It's been a busy week, and I probably won't have much time to write over the coming week.
Thinking about all that I have read this week, it dawned on me that all the advice anyone could ever need for a Happy Healthy Long Life appeared in 2 newspaper articles, 1 blog post, and 2 medical journal articles just this week!
2. Lower your expectations for happiness & you won't be disappointed.
3. Unclutter your life--in terms of stuff, people & activities--determine what and who matters most.
4. Eat those fruits, vegetables, & whole grains. Exercise vigorously, keep your weight down, drink only moderately, don't smoke, limit the non-narcotic pain meds, and take folic acid.
Two must read blogs, from which I lifted 3 of the 4 bits of advice are:
The Unclutterer: A blog about getting and staying organized. A place for everything, and everything in its place is its gospel.
Happy Days: The Pursuit of What Matters In Troubled Times. Produced by The New York Times.
From Happy Days: The Doctor is Within, by Pico Iyer. The New York Times, July 22, 2009
(My edited Cliff Notes version. Just read the article!)
“Easy for him to say, you might scoff. He’s a monk, he meditates for four hours as soon as he wakes up and he’s believed by his flock to be an incarnation of a god.”
But, don't be so quick to judge. Believe me, his life has been filled with challenges & responsibilities that would send most of us running & screaming for cover.
“Yet in 35 years of talking to the Dalai Lama, and covering him everywhere from Zurich to Hiroshima, as a non-Buddhist, skeptical journalist, I’ve found him to be as deeply confident, and therefore sunny, as anyone I’ve met.”
He’s a realist and he’s practical, with optimism & a sunny nature. Which is exactly why people all over the world want to know---How can I be like that?
What the Dalai Lama would advise:
1. If an arrow is sticking out of your side don’t argue about where it came from or who made it; just pull it out. You make your way to happiness not by fretting about it or trafficking in New Age affirmations, but simply by finding the cause of your suffering, and then attending to it, as any doctor (of mind or body) might do.
2. Think in terms of enemies, he suggests, and the only loser is yourself.
3. Concentrate on external wealth and at some point you realize it has limits — and you’re still feeling discontented.
4. Learn how to be delighted by the smallest birthday cake.
5. Happiness is not pleasure, and unhappiness, is not the same as suffering. Suffering — in the sense of old age, sickness and death — is the law of life; unhappiness is just the position we choose — or can not choose — to bring to it.
6. How can you always remain so happy and smiling?” That kind of happiness is within the reach of almost anyone.
7. We can work on happiness as we work on our backhands, our soufflés or our muscles in the gym.
True happiness, in that sense, doesn’t mean trying to acquire things, so much as letting go of things (our illusions and attachments). It’s only the clouds of short-sightedness or ignorance, that prevent us from seeing that our essential nature, is blue sky.
From Happy Days: Lowered Expectations, by Eric Weiner. The New York Times, July 19, 2009.
(My edited Cliff Notes version. Just read the article!)
Why? Low expectations. And that’s one of the big secrets of happiness.
“We’re the happiest lige nu.” Lige nu is a Danish phrase that means literally “just now” but strongly connotes a sense of “for the time being but probably not for long.”
Danes, in other words, harbor low expectations about everything, including their own happiness.
Danes seem to know instinctively that expectations kill happiness, leaving the rest of us unhappy un-Danes to sweat it out on the “hedonic treadmill.”
That’s what researchers call the tendency to constantly ratchet up our expectations, a sort of emotional inflation that devalues today’s accomplishments and robs us of all but the most fleeting contentment.
If a B-plus grade made us happy last semester, it’ll take an A-minus to register the same satisfaction this semester, and so on until eventually, inevitably, we fail to reach the next bar and slip into despair.
Yes, happiness is a function of our expectations — or, as it has been said: “Happiness equals reality minus expectations.”
Given that neat formulation, there are two ways to attack the problem: boost our reality or lower our expectations. Most of us choose the former.
We’d rather stew in our misery than trim our expectations. Lowering our sights smacks us as a cop out, un-American. Better a nation of morose overachievers, we reason, than a land of happy slackers.
From Ask Unclutterer: Having It All
(Read the full post & visit Erin's site often)
The Secret to “Having It All”
How do you have time for all of this - running a blog, writing a book, all of these musical activities & all the other stuff you seem to do?
2. Organize what you choose to own and use. Your home and office don’t need to be pristine museums, but you and the people who access the same space/items need to be able to easily find things when they’re needed. Order is better than chaos, and order saves you time and energy.
