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.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Fyodor Who? on Activity and Happiness

Those avid readers among us will no doubt be able to quickly note that the title to this post refers to Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevski. Dostoyevski is among the most famous authors in history, and lived from 1821-1881. During his sixty year lifespan he wrote two fiction classics that are included on most great books lists, including The Brothers Karamozov and Crime and Punishment. In addition to being a great writer, Dostoyevski is sometimes credited as being one of the originators of the philosophy of existentialism.

So what does Dostoyevski have to do with this blogsite? Well, because doing is so important to our happiness and well being, those who love to read (and read and read) will certainly enjoy the works of Dostoyevski. But he appears in this blog not for that reason, but because he wrote an interesting passage about activity and happiness in a book of occasional writings. The excerpt is as follows:

"Our passion for some sort of activity reaches a point of feverish and uncontrollable impatience; we all long for some serious occupation, many of us are full of an ardent desire to do good, to be of some use, and we gradually begin to realize that happiness is not the same thing as being able to afford to sit about twiddling one's thumbs or just to do something for the sake of a change when the occasion arises, but consists of continual and tireless activity and the development of all faculties and capabilities in practice."

This observation by Dostoyevski is blogworthy here because it makes some interesting observations about activity and happiness. Reading along and between the lines, one might claim the following existential interpretation:

We serve our well-being best when we make choices about what we do that are consistent with our values and sense of self, and when those activities help us grow and become more competent. Indeed, it might be said that we create ourselves (our identities) through doing activities that are genuine, that allow us to express the joy of being and our uniqueness through creating or producing something that expresses some purpose or has meaning. Dan McAdams, whose studies of people's stories has been mentioned in other blogs and whose work is listed on this blogsite, coined the expression "selfing" to refer to this type of activity that serves self expression and beingness.

Think about what you do, and how many of those activities are done because of others, and how many were initiated with careful thought by you, the doer, to challenge and engage yourself, to help you realize your unique potential, and to truly make you feel "alive". Those kinds of activity choices are among the most important decisions we make.

What are you doing among your regular activities currently that makes you feel authentic? That may be a hard question to answer, but if you care to give it a try, please share it with others on this blogsite. And if you've a mind to, visit the wdydwyd? website to get a taste of how others express their authenticity.

As always, if you have a different perspective or a comment to add about anything written here, by all means, do it! Please share it here and now.

About Me

I am a writer, lifelong student, former academic and new blogger. My passion continues to be everyday living. I am interested in what people do, how, when and why they do it, and what it means for their their understanding of the world and hence, their well being.