Lessons from my 58th year

I turned 58 a few weeks ago.  I was a bit late to the Pandemic Birthday Celebration Club.  But at this point, it looks like we’ve all become members. 

Another year zoomed by.  So what did I learn in my previous year?

Last year I obsessed about the Covid pandemic, like everyone else. 

But there were still things to learn or relearn. 

Before the first lockdown, I read about how our immune system is affected by stress.  In a stressed state, your immune system is one of the first things to get turned off.  Not deemed important. 

I guess in an immediate life or death situation, your body wants to keep you alive for the next few minutes.  It isn’t worried about something that might take a few days or weeks to kill you.

If you are stressed out about the pandemic, it makes your body more susceptible to it.  Crazy!

 So, I made a concerted effort to try not to get too stressed out about Covid.

I partook in some early day, mid-day, and late day “doom scrolling”.  But, I would order myself to stop whenever I noticed myself getting anxious.  I could stop for days at a time.

And I stepped up my gratitude habit.  Every day finding 5 things to be thankful for.  And trying to experience the gratitude and let it wash over me.

The funny thing is that before the lockdown I was dealing with a gout flare up that lasted weeks.  And it was early in the lockdown that I started doing some Qigong exercises, which I found helpful for my gout pain.  Maybe it had run its course.   Maybe it was a placebo effect…  But I don’t care what it was.  It worked. 

And I wasn’t sick at all after that.

I usually get a cold or chest cold every year.  Not last year.

Now, was that because of the pandemic?  Maybe.  Like most people, I was inside my house most of the time. Avoiding contagions and people.

We got out for daily walks but there wasn’t much interaction with people.  There were a few opportunities to hang out with family or friends.  But there was always the physical distance aspect.

Ironic that I had my healthiest year amidst the global pandemic…  I also tried to be healthier.  I got to bed earlier.  I ate healthier.   I did Qigong daily for a couple of months.  I went for walks. 

On the negative side, I got beat up by Resistance.  Okay, I let myself be beat up by Resistance.  I didn’t do much writing.  My playwriting group had a few Zoom meetings, but I didn’t have enough energy to work on my writing.

And then I talked about writing a book on Intermittent Fasting.  But I only got started on it and couldn’t complete it.  Yet.

Why is entropy such a natural state of being?  And why is so hard to fight it?

The main thing that I learned (or relearned) last year was that there is only one way for me to get things done.  Especially something that I have been putting off. 

Do it in little chunks. 

If I start a timer and work on the thing for 15 minutes, I can beat the Resistance.

But it’s a battle that I must fight every time.  Like an exercise regimen, it’s easier to maintain a habit than to start one.  And if you’ve started one, don’t skip it for more than a day or two or else you’ve got to start all over again…

Break things into smaller chunks.  And set a timer and do them.

Sigh.  Hopefully, I can keep that top of mind for my 59th year!

© 2021 Peter Gruner

3 thoughts on “Lessons from my 58th year

  1. Is that a Steven Pressfield reference? I too have so much trouble getting started, mostly because I can’t seem to break tasks into smaller chunks, and thus leave things undone. Here’s to doing more of that! Thanks for this post!

    • Thanks, Stuart. It is a Steven Pressfield reference. The thing I love about Pressfield is that he gives us a language to talk about procrastination. I highly recommend his book “Do the Work” if you haven’t read it yet. In terms of breaking tasks into smaller chunks, sometimes it helps to just set a timer for 15 minutes and commit to working on the task for that long. At the end of the 15 minutes, you can either continue or stop; but at least you’ve made some progress.

      • Lol I live for these micro-efforts of working (as opposed to intense sessions). I have indeed read Do The Work. He really does help us turn the mystifying procrastination bug into something more defeatable.

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