Everyday people tell me, you gotta try this. You’ll LOVE this. Watch this, wear this, smell this, read this, blah blah blah.
I don’t have to do anything except breathe. And you know, for a human being, I think I do a rather poor job of it. Check this out from the always wonderful Chris Brogan.
“I had a quick chat with the Universe. It was in a rush but it wanted me to share something important with you. ‘You would do well to breathe deeper. In general. Take deeper breaths. In fact,’ said the Universe, ‘did you know that learning how to master slow, deep, controlled breaths is one way to master anxiety, fear, frustration, and many more feelings and emotions?'”
For today, you and I don’t need to master anything. But what I can do is remember the joy and release from just breathing. So right now, wherever you are, stop everything. Take a breath. Now take another. Just feel yourself breathing. Feels good doesn’t it? I’m trying to figure out a way to remind myself several times a day. Got any hints?
Chris Brogan quote is from his weekly newsletter that he sends out on Sunday. You can subscribe here.
Photo credit: ellephysio
What I Learned
My grandmother used to say, if someone offers you something and you don’t want it… say, “not today, try me tomorrow.” I thought she was nuts (well, she was, but not for saying that.) Women are taught to say yes. We are rewarded for saying yes… “Yes, I’ll make dinner and do the dishes.” Yes, I’ll volunteer at the school. Yes, I’ll run those errands, put a band aid on that cut, work that extra shift and on and on. I never learned to say no. I learned to try to please people, even at the expense of my own well being.
Why I Can’t Just Say Yes All The Time
So I had to learn to say no. One “no” at a time. It was hard. Every time I said no, I felt like I was disappointing everyone. Then it began to dawn on me. I’m not the only person who can do whatever needs to get done. Often, I wasn’t even the best person to do it. When I said no, it gave someone else a chance to give, to help, to learn, to show they cared. Who knew?
The Power of No
Who knew I could say no, feel better about myself and provide someone else with an opportunity? I didn’t know it then but I know it now. If you are one of the lucky people who learned to say no early in life, I envy you. I’m going to be watching you, to see how you do it.
Image Credit: No is a complete sentence
Why We Judge Others
Did you judge someone today? Maybe you’re not even aware of it. It’s a habit and way of thinking in modern society. Anytime we think we know what someone “should” do, we are judging. In the quote above, Einstein gives us an idea of how to check if we are being judgmental.
Judgement is a problem because it makes others feel “less than” and doesn’t give room for live and let live.
There is a difference between stating your position and putting someone else down. My aunt Dorothy (b. 1899 d. 1998) taught me by example that judging people is not only a waste of time, but also, doesn’t contribute to one’s overall well being. Here’s an example.
Don’t Try Harder, Try Different
Let’s talk about the rights of gay Americans. Whether you like it or believe it’s ‘natural’ is beside the point. Let’s talk about the right to carry a gun. Whether you like it or think its good for society is beside the point.
The point is to listen not judge. If I judge the person who is gay or who wants to carry a gun everywhere, then I miss the opportunity to grow, to see the world from someone else’s point of view. I miss the opportunity to keep an open mind, to learn, to change, to adjust. I just dig my heels in and build walls. I judge that fish by it’s ability to climb a tree. Not. relevant.
There Is No Grapefruit at the Hardware Store
You can’t get grapefruit at the hardware store. If I am always mad when I leave the hardware store (for it’s lack of ANY fruit) – whose fault is that?
The point is to find a balance between having an opinion/belief and being open minded enough to get along, go along and help make things better. The key word is compromise. Lighten up a little. Pay attention to when you “judge”. What are you afraid of that makes you dig your heels in?
Image credit: You’re a genius all the time.
Dog Eat Dog
It may seem counter intuitive in this dog eat dog world, that being nice could help a person’s career. People think being cut throat and having a competitive fire is needed to get ahead — and to get ahead we must step on and over people.
