Common Sense is Great Practical Advice

I firmly believe that a lot of stress can be handled with a big dose of common sense. However, what would seem to be an innate quality that every human being has available is practically ready for a spot in the Smithsonian. I have often mentioned to my literary agent that I would love to write a book on common sense. He always counters with “Nobody will buy it”! I guess that says it all. What was so readily available to my grandparents and my parents seems to have withered and died on the vine with each succeeding generation.

Today it seems that the smallest problem is blown out of proportion, sent out on some form of social media and regurgitated over and over until you feel like sticking a fork in your eye for relief.

I live in New England where the weather is like a game of roulette. You never know what to expect. Of course you do have a slight chance of being right sometimes, like the winter. Most often it’s cold and it could snow. But the newscasters act as if a week that drops into the 20’s is akin to discovering an ice cream stand on Mars. If snow is in their forecast they begin to cover it day and night as soon as the first snowflake emerges. A plethora of weatherman are positioned all over the state and especially near the ocean so that we can be scared silly with each succeeding wave. After all I’m definitely going swimming or boating on a frigid, snowy day. Aren’t you?

Then the stores start filling up with people buying the proverbial bread and milk, which I have always found ludicrous. If the lights go out and I’m hungry, I don’t think a piece of limp bread and lukewarm milk is going to do the trick. I probably would have some cheese, crackers and a glass of wine.

Of course the weather is just one piece of the pie. Food has become another lost cause when it comes to common sense. You have to be told constantly that too much fat and sugar are bad for you.You should really be eating your fruits and vegetables. My first grade teacher Mrs. Bernstein told me that back in the Neanderthal era.

We seem to have to be told to get up and move more too. One of my science magazines just had an article called “Sitting Kills”. Well, yes it does, especially if you never get up from the chair.

So here’s some practical advice. When or if it snows, make sure you have lots of carrots in the house, go outside without your coat for about five minutes since shivering burns calories, then go back and sit in your chair, knowing that you just might live a little longer.

Celebrate Life in the Day to Day

I remember a time when New Years meant trying to figure out if I was going to have a party or where I was going to celebrate. Over the years I stayed home more often, perhaps inviting a few couples over for dinner. As midnight came closer, watches were checked frequently in order not to miss the excitement of bringing in a new year.

Well, my New Years mentality has changed dramatically. I have shifted my thinking into believing that every moment, every hour, every day, is new. I’m excited to wake up every day and find that I’m still here”! I know that part of that shift is my age. I now recognize more than ever the importance of savoring my life to the fullest when possible, since we never know when that possibility will be taken from us. I have met so many individuals who were planning celebrations that never occurred due to some unfortunate circumstance that got in the way.

This is not a column meant to dissuade anyone from gathering with friends and family to bring in the New Year, but rather to encourage the practice of celebrating life in the day-to-day! We often take the day we’re in for granted, since it is easy to believe that tomorrow will be here before you know it. Unfortunately, our tomorrows become yesterdays in the blink of an eye. One of my favorite metaphors for life is as follows: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift, that’s why they call it the present”. If we could actually embrace this mentality, life would indeed be healthier and happier.

This is not an easy path to follow. After thirty years of teaching stress management I would like to share some of what I’ve learned and what others have taught me. Every morning when you wake up, you are literally being given the opportunity to redirect your life. As you get up, shout, “ I’m back!” Then focus on what you are going to create for the day.

Open your heart and mind to the excitement of possibilities. Smile often and open the door to new ways of being. Make an intention to renew what you might have lost in your self: enthusiasm, spontaneity, childlike wonder for a pile of leaves, a puddle, or a funny little bug. Expand the unique you, have fun with yourself as if you were the most interesting person to be with.

Be open to accept new things, ideas, and people into your life which helps to create an ever-expanding capacity for joy. This may very well be the best way to bring in the New Year and all the New Years we may have ahead of us.

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