3 Simple, Proven Ways to Start Your Day Off Better

“With something this disproportionate in their effects, how can we afford not to make time for them. You can do them in as little as three minutes each.” – Stephen Passman
Ladies and Gents, I cannot communicate the value of this advice; It is worth reading and applying.

3 Simple, Proven Ways to Start Your Day Off Better.

Water-Tight Tethers: Surviving Peace before the Storm

“Rain has always fascinated me, it is one of my favorite things in life. As a child I would watch the rain from my bedroom window and imagine the ocean, a storm, a ship, a lighthouse. A story would play out in my mind as the rain hit the window. I would imagine being a raindrop falling into a great river, I would travel to the sea and begin a grand adventure.” – Brittany, from Ramblings at Night: Water

Brittany, a friend whose friendship warms my heart, unhinged a door to my thoughts after writing the above. “One of [her] favorite things in life…” illustrates life itself simply and powerfully. In my mind, a raindrop falling into a great river resembles new birth, and the sea’s grand adventure mirrors our traversing through life. The ocean’s personality may, at times, prove tumultuous, harsh, and uncaring towards travelers (us); at other times, it may prove tranquil and peacefully harbor us in mare pacificum. However capriciously or idyllically life’s current moves us, we ought to scour the horizon for the lighthouse, fix our coordinates, and sail steadfastly.
Growing up, I loved to watch the rain pour outside and rarely failed to escape the house to play with full throttle. I explored the myriad of canals that only come to life when it rains, making leaf-boats to war with the waters ’til they reached the channel’s end. Having grown, when life thrusts me to and fro, I mentally remove myself from the storm and relocate inside the house, beside the window, and watch the storm.

Baltic Sea (Darlowo)Picturing life in moments, or as a story, reminds me that living is like writing a book that only a few select individuals will read – my family and dearest friends. Each chapter is new, displaying both tribulation and triumph. Characters come, go, and a few remain, but I, I am constant ’til the last period, death. I reflect on the question: “Am I writing a story worth reading?” When storms battered the ship deck and put the mast to the test, did I remember my anchor? The lighthouse? Or did I allow my attention to be diverted and locked on the dissonant churning of the waves?

Will I be able to proclaim:

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”

– Robert Frost, from the Road Not Taken

Law-Avoiding Citizen: Workplace Conduct

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” – Paul, from Galatians 5:22-25 (ESV)

For the Christian living by the Spirit and thereby walking by the Spirit, a dichotomy between Christian-ethic and work-ethic cannot exist. The ethos of Christian faith epitomized in Galatians 5, the fruit of the Spirit, reveals the heart-condition of a believer. A Christian, like a tree, produces fruit according to its kind; if the fruit of the Spirit is absent from a believer’s spiritual limbs, that believer may be assumed to be a species of tree other than that of the Spirit. Living by the Spirit symbolizes the spiritual, life-giving blood of a believer; walking by the Spirit symbolizes the motion enacted by that spiritual, life-giving blood. Therefore, when an authentic Christian walks into the workplace, he will be walking in by the Spirit.

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The fruit of the Spirit stems from healthy, Spirit-filled roots; thence love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are neither guidelines nor rules: they are results. Thus, the fruit of the Spirit is not solely a mark of the perennial practice of virtue, which one can stop practicing; rather, the fruit of the Spirit is the hallmark of spiritual character, inundated by an idyllic cooperation with the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, results of the Spirit are neither severable nor discretionary once one engages in the business setting. An authentic, Spirit-filled, working Christian will:

  • Value peace with co-workers
  • Seek joy in work
  • Love even the surliest manager and/or subordinate
  • Understand patience with deadlines, new employees, and frustrating employees
  • Display kindness to both customers and co-workers
  • Strive for goodness in quality of work
  • Demonstrate faithfulness behind closed doors, when filing documents, or dealing with money
  • Exist in gentleness during both serene and tumultuous atmospheres
  • Exercise self-control­ when tensions tighten or a customer is most assuredly not right

4267332510_7229a0a729“Against such things there is no law…” surmises Paul’s emphasis on freedom in Christ, which is the context of Galatians 5. Likewise, following after the Spirit’s leading frees us from striving toward a standard of business conduct; following the Spirit’s leading generates a new standard of business conduct. This phenomenon occurs because following the Spirit is not following; rather, following the Spirit is walking because of Him. So, the Christian, living and walking by the Spirit, cannot divorce Christian-ethic and work-ethic.

