How Shall I Live?
This week we conclude a three question exploration.
Who am I?
Why am I here?
How shall I live?
The last two weeks, you have considered two of three great existential questions: Who am I? Why am I here?
This week we will consider: How shall I live?
These questions get at the deep longing within every human of exploring our identity, purpose, and reason for being. As we reconcile these big questions with our daily lives, we find ourselves asking 'am I doing things right?' and 'am I doing the right things?'
This week, consider this exercise to help you refine what is most important to you, and decide to live according to those values in the days ahead.
How shall I live?
Each day we have a choice of how we will show up in the world. We may have circumstantial constraints, but we choose our values, attitudes, perspectives, and beliefs.
Consider the next few months. How shall you live? How will you approach the things you can choose in the months ahead?
Using the list of values below, follow these steps toward gaining clarity on your values:
1. Look forward at the next few months of this year. Notice big events and daily doings. What is most important to you as you move through the world?
2. Review the words in the chart below and circle all words that speak to something you want to have more of in the months ahead. Don't overthink this as you make a first pass, circle any word that resonates with you. You may have 20-30 words circled.
3. Now review the words you circled and place a star next to the 10 words that are really important to you right now.
4. Narrow that list of 10 to your top 4. Place a rectangle around the 4 that you really want to make your top values in the next few months.
5. These 4 words represent how you shall live in the days ahead, with clarity around what you deem most important.
These words will serve as a filter for you to make priorities, decisions, and align you with the things you value the most.
Revisit this list every quarter or season of the year to select new values that feel true for you as you continue to evolve.
Your work this week is to decide how you will live your life. Aligning to your most important values is a good way to be mindful about your desire for how to live.
Selecting values for a short period of time allows you clarity about living in the reality of the present moment.
You have today, live it according to the values you hold most important. As Mary Oliver asks at the conclusion of her poem, "tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"
The Summer Day by Mary Oliver
Who made the world? Who made the swan, and the black bear? Who made the grasshopper? This grasshopper, I mean- the one who has flung herself out of the grass, the one who is eating sugar out of my hand, who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down- who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes. Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face. Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away. I don't know exactly what a prayer is. I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass, how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields, which is what I have been doing all day. Tell me, what else should I have done? Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?