Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Overloaded Lives are Powerless Lives: It's Time for a Change! (Part I)

This month I've been reading a book titled Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives. Written by Dr Richard Swenson, it addresses the many ways that modern progress has robbed us of our reserves and has contributed to a culture that drives us to hurried, frazzled living. Whereas much good has come out of the technological age, we are living  chronically overloaded lives as individuals and as a society. The author shares various manifestations of this overload syndrome; see if they sound familiar.
  • Activity overload, which "takes away the pleasure of anticipation and the delight of reminiscence." 
  • Change overload, with frequent moves, new jobs, new schools, new... everything, constantly!
  • Choice overload: Just go to the supermarket or, better yet, visit one of the Superstores.
  • Commitment overload: Have we learned to discern our commitments and feel good about saying "No" when we must?
  • Debt overload. 
  • Decision overload.
  • Expectation overload. 
  • Fatigue overload: In my practice of family medicine, at least half of the patients that come in with a chronic problem complain of fatigue. Most of them sleep less than 6 hours per night, drink too much coffee and consume alcohol in excess, all of which contribute to fatigue.
  • Hurry overload.
  • Information overload: "We are buried by data on a daily basis." 
  • Media overload: In North America, the average TV set is turned on 55 hours a week!
  • Noise overload: "True quiet is extremely rare."
  • Possession overload: "Having first imprisoned us with debt, possessions then take over our houses and occupy our time... Everything I own owns me. Why would I want more?"
  • Technology overload: "The average person must learn to operate 20,000 pieces of equipment."
  • Traffic overload: "We now have more cars per family than drivers per family."
  • Work overload: "Work is God-ordained. Work overload, however, was not part of the original plan. Yet every morning millions of Americans head drudgingly to an exhausting work schedule that leaves them stressed and worn out. The earlier predictions of shorter work-weeks and higher incomes have backfired. Instead we often find total family work schedules exceeding eighty hours a week - yet another family 'over-working and under-relating.'"
Such is life in our modern, advanced, developed world. The author relates meeting a man in Mali, West Africa, who said, "You Americans have all the watches; we have all the time."

Does any of this resonate with you today? If so, consider ways to help yourself on a daily basis beginning right now. You can redirect your life by making new choices and moving in the direction of greater sanity and true living. Overload syndrome is pervasive, but there's so much that we can do about it! The book speaks of the concept of "margin" as the opposite of overload. Margin builds our reserves, increasing the space between us and our limits. Margin = power - load. We can increase our power for abundant living by doing more of those things that increase our well-being, and we can decrease the load we carry through careful choices, too. This will bring back a margin of sanity, energy, peace, and contentment to our daily lives that will make all the difference.

One last thought. Are we measuring our progress by the world's definition of success, ours or God's? "What if... we were to begin measuring our progress not by our wealth but by our virtue; not by our education but by our humility; and not by our power but by our meekness?" What if?

Be free!
Dr Mari

For part II of this series, read Unloaded Lives are Powerful: Restoring a Margin of Sanity. For more on why the choices we make matter, read I Am Not My Own.

 Above excerpts are from Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives by Richard Swenson, MD.

*Photo by Manuel Díaz Photography. All Rights Reserved. *

1 comment:

  1. This is so needed, Dr. Mari! We've got to be Christ centered and Christ powered. Thank you for this reminder! - Ann


Blog Archive