One of the aims of this blogsite is to promote dialogue about aspects of living well, focusing on how human activity, or how people use their time, contributes to their happiness, health and well-being. When it comes to lifestyles, daily routines can be regular, predictable and peaceful, or they can be volatile, unpredictable and stressful. Most of us experience lives that show characteristics of each extreme. Which is better? Should we be striving for steady state, and what would that be like? Is the journey through life best viewed as a highway metaphor where we try to maintain a course in the middle? How do we define that "middle ground"?
An earlier post in this series alluded to balance, pointing out that Michelle Obama, the incoming first lady, sees work-family balance as an important public health and family issue. Because lives out of balance are typically stressful, imbalance can be said to contribute to illness and chronic diseases, as pointed out in the post on resilience.
Most people intuitively understand that regular, predictable, and stress-avoidant routines are related to their well being, and thus they have a personal view of what life balance means, or what type of lifestyle works best for them.
Eighteen months ago, I had the privilege of participating in an international conference in Canada that brought together scientists and other experts from many disciplines for a discussion about life balance from theoretical and scientific perspectives. Although there were many interesting ideas expressed about how to define, study and otherwise understand life balance, another perspective examined during the meeting was philosophical. Is life balance a valid concept, or is it just another name for similar "positive states"? For example, is it the same idea as "well being" or "quality of life" with just another name?
My view is that all three concepts have features in common. However, life balance seems unique because it focuses specifically on how activity is organized within a life to help us achieve the outcomes we desire. I surmise that there is no one "life activity formula" that works for everyone, but that a successful formula must include certain characteristics or reflect identified principles.
What is your idea of a balanced life? What lifestyle characteristics do you think social scientists should consider in studying this concept? I look forward to reading your posts.
DLW is an occasional blog about how people spend the time of their lives (every moment) to enable health, balance, meaning and fulfillment. As a blogspot about doing, it draws from personal stories and from studies of everyday living. It's main idea is that to be well, people must be involved fully in what they do. The activities that occupy our days help to connect us to the world, define who we are, and keep us healthy.
Great Links About What, How, Why, Where and How Often People Do Things
- Calculate your Life Expectancy
- O*Net - A terrific resource to get information about work related occupations
- Wisdom—A must see project of shared experience
- Brian R Little- About Personal Projects
- Authentic Happiness - Take the Work-Life Questionnaire
- wdydwdyd? (Why do you do what you do?)
- Calculate your weekly Time Use
- Bureau of Labor Statistics -American Time Use Survey
- ► February (7)
Interesting Books about Doing and Not Doing
- Bateson, Mary Catherine—Composing a Life
- Bruner, Jerome—Acts of Meaning: Four Lectures On Mind and Culture
- Christiansen, Charles & Townsend, Elizabeth—Introduction to Occupation: The Art and Science of Living
- Csíkszentmihályi, Mihaly— Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
- Diener, Ed, & Biswas-Diener, Robert—Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth.
- Edgell, Stephen—The Sociology of Work: Continuity and Change in Paid and Unpaid Work
- Gini, Al—The Importance of Being Lazy: In Praise of Play, Leisure and Vacations
- Kabat-Zinn, Jon—Whereever You Go, There You Are
- Little, Brian; Salmela-Aro, Katerina; and Phillips, Susan D. — Personal Projects Analysis: Goals, Actions and Human Flourishing
- Matuska, K & Christiansen, C. — Life Balance -Multidisciplinary Theories and Research
- McAdams, Dan P. —The Stories We Live By: Personal Myths and the Making of the Self
- Robinson, John & Godbey, Geoffrey — Time for Life: The Surprising Ways Americans Use Their Time
- Seligman, Martin—Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment
- Tolle, Eckhart—The Power of Now