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The Golden Mean

By: Michael Blankenship |

“Life is about balance. Be kind, but don’t let people abuse you. Trust, but don’t be deceived. Be content, but never stop improving yourself.”

– Zig Ziglar

Did you know the bumblebee bat is the world’s smallest mammal, weighing in at only 0.05 ounces? You can find those buggers in limestone caves on the Khwae Noi River in Kanchanaburi Province of southwest Thailand.

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– Mike & Alec

The Golden Mean

Life is about balance. 

We need to eat, but we don’t need to gorge ourselves. We need friendships, but we don’t need to become codependent. We need to work, but we don’t need to work all the time.

Aristotle called this “the golden mean” — the place of balance found between extremes.

Daily Stoic has an article sharing the balanced virtues we should all strive for, as well as their extremist counterparts. 

Here’s the list…

Ambition: Between Lazy and Insatiable

Empathy: Between Cold and Codependent

Endurance: Between Fragile and Depleted

Self-confidence: Between Insecure and Arrogant

Adaptability: Between Rigid and Soft

Self-sufficiency: Between Dependent and Isolated

Discipline: Between Impetuous and Repressed

Composure: Between Frenzied and Stagnant

Calculated: Between Reckless and Timid

Euthymia: Between Nihilism and Grand Narrative

That’s a lot to strive for.

But it’s worthwhile — truth and joy are rarely found at the extremes of the spectrum.

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A little over ten years ago the Razr flip phone was one of the most popular phones in America. Today, the average American teenager spends ~1.5 hours watching TikTok, per day.

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Daring Documentaries

Good documentaries combine the insight (albeit slightly diluted) of a nonfiction book with the attention-grabbing magic of the television screen — that’s why we love ‘em. 

But not all documentaries are created equal. 

And lest you spend your valuable time watching something that’s unworthy of your time, check out this awesome list of 12 “eye-opening documentaries” from Bustle.

Burned Out

Feeling burned out? You’re not alone — a recent report from Indeed found that 52% of employees feel burned out (and 67% said that feeling has worsened over the course of the pandemic). 

The World Health Organization lists the following three symptoms relating to burnout…

  • feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
  • increased mental distance from one’s job or feelings negative towards one’s career
  • reduced professional productivity

If that’s you, take heart. 

There are some practical things you can do to rekindle your enthusiasm and motivation — here are 4 steps from Harvard Business Review.

Prioritize Self-Care

“It’s essential to replenish your physical and emotional energy, along with your capacity to focus, by prioritizing good sleep habits, nutrition, exercise, social connection, and practices that promote equanimity and well-being, like meditating, journaling, and enjoying nature.”

Shift Your Perspective

“Now you must take a close look at your mindset and assumptions. What aspects of your situation are truly fixed, and which can you change? Altering your perspective can buffer the negative impact of even the inflexible aspects.”

Reduce Exposure to Job Stressors

“You’ll also need to target high-value activities and relationships that still trigger unhealthy stress. This involves resetting the expectations of colleagues, clients, and even family members for what and how much you’re willing to take on, as well as ground rules for working together. You may get pushback. But doubters must know that you’re making these changes to improve your long-term productivity and protect your health.”

Seek Out Connections

“The best antidote to burnout, particularly when it’s driven by cynicism and inefficacy, is seeking out rich interpersonal interactions and continual personal and professional development. Find coaches and mentors who can help you identify and activate positive relationships and learning opportunities. Volunteering to advise others is another particularly effective way of breaking out of a negative cycle.”

This Week’s Image

In 1960, David Latimer planted a tiny garden inside of a large glass bottle and sealed it shut. He opened the bottle 12 years later in 1972 to add some water and then sealed it for good. The self contained ecosystem has flourished for nearly 60 years.

This Week’s Riddle

Here’s this week’s riddle — the answer is at the bottom of the email!

What’s a three-letter word that starts with gas? 

This Week’s Journaling Prompt

Take some time to think through the following journaling prompt. 

What in your life are you too “extremist” about? Where does a better balance lie? 

This Week’s Challenge

Give someone a massage. Maybe your spouse. Maybe a family member. Maybe a friend. There’s something healing (physically and pyschologically) about a good back rub. 

Riddle Answer: Car.

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