Here is a Human Inventory Test for you to complete:
1. Do you exercise each day?
2. Do you socialize weekly?
3. Are you challenging your thinking power?
4. Are you refraining from using street drugs, "Pot" or alcohol frequently?
5. Are the contacts and behavior between you and each member of your family positive?
6. Are you using your areas of skill?
7. Is your life going in a positive direction?
8. Are you comfortable with your "Higher Power"?
9. Are you touched appropriately by someone daily? This includes an animal that you pet daily.
10. Are you working toward certain honorable goals in life?
11. Do you have someone you can call when in crisis?
12. Is your living quarters environment positive?
13. Are you able to get to a job anywhere in town?
14. Are you employed, a student or doing volunteer work?
15. Can you live within your budget?
16. Are you following your various doctor's advice?
17. Do you have someone you can "share your soul" with?
18. Do you have several pastimes that you can turn to when you feel bored?
19. Do you eat nutritionally balanced meals each day?
20. Do you avoid hurrying too much, avoid getting angry or avoid working too hard?
Answering yes to at least fifteen of these means you are really doing well in managing your life experience. Whichever ones you said no to, should be the ones you begin to give a little more of your time.
There are 20 realms of the human experience I felt deserved special attention when you're encouraging people to live healthier lifestyles. I went through these with the clients and we worked together to get as many of them as we could working for the client:
- Have a place for recreation in your weekly schedule; hopefully with others. This is where you're doing moderate physical exercise at least five days a week. Most folks build themselves up to 30 minutes a day by increasing their walk distance over time. Some start with a five minute walk and a week later increase it to ten minutes, and so on. Participating in sports would take the place of that days walk, unless you just want to enjoy the fresh air anyway.
- Have a place for socialization that you attend each week. This is where your sitting with others and talking. One lady I worked with would be psychotic unless she got into town once a week to play bingo. Lots of cafes will allow friendly card games, chess games, etc; as long as you purchase something while your there...and hopefully you can plan your time there to be during their slow time. Church Bible study groups are encouraged. Participating in local park & rec sports; lots of towns have these and you just sign up. You don't need to know anybody as you later get called and meet them at games. If you'd like to beef up your speaking skills and reduce your speaking anxiety, you could join a Toastmasters group. Most cities have chess clubs that you could join. Most cities have senior centers that could help you accomplish several of these Human Inventory goals.
- Be aware of the chemicals you're taking into your bodyand what they are doing to your body, including knowing side-effects to these chemicals. Reducing your sugar intake, your salt intake and your soft drink use, will help your mind and body be stronger and last longer. Drink plenty of water; some say a quart a day if just doing usual activity, more if exertion increases. Your doctors will prescribe certain medication for you as you go through life and these have side-effects. Sometimes you have to accept those side-effects to prevent more serious issues. It's always good to read your side-effects list so you can monitor yourself a bit and bring up any concerns to your doctor. Usually a doctor will recommend a multi-vitamin to be sure you get that vitamin D and other necessary nutrients each day. Read the Native American chapter I have on this web-site, as it covers some of the chemical dependency books that could be helpful if you have an addiction. This includes sexual addictions and smoking.
- Have positive interactions with your family. Realizing that people have their own personality and that it probably won't change to satisfy you is a good first step toward accepting folks as they are and learning to live with them. Read the book "I'm OK, Your OK"; that could help with this realm. Send thank you notes when someone gives you something of value. Emphasize positive attributes of people. As we age and encounter strong negative physical limitations, we can get a bit irritable and self-centered. Talk about aging; talk about physical diagnosis issues; be supportive to each other. Get help for those that can no longer care properly for themselves. If you differ strongly in religious or political realms, either refrain from talking about it, or talk about it only if folks can remain civil and respectful in the discourse.
