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spike bullet September, 1997 - Balancing Life and Work

The Four Pillars of Vitality
Examples of the Four Pillars
Tips for Finding Your Own Balance
Frequently Asked Questions about the Four Pillars
Internet Resources and Books

spike bullet The Four Pillars of Vitality

  • True Work
  • True Study
  • True Play
  • True Rest

Each of the four pillars needs approximately 25% of our time and attention - something very hard to do in our "Competing" culture. In primitive balanced societies, people worked about a third as long as we do and spent more time in other activities that helped them achieve balance - family and community activities, crafts, hunting, working in nature, pondering the stars and observing rituals.

It's no wonder that most of us feel exhausted if we're working all the time, with only small vacations from our daily responsibilities and many pressures. On a national scale, the past 10 years have destroyed much of the sense of stability that previous generations felt. No longer can we be assured that we will have a life-long job, a secure retirement or a safe place to live.

To help us compensate for the external pressures of our society, we must learn to consciously spend time learning to balance our own lives. It won't happen by accident. If we pay attention to all four of the pillars of vitality, we will be happy and feel fulfilled. If we don't, we will feel out of balance, frustrated and operating at less than our best.

Most people do not pay attention to their own individual desires until their late 30's or into their 40's. "Mid-life crisis" is often caused by those who realize they have lived a life programmed for them by their parents or teachers, rather than the life they wish to lead. The mid-life crisis is a turning point, where people begin to search for satisfaction in different ways - possibly pursuing their "life's work" or looking for some larger "purpose" to their life. Sometimes, people are faced with a personal crisis that prompts them to look deeply at their life (sudden loss of job or home, death of a loved one, illness). Sudden, traumatic events can cause this re-evaluation on a large scale as we've experienced in the last few years (death of major public figures, major earthquakes, major hurricanes, wide-spread floods).

It is usually at such times that people are more interested in identifying what they want. At that time, they will start to identify those things that represent their True Work, True Study, True Play and True Rest. To understand these terms, we must separate society's definitions from our understanding of True Work, True Play, True Rest and True Study.

True Work

True Work may or may not be what makes us money. It may or may not be connected with the "work" we perform during our day. People who are doing their True Work often say it doesn't feel like work, rather it is something they love to do!

For example, someone may have a Life Task to raise and educate children, yet work in a day-to-job that does not deal with children. Their Life Task and their True Work is performed within their family, not in the business world.

True Work supports our Life Task. We always have others to help us with our Life Task (students, teachers, friends). As Marsha Sinetar says in her best-selling book of the same title, "Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow." True Work is related to our Goal.

True Study

True Study prepares us to do our True Work. It is part of helping us focus. True study is very absorbing and is very enjoyable for us. It is something we gravitate to, often unconsciously. True Study is related to our Attitude.

True Rest

True Rest restores and re-vitalizes you to be able to do True Work and True Study. Different people do it differently - they may be alone, with people, or outdoors. Many find their True Rest as the activity they find themselves turning to when really stressed.

True Rest is related to our Center. True Rest is something that uses a person's 3rd center - it helps balances the other two centers. For example, someone with the Moving Center last, can gain True Rest by driving, traveling, walking, sailing, going somewhere, gardening, sewing, dancing - all moving activities, which balance the Intellectual and Emotional centers.

True Play

True Play helps us become more grounded. It is what we consider to be "fun" and is a vital aspect of enjoying life and achieving balance. Individual preferences are connected to the Role (loosely) and to the Mode.

Examples of True Play, for people with different Modes:

Caution Mode - video games (less risk than playing with real people or situations)

Power Mode - buy out a company; become a major league baseball player; major play with power

Reserve Mode - playing music that is refined; giving elegant parties

Passion Mode - racing horses, sex

Perseverance Mode - playing piano, mountain climbing

Aggression Mode - wrestling

Observation Mode - watching sports, watching people, etc.

Don't let these descriptions in any way limit your ideas of what "play" can be for you.

How Our Perspective Affects our Pillars

Referring back to our Personality Game, our Perspective affects our True Work, True Play, True Rest and True Study. For example:

Innocent - "Surviving" Perspective - Always concerned with survival.

Rule-Based - "Learning" Perspective - Very simple things and interests; always concerned about authority (learning about rules or breaking the rules), not much play or interest in playfulness for sake of just having fun.

Striving - "Competing" Perspective - Heavy work interests; almost no rest and almost no study; like to play, make money and collect "toys"

Partnership - "Relating" Perspective - Lives filled with drama and trauma; neglect rest; heavy study; very concerned about relationships and often have very intense lives, may be too intense to relax and play.

