As advent begins, and the Christmas season looms, it's an ideal time to carry out a self-audit and check you're doing okay. I recently took the family out to dinner at a local restaurant. While we waited for the food, I handed out five sheets of paper. They had four gauges on them: simple circles that look a bit like a car’s petrol gauge and have an ‘empty’ marker on the left and a ‘full’ one on the right, with a line to mark the middle.
The four gauges were titled: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. I gave my wife and three children a coloured highlighter each, and asked them to think about how full or empty they felt in these different areas. The ensuing conversation was fantastic: we all got to talk and be listened to, and even came up with some solutions.
I think it’s important to ask these questions of ourselves from time to time. And if you’re a writer, it can help your characterisation. Above all, I believe it will help us with our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health. So how are you doing in the following areas today?
Are you getting enough sleep or rest? How about nutrition? Are you happy with your level of exercise? Do you experience aches and pains? Headaches? Is your gauge high or low and is there anything you can do to improve it?
How are you doing emotionally? Are you relating to people or do you feel you need to get away? Is there anything you can do to improve the situation: diet and exercise? Are you doing enough of the things you enjoy? Anyone you need to forgive? Anything you should let go of? Do you need to ‘count your blessings’ or maybe do something selfless or generous? Is it time for a Facebook/Instagram vacation?
How is your mental health? How could it be better? What are you putting into your brain through TV, YouTube or reading? Is it helping, or making you unhappy or anxious? Are you getting enough sleep, exercise and time outdoors? Do you have good people around you that you can talk to? Are you taking enough rest? Could relaxing music be of help? Is it time for a change of job? Maybe put the mobile phone aside for a day?
Is this an area that you need to improve or explore? Do you pray or meditate? Do you have any spiritual disciplines - things like: solitude, worship, simplicity, service, joy or fasting? How are you doing in terms of your selflessness, generosity, encouragement, peace? Is there anything on YouTube or Ted that can help improve your spiritual side? Go for it!
Tell me how it goes!
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Joshua Raven, novelist. Read about my writing and my life here. And have you discovered 5fingers yet?