A goal for most people I know is to live a well life. But what does that really mean? If we don’t pay attention, stay conscious and strive to be proactive, it’s likely that we are creating our life by default rather than by design. In other words, we end up reacting to whatever is happening in the world around us—in our families, our workplace, or with our health—and if it’s good, we are happy. But if any of those outward circumstances takes a nasty turn, we veer off track and end up in the bushes. Only when we consciously choose to design our life, can we claim the reality of a well life.
Fortunately there is help. A new book by Briana and Dr. Peter Borten titled, The Well Life offers dozens of ideas and practices to help us structure a life filled with balance, happiness and peace. Even those of us who have read hundreds of books on self-empowerment, spirituality and positive living can benefit by many of the suggestions offered in the book. And with a New Year just around the corner, who among us can’t use a few pointers to ensure that our design is a creation we hope to experience in the days to come?
What Does A Well Life Look Like?
Of course, in order to create a life by design it is important to define what is meant by a well life. According to the authors, a few of those qualities are:
- An experience of ease in our bodies and all our activities.
- A sense of openness and eagerness about the future.
- Authenticity or integrity in the body, spirit, emotions, and mind.
- The ongoing desire to expand, create, learn and grow.
- Healthy and fulfilling relationships
- Financial stability
- Frequent experiences of laughter, play and enjoyment.
- Other qualities that fit your personal lifestyle.
Three Elements of A Well Life
At the core of the book are three elements that are essential for a well life. These elements are woven throughout the book as a foundation necessary to keep all aspects of our lives in balance. These three principals work together to ensure that every area of our lives stays balanced and satisfying.
The first element is a sense of sweetness. As the authors say, “Sweetness not only makes life more satisfying, it also makes you stronger and better—more authentically you.” The way I understand it, sweetness is what makes our experiences of everything richer and more rewarding. It is the combination of play, loving, creating, enjoying, being in nature, dancing, laughing and spending time with friends that are so often what makes our hearts sing and feel glad.
The second element is structure. The authors explain this in terms of “life architecture.” Without good structure or life architecture, the entire foundation of our lives might be overly unsound, complicated or stressful. As explained by the Borton’s, “A good structure is one that’s forged consciously, incorporates sweetness and space, and steers you in the direction of your dreams.”
The final element is space. The authors define this by saying, “Space is where we listen—not to our thoughts or the media, but to the stillness within us where truth lives.” Without space our sweetness may be inauthentic or unconnected to our real self. By the same token, without space, structure loses its perspective and direction. Space, or what we might call emptiness, pulls us out of the perpetual mental engagement that often dominates our lives.
Pointers For A Well Life
- Mental, emotional and physical stillness allows us to connect more deeply with ourselves and the world around us. Without that ability, the mental overload or the “Human Data Stream” can overwhelm us. The Borton’s explain, many of us “have learned to browse through life—to stay shallow—which makes it harder for us to go deep and hold our focus for an extended period. They wisely recommend, “If you need to watch something, watch your breath.”
- Keeping your agreements and doing what you say you’re going to do, “could be the most life-changing habit a person could adopt,” say the authors. They go on to explain, “Agreements are structures, and healthy agreements make for a healthy life.”
- Most of us aren’t clear about what it is that we truly want. A big reason is we don’t trust ourselves. We are also afraid we will make the wrong choice, or that choosing one path will make the other options unavailable. Not true. We can always change our mind and sometimes we will find even more benefits by letting the path unfold as it goes.
- Understanding the difference between self-worth and self-esteem provides clarity on the path to a greater confidence to do and create the things we choose. According to the Borton’s, “Recognition of your self-worth will make you stronger in yourself; good self-esteem can help you take this value into the world and put it into use.”
- Community is essential—but we only thrive when we make our communities intentional. Unless our communities embrace similar values as us, there will always be friction.
- When we discover what lights us up, it’s just like discovering a superpower. As the authors say, “Even if your goals are quite modest, and even if you never reach them, if you’re guided by purpose and use your gifts, life won’t feel like a missed opportunity.”
- The famous saying by Joseph Campbell, “Follow your bliss” is often misinterpreted. Instead of a blanket endorsement to do whatever you want whenever you want, he actually felt that if you follow your passion then no matter what challenges you encounter along the way, you will realize they are just part of the journey. Instead, he later came out with, “I wish I had said, ‘Follow your blisters.’”
- Sometimes it is important to be okay with the idea of not achieving your goals or intentions. That’s because if you try too hard, or are afraid that it will never happen, you might actually be putting up obstacles or pushing your good away. If you can relax into the idea of not realizing your intentions enough to recognize the blocks within you, you might discover what needs to be let go of before you can move on. As the authors say, “The thing is, the fear of being poor isn’t what makes someone rich, and the fear of being fat isn’t what makes someone thin. Aversion may motivate us, but it doesn’t produce healthy, lasting, sustainable change.”
- Not everything that happens to you is a result of your thoughts. Sometimes bad things happen to good people no matter what. However, as the Borten’s say, “the quality of the lens you see life through is arguably a more significant determinant of your quality of life than your actual circumstances are.
- According to the authors, planning is “…the structure that enables the integration of sweetness and space in your life, so it is a precious thing.” What planning allows us to do is to make our intentions more real. It generates momentum, asserts our position as creators of our lives, and aids in necessary discipline. Of course, one should avoid over-planning, but as a practice good planning is a big benefit to a well life.
Believe it or not but I have just barely scratched the surface of the wisdom and practical ideas I found in this book. While some of the pointers I mention might sound similar to other authors and/or books, I was delighted by the amount of new, interesting and helpful information the authors provide.
Of course, like SMART Living or rightsizing, a Well Life is not something you manage to achieve just once. It is an ongoing process of learning, stretching, growing and discovering each and every day. As the author’s say in a very SMART way, “It’s time to stop treating life like a temperamental slot machine—you’re not at the mercy of an unconscious thing that delivers random outcomes, determined by luck.” Instead, we each have tremendous influence on the shape of our lives, and always on the sweetness, space and structure of every single day.