#272 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

In our fast paced world, too many of us are ‘doing’ instead of ‘teaching’ the things we know. Yes, it’s easier…

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#272

Share knowledge with a child

There’s a special kind of feeling when we teach someone and they ‘get it’. No matter who you are, you have knowledge about something that you can impart to a child. Extra points for that knowledge that isn’t offered in a ‘book’; real life experience.

When I think of this suggestions, I think about a Grandpa standing with a fishing pole, teaching his grandson how to load the hook. I think about the scout leader who teaches a youngster how to build a campfire. I think about a neighbor who points out different bugs in the warm summer dirt to a curious next door friend wanting to dig there.

As any teacher can tell us, many children are simply sponges for information and learn best by getting their hands wrapped around the essence of an experience. When we share ourselves and the things we know how to do, no matter what they are, learning ensues.

In our fast paced world, too many of us are ‘doing’ instead of ‘teaching’ the things we know. Yes, it’s easier. If I bake the cookies myself I know that the ingredients have been measured correctly, the kitchen is cleaned up as I go along, and I’ve turned my head to sneeze. And yet, the technique or recipe that my mom shared with me cannot possibly be handed down unless I am patient enough to make messes and tolerate a few potential germs.

Each one of us has something we can share even if it is how to think positively or embrace the joy of life. Perhaps those are the dogmas more important than anything one may be able to learn via a book or the internet. Be an example of something and watch understanding wash over an innocent face as you…

Share knowledge with a child.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

Photo by Alexandr Podvalny on Unsplash

#280 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

Think of a hobby that you’ve always wanted to learn… what stopped you? Perhaps mountain climbing isn’t an option for you at this stage of the game but indoor climbing might be! What about card tricks or magic tricks?

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#280

Learn a new hobby

Yesterday I wrote about how learning to play an instrument – making music – can lead to more happiness because our brain is stimulated in a different manner and music, in general – makes us happier. Perhaps you already play well or learning an instrument feels overwhelming… pick up a different hobby.

I taught myself how to crochet a few years ago while recovering from surgery. It’s become a favorite pastime in winter months and now most everyone I know has an afghan, nothing fancy but they were all made with love. Once again, I learned by watching YouTube videos (really, there’s just so much to learn out there!).

Think of a hobby that you’ve always wanted to learn… what stopped you? Perhaps mountain climbing isn’t an option for you at this stage of the game but indoor climbing might be! What about card tricks or magic tricks? The Philadelphia Eagles player Jon Dorenbos taught himself magic as a hobby (and ultimately became a professional) and came in 3rd on America’s Got Talent last summer. It was a hobby – football was his career – and he became passionate about getting better.

But you don’t have to be great at your hobby. My step-daughter makes magnificent crocheted items that are sometimes artistic masterpieces. Crocheting is a hobby that she enjoyed into mastery. My crocheting hobby is not an artistic endeavor… it’s something to do in the evenings as I listen to music, chat, or watch television.

It may be photography, gardening, or painting… it doesn’t matter really. Try to put perfectionism aside and try your hand at something new; something that interests you, perhaps something that has been a secret desire. You may develop an interest in something that becomes a great little pastime (self-care) or turn it into a professional o r profitable endeavor. It’s as simple as …

Learning a new hobby.

I love love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#344 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

Perhaps it is this education – this kind of learning – that proves to be the ultimate training. While acquiring ‘data’ or ‘information’ allows us to answer trivia questions and fix things around the house, I contest that it is far less meaningful than what we achieve if we ‘learn’ about ourselves and the world around us.

I”m sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#344

Educate yourself

The expectation of education is motivated from a very early age. In several cultures the idea of education includes post secondary instruction without question and many of us are groomed to attend trade school, Community colleges, or Universities before we are fully able to comprehend the extent of that commitment.

Our pursuit of knowledge is primarily vocation driven; we learn what we need to know in order to produce the income that sustains our lifestyle. Some of us expand our competencies in the pursuit of secondary incomes or hobbies. We amplify that expertise over time so that our proficiency is deeply rooted but perhaps not especially broad.

