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May, 2013


by Larry

What goes into a feeling of contentment? Relatively small matters, we are told, can be key in assuring that our lives are mostly serene. Naturally, large issues can also be vital, sufficient food and shelter, financial security, and provision for good health, for instance. Yet beyond these there are quite a few tips for things that can make a difference out of proportion to the effort or cost involved. They are variously appropriate for diverse personalities. Thus from a list like that below one might pick two or three on which to focus and so enhance a calm enjoyment of life.

  1. Have regular social interactions. Recent research indicates that the addition of a single new friendship can raise one's sense of well being 10% or more.

  2. Create an area or areas of restfulness and sanctuary. Be it a peaceful backyard garden, a meditative inner sanctum, or a well ordered personal library, a place of both inner and outer retreat, perhaps with appealing music, art, and/or potted plants, can be a renewing gift to oneself.

  3. Cultivate a sense of humor. People who laugh more and have a "punny" and/or funny way of looking at things also tend to not take things too seriously in other ways.

  4. Get plenty of exercise. An energetic regimen each day is particularly beneficial. Not merely for staying in shape, with good muscle tone, an aerobic workout to keep one's heart and circulatory system in tip-top condition tends to also boost contentment for about half a day following each such session.

    Playful dogs always elicit a smile!

  5. Massage each other's troubles away. Massage can be quite soothing. Each member of a couple might learn to bestow this gift on his or her partner, with super results for both.

  6. Use meditative and/or prayerful contemplation techniques. They help many create meaningful islands amid a turbulent sea of enervating, tension producing stimuli.

  7. Have a passion, something that captures the imagination and motivates us, and devote regular time and attention to it. Time and again, this proves equally efficacious.

  8. Assure plenty of rest and quality recreation time. We are much improved by having these boons, so these too are among the essentials for taking care of ourselves.

  9. Enjoy a healthy diet. It is said we ought to "eat to live, not live to eat." Sure enough, adding large quantities of salty, greasy, and/or sugary vittles are detrimental in many ways. Try wellness foods and beverages instead. They can add energy, well-being, and longevity. Just ask my ninety-year-old mother who typically starts each day with a spinach, yogurt, juice, and strawberries smoothie and is happy and spry enough to still teach several aerobics classes a week. (Of course, in the other camp, folks who eat more like I do can point to eighty-two-year-old Warren Buffett, head of Berkshire Hathaway, who thrives on meat, potatoes, fudge, and cherry cokes, and, per his almost equally fit eighty-nine-year-old partner, Charles Munger, "never gets tired." Do NOT, though, do as they do but as I say!)

  10. Keep a pet. Canines in particular are a help to both our emotional and physical health in several ways, providing great companionship, often inspiring us to laughter with their drollery, getting us off our duffs and out with them for walks, or playfully dashing about after them in the house. They - and cats too! - can also significantly lower our blood pressure.

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