Living an enriched life

Margaret shares a vintage column this week.

I have been so excited because through Dr. Bernie Siegel’s book “Love, Medicine & Miracles,” I have found the answer to a question I’ve always had about my life: “How come I have lived a happy, healthy and long life?” Without knowing it, my family and I did so many things right. When we found out I had a heart problem and my father told me, “You are three-fourths spiritual and one-fourth physical — the body is nothing,” I was on my way to good health and a happy life. I could have been an invalid or at least handicapped.

Then it blew my mind when Dr. Siegel used an analogy I’ve used for years. Whenever I was stressed out and couldn’t hold another thought in my mind, I would go upstairs to my room, lie down and pretend my mind was a blackboard. Then with my right hand, I would pick up an eraser and erase everything off my mind. Dr. Siegel tells his patients the same thing, only I went one step further. I would pretend I was at our cottage. The window was wide open and I could hear the water lapping across the shore. It worked like magic. I didn’t know it, but I was meditating and visualizing! Does this come naturally?

Another scenario I use is to start with my five senses. I start with my mind and replace all negative thoughts with happy thoughts. I tell my eyes I not only want to see, but I want vision. To me, understanding what you see and using it wisely is vision. I want my ears to hear beautiful music and wonderful messages I will act on. Next comes the nose. Did you know that 80 percent of our diseases enter our bodies through our nose? But we can use our noses to take in the fragrance of knowledge. I wish I could take credit for that, but it’s from the Bible. As for my mouth, I love food and love to taste words. They are delicious! How much attention do we give to the sense of touch? It is crucial for good life and life itself. Many psychologists today say we have problems with young people because they are not touched enough. I don’t mean a slap, but a caress. We must remember to use our hands for service. Service is love in action.

That’s the end of that exercise. It works for me. You’re welcome to have these two exercises or you can pick out your own. Learn to relax. You deserve it and you need it. You have choices. Every day we make choices in our active lives. What shall I wear or eat? How can I do my job better? What shall I watch on TV? Should I go for a walk? It’s all up to you.

We are all familiar with the quotation, “We are what we eat.” This is your physical side. “You are what you think” — this is your spiritual side (my idea). Anyway, both give us great power through our choices. Let’s look at some other choices. Do you need that extra helping of food? How big was the portion in the first place? Are you steaming and baking more? Are you frying less or not at all? Have you cut down on your bread intake and your desserts? Then learn to say “no” to the munchies in between meals? Your choices will show on your body and on your scale. Will you have pleasure or pain?

Now comes the good stuff — the power of our thoughts. Love is medicine and works miracles, so let’s determine to love more because it sees more and is willing to see less. Love is blind! Wow! Next, get rid of that heavy load you are carrying. If you have chores or responsibilities that you dread, try doing one at a time in love. Maybe it’s a bad attitude you have toward someone or a situation. Have you ever noticed people get better when you pray for them and a bad situation passes away? Did they change or did you? Either way, it paid off.

Ask yourself, “Do I dwell on frustration, pain, anger and sadness?” These do not make happy days. Neither do doubts, fears and cynicism. Try replacing them with three little words – faith, hope and joy. They can turn your life around. You have the power of choices. I have a rule of thumb: if I ask myself should I or shouldn’t I, that’s a signal that I shouldn’t. If you have no doubts, go for it!

We usually think of power as money, greed and control. That’s the wrong kind of power. There is no joy or no end. Aren’t we lucky we have choice? We can have the best life has to offer and be happy.

In closing, I love to make you laugh, but you will forget my stories and jokes. If the things I pass onto you enrich your lives, I am rich, indeed.