Belief Beyond Boundaries
In the last couple weeks we’ve discussed the importance of emotional, social, and occupational wellness. This brings us to physical wellness. Physical wellness encompasses physical activity, diet, nutrition, and sleep. We all know that great physical wellness wards off illnesses like certain cancers, diabetes, and cognitive problems while also bringing about a greater sense of fulfillment. We all have reasons for wanting to achieve physical wellness so let’s discuss some great goals that may assist you in achieving what it takes to have great physical wellness.
Physical Fitness Routine
Ideally, your goal should be to have a regular routine of activity that you truly enjoy. Do you like hiking, biking, tennis, gardening, or basketball? This isn’t to rule out traditional exercise routines, but if you can truly enjoy HOW you are exercising, it will be that much easier to stick with a routine that promotes healthy exercise. In addition, physical fitness isn’t all about how much you exercise, but also includes maintaining a healthy weight, and muscle mass.
The CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. This would be broken down into 30 minutes a day, 5 times per week or about 21 minutes per day for a whole week. Here are some ideas that could help achieve this:
If you look online, you will quickly see many diets and supplements that advertisers claim will help you take off weight quickly and effortlessly. The truth is a healthy diet should help you maintain weight and provide a balance of nutrients that keeps you healthy. Generally, this means eating small amounts every 3 hours throughout the day. This helps keep your metabolism burning strong for weight management, helps you get all the nutrients you need, and helps you feel fuller longer. If you need to lose weight, you can simply reduce the size of your small meals to achieve a lower calorie intake.
Within the scope of eating less more often, you can integrate other lifestyle eating choices such as a low carb eating plan, vegetarian diet, mediterranean diet, etc. By being mindful about what you put in your body while measuring your weight regularly, you can fine tune your efforts.
Not getting a full night’s sleep on a regular basis, for many, can sabotage all efforts at making substantial health improvements in general. A tired person has the potential to be a very unmotivated person. If something is preventing you from getting a full night’s sleep, it is vital to understand and remediate whatever is preventing you from getting the sleep your body needs. This can be as easy as going to bed earlier or cutting out habits that keep you up late.
If reading this makes you feel overwhelmed, considering not only the spiritual aspects we’ve talked about, but also physical wellness routines you could employ in your life, know that full transformation is a lifestyle. You start with a few things and develop a small routine. Over time, you can add more and more healthy habits into your life, mastering them as you go. Understand this, a transformative lifestyle is about the journey itself, not the destination. The small improvements you make are the reward. You may have a destination in mind, but there will always be new ways to grow and improve yourself so take time to enjoy the scenery and find fulfillment in the process.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. - Apostle Paul (Colossians 3:23-24)
I think about how different working experiences are when just one or two people, or even a manager, on a work team keeps with this mentality. I have worked on teams where people looked out for mostly themselves, owners and managers were stingy, and the paycheck was the extent of the reward.
Still, while working in retail, I experienced a full time cashier with a grandmotherly demeanor, named Bernice who would periodically bring treats for her fellow workmates, speak with compassion to everyone, and always had a smile on her face even when things got hectic. Customers would line up 6-deep, while ignoring other cashiers, just to experience her warmth and caring attitude. That is not an exaggeration. She was the definition of hospitality and people flocked to her.
If you find yourself on a demotivated team that needs building up, it is in the spirit of Christ that we can seed a transformation on our work teams. Through generosity, caring, patience, kindness, understanding, and love for our fellow human beings, we can inspire those around us to see the power of the Lord when we act out his teachings while at work. Let’s ask ourselves the following questions:
One of the dimensions of wellness described by Dr. Swarbrick we discussed in one of my recent blog entries, “Degree #3: Personal Wellness” is Occupational Wellness. There is inherent value in the meaning and satisfaction derived from one’s work. It is through Christ that we shortcut the process and find instant meaning in our work that could otherwise feel monotonous or like an endless loop when we are still on the road to our career destinations. I assure you, the place you are now, in your current journey, can be as much or more fulfilling than the destination itself when we work in the name of the Lord.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” - Jesus Christ (John 13:35)
Having a healthy social life is one of the best ways a person can find fulfillment in their life. After the pandemic I have noticed rekindling relationships has been hard for many, but it isn’t just rekindling relationships that will bring fulfillment, rather establishing the right kind of relationships that will allow you to grow and flourish as a person. I’d like to share with you some ways today in which you can begin to re-establish a healthy social life:
Get Involved at Church
If you're not involved at church, aside from spiritual training, one of the main benefits you’ll find is the surprising number of opportunities available for those looking to grow their social circle. Oftentimes, churches will have a list of clubs or activities you can get involved with right away such as Bible studies, volunteer programs, event assistance, or evangelizing.
