I don’t know about you but I get really tired, really fast listening to the news lately. I don’t care which side of the political spectrum with which you align yourself, the bitterness and rancor that permeates the radio and television these days is unlike anything I’ve experience in my 57 years on this planet. So I have most stopped letting the broadcast media rent space in my head and heart for free.
I no longer watch the news on TV in the morning. I mean really, who likes to start their day pissed off? Not me! In the evening I watch a local affiliate for local stuff. To get national news, I read the online versions of state newspapers as well as those of the New York Times and the Washington Post. The advantage of this is simply that I choose what I consume. When I’m in my truck I either listen to a classical music station or my collection of Success Magazine audio interviews. I certainly avoid talk radio, even on NPR, because without fail they are all biased in some manner.
What it all comes down to at the end of the day, is that I have decided that I will control what goes into my head, much like I choose to control what I eat and drink. In both cases, I avoid consuming toxic materials.
In the June issue of Success Magazine there is an article which poses the question: can you spend money only on essentials for one month? As written in the table of contents “No fancy coffee. No new clothes. No eating out. Nothing fun. Do you have the self-discipline to go a month without spending money on unnecessary items?” Wow…nothing fun?
I honestly don’t know if I have that kind of self-discipline. Thinking about it, here is what I come up with as “necessary”: basic food for me and my cats, prescriptions, soap and toilet paper, mortgage, utilities, gasoline for commuting to work, and my church offering. So that would mean for me foregoing my weekly dinner out with friends; three takeout coffees per day-black, no sugar; no purchased snacks during the day; no comic books, movies, or Amazon Prime video rentals; no impulse purchases; and so on. I admit that while I don’t buy a lot of new clothes (hardly any unless something wears out, in fact) and other household items, I also don’t pay a lot attention to my “nickel and dime” expenses. As an aside, that is clearly an outdated phrase!
I’m honestly not prepared to go a whole month on a no-spending spree. I will though commit to keeping detailed track of my expenses for a week beginning when I wake up tomorrow. Care to join me?
A little bit at a time will eventually add up to a lot.
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.
We’ve all heard it: “If you keep on doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep on getting what you’ve always gotten.” Deciding to change your habits in favor of something that is beneficial-or at least less damaging-is about as easy as it gets. It’s actually changing that is tough.
You can read all the self-help books and magazines you want, but if you don’t act then all that reading didn’t matter.
You can make all the New Year’s resolutions and other self-promises you want, but if you don’t act then they were in vain.
You can set as many goals and targets as you can imagine, but if you don’t act then the thought was wasted.
The only way to change is to actually get out there, wherever your “there” is, and do it. Nike’s well known ad campaign from years ago was simple but on point: “Just Do It.” That’s a bit blunt. I prefer what Yoda told Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back: Do or do not. There is no try.” And if you need help to “do”, by all means ask for it. We are all in this together.