Whichever way we look, either on the macro public stage or the personal platform of life we are living in times of upheaval and discontinuity. Politics have become a bizarre farce of cartoon characters and questionable morals, climate change pronouncements mean the world’s peoples face ever swiftening maelstroms of cataclysmic change which impact us all. Many, many things are outside of our control and they effect our lives, such as the recent cost of living crisis.
So, my question is how do we learn the art of survivorship ? I don’t mean a state of survivorship where we don a hair shirt, sit glumly with a begging bowl or hurriedly make some make do DIY thing that resembles a badly made fence held together with baling twine in an effort to become more practical .
We all have hopes and dreams and a wish to live well, but life seems to often blow this all done like a pack of playing cards stacked up in the wind.
“Survivorship “is not an easy subject to contemplate. But there are four core themes that I can think of that for me make up “Survivorship”. There are probably more but these will do to begin with. These themes are: How to Live, Practicalities and Dreams and Cherishing.
How To Live.
On my pinboard in the kitchen is a list I have written from an article I read . The article was all about wellbeing. This list comes from the Ayervedic principles for leading a healthy life. It is not rocket science and is in fact the most common sense list that could ever be made. But, humans often get out of touch with themselves and this simple list brings us back to ourselves. I leave it on my pinboard to remind me when my life or my mental wellbeing gets out of kilter. In times of stress and discontinuity it is even more important to remember these things. So, the Ayervedic principles for leading a balanced and happy life are these:
- Eat a colourful flavourful diet ( a little research means you can even do this for about a £1 a portion).
- Sleep soundly at night ( apparently the sleep we get before midnight is the most wholesome , and tiredness is a common self defeating habit we can easily do something about).
- Engage in regular exercise for flexibility and strength. ( Keeping fit keeps us warm, energetic, encourages a happy mood and does not cost the earth. Online gyms are a great way to keep fit without breaking the bank).
- Take time daily to quiet the mind ( Meditation and even just breath meditation brings us quietly back in tune with ourselves and minimises anxiety and a deeper practice encourages profound and positive attitudinal changes.)
- Cultivate loving relationships. ( Love and caring about each other is not just for our intimate circle, we can spread love and care like happy sunbeams where ever we go. Love truly makes the world go round.)
- End what does not serve you. (Toxic workplaces or relationships only make us unhappy. Try transforming things with positive attitudes but some things and some people just need to be walked away from. )
- Awaken your passion. ( Even if you only have a spare few hours in the week to give your dream, still do it, plot it in, give it a small dose of continuity…it’s good for your soul. If you don’t yet know what your passion is try exploring a whole host of things till you find something that clicks).
This is a simple but awesome list and it helps me, at any rate , live well despite what is going on or not going on . It keeps me ticking by with a sense of perspective and steadiness. It is a list that creates personal resilience, stability and a positive mindset.
When life hurls lemons at you it is time to make lemonade….but first you need to have the resources to make lemonade! Today there are no end of articles about dealing with the cost of living. Here are some examples of things I have read: Get a better job, Insulate your house, Limit your expenditure; eg cut out subscriptions etc.
These suggestions made me laugh. They are clearly written from a well meaning, extremely middle class cushioned perspective. There are many of us who do not have the luxury of being able to “get a better job” and may indeed be working two jobs already to make ends meet. We also may not own our own homes so insulating them is out of the question!
So, what about getting the practicalities right so there is a steadiness to your “Survivorship?”The practicalities of life are simple: food, housing, warmth, work, money, friendships. Get these basics right and there is then the space to unfurl into other interests or philanthropic endeavours.
These following suggestions are simple and I am sure, not exhaustive . My principle is to be as healthy and self reliant and self supporting as possible. Health and wellbeing are linked to income so give this some thought in your circumstances. Everything in my life is budgeted to maximise my life experience. Every strand of living pretty much has it’s own account so meagre money is spread round everything. I only do a proper budgeted shop with a menu guide once every two weeks and otherwise rely on my garden and a small top up shop . This saves me so much money. My peace of mind comes from knowing that I walk this tightrope as best I can and largely everything just about get’s covered.
My personal practical list for survivorship has some quirky elements to it: my husband and I invested in both hot water bottle belts and battery charged electric heated gilets. Keep ourselves warm and the heating need only go on in the evening. My young music students even think my Koala hot water bottle belt is Cool!!
Hope is a powerful tool and I think as important for humanity as food itself. A little hope goes a very, very long way. I know from my own experience when I lose hope in my dreams then I somehow don’t manage survivorship terribly well. So whatever hopes you have deep in your heart hold onto them; even if you have to modify them or curtail them at times. Hope is a song in the heart and a spark of sun on a grey, dreary day. I have three hopes: to somehow start earning a professional amount of money, and to get my singer song writing projects to a point where they take off and fly and I can feel in some way successful with this. My other hope is that I leave this planet having done a humble amount of good and go out a little more evolved than when I came in.
I have no idea if my hopes will come true but if I let go of them my life feels myopic and hum drum and grey so hold onto them I must. But, I am learning to let them float lightly on the breath of life – sometimes. Sometimes they are just mere aspirations more than anything else. But, I hold them as precious gossamer threads.
It is said in Buddhism that all the causes of happiness come from cherishing others. I believe this to be profoundly true. Cherishing others is close kin to feeling love and compassion. It is an action that can be mental, physical or verbal. I try to find as many ways to cherish others through the day in a myriad of different ways. It can be the most silent and unknown thing: sending light and love through meditation, beaming at the tired check out lady, really noticing how a child learns or where they feel vulnerable so I can make their learning powerful and personal and uplifting.I have made cherishing a large part of my daily life. On the days when I am swamped in doubt or feel lost on my journey I have forgotten this beautiful mind. So, I remind myself and the sun always comes out……
Our planet, other humans and other species desperately need cherishing. So many problems would lessen if many of us engaged in this simple but beautiful practice in mind, body and deed.
So, these simple themes are perhaps ways of dealing with a fast changing, impoverished and unstable world. I am sure there are many other things that could also make up Survivorship but it is best to start with a few and really get an experiental feeling of them before adding in any more.
It is time to light my fire: a gleeful moment and I can put the Koala hot water bottle down for another day…!