My five elements to a sustainable life

A good day.
How a good day looks. Photo by the author.

The starting point

2016 was a turning year for my family. We lost our place to live, both got unemployed, and if that was not enough, we suddenly began to expect a child. For me, it was a point of reflection — one of those that can bring the end or become the new beginning.

The path of balance

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that life is a continuous stream of time, where we have to make decisions. Even indecision is a decision. With days composed of 24 hours each, and for everyone equally, our position is pretty much the product of choices of how we spend the most time. It is about habits, thinking patterns, and routines rather than “single shots” and sprints.

The five elements

Our needs and aspirations are often very different. Studying happy people and contemplating both their and my own experiences, I concluded that there are five aspects to life, which seem universal and equally important:

  • relationships,
  • financial condition,
  • career,
  • spiritual growth.


I have only ever met one person that despite a terrible health condition, was genuinely happy. This person was one of very few highly realized Tibetan lamas, who despite being stuck to a wheelchair, displayed indescribable freedom of uncommon depth.


Family members and friends are not the only relationship types to care. Also, colleagues at work, customers, vendors, or business partners are the people we meet. Just like it is easy to sabotage one’s health through haste and excuses, it is also not that hard to let the interpersonal bonds erode. Patching broken relationships takes time. Regaining trust is not easy. Relationships feed on vitamins called attention, and it requires to be involved, not just “be.”

Financial condition

Happiness is not your bank account, but life is undoubtedly better with the wallet full rather than empty. With money, you have a choice. The more you have, the more you can reach.


This domain is strongly related to the last one, but it does not cover it. Perhaps you chose to make your career in finance? Maybe you are a nurse or a singer? Here, no choice is wrong unless what you do does not bring you at least some level of joy or at least helps you move in this direction.

Spiritual growth

Spiritual growth is the last one I am adding to this “big five.” Why? It’s because it fills everything with meaning. Without this element, relationships would only mean security. The money would equal pleasure. The health would be the lack of pain. It is all good, but not where it could be.

Embracing it

Hopefully, I managed to explain the essence of these five elements well. Looking around, I can fit most of the activities to at least one of these groups. Most importantly, from what I observed, they only ever make sense if practiced in harmony. To replace one with the other leads to discouragement or even burnout, which makes life non-sustainable.

Personal journals.
Personal journals.
Personal journals allow me to trace it back.

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