Discipline #8: Fuel Your Soul
- Your heart (spirit) is the source of all your thoughts, feelings and decisions.
- When you’re squeezed (aka facing adversity), what’s in your heart comes out.
- Every day the culture you live in, your immediate environment, and everything you listen to, watch, read and people you spend time are programming your heart.
“Here’s something else that’s weird but true: in the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship–be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles–is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.
Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they’re evil or sinful, it’s that they’re unconscious. They are default settings.
They’re the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that’s what you’re doing.
And the so-called real world will not discourage you from operating on your default settings, because the so-called real world of men and money and power hums merrily along in a pool of fear and anger and frustration and craving and worship of self. Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom all to be lords of our tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the centre of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talk about much in the great outside world of wanting and achieving…. The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.
That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.” – David Foster Wallace, This is Water, Kenyon College Commencement speech
Everybody worships. Everyone has something at the very top of their loves and this thing, whatever it is, determines the course of your life.
Author James K. A. Smith, who was largely influenced by St. Augustine, says that we are shaped most not by what we think or do, but by what we love, especially what we love most.
Whatever (or whomever) that is, greatly impacts all you think, say and do. It’s the foundation for your mindset (how you see the world and what you’re pursuing) and how your life unfolds.
It’s kind of a reciprocal relationship, where what you love most (aka worship) influences all you think, say and do, and all you think say and do impacts what you love most.
All our little choices, especially what we look at and listen to, impact how we feel. What we feel impacts what we believe and what we love, which in the end, becomes what we worship.
So what to do?
Take great care to arrange your environment and your daily routines of thought and action so that you live with deep contentment, joy and confidence independent of circumstances.
Make sure that every day your senses are taking in more love, wisdom and courage than anything else, through what you read, watch, listen to and people you spend time with.
Let me know how it goes.
You are what you love. Smith, James K. A.
Articles on how our environment impacts us
Our environment shapes our personality much more than we think (Fast Company)
How our surroundings affect the way we think and feel
Articles on how nature improves health
How nature resets our minds and bodies
How hospital gardens help patients heal (Scientific American)
Nature scenes promote hospital healing