Tuesday, February 28, 2006


The Business of Life blog pointed to this Life Events & Financial Decisions Planner. It's basically just a way of browsing their articles, but the life-wide structure is interesting.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Dilbert Wisdom

Today's Dilbert just nails the lifestylism concept. How should I take this when my boss sends it to me in an e-mail?

Detroit's Wild Kingdom

Apparently there are inner-city areas in Detroit that are being reclaimed by nature, because homes and entire neighbourhoods have been abandoned for years. As they get torn down or gutted (but not replaced), trees take over. Neglected and empty skyscrapers and buildings downtown have trees growing on roofs and pigeons taking over inside. The images are truly striking:Meanwhile, the suburbs and exurbs keep growing and sprawling out away from the city -- and all the people moving/living out there have to drive to get anywhere. There's something so Mad Max about this story, but the apocalypse seems to be happening so slowly.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Man on a Mission

I'd say that Aiden Enns sounds like a lifestylist (in a good way). The founder of the Buy Nothing Christmas and past managing editor of Adbusters writes about his efforts to align his values with his lifestyle:
"To address a chronic self-dissatisfaction with my lack of radicalness, I've tried to adjust a few things. Like expectations for retirement, for example. At this rate we'll have a nice house and a long resume filled with non-profit entries. My retirement plan includes basic gardening skills, geothermal heat, solar electricity, cylcle-powered clothes washer, manual coffee grinder and, if we're lucky, rental income from housemates. And I promise never to get sick, and I'll be healthy and able-bodied till the day I die. Uh, I guess there's a couple holes in my dream package.

But this, according to my gut, is still better than getting a day job, fueling the big-bank business and supporting the free trade, crazy-market game. Why, even the very category of life called 'retirement' is problematic - it's like we work most of our life (i.e., slave away at jobs that keeps us from family, home and personal passions) and then finally get to rest. I'd rather live most of my life (i.e., pursue my passions and 'hunt and gather' food along the way) and then when I'm old, I'll live some more (yes, my inner rationalist is nervous at the thought)."
I love the wonderful honesty and sense of searching here, and the strong undercurrent of activism that brings me back to the anarchist roots of the term I used to dub this whole experiment.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Mapping Personality Visibility

A fascinating and simple way to figure out (and represent) how you're perceived by others: Interactive Johari Window.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Are We Happy Yet?

The Business of Life linked to this fantastic study on happiness. It looks like in the U.S., your best chance to be very happy is to be married, religious, Republican, rich, white, and living somewhere warm. The analysis of the study results is breezy and fun, with lots of interesting observations:
"Keep in mind, however, that even taking into account all these factors, we don't actually improve by very much our ability to predict which specific individual is likely to be very happy. If we knew who'd been fired last week, or who's a glass-is-always-half-full kind of person, we'd probably do a lot better."
Shamash was also thinking happy thoughts this week:
"Though I can appreciate his sort of "ethical happiness", I simply love those few times during the week where I just have to smile at how big and beautiful this world is. What lovely creatures walk this earth, and how honored I am to have been able to meet and learn to know a few of them."

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Following Your Gut

The Business of Life has a great post about the differences between how people make difficult life decisions and simpler decisions. She quotes from a study summary (the report itself is behind a subscription wall):
"However, as the decisions become complex (more expensive items with many characteristics, such as cars), better decisions and happier ones come from not attending to the choices but allowing one's unconscious to sift through the many permutations for the optimal combination."
This Boston Globe article fleshes out some of the ideas in the paper:
"The results, Dijksterhuis said, underscored flaws in conscious decision-making. A person can pay attention to only a limited amount of information at once, which can lead people to focus on just a few factors and lose the bigger picture. The unconscious is better, he said, at integrating large amounts of information.

Another flaw, he said, is what he called a 'weighing problem.' The conscious mind can weigh some factors too heavily, and discount others that are important.

