Posts tagged: self awareness

The Case for Silly

What Ever Happened to Silly?

If you’re fortunate enough to be around kids under the age of 10, you know you’re going to get into the sillies. One kid says something and then soon everyone is giggling and carrying on. I love this. I live for this.

Younger kids aren’t all judgy. They might try to one up each other in the silly department, but mostly, everyone settles in for a good snort.

Something happens to us when we become teenagers. Most of us become silly-averse. We decide we need to act ‘grown up’ and our silly days are behind us. We get cynical, ‘cool’, and generally stuck up. The disintegration into hilarity rarely happens any more. What the heck happens to us?

Even as parents, we seem to forget to encourage the sillies. We’re so busy ‘teaching’ our kids to talk, read,  study, practice, whatever (all very important duties!), we seem to forget that laughing, and laughing in most basic way, is key to a happy life.

Let’s Revive the Silly Tree

I have the great good fortune to have 7 grandchildren, several of whom live in the same city as me and all of whom are under the age of 9. My ability to get to some silliness is pretty easy. But what if you are one of those people who doesn’t have access to little ones, you have to improvise. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Remember what’s it’s like to be kid, find a kid to hang around, volunteer around kids, etc. The fastest way to get there is to go to those who are closest to the source. Laughing is really good. If you need some hints, ask people what they do.
  2. Making people laugh is the purest form of ‘pay it forward.’  Watch this Ted talk on the power of laughter to save lives. (It starts off slow but it’s worth it if you can stick with it).
  3. Laughter yoga?  You exercise your body and your mind (and hopefully your spirit), but do you know how to exercise your silly muscle?
  4. Here’s what the world renowned Mayo Clinic says about laughing.
  5. Go to the library or the bookstore (remember those buildings that house real books?), go to the humor section. Read the joke books. Read funny authors. I happen to like Dave Barry, Steve Martin, Jim Gaffigan, and a raft of kids books like Amelia Bedelia. Don’t forget the movies! I’ll recommend a few of my favorite but what I think is funny may not be your cup of tea. Anything by Monty Python, Airplane!, The Jerk.

But I Want to Be Grumpy

I understand. Being overworked, under appreciated, running around, busy all the time, leaves us very little time for silly. But somehow, I hope we’ll all, just for a minute, today, pretend that there is nothing more important than seeing the silly in the world.

Q: What did one toilet say to the other? A: You look a bit flushed.

Read more at: http://www.ducksters.com/jokes/silly.php
This text is Copyright © Ducksters. Do not use without permission.

Photo credit: Typical Riley Pose  peasap

The Tides of Confidence

PHOTO CAPTION: Delegates at the Pacific Youth Leadership Forum negotiate a confidence-building exercise at Camp H.R. Erdman, a YMCA camp located on the North Shore in Hawaii. The YLF was sponsored and hosted by Installation Management Command-Paci...

Confidence Comes and Goes

I was thinking about my confidence. How it comes and goes like the ocean tides. Sometimes, I feel supremely confident. Like my decisions, my thought process and my ability to ‘pull it off’ are good. No doubts, no questions. Then something happens. I’m never quite sure what happens. Suddenly, I’m questioning everything.

Like the ocean tides (although thankfully not as predictable!), my confidence almost disappears. I can’t control when I feel confident and when I don’t. For me, the first step is to realize when the tide is in (I’m confident!) and when it’s out (OMG, I can’t do anything right). The tricky part is to own the feeling and acknowledge when I’ve done something to deserve the feeling.

I Want to Be Confident All the Time

Because I carried a lot of responsibility at a very young age, I learned to depend on myself. And I know that I can… do a lot of different things, fix what’s broken, change, lead, and make good decisions. I know that I can come off as very confident. As a person who knows what’s going on and can handle things, and oftentimes, I can. But sometimes, I am paralyzed. I don’t know what to do and I can’t quite seem to muster any of that confidence that has served me so well.

In a heart beat, my confidence is like low tide, stinky and exposing everything. It’s like I only have 2 switches – on and OFF. This is not good. Cocky is bad. It doesn’t serve anything.  A dish rag doesn’t either. The really confident person stands a certain way. Even if they are unsure, they pay attention to their body language. They stand up straight, they smile, they’re usually kind.

Monitor the Tide

When it’s low tide , I try this: 1) take a deep breath (no really, do it now… take a deep breath)  2) stand a little taller 3) think of someone who loves me (unconditionally) 4) remember I can trust myself. Practice feeling confident when you’re not ‘feeling it’. Fake it ’til you make it. This is a very important skill.  Modeling this skill for our children is powerful. Realizing that confidence comes and goes like the tides, means that when I’m paralyzed… I have choices. And I won’t feel this way forever.

