Tag Archive: live well


tombstone

i read an exercise in a book the other day that encouraged us to imagine that we had died:

‘what do you hope the people closest to you might say at your funeral?’

‘what kind of obituary will they write about you for the local newspapeR?’

[from Free: Spending your Time and Money on what matters most, by Mark Scandrette]

in answering those questions we have to realise that nothing is going to magically happen one day for those things to suddenly become true

if it’s not true now, then it’s very likely not going to suddenly be true later

the truth is, your obituary writing starts here

it starts now

and you write it

not physically, but by the way you live your life, how you speak, what you give your time and money to

do you think you would live life any differently if that was the first thought on your mind as you woke up to start a new day?

my obituary starts here

now, how am i going to live, to make it a good one?

I am continuing this series on looking backwards to help yourself move forwards well. This post on Regret should probably go hand in hand with the previous one on Forgiveness.

‘If only. Those must be the two saddest words in the world.’ [ Mercedes Lackey]

regret

And this really is the bottom line. We cannot go back to the past and live things differently. We can’t change the past. And so living with regret of decisions made, actions done, things said becomes completely unhelpful because there is nothing we can do to alter those things. However, we do have the power to affect how we live forwards and so it can be helpful to look back at things that didn’t go so well, not to wallow in self-pity and regret or beat ourselves down or anything like that [again, doesn’t really achieve anything worthwhile] BUT so that where possible we can put things right or else make time to learn from what has happened and choose to live differently from here on out.

“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” [ Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland]

Carroll has a great point there. Another great hope linked to looking backwards is that you have changed as a person. Hopefully you have grown and matured [not become old, please!] and learnt more about love and grace and forgiveness and so the ‘you’ who made those bad decisions and maybe hurt people or messed up badly, is also someone who you have, to some extent left behind as you have moved on.

Transform any regrets you may have from the past into learning opportunities for the future. Insofar as you have the ability to mend broken relationships or make right for things you got wrong and people you hurt, do so [remembering that if they choose not to forgive, that is okay, but make sure they hear and see that you are really repentant] and then leave them behind and move forwards.

‘Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.’ [C. S. Lewis]

Lewis nails it. Start believing that there are better times ahead and work towards those. Embrace the present as you live towards creating a successful future, for you and all those around you.

But if you are going to choose to regret something, this would be a good one:

‘Looking back, I have this to regret, that too often when I loved, I did not say so.’ [David Grayson]

 And by ‘choose to regret’ i mean ‘live so you don’t have to’ – is there someone you need to tell you love or appreciate them today? Don’t wait too late or this too will be tossed upon the regret pile. Don’t wait til someone’s funeral to say all the nicest things about them they never got to hear.

So live forwards well, by learning from, but refusing to carry, any regrets from the past…

[For the next part on Re-establishing contact, click here]

tomorrow

“No man is rich enough to buy back his past.” [Oscar Wilde]

But you can discover richness if you are willing to learn from it.

As we continue to focus on how looking back well can help us move forwards successfully, the next aspect i want to touch on is learning. We may not be able to change the past, but we can definitely learn from it to help change the future trajectory we might currently be on.

“Study the past if you would define the future.” [Confucius]

How do we learn from the past? Well, creating opportunities to reflect can be a good one. When tbV and i were finished out time at the Simple Way we took a few opportunities to sit together at a restaurant with a bunch of pieces of paper with different headings on them – What were some of the things we learnt these last 19 months? Who are the people we are going to miss? What were some of the disappointments? What are some of the moment we want to celebrate? What were our highs and lows?

This can be such a helpful thing to do when finishing off one season of life and heading into the next. By taking time to name and focus on good and bad things that happened, you can help put yourself into a place where you can maximise the good and avoid the bad in the future. Questions like ‘How could I have handled that relationship better?’ or ‘What might have been a better use of my time in this area? can really set us up well to be able to create better rhythms and habits as we move into a new context.

It is a good exercise to do by yourself but possibly even a better one to do with someone else as they can help identify blind spots if you create space for them to speak honestly [and lovingly] to you.

So maybe you are about to finish school or study. Maybe there is a new job on the horizon or you are about to physically move to a new place. Maybe you children are about to leave school or home. Perhaps you recently ended a dating relationship with someone or had a friendship end really badly. Would it maybe help to set aside some time and reflect on the past with the purpose in mind of setting yourself up well for the future.

It might even be something you want to do at the end of a year. Instead of the traditional ‘Write overambitious New Year’s Resolutions and try and keep them for about a week’ practice, how about scheduling a time [with your spouse if you are married or a group of friends, make a weekend trip of it] to sit down and look back at the last year and focus on both highlights and low lights and do what you can to set yourself up better for the coming year.

This is one way we can benefit from looking backwards which can really have such a huge positive impact on how we live forwards…

“The only thing new in the world is the history you do not know.” [Harry S. Truman]

[To continue to the next important and potentially life-transforming part on Forgiving, click here]

continuing with this series of new year’s evolutions – with the idea of moving beyond a dream list of ‘i wish this for next year’ to some specific steps and actions to put into place to help you transform yourself into a better person in 2012. and my next evolution suggestion is this:

SPEND YOUR MONEY [AND TIME AND ENERGY] WELL:

this one follows on from yesterday’s live in the present (with the future in mind) and it’s about being intentional with your resources…

hebrews 12.1 speaks about throwing off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and run with perseverance the race marked out for you. while it will be good to deal with any ongoing sin that is tripping you up, another area to look at in terms of having a more effective year, is those things in your life which hinder you from living well.

the three areas i’ve mentioned are the three foundations of resources you have available to you and it is worth taking some time to think about how you spend each one of these – your time, money and energy

# TIME – how much time do you waste in procrastionary activities, whether it be silly facebook games or vegging in front of the tv for hours or googling japanese game shows… things that are not necessarily bad in themselves can become bad if you take too much time on them [we’ve been on holiday for a week and so i’ve been playing a bunch of mindless facebook games to pass time and refresh, but last nite i did a big delete as we head back to work tomorrow and i need to cut out unnecessary distractions] and so it’s good to regularly take a look at how you spend time during the week and make sure you are using it well. how much of your time do you spend in acts of service to others? discipleship, ministry, reaching out to ‘the least of these’? is there a change you need to make in how you use your time in 2012?

# MONEY – saw this quote by Tim Keller [author of ‘Generous Justice’ which is a great read and also the marriage book that tbV and i are currently working through together] this morning – “Christians should be pressing to keep their costs as low as possible so they can give as much as possible.” – i find that if you are not aware of how you spend your money, then it can very quickly get away from you in terms of being wasted on unnecessary things [takeaway coffees, eating out too much, junk food] when you could be using it creatively on significant things. the concept of tithing is an important one where you take a percentage of your money and set it aside before you spend the rest on yourself and your needs and wants. how much of your money do you spend on others? if you got one less cup of coffee this week, ate out one time less, watched one less movie, bought one less game, how could you use that money to benefit someone else? is there a change you need to make in how you use your money in 2012?

# ENERGY – this is closely linked to time so i will just leave you with the same questions and invite you to take some time to look at this area of your life as well. how much of your energy is devoted to kingdom things? is there a change you need to make in how you use your energy in 2012?

another great quote i was reminded of again recently goes something like this – “he who dies with the most toys is still dead.” if you want to evolutionise in 2012 then make sure that you invest in people more than you invest in things [whether it’s job, toys, holiday houses, clothes…]. the currency of the kingdom of God is people and so it makes a lot more sense that we spend our energy, time and money on things related to people and not just on things…

spend your money [and time and energy] well in 2012.

to continue to the next evolution looking at community, head over here.

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