- Learn your individual skills and assets and put them to use. If you enjoy golf, play it. If you like to knit, do it. Even if you don't think you have the skills to be a great author, you can still write whatever book you want and make it available to others through the internet. At most any age, you can try out for Olympic Events. There is a youngster in America that can break the world pole vault record. That youngster doesn't know it unless they try it. You could be our next Nation's Poet. You could be a great guitar player. Just start doing what you like and see how far you can take it. Sometimes your presence alone is helpful to others!
- Participate in one of the established religions within your community. See my chapters on Religion, Spirituality and Soul.
- Where are your opportunities for touch, affirmations and decent sexual behaviors? When you meet a friend, give them a gentle handshake and "good to see you again." Hopefully you have close friends and family that would welcome a hug. Try to get these hugs on a regular basis. Give the hugs (usually the A-frame type of hug) to those you know can accept the hug. Sometimes asking if you can give them a hug is appropriate. Try to do as many good deeds each day as you can; folks appreciate those good deeds and will tell you so. Each affirmation adds energy to your life and helps you survive the stresses of the day. Smile as you go through the day; much better than a frown for making decent contacts with others. If your not getting decent touch on a daily basis, perhaps you should own a pet? The strokes and care you give a pet really contribute to your own health as well.
- What are your goals in living? What are you good at doing? What do you enjoy doing that could lead to a career and income that will help you survive? Meet with a vocational counselor to discuss your possible options; sometimes they give you some tests to help determine what you would most enjoy for a profession. For those of us with strong spiritual beliefs, we know that we have a purpose for being on earth and sometimes you don't figure it out till late in your life. Just because you don't know yet, don't let that bother you; it will come to you in time. I would encourage you to have the goal of meeting the Higher Power when you pass from this life. And when you meet, hopefully that Higher Power will have a room for you in their kingdom.
- Who are your crisis contact folks? Most every medium sized city has a mental health crisis center. Find out where yours is and keep the phone number available to you. If you should ever have thoughts of harming yourself or others, give them a ring and either go there, or have them send someone out to meet with you and discuss your situation. During times when family members die or are deathly sick, some folks don't handle this very well and end up being unable to sleep, loose appetite and basically fall into depressive behaviors. If you notice this happening to you, call that crisis center. Some people are close to their religious leader and could call them when in crisis. Some people have a very close friend that can be supportive and spend some time with them. Some children are close to at least one if not both their parents; those parents needs to know if your in crisis. It is their job to help you "weather the storm". If they aren't capable, perhaps another relative may be. If you've ever had a therapist or a case worker, call that person and set up an appointment.
- Is your living environment comfortable, warm, welcoming, and positive? If you've had a history of having suicidal thoughts, you don't want Grateful Dead posters hanging on your wall, or fake skulls sitting on your window sill. Pick up your room so you can welcome a visitor into it when they show up unexpectedly. Sometimes an orderly room makes for an orderly mind. Have some relaxing music handy for background when your working on a project or feel yourself getting agitated. Have sayings on your refrigerator and walls that say positive things about you and nature.
- Do you have transportation to get where you want in your community? If you have a car you can figure about $100 a month for repairs and maintenance; so get that into your budget and leave that money there. It's nice to have it available when you need it. If you can get around using mass transit, that could save you lots of money. A bicycle is fine, but you have to really watch the cars around you; especially at corners where the cars take a right on a red light.
- Are you employed or doing part-time volunteer work, or in training? It is very important to mental health to have structured activity at least twenty hours a week. Lots of folks spread this time out by working half-days or doing volunteer work on certain days, or holding down that full time job. Being in training or getting educated for a career counts as structured activity and it's always good to keep getting educated. Being around other students tends to keep you uplifted.
- Can you live decently with your current financial status? Living within a budget isn't easy with the media telling to you buy this and buy that. Covering the basic living expenses is the first part of the budget; rent, food, electricity, heat, trash, internet access or TV, car maintenance, insurance. Once the basics are covered, you can spread the rest out into weekly allowances and this is for clothing and fun activities and hobbies. Don't use more than one credit card and keep the balance due minimal. If your drinking too many soft drinks or smoking, you'll need to put some limits on yourself so you can stay within budget. If your budget allows, try to put something away for vacations and take those once or twice a year. Sharing an apartment with someone your comfortable with, could really help your budget.