Image credit: Pacific Region Hosts   familymwr

Banana Management

I've been ignoring you for too long

Banana Management Is Serious Business

If you have a baby at home, you likely know about banana management. This is the art and science of making sure you have enough ripe bananas on hand for your baby (without running to the store everyday to get new ones). When my kids were little, they loved bananas. It was a job to make sure that I had enough bananas, at all stages of “ripeness” to satisfy their banana needs, not too green (tasteless and too hard) or too brown (too mushy, not to mention the fruit flies). Add to that the fact that my kids went to day care part time so that meant that I couldn’t just keep bananas for home, they had to be ready to go into lunch bag. Are you snickering at this “silly” topic? Then you’ve never had to get kids packed up and out the door!

Bananas Are Just The Start

I haven’t had to deal with banana management for a long time, but it struck me that the business of managing a commodity in everyday life probably takes more time than we imagine. If you run a household, you spend a lot of time juggling all kinds of ‘bananas.’ Toilet paper. Dish washing soap. Milk. If you add children to that, now the ‘banana management’ theory extents to all kinds of stuff like paperwork, homework, lessons, sports, etc. If I don’t sign the permission slip (for my kid’s field trip) today, it might disappear and then what?

If you see someone who has a boring wardrobe? Maybe they are managing a lot of bananas and trying to figure out what to wear in the morning isn’t that important. The stories about Steve Jobs and his black turtle neck or Mark Zuckerberg’s tee shirt tell part of this story. Managing the puts and takes of daily life, especially if you have a family, is a lot of work. If you can simplify any parts of the work, then do it.

Just Say No

There’s always someone who wants you to do one more thing. Can you help here? Can you do this? Would you mind? For today, just say no, I have bananas to manage. They’ll probably never ask you for anything again.

Image credit: CRW_2419  30 cent yellow banana

Diary of A Wimpy Adult

Matt's pouty face.

Wimpy Is As Wimpy Does

Yes, I’m calling you wimpy. I’m calling me wimpy. We’re all a bunch of wimps.

Well, not really. But I do think many of us could toughen up. I’m not saying there aren’t lots of genuinely difficult problems that people face, clearly there are. I’m referring to a lot of the whining that goes on about parking spaces at the mall, crowds at restaurants, etc.

I love this article, “How to Increase Your Mental Toughness, 4 Secrets From Navy Seals and Olympians.”

  1. Talk positively with yourself.
  2. Set goals (sometimes really small ones)
  3. Practice visualizing what you want to happen
  4. Practice like it really matters

My favorite is the positive self talk. The author notes, “It’s estimated you say 300 to 1000 words to yourself per minute.” WOW. I first became aware of my negative self talk as I was working to improve my attitude and break the habit of being sarcastic. I had learned negative self talk in response to a dysfunctional upbringing. From that same upbringing, however,  I learned to rely on myself and be independent. My ‘work’ (school, professional, etc.) self talk was very positive but my personal self talk was very negative. I had to learn how to bridge the two. To bring what I knew to be positive about myself and reprogram the negative ‘tapes’ that said I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, strong enough, etc.. The first step is to hear the voice.

What Are Your Internal ‘Tapes’ Saying?

The problem with self talk is that it’s hard to hear. If I’m talking to myself to the tune of 200 to 1000 words a minute, how do I hear what is being said? This takes practice.

Step 1. The next time you are facing a tough situation, try listening to what you are saying to yourself. Are you focused on fear and failure? Or are you focused on doing your best and learning? Write down just a few of the positive and negative messages you are giving yourself.

Step 2. No really write the stuff down. Even if it’s just key words. Go back and review the words.

Step 3. Pick a time of day to focus on your self talk. Maybe right before lunch or while you’re driving. What kinds of things are you saying to yourself? If you can make this into a habit, you’ll benefit.

Step 4. Pick 2 or 3 phrases that you’ll replace the negatives with. These phrases need to be positive but not overly sugary or fake. I like, “I have handled a lot of tough things, I can do this.”

Step 5. Go back to step one.

I know I Hate It Too

Sounds like a lot of work? Yeah. But it’s like going to the gym. Getting started is the hardest part. Slow, steady, repetition is the key to success. If all else fails, please hear me saying, “I believe in you,” because I do.

Photo credit: Whine  Maggiejumps

Outside Looks Inside

https://rhapsodyinbooks.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/artwork_images_939_777403_maira-kalman.jpg

When I go out for a walk, there is so much that makes me happy to be alive. Breathing. Not thinking. Observing. I am grateful beyond measure to be part of it all. There are trees. Glorious and consoling. Changing with the seasons. Reminders that all things change. And change again.Maria Kalman

The Case For Outside

This post is making a case for walking. Outside. A few years back my doctor told me I had to get regular exercise. I hate going to the gym and frankly the cost of the gym that is near my house is ridiculous. So, I decided the only way I would be able to make sure I got exercise everyday was to get a dog that had to go out everyday. This strategy worked for me. The dog is almost 4 and I go outside, 3x a time, in all weather.

