“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8
My dear friend and colleague, Dr. Mark Brady, a neuroscience educator, tells me that since 1986 the amount of information constantly streaming into our lives has increased five-fold. Our brains are not wired to handle this information overload! We respond to such an onslaught by feeling overwhelmed, and stressed. The white-noise of today also pulls us from our path and our purpose. Our ability to make good decisions declines, and we are more prone to reaching for a pill, a drink, or to engage in behavior that is less than conducive to a healthy, happy life. What can we do when the world around us is now designed to continually stress us?
The apostle Paul had a very good suggestion in his letter to the Philippians. (Paul certainly didn’t live in modern times, however his advice is spot on.) Paul suggested focus. We are to limit what we let our brains attend to. He gave us a list of things that would help our brains, hearts, minds and souls.
If we take Pauls’ concept just a step further, we can go deeper into our practice of limiting the amount of white-noise that pulls us from our path and purpose. Dr. Brady calls this type of focus, ordo amorum, which means simply, the order of things we love. If we make a conscious effort to discern the things we love, and then discern the things we love the most, and focus on these things, it helps us grow and mature into the people we aspire to be. Ordo amorum helps keep us on our path and purpose. It is a great filter for discerning how we use our time and what information we allow into our brains/lives.
How often do you find yourself wasting time sucked into a distraction that serves no real purpose? I have to be mindful every day to remember my ordo amorum list and to focus on it, otherwise Youtube, Amazon.com, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter can eat up a lot of my precious and valuable time. Not to mention what it does to my poor brain! When you structure your life to focus on the things you love and the things you love the most, you will find it is easier to hear God’s word working in your life. You become more open and free to His grace. You truly start to live a fulfilling life.
F.R.O.G. Practice: Take time today to make a list the things that juice you up, and sets your heart and soul free. Write down at least 10 things that you love. Take a break and come back to your list. Now, think about which of these you love the most. Put them in order. Use your top three as a discerning filter for how you spend your time and what you allow into your life. When you find yourself being distracted by other things, simply stop, and refocus your attention and efforts.