Integration - "Teaching" Perspective - Interest in True Work may not begin until later in life when they start using their True Rest. A primary task of this perspective is to find balance.

spike bullet Examples of the Four Pillars

These examples are from real people who have learned about the 4 pillars. Everyone has their own unique four pillars, although many people have similar ones. This list is not be any means meant to be all-inclusive.

As you read through these list, notice the ones that feel strong to you. In the next section, we provide some tips for finding your own four pillars.

Examples of True Work:

  • Acceptance
  • Art
  • Building self-esteem
  • Business
  • Communication
  • Comprehension (how the world works)
  • Developing self-esteem
  • Disseminating integrated perspectives to others, especially in business
  • Educating the ignorant, especially the young
  • Embodying female energy
  • Emotional healing
  • Enlightenment of community and friends
  • Establishing community
  • Finding inner power in relationship to others
  • Harmonizing the family unit, including extended family
  • Healing others
  • Kindness
  • Nurturing others
  • Opening up emotionally to relationships
  • Parenting
  • Politics
  • Problem-solving
  • Raising self-esteem through physical actions, projects, relationships
  • Relationships
  • Saying no, developing boundaries around needy people
  • Science (using science to manifest his life's work)
  • Separating worth from worthlessness
  • Service
  • Shifting consciousness in others.
  • Teaching
  • Teaching the younger generation
  • Teaching through media
  • Telling the truth
  • To be a source of love, information and grounding for the next generation
  • Working with people she has miscommunications and unharmonious energies with (acting as a facilitators in these situations)

Examples of True Study:

  • Art
  • Communication
  • Communication with the opposite sex
  • Crisis resolution without drama
  • Evolution
  • Family dynamics
  • Focus on details
  • Healing
  • Health
  • History
  • Honesty
  • How things and people fit together, where the boundaries are
  • How things work
  • How to be of service to humanity
  • Human nature
  • International relations
  • Language
  • Love
  • Male/female relationships
  • Moods
  • Moving centered sensuality
  • Opening and preparing his instinctive center for true work
  • Parenting
  • Philosophy
  • Psychology
  • Psychology of man
  • Relationships with men
  • Relationships with women
  • Science
  • Society
  • Spiritual growth
  • The dynamics of interpersonal relationships
  • The impact of time
  • The study of group travel
  • Truth
  • Women

Examples of True Play:

  • Aerobic activity
  • Being with friends
  • Bonding with friends
  • Chatting with friends
  • Children
  • Computer work
  • Conversation
  • Creativity, creative thinking, creative projects
  • Cuddling and snuggling with people you like
  • Dance
  • Dressing up
  • Emotional bonding
  • Enjoying anything humorous or entertaining
  • Family
  • Games and socializing
  • Hosting get-togethers
  • Human interaction
  • Humor
  • Music
  • Partying
  • Physical activity
  • Physical prowess
  • Physical touch
  • Providing the ambiance to entertain others
  • Reading
  • Receiving loving attention from others, especially physically
  • Sex
  • Socializing
  • Sports
  • The Arts

Examples of True Rest:

  • Alone time
  • Beauty
  • Being in nature
  • Being on water
  • Being with animals
  • Bonding with loved ones
  • Bonding with other females
  • Communing with the earth, plants, animals etc.
  • Conversing with friends in a informal setting
  • Dance and ritual
  • Eating
  • Emotional openness
  • Food, drink, music
  • Food, drink, sleep
  • Friendship
  • Games
  • Gardening, being in nature
  • Humor
  • Intellectual pursuit, such as reading, games
  • Letting go of all obligations and appreciating her oneness with nature
  • Meditation
  • Music
  • Nature
  • Painting
  • Pets
  • Physical affection
  • Playing with children
  • Quiet time in nature
  • Quiet times with friends
  • Reading
  • Sex
  • Silence
  • Sleep
  • Sleeping in the arms of someone who cares about you
  • Socializing with friends
  • Solitude
  • Spiritual opening, bliss
  • Spiritual retreat
  • Sunshine and nature

