30 April 2009

Thursday Quote - April 30th

"Our lives improve only when we take chances and the first and most difficult risk we can take is to be honest with ourselves." - Walter Anderson (American artist)

28 April 2009

Baseball mirrors life

I love baseball. Everything about it. The ballpark, the sound of the ball off the bat, the cheering crowd, the numbers and the strategy. It mirror life: There are the highs - a towering home run and lows - striking out with bases loaded.

I was watching the Cardinals - Braves game last night (Go Cards!) and looked at the strategy that two of the winningest managers in baseball history employ and made me think about how baseball is like life.

Baseball: Do you leave a pitcher in to try and get the last out of the inning or bring in a reliever.
Life: Do you stick with a plan and gut through it or change plans?

Baseball: Do you take the risk of putting in a defensive replacement and take out a hot bat?
Life: Do you switch to a more secure option or stay with the what got you there.

Baseball: Do you study the runner on first and see he takes his time going back to bag after each pitch and do a quick snap throw to first to nab him?
Life: Do you study the situation and see an there is someone not doing a job well, step in and take that opportunity away from them?

I could go on. I know you may not see things the way I do or don't like baseball. But look at things around you and see how connected they are to you. From the way the rain cleans the landscape to the way traffic moves on a busy interestion. You can take these and find parallels to your life. Look inward and see what you are really made of.

27 April 2009

Monday Morning Quote - April 27

"People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built." - Eleanor Roosevelt

26 April 2009

The terrible habit of the Exaggeration

Ok, time for me to rant about a pet peeve: Exaggeration. Now I understand using exaggeration to get across an idea or feeling, such as "I'm freezing" or "It's a million degrees outside". But when someone uses this to excess, it just becomes and irratant in a conversation and quick becomes a conversation stopper for me.

I know someone that uses this all the time. It has become so common place with them that I really don't like conversations with them. Everything is more than it seems. In a series of conversations, they were burning up, so tired they can't think straight, it was the cutest thing in the world, they are the nicest person ever, don't like a certain food since it's the most disgusting thing in the world and didn't like a show since it was the worst show ever.

Now these kinds of statements make me want to say to them "Wow burning up! We need to get you to the hospital, that sounds painful. So tired you can't think straight? That must be why you don't make any sense." Yes, I can really be sarcastic, but I didn't say it. However, the conversation was quickly over, since I really didn't want to hear any more.

I wonder why people use exaggeration so much, or to exaggerate - Every time :)

Is it that they do not know how to explain something without it. Do they feel that when they talk like this, it impresses people? Well, let me tell you, that it does not. Think about what your saying, how you say it and how others interpret what you say. Do you exaggerate to much? Do you know someone that does?

25 April 2009

Down with Hypocrisy!

I have an acquaintance that is a full red-blooded hypocrite. Anytime this person is called out on they get extremely defensive, make excuses and turn it around like it's my problem.

It's quite frustrating to deal with this type of behavior. If I was hypocritical, I would appreciate someone pointing it out. I strive to be true to myself as well as others.

Let me give you an example. This person completely dressed down someone for being judgmental, explaining that it's bad, that you can't make judgments about someone based on generalizations, lack of knowledge etc. Then less than an hour later, says "Look at the woman over there, I can't believe she's just letting her children act like that. Some people shouldn't have children." When I pointed out that it looks like they're not her kids since they're calling her by her name and not Mom, this person said "Well, that's good since she probably shouldn't have kids."

Hypocrisy is a damaging trait. Some people don't see the hypocrisy in the things they say or do, others choose to ignore it, still others use it as a tool to feel superior to others. Anyway that it's used, I implore you to stop. If you cannot be honest with yourself, you cannot expect others to be honest with you.

23 April 2009

Thursday Morning Quote - April 23rd

"Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who could not hear the music." - Angela Monet

22 April 2009

Use technology to make us more human, not less

A quick, funny and poignant three minute talk about the anti-social aspects of smartphones. How many of you are guilty of this?

20 April 2009

Monday Morning Quote - April 20th

"Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save." - Will Rogers, Autobiography, 1949

19 April 2009

Entropy rules! Time for a coup

Apparently the law of entropy is alive and well in my house. If you don't know what entropy is, it's "a measure of the disorder or randomness in a closed system." In essence, everything is moving toward a state of chaos. Describes things here pretty well right now.

I won't go into the details, but suffice to say that it's not a really good situation to be in when you're trying to calm your mind. Right now, mine is quite exhausted and a tired mind is not a good one. I need to find some "me" time to just sit and rest and push all the distractions out, even if for a short while.

It's a stuggle, but if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. When I achieve my state of nirvana (or at least peacefulness), it will all be worth it.

18 April 2009

Lesson from the doves

We have a dove's nest in out backyard. They built it behind a plant on the patio. Probably to hide from the crows and hawks. Every day at 5:00, the male dove flies in and waits on the fence. The female then flies off (my guess is to get a break from egg sitting, get something to eat and I'm sure her back is killing her). When the female takes off, the male comes in and sits on the nest until the female come back.
What great teamwork Now, if more couples can work so nicely together.

