3 Life Lessons from the Olympic Athletes

The Olympics are here! Have you been watching? I’ve watched some: snow boarding, a little of the sking, and my favorite, figure skating.

Life Lessons from Olympic Athletes

Image by PublicDomainPictures (2013) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

I am always amazed at the level of talent and effort put in by the Olympic athletes, and all serious athletes, really. There’s a reason St. Paul often used the analogy of athletes for the spiritual life. They are a great example of what we need to succeed in the spiritual life and in life in general. Here’s three of them:

Lesson One: Consistency

Serious athletes, like those participating in the Olympics, practice rigorously, on an ongoing basis. They set up a schedule and follow through. If they are serious about getting a medal, they are going to practice almost everyday without fail – often several hours a day. They don’t flip-flop, procrastinate or take days off because they feel like it.

If we are going to be successful in our spiritual life, personal life, or even our business life, we must be consistent. We must take steps going forward, no matter how little those steps are. And I have to admit, I struggle with that. I’ll go a week or month where I’ll pray everyday and make it to daily Mass and then I’ll have an “off” day and I won’t take the time to pray or make it to Mass. Then I miss the next day and the next day. Then before I realize it, I haven’t said my rosary in 4 days.

 Take time to reflect:  How consistent are you?

Lesson Two: Perseverance

One of my favorite things about watching the Olympics is hearing about the background stories of many of the athletes. So many of them have had difficulties and obstacles to overcome just to practice and succeed in their particular sports. Sometimes they fall and they fail but they pick themselves back up again. Whether it’s financial difficulties, injuries, failing, or opposition from other people, these athletes have gone against the odds and conquered.

If we are going to succeed in our spiritual lives, we will need to persevere. Times are hard. We all struggle. Some people struggle more than others but we all have our crosses to bear. Therefore it is important that you trust in God and persist so you can get through the hard times. And don’t forget, God will give us all the grace we need – but we have to Ask him more it!

Take time to reflect: How persistent are you?

Lesson Three: Focus

Most serious athletes focus all their attention and effort on one sport; and with good reason. By focusing on just one sport, the athlete can put all his or her time, resources, attention and physical abilities into being the best he or she can be. And it is easy to see that dedication and focus when you watch them perform. When I am watching the Olympic athletes, it seems as if nothing exists except them and their sport. The athlete blocks out everything that can potentially get between them and achieving their goals.

This is how it needs to be for us. In order for us to succeed in our spiritual life we need to focus on GOD. Does that mean we sit and pray all day? Of course not. But like the athletes who think about their sport or talk about their sport even when they are doing other things, we can train ourselves to think about God and talk to God no matter what we are doing. We can train ourselves to “never cease praying” (I Thessalonians 5:17), if we focus and practice.

Staying focused on Jesus isn’t easy. We are pulled in many directions and bombarded with distractions that do their best to keep us scattered. Therefore, we have to often take time apart to remind ourselves of what we are aiming for. That is why we have Advent and Lent and feast days to guide us and remind us of what we are aiming for: God and heaven. And that is why it is important to make a point of scheduling time for God in our life every day until it almost becomes a habit for us.

Take time to reflect: Are you focused?

Bonus Lesson: Accountability

There is one more lesson I want to mention because it ties all the other lessons together. All of the athletes, especially the most successful, don’t do it alone. They have coaches and cheerleaders and others who help them stay on track. They have people on their side to encourage them and support them and to guide them to victory.

It should be the same for us. In order to grow in our spiritual life, it would be very advantageous to have a spiritual director, life coach, or accountability partner to help us is setting our goals and achieving their goals. They can be there to help you stay consistent, to pick you up when you fail and help your persevere, and help keep you focused when distractions come. Getting a coach or accountability partner is definitely something worth thinking and praying about.

Take time to reflect: Do I have a spiritual director, life coach or accountability partner? Is it time to get one?

Now it’s your turn. What life lessons have you garnered (or are garnering) from watching the Olympics? Do share in the comments.

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Psst. If you are ready for accountability and support in growing your spiritual life, maybe I can help. Let’s chat and see if working together would make sense.

Book Review: Navigating the Interior Life, Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God

Navigating the Interior Life

From the Description:

“…this book will serve the souls of those who are seeking to deepen their relationship with God and find their spiritual direction. Whether you are at the beginning of the process, a veteran of spiritual direction, or struggling outside of spiritual direction, this book will help you uncover a map of success for your journey.”

My Comments:

I first discovered spiritual direction way back when I was discerning a vocation to religious life. Once a month I met with my then Mother Superior, and a few times a year I would meet with the Mother Provincial. It didn’t take long before I realized how important spiritual direction is for living out our Christian vocation. My faith and growth in the spiritual life soared under the direction of my superiors. After leaving the order, I went for a period of time without spiritual direction until I discovered Opus Dei. When I became a “Cooperator” I was able to meet with a member once a month and again, I saw my spiritual life grow. I now life too far away to have an active part with Opus Dei but I have someone else that I go to for spiritual direction.

I share my experience because I want to urge you to read Navigating the Interior Life and consider finding a spiritual director for yourself. If you give it a chance, I am sure you will find spiritual direction invaluable, too.

Navigating the Spiritual Life:

Navigating the Spiritual Life starts out as a basic “how-to.” It answers the typical questions about spiritual direction: “What is spiritual direction?” “Am I ready for spiritual direction?” “How do I find a spiritual director?” It even answers the question, “I can’t find one. Now what?”  The book also discusses the challenges of spiritual direction and the responsibilities of the spiritual director and the responsibilities.

I already have a good understanding of spiritual direction so, to be honest, I read through this part pretty quickly. Having said that, I think the author, Daniel Burke, does a great job explaining spiritual direction to those unfamiliar with it.

After those questions are answered, then begins my favorite part of the book. There is a chapter on spiritual self-evaluation that is very enlightening. Even if you decide not to find a spiritual director, this chapter would be worth the cost of the book! There are exercises to help you discover your “root sin” and how to battle against it.

The book even has a short chapter about developing a rule of life. It is a very practical chapter that quickly shows you how to use a plan a life to help yourself overcome a fault or grow in a particular virtue.

In short, this book is a “must read” for anyone looking to take their spiritual life to the next level. I give it 4 (four) stars.

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Curious about Spiritual Direction? Read this review

Book review: Navigating the Interior Life

Your questions about spiritual direction – answered!

I received this book free from the publisher through the Catholic Company <http://catholiccompany.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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