After rebooting your life, it’s time for a remix.
In Part 1 of this post I wrote that the reality of life today includes much confusion, uncertainty, and confused emotions about pursuing success and wellbeing. In fact, our tumultuous, changing world spurs actions that often undermine rather than support psychological health. That’s visible in the dysfunction and unhappiness emerging from the choices, decisions and overall way of life of many people, today.
Based on current research and new thinking about resiliency and psychological health, I suggested three practices for “rebooting” your life in today’s environment: Self-awareness (“Wake Up”); envisioning your life circumstances with out-of-the-box perspectives (“Lose Your Mind”); and actions that support positive growth rather than stagnation (“Push The Envelope”).
In Part 2 I propose that you combine “rebooting” your life in those ways with a life “remix.” That is, create an intent to activate six important dimensions of your life, each with a new, clear purpose. The “remix” reflects the holistic reality that everything you do in each “part” of your life affects and is affected by every other “part.” A life “remix” in the dimensions I describe below helps you evolve in healthy, proactive ways. And the latter is a necessity for positive, resilient living within this fluid and uncertain world that we now inhabit.
The Six Dimensions:
Here’s what you do:
• Formulate specific new goals for each of the following six interconnected dimensions of life. Each should be modest; that is, realistic and able to be achieved within a reasonable time-frame that you specify and commit to.
• Then, describe some specific actions you can begin taking right now that support each of the goals.
The six dimensions are:
• Intellectual – Identify a subject area for new learning of any kind. It should have some intellectual or knowledge component, but could consist of something involving motor skills or a non-cognitive subject as long as it has some mental component.
• Emotional — Choose an emotional experience or capacity that you want to strengthen. For example, greater empathy; more attention to inner emotional life; diminished anger or frustration; more self-exposure in your daily interactions.
• Relational – Define some feature or quality of an existing or potential relationship that you want to strengthen. Perhaps with a family member, a friend, or even strangers you may deal with. Examples might include becoming a better friend; being a better listener to someone you care about; being a more loving parent.
• Creative — Pick one area in which you want to develop or enhance your creative expression. The “product” that emerges is unimportant; no one is going to judge it. Just work at doing it, as an expression of something that you find creative. Preferably, it should be something that’s not directly work-related.
• Spiritual — Choose some activity through which you build a stronger sense of purpose and meaning in your life; something that transcends your day-to-day, “outer life” material existence. The goal is strengthening your sense of connection with God, if you are a believer; or unity with the Cosmos, the “One;” or whatever frame of reference you prefer.
• Physical — Select an objective for improving your physical health. It may be a new goal, or one that helps you move towards optimal health. Be mindful of the mind-body-spirit connection.
How Your “Remix” Integrates Your Life
Most people discover two things as they work on this. First, each new goal affects and is affected by what you’re doing in each of the others dimensions. They are synergistic. Therefore, your goals and your action-steps towards them steadily build greater integration and connectionwithin yourself; and they build greater integration between your mind-body-spirit and the other “parts” of your life. Here are some examples of what that can look like:
Bob chose a relational goal: he wanted feel more engaged, more connected with the needs and life dilemmas of family members and friends. This, in turn, impacted his spiritual goal — building a greater sense of purpose and meaning, beyond his career achievements, by service to a religious institution. And that, in turn, strengthened his actions that supported his physical goal – which was to lose some weight and respect his body more. That is, these connections helped him see that he was striving to feel at his best, overall, through self-directing and integrating his life in new ways.
Another example: Richard crated an emotional goal: strengthening his empathy towards colleagues and subordinates at work. He saw that he couldn’t do that while maintaining the same old patterns in his relationship with his wife — he had become less sensitive to her emotional needs. This gap became more visible and uncomfortable to him. His emotional goal impacted his relational goal. That is, he began to step “outside” of himself, and saw things more from his wife’s perspective and experiences, not just through the lens of his ego-self.
By opening himself more to his wife, intimacy grew. And she responded with greater openness, herself. But more than that, they began to feel more closely attuned, spiritually; on the same wavelength. So for Richard, his emotional goal also strengthened his spiritual goal, as well.
Tina established a creative goal: to take a painting class. This opened up new sources of pleasure and beauty in her life. It also introduced her to some new people and generated more vitality, overall. Consequently, she began feeling happier interacting with her partner. The products of her creative goal spilled over into the relational dimension of her life. She experienced a “remix” of pleasure and fulfillment from different sources.
Similarly, Jeff decided to learn flower-arranging as his creative goal. It became such fun for him that he became more emotionally expressive and lively in his relationship with his wife — which was his emotional goal. It also increased his desire for more knowledge about botany – which was an intellectual goal. And it strengthened intimacy with his wife, hisrelational goal.
Robin’s intellectual goal was to read one book per month in a particular subject area she had long-standing interest in. With more ideas now circulating in her head, she had more to talk about with her husband. In fact, she realized that she had ideas and thoughts in a lot of areas that she had not been sharing with him. So her intellectual goal cross-fertilized her relational goal.
From learning to “reboot” and “remix” your life, you strengthen your capacity to build greater psychological health and resiliency in this post-9-11 world. Growing and integrating these six dimensions of your life forms a kind of latticework of new growth. It activates your natural drive towards wholeness and positive adaptation to change. It helps you retrieve your capacity for resiliency from immobilization and uncertainty…and the latter are so easy to sink into when dealing with the pressures, material values and fears that are part of life today.