Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Have a good day

Have a good day. I say that a lot at the end of my posts but what does it mean?

The traditional idea of having a good day is this: one where we are happy and nice things happen to us. This is pleasant but not always productive. I want to offer up another concept of what a good day could, and in my opinion should be.

A good day is one were you take value in what comes your way, you look for lessons in the positive and negative experiences you have and were you find the opportunities to move forward in your journey.

Taking value in what comes your way: This is taking the time to be here now. The moments we get will never come again and if we do not allow ourselves to experience them fully we will miss them. This does not mean do not plan or reminisce, but when you do it do it fully and consciously. At other times let the mind be free to perceive all of the moment, all of the beauty and wonder that is available in even the most common moments.

Looking for lessons: Every action we perform or witness others performing can become a moment for learning about ourselves. We must understand what brings successes in to our lives as well as failure then use these lessons to chang our behavior. Without looking for the lessons we have no teacher and our minds are no better organized than a fifth grade class left to their own devices.

Moving forward in our journey: we each have a place we are trying to get to in our lives whether it is a conscious choice or not. First I argue that you must know where you want to go and have an idea of how to get there. If you know these things then you can have your eyes open for the next step down the path when it comes to you.

A good day is one where we can savor the moments and learn their lessons, were we can be aware of where we are and where we are going. So that is my wish for you and for myself as well to have a good day to day and every day.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Do not create specters

Grief will come in to our lives. It is not pleasant but it should not be ignored. Just as happiness should be acknowledged and celebrated we must treat grief the same way. Why? Because grief comes when something good end, an ending that we knew could not be avoided. So we grieve, we miss what we had, and we honor the happiness that has been lost. If we don't grieve we are doing a disservice to what we have lost, if we fill the whole that the end of the good thing has left in our lives with just anything where is the honor and reverence that the wonderful happy moments deserve.

Grief comes from the knowledge that this will never be again. We find ourselves missing what we had, maybe not realizing how important it was to us or not being able to let it go. We must let it go, not all at once, but a little bit here and a little bit there. This is what grief is for putting to rest the desire for the things that are no longer available to us.

If we hide from our grief filling our hours with meaningless activities that dull the mind to the sensations around us then the feeling of loss hide within our mind. They can turn to fears, specters of good times past that can chew at our hopes and dreams. There bite is this thought and this thought only no mater what form it comes in: "I should not try to be happy because it will end and then I will feel sad" These specters tear apart our self-worth and ability to achieve our goals.

If instead we live in our grief for a time, the hole created by our loss will begin to fill. The happy memories, the important memories will live in the place of what has gone away. We begin to know that happiness is possible again because we have had it we now know it is real. In living in our grief we do not look away from our own lives. If we grieve then that is what we are doing here now and it is what must be done.

Suffering and loss will happen to all of us. If we do not give it its place in time then we are know better than a teenager in a horror movie going out in to the woods alone at night. The slasher will attack just as our own specters will devour us if we do not take the time to say goodbye.

Have a good day. I

Monday, March 29, 2010

Called shots

Well here we are another Monday night and time to look at how well I did last week and set the bar for this week. The goals for last week were:

 Get back in to the school schedule.

 Study for midterms.

 Take the time to review and consider each day at its end and recorded my thoughts.

 Find time to read for pleasure as well as for school

So I got back into school with out too much trouble. Monday and Tuesday morning were a pain in the butt however that was survivable. Midterms were studied for and taken. I will get them back on Wednesday but I am confident I did all right. As for the review and consider each day I got a start on it at the beginning of the week but fell out of practice part way through. My personal reading was all gaming related but I did find time for it.

So for this week

  • Prep for speech due next Monday
  • Better organize my time, make better use of the days.
  • Take the time to review and consider each day at its end and recorded my thoughts.
  • Take the time to listen to my heart instead of telling it what it wants.

Have a good week people. Be happy, be good to each other, and be courageous.

Freedom in silliness

It is ok to be silly. We often worry that we will be laughed at, ridiculed or talked ab out behind our back for doing something unconventional. We are probably right about that, those things will happen but they are not the end of the world. It is better to live honestly with ourselves then to lie to conform to society. Living honestly can mean we have to break from social norms. We might come out as gay, we might reject the fast-food diet of modern America for a vegan life style, and we might renounce the religion of our birth to find a truth that speaks to us.

