Thursday, September 2, 2010

Making the Time for More Meaningful Living

Everyone wants to have a "meaningful life", a concept that many whole-life wellness coaches encourage as a way to minimize stress and maximize the effects of things like exercise and meditation techniques.
Common wisdom holds that in order to give life more meaning, an individual should try to limit the time spent working, and increase free time. According to researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, (yes, that’s his real name) however, this may not always be effective.
While the average American spends approximately five hours per day involved in leisure activities, according to the 2009 U.S. Department of Labor "American Time Use Survey", not all of these leisure activities contribute to what would be described as a "meaningful life."
According to Csikszentmihalyi, while most people claim they are happier at home during their free time than at work, their happiness tended to be higher at work than at home. Why? Because in many cases work represents order, stability, and constructive activities that help to focus an individual's attention.
Time spent sitting on a couch or watching television tends to leave an individual unsatisfied and yearning for more - wanting a challenge.
Consider Maslow's Hierarchy of Human Needs. The top section of the pyramid is attained by meeting the needs of spontaneity, creativity, and problem solving - not by simply whiling away the hours away from work.
While not every hour of leisure should be planned out, and while some true "down time" is necessary in order to recharge a weary body, one of the best ways to turn free time into meaningful living is to have a goal, a hobby, or a focus. This could be exercise, designing a healthy eating plan, or learning yoga. After all, it is the “journey” and not the destination that gives value to one’s life. A favorite quote of mine is this; “the meaning of life, is to give life meaning.”
So go, and do. Until next time –
Live Life Well,
John Aaron Villarreal
massage therapist/wellness coach

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