Start by marking “The Rhythm of Life: Living Every Day with Passion and Purpose” as Want to Read: Matthew Kelly was born in Sydney, Australia, where he began speaking and writing in Quotes from The Rhythm of Lif. Matthew Kelly is the New York Times bestselling author of The Rhythm of Life and twenty other books that have been published in more than twenty-five. The Rhythm of Life: Living Every Day with Passion and Purpose [Matthew of Life: Living Everyday With Passion and Purpose and millions of other books are.
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Editorial Reviews. usaascvb.info Review. Matthew Kelly, the charismatic minister, speaker and Highlight, take notes, and search in the book; In this edition, page numbers are just like the physical edition; Length: pages; Word Wise. A sad truth that becomes an everyday norm for millions of people is to go through life without any passion or purpose. They let their age. download The Rhythm of Life: Living Everyday with Passion & Purpose 3rd ed. by Matthew Kelly (ISBN: ) from site's Book Store. Everyday low .
Each of us has a unique spiritual journey. In different stages of the journey, we have different needs. I just reached an injury settlement with the Chicago Bears, and I was very uncertain about what was in store for me at the time.
After reading the book, I was very eager to put into practice all that I had learned and started to really pay attention to my needs and give them the attention that they needed in order for me to truly thrive. Every morning when we wake up, we have a choice to make. Eating that double cheeseburger is a want. When you start to feed your wants more than your needs, a lack of passion and fulfillment will start to build up over time. I started to eat foods that nourished my entire body and provided me with sustained energy for the day ahead.
Emotionally, I stopped feeling sorry for myself and put in the extra work and care that is needed to create thriving relationships. In return, this fulfilled me in enormous ways. Intellectually, I read books that inspired me and constantly looked to fill my mind with ideas to help me be the best I can possibly become. Spiritually, solitude started to become my best friend, and I paid more attention to what my soul yearned for on a daily basis.
Clarity replaces confusion. You feel more fully alive, and you are happier. Finally, spiritually, when you take a few moments each day to step into the classroom of silence and reconnect with yourself and with your God, what happens? The gentle voice within grows stronger, and you develop a deeper sense of peace, purpose, and direction. Physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually, we know the things that infuse our lives with passion and enthusiasm.
We know the things that make us happy. On the one hand, we all want to be happy. On the other hand, we all know the things that make us happy. We are too busy. Too busy doing what? Too busy trying to be happy. This is the paradox of happiness that has bewitched our age. Too Busy Doing What? We feel as though our lives have a momentum of their own, that they would go on with or without us.
Our list of the things we have to do just gets longer and longer. We never feel that we get caught up; we just get more and more behind every day. Emotionally—most of us know that the happiest people on the planet are those who are focused in their personal relationships. Relationships thrive under one condition: Do we gift our relationships with carefree timelessness?
We shove them into ten minutes here and fifteen minutes there. We give them the worst time, when we are most tired and least emotionally available. Spiritually—most people very rarely step into the classroom of silence to reconnect with themselves and their God.
We are afraid of what we might discover about ourselves and about our lives. We are afraid we might be challenged to change. And we are too busy. What are we all too busy doing? For the most part, we are too busy doing just about everything, that means just about nothing, to just about nobody, just about anywhere…and will mean even less to anyone a hundred years from now!
Quiet Desperation A hundred and fifty years ago, Henry David Thoreau left Concord, Massachusetts, because he believed it had become too noisy, too distracting, and too busy. He went off to Walden Pond to reconnect with himself and with nature. Most people are not thriving; most people are just surviving, just getting by, just hanging on.
It is, in fact, a rare and pleasant surprise to find someone who is truly thriving. His only examination of our lives was economic. We are richer.
We have more disposable income. We have more choices at the grocery store. We have more in our retirement accounts. We have more cars, and we can turn them in to the leasing agent every three years and get new ones. Is everything getting better? Allow me to offer just a few brief thoughts for your consideration. We prescribe more medication for depression in America today than for any other illness.
The suicide rate among teens and young adults has increased by 5, percent in the last fifty years. If the massive increases in suicide among the younger generations of any civilization are not a sign that all is not well, nothing is. Finally, it is becoming more and more apparent that suicide is directly proportional to wealth. What does that mean?
Studies reveal that the more money you have, the more likely you are to take your own life. Peter Kreeft captured the alarming reality in a recent article of his own: If you scratch just below the surface of the economic success of our age, there are some very disturbing signs.
