Practice

Aqua

The goal of Love Life Practice is not to solve your problems. Who am I to know how to do that? And besides, I got my own problems – who are you to ask me for help with yours? I mean, really, how selfish of…um…somebody.

Futile attempts at theatrical indignation aside, I do have the goal for this website to help both myself and you, dear reader, make life a little bit better. Especially in this particular era of recession, the 99%, and amazingly entertaining presidential primaries, it seems that having just some bit of help, some reminder of something that we can do now to improve our lives just a little.

Practical tools to make hard times happier. That’s what this whole blog is about.

Sometimes, that can be pretty simple:

Drink More Water

Seriously, that’s it. But it’s a big one, for several reasons. Starting with simple health: my cross-country coach, Bruce Fischer, used to explain that drinking water was like adding oil to your car engine – it made everything run more smoothly. In the Marine Corps, consuming water became a discipline: we’d be humping our gear up and down the hills of Camp Pendleton, we’d stop, the sergeant would yell at us to break out our canteens and chug.

The benefits of water are immense, both in terms of money (unless you’re buying something like Dasani, which is Japanese for “we got this from a tap“) and all aspects of our health, from how much energy we have to to how good our sex life is. Plus it makes you feel a bit better about doing one little healthy thing – which can be good for the self image when you’re eating that slice of pizza for lunch because the deadline made you miss your gym workout. At least I’m drinking water.

courtesy of Dr_Relling, flickr CreativeCommons

As I get older, and have less regimented schedules and jobs (that is, fewer opportunities for people to tell me what to do), I tend to fall out of the water habit. Worse, I often substitute coffee (such as the cup I have next to me as I’m typing this) for what should be my drink of choice. So I’ve developed a few habits that have made it possible for me to drink just a bit more:

  • Let friends help. With all my traveling, I often hear the polite “So, is there anything I can help you with?” The default answer nowadays is “Please remind me to drink water.” They don’t always remember, but expressing that intention has made a water bottle or three manifest in my hotel or classroom.
  • Role-Play the Sexy Water Drinkers. When I’m at a bar, or any restaurant that serves alcohol, my first drink is “club soda & lime.” Why? Because it’s the refined version of 7-Up, and makes me feel like a character in Mad Men or an Ian Fleming novel. Or else the server thinks I’m the designated driver, which also tends to get me treated more nicely.
  • Just Add Water. Go ahead, order the coffee or the soda or the milkshake or whatever you’re planning on drinking with your meal. Just add a glass of water with it, no matter what. And yes, that will mean that you end up using the bathroom more. That’s good for you, too, washing toxins out, and even helping you lose weight. Win!
  • Never Walk Past a Fountain. This one comes from my cross-country coach (echoed by my high-school swim coach). Never walk by a water fountain without taking a drink. Doesn’t have to be a long one, just make it a practice: if you see a water fountain, you must drink from it.

That last one is something that might squick a few people, who seem to not trust the water systems. I have to say I find it a bit ludicrous. While it’s true there have been isolated incidents of water contamination, the whole concept of the “bubbler” or “water fountain” is one of the most amazing parts of our first-world culture. Free, clean water, available in multiple locations, twenty-four hours seven days a week. There are places where people have to walk for days to get a couple of gallons of muddy water, and are happy for it.

I won’t argue, filtered water can taste better. I also can understand some of the concerns with what gets added to water. However, in the grand scheme of things, in terms of worldwide water supply, if you can read this post, you have a huge body of riches just in terms of water.

And that’s the other part of developing this practice this week.

Appreciate the Obvious

Because it’s all around us, because it’s micromanaged to the point of flavors, etc, water can get taken for granted. So how about trying to make it a practice not to? When you drink water, the flow of cool liquid down your throat, the refreshing taste of that first splash on your tongue…it can be a hedonistic delight. The act of giving water to your friend, to a loved one, can become a ritual of caring and nurturing. There have been many fictional worlds where phrases like I give you water and never thirst are the equivalent of I love you. For that matter, you can find many ways to make drinking water into a game, a social activity, or even a charity on the web.

So that’s the recommended practice this week: Drink more water. Drop me a line at gray@lovelifepractice.com and let me know how it goes!

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