Oprah has popularized the phrase, “Best Life” with a series of shows centered around so-called “experts” talking about how to have, “the best life”. What is your definition of a “best life” and how do you think you are — or are not— fulfilling your conception of it?
I honestly don’t think I have ever seen the “Best Life” series with Oprah. Maybe being one of only two men in this blog-off (and the other one came up with this topic) that might put me at a disadvantage…I don’t know. But I do think about what an “ideal” life would be, so I will go off of that.
I hate to admit it but the ELCA does have a model of wellness that I would like to achieve one day. It is called a “Wholeness Wheel.” There are six areas of wholeness that I believe anyone can achieve and if they do; I believe that they will be living a better life if not the “Best Life.”
Everyone wants to be healthy. People get healthy physically not only to look good but to feel good and live longer. As we get older we start to see that bright light at the end of the tunnel and we want that tunnel to continually get longer not shorter.
I would give myself a low grade on my Physical well-being at this point. But I am making strides to get healthier and healthier everyday. As I mentioned on this blog earlier I have lost over 30 pounds in the last year and I am working hard everyday to staying on track and lose more. I hope to participate in a triathlon this September with the goal of at least finishing. I hope by this time next year I will be able to say that I am in much better physical condition.
“Being emotionally well means feeling the full range of emotions and expressing those emotions appropriately.”
I think there are four ways that I maintain emotional well-being
- Spend time with my family — I love my family more than anything else in the world. When I come home from a good or bad day at work my kids come up to me and give me hugs and kisses and it makes even the worst day seem bright. I love my wife and the more time I get to spend with her the better I feel. She understands me like no-one else can. I feel lucky to have a great family.
- Working out- I love the feeling after a good work out. I find that when I am starting to feel stressed and overwhelmed I need to hit the gym and spend a little extra time working out. It helps me relieve all the built-up stress inside of me.
- Music – I am a musician at heart. I love to turn the radio up in my car and sing along. I also love to play my guitar for hours on end. Music gives me that creative release that nothing else can.
- Friends — I have the greatest friends in the world. When something is wrong in my life they are there for me and I can’t ever thank them enough. One of the reasons why I love facebook so much is because I am able to connect with my friends even more. I believe that my friends are the smartest people I know and I always seek advice from them.
Whether we are introverted or extroverted, regular social contact is essential for health.
This is one area that I feel like my wife and I need to improve on. I am very extroverted and she is very introverted so the way we view our social contacts is different. Like I mentioned above I love facebook because I am able to relate to my friends on a daily basis. One thing that is hard for my wife and myself is that most of our friends do not live in the same area as us – so facebook, email and phone calls are our best form of contact. My wife and I are also new to the area (we have lived here only a year). We came to CNY not knowing very many people at all and it is taking more time than I would like on meeting people our age that we are able to hang out with on a regular basis. We continue to work on this and I know that things will turn around sooner or later.
I can say that I have never been the smartest person in my academic career. I have never qualified myself as a scholar. But I do hold a bachelors degree and a Master of Divinity degree. I am very proud of my accomplishments because I have worked hard for them. I do like to keep up with my reading and studying, I think it is very important to keep your mind working, otherwise I believe it will start to shut down. I will always be a student and seek to learn more and more not only professionally but in other ways as well.
I never really understood why people are in jobs that they hate. I have had only one job that I really hated in my life. I worked there for about 14 days and quit and found something else that I enjoyed much more. I need to be challenged where I work otherwise I am not satisfied. I realize that jobs are sometimes hard to come by — however do what you love or you will never be happy.
I do love the job that I have right now. I believe my calling in life is to be a pastor. I love hearing faith stories from people, I love being there for people during their celebrations and during their more difficult times in life. I can’t imagine doing anything else in life and being this happy.
I believe that we need to be spiritually healthy as well. I have friends and family members that do not have a realigous base in their life and I do actually question that decision. I do not understand what happens when difficulties happen in their life who do they put their trust in that things will turn out okay? I put my trust in the one who I believe created me and who loves me and who promises me that things will be okay. When I am having a crappy day I know I can turn to God and pray.
I will never forget when I was at Luther College, I was having a tough time personally. I prayed with a friend, we prayed for my family we prayed that God would take all my problems and place them on His shoulders and I believe God did. That night I cried for 45 min. It was all the pain, hurt, anger and sadness coming out of me. I felt as though that burdens that I had been carrying for so long were lifted off of me and I felt free once again. It was a good feeling.
I think of that time in my life when I believe that I am not as spiritually well off as I would like to be. Right now I think I am at a good place because the last few months have been tough in some ways. It is when times are tough that I start to fall away from my spiritual disciplines and it is then that I realize that I need them the most and I am able to turn back and pick things up again.
I can honestly say that money is one of the biggest stresses in my life and the lives of the people I come across everyday. 90% of the debt that I carry is in student loans. I can honestly say that I am disappointed in the way that seminaries are structured in that regard. Pastors are generally in the top 25% in education but in the bottom 25% in pay (or something like that). But that is another blog post for another day.
We work hard at becoming more and more financially secure. I know it takes time and that is the hard part. We are at a point right now in our lives where we want to feel secure financially. It is important — and I know I have lots to learn when it comes to financial success. I read blog posts daily and I use the YNAB system to help keep finances straight and I abide by the philosophies of YNAB to help us think differently about our money.
Overall I believe that things are going okay right now in my “Best Life” – I believe that overall I have a pretty good wholeness wheel. I don’t think it will ever be perfect but I believe that it is a good way to think about your life and how you can have a “Best Life.”