by Major Danielle
I’ve been discovering the deep peace that is
found in being fully present. A few things have helped. I’ve
been experimenting with an app, Headspace, that teaches
mindfulness as a daily practice. It’s been useful in my prayer
On top of that I recently read a book called
“Present Over Perfect” by a friend, Shauna Neiqhiest, who
found herself caught in an important, busy life. She writes
that she was constantly catching up—yet always feeling behind.
I resonated with the feeling. I’m sure you do as well. Our
world functions at a fast pace. Keeping up is a difficult
reality. The book spoke of her discovery of the true price of
that kind of living, and it explored some of what motivated
her to keep living that way. It was riveting. She completely
changed the way she lived after edging the cliff of
One of the keys to this new found living was
exposing the “more” lie. You know the one. The idea that
everything has to keep increasing. Your workout at the gym
needs to be harder, your family needs to grow, your house
should expand, your work should keep increasing, you need more
money for more stuff, for more…you get the idea. The “more”
lie is a trap that keeps us looking more like hamsters than
So how do you get off the hamster wheel?
Here are a few ideas:
1. Take time to evaluate your life. Is this
the one you had hoped for? Are you proud of what you have
become? This is an important exercise to do with deep honesty.
The question is not about what other people think, need or
say. It’s not about what makes your parents proud or your
spouse feel safe. It’s not about what you have accumulated.
Those things are important, but they come in the next step of
the journey. Are you proud of who you are right now?
2. If the answer is yes, then celebrate your
life. Make gratitude a daily practice. And congratulations.
This is not easy to do. If the answer is no, then begin
thinking, praying, dreaming and listing the things you wish
were in your life. The things that give your life meaning and
joy. Don’t just add things that look good or feel good to
other people, or something that makes someone else content.
Make a list of things that really bring you great joy.
3. Now, start thinking about that list. How
much of it is possible for you to start living now? And this
is the important part. What can you cut out to make room?
Actually, as I’ve seen people do this part of the exercise,
the list is almost always about cutting and rarely about
adding. People say, I can work less. I can do with less money
if it means I can spend more time with my family. I can help
those kids at the shelter once a week, if I work from home on
that day. See, no one really says a big fat “yes” to what they
really want without learning to say an emphatic “no” to what
When my son turned 13 he went on a “coming
of age” trip with his father. We made a list of adult
attributes that he wanted to grow into - hard-working,
compassionate, responsible, creative, loving and spiritual. We
made the list together, but my son determined who he wanted to
be and the kind of man he wanted to grow into. The trip wasn’t
super exotic but it was intentional. He interviewed friends
and family members who exhibited those traits and asked them
for tips on how to cultivate those things in his own life. It
was significant. He went from being a boy to becoming a man.
That’s what teenage years are for - ask
almost any culture but our own. In Australia, aboriginal young
boys go on a “walkabout” to discover themselves and their own
abilities to survive. In Africa, young men often go on quests
and have challenges to overcome. In Jewish culture, there is
the bar mitzvah, a celebration with family and friend of the
season of manhood beginning.
In our culture, teenage years are often
wasted on video games, irresponsibility and pleasures turned
into a frenzy for more. It’s a wasted season, with no time for
intentional cultivation of the things that really matter. It
seems like we continue the way we start, letting the culture
define us. But what if we took the time now? What if we sat
down and made a list of who we wanted to become? We could have
our coming of age party. Late perhaps, but still here. It is
never too late to be the people we aspire to be.