A Streak of Bad Luck

I reflect on each day to figure out what lesson I learned from life. I share each of those lessons on this blog. Here is today’s…

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From Friday to Monday, here is what my weekend looked like:

Friday… Crashed my new Prius

Saturday… Enterprise ran out of cars to rent

Sunday… Our rice cooker exploded

Monday… Trainee missed flight, causing havoc at work

Okay, now here is what else happened:

Friday… Crashed my new Prius and no one was injured or killed.

Saturday… Enterprise ran out of cars to rent so I went to another location and worked it all out.

Sunday… Our rice cooker exploded and I cleaned up the mess and made a carrot cake instead.

Monday… Trainee missed flight, causing havoc at work so we adjusted the training schedule and I picked him up later than planned.

 

I won’t lie. I was in a pretty foul mood for much of the weekend, even though I tried to keep things in perspective. I mean, those are seriously some first-world rich white person problems there, and I get that, but they still felt like big problems in the moment. Sometimes it seems like you can’t catch a break, but in truth, every time you survive adversity (without dying), you have won. You faced and overcame a challenge and the only critic tearing you down after that is… you.

I had a “rough” weekend, but looking back at it now… it was actually pretty great!

 

 

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Extra Durable

I look back every day and figure out what lesson I learned from that day. Then I share that lesson with you. Here is today’s.

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Practicing martial arts showed me the value of bruises (mostly to my ego) and what they can teach us, but there is another element to our lives that shows we are stronger than we think.

I bet the major problems you are dealing with in life right now are the toughest problems you have ever faced. I say that confidently because it is a matter of logic. The toughest problems you faced five years ago you have already learned how to conquer. If they show up again, you know what to do. You have been there before and won (and hopefully learned something from it).

The big problems you are facing now are new and tougher than anything you faced before because you already learned the skills to beat small problems.

This tells me something about the bio-mechanical machinery we call our bodies and brains. It is durable, really durable. No matter what life has thrown at you so far, you have either beat it or figured out how to live with it and move forward. Chances are, no matter what problems are coming your way, you will also come out on top.

If I were a problem, would I want to go up against a professional fighter with a zero-loss record? Would I, as a major problem, be eager to pit myself against someone with so much grit and courage that nothing–nothing so far–has been able to stop them or keep them down? I wouldn’t. If I was a sensible problem, I would run like hell from you. (Of course, most problems are not sensible but that is okay, you still stand undefeated even when problems have played dirty.)

Whether you realize it or not, you understand what it means to be tough and extra durable.

You are a survivor until the end… so don’t sweat the small stuff, or the big stuff. Just keep moving forward–nothing can stop you.

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“There Are No Problems, Only Solutions…”

Today’s Lesson: You get what you take.

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John Lennon may have just been sitting there doing time, “Watching the Wheels go ’round and ’round…” but he nailed it with the title of this post.

Have you noticed that problems are like gifts? We give them to each other. Sometimes we receive good ones and we are excited to try them on but a lot of the time they are more like another bottle of cologne you already have four of, or the wrong size paisley-patterned sweater from otherwise well-meaning people.

What we forget is that gifts must be accepted. If we do not accept them, they go away (and sometimes stop being offered altogether). In other words, we think problems happen to us but actually we pick our problems.

That is why on Monday someone can cut you off in traffic and you feel enraged, blare your horn, and curse them (until they look directly at you–then, you pretend you are focused on the traffic light ahead). Yet, on Tuesday, someone can cut you off and you simply swerve out-of-the-way and move on, listening to your favorite song. No problem.

On Monday, someone offered you the gift of a problem and you generously accepted it. On Tuesday, someone offered you the same problem, but you graciously declined it.

People offer you problems all the time. We love to give our problems away. Sometimes we are even offered the same problem over and over (my cat kindly offers me the problem of barfing up hairballs at 4 in the morning every few nights).

All of our problems are the same way. We only have the problems we accept.

When you feel overwhelmed, frustrated, confused, lost, stressed, or depressed (or all of those at the same time), consider what problems you are generously accepting and what ones you should graciously decline.

Maybe it is time to politely inform Grandma paisley is not your style and you actually wear a different size than when you were twelve (or that you have stopped celebrating holidays altogether).  She may not like your attitude but… well, that’s her problem.

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Kicking And Screaming

Today’s Lesson: Quit crying about the way things are. If you want something to change, then change it.

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It is better to manage by results accomplished instead of time spent at work.

People are more productive if they have enough rest.

Sitting at a desk or in a car all day is bad for our bodies.

Yelling at problems does not solve them.

 Micromanaging others is exhausting for everyone involved.

A five-day, forty hour work week burns employees out and degrades families.

Never-ending goals are not actually goals.

