First thing: going forward I'm ditching the moniker “Sabbath Ramblings” for these types of spiritually oriented posts I've been writing for the past two years (full archive here). Part of this is because I don't really know if they're going to come out on Sundays anymore, and the other part is that, after my recent rebranding, I sense that neatly pigeon-holing the “woo,” spiritual, or ethereal into its own special little category is no longer necessary.
Second, today's rambling is a bit different. In the style of Proverbial books I've been reading lately, such as Derek Sivers' How To Live, or Thomas Kempis' Imitation of Christ, I'm simply going to bestow upon your day a few quick, concise thoughts—each of which (who knows?) may someday become an article in itself. This is because I'm smack dab in the midst of releasing one book (Endure) while simultaneously juggling the editing and management of a second book (Boundless Parenting) and writing a speech for the upcoming PaleoFX 2022. In other words, I haven't had the time this week to write the usual 3,000-4,000 word article my ramblings often become!
As a matter of fact, probably my only “frustration” in life right now is a touch of creative angst; meaning that I have about two dozen ideas for songs (you can sample a few of my songs on my Soundcloud account here) and about four dozen ideas for articles/books, yet have only around two hours available per day to work on such projects, since I spend the rest of the time living, being with my family, speaking, traveling, podcasting, reading, researching, editing, coaching, consulting, investing, caring for my health, tending to my companies Ben Greenfield Life and Kion and putting out other random fires that inevitably arise each day, for better or worse.
Admittedly, I often wonder what my production capacity would be if I were had double my current time—approximately four hours—to be able to devote to deep creative artistic writing and storytelling. Who knows? Maybe I'd look back wistfully at my current task list and wish I had more varied work on my plate, or perhaps I'd feel I thought I had truly stepped into a calling of being holed up all day at home writing books and articles, plunking a piano, humming a tune and strumming on my guitar.
Currently, I tackle this first-world-conundrum as follows: I wake up each day and do the very best job I can with whatever God has put upon my plate, without grumbling or complaining, and figure that about the time my twin boys grow up and leave the home, I'm going to suddenly have an extra two hours, most likely in the evening (which is currently devoted to family dinners, family games, and hours of family time) to write more. Until then, I'll just wait patiently for that next chapter of my life.
Alright, enough of this rambling introduction to today's post. I promised you it would be a collection of short and sweet thoughts, and it's already morphing to take on a life of its own! So here are nine examples of proverbs I'm currently living my life by (though there are many, many more I jot down nearly every day, which is why, as you now know, I get frustrated that I don't have more time to turn each of these into books or, at least, bigger pieces of writing!).
Proverb 1: Try the 3 P's.
Picture. Pray. Prepare. This is my three-step process to achieving what God desires for my life, and I figured you could benefit from it. First, visualize in your head in vivid detail, preferably several times per day, that thing you desire to achieve or accomplish. Second, pray daily that God would manifest it in your life. Third, strap on your sword and go do the work to make it happen.
Proverb 2: Be the parent and spouse you want to have.
For example, I as a father want to strive to be the model father I wish I had, whether or not my own father was perfect (none of us are!). If you are a parent, practice this shoes exercise every day with your children. Do it with your husband or wife too. Constantly be seeing yourself through their eyes, then asking yourself if you are being that person you would wish for them to see.
Proverb 3: Three keys to relationship success.
1) Say “I don’t know” more.
2) Readily admit when you are wrong.
3) Ask for forgiveness you have done something wrong, but if you truly feel you have done nothing wrong, be radically honest with your child or spouse and tell them that you really are having a hard time finding or seeing what you did wrong. As Doug Wilson recently wrote here, don't apologize just to make someone feel better, as that will result in you simply living a lie.
Proverb 4: Your brain is like an orchestra or a supercomputer.
An intricate orchestra inside your brain constantly hums in the background, acting as a supercomputer more complex than you could ever comprehend. You were probably built to teleport, to telepathically communicate, to generate sound waves far beyond mere speech with the tongue, to distance heal, and to send photons of light and energy bursting forth from your hands upon everything that you touch. After all, you were created as an image of a deity God.
When you listen to one single song or go on one hike in the sunshine, your brain can decode and interpret millions and millions of miles of wavelengths, particles, and photons. You cannot even begin to comprehend what is going on inside your head as your fully conscious driver sits there atop a massive subconscious elephant. On any given day, your conscious mind has no clue what’s bubbling below the surface.
So what are you going to do with that power? What do you think it will be like when we humans are allowed to unleash our full potential? We are sitting on that potential right now. We just don’t even know what’s underneath the hood. When we get to heaven, I think it's very likely that the hood of the car will open, and then the real party begins. It's interesting to think about, isn't it?
Proverb 5: Find the silence between the notes.
If only we were more present with ourselves and if only we could stop the noise, we would catch just a glimpse of what we’re truly capable of. But sometimes it’s painful to sit in the silence, even when the silence is what we need most.
How do you train yourself to be more present? Here is my best tip for you: go put on a song, preferably something quite instrumental with few or no lyrics, and listen intently for the silence between the notes. Do this at least once per day, for three to seven minutes. When you listen for the silence between the notes, then you must be fully present. There is no other option but to be present if you truly want to find the silence between the notes.
