The Rhythm of Life: Living Every Day with Passion and Purpose

The Rhythm of Life: Living Every Day with Passion and Purpose

by Matthew Kelly

A step-by-step guide for all those who want to become the best version of themselves. The Rhythm of Life exposes lifestyle challenges and problems we encounter in our busy, fast-paced, and noisy lives. Once you enhance the rhythm of your life, you can begin to fulfil your dreams and life purpose.

Summary Notes

Everything is a Choice

“What will you see when you look at your life ten years from now? What will you choose?”

Everything in life is a choice - the clothes we wear, the city we live in, the food we eat, and so on. Choice provides an untapped power to be ourselves and live the life we have imagined. Sometimes we choose the best version of ourselves, and other times we don’t.

When we make a choice, we also design our lives. Some may say we do not choose our circumstances. You’d be surprised! You have much more power over your circumstances than you think. Even if circumstances are thrust upon you, you can choose how you respond to them. If you can learn to master the moment of decision, you will live an extraordinary life.

Even our happiness is a choice. In every decision, we can choose happiness or misery. When you choose happiness, you also become the best version of yourself. There is only one question you should ask yourself: Will what I am about to do help me become the best version of myself? If the answer to that question is “Yes,” do it without hesitation.

Life is difficult. The friction of life, challenges, and the ebb and flow of the unexpected all work together to help us fulfill our essential purpose and destiny. There will be obstacles and barriers to overcome, such as addiction, loss, fear, disappointment, anger, and fatigue. Life ultimately comes down to a series of choices and decisions.

Actions to take

Pursue What You Want

“What do you want from life? What are your dreams?”

What do you want from life? When asked this question, most people’s answers are vague, general, and poorly thought out. Occasionally, you will hear, ‘I want these things…, for these reasons…, and this is how I intend to achieve them….’ Without exception, these people mostly live life passionately and enthusiastically, rarely complain, and never refer to happiness as a potential retirement, marriage, promotion, or maybe a windfall of money.

What separates them from most people is that they know what they want. They have clarity on who they are, what they want, their hopes, and dreams they wish to achieve. These dreams bring hope, and hope is one of the forces by which men and women live.

Dreaming is the easiest thing in the world. There are no limitations to dreaming, but as we grow up, we experience pain, failure, criticism, and disappointment, so we limit our dreams. Do not be afraid to dream, as there is no shame in attempting mighty things and failing.

One way to achieve anything we want and dream in life is through character. While the foundation of character is self-discipline, the essence of our character is personality. Your unique personality holds the secrets to your success. 

Have you ever noticed that successful people seem to be able to do everything well? This is not by chance, but because the foundation of their lives is a strong commitment to personal development, transforming their world.

Truly successful people have character and a firm commitment to excellence. They understand discipline, have better habits than the rest, and are courageous. Like most qualities of character, when practiced, our courage becomes stronger and more readily accessible every day. 

Do not waste your life because life is there. All you have to do is reach out and embrace it. Anything is possible. Whatever your dream is, make it happen. Have courage. Start today. You will be amazed what life will give you in return for pursuing what you want.

Actions to take

Cultivate the Four Areas of Your Life

“Think about each of the four areas: physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. Which are you thriving in, and which are you just surviving in?”

Our legitimate needs are best understood in terms of the four aspects of the human person – physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. These needs exist across these four different areas but also on different levels. 

Primary needs are those we need simply to survive. Examples include food to eat, water to drink, and air to breathe. These are fundamental to our survival.

Secondary needs are not as critical to survival but essential if you want to thrive across the four aspects of your life. The satisfaction of secondary needs will allow you to achieve and maintain optimal health and well-being, with core needs including regular exercise, a balanced diet, and healthy relationships.

The first step in becoming the best version of yourself is defining your legitimate needs. The second step is to create a lifestyle that fulfills those legitimate needs. The third step is distinguishing between your legitimate needs and illegitimate wants. 

  1. Physical – Our physical body is the vehicle through which we experience life. To thrive physically, you need to tune your body with regular exercise, a balanced diet, and the right amount of sleep. Avoid physical desires that are not healthy and just provide instant gratification.

