Monthly Archives: March 2010

The Slow Progress Report

The Tortoise and the HareI resolved to slow down on January 31st. We’re well into March and I’m still no master of the art of taking it slow and easy. The tortoise would still run the race and I’m still a bit like that hare: rush, rush, rush, crash. The road to the finish line is paved with good intentions, but we don’t always come in first. That said I can definitely state that it’s not a waste of time to slow down. I think today I’ll try not to gulp my lunch so that I send burning cheese down my shirt front and burn the roof of my mouth. Easier said than done considering my lunch, today, will fall on a ten minute break. Not burning my mouth or incurring another dry cleaning bill to get the oil stains out of my shirt are both positive results – if I can swing them – of slowing down.

In what ways do you believe you could see some results if you slowed your own life down? If you took the time to prepare your own food from good ingredients you might not only see a result in increased health but perhaps increased pleasure and satisfaction? Maybe taking meals with your family instead of eating in front of the computer or TV might increase the value of your loved ones in your life. Don’t let time run away from you. You might have a paper to write, an exam to study for, or just trying to fit all the stuff you want to do between the times you have to punch the time clock, but think how much more energized you’ll approach those tasks if you had some good relaxation or pleasure between?

I got a good night’s sleep, but I didn’t sleep in. I got up early. I drank coffee. I didn’t rush into my tasks. I allowed my brain to catch up with me, and then I wrote this morning. Man, that felt good. It wasn’t a marathon writing session, but it was a productive one. Then I made a nice breakfast that a hobbit would be proud of (it involved mushrooms). It so energized me that… oh look, I’m writing a blog post even and it’s not even 9:30 a.m. I still have time to take a nice hot shower and dress for the job. Of course it helps that I start late today. Tomorrow it’s just going to be: up, coffee, fire up the brain, breakfast, shower, dress, drive – but I’ll take my time and be ready to start on the job with all synapses firing. Taking it slow doesn’t necessarily mean not doing stuff. We all still have to do our things. Life is not something that will wait for you, or rather not too long. But taking your time, getting in your relaxation, and focusing more should lead to greater productivity and creativity rather than less.

Avoid that heart attack. Take your time.

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Taking Responsibility for the Relationships In Your Life

ScoldingThe definition of insanity, or stupidity (I can’t recall which) is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I, at times, suffer from this. I am self-aware enough to realize it so maybe I’m not insane or stupid but simply a perpetual Pollyanna? Recent events in my life and around me have caused me to reflect, again, on how people in your life can effect you, from the most casual of online acquaintances to the most keenly bonded relationships.

I like to think of myself as a pragmatic optimist and so eventually I always have to back away from my optimism in a negative situation and assess. It’s important in life to realize that we cannot change other people; we can only change ourselves. If something keeps happening to you over and over again you can either whine, bemoan everyone else’s stupidity, or you can ask yourself: “why do I attract this to myself?” Once it becomes your responsibility and something you did or created or attracted it suddenly becomes a problem that is solvable rather than a perpetual source of anxiety. In the instance of someone in your life that continually reflects back negativity you have to ask yourself what about you draws that? Are you being negative? Are you too defensive? Perhaps you open yourself up to perpetual criticism because you feel inadequate in yourself?

This swings me to my other character defect: wanting to fix everything. Much as I can take responsibility for the things that happen in my life, and then do something about creating better results and situations, is equally important to understand that some things, like the weather and tides, cannot be changed. If you find, after careful self-examination, that you have taken all the steps you can to ensure the most positive results it’s time to step back. I don’t mean you should resume the blame game however. I can’t foresee every possible problem and ensure that it doesn’t come up and disturb the glass-like surface of the sea on a calm day I would like to create in the world around me. Waves happen. There are Tsunamis. When such events occur in your life it’s time to get out the surfboard and ride it out.

But you don’t have to ride out bad behavior when it comes to people. The people in our lives are there by our choice. People, as much as events, influence us. We can’t always choose our family ties, but we can pick our friends. If you have a friend or acquaintance that always seems to be drawing bad feelings to you through their criticisms or dramas it’s time to assess their true value to you in your life. Some people just do not add value. Don’t allow people around you who continually make you feel bad. Healthy criticism is one thing. Harping discontent is quite another. Family is one area where I often endure more than I would from people not related, but even within the family boundaries must be drawn. Even there you have to state your position and require good behavior, or possibly, in the end, withdraw. Even with your family you do have a choice, even if at times that choice is a painful one to make.

Again it’s not about blaming. It’s about taking responsibility. If there is a person in your life that brings you bad feelings or continually causes disruptions it’s not about blaming them. It’s about asking yourself why you allow them to behave in negative ways towards you? If you have clearly stated your boundaries and they still ignore your needs, then why are they in your life at all? Some people may require interventions, others just a good talking to, and some you might just need to brush off like mosquitoes, but it’s all still about the choices you make in your life. As long as you know you have done what you can to right the balance and take responsibility for your actions, you can feel free to remove those negative influences, maybe once and for all.