Not all books deserve a second study. In some cases we can find one great lesson, and in the application of that lesson, we can grow as individuals beyond the teachings that book has to offer. Occasionally though, in some rare and wonderful cases, we find a book that plays more of a role than a “single lesson” text, and instead moves to a higher plane. That is to say, some books can be more of a guide on how to live our entire lives than a lesson on one particular aspect. The Rhythm of Life, in my opinion, is one such book. In a previous summary, we discussed the importance of taking time – ideally a day per week – to recharge and re-prioritize. This week’s thought, again from The Rhythm of Life, is about the other 6 days of the week, and how to ensure that they are filled with purpose, passion and fulfillment.
How to say No
“The only way to say no to anything is to have a deeper yes.”
The Rhythm of Life, page 70
I’m a big fan of games; everything from basic card games to scrabble, monopoly and more recent creations like Settlers of Catan (play it, if you haven’t already). I find the best games are the ones that provide the most options during play – the ones that challenge us to problem solve creatively; games that reward those players who know their objectives, and yet are open to various methods of accomplishing them. In such games, good players learn to turn down what may appear to be great opportunities yet don’t help them fulfill their specific goals. They learn to plan, focus and pursue.
Life is a lot like that. There are certain laws and rules we need to follow, but ultimately, we are faced by choices. The only major difference is that the goal of a game is laid out for you in advance – collect the most tricks, accumulate the most points, get all your players “home”, etc. The blessing and the curse of life, of course, is that such goals are not made quite so clear. A curse for those who don’t take the time to identify their goal, and a blessing for those who do, because they – you – have the ability to decide precisely what (and in as specific detail as you’d like) those goals will be.
Here’s what I’ll suggest – you need to define those goals. You need to understand what you’re working towards in order to clearly identify which opportunities will lead you closer to them. The Rhythm of Life author, Matthew Kelly, is notorious for asking “What do you want out of life?”
Can you answer that question?
Can you define your dreams?
In how much detail?
Now, tonight, whenever (but certainly within the next week) I would encourage you to take half an hour in silence and dream. Identify what’s important to you, and why. It’s an incredibly rewarding and invigorating process unto itself, but it will also allow you to understand your “deeper yes”. If you know where/who/how and when you want to end up, the potential detours along the way will be far less tempting. If you have a clear body image in mind, that extra slice of cheesecake will suddenly lose some of its appeal. Say no, by having a deeper yes.
The Stones had it Right
“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need.”
The Rolling Stones, Get what you want
There’s a lot to be said for the messages in pop music (some of it). Last week’s summary was all about legitimate needs; understanding the difference between short term wants and those experiences, conversations, relationships and moments of silence that fulfill a deep rooted need and help to create our balance, our sense of self. We say “no” to those things that distract us by understanding one cardinal rule –
“You can never get enough of what you don’t really need.”
The Rhythm of Life, page 67
Think about the things in your life that you are pursing. What would be your “fulfillment level”? At what point would you have “enough”? The things we can not get enough of can typically be defined as “wants”, and very few of those wants will bring us lasting happiness or fulfillment. Matthew Kelly wrote an entire book on the subject of Happiness (you can read the Goose article HERE), but for the purposes of this discussion, we really only need to ask ourselves one question…
A Thousand Wrong Answers
“There is only one question: Will what you are about to do help you become the-best-version-of-yourself? If the answer is “Yes”, do it without hesitation.”
The Rhythm of Life, page 99
That’s it. One simple question that can change your life. The game of Life becomes a lot easier to play when we understand what our end goals are.
It’s impossible to decide if a particular action will lead you further your quest to become the-best-version-of-yourself (refer back to last week’s article for more clarity on “the-best-version-of-yourself”) if you don’t know what that “best-version” person looks like. You may have heard the expression “The world has a habit of getting out of the way for those who know where they are going”. You need to choose a path. You need to know where you want to go and who you want to be, before you can navigate the path to get there.
And if you want a little extra help in defining your “deeper yes”, think about it this way: Of all the activities you pursue in the hours in your days, which ones give you that sense of timeless enjoyment and enthusiasm that can take you from any state of mind and make you feel good? Identify them. Grasp them. Do everything in your power to do those things as often as you can with the people who are important to you. Life’s too short to live it any other way.