There’s a scientific phenomenon known as the U-bend of life—the discovery that the world’s happiest people tend to be in their 80s and beyond.
In his book, Long Live the Queen: 23 Rules for Living From Britain’s Longest-Reigning Monarch, author Bryan Kozlowski writes about some of the rules the 94-year-old Queen Elizabeth II follows to stay vital. Here are a few in no particular order.
Stick to a schedule. From her early days as queen, Elizabeth has followed a strict daily regiment that ends with writing in her journal.
Learn to dial down negative mind chatter. Sweetening your self talk creates a type of psychological armor.
Play. Elizabeth takes time nearly every day to play as she did as a child—specifically with horses. This keeps her brain youthful and and her body flexible.
Serve others. The patron of hundreds of charities, Elizabeth II believes that giving herself to good causes also helps her put her own worries in perspective.
Sustain your faith. As a regular church attender and person who prays daily, Elizabeth believes that whatever worries the world throws at her, there is “a higher throne on which to lay them.”
Be open to change. Elizabeth II has never stopped learning and adapting. “The way we embrace change defines our future.”
Affirmation: I learn from a queen.
Coaching questions: Which rule do you currently follow? Which one applies most to your life? Which one will you strive to follow?
What we are facing today is the fact that through our scientific and technological genius we’ve made of this world a neighborhood. And now through our moral and ethical commitment we must make of it a brotherhood. We must all learn to live together as brothers (and sisters)—or we will all perish together as fools. Martin Luther King, Jr. 1965 at Oberlin College
Where are we fifty-six years after MLK, leader of the American civil rights movement, made this statement? Each year, on the third Monday in January, the MLK Day of Service is observed as a “day on, not a day off.”
MLK Day of Service is intended to empower individuals, strengthen communities, bridge barriers, create solutions to social problems, and move us closer to Dr. King’s vision of a “beloved community.”
Perhaps if we all take one step towards creating community, we can move closer to MLK’s dream and not perish together as fools.
Affirmation: I will take a step to empower others.
Coaching question: What do Dr. King’s words mean to you?
The human capacity for burden is like bamboo- far more flexible than you’d ever believe at first glance. Jodi Picoult, author
I recently communicated with a mother of two small children who knows she’s going to die in the next several months. She asked how, at eight years old, I handled my mother’s death and what advice I had for her to prepare her children for the years after her death. She’s done much already including putting aside birthday gifts for each child for the next ten years.
I told her that she sounds like a caring mother who has already laid a solid foundation for her children. I encouraged her to trust the significance of her early mothering and to have faith in her children’s resiliency.
Isn’t this true for us all? When tragedy strikes, we must rely on the foundation of our past experiences then trust our own strength and resilience as we proceed into the future.
Affirmation: I am strong and resilient.
Coaching questions: What would you tell this mother? What can you tell your future self about handling death and disappointment?
Anybody can become angry — that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy. Aristotle
Abraham Lincoln was president in trying times but learned to manage his anger. One technique was writing a letter in which he vented his frustrations. After penning the letter, he read it, sealed it, but did NOT mail it. Instead, he put it in a desk drawer.
After a few hours, Lincoln reread the letter. Most of the time, he found that his anger had abated. There was no need to send the letter or to keep on being angry. The time spent waiting between writing the letter and then reading it again cooled him down. In that way he could “attend to the matter with a clearer eye.” However, with what we assume was a “clearer eye,” he was angry enough at the institution of slavery to act.
Anger is a feeling and all feelings need to be acknowledged and accepted. Anger, like joy and sorrow, is often warranted and, at times, motivates us to act. It’s how we express our anger—in destructive or constructive ways— that matters.
Affirmation: I manage my anger and use it constructively.
Coaching questions: What techniques do you use to manage your anger? In what ways do you express your anger? How do you channel your anger into constructive outcomes?
These pictures (the photos of the American Capitol being overrun on 1/6/21) made me angry and sad. But I am sure: American democracy will prove to be much stronger than the aggressors and rioters. German Chancellor, Angela Merkel
Although I’ve been politically active for the past five years, I have not written about political topics in this blog. Partly, because I write for international readership and because I want my posts to affirm, challenge, and help readers move forward with their hopes and dreams and not be distracted by political dialogue.
Today, I deviate from this blog philosophy. For centuries, my relatives fought for freedom, starting with the Revolutionary War in 1775. I value freedom and I love my country. The day after the unprecedented attack on our Capitol, I’m in shock—a feeling not unlike the one I had after the 9/11 attacks.
