Last week's blog post described the hamster wheel kind of life that so many people find themselves caught up in. It's the vicious cycle that can't seem to stop. So we live in exhaustion, discouragement, lack of energy and inspiration, and a sense of being victims to our schedules and environments. A terrible and unhealthy way to live! The good news is that there are two ways to strategically move beyond this painful cycle. Last week's blog described the first strategy: get clear on your identity and what your identity is based upon. Click here to read that post!
I'm illustrating both strategies with the ancient story of the Jews' experience of slavery in Egypt under a cruel Pharaoh and his slave masters. Here is the second significant strategy.
Strategy # 2: Get Clear About the Difference Between Energy vs. Time
The Jews were giving most of their time to the Pharaoh via the slave masters. They were forced to produce bricks, at the risk of death should they stop. They were in a losing battle if time were the only resource available to them.
But every seventh day, they did something counter-intuitive. They stopped. They rested. It was called Sabbath. So what?
The way Sabbath was structured for them was that this was a very intentional time to remember their true identity. they were not primarily slaves to a human taskmaster. They were children of Yahweh, the God who had called them and claimed them--who had chosen them, not because of how "cool" they were, not because of how good they performed or how much they produced, but simply because God chose them to belong to the God of the universe.
Their identity was based upon a stable truth:
"We are chosen, valuable human beings simply for being. We are called for a special purpose. We are not slaves. We are free. And we're moving in our history toward the ultimate liberation of living in perfect congruence with our given freedom. Our task masters can take away our time. But they cannot take away our mindset, our identity, our humanness. We control that. And we choose freedom, even while we're having to work painfully for cruel masters!"
Develop Reinforcing Rituals & Practices
So every seven days, on the Sabbath, they remembered, they realigned their mental picture, they stepped into that reality. How? By engaging in practices and celebrations and rituals that reinforced the truth about themselves, that re-energized their sagging souls and aching bodies.
The power of this kind of regular ritual and practice is that the emphasis is not on time as much as it is on energy.
Time is a finite resource. We only have 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
So if we based our experience on managing our time, no matter how important that is, we are in a losing battle.
But energy is renewable. When we learn to manage it, steward it effectively, we can not only sustain our capacity we can increase our capacity.
Engaging in Energy Boosters
So my client and I began a conversation that he described as the most important thing he's done. We identified rituals and practices he could engage in that would renew his energy. He creatively conceived of "mini-sabbaths" into which he could step and feel a boost, remember his true self, pay attention to his soul, renew his energy.
Energy boosters. Even if it was taking out his "dusty" harmonica and playing it for 10 minutes. Even if it was catching up on his New Yorker magazine for 10 minutes, reading what he enjoyed. Even if it meant going to the bar every week to enjoy Trivia night with his friends. Energy boosters.
When we neglect positive energy boosters in our lives, when we disregard positive rituals and practices that remind ourselves of who we really are, we degenerate into nothing more than "slaves to a task master" of our never-ending work or the demanding expectations of others in our lives. We give up control. And then we slip into a victim mindset. It's a losing battle, every single time!
Make Your List Now
So make a list right now. What are activities you can schedule regularly (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly) that give you positive energy when you do them? If you can actually schedule them into your calendar, then you won't have to waste brain energy by always having to think through when you want to do them.
If you don't do that, I guarantee you your busy schedule will trump your rituals & energy boosters every time. Put them into your calendar so that they simply come regularly without serious planning and forethought so all your energy can be used in actually engaging and being present when that time comes.
You'll find yourself moving steadily from a "slave" mentality to a liberation mentality. You'll be in control again; you'll reclaim sovereignty over your time and energy and life. That's a far better way to live!