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The R.E.S.T. of Our Lives

A Resolution Guide for 2022

By D. Diego TorresPublished 2 years ago 14 min read
_The Rest_ (_Le Repos_) 1932, by Pablo Picasso

As the world enters 2022, we are not only leaving behind 2021, but we are saying goodbye to two years of COVID-19 and the various governmental responses or aims to combat its spread. COVID-19 has basically become endemic, with perhaps more people contracting the disease but with less likelihood of hospitalization and far fewer deaths, which is a good thing. And whatever one may think about the ability of so-called government experts to keep us physically safe from a submicroscopic virus, it should be remembered that we human beings are much more than our physical health. Without the other dimensions of health (i.e., the social, environmental, economic, mental, and spiritual) to complement our physical health, there can be no fullness to our existence; we are reduced to mere data points in some researcher’s notebook, a nameless, faceless, formless mass constituting an abstract statistical category.

Of course, this has been our lived reality for the last two years, particularly those of us in the West. Due to the hubris of so-called experts, who ignored great costs for very minor benefits, we have lost more in the last two years than we have gained, and many of the consequences will not be seen for years. No doubt many people lost loved ones to COVID-19 too soon, whatever their prior health, but one cannot discount the life years that have been lost indirectly by millions of others.

Whether it’s the destruction of social and spiritual life by work-at-home/worship-at-home policies devoid of human touch and connection; whether it’s the annihilation of the ability to earn a living and the concomitant breakdown of mental health; whether our children have suffered irreparable harm due to the transition to online teaching, with its attendant long-term negative impacts on issues from labor force participation to crime; whether we cease to wonder about the natural world around us because we are afraid to venture out because of real or imagined threats to our physical health; whatever it is, I think it’s safe to say that we are tired. The lot of us have had enough of the past two years and are hoping for more peace, greater reflective stillness, and a state of profound repose in the year ahead.

Let us therefore resolve to make 2022 the R.E.S.T. of our lives. That is, let’s aim at cultivating greater inner harmony and a connection to our immediate environments by ramping up the following four activities/feelings:

  1. Reflection
  2. Elation
  3. Sleep
  4. Time alone

Each of us should commit to making small changes to how we confront our days. Tackling the seemingly mundane things of our quotidian lives with minor tweaks here and little tidying-up over there can have tremendous impacts on the big picture of life, the what-is-it-all-about question. As none of this requires any secret knowledge, anyone can follow the blueprint I lay out here and reset, recharge, and reboot throughout 2022.


Reflection. I can think of nothing more important to personal growth than the ability to consider one’s own life, its value to others, its relation to the past, and its marker as a point of departure for the future. It is important to sometimes stop in the midst of your life and to think. To think about and remind yourself who you are. To think about those whom you love and by whom you are loved. To think about why you do what you do to earn a living and to determine whether it still marks all the boxes of relevancy for your life. Only by reflecting on your life can you make changes or alter the direction in which your life is headed. Ignoring the why and what-for of your existence leaves you at the mercy of those who would try to define you or decide your destination for you.

If you’ve never taken the time to really slow down and reflect on your life, make 2022 the year that you start doing so. At least once a month, or once a quarter, set aside an hour or two for contemplation and deep thinking. What you think about is up to you, but here are some ideas.

  1. Pull out a photo album—it doesn’t matter if it’s physical or digital—and consider the times you’ve lived through represented in the old pictures there. Try to recall what you were thinking or doing, or what you felt, in specific photos. You no doubt have pictures of your parents or grandparents or others. How does your life flow from the lives of those older relatives?
  2. Consider your educational or occupational or familial successes and think about all the hard work and diligence you’ve put into them. You chose the educational path you did for a reason. What is that reason? Why are you a baker or an electrician or a journalist or a garbage collector? How did you end up doing what you do? How did you meet your husband or wife? How has marriage and parenthood changed you.
  3. Remember pivotal events and people who have played some role in making you who you are today.
  4. Appreciate the many transition points in your life. Perhaps it was a move from one state to another, the start of postsecondary education, the switch to a new job or career, the beginning of parenthood, or the entry into retirement.
  5. Find a place to sit—in nature or in a beautiful cathedral or on a bus stop bench—and just contemplate your surroundings.

This is only to get you started. Of course, it would be easy to come up with a dozen more ideas. Regardless of what you do, though, don’t overthink it. Also, don’t worry about where or when you spend time reflecting as long as the activity contributes to bodily health or rejuvenation. You may do it in the shower or on your morning run or during your weekend walk along your favorite nature trail. It is no matter. Remember: this is not work, but rather part of a plan of respite.

