The unexamined life is not worth living

I think Andrew’s post this weekend on habits is an important reminder for anyone interested in changing theirs (or at least examining them). That should, of course, be all of us. He mentions Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit, and I’ve written about that book several times here too.

Andrew sets the tone with five questions:

  • How can I be happier every day?
  • What can I do to improve my mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health?
  • How can I work better with people?
  • How can I work better with myself?
  • What should I avoid in order to improve my life?

I’ve been focusing on daily meditation (increasing from 20 to 30 minutes per day), afternoon walks downtown to clear the mind and reading either nonfiction or, sometimes, a novel before bed (rather than more news). The underlying theme there is, of course, mindfulness and relaxation. The world outside my mind is a storm of activity, and much of it is enjoyable — but only if my mind is fruitfully engaged throughout the day.

I think I’ll take the next week or so to begin answering those five questions each morning, perhaps honing them to fit the particular day ahead of me.

And there’s the daily writing on this website, which is another habit I began forming on Sept. 1. It’s going well (I’ve missed two days and made up for them with double posts), and I’m already noticing some broader themes at work. I’ve written mostly about how music has shaped my life and how I see the world, and I’ll continue on that path.

One thing I might try: focusing on one album each week as part of my listening habits, as a sort of undercurrent to all the other music I’m spinning. What experiences and emotions might I channel that way?

OK, then. Let’s do Exile on Main Street this week, since “Loving Cup” came on in the car ride to work this morning. I’ll write about that album next Monday.

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