16 April 2009

Thursday Morning Quote - April 16th

"Every morning you are handed 24 golden hours. They are one of the few things in this world that you get free of charge. If you had all the money in the world, you couldn't buy an extra hour. What will you do with this priceless treasure? Remember, you must use it, as it is given only once. Once wasted you cannot get it back." - Anonymous

15 April 2009

More on stress

Stress continues to mount. I find myself reacting due to stress more than before.

This is what stress will do to you. Stopping and performing a self diagnostic of yourself and the situation is the first step. What is causing my stress? Is it under my control? Can it be avoided? Can it be approached? What is a better way to deal with it? Ask yourself a lot of questions. Write it down. I usually write it down and walk away for a bit then come back. When I write it down, it forces me to focus my attention on it and I can see the bigger picture of what it does to me.

I'm approaching it first physically. I am finding time to meditate. This relieves the burden on my body that stress creates. I slow my hear rate and breath. Calm my mind. Let the tension wash away. I feel this is key since the physical manifestations of stress will hinder the process of reducing or eliminating it.

Once I'm in that state I can look at the stress factors more clearly. After I am in this state, I find that many times what I originally saw as a huge issue, problem or situation, is not really that big. I can see the cause better and a solution more clearly.

I'm a work in progress.

14 April 2009

Slowly trying to slow down

Stress is everywhere. It hits you from the moment you wake up. Decisions must be made, tasks that must be completed, choices, actions, etc. Today's world keeps throwing things at us faster and faster. Last week I posted a video from TED by Carl Honore who talked about slowing down. I've tried to do this in my life and man, is it hard. How can I slow things down when people need things from me and I have to get stuff done.

I will keep trying because when I do slow down, I can feel the difference. Things come into focus and I can seem to grasp more of what's going on. Keeping this going is a bit harder, but it's a work in progress. I have too much stress in my life and I need to let it roll off me better and manage it rather than it manage me.

13 April 2009

Monday Morning Quote - April 13th

Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product of other activities. - Aldous Huxley

12 April 2009

Blog Retread

Took a break today, so decided to recycle a post on Easter I wrote last year. Check it out: Easter - The Second Class Holiday.

11 April 2009

That Song in My Head

Ever had a song stuck in your head? Of course you have. I have one now. I keep humming it. Why hum? Well, it's in French and I don't speak French. So I had to think, why would I have a song stuck in my head when I don't even know the words?

Simple, music is a universal language. Music taps into something deep inside people. It brings together people of different ages, races, languages, tribes, genders, religions, etc. How many times have you listened to something and your mood changes.

Music is a part of me. I love to have music on all the time. Different music for different moods and needs. I don't put down anyone for the music they listen to. I may not like their music, but I look at it as a personal choice that is above reproach.

What do you do with your music? Is it just there, or does it mean more to you.

10 April 2009

Change does not just happen

Change requires action. That much is pretty simple. If you want change to occur, you must actually do something. You won't get a job, sitting on the sofa. You won't lose weight without changing your diet and exercising. You won't become wealthy just doing your normal job.

A second important factor is the level of effort required for change. Some change can be achieved with a small amount of effort. You want to eat healthier, so you make a lunch instead of picking up fast food. But, for the change to have a much larger impact, a larger effort is required. We marvel at people who display a tremendous effort to create change: Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Cesar Chavez, Martin Luther King. The list is long. All displayed a tenacity beyond what a normal people would do and the fruits of that effort can be seen today.

Now I want to talk about personal change. Looking deep into yourself and seeing something that you want to change, taking the action and putting forth the effort the create that change. Many people won't take these steps and stay mired in the situation that they are currently in and become despondent.

Why is that some people can grab the bootstraps , pull themselves up and reach great heights and others cannot? One simple answer: they have internalized that need for change and told themselves there is no other option. They took a holistic approach. The change is not something that happens to them or is created by them. They are the change.

Why am I writing about this? I know someone who is dealing with this right now. They must make a life change. They must take action and it will be hard, but the rewards are great. However, they are paralyzed with indecision and fear. I can't make them change, they must make themselves change. But how to get someone to that point. I'm not sure, but will be there for them when they are ready.

09 April 2009

Thursday Morning Quote - April 9th

"Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters" - Albert Einstein

Thank you to Ali for the quote.

08 April 2009

Are You Experienced?

I recently read an article that said 'psychological research suggests that, in the long run, experiences make people happier than possessions.' Now without really thinking of it that way, I believe I have felt this same thing. I would much rather spend my money on tickets to a baseball game, play, concert or short weekend trip than something more material. A very insightful friend once told me, "The things you buy will break, become out dated, wear down, collect dust and be forgotten. But the things you do, the people you meet, the joys and yes pains you have will stay with you forever."

How many people are changed or experience true personal growth by buying a new HDTV? Don't you think they will gain more out of life by taking a surf class, going on a trip to Europe, or something as simple as going to the park with your kids and having a picnic.