These actions may make others nervous; maybe it is what they want but can't bring them selves to admit. Maybe they see independence thought and decision-making as a threat to the integrity of the pack. People will talk but only for a little while and then something else will distract them. We on the other hand will reap the benefit of living in accordance with who we are for the rest of our lives. Being honest with our selves about our selves frees us from a box we do not even know is there. The pressure of this box constricts our every movement leaching the joy from our lives.

So be silly, have fun, change our life to be what you want it to be. Put aside your fears about what others will say, and be yourself.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The golden ticket

Do we remember to thank others for our hardships?

I know why would we do that? What is the point in thanking people for hardships? Our hardships are the most compressed times of change, growth and personal understanding. When things get rough we can often look to the problem and let the pain of it weigh us down. But if we drop the pain let it fall away we can find more of our selves. The pain blows a hole in our ego, it cracks the shell around us and we can see in. If we do not learn to put the pain aside and look through that crack we waste an opportunity.

It is an opportunity to know our selves, to understand our selves in terms other than the labels we identify ourselves with. If those labels are the wall that protects the core of our being hardships are the wrecking ball. The ball hits us we real back from the impact and then we survey the damage. We look for all the outside effects of the impact the things in our lives that have been thrown out of whack and we try to fix those. We look at the emotional hurt that the hardship has caused us. This is the surface of our wall, the cracks the chips and the breaks in our idea of self and our defenses against the world. We repair these. But too often we do not go deeper; we do not look at what is inside the walls.

Let's think about it another way: Charlie and the chocolate factory. We live in a small shack just outside the walls of the factory but we never get to see inside. Then we get a golden ticket, we have the opportunity to get past the gate and see all the wonders inside but because we are so concerned with our lives on our side of the gate we through the ticket away. The ticket is the hardship that comes in to our life and the wonders inside are deeper understandings of ourselves.

So thank others for the hardship in our lives and use the opportunities that the hardship brings.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Remembering the other is us

Personnel development does not stop at the person. Part of changing who we are in a conscious way that is in tune with our reasonable desires for our lives is that we must understand how we deal with others. We have to become aware of the important of others in our lives and the impact of our actions upon them as well as the impact of their actions on us. I have talked in the past about why this important, how people are our mirrors, and why commitments must be taken in to account when deciding to make changes in our lives. Today I want to share seven things to remember about others.

  1. While they are just supporting cast to us, so are we to them
  2. They struggle as we struggle.
  3. As we judge things based on our prior experience so do they.
  4. Beyond the walls of class, belief and party allegiance we are all just people.
  5. The guests of our heart are at the door but it is up to us to let them in.
  6. We each have our own journey and our own destination but we can still share the road.
  7. We all see the same things but we all see them differently.

So my challenge for myself and for you today is as others come in and out of your life remembers these things. They apply to the drive who cuts you off and the cashier that jokes with you. They apply to the bum who wants a dollar and the people we can't wait to see at the end of a long day. They apply to those who we agree with and those who we don't. See the people not the role they fill and treat them kindly. Have a great day and make some one else's day better as well.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The eighth paradox

We are coming up on the end of our series based on Gretchen Rubin's Nine Paradoxes to Contemplate as You Consider Your Happiness Project. Today we are going to look at number eight: Play can be work and work can be play.

The core of this paradox is really the idea of what energizes us. For me this most often comes from solving problems and finding inspiration. This can strike in both work and play.

For example I love to game, I enjoy putting the story together and telling it and seeing how my players react. I don't like all the little fiddly bits were I have to get stuff down on paper that lines up with the rules. This is boring and when it happens my play really does become work.

The same is true when we find inspiration in our jobs. When we can wake up energized and say I am going to do this at the office today or at school today it is no longer just a job, no longer just work.

The transformative element here as I said is inspiration. The defining element then is necessity. The things that are work are the things we are required to do to survive. Most often they are put upon us by other people, a boss, a teacher, a client.

The rewards that come from both play and work are worth the effort to get us through the times when it is not inspiring. We take this for granted when we consider work, for that matter we expect to be bored and disheartened going to work. But we often let the work of play stop us from enjoying our selves. Many times I have pushed through the barriers of adventure prep and found myself sitting at the table with friends laughing and joking and glade I did the work.

On the other hand do not be afraid to find the play in your work. Even on the boring days there are tasks and activities that we enjoy more than others. For our happiness we need to find ways to cultivate these aspects of our jobs.

