Wednesday, August 19, 2015
Why We May Not Be Living Our Best Life
By Micky Wolf
Question: do you believe in your heart of hearts that you are living your best life at this moment?
I’ve listened to enough people in spiritual direction and mentoring sessions over the years to come to the realization one of the greatest challenges to living our best life (for Christians that has a lot do with trying to identify our calling) is our resistance, occasionally down right stubbornness, to get to the root of our discontent with the way things are.
Discontent? Yes. And an interesting, consistent pattern of response emerges when I broach the subject.
“Who, me? I’m mostly happy with things the way they are.”
Sounds reasonable enough. Yet there’s more going on here than first appears to be the case. Many of these well-intentioned people—caring, kind, compassionate individuals—believe discontentment or anything remotely close to that state of being is part of life. Accept it. Suck it up. A true man or woman of God knows it’s not about feeling happy all the time. Case closed.
As a result, many of us slide from hour to hour, one day to the next, determined to check-off our to do list, aware on some level of a subtle gnawing in our gut that there’s more to our existence. That maybe, just maybe, something is missing.
But we push it aside. Fantasy at best. Besides that, we reason, spending time or attention on that little gnaw is self-indulgent. And we all know how the Divine feels about that sort of ill-placed centeredness.
I’m not suggesting we throw out the wealth of technical information, personality inventories, or other assorted self-awareness tools that are often a mere click away from our fingertips.
I am, however, more than willing to suggest we tend to make this whole process much more complicated than it needs to be—or that God ever intended.
What if you could get to the root—and on with the journey and great adventure—of living your best life, the one God created just for you, by taking time to ponder three questions. (You can increase the effectives of this exercise by setting aside any preconceived notions you may have about yourself, good, bad or otherwise.)
Question #1: Why do I make the choices I do?
It is one thing to be a team player or a person who puts the needs and concerns of others before self. At the same time, when this kind of behavior becomes our never-fail-default-mode we risk becoming people pleasers to the extent we ignore the unique gifts and abilities we have been given.
Examine your why. It will take courage. Nonetheless, there’s nothing quite like hearing clearly the still small voice that longs to get your attention, to provide you with insight and direction in living out the hopes and dreams you otherwise might believe are impossible or unlikely for any number of (good) reasons.
Question #2: What motivates me in my present life?
Examine your what. This takes perseverance and honesty. Be brave enough to ask God to help you get to the root of your motivations. Are you looking for praise and acceptance? Financial reward? Honors or other kinds of validation?
The value in opening yourself to this question—being vulnerable to the fullest extent—is not to belittle or berate yourself, but to acknowledge, at the deepest level, our tendency to seek momentary gratification rather than submit and surrender to a healthy, life long process of being and becoming the person God created us to be.
What motivates us as children—allowances, privileges, and so forth—serves us less well as adults but that doesn’t mean it’s immature or childish to think big and feel strongly about certain ideas or issues. Be creative. Trust. And show fear to the door.
Question #3: Is love a significant factor and influence on my choices and actions?
We can understand our whys. We can even comprehend our whats.
Neither of which can hold a candle to making our choices and taking action with love—a manner of loving that is grounded in the belief that to live my best life is to fulfill God’s hopes and desires for creating me in the first place.
If this kind of love seems a bit selfish or self-centered, consider this last question: what if you not living your best life (for any or all the aforementioned reasons) denies the rest of us the gifts and blessings the Divine can best manifest through you?
Most of us like to think of ourselves as reasonable, responsible people. And that is good, very, very good.
Unless and until that kind of reasoning, rationalizing, and justifying manages to smother the spark, the fire, the essence and meaning of the one, unique life God breathed into each of us with our first breath.