There’s a lot of talk these days about how we spend our time. Priorities and productivity are major threads of an ongoing cultural conversation, and we’re more tuned in to how finite and valuable our time is. In fact, we seem to collectively be making an effort to use it more wisely — a welcome and necessary shift.
Yet as we reflect on how we spend our time, it is perhaps equally important for us to consider where we spend our time.
There used to be distinct lines. Our days were defined by time at work or at home, in school or at activities, in company with others or in solitude; each place had its rules and norms. Yet these have changed as the world has changed.
Especially after the last few years, many of us now recognize the profound value of certain places in our lives. Today, we may be spending our time differently — and in different spaces — than we were before.
Hybrid work schedules have shifted not only where we are but how we interact with each other. Some days we’re at home, alone (or surrounded by kids, with little alone time); some days we’re in the office. Camaraderie can feel harder to nurture.
Kids are mostly back in schools, but there are now options for remote learning. Meanwhile, attendance in many venues, including churches, has dropped, leaving many to wonder where people are going instead.
So, where are we spending our time? And do those places add meaning and value to our lives? These are questions we need to answer because where we are can help us discover and define who we are.
Perhaps it starts with a look at environments themselves. Places are created for various purposes: convenience, culture, education, religion, utility, commerce, community, fun. The function of a space is often considered first, followed by spatial decisions about how to fill it.
I founded Life Time as a destination offering a unique approach to improving health: a place for people to really take care of themselves and their families; a place they could look forward to visiting rather than somewhere they felt obligated to go.
From the start, it was a consciously curated experience — and it continues to be. We consider the senses: the scent of eucalyptus in the steam rooms, the natural textures and warm tones of materials, the light and warmth of the sun shining through the atria, the “hellos” emanating from the front desk.
Upon first impression, these spaces invite people in — and often take their breath away.
Yet there’s something else, something that goes beyond what you see, hear, smell, and touch. It’s hard to describe, but you can feel it, an energy.
The Romans coined the term genius loci, which means protective guardian or the spirit of a place. They recognized that while the materials and spatial considerations create an environment, there were certain spaces that seemed to have a soul.
In his book Genius Loci: Towards a Phenomenology of Architecture, architect Christian Norberg-Schulz writes, “Man dwells when he can orientate himself within and identify himself with an environment, or in short, when he experiences the environment as meaningful.”
In another work, he elaborates on this concept when he explains, “To dwell means to belong to a given place” and claims that “when we identify with a place, we dedicate ourselves to a way of being in the world.”
The question is, How do we identify with a place?
With respect to the wisdom of scholars and philosophers, perhaps this quote — often credited to Black Beauty author Anna Sewell — explains it best: “It is good people who make good places.”
This is the magic of Life Time. The energy here is a true embodiment of our members and team members, who are united around common interests and shared values, yet each creating their own identity.
The result? A palpable and inevitable essence of vitality as, together, everyone becomes physically, mentally, socially, spiritually healthier. And happier. It’s natural, then, that relationships begin, friendships develop, life happens.
As you think about how you spend your time — what you’re doing and why — pay attention to where you find yourself: What are the places that lift you up, inspire you, unlock your potential?
Today holds the opportunity for you to seek out and spend time in places where you find passion, possibility, and purpose. Because the places we choose to inhabit can support us in becoming the best possible versions of ourselves.
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