Volunteers are needed for many non-profit organizations. Think historical societies, zoos, community initiatives, and museums along with charities, churches, and assisting the unsheltered. Whatever your calling is, there is always help you can offer and along with that comes valuable relationships with others that have the same calling.
Join a Club
Whatever your passion is, chances are there is a club for that; anything from hiking to biking, cooking, camping, dancing, sports, and quilting. There are online resources such as meetup.com or Facebook Groups that can help link you up with others that share your interests.
Fulfill a Community Mission
Taking a look at your community, there may be something you would like to improve. Through organizing events, gathering like-minded people for a purpose, or joining council boards, you can make a difference in your community while also getting to know people in your neighborhood.
Start a Small–Group Gathering
With Facebook Groups, as mentioned above, you can find others with similar interests. If a gathering isn’t already organized by a group, you can connect with others in your area and invite them to your own small-group gathering. The objective should be to make your gathering something that is not complicated and easy to get going with a few others.
Start A Home Church
If sharing your faith with others is important to you and you feel that you may have a unique take on spirituality that could uniquely serve others, one possibility is starting a home church. By serving others in Christ, this will allow you to get to know others on a deeper and more satisfying level that is hard to beat with a larger congregational church. Feel free to get creative like taking turns bringing food, holding church in unique and fun spaces as well as having in-meeting discussions as a small group.
With so many options to find others who also share a heart for your passion, there is little reason not to get out and utilize your social skills. As a key factor of wellness, even though you may find it uncomfortable at first, you will undoubtedly over a short period of time begin feeling a sense of connectedness and shared purpose with others in whatever group you choose. If, however, it misses the mark, don’t be afraid to try something new until you find what speaks to you.
For many, emotion regulation is one of the main barriers that keeps people from achieving full transformation. As long as a person is a slave to their emotion and all the whims of the day, they will never experience all the freedom that a spirit-led life in Christ can bring. Think about it for a moment. Vented rage, lost calm, and hurtful words have probably caused more harm and destruction than any war in history ever could have. This is why, as Christians, we should regularly strive to process our emotion in a positive way. Let's look at a few topics that will help us understand emotion regulation:
The Only Thing You Can Control is Your Response
The first thing to understand about regulating emotion is that you cannot control the events happening around you. If you could, you would have already taken care of it. The only thing you can 100% control is how you respond to each situation. Would you like to handle each situation that comes your way with intent, grace, and purpose or would you rather lose self control, potentially opening yourself up to further loss of control?
Practice Self Control
Everyone has a default way they handle specific situations. Understanding your triggers, how you respond, and past outcomes will help you begin to understand the importance of self control. Understanding these triggers and having a calculated plan of response in advance is a great benchmark in which you can gauge how to respond in each situation you encounter. The goal of every encounter is to act in a logical and purposeful manner that results in the ideal outcome you are looking for every time.
Pause Before You Respond
This may go without saying, but taking a moment to pause and think about how you will respond or solve your problem will, more often than not, assist you in overcoming whatever obstacle you're facing. A little patience and focusing on the first step to solving your issue means you are already on track.
Practice Mindfulness Meditation
I personally love mindful meditation, because at it's core, it's really teaching you about managing distractions in your thoughts. It allows you to accept whatever is happening in your environment, quickly process it, and move on. I think this is so important for emotional regulation, because with enough practice, you will realize that simple stressors are simply a matter of acknowledging their presence and then moving on to achieve peace in your mind.
I practice mindfulness meditation by relaxing my body, closing my eyes, and focusing on my communion with God, acknowledging and releasing distraction as I meditate. Having a subject matter you'd like to contemplate planned ahead of time is helpful.
