Number 229 of Balthasar Gracian's The Art of Worldly Wisdom suggests a process for life planning that warrants attention. The 17th Century Jesuit philosopher is attributed for many wisdom teachings as relevant today as the day they emerged from his mind. Try this advice out.
229. Plan out your life wisely. Not as chance would have it, but with prudence and foresight. Without amusements it is wearisome, like a long journey where there are no inns - manifold knowledge gives manifold pleasure. The first day's journey of a noble life should be passed in conversing with the dead: we live to know and to know ourselves, hence true books make us truly human. The second day should be spent with the living, seeing and noticing all the good in the world. Everything is not to be found in a single country. The Universal Father has divided his gifts and at times has given the richest dowry to the ugliest. The third day is entirely for oneself. The greatest happiness is to be a philosopher. (Bold added for emphasis. )
We must be deliberate and intentional about life planning. As George Bernard Shaw once suggested, “Take care to get what you like, or you will be forced to like what you get. " Unfortunately, many people don't get what they like because they don't plan adequately, and then they're unhappy about getting what they got. The apathy of their intentionality is fateful though they will blame others, the rest of the world, and even God for their lack of diligence. We must take an interest in our lives and become focused.
It's the process that's important and not the outcome. Executing plans is as much about banging away over the days, weeks, months, and years and being patient, as anything else. It's too easy to become frustrated. We have our down days and so does everyone. They should not deter us from our overall objective. As much as the down days come so too come days of triumph. Accepting ups and downs, and the good and the bad, takes maturity.
Amusement (literally, time without thinking) or rest time is vital for our spirit's health. Laughter is well known for its health effects. Challenging amusements are also fun.
Words of wisdom are important to know - such conversing ‘with the dead’ is a good way to come to know our human nature. We might be unique individuals but we have more in common with the rest of the species than we'd often like to credit. This is the first day.
The second day is for appreciating the present and immersing our senses in what we see, hear, feel, taste, and touch; to see God's good creation, and noting that all that's to be experienced can't be experienced in one land - for God has sprinkled his blessing vastly, even to the unlikeliest of spots.
The third day is for one's self. Enjoy musing about the world and people and things. It pays to be philosophical. And it also pays to make time to invest in your spiritual health.
Between them, the first, second, and third days represent the past, the present, and our future potential. It's a balance we ought to make time to get right. Viewing life from this sort of holistic perspective will inevitably lead to what I'd term as life health.
Copyright © 2008, Steven John Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
Steve Wickham is a safety and health professional (BSc) and a qualified lay Christian minister (GradDipDiv). His key passion is work / life balance and re-creating value for living, and an exploration of the unique person within us.