In an age of unprecedented prosperity, there are millions who feel that something is missing in their lives. What is missing? How do we get it? A number of trends are emerging in our modern culture that are telltale signs that all is not well in the hearts and minds of the people. Depression and suicide rates nearing epidemic levels are certainly among them. But another emerging trend worthy of our consideration is our modern inability to sustain relationships.
More than one in every two marriages ends in divorce or separation. We are all familiar with the statistic, but have we stopped to seriously consider why? Have you noticed that fewer and fewer people are getting married? It is a fact that is masked by the enormous number of people getting remarried. On top of all this, consider that the average man or woman is now likely to change jobs five times more frequently than his or her working grandparents.
Is it just that the corporate world has changed? Or does it also say something about us? Finally, on the simplest, most practical, everyday level, consider how many people make resolutions to diet, exercise, or just spend more time with their families and fail completely.
Our inability to live the resolutions we make is another indicator. Indicator of what? There is a crisis of commitment in our society.
People seem unwilling to make commitments or, once made, unable to fulfill them. As great as this crisis of commitment may seem, it is secondary to a more fundamental problem. Most people sincerely want to fulfill their commitments. The crisis of commitment is the result of a far more serious crisis of purpose.
A great purposelessness has descended upon modern civilizations. People at large have lost any sense of the meaning and purpose of life; and without an understanding of our own purpose, there can be no true commitment.
Whether that commitment is to marriage, family, study, work, God, relationships, or the simple resolutions of our lives, it will be almost impossible to fulfill without a clear and practical understanding of our purpose. Commitment and purpose go hand in hand. Everything in our lives is either pursued or rejected according to whether or not it will help us, and others, fulfill what we perceive as our purpose.
Someone who makes money his goal in life accepts or rejects everything according to whether or not it will help him achieve that goal. Someone who makes pleasure the goal of her life accepts or rejects everything according to whether or not it will help her achieve her goal. In the absence of a genuine understanding of the meaning and purpose of our lives, we substitute it with shallow and superficial meaning.
The human person cannot live without meaning and purpose. Why is depression so dramatically on the rise? I cannot imagine anything more depressing than not having any sense of the meaning and purpose of your own life. Why do so many young people immerse themselves in video games, alcohol, promiscuous sex, deafeningly loud music, and drugs? Is it possible that they use these things to distract themselves from the frightening reality of facing a life without meaning and purpose?
Or is it that they use these things in a vain and futile attempt to fill the void of meaninglessness within them? Is it perhaps that achievement in their work is the only thing that gives them even the vaguest sense of purpose in their lives? Or that because they consciously, or subconsciously, believe that their work is their purpose, they completely commit to that purpose and refuse to let anything come between them and the fulfillment of what they have erroneously perceived as their purpose?
I am amazed how many women seek my advice in regard to a husband who has no time for or interest in anything but his work. He perceives his purpose as success and achievement in his work. The only place his wife and children have in this scheme is that the financial fruits of his work allow him to provide for his family.
Why are people having fewer and fewer children? For the most part, people today perceive their purpose in relation to success in the workplace and financial independence. There must be more to life. The Five Questions F or thousands of years, men and women of every age, race, and culture have sought to understand the meaning of life.
The people of our own time are no different. Throughout history, scientists and philosophers, theologians and artists, politicians and social activists, monks and sages, and men and women from all walks of life have discussed and debated many questions in the quest to discover the meaning of life. These are the five questions that humanity has been asking consciously and subconsciously ever since human life first existed.
Although we may be unable to articulate them, you and I are constantly asking these questions. Whether we are aware of it or not, our whole existence is a searching to answer these five questions. We seek the answers to these questions directly and indirectly every day of our lives. And how we answer these questions determines the shape, form, and direction that our lives take on. These are the five questions that humanity longs to answer: Who am I? Where did I come from?
What am I here for? How do I do it?
Where am I going? All religious texts are centered upon and seek to illumine the five questions—including the sacred writings of Israel, the Christian scriptures, and the Bhagavad Gita.
Lewis, and Henry David Thoreau. They are the questions that hungry hearts place at the center of their lives. And though now is not the time, and this particular book is not the place, the second and the fifth questions deserve serious study and thought in their own right. We live our everyday lives in the realms of questions three and four. And owing to their practical implications, we usually become fascinated and preoccupied with these questions. Practically, however, the process of answering these five questions and conforming our lives to the answers we find is very difficult.
