Jeff Davidson's book, Simpler Living, was Amazon Kindle #1 in its category, first quarter, 2012. Jeff is featured in the NY Times, Forbes, Chicago Tribune, Businessweek, Fortune, Organized Executive, and Success.

Your Whole Life Ahead Of You

A couple who had been married for more than seventy years go to visit a divorce lawyer. The lawyer asks them why, after all these years, they want to get a divorce now. The couple look at each other sheepishly and then say, “We were waiting for the children to die.” I first heard this story told by Dr. Ken Dychewald, and it underscores the major theme in his book, Age Wave, that you are going to live much longer than you think you will. Perhaps you’ll reach 100.

Surprise, You’re in it for the Long Haul

New developments in science and technology all but guarantee that barring some unforeseen catastrophe, you’re going to live longer. Medical breakthroughs already in the pipeline, that seem as if they are more akin to Star Trek than planet Earth today, promise a new age that would even astound the “New Agers.”

On The Horizon

  • Major victories in the onslaught of AIDS, including genetic therapies that offer a high cure rate.
  • Full recovery from spinal cord injuries via the development of artificial nerves.
  • The development of artificial body parts that function as well as or better than the original organs, and are visibly undetectable.

Within Forty Years

  • Replacement of body parts through cloning, which allows perfect genetic substitution of one’s own regenerated organs.
  • The eradication of cancer and heart disease.
  • Human life spans averaging 100 years or more.

In such an era, it’s likely that you may stop and start work several times, go back to school, perhaps get a Ph.D., start a second family, or even a third family, and start your own business. Even if you can’t see it now, you may find yourself taking time off to travel the world. You may retire, then come out of retirement several times. At 85 or 90, you may even decide to run for political office. After all, there will be a large constituency of your contemporaries who will have no problem voting for a fellow octogenarian.

While stress can certainly shorten a life span, most people still realize something close to their estimated life span. What counts is the quality of your life on the way there. Suppose I told you that you would live to be 115, but it would be with the same amount of stress that you’re experiencing currently. Would you do it? Would you want to? The quest of most rational people is to live a long, happy, healthy life and with relative grace and ease.

Substance Abuse Can’t Be An Answer

There used to be a commercial on television that stated life got tougher, so the sponsor made their over-the-counter drug stronger. I cringed when I heard this commercial because it essentially said that the only way to face the work-a-day world was to medicate yourself at increasingly higher doses.

I wish it weren’t true, but the rate at which people turn to “medication” as some type of temporary (or long term!) antidote for the stresses of working in contemporary society is alarming. In a given year, some five BILLION doses of tranquilizers are prescribed in the U.S. Among 150 millions adults, assuming 2/3 of them receive such prescriptions, that works out to at least 25 doses annually.

Without getting into the vile, vial details, all evidence indicates that the level of dosage and frequency of prescriptions is increasing. This is nothing short of appalling. People seem to have progressed from aspirin to Valium to Prozac to who knows what’s next.

Popping pills belies the majesty of your human potential. Your body is a wondrous mechanism, and it gives you the clues you need to stay healthy. If you’re “stressed to the max,” if you have pounding headaches by the end of the work day, okay, that’s a definite sign. Popping a pill may bring predictable, temporary relief, but that strategy for getting through the day can’t compete with simple, tried-but-true measures that you can resort to at any time.

The scariest thing about chemical dependency as a vehicle for handling stress is that sooner or later, you’ll be left with nothing. What if maximum doses of the pills or drugs are no longer enough? What will it be like if you simply cannot pause and reflect on your own? Given that you’ve likely got decades to go, being chemically dependent simply can’t be a solution for handling stress.

The Last “Will” and Testament

I found the words of Dr. William R. Maples, Ph.D., in describing suicide victims to be most poignant. Maples is a forensic researcher, diagnosing how and when people died. In Dead Men Do Tell Tales, he observes, “Many of the skeletons that come into my laboratory belong to suicide victims who behaved like shy hermits in their final hours. Usually they are found in remote out-of-the-way places. People often go to some hidden place to kill themselves, whether from a desire to act alone and unhindered, or because they wish simply to disappear in solitude, spending their last moments in reflective silence.”

Would these people have killed themselves if they could’ve attain reflective silence throughout their days? Was their quest to die alone, simply an ill-advised solution to the stresses they faced? How would their lives have been if they knew appropriate, reliable ways to find solace in the here and now, at home, at work, and everywhere in between?

To Thine Own Self Be True

The masses race though their days. The masses take pills by the boatload. The masses, by and large, live lives of tension and turmoil. Stress has become the malady of the generation, and it’s better to not to follow the crowd.

Being true to yourself (BTTY) means doing what you need to do to stay healthy, balanced, and relaxed. BTTY means having inner directedness; the ability to call upon your knowledge, experience, and instinct to carve your own path; and to have less stress because you are less swayed by popular or prevailing norms. It is thinking and acting based on an ever-developing internal guidance system. It is learning what doesn’t work, and not repeating that, while learning what does work, and making that work even better.

In BTTY, you accept and rely upon input from the outside world; you can’t help but do so. You also determine what is relevant to you and what is not, and ultimately, what is appropriate for you and what is not.

BTTY occurs when you fully acknowledge the circumstances and events as your life unfolds, and when you fully acknowledge your ability to make choices before, during, or after such events occur. It is the most effective way for you to stay in control of your day, every day.

Jeff Davidson is "The Work-Life Balance Expert®," is a preeminent time management authority, has written 65 mainstream books, and is an electrifying professional speaker, making 886 presentations to clients such as Lockheed Martin, Eckerd, Kaiser Permanente, IBM, American Express, Lufthansa, Swissotel, Re/Max, USAA, Worthington Steel, and the World Bank. Jeff is Executive Director of the Breathing Space Institute and the author of books such as:
  • Simpler Living (Skyhorse Publishing)
  • Dial It Down--Live it Up (Sourcebooks)
  • The 60 Second Innovator (Adams Media)
  • Breathing Space (CreateSpace)
  • Accomplishing Your Goals (Smart Guide Publications)
Jeff is the premier thought leader on work-life balance issues and has been widely quoted in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, New York Times, USA Today, Businessweek, Forbes, and Fortune. Cited by Sharing Ideas Magazine as a "Consummate Speaker," Jeff believes that career professionals today in all industries have a responsibility to achieve their own sense of work-life balance, and he supports that quest through his website

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