I am finding as I attempt to live a disciplined life that I am getting really good at accomplishing tasks but not so good at replenishing my heart. My disciplines are designed for me to live out my values and what is important to me. Those values do reflect what is in my heart, however, they don’t always bring about refreshment in my inner being, if that makes sense.
We all have seven days in a week. If we looked over the past sixty days and reflected on where we spent our time, we might feel really good about it or be a bit discouraged. I know I can look at my calendar and see that many of those things that are most important to me were accomplished. However, the way in which they were accomplished is what I am paying close attention to these days.
You see, I really like achieving things. I like to feel as if I am accomplishing something. For instance, one of my goals this year for my health was to transition from sodas to sparkling water. Check. Four months down and still going! Another goal is to set up one on one special dates with my children. Check. They are happening sporadically, but they are happening. I can pat myself on the shoulder that I am a responsible human being that is living an intentional life.
Now when I take those two goals and look through the lens of my heart energy, my well being, it is a different story. My heart has been running on fumes and therefore the amount of energy I have to pour into those things that are most important to me can get short changed. I don’t think that my life and our lives are prepared for the amount of heart drain we experience in the twenty-first century. It’s not that our lives are harder than past generations, it’s just that they are fuller with activity and volume. We all can accomplish tasks, solve problems, and work at blazing speeds like no other generation in history, but at what cost? The intoxication of networking, running at light speed, starting new ventures, and cramming in rest or vacations is causing our heart to run on vapors.
Don’t get me wrong, we take our days off but we aren’t really filling our tanks. It’s kind of like drinking still water and sparkling water. They aren’t equal. One makes us feel like we are fuller than we really are. It’s a counterfeit full. It’s like we are only filling our heart tanks to a quarter or half of a tank at best. However, in our minds, what we are doing should fill our tanks to the full each week.
Another example might be how we choose to “rest” and revive our souls. The difference is like going to an amusement park for rest. Have you ever taken a trip to Disney World, and come back more exhausted than you left? We tend to count the trip to Disney as rest in our yearly life. At least this is our mentality. In fact, it is just another item that we accomplished but our hearts weren’t fully there. We even may have been secretly wishing we weren’t there.
When we are running on vapors, one day of “rest” isn’t going to get us to full. When we are on empty or have been running on empty for months, one day or Sabbath is good, but isn’t fulfilling. Our hearts need more. Our souls need refreshing. Our well being needs something different.
So how do we replenish our hearts so we can be fully engaged with those who matter most to us? How do we keep our tanks closer to full and away from running on empty? I’ve been studying this for myself this year and here is what I am learning for me. Hopefully, this game plan will be helpful to you also. If you are lacking a real refreshing of your heart and soul, give this a try.
Plan an Extended Weekend of Inactivity.
I know that that very phrase stresses some of you. I’d recommend a minimum of two days for this, but three or more is really ideal. I recently had a conversation with someone who said they have to be moving or doing something all the time. They can’t sit still because they are always thinking about what needs to be done next. I couldn’t think of a better description of where our society is today. We are addicted to doing something…anything. If we are sitting still it triggers in us that something is wrong. We carry a fear of missing out on whatever is going on in our relationship circles, etc. My prescription isn’t more cowbell but more inactivity. Prepping this time, is even better if you can get out of town. Regardless, give this a shot:
- Sleep. Sleep whenever you want. Sleep when you first start your time off. Take a nap if you want later that day. Go to bed early or go to bed late. Sleep whenever you have the urge or feel tired. Your body has been needing this rest. More than likely you have been functioning in survival mode. When you give yourself the opportunity to stop moving, your body might take you up on it. We are designed to need rest.
- Recreate. Only participate or do those activities that bring life to you. Go for a walk, go to the beach or into the mountains. Pick up that book you have been wanting to read for enjoyment. Watch that Netflix series you have been waiting to binge on. The only criteria is that it has to be life giving to you. You have permission. Pick up that old life giving hobby. Get back to those things that truly refresh you. Get back to your Divine Design.