Each of us seeks to answer these questions in our own way. Experience is an excellent, though sometimes brutal, teacher. Yet at the same time, it is only the ignorance of youth that believes experience is the only teacher. As we grow wiser, we realize that life is too short to learn all of its lessons from personal experience, and we discover that other people, places, and times are all too willing to pass on the hard-earned wisdom of their experiences.
But where should we begin? There is meaning and purpose to life. More specifically: There is a meaning and purpose to your life. The Meaning of Life Our modern culture proclaims with all its force: What you do and what you have are the most important things. This is a lie. It is a deception that has led whole generations down the well-trodden path toward lives of quiet desperation.
But it is a lie that is reinforced with such regularity that we have grown to believe it, at least subconsciously, and have shaped our lives around it.
But this task-oriented approach completely ignores our need to connect the activities of our daily lives with our essential purpose. Doing and having are natural, normal, and necessary aspects of our daily lives; the challenge is to do and have in accord with our essential purpose.
In this task-oriented culture, one of the real dangers is to slip into an episodic mode of living. What I mean is, the happenings of our day-to-day lives can become episodic, one after another, like the episodes of a soap opera.
In a soap opera, there is always something happening, but nothing ever really happens. In every episode there is drama—activity takes place, words are muttered, but nothing really happens. People abusing one another, people using one another, people talking about one another, people plotting and scheming, but nothing meaningful ever happens. Their lives are filled with superficialities, and they are constantly restless and miserable. There is no theme, no thread— just another entertaining episode.
When the days and weeks of our lives become like this, we grow depressed, disillusioned, and miserably unhappy. The reason is that without a clear sense of the purpose and meaning of our lives, the emptiness is overwhelming. We try to fill the void with pleasure and possessions, but the emptiness is unaffected by such trivialities.
There are moments of pleasure, but they are brief in a long succession of twenty-four-hour days. Pablo Picasso was walking down the street in Paris one day when a woman recognized and approached him. After introducing herself and praising his work, she asked him if he would consider drawing her portrait and offered to pay him for the piece. Picasso agreed and sat the woman down there and then on the side of the street, brought out a sketchbook and pencil, and began to draw the woman.
A small crowd of spectators gathered very quickly, but in only a handful of minutes Picasso had finished the drawing. Picasso, it took you only a few minutes. Life is not a series of separate episodes. The common reaction to this statement is to recall some negative or abusive event in our past and use it as an excuse for the person we are today. Such adoption of victimhood is one of the most destructive spirits at work in the human psyche in these modern times.
Victimhood denies the great truth that life is choices. The point I am really trying to make here is that we are not a composite of everything that has ever happened to us, but rather what happens in our lives is almost always a result of those things we habitually think and those things we habitually do.
Life is the fruit of discipline, or lack of it. We are our habits. His practice sessions fifteen years earlier at the age of six were as much a part of that Masters victory as his final approach shot to the eighteenth green.
Every disciplined effort has its own multiple reward. Artistically and professionally, Pablo Picasso had a profound understanding of the value of compounding effort and experience. His professional life had theme and thread, direction and purpose —and was held together as one whole. His personal life lacked that wisdom. From lover to lover he passed, from wife to wife, from friend to friend—always moving on, eventually deserting even those who loved him.
In the end, he abandoned all those who were close to him. He was unable or unwilling to apply the truth he had discovered professionally to the other areas of his life. Life is the gathering of truth. Any truth we discover must not be allowed to remain isolated in one area of our lives, and certainly must not be allowed to remain merely in our minds.
Life is one. Truth should be lived. What we do in the span of our lives may bring us financial rewards, status, fame, power, and unimaginable possessions, but lasting happiness and fulfillment are not the by-products of doing and having.
Who you become is infinitely more important than what you do or what you have. The meaning and purpose of life is for you to become the-best-version-of-yourself. I am often amused at how scared some people are to wonder, or ask, what God might want for them or from them.
Do you ever wonder? Let me tell you. God wants you to become the-best-version-of- yourself. Quite the opposite, in fact. God will let you do whatever you want to do, whenever you want to do it, with whomever you want to do it, and as often as you want to do it.
When was the last time God stopped you from doing anything? Become the- best-version-of- yourself. Once we discover it and place this purpose at the center of our lives, everything begins to makes sense.
