“Come on, Dr. Mantell, you’ve practiced psychotherapy for more than 40 years, have been a transformational leadership coach and mentor. You must have some rules to live well that you’d be willing to share.” Of course I do, and I’m happy to do so, But first, a question for you.
When it comes to living really well, are you confusing doing so with looking good, feeling good, or having the goods?
You see, I’ve found that this leads people to chase after such goods as spray tans, plastic surgery, drugs, virtual friendships, the mansion, making and spending as much as they possibly can, and erroneously and irrationally believing that they can and, worse, should have it all. We gullibly and numbly believe the ads.
We know these things don’t ultimately satisfy. Yet, the pursuit never ends. Living really well is about simpler pleasures such as compassionate acts, striving to achieve goals, healthy relationships, a personal sense of fulfillment, giving to others, inner peace, what your children think of you.
One way to think about it comes from Dr. Martin Seligman in his latest book, ”Flourish.” He proposes a simple acronym, PERMA, help creating the good life, or, living really well. Nothing to do with goods, but rather, positive emotions, being fully engaged in life’s activities, having healthy relationships and social connections, finding meaning and purpose in life, and having a sense of accomplishment. Sort of what I said above, but with a pretty hip acronym.
I can’t claim these 10 rules are the only rules, the best rules, or the ones that will be best for you. I’ve found them to be very helpful. This is an incomplete list, for certain. Try them and see if you derive more pleasure, satisfaction and fulfillment from your life. If you add to the list, please add a comment or two and share your wisdom.
1. Why worry about what others think about you? It’s the most unproductive thing you can do. You can either be happy or care about what others think about you, but not both. The less you care what others think about you, the happier you’ll be. Caring about what others think, say, or gossip about you is detrimental to your health.
2. Why be fearful? Most of the things you fear won’t come to pass. Change your perception and you’ll stop scaring yourself. Not doing so, keeps you from engaging in life. It also stops you from being authentic. I suggest that you develop an outlook, a perspective toward adversity that distinguishes between those things you can control and those which are beyond your capacity to control.
3. You can’t cross a bridge until you come to it, so don’t try. And don’t put up your umbrella before it starts raining either. Assume as little as possible, needing as little as possible, do as much as possible, smile and laugh as much as possible, and realize how many blessings we have.
4. Love, be purposeful, express gratitude, laugh and put family first. Yes, those are more than just one rule. But they are important. I strongly suggest that you truly treasure others in your life. No you cannot buy friends, but they can be nurtured on a daily basis.
5. Taking your problems to bed makes for a poor bedfellow. Leave your problems in another room, and you’ll sleep better. Create deep, restful sleep for yourself. Do this by simplifying your needs, and keep in mind that the only limit in your life is yourself – what you think – so stop complaining and blaming and start thinking victory, advancement, upward and onward.
6. Other people care for their problems better than you, so don’t borrow theirs. And while you’re at it, don’t let others dictate how you live your life.
7. You can’t relive yesterday’s good or bad, so focus on now. It’s best to drive looking through the windshield, not the rear view mirror. Savor the pleasure that are simple and most meaningful. Avoid the shallow and transient pleasures. Seek pleasures that contribute to your mindfulness and your peace of mind.
8. Be as fit and healthy in your mind and body as you can be—proper exercise, wise nutrition and rational thinking all help. So will staying away from anyone who smokes and avoiding any other toxins you can identify. You won’t get to 80 if you don’t live to 60.
9. Your frustrations and anger are rooted in your insisting that your life must be different than it is—this is the ultimate obstacle to taking positive steps forward.
10. Develop “regardless thinking,” so that no matter what happens in your life—and stuff will–you choose to be happy, nevertheless. That includes, problems with money, relationships and jobs. Let it go, forgive and move forward when things don’t comply with your Demands, Insistences, and Expectations (D.I.E.).