Back in grade school, I can remember using my favorite number 2 pencil in order to complete standardized tests. You know, they encouraged us to use the old fashioned, wood number 2 pencil due to the graphite that the pencil is composed of.
I don’t know about you all, but I have snapped these pencils in so many ways. (Intentionally and Unintentionally) Sometimes I would bear down so hard due to overwhelming pressuring, that I would break the point, or even break the wood vessel. (Don’t judge me) But every time I would do this, it would teach me a beautiful life lesson, that I still carry on with me throughout my journey. Whether I dulled the point, or broke the pencil in half, I could still sharpen it and continue on. That overwhelming pressure that I applied, did not stop the pencil from functioning in the way it was designed. There was a brief pause that caused a moment of reflection. A moment to understand that things will occur that will bring about dismay, but because of what I’m composed of, I can keep going.
I know that it is a bit of an exaggeration, but I see many similarities of the number 2 pencil experience, to that of the human experience. There are times in which we have things coming at us from many directions, that begin to apply a heavy pressure on our life. It may get so heavy that we fall to our knees hopelessly with a fighting plea. We may begin to look everywhere, but within, in order to push through. Like the pencil, we all have something special on the inside, that we must activate. No, we don’t need to step into a pencil sharpener, but we need to engage in those things that sharpen our mind and spirit…and even our physical state.
Below, I have outlined some of the ways that I keep my life sharpened.
1. Talk to Someone
I know that it is very easy to hold your feelings in and not allow someone else to understand the struggles of your life. But it’s important for us to understand that we are not alone on this journey of life. There are other people in this world that have been in the same position as you, currently experiencing the same struggle, or people who just sincerely want to support you in life. When you begin talking about your issues, you will feel the weight being lifted off of your life. I encourage you not to make this a one time ordeal, as the weight can come right back if not properly maintained. It doesn’t have to be family…it can be a professional therapist or even the perfect stranger in passing; just let it out.
2. Watch What You Consume
What are you consuming in life? What books, movies, and music are you engaging in? Be careful of the things that you are currently participating in, as they can have an impact on the way you live your life. Start including more positivity into your daily routine. You don’t even have to listen to music with lyrics, as sometimes beautiful melodies is all you need to change your mood. Let me also acknowledge the fact that the food we eat plays a part in our mental state. I’m definitely not the one to food shame, as I have my own guilty pleasures. Sometimes we wonder why we feel weighed down, but it could have a lot to do with the greasy and fattening items we call “comfort food”.
I will probably always mention the idea of journaling, as I know the power it has had in my life, and also the people around me. The act of journaling allows you to explore your emotions. Don’t know where to start? Begin by asking yourself, “What were the highs and lows of my day?” From this point, you can begin to expand and explore the reasons behind your answers. Using journaling as a tool of self-exploration can help to clarify and sharpen those things in your life that are a bit out of focus.
4. Take Inventory of Your Life
Do you really know all of the things that you are currently invested in? Personally, I find myself signed up to participate in things that I have no idea how I got there. I have a strong desire to get out there and help everyone I can, but in doing this, I forget to check if I have the capacity to do so. To help combat this, I have a digital calendar and a calendar book that helps me to prioritize and make sure that I’m not overbooking myself. Be sure to establish healthy boundaries, that will allow you to stay sharpened instead of being snapped ever so often.
*I’m not a professional therapist by no means, but I know that my journey is similar to many of you out there. So I want to share some of the ways that I sharpen my life.
What are some tips that you use in your own life, to keep your mind and spirit sharpened?