Because Personal Well-Being Is So Personal

By Marilynn Preston

As some of you know, I’ve written a book called “All is Well: The Art {and Science} of Personal Well-Being.” It was published in late April, and in August it became an Amazon best-seller. Yippee. I can’t really explain how we earned that status, but there’s a sophisticated algorithm involved, and you can bet I’ll be expressing gratitude for it at my Thanksgiving table this year.

“Writing a book and getting it published represents about 20 percent of the effort,” my friend, renowned author Michael Gelb, told me after writing seven books. “The rest of it is…” Well, you can imagine.

So this week I’m on the road with “All Is Well” in Gainesville and Sarasota, Florida, where the column runs, talking at health clubs, public libraries and at least one Hadassah meeting. I’m doing my best to overcome a cold and follow my own rules: 1) Have fun. 2) Rest. 3) Expect the unexpected.

People don’t change because other people tell them to.

One unexpected bonus turns out to be the lively Q&A sessions with the audiences. So here are a few of my favorite questions, followed by my best recollection of my answer:

Q: “I know how important exercise is. And I’m at my gym three times a week, on the StairMaster for at least 30 minutes. The problem is I hate it! I’m miserable the whole time. What can you tell me to help change my mindset?”

A: This is easy. Quit the StairMaster! Your mindset is working perfectly. Life is too short to be miserable on your gym equipment. You want to find a workout that brings you pleasure, because that’s when your body will release the endorphins that flood you with an energizing and palpable sense of well-being.

(Note: I doubt that he’ll give up the StairMaster. As I’ve repeated a thousand times on this combo book-and-listening tour: “People don’t change because other people tell them to.” On the other hand, he did ask.)

Q: I’m interested in death-and-dying issues, but my husband refuses to read or talk about the subject, even to me. It’s so frustrating! I know it’s important to start the conversation about end-of-life care, but what can I do to get him involved, too?

A: You can’t. It’s his choice, and the more you push, the more he’s likely to pull away. One thing you can do is follow your own deep interest in the subject and let him know what you’re reading and what you’re thinking.

Asking him to read Atul Gawande’s “Being Mortal” is doomed to fail. Instead, come to the table one night with an insight that’s inspired you: e.g., doctors in America are taught to view death as a failure, so they’ll try everything they can think of to keep you going, no matter what. See if he agrees. Get a discussion going, if he’s willing. If he clams up, accept it and wait for another opportunity to tell him your own thinking about end-of-life issues, the first one being: Do you want to die at home?

Q: “What can we do about too much technology in our lives? We’re all addicted, and we know it. And we’re all living in our own worlds, and we’re not connecting with other humans, and –”

A: “Use the off button!” is a perfectly good answer, but we’re all imperfect beings, and it’s not working. Everyone I’m meeting on this tour complains about too much technology. When you’re addicted to processed foods, you get sick. When you’re addicted to your devices, you get distracted, depressed and deprived of human interaction. And that lack of human connection in your day turns out to be a very serious threat to your health and well-being.

So what’s the answer? Carpe diem. If you value your well-being, you’ll stop playing the victim and start taking control of the technology in your life. If you don’t, no one will do it for you. There are apps to help, but the goal is to spend less time with Siri and fake friends on Facebook and more time with real friends and family. Does it require discipline? Yes. But so does reading this column to the end.

Congratulations. You did it. And with effort and grace, you’ll get the hang of using the off button, too.

Copyright 2017 Energy Express ltd. Distributed by Creators.com

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