 

Buying Time: Giving Much with Nothing

While ritually perusing Facebook, I scrolled across a post shared by a friend via Astig FM’s Facebook page. In a classic viral Facebook-life-lesson format, the post depicted an interaction between a father and his son. The story began when the son inquired of his father’s hourly income; taken aback by his son’s intrusiveness, the father resisted the request, but did not withhold the desired information for long. The father revealed his $100 hourly wage; after which the son soberly asked for $50 from his father. Now appalled, the hardworking father directed his son to meditate on his childish, selfish petition. Nearly an hour later, the father’s fumes settled and he proceeded to apologize to his son for involving him in the stresses of the day (the roots underneath the father’s aggravation). He handed his son $50, knowing that his son never asked for much; post-haste, the son pilfered beneath his pillow and pulled out another $50 that he had collected. Slightly perplexed, his father curiously asked why his son wanted more money, since he already had some.

The son responded: “’Because I didn’t have enough, but now I do…’ ‘Daddy, I have $100 now. Can I buy an hour of your time? Please come home early tomorrow. I would like to have dinner with you.’”

The hardworking, overworking father felt defeated and responded with a mending hug.

This everyday story extends to anyone who is distracted by anything, and priority assessment is the foundation. The father gave himself up to a money-making-mindset. Providing for his family, a worthy cause and the father’s heart-motive, underwent nearly fatal arrhythmia when provision garnered more attention than the very family receiving provision.

In the business setting, an industry’s resources become fully realized once tangible and intangible resources are both accounted for. Tangible resources (such as property, equipment, inventory, the building itself, etc.) are numerable, on the books, and may be dispensed of in accordance with the limited supply. Intangible resources (such as experience, leadership skills, time, etc.) are innumerable, off the books, and may be dispensed of in accordance with the flexible supply. Both tangible and intangible resources together constitute the whole of an industry’s resources; likewise, both tangible and intangible resources together constitute the whole of an individual’s resources.

Even when we have nothing, we have time; in giving someone our time, we become a benefactor. As long as we have breath, we have time – making us the owner of a resource rich in quantity and living value.

Time is everyone’s benefactor; as beneficiaries, we should expect to use our intangible resource wisely.

Unwrapping Time: Living Present

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“There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live.” – Dalai Lama

Presence:

The culture in which I live interprets eye contact into various meanings: strength, care, respect, presence, etc., and each interpretation accompanies a degree of value. Presence occurs when two or more parties, engaged in discourse or the sublime company (or not so sublime company) of one another, come to an understanding of each person’s mental or spiritual presence. By U.S. sociocultural standards, little to no eye-contact in conversation translates as little to no attention/engagement/presence in the discussion. Making healthy doses of eye-contact during conversation tells the other party you are there – it tells the other party you are present.

Past and Future:

The past and the future belong to everyone; the past has helped and hurt most everyone, and the future has only yet to do so. Overly focusing on the past dwindles strength for today in that the strength used to perform yesterday is still in use as though the show never ended. Overly focusing on the future disrupts today in that the after-party is preemptively begun in the mind, confusing the immediate scene. Focusing on today rejuvenates the strength to satisfy today’s own needs and budgets the mind’s thoughts, mentally stabilizing for tomorrow.

