You may have noticed I have not published much on the blog recently. Truth be told, I am in a bit of a funk right now. I don’t feel particularly creative, and although I have plenty of time to write, I find myself wasting time on other things. I have let many bad habits creep into my life and although I’m not really unhappy, things are not optimal. Not that optimizing everything is the goal, but it can make life better.
I like to write when my life is going great, because who doesn’t want to share all the awesome things they are doing. However, maybe what is really more useful to you, the reader of this blog, is to hear about my struggles. Reading a manicured and heavily edited reality is deceiving in a way, and when we watch someone else’s life we should keep in mind we are watching the movie that they want us to see. There is a lot going on which is unseen.
This current bump in the road is primarily related to my health, specifically the issues with my back. Although things are slowly getting better, the path is not linear. Intellectually I knew this was going to be the case, but practically it has been hard to deal with. The constant false starts and times where I think this is the week everything goes back to normal are too many to count. When I hit the bad days it is very discouraging and difficult to stay positive. The times when I know gratitude and meditation and all of the happiness hacks should be implemented are the most difficult times to use them. It is easier to go to a screen, or to pour a cold beer instead of going for a walk or doing 10 minutes of meditation.
When things are good in your life, it is easy to get lazy and complacent. We stop doing the things that got us to happiness in the first place. We coast along maintaining the status quo. Sometimes this works. The danger lies in things deteriorating very slowly, just beyond our perception. Incremental change is hard to detect. Kind of like when you realize your kids are almost as tall as you but it seems like just yesterday they couldn’t reach the kitchen counter. The change is so slow you don’t notice it, but its there.
Things are out of sync and it is time to hit the reset button.
Perhaps your life is out of sync as well and you want to join me on this journey.
The beautiful thing about blogging is you can hold yourself accountable. I’m assuming I will write some sort of follow up to this and let you know how everything goes. It would be mildly embarrassing to have to tell you about my failure, so I may work just a bit harder. Of course I could just make anything up and tell you I succeeded even if I happen to fail, but you all know how I feel about lying.
In no particular order of importance these are the areas I am going to focus on:
- Meditation: Mindfulness is the cornerstone of happiness and living a content life. I’ve harped on this before, although to get the benefits of meditation, you have to actually, you know, meditate once in a while. I have not done formal mediation for months and I need to change this. I feel like anxiety is creeping into my life at times because I am drifting to the future. My health had made me aware of the simple fact that eventually my body is going to wear out. I don’t like this but I need to accept it. It is useless to worry about things I cannot control. Time will march on and I will age. It doesn’t help that many of my friends are quite a bit younger than me, and are entering the prime of their athletic abilities while nagging injury has led to decline in mine. I will start meditating at least 10 minutes a day.
- Alcohol: One of the more interesting experiments I did was to quit drinking for 6 months. The effects of sobriety are profound, both from a psychological, social and physiological standpoint. I have let the habit of drinking back into my life and I think it is time to let it go for a while. I will miss having a beer every now and then, but for now it must go. I’m no longer using alcohol in a mindful way. I am using it as a crutch, something comforting to help me unwind from the day. The problem is it’s too easy to let one drink turn into two, two to three, etc.
- Caffeine: I really like coffee in the morning and I don’t know if I want to give it up completely, but I’m drinking too much, and sometimes later in the day. I want to get down to one cup in the morning. Perhaps I can get rid of it completely, but I think this habit will be harder than alcohol for me.
- Sleep: The quality of my sleep has deteriorated significantly in the past few years and I don’t know why. Sleep is when the body releases growth hormone and other reparative factors and fixes itself from the trauma of living. Getting rid of alcohol and limiting caffeine should help. I will meditate at night, which should help falling asleep, but not necessarily keeping me asleep.Maybe I will start experimenting with timing of evening meals, temperature, maybe even different mattresses or pillows. Sleep is 1/3 of our life and it deserves our attention.
- Screens: They are no less addictive than the booze or caffeine, maybe even more so. Social media and video game makers are obviously smarter than me because they have hacked my brain. I’m exactly like one of those rats in the experiments where they press a button to get a little hit of cocaine to blast away at their dopamine receptors. We all suffer from this weird cognitive bias where we think that it is only other people that suffer from bias and somehow we see the world clearly and are immune. I try and remind myself frequently that I am just as ridiculous as everyone else around me. It’s impossible to completely eliminate screens, but I can put up barriers. I am going to not carry my phone with me as much. I will force myself to meditate and exercise before I hit the screens.
This is like clearing the cache from your computer or completely reinstalling the operating system. Sometimes a little patch or a change in software code will do, but at times it’s best for a hard reset.