Two books written by Jonathan Fields are timely: Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance (2011) and How to live a Good Life: Soulful Stories, Surprising Science, and Practical Wisdom (2016).
From Fields’s bio:
He currently runs mission-driven media and education venture, Good Life Project®, where he and his team lead a global community in the quest to live more meaningful, connected and vital lives. They produce a top-rated podcast and video-series with millions of listens and views in more than 150 countries, where Jonathan regularly shares conversations with the world’s leading voices, like Sir Ken Robinson, Elizabeth Gilbert, Milton Glaser, Brene Brown, Gretchen Rubin and hundreds more.
Steven Pressfield in his Uncertainty review: “Keats called it Negative Capability–the skill ‘of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts.’ Tom Thibodeaux, coach of the Chicago Bulls, says, ‘You gotta learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable.’ But nobody has nailed this faculty like Jonathan Fields, showing us how to turn the fog of self- doubt, fear and internal paralysis into the clear sailing of focus, concentration and results.”
Stuart Jeffries, The Guardian, identifies a relevant theme of Uncertainty:
He counsels that we should train in what he calls the Alchemy of Fear…’Whether you’re just looking to thrive in uncertain times or deliberately amplifying uncertainty in the name of creating better things and experiences,’ argues Fields, ‘you can train your mind to not only handle the unease that comes from having to consistently act without having all the answers, but embrace and invite it as a signpost that what you’re doing matters. Rather than grasping futilely after a sense of certainty that’ll never come, learn how to dance with the unknown. It’s possible, it just takes a bit of work. Then look for the opportunity that always goes hand in hand with upheaval.’
Below you can watch the Uncertainty book trailer:
II. How to Live a Good Life
A.J. Jacobs says about How to Live a Good Life: “Fields takes ideas from psychology, literature, and philosophy and blends them into a delicious fruit smoothie of wisdom. The book will help those who want to give their life more meaning, value, and deep breaths.”
What Fields offers is a 30-day program of filling three “Good Life Buckets”: contribution, connection, and vitality. His description of these elements: “The first bucket is called Vitality, and it’s about the state of your mind and body. The second is Connection; this one is about relationships. The third, Contribution, is about how you contribute to the world.”
Besides going into further depth about these, he also warns there are three “laws of the buckets”:
- The buckets leak.
- Your emptiest bucket will drag the others down with it.
- The buckets never lie.
Corbett Barr, Fizzle, spoke with Fields about his philosophy. “Jonathan isn’t actually a big fan of the idea of ‘finding your life’s purpose.’ He says it’s paralyzing for many people. Instead, it’s more effective to ask yourself ‘what can I do now with a sense of purpose?’ We should seek to do something with purpose every day. Then, months or years down the road you’ll be able to connect the dots.”
On the Good Life Project website you’ll find the meaningful motto “A GOOD LIFE IS NOT A PLACE AT WHICH YOU ARRIVE, IT’S A LENS THROUGH WHICH YOU SEE AND CREATE YOUR WORLD.” There’s also a creed comprised of this and many other pithy statements. Examples:
- DON’T TRY TO BE DIFFERENT, OWN THE FACT YOU ALREADY ARE.
- UNCERTAINTY IS A SIGNPOST OF POSSIBILITY.
- THE QUEST TO CREATE SOMETHING FROM NOTHING IS A WHOLLY IRRATIONAL ACT, DO IT ANYWAY.
The book page of his site offers a free download of the first chapter. (Scroll down the page.)
More details of the Fizzle interview with Fields: