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The Search for Sanity in a Crazy World

By Philip Humbert

This week, I've worried about violence in Syria, inflation, deflation, unemployment, President Obama's actions, my credit score, and an earthquake in some country I don't recall. And that's only a few of the worries that come to mind at the moment!

Perhaps I've been watching too much "news."

But if I turn off the news, then I have to monitor my Smart Phone, run a half-dozen apps per day, listen to my iPod, take care of 150 emails and deal with an average of 17 phone calls. Not to mention pay bills, fix dinner, and run a few errands. It's all too much!

Or, I could sit on my deck with a good book and a good cigar, listen to the birds and watch the clouds float past. And to me, that sounds more like the "good life" than anxiously monitoring the stock market all day long.

How did life get this way? Wasn't technology supposed to help us? Wasn't a small world with instant communication going to make us more efficient, more productive and less stressed? Or, maybe I'm confused about that.

When I look around, I see folks with wires hanging from their ears. I see folks staring at tiny computer screens in their hands. I see folks scurrying about, but I don't see much eye contact. I don't see too many smiles. I don't even see many handshakes or hear much laughter!

My point is that maybe we are slowly going crazy.

Are we living as well as we could? Are we making the most of our lives? Are we doing smart things in intelligent ways? Do we maximize our joy, and our quality of life?

My fear is that many of us are doing what we "should do" and aren't very happy about it. I suspect we're "majoring in minor things." We're "caught in the thick of thin things." Some of us remind me of Sisyphus, the character from Greek mythology who was condemned to push a rock up-hill, only to have it roll back down, over and over, forever. We're always running, but never catching up.

The dilemma, of course, is that we dare not fall behind. We want to be in contact, to be involved, to be "connected." We want to text our friends, monitor their Facebook pages, and make money. We want the benefits and rarely stop to count the cost.

We are the richest, most sophisticated and most productive people in history. This is good!

But I also remember that my Grandparents had time for dinner. They had a garden, they actually went to church to worship, talk with friends, and enjoy their community. They had the gift of time! (What a concept!)

I'm pleading for that elusive thing called "Balance." Money is good! I want all I can get, but not at the cost of peace of mind, a loving family, and time to rest. I want new toys, new technology and a nice car, but not at the cost of frustration and high blood pressure. I want the benefits of modern life, but sometimes the cost is too high.

In the end, it's about CHOICE. We are blessed in that we can have virtually any type of life we choose. We can live anywhere we choose. We can work as hard as we want. We can become famous or rich or powerful. We can have friends all over the world. And, we can play chess, read to our kids, or enjoy a long walk on a sunny winter day. But we cannot do all of it, at least not all at once.

We must choose. The Good Life and Success are about defining the life you want and consistently behaving in ways that are most likely to achieve it. I fear too many of us are neglecting the hard work of thinking about our priorities, then making the choices and enforcing the boundaries to achieve them.

In the end, we have a few years of 24-hour days and what we do with them is the most profound choice we will ever face. To me, one of the great tragedies of modern life is to find, at the end of life, that we failed to live the life we intended. Don't do that!

Think carefully about your values. Choose priorities that are consistent with your values. And live accordingly.

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