I hope through my essays that I have been able to convey that I am not in the business of telling people how they ought to live. I can say with certainty that my only concern is if I am living a life I consider to be meaningful and I resist the temptation to judge with the best of my abilities. It is not that I do not care about the behavior and well-being of others, rather I know that approaching people with black & white solutions, commands and judgment is simply not effective and is actually counter-productive. I only wish to share the tools I have learned and use that make my life more fulfilling.
My approach goes against the culture of competition in this world. This approach can be misunderstood as passive and lacking motivation and drive. For me, it is imperative that my focus is on myself and my behavior throughout the day – In this way I am able to consistently grow and bring forth the best version of myself. Being cynical of others, allowing the success of others to negatively affect us and attempting to “measure up” to others leads to negative behavior and minimal progress. I focus on building myself, the comparisons are left to those who live a life I do not wish to be a part of.
So, I have decided to share with you what my day generally looks like. There are days when I only accomplish a fraction of these practices but by and large I make these practices a part of my daily life and have been since the beginning of last year. My message and practices encourage people to realize that when we begin our day we are not preparing to battle the world. This idea that we are in a constant struggle against the world leaves us exhausted by days end and only gives us the pleasure of knowing that we survived. But survival is something left to our ancestors, we strive to live!
Below I will outline the ritual that I try to live in adherence with. I do not believe in shortcuts or any type of behavior that expedite progress in any unnatural way. By unnatural I do not mean magic weight loss pills and the sort, although those are certainly things to avoid – But I mean the things that make you uncomfortable. I believe it is unnatural to arrange your life in a way that forces you to abandon the very principles that lead to fulfillment, happiness and comfort.
Often times we rush ourselves in trying to do as many things as we can only to end the day feeling dissatisfied and stressed and only to wake up and do the very same thing the next day. This type of behavior is understood and is also encouraged by many people. However, I believe that often times we are aggressively chasing something that will continue to leave us dissatisfied and stressed and the continued pursuit is counter-productive not only to our well-being but to the real work we are doing.
With this in mind, my suggestions are not meant to change your life in a day or a month – they are ways to slowly build a new foundation based in discipline, humility, gratitude and honesty that will provide you with the tools needed to accomplish what you wish. I hope to remove the notion that we do not have enough time to live a disciplined life of self-improvement. I believe that many of reasons we come up short in other areas of our life is because we spend so little time working on ourselves. Improving your self will only make your day more efficient and will lead to a more fulfilling day, no matter what happens in the external world.
WAKE UP & MAKE YOUR BED:
- There is a library of data http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10188130 that tells us the harm we do to ourselves by reaching for the snooze button over and over. For me the solution has not been in simply knowing and understanding this information, that is not enough. We all know, more or less, what is good for us. I believe that there are underlying causes that encourage us to stay in bed and reach for “just 5 more minutes.” In a bit I will address what I believe are signs of avoidance and fear of the day in front of us that makes us want to stay in bed.
- This may be elementary knowledge to many of you, but making your bed in the morning is an excellent way to start the day. This practice has very little to do with the actual making of the bed – It has much more to do with discipline and gratitude. When you take the few minutes to make your bed each morning you are, perhaps without realizing it, practicing patience and discipline. It will also bring a small level of accomplishment into your day
(Disclaimer: THESE ARE ONLY SUGGESTIONS. I HAVE ABSOLUTELY ZERO JUDGMENT OF YOUR PERSONAL BELIEFS AND DO NOT MEAN TO OFFEND ANYONE. I WILL NOT ENTERTAIN ANY FORM OF DEBATE.)
- I do not believe that prayer belongs to any institution or any specific philosophy of thought. I do believe that taking a moment in the morning to show gratitude for the day is a healthy way to begin your day. In my practice, I choose to get on my knees and I ask for the courage to be meaningful throughout the day. I ask that my mind stays focused and clear. I am not praying to anything in particular, rather it is important for me to show humility and to acknowledge that I am not the center of the universe. It takes the focus from me and gives me a moment to trust my actions throughout the day.
- Reflection is perhaps the most important exercise that I practice. For me, it is healthy to take time throughout the day to take an honest look into my motives and actions. Often times I will experience fear or an overwhelming feeling that someone is upset with me. Instead of sitting with this I look at my actions as honestly as possible to see what areas I need to improve upon. Most times what I learn is that I am being self-centered – I find myself thinking only of myself – so of course when somebody looks at me a certain way or huff their breath I automatically think they are upset with me. Reflection gives me a moment to visualize my behavior and my thoughts and the ability to make sense of the day. Have I been selfish? Dishonest? Useful? If I do not reflect and catch myself when I am being dishonest or selfish I will only continue these habits at a more alarming rate. Reflection gives me the ability to find areas to improve upon and gives me insight into the progress I have made.
Part II will continue tomorrow!