What in your life is truly “to live for”?  Today, I’m going to teach you a simple game that my wife, Mary, and I have found useful in shifting how we look at life.  We call this process simply…. “to live for”.


It all started when Mary and I would have these experiences that we would describe as “to die for”.  This is a common phrase that many of us use to describe a moment that is so fantastically wonderful that we can hardly believe it.  We started questioning using the phrase “to die for” in relation to these moments as it seemed somewhat negative.  Why die for this experience?  So for a while we began using the phrase “to come back for” implying that this experience was so uniquely filled with a combination of sensory pleasure that if we were to die, we would want to come back to earth to have this experience again.  Eventually, we began using the phrase “to live for”.

Although I’m not positive as to the first exact moment we began using this practice, my earliest recollection was from around four years ago.  We had just returned from a week in Kauai where we had been married on the beach at sunrise.  Our trip had been filled with many magical moments that were to live for.  Back at home, we sat down and reviewed together the journals we had kept on our trip.  As we did this, we took turns describing in vivid detail exquisite moments from our vacation.  Mary’s glorious descriptions of a particular experience would launch in my mind a sense of pleasure from that shared moment.  My verbal recollections would ignite pleasure within her.

Eventually, this process grew into something we would do whenever we wished to truly sense how glorious life is.  Sometimes, we would use it to get out of a feeling of negativity that had come over us.  Other times, it was a way of vividly recalling a moment whose essence we hoped would never fade.  No matter what the intent, it always shifted our thinking to realizing what a gift it is to be alive.

The Process

So the process is pretty simple — all you need to do is to recollect a moment in your life that was truly special and then verbalize it with great feeling and detail.  It can be one of those big moments like the birth of a child or grandchild… or a seemingly “small moment” that opened you up somehow.  The more emotion you can interject into your description, the more this process shifts your thinking.

We like to close our description off with words like “that was truly to live for”.  The next person would then give their description of their “to live for” moment.  Two people can go back and forth like Mary and I do… or you can go around a circle in a small group.  And although you can do this on your own, I find it has great power in hearing the descriptions of other people.  Their descriptions of their “to live for” moments jogs your memory of your own!

Some Examples

I can still remember the birth of my first child… although I was supposed to be in the delivery room, due to a nursing shift change at a moment that I had been asked to step out of the room, no one thought to bring me back in… in my mind I was waiting to return to the delivery room when the nurse came and told me that I had a little girl.  There was this feeling of confusion and a moment of hurt at missing being in the room at her birth that immediately dissipated at the sight of my daughter.  Disappointment shifted in an instant to overwhelming joy.  Seeing that little face and those little hands and that new life entering into the world filled me with such love there are no words to describe the feeling.  Tears rolled down my face and my heart opened to a level that I had never experienced before… that moment was truly to live for.

My chocolate lab, Harmony, lives to play ball.  When I get up each morning, we go out back and play ball.  When I leave home and come back, she insists that we maintain our routine and we go out back and play ball.  Frequently we go to the local park and play ball.  Always, I toss the tennis ball out and she brings it back and drops it at my feet. Eventually as we play more, her tongue begins to hang out… yet joy fills her face.  If I hold the ball for a moment to allow her to catch her breath, she starts circling around in a sort of dance — each circle ending with her facing me excitedly.  The front part of her body lowers as if in a bow.  Behind, her tail wags fiercely in all directions reminding me of a helicopter propeller.  Her joy brings me joy… those moments are truly to live for.

Mary and I went snowshoeing in the mountains.  As we trekked further into the woods, we experienced a unique sense of calm and peacefulness.  We stopped to soak up the moment.  There was a strange quietness in the air.  The cool crispness of the winter atmosphere connected us with our surroundings.  It was magical.  It was spiritual.  The beauty of the snow gracing the trees and the ground, untouched by human hands, the perfect quiet — our senses were filled to overflowing by the beauty of the moment and our eyes met — it was a moment to live for.

Make It Your Own

Recently Mary and I co-facilitated a portion of a spiritual retreat in the Rockies of Colorado.  The intention for our segment was to foster a sense of the love of Spirit in the participants. As we planned our processes, Mary suggested we use our “to live for” game.  What better way to feel the love of Spirit in our lives she pointed out, than to open ourselves to the rich vividness of those “to live for” moments?  She was right.  After we modeled our process, we divided the attendees up into pairs and let them go.  They didn’t want to stop sharing their “to live for” moments when we called time.

Since then, Mary and I have received wonderful feedback from the participants on how they are using this simple process in their lives.  A couple of women who are in a knitting group are using the tool whenever others in the group start complaining about their lives.  They told us it shifts the energy of the group from the negative to the positive.  Another attendee told me he used the process with a large dinner group.  Their vivid descriptions went around the circle for over two hours.  (And, he tells me he’s going to use the idea in one chapter of his next book).  Another attendee, who is a trainer, told us she is using the idea in one of her classes.

Mary and I are pleased that this simple game we used in our relationship has touched others.  It is their stories of the power of this process that called me to share it more broadly here.  Try it out.  Change it to fit your life and your needs.  Make it your own.  And above all, have fun with it.

So what in your life is “to live for”?


Mark Gilbert

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Check out all of Mark Gilbert’s books—available at Amazon. Click here to visit his Author Page. This includes his recent one Our Spiritual Rights and Responsibilities. In this book, he offers what he suggests are the 5 basic rights we all possess by virtue of our being these spiritual beings on planet Earth — and our 2 responsibilities we all hold in relation to one another! Check it out!