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
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.
For continuing to inspire me with your writing, and inviting me to contribute art for your books.
I like to hear your comments and stay in touch.
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