Now a month into the New Year let’s take a moment to reflect. How are you doing? How are you really doing? In particular, if you made resolutions four weeks ago, how is that going? Chances are, in our typical tendency to be harsh on ourselves, you might feel that you are already a little behind. But, is that really so?
Recently, my focus has returned to the subject of quality and away from quantity. And this is how I handle that nagging inner voice that is perpetually reminding me of my shortcomings. Until I figured out how to turn my attention away — toward the beauty and to the fullness that exists (even in its incomplete state) — I found it nearly impossible to turn it off. Perhaps you recall my comments last month about changing to a smaller glass when you find the one you are looking at is only half full. Today, I want to take it one step further, which is to examine what’s in the glass, especially noticing the awesomeness of being alive in the first place — from the beautiful fragrance of a flower, to the breathtaking iridescence of a peacock’s plumage; sunrises and sunsets, rainbows and puppies; the touch of your lover, a hug from a child; or the sweet, wise and loving understanding in the eyes of an elder. There are moments that remind us of the profundity of this life.
What’s interesting to me about all of this is that we are bombarded with long lists of rules and ideas about how to live, yet very rarely is the focus on these experiences. Instead, we are told how to eat to avoid disease and how many minutes a day to exercise in order to keep our heart from stopping prematurely. Our minds are filled with do’s and don’ts that are often beside the point, seemingly detached from what really matters, bypassing what fills our heart with the moments that bring meaning and value to life.
It doesn’t take a lot to realize that the bottom line regarding your health is better reflected in the quality of your life than any quantifiable detail. Indeed, without quality, the numbers don’t matter.
So, my suggestion is that you reframe your focus, looking primarily through the lens of quality. To be clear, this approach doesn’t require that you give up on quantity, but that you understand that you might actually be better able to improve the quantity by prioritizing quality in everything you do.
As an example, you might eat 3 slices of pizza made at home with your kids than to go out to the corner deli to pick up an overstuffed sandwich that you eat with one hand while you drive home. Or instead of running miles in the stale air of a crowded gym, you step outside and walk around the lake with a friend. Imagine, if most of the decisions you made were considered this way. Over the next month alone, hundreds of decisions will switch you out of a mindset of “anxiety” about following rules, cheating on your diet, cheating yourself….to…..living fully, in the moment, grateful and calm. Oh, how your heart will sing! Nearly immediately, your life will shift.
In this issue of the Slow Medicine MoonLetter, you will note again the Quality of Life Score that I developed for this reason, to help you see where there are such practical opportunities to embrace this way of living. I hope you find it useful. Beyond that, there is the Slow Medicine 10 Day Challenge that can keep you engaged in a process that supports the transition from fight or flight to the peace and tranquility that is the hallmark of a good life.
Indeed, that’s what I wish for you.