“Choosing to live your life by your own choice is the greatest freedom you will ever have.”
Models for Living
When I think of all that goes into each individual choice we make in life, and we make thousands a day, I wonder how to maximize those choices. I wonder how we make decisions that reflect the personal power we have to change our outlook, to create meaningful visions for our lives and to tee up our journey in such a way that we gain momentum, excitement and passion for the path ahead.
I love models of how to live, especially if they outline simpler ways to move forward, without sacrificing the reality that life can be complex and our day in and day out doesn’t always take a linear path. So one simple model focuses on a three-part look at generating drive, direction and goals in our experience and everyday life. Those three elements have to do with our mind, our basic heart that goes beyond mere thinking and then the actions we take to execute our core beliefs.
The head, the intellect, can be viewed as the center of imagination – where we find ideas, dreams and beliefs that can take us places. Places like the moon, where we put ourselves in a future space that we believe we can achieve, inhabit and generate purposeful living. Where we land with excitement and adventure and face the unknown with curiosity, resolve and vigor. Resolve to explore and build.
So often, as men, we forfeit our imagination by burying our inspirations beneath the concrete jungles we live in. Circumstances frequently get in the way of seeing a brighter day, a new way of thinking and perhaps a brand new way of living. To live courageously means to challenge our dullness and our defeats, especially when we conclude that things could never be different. We can’t live any other way. First and foremost, we need to challenge our thinking. Momentum can stop too easily in the tracks of an immobilized imagination. For many men, the need to dream again becomes an essential ingredient in defining new choices that take them to new heights.
But if our fresh energy and drive for newness and change moves from the head to reality, it has to first land in the heart – where we decide to take our passion seriously – where we decide to let our dreams sink in so deeply into the soil of excitement and determination, that we don’t let go of what choices we have that long to sprout like new branches on a fertile tree. That move beyond self-imposed limits that say, “You can’t do this or can’t do that. Circumstances won’t let you.”
In the heart, we learn to reflect on what we’ve been thinking. To imagine how to apply fresh insights to our choices, to our lifestyle and to the relationships we live in. Taking stock of our thoughts allows us to gain wisdom, to weed out insignificant ideas in favor of meaningful ones.
And finally, so many decisions we make fall short because we don’t deliver. We stop in our tracks and don’t create actions that implement new, exciting beliefs. With the right behaviors, we transport our thoughts and energy into the reality of everyday life. And when we do that, we build newness and ways of handling life that have the potential to take us to higher ground.
Challenge yourself with this:
Head: Identify 4 or 5 ideas of how you want your life to be. No matter what circumstance you live in that you feel may limit you or box you in. Think long and hard about how these would make a difference in the quality of your life. How your relationships might change. How your happiness would be affected.
Heart: Now reflect deeply on why each idea would impact you. How it would make you feel if you implemented them. How your experience of life would be different.
Hands: Take at least one of those ideas and commit yourself to starting a process of living it out – putting it into effect. Identify small and large steps that you will begin to see it to the end.
Remember that any changes you identify in your life can be small, medium or large. You might, for example, tackle building a better marriage. You might challenge yourself to spend time in silence in an effort to slow down in life or to get in touch with your emotions or spiritual energy. You might even consider a career change. But with each possibility, you need a way to move ahead. Start with the head, go to the heart experience and take action – a simple model that can accelerate growth, transformation and create a better life.