Last week, we looked at the concept of Margin as it relates to health. Richard Swenson, M.D. defines margin as:
“Margin is the space between our load and our limits and is related to our reserves and resilience. It is a buffer, a leeway, a gap; the place we go to heal, to relate, to reflect, to recharge our batteries, to focus on the things that matter most."
We are exploring margin under the Rest portion of our winter blog series on recovering and retaining health through four topics:
- Sound Nervous System
We left off with the challenge to spend 5 minutes a day to imagine what life would be like for you and your loved ones if you had just 15% more margin in your life.
- What would your health look like?
- How might it affect your relationships?
- How would it impact your job?
- Your mood?
- Your morning?
Did you get a chance to think about it?
If you are like me, I am pretty sure you came to the conclusion that it could do nothing but improve each area, maybe even significantly!
Today, our quest is: How do we incorporate routine margin into our lives?
I am fascinated with Craftsman-style homes. The efficiency of space and simplicity has always attracted me. One of the key features of a craftsman home are built-ins. Built-ins are cabinets, shelves, clapboards etc. that are blended or "built-right-in" to a wall or part of a room. I suppose it becomes a non-negotiable, functional part of the room and, ultimately, the house.
As you consider the concept of Margin, what things might you "build right in" to your life? If you have built-in cabinets in your home, you might change the paint or wallpaper in a room, you might get new light fixtures, tables and chairs, but house built-ins stay until you tear the house itself down.
Margin built-ins are the same way. As your life progresses, things may change and look different, but those solid habits that bring health and stability will essentially stay the same until it is over. If you are designing a built-in for a house, you might consider three things:
- What is it's function?
- Where is the best place to put it in the house?
- Where is the best place to put it in the room?
What is the Function?
A keystone is the final stone placed when building an arch - it literally "locks in" the structure and allows it to bear weight! It is amazing that when you look at ruins; often, the most recognizable aspect of the ancient structure are its arches.
When considering building in an aspect of margin in your life ask yourself what is the function? Will it serve you and your family through all the seasons of life?
Where is the Best Place to Put It In the House?
When Dr. Sue and I were first out of school, we lived in a 1905 duplex in Greeley, Colorado. It was a really cool, old house with a lot of charm that the owners had remodeled. It had two-stories with the living room, dining room, and kitchen on the main floor, and a really cool set of stairs with a large window leading upstairs to the bedrooms and bathroom. It fit our style really well!
Then, our first son Josh was born. It soon became apparent that, if a house is only going to have one bathroom, it shouldn't be on the second floor! Our second son Caleb came quickly on the heels of his brother and then the design flaw really stood out!
When considering where to build the habit of margin into your life, where does it make the most sense relative to the other parts and members of your family?
Where is the Best Place to Put It In the Room?
In keeping with our bathroom theme, have you ever been in a bathroom and, when it came time to reach for the toilet paper, you found it was either two feet away from you or six inches off the floor? Or, let's say you used the last piece and you were wondering where the extra rolls were only to find the cabinet they were kept in was six inches from the ceiling or worse under the sink across the room? How useful is that?
You have found a solid supportive habit you can use (keystone), you have found a great place to put it in your life (bathroom on the main floor)...
Make sure that the habit it self is easily accessible (toilet paper close-by)!
This is Killing You List-Makers Out There, Isn't It?
I just know some of you are thinking: "Enough of the heavy thinking! Just give me a list to work off already!"
So, here you go: Simple Living Manifesto: 72 Ideas to Simplify Your Life. I read this a number of years ago and go back to it every so often.
Me Just Looking For a Bathroom in Life!
I love straight to it how-to guides that just tell me what to do step by step. Unfortunately, building margin into your life is just not a one-size-fits-all project. In fact, it expands and contracts through all the seasons in your life! But, just like built-ins for a house, when margin:
- Has a clearly designed function
- Is strategically placed in your life
- Is easily accessible
It can make life a lot easier and productive over the years.
Here are three of my built-ins that I have been fairly successful keeping for a number of years:
- Start every morning with reading the Bible
- Exercise first thing in the morning
- Go to bed early enough to get eight hours of sleep
I have a lot more that work for me and my family, but these three seem to have consistently given me the margin to engage the rest of my life. They have a well defined function, a central location and are in an accessible size that works for me.
Take some time this week to consider what things might add margin to your life, or review Leo Babauta's 72 Ideas. Filter them through this week's post on Built-Ins and see what makes the cut. I promise that as you intentionally integrate margin in your life you won't be sorry!
Yours in Health,
PS: Update - here are our boys now! They don't live at home anymore and we now have a bathroom on the main floor. Go figure!