Elation. No doubt the past two years have forced many to put off vacations and weddings, delay college entry, or otherwise cease being as active as they were prior to 2020. In 2022, let’s get some of our moxie back. If there’s something you’ve been wanting to do, and you know doing it will give you a feeling of elation, or of full joy, then do it. But don’t just do it because it feels good; make sure that what you do is also good for you.

Now some folks will pick up where you left life at the beginning of 2020. You will finally get married or you’ll pop the question or you’ll take the plunge and sign a purchasing agreement on a new build home or you’ll pack up the RV and travel the highways and bi-ways of our great union. These were plans already in the making and were merely put on hold for the duration of the pandemic and its long aftermath. With many places getting back to some semblance of normalcy, some of you have decided to go ahead and cross those items off your bucket list. Kudos to you. Don’t let anything stand in your way and make it happen.

Others of you, propelled by the realization over the past two years that life is short, will commit to great big goals you dreamt of long before there was COVID-19 or a response to it. Among these goals might be:

  1. Finally completing the rebuild of the vintage or classic car your father left you.
  2. Graduating from paper to plot and planting your very own herb garden.
  3. Learning to play well Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major or Chopin’s Nocturne in F-Sharp Major, Op. 15, No. 2.
  4. Visiting the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls in the United States, the Great Pyramid and Great Sphinx of Giza in Egypt, the Great Wall of China, Stonehenge in England, Machu Picchu in Peru, or Petra in Jordan.
  5. Conquering the slopes at the Telluride (US) or Hakuba (Japan) or Bonneval-sur-Arc (France) or Mürren (Switzerland) Ski Resorts.
  6. Booking your first real vacation to a faraway location.
  7. Booking your first cruise to an exotic locale like Alaska or Scandinavia.
  8. Dedicating more time to honing your fiction writing skills.
  9. Trying a new cuisine once a month throughout the year.
  10. Starting your own video channel on one of the social media platforms such as YouTube or Rumble.

The thing that stimulates elation for one person may not work for another. The person who couldn’t care less about skiing the slopes at Taos may prefer to read dense texts of philosophy, such as Iain McGilchrist’s The Matter with Things or Thaddeus J. Kozinski’s Modernity as Apocalypse, and have long conversations with friends over tea or coffee and scones. Still others will care neither for snow nor for books but are content to come together and share prepared recipes; they are never happier and more delighted than when other people enjoy their cooking and praise them for it.

Make the year ahead one of doing things that increase your feeling of optimum well-being. The goal is not the pursuit of pleasure for its own sake, but rather the pursuit of pleasure that promotes healthfulness of mind, body, and spirit. Hedonistic pleasures can be fleeting and ultimately leave one feeling empty. What you want instead is to have the feeling of being filled full, or fulfilled, in your pursuit of things that stimulate elation.

Sleep. There is no more important component to rest than sleep. Human adults and adolescents require about seven to eight hours of sleep every night, while young children require many more. Evolutionarily speaking, sleep is a mechanism for ensuring both an alert mind and a nimble body when in a wakeful state, two attributes our ancestors needed to ward off dangers and stay alive in hostile environments. It is true that we don’t face the same dangers and hazards as our ancestors did, but we humans still need to be sharp in our modern, post-industrial lives. Our children’s lives depend on it, as do our jobs and careers, our kinship and friendship relationships, and so on.

Unfortunately, too many of us don’t sleep well at all. Too many of us have extended our waking hours into the hours we should be dedicating to sleep. We are working outside office hours, viewing television too late, browsing Instagram or TikTok or YouTube into the wee hours, or just generally not managing our time efficiently so that sleep is prioritized after a certain hour.

Some of this is understandable given the rise and wide dispersion of 24-hour cable television over the past 40 years and of iPhone and Android technology over the past 15 years. There was a time, however, when there was little to do at the end of a day other than “hit the sack,” as folks used to say. The few television networks or their affiliates ended the broadcast day with the first stanza of “The Star Spangled Banner” and the only thing one saw on the screen after that until the next morning was color bars followed by static or some other variation of the test pattern. There was no social media outside of the analog telephone. And unlike the modern tendency to text others whenever the mood strikes, one didn’t pick up the phone at 10pm to harass his family or friends in those long gone days of yesteryear. Whatever he had to say could wait until the next day.

