Monthly Archives: July 2009

Take Time to Do Nothing

Nature tops the list of potent tranquilizers and stress reducers. The mere sound of moving water has been shown to lower blood pressure. – Patch Adams

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time. – Sir John Lubbock

It is so important to take time for ourselves. Many of you have so many responsibilities and activities that you don’t take a moment to rest. One of the best gifts you can give yourself is some time to do nothing or something you enjoy.

Having a few moments, minutes or even hours to relax, take a few deep breathes, enjoy a book or a cup of coffee without having to interact with anyone is vitally important to your emotional health and well-being.

In fact, if you can make this a regular daily habit or at the very least a weekly habit your stress level could dramatically decrease. It doesn’t really matter what you do. Here are some examples:

  • Reading a book
  • Eating your favorite food
  • Listening to the running water.
  • Watching your favorite television program
  • Taking a walk
  • Playing music
  • Listening to music
  • Going to an exercise class
  • Laying in a hammock
  • Enjoying your favorite hobby
  • Meditating

You get the picture. Pay yourself the gift of time every day and reap the benefits for the rest of your life.

Michael

If It's Not Fun….

If it’s not fun, why do it? – Jerry Greenfield of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream

This is the real question isn’t it? In fact, it’s the one I live by every single day because if it’s not fun, it’s a waste of my life.

I’m sure you’re thinking, how can everything be fun? Surely I must do some things that aren’t fun, right? Not really. If there is something I must do and I don’t feel like doing it right now, I do one of two things. I either don’t do it or I change my attitude such that the very thing I don’t want to do becomes fun.

It’s been a technique that has worked well for me for many years now. It means I complain less about my life. It means that I find more meaning in what I do. Most importantly, more of my day and therefore my life is filled with fun things.

Ultimately, all this means is that I’m happier more of the time. I like that a lot!

It’s all about choice. We have a lot more choices than we have been lead to believe.

Go make the one that brings fun to your life.

Michael

Be Yourself

When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you. – Lao-Tzu

How many times a day are you simply being yourself? How often are you hiding behind words and actions that don’t let others see your true self? How often do you feel comfortable saying what you are thinking or doing what you want to do when you want to do it?

If the answer to any of these questions is “only a little” or “very few” or anything less than most of the time, then you are not living your full potential. You are not enjoying the life that you deserve and have a right to live.

But, it’s tough being yourself sometimes. Criticism seems to come from everywhere; society in general, friends, family, significant others, institutions and etc. Being who you are is not celebrated near as much as it should. I know this from personal experience. I used to try and conform as much as possible to whatever group I was involved in. I left my true self at home tucked away in my room. Not a fun life. Criticism and judgment were common for me at the time.

Something happened later in my life. I slowly started being more of who I truly was at any moment in time. I spoke more of what I was thinking. I did things without concern of judgment or criticism. It is so much more relaxing than I would have imagined. I tend to worry less.

I can’t really say what changed because it was so gradual. I do know that I tried small things; i.e. I let some of my true self come out a little bit at a time. It was like a life experiment. Each time gave me confidence to go a little further.

I do believe I’ll continue working on this the rest of my life. But, each day, month, year, it gets a little easier. So, the road gets better. You can’t beat that.

Michael

Reduce Worry

If you concentrate on the present, you eliminate what happened yesterday and any apprehension of what may happen tomorrow. – Denis Waitley

Reduce worry by focusing your mind on the present.

Reduce worry by direction your attention to whatever you are doing at the moment.

Living in the past increases worry because people tend to extrapolate negative experiences into the future. Living in the future increases worry because it simply hasn’t happened yet. In other words, the future can be whatever you are thinking and if that thinking is less than positive, then you will worry.

So, the simple solution is to concentrate on the here and now, the present. Use your full mind and let your present experience consume you. Let the past and future fall away due to lack of interest.

Reducing worry will help you in many areas of your life. You’re outlook will brighten. You’ll feel better. You’ll sleep better. Life will simply be more enjoyable.

Michael

Wherever You Are, Be There

The best advice I ever came across on the subject of concentration is: Wherever you are, be there. When you work, work. When you play, play. Don’t mix the two. – Jim Rohn

I really liked this quote! Wherever you are, be there. Whatever you are doing, do it with your full attention. Whomever you are talking to, listen with both ears.

I always laugh (internally) at people that claim they are multitasking in meetings. They are on their laptop, typing on their blackberry or taking notes from something other than the meeting. I believe true multitasking only takes place on computers. People, on the other hand, are not able to do that very effectively. Concerning my multitasking coworkers, without fail, every single one of them miss some crucial comments in the meeting. Then, several minutes later, they ask a question about something that was already discussed.

Multitasking means that you are spreading your attention too thin. Nothing is getting your full concentration and therefore you miss things, don’t have a complete experience or have to repeat actions and questions.