And yet in reality, the entire world is a classroom. Indeed, our very lives are a continuous curriculum of material offering educational content. Each failure, each joy, undeniably – each day – brings us information that we can attribute as educational and learn from if we choose.

Perhaps it is this education – this kind of learning – that proves to be the ultimate training. While acquiring ‘data’ or ‘information’ allows us to answer trivia questions and fix things around the house, I contest that it is far less meaningful than what we achieve if we ‘learn’ about ourselves and the world around us.

Yes, academic education has value and its continuous pursuit is desirable; do as much as you can regardless of your age or position. The public can utilize most college libraries for little to no cost; offering motivated learners unlimited opportunities and the internet can perhaps match that offering.

Self knowledge is just as accessible with introspection, mindfulness, and reflection.  Read books on emotional development, emotional intelligence, communication, relationships, and spirituality. Be curious – about everything and stay open to new ideas. Take advantage of wisdom where you can find it; older relatives, friends, counselors, & clergy. Don’t let teachable moments slip away unnoticed or unappreciated. Use them to…

Educate yourself

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#359 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

My goal, for those of you who are curious, is to share a daily life lesson, tip, or hack. They are the things I want my children to know and the things that I teach to clients. They are the things that make my life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#359

Sticky Notes

Use them everywhere! Students know this of course, and perhaps it was during my time as a graduate pupil that I discovered the absolute value of having a little piece of paper that would stay wherever I wanted it to be. Of course it was great for books – I used them as bookmarks for important points, to keep track of research, and to denote piles of reference materials.

A short note on the door to remember my keys, phone, purse, lunch, yada, yada… the usual.

And then I discovered that I could use them to remind me of ALL The things I wanted to remember or more importantly… learn.

When I wanted to be more kind to myself the sticky notes would be little notes of inspiration; “you’ve got this”, “do your best today”, and “don’t worry about it”.

If I was trying to turn my inner voice into more positive and encouraging self-talk, the notes would say “Just do it!”, “Your best is good enough”, and “Keep going”.

If I was working on a new mantra it would be posted over and over…. “trust”, “be still”, or “let go”.

There wasn’t just one sticky note. No… it was wallpaper. It was a whole pad of sticky notes displayed one after another in the places that I was most likely to see them several times throughout the day.

Over the kitchen sink.

On the wall in front of the toilet.

Near and ON my computer monitor.

The drawers in my closet.

The lampshade next to my bed.

Duplicates and bold colors to grab my attention.

Learning something new – retraining the mind takes repetition and time. I used sticky notes like hands free index cards and just glanced at them over and over until my brain automatically saw it without looking and I knew it was solidly in there.

It’s a technique I talk about often and I know many clients use it successfully… it’s pretty basic but it works.

Sticky notes.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

 

Photo by Gabotoc on Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Does ‘Everything Happen For A Reason’??

Some people believe there is no reason at all – that shit happens – plain and simple…

I heard someone this week say that they had a love/hate relationship with the thought that ‘everything happens for a reason’. How does one consider that the death of a newborn baby or the young father of four children or the massacre of a village has a ‘reason’? How hard is it to try and believe that the most devastating thing we’ve ever experienced may have some kind of ‘purpose’ attached to it?

It’s completely nonsensical and yet our humanness insists on trying to answer the question… “Why?”

We just can’t help but wonder…

When I was fifteen years old, I accompanied a friend to Youth For Christ student conference. For me, it was about going to the beach because it was in Ocean City, Maryland and I had only seen the ocean one other time so I was really excited. On that first day as I woke with thoughts about donning my bikini and lathering myself with baby oil, we were instead herded into this big auditorium with hundreds of other teenagers to listen to people talk for a couple of hours. Someone promised me that I would eventually get to the beach.

The first speaker began by telling us a story that I have never forgotten. He talked about how he was late for a speech one day and he was flying down the interstate, driving way too fast, being way too aggressive and focused only on getting to where he needed to go so that he wouldn’t be late.

