My goal in writing the Life Seasoned© blog is to encourage healthy living through food, exercise, and life choices; to flourish in our brief moment in the cosmos.
I am an avid reader of a variety of subjects and have always been fascinated with human behavior. I love a book that includes references to other books that I can further study on a particular topic. I have a Bachelor of Science in Social Work with a minor in Psychology. I am not a therapist. My career followed an entirely different path, but human behavior continues to intrigue me. This blog should never be used as medical advice. I encourage anyone suffering from any mental health issues to pursue therapy.
I read a quote recently by Psychotherapist and Author, Donald Robertson, stating, “Anxiety and depression are more common than blue eyes.” This statement is quite a revelation. If you suffer from depression or anxiety, you are in good company. In starting this blog and working across several social media platforms, I have noticed the incredible number of people who describe themselves as struggling with depression or anxiety.
I carry a book with me called The Art of Living By Sharon Lebell, a book I refer back to often. (Link Here) It’s a book that is grounding for me, preparing me for the day and the ebb and flow of life. Everyone’s life has fabulous moments and soul-crushing moments, but it is how we respond to these moments that affect our quality of life. The Art of Living is an interpretation of The Handbook of Epictetus, a Greek philosopher circa A.D. 50-130.
My life, like your life, has encountered great sadnesses, challenging people, challenging experiences. But also like your life, I have had wonderful moments to cherish, crossed paths with remarkable people, and have experienced successes. Epictetus, like the philosophers before him, believed our suffering resulted from how we reacted to events rather than the events themselves. Our understanding of what is in our control and what is not in our control is central to suffering or not suffering. We can control how we react to events.
Though life and times have changed significantly since the original work was written, the same course of personal behavior and thought processes continue to affect our quality of life today. This focus on mindset and creating a flourishing life predates modern religion and does not compete with religion; instead, it is a compliment to any belief system.
The Art of Living encourages us to develop an awareness of how we respond to events outside of our control. We become conscious of the fact that many, many things outside of our control have to fall into place perfectly for events to transpire as we wish. If we focus on living according to virtues and making our best effort at achieving our goals, we can then let go. We can allow the results of our efforts unfold as they do, knowing we can not possibly control everything and every outcome. The desire for control over everyone, and everything can create debilitating anxiety. Letting go of the need to control that which is out of our control and finding satisfaction in the steps we take to achieve an outcome, rather than the result itself, takes practice and is ultimately freeing. This book reminds us to focus on what we can control.
The Art of Living encourages us to begin each day with an understanding that things may go wrong, or we may meet disagreeable people. Doing so prepares us for disappointments if or when they arise so we don’t overreact. Create a plan for the day, review the virtues to live by, and reflect on your day in the evening. How did you do? Acknowledge where you failed and chastise yourself lightly. Acknowledge your successes and rest easy. Begin each new day refreshed.
On a similar topic, here are two books specifically designed to address anxiety and depression. Feeling Good by Dr. David D. Burns (Link Here) supports the development of cognitive-behavioral techniques. It focuses on treatment for depression but is an excellent book for anyone who finds themselves in a negative pattern of thinking. I will say that several case examples and some topics are somewhat socially out of date; however, the book as a whole is excellent.
The second book is Build Your Resilience by Donald Robertson, Psychotherapist, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapist (Link Here). This book, as are his others, is presented in laymen terms and easy to read. Again, it is devoted to cognitive behavioral therapy and changing the negative thought patterns we often fall into. I highly recommend all of his books. I’m listening to his latest on Audible: How To Think Like A Roman Emperor (Link Here)
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (Link Here) is also compelling in that he created a chart of thirteen virtues for life. At the end of each day, he would reflect on the day, reviewing his actions to determine if he lived according to the virtues.
Benjamin Franklin believed that if he lived beyond reproach with high ethical standards, positive events would develop for him due to his trustworthiness. Benjamin Franklin was astute at a very young age. He, like Epictetus, began his day with a plan, understanding things could go wrong and that he may come across disagreeable people. He prepared accordingly as should we. (List of Virtues Found Here)
Share The Care
I recently lost a dear friend to colon cancer. I had met her sister during a hospital visit. She lived thousands of miles away and was quite distressed about this. She asked me to create a Share The Care group as a way to support her sister and the immediate family while she was away.
Cappy Caposela and Sheila Warnock created Share The Care (Link Here) as a blueprint to help friends and family design a plan of care and support for loved ones facing health challenges. I enjoyed this book immensely as it created a vision and answered the questions of ‘how to begin’ and ‘where to go from there.’ A calm voice in the chaos.
I created a Share The Care group for my dear friend. It organically formed into a lovely group of women and spouses who were able to bring joy and laughter to our mutual friend and her family. The group helped them refocus on life and living rather than on cancer and dying. The group offered my friend and her family support during difficult times. As a group, we also supported each other.
Our group did not develop exactly as the book described. That is the beauty of this plan. The authors offer suggestions, not rules. Our group became what it was meant to be naturally. Share The Care was a well-written pathway to move forward. We were able to offer fluent, longterm, gentle support rather than a flurry of baked goods and well wishes and then silence. We weren’t saying, “Let me know if I can help.” We were purposeful in our approach, thanks to the ideas described in Share The Care.
Though we have lost our dear friend, our group continues. We have the experience and knowledge to offer assistance should another friend or family member face a difficult battle.
Are any of the mentioned titles familiar to you? Do you have books to recommend? Please, do share!
Join me on the blog to focus on life affirming food. I hope you try several of my favorites, such as Vanilla Banana Sorbet With Cherry Basil Balsamic Reduction, Lettuce Wraps With Maple Miso Soy Curls, and Plant Based Minestrone Soup.
Wishing you a wonderful day! Enjoy!