Self-help and the meaning of life


People these days seem to be always searching for something better or a purpose in life. Many look at self-help books, of which there are more than twenty million titles in circulation. The Power of Positive Thinking, by Norman Vincent Peale and Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson are two of my favorites. The number one book is How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie. Although my eyes have never gazed upon this book, I seem to be able to win friends and influence people none-the-less.

My attempts to look better are more insubstantial. For instance, I admire women who wear make-up, especially beautiful make-up. My oldest daughter is a make-up artist, and her talented hands could make a pig look pretty. She did my make-up once and the results smile back from my Facebook page every day. Doing make-up is a chore at my age, with declining close vision and hand tremors that smear it all over the place. When I had an important meeting at work the other day, I splurged and spent time putting on mascara. Pleased with the results, I put on my glasses and my efforts were magnified. Unfortunately, later in the day with my glasses off, I felt something in my eye, and rubbed vigorously before remembering the mascara, which by that time was smudged into raccoon eyes; so much for my attempt to look prettier.

Many people, myself included, want to be more physically fit, but I have the ridicules excuse that my work schedule does not allow the time to exercise. In response, someone gave me a “portable fitness pedal stationary under desk indoor exercise machine”, that is, a set of bicycle pedals that can be used while seated at a desk. Just looking at it made me drive to Healthtrax to talk about a membership.

Losing weight is a big challenge. I love the ads for the weight loss product that was embraced by every panelist on Shark Tank, a television show that rewards entrepreneurs with lucrative contracts for their inventions. TruKeto is publicized to flush out harmful toxins, block excess fat production, curb appetite, improve mood and sense of well being, improve sleep, lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and regular blood sugar levels. Oh, and people who used it lost more than twenty pounds a month. Somehow it sounds too good to be true and I am not sure it is trustworthy. In a different tract, I will be forming a more traditional method for weight loss by combining eating fewer calories, exercising, and creating group encouragement by starting a Biggest Loser-like weight loss contest with all of my “friends”. (It will be done virtually, and anyone can join the fun. More details will follow next month.)

People often want to improve their lives by living in bigger, more beautiful houses. We were fortunate to be able to buy our ranch house on a pond for a mere $35,000 more than 40 years ago. It has served our family well with its four bedrooms and two bathrooms, but now it seems too large for just two of us. It crossed our minds to look for something smaller and cozier, but when doing so, we came across much smaller homes priced higher than our home is worth! With home prices being so high, it is a wonder that anyone can afford more than a shack in the woods.

Many people are searching for the bigger answers, such as the meaning of life. For answers to questions like this, it is helpful to believe in or belong to some type of religious organization such as a local church or temple. All religions and philosophies of which I am aware lead in some way to God. They stress the basic values of compassion, solidarity, and the Golden Rule of respect for our fellow humans. I suspect it would be extremely difficult to feel positive about the meaning of life without this type of connection.

Whether we are looking for self-improvement, better looks, a slimmer body, bigger, better houses, or the meaning of life, let us provide encouragement to others who are on the search for the same things.


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