"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

Keep your head, heart and body in the game

By on July 25, 2020 in Columnist with 0 Comments

Change is inevitable. Growth is optional. 

— John C. Maxwell

By June Darling

How do we re-imagine and re-think the good life during this global time of suffering when much is cordoned off, upended, scary and out of our control? 

I grabbed on to my “big rocks.”

“Big rocks” are those things we consider foundational priorities for living well. My big rocks for the good life are head (cognitive well-being), heart (social and spiritual well-being), and body (physical well-being). 

Head. It is important to keep stretching my brain, to keep learning, to become more skilled, more competent and wiser. 

During the pandemic, people have found incredible learning options. This morning I was on a call with 600 people from places all over the globe including Pakistan, Colombia, Mumbai, Ireland and Canada. Some were teens, some were seniors, some worked as teachers, some as CEOs, all were wanting to learn together.

My husband, John, and I had a trip planned to go to Portugal. The trip was canceled for now, but John is getting prepared for the future by learning Portuguese on an app called Duolingo. 

Heart. The ancient wisdom traditions as well as the research on living life well make it clear that a good life includes being in strong relationships with others. 

The pandemic and the necessity for social distancing has shown many of us just how important others are for living a good life. Helping others, being kind to others often gives our lives purpose and meaning, which taps into spiritual well-being. Just being with others can lift our spirits dramatically. 

My extended family has used all sorts of ideas to stay connected. Every Wednesday and Sunday, we are on Zoom sharing our updates and our reactions to the news. 

Other family and friends have had drive-by or Zoom birthdays. Some of my husband’s siblings live close enough to have had socially distanced picnics each week. We regularly share messages of encouragement.

Body. Science continues to reveal how connected our thoughts, emotions and physical bodies are. It is not just about being free of illness. Being physically active is often a path to pleasure and well-being. 

As I mentioned earlier, John and I had a trip planned to Portugal, which was primarily for a long walk, a camino. Being inventive around walking does not take much thinking, especially after we heard about the guy who ran a marathon in his postage-sized front yard. 

We recently used the big rocks of head, heart and body when caring for three of our young grandchildren while their parents were working. 

The kids and I were not so sure how we might live the good life — especially cooped up together for a long stretch of time. We were all floundering initially with soundbits like “Eli hit me,” “I am bored,” “Anna took my stuffy,” and “Go to your room.”

The children and I listed all the things we could do to stretch our brains (for example, read, observe nature, research something we were interested in, write a story). We listed all we could do to strengthen the goodness in our hearts (helping others, expressing appreciation, not hurting others, sincerely apologizing), and all the things we could do to strengthen our bodies (jump rope, play tag, eat healthy food, ride bikes, hike up the driveway). 

At the end of each day, we reviewed our lists and decided what we had done to make our day a good one. 

Sometimes we decided that we needed to do more of this or that to have a better day the next day. 

Eventually the older kids got the hang of how to have a good day and began making their own schedules to include a balance of head, heart and body activities. The kids were delighted when they realized at the end of the day that they had done 10 or more of the things on the lists.

After the children returned home, I looked for the lists. They were nowhere to be found. 

I did find a little sticky note which made me smile. “Sorry, I had to take the lists. I will return them when I come back. I will tell you all the wonderful things I have done. Love, Sophia.”

Life changes. Maybe it is not a pandemic, maybe it is retirement or loss of a spouse. 

During upheavals it is natural to feel afraid and helpless. When those despairing times hit is exactly when we need to claim our sense of control, to pull ourselves out of that funk by figuring out what we CAN do. 

We can re-imagine, identify those “big rocks” that contribute to our well-being, then think of specific activities we can do. 

It may take some experimenting, evaluating and modifying. Afterwards we can celebrate the wonderful things we have done even during tough times to grow stronger and better.

During times of change and despair, how might you move up to The Good Life by re-imagining what you CAN do? 

June Darling, Ph.D. can be contacted at drjunedarling1@gmail.com; website: www.summitgroupresources.com. Her bio and many of her books can be found at amazon.com/author/junedarling.

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