Things About The Normal Days: a useful list


I googled "how to stay focused and content," looking for a Quick List of Useful Instructions that would keep me from waking up wishing that I was ANYWHERE in the world but here. I didn't find a list. In fact, I didn't find anything useful except for a PowerPoint presentation with some Seth Godin quotes that I liked but didn't really have anything to do with what I was looking for. So I decided to make my own list, because maybe somebody else is out there looking for a Quick and Useful List of Instructions and if somebody is going to make some up, it might as well be me, right?


How To Be Content And Focused On the Normal Days:


Step 1) Drink. No, not that kind. Drink coffee. I have a few friends who claim to have been redeemed from the power of chemical stimulation and are now caffeine free, and some who have never even dabbled in the stuff. These people are usually super peppy and optimistic and clearly have no grasp on reality anyway, so I discount their caffeine naysaying with all of the vigor of a triple shot americano and no breakfast. Coffee is the stuff of life. Or it's at least the stuff of reasons to get out of bed in the morning and not yell bad words at the first biologically active thing that crosses your path. Like the dachshund. Or a spider. Or the mold growing on the inside of the cream carton. Coffee helps. It's the chemical boost to get you to the next step. I strongly recommend coffee first thing in the morning, preferably with someone that you can say bad words to about the things that are wrong with first thing in the morning and they will agree and still love you. That is the best way to have coffee.


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Step 2) Dress. Put on the right clothes. If, say, you wear the wrong jeans - the ones that cut right in at the fattest place you have (and all real people have one of those places), or maybe your socks don't match your trousers, or you can't find your favorite belt, or you get to work and the shoes you're wearing are just WRONG, the whole day is shot. Make sure that what you are putting on your body brings you joy, like those Japanese de-cluttering methodologies, if it doesn't make you happy, take it off and throw it on the ground and cuss. Then find something that brings you joy. Like sweatpants. Or holey jeans that feel like sweatpants.

Step 3) Talk. Share your frustration. This might sound like I am encouraging negativity or complaining, but it really does help make the day seem ok when you realize that you're not the only one who doesn't always want to be wherever it is that you are and don't want to be. It doesn't have to be an elaborate dumping session. Human beings are empathetic animals, and sometimes a quick exchange of a knowing look with a "coffee is good this morning"  grunt, speaks volumes. And you just know. We're all in this together. All the normal. All the people. All the time. And it's going to be ok. If you want to level-up this step, and combine it with the power of Step 1, deliver coffee to someone else. It's like telling them,"I know, life sucks, but here's coffee," and it makes both of you feel that much better. Trust me, it does, even if it's gross coffee.

Step 4) Listen. I have watched music visibly change the attitude and posture of people. I know for a fact what it does for me. Sometimes it's angry rock music that takes the angst out on a drum set for you. Sometimes it's Alison Krauss lulling you gently back to sanity. Sometimes it's the music of absolute silence. Peace and contentment can be found behind the wall of noise-cancelling headphones plugged into nothing. Or the interior of a car with no sound but your own weird breathing. Find the noise you need to make this day ok.

Step 5) Daydream. Some people call this meditation, not paying attention or slacking off, but for me, unplugging from the four jobs and three conversations I am in the middle of for just a few minutes is the only way to keep myself from freaking the eff out. Sometimes I drift back to that Mexican Hermit Crab on the beach, or sometimes it's the warm squishyness of All The Pillows in bed last night, or Holding His Hand. But if I can let my brain disconnect from Right This Moment, Right This Place for a few minutes, I can come back and plug in with a little more energy.

Keep Calm and Scuttle On
Step 6) Eat. Days when you are really questioning where your life took a bad turn are not the days to be eating salads. Save your salads for those peppy, optimistic days after you quit drinking caffeine and your whole world is wonderful. Eat something that makes you happy. Eat something that makes you feel good. I don't care what it is, but you have to WANT it. Crusty white bread and pasta? Sure. Medium-rare ribeye? OK, if you can afford it. Cheesy bread? Definitely. Life is too short to be miserable on top of being unhappy. Eat something you love.

Step 7) Move. Go above and beyond rolling over on the couch. Get up and move. Shuffle to the kitchen for more coffee. Stand by the window. Every step you take gives you a thousand more possibilities that you will see, touch, smell, hear, feel something that reminds you of why you are here. Something that excites you. Of course, there's also the increased risk that you will see, touch, smell, hear or feel something that repulses you and confirms your suspicion that life sucks, but it's a risk worth taking. If at all possible, get outside. Unless you're one of those people that hates fresh air and all living things and prefer cardboard and drywall and scratchy upholstery to dirt and rocks. In that case, stay inside and move around. It takes all kinds, after all.

Step 8) Sleep. Find a way to get good sleep. Not having good sleep and not eating good food are the Two Primary Reasons for Hating Life. I just made that up but it sounds really good. Everybody's sleep trigger is different. Sometimes some of us need a little help. A glass of wine, a heavy dose of muscle relaxers, a swift kick in the head... Figure yours out and cash in on it. Don't miss sleep. It's not worth it.

Step 9) Give. Try to notice one person during the course of your day that has it worse than you. Maybe it's the hobo on the street corner or the single mom with a broken down car (not me, this time), or maybe it's the One You Love that has to put up with you. Find a way to give them something. A coffee, a hug, a jump start, or maybe a big and sincere thank you. Get outside yourself for a minute.

Step 10) Love. If there isn't a single person that warms the cockles of your heart then you should seek help more professional than mine STAT. But I'm willing to bet everyone reading this has at least one person that you can see when you close your eyes and be overwhelmed with gratitude for the place they hold in your heart. The people who don't have anybody are probably on a different blog about how to build bombs and stuff. Love your people, or person. Hold the hand. Steal the kisses. Feel the love. Go after it actively. You need it. It needs you. It's easy to let the doldrums convince you that you're not worthy - at least for me it is. That's when its the most important to find the love and bask in it.

Reading through my Quick List of Useful Instructions, I should probably rename it something like "A Hedonist's Guide To Everyday Living," because it's all about what feels good. But we're so good, these days, about beating ourselves up and Making the Tough Choices and Taking the High Road that we forget about how good life can feel if we let it. Sometimes the rougher path is the right one, but sometimes the Normal Days need a little love boost.



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