In our Wisdom Notes this week, we will explore how to live each day to the fullest because, in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.
Jesus desires us to live a life that is lived in abundance, a life lived fully. This is not in reference to material abundances but internal abundance through Him. He does not want us to be robbed of the joy that is found in Him. In John 10:10 Jesus proclaimed, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”
We will explore some ways that will allow us to live that rich and satisfying life.
1. Your attitude is a choice. You are in control. Create a positive attitude.
You might say,”Yes, I hear you Guthrie, but how can you choose a positive attitude each moment of each day?” As with anything worthwhile, it will not be easy. It takes consistent persistence to create this habit. Here are three tips that may help.
Wake Up and Pause
Each day when you open your eyes you have a choice. Choosing the path of a positive mindset empowers you to move through the day with a sense of joy, even on the bleakest of days. Love yourself and be thankful. Find one thing that is positive about waking up. It could be the mere fact that you did. Each day choose to be positive about the day ahead. You are exchanging a day of your life for what you fill those 24 hours with, so make it positive. Read something to start the day that inspires you, like a daily devotional. Where your attention goes energy flows. Fill the beginning of your day with conscious choices that nourish your mind, body, and spirit in a positive way.
Pick something that makes you smile. It could be the sound of the birds singing or a babbling brook. It could be a smell that impacts your mind, whether it is real right in front of you or just a memory at the back of your mind. Close your eyes and think about a happy time full of pleasant scents – maybe a kitchen full of the sweet aromas of fresh coffee and sizzling bacon or a cool fall day or field of wild flowers. A smile might even happen through touch. Perhaps a soft blanket or a furry friend from the animal kingdom brings a smile of comfort and belonging. No matter what it is that makes you smile – an image, a situation, a place, or a person – smile when you think of it and then just keep smiling.
Practice Conscious Breathing and Gratitude Reminders
Create a list of everything in your life that you are thankful for. It does not have to be long, but change it and add to it when you think of new items. This should be done ahead of time and kept near your bed, so it is the first thing you look at each morning. After you wake up and pause, think of something to smile about and then take three deep breaths, inhale as deep as you can, hold it a moment, and exhale. Make your attitude choice for the day, choose to be positive, and as I mentioned in the last point, force a smile on your face even if you don’t feel like it. Then read or pray through your gratitude list each morning before doing any other activities. Commit to yourself to carry that positive mindset with you all day long. Any time during your day when you feel your positive mindset is waning, repeat this step.
2. Embrace the moment for you may never pass this way again.
Live Today Fully and Be in the Present
Being present in the moment is something I continually work at on a daily basis. With so many competing priorities, the moments that matter can get lost in the noise. Learn how to slow down and embrace the “now.” As I mentioned in the beginning of this note today, allow yourself time to honor the moments you are spending with family and friends. Practice being in the present by taking a walk or hike and be consciously aware of what you see, hear, smell, touch or taste. If walking is not an option, use your imagination, and walk a path to the top of a mountain in your mind.
Make a Memory
Proactively engage in making a memory. Time may not be on our side, so surprise someone with a call or send them a letter telling them how important they have been to you in your life or how proud you are of them. Be sure to take a picture in the midst of all the chaos, to capture those moments that document the love and the life that surround you. Be sure to tell stories to those who will carry on the family traditions. Story-telling is a strong tie between generations and will live in the memories of our loved ones forever.
Do Something You Have Put “On Hold”
We all have those things we will do “someday.” Make someday today! It doesn’t have to cost a fortune or be extravagant. It can be simple but rewarding. Read that book you have wanted to read or sign up for a class and learn a new skill or hobby. Make the choice to travel, if only outside to a local park. Taking the first step is the hardest thing to do. Be courageous to know that you can choose to do something for yourself, and do it now before the time is gone.
Paul reminds of this in his letter to the church in Ephesus Chapter 5 verse 16, “Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.”
