In an effort to know, accept, and improve yourself, I propose you incorporate the following ten activities or pursuits over the course of a week. The idea is not to carry out the ten activities as quickly as possible and then dedicate the rest the week’s 168 hours to doing nothing or falling back into your dominant flaw. The vital ten is a “full meal” consisting of three main courses and dessert. Each “entrée,” in turn, includes three ingredients or activities.
The first entrée is that of survival—the most fundamental and essential of the ten because it deals with our physical, mental, and spiritual renewal. 1. Prayer: We each choose how much time in our day is dedicated to God. 2. Nourishment: Meals not only supply us with physical energy but also provide important breaks that give each day the structure and space to share time with family and friends. 3. Sleep: Nothing is more restorative to our nervous system than getting enough sleep and sleeping well.
Our second entrée is personal responsibilities. 1. Work and/or study are essential if we are to be responsible members of our family and society. 2. Physical exercise: The recommended amount of physical activity for adults is thirty minutes per day or its equivalent spread out over at least two sessions a week. 3. Reading: Set aside a couple of hours a week for this kind of learning.
The third and last main entrée is other people. 1. Family life entails many different ways of spending time together, such as engaging in conversation, resolving conflicts, relaxing, and sharing intimacy. 2. Friends make up our social life. 3. Community: It’s almost imperative to devote some time to others through social work, service, or ministry.
The final course of this meal is dessert. Once all nine of the previous activities have been covered, we have space for an activity of pure personal delight, a hobby. Hobbies allow us to follow our passions, give us something to look forward to, entertain us, and give us some distraction from daily stresses.
Unforeseen situations frequently arise and get in the way of our orderly plan. Rather than being a rigid necessity for a virtuous life, the vital ten provide a guideline that points us in the right direction: toward important activities in our daily life and away from those that lead us into our vices.
Our primary obstacle? Our own resistance to change. If we yield to God, however, we will change and, at least in certain areas, a new person will be revealed. Our family, friends, coworkers, even our own heart, will live more peacefully.
Adapted from Vice & Virtues: Knowing, Accepting, and Improving Yourself
by Fr. Alejandro Ortega Trillo, © copyright 2015 (Liguori Publications, 826085).
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