For example, when people buy a house, they tend to put too much emphasis on its size, and not enough on their commute every day, he said. When working through a decision consciously, the mind has a tendency to focus on factors that are easy to articulate -- like the number of square feet -- at the expense of other factors that are hard to put into words."
This is fascinating lifestylism stuff. I might add my own theory to the discussion: most of us just don't have good skills or tools to help us make these more complex, holistic lifestyle decisions. I don't think it has much to do with how our brains are wired -- with better tools, I think complex decision-making that takes the big-picture (aligning with values, cascading effects throughout your life) view can be learned.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Considering Third Spaces

think:lab bounces off this report on the rise of nonprofit and commercial ventures that provide space for freelancers and others who need a place to work (or even just hang out) that isn't at home.
"How about combining work, child care and BEING SPACES? Yes, there's a business opportunity in that as well: look no further than TwoRooms ('You Work, They Play'), another (surprise!) New York based facility designed to provide office space, childcare and community, all in one setting, for freelance and/or home-based workers who don't have the need for, or can't afford the expense of full-time childcare."
Having worked at home for three days a week over the past two years, I've been fascinated by these new spaces. Business Community Centers provides some interesting analysis on the concept, and the Queen Street Commons in Charlottetown shows the concept in action. The note about childcare in the quote also rings true for me.

Many of our friends are in the same life stage as we are with young kids at home, and we're all feeling the absurdity of all-or-nothing choices when it comes to work and childcare. Most daycares apparently won't even consider flexible, part-time care options, and of course employers tend to want more than 40 hours a week out of employees (in the office) rather than finding ways to accommodate working parents. No easy answers, but some of these third-place developments make me think that the solo/freelance/free-agent life may become even more attractive for people feeling this squeeze.

Christian also connects the dots on this trend and thinks it might be the model for schools of the future -- comfortable places with great resources for self-directed learners to do their thing. I love this vision:
"Imagine if the next school design in your home town or community included a community "Being Space" such as any of the above, in addition to the Media Learning Center and the Distance Learning Lab. Imagine when community and school really become one and the same!"

Monday, February 06, 2006

More Extended Adolescence

From The Children Who Won't Grow Up:
"Society has come to accept the idea that people do not become adults until they are in their late thirties. As a result, adolescence has been extended well into the twenties. It is interesting to note that the Society for Adolescent Medicine, an American doctors' organisation, now states on its website that it cares for persons '10 to 26 years of age'. Recently the MacArthur Foundation has funded a major research project called 'Transitions to Adulthood', which situates the end of that transition at 34."
Phew, I've still got one year left to be a kid! Perhaps it's time to blow a few hundred dollars on nostalgia purchases.

Let the Good Times Roll

I think I'm a sucker for graduation speeches. I thought Guy Kawasaki's was pretty good big-picture advice overall. It's worth reading his explanation of each point, but here's the list for reference:
"#10: Live off your parents as long as possible.
#9: Pursue joy, not happiness.
#8: Challenge the known and embrace the unknown.
#7: Learn to speak a foreign language, play a musical instrument, and play non-contact sports.
#6: Continue to learn.
#5: Learn to like yourself or change yourself until you can like yourself. #4: Don't get married too soon.
#3: Play to win and win to play.
#2: Obey the absolutes.
#1: Enjoy your family and friends before they are gone."

Via The Business of Life.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Living a Balanced Life

Shamash Says has a wonderful personal reflection on life balance this week. It's a record of her journey through work and life and she appears to be approaching the crossroads:
"Maybe it’s time for me to switch careers: pursue my Ph.D. and teach at the university level or go to art school.

Maybe it’s time to take a year off and finish my novel.

Maybe it’s time to find a job that’s a better match with my values of living a balanced life."
In an earlier post, she used 43 Things as the inspiration for a writing assignment she gave to her students. The richness and variety of the results had her feeling hopeful and refreshed:
"Because, with a list like this, you have to think: If these kids are in charge of the world, it might not end up being such a bad place, afterall."
Even her own reflective post has the feel of a 43 Things list -- big-picture to-dos full of learning, creativity and engagement. There's something powerful about this kind of reflection. Shamash also kindly linked over here and included a pointer to Careerdaze, which had a great post on Values and Career Choices:
"I have found through the years that when someone is unhappy in their job, most of the time it is because there is a value that is not being met."