Wednesday, February 16, 2022

My Personal Rule of Life - Mind

Today I'm continuing the discussion of my journey to and development of a Rule of Life. You can find the other posts on this subject, here, here and here. Today we're going to move on to the next topic that is outlined in the workbook, Developing A Personal Rule of Life, which is . . .


Of the seven life categories outlined in this workbook, Mind, and Body (tomorrow's post), are probably the hardest for me.  Mind is actually a mix because I've done well in developing and maintaining some habits and others are areas I REALLY struggle with.

"What we give out attention to is the person we become."

The first line in the workbook reminds me of the verse in Proverbs 23:7, "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." And there's a reason why we are admonished in Philippians 4:8 to think on "whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, because . . .

"What we give out attention to is the person we become."

It helps that several years before I even learned about developing a rule, I had already made the decision to enforce a strict measure for what I allowed to fill my mind, be that music, television, books, or social media. I even typed up a couple of cards with Philippians 4:8 printed on them and taped them above the tv and made another sticker to place across the top of my screen on my laptop. I was amazed at the difference just having those simple reminders helped me in making better choices, the most profoundly affected being social media. 

It was this simple step that led me to not "unfriend" but "unfollow" (I'm being honest here!), about 75% of the people I was friends with. Some of the accounts I unfollowed because I regularly found their posts inappropriate and offensive. That one was easy. What was harder for me to admit in deciding who was who caused me to be a.) judgmental or b.) envious. Even though both of those sins are attributed to me and I am responsible for them, I determined that if signing on to social media and reading their posts caused me (regularly) to fall into either of these sins, then the most obvious solution was to make sure I didn't see them. But since I didn't want to be rude and unfriend a lot of people (I did unfriend a few), I just unfollowed them That way we remained friends, but to see their posts I have to intentionally visit their profile. Doing this completely changed my FB experience. Now when I sign on the only posts in my feed are friends and family who encourage and uplift me and pages I follow that do the same. All that being said, social media is still a BIG time waster for me and I find myself scrolling through it far too often.

This section of the workbook suggests practices such as reading scripture in the morning, regular podcasts or book reading, church on Sunday, gratitude, a digital rule of life, “parenting your phone,” digital sabbath, a daily limit on device use, etc. And so, borrowing from this list I developed a rule for guarding my mind and being mindful of what I am focusing on and for how long.


- The first thing I do to guard my mind overlaps with the topic we discussed yesterday, Abide. I begin each day in silence and then enter into a time of solitude when I focus on God's word. I do typically do this by watching a sermon series, so I thought I'd share a few that I've really benefitted from.

- Winning The War In Your Mind - Craig Groeschel *They appear to have changed the layout a little,  but if you scroll through you'll see where it say "Message Video", which will open up each one. 

- A Better Way - Craig Groeschel - I just finished this one on Sunday, so good!

The Lord's Prayer - The Practice - This was one of the first series I listened to right after Covid hit the stage, and it remains one of my favorites. 

- I listen to a podcast every day during lunch. This is a practice I've fallen out of a bit. Yesterday I watched the latest episode of All Creatures Great and Small, so at least it was a good choice! I think the reason I stopped listening to podcasts is that I am an avid note-taker. In fact, I probably write down too much! But that's how I remember and process. Anyway, it's hard to take notes when you're also trying to eat. Maybe hard is not the word, it just makes things more difficult. At any rate, I do enjoy listening to podcasts, so maybe I'll try not taking so many notes. This is one I'll have to think through.

- I am mindful of what I watch on TV, the music I listen to, and the books I read. This one, as I said, comes pretty easy. Although I did watch an episode of The Queen's Gambit the other day that I found it a bit dark for my taste. I won't be continuing on with it. I don't mind "dark" as it refers to the villains in movies like The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, etc. To me, those are classic examples of good overcoming evil. But dark sexual undertones are something I don't tolerate well. I also do not like horror movies. A good suspenseful mystery is fine, now and then, but I've never liked being frightened by a movie.

