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ACTION!

Life takes action.

Well, it takes action if you truly want a deep, fulfilling life. This post will be longer than normal and has some resources to follow to learn more.

There are two major aspects of action; the physical and the abstract. The abstract is our mental, emotional, and even spiritual aspect of our lives. Both parts work together to create our life, but I will look at each part separately before I bring it together.

Right now, especially with smartphones and computers, we are not as physically active as we could be. We think we are active because we respond to a notification on our phone. (Here is a quick and interesting article from TechCrunch, “The Psychology of Notifications”.) Technology is cool and can enhance our lives in many different ways. Yet, how do we spend our time on our phones or computers? Check your screen time. It will tell you.

Again, I am not against technology. Life is more than the screen though. The physical act of doing something brings us a more fulfilling moment because actions help create or strengthen our emotions. The article, “Action Creates Emotion,” from Psychology Today highlights this connection. Different theories and studies show that physical actions can change our emotional state for the better.

Yet, it is hard to get moving. There are a number of factors for each of us. Technology is a major one, but not the only one. Job demands. School. Hardships in life. All of these can keep us down, keep us stationary. That is why action in the abstract aspects of our life is important.

Again, the abstract is our emotional, mental, and spiritual states.

I have what you might call a “dad-ism” I use to help me keep perspective with people; “We are all works in progress.” I wish it was true for everyone, but it helps me keep a perspective of growth. I strive to grow in the abstract part of my life. To be a better man, a better husband, and father. Working in these areas take a different kind of action, but it is still action that creates a life filled with joy.

The phrase “growth mindset” is popular in education and the workplace. It means that a person understands that they can continue to learn and improve their skills in school or the job. But what about life? Well, we do now have life coaches, self-help books, and you can Google the keywords and get results from Psychology Today and LinkedIn. The advice is good, but it takes action.

How do you take action in this realm of life? I will share a few ideas (which you will also find in different resources), but honestly, each person has to find their own path…

1. Quiet time: This might look like prayer, meditation, or coffee on the porch. However you find it, find time and a place to be quiet, to reflect, to listen to your inner voice. This time allows us to consider our thoughts. Even challenge our own beliefs. The article, “7 Reasons Why You Need Quiet Time,” from Psych Central expands on this area.

2. Read (I know, English teacher coming through): OK, what I really mean is to learn. A book is a great way to learn, but we can learn from other people’s stories, pop culture, or just observing the world around you. Any type of learning expands our thinking and understanding. It can help us strengthen our skills in the area of physical action.

3. Challenge yourself: This component is personal because there are different ways to stretch ourselves. This is both a physical and abstract experience. You can remove sugar from your diet for 30 days. You can listen to a song from a different genre. The idea is to discover more about yourself. Test your strength. Remove bad habits. Challenge different parts of yourself.  A great TEDTalk to watch is “Try something new for 30 days” by Matt Cutts.

Life.

We discover the meaning from what we do.

We live deeply by becoming who we are.

That takes action. Physical action and abstract action.

What are you going to do today?

 

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Magic of a Bookstore

Today I got to buy some books from our local bookstore, Prairie Books & Gifts. The store is closing after 43 years. I was awash with emotions as I walked around the store. When I worked downtown, I would spend time in the store. Sometimes reading a book in their reading area. Other times, just wandering the aisles until my lunch break was over.

I wrote a series awhile back about how different life was for me growing up as compared to my children. I started to consider that my kids may never know the joy of a bookstore, especially a local store. (I don’t think that will happen, but you never know…)

There is something magical about a bookstore, about the rows of books. Finding your favorite author’s books, hoping in some small way that there is a new book, or gandering through a genre or subject section. Yes, I always checked the poetry section.

A bookstore is the center of our universe. There are millions of worlds, people, and story lines just waiting for us to discover. And yes, you do sometimes judge a book by its cover. You pick it up from the shelf, slightly bouncing it in your hands trying to get a feel of the weight of the book, both physically and metaphorically. The crinkle of the binding. A quick read of a page. And then you have to decide if you are going to enter that world. The whole process is magical. A bookstore is the center of this universe, and it makes me sad to see our local universe die.

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