Life For the Living
When you come to the end of the day, or the week, or the year, or your career, in most cases you still have time. But if your work is tied up in your life, and your life is defined by your work, what are you going to do?
The following list was on a piece of paper saved from a book now discarded. I have an idea where I got it, and the circumstances surrounding getting it, but rather than be wrong, I’m just going to say that I didn’t write the list, although I edited it a bit. That doesn’t reduce the value of the content.
The older I get, the more of this list that I take time to do. It is a rehearsal for when I have no more schedule, and nothing but time (for more on this, here’s a great article). As much as I practice these things, there is more to learn, and savor from the practice of doing these things. I highly recommend them to you.
1. Slow down; God is still in heaven. You are not responsible for doing it all yourself, right now.
2. Remember a happy, peaceful time in your past. Each moment has richness that takes a lifetime to savor.
3. Set your own pace. When someone is pushing you, it’s OK to tell them they’re pushing.
4. Take nothing for granted: watch water flow, the corn grow, the leaves blow, your neighbor mow.
5. Taste your food and drink. God gives it to delight as well as to nourish.
6. Notice the sun and the moon as they rise and set. They are remarkable for their steady pattern of movement, not their speed.
7. When you talk with someone, don’t think about what you’ll say next. Thoughts will spring up naturally if you let them.
8. Create a place in your home…at your work…in your heart…where you can go for quiet and recollection. You deserve it.
9. Allow yourself time to be unproductive. Rest isn’t luxury; it’s a necessity.
10. Talk slower. Talk less. Don’t talk. Communication isn’t measured by words.
11. Give yourself permission to be late if circumstances intervene. Life is for living, not scheduling.
12. Listen to the song of a bird; the complete song. Music and nature are gifts, but only if you are willing to receive them.
13. Take time just to think. Action is good and necessary, but it’s fruitful only if we muse, ponder, and mull.
14. Make time for play and the things you like to do. Whatever your age, your inner child needs re-creation.
15. Watch and listen to the night sky. It speaks.
16. Listen to the words you speak, especially in prayer.
17. Learn to stand back and let others take their turn as leaders. There will always be new opportunities for you to step out in front again.
18. Divide big jobs into little jobs. If God took six days to create the universe, can you hope to do any better?
19. When you find yourself rushing and anxious, stop. Ask yourself why you are rushing and anxious. The reasons may improve your self-understanding.
20. Take time to read the Bible. Thoughtful reading is enriching reading.
21. Direct your life with purposeful choices, not with speed and efficiency. The best musician is one who plays with expression and meaning, not the one who finishes first.
22. Take a day off alone; make a retreat. You can learn from monks and hermits without becoming one.
23. Pet a furry friend. You will give and get the gift of now.
24. Work with your hands. It frees the mind.
25. Take time to wonder. Without wonder, life is merely existence.
26. Sit in the dark. It will teach you to see and hear, taste and smell.
27. Once in a while, turn down the lights, the volume, the throttle, the invitations. Less really can be more.
28. Let go. Nothing is usually the hardest thing to do…but often it is the best.
29. Take a walk…but don’t go anywhere. If you walk just to get somewhere, you sacrifice the walking.
30. Count your friends. If you have one, you are lucky. If you have more, you are blessed. Bless them in return.
31. Count your blessings…one at a time and slowly.
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