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LifeCraft – The Art of Meaning in the Everyday

Life is not a puzzle to be solved but a series of projects to accomplish the best we can

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LifeCraft–The Art of Meaning in the Everyday by Forest Church is an insightful book and offers an array of ideas worth contemplating. Forest is the son of the late Senator Frank Church of Idaho.

To a greater or lesser degree everyone shares most or all of the following characteristics. These include:

* Self conscious about their appearance
* Feeling guilty about things that they have done or have failed to do
* Sometimes have a hard time accepting themselves or forgiving others
* Have secrets which they feel may betray them at any moment
* Fail in ways that matter to themselves and to their loved ones …despite others successes.
* Feel stressful, as if happiness is fleeting.
* Worry about aging or concerned with dying
* Have been betrayed
* Wonder what is the meaning of life.

Religion is our human response to the dual reality of being alive and having to die. Knowing that we are going to die, we question what life means.

“When I get anxious or depressed, as I do from time to time,” he says, “it is usually because I am focusing on a single part of my life that has gone awry. I loss my peripheral vision.”

Not a Puzzle to Be Solved

Life is not a puzzle to be solved but a series of projects to accomplish the best we can. It is not a work in progress but a series of works in progress. Lifecraft embraces living and dying, loving and losing, failing well, recovering, and coping.

“Because my father was not afraid to die, he was not afraid to live. He did not spend his life, as so many of us do, little by little until it was gone. He gave it away to others. He invested in things that would ennoble and outlast him.”

What would you put in your own time capsule? Would you put in a hundred dollar bill? A book or letters? A diamond broach? A pressed flower? A set of instructions? A picture, a drawing? Whatever it is, it all reflects you.

Tuning Our Voices

What are five things for which you hope to be remembered? To answer this, fully tap the present and the past, and consider moments when you were or are most fully present. Don’t try to impress or be clever. Strip off the layers of pretense, so often born of insecurity.

Think about your project. Which ones matter? Go to the finest places in your heart.

Even before it is an act of self-expression, prayer is an act of empathy. Prayer involves listening — it is the discipline of listening. Discipline and prayer mean much the same thing. The Latin root for discipline means to listen.

A disciple is one who listens; we listen when we pray. And simply by listening, how much we gain. From broken melody we move to harmony; we resolve our dissonance into consonance; we tune our voices to the key of the cosmos.

The Wonder of It All

If the length of time that the galaxy has been existence were a distance of 200 miles, only the last 8 inches would represent humankind’s time on this planet. Fixating on the last 8 inches of history, as opposed to the first 200 miles yields skewed results. Those of us with 200-mile parallax vision are more aware of our ignorance than those–equally ignorant–with an 8-inch view.

  • Enthusiasm: being filled with God.
  • Ecstasy: standing outside of one’s self.
  • Empathy: being within another.

Ecstasy seems a selfish word but it is not. When we stand outside of ourselves, we connect with something larger and more all embracing. To lose ourselves in something other than ourselves is ecstasy. It’s impossible to experience ecstasy while lost in self-absorption; ecstasy liberates us from the one thing least conducive to the art of meaning. To practice Lifecraft well, you must stand outside yourself.

Minutes and Meaning

A drowning man sees his entire life pass before his eyes in about one minute. Take the next minute of your life to pretend that you’re drowning and are about to die. No more options, no more projects. One minute is all that you have left. Your entire life is about to pass before your eyes. Close them. What do you see?

A minute is a long time. Had you been ready, you might have been able to fill it more thoughtfully, but that’s the way death works. Nothing will change all the minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years that slip by unconsciously before we fall through the trap door on the way to death.

What gives our lives meaning? Kindness, forgiveness, generosity, enthusiasm, ecstasy, empathy. Above all love, given and received. For any of these things, one minute is not a bad start. Invest a few of your remaining minutes in saving your life before you actually lose it.

Turn the Page

If you are stuck at some point in your life, my suggestion is this: turn the page. Sure, you will miss something. I understand that. Sometimes however, trying to find something that you know you have missed delays you from discovering things that await you. Action, new characters, a turn in the plot. So, turn the page.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



 
 
 

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Life

21 Ways That People with Work-life Balance Are Different from Others (Part 1)

Take time for rest and reflection throughout the day, and accomplish more as a result

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The typical person thinks that work-life balance is needed only when things get hectic. Not so! Here are the first seven observations and accompanying recommendations for achieving Work-life Balance.

1) The typical person thinks that work-life balance is needed only when things get hectic. Those who have work-life balance realize that it is an everyday practice. So, what can you do?
* practice work-life balance techniques everyday, much like taking a daily shower
* recognize the small opportunities around you all day long
* plan from Sunday night to next Sunday
* maintain a mindset of not loading up on activities and not overdoing it

2) The typical person becomes stressed throughout the workday from mounting demands. Those with work-life balance anticipate unexpected demands and dispense their energy accordingly. So,
* leave sufficient slack in your schedule
* have one weekday evening per week with nothing scheduled
* pace yourself throughout the day
* establish a resource network of key contacts, phone numbers, email, etc.

