26/11/2015 10:21 GMT | Updated 26/11/2016 05:12 GMT

Do You Make Life Happen or Is Life Just Happening to You?

"The great paradox of our time is that many of us are busy and bored at the same time. While running from one event to the next, we wonder in our innermost selves if anything is really happening." - Henri Nouwen.

This quote speaks truth to many. How many times do you hear people, including yourself, talking about how busy they (you) are? But busy doing what? We all fill our time and use up every second of our day. Contrary to what we might feel, we usually do have some choice in how.

We spend our time pursuing what we want or what others have told us to believe we should want. However, how often do we stop along the way to truly think about what it really is we are doing with our precious seconds, minutes, hours and days of our life? Are we living our own lives or too busy comparing ourselves to others? Are we working towards a life that is full of activities or a life that is full of meaning?

On some level we enjoy feeling busy. It makes us feel important and can keep us from having to think about life. We run from work to working out to meetings to shopping to kids activities and our own activities. Do we stop to think about what it is all adding up to? Can you take the time to step away, if even for a moment, to reevaluate? It is important to check in from time to time and think about how you can better manage your life and enjoy the stage that you are in. I personally learned to exhale a bit when I was told not to compare myself to those who are not raising a young children as I am. You simply cannot do it all and there are seasons to life.

We know not what the future holds but then again we never do. One can be tricked into thinking the future is secure when life is busy with routine. If you see the bigger picture of how short life can be, it can help to reframe your everyday decisions. You can learn to breathe a bit and enjoy today.

Here are some suggestions to make life happen instead of just letting it happen to you:

1. Create a timeline of the things you most want to experience or accomplish. At the advice of a good friend, my husband and I created lists of where we most wanted to travel and what we most wanted to experience while living in London these last three years. From there, we planned out when to travel to each destination and when to make certain experiences happen. In doing so, we successfully made it thorough our list and I currently write this from the Maldives. Time flies by and days do fill up. You can either fill them, or life will fill it for you.

2. Take risks. When you look at life as being as short as it is, perhaps you won't take yourself so seriously. My favorite professor said it is easier to steer a car that is moving than one which is in park. That said, get out there and just try!

3. Invest in people. As has been said before, we can't take anything with us when we die. It is relationships with others that have long lasting value, inspire us, encourage us, and fill us.

4. Learn to let go of that which you cannot control and to adapt. You may not (yet) have the spouse you want, a child of your own or the perfect body. Don't waste too much time longing for what may or may not happen. Learn to make the life you have now full. Deal with what is in front of you and do your best to savor it all, adapting as needed.

5. Seek advice from those who are living life fully. They learned how to set boundaries and can help you see when to say "no" to things that aren't life giving, or don't need to be done. They can also encourage you to say "yes" when you are fearful but need to take the leap.

6. Travel. Spending time in a new place has a profound way of lending us a set of new eyes. Taking the time to relax and explore can be extremely invigorating as it draws us closer to those we are with and who we are.

7. Learn not to compare. We have all been given different talents and we are often in different stages in life as well. Focus on what you do well and what is life enriching to you where you are.