Until we discover our essential purpose, nothing makes sense, and we wander around aimlessly, slowly being numbed into lives of quiet desperation. It is the quest to improve ourselves, to be all we are capable of being, to test our limits, and to grow steadily toward the-best-version-of-ourselves that brings meaning to our lives. If we return for a moment to our earlier discussion of happiness, we also discover that our yearning for happiness is intimately linked to our essential purpose.
In each of the four areas— physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual—we discussed certain activities that bring us happiness. Why do we get a deep sense of fulfillment and happiness from those activities?
The activities that help us become the-best-version-of- ourselves also fill our lives with sustainable happiness. There is purpose and meaning to life. You were born to become the-best-version-of yourself. Embrace this one solitary truth—you were born to become the-best-version-of-yourself—and it will change your life more than anything you have ever learned.
The first several times I made my own list, all I wanted was more of the things of the world. Then I discovered my essential purpose, and everything changed. I also had a lot of things that were indifferent to my essential purpose.
The bad news was that I had some things on my list that were directly or indirectly going to cause me, or encourage me, to become a-lesser-version-of-myself. I began assessing the things on my list in relation to my essential purpose. Like so many people, I have often believed that if I could change my surroundings—things, places, and people—then I would be happier. Discovering my essential purpose has caused me to realize that happiness is an inside-out job. All too often, what is going on around us is only a reflection of what is going on within us.
In my own life, I have become intimately aware of this truth in a number of ways. One example is my home. I am a fairly tidy person, but I have noticed that when I am confused on the inside, I stop tidying up around the house. I leave things lying around, and before long the place is a mess. I have also noticed that once the confusion within is solved, the question answered, or the issue resolved, almost immediately I start tidying up my house, office, and car.
When I am focused on becoming the-best-version-of-myself, I am deeply happy. It is the pursuit of our essential purpose alone that satisfies. When you know you are striving to become the-best-version-of-yourself, that alone is enough to sustain you in happiness. We spend our lives in the service of our desires. Sometimes those desires are good and their pursuit is to our benefit. At other times our desires are selfish and self-destructive. If there is purpose and meaning to our lives, then the highest levels of living must be linked to discovering that meaning and fulfilling that purpose.
It stands to reason, then, that there should be a relationship between the purpose and meaning of life and our dreams. Earlier, I asked you to stop and consider what you wanted from life and to write those things down. As you progress through this book, I would like you to remain open to revising and changing, adding and eliminating, some of what you had previously written.
My own dream list is constantly being revised. And while many of these are exciting to pursue, I have done the exercise enough times to know that the most important dreams in my dream-book are the ones that help me become the-best-version-of-myself.
So, even though I am constantly dreaming new dreams, I have learned to dream with my essential purpose at the center of my life. With that in mind, I have developed seven core dreams that help me stay focused on my essential purpose.
These are my dreams. I believe that the pursuit of these dreams will lead us to peace, happiness, success, satisfaction, service, wholeness, and holiness.
They are my dreams, but they are also my dreams for you. The First Dream I have a dream for you… that you have complete control over your mental and physical faculties and that you are slave neither to food, nor drink, nor any other substance. I dream that you will be free, that you will have freedom in the truest sense of the word—the strength of character to do what is right in each situation.
The Second Dream I have a dream for you… that you are able to discern the people, activities, and possessions that are most important to you. And that you are able to give each of them their time and place according to their appropriate priority. The Third Dream I have a dream for you… that you have the courage, determination, firmness, and persistence to perform the tasks that you choose, decide, and resolve to perform. That you perform them with a commitment to excellence and attention to detail.
I dream that you may enjoy the rare privilege of spending your days in meaningful work. That you serve your neighbor, your family, and your community in this occupation and that by it, you are able to provide for your temporal needs. The Fifth Dream I have a dream for you… that you grow in wealth in every sense of the word, that you are never in need, and that whatever your wealth is, you share it with all you can.
The Sixth Dream I have a dream for you… that you find true love. Someone you can cherish. Someone who makes you want to be a better person. A soul-mate who can challenge you and love you. A companion who can walk with you, know you, share your joy, perceive your pain and heartache, and comfort you in your disappointments.
The Seventh Dream I have a dream for you… that you discover a deep and abiding interior peace. The peace that comes from knowing that who you are, where you are, and what you do is essentially good and makes sense; that you are contributing to the happiness of others; and that you are progressing toward becoming the-best-version-of-yourself.
