Golden Wisdom: Life is More than a Series of Problems

Copyright 2014 Artisans Workshop Designs
Copyright 2014 Artisans Workshop Designs

 

I’m fortunate to still have both of my parents and to live close enough so I can drive to visit them for the day.

This past weekend I spent the day with them. Of course we caught up on what each of us has been up to, but my parents were particularly interested in how I was coming along with a few challenges I’m currently working through. After telling them of the progress, including my concerns about the parts that are being stubborn and sticky, my parents said something that was profound.

My parents reminded me that although working through the difficulties requires much of my concentration and time, not all parts of my life are challenging. They encouraged me to give some attention to the things I enjoy doing, projects that are going well, and the exciting and interesting things I have planned for later on in the month and year.

What a concept!

If you’re like me, sometimes I get so focused on the obstacles I’m dealing with that I can’t see any other part of my life. And if the problem is particularly stubborn, I start thinking that all of my life is a problem!

But this isn’t true!

While I have my share of struggles, my parents are right and things are going well in some areas of my life. Here’s a sampling:  close and rewarding relationships with family and friends (so glad my parents are still alive and that I live reasonably close to them!); several times each week I enjoy taking photos and sharing them with my family and friends; I’ve devised a program of self-study that’s helping me increase my knowledge and improve my skills.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Matthias_stom_young_man_reading_by_candlelight.jpg
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Matthias_stom_young_man_reading_by_candlelight.jpg

How about you—what are the good things going on in your life? In fact, your homework today is to make a list for yourself of the projects that are going well, the activities you enjoy doing each week, and the areas of your life where the future looks bright.

Keep this list handy and refer to it often, especially when you go through a phase of feeling frustrated, discouraged, or overwhelmed by the obstacles in your life. It’ll help you put things into perspective and remind you that you do have at least a few things that are going well for you.

You can do it! I believe in you!

I’m proud of you!

Your Friend and Pep Pal,

Lauren

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Tips from TV: Take Care of Yourself

Copyright 2014 Artisans Workshop Designs
Copyright 2014 Artisans Workshop Designs

 

Once again I was watching Les Stroud in the TV series Survivorman as he navigated another survival situation. In this particular episode, he was in the Canadian Boreal Forest in very late autumn.

Because it was so late in the year, he was having trouble finding enough food to eat. He had trouble sleeping as well due to the cold temperatures at night—in the 20’s. On the third morning, he remarked that he was feeling the effects of little food and little sleep. He was making stupid mistakes such as starting a fire using a bow and hand drill and getting an ember that he coaxed into a flame, only to realize he’d forgotten to collect sticks, twigs, and small logs first. These were essential to turning the flame into a fire that could last the night. As a result, he had to start over after first gathering the wood.

As he was speaking to the camera, I noticed he was spacey—his gaze would be unfocused and wandering. Also, he would lose his train of thought in the middle of simple sentences.

Eventually, he was able to find some freshwater snails and a few edible plants, so he was okay. However, seeing him suffer the temporary physical effects of lack of food and little sleep made me think about the times I skimped on taking care of myself because I was too busy or a project deadline was looming.

Seeing Les struggle made it starkly obvious that we do undergo a decrease in effectiveness and a deterioration of clear-headed thought when we don’t take care of our physical needs.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pear_and_peach.jpg
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pear_and_peach.jpg

Your homework is to make sure you are taking care of your daily physical needs: proper nutrition, drinking plenty of water, and getting the sleep your body requires. When your physical needs are met then you have plenty of energy to fuel sustained concentration and lasting efforts that are needed to reach your goals and achieve your dreams.

Also, remember to take the next step! Break it into small bits that you can easily fit into your schedule and are relatively effortless to complete.

You can do it!

I’m proud of you!

Your Friend and Pep Pal,

Lauren

Swim Parallel to Shore

Copyright 2014 Artisans Workshop Designs
Copyright 2014 Artisans Workshop Designs

 

“Swimming parallel to shore”–that’s still stuck in my mind from Vanessa’s post (my friend who writes a financial blog. Click here to be taken to her post on “Recouping from a Job Loss”.

The phrase has me think about ways to re-vision things you’re dealing with.  For instance in the case of job loss, as Vanessa wrote about in her blog.  Instead of doing an about-face with your career, such as leaving it for a totally new one, think about ways you can swim alongside of it.

We’ll use the example of an engineer who loves building bridges.  The engineer had a fine job doing work she/he loved. Then the engineer was laid off and had trouble finding a new position. Instead of leaving the field entirely and switching to a totally different industry and career, what if the engineer looked for ways to swim alongside, parallel, to the work he/she had loved doing?

Instead of working for a firm that engineered the whole project, perhaps there’s opportunities with boutique firms that specialize in just the design portion of the project, or there might be one whose specialty is troubleshooting when projects go south.

