Quality of Life

Some people like to say, "Eat well, do good, get exercise, and die anyway," as some sort of excuse for partying, being unhealthy and/or being inconsiderate. This logic has no place in a happy, fulfilling and successful life. Regardless of when you die, you want the life you live today, and tomorrow to be the best life you can possibly have. There is no excuse for not doing the best for yourself and the best you can for those you love. Even if I were going to die in six months, I still would continue my diet exactly as I do (if not do even better) because I want the highest quality for my life. The quantity is quite irrelevant.

~Raederle Phoenix Jacot

"Are you really sure that a floor can't also be a ceiling?" ~ M. C. Escher

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


I used to hate doing dishes. And I do mean hate it.

The idea of doing dishes plagued me. I knew one day I'd have to do them regularly. I expected it to come, and dreaded it.

I didn't mind laundry. Sure, it was tough as a child to lean into the washer to pull out the clothes, but hanging them up on the drying rack was a game. I could even sit on the floor while hanging the socks on the lowest bar of the drying rack. The collapsible wooden rack wasn't replaced with a dryer until a dryer was donated to us after the house fire when I was fourteen.

But I hated doing those dishes with a passion. I had to stand in one place the entire time! That was a big deal to me as a kid. Standing in place. I misinterpreted my dislike of standing in place for a dislike of dishes. The dishes, as it turns out, are entirely neutral.

When I was twelve or thirteen I came to realize what I hated so much was a matter of poor blood pressure. Standing in place would cause my legs to become red, and then blotchy. My circulation was so weak that it couldn't pump the blood back out of my feet and back into the rest of my body. I became light headed and my legs would itch terribly.

I like being bare foot. Wearing shoes always made me feel off balance as a child, so I would be standing in front of the sink barefoot, legs blotchy, red and and itching with my arms raised up high to reach into the sink. To make it worse, water ran down my arms and dripped all over the floor and mixed with the dirt on the floor and then stuck to the bottom of my feet.

I couldn't stand more than five or six minutes before I became so miserable that I threw a tantrum. I was so adamant about not doing the dishes that I didn't spend much time doing it as a child at all. I was so useless when it came to chores and so often sick and kept in bed that I spent little time cleaning in general.

I didn't even realize that sinks got dirty and that someone had to clean then until I was seventeen.

This sounds like a rant about my poor childhood health, but that isn't actually my point at all. I thought I hated doing the dishes, but in reality, I had a root problem: my health.

Many of us believe we have to do things daily that we hate, but in reality, we don't hate what we're doing. What we're doing can be a job, a career, a calling, or nothing to us at all. What we're doing can be a chore, or it can be effortless. It is our attitude and our disposition that determine how we feel about what we're doing.

This was brought to my attention in particular today by washing my feet in the shower after they became dirty from wandering around the kitchen floor barefoot. I realized I wasn't troubled by my dirty feet or by washing them. It then occurred to me how much I would have resented it as a child. It would have been an affront to my livelihood. Perhaps even something that might have made me feel depressed.

My poor circulation prevented me from being able to enjoy many simple tasks. If you asked me as I child how I felted about showers, I would have literally replied, "I hate them." Baths were acceptable, since I could sit the entire time.

I came off as a very negative child who hated everything about life. In some ways, I was, but that wasn't the real me. That was a lump of unresolved issues. The real me was an artistic creative fun-loving compassionate person: and that me was buried beneath my problems.

Many people go on ignoring the root causes of their unhappiness their entire life. I'm very blessed and very grateful to discover that my health was the main source of my misery so early in my life.

I could have gone on to become several hundred pounds overweight at the rate I was going. I went from 120lbs at the age of thirteen to 153lbs at the age of sixteen. At the rate I was going -- 33 pounds in three years, or 11 pounds a year -- I would have been 219lbs by today.

My self-esteem was already bad at sixteen, imagine what it would be today if I hadn't done something about my health.