  2. Emotional - It can be more difficult to pinpoint these needs as they are more subtle, but emotional starvation can lead to mood swings, lethargy, anger, bitterness, and resentment, as well as have a negative impact on your character. Take time to build relationships with the right people.

  3. Intellectual - Your body needs regular exercise and a balanced diet, and so does your mind. If you nourish your mind and choose the right diet, you will be directed by ideas of excellence and greatness. Rediscover your intellectual desire and passion for learning something new!

  4. Spiritual – Each of us has a unique spiritual journey, but some needs are unchanging and necessary in all our lives - silence, solitude, and simplicity. Knowing who you are, where you are, and what you are doing is essentially good. Making others happy and being the best version of yourself leads to inner peace.

Your health and happiness are intimately connected. Your legitimate needs are the secret language that unites the two. When you acknowledge your legitimate needs and base your lifestyle decisions on them, you will live a much healthier and happier life.

Whatever you wrote on your list are the things, places, people, and experiences you believe will make you happy. Everybody wants to be happy. The great modern paradox is that we know the things that make us happy; we just don’t do them.

Actions to take

Live a Meaningful Life

“Our modern culture proclaims with all its force: What you do and what you have are the most important things. This is a lie.”

In an age of prosperity, many people feel that something is missing in their lives. Depression and suicide rates are almost epidemic, an increasing inability to sustain relationships, and the average person is now likely to change jobs five times more than their working grandparents. People also seem unable to live by their resolutions, like dieting, exercising, or spending more time with family.

Many people today perceive their purpose in relation to success at work and financial independence. The result is a frenzy of people rushing, working too much, and too hard to spend money on things they can’t really afford or need. 

Who you become is infinitely more important than what you do or have. The meaning and purpose of life are for you to become the best version of yourself. Once you place this at the center of your life, everything will start to make sense.

The quest to improve ourselves, be all we are capable of being and test our limits enable us to grow steadily towards the best version of ourselves. Finding your purpose will not only help you achieve your individual goals but also your goals in the workplace.

The ability to choose the right decision comes from a sense of purpose. Leaders make decisions because they, above others, are supposed to understand the purpose of the people or organization they lead. Direction comes from understanding where you are going; otherwise, you are effectively lost.

Leaders have vision, courage, persistence, confidence, character, and virtue. They can ignore the chaos, confusion, troubles, and difficulties and remain focused on the task at hand. The future is what we make of it. Leadership is not an elite class but a role we are born into. 

Some people exert more influence than others, but all of us have some influence. Through this influence, you touch people’s lives. Giving your time, talents, and resources to make a difference in other people's lives is the way to greatness. When you assist in someone else’s need, you learn the satisfaction of giving is greater than the satisfaction of having.

Actions to take

Everybody Is a Genius

“The question I have for you at this part of our journey together is, “What is your genius?”

We are all capable of doing one thing better than any other person alive at this time in history. What is your one thing?

Your one thing may be to love your spouse, raise your children or be a teacher. It could also be to invent something that changes human history or become a great nation’s leader. It doesn’t matter what your genius is; it matters that you embrace and celebrate it.

How will you know when you discover your genius? You will experience feelings of joy and timelessness. It will not feel like work, and you will be passionate about what you are doing. We have seen the connection between legitimate needs and deepest desires; our unique talents are the missing key.

The challenge for each of us is to create a lifestyle that allows our needs, desires, and talents to live in harmony. This dynamic collaboration is the key to living your life to the fullest and becoming the best version of yourself.

Think of these areas as three intersecting circles linked to creating an ideal way of life (a lifestyle) for you. Firstly, when you spend time doing the things for which you have a particular ability or talent, you experience great joy and timelessness.

Secondly, your physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual needs are being attended to. Rather than neglecting one or more of these areas for days or weeks, you allocate time and energy to each of these four areas of fulfillment.

Third, you have a passion for life. You are passionate about what you do because you love who it is causing you to become. Anything that distracts you from that purpose wastes time, energy, and life. 

The area where these three circles intersect is the best version of yourself. If you can learn to live in that place, you will live a life uncommon.

Actions to take

Are You Free?