There IS a place in business for a seriously competitive attitude. Specifically, when customers or products are involved, being better and stronger can benefit all. Imagine the world of personal computers, for instance, if there were no competition? Where would that industry be? Would our lives be better or worse?
Nice Guys Finish – First
Being kind, generous, thoughtful and interested in those around us takes effort. And that is largely the problem.
As we rush through our days, we get so focused on “doing”… that we forget to just “be.”
So, just for today, stop, breathe, see the person standing next to you and smile. Listen when they talk. You may be surprised at their reaction — and how you feel.
Photo credit: Jessica Hagy
“Persistence is very important. You should not give up unless you are forced to give up.” Elon Musk
More Money = More Happiness?
I was listening to the radio this morning and heard a segment about happiness and wealth. Do you think that if you had more money that you’d be “happier?”
I submit that the happiest people are those who (of those that have their basic needs met) have a reason to act. Something that they believe in and are willing to ‘persist’ for. That they believe in something so completely, that they are willing to keep going, even when forces work against them.
“You have to love something enough to persist. You have to persist enough to deepen your love. And then abundance is the natural outcome. Not just for you but for everyone. Since wealth comes to those who create wealth for others.“ James Altucher
Modern living is full of distractions. It’s easier to flit from thing to thing — to just try something new instead of trying to get better. Improving takes a lot of effort. It’s much easier to be ‘entertained’. This is why the addiction to our devices is so troubling. We no longer take the time to sit and daydream; we can just be ‘distracted.’ For today, try to put your phone down for 2 hours at a time. Set a timer if you need to.
Photo Credit: The Runner Hamed Saber
What does love look like?
Let’s talk about how we show people that we care. Do we buy things for them? Do we cook for them? Clean up after them? Provide a home? All of these things take a lot of time… and energy.
Attention, the rarest of commodities
What is one of the most important (and ‘cheapest’) things we can do for our children, spouse, friends, relatives, employees?
We can listen to them. Look them in the eye and give them our full attention. Try to do it for one full minute. Is it difficult? Do you feel like you ‘should’ be doing something else? email, texts, reading, exercising, paperwork, etc.
Giving someone our full attention isn’t easy in the age of distraction. Check out this terrific post by the wonderful Beth Kanter on improving focus (simple ideas to practice) when there’s too much going on.
Just for today, pick one person. Turn everything off. Sit down with them and ask them a question and then listen to the answer. Can you repeat back to them what they said? Did you really hear them? Were you able to ask follow up questions? Did you understand how they felt, whether they told you or not? Be generous with your ATTENTION, with the people who mean the most to you. Let me know how it goes.
Image credit: Listen closely photographer credit: 20 questions
Quote credit: Simone Weil Image credit: Quotesville.net
Be Strong not Stubborn
Firm not Harsh
Flexible not Fickle
Humble not Proud
Helpful not Showy
Affectionate not Hurtful
Annoyed not Resentful
The Glue and not the Crack
Being You yet Accepting others
Brave yet Grateful
Helpful yet Modest
Right yet Wrong
Successful yet Grounded
Angry yet Composed
There are a lot of benefits to being a grown up and there’s a bunch of sh*t too. In reading this ‘definition’ of maturity, I was struck by the list of ‘opposites. “be the glue, not the crack.” The reality is that sometimes we are the crack. No matter how hard we try NOT to be. It’s complicated to be right yet wrong, successful and grounded, firm and not harsh.
The reality is that some of us will mature more fully. Lots of things get in the way of being mature… #1 is ego and I equate a big ego to someone who isn’t confident. They push and pull their way through life. The sharp edges never wear off. No. Matter. What.
My favorite saying on this list and the one I’ve worked hard on is “angry yet composed.” Being raised a ‘girl,’ I was taught, shown and constantly reinforced – girls don’t get angry. It’s ok for boys, after all, they’re boys. (Yeah, I feel sick too). Growing up in a very dysfunctional home, it was easy to be angry. I was good at it. I had a lot of practice. so what was I supposed to do with it. Channel it into new lipsticks and hairdos?
