I am seeking ways to turn the next chapter of my life into the best chapter of my life.
I plan to consider all angles – not only what I call the Big Four – body, mind, heart and soul—but also finances, friendships, the frivolous and the practical. I will delve into the enormous body of writing on this subject to seek answers to two vital questions: How do we turn this next chapter into the best chapter? And, how can we become heroes of our own lives?
I’ll be drawing from the wells of knowledge from all sources, from self-help blogs and books to priests, teachers, rabbis and the Dalai Lama. Right now, for example, I’m thinking of my acupuncturist in New York City’s Chinatown who, after sticking pins all over my body to treat a severe pain in my back paused to look at me and then barked out in all sincerity, “I know your problem! Emotions…wobbly!” He was right. My emotions were wobbly and I didn’t know how to repair them. This blog, then, is what I would have liked to have read when I was seeking help in a dimly-lit, back-alley room above a fish store. Like an author who gathers recipes from friends, family and neighbors in her community to make a cookbook, I will gather recipes for living to help you discover what you can do to make this next chapter be as good as it can possibly be.
Happiness is a project, as Gretchen Rubin explains so well. There are many positive steps – often, seemingly obvious steps, such as not procrastinating if it takes less than a minute – that we can take to make ourselves happier. Moreover, I’ve learned that living our lives better also involves changing the way we think and see the world. This blog will examine how we can do that.
Some experts argue, for instance, that the reason human beings focus on the negative is really instinctive. In our collective past as hunters and gatherers, we kept our minds alert to what was poisonous and dangerous because that was the only way we could stay alive. We lost sight of the beauty because we had to stay alert to the dangers. Today, we know that if we continue to focus on the negative aspects of our lives, we lose sight of all that is wonderful and good, and we lose out on living the best chapter of our lives.
I started this blog a while ago but put it aside because I wasn’t exactly sure what I was doing with it and where I wanted to go. Sometimes things just need time to simmer in our brains. So, after consulting with Catherine Ryan Howard who offered wonderful and witty suggestions on how to make my blog better (or bletter), I decided to start over. (Yup, we can give ourselves permission to do that!) And while I was stumbling, I also decided that instead of doing what I usually do – which is to wrongly convince myself that I should go it alone (and more on that, later) – I could, and should, reach out to friends who serve as light posts on my journey through life. And one of them told me not to focus on what every other blogger is doing and just focus on what I want to write about. I was curious about Laura Vanderkam’s new book, All The Money In the World, and wrote to her and she kindly and oh so serendipitously sent me that very book to review on this very blog, which I plan to do in the coming weeks. I’d forgotten that when you step out in faith, the universe supports your dreams. So, here I am.
I want to share my answers to how to make our next chapter the best chapter. And just like a book which turns a page at a time, today’s blog focuses on…today. I draw inspiration from Dale Carnegie who, in turn, drew inspiration from nineteenth-century physician William Osler who recommended living in “day-tight compartments.” In a speech at Yale University Medical School in 1913, Osler told the graduating students, “Shut off the future as tightly as the past. The future is today. There is no tomorrow.”
I invite you to join the conversation and share your insights. What can you share from your experience to help you live in the moment? Do you find yourself drifting back to the past or zooming ahead into the future? What are you doing today to help you live in today? And are we all so geared to “getting ahead” that we forget to slow down and appreciate the present? If you have any wisdom to share, the best time is…now!
My next post, Not “Hearing” the Forest For the Trees, will talk about how we’re sometimes so caught up in our own negative thoughts, we often don’t hear the positive things people are trying to tell us.