Today we’d like to share with you some recent philosophical developments we’ve made in relation to the bigger picture of life itself. Sounds dramatic I know, but for those of you (like me) who are constantly engaged in the perennial quest to refine core values, finding that right mix is a never ending challenge. (This in itself is a perfect mirror for life itself – life being the journey and not the destination – but that’s not the topic here).
In constantly reshaping and revising my outlook on what core values actually mean and subsequently comprise, I happened upon what I believe to be a universal approach to the business of categorising these values. However, upon further reflection, this new universal model seemed to be more than just about core values. Why? Because it presented a way of revealing all of our lives rather than just our lofty aspirations. This is because it allows us to group our activities (effectively what it is we do each day and how we do it) in a way that allows us to 1) reflect upon those activities 2) evaluate their importance and priority in our lives whilst 3) assessing how much time we actually spend on them.
It is called the Life Hexagram™ and it captures the flow and balance of life in a very simple manner. Whilst we don’t contend that people haven’t tried to capture their lives in a simple pie chart before, we would contend that the Life Hexagram™ does it in a slightly different way. It begins with an inner circle that, whilst ostensibly cliched, is quite effective in breaking up life at the very highest level being – Mind, Body and Spirit. Where the Life Hexagram™ really provides value though is in the secondary circle. This takes the three main concepts and breaks them down into the inward and outward flows in the following manner:
- Absorb – how we take in information and engage in activities that keep our minds active and alert. This could be study or reading or even doing the daily crossword.
- Apply – how we use our minds and make the most of what we have to offer intellectually, be it at work or elsewhere.
- Nourish – how do we feed our bodies? Our diets, sleep, breathing, exercise and stretching are all things that nourish the body. How much of our lives do we devote to this each day?
- Express – how do we put our bodies to use? Sport, dance, playing with the kids in the backyard. Physical expression can manifest itself in many ways and is as old as mankind itself.
- Contemplate – how do we invigorate our spirits? Solitude, meditation, prayer, music, even stillness can bring about the necessary fulfilment.
- Act – how do we put our spirits into action? Helping others, volunteering, developing relationships, charities, doing that which brings us life!
As you can see the second ring of the Life Hexagram takes what are the three core areas and treats each one as a flow – in and out. In fact, philosophical enthusiasts will note the mixture of both Western ideas (Mind, Body, Spirit – Trinitarian) with Eastern (Yin and Yang, the inward and outward flow as portrayed in Taoism). And so, we are presented with a circle comprising an inner ring of Mind, Body and Spirit and the outer ring of the six flows that associate to the three. These six flows could legitimately serve as core values and are designed to capture all things, hence their universal nature. However, there is perhaps a better use and this is where the title of our article comes into play. By writing in the third ring of the circle (refer images below) the various activities we undertake in each of the six areas, we are immediately presented with a perfect representative circle of our lives. Not an aspirational life, but an actual life. What are the exact things we go about in our day to day lives. Of course the temptation is to write the things we want to do (and there is nothing wrong with this), but the value comes from writing in what we actually do. A simple glance at this each morning and night with perhaps a two minute reflection would serve us well in establishing just how balanced our lives are. Do we really give our spirits enough time in contemplation or quiet? Are we nourishing our bodies properly each day to meet life’s challenges? It can be a very stark picture. But by presenting it, we can improve upon it.
A further exercise would be to compare the completed diagram to one which does indeed contain our aspirations. What would we like our lives to look like each day? It doesn’t have to be a complex exercise, but if we give it the time by simply entering the things we want to form a part of our lives we have already planted the seeds. From there we can ascertain the challenges we face in not only achieving these daily or weekly activities, but also the impacts on the balance of our lives.
In conclusion, there is one final way in which the Life Hexagram™ can be used and that involves a fourth ring around the outside of the circle. For the left brainers amongst us, you may appreciate that we could break this ring into a 24 hour day or a seven day week and apply the minutes and hours we have afforded each activity within a given time period. This of course, gives us our most accurate metric and would therefore provide a lot of insight, but personally, I prefer the simplicity of perceiving the three things and contemplating my day that way.
We hope this offers you a new perspective on your life. We’ve provided some images for you to download in this blog post including one with some examples in each of the six areas to stimulate your thought processes. Good luck with your efforts in extrapolating your lives. Perhaps you will be surprised with what you see, but at the very least we hope that whatever it is you do see, you see it more clearly.
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