I practice mindfulness meditation every morning (well, I try too), but sometimes I say the Rosary instead. It’s a strange prayer habit for a liberal guy who only considers himself 30% Catholic, but it’s something I’ve been doing for a long time with great success. It’s weird and mystical, so I love it. If I have time, I read a passage from the Toa Te Ching–which is my Bible right now. Then I go to work—not always super happily, but I try to embrace my job–because I need to feed my family. Then I come home, goof around with my three kids, have a martini with my wife, write my 500 daily words (my one true practice) play guitar or watch a movie, pay bills, read, and go to bed. Give Up and Die Living is about giving up what’s not essential in order to get the most from our short life—but the truth we have to face is that there’s a lot of unessential stuff we have to do. With three kids, I can’t give up my job and stop paying the bills. So I believe in a kind of yin yang living, which is about seeking balance in all things, mixing what is essential with what is sometimes necessary, just as I believe in a kind of yin yang spirituality, mixing the sacred, the mystical, with the down to earth, the profane. Here are some balancing rules I live by. Take some time to make your own.
Always follow yoga with a beer (or, to be blunt, something healthy with something unhealthy). This is a good way to avoid fanaticism.
Never be afraid to mix what’s sacred with what is worldly (or to be blunter, pray and fart at the same time)—because in a mystical world everything is sacred, everything is what it should be at the moment.
Play with your kids, but make them play on their own as well.
Spend time with and without your spouse or family. Go out alone sometimes. Go out with friends too. As theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Let him who cannot be alone beware of community….Let him who is not in community beware of being alone.”
Work hard, play hard (to quote Chris F., one of the best yin yang livers I’ve ever met). RIP.
Get your jobs done, but if you have to pick, always choose kid time over fixing the leaky sink (sorry, honey). In other words, when presented with choices, know what is more important. Have a choice prepared. I make rules about such things, like when the choice for our family is to do something active (bike ride) versus passive (movie), choose the active thing (and watch the movie later). And you should fix the sink too. If you can, fix the sink with your kids.
All the recent reading I’ve done on life and longevity has often boiled down to one central factor: balance.
Very often happiness is not getting what you want, but learning to enjoy what you have at the moment.
How do you maintain balance in your life?
Give Up and Die…you’ll be glad you did.