Life Principle - Add Good Things Into Your Life

June 1, 2018

Whenever possible add good things into your life rather than removing bad things. When there are enough good things in your life you'll naturally let go of the bad things without missing them or feeling deprived of them.

I first saw this principle articulated years ago when I read Jon Gabriel's book The Gabriel Method. In the book he explained that the best approach to changing your diet was to start by adding good things to the regimen of what you eat before worrying about removing anything. His particular recommendation was to start with adding Omega-3 fish oil, as the nutrients in that is one of the most common missing elements of most peoples diet. By adding in this simple nutrient, you can actually eliminate a significant proportion of hunger feelings and thereby reduce snack eating. A great example of eating less by carefully adding to your diet rather than removing.

This life principle fits well with the life principle of Maintaining Simplicity. When maintaining simplicity, you should aim to only change one thing at a time in your life. I understand that this is not always possible, but it's still a worthy goal. Adding good things into our life should also be done in such a way as to maintain as much stability as possible. Returning to my first example, start taking that Omega-3 fish oil (I take Krill oil, slightly more expensive, but more Omega-3 by volume.) and keep taking it for a month before making any other changes. Then make your next calculated change. Perhaps, adding more non-starchy vegetables to your meal plans. Do that for a month and then add something else good. Find an unsweetened drink that you like and drink that instead of soft drinks. Keep repeating this process until you have so many good foods in your diet that you do not have room to eat the sugary and less healthy foods that you used to have.

This doesn't only apply to foods. It's a very flexible principle that can be applied to many areas of your life. Just remember to not go crazy with adding them all in at once!

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Life Principle - Maintain Stability

April 27, 2018

Whenever possible keep the amount of change in your life to a minimum. Life goes better with orderly, planned changes. Sometimes expressed as "Only change one thing at a time".

I spoke with a member of my congregation early this morning who wanted some advice on a matter. No names or details, but I did give them some advice and shared the life principle that it was based upon. And now I'd like to share that same principle here because I think that it's a good one.

I love principles because they eliminate needless memorization (always good if you have a bad memory like I do). If you've heard me preach then there's a good chance you already knew this about me. I have always seen the bible as a book of principles more than a list of do's and don'ts and I try to take the same approach with my general life advice.

I don't have a specific quote for this principle, but it's simple enough that I don't think it'll hurt to not have one.

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Become an Expert on Yourself

April 21, 2018

After you've read enough books on a topic (several shelf-feet of them), even for a topic as wide-ranging as living well, you start to notice similarities and differences. While I do not appreciate the joke that life played on me with my bad memory, it did at least try to balance it out with an ability to pick out principles from disparate sources. Often, I would rather have the better memory, but you work with what you've been given and I try to use my principle finding and understanding powers for good and not evil. Upon reflection, I feel that the only way that I've been able to understand how to live well, is by reading large quantities of books and allowing the principles in them to stand out to me through my cognitive superpower.

Part of the difficulty of understanding living well is that the research is coming in thick and fast. There are new things being discovered about the human body and its systems even today. (And things being rediscovered, but that's a topic for another post.) The human body is a complex system and it still has plenty of secrets remaining to be learned. Certainly I blame no one for not knowing things that haven't been discovered yet.

Even allowing for that, I see that the biggest problem with knowing how to live well is that the experts, actual and self-proclaimed, disagree on so many things. They even disagree on apparently fundamental things that seem as though they could never be controversial. In the area of diet we are all used to the endless arguments for or against low-fat and low-carb and even whether we should be meat eaters or meat free. You'd think that there would be a few positions that all of these experts could agree upon, such as the wisdom of eating vegetables. Amazingly, there are strong differences of opinions even within the schools of thought about which vegetables are healthy and beneficial for us.

So, if the experts can't agree, what hope is there for us humble folks who are just trying to get though life without making too big a mess of it? Well, we may not be scientists, but we have access to lots of material written by scientists and experts and we have the motivation to pull the truth out of these writings because we aren't talking about lab experiments, we're talking about our lives and trying to make the best of them. Speaking purely for myself here, I'd like to get some aspects of my life under much better control and retain the advances I've made in others. Figuring out how to live well is personal. It's personal for me, because my areas in need of improvement are very specific to me. It's personal for you, or should be, because your areas of growth are specific to you and likely not exactly the same ones as mine.

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Living Well In All Areas Of Our Lives

March 4, 2017

I'd like to repeat my definition of Living Well from my last post on the topic.

Living Well is doing the best you can in every area of your life, utilizing what you have and what you know.

This time, I'd like to particularly emphasize the every area of your life portion of the definition. There is nothing wrong with seeking depth in an area of your life, but if that depth is at the cost of the other areas of your life, then it can leave you unbalanced. I am reminded of the classic quote by Robert A. Heinlein. (Science fiction writers are often unrecognized as deep thinkers upon the human condition.)

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."

Robert A. Heinlein (from Time Enough For Love)

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Defining Living Well

February 26, 2017

I wrote about living well last time, but what does it mean to live well? How do we define it?

Some might get really specific at this point and start listing things that you must do if you wish to be defined as living well. Such lists are very popular on the Interwebs and in magazines. "Ten traits of highly successful people!" And that's fine, but what if you can't do all ten of those things? Are you a failure? There will always be people with greater and lesser talents than you. There are some people who you will just never be able to be as good as and others who will never be able to be as good as you. I'm sure that we could declare this to be unfair, but it's reality, so we're better served accepting it and then figuring out how to proceed on from there.

So if living well isn't a clickbait article full of do's and don't's, then what is it? I have arrived at a conclusion about that, after living 50 years on this earth. I've made mistakes and I've made some amazing decisions. I've done very good things and very foolish things. I absolutely do not know everything, yet I've collected a little wisdom as I've proceeded through life. I understand that the world likes to use wealth and popularity to rank people and that we cannot change that. But we don't have to use the world's scorecard. I like having enough financial resources to provide for my family and enjoy having friends and family that love me and co-workers who respect me, but I'm not rich and I'm not famous. With all of that being true, I believe that I am living well.

I believe that living well is doing the best you can in every area of your life, utilizing what you have and what you know.

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