Make A Plan as Soon as You Can
When something, without warning, interrupts your emotional groove, many times focusing on a plan can quickly dispel negative emotion. Asking yourself what the problem is, how it can be solved, and how you will solve it is key. If you need to write it down, do that. For instance, say you are having a car issue and have no money to get it fixed. First, acknowledge that you can't change that the problem exists. Then, knowing that the problem is out of your control, you can first pray about it. Ask God for resolution and assistance. Then make a list in your mind of what you have the power to do. For instance, you can make a mechanic appointment, call a friend who fixes vehicles, buy a different vehicle, or borrow a car from a family member. Of course, after that, it's a matter of understanding which option best works for you, but the sooner you have a plan, the better you will feel so you can continue focusing on your life.
Emotion Response is Learned
One thing I've realized is how often our emotion responses seem to be determined by how we think we should react to specific situations and are often learned from others. For instance, a boy grows up watching his mother or father throw things whenever they get upset by another person. The boy may then grow up thinking that when he gets upset, it is acceptable to throw things around when he loses his temper.
Stay in Scripture
Having a regular routine of scripture reading goes a long way in understanding emotion regulation and its importance. The Word has been transforming lives for thousands of years and inspires us to understand our actions and take corrective measures through action and repentance.
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. - James 1:19-20
A very important aspect to total mind, body, and soul transformation is personal wellness. Alone, wellness ties all 3 aspects together. A significant lack in mental or physical wellness is a detriment to well being in general as well as spiritual growth.
According to Dr. M. Swarbrick, in "A Wellness Approach" written in the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, the author outlines 8 dimensions of wellness that we can point to in order to create potential goals that improve our personal wellness and satisfaction. You may also consider referring to these dimensions when approaching Degree #1: "Self Reflection".
Coping effectively with life and creating satisfying relationships.
Satisfaction with current and future financial situations.
Developing a sense of connection, belonging, and a well-developed support system.
Expanding our sense of purpose and meaning in life.
Personal satisfaction and enrichment derived from one's work.
Recognizing the need for physical activity, diet, sleep, and nutrition.
Recognizing creative abilities and finding ways to expand knowledge and skills.
Good health by occupying pleasant, stimulating environments that support well-being.
As a whole the "8 Degrees of Spiritual Transformation," which this blog wholly represents, includes topics to improve not only wellness, but also focuses on self reflection, acknowledgment, and finally actions that promote a fulfilled and purpose-driven spiritual life by expanding that which improves lives and clearing away that which does not. Using a goal oriented approach, the 8 Degrees of Transformation seeks to create outcomes that will significantly improve your life. Stick with me as we continue to explore many topics that support this mission.
If you watch football, you'll know that touchdowns don't come easy. It is a series of strategies, plays, and regular practice that all come together to successfully get the ball into the end zone to score a touchdown. The process isn't all that much different than in your own life, but knowing the process of winning in your goals will help you create an ongoing system of success. Let's break this down:
Have a Clear Objective
In order to have the best outcome, it is important to know what it is you're working toward. If your goal is to lose weight, what does this look like to you? Is it a specific weight? Is it how you feel? Be specific so you'll know when you've actually completed your goal. If your goal is to be more spiritual, break this down into clear actions such as reading the Bible, becoming an evangelist, attending a set number of volunteer sessions each week. This is where lists come in handy.
Create a List of Plays
Once you've gotten clear on what a winning game looks like regarding a goal, really committing to that vision in your mind. It's time to decide what strategies you can use to get to that outcome. Before embarking on any goal, always make a list of what strategies you'll employ. Don't worry if your list isn't completely full. You can add more strategies later. Let's say your goal is to find a new job, your starting list could look like this:
The key to successfully winning any game is practice. In goal work, the answer works the same. Regular, ongoing great habits and activity is key to winning! In the above example (finding a job), some great habits could be:
Strategize Your Plays
Games are best played with thoughtful strategies and so is goal work. Once you've created some lists and established what habits you can use, its time to determine the best place to start. In the above example (finding a job), you wouldn't necessarily start with sending out your resumes. You'd want to make sure your resume is up to date and that you know the latest trends in job hunting. You would then narrow down exactly where you'll send your resumes or what activities you will do on an ongoing basis so you can effectively deploy your strategy.