Health might not be a problem you're struggling with, but we all have problems that affect the quality of our life. Until we acknowledge them and work on self-improvement, we continue to be easily agitated. We curse under our breath about every little thing. As unhappy people we might even adopt "easily annoyed" as a personality trait.

"Easily annoyed" is not a personality trait. That is a personality flaw. Or more accurately, it's not your personality at all, but just a sign that your real personality is being blocked by circumstances. It means that you are not satisfied with your life. It means you're not satisfied with you.

People take on things like "commonly angry" as part of their identity. They become confrontational and defensive when others ask them "What's wrong?" This sort of behavior drives away loved ones, prevents possible friendships, and destroys opportunities to find fulfilling employment.

I'm not saying, "Oh, I've discovered my big problem and solved it, so now I'm perfect." If that were the case I might not even be writing this right now. If I had achieved a state of being where I was always calm, never lost my temper and never felt depressed... then I might not easily recall how important and how difficult it is to pull oneself from situations of denial, confrontation and anger.

I'm constantly amazed on a daily basis how much has changed in the past few years. I look different, I think differently, I dress differently, I interpret people I encounter differently, I look back on memories differently, etc. And I believe all of these changes are positive. It is a great source of joy in my life to see how much I've grown and improved.

It's draining to feel like you're "screwing up" your life. It's double-draining because you not only feel like you're creating a mess, but simultaneously you're not achieving your dreams in life. You're not getting closer to your long-term goals. Perhaps you don't think you have any long-term goals, but that is an even bigger problem.

Long-term goals are your desires, but more than that; they are desires you are actively planning on achieving. They are not just absent wishes. Goals are something you are striving for regularly, perhaps even on a daily basis.

When your goal is to become a published author you write regularly, perhaps every single night. You have a book you're working on for hours each week. Those hours make your entire life feel like it's going in the right direction. This is because your life has direction when you have a goal you're working towards. It's not just "oh, I'd like to be published," it's "Hey, I'm working on this book and it's coming along great, and yesterday I was invited to an event where I'm going to meet a lot of people -- maybe I'll meet an agent!"

If your goal is to become a rock star then you spend your free time jamming on your guitar or your drums or singing. Even if you never become a rock star, you'll still accomplish a lot. You'll be a happier person, you will attract good people into your life, you will learn several musical talents, and as a result you'll have successful performances that earn you respect and money. But most importantly, you'll feel at peace with yourself.

You can't ever love yourself if you're working a job you hate, living a lie, denying your desires and blocking out all possibility of achieving your dreams.

Your identity does not involve being depressed, angry, annoyed, upset, or being a "loser." Your identity does involve who you desire to be, your aspirations, your goals and your talents.

Once upon a time I defined myself as a "pitiful barbie" and I used that as my main e-mail address for over ten years. I deemed myself as frivolous as a doll, and pitiful to boot. Perhaps that title wasn't completely serious, and perhaps I just thought it "sounded cool" at the time, but I think there is an underlying message there... The simple fact that I was okay with something like that representing me. I allowed that to define my online persona to people.

I'm not pitiful. And I'm made of flesh, not plastic. I'm an organic being (and not conventional -- no pesticides or for me... Human version of pesticides: white sugar, excessive salt and cigarettes). I love and respect myself on a level completely unknown to myself just a couple years ago.

If you've spent your entire life depressed and tired then you'll be in for a huge wake up call when you finally grasp some happiness in your life. I didn't know what it meant to be energetic until I was fourteen, and I hadn't a clue that what I felt then was only a glimpse of what being healthy could feel like (which I didn't discover until I was twenty).

How many of your years are you going to let slip on by without addressing who you are, what you want, where you're going, what your obstacles are and what you really care about? Ask yourself those questions. You should be able to write four types pages on each of those subjects easily. The topic is you.

Do you know you?

Think about it.

~ Raederle Phoenix

Happiness Assignment:

Write four typed pages on each of the following:

What do you want?
Where are you going?
What are your obstacles?
What do you really care about?
Who are you?

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