Special. Young couple taking joy from eating a meal together.

Special

What is the best thing you will do today?

Will it just happen, or will it take some doing?

When you wake up in the morning and think about the day ahead, does your mind immediately go to a to-do list or the demands on your time and energy; or do you wake up excited about something?

All of us have things we must do – every single day. And, often, those things can be overwhelming. It’s very easy for our daily direction to give way to our responsibilities and for the more sublime parts of our lives to get take a back seat (or not even make it into the car).

My days usually start with thoughts of beating the traffic, some early-in-the-day deadline, or some crisis that I have to address – that works for me. My subconscious mind has a way of organizing and prioritizing that my conscious mind doesn’t, so I start the day by organizing my day.

But, for me, it’s also important to think about what will make my day special: something that I look forward to, something exciting, something noteworthy, something extraordinary.

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Yourself. Standing out in a crowd.

Yourself

Who are you? Do you know?

How do you express who you are to the world?

Of course, that first question is a biggie. Some people go their whole lives without figuring that out. There are many aspects to what makes up a person, and we all need to explore them for ourselves.

We also have to decide how to express who we are.

When I play music, I have a set of what I call my “gig shirts,” which are colorful or otherwise interesting. Lately, I’ve been thinking, “Why can’t I wear these shirts when I go out or get together with friends?” I wore one of them at my family’s Thanksgiving get-together and my brother Jimmy asked, “Does the store where you got that shirt sell any men’s clothes?” (HAHAHA!!). But the point is, these shirts aren’t what I normally wear.

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Food. Man having snack and drinking beer late night in front of the refrigerator.

Food

Man, I am starving!

You hear people with relatively affluent suburban lives saying this. Although it might mean that the person is actually hungry, it’s more likely that they just want some food, either because they’re looking forward to a meal, they’re thinking about a certain food, or they’re just bored.

Unfortunately, there are lots of people who are actually starving in the world.

Whenever my son says this, or something like this, I remind him that he’s not actually starving and ask him if he actually feels hungry. I ask him to pay attention to the signals his mind and body are sending him and to identify them intentionally. I also tell him that it’s OK to periodically be hungry. Maintaining a hungry feeling can be healthy—it can train us to not immediately start wolfing down food when we have that feeling. We’re not meant to be full all the time.

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Connections. Female friends having fun on the sea shore.

Connections

The connections we make to people throughout our lives are our doors into the world.

Depending on the nature of our connections, we can have many doors leading to interesting and exciting places, or we can have only a few doors, but all leading to places where we love to be and where we want to spend our time.

As we live our lives we will always interact with people. We make friends in school, we talk to neighbors, we work with people, and we develop relationships. Some of those relationships are perfunctory or just a matter of convenience; others are deep and long lasting.

Connections can be developed and maintained in an ad hoc way, or they can be based on our needs and desires. Do you find yourself spending time with people because of obligations or because these people make you happy? How we define our connections to people can help us get the most out of our relationships. And like any of the factors that define our lives, the more we understand our connections, the better we will be at making and maintaining those connections that are meaningful and helpful.

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Intentional. Woman shooting with the longbow.

Intentional

Do you lead an intentional life?

In your life, are you the pilot or a passenger?

When thinking about our lives, it can be helpful to think about what “intentional” means. For me, leading an intentional life is about choice—making our own decisions about what we do, think, and feel. It means charting a path for ourselves and navigating that path effectively.

Many people go through their lives engaging in only those experiences that pop up. Something comes across their path—a job, an experience, a friend—and those things become their life. They aren’t proactive in creating their lives—their lives just happen. Others only live the life that is expected of them. Expected by their parents, their teachers, or their circumstances. They do what is expected of them, not what would give them a sense of happiness or meaning according to their values and passions.

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