Methodically work toward the end zone
It takes focus, concentration, and careful consideration of the activities you employ on a regular basis in order to win the game. Through regular practice, diligence, and keeping an eye on your plays, you'll have all the tools you need to win the game. For more information on goal setting, check out my post, "The Core of Success - Goal Setting."
Meditation is a word that gets thrown around a lot these days. Many times, it is referring to Eastern meditation, however, Christian meditation can prove to be quite helpful, even more so than Eastern meditation, but like any kind of spiritual activity, it does take some discipline in some regard in order to get the most out of it. Let's go through the steps.
Step 1: Relax and Fill Your Mind
In order to relax, either sitting comfortably or lying down, close your eyes and take some time to simply breathe in and out, focusing on the exhale. With eyes closed and slow relaxed breathing, relax each part of your body individually such as your arms, hands, legs, feet, head, face, and chest. Shake out any feelings of tension. After a couple of minutes, slowly integrate worshipful praises to God, either in your mind or audibly, focusing on his glory, his wonder, his love, and majesty. He is the creator of all. Picture this love in your mind, whether it be light, a hug or embrace, or however it presents itself to you.
Step 2: Bring Something to Reflect on
Whether it be a psalm, a prayer, a biblical law you'd like greater clarity on, or a challenge you'd like wisdom about, meditate on this as you continue to feel the gratitude and wonder of God. If your mind becomes distracted, simply acknowledge the distraction and bring yourself back to a state of gratitude and love of God. If you find yourself falling asleep, you can try sitting in a different position or take joy in the fact that you may have needed some well-earned shut-eye.
Step 3: Receive
Be ready to receive an answer or a response. Picture in your mind what that response looks like. When I pray for healing, I like to picture a Godly healing energy surrounding myself or another person in my mind. I also picture myself touching the hem of Jesus' robe.
Why is a state of gratitude and love so important?
The Lord works on only the highest wave lengths of energy. When we mediate in a place of gratitude and love, this propels us into this higher, more elevated, energy state that makes it easier for us to hear his voice.
What does the Bible say about meditation?
"Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word."
"Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings."
1 Peter: 8-9
Sometimes in life, the hardest thing is giving up something that is not good for us. In a post about Degree #1: Reflect on Self, the first of 8 Degrees of Spiritual Transformation, I discussed looking within to discover all the things that are holding you prisoner. Degree #2, Separating Yourself, implores you to take action and begin the process of overcoming habits that prevent you from growing spiritually. I want to remind you that all of us struggle with this. It is, unfortunately, part of the human experience, but we must ask, how sweet is the light when we have escaped from the darkness? There is something truly remarkable, even beautiful, when a soul recognizes it is in darkness and seeks the Lord in full humility. How much more can that soul appreciate the mercy of God when, truly, its wings have been burned by the raging fire.
“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others." 1 Corinthians 10:23-24
I could probably go on and on about all the things that can hold people hostage, but the truth is, you know what these things are; things like addiction, bad habits, unhealthy choices, or sin, but nobody is here to make you feel shame. The important part is that you are taking steps to acknowledge, repent for mistakes made, and take action, but do you ever have sins in your life that trip you up at every turn? I'm talking about sins that seem like no matter what you do, you will never be able to overcome them?
First know you are not alone in that, truly. So what is a person to do if they feel the shame and guilt, but don't feel the desire to take action, because they know that something isn't good for them and even separates themselves from God and their spiritual growth? Sometimes its just too hard! Am I right? Friends, I'm so glad you asked.
"No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it." 1 Corinthians 10:13
So what is this way out? Friends, there is only one way to break chains and that is by leaning in close to the Lord and establishing a strong relationship with Him. This comes from regular Bible reading, meditation, prayer, and growing your faith with the one who knows you best. There is a reason why lives are transformed when they begin to acknowledge God's powerful potential and presence in their lives. So how does that actually work?
The Lord is transformative! The more you lean in to God, the more your heart, mind, and spirit aligns with His will. When you align with His will, your mind starts to contradict the old "self." Your old "self" suddenly wants new things...new ideas, new experiences, new growth and a new image. The "ego" that your old self possessed diminishes and you begin to think more clearly. Suddenly the things that felt right to the old "self" no longer feel right and you become convicted, not out of guilt and shame, but out of pure and true love of the One who created you. You now desire to do His will.
