There is a popular and often misattributed quote by Bill Keane that says, “Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.” As I continue in my wholeness lifestyle, I wanted to share a few things I feel deeply about this year on how to live each day to its fullest. Today is indeed a present, a wonderful gift that has never been seen before. I believe we all need to embrace certain positive habits such as being intentionally grateful and content to live each day unapologetically whole. . . physically, mentally, and spiritually.
- Mentally Detox. When I find that my heart and mind are heavy with all the toxicity in the world today, I sense the need to pull back into my periodic hiatus from the media and social media. It is so important that we all take a break from the constant negativity going on around us. A periodic hiatus is not equivalent to detaching from reality. It simply means we limit the negativity we take in on a daily basis.
- Focus on the here and now. Many times, I find myself either mentally hurrying toward the mysterious future, or mentally frozen in a painful moment that has passed. Either way, it all fits into the category of worrying. I cannot be productive comparing myself to others, I need to compare myself to who I was yesterday, vowing to be a better version of myself today. I cannot do anything about the past, and I really have no true control over the future. When I need to break the anxiety-producing habit of worrying, I always find myself meditating on the ancient Scriptures, specifically the powerful teachings of Jesus Christ, especially as it concerns gaining perspective about everyday life. “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life- whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” (Matthew 6:25-27, New Living Translation). This is a good mental habit to grasp every single day.
- Develop good habits. Just as the enlightening scriptures above give us mental nuggets to meditate on, we should also realize that we need to embrace life-affirming thoughts of gratitude each day. For example, here is a good habit that goes along with the verse I just mentioned. Whenever I start to worry, I take a walk in nature, and I quickly see those birds that are not anxiously toiling. Then I understand clearly that the Father does in fact feed them. In His eyes, we are far more valuable than the birds. To add to this type of meditation, journaling is another good habit I’m getting into more and more these days. I’ve always been a writer but last semester, as I worked toward getting my master’s degree in biblical counseling, I studied the value of spiritual disciplines, specifically journaling for reflection. Sometimes a certain writer can present information you already know so precisely that it actually helps you to see the familiar from a different perspective. I welcomed that perspective as I studied the spiritual disciplines on a deeper level. There is so much value in taking a moment and really evaluating where you are. . .in one moment of time. For example, while journaling, you can ask yourself, “How am I feeling right now? What do I need to do to be emotionally and mentally okay right now? How can I begin to embrace gratitude right now?”
- Change your scenery. For example, whenever I need a short break from everything, I simply drive to a beautiful lake or pond to eat lunch or to read a passage or to simply make a to-do list. I could drive to a nice park, and for a few moments just listen to my favorite music. I may make a phone call or say a quick prayer or spend some time meditating. It doesn’t matter as long as I can find solace in serenity and solitude.
Again, I never understood the true value of my spiritual disciplines until I took a spiritual formation class this past semester. The class gave me a more in-depth understanding of how commiting to spiritual disciplines such as Bible reading, prayer, meditation, reflection, fellowship, serving others, etc. are beneficial and instrumental in maintaining identity, peace, and discovering solutions to daily challenges. Those disciplines not only help me connect to God, but to also connect with myself and others to a greater degree.
Because I’m not perfect, I know I will falter at some point, and not keep up my good habits and spiritual disciplines to the best of my ability. However, I realize that having joy in the process is key. Pray and ask God for His guidance concerning how to comfortably incorporate the disciplines and good habits that will bring you joy, and will help you feel more connected to God, yourself, and others.