9 ways to make life better immediately

Do you know the site Thought Catalog?  I like lists, and I like sarcasm and so I would have thought that I would have liked the website, but for some reason I do not much care for it.  Perhaps it is because the list format lends itself to laziness: freed from worrying about constructing smooth transitions or attending to overall flow, writers may rely merely upon snark and cleverness to carry them far.  Sometimes, however, giving ourselves permission to allow loose ends to hang can be a good thing.  Perfectionism can be overrated.  Part of the reason I have such a hard time with despise am learning from enjoy blogging is that it encourages me to let go of the desire for finality, polish, refinement.  A post remains only until the next post comes; this transience means that words disappear all too fast, and words that disappear all too fast are hardly worth hours of scrutiny. 


To be honest, I do not actually think that I believe any of what I just said.  But I am trying: I am trying to write more, to feel freer, to slip up at times because I acted too hastily or impulsively.  I think I have probably written some things on this blog that I will later come to regret or retweeted a provocative rejoinder to a political statement that was more in poor taste than it was thought-provoking.  Although only days earlier I complained that the Web robs us of our accountability, our need to linger and absorb--to read and not skim--perhaps I did not give adequate attention to the flip side.  Sometimes all I can do is allow my eyes to dart across the screen, looking for words that might capture my interest, typically by either invoking my sweet tooth or my inner church nerd (i.e., "chocolate," "Episcopal," and "Vitamix" as of late).  Of course, most likely my change of heart has to do with the point in the school calendar: We are well past midterms and onto the home stretch, but before the end, I have twenty-five-plus books that need reading, eleven papers that need writing, two exams that need taking, and an entire apartment's worth of belongings that need packing, including an absurd amassment of books on religion.  But I digress...


All that is to say, I understand.  Skim away!


Nine Ways to Make Life Better Immediately


I have implemented all of the following over the previous few weeks and can assure you that they have kept me from falling off the edge into the world of insanity.  I am teetering, yes, but still as of now (mostly) coherent.  This pretty much sums up my life right now between writing and reading and sleeping and eating and meetings and repeating:

1.  Make the bed.  

Just do it, Emily.  Life instantly becomes more manageable.

2.  Burn candles.  

Or incense.  Or just buy a cinnamon-scented broom.  Aromatherapy on the cheap--plus, it hides the fact that you have not made time to clean the kitchen in weeks days.

3.  Email a loved one for no reason other than to pass along kind feelings.  

Better yet, call.  Of course that is presuming that I do not have dozens of papers to write.

4.  Bake.  

There is something about the mindlessness of measuring and following directions that is comforting.  That, and dirty bowls that need to be licked clean.

5.  Go for a walk outside.  

Maybe it is the Vitamin D, maybe its is the UV rays, maybe it is the exercise, or maybe it is something that science simply cannot quite distill.  Fresh air makes all the difference in attitude.  Suddenly I am not as grumpy or irritable and the world seems manageable again.

6.  Write in a gratitude journal regularly.  

I am taking a cue from Oprah on this one, but sometimes I need to remember the infinitesimally small things.  While I vacillate between thinking that my excitement over maple cinnamon almond butter and legal dramas (a) denotes my privilege and superficiality and (b) provides me with harmless, fleeting joy and lightness--and unfortunately, most of the time, I succumb to and dwell in liberal guilt side of the equation--I do believe that my life--lots of lives--could use more play.  Graduate school awakens us to the breadth and depth of the world's injustice--and for this knowledge I am forever grateful--but it also so often seems to paralyze.  Forgetting does not help, nor does ignorance, but finding hope and joy in the everyday may pull us out of the silence and depression that does good for no one.

7.  Stop thinking about yourself so damn much, Emily.  

Yes, right after I say to dwell in the personal now I feel the need to pull back.  Life is about me but not only about me.  Read a novel, hear the story of another person from across the globe, listen, really listen next time your mother complains about your father's TV habit and hear what is behind the complaint.

8.  Pet a companion animal--a problem for me, since my apartment does not allow pets.  

But when I return to Alabama to see my parents, I swear my blood pressure and heart rate drops by half when I stroke Champ's fur.

9.  Breathe.

And with that, I am back to paperland.

Emily Rowell Brownhumor