A New Perspective At different times in our lives, we all need a new perspective. In the late s, there was a young man who had a dream of becoming a famous musician. He knew exactly what he wanted, so he left high school and began to play his music wherever people would listen. But as a high school dropout and with little experience, he found it difficult to get work as a musician.
Before too long he found himself playing in small, dirty clubs and bars. Sharing his gift with a handful of drunks night after night became a discouraging habit. This was not his dream.
He had dreamed of playing to sellout shows across America and around the world. He had dreamed of seeing his name in lights, of walking down the street and being stopped for autographs, of having his albums in every music store.
He even dreamed one day he would play to a packed baseball stadium—an absurd thought in the late s. He had stumbled upon difficult times. Financially he was broke, professionally he was failing, and his only joy in life was the support of his girlfriend. They had so little money that they would sleep in Laundromats to save the expense of a hotel.
But one day she got sick of being constantly on the road. This gypsy lifestyle was not her dream, either. She had dreamed of being married to a famous musician but was unaware of the hard work it takes to get to the top. It was not the life she had imagined, so she left him. With his only joy in life gone, he decided to commit suicide.
That night the young musician made a halfhearted attempt to end his life by drinking a bottle of furniture polish and a bottle of vodka. The next day, very sick, he checked himself into a mental institution. Less than three weeks later, he checked himself out. He was a new man. He was refreshed, enthusiastic, and excited about life.
He was cured. They had not given him any medication, nor was it anything the doctors or nurses had said to him. The other patients had cured him. They reminded him of how fortunate and gifted he was, and they had shown him how much more life could be. He was given a new perspective on life. That day, that same young man left the mental institution absolutely resolved to pursue his dream of becoming a famed musician.
He was determined to travel and work and do whatever was necessary to achieve his dream. And yes, on June 22 and 23 in , Billy Joel played to sellout crowds of ninety thousand people at Yankee Stadium. We all need a startling new perspective at least once in our lives. It is my hope that this book will give you that new perspective, too. On a number of occasions I have had the opportunity to see him perform live and have never found that experience to be anything less than inspiring.
It is rare to find musical genius mixed with such poetic thoughtfulness. They were that popular couple, the king and queen of the prom, the couple who looked and seemed perfect together. The verse describes Brenda and Eddie driving around with the car top down and the radio on, hanging out at the diner, at the top of their world.
Then Billy Joel drops in my favorite line, which says so much about adolescence. With it he also defines the major barrier that prevents most of us from achieving greater things in, and with, our lives. In all of our lives there is a great danger in believing that who we are, where we are, and what we have is all that there is.
There is more. Do you know what it is like to walk through the streets of Paris in the pouring rain without a worry in the world, enjoying every last drop of rain that falls on your face? Do you know what it is like to dance with no music on a beach on the island of Crete with someone you love more than you ever imagined you could love? Do you know what it is like to feel so guided that it is as though God has His very hand on your shoulder and is whispering in your ear?
Do you know…there is more? You cannot live without dreams. Dreams foster hope, and hope is one of the forces by which men and women live. To dream is the easiest thing in the world. There are no limitations to dreaming. But as we grow we experience pain, failure, criticism, and disappointment, and we gradually limit our dreams.
We seek to live in the comfort zone. There is no such thing. It is much more difficult to try to live in a comfort zone than it is to follow our dreams, because the comfort zone is only an illusion, but our dreams are real.
Will you spend the rest of your life chasing an illusion or following your dreams? They were discussing the effects of the fear of failure on our decision-making process, and Schuller offered this question as a guide: Perhaps your fear is of failure. There is no shame in trying to attempt mighty things and failing.
The shame is in failing to attempt those things. Tell me what your dreams are and I will tell you what type of person you are. Define your dreams clearly and precisely and you will know for yourself what type of person you are. If you do not like what you discover, remember, you created your dreams, and in so doing, you formed the person you are today.
The good news is, you can re-create your dreams and become a new creation. Take time to dream. Imagine what you are capable of, and live that life. Let us live every day in the counsel of Thoreau: Whether or not I knew the person who had died, funerals have always had a deep impact on my life. Every time I go to a funeral, or hear that someone I know has died, I always become more determined not to waste my life, not to take life for granted. Every now and then I like to take a walk in a cemetery.
Each tombstone tells a story. Some of the people were laid to rest last year, others a hundred years ago. Some of them lived for ninety-five years, others for twenty-five years. But I can hear all of them calling out to me in unison, sharing with me a message: Do not waste your life.