3. Commit to a streamlined routine for the mundane tasks in your life and be disciplined enough to maintain that routine. If you do 30 minutes of housework a day, your home is never chaotic. But, you have to be committed to these daily activities (dishes, laundry as needed, things put back in place when finished, kitty litter scooped, etc.) and not put them off for another day. The same is true for work; you have to stay on top of the necessary tasks or they will haunt you. I also think of this item as taking responsibility for the things you choose to own.
4. Determine what matters most to you. Make a list of the people, activities, and things in your life that mean the most to you and then spend the vast majority of your time focusing on these items. Be honest with yourself, though, and put on your list what really matters to you, not what you think should matter to you.
5. Remind yourself that even if you live to be 100, life is short. There is no better time to live your life than right now. My life’s motto is carpe vitam, Latin for seize life. It’s morbid to think about, but someday might not ever come. Stop putting things off until tomorrow.
6. Say “no” to what doesn’t matter. If an activity or responsibility isn’t on your list of what matters most to you, say “no” to it. Learn to say “no” in such a way as to not be a jerk, but say “no” when you need to. This is where I greatly differ from most people because I don’t feel guilty about protecting my time. And, as far as I know, most people don’t think I’m a jerk because I’m clear about why I’m declining offers and invitations. (”Taking a yoga class with you would be fun, but Wednesday nights are date night with my husband. Is there a similar class we can take together on another night?”)
7. Enjoy being industrious. Working provides us with the resources to take care of the things that matter most. Whatever you do for a career, make sure it is something that you enjoy (even if just minimally).
8. Get rid of everything that is toxic in your life because toxic things are clutter. Toxic people and habits suck up resources and energy. I was an avid smoker until I calculated how much of my money, time, and energy were going into my smoking addiction. No matter how gifted and talented, I avoid employing, working with, and spending time with people who are toxic. A toxic person can waste your time and mental energy faster than any other form of clutter.
9. Live within your means and save money for retirement, rainy days, and adventures. Get rid of your credit cards and only use cash or your debit card. Live on a budget even if you don’t need to be mindful of your spending habits. Have a retirement account, and two savings accounts — one for emergencies (refrigerator died, fender bender) and one for splurging on what matters most to you (vacation, rock climbing lessons, a camera to capture your child’s first steps). Buy quality instead of quantity. Be a smart consumer.
10. Take risks and be brazen. A second motto in my life is ad astra per aspera, which is loosely translated as to the stars through difficulty. (It’s also the Kansas state motto.) Great things might fall in your lap from time to time, but for the most part you have to get outside your comfort zone and initiate something new. Have you always wanted to learn to play the flute? Get your hands on a flute and start taking lessons. You’ll be really awful those first six months (or year or five), but you’ll never learn to play the flute if you don’t take the chance and try.
11. Get adequate sleep. Keep a sleep journal and find out how much sleep you need to function at your best. Then, make sure you get that amount of sleep every night. When you’re well rested, it’s easier to stay calm, be productive, and focus on what you need and want to do.
1. Control your weight. Stay trim. A BMI under 25
2. Exercise vigorously for 30 minutes a day.
3. No smoking
4. Eat a diet in line with the DASH Diet--lots of vegetables, fruit, and whole grains (especially for breakfast)--and be sure to get 400 mcg of folic acid/a day.
5. Moderate to low alcohol consumption
6. Keep non-narcotic pain relievers down to less than once a week.
Read the Science Daily summary of the two JAMA articles + editorial. Click Here.
All that heart-healthy advice about eating the right foods, exercising and losing weight pay off in real life for both men and women, two new studies show.
The reports, both originating at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and published in the July 22/29 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, focused on different aspects of cardiovascular risk in two large groups: the 83,882 women in the second Nurses' Health Study, and the 20,900 men in the Physicians' Health Study I.
Both arrived at the same conclusion: Do the right things, and you get measurable benefits.
Simultaneous appearance of the two reports was more or less a coincidence, said Dr. Luc Djousse, an associate epidemiologist at Brigham and Women's at Harvard Medical School, who led the men's study.
While the clear message of both studies is that "a healthy lifestyle prevents a number of illnesses," what is often overlooked is that the choice of a healthy lifestyle is not a purely individual decision, said Dr. Veronique L. Roger, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at the Mayo Clinic, who wrote an accompanying editorial.
"There is a shared responsibility between the individual and the community," said Roger, who read off a dictionary definition of lifestyle as "a typical way of life of an individual, group or culture."
"The reality is that society has engineered physical activity out of our lives," Roger said. "
"Relation Between Modifiable Lifestyle Factors & Lifetime Risk of Heart Failure." JAMA 302(4):394-400, 2009.