“History has taught us that the one thing men and women of every place and time have always been willing to fight for, and indeed die for, is freedom.”

Freedom is the most basic and essential human right. It is not simply the circumstances that allow you to do whatever you want, but the strength of character to choose and do what is right. Freedom is upheld by people who govern themselves.

The foundation of freedom is self-discipline. This mastery of self is acquired by the practice of self-denial, which comes from within. Self-discipline is the foundation of greatness, achievement, success, heroism, leadership, and flourishing communities. 

A free person is confident, peaceful, has integrity and positive thoughts, enjoys bringing happiness into other people’s lives, and is full of character and self-control. 

Addiction is the enemy of self-discipline and freedom. Addiction causes you to form certain habits and behavior patterns that are ultimately self-destructive. The good thing is that once you recognize this truth, you can begin to use this knowledge to your advantage to become the best version of yourself.

Addictions are acquired by practicing a certain type of behavior often and excessively. Character is developed in the same way. It is not enough to merely give up the self-destructive behavior; you need to crowd it out with self-empowering habits.

We all have addictions and habits that enslave us. However, if you do not conquer your bad habits, they will soon conquer you. What areas of your life become out of control? What are you wrestling with? You better get rid of it, or it will get rid of you.

Nothing compares to the freedom of being able to choose the best version of yourself in the moments of the day. It is a liberation that no one can ever take from you.

Actions to take

Follow Your Star

“Wisdom is not the amassing of knowledge. Wisdom is truth lived.”

We all have a star to follow in our lives. Some of us follow it from a young age, and others take a little longer to recognize the star in the sky of their lives. Developing the understanding and awareness required to recognize your star when it rises can also take time.

The first lesson in finding and following your star is patience. Many people lose their chance at greatness by chasing the first star that rises. Instead, you should wait and prepare patiently for your star to rise, which it will do at the right time, and you will be ready for it.

Search your heart and become intimately aware of your legitimate needs, deepest desires, and talents. This way, you will be able to identify when your star begins to rise as you will have a burning desire to follow it.

In following your star, you will put your talents to use for the service of others and your own fulfillment and satisfaction. Employing your talents will lead to the fulfillment of your legitimate needs (physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual), making you become the best version of yourself.

You know that your essential purpose is to grow, change, develop and become the best version of yourself. Dedication to this process of growth is greatness. Greatness is to become more fully yourself with each passing day.

Trust that you are here for a reason, and things are unfolding just as they should be. The right opportunities will emerge in the most unexpected circumstances to enable you to follow your own unique star.

Actions to take

Celebrating Your Unique Self

“There is only one you. It may sound a little absurd, but it is true.”

Most people spend their lives running away from themselves or hiding from others. Life should be a process of self-revelation. Across your life, you can reveal yourself to the people you love and to people who cross your path. You can also put up barriers and masks or let people see you as you really are.

You may be concerned about letting other people see you as you really are and your faults. What we need to remember is that everyone has faults. The people who love and admire us have faults and flaws. The people who don’t like us have faults and flaws. 

Being loved and accepted is a common human trait. The danger of this is becoming someone who does or says things just to please others. Every time you do this, you abandon a portion of yourself. Nobody can be loved by everybody; even the greatest people in the world have their critics and detractors. You might as well be yourself!

Every happiness in life comes from discovering who you are and being yourself. There is always more to life than getting, grabbing, having, and receiving. Life is as much about giving as it is about receiving. Learn to give the one gift you were born to give – yourself.

Actions to take


“One of the strange and false ideas that are propagated in the modern world is that an important and successful person is always busy.”

Many people judge others and themselves by how busy they are and how much money they earn. The result is that many rushes around in a frenzy, dressed in designer clothes, trying to give the appearance that they are successful.

The cost of this lifestyle is the loss of rhythm and consistency in our lives. The cost of this type of success is often a loss or failure to find your true self – your deepest desires, talents, dreams, and needs. 

People who have a lot of work and responsibility have order. They know their priorities and resist sacrificing their health (physically, emotionally, intellectually, or spiritually) for a couple of hours of extra work or a few more dollars. Rhythm and order create harmony and efficiency.

