It turns out that good posture is about much more than good health.
A wonderful reader made me aware of Jordan B. Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life, specifically the first chapter where he explains via lobsters the crucial importance of literally standing up for oneself.
According to Peterson, when I slump I tell others—and my own brain tells me—that in the status hierarchy of life, I’m on the bottom. My posture causes others to treat me less well and causes my brain to produce less of the feel-good serotonin. This turns me into an anxious, depressed wuss. Instead of a virtuous cycle with a positive feedback loop, it gives me a negative one that leaves me downcast and takes me downhill in tiny, backwards, fearful steps.
Peterson writes thoughtfully, intellectually and provocatively. Here are two conclusions from Chapter 1:
“To stand up straight with your shoulders back is to accept the terrible responsibility of life, with eyes wide open.”
“So, attend carefully to your posture. Quit drooping and hunching around. Speak your mind. Put your desires forward, as if you had a right to them—at least the same right as others. Walk tall and gaze forthrightly ahead. Dare to be dangerous.”
If I start to flag in enthusiasm for holding myself assertively upright, I remind myself that by my posture I am dictating the quality of my life. No pressure.
As long as we’re considering simple practices of a good life, let’s move on to bed making.
“I’m not going to make my bed for you.”
Jenna announced this to me the morning after she moved in, after the night before when she slammed the door to her bedroom so hard a section of molding fell off the wall.
Jule: “If you made your bed, it wouldn’t be for me, it would be for you.”
Jenna: “Why would I make my bed for me?”
Jule: “Because you’re the one who sleeps there.”
Jenna: “But why would I make it?”
Her voice had shifted from combative to curious. She honestly wanted to know.
Jule: “Because it’s like a kindness you give yourself. No matter what happens during the day, you know you have a nice bed waiting for you. Your pillow is ready for your head.”
I don’t remember if Jenna made her bed after that and it doesn’t really matter. What matters is she knew she had a choice and a reason for taking a path that would show greater respect and care for herself.
Because I doubted my ability to co-parent this child with the flying hair and fast words, I’m glad my instincts on bed making were validated in a recent book. Sometimes I have good instincts.
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Chewing the Cud of Good
I went to a campout for the Fourth of July holiday and decided to focus on evidence of love. I saw love from parent to child, from non-parent to child, from brother to brother, from sister to brother, from friend to friend, from husband to wife, from dog to human and back again. Love was all over the place.