It is at once one of the most commonsense and one of the most challenging observations: all too often, there is a wide disconnect between our awareness of problems, our knowledge of answers, even our professed priorities in life, and the ways we actually live.
Philosophers have pointed out the disconnect, perhaps, but it could easily be the modern foible for life-tracking which is making it most clear. Actually measuring what amount of one’s daily time goes to which activities often comes with a shock.
We know that we have to sleep – and it would probably be better to sleep more, for most – but we don’t. Too much to do, too many worries.
We have to work – and there are, of course, many studies on how much time at work is actually wasted on coffee and/or cigarette breaks, daydreaming and Facebook, if allowed… and even more discussions of the productivity and profit supposedly wasted… but who consider that maybe human beings need to daydream and might be more creative and motivated by it?
We need to procure and prepare food, to eat, to follow other bodily and psychological needs, whether to the restroom or into relaxation.
We need to socialize and want to spend time with our partner, let alone be there for our children.
Of course, we look to live our values and find the time for the things we have a passion for, an interest in…
… and there’s the problem: Having such busy lives, we don’t feel we have the time to explore and follow any passions, if we are even aware of any such thing. We don’t even feel we have the time to take care of ourselves and ours, to maintain our living spaces well. Such a basic feature and structural element of (family) life as cooking and eating together has fallen by the wayside, packaged and sold as something to be avoided, in favor of convenience “food” and time at a job or with daily life’s busy-ness.
At the same time, the average person clearly has time enough in a day for social media and, not least, for TV.
Once looking at these things more closely, measuring them or even just being made more aware of them, realization strikes.
Maybe – probably – we should be appreciating the decent performance of everyday parts of life more, but we typically don’t even spend much time with those. At most, we regularly look at our scales, but don’t even consider that right…
We say we want to be with our families, we want to take good care of ourselves, do more for health and fitness, learn more and grow – but all too much of our time, our very existence, is all too often spent making money that’s immediately spent itself, never quite turns out to be and beget enough, never really quite gives the freedom it was supposed to… and the pursuit of which is so exhausting that we feel able only of plopping down in front of the TV or excited only about shopping – and we feel that we’ve earned a right to do nothing more than relax like that, to boot.
What we end up doing is living in a way we fell into, because it was asked of us and because we never quite learned to take better control of our own lives. It is hard to do, too, and there are only too many distractions to a self-guided life.
Things but rarely get better, though, when you are and remain on autopilot, on a course set by circumstance and corporations.
You want to know more, you need to make the time to learn and practice.
You want to take good care of yourself and your own, you need to actually do it.
You want to get by well, perhaps as a one-income family, you need to decide and live within your means.
You want a life that is less boring, holds more adventure, you need to go out and explore.
You want to live better, find out what a better life truly means to you, you need to dream by doing: to experiment and find out what will truly make it better. Luckily for us, we know many of the things that make happy…
This is an issue where it becomes abundantly clear how problematic the common focus on attitudes and single lifestyle elements is.
You can say how important health and good fitness are for you however much you want, but they’ll not be nearly as good as they could be if you only buy a few organic or functional foods, spend a little time each week in a gym, but only go for convenience foods and lead a sedentary life the rest of the time.
Your family, the environment, whatever… if it’s only what you are aware of and you think you can’t do enough, other than getting the kids some toys, the partner some flowers or beer to show your care, and do some recycling, give donations, buy “green” products so as to save the planet, then you aren’t really seeing – and doing – much of anything.
Look towards better ways of life, in their ‘ecology’ and their fullness, though:
You do more, you may actually realize that you don’t need more stuff rather than more skill, you have more time for things that matter because there’s less that you need – less that seems to matter so much when it really doesn’t.
There’s a plethora of things that, then, get better, and multiply better:
Cooking and eating is time spent socializing, caring for yourself and yours, doing something for good health and enjoyment (and probably the environment, too).
Living more actively, not just sitting around, has to overcome some laziness, but then becomes a way of life, and one that gives more energy, contributes to better health, helps explore and finally really get to know the place you live.
Open your eyes, track what you care about if you need eye-opening data for that, and get going. The opportunities for really living better are there, you just need to stop waiting for someone to sell them to you and create them for yourself.