In our previous Wisdom Note, we explored seven steps to destroy bad habits. These bits of wisdom help us to live a rich and satisfying life while creating a living legacy. If you miss any of our Wisdom Notes please go to the blog to catch up on previous installments.
As we head out on our trek for this week, we will be on the lookout for…
6 Essential Waypoints to Live a Better Life
I’m living a good life, but I can still do better. We all can. Every day is a series of choices. Today is the culmination of all the choices we’ve made up to this point. It is funny when we act surprised by how life has turned out when we ultimately made the choices that have led to this place. Like I heard an older person once say, “I would have made better choices if I had known I was going to live this long.” Here are the 6 essential waypoints that we can learn from to live a better life.
The Roman poet Ovid once said, “Take a rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.”
As our culture in the western world, we live at a breakneck speed. We’re going so fast we can’t stop until we crash. The statistical evidence of the negative impact stress is having on us is alarming. Stress is literally killing us:
- Stress is the cause of 60% of all human illnesses and diseases.
- 3 out of 4 doctor visits are for stress-related issues.
- Stress increases the risk of heart disease (40%), heart attack (25%), and stroke (50%).
- 40% of stressed people overeat or eat unhealthy foods.
- 44% of stressed people lose sleep every night.
I could go on, but it’s too depressing. The reality is, none of this is new news. So why do we continue? We need to stop.
You absolutely must rest from your work. Schedule downtime into your day where you completely unplug from electronics and all the inputs that bombard you every day. Take time to just be still.
Get enough sleep. Well-rested people have better memories and learning ability, better metabolism and weight control, better moods and better cardiovascular systems just to name a few. Sleeping is like hitting the reset button each day. We start fresh every day after a good night’s sleep.
Management Guru Peter Drucker said, “Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come more effective action.”
Few of us know ourselves the way we should. We are with ourselves all day long, yet we often can’t answer the question of why we do what we do. Or other basic questions like our true purpose and passions in life. Many times we continue doing the same things day in and day out, not getting the results we want, but for the life of us can’t figure out why.
It’s only through reflection that you can ascribe meaning to your experiences. Through reflection, you can better predict what will make you successful in the future. Without it, you continue blindly on your way repeating mistakes, scratching your head, and asking why, yet not taking the time to give a real answer. You can’t live better if you don’t know yourself better.
3. Build stronger, deeper, richer relationships
As Mother Teresa said, “Intense love does not measure, it just gives.”
We were created as God’s image-bearers to be relational people. Relationships are critical to our well-being. Relationships are the key to living longer, dealing with stress, being healthier, and feeling richer. They also help guard against decreased immune systems, depression, and high blood pressure. With all those advantages, why wouldn’t we want stronger, deeper, richer relationships?
Connect with others on a deeper, more meaningful level. It’s not without risk because to do so you must put yourself out there in an authentic way. However, authenticity breeds authenticity in relationships that are worth cultivating. To live better, invite someone to lunch, dinner, or coffee, somewhere, anywhere to connect. People are worth the investment of time and energy.
Bernard Meltzer said, “When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future.”
This one can be hard to do. But you remain in a prison of your own making, drinking a poisoned cocktail of bitterness when you live in un-forgiveness. Forgiveness releases you to move on. It doesn’t make the other person right, it just sets you free. Choosing to continue on in un-forgiveness shortens your lifespan and limits your opportunities to have an abundant life.
1 Corinthians 13:4 tells us, “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.” So, choose forgiveness.
Henry Ward Beecher said, “Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul.”
Do you know what all people have in common that are able to endure seemingly impossible hardships? They’re grateful. Not for their circumstances, but for the good in their lives that they see more clearly against the backdrop of tough times and less than ideal circumstances.
Gratitude is a character trait that must be developed, not just a temporary state of mind. It has many benefits including building your immune system and guarding against the ill-effects of stress. Other side benefits of a grateful attitude are increased happiness and life satisfaction. There really is no downside to it.
Build grateful habits into your life. Each day, begin or end your day writing what you’re thankful for. This sets the stage for a positive day.
6. Get outside yourself
Matthew 6:3-4 tells us, “But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”
When you serve and give generously, without expectation of return or profit, your world is enlarged. You become better, live better, and fulfill one of your purposes for being on this earth because this life isn’t about you. It’s about your impact on your people, your community, and the world. It is living your legacy daily.
Along our trek for this week, we visited the six essential waypoints to live a better life. Next week we will explore the 3 Crucial Trails to Survive Major Transitions on Life’s Trek. In addition to our weekly Wisdom Notes, encourage your friends and family to also join us on our daily podcast – Wisdom-Trek, Creating a Legacy.