I often joke that my moods as an adult are dictated in the same manner they were when I was a toddler. If I’m ever discombobulated, I can check in on whether I need to eat, take a nap, go outside and play, or even poop—base-level Maslow hierarchy kind of stuff. More often than not, it’s a quick fix for what ails me.
But what about the bigger stuff?
Since I can’t nap (or excrete) all of my woes away, I’ve come up with a handy system for life improvement: the 4 m’s. It’s something I’m using as a foundation for my day-to-day happiness, living a more creative life, and simplifying my priorities. To follow them feels both core to who I am and aspirational.
Here are the 4 m’s:
- move: self-propelled (often sweaty) body-based actions
- make: something-out-of-nothing manifestations
- mingle: social engagements
- marvel: care & feeding of inspiration & gratitude
When I need to get out of my head, there’s nothing like going for a run to knock me back down into my body. Moving forces me to be present to that activity. Run, walk, ride, swim, yoga, and dance—these modalities of motion make me more mindful. Shake a leg, start breathing, and get the blood flowing.
It could be my own value judgement that the doing is more important that thinking or talking about or a long-burning desire to be an artist. Realizing ideas just takes doing. Now, I’m not exclusively referring to final product, or demanding originality. Process works just fine. Writing, drawing, designing, cooking, baking, knitting—it’s about creating a practice of creation.
Not only do friends just make life more enjoyable, social connections could save your life (or at least, influence your mortality). When my stress level rises, it’s easy for me to isolate or use a lack of energy as an excuse to avoid hanging out with people. In whatever form it takes (spontaneous run-in, coffee, dinner party, show, etc.), some time with others is better than none. Homo alone-o = no bueno.
There is so much to take in, so much out there in the whole wild world, so much to learn. Museums, nature, meditation, reading, art, music, and all that jazz can replenish the soul and stoke the fire of creativity. Opening myself up to any part of it and bearing witness to its beauty is a duty and an indulgence. Take a moment, or take a few.
Since I came up with the 4 m’s, I’ve carried them in the back of my mind for the past year. They function as a diagnostic tool for my woes, as well as a means to plan or prioritize my time. If anything feels out of whack, on (or all!) of the 4 m’s can recalibrate a fellow. A life well lived could be built around them.
Besides the original list I doodled, the only other time I’ve written about them was in a letter to a friend. (Hi, Clara). They feel a bit more real typing them here in a blog lain fallow for three months. Here’s hoping the seeds of the 4 m’s take root. Who knows, perhaps they could breathe a bit more life into this here virtual scribble pad.