The real substance of living: Form and content in life

Form versus content in life: I look at form as being like lifestyle, how you live, the habits you have, the things you do and don’t do as a routine, automatic ways of thinking, general standards of behaviour, the guidelines for your life.
All these things are the form, or the how, the way of life, you could say.
And then the content is all the real substance of living, like the experiences, the relationships, the moments, the feelings, living life.
So it seems like what we really want in life is the content.
The lifestyle, the form: it doesn’t matter by itself.
And when you’re working a lot in self-development, a lot of the work is focused on the form of life.
Because it’s kind of assumed that the content, it’s not something you need to work on so much.
You work on your form, you work on how you’re living your life, and then the content of the good experiences can happen.
So if you have a way of life that’s blocking good experiences, making you weaker, cutting you off from relationships, and keeping you from having good life experiences, then you work on your form, you change your approach to life.
And then, over time, as you improve your form, you start to have improved content in life.
So I thought of this because I found for quite a stretch of time, it seemed like I had been improving my form, stopped a bunch of bad habits and replaced them with a bunch of good habits, improved my way of thinking, my perspective, my way of going about my day.
It all improved.
Yet it seemed like by the end of the day, I wasn’t actually accomplishing much work.
The whole day, almost, seemed to be full of just taking care of how to live.
Even a joke that I had become my own butler, because I was just sort of taking care of myself and managing everything, but I wasn’t actually- I could hardly have any time to actually produce anything, and time to experience life.
It was all about improving my routines, improving my approach and my development.
So I realized that this was because I was working on my form, and it takes a lot of time to work on improving form.
So many, each habit, every bad habit, one by one, painstakingly to be replaced with better habits.
Systems improving.
Come up with an idea to improve something, and then you test it out, you see how it works.
You can’t simply create a program for yourself and then automatically follow it forever.
You have to kind of respond to how you are responding to everything, and compromise with yourself, and make these daily adjustments.
And it all takes time to bake it in.
It takes this daily repetition over time to bake these in.
So that when you make changes, at first it’s just kind of a surface thing that you have to keep thinking about, you have to implement deliberately, using your energy and time to implement the change.
And then as it bakes in, it starts to become automatic, and then your energy is freed up to work on other things.
So it’s OK.
If you find yourself working on improving yourself and you’re not finding enough time to do everything you want to do, it could be because that actual work that you are doing on yourself is taking up your time.
But now I’ve noticed, I’m starting to notice, some of the payoff, the effects, the harvest of the effort that I put into improving my way of life, and now I have more time and energy freed, available to be used towards content, towards actually doing valuable things with my life, creating something to share, and simply experiencing life myself.
So I see this as a balance between form and content.
Content is what matters.
Form is just there to support the content.
Content is the real meat, the substance of life.
If you’re having all the content in life that you want, and you feel like this is set to keep rolling into the future, then you probably don’t need to worry too much about your form.
Just keep doing what you’re doing, while of course making the daily adjustments.
If you’re finding that you’re not getting the content in life that you want, life is not giving you what you feel it could be, and you feel like your life could be a lot more than it is, then, while you can directly reach for content, directly reach for experiences that will improve your life, but it may also be worth your while to- you may look into the form of your life, your lifestyle, your habits, what you’re doing regularly, your regular thoughts and your approach to life, and maybe make some adjustments to your form.
And it may have no reward for a while.
It may appear like it’s just taking up time and energy, and it does not increase any of the content.
But, over time, I believe that if you improve the form of your life, then the content will come.
You work on yourself, and then better experiences will emerge over time. […]

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