BY: T. Franklin Murphy | December 2015 (edited 2017)
We can't follow an exact path with detailed instructions if we are to live happily. Life is complex, full of joys and sorrows, expected events and surprising disappointments. Our healthy life must integrate each wonderful and painful moment.
There’s no perfect map, no exact recipe, and no all-encompassing plan for living a rich and rewarding life. But with thousands of years of experience, we humans have stumbled on some positive and negative behaviors, impacting futures, creating both good and evil. The success of our lives isn’t left to blind stabs in the dark but also not completely determined by structured check lists of dos and don’ts. We must balance wisdom of the past with conscientious examination of the present. Several proven techniques for living, when implemented, offer a tremendous advantage for living in a complex world.
The computer age changed the flow of information. We live surrounded by meta-information. Anyone with a few extra minutes, a little self-discipline and a computer can pound out a program for success, proclaim their unique plan invaluable, full of treasured information, and begin distribution. Often the advice is misguided, limited in scope, and focused on gaining notoriety or money for the author. Vetting out helpful information from the heaps of trash is the challenge of our era. We must sift through the stifling piles and extract wisdom that best fits our unique needs.
A deep and rich life has pleasures, sorrows, and meaning. Overloading any particular experience, throws life out of balance and narrows opportunities. We must find peace in simplicity; but also seek calmness while enmeshed in complexity. Compassionate acceptance of a complex present softens the jagged edges of anxiety that complex unknown futures can create; but our more accepting approach creates a temperate environment for growth. Life is challenging. Sometimes seemingly unfair experiences—children that hurt, the pain of disloyalty, and stagnating careers—challenge our resolve. But we must courageously successfully move through the complex influx of both positive and negative experiences, balancing acceptance with stubborn ambition to achieve something better.
Life continually challenges us to sway one way or another. Mindfully we must maintain balance. We need pleasure to accept the unpleasurable; but pleasures should respect futures. We bless our lives when pleasurable moments are balanced with purpose. We acknowledge shortcomings without handicapping explorations with guilt. We engage in career development while protecting precious time for children and partners. Balance is required in all aspects of our lives. Skillfully balancing time, finances and energy effectively blesses today while still enhancing the future. Mindful attention to others prevents too much focus on self.
"Vetting out helpful information from the heaps of trash is the challenge of our era."
We must continually adjust and tamper with balance, as the winds shift, new elements enter, and priorities change, we must dynamically react. Purposeful awareness of balance is required. Oversimplifying, focusing on limited areas, invites chaos in the neglected sections. The fields un-mowed and untrimmed spill over into the carefully maintained gardens. The pesky weeds blow their seeds into the flower beds invading and choking our lives with unnecessary disruptions.
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