Pursue a Small, Happy Life
By Lisa Ash Drackert of Kansas City, MO, USA
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. -Matthew 4:1-2 NRSV
(A version of this article was published on lisaashyoga.com in 2016. Used by permission of the author)
Lately, I’ve been giving much thought to the question, “What makes life purposeful?” As a yoga teacher, I don’t spend my days with co-workers. I’m usually the only yoga teacher in the studio. This means I interact with students who have diverse professions, callings, and passions which bring meaning to their lives. I’m in awe of students who work in hospitals (I won’t even set foot in one!), healing and caring for others. I also love talking to students who are passionate entrepreneurs.
Unfortunately, I also talk to students who are unfulfilled in their careers and are looking for something to add meaning and purpose to their lives. They generally feel stuck and are hoping that a big move or career change will be the key, but are afraid of making a big decision.
I think there’s a compromise that needs to be seriously considered: a purposeful life is an accumulation of the small decisions AND the big decisions made daily, which lead us toward or away from contentment. Living a purposeful life doesn’t necessarily mean your profession is your passion, and it doesn’t mean you are enacting change on a global level. Sometimes it can mean you have diligently pursued small decisions that lead to happiness.
An article written by David Brooks of the New York Times distilled a similar theme from hundreds of people who wrote in to answer the question, “What gives you purpose in life?” The theme was this: Pursuing a small, happy life brought more meaning and purpose to individuals than did grandiose globe-changing campaigns. Across the board, making daily decisions to increase contentment, encourage peace within households, and value family brought purpose and meaning to lives. Small decisions that order our days to include self-care, reflection, and prayer are important and meaningful.
God, may my deep hope align with your deep vision. Release in me anything that keeps me from freely following your Spirit. Amen.
Invitation to Spiritual Practice
Breathe deeply as you enter a time of silence. Become gently attentive to what may be restricting you from faithfully responding to the divine invitation in your life. Are there priorities, attachments, tasks, or motivations competing for your response? What does freedom for God look or feel like in you this day?
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.