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In which I wax philosophic

February 4, 2010

Anyone who stumbles across this blog or knows me personally at all probably is aware of my penchant for list-making. I like (a) order, (b) organization, (c) cleanliness, (d) logic, and (e) structure. It’s no wonder I organize my life, thoughts, and ideas into lists. I love lists.

One of the blogs I read frequently is The Happiness Project, a blog about a woman who spent a year doing and reading and trying everything she could to be happy. Today she reposted advice contained within a letter written 200 years ago from one to another about how to cheer up. I just love it.

“1st. Live as well as you dare.
2nd. Go into the shower-bath with a small quantity of water at a temperature low enough to give you a slight sensation of cold, 75 or 80 degrees.
3rd. Amusing books.
4th. Short views of human life—not further than dinner or tea.
5th. Be as busy as you can.
6th. See as much as you can of those friends who respect and like you.
7th. And of those acquaintances who amuse you.
8th. Make no secret of low spirits to your friends, but talk of them freely—they are always worse for dignified concealment.
9th. Attend to the effects tea and coffee produce upon you.
10th. Compare your lot with that of other people.
11th. Don’t expect too much from human life—a sorry business at the best.
12th. Avoid poetry, dramatic representations (except comedy), music, serious novels, melancholy, sentimental people, and everything likely to excite feeling or emotion, not ending in active benevolence.
13th. Do good, and endeavour to please everybody of every degree.
14th Be as much as you can in the open air without fatigue.
15th. Make the room where you commonly sit gay and pleasant.
16th. Struggle by little and little against idleness.
17th. Don’t be too severe upon yourself, or underrate yourself, but do yourself justice.
18th. Keep good blazing fires.
19th. Be firm and constant in the exercise of rational religion.
20th. Believe me, dear Lady Georgiana.”

I bolded the ones I particularly enjoy. It reminds me of when in high school we were told to make lists of natural highs in drug prevention education. Sunsets, sandcastles, sleepovers, snow days, flip flops, pancakes, hiking, giggles—also reminiscent of the blog 1000 Awesome Things.

In 2010, I’ve been working on spiritual and emotional fitness. On cutting the clutter and drama and living in the now. It’s difficult to look at any situation and extract the good, especially in a world rife with disease, disasters, and despair. Everyone has bad days, weeks, and even years, times of dark grief and loneliness. But in recognizing that everything you will ever have is just this one moment, right now, you can recenter that attitude to one of gratitude and hope. Because really, what else is there but right now?

It’s not all bad. And when it seems it, don’t forget to take a small quantity of water at a temperature low enough to give you a slight sensation of cold, 75 or 80 degrees, into the shower-bath. It’ll help.

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