The Boxes of my Life is a tool that I use to keep a clear picture of the commitments in my life. I focus on 10 areas that are most important to me:
They shift over time so I will update them as life happens. I've written below what each box means to me.
I really believe in the value of contribution because it helps others and because it helps the giver too, every time. Consider the following quotes:
“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
“No one has ever become poor by giving.” ― Anne Frank
I’ve found this to be a more difficult area to set goals in but the easiest box to consistently fulfill because there are so many opportunities, every day, to contribute. I can contribute money, time, knowledge, wisdom, physical effort, an ear, a shoulder, a smile, or in an infinite number of other ways. However, I believe the contributor must first take care of him or herself so that they can truly care for the other.
It is through creating, not possessing, that life is revealed. -Vida D. Scudder
Creating is important to me because it makes life infinitely interesting and fulfilling. Creativity isn't just artistic. You can be creative in creating your life and creative in being kind to others. We are all expressing ourselves creatively every second of the day. In fact, being creative is the only thing that we do. By making it a Box of my Life, I set the intention to find the best ways to express myself creatively. For example, each week, I work on my web development skills and build a little more into this site. I started from scratch a few months ago and I have really enjoyed learning how to code. Actually, I am surprised how much I like it. I thought that web development was only for computer science enthusiasts or objective-thinking minds. So I plan to add more pages soon and start learning some basic graphic design.
Friends and family are everything, aren’t they? We only know ourselves in reference to other people. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how precious each encounter is with loved ones. Sometimes, I get so caught up in the other boxes of my life that I don’t even realize it may have been weeks since the last time I talked with a specific family member or dear friend. I need these people to complete me and I love them, so in the past couple of years, I have become more intentional about reaching out and staying in touch.
Finances used to be one part of life that I got a hidden benefit from not thinking about. The benefit was that I didn’t have to address how disorganized I was in this area. However, by not thinking about it, I was not managing it and that led to more problems. I made a decision to build awareness around my finances and this journey started with a book: Your Money or Your Life (2018 edition. This book transformed my relationship with money from a simple earning/spending orientation to include satisfaction, fulfillment, and the connection money has with family, community, and the planet. I started to really track and plan my finances based on maximizing my life energy and I’m very satisfied with the results so far.
The health I talk about in this box is physical To say health is important cannot say enough. It is the prerequisite for well-being in any other area of life. We often take it for granted until some health problem arises. Only then does it become a top priority. I choose to make taking care of my body a top priority so that I can have a full life for myself and others. One thing I'm doing for my health is planning to climb Mount Kilimanjaro later this year, so I'm currently working on my leg strength and endurance.
Leisure is often an area of life that we don’t put a lot of thought towards. It happens automatically. We just turn on the TV, play the music or open the book. For good reason too; leisure without the element of surrender isn't purely leisure. We must be able to easily switch from doing mode to being mode. However, I have added leisure to the boxes of my life because I want to find and do the leisure activities that are elevation and not just escape. I want to figure out ways to maximize relaxation AND renewal.
I don’t have a lot of time for leisure and that’s why it’s so important for me to make the most of it. It’s too easy to switch on Netflix or Youtube and just get lost. While watching can be deeply relaxing, the useful limit for me is 2-hours before it starts to make me start to feel worse. So I have started to make a list for self-care activities that can replace the screen:
1. Extra meditation beyond my daily routine
2. Extra journaling beyond my daily routine
3. Extra affirmations beyond my daily routine
4. Speaking/writing the answers to deep questions I have saved to answer later
5. Non-task oriented reading (especially if it's outdoors and without a screen)
6. Researching items I have saved to research later
7. Essential oil bath
I would say most of my time goes into this box. I monitor carefully the music I listen to, the books I read, the videos I watch, the thoughts I think, the people I surround myself with. I ask myself often, "how is this thing contributing to my personal development?" The most difficult chapters of my life happened when I neglected this inner work and naturally, I get the highest dopamine hit from tasks that are small steps towards a wiser, healthy, happier future. I’m trying to develop myself so that I can operate at a high level in all boxes of my life. At the end of the day, what I want is to maximize well-being for myself and anyone that they come in contact with. In order to do that, I must make the most of what I have and always upgrade my inner framework. Recently, I've worked heavily on boundaries, before that I was working on becoming more securely attached, and now I am developing leadership skills through finding the most useful concepts related to leadership and then applying them in my real-life through action. Once, I see what concepts work best in practice, I keep them, review them often, and find new ways to improve them.
My relationship with my fiancee Sasha is a pivotal pillar in my life. Jordan Peterson uses an analogy for the relationship being like two ropes tangled together. He explains that the ropes are stronger that way, especially in times of weakness. You have two brains instead of one. I’m so grateful for her every day.
Many people have a clear definition of spirituality. I just see it as anything behind or beyond normal existence. Years ago, someone asked me if I believed in God. I told that person no. Then they said, “Sure, you say that now but when you’re older and closer to death you’ll change your answer.” That gave me pause. I imagined dying right then and there. I didn’t know what I believed in back then. So, I resolved to think critically about it and explore what feels right for me. These days, I would say that I am a very spiritual person.
Every day, I Journal, Affirmate, and Meditate. I call this JAM. It’s been maybe 4 or 5 years since I started and it's hard to imagine the time when I didn't do these things. I do JAM to cultivate awareness and acceptance. I would really want to go on a meditation retreat in the near future.
Work is an essential part of life. We all have a built-in need to be productive. In this box of my life, I aim to reconcile the need to provide with the need to do work that is fulfilling. I became a teacher a few years ago. It has been a deep breathe for me compared to lack of oxygen I felt in a sales career. Growth is one of my core values so I am working on reaching new heights as a teacher. I am a committed, talented teacher that inspires his students, affects positive change, creates effective education, striving to learn more every day.
I am working on obtaining my teaching credential at the TEACH-NOW online program. This will allow me to teach in international schools which is my work goal for 2020.