The most important thing is that putting your full concentration on whatever you are doing will bring you a deep satisfaction that you may have not experienced before. You’ll pick up on nuances of the experience. You’ll learn more. You’re creativity will expand. You’ll enjoy what you are doing.

So, next time you are doing something, anything, be there. Be fully there. Have a better experience.

Michael

Your Worst Enemy or Your Best Friend

A man’s worst enemies can’t wish on him what he can think up himself.- Yiddish Proverb

All of us have two choices at any moment in time. We can either be our worst enemy or our best friend. Many of us tend to be the one who is most critical of ourselves. Other people can be critical but not nearly as intense as we are internally.

The good news is that we can be the one that supplies the most inspiration, gives the most encouragement and improves our overall attitude. The praises of others are wonderful to receive but are not long lasting, sometimes only fleeting at best. Also, depending on others for making us feel good is dangerous. What if those people go away? What if they are focused on something other than you at the moment? What will you do then; look for someone else to feed your good feelings? Unfortunately it’s not a long lasting solution.

It’s what we tell ourselves every day that makes the difference in our lives. Criticism or encouragement. Hatred or love. Guilt or freedom. Fear or relaxation.

Try to start looking at what your internal voice is telling you. Is it a positive or negative message? If it is a negative message, start working on changing small areas to be more positive. If it is generally a positive message, look for ways to take that to a new level of feeling good.

The culmination of your thoughts over time makes you who you are. If you start to make changes now, you will soon see the fruits of your labor in the near future.

Michael

No Action is Okay

I’m sitting here and have no idea what to write about today. This doesn’t have very often and it has the potential to be quite frustrating.

It’s a lot like life sometimes. At any moment, we may not know where to go, what to say, what to think or how to be. Those are the times where we should just stop and take no action. We should allow things to settle and become clearer.

It works out that many times no action is needed. In fact, taking no action may be the best action. When things are unclear just stop, relax and let everything sort itself out.

You’ll feel much better.

Michael

Read for Change

[W]e are changed by what we read. Close that book, and you are not the same person anymore. Because of what you just read, your worldview–your understanding, your compassion for others, your ability to engage intelligently with others–has expanded a little. Books help us grow…. – Pat Williams

Reading is a great way to instigate change within you. As you read, new ideas are presented which can give you new perspectives on old topics.

The simple act of reading can ignite the imagination and take you to places you’ve never been before. I’m talking about places within you. New ideas, opinions, concepts, beliefs and actions can flood your mind. Some of them may upset old habits of thought or introduce completely new twists.

Whether you accept or reject the new ideas isn’t important. What’s important is that your mind is being exposed to the new items. Neurons in your brain are making new connections expanding your ability to think overall. Creative urges will surface seemingly from nowhere. Some you will act on and others you’ll only think about.

Go read. It doesn’t really matter what you choose but be open to new experiences and trains of thought.

Have a great day!

Michael

Stretch Yourself

Personal growth is important no matter what age you are.  Growth means living. Sometimes we need a push in the right direction or in any direction.

If we continually try to stretch ourselves, we can be assured of constantly learning, continually growing. Stretching can take many forms. Maybe we simply do something we’ve never done before. Maybe we take something we know to a level that is more involved or complex. Maybe we work side by side with someone who is better at a task than we are. Maybe we travel to a place we’ve never visited or tried a new food. Maybe we go back to school or get another degree. Maybe we pick something that we are fearful of or afraid of doing and then go do it anyway.

Maybe we take action when no action is required. Maybe we rest when no rest is needed.

Whatever we can do to take us to another place or take another step is helpful. Sometimes is just doing something slightly different. Physical exercise is most helpful when you switch up the routines. Your body benefits so much more.

Your mind and your emotions can be helped in a similar way. Mix things up. Don’t always stick to the same routine.

Do this and watch yourself grow beyond your expectations.

Michael

Have You Seen Them All

When you have seen one ant, one bird, one tree, you have not seen them all. – Edward O. Wilson

We tend to become immune to things we see every day or on a regular basis; a beautiful sunset, puffy clouds, a majestic tree, a flock of birds or a richly colored flower. Each one, though, is unique in the world. No sunset is ever the same nor have they ever been the same throughout the billions of years the earth has existed. I find that deeply fascinating. When I see a sunset, I know that it has never been seen before and never will again. That’s simply amazing.

For example, walking through the forest brings a host of opportunities to see the richness and diversity of our planet. Every leave is different even on the same tree. Each plant specimen in the same species is one of a kind. Each animal shows a unique set of individual behaviors within the behaviors exhibited by that group.

A lot of times we are rushing through life and don’t really notice what is going on around us. But, if we stop and observe, we can see some amazing and unique things, literally right in our backyard. I think it’s important to stop “and smell the roses”, if you get my meaning. We benefit greatly from feeling a connection with the world around us. For me, it brings a feeling of relaxation and contentment.

Try to add some time in your day to quietly observe your surroundings. Observe. Appreciate. Enjoy.

Michael