When I talk about “living clean,” I’m not technically referring to being sober. Although it sounds applicable, I mean living a wholesome life that ultimately sets you up for real happiness. When we look at this, I would ask if are you cutting back on the things that contribute to spiritual weakness and instead are you focusing on the stuff that strengthens you just as you would when you want to lose fat and gain muscle.
In my last post I began with a comparison to eating clean as I know many people can relate to this, however I wanted to provide more insight and practical application this time around. This post is longer than most and that is because I wanted to take the time to carefully craft some really good take-away items for you. So, I promise if you let me borrow your eyes for 5 -10 minutes, I’ll be sure they leave with some new perspective.
Living clean means so much more when we take a deeper look. It means being mindful of what you are filling your time with. Are you really spending time doing the things you need to be doing to further yourself?
Are you taking time to rest and just be still or are you constantly on the go, unable to be comfortable with taking a breather?
Do you take inventory on a regular basis of the things you have to be thankful for?
What about love. This one is huge. Do you love others and, more importantly, are you loving to yourself?
So many people I’ve talked with over the years seem to be experiencing some sort of spiritual emptiness because they are not taking some or all of these variables into consideration.
I’m not implying that it’s possible to live a perfect life, nor am I trying to sound holier than thou. Rest assured, I still have a ton of learning to do. But what I can attest to is that cleaning up my act, in more ways than one, has been an absolute necessary piece of the life transformation process I’ve experienced.
A lot of people ask me how I did it. The truth is, “I” didn’t do anything. I got on my hands and knees and surrendered it all to God. Slowly but surely, I’ve learned how to live a life that is more pleasing to both myself and to the God who saved it.
We live in a society that is always on the go. Basing our happiness and success on what car we drive, where we live, our clothes, etc. The “status” symbols of the “I have made it” elite. You can have all the things in and of the world, but you will never truly enjoy any of them without being spiritually whole, which can only be attained by living a cleaner, healthier life.
In the book Dangerous Calling the author, Paul Tripp, says something that I think really it sums it all up: “Either you will be getting your identity vertically, from who you are in [God], or you will be shopping for it horizontally in the situations, experiences and relationships of your daily lives.”
There is a HUGE difference between living vertically and living horizontally. Vertically means you are living your life directed by God, from above. Horizontally means you are living your life directed by the things across this world, which will never give you the vertical happiness you are searching for.
There are some simple questions I’ve asked myself with this in mind and will now ask you.
What are you filling up on?
What is important to you? And I don’t mean what you tell people. Look at the things you spend most of your time on. Let’s face it: what we spend the most time on, is clearly taking the front seat to our lives. I’m going out on a limb here because I used to fill up on these things also. Do any of these look familiar?
* Work * Drinking/Partying * TV- reality shows, sports center, talk shows * Clothes/Shopping * Gambling * Gossip * Money * Sex * Social Media
Take a look at your days and really be mindful of where you are spending the majority of your time. Imagine if you replace one or all of these things with stuff like:
* Family time * A good book * The Bible * Yoga * Exercise * Mediation * Cooking * Church
If the second list is what your day looks like already then kudos to you, my friend! You have this one mastered!
Are you resting?
This is not a hall pass to sleep all day and be completely lazy all the time. Let’s not get too excited here. When I talk about resting, I mean taking one day during the week where you just relax. No errands, no shopping, no working out, no hitting up the town. Just being still to reflect on your week and have some “you” time.
Try to calm your mind and refrain from thinking about work or what you have to get done next week or even tomorrow. Just focus on you and doing something relaxing that brings you happiness. Think of this as a peaceful pause.
Our bodies and minds were built to rest. For me, I rest because the Bible tells me to. God created the world in 6 days and on the 7th day he rested. He wants us to rest. Not only to rest, but to rest with him in mind. If this component makes you a bit squirmy, just start with the rest part for now. We can dig deeper into what resting for God means another time.
Are you practicing thankfulness?
The more thankful you are, the more you have to be thankful for. It’s literally as simple as that. Think about this; if you are constantly complaining or unhappy with your life, how can you expect good things to come? And even if they do, will you really be able to see them? Often times when we get into a pattern of taking things for granted, it is harder to see when things DO go our way.
Every morning, I have an alarm set on my phone for 9:15: “I AM THANKFUL FOR…” and it is a nice little reminder for me to take a minute, even 30 seconds, to mentally express the things I’m grateful for. Not only does this help start the day from a great place, but after time it also brings life to an even greater place.
Are you loving?
Whether you are down with Jesus yet or not, everyone understands love. Without it, you literally have nothing. We can live from good intention all our lives, give to the poor, help the needy, be successful in business, make millions, travel the world, but if we are not doing it from a loving place and practicing what it means to LOVE, we are completely missing the mark.
So, what does love really look like?
Love is patient. Love is kind…. (1 Corinthians 13:4)
This passage is notorious at weddings so much so that I’m not going to put it all here. However, I would encourage you to revisit it again just to reacquaint yourself with it. We’ve heard it so many times to the point that it is almost looked at as something we just recite to “sound” loving. BUT what if we actually looked at it as a picture.
I was recently at a bible study at Summit Church and our amazing speaker said something that really stuck with me. She said: What if when we read this passage we look at it from the point of view that the words are drawing what God looks like in his perfect excellence. This picture is what we ALL should strive to mirror.
These are not just words to recite or a checklist to see where we stand on the love meter. They are the ultimate road map for what we should try to emulate as much as humanly possible. There is no higher ground than loving, especially a love like God’s. So, ask yourself: are you loving, truly loving?
Trust me, I consistently have to remind myself of all these moving parts. There are times, like even while I was writing this, where I have to remind myself to get back on track in some of these areas. Because I have spent time understanding that they are some of the foundational keys to happiness, I am now able to see when I’m out of alignment.
When I feel myself feeling angry or sad or on the verge of making a bad decision, I always go back to these basics and see where I’ve been slacking. It never fails that when I’m slipping in life, it’s because I’m slipping somewhere along this chain of happiness command.
If you are trying to make changes or you are feeling stuck, I encourage you to try to master even just one of these areas. You will feel some relief almost immediately. If you can get to a place where you are practicing all of these keys, you will experience definite shifts in your life.
By the way, these are not something for you to defend to me, or anyone for that matter. The questions are designed to help you get brutally honest with yourself on where you are.
There is NO other person who has more influence on you than you do because there is NO other person who talks to you more than you do.
So, what are you telling yourself? How does that voice sound…you know, the one in your head reading this right now? Where do you see room for cleaner living in your life?