Ten Ways to Enjoy Life and Be Effective (Part 1)

ten_2.jpgYou know that feeling don’t you?

You work through the morning and now it is time for lunch.  You look back at the last few hours and really don’t feel very good about it.  Why?  You wasted too much time on things that just don’t matter.  Maybe you spent too much time in useless pursuit of something on the Internet.  Perhaps you spent too much time reading the sports.  Too much time in a conversation that probably should have ended thirty minutes earlier.  I’ve certainly done some of these and do not like the feeling afterward. 

Yet, I think there is a way to spend each day enjoying life and being effective.  I have listed a few practices that have been very important to me.

Here are a few:

1.  Take time each day to nurture your center.  For a Christian this means taking the time each day to read Scripture, pray, and think about the day and its meaning.  Doing this is a reminder that a day is not just about getting things done, running errands, or moving through a to do list.  Spending time each day nurturing your center can help put the day in a God-centered perspective.

Most mornings I wake up early enough to spend some time reading my Bible.  Right now I am reading Genesis.  I will typically read a couple of chapters with a yellow marker in my hand.  In each chapter, paragraph, and verse, I am looking for what God is doing or saying.  I will underline the phrases, lines, or words that are particularly meaningful to me.

There are other resources that I find helpful, including prayer books, books by particular authors, and the journals of others.  (Right now I am looking at John Newton’s journal on my bookshelf.)  I am also helped by writing in my journal about twice a week.   I find myself writing things I did not know I was thinking.

2.  Surround yourself with encouragersI have always appreciated and been motivated by the  encouragement of others.  Life is hard.  My work is sometimes difficult and even discouraging.  Life is far too short for me to surround myself with discouragers, negative people, and those who drain the life out of me.  Yes, I realize these people need love and ministry; however, I have to be careful.  If I surround myself with too many of these people, my joy and passion can just go down the drain.

I have learned to really value the people in my life who encourage me.  I can see the faces of some of them even now as I write these words.  They are old and young.  Some of them have been in the churches where I’ve served.  A few of them are family.  Some are longtime friends.  Others are people I have never met but whose words through writing and speaking have encouraged me in some way.  Still others have long since died and gone to be with the Lord but their encouraging words are alive in my heart and memory.

What about you?  Can you name five or ten people who have been or who are your encouragers?  They may encourage you through their words, their presence, or their example.  Choose to spend time with these people.

3.  Choose your attitude.  This is probably one of the most important choices a human being can make.  Does it ever make a difference!

I realize there are many things that happen in this life that you and I have no control over.  Sickness.  The economy.  The behavior of other people.  Through the power of God’s Spirit, however, I can choose my attitude.

For example, "What kind of attitude do I bring to the office each day?"  I know that if I come to the office each day and gripe, complain, and constantly point out the negative, that this behavior impacts my co-workers.  My attitude can dampen morale.  On the other hand, I can choose to look for what is good, focus on what is right and encouraging, and be a pleasant person to be with.  It is all about the attitude I choose.

I have found my attitude to be so important as I relate to my wife, Charlotte, to Christine and Jamie (my daughters), and my son-in-law, Phillip.  My attitude powerfully impacts the atmosphere of our home.  

More later.  Right now I would enjoy knowing what you might add to this list.  What has been important to you as you think about enjoying life, being effective, and moving on?

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  • http://thetractorcab.wordpress.com Tucker

    Jim,I would add a couple of things to this list.  But before I do, I must tell you that I was disappointed that not all 10 were listed.  Now I am going to have to come back.  I prayed for patience today and God sent me here.. Always look at the good in everyone.  Not always easy to do, but I try to view people as Jesus would see people.  Makes life much more joyful.And I am reminded of the verse that says, consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds.  Look for the joy in everything.  I’m looking forward to the rest of your list.   God Bless my friend!

  • http://www.gatheringrubies.blogspot.com Janice Garrison

    Great suggestions! Especially reading scripture everyday.

    I would add-talk to God about everything, for me that equates ‘praying without ceasing’.

    Enjoy whatever the day brings. God gives us detours to remind us we aren’t in control. Those detours can often bring great joy.

    I really appreciate your articles.

  • http://mwrhodes.blogspot.com Matt

    I pop over here fairly regularly to read what you have posted here, and today discovered that you are doing a top 10 list that is so applicable to a lot in my life right now. As Tucker said in his earlier comment, I’m looking forward to the remainder of your list. I hope you don’t mind, but I’d like to put a brief mention of your post on my blog and refer folks over here to read it.

  • Connie Lard

    Be open to learning. Keep eyes and ears open and try to learn something new every day, even if it’s just something small. Especially important as we get older!

  • Jim Martin

    Tucker– Thanks for your comment and for what you would add to such a list. Some very good additions to this list. (Most of the time when I do a list of ten, I have to break it into parts as I try to keep a blog post fairly short.)

  • Jim Martin

    Janice–Thanks very much for this comment. I appreciate your additions as well. I really like what you said regarding, “Talk to God about everything.” Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • Jim Martin

    Matt–So glad you came over and that the list fits your life right now. Feel free to mention this on your blog and provide a link. I’m honored you would want to do this.

  • Jim Martin

    Connie– I really like what you said regarding learning something each day. Very important.

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  • Lisa

    Love the ideas.. I do the same.. in the am read 2 chapters and then i walk and talk with god. Reading gives me the basis.The walk after keeps my body physically heathier. As i walk i have my “one on one time” with god. I love that time.. it helps me to not just know about god but learn his heart, his inside being which gives you a closesness which can’t be beat by just reading.. I find getting to know him and wanting to know all of him inside and out brings revelation to your heart and spirit no one can ever give you but the lord jesus through his spirit. time with him alone in prayer and listening with your heart- as well as the word – always make a great duo! Thanks for your article i really enjoyed it!

  • Jim Martin

    Lisa, thank for this comment. I like the way you put this. Your reading is the basis for what you do and then your pray/meditation/listening flow out of that. Thanks so much for this.

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