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Some of these findings also indicate that volunteers who devote a considerable amount of time to volunteer activities (about 100 hours per year) are most likely to exhibit positive health outcomes. I ran the samples. One day I got a very high number. I thought they'd found a really rich vein of barium. The big boss asked me to redo the sample. I got a very different answer. I found that I'd run the sample properly the first time but had made a simple error in arithmetic. Sometimes it seems like you can't win. They called my boss back from his vacation (the boss who already disliked me). He was not happy. Besides that, he soon discovered that I'd smoked up his cigarettes while he was gone. It was not a pleasant summer. But I did learn to always check my arithmetic and to never take a job requiring precision. These kinds of experiences build up our shame and negative self-image: "I can't do anything right." As I emphasized in the introduction, you do not have to give up your zest for achieving excellence just because you have given up your demand for perfection. I have encouraged you to shoot for the stars, and that is exactly what I entreat you to do! What has gotten you into a perfectionistic habit is not your idealism, but your misplaced idealism. It is indeed exciting to aim for an ideal. Living without ideals to strive for can get boring and self-constraining. When you tell yourself the sky is the limit, you can ignite a passion for forward-moving constructive change. It's only when you demand that you attain your ideals perfectly that you invariably fall short.

So I hereby offer you a set of ideals to strive for, with the admonition that you will never perfectly realize them. Like beacons of light, these guiding virtues can guide you to becoming better and better accustomed to emotionally and behaviorally managing the challenges and vicissitudes of everyday living in an imperfect world. Grounding is another simple way to "tap the break" on your slowdown nervous system. Grounding reconnects you with your body and the present moment instead of letting you fly away with your thoughts. Count five things you see, four things you hear, three sensations you are feeling in your body. Identify two people who care about you, and one simple thing you could do to feel even a tiny bit better right now (for instance: have a hot cup of tea, listen to your favorite music, do something you enjoy for a few moments). This technique works because anxiety wants your thoughts to race ahead to anticipate all possible future problems. Forcing yourself to re-focus on the present moment, especially at this level of detail, activates your para-sympathetic nervous system and slows the anxious brain's tendency to race ahead. Helping others also appears to cross generations within families. For example, Joe Edwardsen, whom I just talked about, had an eighty-six-year-old grandmother who volunteered sixty hours a week until she passed away. Joe's mother kept up the tradition with extensive mentoring and helping business owners at no charge. Now Joe continues the tradition of giving back through his restaurant. Let me tell you one of my favorite stories about people who make giving back a core value in their families. Clover Reed lived in a small town in Oklahoma. Her husband worked hard as a shoemaker and part-time minister in their community, but often their finances would come up a little short. A stay-at-home mom, Clover never stopped working hard, caring for their six children as well as being very active in her community. But the summer before that I had the job as a hospital orderly. I thought I would hate it, but there was a recession and it was the only job I could find. It turned out to be perfect for me. It's the reason I went into medicine.

The job was very structured. We started each day with a meeting where we reviewed all the patients and then were assigned our patients for the day. I liked having my own patients to take care of. I checked vital signs - blood pressure, temperature, respiration rate - at certain times each shift. I bathed patients and changed sheets. Everything on schedule. This all required attention but it did not require concentration or precision. The blood pressure gauges and thermometers were easy to read and counting respirations wasn't hard. The job was structured, but not routine. There were different patients, with different diseases, surgeries, and personalities. I did different things, not only emptying bed pans but catheterizing males, assisting with a tracheotomy and with an ECT. I was helping people. I turned out to be good at this job. I found it very interesting, learned a lot, and realized that I had to go into medicine. Thank God for the recession. So let's take a look at these guiding virtues that promote the crowning virtue of metaphysical security--these beacons that can guide you from the perils of demanding perfection to getting better at living comfortably in this imperfect world (Cohen, 2007; Cohen, 2017). This set of guiding virtues can help us overcome self-destructive tendencies to rate reality, including human reality, as utterly worthless or totally crappy when it's not perfect. Respectful people avoid the irrational tendency to condemn the whole based on the part, and they are open to the inherent goodness in things despite imperfections. There are four types of respect, depending on the object of respect. Finally, reconnecting with others can be tremendously important.

Go to your spouse or a good friend and ask them to give you a hug. Don't be quick about it. Relax into the hug until you feel yourself exhaling the stress. Hugging actually syncs your heart rate to the other person and increases the presence of oxytocin, a powerful "calm down" hormone produced through interpersonal bonding. Each of these simple exercises, alone or together, have been shown to have a powerful impact on the autonomic nervous system, causing it to let up on the gas and depress the brake and at the same time rapidly decelerate the stress response. The problem is, most people think doing any of these things is nonsense. "How is breathing and getting a hug going to stop me from losing my job when I screw up my presentation? Don't be an idiot!" We are molded by those who love and care about us. People who are bad for us and represent the ugly parts of life have also molded us. We always have the choice to become the person we want to be and live the life we want to have. People may mold us, but they never make us. Create a positive difference in the world. Give of your time, skills, unique talents, or finances to make a lasting impact in someone's life. Do so from the heart, without expecting anything in return. Offer your skills, such as creating newsletters or art, building social media platforms, or providing any form of technology services. Volunteer at a school. Call bingo numbers at a nursing home. Become a poetry reader in a group. Greet people at your place of worship. The list goes on and on.

Strengthen your community. Whether you volunteer as a driver to transport your kids and their friends to school or volunteer to read stories at your local library, you will improve the community where you live, work, and enjoy recreation and relaxation. When you live in an active community, you will have a greater sense of security, health, and well-being for your family and those around you. Strategies are about how to work around our weaknesses rather than about how to improve them. Ideally, we can delegate the things we're weak at. For example, we can be creative, with great ideas, but we tend to be lousy at actually doing the work to implement them. So create, then delegate! If you've been fortunate enough to use your creativity to become CEO of a big company, you've probably already been doing a lot of delegating. Being a CEO is a great position; delegate away. But we can't all be a CEO, even though a fair number of successful CEOs do have ADD. So if you have a partner, and your partner hasn't already given up on you in frustration and disgust, then delegate what you can to them. Negotiate. "If you'll handle the bills, something I'm no good at, then I'll take over washing the dishes; I can do that fairly well." But we can't always delegate, so we need to develop strategies and work arounds for the things we're not good at and can't avoid. I'm a good psychiatrist. I do good therapy, but I'm lousy at the paper work: keeping notes, billing, and keeping track of who's taking which medication. And especially at dealing with insurance companies. It's hard to find and keep good bookkeepers; some were not so good. One screwed up my whole system and didn't get the bills sent out either. Between paying the bookkeeper and all the taxes, I wasn't keeping much of the money I took in. So I needed to take over the job myself and work in an area of my weakness.