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This blog is called, “Foundations for the Good Life.” Naturally, I have some ideas about what those foundations are, and today I’m going to share some of those ideas. Check out the Foundations 101 tag for the introduction series.
There are certain necessities for life. We cannot stay alive without water, air, food, and shelter from extreme elements. But that’s not what I’m talking about here.
What I am talking about are the basic elements to live a good life. To THRIVE and not just SURVIVE.
I considered my observations of what has made a difference during the difficult periods in my own life, my observations from working with clients, and my reflection on reading of books, articles, and research. From this, I began to build a framework to organize the knowledge that I am exposed to. As this framework began to solidify in my mind, I could no longer ignore my itch to start this blog before you.
So what are the foundations? In no particular order, they are:
As a dietitian, this is the area of my formal education. It’s hardly a controversial statement to say that you need to eat well to feel good. Eating well gives you the fuel you need to do the stuff you want to do within your good life.
Some people also like to make eating seem more complicated than it actually is, because that’s how they make money. A few things make the biggest difference: eat food that is the least processed that you have access to, cook it at home with spices that make it delicious to you, give your attention to your food while you eat, and get to know what truly satisfies you.
Our bodies are not meant to sit all day. We need to move before we rest. Again, people like to make exercise a complicated thing. If you love trying all sorts of different styles of exercise programs, have your fun. If you want to get your exercise through housework and work, that’s cool too. At the end of the day, aim to move your body in ways that you enjoy and that make you feel strong and vital.
Sleep. It’s important. As far as I know, there isn’t a widely accepted theory about why that is yet (though I look forward to learning more as I read up on the research). Despite that, there is solid research on the importance of sleep to back up the need for sleep. I’m sure we’ve all seen the toddler who is having a total meltdown and you just know that he desperately needs sleep. While most adults can hold themselves together where it isn’t so obvious, we still need our sleep.
I remember my dad saying that life is all about learning; if you’re not learning, then what is the purpose of life? That message really stuck with me, and I see it in my life now. Life seems more vibrant when I am learning and making new connections between ideas, building my skills, and seeing myself improve.
When I say ‘grow’ here, I’m talking about learning, improving your skills, setting goals and working toward them, building up your positive habits and shrinking your negative habits.
We need to be able to take a step back and not take things so seriously sometimes. We need to be able to take a step back from the need to constantly improve or get things done and enjoy what we’ve accomplished, where we are, and, most importantly, who we are with. And don’t underestimate the power of fun.
We need love and connection with other human beings. We are social creatures. And we need a sense of a bigger picture, a sense that there is more to life. People connect to that sense through many different ways: beauty, nature, friendship and family, spirituality, religion, being in the zone, and meditation are a few ways.
I doubt many people (especially not you reading this) would argue that love is a good thing to have in your life. Love for our friends and family is a wonderful thing, and hopefully it’s one of the easiest things to do for you. It becomes trickier to extend some of that love and compassion towards people more distant from you. And for some people, it is hardest of all to extend love towards themselves.
Self-compassion is a mindset. A mindset that wants you to do your best, and that doesn’t expect perfection. A mindset that wants you to get stuff done, and enjoy once it’s done. A mindset that allows for mistakes to happen, to learn from those mistakes, and to not judge yourself when they happen.
This foundation, along with savour, serves to counter-balance the tendency we might have to be harsh and judgemental towards ourselves.
Until next time,
Be good (as my mom would say).