I started this blog in 2019 as a way to explore topics and ideas that interested me. It was my attempt to search for meaning, and to connect ideas of philosophy, spirituality and psychology to the issues that we face in the modern world.
Connecting with readers and engaging in discussions with the readers and fellow writers I met along the way is the icing on the cake.
If you attempt to discuss deep philosophical ideas with family or friends, at a party per say, people will usually think that your a bit odd or peculiar. Some will laugh with bewilderment, thinking that you are just trying to ‘pull their leg.’ Others will usually try to change the topic of conversation or quietly escort themselves to the bar.
After all, what can be better than a strong drink to take your mind of the existential predicament of human existence? Make that a double shot of whiskey please.
So, I am grateful to you dear reader for taking the time to read my articles. You make writing these articles a whole lot more enjoyable.
Here are my top 5 most read articles in 2021 based on viewership:
To help us navigate the increasingly blurred lines between work and home life, I interviewed mindfulness teacher Paula Vital to provide her insights and advice on how to regain a greater sense of balance and perspective.
1. How would you define a healthy work/life balance?
I prefer using the term ‘balance in life.’ Life balance is about being clear on what you would like to achieve with your life. It is about acknowledging your priorities and organizing your time in a way that helps you work towards those goals.
Spending a lot of time at work can become unproductive and unhealthy when it becomes an unconscious choice.
The key is to be aware of your intentions and establish the right balance for yourself when it comes to different aspects of your work and home life.
2. In the age of remote work it is difficult to establish concrete boundaries between work and home life. What is some advice you can offer to help us disconnect from our work, and how can we prevent overwork or burnout?
It is important to be transparent and ensure that there are clear boundaries within your organization. In a hyper connected world, the ability to disconnect is important to maintain one’s mental and physical health.
Government or workplace policy can assist in making the line between work and home life clearer. An example of this is recent legislation in Ontario, Canada which requires employers to develop policies and expectations for employees to disconnect from e-mails and calls outside of regular work hours.
Openness and clear communication are also significant when letting your employer know about your physical and mental health boundaries.
It can sometimes be seen as a badge of honour to work long hours late into the night, and shame can set in for those who don’t fulfill these societal expectations. However, research indicates that this has a negative effect on both productivity and on the quality of your work.
Time to recharge is therefore not only beneficial for our mental health but also benefits our organization.
3. In the modern age, it is so easy to get caught up with never ending to-do lists. We are always busy and on the go. How can we reclaim meaningful leisure time? What leisure activities do you engage in to help recuperate from work?
We need to alternate between states where we are ‘goal or task oriented’ and states of spontaneity or ‘flow’.
Leisure that is rejuvenating and refreshing for me involves pursuing activities which allow me to cultivate a degree of presence and embodiment. It is being grounded in the present moment and doing things not because I care about the outcome per say, but rather for the sake of themselves.
A way to break through the mindset of productivity and efficiency is to practice spontaneous movement and non-linear movement.
Sometimes our best thoughts and ideas come when we least expect it.
4. How does mindfulness and contemplative practice, or more generally the time you spend outside of work, fit into your idea of the ‘good life’?
It is often thought that we have to achieve a certain goal or milestone in life to be happy. However, we seldom realize that happiness and contentment is available to us in each and every moment. Being mindful and present can turn any seemingly mundane task, such as washing dishes, into an act of joy.
Our desires for fame, status and fortune often reveal a deeper yearning for affection, love and recognition. As the acclaimed actor Jim Carey said,
I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.
We should always ask, how are we defining ourselves?
If we step back and look at the earth, we can see how we are all closely interconnected to other humans as well as to nature in general. This perspective can inspire us to feel connected to something greater than ourselves and motivate us towards a life of service.
In our day to day lives, many of us are preoccupied with completing the tasks on our never-ending to-do lists. Life quickly passed us by but we rarely take the time to reflect and contemplate on the deeper questions of our existence. When asked what do we want to get out of our lives, many will respond with the vague answer “I just want to be happy.”
However, when pressed on what this exactly means, we give generic answers that lack any real substance. Happiness is often conflated with pleasure and feelings of contentment. What comes to mind is the smiling couple we see in Hollywood romances or the slick well dressed business man racing down the street in a flashy sports car.
We soon realize that the excitement and rush that we get from pleasure quickly fades.
Trying to pursue a life dedicated to pleasure is like running on a treadmill. It always leaves us dissatisfied and desiring for more.
The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle had a different conception of the good life which he called eudaimonia. Although loosely translated as ‘happiness’, the term points to something akin to human flourishing. Eudaimonia, is not a temporary fleeting experience, rather it is a lifelong project. It is the result of working towards self-actualization and realizing your full potential.
Human wellbeing requires us to strive for excellence as well as pursue and cultivate virtue. Just as an athlete who wants to improve their performance needs to train, a person who wants to become virtuous must to perform virtuous acts. For instance, someone who is courageous is an individual who acts courageously whereas an individual who is humble is one who exercises restraint and avoids egotism.
As ‘social animals’, Aristotle argued that we ought to utilize our distinctive talents and gifts to benefit our broader community – to enhance the common good. One’s role as a human is not only to act upon your gifts but to contribute to the flourishing as society as a whole. This view differs from individualistic versions of the good life which can often focus on satisfying a narrow set of materialist desires.
In the final analysis, Aristotle’s view of a life well lived requires active participation and the development of habits to be the best version of ourselves.