Do you ever feel stuck? Maybe a little depressed? We all do from time to time. Some people deal with this feeling by getting a new haircut, a high-tech toy, or a major purchase (like a car or boat). Those who feel more desperate may consider changing their job or even their spouse. But such radical changes rarely result in long-term satisfaction. Rather, I’ve found that living a more meaningful life includes doing these small but proactive things every day:
- Do something HOPEFUL. I’m not talking about buying a lottery ticket or “wishing upon a star.” Rather, I mean doing things that can enhance our spiritual lives. Hope fuels us. Without hope, we will wither away. We’ll become listless and depressed. But when we intentionally invest in our inner lives, we’ll be energized by hope.
In the Bible, hope isn’t just positive thinking; it’s choosing to place our trust in a loving and omnipotent Father who has a plan and purpose for our lives. Consider beginning each day by doing something hopeful: reading and meditating on God’s Word, praising God for his goodness, and bringing your specific needs to him in prayerful conversation. Today, let hope be our first act rather than our last resort.
- Do something HEALTHY. It’s so tempting to live an undisciplined, self-indulgent life. But we can change that trajectory today by replacing at least one poor choice with a healthy one. For example, we can choose to walk for 30 minutes rather than to sit on the couch for the same amount of time. Or we can choose a healthy entree rather than indulging in junk food.
Progress is often incremental. Like interest in a savings account, seemingly small investments will yield great returns over time. Resolve every day to do at least one thing that will improve your physical health. That choice, in turn, will enhance your mental and emotional well-being. What one healthy thing will you do today?
- Do something HELPFUL. I confess that I’m naturally self-centered. Being helpful, however, requires that I put the needs of others before my own—if only for a moment. It may be something as simple as emptying the dishwasher, taking out the trash, or replacing an empty toilet paper roll. But when we reorient ourselves to genuinely helping others, we begin to find joy in serving. We begin to think, “What can I give?” more than “What can I get?”
I’m not talking about doing something we’re already obligated to do (a “duty”) or something we’re paid for (a “job”). Rather, I’m suggesting we commit ourselves to a least one “random act of kindness” every day. Big or small, doing one thing—something–helpful will realign our lives outward.
- Do something HARD. Do you ever find yourself taking the path of least resistance or postponing difficult tasks? I do. But most good things are hard things. They require self-discipline and sacrifice. If I want a better life, then I must face the challenges that will make me stronger, wiser, healthier, and more financially secure.
Sometimes, the hard things are difficult conversations with others. Other times, we need to get honest with ourselves. Either way, putting something hard at the top of our daily to-do list instead of the bottom will help us develop mental, physical, and spiritual fortitude. What hard thing will you do today?
- Do something HAPPY. It’s easy to fill our week with duties and responsibilities without finding time to do something that gives us joy. Each day, consider scheduling an appointment with yourself to do something enjoyable. It could be reading a chapter in a book, listening to a favorite album, or spending time with a beloved friend or family member (two-legged or four-legged!). What makes you happy?
There’s a difference between being self-indulgent and stopping to smell the proverbial roses. The former is about seeking pleasure at the expense of other things and the latter is about finding joy in the midst of life’s busy-ness. Also, it helps me to do my work when there’s a reward waiting on the other side of a specific task.
Do I do all five of these things every day?
Do I find more meaning and satisfaction when I do them?
Almost every time!