When was the last time you said, ‘I don’t have time!’ either to an idea or a person? For most people, this could be spending time with family, exercising, or eating a proper meal. We do not know how long our lives on this earth will last. Some things are more important than others. Prayer, reflection, meditation, and a life with rhythm remind us of this truth and help us remain focused on the truly important things.

Actions to take


“A life lived reflectively, is a life lived effectively.”

In a world that is always racing, we must learn to slow down and create a pace for ourselves. Learning to control and maintain the rhythm of your life is important. When we are in touch with the rhythm of life, we can think about our lives as we live them, rather than as an afterthought or regret.

You will often find yourself in places or situations you would rather not be in. You have to work your way out of them the best you can. Many people are gifted extraordinarily, but very few use their gifts to the upper limits. Mental fortitude, psychological strength, focus, and being able to relax your mind and reflect are vital to living life effectively.

Once you discover that peace deep within, protect it at all costs. This peace is happiness, fulfillment, pleasure, and a good sign that you are becoming a glorious being. Reflection creates direction and inner peace.

Actions to take

Sleep: The Foundation of Energy

“Use the gift of sleep to its maximum advantage. Use sleep to begin to create the rhythm of life.”

There are 24 hours in a day. Nobody gets more, and nobody gets less. The differentiating factor is energy, our most valuable resource over time. Passion and purpose drive performance. 

Energy is created by a sense of purpose and a lifestyle that integrates our legitimate needs, deepest desires, and talents. Your purpose is to become the best version of yourself. The rhythm of life is the way of life that brings our needs, desires, and talents into harmony. The result of this is passion and energy.

We need sleep to be renewed. Sleep refreshes us, energizes us in our bodies, hearts, minds, and spirits, and heals us from daily life's stresses. When we positively view sleep and consciously approach it with these things in mind, we maximize its effects.

Numerous studies have shown that people who sleep at the same time every night are considerably healthier than those who do not. Sickness and depression are significantly lower in people who sleep at regular hours.

It is also important to consider how long you sleep. Too little or too much sleep is not good for you; either way, you will wake up fatigued. How you sleep can also make a big difference, whether on your stomach, side, or back. Using this knowledge will help you live a happier, healthier, and fuller life.

Actions to take

The Second Instrument

“The second instrument I used to rediscover the rhythm of life I call “the sacred hour.”

The purpose of prayer and reflection is to make the journey from point A to point B to become the best version of yourself. Prayer and reflection can be difficult, but those who learn to master this will be able to master themselves.

We live in a noisy world. People wake up to loud alarms, watch TV, get in the car, listen to music, and talk on the phone. Sometimes you just need a break from the noise. Silence introduces us to ourselves – for better and for worse. Silence convicts, suggests, and challenges but also consoles, heals, comforts, clears the mind and gives courage.

What are you prepared to do to significantly increase the level of peace, happiness, and fulfillment in your life? Setting aside one hour a day to pray will restore and maintain the rhythm of life. There are hundreds of ways to pray, and over time you will discover which ways work best for you. Some are active, and some are passive. You can pray in a quiet church or while walking on a sunny beach. 

Prayer is the place and time to visualize how you can become the best version of yourself. It allows us to overcome faults, addictions, and vices by allowing us to reflect on situations and allow our thoughts to determine future actions. This ensures you do not let your life be a reaction to things that happen each day. Your life will be an action.

Actions to take

The Third Instrument

“Wouldn’t it be nice to have one day a week just to rest, reflect, and be renewed?”

The first two instruments help establish a day-by-day rhythm of life. The third instrument helps us to anchor our weeks in the rhythm of life. This seventh day is a time of rest and renewal, enabling us to achieve and maintain maximum capacity in every area of our lives.

The third instrument invites us to set aside one day each week to relax and refocus, to remind ourselves of the priorities of our lives. There are thousands of ways to spend this day: reading, family time, painting, exercising, gardening, day trips, baking, or watching a sunset. The list is endless.

These activities renew, refresh us and bring rhythm to our lives. They lead us to maximum health, liberate our hearts and minds and allow us to remember who we are and what is important. 

