This blog grew out of the realization that something profound was missing from my life. I was surrounded by incredible opportunity and privilege, but I found myself feeling frustrated, stressed, and fatigued, unable to express my authentic self or access my full potential. A gulf had appeared between what made me happy and what I was actually doing on a daily basis, and it was slowly growing wider. Something had to change, so I created this site: a place for exploring and sharing ideas about how to live an authentic, joyful life as a whole person, mind and body united.
I was, and still am, a fairly typical 21st-century knowledge worker. About a year ago, I began my first “real world” job, after studying continuously from elementary school all the way through my PhD in engineering, and the transition was hard in ways that I didn’t expect. The work itself wasn’t all that different at its core: I still spend my days reading, writing, talking, calculating, and arranging, primarily while sitting in front of a screen, all in the attempt to produce output that helps people make better decisions. The big difference is that I now spend many more hours working each day, and I have much less control over how and when I do it.
This is the life that many modern professionals live, and it can take a huge toll on a person’s happiness and well-being.
This is the life that many modern professionals live, and it can take a huge toll on a person’s happiness and well-being. It certainly did for me. I wanted to be creative, productive, and efficient in my work, but I consistently felt anxious, stuck, and behind. I sensed my own lack of certainty and control, but I couldn’t understand its source. Even worse, I noticed a creeping sense of guilt for my lack of satisfaction — I worked for a great company, with fantastic people, in the city I loved, so what did I have to complain about?
As the months went by, I began to see that my old pastimes, which had fallen by the wayside when I started my new job, were more important than I had imagined. In graduate school, in addition to the research and teaching that were my day job, I danced and choreographed with a student group, played in an orchestra, practiced yoga, and taught myself photography, drawing, and painting. For my whole life up until my entrance into the professional world, I had easily found room every day for these “non-essential” activities, while still getting my work done. With my demanding new job, I was barely able to engage in them even occasionally.
These activities were at the core of my health and happiness, but I had been underestimating their true value. It’s not surprising, given what our society as a whole tends to value.
Eventually, I began to truly feel the pain of that loss. In the beginning, I missed doing those things because they were fun and personally fulfilling. As the months passed, though, I began to understand their deeper importance as forms of creative self-expression, pathways for growth, and perhaps most critically, opportunities to exercise my mental and physical capabilities together.
These activities were at the core of my health and happiness, but I had been underestimating their true value. It’s not surprising, given what our society as a whole tends to value. If we think about what is considered most important in school, it is math and reading; the most-rewarded skills are the accurate regurgitation of information and the ability to sit still and pay attention for hours at a time. The most highly paid jobs are concentrated in medicine, business, law, and engineering — all information-based jobs that require an analytical mindset.
This blog is about asking ourselves what we might be capable of if we shift our perspective.
Yes, we see a few millionaire artists, entertainers, and athletes, but these are few and far between. It’s clear that we as a culture have a distorted view of what matters in the human experience. The good news is that we as individuals have the power to restore balance in our own lives, and perhaps even for those around us.
That’s what this blog is about. It’s about taking a step back from our culture, our upbringing, and our current circumstances to take a fresh look at life. It’s about asking ourselves what we might be capable of if we shift our perspective. It’s about learning from others, especially those who are different from us. Most of all, it’s about each of us connecting with our whole selves and discovering the joy of a body and mind united. I hope you’ll join the community and start your own journey to a fuller life!