(Learn to Discern, Principle #12)
“God has a plan for your life!”
How many times have you heard this proclaimed? At church, on retreat, by some street evangelist – it’s a phrase we get used to hearing. But it’s a phrase that’s easily misunderstood.
Sometimes, we think that God having a plan for our lives means that we don’t need to make one. (“If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans!” is another Christian classic.)
Sometimes, we think that if we make plans for our lives, God will automatically have something else in mind – as though He wills the opposite of what we want, simply to be contrarian.
But the truth is that God is not a contrarian. God is a God of love. A God who offers us a multiplicity of goods in the created world. There are simply so many good things for us to choose from when it comes to living our lives. We don’t have to be afraid of choosing something good, and we don’t have to be afraid of choosing something that might not be the very best thing in all the universes of possibilities.
In our world of constant political tweets and nagging notifications, peace can feel elusive. The low-grade static of social comparison and personal dissatisfaction hums irritatingly throughout our days. It can scratch at our souls, leaving us uncomfortable without knowing exactly why.
It’s difficult to stop hurrying and embrace silence and its many benefits – one of which is greater peace: not just in our schedules, but in our souls.
Here are seven practical tips to help you have more peace.
Socrates is famous for saying that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” But how many of us take time to really examine our lives? We might pause for a moment before making new year’s resolutions, but in the day-to-day, most of us end up hurrying from one place to another without making a lot of room for silence.
You may think: even if I did have time for silence, I wouldn’t want to spend it constantly thinking about myself. Self-reflection may seem like an unhealthy egoistic obsession, a kind of navel-gazing that makes us worse people, not better.
The thing is, that’s not true self-reflection: that’s rumination.
Do you know anyone who isn’t tired? I can’t think of one person I know who is really happy with the amount of sleep they get. And yet, most of us find it really difficult to prioritize sleep.
The benefits of sleep are too important to ignore: it’s an opportunity for our brains and bodies to rest, heal, and actually regenerate. Sleep deprivation comes at the cost of memory and other neurological impairment, difficulty with emotional regulation, and physical decline. Without enough sleep, we have trouble making good decisions and even completing basic tasks.
Yet how many of us secretly relegate sleep to the “waste of time” category? We have so much to do, we can’t be bothered to just stop and sleep.
We’ve read all about sleep hygiene: turn off screens at least an hour before bed; don’t use your bed for other activities; establish a going-to-bed routine that you follow every night. Maybe we even try to do some of those things. But most of us don’t get enough sleep and end up relying on some combination of caffeine and willpower to get us through the day.
Enter: the nap.
Steve Jobs may be most famous for his creative endeavours in founding and growing Apple, but he’s become slightly iconic in the fashion world, too – for wearing the same thing every day.
Each morning, Steve Jobs donned a black mock turtleneck, blue jeans, and new balance sneakers. He didn’t change colors based on the seasons or branch out into business suits and trendy ties. His wardrobe was what many people would consider the essence of not creative.
“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”
The average adult makes 35,000 decisions per day, but our ability to be creative actually diminishes the more decisions we have to make. (That’s why so many people do their best work early in the morning, before they’ve waded through a full day of decisions.)
By wearing the same thing every day, Jobs completely eliminated an entire set of decisions from his life. He said no to choosing what to wear every morning, and all the consequences that follow from it: where to shop, when to shop, price and brand comparison, various laundry choices – all the things that are tied to having a varied closet.
He refused to spend his creative energy on his wardrobe, so that he could spend it on what mattered to him. Jobs put getting dressed on “automate” so he never had to think about it.