Vitality + Connection + Contribution

This year, two classmates and I were lucky enough to be among the dynamic crowd at Misfit Con 2014. Having missed the conference last year because of Alley Fair, an ongoing project I sparked in Fargo, I was eager to be in attendance. The conference is directed toward self-proclaimed misfits; those who move against the strong current of the status quo to live life with intention and do work that matters. The attendees ranged from iOS developers and marketing experts, to slam poets and printmakers. It was a wonderful mix of talent, knowledge and life experience.

First to deliver a speech was Jonathan Fields. He’s a former S.E.C and hedge-fund lawyer turned health and wellness entrepreneur. His current focus, the Good Life Project, is a “global movement that inspires, educates, and supports mission-driven individuals who want to live better, more engaged, connected and aligned lives.”

Calm and collected, Jonathan came onto the stage and asked the audience to close their eyes. Then he set the tone for his presentation with these first words.

May you be free. May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be loved. May you live with ease.

As he led us through a meditation, the room grew quiet. We were ready to hear what he had to say. Jonathan told us of how he’d taken a job that wreaked havoc on his life. He worked long hours and slept little, but then his health began to decline rapidly. He realized he couldn't sustain his current career path if he were to lead a full and happy life.

So, he made a change.

In pursuit of a life’s work that would keep him active and engaged, he became a health and wellness coach. But working in that field was new territory to Jonathan and he needed to learn everything from the ground up.

After creating a successful venture in health and wellness, Jonathan took his questions on the road and started interviewing people whose “good lives” he admired. Ultimately, he interviewed over 60 people, including bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell. Through those talks, Jonathan had the opportunity to use his learnings to get to the core of what makes a "good" life for people.

He described the three things which constitute a good life: vitality, connection, and contribution.

Vitality

Turning to the crowd, he asked us what we thought made up the first bucket. People shouted words like “diet” and “exercise.” As each response was given, Jonathan shook his head and repeated the same thing: “sleep”...”sleep”...”sleep.” Diet and exercise make up a big part of the first bucket, but sleep is too often pushed aside as unimportant in our culture.

He then broke down this bucket into the following sub-categories:

  • Sleep
  • Food
  • Activity
  • Meditation

Connection

The next bucket, he explained, is connection. The first part of connection is knowing oneself. He mentioned that, before we can truly love and help the people around us, we need to spend time connecting with ourselves. He then broke this thought down further by asking how we find ourselves connecting to each of the following subcategories:

  • Self
  • Family/friends
  • Community
  • Nature
  • Source

Contribution

In his third bucket, he asked how we contribute to the world around us. Most notable, however, was that he asked for specifics about how and what we contribute. Too often, he implied, we get stuck in the world of our own thoughts and ideas, but fail to make tangible steps to realize the good will we claim to possess. He challenged us to possess “actionable values” instead.

For example, if curiosity is a value you claim to hold, then how can this convert to something actionable? He suggested that asking more questions brings this value to life.

I was reminded that if we claim something as being important to us, then our actions should reflect our stated sentiment.

His talk was inspiring, but practical. It had the perfect dose of ‘go and change your world’ and ‘here is what you can do right this minute.’ He noted that these buckets are simply a framework and that each person needs to find their own balance within these parameters. There is no definitive ‘diet’ for all people, nor is there a single ‘source’ that we all should be following.

His presentation reminded me to take each day step by step, to take time to think about my vitality, my connectedness, and my contributions.

I often think of sitting in Fargo listening to Jonathan say,

May you be free. May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be loved. May you live with ease.

I hope these words will ring true in your own life and work.