This has been part seven of a series based In case you have missed the others here they are:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Seeing the control panel

I was thinking about my dislike for driving on the freeway and came to a realization: both the freeway and the back roads have symbolic meaning for me and this is influencing the choices I make when I pick a route. The freeway represents, for me, conformity and doing things society's way. While the back roads are a symbol of freedom and personal discovery. The interesting thing here is that even without being consciously aware of these two symbols they were affecting my decision-making process. What other symbols do I have that I do not know about, and how do they help me to make the choices I make.

I think we all have these sorts of symbols in our lives and I have talked about it before, but they can have a profound affect on the choice we make, particularly the ones we make quickly. This happens because we associate one thing with another and then associate that with either something good or bad and that clouds our judgment. These push button symbols that control our actions can also be used to take us out of a reaction once we understand them. What happens is that we go through life as the control panel different things push different buttons and we react. Then a perfectly normal situation comes along and we act in an inappropriate way or blow it out of proportion. This is a result of having a particularly strong reaction to a symbol.

On the other hand if we are aware of what button the symbol is pushing we can take ourselves out of the situation. We can stop being the control panel and start seeing the buttons for what they are. This can, if we let it or if we want it to, take some of the power away from the reaction. It can defuse situations that we allow to get out of control.

So how do we come to understand the symbols that affect us? Self contemplation and quite thought. Looking inside and understanding why we do what we do. Looking for our motivations every day and for every action. Soon the patterns will start to emerge and we will begin to see parts of the control panel. As we do we begin to see the hooks that our attachment to ideas and concepts hang from.

Thanks for stopping by, if you don't already take a moment to fallow the feed and have a great day.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Called shots

So here we go spring break is over and it is time to start focusing on my goals again. (Honestly it has always been time for focusing on my goals but I have been slipping lately.) My goals are simple this week.

  • Get back in to the school schedule.
  • Study for midterms.
  • Take the time to review and consider each day at its end and recorded my thoughts.
  • Find time to read for pleasure as well as for school

That is all I will be shooting for this week. It is simple but I feel the need to get grounded so a focus on real practical and concrete goals seems like a way to start. So how about you? What are your goals for the week?

Let me know in the comments, and have a great day.

It is up to us

It is up to us to be the people we want to be. That should be both a joyous thought and a troubling one. There is no one else who is responsible for defining us. They can try, people label each other all the time but a label is not a definition. All they do is define how they see us and the things that they associate with us. Who we are, the labels that are important are the ones that are in our own head. The other side of this is that if we are not who we want to be there is no one to blame but ourselves. Now you can say I want to be rich and other people keep taking my money or I don't have the opportunities that others do. Then I say you have to make changes, find ways to keep you money, make the opportunities happen.

Is this easy? No. Will it happen if you don't put effort in to things? Maybe, but that is blind luck and not worth counting on.

In the example of being rich the two objections that I raise can really be applied to any type of change we wish to make in our lives. We also have to understand that there is only one solution. We cannot change the behavior of others we can only change own. If you feel that other people are taking your serenity, your confidence, your drive; then you have to make changes that protect these things. Make time in your schedule for quite meditation, practice daily affirmations of your own self-worth, take time each morning, afternoon and evening to restate your goals. Yes we can ask others to change, we can explain why what they are doing is damaging us but there is no guaranty they will be willing to alter their behavior and if they do that they will be able to be consistent about it.

Secondly we need to create opportunities for ourselves. This means seeking our situations, events or times were we can put our abilities to the test. This can be thought of, at least in part, as stepping outside the comfort zone but there is more to it than that. We may feel comfortable doing something we are good at but taking it to the next level pushing ourselves to do it better can still create an opportunity. Finding, creating and experiencing these opportunities will reinforce our definitions of self in those areas they test. This reinforcement can be used to create more wealth, confidence, serenity or drive. The power of opportunities does not fade when they are over instead they can become touchstones, something we can point to and say I did this.

So remember that it is up to you to be the person you want to be, define yourself on your terms, protect what is important to you and find the opportunities to grow. That is life. Have a great day.

Friday, March 19, 2010


I have found with school and the responsibilities of writing this blog every day have gotten a bit off track. The noise of the world has distracted me from the growth that I am working on. So today I want to rededicate myself to being the person I want to be.

  • I wish to be me more honest and open with those who love me.
  • I want to be fiscally stable
  • I want to make a positive impact in the world.

