Why Must I Keep Re-learning Important Life Lessons?

Inspiration into Action | Happy Living“Our greatest fear should not be failure, but succeeding at things that do not matter.”
(Francis Chan)

Earlier this summer I had to re-learn a lesson about paying attention to those things in my life that are most important to me. In Turning Inspiration into Action, I wrote about a process I use for deciding what is important to me and what is not.

I define spirituality as discovering and cultivating the inner being that is my unique soul. It is a practice of awareness. It is noticing whether energy is coming from my mind or is generated from deep within my soul. Through my practice of reflection (slowing down, being quiet, and listening for my heart to show me the way), I created The Seven Wonders of My Life, which act as my filters and allow me to compare any new inspiration against what’s fundamentally important to me.

My Seven Wonders are:

  1. My one true love
  2. My family
  3. My friends
  4. Fitness
  5. Finance
  6. Adventure
  7. Business

Here’s what happened this summer. Our girls were away at camp for ten days. My beautiful wife Dani and I decided to spend our ninth annual honeymoon at our home, just the two of us. After we picked up the girls from camp and resumed the normalcy of summer, Dani said she was disappointed that I hadn’t changed my daily routine, at all, during our honeymoon. She had expected we’d spend more time together than usual. You can imagine how disappointed I was in myself that I had been so unaware of her feelings, and that I’d lost focus on my number one Wonder.

At the same time, I was reading a wonderful book by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan called The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results. Gary and Jay reminded me in another way just how important awareness and prioritizing are for creating a more meaningful, successful and happy life (and marriage). Here are the excerpts that delivered the powerful lesson when I needed to hear it most.

In your personal world, awareness is the essential ingredient. Awareness of your spirit and body, awareness of your family and friends, awareness of your personal needs—none of these can be sacrificed if you intend to “have a life,” so you can never forsake them for work or one for the other.

Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called work, family, health, friends, and integrity. And you’re keeping all of them in the air. But one day you finally come to understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls—family, health, friends, integrity—are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered.

Wow. I had slipped, yet again, into paying too much attention to my work, the rubber ball, and I was at risk of dropping and shattering my relationship with the love of my life. Even during our honeymoon!

First, I offered Dani my sincere apology and vowed to do better. Then I shared an idea that to fulfill our wish of spending more time together, we could reinstate date night, which we used to have on a fairly regular basis earlier in our marriage. She loved the idea and I loved having the chance to show her just how much I love her and our time together. This time I’ve added a few tools to help me succeed. First, Dani and I discussed what we wanted to spend more time doing together, and I made a Date List that I keep on my smart phone. I’ll keep adding to the list as we explore and discover new things we both enjoy. Second, I am using Google Calendar to schedule our dates and automatically notify Dani too. This helps me because the moment I think about another date idea, I schedule it immediately so it doesn’t become lost in the busy-ness of life. When Dani is both available and likes the idea, she just accepts the invitation and our date is confirmed.

So far, we’ve discovered a wonderful little movie theater; a new lunch place; and have enjoyed boating to breakfast dates together. I am so grateful to my summer school teachers, Gary, Jay, and Dani herself, for reminding me of my own advice. They re-taught me the important lesson of slowing down, being aware, and paying attention to the cherished glass balls of my life.

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