I fervently hope Chancellor Merkel is correct in her assessment of our democracy. I hope and pray that decency, truthfulness, and a respect for our democracy will return to our government and to our citizenry as we move forward into 2021.
Affirmation: I stand for democracy.
Coaching questions: No questions today—I’m sure you’re adrift in your own question—I am.
Those who think they don’t have time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness. Edward Stanley, author
“I don’t have time, I get enough exercise using the stairs, my health is fine, I don’t need to exercise.” I’ve heard all the excuses and used a few myself. And yet…statistics and our intuition tells us how important exercise is to our health and well-being. I’m talking about dedicated exercise….biking, walking, swimming, weights, yoga, palates….a combination of strength and aerobic exercise.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, only one in three children are physically active every day and less than five percent of adults participate in thirty minutes of physical activity each day. Only one in three adults receive the recommended amount of physical activity each week.
Are you putting EXERCISE MORE on your list of things you want to do in 2021? It’s on mine. Start small, add more each day or week, have an accountability partner, do it like your life depends on it and for the sake of those who love you.
Affirmation: I exercise regularly.
Coaching questions: What’s keeping you from regular exercise? What’s one thing you will do this week to move towards a regular exercise program?
Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude. From A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh
For many years, I religiously made New Year’s Resolutions. In recent years I adopted the idea of choosing a word for the year instead. This year I’m choosing two words: Gratitude and Kindness.
I’m counting on my heart being able to “hold a rather large amount of Gratitude” like Piglet’s. But first I need to take notice of all the reasons I have to be grateful and express my gratitude to God and the people in my life.
After taking Piglet’s advice on gratitude, I’m taking Oprah’s advice on kindness that I wrote about in my last blog. I’ve decided that being a “nice” person isn’t enough. In 2021, I want to concentrate on being a kinder person to friends, family, and strangers alike.
The definition of nice is: Pleasant, agreeable, satisfactory. The definition of kindness is someone who is: friendly, generous, and considerate. I think the actions of a kind person need to go beyond this narrow definition but, it’s a start.
Affirmation: I will show more gratitude and kindness in 2021.
Coaching questions: If you chose to have a word for 2021, what is it? Why did you chose that word?
Don’t underestimate your power. Hate is potent, but so is kindness. And goodness, and grace. Use yours generously. Oprah
2020 has been a tumultuous year for people all over the world. It’s easy to feel powerless in the wake of psychological and physical chaos.
What I know for sure, however, is how you treat every person in your sphere can and will make a difference. Don’t underestimate the power of goodness, kindness, and empathy. Don’t underestimate the power of modeling—to children and others. Do what you can to make 2021 a gentler, kinder year.
Affirmation: I have power.
Coaching question: What’s one thing you’ll do in 2021 to make a difference in our troubled world?
Sure, he knows if you’ve been naughty or nice but what about crabby? Doesn’t crabby count for something? Lucy from Peanuts
I’ve been a bit crabbier than usual this year. What about you? Along with Lucy, I’m wondering, “Doesn’t crabby count for something?”
My calm, cool, collected husband—bless his heart— doesn’t seem bothered by my crabbiness. That’s a big plus. My best friend affirms me in my crabbiness, admitting she feels pretty darn crabby herself sometimes and it’s ok. My adult children worry about my wellbeing—perhaps they sense my unaccustomed crabbiness. We’re not a family of worriers so their concern feels particularly loving.
All in all, I think crabby counts for something this year and I’m expecting Santa to drop by—not on his sleigh, of course, but on his wave runner. Even Santa realizes that sometimes we’re all a bit crabby.
Affirmation: It’s ok to be crabby sometimes.
Coaching questions: Have you been crabby lately? How have you handled it?
In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer. Albert Camus, Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature at the age of 44 in 1957.
Tomorrow, we celebrate the Winter Solstice—the longest night of the year. On Tuesday, we begin the slow crawl towards Spring.
For many, the months since the pandemic have been a sort of winter marked by isolation and inactivity. The distribution of vaccines is similar to what we will experience on Tuesday—the beginning of more light, yet, darkness still prevailing.
On top of all this, tomorrow night, (12/21/20) Jupiter and Saturn will align in the night sky in an event astronomers call the “great conjunction” — also referred to as the “Christmas Star” — marking the planets’ closest encounter in nearly 400 years.
What a year!
Affirmation: I celebrate the return of “light” in all it’s forms.
Coaching question: Have you found an “invincible summer” within you this year?