A Book That Takes Its Time

The Best Route to Happiness

July 20, 2018


“Happiness is primarily about cultivating your inner life, instead of trying to influence your external life…. Even if you can control most things, controlling everything is impossible. So the best route to happiness is not trying to control your surroundings, but to control what is happening inside you. If you can control your feelings, your emotions, and your desires, you can be happy. It’s not what happens that makes you unhappy—it’s your reaction to what happens.”
—Frederic Lenoir, “Be Aware of the Good Things Around You,” A Book That Takes Its Time

Growth

Rules of Adulthood Revisited

July 16, 2018


Way back in 2010, when I first read Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, I seized on the concept of Rules of Adulthood. At that time, mine included:
  • There is time enough
  • Live joyfully
  • Be Kathy
  • Put on your big girl panties and deal with it
  • Pause before you say no
  • It is what it is
  • Rise to the occasion
  • I am enough
  • Slow down—faster isn’t better
  • Progress, not perfection
  • Help is everywhere
  • What would I do if I wasn’t scared?

There’s been a lot of figurative water under the bridge since then, including my turning 50—howisthatevenpossible? Now that I’m, ahem, so mature, I've been toying with the idea of revising my Rules of Adulthood for my new stage of life (midlife-no-kids-at-home-but-not-quite-retired).

One of the issues I commonly deal with now is worry about the future. As I get older, I see my parents and in-laws aging and coping with various physical and emotional challenges. I worry about losing my husband. About becoming ill myself. After Scout’s death hit me hard, I worry about losing Tank, Prudy, and Luna, knowing that there's no guarantee they will live the long life Scout did.

Milestones keep coming, but they’re not fun ones like college, marriage, and starting a family. More like colonoscopies, bereavement, and loss of physical vitality!

Wait, where was I?

Oh, yes, Rules of Adulthood. To combat these worries, I some additions to my original Rules of Adulthood:

  • Everything is figure-out-able (courtesy of Marie Forleo). Instead of stressing about what might (or might not) be ahead, believe that I’ll be able to figure it all out when the time comes.
  • Life is not a competition.
  • Be easy with yourself. After all these years, trust that you are a good and decent person, even when you make mistakes. (See next rule.)
  • Everyone is doing the best they can--including you.
  • Quality, not perfection. Perfection is unattainable, but you’re almost always able to live and work with quality.
  • See the funny side. Because laughing is better than crying. Usually.
  • Don’t immediately label things that happen to you as “good” or “bad”

It’s good to review the way we think from time to time. As we age, ideally we’re becoming wiser, kinder people. As we experience more, we learn to see other peoples’ points of view. Maybe we soften, maybe we grow stronger. Life is a work in progress, and though change is sometimes scary and hard, sometimes it’s just what we need.

Do you have Rules of Adulthood you live by? Please share in the comments!



Feelings

Looking Wider Than What Hurts

July 13, 2018

Photo by Slava Bowman on Unsplash

“In actuality, misery is a moment of suffering allowed to become everything. So, when feeling miserable, we must look wider than what hurts. When feeling a splinter, we must, while trying to remove it, remember there is a body that is not splinter, and a spirit that is not splinter, and a world that is not splinter.”
—Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening 

Appreciation

What I Learned From a Daily Vacation

July 09, 2018


Last week, while I participated in Laura Vanderkam’s Daily Vacation Challenge, I:

  • Did a crossword puzzle
  • Spent time with Tank
  • Read a book
  • Watched a movie without doing anything else at the same time

What I learned surprised me:

I already do these things, with the exception of the movie, every week. It seems I’m good at scheduling simple pleasures, but not so good at savoring them while they’re occurring. Which means I’m not so good at remembering that I’ve indulged in a simple pleasure. I rush through even pleasurable things to get to the next thing, which leaves me feeling stressed and grumpy. I’m still fighting the busy fight.

I don’t properly appreciate the many lovely things in my life. I don’t fully savor them, or reflect on them later.

I’m embarrassed by how much I complain about my perceived challenges and how ungrateful I’ve been. I hope—no, I plan—to change this. I started 2018 with a gratitude practice—writing down three things I was grateful for every day. I stopped doing that a couple of months ago, and I’m going to pick it up again. (I’ve been having some issues with depression again, and I wonder if this would help? Couldn’t hurt.)

I didn’t expect to learn these things about myself—but I’m glad I did. This coming week, a non-vacation week, I’ll still indulge in some of my favorite simple pleasures, and I’m keeping a time log, so I’ll have a place to record those daily breaks. My goal is to slow down enough to actually appreciate them while they’re happening. I’ll dust off my gratitude journal and bite my tongue when I start to complain. 

Did you participate in the Daily Vacation Challenge? What were your favorite mini-breaks? Did you learn any unexpected lessons? Please share in the comments below! 

Growth

Work, Play, Be Joyful

July 06, 2018

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

“Summer is a period of luxurious growth. To be in harmony with the atmosphere of summer, awaken early in the morning and reach to the sun for nourishment to flourish as the gardens do. Work, play, travel, be joyful, and grow into selfless service. The bounty of the outside world enters and enlivens us.”
—Paul Pitchford




Look for my travel writing here