Living Well

January 20, 2010

The Prudent Think about Their Lives

Daydreaming can carry a person away to a carefree existence, where tantalizing images of what could be float willy-nilly thorough one’s mind.  The good life unfolds on the movie screen of our eyelids as a panoramic 3-D motion picture moves with pristine houses, effortless romance, or a series of endless vacations.   These fanciful pictures may even elicit our energies for a few days as we attempt to convert these dreams into reality through some work or plan.  Unfortunately, daydreams often remain pleasurable illusions, giving us a few moments of euphoria before we resume our daily chores and attend to our mundane routines.

Henry David Thoreau, however bleak, captures the prevailing resignation for life when he wrote that the masses of people lead lives of quiet desperation.  Even those who may expend energy creating contentment at times find themselves randomly moving through life ending up in places they do not desire nor anticipated.  While it is seemingly fruitless to attempt anything more that our lot in life, there is a millennia old voice beckoning that we can live well and with purpose.

Living well starts with focusing some attention on the reason for being alive.  It is seductive believing that endlessly sipping tea while watching a crystal blue sea from a snow-white beach will bring us ultimate satisfaction.  In reality, it is only by spending time considering our life purpose that a person begins a journey of living wholly and with contentment.

I had just finished graduate school two years earlier.  It was a stressful seven years for me both personally and academically.  The intense work and study demands nearly snapped my family relationships.  I thought that this continued training would give me the identity and sense of purpose I was looking for in life.  But to my dismay, all I found were more questions and more longing to live with meaning.

In the fall of 1989, I read Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  As I devoured the pages, I realized that if I wanted to live well in all spheres of my life, I must give some thought to who I was and where I might be going during life.  I began asking questions about my existence, my identity (who I really was), and what I was going to do during the “four score” years promised to me by God.  Covey’s work became a tool in the journey of discovering who I am.

Through that journey I wrote a personal mission statement.  My mission is “to invite people to abundant life by choosing God’s best.” While it is not stunning to most, it does define who I am and how I make choices every day.  When we know our personal mission, we can set in motion the goals and life that will bring us to satisfaction as we express who we believe we are internally (not defined by what we do externally).  That statement allows me to make choices that give me meaning in life.

The book of Proverbs invites people to consider what brings wisdom.  In Proverbs 14:8 it is written, “The wisdom of the prudent is to give thoughts to their ways.”  Satisfied, purposeful living begins taking shape when we start giving thoughts to our ways.  So much of what we attain in life becomes lackluster over time unless we have some sense of life meaning and purpose for what we do.

Try writing the answers to these questions: What will bring me satisfaction over my life?  What do I want my life to count for during and after my earthly existence?  Am I satisfied with my current work and where it is leading me—why or why not?   What would I really like to do in life that will help me find purpose and meaning?  Why do I believe I am here?

These are tough questions, but ones that will start a journey toward living well.  There are more questions to ask, more thoughts to consider, but this is a place of beginnings.  TODAY may actually become the first day of the rest of your life.

Blessings for this day for those who begin the journey.   Grace and peace.

David Neidert

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