To this end I am going to bring back the goal posts on Mondays, this is something I need to help me focus.

That is all for today. Have a great weekend and remember have fun, be playful and live a life you can be proud of.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Check, recognize and change your insecurities

Insecurities, we all have them and we all try to hide them to one degree or another. The problem is most of us are insecure about a lot of the same things, are we well liked, did I do a good job, am I good enough. However we think of expressing our insecurities as an assault on our confidence. Now as you know I am a big believer in confidence but I think we also need to accept our insecurities as well.

This does not mean that we have to get on our roofs and scream to the world "I am afraid of rejection" but it does mean we have to be honest with ourselves. Insecurities are one of the things that can stop us from getting what we want, not because we are incapable of the doing what we want but because we are scared. We are scared to test the insecurity and find that it is right, we are scared to admit we are insecure, and sometimes we are even scared of what it means if we succeed. Successes means that something we have believed about our self is wrong and that we have to reexamine or it means that we got lucky.

If we accept that we got lucky this one time we are even less likely to challenge that insecurity again. On the other hand if we succeeded because we can then we have to admit we did not know ourselves as well as we thought we did. At this point we have to decide if we are going to change this false belief about ourselves and make changes in our lives accordingly or if we are going to ignore the realization that we are more capable than we thought and go back to being insecure. The choice is ours.

I say take the challenge tackle areas of your life that you feel insecure about, talk about them with those you trust, and when you succeed don't give the victory over to luck, take credit for it yourself and challenge those false notions.

Have you ever driven a car that was seriously out of alignment? It pulls to one side and if you are not constantly vigilant you will find yourself driving off the road or hitting other cars. This is the effect that our insecurities have on our journey of personal development. The drag us away from where we want to go and we have to constantly make cores corrections to account for them. Confronting your insecurities is like taking the car in to the shop for an ailment. You find where the problems are and then you know what needs to be done to fix them, or at the very least why the car, or your life, is always pulling to one side.

So check, recognize and change your insecurities. It will save you energy from all the course corrections and let you enjoy the journey more. Have a great day.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The opportunity of setbacks

Dealing with setbacks is never easy but we should not let them overwhelm and derail us from our goals. One way to look at these obstacles is as tests of how important our goals are to us. We need to meet these challenges head on, to push forward and find ways to overcome. This is not easy, we have built up a head of steam and find ourselves slamming in to a wall at top speed, but like a cartoon coyote we have to peel our selves off the wall and start looking for a way around our through the barrier.

I have recently hit a wall like that. I have been trying to get in to the San Francisco state Journalism program but it is impacted, limiting it to 600 students. I found out late last week that I was not accepted for fall semester and I will have to wait a year to try again. While this is disheartening I have found that there are opportunities at my current school to give me a better chance of getting in next year. The plan now is to continue my journalism education at the junior college while working on the school paper.

Setbacks can also be opportunities to assess the value of what we are working towards. When things are going well and one action fallows another without any hardship it is easy to just plow ahead, letting momentum carry us. Without setbacks we do not have time to look up and take stock of where we are. Is what we are doing still what we want to do? This is not an excuse to give up just because things get hard; we have to be honest with ourselves and decide if the cores we are on is the right one. If it is we rededicate ourselves to the work we are doing and find our way past the wall. If not we change our cores and find a new way to reach our goals.

Either way we should not let setbacks distract us from our goals; they are nothing more than times and places where we must reassess what we are doing and why. We see what is working and what is not working then we change our approach accordingly and press on.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The direction is importent

There is something new I am trying to work on in my own personnel growth. I want to change where I am headed but not where I am going. Let me explain. A lot of what I have worked on up until now has been about moving away from things I do not like but what I should be doing is moving towards the things I do like and want in my life.

Let's look at an example. I have written several pieces on the subject of ending procrastination and they have boiled down to this we should stop putting things off. That is a moving away strategy. The moving towards strategy as it relates to procrastination would be this: Do things as soon and as quickly as possible while still maintaining the quality of work.

The difference here may just seem semantic but it goes deeper than that. Rules of avoidance tend to create a pessimistic approach to life as well as making us feel limited. We make rules that confine our behavior and then we find ourselves feeling stifled and boxed in. But when we phrase our objective in terms of what we are trying to replace the bad habit with it gives us a built-in alternate behavior to the one we are trying to change. In the procrastination example our focus is shifted from the not doing of things to getting things done. We do not walk around saying to our selves I have this, this and this to do. Instead we can say I am doing this and then I will do that.

