I wish someone would invent a cure for worrying. It seems like lately that’s all I do. To be honest, it’s mainly my kids I worry about…as if all my worrying will change who or where they are. In fact, worrying doesn’t accomplish a whole heck of a lot. So why do I keep doing it? I can’t help it!
And you can probably guess when the worrying occurs: in the middle of the night when there’s no escape. It drives me crazy. Instead of sleeping, I lie awake and think about all the bad things that might happen. My New-Age friends would say that I am putting negativity into the universe when I should be embracing positive thoughts. Right. Anyone who can tell me how to flip that switch in the middle of the night will earn my unending gratitude.
I’m sure these worrying thoughts—the monkey mind, as my Buddhist friends might call it—are a result of feeling stressed. That’s another modern malady most of us are afflicted with and a close relative of worry. In the old days, people used to get a lot more physical activity as part of their daily lives. Whether they were caring for farm animals or involved in physical labor at work, our parents’ parents moved around more. I’m not saying they didn’t experience stress, but they released it when they completed manual tasks.
It’s pretty obvious that obesity and being overweight are huge problems for our society today. Certainly part of the blame for that is the prevalence of modern conveniences that surround us. When our grandparents wanted to make bread, they didn’t drop the ingredients into a bread machine and press a button. They had to beat the dough, knead it, and shape the loaves. And you could taste the love in every loaf.
Just about every new invention, it seems, has made life easier, but these gadgets and gizmos require less physical labor and result in more leisure time. So what are we doing with our leisure time? That’s the question. If you’re sitting around on a couch somewhere watching television—and you know who you are—then it’s time to make a change. All it takes is a little willpower.
And I’m not talking about going to the gym three days a week, although that’s probably a good idea. I’m suggesting you find some new goals to get you moving in the new year. Maybe you’ve been wanting to do some volunteer work. The Foodbank needs food sorters, for example, so you could get some exercise and do a good deed at the same time—not to mention meet new friends. Maybe you’ve been thinking about volunteering for the Girl Scouts or any one of the needy charitable organizations in our area (visit volunteerhr.org for a list). The dawning of a new year is an excellent time to start volunteering.
As Marcy Germanotta points out in her article this month, the benefits of volunteering are many, especially if you are between jobs. Besides having something to put on your resume, you will be learning new skills and meeting new people, all of which will make you more marketable for employment. I would also add two more good reasons to volunteer. Number one, it gets you off that couch and gives you a reason to get active. And two, anytime you give to others it helps your own feelings of self worth. Because you feel more fulfilled, this translates into less stress in your life. And ultimately, I believe, fewer worries.
Wouldn’t this world be a better place if instead of sitting around worrying all the time or griping about how disappointed we are with life in general—or our kids in particular, we got out and got involved and created positive change? It’s really that easy and it only takes a single step. I’m going to make 2011 a year of giving—not just financially—but also giving my time and energy to help others. I hope you will find it in your heart to do the same. The end result will be a happier, healthier you and a better world to live in.
P.S. Here’s a class you might want to take. I’ll be teaching travel writing at Cozy Corner Books and Writing Center, 613 VB Blvd. It’s a six-week class starting Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011, from 7-9:30 p.m. Call 757-802-0996 or visit cozycorneronline.com for more information.
P.P.S. I am planning another book signing for Still Life with Sierra. This one will on Jan. 30 at 3 p.m. at Prince Books, 109 E. Main Street in Norfolk. Come by and pick up your copy of my book and say hello