Are You Fully Alive/Part 2
I’ve been thinking, I challenged you to recall a time in your life when you felt totally alive. Then I recalled such a time many years ago, when I was traveling through Europe. It really made me think . . . have I not felt alive since then? Why did I have to dig so far back in my life to find that magical moment when all the elements I loved came together?
And how does one keep that ‘alive’ feeling in the midst of the mundane, the humdrum of everyday life?
I think I have been learning over the past few years how to maintain in the midst of the mundane. I’m challenged by Elijah, who is 16 and often bored! He sometimes waits for me to give him an idea that will erase his boredom. Let me tell you, if you fall into that trap, it’s impossible! Everyone must find for themselves the thing that makes them come alive, the subject that they can’t get enough of, the thing they can’t wait to find a moment to do. No one can work through that discovery process for you.
I must admit, I never suffer from boredom. I love learning, so reading and researching are fuel for my fire. If there is ever a free moment, I run up to my office and either write, research, read, listen to webinars, teleseminars, tapes or DVDs. I told my daughter recently that there are not enough years left in my life to learn all I want to learn and to do all I want to do. It’s true, I thrive on information, beauty, music, art, love . . . life!
How about you? Do you struggle with boredom, lack of energy or direction?How do you tap in to that thing that makes you feel fully alive again? Sometimes life takes it’s toll and you are left overwhelmed with disappointment, afraid to hope again. So it takes time to awaken that sleeping giant, overcome disappointment and start to dream again.
Our lives are filled with seasons, some fulfilling and adventurous and some that are difficult, disappointing and just plain hard. If you find yourself in one of those times, just remember: it's only a season and seasons do pass . . . eventually. But I understand that when you are in a dry season it often seems that it will last forever.
Truth is, I’m in one of those seasons now, as I write. But I tend to have a
"glass very full" outlook on life. So even in my difficult seasons I press on. But for those who have a "glass half empty" outlook, it takes more effort to press through the dry seasons. But I encourage you to try . . . to work hard at coming out and pressing on.
How do you do that? I know it varies for each individual, but I'll suggest 15 steps you can take to move yourself in a positive direction:
1. Turn off the news for awhile. If your glass is half empty, the last thing you need is more bad news, more reasons to be pessimistic, more people to be angry with, more reasons to feel helpless. You will not die from lack of information. Believe me, it will find you.
2. Start your day with positive affirmation. Find a good devotional book, a quiet moment and begin each day by filling up. Reading a Psalm or chapter in Proverbs will get you off on the right foot. Protect the first hour of your day and don’t let negativity get a foothold.
3. Turn off the radio when driving and replace it with teaching CDs that build you up. My daddy was a war hero who faced much evil, was kept as a prisoner of war, and endured the Bataan Death March. He always had tapes from motivational speakers next to his bed along with his Bible. That is how he stayed afloat. Learn from my dad and let your time in the car become a time of learning.
4. Allow yourself time to think. Recall some of your favorite memories. What was the time of your life when you were most fulfilled? What are your happiest memories? What did you love to do as a kid? What do people say you are good at? Answer these questions and write out the memory.
5. Become an expert. When you find a topic that interests you, read about it. I've heard that you become an expert when you’ve read at least three books on a topic.
6. Set some goals. Research shows that less than 5% of the population set goals and less than 80% that set them, keep them. However, the most successful use their goals to set their agenda. They ask themselves each day: Does this move me closer to my goal or further from it? Therefore, they are better equipped to say "no" to the things that will sidetrack them and they are able to stay focused.
7. When you set long term goals, make sure to add short term goals that are the steps along the way. This breaks up the long stretches that seem to take forever and gives you opportunities to celebrate progress. Some of your short term goals should be fairly easy to accomplish. This keeps you going with a sense of forward movement by breaking the big picture down into simple, doable steps.
8. Delay reading email. Don’t start your day there. Set a time to answer email and stick to it. This will keep you from distractions and focused on work time.
9. Do your most difficult task of the day first. By getting it out of the way, you will have a sense of relief and accomplishment. Then take time to create! Creating is energizing!
10. Reward yourself for small accomplishments. Create celebrations with your friends and family.
11. Make it a common practice to tell those around you just how much you appreciate them. Find what makes them feel special and do that!
12. Find someone who has needs greater than yours and help them. If you can't help financially, help them by calling or writing with words of encouragement. It's amazing how much difference a little encouragement can make.
13. Reach out to those you admire. Today with the Internet, Facebook and Twitter, you can almost reach out to just about anyone. And it’s surprising how many will respond.
14. Push yourself out of your comfort zone.
15. Find someone who will encourage you! If you can afford a coach, hire one. If you can’t, look for a friend who is positive and will encourage you. Make it a point to talk to them regularly. Ask them to hold you accountable on a project or goal.
Know this - You are God's canvas, His art! He is longing to create a masterpiece out of you! Are you allowing His brush to shape you, or are you turning away from His hand? His art is always beautiful and you really have nothing to fear. I encourage you to relax and allow His brush to paint upon your heart. Then see the amazing colors, shapes and passions He fashions within you. Run toward them with all of your might.
Let me know if any of this resonates with you. Are you struggling with the mundane of life or are you
becoming fully alive as He paints upon the canvas of your life?