3. Leave your mark. You only have one chance at each day. Make it count.
Leaving your mark starts with knowing yourself. The ability to leave your mark also requires you to know what your mark is all about. Personal growth can begin with taking time to outline your intentions and desires in this life. Ask yourself who you are, who are you really, what is your living legacy today, and what will it be when you die? Your thoughts become your actions and your actions are what leave your mark in this world. Spend time in personal growth and understand your life’s focus.
Find Your Voice
It’s okay to talk to yourself. Journaling is a great way to have a discussion with yourself about what is upsetting you and what matters to you. It is also a great way to find your voice, understand what you stand for and how you want to make an impact on the world. Another critical piece of finding your voice is telling others about your ideas and insights. Remain open to constructive feedback and practice non-judgmental behavior when others don’t see your point of view or disagree with you. Life is full of diversity — there is room enough for everyone’s voice. Don’t forget to circle back and reread your journal entries. We all come up with exceptional and very exciting ideas, but they can fade away if they are not cultivated. Returning to read your past journal entries can rekindle an idea whose time is now!
Be someone’s sunshine! People need to seek sunshine and strength from others during their darkest times. One of the best ways to live your legacy each day is to give back to the world. A few ideas that might fit your journey are praying for others, being a mentor, or volunteering. Legacy building does not require financial resources. It requires time invested in others. If you have the capability to invest financially, mentor, volunteer, and pray, then that is your responsibility to do so. Each one of us can pray for others and support them every day. Being a mentor or volunteering takes more of a commitment, and if your life allows for you to make that type of commitment, building those relationships can be very rewarding.
4. Stop and take notice. Pay attention to others for we are all connected.
It’s All About Love
Many popular songs and screenplays have documented the fact that love is the center of all that is positive and good in the world. Stop and reflect on how you are interacting with those around you. Is it all about love? Are you an example of love’s three “A’s”: Attention, Affection and Appreciation? It seems so simple, yet one of the hardest things to do for so many people is to show their love. Paying attention to what matters to someone else, giving affection in a time of need and saying thank you for the little things are what matter. Practice “Love’s Three A’s” today!
Love comes from God, and as his children we are to reflect this love. The entirety of Scripture is summed up in one paragraph as written in Mark 12:30-31, “And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
Hugs for All Occasions
I grew up in a family that gave and received hugs as a show of appreciation and affection. Even if you are a macho man or woman, don’t resist a heartfelt embrace of another person. If there is an apparent kinship, even with someone that I have just met, an appropriate hug is okay. Certainly with family members, I feel that it is essential. Research shows hugging therapy has a powerful positive effect on people’s minds, bodies and spirits. The Scripture is full of examples of hugging or, as it is referred to as, embracing.
There are welcoming hugs and departing hugs. There are hugs of affection and hugs of sorrow. We are even to embrace wisdom as is mentioned in the following verses.
Proverbs 3:18, “Wisdom is a tree of life to those who embrace her; happy are those who hold her tightly.”
Proverbs 4:8, “If you prize wisdom, she will make you great. Embrace her, and she will honor you.”
Be sincere with your hugs, and don’t be afraid to do so. Life is short. Hold tightly to those things and people that are important.
Although we are all connected to God, meaningful connections don’t happen without our conscious effort. One way to connect to someone is called active listening. Think of having a discussion with someone and leaning forward, actually leaning into the person as they talk. Be sure to engage in eye contact as well. Listen to what the person is saying, how he is expressing his words, and what body language he is using. By actively listening, you can connect to the individual’s emotional side rather than only hearing the words.
It is also important to have balance in your life. All giving and no receiving can wear down a person’s positive energy. Give from the heart of your time and your talent and allow others to give to you as well. Part of the joy you feel when you give is the same joy others feel when you receive their help. Remember to send a “thank you” card. Not just because you receive a gift, just because you are thankful. It is not the size of the gesture, but rather the acknowledgment that someone is thinking of you and connects at the level of gratitude. It may seem old-fashioned, but kindness and gratefulness never go out of style.