What an artful life looks like of course varies from person to person, but I found it helpful to list
what I wanted my life to look like, especially as a person who formally looked for much of her
direction within religion. I made my list, and since then have tweaked it and fleshed it
out. Feel free to take inspiration from my list, or to make your own.
Explore new ideas. Build a go-to secular library for the times you need wisdom,
inspiration, beauty or ways to sort through the gritty stuff life throws at you.
Love small and daily. Love big – love your enemy. Be an overflowing cup of
generosity. Do it because it makes life better for other people and for you, not
because there is an eternal reward in it.
Get outdoors and enjoy beauty for its own sake, nature in living color. Drink it in.
Find creative ways to answer your own prayers.
Spend a few minutes or hours in utter silence. Quiet your mind. Silence nurtures
Go to an atheist or humanist meet-up. Find friends for your secular journey.
Create new rituals. What will you do instead of baptizing your baby or getting
married in a church (or is there a way to celebrate relationships without marriage
at all)? Is there a way to celebrate the seasons without the religious connotations
in Christmas and Easter?
If you write, paint, compose, etc. explore your secular life in your art. Even better,
be a free thinker and explode some artistic barriers.
Explore your superstitions. What do you believe without foundation? What have
you assumed simply because your culture, family or upbringing has conditioned
you to believe it? Religion isn’t the only superstition. Give it some thought.
Build some simple practices into your life that make your days more restful
and/or meaningful – taking evening walks, reading before bedtime, meditation,
Read a few biographies of secular people with well-lived lives. Is there anything
You want to apply to your own life?
Share your talent with someone or share it publicly. What else is it there for?
Spend time working at what you love, or find new ways to love the work you’re
Throw a party, small or large. We’re social animals. Even if your home is messy
and your income limited, playing the host or hostess every now and then makes
life more fun.
Volunteer. Tutor at a school or adult literacy center. Sort at a pantry or serve at a
shelter. Befriend someone at an elderly center. Get to know someone who doesn’t
have what you do.
Read the world’s scriptures. Sift out the mumbo-jumbo and mine it for ancient
wisdom you can use. Plus, it might help you to understand world affairs and
world literature a little better.
Use some of your weaker senses. Close your eyes outside and listen. Smell. Feel.
Do you respond to someone or something instinctively? Explore that. What does
that intuition arise from?
Turn off social media and keep a journal or scrapbook instead.
Give yourself a problem to work on. Let it marinate as you walk the dog, do the
dishes or sleep at night.
Give yourself the gift of time. Lists of short, pithy advice have their place. But
living a meaningful life can’t be summed up in tag lines. It has to be lived out. It
takes time and depth and effort. If you truly want to live an artful life without
religion, roll up your sleeves, and get your map out for the long road of transformation. RP