Besides putting a positive spin on the things we are trying to change a moving towards rather than a moving away strategy causes us to change our focus. When we act solely to avoid a situation we can end up lost, wandering around in the wrong place. When we move towards what we want we will naturally draw away from the things we don't want but since we are focusing on where we are going we are less likely to wind up getting lost along the way.

On an unrelated note: with yesterdays discussion of novelty I decided to do some work on the site and add a new commenting system. Let me know what you think of it as I am still deciding if it is going to stay. Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The seventh paradox

Remember that control and mastery are key elements of happiness; and so are novelty and challenge.

This is not so much a paradox as it is a definition of the two banks of the river. Let me explain, if life is thought of as a river the good events, the actions that help us become better and be happy all happen between the banks. When life gets rough and stormy the river can and does overflow the banks, while this flooding does provide the impetus for change it is still a destructive force. Now the banks of the river are the ideas of being in control and being challenged.

When we feel that we are in control of a situation it reduces the stress we feel in association with that situation. Control comes from building skill, crafting habits and self-discipline. The greater mastery we have of a skill the more confident we will be in its use and the more easily it will flow from us. When we have truly mastered any skill it can transcended the mundane and become art in and of its self. This sort of commonplace art, or should is ay the art of doing every day things will bring joy in to our lives; this is the joy of satisfaction at a job well done.

The control of crafting habits is the trick of putting our own poor judgment aside and training ourselves to make better choices. This is a tool for guiding the river of our lives where we want to go. We often say we want to lose weight or eat healthy but until we craft the habit of a good diet this does not happen. Once the habit is in place the proper diet become our reflex and anything else is a deviation from that, and as such less likely to happen.

Self-discipline is the control the active control of our decision-making process. Were habits create a reflexive control over what we do our self-discipline is what keeps us in line in new situations or during the process of creating a new habit.

The other bank of the river is novelty and challenge. While doing what we are good at can be rewarding in its results it can also become boring from repetition. We seek challenges to test our skills and push ourselves to do better. By seeking out novelty, we learn more about who we are and what we can do. In seeking the new we stimulate our personnel growth and as we master new skills we gain self-confidence. A life that is filled with only that which we have already mastered leads to stagnation. Years ago I heard the owner of an art gallery talking with a customer about one artists work, she said "he once created something that had God in it and has been trying to recreate that ever since." When we create something that is great we should not try to recapture it again and again but strive to make something new and different that is just as great if not greater.

This has been part seven of a series based on Gretchen Rubin's Nine Paradoxes to Contemplate as You Consider Your Happiness Project. In case you have missed the others here they are:

Friday, March 12, 2010

A responsibility to be playful

I want to talk about something fun today. Then I thought maybe I would talk about what is fun but then I found that boring (go figure) so here is your Friday dose of fun: It is our responsibility to be playful. I have been talking a lot about paradox lately and this also seems to be one at first. The world is full of doom and gloom, we can turn our backs from the news and shut out the distressing noise of the world but that does not change anything. People are still weighed down by debt, we still louse loved ones and earthquakes still shake the land. We can allow ourselves to become beat down, depressed and antisocial by all this or we can live up to our responsibility to be playful.

I have talked about how we need to be able to play and why it is important. As a responsibility playfulness extends beyond ourselves, if we find ways to play we also need to share those with others. The way to relive suffering is through joy, and more importantly shared joy. In the sharing the joy is magnified and more importantly it can be brought forth later and re-experienced through memories and reminiscences. And this is our responsibility to play: We must be playful ourselves and be willing to draw others in to our play.

By drawing others in to our play we increase their joy, build relationships and strengthen our communities. Through things as simple as a backyard barbeque we can learn about our neighbors. By hosting a movie night we can find new friends. When this happens we lessen the fear in our lives and the reflexive distrust bread by the fear mongering aspects of the modern political climate. In lessening the fear we can build a relationship with the people around us, build social networks not based on work and stress but happiness and fun.

So go out and have fun with others, find groups to ride bikes with, play games with, and make new friends learn about people you don't know anything about. In other words go out and be playful, and if you want to play with me and my friends you can find us here.

Have a great weekend, and if you feel like it share your favorite ways to play in the comments.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Sixth Paradox

This is part six of a series based on Gretchen Rubin's Nine Paradoxes to Contemplate as You Consider Your Happiness Project. In case you have missed the others here they are:

It is time to turn our attention to the next Paradox: Think about myself so I can forget myself.

This one seems the most paradoxical at first but as we look deeper we see that it is not only possible but almost necessary not just for happiness but for even our basic sanity. The work of personal growth and development is hard, it consumes both mental energy and time but what are we really doing when we desire to change. We are thinking about ourselves, we think about what we do right, what we do wrong and how we can do more of the first and less of the seconded. As we strive to grow and change we watch our actions consciously, constantly and carefully. This is an effort that we cannot maintain forever. If we did life becomes work, there is no time for fun, and happiness flees our lives. If that is true what is the point of trying to grow and develop as a person? If we are not doing it to make ourselves happier and more content then why bother?

We do the work so we can forget the work and in so doing we can forget our selves.

Forgetting ourselves comes first in forgetting to be vigilant about the work we have been doing. When instead of taking good and proper action from vigilant and reason we begin to take those actions from habit and instinct. When this happens we have forgotten ourselves a bit. As each area we work on changes from a project to part of our character we can move on to the next aspect of self we want to change, the next way of acting we want to achieve. As we forget the rules we have set ourselves to live by and just begin living them the stress to obey falls away. Even this will not lead us to happiness however unless we are the ones determining the rules, deterring who we want to be and what is important to us.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A problem with confidence

There is one major problem with confidence and that is we are most likely to have it when we need it least. When things are going good, when life is moving along nicely confidence is easy to have. When things start to go downhill and we really need the perks that confidence brings, well then that is when we seem to have the least. We need to find tricks for weathering theses storms of stress without our scenes of self-worth being shipwrecked.

Battening down the hatches: How to safeguard your confidence in the rough seas of the real world

  • Rest on your laurels: we all have accomplishments that we are proud of to one degree or another. While it is not good to grow complacent because of successes there is strength to be mined from past victories. We need to be able to use these as touch stones something to remind us that we are capable of success.
  • Shore up the foundation: Little successes build confidence, if we find our confidence slipping we need to set ourselves challenging but achievable goals that can be accomplished quickly. This will create a momentum of confidence and strengthen our foundation for bigger problems.
  • Cut our losses: Sometimes when we get stressed we start obsessing on the wrong solutions to the problem. We think if I can do this one thing everything else will be better. We struggle and toil to accomplish that one thing putting more energy in to the task then it deserves and as a result several other projects fail. We need to be aware of what will be productive and possible. Honesty and constant revaluation of our strategies are the only way to know what is working and what is not. When our confidence is running low we do not have time for things that might work, only things that will.
  • Be reminded of how great you are: Talk to a friend, a good friend and do it honestly. Admit your sense of defeat and listen when they tell you good things about yourself. When our confidence gets low we tend to dismiss these complements brushing them aside without letting them register in our minds. What are friends are telling us is what they feel, why they like us, and what they believe to be true. This has value, and we have value to them so give their words the attention they deserve and listen.

The bottom line is this: We never lose confidence we just quit believing that it is founded in reality. Well it is, there are reasons why we feel confident and good about ourselves. Just because life gets difficult sometimes does not invalidate those reasons. So as the gale b lows and the waves pound and the lighting cracks the sky stand tall, stand proud and meat the storm head on!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sensible relife

Some times in life we find ourselves with our backs up against the wall. Whether this is financial, emotional or stress related it happens to all of us from time to time. When we find ourselves in that situation we want to rant to cry out and scream but this never does us any good. So what can we do when we feel beaten down with nowhere to go? We have to keep on keeping on. We need to stand tall plant our feet and say I will not back down, and then we start looking for solutions. These solutions may not be easy, they may not be what we want and they may not make us happy but they will allow us to keep going.

When we have to make choices we do not want to we still must remember they are our choices, and there are lessons to be learned from each of them. When making a choice between options that we don't like all we can do is find what is safest, and offers the best chance of growth and positive escape from the situation. I say positive escape since there are many things which can dull the pain of stress, financial worries and heartache but these are just temporary distractions from the problem. What we need to choose is the choice that brings a sensible relief.