- Are you getting medical physicals and doing what the doctor recommends? This includes seeing a psychiatrist when one is recommended. Sometimes the medications have side-effects that bother you and those need to be reported to the doctor. Keeping your blood levels in the healthy ranges is critical to your later years of life. Stay active and exercise regular so you don't end up in a wheelchair in your later years. If your doctor says you should lose weight, work hard at it and your mental health will improve right along with your success.
- Do you have a creative intimate relationship? Someone you can tell anything to and they will accept it and treat it with respect. That close friend or family member is important, as they're a source of energy and hopefully another mind looking at a situation and making comments. Sometimes two heads is better than one when it comes to problem solving. Animals meet some of the elements necessary in good relationships, but you really can't beat a human confidant.
- What are your life patterns and can you make the negative ones positive? Some of us get stuck in ruts during our life travel and work hard to get out of them; sometimes by being aware of how you got stuck before, can prevent you getting stuck again...in the same spot...in the same "pot hole". Write down the pattern; the elements of the cycle and then look at ways to interject changes that are positive and actually work to break the negative cycle.
- What can you do when you're bored? What pastimes do you have? What hobbies or crafts are available to you. Do you know how to play some of the card games that could get you into a card club. Do you like to read and could join a book reading club. Can you collect coins and look for miss-strikes which could be valuable to your budget. Can you work clay into something interesting or useful, and access a kiln somewhere in your area? Can you draw on a scratch pad or paint scenes? It takes years, usually, to become a good painter. Get some books from the library that cover a pastime your interested in and become an expert at it. Some people still collect postal stamps and buttons. Some people still play board games that several people together can have loads of fun doing. Limit video games to probably an hour a day, as these take you away from human interactions; and human interactions are necessary for healthy minds. I also have big concerns about the video games of today being too violent. Movies of today are also too violent; it's important to also have room in your life for good down to earth morals and pleasant human interactions. If I had kids right now I'd be sure they watched "Little House on the Prairie" and other such "gentle" shows that have healthy interactions and learning experiences. Consider joining a local chess club in your area and learn how to play the game. We have one near my home and I attend that weekly. I play kids down to eight years old and some of them beat me; that's OK, I learn from that and I understand their mind works faster than mine. They also study the game more and that gives them an edge. I enjoy slow games and I enjoy teaching chess to those who are just getting started. The vast majority of those who play are really good souls and would make excellent friends, so a club is a way to broaden your possibilities for lasting positive relationships. Be careful playing chess on the computer as this can have a negative impact on your skill level when you come to the club to play face to face. Also, the computer is too impersonal and us humans need to be face to face and interacting with others. As someone said, "80% of communication is non-verbal".
- Do you eat nutritious meals each day? Too much of anything isn't good. Be sure to get the various food groups into your menu and do some reading up on what is healthy for foods and drinks. Although fruits can be expensive, find places where you can get them daily and cheap. Many folks in America are overweight, and to be healthy should be making efforts to get closer to their ideal weight. Some simple steps toward healthier weight: 1) reduce your portion sizes and consider eating several small meals a day vs three large ones; 2) when setting reduction goals, spread them out over time, don't try to loose too much too soon; I think I heard where five lbs a month is healthy; 3) exercise daily; I always urged my clients to begin just walking a block each day for a week, then move it to two blocks, then to three, until your getting at least a half hour of walking in each day. Use some simple yoga exercises to stimulate the various muscle groups in your body; 4) reduce your fat intake but don't eliminate it; the body does need some fat to function properly. 5) do your reduction program with a friend or group of friends; some groups cost money to participate, but your church or community may have groups that are free; a friend of yours may want to join you in the effort to loose weight; you can be supportive to each other and help each other change your eating habits to healthier ones.
