I wanted to share this great little story from Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This is a true story about a man named Arthur whose life was lacking enthusiasm and had gone a bit flat. He is a writer and his writing was suffering. His situation was getting worse and worse each day. So he decided to go to a medical doctor. When Arthur was examined, the doctor could not find anything physically wrong. So the doctor asked him if he could follow his instructions for just one day. Intrigued, Arthur said he could.
The doctor told Arthur to spend the next day in the place he was the happiest as a child. He could take food, but he was not allowed to talk to anyone, listen to the radio, read, or write. He then wrote out four prescriptions and told Arthur to open one at nine, twelve, three, and six o’clock. Surprised, Arthur asked if the doctor was serious, who responded with, “You won’t think I’m joking when you get my bill.”
Prescription #1 at 9AM
As a child, Arthur was the happiest at the beach, so he went there to open his first prescription. It simply said, “Listen carefully.” He immediately thought the doctor was insane. How could he listen for three hours??? But since he said he could follow the doctor’s instructions for one day, he listened. He could hear the obvious sounds. Those of the sea and the birds, but after a while he could hear sounds that weren’t so obvious at first. As he listened, he began to remember the lessons the sea had taught him as a child: patience, awareness, how things are connected. He tells of a growing peace as he just listened for three hours.
Prescription #2 at Noon
The second prescription said, “Try reaching back.” Arthur thought, “Reach back to what???” He began to think back to his childhood. Pleasant memories of the past. He tried to remember them with exactness, how he felt, what he experienced. As he reached back and remembered, he felt a growing warmth inside him.
Prescription #3 at 3PM
The 3PM prescription was a little tougher than the first two. It said, “Examine your motives.” Arthur admitted feeling a bit defensive at first. He thought about what he wanted out of life. He wanted success, recognition, and security. He found that he could justify them all. But then as he thought more, he found that those motives weren’t good enough, and perhaps were the reason behind his feeling flat and stagnant. As he thought more about his past happiness, the answer came to him. He wrote:
“I saw that if one’s motives are wrong, nothing can be right. It makes no difference whether you are a mailman, a hairdresser, an insurance salesman, a housewife—whatever. As long as you feel you are serving others, you do the job well. When you are concerned only with helping yourself, you do it less well—a law as inexorable as gravity.”
Final Prescription at 6PM
The final prescription said, “Write your worries on the sand.” This didn’t take long to fill at all. With a broken seashell, he knelt and wrote a bunch of words. He turned, walked away, never looking back. He knew the tide would come in.
This is a true story from Mr. Covey’s book about a man who knew his life was stagnant and flat. He wasn’t happy. He thought something may be medically wrong, but what he found was that he just needed a spiritual renewal. He needed to take time to examine himself, what he really wanted out of life.
I know it can be hard to take 9-12 hours and spend it with yourself just thinking. Who can put life on hold for that long? But you can take time, isolate yourself, and think deeply about what makes you happy and what you want out of life. If you can just take an hour or two, sit in a room by yourself, or go outside and sit in nature, you will be surprised where your mind wanders and what you will learn about yourself. Use this little story as inspiration to look within for the joy you deserve!!!
If you want to pick up Mr. Covey’s great book, you can get it via my affiliate link here: