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John Masterson: I've done the NCT for my car, now it's time for an 'NC Me'


'Exercise is nearly as good as laughter'

'Exercise is nearly as good as laughter'

'Exercise is nearly as good as laughter'

I am good at servicing the car. I usually don't feel very anxious when it comes up for the NCT. If it fails, it is usually something easily fixable and I am happy to have it pointed out, if a little miffed to have to go and do it. Like many people I take better care of my car than of myself. What would an annual, or even monthly NC 'Me' look like? I mean a personal mood and behaviour check that gives an idea that all is running smoothly, or points out some parts of life that need attention.

First of all, I would see if I had been laughing enough. I don't just mean the odd chuckle. I mean the occasional uncontrollable belly laugh where every muscle in my body loses it. You need one of them now and again. They usually happen in company so it is also a good check on whether I have been spending more time in my own company than is good for me. Laughter really is the best medicine. And there are the Mrs Brown's specials coming up which will take care of December.

I check if have let myself drift into what I call a medium wavelength. The highs don't really excite me, and the lows don't really bother me. It is all too easy to get into a disposition of just going through the motions of life. It is a bad sign and I am prone to it. It is possibly a very minor depression, but one easily recognised and rectified.

I like my general disposition to be one of kindness. Have I given anyone a helping hand? It has been my favourite compliment when someone remarked that I was generally kind. It is not always the case.

I have a good memory and it seems to be particularly attuned to any perceived slight. I can remember the bad things far more easily than the good. I do try to see that this does not get out of balance because it is not a good way to live if it becomes an attitude. My brain goes into overdrive when someone lets me down or lies to me. It is the nature of life that both things happen. I need to see that I am not ruminating, that I have moved on, without forgetting and a bit on my guard lest I get caught again. I like to have a bit of a 'don't let the bastards get you down' approach.

If I am not doing well on my 'me' test at this stage I turn my attention to exercise. These days you could go for a month and not get your heart rate above walking pace. Never a good idea. Exercise is nearly as good as laughter.

Exercise also makes it more likely I hit the pillow, sleep with a smile and wake up refreshed. Waking up and tossing and turning in the middle of the night is a no, no. Something needs to change. Figure out what it is. That said I do enjoy my occasional nightmares and sometimes it is nice to read a chapter of a book at 4am.

Food is the final one I take a look at. I don't tend to eat junk, though I have to take care not to leave ice cream in the fridge. Cooking is a great pleasure. With a little effort we can all get better at it. There are few better mood maintainers than cooking a meal for friends who appreciate the effort.

The chances are you will have a few laughs, hear stories that will give you a lift, and some that will upset. Everyday cares will vanish. Carrying plates is exercise and you'll sleep like a baby.

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