Another way the person could swim parallel to engineering bridges is to ask what other industries can use bridge builders? Adding water features to residential properties is a very popular thing to do right now. Perhaps the engineer can team up with people in the construction industry to design water features for their projects. In so doing, the engineer might then come up with a Do-It-Yourself kit to market directly to homeowners.

You can come up with some very interesting opportunities by “swimming parallel” to your challenges!

 

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1966_Griffin_Award.jpg
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1966_Griffin_Award.jpg

Your homework is to mark off quiet time for yourself today—make it at least 20 minutes without interruptions. Sit quietly with a pencil and paper, or other means of capturing thoughts and ideas. Hold in your mind your most pressing challenge. Think of ways you can swim parallel to it.

It’s very important that you don’t censor any thoughts or ideas you come up with during this session!!! 

You’ll have a chance in a little bit to go over the ideas to make them workable, but right now you just want to generate options for yourself, no matter how outlandish.

Once your session is finished, let this sit for a little while. Remind yourself to come back to the list at the end of the day or the next day.

As you go over the list, which of the ideas excite you, get your juices flowing? Those are the ones to work on. Sure, they may seem big and scary or they may seem totally “out there”. Hint: sometimes the most outlandish and audacious ideas turn out to be the most valuable and most helpful! 

Take these ideas that have the kick of energy to them and turn them into steps. Break these steps into small enough pieces that you know are easy to do.

Then do them!!

You can do it, I am absolutely sure you can!

I’m proud of you!

Your Friend and Pep Pal,

Lauren

Don’t Panic! Riptides are Narrow and So are Troubles

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:P%C3%A1jara_-_Puerto_de_la_Cruz_02_ies.jpg
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:P%C3%A1jara_-_Puerto_de_la_Cruz_02_ies.jpg

 

I follow Decoding Your Dollars, a blog that Vanessa, my financial whizz friend, writes.  Today she posted about “Recouping After a Job Loss” (click here to be taken to the post).

She mentioned her family trip to the seashore this year.  On all the beaches, signs were posted alerting swimmers to riptides.  The signs explained what to do and first on the list was “Don’t Panic!” The sign said that riptides were narrow and a swimmer who remained calm could quickly get out of one.

The thought that riptides are narrow got me thinking…I realized it’s the same when trouble starts messing with our well-laid plans.

If a swimmer panics when caught in a riptide, they stop thinking clearly. They thrash around making things worse, the riptide’s strength seems unbreakable and pulls them farther and farther out to sea. Soon, the panicked swimmer is down for the count.

The same is true with troubles. If we panic, levelheadedness goes out the window. We rush over here thinking this idea will solve the problem, then we rush over there because that idea seems better. Then we rush somewhere else, grabbing and hoping that this will be the idea that saves us. We end up not only making things worse, but also prolonging the trouble.

Just like the swimmer who stays calm and quickly swims their way out of the riptide, if we maintain our cool, we, too, can get ourselves out of the jam we’re in. Keeping our head clear helps us remember that troubles don’t last forever. Like riptides, troubles can be narrow—as long as we keep a cool head.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:28hobby1.jpg
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:28hobby1.jpg

Your homework today is to remind yourself that difficulties don’t last forever—they’re narrow. Just like a swimmer in a riptide using a sure even stroke, you can work your way out of challenges. Take it one step—one stroke—at a time.

You can do it!

I’m proud of you!

Your Friend and Pep Pal,

Lauren

The Last Weekend

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Home_Stretch_jog.jpg
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Home_Stretch_jog.jpg

 

The third quarter of 2014 is winding down; in a few days we enter the final quarter of the year. Now is the time to prepare so that the final quarter can be your best one yet.

During car races, this is when the drivers put the petal to the metal so they can hit the straightaway at full speed. It’s when runners and swimmers and other athletes dig deep and tap into their energy reserves to give themselves that last big boost so they can cross the finish line in style.

How can you apply this to your life and what you’re trying to accomplish this year? How will you do things differently in this upcoming quarter so that you can finish the year on a high note? Will you re-order your list of priorities? Will you narrow your focus to only a few of the items on your 2014 To Do list?

What actions can you do today to set yourself up for victory at the end of the upcoming quarter?

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:US_Army_52377_Akbar_sets_women%27s_Ten-Miler_record.jpg
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:US_Army_52377_Akbar_sets_women%27s_Ten-Miler_record.jpg

Your homework today is to think about how you’d like to finish up the year. What do you need to do in the upcoming quarter in order to achieve the finish you want? Break those items into steps. Break those into smaller and smaller increments until you get to pieces that you know are easy to do—then do them!  😀

Also, take a look at the progress you’ve already made this year. Challenge yourself to expand this progress, even just a little bit. What can you do this upcoming week to prepare yourself for this challenge so you can “hit the ground running” on October 1st?