"So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit." Galations 5:16-25
As you read through my blog posts, you may get the feeling like it can be truly hard to create a routine that supports all of the suggestions I've given so far. First, I want you to understand that this does not happen over night. For me, this has come with years of practice making slight changes to the way I use my time, little by little, step by step, with small adjustments being made on a regular basis. If all you start with is a time block of 15 minutes per day, that is a great start! You can adjust this as you slowly rearrange and change your level of effort over time.
With that said, you might be wondering how I organize and achieve all the things I've suggested. I use tools that help me stay focused throughout the week so I can make the most of the available free time I have. First, let's look at some of the digital tools I use to help keep me organized and focused and then a little bit about what my routine looks like each week.
The "Done" App
The most important tool I use is the Done App (not a paid promotion). Basically, I can program in any task or habit along with what my goal number for the week is. It then provides a colored bar that tells me what my progress is. I can then click on a habit in my list whenever I accomplish a task. Over the course of the week, I keep my eye on the progress of every goal or habit I have. You can accomplish the same thing with other apps or using your own online spreadsheets, but I personally like how this App feels and the level of intuitiveness it offers.
Timers and Alarms
I keep track of how much time I have been working on a task simply using the timer and alarm I have on my phone. This helps me with time blocking so I can either keep track of how much time I have been spending on a task while also limiting my time on other tasks. You can read more about time blocking in a previous post I wrote titled "The Power of Time Blocking" here.
Journals and Logs
Using journals and logs, I keep ongoing attention to various things like gratitude, bible reading, prayer, and wisdom. I use the Done App to ensure I've accomplished my entries each week or day. See my post titled "Journaling Your Way to Success here.
Weekly Preparation (First Day of the Week)
Goal Session - I look at my habits and goals and determine what needs to be improved, what I've accomplished, and what I need to adjust to become more effective with each goal if an adjustment needs to be made.
I review all the habits I have established, look at the ones I did not succeed in the previous week and make a mental commitment for the following week if necessary. I also have a point system that gives me points for each activity to give myself a measurable performance indicator I can use to gauge my performance over time. For more information on Habit Tracking, you can read this post titled "How to Track Habits" here.
Once I have looked at what I would like to accomplish for the week, I add all the items to my Task List (aka To-Do List). I use the "Tasks" program in Google. It allows me to store details and check off each item I accomplish throughout the week. Paired with Google's Email, you can move emails write into the Tasks program if needed as well.
On the first day of the week, I allocate any money I have saved from the previous week to various goals I am currently saving for. I do this by listing out all the items I want to save for in one column. In another column I record how much I've saved so far. Finally in the last column, I record how much I still need to save. Some examples of things you could save for include an emergency fund, home or car maintenance, travel, or big purchases.
I plan out my meals on the first day of the week to get it out of the way. For this, I simply think about what meals I want to have in the coming days, write them in an email I send to myself, place links to the recipes, and record the main ingredients I will need. The great part is, once this is done, it can also double as a shopping list.
On all the other days of the week, I simply keep checking off activities and habits from my To-Do List and Done App whenever I have time. These 2 tools work like my command center for things I want to achieve. I go in understanding that I will never achieve everything I am hoping to do, but the important part is having everything laid out in front of you in an easy-to-access location such as a phone or on your laptop in order to keep your motivation easy and strong.
I hope this is helpful to you! If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments below and I'd be glad to answer them. Have a great day!
You hear me discuss the meaning of "purpose" a lot in my posts. I talk about getting things done, achieving, and being successful in your goals. There is something even more important than this though. That is taking time out of your daily routine to connect with others.
Starting today, it's time for some of you to start having longer, more meaningful, conversations with people. You will no longer feel "interrupted" in your work. Relish the opportunity to help someone, even keeping an eye out for those who you can help at an active level. Take a moment to compliment someone, smile, give someone an opportunity, or be a caring voice to someone who is having a rough time. Start reaching out and being present to all those around you.
What are the gifts of wisdom if kept only to yourself? It's time to be...better.