This article was originally published in December of 2014.
Last week, New Advent linked a list of top 10 daily experiences that you can make more enjoyable. We thought it would be fun to turn this list into something that would help us build up spiritual strength. So without further ado, top 10 daily experiences that you can use to build up your spiritual life.
1. Make the most of a long commute.
A long commute would drive anyone crazy. The key is to find something that makes you feel that the time wasn’t wasted. Spiritual books on CD or Catholic radio can transform a long commute from mind-numbing to soul-feeding.
2. Turn boring small talk into a real conversation by listening.
We all have that obligatory desktop chatter, work lunches, or phone calls that can stop at small talk. Why not turn those into human connections that will increase your capacity for love? When you ask how someone is doing, truly take the time to listen, commiserate and patiently wait for the other person to finish. This does more for your fellow man than you would think!
3. Use your travel time productively.
Stuck on a plane? You could view this as automatically wasted, or you could use it to do yourself a favor. Spend a couple minutes before the flight thinking about how you could use this time best. What are you most in need of right now? Do you need to get started on a procrastinated report? Or maybe you really need to pray the rosary? Use this time as a gift!
4. Feel accomplished in your finances – GIVE!
The number one stressor is money. You think about it daily. One way to turn this annoying stressor into something good is to GIVE! It’s amazing how much stress is lifted once you’ve assigned money its proper place in your life. Money is to use for your good and the good of your fellow man. So eliminate any power money has over you with generosity.
5. Deal with telemarketers and other annoyances with grace.
Want to hear a truly awesome spiritual mortification? Make a pointed effort to deal with telemarketers, rude cashiers, or that angry man behind you with the most charity you can possibly muster. This is a real-life everyday application of that whole “turn the other cheek” thing.
6. Wake up pleasantly instead of begrudgingly.
The very first challenge we face each day is to leave our soft, comfortable beds on time and with cheerfulness. St. Josemaria Escriva called it the “heroic minute”. Instead of waking up to loud sounds that jolt you out of bed and exacerbate that groggy feeling in your head, wake up to something more uplifting. Try choral music, lights or other sounds that will wake up your soul as well as your body. Follow that with a morning routine that balances spiritual and physical needs and you’ve got yourself a great start to your day! Now go out there and be virtuous!
7. Make your workouts a prayer.
Working out. Ew. Some have managed the art of enjoying physical exertion, but for those of us who haven’t: make it a prayer! Seriously, that 20 minute run will go by lickity-split if you say a rosary, listen to a spiritual podcast or comb through a Thomistic argument in your head.
8. Automate and enjoy your chores.
To make chores more enjoyable, do them in short, scheduled bursts of activity. To make chores spiritually edifying, assign a prayer intention to each task. Cleaning the bathroom? That one’s for your niece who’s struggling. Changing a diaper? That’s for the holy souls in purgatory. Doing dishes? That’s in reparation for your sins. Taking the time to assign a spiritual task to a physical task makes your prayer unceasing!
9. Make long waits seem shorter.
A long line at the grocery store, a stoplight, or worse, the line at your favorite lunch spot? Turn this annoying situation into a chance to exercise empathy. Take a look around. People watch. Take a minute to really think about their situation. For example, if you see a mom with her hands full, think about what she might face each day and try to understand. Think about the cashier’s life and what they’re daily experience is like. Your capacity for mercy will grow
10. Make it through a long, dull workday.
Dull job? Or worse, a frustrating one? Reset yourself every few hours by taking a two minute break to clear your head. Take a walk around the office and pray one Hail Mary. Walk to the coffee maker and pray one Hail Mary along the way. Frustrated after a meeting? Force yourself to list three things you’re grateful for. It works!
Rachel Cooley is Director of Marketing at the Kennedy Brownrigg Group.