Two years of digging up interesting topics and researching them in detail; of working with smart thinkers, trainers, doctors and scientists; of canvassing readers, family and friends about their biggest challenges and successes; of exploring different approaches and writing about the ones that work.
In short, it’s been two of the most mind-blowingly educational and interesting years of my life. But the best part of this whole thing hasn’t even been the writing and editing. It’s been taking the stuff I’ve learned from doing the magazine and then putting it to use in my own life.
The rewards have been both subtle and tremendous. What I’ve seen is a gradual, but marked, shift in the way I eat and work out, the way I handle stress, the way I think about and treat my body. I’ve also noted some interesting developments in how I feel about life in general — what I believe in and choose to spend my time doing, what I am and am not willing to tolerate in my midst.
Just for yucks, while waiting on perma-hold for an interview the other day, I started jotting down a list of the most important concepts I’ve actively incorporated into my own life while working on this magazine. My top 10 looked something like this:
10) How my food was grown and raised matters: The more whole, natural, humane and sustainable, the better.
9) Getting some kind of daily exercise is important, but getting a balance of exercise (cardio, strength and flexibility) over the week is essential.
8) Media habits count: My life seems better (and my priorities clearer) when my TV is stored in the closet and my stereo is tuned to public radio.
7) Boundaries are good: My workdays are more productive when my mornings and evenings are just for me — relaxing and sane.
6) No person is an island: The best way to get help is to ask for it.
5) In matters of the body, as with most things, self-acceptance works better than self-criticism: The kinder and more compassionate I am with my body, the better it looks and feels, and the more energy, resiliency and strength it delivers.
4) I serve others best when I’m at my best: When I’m happy and healthy, I’m more observant, energetic and creative; when I’m feeling satisfied, I’m more generous, hopeful, empathetic and enthusiastic.
3) Energy follows attention: Whatever I pay attention to takes on greater life and importance, and thrives accordingly.
2) My life reflects my choices: Creating lasting change takes time, but even the biggest changes generally start with a single, clear decision.
1) There’s always more to learn: Never stop looking, listening and asking questions.
My favorite, of course, is that last one. Which is why I’m looking forward to 10 more issues of Experience Life in 2004. I’m grateful for that opportunity, and excited by what the next year holds.
I’d like to extend a special thanks to all the readers and contributors who’ve shared their brilliant ideas, questions and recommendations with us over the past two years. To make even better use of your contributions in the future, starting with the Jan./Feb. issue, we’ll be introducing a nifty new department called “Works for Me.” If you’ve had a personal breakthrough or “aha!” of your own that you’d like to share — some shift, insight or tip that’s made a difference in your quality of life — please send it along to us.
In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy this issue, and that you’ll take full advantage of the opportunities it presents for satisfactions of all sorts.