Embrace the seventh day. Allow yourself to be renewed and refreshed. You will emerge with a keen sense of your priorities and return to work, and the world rooted once again in your life principles.

Actions to take

The 10 Principles of The Rhythm of Life

“Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared with what lies within us.”

Following the key principles of the rhythm of life will help you follow the path from point A to point B and become the best version of yourself:

  1. The Knowledge Principle
    Lasting success, fulfillment, and happiness depend on self-knowledge. The knowledge principle is simply – ‘Know yourself.’ Great people know themselves. They know their strengths, weaknesses, faults, failings, flaws, talents, abilities, needs, desires, hopes, dreams, potential, and purpose.

  2. The Dream Principle
    Life is made up of hopes and dreams. You dream the dreams and make the decisions. Most people base their decisions on the limited resources available to them currently. Great people in history remove all limitations from their dreams, and once they establish their dream, they seek them with unrelenting energy.

  3. The Vision Principle
    The vision principle cannot be explained better than in the statement: ‘If you can’t see the shot, you can’t hit the shot.’ Goals and plans bring out the most in humans. When problems and challenges arise, assess them and define them clearly and precisely. Create a plan to overcome problems, thereby creating confidence and reducing fear.

  4. The Life Principle
    A life principle is one sentence, phrase, or idea that sums up the focus of a person’s life. Successful people have direction, they live their lives by moving toward a specific goal, and their life principle keeps them focused on this goal.

  5. The Thought Principle
    Human thought is creative. What you think and allow to occupy your mind forms the reality of your life. Thought determines actions, and you will be living out what has already happened in your mind before too long.

  6. The Dedication Principle
    Have you ever given your best, your all, to anything? What do you think would happen if you did? Legends, heroes, leaders, champions, and saints all loved what they did. They dedicate their whole being to their pursuits. ‘In order to love what you do, you must do what you love.’

  7. The Belief Principle
    You are here for a reason. You have been born to live one life. Out of the infinite possible lives you could construct out of the opportunities you will be presented with, you must choose your one life. Prepare yourself and choose the best version of yourself every day.

  8. The People Principle
    The foundation of relationships is acceptance. The people principle is ‘People deserve to be cherished.’ You must look beyond your personal preferences, prejudices, and judgment to discover the wonder and marvel at the individual.

  9. The Communication Principle
    The communication principle is, ‘Be clear, concise, open and honest.’ Communication is art so follow these principles to become a great communicator.

  10. The Final Principle
    Once you set yourself an objective, keep your eye on your goal and employ the final principle: “Never give up!” There will be setbacks and failures but stay focused and persevere. The greatest failure is not to try.

Actions to take

Enjoy the Journey

“One of our greatest failings as human beings is our inability to be present in our own lives. It may sound absurd, but it is true.”

Life is a journey, and it’s best to enjoy it. If you do not enjoy life, you will be no good to anybody. The destination, victory, and achievement are momentary. Success is not a destination; it is a journey.

The joy is not in the destination but in the journey. If you cannot find peace in the journey, you will not find peace in the destination. Your passion, enthusiasm, and excitement should be for the journey.

Being present in your own life is an amazing and rare gift. People who are present in their own lives have the ability to focus on who and what is before them fully. When you are conversing with such a person, they make you feel as if no one else exists.

Seize the moment is a good motto. Stop packing the aisles and counting the miles. Life must be lived as we go along.

Actions to take

How Do You Perceive the World?

“How do you see the world? What is your perception of the world?”

Life comes down to two simple realities. People were made to be loved, and things were made to be used. All problems come from a misunderstanding of these two principles. We love things, and we use people.

You can choose not to love the right things, but you cannot choose not to love. Love gives meaning and direction to our lives. What you love and what captures your imagination determines how you live your life.

You love deeply, and you must let go of those illusions of perfection, the pretense of being completely in control, and open yourself to that mysterious gift, pleasure, power, and grace we call love. Love is to step beyond the comfort zone and not love less but to love more.

The most wonderful thing about love is that it is highly contagious. Our desire to love and be loved never rests. It is constant like breathing, and we cannot live without love. Love or perish; there is no other choice.

Actions to take

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