How to be Wholehearted

There is no shortage of advice for achieving "more" in the new year.  Brian Tracy has his "4 tips" while Mike Hyatt has his "5 days" program to supposedly the best year ever.  

I've got one bit of advice and I'm preaching to myself on this one: be wholehearted.

No fitness goals.  No spiritual aspirations.  No financial resolutions.  Just to be where I am, that is to say, to be wholehearted.  Don't get me wrong, I'll be listing some very simple strategies for the various areas of my life, from money to time to muscles.  

But where my heart is- that's what I'm really concerned with.

The antidote to exhaustion is not rest but wholeheartedness.
— David Whyte

This past weekend was stellar.  At one point, sitting with my 8 year old in the corner of the living room, I looked up to find her reading me a story, my 14 year old wrapping a gift in the middle of the room and my 11 year old playing Minecraft on a laptop.  I had to pinch myself in gratitude for the amazing and many gifts in my everyday life. Who am I that I "get" to be a dad, a husband, a school leader, a Christian?  

I was wholehearted (or, "all there") for at least a few moments.  They felt like many more.

Why is wholeheartedness so difficult to achieve?  Here are my guesses:

  • Our plates are overly full
  • Our time is often scarce
  • We're tired
  • Our margin is thin
  • We have smartphones
  • We get bored too easily
  • Culture preaches "busyness" above singlemindedness
  • Work promotes multitasking

But here's the thing with each of these: they may slow us down but they can be managed such that wholeheartedness is practiced almost daily.  

Many people have found that wholeheartedness is found by doing (or not doing) the following:

  1. Unplugging from technology periodically.
  2. Owning fewer things.
  3. Giving things away (time, stuff, money, service).
  4. Being prayerful and especially at the beginning of the day.
  5. Being part of a faith community that worships weekly.
  6. Reading.  Anything all the way through.
  7. Playing sports.
  8. Creating art.
  9. Allowing for downtime.
  10. Enjoying nature.
  11. Cooking and eating mindfully.
  12. And in general, slowing down.

That's it.  Simple when you think of it- none of the 12 actions above cost much.  Better yet, you can practice at least a few of them within the next 24 hours.  

While most people think of wholeheartedness as a passive state of doing very little, just look at the action verbs found within each of the 12 suggestions: slowing, cooking, eating, enjoying, creating, and so on.  Pretty active when you think of it.  This is the paradox of being wholehearted: by being fully present, we can do so many things that lead to a fuller life.

I'm going to try it out and I hope that you will too.  It's ok to set some goals for the new year but don't forget that being fully present to those things and people around you is also a noble aspiration.

So here's to being wholehearted in 2015 and beyond!

*photo courtesy of fdp