A good friend of mine has a job at an after-school program teaching coping mechanisms to teens with depression and anxiety. When I asked her more about what she does, she replied, “We have them set goals every week. These goals fall into two categories: Do things that make you feel accomplished and do things that bring you life.” She then looked at me and asked, “Amelia, what brings you life?”
It’s something I’ve been thinking about ever since.
The first category is simple. I feel accomplished by doing things that are practical–by making a list and checking off all the items. (Yes, in my Meyers-Briggs I’m a strong J). I feel accomplished by doing a job well, by striving for excellence, by working hard. Schoolwork is good for this, even though at this stage in my life I’d rather be doing other things.
Life-bringing activities are harder to pin down.
You see, there are lots of things that don’t bring me life. Trudging through the bitter cold is upsetting, though as a hardy Minnesotan I hardly complain. People bustling around disturbs my thoughts. Trying to cook dinner at the same time as two of my other roommates tests my patience. Overly pretentious classmates annoy me. Having the super-bright fluorescent ceiling lights in the apartment on after dark makes my skin crawl.
What, though? What fills me up when the world sucks me dry?
Reading for pleasure. There’s nothing more special than curling up in bed and reading by candlelight, than getting lost in a world that exists within your own mind, than falling in love and friendship with people who don’t exist.
Deep conversations with good friends. Most of the time, these take place over the phone. You see, I don’t let a lot of people close (typical trait for an INFJ), so the time I have with those I deeply care about is extremely special.
Encouraging others spiritually. I love leading Bible studies and praying for people. I love when I can speak truth into the lives of others and help them draw closer to God. This brings me so much life that it’s what I want to do every day until I die.
Spending time alone. Granted, too much alone time makes me go crazy. (Another typical INFJ trait). But there’s something incredibly calming about being in a room with no one around and only my thoughts to keep me company.
Tonight, I took advantage of the fact that my roommate was out and spent some time doing things that bring me life. I turned all the lights off except the desk lamp, pulled up a movie on Netflix, and broke out my watercolors. Being a college student is a lot of work, and every once in a while, it’s important to take time to do what fills you up.
So, readers. You now know all about me. What brings you life?