In Others’ Words: Improvement or Enjoyment?

“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” ~E. B. White, American writer

And there you have it: Life choice distilled down into one 20-word sentence. Is your life other-focused or you-focused? Or is it a constant arrival at the fork in the road and deciding, once again, which way do you go?

It’s not that I think going one way is wrong (enjoyment) and going the other way is right (living to improve, i.e. help, the world). But it’s the reality of choice and balance. Again.

And can helping to improve the world be its own kind of enjoyment?

In Your Words: White’s quote raises a valid question we all struggle with. How do you plan your day, balancing between enjoyment and work (helping others)?

photo by maxpate/stockxchng.com
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12 Comments

  1. September 30, 2011, 5:49 am   /  Reply

    Finding balance can be tough, especially if you’re in a position of being a constant caregiver to others. Helping to improve the world can bring about a sense of fulfillment. And everyone needs down time to recharge and just enjoy. If we didn’t take time to enjoy, we’d miss out on some great blessings.

    • Beth Vogt
      September 30, 2011, 11:42 am   /  Reply

      Ah, caregivers–so often overlooked. So often unable to find time to enjoy life. You bring up an important point, Lisa.

  2. Jeanne
    September 30, 2011, 7:32 am   /  Reply

    My day usually revolves around taking care of my kiddos and my “to-do” list. I seem to find ways to “veg” but I don’t know how much I stop to actually enjoy the world. I think I need to do more of that. Thanks for challenging me to enjoy more. 🙂

    • Beth Vogt
      September 30, 2011, 11:42 am   /  Reply

      Enjoyment can be spontaneous–but sometimes it needs to be intentional, doesn’t it?

  3. September 30, 2011, 7:34 am   /  Reply

    Love that quote. It captures my struggle. I want to serve others, but I have work to do, work I find extremely rewarding. What helps is when I remember that the work I’m doing will, hopefully, serve to bless others one day and might even change a life.

    • Beth Vogt
      September 30, 2011, 11:43 am   /  Reply

      Great perspective, Keli. It balances the short term with the long term.

  4. September 30, 2011, 7:49 am   /  Reply

    Good quote, and he wrote such fun stuff. You have an amazing assortment and variety of great quotes. As E. B. White would say, “Some blog!”

    • Beth Vogt
      September 30, 2011, 11:43 am   /  Reply

      🙂 Thanks, Dee!

  5. September 30, 2011, 8:29 am   /  Reply

    Agree with Lisa – balance is tough. It bugs me when I get to the end of the day and feel like I’ve wasted it – either over-indulging in relaxation or succumbing to the to-do list at the expense of other things. Your post reminded me it’s important to actually think about what I’m doing with my time rather than just going along for the ride… by the way, have I told you yet I love the look of your new site? Fun stuff!

    • Beth Vogt
      September 30, 2011, 11:45 am   /  Reply

      Thanks, Melissa, for the encouraging words.
      And, yes, thinking ahead makes a difference … choosing something instead of choosing nothing.
      Although choosing to do nothing sometimes improves my outlook on life.
      ;o)

  6. September 30, 2011, 1:58 pm   /  Reply

    Even though I no longer have children at home, I still need to adjust to making writing my “job”. I am not very organized by nature, so I do struggle in this area, finding balance. When I am working on a new story, I try to write at least four or more hours a day, but sometimes I use the morning for blog posts, answering interview questions, keeping connected with online friends and family, and devote the afternoon/evening to writing. Some days I get more done than others. Unless I’m on deadline, I don’t stress over it. I’m doing what I love. I always say, “When you’re not having fun anymore, stop.”

  7. September 30, 2011, 2:46 pm   /  Reply

    It sure was a bit easier to take the path of helping others before my son. I just got in the car and volunteered. Today, I have to plan things a bit more, but we’ve found a few opportunities to return a little. I do love the moments when we just all sit back enjoy and giggle or tickle part of the day away.

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