Provision #394: Zestful Living

Laser Provision

With this Provision, we start a new series on spiritual wellness. We will not approach the subject matter from a narrow, sectarian point of view. We will, instead, focus on those life-giving principles and practices that most people share in common. Unfortunately, most people do not practice them often enough. But together we will learn how to do this better until each and every one of us has more zest for life.

LifeTrek Provision

Most people come to coaching because they want to do better in one or more of three broad areas: health, money, or love. Those three areas cover a large swath of life and track to the kinds of New Year’s resolutions that people are most likely to make.

A recent survey, for example, found that the top resolutions for 2005, in decreasing order of frequency, were (a) to lose weight, (b) to start exercising, (c) to eat more sensibly, (d) to break a bad habit, (e) to get a new job, (f) to change a significant relationship, and (g) to improve one’s sex life. These are, in fact, the kinds of things we write about week after week in LifeTrek Provisions.

— Health. Through our Wellness Pathways, the family health series in our Parenting Pathways, and our lead articles, LifeTrek Provisions is well known for its sound information on health and wellness. Whether it comes to nutrition, exercise, rest and relaxation, or hygiene and self-care, LifeTrek Provisions covers the bases on what you can do to take care of your body, mind, and spirit.

— Money. Through our Career Pathways and lead articles, LifeTrek Provisions has looked at both work, which lies behind the acquisition and management of money, as well the principles of saving, investment, and business ownership / operation. Our concern is to focus not only on the acquisition, protection, and growth of your financial resources, but also on the meaning and measure of money as a currency of life energy.

— Love. Through our Parenting, Creativity, and Teamwork Pathways, as well as through our lead articles, LifeTrek Provisions has considered the things that make for positive, sustainable, and fulfilling relationships. In both the home and the workplace, in both personal and professional settings, we know the importance of communication, compassion, and trust. Through Provisions we assist you to be more considerate of both yourself and of others.

One might say, then, that coaching in general and LifeTrek in particular are all about wellness. We want you, including your health, money, and love, to be in great, all-around shape.

But that takes more than just a surface-level approach to these subjects. There is a spiritual element to health, money, and love, as well as to every other aspect of life, that we ignore, neglect, or deny at great expense. In the weeks and months ahead, we intend to provide you with the tools to make sure that doesn’t happen. We seek to engage you in the study and practice of “spiritual wellness.”

What do you think of when you hear those two words, put together? Some religions, of course, have their own prescription for spiritual wellness. They argue that if you just believe the right thing, do the right thing, or sacrifice the right thing you will be right with God and the universe. Some go so far as to suggest that if you don’t do it their way, there’s no hope of being spiritually well. But that is not the tack we will take.

On the contrary, we will look at the more universal things that set us free for life. According to the dictionary, “spiritual” has to do with the care of the soul while “wellness” has to do with being in great shape. Put those two words together, and our new series on “spiritual wellness” will need to discern those things that make for the well being of the soul.

If our delving into the care of the soul makes you uncomfortable, we promise to stay away from sectarian biases. The primary definition of the soul, after all, is “the animating and vital principle in humans, credited with the faculties of thought, action, and emotion.” It also refers to “the central or integral part” and “the vital core” of a person or network.

From that vantage point, one might say that “spiritual wellness” is about “zestful living.” And who doesn’t want that? When the “animating principle,” “integral part,” or “vital core” of a person is in great shape, we bring an indomitable zest to life. Without that zest, no surplus of health, money, or love is sufficient. With that zest, no deficit of health, money, or love is insurmountable.

The person who has it all but is nevertheless miserable is, of course, the stuff of legend. Take Ebenezer Scrooge, for example, in Dickens’ famous tale. He had his health, more money than he knew what to do with, and people who catered to his every whim. By all rights, Ebenezer Scrooge should have been the happiest man alive. But deep down, he felt miserable and, in so feeling, he made everyone around him miserable.

It took a good, hard look at the realities of life in order for him to turn things around. With the help of several visitors from the spirit world, Scrooge discovered that his life was based upon fear. The people who catered to him were afraid of him, and he was afraid of life. So he had hunkered down as the miserable miser who made “Bah Humbug!” the catch-phrase of selfishness, stinginess, and disdain.

