Today is April 19 and the Navigating the Chaos question of the day to consider is “how often are you working on your well-being?” With all the issues needing resolutions, questions requiring answers, and problems demanding solutions, leveraging your mind, body, and spirit to navigate the chaos requires one to consistently work on their well-being. Any forward progress, no matter how small, requires one to engage in frequent well-being. This is even more true during periods of tremendous upheaval.
Dr. Russell Grieger, a licensed clinical psychologist and author of Developing Unrelenting Drive, Dedication, and Determination: A Cognitive Behavior Workbook believes that “insight is necessary but not sufficient,” and helps his clients understand “that, to get better, they need to work hard, really hard, not only during our sessions, but also in the days between our sessions…The measly forty-five minutes you spend with me each week pales in comparison to the hours you spend with yourself, unwittingly rehearsing and practicing your irrational thinking and dysfunctional behavior. I'll do everything in my power to teach you what to do, but, if you don't work your therapy every day, you could very well come to our next appointment next week worse than better.”
Grieger’s comment to his patients that they must put in the hard work between sessions is central to this entire Navigate the Chaos series. You are ultimately responsible to leverage your mind, body, and spirit to navigate the chaos and translate one dream after another into reality. And you must do so every day. Anything less would be a disservice to your well-being.
Such a belief in a daily practice of well-being stems from the Ancient Greeks. In Aristotle’s Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life, author Edith Hall examines the contributions of Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher and polymath. Hall describes the ancient philosopher’s belief that becoming conscious of our skills, talents, and aptitudes (dynamis), and then using our resources to make the most of them (energeia) is the foundation of living a good life. The ancient Greeks called the attainment of the good life eudaimonia, usually translated as well-being or prosperity.
As John Haig wrote in a review of Aristotle’s Way in The New York Times, “There is a pernicious, but widely held, belief that turning over a new leaf always involves turning our worlds upside down, that living a happy, well-adjusted life entails acts of monkish discipline or heroic strength. The genre of self-help lives and dies on this fanaticism: We should eat like cave men, scale distant mountains, ingest live charcoal, walk across scalding stones, lift oversize tires, do yoga in a hothouse, run a marathon, run another. In our culture, virtuous moderation and prudence rarely sell but, taking her cues from Aristotle, Hall offers a set of reasons to explain why they should.”
In our social media world, one could easily misinterpret skydiving, swimming with sharks, or mountain climbing as paths to well-being. Aristotle would disagree. To borrow Haig’s observation fueled by the Greek philosopher ‘virtuous moderation and prudence rarely sell, but they should.’ And you would do yourself a great service by considering this ancient wisdom. Hall’s research clears a rare middle way for people to pursue happiness. This prosperity has nothing to do with the modern obsession with material success but rather “finding a purpose in order to realize your potential and working on your behavior to become the best version of yourself.”
Author Ted Chiang is working on becoming the best version of himself. Chiang takes his time writing and has only published 15 short stories since 1990. Fellow author Grady Hendrix said of Chiang "Right now as a writer, what you're told is: the best way to be successful is to be insanely prolific because the more your name is out there, the more every book is an ad for yourself. And then you have someone like Ted who just sits and thinks very carefully about what he's doing, and then he does it. There is something that's very counter-cultural about him that I think is important."
If you want to leverage your mind, body, and spirit you will invariably need to work on your well-being every day of the day. This Navigate the Chaos blog series is one way to do so that only requires a few minutes each day to read each post and consider answering its related set of questions. To increase your self-awareness as to how you pursue well-being, consider answering the following set of questions.
How often do you engage in a daily exercise focused on your well-being?
Do you remind yourself you and you alone have the responsibility to leverage your mind, body, and spirit in order to practice well-being?
How often are you developing your skills, talents, and aptitudes?
How often are you making the most out of your skills?
Are you consciously pursuing the attainment of a good life or are you checking off one fanatical accomplishment after another to showcase it on social media?
How often do you believe that in order to achieve a higher level of well-being you have to ‘eat like cave men, scale distant mountains, or run a marathon?’
Have you ever stopped to consider the role that moderation and prudence have to offer to your well-being?
How comfortable are you being counter-cultural in order in your pursuit of well-being as you seek to live the good life?