What does a good life mean to you? Who do you admire? What do you celebrate and reward? Who do you recognize and hold up as successful?
Most of us have never taken the time to purposefully examine these questions. We haven’t defined success for ourselves, but rather accept what culture tells us success looks like. This leaves us chasing things we don’t even necessarily want like fame and fortune instead of what is truly meaningful and valuable to us.
Even for those who have thought about their vision of success, the life they want, and the world they want to create, there is almost always a disconnect between intention and action. For example, we want a loving relationship but we don’t want to make time to invest in it. We desire to be accepted, yet we talk about others behind their backs. We want financial rewards but aren’t willing to put in the work. We want to lose the weight but won’t change our diet or make time to exercise. Sound familiar? Me too. This misalignment is true in my life in ways I continue to discover and become aware of. I have accepted that alignment is a continuous process and it takes daily discipline. I have to be diligent about exploring who I want to be and what I want to see in the world, then make time to examine my mindset, attitude, and behavior. I recognize the gaps, then make commitments and reflect daily on how I’m doing so I can start to live closer to the person I want to be and bring into reality the world I want to create. Let’s talk about our culture and these gaps between intention and action more broadly. We say we value and respect hard work. “It’s hard to find people willing to work these days,” is something I hear almost daily. Yet, what we recognize and reward in the news and our everyday conversation are the overnight successes, lottery winners, and wealthy heirs. What is the impact of that? We say we care about the earth, yet we continue to consume more than we need and are unwilling to change our habits because it’s just too convenient. If we aren’t willing to do our part, how will things ever get better? We say we want a world that is safe, yet we meet people with threats and guns when they mess up. Instead of seeing them for the humans they are, working to understanding their wounds and pain and helping them, we throw them into an institution or behind bars.
We say we value equality, yet we refuse to listen to alternative viewpoints. We consistently use divisive language and look for any opportunity to blame others. When we disagree with someone, we are willing to sacrifice the entire relationship and write them off rather than find common ground. We say we want our kids to be kind and caring, to live their life with dignity and grace, but we celebrate the rich and famous regardless of their morality and choices. We talk more about achievement and awards as a measure of success than we do about serving others. What signal is that sending to our kids? We say that education is a top priority and extremely important to our society, but our teachers are underpaid and our schools are under resourced. We pay professional athletes millions of dollars a year while the people who are shaping the lives of future generations are getting paid $60,000 a year on average. Does that reflect our intention? At this point you may be feeling judged or hopeless. That is not my intent at all! It is to bring awareness and inspire action! Most of us are unwilling to think or talk about these things because it feels too big, too heavy. It is not your obligation to change the world, so please lay that down. What I would ask is you join me in continuing to explore these gaps between intention and action in your own life and the world around you. If each of us can start to work toward alignment, we will get closer to the change we want to see in the world. It will take discipline and some sacrifice, but if your journey is anything like mine has been, it will open up a whole new world of meaning, peace, joy, love, and hope. We can do this, one person, family, organization, and community at a time!
If you want to discuss more or take action and don’t know where to start, reach out! It’s never too late to start down the path of restoration!