Even when we think you've checked all the boxes for a fulfilling life, it's possible to still feel that you've overlooked something essential. You may be looking for more peace, joy, balance, or purpose. How do you unravel those secrets to being the best you can be and that connect your life with a higher purpose?
Briana Borten and Dr. Peter Borten, health practitioners and mindful living coaches, emphasize that we all have the ability to take command and find renewed meaning and satisfaction from life. In their new book, The Well Life: How to Use Structure, Sweetness, and Space to Create Balance, Happiness, and Peace, they describe how to lay a foundation for a life that is truly well lived.
I had the pleasure of talking with the Bortens about the success they've had with clients -- and shared in their book -- for creating an exceptional life that's balanced and complete.
Your three principles for an exceptional life are intriguing. Describe how sweetness, structure, and space contribute to fulfillment.
Sweetness is our term for all the things that nourish the body and soul -- all the feel good parts of life -- such as being in nature, exploring, connecting with friends and family, exercising, and admiring beauty.
When life gets busy or stressful, we're apt to drop the sweet stuff. But we encourage people not to let it go, but instead to schedule these activities liberally and treat them as seriously as any other engagement. We also encourage people to discover the sweetness present in their day-to-day activities.
Sweetness not only makes life more satisfying, it makes you more authentically you, and more effective at doing your work, sharing your gifts, and bringing your potential into the world.
Structure refers to the planning and organizational architecture that enables you to manage your life and get things done. Every goal requires some form of structure to bring you from point A to point B. It's essential that you have a structure that's forged consciously and steers you on a journey that's meaningful and fun.
Space refers to the openness that gives you perspective of the Big Picture. Space allows a connection to something bigger than you -- whether you call that God or your higher self or nature or whatever. It offers you the capacity to receive, reflect, adjust, heal, and grow.
You need space for inspiration and for creativity. Space is also the necessary balance to a world that inundates us with texts, emails, and other media. Some ways to access space include quieting the mind (as in meditation, tai chi, and yoga), connecting with nature, and being more present with whomever or whatever you're currently engaged.
What ways do you recommend for slowing down and going more deeply into life's experiences?
One of the most valuable is reducing your screen time. The deluge of information we're all exposed to greatly degrades our ability to go deep. We can't keep up with all the emails, Facebook posts, tweets, news, TV shows, etc., without sacrificing depth, so it's taught us to browse through life. It's harder than ever to focus our attention in a sustained way.
Besides reducing screen time, we recommend two things:
First, practice deliberate patience and depth. Engage more deeply with the real world on a regular basis. Whatever you happen to be doing, give it your full awareness. Let yourself be fascinated by simple, everyday things. You'll have an experience not just of space opening up, but of a quiet sweetness within.
Second, have a practice of pure mental stillness. There's really nothing that recharges us in the same way as intentionally not using the mind. Create space for the sake of space. Don't try to produce a particular state or result. Just sit, close your eyes, and let go of everything.
The concept of consciously living through one's purpose isn't new, but you offer valuable advice for how to go about arriving at that point. Will you explain some of the process?
Many people struggle with the process of determining their purpose, so we felt it was important to demystify it. As we see it, your life purpose in some way concerns serving the world. This is instrumental in our recognition that we're all connected, and that serving the world is serving ourselves.
Serving the world makes us keenly aware of our intrinsic worth by giving it a forum for expression. It should feel validating and empowering -- not like an obligation or a form of servitude.
Because different approaches work for different people, we present two methods for figuring out your life purpose. One, the "structure approach," is an analytical or left-brain technique. You arrive at your purpose by examining your values, gifts, and personal history. The other, the "space approach," is a more meditative technique. You repeatedly inquire within your consciousness and allow your purpose to reveal itself.
In both cases, the important part is to choose something and then practice living from your chosen purpose.