“We know pretty well what we ought to do, we just don’t do it.” said William Muldoon who insisted that he didn’t do anything he know he shouldn’t. Muldoon was an interesting fellow who lived well—a role model. Someone to emulate. A lodestar.

It’s easier to follow a mode of behavior if you have a construct to anchor yourself in. So, I’ve been trying to distill the most important self-care things down into a list that is easy to remember and think about. For now, I am settling on Exercise, Eating, Thinking, and Hygiene.

Exercise

Exercise is physical and immediate. You get quick results. A few months of intelligent exercise and you can transform your body. The problem with exercise for many is that a little bit does so much that they want to do more—and then do too much. For other people the problem lies with their thoughts: “I don’t have time to exercise so therefore I won’t.” This is a lie that people tell themselves. Frequently, people build up belief structures to rationalize poor behavior, and the time/exercise excuse is a classic example. I categorize this as a mental mistake and, of course, this is tied into the “Thinking” category. If you or someone you know has stated lack of time as an issue, change the subject to TV and see how well-versed they are in the popular shows. See how active they are on Facebook. See if they play games on their phone. You’ll find time for them, in spades.

Eating

It’s possible to make the mistake of exercising solely to be able to eat whatever you want. The simple solution to this is not to do it. The best way not to do it is to not allow the thought of eating poorly to slip into your mind and instead nurture thoughts about how you eat wholesome food. Eating for many people is an all day sequence of errors. A haphazard and hurried morning is completed by haphazard and hurried eating of whatever happens to be available. Lunch is a processed microwaved meal and dinner is easy and quick. This is a terrible way to live. And as an aside, I can’t tell you how many fat people I see eating “Lean Cuisine” crappy low calorie lunches. You must plan your eating. You should pretty much know exactly what you will put into your mouth for an entire week. And your plan should be composed of simple meals with plenty of vegetables.

Thinking

For many people I get the impression that talking about thinking evokes negative connotations towards The Secret and law of attraction type stuff that makes it seem is though simply shifting your thoughts will grant immediate results. They think I’m some new age person. Well, let me tell you, that stuff is ridiculous. It’s not a matter of changing your thoughts, it’s a matter of changing your entire thought architecture. It’s like redoing the support work of an already-standing bridge. It takes a lot of time and a lot of effort. And it takes eternal vigilance. You will likely have certain proclivities that demand constant awareness—it’ll happen just like in the Pink Floyd song High Hopes, “Steps taken forward and sleep walking back again.” Modifying your thinking is subtle. In this category we see behaviors tied to thoughts. A gossip habit is tied to thoughts of judgement or superiority. An anger habit is tied to thoughts of impatience and lack of compassion. An alcohol habit is tied back to feelings of low self worth (why else would you drink a liquid that is destroying your body, your relationships, and your life?) Basically, all your actions can be tied back to thoughts and in this category, you are trying to establish those links and change them when necessary.

Hygiene

A little George Carlin here – “Unless you work out, or work outdoors, you don’t need a shower everyday.” George cracks me up but I can’t imagine not having a daily shower. I think there is an element to truth here though. First worlder’s are typically clean since we have access to hot water and showers and soap. A daily shower is pretty much expected. Where I suspect most people lack is with their mouth and teeth. George would agree, he says you need to clean the four key areas, “Armpits, asshole, crotch, and teeth.” In the teeth category you should be flossing daily (teeth flossed seldom lost) and cleaning your tongue with an aluminum tongue scraper. Personally, I recommend (and so does my dentist) a Sonicare toothbrush. You don’t have to brush hard—that’s hard on your gums. It should be noted that if you’re avoiding sugar in the eating category, your teeth stand a much better chance of staying cavity-free.

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I think with these things lives can be remade. Exercise produces the fast results. Eating produces results pretty quickly, too. Changing your thoughts can be immediate results, but your underlying thought patterns take years and decades to adjust—but results here are powerful, a complete remaking of your life is possible. And keeping clean, particularly in the mouth, keeps you healthy (and fun to be around).

So, in answer to the question, do you have an exercise, eating, thinking, and hygiene program that you’re following? Are you following it? Are you taking care of yourself? If not, why?