Joe Rutland wonders how much time men take to fully engage in a well-rounded life, filled with joy, work and play.
Here it is, another Monday. Before you and I begin catching up, I’d like to ask you a few questions.
Have you taken a few minutes to get grounded and centered before starting your day? Is that important to you? Do you really need to check that iPhone or laptop for email and messages the minute you roll out of bed?
There is a reason for these questions. A lot of my life has been spent on the go, go, go. Action and chaos were symbolically standing together. Shoulder to shoulder, arm in arm.
What insanity. I mean it. Oh I took time out for myself, for sure, only to see those times become destructive and unhappy. I filled time up with obsessive thoughts and behaviors. Now I am getting a little better these days, yet I have to “check in” with myself so that I don’t get too far near that ledge.
Once I go over, well, I’m gone.
The insidious nature of allowing other “stuff” to subjugate my mind, heart and soul from what really matters takes the cake. I’ll be the first to admit that I have had a “God complex” (not in a religious sense) through different life phases where others looked to me for all of their answers. See, they “saw” me as God-like. Teens, young adult, 30s, 40s … huh, pretty much my entire life. Too much pressure, my brothers and sisters.
Where was I? Oh yeah, rituals. I think we should talk about what makes up healthy and unhealthy rituals. I have them and, well, I’m sure you have at least one or two. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.
Developing healthy ones, especially at 50 years old, is a great gift.
There are plenty of books, CDs and columns filled with solid advice that can help provide your day and mine with balance and optimism. Every day needs some balance in it. There are going to be ups and downs, almost cyclical in nature. We are so damned busy with schedules, appointments, meetings, events, and if you are married a or a single parent and have kids … oh boy, that just adds more to the plate.
It might be awfully hard to set aside some time for a healthy ritual like meditation. For centuries, the great saints and sages of time have impressed upon many about the power of meditation. If that big word sets off fire alarms inside your brain, then that’s your stuff. I’m really talking about slowing the hell down. Tell me: Have you looked out your window this morning? I mean really looked. Take Five. Seriously. I’ll give you some background music while you do so.
Now it wasn’t that bad, was it? Did the dog bark too much? Did the cat cough up a fur ball? What about the phone and your email. Are they still working?
See, everyone gets so busy and too much busy-ness can lead to an out-of-focused life. I know, you have goals just like I do. Goals are good to have. Yet if goals become so predominant that “living” becomes secondary, then something’s off-kilter.
What type of life is that?
Now here’s some inside baseball scoop for you. Sitting down to write this column each week is a ritual in my life these days. It’s fulfilling because I enjoy writing, am allowed to tap into my own creative energy, and write on subjects related to this man’s life. Some of this stuff, from a few responses I’ve seen, does resonate with other men (and maybe even women, too) who are regular readers.
Maybe I should stop here and write a list for you. “Seven Ways to Enliven Your Sex Life with Rituals.”
Umm … no.
Eating a healthy meal, getting rest, reading good books, learning new skills, connecting with new people and making new friends … these are some healthy rituals to plug into your Microsoft Outlook scheduler.
Wait! Rituals can be something that is natural and feels comfortable to you. They provide a welcome balance to life.
Try them out.
So if you had to make list of things that brought you pleasure on a regular basis, what would that list look like?
If you are married or in a committed relationship, then it might be having “alone time” where you share about your day, watch a good movie, clink the wine glasses together a few times, and make love.
Pleasure can also come from being quiet and enjoying solitude. Here’s a tricky point: Solitude can turn into loneliness in a heartbeat. It’s been that way for me at times. I’m just chillin’ like a villain at home, listening to music, reading or writing, fully engaged in something healthy and nurturing … and the feeling of those four walls closing in on me creeps up. I never see it coming. Yet there must be some inner work for me to do around solitude and loneliness.
Having a ritual where I journal on a regular basis helps. Writing in a journal and, well, writing a column are two different things. One is cathartic and can lead to inner breakthroughs; the other is cathartic, too, yet there are some things I will put in a journal and not here.
Boundaries, baby. That’s where a man can set a healthy stopping point when others are nagging, pulling and yanking for him to do this, that and the other.
It is OK to take care of yourself. Like you need my permission! No, you don’t. Just know that the best ritual you can do for yourself and those in your life—both at home and in the workplace—is to love yourself.
Here’s your assignment this week (should you choose to accept it). Sit down, look at different core areas of your life—mental, physical, emotion and spiritual—and “check in” with yourself. Ask some tough questions. What is working and what’s not? Just be open to the inner answers.
Then chart out a course of healthy rituals for each day. Take baby steps, my friends. Give yourself this great gift of a healthy mind, body and spirit.
You really are worth it. Don’t sell yourself short.