Food. Man having snack and drinking beer late night in front of the refrigerator.

Food

Man, I am starving!

You hear people with relatively affluent suburban lives saying this. Although it might mean that the person is actually hungry, it’s more likely that they just want some food, either because they’re looking forward to a meal, they’re thinking about a certain food, or they’re just bored.

Unfortunately, there are lots of people who are actually starving in the world.

Whenever my son says this, or something like this, I remind him that he’s not actually starving and ask him if he actually feels hungry. I ask him to pay attention to the signals his mind and body are sending him and to identify them intentionally. I also tell him that it’s OK to periodically be hungry. Maintaining a hungry feeling can be healthy—it can train us to not immediately start wolfing down food when we have that feeling. We’re not meant to be full all the time.

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Outlook

If you had to characterize yourself one way or the other, would you say that you’re an optimist or a pessimist?

There is a lot of territory in between, and there are other qualities that can affect our overall outlook: being realistic, for example.

Although I would generally consider myself an optimist, I aspire to be a “positive realist” (copyright pending). Having a positive attitude should not involve the denial of undesirable truths.

It’s easy to be optimistic when things are going well. On days when the sun is shining and things are going according to plan, it seems like everyone’s an optimist. It’s when things start to go off track that you discover what people’s real outlooks are.

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Tired woman head down with coffee.

Tired

I’m totally exhausted!

Between my busy schedule and my tendency toward insomnia, I know what it feels like to be tired. Everyone feels tired from time to time. Being tired is part of life, and it’s natural to be tired: it’s our bodies signaling to us when we need to get some rest.

Many of us have a healthy relationship with being tired. We might overdo it on occasion, we might burn the midnight oil, we may have long days at the end of which we stretch and yawn and head for the sweet relief of a pillow, a fluffy comforter, and a dark room.

But for some, being tired is a permanent state. They never ever get enough sleep, and sleep deprivation is their new normal.

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Creed. A focus on what's important.

Creed

Do you have a creed? Is there a set of statements that sum up your values and how you live your life?

I’ve always been a little wary of creeds. The idea of someone telling me what I should think or believe has always rubbed me the wrong way. But that’s only if someone else wrote it. On the other hand, a personal creed can help clarify our thoughts and guide our actions.

Why develop a creed?

A personal creed can help us think through our values in a comprehensive way. It can help us figure out what is important to us, what we really believe, and how we act based on those beliefs. A creed can help us be the people we aspire to be. It is easy to fall into a pattern of reacting instead of acting, doing things out of convenience rather than purpose.

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Surprise. A young man surprised at the wonder of the world.

Surprise

Surprise!!!

Some people love surprises. The rush that comes with something startling or unexpected can be a welcome and sometimes dramatic alternative to our routine existence.

Others hate them. They might dislike deviating from their carefully crafted schedules. They may feel uncomfortable with anything that alters their perspective or opinions. They may not like the feeling of being startled.

Whether we like surprises depends on what we focus on when we think about surprise. There’s the “surprise party” kind of surprise, which involves both being startled and an unexpected event and people. There’s also the kind of surprise that involves an unexpected realization and the impact of knowledge or information that is significantly different from what we previously thought. Which we focus on makes a big difference to our comfort level.

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