Life is better than death because it’s less boring and there are fresh peaches.
The mind that links life, death, boredom, and fresh peaches is a free mind.
Everyone’s mind makes all kinds of links, but it takes practice to notice what those links are — we have a tendency to silence our originality lest others find us strange.
Practice: Notice. That’s all, simply notice.
Advanced practice: When you picture yourself playing dominoes with your long-dead grandparents, use a word you’re surprised to find in your vocabulary, or do anything else that lands you in unfamiliar territory, identify the links that led you there.
Related practices: Perfect, Intensify to Identify
There are proponents of New Year’s Eve, and there are proponents of regular Tuesday nights.
Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Resolutions may or may not provide traction. Meeting with yourself or another trusted companion every Tuesday night, or on the third Saturday of the month, is a better bet.
A writing group where participants either brought their work or brought their understanding of not having done the work was a revelation for me. The second seemed to produce as many pages as the first, as did the fact that the group met regularly.
Practice: Identify something you want to do. Then pencil in a regular time to do it.
Time spent cleaning your desk or finding the right shoes counts: Getting ready is one way to get going.
Related practices: Self-attack, Need, Some Doors Do Not Open
Because speaking up for myself was not how I learned English. Because I am fluent in Apology, in Question Mark, in Giggle, in Bowing Down, in Self-Sacrifice.
Elissa Bassist in Not that Bad
Pantone 219C – Barbie Pink
Finding your voice isn’t easy, nor is recognizing what you have to say.
Somewhat easier is identifying the languages you are fluent in. Tech? Despair? Clichés? Buying-time? Uplift?
Practice: Notice. Name. Neither practice will make you fluent in a newer, truer language — but they help.
Related practices: Authentic, Self-attack, Withdrawal Symptoms
Anger is an entitled emotion.
Wait. What? Anger is an entitled emotion?
Practice: Consider your most recent experience of anger. Were you responding to an inconvenience or to an injustice?
Related practices: Very Good Life, Behaving Badly
Cats seem to go on the principle that it never does any harm to ask for what you want.
Joseph Wood Krutch
Here’s the question: Do you think it does harm to ask for what you want?
Always, never, under certain circumstances? Be specific.
Practice: Visualize the parents and neighbors and great aunts and great uncles and teachers and strangers and buddies and business owners who taught you that it wasn’t safe to ask for what you want.
Identify what their lessons have cost you.
Related practices: Please, A glass of water
I can no longer travel, can’t meet with strangers, can’t sign books but will sign labels with SASE, can’t write by request, and can’t answer letters. I’ve got to read and concentrate. Why? Beats me.
Either we set limits or others, including miscellaneous robocallers, set them for us.
Practice: To reclaim your time, discard an activity. Drop a subscription. Quit ironing. Make a topic a no-go zone. Declare yourself too busy to babysit — or clear your schedule so you can devote more time to it.
Advanced practice: Stop explaining the limits you set, even to yourself. “Beats me” is sufficient. As is a shrug.
Related practices: Done, Self-attack, Authentic
Never forget that the whole purpose of TV is to make you want to spend money.
Different strategies for dealing with attraction and addiction work for different people. What matters is having a strategy, whether it’s muting commercials, watching without snacking, doing isometric exercises during credits, or getting movies and shows you like from the library.
Practice: Write out what you intend to try and for how long. Leave it on top of the remote to help yourself remember. Does it help you remain intentional?
Advanced practice: To identify what you get out of watching television, interrupt your existing pattern. Turn off the morning news. Stop watching after dinner.
Related practices: Done, Perfect
Being an optimist is hazardous duty these days.
Practice: This one is simple — hard to do, but simple. Notice what feeds your optimism. A media fast? Stories of heroism? Political action?
Watching clouds and reading detective novels top the list of things that feed my optimism. What feeds yours?
There is only one very good life, and it’s the life you know you want and you make it yourself.
Horst P. Horst, 1979
“The life you know you want” is an ambitious statement. How do you know which life, among all possible lives, is one you want?
What if you want more than one?
Practice: Identify one property of your — and it’s essential that it be your — good life. Start small and be specific. Is it an activity? An accomplishment? The view from a window?
How about a sound or an aroma?
In the absence of organized religion, faith abounds, in the form of song and art and food and strong arms.
Structures house faith, but faith can outgrow structures and once-reliable structures can fail the people who loved them.
Where to turn then? Alexander lists song, art, food, and strong arms.
Practice: Come up with your own where-to-turn list and put it someplace you will find it the next time you get that itchy, ungrounded feeling that says you need an injection of faith. (For me, live music works better than a Vitamin B12 shot.)
Advanced practice: No matter what your mood at the moment, do one of the items on your faith list. Now. While you’re thinking about it.
Related practices: Need, Please, Alert Emptiness