This Week in Intentional Living (2/25)

“Ya gotta eat …”

So said a long-running ad for a regional burger chain.  As unlikely as I am to drive through that chain, they had a point.

Feed yourself

If you’re going to make great things happen – or even if what you have in mind is just to be – you’re going to have to get fed.

And I mean that in every way you can imagine.  Feed your belly.  Feed your mind. Feed your heart and your soul.

Start with your belly.  Put the right fuel in your body.  Regular readers know that’s the original point of this blog, and it holds true with this intentional living series as well.

I’ll quote my go-to food guy, Michael Pollan here:  “Eat food.  Not too much, mostly plants.” Also, “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.”

Read the label, and don’t eat chemicals you can’t pronounce.  Strike that.  Just don’t eat chemical additives at all if you can avoid it.

Why?  Think of your body as a machine.  If you had a high-performance sports car that required premium gasoline would you routinely pump it full of the cheap low-octane stuff?  Not if you wanted it to keep running.

Your body works the same way.  Buy quality food.  Food cooked in a healthy way.  Don’t eat food you know to be bad for you, and don’t try to fool yourself by eating fake food.  Your body is smarter than that, and your body knows when you’re trying to fool it.

Put good fuel in your belly and your body will have a chance to simply be better.  Give your body that chance.

Feed yourself.

What do you feed your mind?

If you’re feeding your mind junk, nobody could blame you.  The world we live in – at the least the world most of us live in – wants your mind filled with junk for some reason.  I won’t speculate on motives, but if you’ve watched a TV “news” morning show or “reality” television … if you’ve scanned the AM talk radio dial … if you’ve read the headlines in national – or local – newspapers … you know it’s true.

The world wants your mind working at about half-speed.  It wants you thinking about Snooki, not Socrates.  It wants you dreaming about fake political arguments with as much substance as fake food.  It wants you worried about the personal lives of people you’ll never meet as you neglect your own.  Don’t let the world tell you what to think about.

I’m not telling you to build a mental cocoon and live away from the world.  You’re (almost certainly) not a monastic devotee.  I’m certainly not.  You live in the world, and there’s nothing wrong with indulging in pop culture as long as you intentionally give your mind the same sort of nutrition you give your belly.

I don’t need to tell you what to feed your mind.  You know.  That’s an easier answer than what to put in your belly.  Read the great works.  Challenge yourself.  Force your mind open and fill it.

But recognize that the world around you – pop culture – can work hand in hand with the great works to add flavor to what you feed your mind.  The challenging work will help you understand the mundane.  It gives meaning to the world, instead of just letting the world wash over you and carry you along in a meaningless current.

Feed Yourself

How do you feed your heart?

I think you know I’m not talking about that big muscle inside your chest. No, I’m talking about the elusive – and I believe eternal – part of you that makes you, you.  How do you nourish your soul?

The first step is … has to be … to recognize that it exists.  That you are more than the sum of your parts, that rather than just a lump of flesh and bone, you are extraordinary.  You matter.  Against enormous odds, you are here.  You exist.  There has to be a reason for that.  Start feeding your soul by not turning your back on the enormity of that.

Be intentional about recognizing yourself.  Give yourself permission to be.  Remind yourself that you have a place in the universe, and since that is true, you also have a purpose, a mission.  Feed your soul by finding that mission, and by working at it relentlessly.

Feed your soul by seeking out art, and allowing yourself to create your own.  By seeking the wisdom of the ages, and sharing that wisdom with others.  By opening yourself to love, and nurturing its blossom over and over and over until it overwhelms you.

Give yourself the chance to be overwhelmed – by art, by wisdom, and most importantly, by love – and your soul will be fed.

Feed yourself.

It’s obvious, and it’s incredibly difficult.  It requires constant mindfulness – intention – to put the right food in your belly.  To put the right thoughts in your head.  To put the right beauty in your heart and your soul.

Am I there?  No way.  Not by a longshot.  But I work at it.  If you’ve been reading the blog, you already know how I’m working on the care and feeding of my belly.  I’m telling you now I think it’s just as important to take care of my mind and my soul.  And I’m working on it.

Ya gotta eat.  It’s true.  But you get to choose what goes into your body, your mind and your soul.

What are you feeding yourself?


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Sharon Barker Millan on February 27, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Beautiful article Harvey….very insightful…Thank you for the thoughts to get me motivated!


  2. Posted by Amy on February 28, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    This morning, I decided to read The Week on my commute instead of Facebook. This post was my inspiration.


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