What would make your life better?

the_life_of_rileyAuthor Phil Riley was talking on BBC Radio 2 today on the Jeremy Vine show. Amazon’s section about him sums him well up from what I heard:

Phil has been at various stages of his life: a smoker; clinically obese; chronically unfit; a heavy/frequent drinker; and he suffered a near-death experience… While seeking to understand and fix his poor life choices, he discovered some astonishing facts about lifestyle and longevity.

Talking on the show about his book, he basically put each of these things into five categories, smokers being in one, drinkers in another, etc. and then himself and those of us who are relatively healthy (now) into a fifth category.

I say ‘those of us’ because I don’t smoke, I rarely have a swig of alcohol, I usually get my 5-a-day of fruit and veg, and I exercise most days – I have a chilled-out life with few working hours and people see me out on my bike often; “You must be fit” they say.

But for some reason it’s not all perfect. There seems to be so much about our modern-day society and lifestyles that are fundamentally flawed – so many aspects that harm us and will lead to an early demise. Some days for me are good, and some are not so good and I shy away from professing I live a perfect life because my aku-aku* would be calling me a hypocrite. What I am though is very aware of how to live a healthy life, and how I do live, and therefore I also burden myself emotionally with my shortfalls; most of what seems to let me down is an Internet Adduction and a compulsion to log into Second Life each and every day – this has manifested into a variety of symptoms, both physical and mental, and ones which are echoed by friends and family who talk about such things as work-place-stress. In addition to this, the stress caused to myself, by myself, then manifest is how I perceive my work itself, for example; so I end up feeling stressed about work when I have little reason to. I could list all the things I feel, all the symptoms, but when I read/hear such things from others I respond in my own mind with “yep, got it, got it, feel that…” so instead I want to share a list I made last week, prior to learning about Phil Riley. It’s a list I made for myself, about making each day different and better, but if everyone could take each day on board then the world would be so much greater, I’m sure.

Make your life better:

[The idea is to either write out this list, modify them to suit yourself better, or print them as flash cards, picking one each day, either in order, or at random, or having one day a week where you turn to one of them. Keep it flexible and don’t worry if they overlap somewhat.]

  1. Addiction-free Day – No smoking, alcohol, coffee, or energy drinks. If you’re a regular smoker or drinker of heavily caffeinated drinks, convince yourself that one day off is easy, and then build on it from there.
  2. Book Day – No internet or TV. That’s the idea anyway, books aren’t for everyone, but switching off from the electronic world for one day could be great for you. If you usually eat in front of a box then consider having a family meal around a table.
  3. Carfree Day – Walk, run or cycle. This is actually an annual event but that should be everyone’s starting point for making it a regular thing. It’s better if you pick a day when you would normally drive, but if you’re new to cycling or running places then keep it relaxed to begin with and start on your day off.
  4. Declutter and Recycle – This is more than just a quick tidy up around your home; make a day of getting to grips with the stuff you have and be mindful of where it comes from, what it’s made of, and where it ends up when you’re done with it. Do you need it all?
  5. Sugar-free and Processed-food-free Day – Get your meal back to basics. Think about where it comes from, what it’s had done to it, and how it’s packaged. Ask what calories you need, get your balance of carbohydrates and protein right, and aim for 5+ a day of fruit and vegetables.
  6. Creativity Day – Write, draw, or make. It seems to me that creativity is a fundamental aspect of being a human being; it has been shown how youngsters thrive at school when they are given the freedom to be creative, but even if we had that as a child we can lose it as an adult. Bring it back! It can be combined with your Book Day, and indeed ‘no internet or TV’ will be important, although the internet can be a good resource for help; maybe start in the garden or with decorating a room, or repairing some clothing, it all counts.
  7. Wildcard Day – For this day you can pick anything; something new, or repeat a previous day; think outside the box: What could make your life better? Do it.

Click here to download a printable .pdf version

Or, this one:


*I’m currently reading Thor Heyerdahl’s autobiography (I read his earlier book Green Was the Earth on the Seventh Day back in 2010. In this one he mentions his aku-aku; it’s like his inner voice, or spirit guide I suppose, or it could be your Jesus, or God, or just your subconscious creating comments and questions that can bubble to the surface if you listen carefully enough.


The Life of Riley: Mastering the five secret habits to enjoy a longer and healthier life.

This post was also inspired by Annika’s blog post: Spreading the word offline


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