There were multiple side benefits to this but the most profound was that I relearned how to appreciate the outdoors. The older I got, the more excuses I found to avoid taking a walk. Wrong shoes, too cold, too hot, too windy, whatever. What I found is that by walking, I had a quiet 30 minutes to myself. I didn’t have to do anything but walk. In fact, I couldn’t do anything but walk.

The Case for Outside, Inside

What have I learned from this adventure? It’s teaching or reteaching me how to be quiet. For me, this is a big deal. I work at a computer, I listen to music, watch TV, watch YouTube videos – you get it. My discipline for quiet is shot. I’m so used to noise, I’ve forgotten the power of quiet. I’m not sure I 100% understand the benefits to my insides, but I assure you, there’s a lot more there than meets the eye. How do you get quiet?

Image Credit: Maria Kalman  A Walk in the Cherry Blossoms

But I Had No Choice, Did I?

I liked both of these images! Why not put them together..??

It’s unlikely you have no choice. More likely: There’s no easy choice. No safe choice, that also embraces your potential. No choice you can make that doesn’t cause short-term misery in exchange for a long-term benefit. Seth Godin

Do I or Don’t I?

When I hear myself say, “I had no choice,” I know that I’ve stumbled. In my time on this planet, I’ve come to realize, I always have a choice. (ok, you can probably think of some time when I might not… but I’m talking about “most of the time.”) When I say, I had no choice, that means that I..

  1. Didn’t see any choices
  2. Didn’t like my choices
  3. Didn’t want to admit I was wrong, change my attitude or stop blaming someone else

But What If I Don’t Like What Happens

I’ve spent the past several years learning to understand that I have choices and then taking responsibility for the choices I make. I’ll admit, it’s been painful and hard. It was much easier to blame someone else for my divorce, my unemployment, my blah, blah, blah. Once I learned that when I default to the choice that is obvious, it’s often NOT great. When I take the time to consider my options and act responsibly towards my own well being, things get better. I could blame my parents. I could tell you a story about their addiction. But the truth is, once I got to be an adult, the responsibility was mine to get help and make my life better. If I’m not happy with my life, I need to make it better.

One fear is that if I make a choice, I might not like the outcome. In some ways, whatever the bad things are, they are “known” bad things. And the “unknown” bad things could be worse. Fear kept me stuck.

Choice is Freedom

When I see I have choices, even if I don’t like the ones I have, I am free. Freedom isn’t just a positive attitude, it’s also accepting responsibility for understanding my choices and then acting on them. It’s often not popular to make certain choices. When you rock other people’s boats, they get hurt and angry and if I change, then people close to me must also change. I’ve learned, when the choice affects others, that I need to act slowly and thoughtfully. But I still need to act. I’m grateful to be free to make choices. Good or bad.

Image credit: Fork in the road   Jrdn7730

Are You Loved or Hated, Success Guarantees Both

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If you don’t know James Altucher, I recommend that you check him out. He’s one of my favorite thinkers/truth tellers. I may not agree with everything he says, but I respect his ability to see the world … and translate reality into words that help me acknowledge changes, even (and especially) when I really don’t want to.

Choose Yourself

Here’s the write up on his book, “Choose Yourself“.

The world is changing. Markets have crashed. Jobs have disappeared. Industries have been disrupted and are being remade before our eyes. Everything we aspired to for “security,” everything we thought was “safe,” no longer is: College. Employment. Retirement. Government.  No longer is someone coming to hire you, to invest in your company, to sign you, to pick you. It’s on you to make the most important decision in your life: Choose Yourself.

This is scary stuff. You mean, if my kids go to college and work hard, they might not get a good job? Maybe this reality doesn’t surprise you. Maybe your family knows this first hand, maybe your neighbor or your work colleague. Altucher tells us that:

New tools and economic forces have emerged to make it possible for individuals to create art, make millions of dollars and change the world without “help.”

But How?

There are people out there doing just that. I hear a lot of negative things about 20-somethings. They don’t ‘fit in’ the workplace. They don’t have a good ‘work ethic’. Look at the You Tubers ** and social entrepreneurs,  two examples of how to do it differently. But more importantly, look at all the people who are ‘doing it their own way.’ There’s not a formula, not a single path to finding this ‘freedom’. What we know is that disruption is a way of life for us. And we can either complain about it or we can capitalize on it. For more inspiration, read this story about a young man who went his own way.

Approval

The biggest problem with going my own way is that there isn’t anyone outside myself saying, “good job.” There’s no boss. Families often don’t understand what we are doing when we don’t conform to the “old way.”  We don’t get society’s approval of our path. The ‘good’ way is to go to high school, go to college, get a job, get married, etc. Many of us don’t fit that mold. And somehow, we need to understand that whether we succeed (whatever that means) or fail, if you walk the road less traveled… you make people uncomfortable. People are afraid of what challenges their security. If you need approval, you’ll probably have an unsettled time. If you don’t need approval, welcome to the club. I approve of your journey… and I hope you’ll approve of mine.

