Monday, May 23, 2011

Advice for Living Well

Now that I feel old, here's my list of things I use to manage my life.

(1) Don't get angry... nothing gets me off kilter more than anger.  And I've learned that nothing is worth the damage it does in terms of the impact on my family.  So whenever someone pisses me off I have learned to ask myself: it is worth it?  As a result I walk away from a lot of potential conflict.   

(2) Nothing is worth getting sick over ... nothing.  I do less at work.  I care less about volunteer positions.   I make mistakes, say I'm sorry and move on.  I blow off high maintenance people.  I define my responsibilities in a newly narrow band.  I mute a lot of emotions that would otherwise take over my life. 

(3) Yoga, garden and walk.  Limit aerobic activity to days when I feel marvelous (1x per year?). Gardening... some days it means dragging myself outside, sitting on the grass and scratching the dirt with a fork -- but touching nature is very healing for me. 

(4) Art and dream therapy... both really free me from the stranglehold of untended emotions.  When emotions get stuck in my body but don't have a path to my rational mind, art helps release them.  I draw impressionistic images that feel to me like the sensations in by body then I list words to describe what I see in the picture. 

(5) Forcing myself to stick to a routine and good sleep habits.  Up by 8am weekdays, 9:30am weekends... no matter what.  No naps.  In bed by 10pm.  No media before bedtime.  If (when) I get into a cycle of waking up at night I just get up and read or practice mindfulness meditations lying in bed.  I let go of my fear about being exhausted the next day... oh well... a slow day tomorrow... so it goes.  Pasta for dinner again.

(6) Mindfulness, forgiveness and boundaries.   Read a lot of books on these topics.  Seek out experiences that bring them into focus for me.  I really like the books "Boundaries" by "Townsend and Cloud"

(7) Speak like a preacher when necessary.... I find myself blathering a bunch of aphorisms from my youth like a mantra... They are very soothing.  Other people look at me like I'm a nut case but so what. 

(8) Get outside in the sun as often as possible even if that means sitting in a chair wrapped in a blanket.  Direct sunlight helps me regulate the body clock.

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