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At the time of writing this post, you have 358 days to make something of the year 2018. If you think in terms of years lived, a year is a solid time span to get something done, to change a habit, to have adventures, to bring a family together, to… to… to… you name it! Even if you, like the Epicureans, see seeking pleasure as your goal in life, and you commit to the Carpe diem motto Horace espoused by enjoying the moment, you still have to decide what comprises that enjoyment. Aren’t we all enjoyment seekers? I can’t imagine anyone wishes for a year of suffering, of boredom, a year of strife, unless your name is the ‘Drumpf’ or Ebenezer Scrooge.
Epicures didn’t encourage hedonism, but believed to find pleasure one had to curb desires, simplify life, and gain knowledge of the workings of the world. The philosophers from long ago had living figured out way before us, and we can learn from them.
So here we go, what do you want to do with your precious year 2018?
To answer this question, I’ve come up with a few questions to ask yourself:
1. Do my actions serve me? i.e. Leave me feeling better/vibrant/satisfied/accomplished/loved?
2. Do my actions serve the greater purpose of enhanced experience, enhanced living,
i.e. increase my awareness, improve my health, vitality, emotional balance?
3. Do my actions leave someone else feeling better/satisfied/loved/enlivened?
4. Do my actions serve others/the planet?
Let’s see how these questions could play out:
Question 1, How does this serve me, applied to sleep: In winter, I end up going to bed earlier, sleeping longer, skipping the late night snack and having fewer hours in a day to wrestle with calorie intake. In summer I get up earlier, go for an early morning hike, work in the garden or write before my brain gets clogged by news and other distractions. Winner!
Question 2, how does this enhance my experience? Applied to food and weight maintenance: If I ask these questions while I’m eating or preparing food, my chewing slows down, and I relish my food more (I am a foodie, no way around it); I chew my food more thorough, avoiding run-ins with my aging teeth, and improving my digestion. I’m not a lingering person, so I won’t be able to eat as much since I’m ready to move on to the next thing. Winner!
Question 3, Does this make someone feel better, applied to communication: Since talking is overrated in my book, a sort of chasing your own tale thing I’ve been know to do, I listen more when I ask myself the questions. Instead of talking, I end up asking others a question to bring out their stories. One pertinent question can evoke a long story. Others feel better because someone is listening; I use my brain thinking up pertinent questions and I get new material to write my blogs; writing blogs is more creative than talking. A winner!
Question 4, Does this serve others/the planet, applied to making and drinking homemade chai-tea: I enjoy the ritual of simmering spices before adding the tea, having a pot on the stove ready for anyone who drops in on me. No packaging (I use loose tea), or throwaway cups to litter the planet, no need for “air-fresheners”, the spices do the trick of making my house feel good and reducing inflammation. There is always chai on hand to put in a thermos when I go on a winter hike or long car ride, again, not using throwaway cups on the road. Used tea and spices will speed up my compost pile. You get the idea, and if you don’t enjoy chai-tea, substitute soup. A simple act, a winner in many ways!
What if DT asked himself these questions with regard to his Tweeting? With regard to playing golf with a security entourage every weekend, to watching Fox news to become “informed”? Yes, all his actions aim at making himself feel better, enlivened, and America Great Again, but forget about making him or others feel healthier, loved, accomplished, or emotionally more balanced. Oh, I could only wish!
If you are an engaged human, your days fill up with events, projects, family and societal obligations and (YES) distractions. To increase pleasure in living the next 358 days, take time daily to reflect on what and why you’re doing what you’re doing. I can’t expect others to transform their life by asking these questions, but I know some readers may want to give it a try. You’ll soon find that your actions take a positive course.
The Winning Point: You need not make a list of New-Year’s resolutions to improve your life!
Have a happy 2018!
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