In the midst of all the routine aspects of your life, what inspires you to find something special or more meaningful in your life?
A new day begins. We get out of bed, get dressed, grab breakfast, perhaps help family members get ready for the day, and go off to do what we do. In a couple of hours, it’s time for lunch. Then back home. Perhaps there’s an occasional dinner out. But one day is pretty much like the day that came before and much like the day which follows. Our days blur into weeks; weeks into months; then a new year begins and the cycle goes on. Yes, there are some holiday memories and vacations. But most of us lead lives that are routine and predictable. Is that all there is?
That’s a good question: is that all there is? Philosophers, theologians, song writers, and poets have asked this question in a variety of ways over the course of human existence. They’ve all recognized that the days of our lives are largely routine and repetitious. In the midst of life’s ordinary routines, how is it that some people find something more to their lives? When it appears that there’s nothing new but our ordinary tasks, what keeps a person going — finding something beyond the ordinary?
The questions of life’s meaning and purpose have been raised in every generation. While some suggest that there is some ultimate meaning in life, that there is an answer to every question about life’s purpose, I just don’t buy it. Instead, I’ve learned that any meaning and purpose in life is what we discover or create for ourselves.
Finding something more in life beyond our daily tasks requires choosing to discover something more around us. Experiencing life as somehow meaningful or purposeful doesn’t change our day to day routines. Instead, when we experience something beyond the ordinary, it’s because our view about life has changed.
Often, finding something more in life than just the ordinary and routine is based upon our values, beliefs, and experiences. One person may value providing a better future for her children. Because of this value, she commutes by bus each day, holding down two part time jobs when full time employment isn’t available to her. She makes the most money she can to provide a stable home for her children. The low-paying work and exhausting life take on meaning for her as she lives out the value of being a good mother. Another person may value the principle known as the Golden Rule: to treat others the way you want to be treated. Because of his belief, he greets each person he meets, demonstrates a polite courtesy, and lends a hand when he can. There’s a purpose to his life informed by his belief. Another may have experienced something transcendent in nature, so takes time each day to smell the roses or watch a tree grow. Attending to the beauty and wonder of nature creates value in the person’s life. I have friends who bird watch and suspect that this is part of why they sit and wait long hours to catch a glimpse of a particular bird.
Life is transformed into something beyond the ordinary, to something profound and meaningful, by our willingness to engage our ordinary lives in a deeper, more reflective way. By allowing our values, beliefs, and experiences to shape and color the way in which we engage in day to day activities, we begin to experience something richer and deeper in life. That, I believe, is the heart of spirituality.
In what ways can living more reflectively open your life to a greater sense of meaning and purpose?
Photo: CCO source unsplash.com
© 2016, emerging by Lou Kavar, Ph.D.. All rights reserved.