Every car seems to have a personality of its own, with its unique set of quirks, charms, and irritations. Weezie’s last car was no exception. Her small SUV seemed to have a gas tank the size of a thimble. I know technically that wasn’t true because I saw how many gallons went in each time we filled it up. In spite of that, it seemed like we had to fill the car up every time we left the neighborhood. She has a new car now and a tank of gas lasts forever in this car, despite the fact that both cars tout the same gas mileage. The latter car obviously has a larger tank. That doesn’t make it better; we just make fewer trips to the gas station. The new car also takes regular gas. I wonder whether it would benefit from premium gas – or whether the last car would have suffered from regular gas.
Our lives work like our cars (hopefully better). The same principles that govern our cars govern us also. Let me explain.
We all have different size tanks. A big tank is not better than a small tank, just more convenient. The key is to know the size of your tank. Problems arise when we think gas is still in the tank and we are running on fumes. So many people suffer needlessly because they don’t fill up their gas tanks regularly. In fact, many people have never thought about how to fill up their gas tanks. Is it rest? Is it quality time with a few close friends? Is at reading a good book? Too many people keep on pressing forward even when their tank is on dead empty. Bad things happen when your tank is on empty: tempers flare, bad habits rear their heads, negative thoughts run rampant.
We also pay too little attention to the quality of the fuel that fills our tanks. Everyone benefits from better fuel. In the gas crisis of the 70’s, people used to try watering down their gas in an attempt to make their gas last longer. It didn’t work! Even more than cars, the quality of the fuel we take in has a massive impact on the quality of our days. We may get by when we watch TV to refuel our tanks, but how much better would it be to take a long bath or relax with a good book? We refuel for the day every morning by means of our morning routine. Are we cheating our day by taking in cheap fuel, or worse, taking in no fuel at all? The quality of our days tells the tale of the quality of our fuel.
Hard days use more fuel than easy days, just like city driving uses more fuel than long-distance driving. Lots of starting and stopping – a frenetic pace – empty the tank more quickly. On those days, which may be every day for you, the importance of adding in extra refueling is critical. This could be a short walk, or a 10-minute timeout when you get home. Get creative! These refuelings aren’t a waste, they actually make the other moments better. We may think we could never take 10 minutes right when we get home with kids leaping on us and tasks that need immediate attention, but those 10 minutes might be the very thing that makes the minutes after positive. When Weezie and I were young we took a class at church called “Growing Kids God’s Way.” One of the great suggestions from that course was practicing “couch time.” The teachers strongly encouraged us to take 15 minutes toward the end of the day with our spouse to talk and decompress, training our kids not to interrupt during couch time. I still think of couch time as a great suggestion for everyone, regardless of stage. What a great way to refuel!
Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- Do you refuel often enough?
- Are you always running on empty?
- How do you effectively refill your tank when you sense you are running on fumes?
- Are you filling your tank in the morning and evening with high-quality fuel?
- What simple change could you make to improve the quality of the fuel you are taking in each day?
These are not easy questions. Mull on them. Small changes practiced regularly make a big difference!