well·ness, \ˈwel-nəs\: a dynamic objective and subjective progression toward a state of complete physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, economic and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Incremental improvements can occur from pre-conception up to and including a person’s last breath
– MH Samuelson
Wellness is located at the intersection of Contentment and Aspiration. To live there, you must first choose to move out of the Village of Someday.
– MH Samuelson
What follows is Part I of a seven-part essay on work/life balance. While the basic information applies to everyone who accepts pay in exchange for effort, the focus of this essay is on the skills needed to emotionally, physically, spiritually, intellectually, socially and financially thrive in a fast-paced, early stage, entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial venture.
Because we are human we do not always do what our mothers taught us to do. We make mistakes. We slip. Sometimes we feel guilty, sad and remorseful. This is followed by a strong commitment to change; to get back on the right path, to do all those things that mom, our first-grade teacher, Captain Kangaroo, Bert & Ernie, Mr. Rogers and Oprah told us to do. Unfortunately — just like when on a bike path — once we slip off we slip off our designed life path we tend to make deeper and deeper grooves in the soft grass and mud. If we stay too long the grooves just get deeper until we find ourselves in someone else’s tracks; someone who slipped off the path long before we came along. Without fast action, we quickly adapt to this new trail. It seems so much easier to just continue along in the mud. The problem is that we know we are in the mud and that we would be much safer if we could break through the rut and get back on the stable road. However, when we try to leave the sloppy and increasingly dangerous trail we are intimidated by the bumps as we smack up against the groove’s edge. So, we settle back into the rut (we’ll try again, later). We lack the courage, strength or will to risk the initial jar so we stay where we are.
Such is life both on and off a bike path. The difference between life and a bike path is that, on the life path, there are plenty of people willing and anxious to tell you what’s good for you — what you need to do to live a healthy, happy, and prosperous life — to get back on the right path. Parents, teachers, priests, rabbis, monks, brahmas, mullahs, your Aunt Betty, Dr. Phil and the next-door-neighbor stand ready to offer (push) advice your way. Mostly, this advice is well intentioned, but it is often general in scope with little or no personal relevance.
The Science of Life and the Art of Living
Any newsstand magazine, professional website or internet blog can give you a broad wellness formula made up of good sense tips (mom told you all of this a long time ago) like eat healthy foods, get plenty of sleep, stay away from tobacco, drink alcohol moderately or not at all, exercise regularly, spend time with family and friends, read a good book, see your doctor and dentist annually, wear your seat belt, believe in a higher power and stay away from a steady diet of cable news.
The science of life is general and objective. Foregoing bad genes and catastrophic events, evidence shows that a life accented by a healthy blend of proper nutrition, physical activity, rest & recovery, intellectual stimulation, emotional support, spiritual engagement, economic security and social interaction tends to be long and relatively free from illness and infirmity. Science can show you how to construct a strong skeleton but YOU have to lay down the muscle and tease out the connective tissue that makes your unique system work, for you.
So…What Do YOU Want?
There are countless “How To…” books outlining the objective science of life complete with full-color templates. But, only YOU can explore, discover, design and nurture the unique, subjective, deeply personal, art of living your life.
The question is: What do YOU want? Where do YOU want to go? What predictably triggers and sustains those moments when you feel truly happy and satisfied with the life you’re living? Is it yoga or deep breathing exercises? How about The Bible, The Koran, The Torah, or “The Four Noble Truths?” Is it truly better in the Bahamas … and does it simply take a trip to Jamaica to feel all right?
Perhaps, for you, well-being — high performance wellness — kicks into gear when you read a good book, spend time with your kids, go the movies, buy gifts for your grandchildren, drink a cold beer on a hot summer day, watch television or work till dawn on a project that comes to life and tickles you each time you give it your undivided attention? For me, every few years, it’s a quiet far-far-away mountaintop, exhausted, sleeping alone in a tent surrounded by strangers who quickly become forever-memory friends. For my wife it was once the thrill of climbing out of a perfectly good airplane, hanging from the wing strut, letting go, and floating through the sky (YIKES!).
How about you? Of course you want to increase and sustain your life satisfaction but first you must WAKE UP! You must become AWARE and take inventory of what brings meaning to your life, today. You must open all your senses and pay attention.
Life Satisfaction & The Art of Living
As stated above: Because we are human we do not always do what our mothers taught us to do. We make mistakes. We slip. However — the good news — because we are human, we can also symbolize, anticipate, learn, self-regulate and self-reflect.
Because we are human, we can change.
Just maybe you fell off that life path because your wheel wasn’t balanced properly — for you! Maybe you fell off the life path because not only was the wheel balanced for someone else … you may have been on someone else’s life path, as well. Time to get on your own path and balance your own wheel!
Designing and Balancing Your Own Life Wheel
Think of life as a wheel divided into six overlapping sectors: social, spiritual, intellectual, physical, economic and emotional. Each sector is made up of elements (spokes) that support and strengthen the wheel. They are both dependent and independent aspects of what makes you, you.
On a bicycle wheel, the spokes pull the outer rim toward the hub. Likewise, on your life wheel, the elements and activities (spokes) connect and pull the outer rim — the universe — toward you. YOU are the hub of your universe.
The responsibility for selecting, securing and maintaining sector elements — the spokes — is yours. Happiness (life satisfaction) is influenced by the integrity of each spoke. To maintain high life satisfaction you need to routinely check and, as needed, adjust the composition of each spoke as well as the overall balance of your life wheel.
Should you choose to advance your high performance wellness, the sections that follow will help you awaken to what is meaningful. Not just what your head says is meaningful but—way more important—what your belly and heart says is important, those things that touch your soul and shake your bones.
Caution: This journey is not to be taken lightly.
Awakening brings acute awareness, accountability and a profound understanding of choice. No longer will you readily assume the role of victim when confronted with obstacles, disruption and hardship. Nor will you will routinely subjugate your joy and passion for the interest of others. You will instead own and be responsible for the moments of your life, all of them. Clarity lifts the gauze that both protects and restricts what you see and feel.
Do You Choose to Wake Up and Balance Your Own Wheel?
Part II: What is My Mission in Life, What Do I Choose to Stand For?
Part III: How Do I Currently Choose to Advance My Thrival and Wellbeing?
Part IV: If life Gave Me a “Do Over” What Would I Choose to Do Over?
Part V: Once I Choose a Goal, What’s the Likelihood that I’ll Stay with It?
Part VI: How Do I Validate and Support the Goals that I Choose?
Part VII: Summary (So What?)