A couple of years ago I came across the idea of optimal daily experience – like a recommended nutritional intake for the mind. It was suggested that to maintain a healthy balance, there are four types of experiences that everyone should have daily: social, physical, intellectual and creative.
Here’s an example of each: lunch with a friend, a workout, a foreign language lesson, and writing a song. Daily. A daunting proposition for anyone with a 9 to 5 job, chores to do and kids to take care of.
When we’re younger, it’s easier to maintain the balance: in school or university opportunities to have a variety of daily experiences are readily available, and it’s not difficult to incorporate them into flexible student schedules.
As we grow up and get full time jobs and families, these opportunities gradually drop off. Most adults probably don’t have occasion to experience all four types in any given month, let alone every day, unless they make a conscious effort to do so.
In the last few months, I was starting to find that maintaining this balance was taking me an inordinate amount of effort.
I would go to work at an office where I’ve worked for years and where few intellectual challenges remained. The nature of the financial industry has no place for creativity. Hence I would spend a huge chunk of my day having zero-value experiences – not learning much and not creating much, just counting off the hours until I could get home, play with the kids and put them to bed and then try to squeeze the entire daily ration of learning, physical activity and artistic projects into the two hours that were left in the day.
When, a few weeks ago, I made the decision to quit that job, it was partly due to the realization that if a healthy balance of experience was that important to me, then I would have to make some very different choices to be able to maintain it. I think I was having creativity DTs.
Dramatization of my internal dialogue on choices courtesy of xkcd
Continue reading » » »