But the story doesn’t end there. Scrooge was set free for life when he came face-to-face with, and chose to abandon his fear. Suddenly he discovered a zest for life • a well-being of soul • that animated his body, his generosity, and his relationships. He became, Dickens notes, “as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a person, as anyone in the good old world” knew. And the change was palpable.

“Some people laughed to see the alteration in him,” Dickens writes, “but Scrooge let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset. And knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eye in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed, and that was quite enough for him.”

Does your heart laugh? Do you have a zest for life? Then you are spiritually well. If not, if you are too busy, tired, anxious, fearful, sick, poor, lonely, or otherwise too destitute to laugh, then this Provisions’ series is written for you. Through weekly installments, you will discover the deep, life-giving connections that I wrote about and yearned for two weeks ago, in my signature poem for 2005, called “Depth.”

Still waters run deep, or so they say
But how would I know?
Constantly in motion
Distracted by annoyances
Too busy and tired
To notice, let alone to appreciate
The alleged mysteries
Of the deep

Oh, to go where the bottom-feeders go
Down where the light is low
And sound moves so slow
As if to disappear
Into the safety of
Where nothing can touch us
And nothing can go wrong
In the deep

Truly, our hearts are restless
Until they rest
In the womb of life
That artesian source
From which springs hope eternal
Not to mention faith and love
That wellspring of untold possibilities
And passion known only
To the deep

So, it’s time to get connected
Not to the virtual world of
Not to the busy world of
Outer space
But to the real world of
Inner space
With its potent connections to
Common space
And the deep

From there the energy flows
In the stillness of just one breath
In the rhythm of just one beat
In the burn of just one stretch
In the cadence of just one stride
And the coupling of just one love
There is enough energy
To pull all of life out
From the deep

This poem speaks to the connections that make for spiritual wellness. Deep connections. Common connections. Energetic, flowing, beating, reaching, reciprocating, and embracing connections that infuse life with zest.

Don’t confuse zestful living with busy-busy, hurry-hurry, or upwardly-mobile living. Just because someone is a workaholic, can’t stand to sit still, or is on the fast track to success does not mean they live zestfully. It may just mean they are restless to the core, fear-driven like the Scrooge of old.

Authentic zestful living comes from a different place entirely. We are not driven to live zestfully; we are inspired to do so by our attention to the deep, common connections of life. Out of the silences we discover the redirection to get on track with things that matter.

I have been touched, for example, by the stories of tourists in South Asia who survived the tsunami and who are now extending their vacations in order to lend a hand with the relief and recovery efforts. For all the suffering and disaster, they are rising to the occasion and, in the process of doing what none of them imagined they would be doing on vacation, they are realizing a heretofore unknown zest for life. They are, indeed, pulling life out from the deep.

That is the hope for spiritual wellness and the reason for our new Provisions’ series. The better we care for the vital core of life, the better off we will all be in terms of health, money, love or any other concern. When we come from the core, giving it the care and feeding it deserves, we will ride the ups and downs of life with greater aplomb and discover the zest that makes life worth living. There’s much we have to learn here, and we look forward to sharing it with you in the weeks and months ahead.

Coaching Inquiries: Do you live zestfully? Do people think of you as a good person? Are you connected to inner space and common space? What do you know about the deep? How could you become less selfish and more generous? What could you do this week to take good care of your soul?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us, use our Contact Form, or give us a call in the U.S.A. at 757-345-3452 to request a complimentary coaching session.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob..

Thanks for your article on “Coaching Metaphors.” This is great stuff that will be useful to both coaches and non-coaches alike.

I wanted to tell you that your issue on “Coaching Metaphors” was profound. Not only is it timely (I cannot go a few hours without talking about what is going on in South Asia), but it is wonderfully written, poignant, and truly useful to share with people curious about and interested in coaching. Thank you for your words of wisdom and what you put together from other people’s writings.

I experienced your poem called “Deep” as being about meaningfulness in every day life and as a wonderful reminder to s-l-o-w down and enjoy life. Thanks.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School
Immediate Past President, International Association of
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

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