3) The typical person suspects that only a privileged few can attain work-life balance. Those with work-life balance understand that it is within everyone’s grasp.
* read about work-life balance
* talk about work-life balance
* trade work-life balance ideas
* be on the lookout

4) The typical person assumes that “money buys happiness.” Those who have work-life balance know that money won’t help if you’re on the wrong path.
* consider that simple solutions often work best
* adopt a less is more approach
* pare down
* systemize or eliminate

5) The typical person regards taking time for themselves as a luxury they can’t afford. Those who have work-life balance recognize that taking time for themselves is vital.
* pause for ten one-minute breaks
* go on true lunch breaks
* take strategic pauses
* allow for whole weekends off

6) The typical person thinks that achieving work-life balance will be fleeting; it won’t last long. Those who have work-life balance take a rational, methodical approach to maintaining it.
* recognize that upsets and overwhelm will occur
* ask: what do I want to finish by the end of work today to feel good about the evening?
* ask: what do I want to finish before Friday to feel good about the weekend?
* keep creating a clearing (like Zen masters)

7) The typical person sacrifices rest and reflection in the hope of getting more done. Those with work-life balance take time for rest and reflection throughout the day, and accomplish more as a result.
* sleep eight hours a night
* linger after lunch
* center yourself on the way to the restroom, water cooler, even between tasks
* draw upon self-calming rituals all day long

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Business

Work-Life Balance in Your Life

It the ability to experience a sense of control and to stay productive and competitive at work while maintaining a happy, healthy home-life

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Work-life balance (WLB) is the ability to experience a sense of control and to stay productive and competitive at work while maintaining a happy, healthy home-life with sufficient leisure. WLB, also referred to by some as work-life harmony, work-life shift, work-life blend, work-life effectiveness, or work-life integration, requires focus and awareness despite seemingly endless tasks and activities competing for our time and attention.

Work-life balance entails having what I call “breathing space” for yourself each day, feeling a sense of accomplishment while not being consumed by work, and having an enjoyable domestic life without short-changing career obligations. WLB is rooted in whatever fulfillment means to you within the course of a day and a week, and however many years you have left in your life.

Supporting Disciplines

Several disciplines support work-life balance though, individually, none are synonymous with work-life balance:

1) Self Management

Sufficiently managing one’s self can be challenging, particularly in getting proper sleep, exercise, and nutrition. Self-management is the recognition that effectively using the spaces in our lives is vital, and that life, time, and available resources are finite. It means becoming captain of our own ship; no one is coming to steer for us.

2) Time Management

Effective time management involves making optimal use of your day and the supporting resources that can be summoned – you can only keep pace when your resources match your challenges. Time management is enhanced through appropriate goals and discerning what is both important and urgent, versus important OR urgent. It entails understanding what you do best and when, and assembling the appropriate tools to accomplish specific tasks.

3) Stress Management

By nature, societies tend to become more complex over time. In the face of increasing complexity, stress on the individual is inevitable. More people, noise, and distractions, independent of one’s individual circumstances, require each of us to become more adept at maintaining tranquility and being able to work ourselves out of pressure-filled situations. Most forms of multi-tasking ultimately increase our stress, while focusing on one thing at a time helps decrease stress.

4) Change Management

In our fast-paced world, change is virtually the only constant. Continually adopting new methods, adapting old, and re-adapting all methods is vital to a successful career and a happy home life. Effective change management involves offering periodic and concerted efforts so that the volume and rate of change at work and at home does not overwhelm or defeat you.

5) Technology Management

Effectively managing technology requires ensuring that technology serves you, rather than abuses you. Technology has always been with us, since the first walking stick, spear, flint, and wheel. Today, the rate of technological change is accelerating, brought on by vendors seeking expanding market share. Often you have no choice but to keep up with the technological Joneses, but rule technology, don’t let it rule you.

6) Leisure Management

The most overlooked of the work-life balance supporting disciplines, leisure management acknowledges 1) the importance of rest and relaxation, 2) that “time off” is a vital component of the human experience, and 3) that one can’t indefinitely short-change leisure without repercussions. Curiously, too much of the same leisure activity, however enjoyable, can lead to monotony. Thus, effective leisure management requires varying one’s activities.

Entirely Achievable

Achieving work-life balance does not require radical changes in what you do. It is about developing fresh perspectives and sensible, actionable solutions that are appropriate for you. It is fully engaging in life with what you have, right where you are, smack dab in the ever-changing dynamics of your existence.

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