March 4, 2017

Living Well In All Areas Of Our Lives

I'd like to repeat my definition of Living Well from my last post on the topic.

Living Well is doing the best you can in every area of your life, utilizing what you have and what you know.

This time, I'd like to particularly emphasize the every area of your life portion of the definition. There is nothing wrong with seeking depth in an area of your life, but if that depth is at the cost of the other areas of your life, then it can leave you unbalanced. I am reminded of the classic quote by Robert A. Heinlein. (Science fiction writers are often unrecognized as deep thinkers upon the human condition.)

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."

Robert A. Heinlein (from Time Enough For Love)

Corporations often demand specialization from us and then, knowing no better, we carry that specialization over into the rest of our life. If we overdo that specialization, it can leave us shallow and unprepared in the rest of our life. A certain amount of specialization is good, but be sure to balance your life so that you do not end up wise in one single area and foolish everywhere else.

I heard an observation recently that further emphasizes our need to resist specialization. Military generals are so called because they are expected to be generalists. The individual soldiers are expected to have and employ specific skills, but the general is expected to be widely read, comprehensively studied and able to adapt to any situation that may emerge in the battle and especially the whole war.

A general is expected to know how to combine their forces abilities into a comprehensive plan. They are expected to apply ground troops, direct artillery, provide air cover through superiority, call upon naval power and increasingly utilize special forces to eliminate difficult obstacles. When we fully understand that we are the author of our life story, it behooves us to learn how to fully incorporate all of the areas of our life to create the best way forward.

At a minimum, I recommend that we apply the principles of Living Well to these areas of our lives: spiritual, mental, health and work. Spiritual, because there is a God and there is an afterlife and the way we live while we are on this earth makes a huge difference in where we spend eternity. Mental, because like physical muscles, our brains operate on the "use it or lose it" principle. Physical, because you get exactly one body to see you through your earthly existence, so it makes sense to maintain it as well as possible. Finally, we concentrate on being good at our employment because that's how we support ourselves and our families.

Spirit, mind, body and work are very broad categories. In future installments I will dive into each of these areas to explore the many facets of each. Until then, concentrate on making the decision to Live Well in each of these areas and committing yourself to excellence!

Tags: Writings Living Well Personal