Happiness, Mindfulness, Reducing Stress

The 4 Life Priorities I Learned at Summer Camp

Every year we go to Naramata, B.C. to take part in a week-long summer camp run by the United Church. It’s an amazingly beautiful place: surrounded one one side by the vineyards of the Naramata Wine Bench and the pristine Okanagan Lake on the other. I’m not a church go-er, but this place is great because the extent of the church sermons just teach us to appreciate the earth and land, to meet new friends and spread kindness and good times among friends and strangers.  It’s really just a freaking happy place to be. Did I mention all the cheap wine?

The minister of the West Hillhurst United Church in Calgary attended last year. He is a very well respected guy and so cool and down to earth. Most of the time I saw him cruising around on a bike with a tank top and shorts, but he also led a Wine and Spirituality course (genius combo).

I attended one of his talks in the chapel (the same chapel that I got married in two years ago!) and he wrote down on the board 4 phrases.

The phrases, he explained, were the four things needed for us to find meaning and joy in life:

  • Time to Reflect
  • Constructive Recreation
  • Purposeful Pursuits
  • Time with Friends and Family

You can interpret these concepts however you like to adapt to your own life, but here’s what I got from his talk:

Time to Reflect: Essentially just taking part of our day to STOP. Stop doing what we’re doing and take a block of time in our day to reflect. For the most part this suggests meditation- just sitting in a comfortable place, closing our eyes and letting our thoughts go by. I won’t go into detail about meditation as it is an entire topic for another day. Just know there are tons of great resources on meditation.

Constructive Recreation: This encompasses all forms of exercise and for the most part, leaving behind our cell phones and to-do lists and our worries and getting outside to enjoy nature. I would say playing with your dog in the park or throwing a frisbee around with friends is much more ‘constructive recreation’ than say running on a treadmill, for it is both mentally and physically beneficial. You are building friendships and connecting with people while exercising your body.

Purposeful Pursuits: I assume this to mean our hobbies, passions and careers. By pursuing our hobbies it keeps our brain sharp, gives us meaning and fills us with happiness as we hone our skills. It usually also means we get involved in a community of like-minded people who enjoy the same hobbies! And of course to have a meaningful career that is in line with our morals and beliefs is a pretty wonderful thing too.

Time with Friends and Family: Pretty self-explanatory. Quality time, not distracted time though. Sometimes we’re just not fully present, thinking that there are important tasks we should be doing. Connecting with friends and family should always be top priority.

I really like how there is a complete absence of anything about material possessions, wealth or commercial success. I can’t wait for next year!

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