Sensible relief is that which brings us closer to where we want to be, maintains the standard of living we want (it is important to note here that this what we want not what we are told to want), and still supports our values and commitments.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Fifth Paradox

I hope everyone had a great weekend; today we are diving back in to the series of Paradoxes from Gretchen Rubin's Nine Paradoxes to Contemplate as You Consider Your Happiness Project. We have already looked at four of them.

The next paradox is Keep an empty shelf, and keep a junk drawer. I have a feeling this one Gretchen means in the most literal way possible but I am going to look at in terms of our inner space. Both sides of this paradox revolve around stuff, and just as physical stuff can clutter our home mental stuff can clutter our lives. Mental stuff can be stray thoughts, unfinished tasks, nagging doubts, and distracting fantasies. Sometimes these things have their place others they don't.

The first part, Keep and empty shelf, is a reminder that we need a time of day were we are free of these distracting thoughts, a time of peace were we can just be. This idea sounds simple enough but when we try to put it into practice it is easy to let the clutter of our day pile up on our empty shelf. The best way to handle this is clear the shelf a little at a time. Set aside just a few minutes of the day for quite time and once you have managed to clear that part of the shelf add a few more minutes and so on. Once you have reached the amount of quite time you want in you day all you need to do is focus on keeping that shelf clear.

What are you going to do with all those ideal thoughts that you have cleared out of your quite time. That is where the junk drawer comes in. Some of the thoughts that get cleared out will be useful and those should be allowed to roam the brain at any other time of day. Other thoughts are not worth having but we cannot let go of them. These go to the junk drawer. Just as the empty shelf is a time of day were we can b e at peace the junk drawer is time set aside to dwell on the things that worry and excite us that do not have strong roots in reality. This junk drawer time has the effect of reminding us that the things we are worrying and dreaming about are not major concerns. If they were they would not be in the junk drawer. By giving them their time and place we banish them from nagging us during the day. When the thought crops up offering happy distraction or dread we can push it aside saying not now latter.

Between the moments of calm, the empty shelf, and they time to entertain wild unrealistic notions, the junk drawer, we can bring our mind under better control. This leads us to be more productive, more creative, and generally calmer.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Take it slow

I am going to take a break from the paradoxes for today. I want to take a moment of your Friday to discuss the importance of slow. We live in a world were everything has to happen now, we want immediate gratification, immediate access to people, and we don't want to sit in traffic. All this hurry hurry rush rush destroys our ability to appreciate life. It takes us from the moment and turns our focus to what is next.

There is a time and place to plan, it needs to be done, however it should be kept in its place. Sometimes it seems as if the moment we start something we are thinking about what we need to do next. With all the work that we do to plan and prepare do we not owe it to ourselves and our plans to take the time to pay attention to them when they come to fruition?

So as this weekend goes buy 0do not overload yourself with things to do, allow the time to plan, and once you have a plan in motion enjoy the results. Pay attention to the experiences you are having and let events have their time.

Have a great weekend, enjoy it remember it, and treasure it.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Fourth Paradox

So far we have covered the first three Paradoxes from Gretchen Rubin's Nine Paradoxes to Contemplate as You Consider Your Happiness Project.

Moving on to the fourth paradox we come to: Strive to be emotionally self-sufficient so I can connect better with other people. This is one that has been hard for me in
past but at the same time once you relies it and apply it to your life it can have a profound impact.

Emotional self-sufficiency is not being closed off and protective of how you feel. Instead it is taking responsibility for your emotional state. This happens in a few different stages, some of these may come naturally to you or they may not, even so being aware of them will help. The first stage is an acceptance of emotion, it is ok to be happy, it is ok to be sad, the same holds true for anger, rage, jealousy, joy, nervousness, pleasure, it is ok to feel. We can get in the trap of putting our feelings on hold, bottling up our frustrations and not dealing with our emotions. The second stage is to take control of our emotions, understand why we feel what we feel.

Emotional self-sufficiency is about being in touch with our emotions and not dependent on others to tell us how we feel. When we become comfortable with our own emotional state we can react and interact with the emotional states of others with ease. This happens because we can experience their emotional state without it become our emotional state. Rather than empathizing, truly feeling the pain of others, we can sympathize, support and comfort others without damaging ourselves. This is not to say that there is no place for empathy but it does create risk. If we are not emotionally self-sufficient, we are in a situation where we are overly dependent on the emotional states of others to tell us how we feel. In this state one bad mood can ruin our day. Because of this we put up defenses, we do not allow ourselves to connect with people. On the other hand if we are acting sympathetically we can touch them emotionally without it rubbing off on us. We can feel bad for them without feeling bad for ourselves.

