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Life = Health + Family + Work + Free-Time


The speaker at the commencement for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute graduation in 1998 offered the following formula:


Life = Health + Family + Work + Free-Time


This is a great balanced formula for life. Like three legs of a stool, health, family and work keep a persons' life in balance. And the top of the stool is free-time.


Health, physical and mental, allow a person the option to serve themselves, perform their work, help family and enjoy their free-time. Health should be managed through emotional care, mental care, exercise, and good nutrition. We are what we put in. Therefore, we must choose wisely what we add to our minds and body and use them so that we do not lose them.


Family relationships, and I extend this to mean all caring relationships, must be kept strong to keep hearts filled. Empty hearts are as damaging to a person’s health as any illness. Our hearts and caring sides are like tanks that should be kept as full as possible so that we can give and then be recharged by caring relationships. Love and care fill our tanks. Negative experiences deplete us.

Work must be done. Work is the investment of energy into survival, the attainment of knowledge, the delivering of services or products that benefit the person or a community. Work is the wood added to the fire for the benefit of warmth. Without work, survival may be in doubt and the means to get from surviving to a better quality of life will not exist. Happiness is the pursuit of worthy goal. Often that worthy goals takes effort to achieve. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it!!


Free-time is earned by most people through work. Free-time is the result of the investments that have been made through service to ourselves and to others. If someone is just working on survival, they likely do not have free-time available to do what they choose. They are still working on creating the balanced stool. If free-time does not exist, the stool may be seem balanced but there is no energy remaining to enjoy interests outside of working and maintaining health and relationships. Perhaps there are ways to be more efficient with work to increase the free-time.


Any leg of the stool that is too long or too short can throw off the balance of life, perhaps to the point of falling over.

I have used this formula to keep my life in check. I categorize goals and tasks to make sure they are in alignment with this formula. Then, I extend the same concept to keeping the world in balance. We must maintain the health of the planet so that all beings that we love and need can survive. We must work to keep the environment clean and use our energy wisely. We must care for each other, and this extends to all forms of life because all things are connected. Only then will we have a planet that we can enjoy with the free-time that we have.

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