“Do you ever feel you just need a little time to yourself? Do you find yourself questioning the way you are living your life? Do you have questions about what is best for you now? Do you feel overloaded or overwhelmed?”
The Rhythm of Life, page 76
There are times in all of our lives that we lose track of what’s important. Times that we focus on the minute, the mundane and the dull. In his pioneer work, The Rhythm of Life, author, speaker and coach Matthew Kelly gently reminds us that there is more to life than the routine. There is more to life than the “episodic” repetition that we can so easily fall into. The true challenge is in identifying, and then escaping the rut of drudgery.
As Kelly reminds us, we, as human beings, have legitimate needs of many different kinds. Physical needs, like food, drink and sleep, are easy to identify and fulfill. When we get hungry, our stomachs growl. When we grow tired, our body reminds us with nodding heads, yawns and a desire to sleep. Those are the easy ones. But we are more than just our bodies. While our physical needs are crucial to our well being, our other needs – those emotional, intellectual and spiritual needs are equally important in becoming the-best-versions-of-ourselves possible.
The Growl of Your Soul
“It would be lovely if our souls growled every time they were hungry the way our stomachs do. But they don’t. The voice of the hungry soul is confusion, questions, and a general sense of being overwhelmed.”
The Rhythm of Life, page 77
There’s a big movement that is emerging in the non-profit sector. This movement is dedicated to identifying and resolving the cause of various problems in various cultures. For so long, the focus has been on the issue at hand. If a country is starving, provide food. If a community is wracked with disease, provide medicine. These are noble and, often, necessary acts. They do not, however, address the original cause the problem. Now there are organizations that identify hungry populations, and then teach the community how to grow their own crops. They identify sickness and provide education on how to avoid those diseases.
Band-aid solutions are not the cure-all answer to problems. Instead, we need to identify the source of the discomfort and work to remove it at the quick. As is true with external communities, so is the case with our own bodies and minds. The following are two timeless truths for improving your mental and spiritual state.
Waste time. You won’t regret it.
“Let’s waste some time together one day this week.”
The Rhythm of Life, page 58
You can’t schedule “quality time”. You can’t pencil in ten minutes to have a deep, meaningful conversation with your daughter. Unscheduled, unmanipulated “downtime” is without question the most valuable relationship building experience you can share with another human being.
What’s your last memory of taking time off, physically and mentally, to spend a carefree afternoon with someone important? Make a commitment this week to take an evening, an afternoon or a full day to bask in the presence of a loved one.
“Leisure ignites our intellectual desires; fatigue banishes them”
The Rhythm of Life, page 74
Being busy is a double edged sword. Certainly, the great leaders, thinkers and artists of our time throw themselves fully into their craft. At the same time, being too busy or too tired can crush our intellectual desires very quickly. Productive leaders understand the value of cycles. Watch a professional tennis match sometime, and pay close attention to the players actions between points. In past studies, it has been proven that a professional tennis player’s pulse returns to almost their resting heart rate between points. They understand the value of rest between spurts of productive activity. Your mind works in the same way. Give it a break from work and avoid the distractions of television or video games for a couple Sundays in a row, and you’ll be amazed at the ideas that begin to flood your mind; skills you’ve always wanted to acquire or experiences you forgot you wanted to enjoy.
Turn off the box. Get outside. Live a newly invigorated existence. Life’s too short not to be enjoyed.
The Rhythm of Life is a wonderful guidebook and one of my personal favorites. Incorporating some of the best philosophies from other great thinkers of our time, and presented in a highly digestible manner, this is an excellent starting point (or great reminder) for those looking to refocus, recommit and pursue the great joys of life. Matthew Kelly is the epitome of passionate living and his lessons ring true on every page.
Want more? Check out our second summary of The Rhythm of Life here.