As always, let’s celebrate your forward movement and your victories this week!  The smallness of the progress and the humbleness of the victories don’t matter. All that matters is that you did it! You moved forward!

You’re a champion!

I knew you could do it!

I’m so proud of you!

Your Friend and Pep Pal,

Lauren

Getting Up and At ‘Em in the Mornings

http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=51718&picture=newborn-sleeping
http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=51718&picture=newborn-sleeping

 

Now that it’s autumn and the sun is rising later, do you find it’s hard to get up in the mornings?

I do!

Sometimes, it’s incredibly hard to get up on time in the morning. Especially if the house has gotten chilly overnight…and it’s so comfy snuggled under the bedcovers…!

My friend and I were talking about how we both need extra motivation right now in this area. We’ve been doing a few things that have helped, but it’s still a struggle. The things we’ve been doing are:

~Calling each other to make sure we’re up—that we haven’t hit the snooze alarm.

~Talking about our day in positive terms, even though we’re both facing difficult work situations. We focus on the parts of each of our jobs that are enjoyable, concentrate on the progress we’re making and how every little step—no matter how small—takes us that much closer to our dream lives.

~Saying Pep Phrases and Power Words to each other, choosing one statement and one word to be the go-to ones for the day.

Getting up is still an ordeal, though. And it’s sometimes compounded because we talk too long on the phone and then we’re behind schedule and then we’re rushing and then we’re right smack dab in the middle of traffic…. Oy!

We realized we have to come up with something in addition. We did a little brainstorming and here’s what we came up with:

~Choosing a reward for getting up on time—something that each of us can receive immediately upon getting out of bed. For instance, I enjoy photography. A reward could be that by getting up on time, I can spend a half hour photographing the day as it dawns. My friend enjoys knitting and also reading. A reward for her could be that she knits first thing in the morning or reads for a half hour, and then gets ready for the office.

Perhaps you enjoy cooking. Your reward could be preparing a delicious home-cooked breakfast with all the trimmings: pancakes with bacon or sausage and sprinkling fresh berries and pouring real maple syrup over it all. Or maybe you’re the bacon, eggs, and toast type who also makes killer home fries. Perhaps you make this only on the weekends but what if you treated yourself to a scrumptious breakfast as a reward for getting out of bed on time?

By giving yourself the reward right off the bat, you increases the likelihood that you’ll get up and at ‘em on time!

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hot_Air_Balloon_2012_-_2_-_Reach_for_the_Stars.jpg
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hot_Air_Balloon_2012_-_2_-_Reach_for_the_Stars.jpg

Your homework today is to come up with your own motivational reward for getting out of bed immediately in the morning—no pressing the snooze button! Just getting up and at ‘em—even before the first alarm stops ringing!

You can do it, I know you can!

I’m so proud of you!

Your Friend and Pep Pal,

Lauren

Happiness: Lower Your Standards!

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Creative_independence.jpg
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Creative_independence.jpg

 

The other day I met a friend of mine for coffee.  He’s an older gentleman who works in construction. He’s had to adjust his techniques as he’s gotten older because his body is “feeling it” from years of going up and down ladders, carrying heavy loads, and the like. And, by necessity rather than choice, my friend lives a modest lifestyle.

But yet he is happy—always cheerful.

That day when I asked him about his work, he told me he was on a job that was close to home and the weather was beautiful so working outdoors was a treat. With a matter-of-fact shrug, he added that it doesn’t take much to make him happy.

That statement struck me in a way that it never had before. Usually when I heard it—or said it myself—it’s said in a somewhat mocking and self-depreciating tone, suggesting that the person saying it has very low expectations. And there is the subtext that the person ought to be pitied for having such low standards.

But when my friend told me that it doesn’t take much to make him happy, I realized that he’s right! Our expectations for happiness should be very low!!

Life is too short to put requirements on what makes us happy: I’ll be happy when I make a million dollars; I’ll be happy when I’m married to the perfect spouse; I’ll be happy when I’m the head of the company or when my business takes off; I’ll be happy when I’m older or when I’m thinner…etc..

My friend is right. We should be able to find joy, beauty, inspiration, and grace everywhere we look. Our standards and expectations should be so low that we bump up against things that make us happy everywhere we go and every single time we turn around.

http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=26005&picture=baby-with-play-balls
http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=26005&picture=baby-with-play-balls

Your homework today is to lower your standards of what makes you happy. No matter where you find yourself, look for beauty, be open to unexpected moments of inspiration, keep your senses tuned to joy. Challenge yourself to look beyond what the world thinks ought to make people happy. Listen to your heart and soul and focus on what brings you pleasure and delight—the little things, especially.

You can do it! Go you!

I’m so proud of you! You rock!

Your Friend and Pep Pal,

Lauren