Living My Best Life – When he 1st visited the asylum for the mentally challenged, Jean Vanier was overwhelmed by the mess and overcrowding. It was inhumane.
The year was 1964 & Vanier, a French-Canadian philosopher/theologian who had served in the Navy, was still finding his way in life.
One of the refugee’s residents asked Meier if he would be his friend. What happened next defines the life work of the Meier, and sets an example for the rest of us who is looking for more meaning in our lives.
Vannier invited a man living in a modest house in Trolley-Bruil, France, and another disabled person to live with him. It was here that Venier fed and washed disabled men. Others would come, and Vannier named his care home “L’Arche” after Noah’s ark.
“We are not asked to do any extraordinary things to God, but to do ordinary things with extraordinary love.” -Jane Venier
Vanier’s model developed at L’Arche International, serving twenty-eight countries and five continents, with more than 10,000 members (with and without disabilities).
What is the best rule to live by?
The light shining in them
When I was a police-chief in California, our agency participated in the annual Special Olympics Summer Games. My lieutenant and I, in our formal uniform, would drive an hour to the host city.
We attended planning meetings & a luncheon, but the best part was interacting with the athletes before the games. We catch a soccer ball or kick it. It was great fun. The enthusiasm, affection and attraction of the athletes were contagious.
There were no pretenses, mind games or repetitions. Athletes were the embodiment of love & authenticity. They all wanted us to treat them like everyone else.
“We all know very well that we can work for others and crush them in the process, making them feel like they are unable to work with themselves. Loving someone is their abilities for life. To reveal the light that is shining in them. ??Jan Veneer, From Brokenness to Community
Athletes do not want any unique accommodation. They just wanted to compete, have fun, laugh and share their joys for life with us. I learned lot of things from them about being in the moment, and this joy can be found in everyday life.?(Living My Best Life)
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?The great thing about people with the intellectual disabilities is that they are not people discussing philosophy. What they want is to have fun and laughter, to work together and to fool, and laughter is the heart of the community. “Vannier said:
“I’m trying to live and try to say that people with disabilities are important – in themselves, but they also have a message to give to humanity.”
My sister, who is a kind soul, worked with children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I remember once when I went to work and interacted with the children lovingly.
Used to walk Even now, I wish that everyone could enjoy the same authenticity, affection and joy for every-day life that these young, intellectually disabled children display.
What are the basic rules of life?
The presence of others
As we grow, we start losing a lot of our childhood innocence. Our curiosities and fantasies are caused by complications of adolescence, hormones, and adulthood.
We are concerned about our presence, popularity and success. We compete in the work-place and learn that communication involves what we say versus what we mean. And we worry about things like status & social rank.
We tried to create a safe little world for ourselves, devoid of risk and reversed in vulnerability. Only, over time, we are still not happy.
“He who desperately struggles for safety for everyday habits, work, organization, friends, family, no longer lives. More than safety, an adventure for life, risk, dynamic activity, self-giving, others’ Attendance is required. ?- Jean Vanier, Tears of Silence.
To have the best life, we need to get out of our way. Let go of our stupid insecurities, accept our strengths and weaknesses, and rediscover the joy of being present and helping others.?(Living My Best Life)
What are the 10 golden rules?
10 Simple Rules for the Best Life Ever
Thankfully Jean Vannier left us a roadmap to living a better life. How to get some of the enjoyment he feels of caring for his friends every day at L’Arche. They are ten simple rules. By following them will help you live the best life you can.
Accept the reality of your body:
As Vannier said, we are born in weakness and die in weakness. There is nothing wrong in trying to improve your body and health, but learn to accept yourself as you are.
There are many more important things in the life to focus on, such as being present and helping others, which push us far beyond our physical presence.
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Talk about your feelings and difficulties:
We have trouble expressing our opinions, yet we do so much of what we do. Worse, we compensate with drugs & alcohol to mask our feelings of not being successful. Talking about how we are feeling honestly.
There is no fear of not being successful:
We are equally in love with being successful by mistake, but as Meier said, “You are as beautiful as you are.” The size of his bank account does not define a person’s actual measurement.
This is defined by their emotional bank account. How kind they are. How they treat others. We can be jealous of Mark Zuckerberg’s wealth but admire people like Mother Teresa more.?(Living My Best Life)
In a relationship, you need time to ask:
“How are you?” You are married to your spouse, not a success. Yes, working is essential for our families. But being for our families is even more critical.
Take time to investigate. Ask what your spouse and children are doing. They will remember your thoughtfulness and love your career success very much.
Stop looking at your phone:
To be present! The digital age has brought us into instant communication, but are we talking to each other?
“What’s your story?” Everyone has a story if you are ready to listen. Stop trying to change other people and meet them. Just because they do not share your views, does not mean they do not have their own stories, experiences and knowledge. Learn their story and stop judging.?
Be aware of your own story:
You are precious, just like every other human being. Appreciate your uniqueness and talent.
Meet people. Jean Venier spoke of the “tyranny of culture”. my group. My party. My culture. Yes, be proud of who you are & your lifestyle, but not at the cost of others. Become a member of humanity. It can just change you.?(Living My Best Life)
Listen to and follow your deepest desire:
Unlike animals, humans have moral and spiritual needs. Beyond eating, buying, and existing, we search for the infinite. The reason we are here. We all have an inner-voice that guides us. Our hearts generally tell us when we are silent. Learn to trust your heart.
Remember that you will die one day:
Jean Vannier said that “We are all here, but we are just local people. Passengers are travelling. We get off the train, and the world will keep going.” Facing our mortality can guide our actions today. It can change the size of the person as we want.
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Living My Best Life Rules
Your Moral Purpose
The wisdom of ageing is that many things we thought were so important, such as our form, wealth, or status, are not necessary. All that matters is our character. How we treat others.
There is so much more in the world than wealth, competition and material pleasures. While there is nothing wrong in having ambitions and being successful, the trick is never to break away from your moral purpose.
The minute you trade your kindness & humanity to make a buck or move on in life, you cut yourself short. In the twilight of his life, the sweetness of the success of the sick suffers a kind of bitterness.?(Living My Best Life)
Jean Vannier died recently in his 90th year. He was indeed a saint on earth. Thankfully he left a lot of knowledge to learn from us. In an interview in year 2015, he shared the following points:
?Try and find someone who is alone. And when you go to see them then they will see you as the Messiah. Go and meet a little old lady who has no friends or family. Bring her flowers. People say, “But that’s nothing.” It is nothing – but it is also everything. “
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