It may seem that I am focusing on the negative emotions here. However if we understand how to connect with others we will find more joy, love and happiness in our own lives.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The third paradox

We returner to our sires exploring Gretchen Rubin's Nine Paradoxes to Contemplate as You Consider Your Happiness Project. We have already looked at the first paradox: accept myself, but expect more of myself.And the second: Take myself less seriously—and take myself more seriously. Today we will be looking at the third: Push myself to use my time efficiently, yet also make time to play, to wander, to read at whim, to fail.

Using our time efficiently is not always easy, and this is one of the areas where I struggle. Here is the bottom line we will die, our time here will end we only have a limited amount of time. Keeping this thought in mind will, if we put aside the natural horror at this thought, keep us on track and focused on our goals. That said efficient use of time is not about always having some accomplishment to point to but is about doing the things that enrich your life.

At the core of this paradox is the idea that what we want has less value then what we need. This is a fallacy. There are things we must do, because we made commitments, because the alternative is worse, or because they are a necessary function of life. Work, school, eating sleeping, helping friends move; these are all important things to do in life. They are not more important than finding the time to enjoy a sunset, read a book or do anything that makes your day brighter.

If all we ever focus on is the work we must do we are not living. The work supports the times of pleasure and let me tell you this here and now it is ok to seek pleasure. The pleasure we seek needs to be as enriching as the work that we do. Finding times of peace, creating memories with friends and wandering both mentally and physically are all ways to enrich our lives with play.

What are your favorite life enriching forms of play? Have you made time for them today?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The next leg

I am trying to get in the habit of posting about my goals for the week on Monday nights. However this has not quite become habit yet so I missed it last night. I thought I would give the goals center stage this week. First a recap of last week's goals:

Goals for the week of 2/22/10

  • Finishes rough draft of Faith paper for critical thinking class: This did get done, it was a huge headache but it is done.
  • Find five clients for coaching business
  • Work out 4 times in seven days
  • Start getting up earlier and going to bed earlier: I was able to do the first part, getting up earlier but never could seem to get to bead on time
  • Schedule and plan for new D&D game: I did some of this but got stuck waiting for the players to get back to me

Honestly I did not get to far on most of these. But when things like that happen all one can do is pick ones self up and keep going. With that in mind here are the goals for this week:

Goals for the week of 3/1/10

  • Finish and give informative speech
  • Develop forms for coaching business
  • Find 3 clients
  • Be more reflective
  • Work out 4 times in 7 days

So those are my goals for the week what are yours?

Monday, March 1, 2010

The second paradox

This is the second in a series of posts inspired by Gretchen Rubin of the Happiness Project Nine Paradoxes to Contemplate as You Consider Your Happiness Project. The second paradox is: Take myself less seriously—and take myself more seriously. As you may know I'm a big proponent of play. So you can bet that taking things less seriously is near and dear to my heart.

It is important that we are able to laugh at ourselves. All too often our ego gets to wound up in our day-to-day actions and when we make a small mistake, trip on a curb or say the wrong thing we get embarrassed. This is the problem with taking ourselves too seriously or ego gets bruised, every slip up or prate fall we have bang up our ego and it hurts. On the other hand if we can joke about a stubbed toe or flubbed line we tend to let it go easier. These bruises on our ego build up over the course of the day and add to our stress level as long as we don't let them go. We need to banish them from our minds and the best way to do that is laughter. It is ok to look silly, it happens to everyone.

Let us make a distinction however about laughing off embarrassment as opposed to masking our faults. There is a difference between being able to laugh at ourselves and being the clown crying behind his makeup. We need to be willing to face our flaws and work to change them.

The other half of this paradox, taking one's self more seriously, is not about our egos but about remembering that we have value. Not only do we all have value we bring value to everything we do. We are important and we deserve to have fun and get the things we want as long as we do not bring harm to others. When we take ourselves seriously we relies the important of our lives and become more aware of what we do with that life. Taking ourselves seriously also involves being willing to listen tour selves. This can mean being honest about our weaknesses or excepting when we need help. It can also mean listing to our physical bodies admitting when we need sleep or only eating when we are truly hungry. When we take ourselves seriously, we value both our actions and we listen to what we are telling our selves.