy laughter. Laughter can ease stressful situations and release tension. It helps to create new relationships and strengths existing ones. Laughter really is the best medicine - its good for us physically, mentally, and emotionally. Plus its contagious! So share something beautiful and healthy - your laughter.  

6. Have Hope. Hope is one of the most valuable assets that individuals and communities can have. Hope can propel individuals to step beyond their comfort zone and to reach for difficult goals. Erick Erickson is quoted to have said,
 "Hope is both the earliest and the most indispensable virtue inherent in the stat of being alive. If life is to be sustained hope must remain." 
Having the hope that a difficult task can be completed, hope that you can make a difference in the world, or the hope that tomorrow will be a better day can each help to safeguard people from falling into despair.   

To me, zombies have become a metaphor and a reminder tha there are different levels of feeling alive, and each of us has the ability to chose to live more fully and completely. 

If you feel like you have been infected with the "zombie virus" then please realize that you hold the cure within yourself. Life doesn't have to be boring and dreadful. We may not be able to control other people's actions or certain situations, but we can decide how we will respond to setbacks and heartbreaks. We don't have to aimlessly move through life like zombies. Each of us has the power to decide our purpose and direction in life. 

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