Wake up, kiss my wife, drop the kids at school, work, come home, eat dinner, run to activities, and sleep… then complete that same routine again tomorrow. And the day after. Life on repeat. That was me – and I knew there had to be more. Since starting my blog, Depth Not Width, I’ve been working to define and refine my interpretation of “depth” in my own life.

Right from the beginning, let me me transparent. I’d love to tell you I have the depth-thing figured out. I don’t. I know what depth is not (that repeating cycle above), and I am trying to figure out what it is. I’m no “depth” guru, expert, or master. I find myself reminded of that almost daily. I simply know that in life, we can all experience different levels of depth, and I am trying to find my own. I hope that being able to walk beside me on my journey will help you as well.

So what exactly is depth? I have my own ideas, but I wanted to gain some outside perspective on the concept. How do other people define it, where are they experiencing it, and how do they see it in their lives? As part of my Summer 2020 Depth Check-Up, I asked people to respond to this simple fill-in-the-blank question:

I would describe experiencing “depth” in my life as:

Fill in the blank with whatever you like. I asked and people responded. It turns out that depth can be discovered in a lot of different places…



“Staying present in the moment and open to other people.”

“Meaningful activity with friends and family”

“Developing deeper relationships with others. “

“Having enough time to see those I love and do things that make me happy. Can be as simple as dinner with friends or a weekend out of town. I feel like my life lacks depth when I am working too much to do anything else or when I do absolutely nothing”

Not surprisingly, one of the main places people described experiencing depth in their lives is in their relationships. Our ability to create meaningful, deep connections with one another is one of the most incredible elements of being human. For some, this shows up in family, and for others, our close friends are the source of that depth. In either case, our ability to be present and create meaningful exchanges with one another is not to be taken for granted.



“Rich and rewarding experiences”

“Exposing myself to new and different experiences, people, cultures. Making sure I make a positive impact on others and the world I live in.”

“Not simply working 9-5 and coming home exhausted each day. Having time for hobbies.”

“Love and diversity of experiences”

“Fulfillment in my life – romance, hobbies, meaningful work, family”

“Finding happiness in my daily routine and activities”

“A wide range of experience and emotions”

“Authentic experiences, connecting with people of different backgrounds.”

Our experiences, and the opportunities we have to experience many different things, are another place where we can find depth in our lives. Diversity lies at the core of this – the more diversity the better. It shows up when we reach outside our comfort zones and natural environments to see and feel the world in new ways.



“Allowing myself to fully experience emotions”

“feeling all my feelings”

“Being in touch with my emotions and feelings as well as being conscientious of those around me.”

“Feeling the full gamut of emotions. Allowing it all to work through me in a healing manner. Connecting with those around me. Really knowing myself and those I love.”


Connecting with our emotions, and the feelings of those around us, came up as an essential catalyst for creating depth. From the way we embrace how we’re feeling from day-to-day, to our openness to each other’s feelings, being available to our emotions is a gateway to discovering more depth in life.



“Being completely content just being with family and loved ones. Being able to shut out the rest of the crap in the world, and be at peace with God’s sovereign plan”

“Staying committed to daily habits that improve my spiritual, mental, physical, and relational well-being. Doing so will create “depth experiences.””

“Seeking God’s will for each moment… This always brings more depth.”

“A personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”

The link between faith and depth was expressed many times when I asked this question. For me personally, I see a very intertwined relationship between my Chrisitan spirituality and the areas where I see depth throughout my life. As people shared above, faith is a source of peace – it’s challenging to find depth when we are under constant stress. As well, feeling aligned with God’s will and plan empowers us to experience depth more freely. Christian or not, the bond between depth and spirituality is profound.



“Focusing on what really matters”

“Being comfortable and having a purpose”

“Understanding and utilizing the abilities I have and using them to bring good to the world.”

“Depth to me is managing a household of 5 with one parent, and making sure we are all happy, healthy and well adjusted.

Understanding your purpose, and aligning your life to that purpose, is another excellent depth magnet. When we clearly understand what gets us out of bed in the morning, creating depth in our lives becomes much more accessible. Consider the single parent above. Their purpose is rooted in caring and providing for their family. With that as their guiding north star, continuing to follow that undimmed purpose is a source of depth.



“Time to think, learn, explore, and overcome the challenges of uncertainty through a lens of curiosity.”

“Something that takes commitment and effort”

“Learning new skills”

“Exposing myself to new and different experiences, people, cultures. Making sure I make a positive impact on others and the world I live in.”

I am a firm believer in the idea that depth requires growth. Staying in one spot, not stretching ourselves, and accepting the status quo as “ok” leads to a slow death. Growth, on the other hand, leads to strength. The process of growing can be painful, and sometimes requires overcoming challenges and confronting barriers. That process, though, can also be one of the most significant origins of depth for each of us.



“Having time to engage with a topic at length”

“Having knowledge in a topic that’s greater than headlines, but being able to carry on a conversation”

“Understanding a various viewpoints”

“As being well rounded”

I boiled this set of responses down to the concept of living with empathy. Empathy and depth seem to go hand in hand. There’s so much power in being able to sit with people who are not like us and build connections. Too often, we get comfortable in circles of people who look like us, act like us, believe like us, and behave like us. It’s only when we reach out of our comfort zone and step into someone else’s shoes that we begin developing empathy. And with empathy comes depth.



Some of the most interesting answers sounded like this…

“Depths of despair? Wtf kind of question is this?”

“Non existent”


“I don’t have any”

“There is none I just work and sleep”

“No idea sounds annoying”

“There is none”


As I was walking through the responses to this question, it quickly became apparent that not everyone is experiencing depth in their lives. For some, depth isn’t even on their radar. What I began putting together as I looked through the survey responses is this… When you’re trying to survive, it’s hard to thrive. Along those same lines, focusing on depth in your life can be challenging when you’re barely staying above ground.


The Takeaway

So, friends, that’s depth defined. Somewhere in the answers above are the ingredients for depth in our lives. We simply need to take those ingredients and create our own “depth” recipes. Part of that requires choosing which flavors we crave the most. From faith to relationships to experiences, which ingredients will help you create a life that is meaningful, deep, and most important gets you out of bed in the morning?

For me, this list made some things even more concrete. For me, my Christian faith is a foundational ingredient for creating depth. Over the last few months, it has been what carries me and guides me. My relationships with family and friends are an essential ingredient as well – they provide me with connection and strength. Last but not least, continuing to refine my sense of purpose is a source of depth for me. My understanding of purpose is my compass.

I hope you take some time to ponder this question yourself, and then make some tweaks to start creating more depth in your own life. What could you do today, based on the thoughts above, to go deeper in the areas of your life that are most important. The answer could be as simple throwing a football around tonight with your kids, or calling a close friend you haven’t talked to in a while. It might mean slowing down to pray or mediate. What’s your one thing?

The pull to create width instead of depth, as in being good at much but not great at anything, is strong. Society wants to spread us thin. Depth requires intention, and it takes persistence to create. Know this, though – the hard work reaps huge rewards!

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Best of luck on your journey toward depth… one step at a time… – John