- Disconnect. Turn off your work, completely. Whatever it is, shut it down for your time of inactivity. Don’t even open the app. If it is email, close it, turn off notifications, etc. No work triggers. Completely unhook from those stressors in your life. Act as if you are out of range and have no cell service. Experience the freedom of stillness.
- Eat. Eat some good food. Not food we get on the run or to enable us to keep our hectic schedule. Food that you have to prepare and sit down to enjoy. Pick up your favorites. Pick up a treat and your most treasured snacks. When our body has physical energy it feels better. Your heart can’t be restored while needing physical nutrients. Even when we discover insight in a time of fasting, there is a need to be refilled with food. You are preparing to replenish your soul. Food in this case, is a necessity. Embrace those comfort foods.
You will find that your heart will begin to come back to life in just over a twenty-four hour period. It is starting to get nourished. The temptation will be to go back into our autopilot mode of hurry and planning. Once we receive a little life, we are inclined to go DO something. Don’t. Be still. You can’t rush replenishment. You can only receive it. Stay intent on receiving.
Practice Expressing Gratitude
There is something very powerful that happens within us when we are grateful for our lives. It doesn’t mean that we are ignoring what is not going so well. Often what isn’t going well always has our mind and worry. We are choosing to focus our attention on those good things. Those are areas that need more of our focus for our well being.
Gratitude tends to take the pressure off of us. It also makes us more thankful. When we are thankful, we are not stressed. Whether it is journaling, writing a card to someone, a phone call or text. Take time to reflect on who and what you are thankful for. Personally, I like to start with what I call my five percent. Those five key areas of my life that matter most to me: 1. My Marriage, 2. My Health, 3. My Family, 4. My Friendships, and 5. My Spirituality. I like to go down the list and express my thankfulness to God in those areas in which I am so appreciative. I also desire to think about how I can enrich each one of those areas in my life because they bring me joy.
Choose to spend time being thankful and thanking those who matter most to you. Let them know how much you love them and how special they are to your life. Let them in on what is going on inside of you. Life begets life. When we enter into those life-giving areas of our heart, it restores us. It’s like taking a deep breath or stepping into a warm bath. Little by little your heart is getting refilled.
By this time, you may be ready to DO something. If so you are almost reaching your “second wind” in replenishment. If you are a runner, and I am not, you know that when you are just about ready to give up on your run, when your lungs are burning and your legs are cramping, and every indicator in your body is telling you to stop, you are just about to experience breakthrough. It’s the same with our heart work and our well-being. You are on the verge of your second wind. The last phase is dreaming. You are going to need some uninterrupted time for this.
Dream About Your Future
This one is hard for me. I am a realist, so many of my dreams have asterisks beside them. It takes work just to simply dream positively and think about my future with no strings attached.
Dreams inspire us. They unleash the pent up emotions within our heart. Ecclesiastes says that God has planted eternity into the hearts of humanity (Ecclesiastes 3:11). There is a longing in all of us for something more than what we are experiencing. What is your dream for your life? What is your dream for your most closest relationships? Have you stopped dreaming and accepted the false belief that your best days are behind you? My heart comes alive when I stop and think about what could be. It motivates me when I dream about the great days ahead for my family. I can’t wait for grandkids, seeing the fruit of my efforts, etc. Take time to capture your dreams. Dreams energize us.
It’s important to remember that we can’t dream when we are spent. We don’t have the energy or motivation to even think about it. However, if you have created an extended time of inactivity, practiced expressing gratitude, and taken time to dream, then you have energy in your heart. Dreaming can inspire us to action.
Heart work is hard work. It’s a journey of self-restraint and focus. It doesn’t come naturally to most of us, yet we cannot survive without it. Give yourself permission to really replenish your well-being. You won’t regret it, and neither will those who know you best. When we are refreshed we can refresh others. Get your calendar out and plan your first well being weekend and watch what changes in you and those around you.
I believe that our best days are before us…not behind us. We all need a little encouragement, wisdom, and help from time to time. We can’t accomplish our goals in isolation or always on our own. We need each other. Remember, you are not alone. It’s time to thrive. Let’s do it together. Click here to set up a Discovery Coaching call.