- Do you challenge your mind and get intellectual stimulation? If you have an interest in physics, get advanced books on the subject and do the exercises. If you like music, get sheet music and try to do it as well as those that wrote the piece. If you like mechanics, try to create something that "costs a dime, sells for a dollar, and is habit forming." You can make money on inventions. Read books that will continue your education. I was just handed Louis L'Amour's book "Education of a Wandering Man" and couldn't get over how intellectual he was in his life. He didn't just write westerns, he wrote history. History as it was lived in those early American times. I've been thinking about "DNA and memory" for quite some time and on April 27th of 2021 I wrote: "Is it possible that memories from our ancestors are passed on through DNA and into our brains memory areas?" How else can we explain our interest areas, our likes and dislikes, our distractions into realms that our folks can't understand? For instance: I've always been interested in water wheels and how they grind seeds and produce electricity. My grandfather was interested in water wheels so much that when he retired he made a small water wheel so he could hear the water flow when it was moving. He had to study the working of gears to control the speed. Little did he know or I know, that our great grandfather who lived in Maine in the late 1600 or early 1700's built and ran a water wheel mill. This knowledge only came to me when I worked hard on ancestor.com during Covid time. Did my grandfather's interest and mine come from DNA? I believe that in time we will find this to be true. Now, the intellectual stimulation comes from trying to prove this to be true! Proper research may contribute to resolution of this question and proper research takes much knowledge and time, and a passion in the researcher to study the area of knowledge in question. Hopefully someone will take this up and get back to me before I kick the bucket. Another possible realm to research: adrenaline has a powerful impact on our entire body systems. We have police who get rushes of adrenaline each time they make a traffic stop. We have EMT's who get that adrenaline rush as they go to an accident or face a health crisis. We have soldiers who face adrenaline rushes each night in combat. What happens to the body functions long-term, when you don't exercise after an adrenaline rush? Maybe adrenaline is the great contributor to PTSD? Until we get some answers, I would urge everyone who gets adrenaline rushes to exercise after such a rush, even if it just means walking a couple blocks before they resume their day's activity. Make it a priority in you day; figure out a way to squeeze it in. For example: you make a traffic stop and do the write-up in the squad car. You had a adrenaline rush during the stop. After you finish the write-up, go for your walk before you go looking for the next stop. Sure, this seems like a waste of taxpayer money, but consider the cost to the taxpayer if your in a hospital getting heart surgery. It's a no-brainer !
- Is your soul in focus? Those of us who believe in folks having souls, realize that the soul can be hurt and therefore needs mending. One of the Bee Gee's songs spoke to this "....How do you mend a broken heart?" Having a religion, a faith to turn to for support, can mend a broken heart. Do you feel centered? Do you feel like you're "in the zone" anytime during your day? Are you in control of your anger? Do you take your time going places or are you rushing all the time? You'd be surprised at how more relaxed your life would be, if you just followed the speed limit. Are you working too hard? It's important to feel your "in the zone" without having to take alcohol or other medications/chemicals unapproved by your physician. If you can't get your soul into focus, go to a therapist and work on it. This kind of work can save your life. You may recall one of the ten commandments saying "Honor your mother and father." They want you alive and caring properly for yourself, and this is showing them the honor they deserve. Even if your folks are deceased, they still want you down on this earth doing the best you can and staying alive. That's my opinion on the subject.
I've urged people to take care of themselves before trying to take care of others. These Human Inventory realms are meant for all human beings, anywhere in this world. Current clients in treatment should just work on the Human Inventory items at a pace comfortable to themselves and hopefully in cooperation with a mental health professional. The book I wrote wasn't meant for clients to read; it's more for those who want to be helpful to persons that have serious mental illness.
The Human Inventory isn't medical advice; it's meant to be educational and is just my opinions.
~ With Respect, Bob Frisby