I propose we aim in 2022 to return sleep to its proper place in our lives. It should not be an afterthought at the end of a long day whose more important tasks revolve around all the things I mentioned above. Sleep should be planned as much as work or leisure is planned. We should not let sleep just be the thing that we do when we just can’t do anymore because we are exhausted.

So, to make our sleep in 2022 the best sleep of our lives, we should focus on the following:

  1. Commit to ending your screen time at least an hour before climbing into bed. This goes for television as well as computers, tablets, and smart phones. Exposure to too much blue light at the end of your day can negatively impact your sleep cycle and leave you feeling tired during the day.
  2. In place of the digital distractions above, perhaps wind down for half an hour every night by reading. Read whatever suits your fancy but think about reading something that also increases your knowledge (e.g., nonfiction genres like biography or history or science) or elation (e.g., literature, National Book Award winners or finalists). If you’re reading on a tablet, make sure it’s not backlit with blue light.
  3. Make the best of the time in bed before drifting off to sleep by wrapping up the day’s events in dialogue with your spouse. Let the conversation meander or go where it will. Keeping communication lines open like this is bound to make your union stronger.
  4. Feel good before climbing into bed. If that entails showering first or meditating or enjoying a warm glass of milk, make it part of your bedtime ritual. This doesn’t mean that you must do it all the time but it’s there as an option if you want to do it.
  5. Make sure you’ve got a good mattress and luxurious bedding, including pillows, sheets, duvet covers, and so on. If you’re sleeping as often as you should, that means you’re likely to spend a third of your life in a bed. You therefore don’t want a bed that’s uncomfortable or lumpy or causes you muscle aches; you want a bed that makes you feel like you’ve spent the last eight hours in heaven. Lull, a direct-to-consumer mattress and bedding company has affordable and well-liked products that fit the bill. Just visit and get your sleep on.

These are just a few prescriptions you might subscribe to in 2022 to help you get better and more restful sleep. Some will also softly play their favorite music or put on white noise or draw the black-out curtains to assist them in falling asleep. Others will simply fall asleep to the lights and sounds of the urban center outside their uncurtained windows. In any case, we must get back to according sleep its proper place in our lives in 2022 and we should do it with gusto so that we don’t lose focus of the goal.

Time alone. In some places and at various times over the past two years, many of us have been relegated to spending countless hours alone, a policy which has led to an increase in loneliness and depression, particularly among the elderly. When I say that we need to spend time alone in 2022, then, this is not what I’m talking about; being alone and being lonely are not the same things. No, what I mean by time alone is that time spent by oneself wherein the mind is quieted.

Life is hectic. There’s work and childrearing and maintaining relationships and trying to stay healthy and political battles and so on. We need time alone to stop the racing mind, to silence the bombardment of thoughts. It is not reflection, but relaxation from all thinking. It is meditation focused on emptying the mind, of clearing out the cobwebs, so that when you take up thinking again, your ideas and goals and aims are clear. Being alone revitalizes, replenishes, and restores all the energy that life’s responsibilities can sap from you. Time alone also engenders greater creativity and improved productivity.

In 2022, then, set aside time every once in a while to just be alone, to be with or by yourself. Whether you are single or have a spouse and children or are taking care of adult relatives, set aside the occasional thirty minutes and secret yourself away to a secluded spot and let your mind slow down. Wherever you go, do not take your smart phone with you, and ensure that you’re not distracted in any other way as well. If you’re going to be within earshot of family members or others who can get your attention, it might be best to tell them that you will be indisposed for a specified amount of time and that you are not to be interrupted.


To recap: Yes, the last year, indeed, the past two years, have cast into stark relief the necessity of prioritizing self-care over against all the other cares of life. A neglected self is no benefit to a marriage or to parenthood or to proficiency on the job or in one’s vocation. In fact, those aspects of life suffer when you don’t stop to smell the proverbial roses.

Resolve, then, to make 2022 the R.E.S.T. of your life. Spend more time reflecting on the good, the bad, and the ugly of your life. Make up for the bad and the ugly by doing things that are enjoyable and give you a feeling of elation. Don’t just do something because it feels good only but do it because it’s also good for you. Get more restful sleep. Invest in a quality mattress and bedding like that available from Lull. And finally, make time to be alone and learn to slow down your racing mind.

Follow this guide and assess your life after three or six months. I guarantee you that you will be well on the way to a very happy year.


About the Creator

D. Diego Torres

Writer of nonfiction and fiction, voracious reader of great literature, fan of the horror genre. None of that pays very well, if at all, so I'm thankful for my day job as an institutional research analyst. I really love long weekends.

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