There are some problems so obvious that literally everyone can see them, yet these problems never seem to find resolution.

Maybe we should spend less time staring at problems and spend more time attempting to end them.

Besides, staring too long is bad for your eyes…

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Curse You, Styrofoam Packaging!

There are probably bigger things to worry about than packing peanuts… but I still hate them.

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I was putting together an office desk today, that I bought from Amazon.com. It came packed in white styrofoam molds. I passionately dislike styrofoam. It breaks up and static clings to everything, it is environmentally unfriendly, it squeaks, and even after vacuuming I know I will find bits of it for weeks.

The desk was packed in so much styrofoam it took me nearly an hour to unpack all the parts and remove them from their white particle jails. By the time I was ready to assemble the desk, I was furious about the stupid styrofoam snow covering my carpet.

So I paused.

I looked at it all for a minute, the styrofoam, the desk parts, outside the windows at the world going by… I thought, “Really? There are people dying of hunger or torture right now, there are fellow animals being slaughtered by factory farms, families struggling through poverty, fanatics holding human progress hostage (and holding humans hostage, too), ecological disasters looming, even just people losing loved ones to old age at this very moment… But I want to hang my hat on the styrofoam thing now? That’s the biggest problem I want to be angry about at this moment? THAT’S the thing that is truly setting me off… really?”

I shook my head, sighed, put on some music and got to work assembling the desk, sad about the other stuff but appreciative that my biggest problem today was invasive packaging, which suddenly did not seem like a big deal.

 

Today’s Lesson: Your problems are probably not the biggest problems in the world. Appreciate your life. Move forward.

 

 

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Sleep On It

Patience is often the part to moving forward.

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After many failed attempts at assembling the base to a new cat tree tower last night (the directions were literally just a drawing of the finished product), I was ready to send it back to the shipper with a very long complaint letter.

I was certain, though, that all the parts were there. I knew I had to be missing something but for the life of me I could not figure out what. Rather than act out of anger and frustration, I decided instead to give up the project until morning.

When I woke up today, I took one look at the tower and saw what was wrong. Two of the posts were on backwards.
Easy fix, and suddenly I was on my way to happy times for my cat.

Today’s Lesson: Sometimes just making time to rest and then taking a second look can solve the world’s problems.

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It’s Not Your Problem… Oh, Wait. It Is.

Draw a line down a sheet of paper. On one side, list every item that prevents you from being successful. On the other side, list all the people who care about your problems. Which list is longer?

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Some people only see problems in the world. When something goes wrong, it is never their fault. Something was in the way.

“Fred in Accounting held up the project, not me.” “The weather was bad, no customers came in, so there was no sales.” “We are out of fries today–guess you should try a different restaurant.”

Some people seem to only see solutions in the world. When something does not go their way, they do not care whose fault it is, even if it was theirs. When something is in the way, they find another way.

“Fred in Accounting was holding up the project, so I asked Sheila to help.” “The weather was bad, no customers were coming in, so I got on the phone and started setting up appointments for tomorrow.” “We are out of fries today–but we have incredible apple pies–want to try one of those instead?”

Which person are you? How many solution seekers are on your team? If the answer is “none”, then I have two bits of bad news for you:

1. You probably should not be on your team.

2. You are not one of the people who see solutions. Think about that.

 

Today’s lesson: The only problem that does not have a solution is the last problem you will face in your life. The question is, what kind of life do you want to have in the meantime? One where all you see is roadblocks or one where you start working those neck muscles to look above and around roadblocks, or looking for a make-shift shovel to dig under them or break through them? 

 

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Today’s Lesson: Don’t Borrow From Tomorrow [141022]

There is a saying in Nicole’s local yoga community, “Don’t borrow tomorrow’s problems.”

James Altucher, one of my favorite speakers, says to “avoid time traveling”–either to the past or the future.

When we remind ourselves of the painful lessons we have learned in the past, it is important to remember the lesson but forget the pain. All of the dumb things we did we can not change. All of the tragic things that happened to us can not be reversed. The past has passed. There is no point carrying it around with us like unwanted luggage.

We do not have to suffer with anything we have no power to affect.

The same is also true, then, of traveling to the future in our minds. Dreading something that has not happened yet is also pointless. You might not even live to see it, even if it is something that might happen only a few seconds from now. You might be about to give a speech and suddenly have a heart attack. How dumb would you feel about dreading the speech if you unexpectedly had to deal with cardiac arrest?

The point is, the past has been written and can not be changed. The future has yet to be written and can not be known. Therefore, the only time to live in is the present. You have absolute power over the moment you are in now. You can choose to read the next sentence. You can choose to change the world. You can choose to go to sleep and hope to wake up again.

But the only time you can choose is now. Right now.

Choose wisely.

 

 

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