Four Word Self Help - Blog Tour 2010 Patti Digh from 37days.com has a new book, Four Word Self Help: Simple Wisdom for Complex Lives. I brought it with me on a mini vacation focused on relaxing.

Despite the number of times I have learned this lesson in my life, I’m still not good at relaxing. It takes a lot of work, which I realize isn’t really the path. In an attempt to do otherwise, I sat in the comfortable chair in the hotel and picked up the book.

I love the size, it’s 5″ x 6.6″. It has a lovely intimacy in the hand. It’s also a hardcover, which I appreciate for a book that gets revisited. I don’t read Patti’s work once, I reread it over and over as it seeps in differently each time. It’s also a lovely shade of purple under the dust cover.

Does it count as relaxing if you are moving really fast?

Just a few minutes later I am on page 66. I can read ‘four word self help’ insights really fast since each one only has four words. I suspect I am missing the point. I remember the thousands of reminders in my life pointing to this, many of them from Patti herself. I recognize a 4 word insight:

Slow down, absorb words

My illustration in 4 Word Self Help

Then I remember the book is full of lovely art created by readers of Patti’s blog. How could I forget, I even painted one of them. So then:

Slow down, absorb art

Why do I feel so guilty?

I run fast so I feel productive. Relaxing doesn’t feel productive. It makes no difference that my head knows better, or even that I have proved to myself over and over that I am actually more productive when I don’t overtax myself. I haven’t been able to uncouple the auto-response.

Page 68: Breathe deeply and often

Page 69: Let the tears fall

I run fast to stay ahead of the feelings. Positive is easier fast. Overwhelmed and frustrated sneak in when I slow down.

Countering with good behavior

If I do healthy things I think it will balance out. So I continue with a checklist.

Page 70: Keep flowers nearby

I no longer view them as a nice to have, but they are a need to have. Food for my soul. Inside and out. Flowers on my desk, on my deck, in the yard.

Page 71: Use smaller dinner plates

Page 72: Eat more real food

This year has been a shift to more local food. Belonging to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and buying local meat. Easting less higher quality food. I’m doing good. Look how many of these things I am doing!

What am I thinking?

Am I getting any of the messages of this book at all? Running, keeping score? I return to the dust jacket:

life is simpler than we try to make it

I don’t even have to try to make it complex. After so many years of practice it comes naturally. Simple has become complex from all the layers I have to remove to get there.

What would I rather focus on?

Patti invites us to create our own 4 Word Self Help. She offers four guidlines:

Keep it very simple.

Make them four words.

Avoid the word “don’t.”

Make each an action.

What would I like to move toward? Or remind myself of regularly? Here are a few to start.

  • Make art every day.
  • Move toward my desires.
  • Greet difference with curiosity.
  • Find possibility in all.
  • Offer benefit of doubt.
  • Keep doing it anyway.

Thanks Patti

For continuing to inspire me with your writing, and inviting me to contribute art for your books.


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8 Comments

  1. Thanks for the reminders.

    Patti Digh is inspiring.

    I love YOUR art.

    Slow down and think.

    Be still and wonder.

    Love imperfectly and breathe.

    Be strong and confident.

    Linger with wide eyes.

    Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait.

    Thank you Christine!

  2. Thanks for the reminders.

    Patti Digh is inspiring.

    I love YOUR art.

    Slow down and think.

    Be still and wonder.

    Love imperfectly and breathe.

    Be strong and confident.

    Linger with wide eyes.

    Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait.

    Thank you Christine!

  3. Hey there, I am having issues loading your blog. Only close to 50% of this post seems to load, and the rest is just empty. I’m not quite sure why…. but you might like to find out about it. I will check back later, as that could possibly be on my end.

  4. Hey there, I am having issues loading your blog. Only close to 50% of this post seems to load, and the rest is just empty. I’m not quite sure why…. but you might like to find out about it. I will check back later, as that could possibly be on my end.


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