Stop, slow down and look at what really matters. That is what will be there in 10, 20 , 50 years; not the TV. Let someone else be the Jones' and have all the newest and biggest things. You'll have something they don't and wish they did. True happiness.

07 April 2009

Slowing Down in a World Built for Speed

This an incredible talk by Carl Honore at TED from 2005. Watch this and think about all the things in your life that you are missing because you move through it much to quickly. Slow down for about 20 minutes and watch. I think it will have a positive impact on you.

06 April 2009

Monday Morning Quote - April 6th

We can not live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men. --Herman Melville

05 April 2009

Mourning the loss of gratitude, but not giving in

I had to go the local mall recently. A mall is great place to people watch as the diversity of people is amazing. I observe people, their behavior and their interactions with others. While there, I noticed a severe lack (or loss) of gratitude.

What I noticed is that people did not seem to thank or even acknowledge people for things they do. Or they do it by rote with no true sense of gratitude. In a world that is moving faster, we are becoming more impersonal. I, though, am not about to let the state of the world have this kind of effect on me. It is exactly because the state of the world that it is important that we look to reaffirm our bonds with others.

I have seen the happiness, pleasure and even shock when I give genuine gratitude. Saying 'Thank you, Ellen' with eye contact and a smile to the waitress when she refills your drink. Saying 'Your welcome, glad to do it' instead of 'No problem' to the person whom you hold a door for. It takes so little effort to do this and the rewards are so great; both for the other person and for you.

Try it and see how it make you feel. Maybe it will make the other person do it to the next person they see. A sort of gratitude pay it forward.

04 April 2009

Changing my perception

I've had a long month this week. Ever have one of the weeks that seems like it took forever to get to Friday night? It always amazed me how time can be manipulated by our perception. You know how this works. When you're having a great time, time flies by. When you just want something to finish, time just crawls by. It's all based on perception, since time move forward at the same speed.

Now, if how we view the situation affects how time progresses in our perception, can we change other aspects of our life just by changing our perception of things? I'm sure we can. I spoke about this in a post last year. But want to think about it in more detail.

Let's think of a few examples. You meet someone new, instead of unconsciously creating a perception of them, say to yourself, this a very nice person whom I'd like to meet. If you go into the greeting with this mental picture, it may change the entire conversation and introduction. Let's take this further. You have a meeting with several co-workers. You are not looking forward to the meeting and know the others aren't either. But there is a task or project that must be done. Instead of going into the meeting with the view 'OK, let's get through this'. Walk into the room and say in positive upbeat voice, 'OK, let's get to work on this so we can achieve our goals and make this a success.'. I'm sure some people will look at you and think, 'Yeah, right.' But, if you run the entire meeting with this attitude, the others will pick up on it and their perception of the task will change, in essence making the probability for the the project to be success go up.

Now, I'm not saying go through life in a Polyanna state. But small changes in your mental approach to things can create huge positive results.

03 April 2009

The Music has moved on

I am no longer doing a New Music Friday post. Instead, I have created a new web site, Hoi Polloi Music where I post a new song everyday with an embedded music player to listen to the song directly from the site. Please go check it out and tell my what you think. I hope you enjoy it.

02 April 2009

Thursday Morning Quote - April 2nd

"Use goals not as ends in themselves but as stepping stones. When you reach 80 percent of your long-range goal, reset it."
- Dr. Linda Bunker, Sports Psychologist

01 April 2009

You deserve it? I don't think so....

I feel I have had instilled in me a strong belief that you are not entitled to things, but that you earn them. In today's world, I look around and see so many people with a sense of entitlement and see that this completely limits their ability to improve, grow or develop. In addition, this hurts those around them.

Let me try to explain what I mean by sense of entitlement, why it is wrong and damaging and what can be done to change it.

A sense of entitlement means that you should get or receive something just because you exist. So in essence, you should not have to work for it. Now you may argue, you're entitled to things like air, well yes, but isn't it also true that it is being polluted, so you need to fight to keep it clean so it's breathable. I digress, let's stay on track here.

Now that you understand what I mean by sense of entitlement, let me explain why I believe it is bad. First, your belief that you are entitled to something means that someone else must provide it for you. This automatically puts the other person or people in a lesser or servant role to you. You are entitled to a good job, means that someone must give it to you. Does this make sense? No. You should earn the job because you have developed the skills or show a great aptitude to succeed at the job. Second, if you feel entitled to something, you will always end up disappointed. Other people will not live up to your standards for them. Sorry, this is just an idiotic idea. You should set the standards for yourself and strive to achieve those. Third, people will do things either for pleasure or pain (see prior post). They will do something for you if it makes them happy or they do it to avoid some pain. Having somebody do something for you because you feel you are entitled to it most likely means the person is doing it to avoid pain. How long will someone do that?

Here's how to change it. It quite simple really. You are in charge of yourself. You set goals for yourself. You achieve things for yourself. In the end, you will a much happier, independent and confident person. Please comment, I want to know what you think. Thanks for listening.