The blessing and joys of good health and fitness can be yours when you choose to make them priorities in your life. Good health means having the capacity to live life fully and to experience the best life has to offer.
While I agree completely with the sentiment and the focus — particularly with the idea that we can't live optimal, amazing lives with a sedentary lifestyle — I'd argue that living a “strenuous life” can take many forms that are beneficial.
My 83-year-old dad has a saying he loves to repeat:
You now what retired means? Being really tired of having nothing to do.
In reality, however, that definition only fit his retirement after he became less able to complete tasks he had always done.
When he first “retired” his position as a math professor at BYU, he became an emeritus professor and continued to teach. When he reached the age of mandatory retirement, he spent years teaching for free.
Rather than following “the dream” of working hard until you're old so that you can sleep in, play bridge, and travel, my dad's dream was to continue to work and serve the students he loved, every day.
In 2005, my dad was honored with BYU's Honorary Alumni Award. Even in the midst of this week of celebration, his actions revealed his character. As I sat with him in the large room, filled with university and church dignitaries, at the banquet celebrating the honorees — and at which the actual award would be presented — Dad became anxious.
Finally he leaned over to me and said, “This is taking longer than scheduled. I need to get to my office. I have office hours in a few minutes.”
“Just this once it will be fine, Dad. Your students will understand.”
“No, I need to be there in case they need help!”
“Dad, I'll call the department secretaries and ask someone to put a note on your door, explaining why you'll be late today.”
It was no use. A couple of minutes later, he found one of the coordinators and asked if they could change the order or events. He didn't want to leave them in the lurch, but he needed to get back to his duties.
The emcee went to the podium, announced a slight change of program order, and presented the award to my dad. Immediately afterward he gathered his things and headed to his office. I stayed to finish lunch next to his empty chair.
Later that day he phoned me. “It was a good thing I left when I did! When I got to my office there were two students waiting to see me!”
Living the strenuous life will be different for all of us. For my dad it was working long past what was expected or even remunerated. For me, it might mean going to be early and getting up early — and checking off my Habit 7 tasks very first thing. For some it would mean spending free time in productive pursuits rather than in endless leisure. For others it might mean starting to workout and eat right. For you, it will mean something different.
Build both your body and your mind. They are a powerful combination.
Work on awakening whatever parts of your life are sedentary and create balance.
What would living the strenuous life mean to you?
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