I was out back in the yard pushing my son on the swing after playing an exhausting game of tag, and I started thinking about the words “less” and “full.” It dawned on me that for many years, those two words governed the way that I had lived my life. I was consumed with the desire and drive for more but unwilling to exchange anything in return. Sadly, it is also the way most folks live their lives today — being full of unimportant personal clutter rather than having less of it.
The spiritual empty
I had taken for granted all the richness in my life by having a narrow focus of what was important. I call it “the spiritual empty.” It is when you know you should be doing something differently but you’re either not sure how, you’re afraid, or you just don’t want to. I had become consumed with the corporate demands of schedules, meetings, running an operation. Deadlines. Money was my focus, and the result was a disregard for family.
While I was leaving for work one morning, my son asked, “Dad, why do you work all the time? You’re never here.” I was floored. The drive in was the longest half hour of my life. I decided to make a change. I decided to give more and take less.
How could I help this tender 6 year old reach his potential and assist him with enriching his life? I had ideas, yes, but they all scared the hell out of me. I thought, “What am I going to do?”
Today, in my young son’s eyes, I am the best at being a dad. I play with him, encourage him, teach him. I set the best examples that I know how for him in the situations that we encounter.
The first step
Remember the two words I mentioned at the beginning? What started out slowly and somewhat inconsistently, but has now gained valuable relevance in my life, is when I chose to add the word “thought” in front of both. This simple step could possibly work for you too.
One brick at a time
I started small, but I realized that being finished with something wasn’t necessarily the end of it. Here’s what I mean.
The majority of our lives are made up of compartments. The trick is to combine them. To gain a rhythm. Leaving your job as I did disrupted that rhythm. I don’t recommend this approach — it is not for everyone. The joy that I have found in doing so, however, is worth more to me than a high salary. Take it slow.
Maturing into unselfish behavior using this method has been a springboard into becoming more attentive, patient, and, to my surprise, significantly more helpful. The smile in the eyes of my child tells me all that I need to know. The words that are uttered by a little one, however softly, can add a quality to your life that was unthinkable before. Who are the “matter” people in your life? May I suggest gaining the approval of them first by listening, then make your move.
As you are reading this, check those two words. If you’re good, that’s great! If you’re not, then maybe try adding a third like I did.
Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com