** Full disclosure – My daughter Jenna Marbles is featured in this video.

Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired

H.A.L.T. (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired) Makes Everything Worse

When I find myself stressed, I try to remember to check for these 4 things before I do or say anything else.

Hungry

I’m not good when I’m hungry. I can get snippy and rude. It’s not my intention, but it happens. I’ve learned over the years to keep a granola bar or some nuts with me so I don’t snap. I love chocolate but I find if I eat candy, that only helps for a little while, then I crash and feel worse. If I check my hunger first, it’s easier for me to check on the other triggers.

Angry

For people living with dysfunction, this is a constant. Growing up with alcoholics, I found comfort in chaos. I know this sounds strange but it’s what I knew best so when things were calm, I was uncomfortable.  I was angry at circumstances outside of my control. I didn’t know how to channel my energy into positive actions. Fortunately, I got help and learned to recognize this behavior. A lot of my anger was ‘stuffed’ down because ‘girls’ aren’t supposed to get angry. It’s not ladylike  (I hate that expression). So what’s a person to do with all those negative feelings? Some of us turn them on ourselves by eating, drinking alcohol, drugs, starving, whatever… to help us forget, to help us cope. But none of those help us process our anger and figure out how to move forward. I learned to beat the bed with a tennis racket, scream as loud as I can, put on loud music and dance around, throw plastic containers at the wall (gratifyingly noisy without any serious cleanup.)

Lonely

This one is easy to recognize and harder (in my opinion) to solve. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of getting out and being with people, even strangers. But most of the time, loneliness is cured by being with someone who really cares about me and who knows how to show it. This can be hard to find. I had to write down, on paper, the names of people that I could turn to when I was lonely. Why? Because in my mind, I was alone. The list helped to remind me that there were people and I could call them just to say hi, listen to their voices and feel better.

Tired

This is alternatively the easiest and the hardest to resolve. Chronic tiredness is normal in modern living.  So the easy thing to do is to just stop and rest. The hard thing to do is to figure out how to get everything done and still have time to rest. I have no suggestions. We each have to find our own way.

If you find yourself overwhelmed, think of HALT, hungry, angry, lonely, tired. Check each one and see what you can do to address these BEFORE you respond to the boss, your peer, your spouse, your child, etc. Teach your kids about H.A.L.T. It’s a life skill that provides life long benefits.

Image credit: windowlight

Trading Places

Image result for rich and famous

Whatever you think about Jim Carrey… I think he’s on to something here (even though the English isn’t good.)

I often hear people wishing their lives were different. “I wish I had a lot of money… I wish I had a big house… I wish I were famous.”

But the truth is… there isn’t anyone in the world I would trade places with. I had a rough “growing up,” — worse than many middle class kids… better than many low income kids. I was born with good health, white skin and a good brain.

When you think you wish you had… x, y, z… when you look at some other person, family, job, car and wish you had it, stop yourself. The truth is, you don’t know anything about that other person’s life. What you see on the surface, may NOT reflect the reality.

My two cents: be grateful for what you have, for who you are. You are a gift to the world and you’re here for a reason. Figure it out.

Are You A ‘DTM’ – Difficult to Manage?

What Is a DTM?

I was one of those employees labeled as ‘difficult to manage.’ When I worked in corporate america, I wasn’t intimidated by anyone’s position in the company. I tended to say my ideas out loud, even when they weren’t solicited. I was comfortable organizing chaos and happy when working with a team to make progress where others didn’t see how it could be done. I haven’t changed; much.

In this article in the Harvard Business Review, “Improve Your Ability to Learn,I finally feel vindicated. Here’s how they describe such an employee (aka me).

“While talented, Alex had come to be known behind closed doors by the moniker “DTM” – difficult to manage. He marched to the beat of his own drummer, and he wasn’t afraid to challenge the status quo. He loved a challenge, and he was comfortable taking risks.”

Oh, Oh, Now What Do I Do?

The point of this article is that some DTM’s can be exemplary in their ability to learn, including the importance of “learning agility, a set of qualities and attributes that allow an individual to stay flexible, grow from mistakes, and rise to a diverse array of challenges.” It’s gratifying to know that my brashness and challenging personality were actually good things.

Here are some characteristics of DTM’s – we tend to be more extroverted, focused, original and resilient and less accommodating to slow progress and excuses. If you have these characteristics, try the following – look for stretch assignments, regularly seek real input and most of all, enhance your listening skills. As for me, I’m old… too late for me to get along like a nice girl.

Photo credit: Five tips