Actionable items are like the rim of the wheel of life. Where the rubber hits the road. Constantly people ask me what would make them happy and become unstuck, find things to do, fill the emptiness or keep going in life. I would say begin with actually not thinking too much. Overthinking can paralyze you. It is like bringing the axe to kill an insect or revving up the engine that heats up your car unnecessarily. Here are some things to begin with. Take stock. What do you need to improve? Divide them into basic duties at home, health, relationships, vision for work, and some serious fun activities. In terms of cognitive behavior therapy, these are called behavioral changes or activities; In dialectic therapy, they equate to change-oriented skills, living in the now and building relationships- all to fill the emptiness. For those not affected by illnesses, these may come as easy as an experienced driver driving a car smoothly, while it may feel like an uphill battle for those battling emotionally. No one is born with the expertise in all the nuances, you know!
Pick one or two goals. Begin!
Let’s look at all these areas, starting with the immediate priorities.
Basic duties at home: Optimize it! Do not underestimate the value of things to accomplish like meal prep, grocery shopping or ordering, laundry, cleaning the cupboards, or making your bed! I kinda think a lot of this is in the attitude. Just give the time it takes vs. rush that they don’t deserve the time and are pesky. The opposite- I say not to drag your feet and overemphasize “the drudgery” and procrastinate. I would hustle for peace in doing them intentionally! At least think that you have the skill to do these, and know that a lot of people are doing the same exact basic common things (I am not writing for Kings and Queens) and that these are shared experiences! I am the kind who used to think this is a waste of my time and rush it. Now I trained myself to think it is luxury to be occupied in these cognitively non-taxing tasks knowing there is no shortcut to this! It is to my advantage to make it fun and interesting to pair the activities with beautiful music or colorful tools like an aqua ceramic knife to cut vegetables- just to give you an idea. Oh, I went to a free knife skills class at William Sonoma, just to add fun to mundane activity! Pick one basic home duty to do first. Let’s do it peacefully and regularly.
Health: Three main things.
Sleep– Basically people are not sleeping enough. I think sleep is like a balm. I suggest you determine the wake-up time and go backward by 8.30 hours. Reserve the first 30 minutes to transition or read in bed. I also realize that some folk consider 6 hours of sleep as optimal, but I think that is very rare though, especially if dealing with emotional problems. Let’s put the phone plugged to recharge in another part of the house so you do not expose yourself to blue light before bed that will hinder sleep, plus be activated by things like Instagram or snapchat.
Exercising or keeping active is critical, mind you, not to lose weight but to keep the longevity and energize you to be alert and get the pep in the step! I tell folk not to break the chain on the calendar if possible; that way at least you keep active for 5 out of 7 days. I know of a family that made the gym as their dynamic community to do wider activities, and some fit it in before (those with kids, mostly) or after work. I think 10-minute dog walking may not be enough, though a lovely activity- although some run and take long walks with the dogs. What about those 10,000 steps? Think, prepare and intentionally remove the barriers to get to the goals. Listen to podcasts, your favorite music, novels or catch up on news on audible.com. Seriously, stop to think of taking advantage of your surroundings like local parks, paths, and lakes. That way you pair up all that is good, that equates to classical conditioning.
Nutrition is tied in seriously with what you shop at the grocery store, where you eat if you order and how/what you actually cook. I think you know what suits you best. Some like lots of small meals, some let hunger drive the eating, some eat at specific times or into intermittent fasting, some count calories, some stick to a specific diet. I say the key is to plan ahead whatever you do each day! By that, what I mean is to put the ingredients or food aside for the entire day and follow through. If you don’t plan or have little restraint, you may end up eating the main specific meals and a lot of small meals on the top and once you open the lid of the cookie jar to eat a small bite, it keeps going! We all have done it at some point. Incorporate all that is good for you and what you like to eat while shopping. A woman challenged me how much fresh salad costs. I have resourceful friends who shop at the right places and make it work. It’s all in moderation, yes?!
OK, I will address relationships next week. Little steps, right?
Start envisioning your life. Our, dear friends, Matt and Craig invited us for dinner and shared with us the activities list Matt has developed. That seasonal list included so many intentional experiences, fun activities in town, books to read, seasonal fruits, vegetables and flowers- and ended with the quote by Alice Walker: “Look closely at the present you are constructing: It should look like the future you are dreaming.” That impacted our lives! Let’s build the precious moments of our life!
# Related podcasts:
Warmly, Mani Pavuluri