We spend many of our daily activities surviving—going to work, shopping for groceries, and tending to our partner’s and children’s needs.
The endless barrage of to-do lists and tasks can make us feel like we’re a hamster wheeling through a caged and empty life. If we’re not careful, we can burn out with exhaustion, strike out with stifled anger, or experience physical illnesses like high blood pressure or a heart attack.
To avoid crashing and burning in life, it’s important now and then to step back and look at our lives—to reflect. By asking ourselves, “Am I on the right path?” we can view our life’s course to make sure it’s headed in the right direction. We can check in with God to see how our life’s going.
Our wise teachers have offered guidelines that help us in our self-assessment. Here are four to consider:
Am I experiencing increasing times of peace, love, and joy in my life?
St Paul writes that the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). These positive virtues come from our attitudes toward ourselves and life. It’s not about what we do, it’s about who we are.
Do I cultivate an attitude of gratitude in my daily life?
Do I see myself as a vessel for being a loving presence with my family, friends, and co-workers?
Am I an encourager rather than a naysayer?
And as I continue to see myself as God’s beloved, do I experience the inner peace, love, and joy that comes from a life well-lived?
What’s the fruit of my life?
Jesus uses the metaphor of a fig tree as a way of evaluating what kind of fruits our lives are producing. He says that every good tree will bear good fruit. But a corrupt tree will produce bad fruit (Matthew 7:15–20).
With that in mind, we can look at our lives and see if the fruit of our daily actions results in making the world a better place one ripple of love at a time.
Do I encourage others to grow?
Do my friends and family experience my life as a positive influence on them?
Do the words that come from my mouth lift up others or tear them down?
Does my life produce good fruit or am I a shriveled fig because of nasty words, gossip, angry judgment of myself and others, and a life-stinks attitude?
Do I take time each day to unplug from the world?
During his earthly life, Jesus took time each day to be alone with the Father. He left his companions and the crowds to listen to the Holy Spirit’s voice of love and guidance. In solitude, he found direction for his life and shook off the world’s noise and negativity. He instructed us to follow his example.
He told us to go to our rooms (our hearts), close the door to the world (unplug), and connect with God. When we do, we can connect with our inner self, the Holy Spirit, and receive the same affirmation, love, and guidance that Jesus experienced (Matt 6:6).
With that in mind, we can ask ourselves, do I take time to be alone? Time to care for my soul like I do my body?
Do I unplug from life’s chaos and plug into my interior self, my True Self?
Do I sit in the quiet each day and listen for the Voice of Love, God’s voice that provides the Divine Guidance needed to navigate life?
Do the things I do draw me closer to God or drive me further away from God and my True Self?
In the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius provides us with a simple test with which we can examine our daily activities. Asking, “Does this activity draw me closer to God or take me further away from my True Self and God?” is a shortcut to evaluating our lives.
Too much social media or gaming or distracting ourselves with constant entertainment can result in a fragmented self, disconnecting us from our emotions and leaving us feeling empty.
Reading, spending time in meditation, and seeing God in all things awaken us to who we truly are in God and provide us with inner growth and a deeper, more lasting peace and joy.
Our lives are a journey and an adventure. There’s no cookie-cutter approach to determining whether we’re on the right path, but we can use the tools Christ and other wise people have offered us to evaluate the direction of our life’s course. We can live the life we imagine and find the inner peace, love, and joy we seek when we take time to reflect on our paths and the fruits of our daily lives.
Am I on the right path? We might ask ourselves. By pondering the question and applying the above four tests, we can find the answer and experience living a well-lived life.
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