Question: How can I take the Scouting Oath and Law more seriously in my day-to-day life? An oath is a very
solemn thing. It isn’t a motto or positive incantation. It is a verbal commitment on one’s honor do a certain thing.
This is a question I have been thinking a lot about lately. If you haven’t picked up on it yet, writing is one of the ways I think best. Just putting the thoughts down on paper is my go-to method of brainstorming. So, when faced with such a question, I recently sat down and came up with a list of ways to incorporate the Scout Oath and Law (and the spirit behind them) into this very day. I hope you get some inspiration from the list. Furthermore, I hope you’ll take a few minutes to ponder
the same questions and brainstorm your own particular way to do the same thing. Enjoy!
1. Pick up somebody else’s trash
A Scout leaves no trace of where he’s been. Furthermore, he actively takes care of his surroundings be erasing the carelessness of others (which is sadly too ubiquitous). You will almost definitely see someone’s trash today: an old soda can in the parking lot, a wad of paper towels on the public restroom sink, or an empty cardboard box near the sidewalk. This time, instead of simply choosing not to see it, pick it up and throw it away. That’s what a Scout would do.
2. Whistle or sing an uplifting tune
Cheerfulness is an attitude that or most of us easily lose when the day isn’t going perfectly. For most of us, it’s not our default state. Unless an external influence keeps us cheerful, it takes a conscious internal effort to remain so. Music is one of the best tools to use to that end. Baden-Powell described the Scout as whistling cheerfully while he works. For me, this is reflective of an internal commitment to be cheerful. It lifts my spirit, and, at the same time, it helps to spread cheerfulness to others. So the next time you’re in an appropriate public setting whistle a cheerful tune and decide to be cheerful in whatever you’re doing. If it’s genuine, it will be surprisingly contagious.
3. Play a continual Kim’s Game
A Scout tries to develop the skills of “attention to” and “retention of” various details. Baden-Powell recommended Kim’s Game as a way to practice this skill of observation. But you can also play a similar game with the people you meet over the course of the next day. For each person you exchange words with, pick some less obvious detail about the way they look, what they’re wearing, or what they have with them and try to memorize that detail associated with that person. At the end of the day, go over each detail in your mind. Did you remember them all?
4. Give someone an unexpected gift
To give a simple blessing, unprovoked and unexpected, to someone you care about as a way to let them know you’re thinking of them is a surefire way to brighten their day. It really doesn’t take much. Be creative.
5. Go somewhere you normally wouldn’t go
The way your daily routine looks will greatly determine how this one will play out for you. I’m not talking about taking a lot of time and going somewhere far out of your way. Simply introduce a little adventure to the day by driving a different route to work, going somewhere you’ve never been before on your break,
etc. By intentionally breaking the routine ever so slightly, you feed the fire of curiosity and discovery that is innate to a Scout.
6. Eat a meal outside (no matter what the weather)
A Scouts love of the outdoors doesn’t simply manifest itself during the monthly camping trip. A Scout who has acquired taste for the wilderness finds a certain kind of satisfaction in being someplace without a roof over his head. Here are just a couple of benefits obtained from this kind of taste: First, being outside seems to draw one out a sedentary state. The movement and fresh air is healthy. Secondly, it opens up a new world of surroundings almost calling to be observed and enjoyed. Taking a lunch break outside is a great way to cultivate this appreciation.
7. Read a chapter of nonfiction book
When he takes the Scout Oath, a Scout sets out on a lifelong journey for self-improvement. By improving oneself,
one is better equipped to help others and do more to improve the world around him. One of the best methods of self-improvement is through reading. Sitting down and reading a book comes more easily for some folks than it does others. However, it’s always worth the sacrifice. Pick a book that challenges you – a book that seems to find the weak spots in your brain and gets them doing pushups.
8. Exercise for 15 minutes
Even those who lead fairly active lives will benefit from a customized exercise routine. Even 10-15 minutes a day can go surprisingly far. You don’t even need a special place or special equipment. Find a simple collection of stretches and exercises that work for you and change them up occasionally.
9. Lead by example
This one’s harder because it’s not a singular action. It’s a certain posture you hold in your relation to your peers. No matter what group you’re in, there exists the opportunity to choose words and actions that direct others towards what is important. I believe the key to success in this endeavor is the realization that everything you do or say in front of others is a sign pointing toward something. Think of it like a magnetic force that draws others in a given direction. I have a powerful temptation to make those signs point toward myself, but any wise person will perceive that as it truly is – egotism. Instead, I need to use everything in my power to point others toward what is truly important and valuable to them.
10. Write a service list
The close relationships we have with others can easily suffer from over-familiarity. If someone is a part of our day-to-day life, we often cease to concentrate on and put our efforts toward serving them better in whatever capacity we have the privilege
. The simple but hard solution to this is to make a renewed, deliberate effort to put them first. Take a sheet of blank paper and write a list by hand. Each item should be a specific, actionable way you can be a better father, son, friend, etc… They may be big items or small items. Once the list is done, follow through and check them off one by one.
11. Get your hands dirty
It doesn’t matter what piece of cloth you’re cut from. You might be in the mood of starched cotton, blue suede, or worn denim. Take up a new hobby that will get yourself a little dirty. Or maybe do some work around the house that you’d normally not do. This one is simple simon – just put some callouses on those hands! Getting dirty for a good cause (with a good attitude) builds character. It gives you perspective, it humbles you, and it hammers in a certain “get ’r done” attitude that you will certainly need at times.
12. Write a note to someone
When we Scouts think of doing something for someone else (a “good turn”), I think we often automatically picture big projects that take a lot of time time and energy. A danger with that way of thinking is to procrastinate on these projects because of how imposing they are and how busy we are. However, the meaning of the Scout slogan is to incorporate this spirit of giving into your day-to-day existence – to make it a habit and be able to serve others constantly without even thinking of it.
Just one way this can be done is to get out a sheet of paper and pen and write
a thank-you note to someone. Perhaps make it for something specific they’ve done for you. Or just thank someone generally for what you appreciate about them. It’s up to you. Fewer and fewer people take time for thank you notes these days, and just a little bit of effort in this direction can totally make someone’s day.
There you have it!
Twelve ways you can be a Scout today (yes, I mean today). I hope we can all (including myself) get more into the habit of following the Scout Oath and Scout Law in our everyday lives. Writing this article was a great exercise for me to that end. I hope it helped inspire you and get your creative juices flowing to come up with even more ways to live out Scouting today.
Any ideas? We’d all love to hear them. Just leave a comment in the box below.