Alignment and friction

There’s a key quality of our daily experience that not many people talk about. Some people experience it and feel happy because of it. Others experience its opposite and feel sad, demotivated, or stressed.

This quality is alignment.

Alignment occurs when the various parts of your life fit together naturally. For example, if you love being outdoors, working as a wildlife photographer aligns with that part of your personality. Similarly, if you feel most in the zone when you’re writing beautiful code, then a job with lots of time to think and a work space with few distractions might feel very aligned.

There’s also a practical side to alignment. Working as an independent entrepreneur might align with taking care of an elderly family member, while a 9-to-5 job would not. A wish to take better care of our planet would align with biking to work; it would not align with working a job that requires you to drive back and forth for two hours a day.

The opposite of alignment is friction. The woman who likes to crack jokes but works in an office that is very serious and quiet might experience friction between her personality and her work environment. On a practical level, having to travel a lot for work might create friction if you desire to be at home with your partner more often.

Too much friction can be incredibly stressful. It’s a major source of unhappiness in many people’s lives.

Someone with a boisterous personality, who has to curb her enthusiasm at work, might feel exhausted because she constantly has to pretend to be different than she really is.

Of course, perfect alignment is not a realistic goal. Life’s too messy. But often you can at least remove some causes of friction, of misalignment.

For me, a huge source of friction was being expected to sit in an office most of the day, most days. Once I let go of that, I experienced much more alignment.

What’s the primary cause of friction in your life today?

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