Live life passionately. I hope you feel that desire stirring within you. Foster that desire. Nurture that desire. Adopt habits that help you rekindle that desire. Otherwise your life is in danger of becoming an utter waste. You will become like a candle in the wind, a victim of circumstance, and every time the wind stops blowing you will wish you had placed your essential purpose at the center of your life.
But the winds of life will blow once more, changing direction and distracting you again from what is really important. You will get caught up in the episodic cycle of the modern world, and your life will bear no signs of continuity or consistency.
You will achieve things, no doubt, and you will have things, but you will be restless and anxious. The sense that there must be more will haunt you continually, the feeling that something is missing will linger on the edge of everything you do. And many years from now, in the dim light of your distant memory, you will remember the dreams you ignored and abandoned. You will feel a pain that cannot be eased or consoled. Regret over things done can be eased over time. Regret over things left unsaid and undone is inconsolable.
You have one life, and it is short. Use it powerfully. Celebrate it as a precious gift. Tickets for the champagne reception were sold for the equivalent of five hundred American dollars per guest. At the reception, while the guests mingled, Itzhak Perlman stood in a roped-off area flanked by security guards. One by one the guests were led into the roped-off area and introduced to Perlman.
Perlman, you were phenomenal tonight. Absolutely amazing. Perlman, I would give my whole life to be able to play the violin like you did tonight. While some of us are sitting around letting the sand in the hourglass of life empty, thinking, I would give my whole life to be able to do that, or, I hope that happens to me one day, people like Itzhak Perlman are getting the job done.
They are giving their whole lives to the magnificent and meaningful pursuit of their dreams. I have noticed that all men and women have dreams. I have noticed that some people achieve their dreams, and for others they seem always out of reach. Why is this? Does God have favorites? The reason is that some people dream and wait for their dreams to come true. Theirs is a vain type of dreaming. They look at others, whom they consider fortunate or lucky, and they think, I hope that happens to me one day!
Other people listen to the movements of their hearts and dream their dreams by listening to the gentle voice within. They commit themselves to excellence, and armed with their dreams as a blueprint for their lives, they go out onto the stage of life chasing their rainbow, living life passionately. Aided by a mysterious and miraculous power that I can describe only as the grace of God, they make their dreams come true. Life is too short to be lived halfheartedly and far too short to lose yourself in the day-to-day drudgery and the hustle and bustle.
Dedicate yourself to the things that deserve your dedication. Life is short, and you are dead an awfully long time. When we are children, we hear this voice with great clarity and we live by what we hear.
So we are immensely happy. As we grow older, we become aware of all the other voices that surround us—the voices of parents, siblings, friends, critics, television, strangers, and experts. All these other voices have the strength and confidence of experience, so we become fascinated with them. And as we enter into this fascination with all these other voices, they begin to distract us from the gentle voice within.
As we begin to listen to all these other voices, we begin to doubt, question, and ignore the gentle voice within. And gradually, the one true voice within each of us grows fainter and fainter. Finally, when the gentle voice within us has become so faint that we can hardly hear it anymore in the midst of our daily activity, we are told that we have grown up, that we are adults, and that we are now ready for life. Nothing could be further from the truth. The gentle voice within is your truest guide.
It has absolutely no self-interest. That is what sets it apart from every other voice in your life. The gentle voice within you is interested in only one thing, helping you become the-best-version-of-yourself. It is our true self, directing us toward our essential purpose. It is the-best-version-of- ourselves talking to us. Take a moment to think about it.
When was the last time you obeyed that gentle voice within you and it made you miserable? When was the last time the gentle voice within led you to become a- lesser-version-of- yourself?
It may lead you to the pain of discipline and self-sacrifice, but always in the quest to help you embrace more fully the-best-version-of-yourself. It is only when we ignore the gentle voice within that we find ourselves in places of misery and quiet desperation.
What we must do above all else is to learn once again to listen to the gentle voice within us. Only then will we have the peace that we all seek, but that only a rare few ever find. Understanding Our Legitimate Needs My first college experience was as a marketing major in Australia. I will never forget my first lecture. It remains indelibly engraved upon my memory. I was stunned. I was amazed. I looked around the lecture hall, which held six hundred people and was full beyond capacity.
