Have you ever heard of Blaise Pascal? A true Renaissance man, he was a mathematician, an inventor and a spiritual philosopher who lived in France during the mid-1600s. Pascal was also an avid journaler and used to carry around a notebook in which he’d jot down his thoughts and ideas.
After his death in 1662 at the age of 39, his notebook was turned into a book and published under the title Pensees, which translates to Thoughts. The book shows a man who thought deeply about God and his own Christian faith. Take this acute observation on our relationship with God:
There are only three sorts of people:
- Those who have found God and serve him.
- Those who are busy serving him and have not found him.
- Those who live without either seeking or finding him.
The first are reasonable and happy.
Those is the middle are unhappy and reasonable.
The last are foolish and unhappy.
Pascal also had some interesting ideas on the way in which we structured our lives. He saw our existence as being split into three distinct components or what he called realms. They are:
The Spiritual Realm
The Intellectual Realm
The Physical Realm
In the book Making Sense of it All, Pascal and the Meaning of Life, Thomas V. Morris tells us that the first and lowest level is the physical realm. The intellectual realm is one level higher and is “the domain of thought and reasoning.” But Pascal believed the “the highest level is the spiritual realm. It is accessed through the heart and is the realm of charity, piety, and true communion with God.”
While the spiritual level may be the most important of the three, Pascal believed we should not neglect the other two. When our lives are balanced with activities that are anchored in all three realms of our existence, we lead more connected and fulfilling lives.
Consider how you’ll approach the 3 realms in the coming year
You might first consider how you approached the 3 realms in the past year. Were you lacking in one of the following areas? Then think about how you might approach each realm in the new year.
The Physical Realm. The body is a vehicle for the soul—and to honor the soul, we need to keep the body healthy. That means a regular exercise or activity routine which will not only help us feel better but has a way of cleansing the mind. Do what you enjoy. I was once a runner but as the years have passed and my pace has slowed, I am now a jogger. You might prefer to walk. Or to dance or swim or take a fitness class. The key, if you are physically able, is to move. And don’t forget: The physical realm also involves touch and staying physically connected (hugs, kisses) to the ones we love.
The Intellectual Realm. Keep your mind, and your imagination, active. This means occasionally getting out of your comfort zone and witnessing how others perceive and experience life. Engage someone totally different than yourself in a conversation. Read a national newspaper or pick up a non-fiction book. Watch a documentary. Visit a museum. Expand your horizons and discover what makes others, and the world, tick.
The Spiritual Realm. As regular Wake Up Call readers know, this is the most important of the three. Yet, how we satisfy our spiritual needs can differ from person to person. For some it involves attending church services and reading the Bible. But for others, it can involve finding time for solitude, spiritual reading of any and all types, meditating, or simply spending time in a garden, the woods or the beach. Do whatever soothes your spirit and feeds your soul.
Another Approach: Ask Yourself These 5 Questions
Here’s a second way to prepare for a more fulfilling new year, and it comes courtesy of Christopher Penn and his technology-oriented Almost Timely e-newsletter. It centers around asking yourself 5 key questions. According to Penn, “this framework is useful for the workplace, but also really useful for the rest of your life.” I think they’re a great measuring stick to determine where you are and where you want to go in the coming year.
- Where are you with your friendships and relationships? Are you in regular contact with the people who matter most to you? Who do you need to text, call or visit? Can you/should you do it on a more regular basis?
- Where are you with your personal finances? Penn advises us to ask ourselves, “what goals, obstacles, opportunities, and decisions did I have this past year?” Are you living within your means or need to get back on budget? Are there saving goals you might want to hit? Is there a new opportunity you want to explore?
- Where are you with your spiritual life? Do you need to carve out more time to devote to your spiritual needs? What additional spiritual activities, be it meditation, finding space for solitude, or time for more spiritual reading, might you try to achieve?
- Where are you with your health? Are you taking care of your body by engaging in exercise on a regular basis? Going to doctor’s appointments as needed? Is there any ache, pain or ailment you need to investigate further?
- Where are you with your self-expression? Are you satisfying the needs of the soul? Are there creative endeavors you need to look into or become more involved with, be they journaling, painting, crafting, or playing a musical instrument?
I wish you a happy and fulfilling new year. May you find light and joy in your world and bring it to those around you.