Then apply this same listening skill you develop to everything else you want to be present for: every conversation, every song, every bite of food, every sip of a drink, every drop of paint on a canvas, every hug, every kiss, every act of lovemaking, and every word you hear. Be intentional about it. It’s happening all around you, this silence between the notes, but you must pay attention. If you do, you will find that this full act of presence is when all the things your orchestral, supercomputer subconscious is processing becomes the conscious, but it takes a hell of a lot of patience, presence, and trust to take the time to stop and listen. Music is how you can train yourself to find the silent spaces between the notes and to be able to gracefully shift from the subconscious to conscious and back again. If you really can’t be fully present then that means that you have lost trust that God will provide when you are fully present and not thinking to the future or replaying the past.
Finally, it’s important to realize that once you are able to find the silence between the notes, you don’t necessarily have to be one hundred thousand percent tuned in to one specific object all the time. From an evolutionary or ancestral standpoint, you would have died pretty early by, for example, being killed by a sabertooth tiger as you spent your entire morning staring deeply at and smelling every last flower on your path.
But for most people, being alert to danger or distracted by multiple objects isn't something they need to learn to do or something they're not doing enough of. For most people, stopping to smell the flowers and listening for the silence between the notes is what needs to be learned and honed. This pays dividends in many areas of life, including your stress response, as Victor Frankl alluded to when he wrote (my emphasis in bold font): “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Proverb 6: Do scary things.
Will you stay holed up in your tiny little hole? Or will you poke your head outside to see what’s up? To explore, to adventure, and to be uncomfortable? To be fierce, to be brave, to be bold, and to be edgy? Where you are at (or if you've already taken your first hero's journey step, where you were at) is comfy, huh?
If you've already taken that first step out of the ordinary world and across the threshold into the unknown, then you know that you didn’t want to but it called you. When you get out of that discomfort (or rather, discomfort masquerading as comfort, but inside generating uncomfortable internal angst) and come into the uncomfortable, the unpredictable, and the scary, that’s where you find happy.
That’s right, scary is where you find happy. You just gotta believe that, and most people don’t, because the thought is, well, uncomfortable.
Proverb 7: Be broken.
When it comes to having it all, then losing it all, Job was about the most beat up man in all of recorded human history. You can read his entire story of riches-to-rags-to-riches here, but one particular bit of wisdom in the book of Job that was uttered by Job's friend Eliphaz, who was speaking with Job after Job had, in the course of just one day, lost his livestock, servants, and ten children while being stricken with horrible skin sores, was this: “Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects; Therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty.”
How about you? Are you being broken by God? Lost your job? Broken a leg? Caught a serious illness? Experienced a death in your family? Then say to God, “Thank you. You keep breaking me and breaking me and breaking me. Thank you for keeping me humble. Thank you for breaking me. I am grateful you have broken me. Thank you for showing me how tiny I am in comparison to the great I am. Thank you for slaying my ego. Thank you for refining me like gold in a fire. Now, please heal me and raise me back up.” Speak that, from the heart, the next time you are broken, and remember what a blessing it can be to be broken.
Proverb 8: Mend relationships.
Why mend relationships? Well you can certainly read my article about the five regrets of the dying here, and/or you can read the letter I wrote to my Mom and Dad just a couple weeks ago:
“Dear Mom & Dad,
Last night, I realized something…
…ever since you divorced, I have had a subconscious disrespect for you.
Since that time, I have actually justified dishonoring you (namely, manifested in me speaking harshly or with judgement to Mom, and being embarrassed of and not showing reverence to my father), and that's not right.
But God told us to honor our father and mother. Period. Not to honor your father and mother if they're still married, or honor your father and mother just so long as you agree with them about everything…
…no, He told us to honor our father and mother, no matter what.
So I am sorry for being a dishonorable son. Please forgive me. I will change.”
If I did it, after twenty years of treating my parents pretty crappy, you can do it. Write the letters. Make the phone calls. Have the difficult conversations. Be humble. Forgive and be forgiven.
Proverb 9: They're dead, you're dead.
I was recently reading the excellent book From Strength to Strength by Arthur Brooks. In it, he speaks of the Stoic practice of pondering one's death. I'll raise the Stoics one: ponder your death, and your lover's death. Imagine yourself looking down upon your dead lover (if you are married, your spouse; if single or a child, your parents; if a parent, a child, etc.) and imagine what thoughts are going through your head in that moment, what you think you'll wish you’d have said to them, and what you may be wishing you’d have done together. Now, flip-flop that. You are dead and they are looking down at you. What are they thinking about you? What are they saying about you? What are they feeling about you? Select a relationship or a few relationships in your life right now and try that thought exercise sometime this week. It's powerful.
OK, I'm going to stop there, at nine proverbs. Perhaps I'll throw a few more in the coming weeks if you like this style of proverbial writing. Likely, I will eventually expand all the thoughts above into full-blown articles but thought that for now, I'd simply share with you the type of thoughts that come across my head each day, that eventually do become articles or books. Leave your thoughts, comments, feedback, or your own helpful sayings below. I read them all.