Friday, March 26, 2010

Awesome Things Volume X

Enjoying your life. When I was a schoolboy I used to long for summer vacations. As an adult I often get up on Mondays and dream of Fridays. Sometimes I leave home in the morning and can't wait for the evening. My mother used to call this "wishing your life away". A song by one of my favorite rock bands...The Who...has a chorus that goes "and I love every minute of the day". I really try to think like this even though some days I am not very successful. I want to enjoy my life in general and every minute in particular. Do you feel like life is passing you by? It may be if you are always trying to fast forward it. Slow your life down and enjoy every minute of your day. You won't regret it.

Being happy. Here's something from the archives that I wrote a few years ago.

Why are some people happy and others not? First of all, I believe it is a choice. Some people choose to be happy despite what goes on around them and to them. Others think they can't be happy until everything is perfect in their lives. Many more always see the glass as half empty instead of half full. It's all a matter of choice and perspective. I do think it helps to have a balanced life. Here are the things I think are important. Every individual must work out how to have and balance these things in their life. For me, they represent the essentials of a happy, balanced, and fulfilling life.

The Six Essentials of a Balanced and Happy Life

Mind. Develop your intellect. Read a book. Learn a new skill. Be open to new things. If you don't use it, you lose it. Rediscover the enthusiasm and curiosity you had as child to learn and discover new things.

Body. Practice wellness. Begin to live a healthy life now. Take care of your body. It is your vehicle through life. Some people take better care of their cars than their own bodies. Don't wait till the damage is done.

Spirit. Be in touch with something bigger than yourself. Have a belief system and a personal code of ethics. Church is great for some but for others it's not. You can still explore the teachings of the great spiritual masters. Check out Buddha, Jesus, Mohammad, and others. If nothing else, the golden rule works for everyone. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Practice the religion of kindness, compassion, and tolerance.

Work. Give work what it needs and requires. Being a workaholic and working hard are not the same things. Look for work that is satisfying, not only to your bank account, but to your spirit. Work is one of the ways we can share in the creative process of life. Elevate it, in whatever way you can, to something more than just a mundane routine.

Family. Being part of a family who loves you is one of life's greatest gifts. Appreciate it. Strive to make those in your families feel appreciated and loved. Celebrate your family bonds! There's an old saying that goes, "Home is where they have to take you in." Be the kind of person that someone wants to take in.

Self. Take time for yourself. Balance time and activity with others with silence and solitude for yourself. Be your own best friend. Enjoy your own company. Look in the mirror and know who you see.

Give all of these things time in your life. Too much or too little of any of them creates an imbalance which can be a source of stress for many people. When our life is in balance, we are at ease with living and happiness finds us.

Learning to be silent and still. Recently a co-worker asked me about Zen and meditation. Zen is basically being where you are and doing what you are doing. It's that simple and it's that hard. Meditation is similar. There are no complicated methods. There's a form of Christian meditation called "Centering Prayer" that involves a prayer word/mantra and two 20 minute sitting sessions, one in the morning and one in the evening. Zen Buddhist meditation is referred to as Zazen and basically involves just sitting and being still, often using an object to focus your attention. The positive effects of meditation come from regular practice. None of this is magic. It's like exercise. One trip to the gym doesn't get you in shape. The Christian monk, Thomas Merton, often wrote about being in touch with "the ground of our being". He was basically writing about meditation and being in touch with the sacred. Think about your life. How often are you silent and still?

Thinking. According to the book "StrengthsFinder" one of my strengths is Intellection. This doesn't mean I am smarter than everyone else. It simply means I like to think. I always enjoy quiet moments in my day when I can stare into space and let my mind wander. Sometimes my mind is going so many places at the same time I can wear myself out. I admit that I sometimes think too much. There's a song by The Moody Blues called "Thinking is the Best Way to Travel". Like books, thinking can take your mind places your body will never go. When thinking creates an idea and the idea is implemented in a practical way, it is very satisfying. Our brains, like the rest of our bodies, need exercise. Take your brain out for a walk.

Getting older. Today is my birthday. I am 59 years old although in my mind I am still 25. Lots of people complain about getting older. I never complain about it because it sure beats the alternative. I am very aware that I have more years behind me than I do in front of me but I like being the age I am. The old body isn't what it used to be but I think I am smarter and wiser than I have ever been. I am also much calmer, more patience, and not much upsets me. I have survived a lot and it has made me stronger. I am still a passionate person and the fire in my belly has not gone cold. We "Baby Boomers" get old like everyone else but we fight it kicking and screaming. I'm not quite ready for permanent residence in a rocking chair, especially since I am still rocking at music concerts. When I am confined to my rocking chair I will be listening to the Grateful Dead on my ipod. I am enjoying my life and I hope for many more years.

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