Everyone was writing down what the professor had just said—drinking from the well of wisdom before them. My father had given me my first education in business many years earlier. Dad had always taught me that the secret to good and prosperous business was to provide a good or service that satisfied a real human need. If it was a repetitive need, so much the better. With all their seduction, deceit, and psychobabble, the modern marketing industry has done a marvelous job of redefining the concept of need.
I like nice things as much as the next person. Now, these may be extreme examples depending on the person, but in all of our lives there has been a great blurring of the line between needs and wants. We do have real and legitimate needs, but they almost never have anything to do with consumer goods. Our legitimate needs are best understood in relation to each of the four aspects of the human person— physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. These needs exist not only in these different areas, but also on different levels.
There are some things we need simply to survive. We call these primary needs, and this category includes the fundamentals that are necessary to sustain human life.
Examples of primary needs would be food to eat, water to drink, and air to breathe. Without these primary legitimate needs, our lives would very quickly be brought to a grinding halt. Our primary needs are fundamental to our existence. We need them just to survive. But this book is not about surviving, and neither is life. This book is about thriving, about becoming the-best-versions-of-ourselves. Our secondary needs are not critical to our survival. We can survive without them for years in many cases.
But they are essential if we are going to thrive in any or all of the four aspects of our lives. When our secondary needs are being fulfilled, we begin to blossom and bloom as human beings. The satisfaction of our secondary needs allows us to achieve and maintain optimum health and well-being. Among them would be needs such as regular exercise, a balanced diet, and healthy relationships.
Every day we attend to our primary needs—those things necessary merely to sustain our existence. In many cases we do this without even thinking about it. You have made a habit of breathing.
You do it now by instinct. Similarly, you eat and drink several times a day. Eating and drinking have also become a habit for you. You are in the habit of surviving. You take care of your primary needs, because you have to. The question is, are you satisfied being in the habit of surviving, or are you ready to get into the habit of thriving? For a moment, think about each of the four areas: Which are you thriving in and which are you just surviving in?
Our secondary needs are the key to thriving. They may not seem urgent in light of the things you have on your to-do list today, but they are probably more important than anything on that list.
The first step in our quest to become the-best-version-of-ourselves is to define our legitimate needs. The second step is to create a lifestyle that fulfills those legitimate needs. We all have legitimate needs.
The fulfillment of these needs is one of the very practical ways we can learn to embrace our essential purpose. If we are wise enough to seek their counsel, our legitimate needs will advise us what is necessary to maintain health of body, heart, mind, and spirit. Physical Needs Our physical body is the vehicle through which we experience life.
Our legitimate needs are most basically understood in relation to our physical well-being, because our primary needs exist in the physical realm. You may not die today or tomorrow, but you will before too long, and as a direct result of not eating and drinking. Eating and drinking are primary and urgent needs. We have an even more urgent need for oxygen.
Other primary needs include sleep and shelter to a greater or lesser extent, depending on your environment and its climate. Beyond our primary physical needs, we also have a number of secondary physical needs. Our primary needs are those we need simply to survive. Our secondary needs are those we need to thrive. If we are to thrive physically, we have to bring these secondary needs into focus in our daily lives. Nothing tunes the body like regular exercise and a balanced diet.
When we work out and fuel our bodies with the right types of food, we have more energy, and we are stronger, healthier, and happier. Too often in our culture, food is seen a source of entertainment or comfort, instead of as a source of energy. Let me ask you something. I guess the question becomes, how much do you value your own body?
Most people wait until they get cancer or have a heart attack before they remember that they have bodies. How many diets have you been on? How many diets have people you know been on? Most of us do not need any other diet than a little bit of discipline. The average person knows the things that are good for him or her, and the things that are not. All we need is the discipline to choose the foods that fuel our bodies and give us energy, strength, health, and happiness.
No, we want someone to stand in front of us on television and tell us that we can eat whatever we want, whenever we want, and as much as we want. As long as we take this little pill…or do this special workout for twenty minutes twice a week… Our bodies are glorious creations and should be honored and respected.
Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and regular sleep are three of the easiest ways to increase our passion, energy, and enthusiasm for life. They are among our simplest legitimate needs and contribute massively to the well-being of the whole person. Physical well-being is the foundation upon which we build our lives.
Unless we attend to our legitimate needs in relation to the physical aspect of our being, our capacity in all other areas of our life will be reduced. Emotional Needs In the emotional realm, it can be much more difficult to pinpoint our legitimate needs, because they are not necessary for our immediate survival. It is not too common to read in the newspaper about someone dying of emotional starvation.
