Trivial Pursuits

Henry David Thoreau wrote, “I believe that the mind can be permanently profaned by the habit of attending to trivial things, so that all our thoughts shall be tinged with triviality.”

            The temptation to trivial pursuit is probably much greater in our day than in Thoreau’s.  Many people today seem so addicted to the pursuit of the trivial that they feel compelled to post updates on Facebook or some other social networking site their most mundane activities or air their petty grievances over some real or imagined offense they suffered. Worse yet, many others habitually check back to find updates to these unfolding dramas.

Such people live far below their privilege. What can we do to live higher?

  • Read great literature. Stimulate your mind by connecting with great minds of the past and present.
  • Turn off the noise. Do you find yourself having the TV or radio on “just because”? I am a lover of radio and the recorded spoken word. But a few years ago I learned the value of turning everything off and simply being alone with my own thoughts, especially on a long drive or early in the morning with a cup of coffee. We truly can suffer from information overload. Getting alone with our thoughts helps us to think critically through what we already know and set things properly in order.
  • Make and cultivate real flesh and blood friendships. Being there for people and people being there for you, people that you touch, hug, kiss, visit with, is essential to your life having the meaning and fulfillment that God intended.
  • Seek God. After all is said and done, if a person neglects to seek and serve God, everything else they do, including all the above, will be trivial pursuit.

 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

-Brad Fry

Published in: on August 25, 2014 at 3:08 pm  Comments (4)  

The Fulfilled Life

A 2005 article in National Geographic identified three regions of the world where people have consistently shown longer life spans: Okinawa, Sardinia, and Loma Linda, California. Dan Buettner, a researcher and explorer involved with the 2005 article, decided to do a follow-up study to determine if there were more regions to be discovered. His team found an abnormally large number of people living past 90—even into their 100s—on the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica.

         Intrigued, Buettner and a large research team made their way to the region to discover what factors aided in living a longer life. They found that longevity is due in part to diet, sun exposure, and source of water, but they also found the following factors to be crucial in the survival of the people:

  • The people on the Nicoya Peninsula have a strong sense of purpose. They “feel needed and want to contribute to a greater good.”
  • They choose to focus on the family. Persons over 100 years of age in this region “tend to live with their families…Children or grandchildren provide support and a sense of purpose and belonging.”
  • They have strong social networks. Their neighbors visit frequently, and they all seem to know the value of listening, laughing, and appreciating what they have.
  • They know the value of hard work. They even manage to “find joy in everyday physical chores.”
  • They understand and appreciate their historical roots and spiritual traditions. In essence, they know their story.

Source: Ted DeHass, Bedford, Iowa; source: Dan Buettner, “Costa Rica Secrets to a Long Life,” AARP magazine (May/June 2008), p. 69

         The above excerpt illustrates just how important family and community are to the emotional and social well-being of most people.

         When a person has a strong sense of purpose he or she knows that they are not put here on this earth to just take up space. They don’t sit around and feel sorry for themselves. They find ways to contribute consistently. They realize that happiness, if it is the goal, will be elusive. But when the goal is making life better for others, it is a constant companion.

         When a person focuses on the family they avail themselves of one of the richest resources with which God has blessed people. When Jesus was making the point of the disciple’s devotion to him, why do you think he chose the words he did? He said, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). Why did he choose those relationships to emphasize the point that no one must come between the Christian and the Lord? Because the norm is that those are the most important people in the lives of most people, apparently by God’s design. And if the Christian has those relationships properly secondary to his or her relationship to Christ, then all lesser relationships will also fall in line in the proper place.

         When a person has strong social networks they know the value of getting involved in the community and just casually visiting with friends and neighbors. The coffee being on is more important than the television being on. They live among people not secluded from people. Their dining room tables and front porches are places where they touch, laugh and cry with people who make their lives rich.

         When a person knows the value of hard work they know the good feeling of going to bed, worn out from working hard. They know that this hard work is the means that God has provided for us to provide for ourselves, our loved ones and others in need. They see themselves as givers, not takers.

         When a person understands and appreciates his or her historical roots and spiritual traditions they have a critical connection to their past and a bridge to their future. They see what has shaped them and why they value what they do. They may see things that need to be corrected but in their seeing of these things they still maintain a high appreciation for their heritage.

         These habits are about much more than living a long life. They are about living a fulfilled life. Make it your life.

Brad Fry

Published in: on February 23, 2011 at 11:20 am  Leave a Comment  
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