10 Things You Should Do for Yourself

I. Listen to Jenny Hollowell read her short story, “A History of Everything, Including You.”



II. Write a note to one of your favorite people. You could begin with these words: “I’m writing because I want you to know how much you mean to me.”


III. Take a walk. Leave your phone at home.




IV. Spend one entire day saying “yes.” Yes, I can spare some change. Yes, I have time to listen. Yes, I think that’s lovely. Yes, I can have lunch with you. Yes, yes, yes.


V. Eat a bowl of ice cream. Without remorse. If it’s Morelli’s, all the better.



V. Revisit this 1990 photo of Earth taken by the Voyager 1 spacecraft from the edge of our solar system, 11 billion miles away. Feel humbled. Feel exalted.




VI. Subscribe to Acorn.tv and watch Series 1 of the sweetly silly and endearing comedy “Detectorists.” No blood. No naked women. No cynicism.




VII. Give yourself permission to ignore presidential politics for the next year or so. Use the time instead to learn something new. For example, you could read and study Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, together with its historical context, and marvel that our country can lay claim to such a one as Abraham Lincoln:

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

VIII. Send $10 to a person or organization doing charitable work you admire. Like these guys, whom I mentioned in an earlier post. Or this much larger organization. Your local food bank, maybe.


IX. Before you judge — yourself or someone else — take a deep breath and think:


  • I messed up. So?
  • I wish I were more … Does it really matter?
  • I hate the way I … And what can you feel good about?
  • I deserve more credit! Okay, give it to yourself.
  • They’re vile! Then stop paying attention to them.
  • They brought it on themselves! But maybe if you knew all the facts, you’d feel less critical.
  • People are stupid and lazy! Why can’t they be more like me? They can and they should. In many ways, to be sure, but perhaps not so much with respect to your impatience.


X. Find a way to spend some time around children. They soothe the soul.




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