Investing in Yourself
An old proverb states that it can sometimes only take one straw to break a camel’s back. What is abundantly clear in this proverb is that the camel’s load had already been unsustainable. I think many of us feel a bit like that old camel, come tax time, when one more job is added to our load. It may not be a terribly large job, but it is a dreaded job for most of us because it forces us to take a hard look at what our efforts of the past year have produced.
In Stephen Covey’s book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” one of the habits he describes is ‘sharpening the saw’. Sharpening the saw is any act that is an investment in yourself, which allows you to function more optimally. It may be your morning run or time spent reading an inspirational book that makes your day an experience you value. Time spent in quiet reflection can sometimes be as important as digestion is to our body. In reflection we have the opportunity to listen to those voices that drive us into workaholism or other escapist behaviors. Only when we are aware of what is driving us can we take back control and choose a life that has meaning for us.
Mentally, sharpening the saw may mean taking a class at the local community college, learning a language, or any new skill or teaching a skill you’ve already mastered. As we get older, it becomes even more important to keep challenging ourselves or else the force of entropy has a way of creeping up on us. One of the most vital seniors I’ve ever had the pleasure to know, was an elementary school teacher. By her ceaseless effort to stay abreast of the latest teaching techniques and reach her youngsters where they lived, she kept mentally sharp, flexible and relevant.
Spiritual renewal is something we all seek whether we belong to a particular faith or not. It is generally a solitary journey where we dig a bit deeper to find a source of joy, peace or meaning in our lives. One friend of mine found such a renewal by volunteering a week of her time in Mexico to build houses for the poor. It was hard work but she witnessed people living in conditions she could only describe as unimaginable, who yet maintained their courage, their culture and their dignity. By giving to others she had deepened her own wells of compassion and creativity.
There are a thousand ways to invest in ourselves and the key is if the activity strengthens you to better meet the challenges of your everyday life. Some activities are mere indulgences and don’t have a sharp enough edge to sharpen the saw. Stress will always be a part of our reality, but we can cope with it better when we consistently invest in our greatest resource – ourselves.
Diana Lonsdale is Director of the Auburn School of
Health & Wellness 530-823-6905
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