Mid-life Without the Crisis

It really isn't the destination, but the journey. May be cliche, but it's true.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Happiness Is...

It is one of my sources of happiness never to desire a knowledge of other people's business.  ~Dolley Madison

I recently participated in some research on happiness.  Well, I didn't know it was research at the time, but looking back, I can see that I learned a lesson that is, in fact, backed up by research.
Part one of the study involved my sitting with some acquaintances as they chatted.  They talked about their friends, and their relatives, and their co-workers, and their exes, and their neighbors, and all the things those people are involved in.  At the end of the conversation, I had a headache, I was tired and wrung out, and I wanted to sprint from the group to get away (of course I couldn't - thanks, ankle). 

Part two of the study involved my sitting with some other acquaintances as they chatted.  They talked about their favorite TV shows, politics, movies they enjoy, music and concerts, how the kids are doing at school, church, their pets, and books they are reading.  When that conversation was over, I felt great.  I could have continued listening and talking to those people for hours.  My ankle hurt from a long day of being away from my comfy couch, but at least not from running away from uncomfortable conversations.

Then I read about a study done by the University of Arizona and Washington University.  The researchers found that people who spend less time in small talk and gossip are happier people.  "Meaningful connections with other people are an important part of happiness," said the co-author, Siminie Vazire, Ph.D.

So if you are looking for ways to be happier, more content, and to really thrive, stop talking ABOUT people and start talking WITH them about things that matter to you.  You'll be happy you did. 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Roll With the Changes

My Poor Ankle!
Life can be ironic sometimes, can't it?  I recently wrote about how I was going to increase my efforts and try to double the number of days I exercise for the remainder of the year.  And when I did try to increase my mileage, I messed up my Achilles' Tendon!

So now I have to stay off my foot as much as possible while my tendon heals, which could take weeks or even months.

I suppose I could whine, cry, complain or just give up on exercise altogether.  But instead, I'm going to try working on my upper body strength and core since I won't be running for quite awhile.

That's the way life is, though.  We make plans and then life interferes with those plans.  We lose the dream job, the relationship doesn't work out, the best friend moves away.  Whatever.  What we need to do is not give up or act childishly.  Instead, we need to be the mature people we are and respond appropriately, find an alternate course, and go on.  We need to roll with the changes.

Monday, October 11, 2010

More Books!

As I've mentioned, I've been reading lots of post-apocalyptic and dystopian novels this year and I wanted to tell you about a few.

Mockingjay is the third in a series by Suzanne Collins.  While I think the first book of the series, The Hunger Games, is the best, this provided a nice conclusion to the story.  Some people might find it a little darker with its war and politics, but I didn't find it any darker than the first two, in which children have to kill or be killed in a twisted government scheme to keep the masses subdued.  Though the books are considered young adult books, they are a good read for adults as well.

The Passage by Justin Cronin is what I'm working on right now.  It is a story about the creation of "virals" and the consequences thereof.  Virals are what we would call vampires, but they are not sexy, sparkly, or in any way romantic.  They are terrifying killers.  The story of how they were created is just as fascinating as the story of how the survivors live in a bleak, barren world.  The book is 766 pages, but it is worth the time you'd have to invest to read that many.  I'm not even finished yet (page 692), but I can already say that I love this book.  I'm really excited to find out that this may be the first of a trilogy.  I can hardly wait to finish the book tonight to find out which characters are likely to appear in a sequel.

Speaking of interesting takes on classic monsters, another book I really enjoyed this year was World War Z:  An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks.  What made this book so interesting is that the oral history style of the book made the whole thing seem so real.  In addition, I liked that the book wasn't just about zombies eating people, but was much more about the political and tactical maneuvers that would have to be implemented if such a situation really did arise, thus lending more reality, and more creep factor, to the story.

I guess now I just need to read a really great take on werewolves.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Be Goal Oriented

I don't care how much power, brilliance or energy you have, if you don't harness it and focus it on a specific target, and hold it there you're never going to accomplish as much as your ability warrants.  ~ Zig Ziglar

I was flipping through an old Prevention magazine and read a story about some women who lost weight and felt younger after participating in a 12-week program.  I was berating myself for not having lost as much weight as these women have (have you noticed that I do that to myself a lot?), and wondering what I could do differently to speed up the weight loss.  I realized that part of the problem was that I didn't have a solid goal for the remainder of the year.

As I explained in a previous post, my exercise goal for the year was simply to exercise 80 days this year.  I achieved that goal in August.  I have some long-term exercise goals (next year's triathlon at the lake being the main one), but not short ones - the ones that kick you out of bed in the morning and yell at you to get moving.

I was thinking about this as I went to change the calendar in my bedroom when lo and behold!  I came to my own rescue.  In January, when I set my goal, I thought ahead and periodically wrote at the beginning of the month little notes like, "How many days now?", "Are you there yet?", and other encouragements.  On October, I'd written, "Have you reached your goal yet?  Can you double it?"  Wow!  I guess in January I knew just what kind of kick in the pants I'd need this month.

So, yes, my new goal for the rest of the year is to double last year's exercise days of 79 for the year.  Which means that to reach 158 days for the year, I have only 67 to go.  I can do that.

Hooray for thinking ahead and double hooray for short-term goal setting.  

What are your short-term goals?