Discipline #7: Examine your life
- You were created for an extraordinary life, far greater than you can imagine.
- The great challenge is to stop your busy life and make sure you’re on the path you were created for, the one with deep contentment, joy and confidence, independent of circumstances.
- Do you know what you don’t know about yourself?*
* Haha of course not, but the question is, does it matter? Would the revelation be trivial or life-changing?
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion. — Henry David Thoreau, Walden.
In December, 2003 I parted with over half my possessions, including my TV for 11 years (in a time before YouTube and Netflix if you can imagine that) and moved to the Sonoran desert. I wanted to live deliberately, to make sure when it came time for me to die, that I had fully lived.
I moved 1,000 miles away and got rid of my TV because I wanted to “put to rout all that was not life,” to face every part of me, and not live what was not life. The result, in part, hundreds of coffee shops later, was the original version of Inner Excellence.
Now, May, 2021, I’m off again: “face your life–remove all that’s not you–live deliberately” Part Dos (zwei). I sold my little retreat center in Point Roberts, Wa (including all the furniture, books, & majority of my possessions), sold my Toyota Tundra (in a bidding war–thanks God!), and so it’s back to the desert again (Phoenix this time). I’ll be there until Fall (thanks Sieckmanns!), or until I move into a bus, whichever is sooner.
I’m simplifying my life (and moving beyond the closed US/Canada border) to remove all that’s not me, to learn more about who I am–or perhaps better said who I was created to be–and what’s possible in my life.
So how does one know if they’re on the right track (aka my life is examined enough)? I imagine it’s similar to knowing if an apple tree is healthy… Is it producing fruit–crisp, juicy, abundant fruit?
The fruit of Inner Excellence is the fruit of the best possible life, inner resources that empower every area of life, performance and otherwise: love, joy and peace.
Peace comes from joy, and joy comes from love, not romantic love, but a much more powerful one: sacrificial, selfless love. When you share your life with the world in an unconditional loving way, you experience joy (deep contentment, freedom and gratitude independent of circumstances) and peace.
How’s your fruit?
Think about it this way. We’re always walking in some version along a spectrum of love or fear, where the far left side is self-centered, self-protecting isolation, and the far right is self-expressing (sharing your gifts), life-giving connection.
Here’s what I pray for, for you and me and everyone I work with: that when the solitary moments come, perhaps sitting at your desk, stopped at a traffic light–all those alone moments–that you feel a deep sense of well-being, freedom and gratitude no matter what’s going on in your life (see the glossary of IX for the word joy). In those moments then, joy brings an expanded vision of possibilities, and you can dream big dreams, unencumbered by self-occupied limitations. This is how you’re designed to live.
The challenge is that we get caught up in our to-do lists, hurrying from one potential check-it-off-the-list item to the next, trying to build a life worth living. One worth sharing. This is the problem. Busyness, while prized in western culture, causes us to miss so much. Don’t miss out on the life you were meant to live because you’re too busy trying to get things done. Don’t keep climbing up the ladder if the ladder’s on the wrong building. Maybe one step up and two steps down means you’re suppose to switch buildings, find a different mountain to climb.
When you realize that the best possible life (where you feel what I shared above in the alone moments) and the life with the most peace and confidence when you perform (work or play) are the same path, your life will change. Especially when you realize that selfless, sacrificial love (the kind where you’re ready to be uncomfortable, even to suffer) leads to joy and fearlessness, then the world becomes much smaller, manageable, and exciting.
One of the ways to increase self-awareness (in addition to reading these newsletters… finding solitude/creating more space in your life… stepping off the ladder to look around… ruthlessly eliminating hurry) is the Heartstyles assessment.
Heartstyles is a 360 degree personal development tool that evaluates you (based on responses from yourself and 6-12 people who know you) in four areas: love, humility, pride and fear. If you’re interested in the Heartstyles assessment, just reply to this email. I’ll respond within the week. You can also contact them directly and ask for a certified associate to administer the assessment.
You’ve been given an incredible gift. No one else can live the life you’ve been given. No one has your experiences, your understandings, your connections, your skills. Don’t let regret be a part of your future by not thinking clearly about who you are, what’s possible in your life, and the amazing that awaits.