Don’t You Have Too Much On Your Plate?

Do you have too much on your plate?

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I am setting a new benchmark for myself to make sure I am not overwhelmed with things that are not vital to living the good life. Try this with me: sit and do nothing for five minutes. No checking your phone, no internet, no video games or TV, no reading, no anything. Can you just sit and be still and be okay with that for five minutes?

If we can not sit for even five minutes without feeling pressure to be productive or manage tasks or get up and do something, then I say we are overwhelmed. We have too much going on and we must, must, must begin doing less.

Doing less is being productive, too.

Doing nothing is a great goal, in moderation. It helps us re-center, find balance, and refresh our mind and spirit for when it is time to produce or move forward again. We will produce better after doing nothing, even for just five or ten minutes each day, because we are rested and ready to embrace and harness the frenetic energy of our daily life.

Another great benchmark might be this: Do I have time to stop each day, pick up a few groceries for the night, and then go home and make dinner? If you are as busy as I am, then you started laughing before you got to the end of the question, but that is the point. If the idea of having that much time and space in our lives to take care of our Selves seems crazy, then we are doing it wrong.

 

Today’s Lesson: For at least 5 minutes each day, do nothing. Just sit and breathe, without thinking about what you will do when the 5 minutes are up, or what you are going to make for dinner, or what you want to say to so-and-so. Just sit and breathe. Then, watch how much easier it is to navigate the world after you catch your breath!

 

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You Can’t Change Who You Are

When it comes down to it, once a (cheater/ jerk/ addict/ liar), always a (victim/ downer/ cynic/ sucker). After all, a zebra can not change its stripes. You can try but in the end, you can not really change who you are… right?

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Sure you can. Just try harder.

The idea that any of us are forever stuck in an impermeable mold is patently absurd. When we are born, there is no blueprint for who we will become. If there was, someone born in the ghetto would never rise to fame as a singer or actor, and someone who born wealthy would never have to file for bankruptcy.

People change all the time. As I assimilate new information, I act on it. An over-simplified example: Nicole absolutely hates it when I roll my eyes during a conversation. I have built up that bad habit for years but that does not mean I can never overcome it. Once she explained why (it is disrespectful, dismisses what the other person is saying, and bad manners), I considered the information and now I practice not doing it.

Eventually, I will no longer be practicing and will have respectfully listening on auto-pilot.

By the same token, Nicole knows I feel the same way about the liberal use of a certain finger and she practices not throwing casual gestures my way or in my presence, particularly among family. It only offends me but she makes the change because it pleases me, and we enjoy seeing each other content.

Change does not have to be for another person, however. The point is only that anyone can change anything about themselves if they want to. What people mean when they say, “You just can’t change some people” is “Change is difficult and some people do not want to bad enough to make a difference”.

But that is only an excuse, not a law of human behavior.

 

Today’s Lesson: If you want to change something about yourself, then change it.

 

Who Is That Handsome Guy in the Mirror?

Haters gonna’ hate so I don’t need to relate.

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I never tolerate negative self-talk. When I hear somebody putting themselves down (and not solely out of self-deprecating humor to put others at ease), I feel a surge of anger, even if I am just catching part of a conversation as I pass by strangers.

In my view, there are plenty of people who think I am stupid, vain, arrogant, ugly, overweight, annoying, over-confident, egotistical, self-centered, or whatever. I do not have to worry about tearing myself down because there are plenty of people eager to do it for me (and probably are already doing it).

When I have a thought that is insulting or spiteful toward myself, I like to remind the little negative voice in my head not to worry. I tell him, “No reason to put me down. I already have my best people working on that.”

 

Today’s Lesson: We all have negative thoughts sometimes and that little voice in the back of your head that wants to call you stupid or say you suck or you are too fat or lazy, or… whatever, but you never have to listen to that voice. That voice is a stranger you have never met that has no idea who you are and has no legitimate opinion of you. That voice is not you. It is not even part of you. The reason I know that is simple… because who is it talking to???

 

(Hat tip to Alain at Landmark Education for teaching me that a long time ago; it is still a lesson I learn now and then…) 

It’s My Hobby

What if some of the things you know are good for you are hobbies you pick up instead of work that has to be done?

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A friend was telling me about a new business idea–something we could do together that might end up being a very good, and very big, idea. I thought about the work involved for such an undertaking and said, “It sounds great. The biggest obstacles I see are the obvious ones: money and time. We don’t have enough of either to lift something like this off the ground.”

He thought about it and said, “What if it isn’t a business idea? What if we just do it as a hobby?”

With that simple contextual change, the idea was transformed in my mind. Suddenly, the work of it faded and the fun of it came forth. We have been talking about it and bringing in other friends to brainstorm every day since.

A funny notion occurred to me. What if getting daily exercise was one of my hobbies instead of one of the chores I try to put off each day? What if eating healthier and learning to manage my triglycerides was one of my hobbies instead of what I do because the doctor scared me into it?

Where else can I transform labor into learning and having fun?

 

Today’s Lesson: There is always work that has to be done but it does not always have to be work to do it. Maybe some of the things we procrastinate doing (but know are good for us) can be leisure and lifestyle activities (even with friends!) instead of drudgery and busy work. What new hobbies can you pick up?

 

Damn You (and Bless You) Auto Correct!

Auto correct, as we all know, is a harsh mistress. More often than not, though, it is a good friend.

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Let’s be honest. Most of us struggle with spelling common words and using proper grammar. Auto correct exists and is ubiquitous for a reason (by the way, I am proud to say I did not need auto correct to help with “ubiquitous”).

Because I legitimately write these posts on the fly, every single day, I do not grant myself time to edit them or re-read what I have typed. I have to post and then move on to other projects, tasks, chores, or social obligations. One nice feature of WordPress is it quickly scans my post before I actually publish it to check for any errors in spelling or grammar. Often it is calling out something I intended as a potential mistake (for example it might think I meant “week” instead of “weak” based on the surrounding context or it is calling attention to a word I knowingly made up, like “meat-centric”).

Every now and then, though, it saves me. It sees that, in my haste, I repeated a word (“sometimes we we have to do that”) or it saves me from using too many words because when I am improvising, I write like I speak so I will type a phrase like “right now” instead of just the proper and simpler, “now”. (Fun fact: actually, I often mouth or whisper the words as I type them so I really am writing like I speak! Fun fact number two: all of the mistakes I used as examples… it totally tried to correct before I posted this!)

Auto correct, with its good intentions, makes a lot of funny errors, but sometimes it just corrects stuff automatically, and I appreciate that.

Bless you, damn auto-correct.

 

Today’s Lesson: Ringo said it best. Sometimes “I get by with a little help from my friends” (even when they are fickle software programs).