Remember, I was born before the legislation that changed the lives of American women forever, Title IX (pros and cons article).
The law that sports had to be equal for men and women. Prior to Title IX, sports were not available to women. Hell, we’ve only had the right to vote since August 26, 1920. 95 years! There are women alive today who couldn’t vote in the early part of their lives. It’s hard for me to imagine.
So now that traditional outlets for learning, growing, understanding winning and losing, choosing our own destiny, etc. are available to us, finding a way to be angry and composed is easier. Not easy, but at least today, I’ve got a clue.
When I take my dog outside and it’s windy … she stops and puts her face directly into the wind, even if it’s cold outside. It’s like she’s thinking, this wind is awesome … life is good.
In Paul Simon’s song, “I Know What I Know,” he uses the phrase.. “who am I blow against the wind?”
I take the lyrics to mean… “if you say so.” If you think I’m rich, a loser, a genius, a nut job… who am I to try to change your mind? It implies a passive attitude toward life. For me, that takes a lot of energy. Of course, it takes energy to stand up, speak up and challenge also. Sometimes we are greeted with a sh*tstorm. Sometimes we are patted on the head. Sometimes we help make a difference.
Rocker Bob Seger sang a song called, “Against the Wind.” In the song, Seger seems to think that as a young man, he didn’t do what was expected of him… that he did what he wanted, whether other people liked it or not. Then he got old and stopped ‘running against the wind.”
I think that there are times to run with the wind and times to run against it. No one can tell us when to go with or against. I will suggest that if you always run with (too conforming) or run against (too “too”), then think about mixing it up a little.
I’ve always run against more than with and for me, it’s been good.
Do you run with or against the wind?
In case you don’t recognize the photo, it’s comedians Jerry Seinfeld and Kevin Hart from Jerry’s digital series, Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee. If you aren’t familiar with his show, Jerry picks up different comedians from their homes and takes them for ride in a car that he’s selected specifically for them (presumably to go get coffee.)
One particular “single shot” (a short compilation of clips) called, “In and Out“, shows several comedians tryyyying to get out of the various cars that Jerry has brought for them to ride it. I’ve watched it several times and each time… I laugh out loud.
Since it’s summer and everyone just wants to relax and enjoy themselves…this blog is taking a break from the serious business of finding our way through life to yuk it up. If you’ve got something that made you laugh… please share with me! Happy summer.
Now that I am old(erish), I thought my curiosity about the world would decrease. After all, it’s gotten me into plenty of trouble.
When I read, “The Routine Gene – Can Productivity and Creativity Coincide?” I knew that my love of ambiguity/curiosity was alive and well. That’s because I have a high CQ (curiosity quotient). This is in contrast to my IQ (aka Intelligence Quotient) or EQ (Emotional Quotient).
Our “curiosity quotient is measured by how inquisitive and open to new situations we are. People with higher CQ, dislike routine, but embrace ambiguity and have a knack for finding simple solutions to complex problems.”
The following quote (from the article) describes my approach to routine and creativity:
“The art is finding the balance between turning everything you do that is repeatable into a well-oiled machine (call it ‘a routine’) whilst keeping all your attention and senses open for serendipity and creativity. The best entrepreneurs zip through life on autopilot where their creativity isn’t needed and bring intense focus to those areas where they can make a huge difference.” This manifests itself in various ways; I generally eat the same thing for breakfast. Steve Jobs wore a black turtle neck and jeans.
If you are bored with your work or your life, maybe you need to figure out how to up your CQ. I like to ‘feed’ my curiosity. Here are few ways that I do it:
- Watch a movie and imagine I am the director. What would I have changed? Who would I have cast?
- Take a walk outside and appreciate the simple complexity of nature. I look very closely at tree bark, rocks, flowers. I look at the pattern, the texture, the color and I smell everything.
- Listen to someone talk about what they love to do. Somehow, watching and witnessing their joy and passion is completely inspirational.
How do you feed your curiosity?
Photo credit: Eugene O’Neill Quotes