Living an intentional life draws from many elements. Simplicity, thoughtfulness, and self-awareness come immediately to mind. As I continue to seek to live a more intentional life, I find that I am almost always on the upward slope of a learning curve. Certainly, I’ve had my share of setbacks. We all do. It’s not an easy and natural condition for most of us, this intentional living.
I am reminded of a scene from The Empire Strikes Back, in which Yoda describes Luke’s lack of focus. “This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. What he was doing.” Focus is a major aspect of intentional living.
It is a good thing, to plan for the future and to be prepared. The inverse is, it isn’t good to ignore the present in favor of the future. If you are going through a tough time seek support and help if needed, and persevere, rather than ignoring the issue and hoping tomorrow will be better. Tomorrow can be a better day for any of us, but in my opinion it takes an intentional effort on our parts for this to come to fruition.
I enjoy listening to and reading from John C. Maxwell’s works. I’ll close with a quote from him: “Intentional living always has an idea. Unintentional living always has an excuse.” I urge you to have ideas, not excuses.
In no particular order of importance here are some things that I learned this past week.
If you have it, you hardly notice it. If you don’t have it, it’s sorely missed. What is it? Good health! Issues lately with my knees and my eye- all mostly resolved-have made that clear to me.
I can only do so much, which has become clear to me at work and in my private life. I’ve recently been maxed out at my job and my off-work “free” time has been appropriated. I need to learn to say “no”. Or perhaps, “NO!”.
The downside to cooking a lot of something to eat all week is culinary boredom. A better choice may be to cook smaller batches of several things. And hot sauce-hot sauce is good!
Worry is a total bummer. Worry about things you can’t control or even influence, more so.
A simple “thank you” and card can really make someone’s day, which makes both parties happy.
Something happened at my church this week that got me thinking about complexity and simplicity. We have a 14 year old audio-visual system, from back in the days when the church was big enough to have a praise band. These days, like many churches, not so much.
So, the sound mixing board is about 3 feet by 5 feet and has more buttons and knobs than I know what to do with. Seriously, there was no user manual when I took over a few years ago. The mixer connects to a cabinet full of rack mounted devices, most of which are terra incognita to me. Anyway, this past week the audio amplifiers croaked. A technician came in and replaced a few items and bypassed a couple others, and we should be able to get by for a while.
Here’s the thing: this church building was built in the 1800s and it was designed for the human voice. There were no amplifiers, no wireless microphones, and certainly no electronic speakers. In its simplicity, the sanctuary was designed to reflect and amplify the human voice without any assistance.
There is a lesson here about not being dependent upon complicated systems, which can apply to more than just a church A/V system that went on the fritz. So let me ask you: how can you apply this concept to your life?
I advocate a simplified lifestyle. I try to declutter my environment at home and at work. I avoid complicating my life unnecessarily. I do my best to streamline as much of my daily life as possible. So it is with some amusement that I read in blogs and magazines about all the newest gadgets and gizmos.
I think automobiles may be the worst offenders in the “anti-simplification” arena. Let’s use my 2009 Ford Ranger as a basis of comparison. I had to search high and low to find such a simple truck. She has but two options: heavy duty suspension and a receiver hitch. With manual windows, manual seats, manual transmission, no cruise control, an AM/FM radio, no A/C, and rubber floor mats, she’s about as simple a vehicle as you can find today.
Conversely, most new vehicles have dashboards that would be at home on the Starship Enterprise (choose your favorite version). The complexity of these vehicles has led to inclusion of video display terminals to supplement a plethora of switches and buttons. In my view, that’s too tempting and distracting and way too complicated.
If I could figure out how to retrofit airbags to a pre-1973 VW Bug, like the ’67 I used to own, I’d give it serious consideration. It doesn’t get much simpler than those cars!
This is a tough time of the year to pursue a simpler lifestyle. We are inundated at every turn with commercialism and its subtle guilt tripping (if we don’t buy Grammie the most expensive widget we don’t love her). Whether you celebrate Christmas as I do, or Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, or something else, don’t fall into this trap. Simplify instead with these “don’t” tips.
Don’t over-extend your commitments. Instead spend some time considering what you are reasonably capable of doing, establish some self-imposed limits, and honor them.
Don’t give in to overeating. Instead practice portion control, treat yourself to a few goodies instead of a whole platter, and don’t forget to exercise, even if it’s just going for a daily walk.
Don’t put on a brave face for others. If you have a hard time finding joy during the holidays, embrace what you are feeling but don’t dwell on your hard emotions to the point where they disable you. Instead seek out like-minded people at Blue Christmas services or support groups.
Don’t overspend. Create a list and a budget and stay within it. Those who love you will appreciate being remembered by you, regardless of how much you spend on them.
And finally, don’t forget to be good to yourself in all things and at all times.