Ars Vivendi

Ars Vivendi–the art of living.

This phrase is most frequently associated with Zen Buddhism (as a quick Google search will show), but I believe that ars vivendi is best demonstrated in a life dedicated to following Jesus Christ–the supreme Master of the art of living.

To live fully and well, which is the essence of the art of living, requires knowing where you are coming from and where you are going. To live fully and well requires knowing what one values and what one would be willing to suffer for or even to die for. To live well is to live with purpose and with joy, to give oneself fully to the adventure of life, and to do so “in the service of someone or something greater than oneself”, as psychologist Martin Seligman put it.

Truly happy people, those who have mastered the art of living, are outer-oriented rather than inner-oriented. They are not the center of their own universe, although they are well in tune with their own needs and desires. These individuals–Mozart, Albert Schweitzer, and Bronson Alcott come to mind as epitomes of the type–find their joy in total dedicated pursuit of a purpose reaching beyond their own lifetime. As Czikszentmihalyi found, the most satisfied individuals are those who ‘lose’ themselves in an engaging pursuit; who enter into a state of flow where time becomes meaningless–in this state one actually seems to have stepped outside of time.

Masters of the art of living approach life with a defined purpose, a strong sense of personal values, dedication to someone or something larger than themselves, and are outer-oriented. In doing so, they experience states of flow. Masters of Ars Vivendi make the most of time by stepping outside of time. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, go forth and live well. And may ars vivendi be yours!


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