A meaningful life guaranteed
If we live wisely, think deeply, and love generously we can guarantee ourselves a wonderfully meaningful life.
Why wouldn’t we do this? Is it, as Pope Francis says, that we no longer hear the wisdom of the great sages of the past because they are drowned out by too much noise and information overload?
This is from Pope Francis’ recent encyclical:
Furthermore, when media and the digital world become omnipresent, their influence can stop people from learning how to live wisely, to think deeply and to love generously. In this context, the great sages of the past run the risk of going unheard amid the noise and distractions of an information overload. Efforts need to be made to help these media become sources of new cultural progress for humanity and not a threat to our deepest riches. True wisdom, as the fruit of self-examination, dialogue and generous encounter between persons, is not acquired by a mere accumulation of data which eventually leads to overload and confusion, a sort of mental pollution.
When Pope Francis suggests “a mere accumulation of data . . . leads to overload”—I imagine the “data” being in the form of too many Facebook friends, emails and apps, as well as too many serial relationships, or even too many self-help techniques.
When I only scratch the surface of life, which is all I can do when I live in a state of perpetual busyness, I get no satisfaction.
Whereas, when I focus on a few things and become good at them—I experience much deeper satisfaction. And when I say, “become good at them,” I mean become good at whatever I’m doing—partnering, fathering, befriending, counseling, or witnessing another person. As I narrow my focus and go deeper in a few areas of my life—and with a few people—I develop true wisdom in those areas.
The Pope suggests “true wisdom” is the result of “self-examination, dialogue and generous encounter between persons.” But the dialogue needs to be constructive. Otherwise we waste time and energy arguing about subjective matters, yet trying to prove ourselves right and others wrong.
What is my intention?
So when I enter a dialogue I ask, “What is my intention? Am I seeking to connect and have a generous encounter?”
When I want to connect and have a generous encounter with another person, I have found nothing more helpful than using Perception Language—it makes all dialogue constructive, even the conversations that I have with myself inside my own head.
More from Pope Francis:
Real relationships with others, with all the challenges they entail, now tend to be replaced by a type of internet communication which enables us to choose or eliminate relationships at whim, thus giving rise to a new type of contrived emotion which has more to do with devices and displays than with other people and with nature. Today’s media do enable us to communicate and to share our knowledge and affections. Yet at times they also shield us from direct contact with the pain, the fears and the joys of others and the complexity of their personal experiences. For this reason, we should be concerned that, alongside the exciting possibilities offered by these media, a deep and melancholic dissatisfaction with interpersonal relations, or a harmful sense of isolation, can also arise.
When I shield myself from direct contact with the pain of life, the fears and joys of others and all the complexity that entails—I suffer. But I have learned that it is not the pain or the complexity that causes me to suffer, but my resistance to the pain or the complexity.
If I allow myself to fully feel whatever emotions arise, the natural life of those emotions is between ninety seconds and three minutes. But when I resist, the energy of my emotions gets stored in my body as tension. This tension can manifest as physical symptoms—headaches, muscles spasms, fatigue—or as emotional patterns of depression, anxiety or irritability.
If I fully embrace life, including the direct contact with pain, and I learn how to stay awake even in the midst of discomfort, I can live wisely, think deeply, and love generously. But to do so requires me to go deeply into the experience of life—into the marrow.
When I go into the marrow of life
- I am completely present, speaking my truth, which clarifies and simplifies all my relationships.
- I make time to listen to my body, honoring myself and then making congruent decisions.
- I open my heart and focus more on giving than receiving, which is why I stop worrying about being hurt.
Or, if I remain on the surface of life, spreading myself thin:
- I can ignore the lessons that pain offers me but I’ll never live wisely.
- I can browse the Internet daily and rapidly reply to all of my “friends,” but I’ll never have time to think deeply.
- I can hold back for fear of being hurt but I’ll never experience love generously.
I invite you to really think about what you want from your life. If you want to live wisely, think deeply, and love generously . . . listen to the wisdom of your body, gift yourself with time to think, and open your heart.
Make self-examination, constructive dialogue and generous encounters requirements in your closest relationships. And add one more: maturity. It is maturity that allows us to encounter our pains, fears and joys, and the complexities of knowing one another—without drama.
If you accept this invitation, but are missing some of the tools, consider making Live Conscious one of the few things you delve deeply into. We provide the means for you live wisely, think deeply, and love generously. And living this way will ensure that you can avoid the melancholic dissatisfaction or harmful sense of isolation that Pope Francis cautions us about.
To read more of Pope Francis’ encyclical, click this link: Pope-Francis-Encyclical-2015
To see President Obama singing Amazing Grace as part of Clementa Pinckney’s eulogy click here