15 January 2011

Try This On For Size!

     Welcome to 2011 my friends. And what a year it has already been! I have been wracking my brain trying to come up with some more light hearted material; since I realize that all this heavy pontificating can get old. Trust me; it does for me as well. The steady stream of wars, assassination attempts, civil rights violations, rampant government and corporate abuse and so on tends to lock my attention on negatives and cause me to leave a lot of positives unsaid. In light of that, for the first post of 2011 I thought I might throw out some advice and observations. Free of charge; do with them as you will.

     First, take an inventory of what matters in life. I know that every two bit advice column says the same thing. The problem is that they say this and then they list a whole bunch of crap that shouldn’t even be on your list, let alone at the top of your list. Here is my list; health, family, friends, sleep. That is it; in that order. It is short and to the point for a reason. To be effective, any list has to be remembered.

     Face it, your health is the foundation which decides all else. Dump anything that interferes with it or prepare yourself for martyrdom. Family? They matter most and they count when all else fails you. Make sure you do the same for them. Friends define the texture of your life. I have no problem being alone for long periods of time, but a life absent high quality friendship tends to pass unnoticed. Memories and anticipation form the bookends of a well lived life. Do not deny yourself or others the gift of unconditional friendship. Sleep acts as the gauge for all else. It is simple; if you sleep well at night then you had a good day. A good life is nothing more than a string of good days.

     Go out of your way to encounter beauty in unexpected places. A stark tree limb, framed against a grey sky, can unleash a wave of emotion if you give it a chance. Try it. Park somewhere and just watch the world around you. When something draws your attention, focus on it and let your imagination run wild. I have no doubts that this is how Tolkien found Middle Earth or Erickson birthed his world of the Malaz. You don’t have to write a series of books about what you see; but doing this whenever possible will help you sleep better at night.

     Cancel your TV service. I know what a “granola” thing to say, but hear me out. TV has become a cacophony of the absurd. Any quality show you wish to watch is available through various services like Amazon, iTunes, Netflix, or Hulu. Many inexpensive devices will now stream these prepaid subscriptions directly to your TV, so being forced to huddle around the 15” laptop screen has become passé. You’ll get what you want, when you want it, for a lot less money. The real benefit however, is  that you won’t get all of the pundits, talking heads, fool’s parades, and desperate losers constantly yapping in your space. That crap will drag you down every time. Plus, we did this in my home and we save about $1200 a year; even after subscription prices are figured in.

     Drop the grudges. Unless you are engaged in hunting down the killers of your loved ones, holding a grudge is sort of like paying death forward. Your whole life has now coalesced around a negative that was most likely spawned by a simple misunderstanding. People die every day. In most cases, they didn’t get up that morning expecting not to see the sunset. Ask yourself if the value of one minute, day, week, month, or year is worth your grudge. If you cannot answer yes, make amends and do whatever you can do to make up for any time already lost.

     Think about the times you are the happiest, the memories that are the most fondly recalled, and the people and things associated with these events. Now spend your energy replicating those situations. There is no reason, other than some misguided idea that life has to be serious, that your every waking moment cannot be a celebration of the best things about your life. Try it out, I promise you’ll be happier, healthier and better rested. If for some bizarre reason you cannot appreciate this, your family and friends will.


  1. Wow ..straight forward...honest...real...and thoughts to ponder....Thank you..As always...XOXOXO

  2. Hi Paul,
    I’ll try all these on for size. All the bad news is getting a little too heavy for me too. I decided to give the TV (and the bad news) a break. Maybe a permanent break. I like your list of what matters. But oops, I need to mind the health more with better eating habits, etc. And family yes, they matter. And sleep, a big priority. I’ll be more mindful of the beauty all around me. Holding no grudges. Capturing all of my fond memories too. Excellent work here Paul. I followed on NB and will be back!

  3. Paul, wonderful write-up! I especially love the part of no TV, and believe me, I would do it in a heartbeat if it weren't for my father. He is 87 y.o. and limited in getting around. He loves to watch the news and a few shows. Me, on the other hand, am not a TV watcher. But it does make a lot of sense. People spend too much time in front of a TV that could be spent doing something productive. The other ideas are great as well, but the TV paragraph made me smile and relate!

  4. I agree with you Paul. We shouldn't be wasting our energy on negative things. Life is too short to waste our time on things that would not make us better individuals. You are right by saying we need to prioritize the things that matter to us the most. Health is always my top priority. But the rest significant matters can go without ranking them... I usually go with the flow...:)

    Hope you can check out my blog...:) Perhaps, it's the least important thing you can do for the day but I hope you'll spare a time to check it out... I'll appreciate it wholeheartedly.:)

  5. Hi Paul, it is my first visit to your blog and what a blog it is! Straight foward and honest! I have made a decision not to waste my time and energy on negative things or people and it is a great feeling...I'm free :)

    If you have a moment have a look at my blog as well :)

    Here is my link: http:www.nelietatravellingadventures.blogspot.com

  6. I don't watch TV, best thing I ever did stopping that. I do watch films though, nothing better than after a tough week, cuddling up on the sofa to a good film but that's my treat :)

    Some good points there, do you find it easy to stick to them or will you find that you have to rejig yourself now and again?

  7. Hi all,

    Thanks for the kind comments. SJ, like most humans, I find it easier to make a point than to follow my own advice. However, I really do try to stick to these basic priorities. Whenever I stray to far off base, I make an effort to distill everything back to this essence.

    Those are the times that I find being alone works best. Long motorcycle rides, bike rides, hikes, runs, paddles, camping trips, or just sitting in a coffee shop reading are all tools I employ to reorient myself...