Our emotional needs are in many ways subtler, but certainly no less important if we are to thrive. Emotional starvation, while not life threatening, does have some symptoms. For some of us, emotional starvation can lead to radical mood swings, for others to general lethargy, for others yet, to anger, bitterness, and resentment. The heart suffers and the body cries out. Most of all, emotional starvation leads to distortions in our character and prevents us from becoming the-best- version-of-ourselves.
This is certainly one of the areas I have neglected from time to time. In the fall of , after four years on the road and more than one million miles traveled, I took a three-month break from speaking and traveling. I spent that time in Austria, just north of Vienna, in an old monastery that was now being used as a college campus.
In Austria, I quickly realized that I had been severely neglecting the emotional aspect of my life. Over the previous four years, I had isolated myself.
During this time I was now living in the United States, and my family and childhood friends were all in Australia, ten thousand miles away from this new life that mostly kept me in the northern hemisphere. This was an insecurity that was born out of some bitter experiences.
They would travel all night on trains for barely a glimpse of these great European countries. Each week as the weekend drew near, you could sense their passion for travel surging. Most of the American students went to Austria just for the chance to travel. The studies were a means to an end. It seemed strange. I had gone there to escape travel.
I had no interest whatsoever in traveling. I was happier than I had been in a long time just staying around the old monastery on weekends. On occasion, though, I would take the train into Vienna on a Saturday afternoon, sit in one of the squares, drink hot chocolate, and read.
But a few weeks into the semester, a friend I had met a couple of years earlier at college in the United States asked me to join him on a trip to Switzerland. Stuart was from Canada, and he had a unique sense of humor and an enormous appetite and propensity for fun. I relented. It was one of the best decisions of my life.
When classes were over on Friday afternoon, we hitched a ride to the local train station and went into Vienna. From there we took the overnight train to Geneva. We just talked, told stories, ate some bread and cheese, drank some wine, and traded songs on our Walkmans. The next day we had lunch on the lake, wandered for hours through the old city of Geneva, and then had dinner with his friend Alex and her family. It was the strangest sensation—acceptance free of expectation.
I felt like any normal twenty- four-year-old discovering Europe. I had been to Europe more than thirty-five times, but never like this. For forty-eight hours I was completely intoxicated with normality. It was refreshing.
My relationship with Stuart rose to a completely new level, and he taught me again the great value of friendship. I was reminded that weekend of the age-old lesson that no man is an island unto himself.
We are social beings—and relationship brings out the best in us. For most people, their legitimate emotional needs include spending time with family, friends, a spouse, a boyfriend or girlfriend, colleagues at work, and perhaps a spiritual director or mentor.
One of our most dominant emotional needs is our need for acceptance. We all need to feel we belong. In the face of rejection, we may put on a brave face and pretend that we can survive without acceptance. And that is true; we can survive without the nurturing acceptance provides.
But we cannot thrive without it. We all have a great need to feel accepted. It is one of the forces that drives human behavior. Our need to be accepted is powerful, and it is astounding what most people will do to gain some sort of acceptance or sense of belonging. Peer pressure takes full advantage of this need to be accepted.
Under the influence of peer pressure, people do things that they would not do if they were alone and in many cases would prefer not to do , simply because they do not want to be excluded from a certain social circle.
There is perhaps no greater example of our need to belong, our need to feel accepted. We seek this sense of belonging in hundreds of different ways at work, at school, within our family, in the context of our intimate relationships, and by joining clubs, churches, and committees. Some of the ways we try to have this need met are healthy and help us to pursue our essential purpose. Others are not healthy and can prevent us from becoming the-best-version-of-ourselves.
I have always been fascinated with how many different churches there are in America and the criteria people use to choose a church.
We need to belong. With this in mind, it is easy to understand why so many people join gangs and cults. From time to time, you may hear a story about a gang or a cult, and those of us who live in a relatively secluded world may wonder why anyone would get involved in these things. Just like you and me, people who join gangs and cults have a legitimate need for acceptance and a sense of belonging.
Young people who grow up in an inner-city environment join gangs because they see it as their best option.
The gang provides a sense of belonging, the feeling of acceptance, and allows them to feel that they are not alone in what must be a frightening world. The gang tries to fill the emotional needs that a family should be satisfying. But in many cases, the parents or parent are caught up in drugs, alcohol, and crime.