Life, as they say, is for living. Obvious. Yet it is weirdly easy not to live it. Too busy, too worried, too hurried, too overwhelmed with stuff, too concerned to finish this and get on with the next job….there’s no space for living.

What’s more, the effects of stress – increased heart rate, weakened immune system, release of fat and sugar into the bloodstream – can lead to serious physical ill-health. And that’s on top of anxiety, depression and other anti-life conditions.

five thoughts

  • Learn to live in the moment. It’s a mainstay of all kinds of ancient wisdoms. The Buddhist notion of mindfulness is often quoted.

Mindfulness is the energy of being aware and awake to the present moment. It is the continuous practice of touching life deeply in every moment of daily life. To be mindful is to be truly alive, present and at one with those around you and with what you are doing. We bring our body and mind into harmony while we wash the dishes, drive the car or take our morning shower.

Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh – from his website.

  • Accept that achieving that kind of mindfulness requires a serious change to the way we look at life and the way we work. The good news is that being even a little bit Zen can help a lot.
  • Some people feel guilty and worried about their family when they’re at work. They also feel guilty and worried about work when they are with their families. And if it all becomes too much, they feel pretty awful about going off work with stress-related illness too. It ain’t right nor fair. That women suffer it worse is a demonstration of the injustice and sex inequalities that are still rife. Finding a way out is a life skill that makes Zen living in the moment seem like child’s play. Again, you can make it better, but it is hard. So help other people along their way too.
  • Think again about your CV. Not the formal sheets of A4 you use to sell yourself to prospective employers. Focus on your real “life story” – or stories. These are the narratives we all use to define, explain, make sense of who we are, what happened to us and the society we live in. A story you are unhappy with will cause problems. Good ones can vitalise you. Get remaking your story.
  • Be happy. Or get as happy as you can. One of the best writers on happiness, Jonathan Haidt, produced a five point plan based on a lot of research and thinking. It helps if you’ve read his Happiness Hypothesis book. But you can just leap in and cherry-pick some wisdom from his plan.