There may be nothing more basic to our sense of well-being than what we choose to do with our time every day.
We all have constraints on our time, of course. There is money to be earned, dishes to be washed, people who need our care. It often seems that there isn’t enough time in the day for the things we value most, and we are often too worn out from keeping up with it all to ask ourselves what it is that we value – how it is that we really want to spend our lives.
There are important reasons to ask these questions. The deeper searching involved in asking what we really want out of life helps us discover both what we want to say "yes" to and how to clear away the things that are cluttering up our lives.
Tuning in to our deeper values can also help us tune out our advertising-driven culture’s non-stop messages of consumerism. Doing so is a prerequisite for a sustainable lifestyle – and ultimately a sustainable culture.
Bringing our work life into keeping with our sense of purpose is particularly challenging because our job system is in a time of major transition. Job growth no longer tracks economic growth in the way it once did. A growing employment crisis makes even basic subsistence a challenge for many, and full participation in our culture a distant dream for many more. Even those with steady jobs often feel trapped in work that seems to have little value.
These changes in the job system are frightening and they provide the dynamic climate in which real change is not only possible but inevitable. The job crisis, coupled with a sense that there is more to life than rushing from one urgent task to another, is convincing many of us take a fresh look at our lives and to question what is really important.
The personal choices we make as a result of that questioning, taken together, form the beginnings of a sustainable culture.
The contributors to this issue have shared their ideas on how this transition can occur; we hope you’ll send us your story about the changes you’ve made in your use of time.