"We overvalue nonessentials like a nicer car or house, or even intangibles like the number of our followers on Twitter or the way we look in our Facebook photos. As a result, we neglect the activities that are truly essential, like spending time with our loved ones, or nurturing our spirit, or taking care of our health."
~Greg McKeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
Take a moment and think back to yesterday. As you consider how you spent your day, think about the different activities you did. How much of your day was spent on things that lined up with your deepest values? How much of your day was spent on nonessentials?
When I look back to yesterday, I see moments of nurturing things that are essential to me. I played with my kids, worshipped with my church community, and spent time in prayer with God. There are other moments when I spent lots of time on nonessentials, like browsing the internet, and worrying about something I have no control over.
We're human, with limits of time and energy. Some people live as if their time is unlimited. That is simply untrue. Our resources of time and energy are limited, so we must learn to spend them on the right things.
Jesus was a master at this. He was an essentialist, saying no to nonessentials in order to nurture the essentials. Just look at the Gospel of Mark - you'll see Jesus saying no to all sorts of good but nonessential things.
For many of us trying to make space in our daily lives to connect with God, we may discover that there are nonessentials that we need to let go of first.
We have many other activities we could say "yes" to, instead of connecting with God. These other things may be good; they may be places where we experience some level of joy or rest. But ultimately, our souls are still yearning for a direct, focused, sacred moment of engaging with God. That's how I feel after reading a good book or watching a TV show - it's nourishing on some level, yet I want and need to have that space to truly abide and dwell in God's presence.
The larger life principle is that we each have power to choose how we spend our time. If you want to have a fulfilling and thriving life, you must put the essential things first.
HOW TO SAY NO TO THE NONESSENTIALS (AND YES TO THE ESSENTIALS)
1. Examine your daily life.
Decide what activities are essential to you. Nurturing your health? Spending time with loved ones? Making time to connect with God? What things are most important to you right now, and how can you build your day around those things?
2. Block out the time and space for the essentials.
Create space for the essentials. Put those priorities in first, and allow them to take precedence over the less important things. If it helps, block out times during your day for those activities.
3. Eliminate (or limit) the nonessentials.
Instead of thinking "I can do everything," ask yourself, "What are the trade-offs I want to make?" You may need to say no to certain things. You may want to edit out or put time limits on various activities.
4. Do this process, refine, and do it again.
Living as an essentialist is not a one-and-done thing. It is a process which invites us to learn, change, and grow.
Join our community The Spiritual Journeyers on Facebook to get support in saying more "yes" to God.
If you enjoyed this post, check out these related posts:
How to Use the Wheel of Life: a Tool For Personal Development (+ free worksheet packet)
How to Create Space to Listen to the Voice of God (plus free printable prayer guides)
ACTION & PRACTICE
What do you need to say "no" to today? What things need to be removed and cleared away so that you have the ability to say "yes" to receiving all that God has for you? Consider how you can shift your day to make space for God's work in your life.
How much or little does your daily life reflect what is most essential to you? What adjustments do you want to make to create more space for what is essential? Please share in the comments.
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