What does a vibrant life look like?
Written from Cinque Terre, Italy
You put the last piece in its place and step back to admire your handiwork. As your eyes scan the image sprawled out before you, you see it. Just there, in the middle of the house tucked away in the forest near the waterwheel. A piece is missing. You know the feeling - when the puzzle is one piece short of perfect. It's irritating and imbalanced and you can't help but feel a twinge of disappointment.
Life, too, is irritating, imbalanced and brings its fair share of disappointment when a piece of it is missing. Zig Ziglar has his "Wheel of Life" and Donald Miller has his "How to Tell a Story". These individuals have analyzed life and each, in their own way, broken it down into parts we can grasp so the whole thing doesn't feel so overwhelming. While they each look at life through a unique lens, they all have one thing in common - living a balanced life. None of them recommend being all work no play. None of them recommend the opposite. Because no one likes to leave out a piece of a puzzle. It's incomplete. Broken.
My version of the "life breakdown" (Can we please turn that into a dance?) looks specifically to three zones of life: Practical Living, Passionate Living, and Purposeful Living.
Last time I checked, living life costs money which means at some point (unless we've fallen into some old money) we have to have a job and earn an income. I'm not going to be the guy who preaches dream chasing and expects you to abandon the necessities. However, I will add this - practical living is often the easiest trap to fall into because it's so scripted. So often, we accept this idea that college, well-paying jobs, apartment rentals or30-year mortgages are simply a means to living the life you want. Take the hits now, live the dream later. You've probably heard the expression "work for the weekend"; why does the lopsided life sound appealing? The conflict of practical living arises when our "life" ends up looking a lot like our job and we've found that, suddenly, we've traded our dream for survival because that's just the way things work.
I want to challenge you to begin building the job you want that utilizes your aptitudes. Take an ego hit and live simply while you save up to by a house with no mortgage. Buy a used car and get cheaper insurance to boot. You don't have to work for the weekend. Live smart and make your life your weekend.
Human beings have such a dazzling array of talents and gifts that it's sometimes hard to believe what good fortune it is that we have found ourselves born into! Except that it's not good fortune but an almighty God who has blessed each of us with these spectacular gifts in order that we might glorify Him and enjoy what He has given us. Wow.
Passionate living is often the most fun part of living vibrantly because it gives us permission to do cool things simply because they're cool things. It gives us permission to be whimsical. It gives us permission to be an individual. Passionate living is full.
I believe that everyone is born with an aptitude or a bend toward something. Not necessarily rocket science or music; it could be listening or encouragement. I hear people say they don't have any strong talents or anything that makes their blood boil with passion. To those people, I would give this word of caution - convincing yourself you don't have an aptitude for anything justifies not looking for one. Sometimes it simply needs to be dug up!
When you find it, you'll know it. You'll get giddy with excitement when someone asks you about it, you'll feel as though your day couldn't possibly be wasted if you spent it doing this thing. You see its value and you thrive on it. Till the ground, water the plant and let it grow - the beanstalk has a golden egg waiting for you at the end.
Purposeful living is finding the intersection between Passion and Service. When we've finally tapped into the energy of doing what we love, we can channel it to help others! This kind of living brings a unique, and I would venture to say higher, purpose to our life. Imagine a masterful painter, holed up in a cave somewhere. No one knows he exists, no one knows his genius and no one sings him Happy Birthday. His paintings are spectacular though, like nothing you've ever seen before! Yet, if no one ever sees them - if they never appreciate them - what can be said for his life? That he made himself happy? Relationships bring your passion full circle by imbuing that passion with value beyond its intrinsic worth. Purposeful living is love in action.
NOTE: If you haven't read Bob Goff's book "Love Does", grab a copy for yourself today! The book is filled with stories of incredible magnitude that seek to show you exactly what love does.