As for the music I listen to, I'm about four decades behind the rest of the world I guess because almost all that I listen to was popular in the '50s, '60s, and '70s. If you've listened to any of my playlists you've probably figured that out. :) Movies and television are almost the same, and between Hulu, Prime, and Netflix, not to mention my classic movie DVD collection, I have a steady stream. I've actually been watching a lot more movies this year, and while I can't really put my finger on the cause for it, I've actually enjoyed myself. I've been trying to make it a point to actually watch them instead of multi-tasking and crocheting or cross-stitching at the same time. It's not that there's anything wrong with that, and I still do sometimes, but there's also something to be said for giving your full attention to whatever you're doing, regardless of what it is.

All that being said, I realized in writing this post that after we moved I didn't put the signs back up, and while I don't consider this a big problem, it's still a good reminder. I wonder if I had put it up if I would have stayed with that one episode of The Queen's Gambit as long as I did. I felt uncomfortable long before I turned it off, and I wonder why?

One of the things that suggested is to take an electronic sabbath. And while that honestly sounds wonderful, it's a little difficult for me right now. With my husband traveling across the country I like to keep my phone close by, and he likewise doesn't like it if I'm slow in responding. I have friends who turn off their ringer and put their phone in another room when they get home, and while that sounds like a good idea, it just won't work in the season we are in. Not to mention that in spite of the fact that my children are grown, I would hate to think of them needing me and not being able to reach me, so I don't know how you reconcile that. Maybe I worry too much? :)

If I'm being honest, my phone is probably less of a concern for me than my laptop, with its five tabs and ten rabbit holes. Being an Enneagram 5 (The Investigator), my mind is saturated with information. I would be embarrassed, literally, to tell you how many links I have bookmarked on my computer, how many pins (don't even get me started) I have pinned on Pinterest, it's ridiculous, really. I could click on ten of them a day, probably, and not be through them all in a year, maybe a lifetime. And with so much information saved is it really possible that I'm putting it to use? No, not really. Not even a fraction. And having it there is beginning to feel rather like that big shed in the backyard that you haven't cleaned out in years. Even if you don't go out and look at it, you know it's there. It's weighty. But even the thought of meandering through it all and sorting it out, is that really a productive use of my time? Probably not. It's better to just let it sit, I suppose, it's not hurting anyone. In the meantime let me just pin, pin and pin some more. Seriously? What am I thinking? My bookmarks are slightly better, at least, I do have a plan for most of them, which is to neatly organize them in various notebooks that I keep and actually use. But I need to make a plan for day week when I'm going to sit down and do that. If there is one thing my MIND needs, it is rest. But to be honest I'm not even sure where to begin. I've told myself I'm not pinning another thing until I go through the pins I have. I could easily delete some of the boards, and that might be a good place to start. But one thing is clear, this is an area that definitely needs attention.

A few other things that I have not tried in the past but I'm considering.

- A social media fast one day a week. Probably on Saturday/Sunday since one of those days is always my Sabbath. I gave up FB for Lent last year and I'm considering it again.

- An electronics fast, perhaps every quarter, or annually? Of course, I'd still have to figure out what to do about my phone. Maybe remove all the apps? I would probably start with a weekend, but the idea of an entire week intrigues me, too. Until now I haven't listed monthly, annual or yearly goals in this category, because the daily seems to accomplish all of that. But an annual "tech-free" week or weekend is something that intrigues me.

Hopefully, I'm not boring you as I review and process all of this. It's actually been a good exercise and is really helping me to hone in on some areas that need my attention. I'll be back later this week with the next topic, BODY.

UPDATE: After writing this post I decided it was time to start eliminating all-the-stuff from all-the-places I have saved it because there are many. Two hours later, I've deleted ten boards from Pinterest, which didn't even make a dent because they didn't have much in them anyway. But, I also deleted every single post I had saved on Facebook. I didn't even look at what they were for fear I'd think, "I might need that . ." which is the first step down the rabbit hole for me. Even if there was something in there I might regret deleting, I would have never been able to find it anyway. I have ZERO saved posts right now, which feels so good, and I've set up folders for what I do decide to save in the future. My new goal is to review the folders weekly, maybe, or monthly, I haven't decided yet, and actually do something with what I've saved, like moving a recipe to my recipe binder, etc., and not letting it all pile up. I'm also going to be more mindful of what I do save, "Will I ever really make this?" would be a good place to start. :)

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