Present Presence:

Focusing on today is making eye-contact with the present moment, being present in the present. The door leading to the past is locked; the threshold leading to the future is still being built – each of us exists in the same room of time – now. Shall we withhold love ‘til the future comes? The future never comes. Shall we falter in faith because experience (past) “taught” us better? Experience ought to redefine, renew, and fortify faith. Shall we put off “doing” today? If the past taught us anything about the future, it is that things change; today is the only opportunity to do. With the past behind me and the future before me, here I am betwixt and between alongside the present – now.

“…I looked in my rear view mirror to switch lanes. Then an idea formed in my mind. I have to use my mirror to look behind me in order to drive safely; however, I can’t continue to look back otherwise I will wreck. I believe this is like life; it’s important that we look back but if we continue looking back we sacrifice the life we’re living now.” – Brittany Echols, from Looking Back…

 

I See Dead People: An Old Adage

“In America especially, we are wrapped up in what people think of us. Our entire [culture] is grounded in cliques, social status, and brands. The core of this groundwork is the “need” to have the right people like you. Since when has that mattered? Are you running for a political office? If the answer to that question was no, then focus on you, not them…” – Phill Easley,  from You Are What You Love

Referring to and moved by the simple quip “You are what you love, not who loves you”, Phill continues to delineate on a number of identity issues to which several souls succumb: many people identify themselves via the identity of a significant other; certain people, perhaps, identify themselves solely by a political or socioeconomic class; and others, even identify themselves in terms purely based out of religious conviction. These are but a few sources anyone can draw from the identity pool: ethnicity, sociocultural stigma, marital role, career choice, technological devices (phones, gadgets, computers, gaming systems, etc.), internet (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Blogs, etc.), and so on and so forth. None of these even slightly relate to who a person is. If all the of the aforementioned identity-bubbles were painted grey and popped, what is left? The inside is left; you are left.

The initial clause, “You are what you love…”, is inspirational; the latter clause, “…not who loves you.”, is liberating. Most people find peace in something – even if that something is nothing in particular. Most times, people are inhibited from doing that something by: physical barriers, metaphysical barriers (e.g., others’ expectations; self-imposed expectations), depression, demotivation, a career path or lack thereof, and the list goes on. That anyone’s peace-bringing something, or nothing in particular, would be suppressed by external or internal forces is grievous.

If we live without allotting some or much of our time for the something that makes us, us, then our life lived without our something is devoid of truth. If a lie is presupposed not to exist, then our pseudo-us may also be presupposed not to exist. If you fail to do what makes you, you; you, though existing, fail to live. Ignorance of one’s self is ignorance of life – a special form of death. The initial clause, “You are what you love…”, represents your something; the latter clause, “…not who loves you.“, represents your something unshackled.

“What do you love? What of you, by you, and from you is so inseparable from your being that its very absence would make you stop being you? That is who you are. And it is only through discovering what you love–that inmost core, hardwired into the recesses of your soul– that you find you.” – Phill Easley,  from You Are What You Love

Cityscape Empire: Our Temporal Abodes

Stars halt my racing heart and Nashville’s city-lights catch my eyes on the yield. My mind ponders over the light emanating from the streets, towers, and Hustler Hollywood. All forms of socioeconomic class and ethnic group flock to the city of Nashville, and I wonder: to what end was such a city conjured? On an individual basis, a man understands that he is finite and his efforts will fade away; on a universal basis, mankind lives and acts as though it is immortal and its institutions will undoubtedly withstand the trial of ages.

Light’s mere existence renders me breathless, let alone a metropolitan night. Mankind raises constructions which simultaneously enamor and tear me inside. All that has been, is being, and will be built up will be torn down. Ceaselessly, mankind plays in its sandcastles without accounting for the coming tide.

Though we are frozen within our own time, we are warm just enough to move. Any success or lack thereof a man may consider himself to have accomplished has an end: it is simply and truthfully the nature of finite things to remain as such. Man may work to live or live to work; death closes both cases, and our cityscapes stand tall as ephemeral empires.