3 “Quickie” Ways to Live a Better Life

That sounds like a big promise. After all, how can just three things give me a better life?

But we have to start somewhere, and I get overwhelmed with the many “self-help” articles and podcasts I take in every day. There’s NO WAY to do all the things I want to do to make life better.

These three, however, make the top of the charts for me. Anything else is what we call in Louisiana, “Lagniappe,” or, a little something extra.


1. START THE DAY WITH GRATITUDE. Whatever we focus on expands. This is an absolute law of consciousness, and WILL NOT FAIL when practiced consistently.

This morning, for example, I skipped my usual half hour of journal time, spending that time hand writing four THANK YOU notes. Two were to clients, one was to someone who helped me through a real estate crisis last week, and one was to a new friend, who invited me to breakfast and shared some gardening secrets.

Sending actual thank-you notes in the mail is a lost art, and has huge impact these days on the receiver – and the sender. I picked some beautiful notes from my collection, put aside everything else, and wrote notes of sincere thanks, with detail, to each of these four people, and used my “wine country” stamps to mail them in their linen envelopes. This made me feel old-fashioned and thoughtful and kind. And it expanded my outlook for the day into creating new reasons to give thanks, based on my inbox.

Whether it’s taking time to write in a journal, a quick “gratitude walk” around the block, or a simple gesture like sending a “thank you” note… start every morning with a deep breath and a review of the wonderful things that have happened – and thank anyone who helped make good things possible. Without fail, when I do this, I am given more than I need throughout the day.


I’m drinking bone broth, doing smoothies for breakfast, trying to eat only organics, and taking collagen supplements right now – plus trying to remember all the beauty routines I’m supposed to be doing for clear skin, a tighter butt, better flexibility, and more energy. NO WAY am I ever going to make it through the whole regimen of self-imposed responsibilities for a healthier me. I have about twenty daily things I’m supposed to be trying!

So, rather than beat myself up about what I forgot to do consistently, or feeling ashamed of not taking any of it seriously enough… I’ve committed to start each morning with a banana smoothie, because I am dangerously low in potassium right now – and everything else will fall in place as I go through the day.

I don’t do any of it perfectly, and things fall by the wayside as quickly as I commit to them; but just by starting my day with my banana smoothie, I find it easier to drink the bone broth at lunch, then I feel like I’ve accomplished two important diet goals, and I just find myself eating a more sensible lunch – then I feel I can eat whatever I want for dinner. I’ve earned it.

It’s an imperfect system, but just ONE right choice leads to many others throughout the day. By the time I settle in for evening, I feel like I’ve stayed on track, I tend to exercise before bedtime more often, and then that leads to more mindful skin care, etc. It all starts with just one thing. Without that, it’s easy to fail all day.


This is really hard for someone like me, who is always dissatisfied with something.  It always seems I SHOULD be working harder at something, progressing on a project, seeking enlightenment, whatever…

But lately, I have been forcing myself to enjoy the “lazy moment.”

I actually set a timer for this.  30 minutes in the afternoon before I pick up my son from school.  I don’t read.  I don’t work.  I don’t allow myself to think about what I haven’t done today.

I simply go outside and “chill” in my garden and drink juice or coffee.  I close my eyes, listen to the noise of the city, force myself to be still and listen deeper, for the birds, conversations, the swaying of trees and the rustle of leaves.  All the sounds of the country exist in the city, too, if I make myself be aware.  Mindful.

Then I breath in and note the smells.  I drink slowly and savor the taste of my drink.  I try to name every color I can see without turning my head.

I just sit there.  It’s very hard to do, but once my 30 minutes is up… I feel like I’m starting a brand new day, with plenty of energy, and I look forward to getting moving again.

This is real progress toward the more mindful life I long for.  It’s all right here, I just have to notice it by forcing myself to be lazy.

Mind vs. Mindful… Not the Same Thing!

Thinking and being mindful are definitely not the same thing.

To me, Mindfulness is a practice of experience.  I work on this constantly, as I’m always in a rush, rarely being mindful of what I’m doing.

The mind, however, needs nurturing, too.

We are like computers.  We have two processes – input and output.

We spend much of our time regurgitating things we have learned, putting into practice our knowledge, skills and education.  We do a lot of output, and in adulthood, we often feel that we are full of information that can be shared with the world.  And that is true.

What is also true is that our hard drives are never full.  The brain has so much capacity “they” say we only use 3% of the available ability of the mind.  Just three percent!

So to me, education is a life-long pursuit.  I’m an avid reader, and I believe this helps me grow in every area of my life.

But I have to be careful.

So much study of web traffic, blogging dynamics, search engine optimization… all good to know, but not what makes a good blog.

I’ve also read a million books on childhood education, ADHD, raising a happy child… and a mother with her nose in a book, or always on the computer, is not supporting her child with attention and guidance and love!

Again, balance rules everything, and I love when someone shares a great read.  It helps me narrow my selections and spend less time reading things that aren’t helpful.  My mind needs to be kept under control, and reading time is precious and rare.

On that note, I’ll share some of the best things I read with you here, in the Mind Garden.  Hopefully, this will help send you in the direction of helpful reading to nourish your mind, without overwhelming with too much information.

4 Criteria for New Products and Efforts

I’ve decided there needs to be a framework from which I decide what’s a “good” self-improvement, and what is a “bad,” more damaging effort that’s a no-win situation.

Particularly in the arena of anti-aging, I see many things targeting our fears about aging and the ravages of time.  Fear-based buying and endeavors are absolutely not winning situations for any of us, and I think I have to create a set of rules for my journey.

That said, I’m just jotting down some quick truths that I hope will guide me, and I hope to refine this thinking over the next few months.

Realistically, as much as I’d like to live a whole and spiritual life in which I don’t care about how I look or how time passes me by… I’m just too vain and human to allow that kind of wisdom to prevail.

Not yet.

I know very good and well that my “wellness” efforts have ulterior motives.  I want to look better, feel better, remain young and fit as much as I can.  So… how to get the ego under control and let reason rule my decisions?

Here are my instinctive thoughts on protecting myself from things that will fail and disappoint me:

  • I must evaluate each new purchase or effort with a simple question, “Is this ego-driven, or spirit-driven?”  I won’t always choose things that are spirit-driven, but at least I’ll be facing the truth about why I want to try it.

  • I must ask myself, “If this works, what will the reward be?”

  • Also, “If this fails, what will the consequence be?”

  • Is my desire to “correct” this beauty or health flaw driven by ego or love for myself?

That’s just a really quick assessment of some things I have failed to ask myself in the past, and a resolution I’m making today to avoid a never-ending cycle of trying diet yo-yo situations, snake oil beauty remedies, and quick-fix products for physical wellness.

Doing the work should nourish the soul and always represent progress, not an unattainable goal that will lead to disappointment and a sense of failure.