spike bullet Tips for Finding Your Own Balance

  1. Find your True Rest. Notice those activities you go to when you are really, really stressed. It could be sitting under a tree, going to a park and walking, reading, spending time with friends - whatever works for you. Review the list of examples and see what things feel to you as restful. Then, spend time at the activities you feel are restful for you. If you are too stressed to do those the same day, put them on your calendar for the next available opportunity. If sitting in the deep woods is restful for you, but you are not close to any at the moment, find a reasonable substitute where ever you are (a neighborhood park or a water fountain in a downtown plaza). Even a few minutes spent in True Rest can help provide immediate relief from stress.
  2. Find your True Play.. Think about what you do that is most "fun" for you. Review the list of examples and notice what feels fun to you. Think about what makes you laugh or feel happy when you do it. Then, spend time at the activities you feel are playful for you. If you are too stressed to do those the same day, put them on your calendar for the next available opportunity. For example, if traveling abroad is play for you, but you can't go immediately, find a reasonable substitute (talk to a travel agent about a possible trip, read a book about someone where you'd like to go or search the Internet for places to go). Even a few minutes spent in True Play can help provide immediate relief from stress.
  3. Find your True Study. Think about what interests you have that keep drawing your attention. Review the list of examples and notice what feels like something you like to study. You may not even be aware that it is a form of study for you, but maybe something that seems naturally interesting to you. Don't get stressed if you can't identify the pillars exactly right away. This is an activity that will give you something to think about over time.
  4. Find your True Work. This is usually a little hard for people to discover because we tend to associate "work" with the thing that makes money for us or where we spend our daytime activities. Review the list of examples and notice how different many of them are from our idea of "career" or "business" activities. Again, don't get stressed if your True Work is not immediately clear to you.
  5. Schedule time for each of the four pillars. Your life will feel more balanced when you are able to spend time in each of the four areas: True Work, True Study, True Play and True Rest. Consciously schedule some time for each of the areas each month at first, even if it is only "pondering" what they might be. As you become more comfortable with this idea and you start to feel each of them in your own way, work toward spending regular time in each of the four area. Pay particular attention to your True Play and True Rest when you start feeling stressed or overwhelmed.

spike bullet The Four Pillars of Vitality - Frequently Asked Questions

Why are the pillars important?

Balancing of the four pillars is one of the necessary ingredients for the successful advancement of a person's life. When someone feels fatigued or overworked ('stressed out'), increased attention to the pillars of True Rest and True Play will provide immediate benefit.

How can people discover their pillars?

People can discover their four pillars through meditating upon feels right for you. You will feel a great satisfaction when you are fully in alignment with and performing one of your four pillars. A person's pillars are usually visible by the time they are 35.

What is the best way to realize one's pillars?

The best way to realize your pillars is to follow the call of your True Work and True Study. You can tell what your True Work is because it is something you come back to again and again - it FEELS like work (not hard work, but something that you feel driven to do).
In order to discover your True Rest and True Play, you may need to meditate upon what experiences really put you into a state of rest or play. Anyone who doesn't get enough True Play, begins to be overly stressed and unhealthy.

Is your Life Task different then your True Work?

Yes. However, your True Work helps you in fulfilling your Life Task

How do the pillars relate to a person's Life Task?

The four pillars are the activities that - when balanced - allow you to achieve your Life Task. When you look at your four pillars, you will usually notice an area that is out of balance.
The four pillars are self-explanatory - they support you and allow you to fulfill your Life Task by balancing these four elements in your life. The pillar of True Study directly - and we emphasize directly - contributes to the focus necessary for the completion of the Life Task.

How are the four pillars related to the personality Roles?

Some Roles need more of one pillar than others. For example:

  • Sages and Artisans (expressive) require large amounts of True Play
  • Priests and Servers (inspirational) require large amounts of True Rest
  • Warriors and Kings (action) require large amounts of True Work
  • Scholars (assimilation) require large amounts of True Study.

Another way to increase your weekly or daily exposure to these Trues, is to spend time with the roles who most comfortably and naturally gravitate towards that pillar.

World Wide Web graphic Internet Resources

book graphic Books

  • Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow. Marsha Sinetar. Dell Publishing, New York © 1987. ISBN: 0-440-50160-1
  • 50 Ideas That Can Change Your Life! An Indispensable Guide to Happiness and Prosperity. Dr. Robert Anthony. Berkley Publishing Group, New York. 1982. ISBN: 0-425-10421-4
  • What Color is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual for Job­Hunters & Career Changers, Richard Bolles, Ten Speed Press, Berkeley CA, (this annually updated book continues to grow and provide invaluable methods to determine the best job/career)  2003 issue ISBN: 1580084605
  • Life 101:Everything We Wish We Had Learned About Life in School -- But Didn't (The Life 101 Series), John­Roger and Peter McWilliams, Prelude Press Inc., Los Angeles CA, 1990 (the book we wish we'd written, it uses humor and simple wisdom to make its point).  Mary Book / Prelude Pr; (December 1996) ASIN: 0931580161
  • Modern Manners: An Etiquette Book for Rude People. P.J. O'Rourke. The Atlantic Monthly Press, New York.Atlantic Monthly Press ; Reprint edition (June 1990)ISBN: 087113375X (good for a healthy dose of laughter every time it's opened )

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