“Whatever good things we build end up building us” – Jim Rohn.
From the highways we drive on to the neighborhood I live in, construction is taking place. Whether it is making repairs to existing structures or putting up new ones, the season for construction is unmistakable. Why in particular is this a season where so much construction happens? Springtime, symbolic of rejuvenation and rebirth, creates an atmosphere of building. In addition to building structures, we can also build our lives and the people around us. As I grow older, I have discovered that my decisions are never mine alone. They affect those around me in a myriad of ways; they will either improve or impair them.
Influence plays a major part in being a builder in life. We carry more influence than we think or imagine. Realizing this fact and harnessing the power of our influence in the right areas can exponentially create change in our spheres of responsibility. The values we ascribe to are also key to building a quality life. Whether those values are the ones we were raised with or we acquire throughout the years, the power of values is irrefragable. In addition to decisions, influence, and values, our habits hold sway over our lives to a degree many of us are yet to acknowledge.
Creating a Strong Shape
Architects design buildings according to their purpose or intended use. Similarly, I believe everyone was born for a reason and with a purpose. Our specific purpose determines the shape of how we build our lives. Our purpose also reveals the level of strength our structure needs to sustain our purpose. One of the strongest shapes in a building is the triangle. Bridges often have support beams in triangular form. Most of the modern marvels like the Eiffel Tower and the Great Pyramids use triangles for strength. Triangles can absorb a tremendous amount of pressure, making them a favorite in architecture. How does this apply to building a quality life? We can form a triangular approach to becoming effective builders by looking at our lives in three distinct areas. This triangle will help us withstand the everyday pressures of life and stay on course to fulfill our purpose.
At the apex of the triangle is the essence of who you are. Most people fail to arrive at their purpose because either they have no idea who they are or they lose their identity in the sea of instant gratification and the approval of others. I believe God created us in His image and likeness; showing that we are first spiritual. It is the part of us that connects with God and where we arrive at our true selves. Like a plant that needs sap for its life, we need God as our Source of life and identity. Any other avenue to seek these things may promise satisfaction at first, but eventually, lead to disappointment and misery. A life that puts God first will live satisfied and find the strength to stand in the middle of life’s difficulties. Denzel Washington, a mainstay in Hollywood and hands down one of the best actors on the big screen said it best at a commencement speech delivered at Dillard University in 2015:
“Put God first in everything you do. Everything that you think you see in me. Everything that I’ve accomplished, everything that you think I have – and I have a few things. Everything that I have is by the grace of God. Understand that. It’s a gift.”
Your mindset is crucial to your lifestyle. Dr. Caroline Leaf says, “the state our mind is in, affects how it functions, which determines what and how we absorb, apply, and put our thinking into action.” Whatever life we desire to build begins in our minds. Building a life that matters centers on a sound mind, not one filled with toxic thoughts. Nothing weathers our life like toxic thinking. Noticing and catching these patterns early is key to developing a healthy mind and subsequently building a better life that positively impacts those around us.
If you were only allowed to drive one car for the rest of your life, how much effort and resources would you invest in its maintenance? The car’s value increases once other vehicle options are eliminated. Similarly, you only get one body in this life. Yes, it ends up in a box, but that doesn’t excuse us from taking care of our physical bodies. Completing the triangle is your attentiveness to physical health. What level of care do you give to your body on a daily basis? In the words of Jim Rohn, “take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live.” There is a cost to pay later in life for abuse and neglect of our bodies in our youth. In short, the body always keeps score.
Final Thought: Our lives should extend from making a living to making a difference through our example. Giving attention to the triangle is an effective way to strengthen your life and find the verve required to build others. Be a builder.
Keep on keeping on.
Dr. Caroline Leaf, Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess (2021)