He talked about how annoyed he was that a little red car was driving in the left lane, the lane that was supposed to be for passing people only. He described how he got right up on the bumper of that little red car and flashed his lights so that the car would pull over and let him by. But the car just kept going, preventing this guy from going any faster.

And then he said, he got a flat tire. He recounted hearing the pop, noticing the wobble in the steering wheel and feeling the car pull. He had no choice but to pull over to the side of the road and he said that he cursed the entire way; so frustrated that he was going to be even more late than he already was.

This guy was angry. He explained that the entire time he was changing the tire he thought dark, ugly thoughts and then he got back on the road and went even faster.

After a few miles he hit a traffic jam and could see a lot of emergency lights up ahead. Again, he described extreme frustration because everything that could be going wrong this particular morning, was going wrong and it was making him later and later.

As he came upon the problem there was a car upside down in the middle of the roadway with bloodstains across the windshield. Alongside that car was the little red one that he had been tailgating just a while earlier and it looked like an accordion, having been smashed from both the front and the back.

In that split moment, he said realized that if it hadn’t been for the flat tire, the upside-down car may very well, have been his car. He could have been the one IN this accident. He could be on his way to the hospital or worse, he could be dead.

If it weren’t for that flat tire.

This man, and I am sorry that I don’t know his name, spoke about how he got off the interstate, cancelled his speaking engagement, and went to church. He went to church to say thank you for the flat tire. He went to church to express gratitude and from that day forward, every time something bad happened, he would go to church and say thanks. No questions asked.

I’ve never forgotten that story and in fact… it has directed much of my life; so much of the perspective that I’ve attempted to solidify when something unexpected and indeed, tragic has happened. It’s amazing how many different ‘reasons’ I’ve considered for some of the things I’ve experienced.

Is it true? Does everything happen for a reason? When it’s a minor thing like a flat tire or a cancelled flight, thinking that there may be a Universal rational is easy to consider. But when it is a true tragedy, a horrific accident or unnecessary death, the theory seems to implode; to be nonsensical and we can’t seem to rectify the logic.

We don’t know. We’ll never truly know – not until we die.

There are books written from people who have died, temporarily at least – and they tell us that there was light… God… Angels… and Sprit Masters… that’s a great thought.

I’m a bit of a skeptic at heart though and I consider that perhaps they just wanted to sell books, to make money and have a moment of fame but maybe not… maybe it’s real. And don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying that I don’t believe in God… I am simply vacillating over the idea a ‘divine plan’.

I generally end up at the point where I believe that it is as possible as anything else. Some people believe there is no reason at all – that shit happens – plain and simple and I guess that is possible too.

However, that doesn’t help me. That doesn’t make my day to day life better here and now and so I prefer to believe that there is some kind of reason – some value. I find it comforting to think that my soul is on a journey and that it chose to come here and learn the lessons presented to me in this lifetime. If I look for the value in my experiences and consider possibilities, I feel empowered and willing to push on; to keep learning.

I don’t know why shit happens and frankly, I am human so when it hurts – I hurt. When it sucks, I am challenged. When it is heavy and hard, I struggle. But… I am always seeking the lesson. I am always attempting to find something of value in the midst of the misery because I *hope* that my soul is in the midst of learning something important. Perhaps something that will guide me in whatever happens in my next life or… next in my life.

And so when I hear someone say (or when I use the words) that “everything happens for a reason” – I am really believing and/or saying that ‘it’s OK, my soul is learning’.

And I can accept that.

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The Struggle

Not one of us if free from the distortion that occurs after birth. We only experience varying degrees and intensities.

“The capacity to learn is a gift; The ability to learn is a skill; The
willingness to learn is a choice.”  ― Brian Herbert

We are born into this world in perfect form. We are innately able to express ourselves, we smile, eat, sleep, burp, and fart at will. And then we learn not to.

For the first two years of our lives we are taught to walk and talk and then someone – perhaps many – tell us to sit down and shut up; and we struggle to make sense of it.

We are told to eat everything on our plate and then not to be fat; and we struggle to make sense of it.

We are told that our parents love us and then they leave or don’t pay attention; and we struggle to make sense of it.

We are told that love is wonderful and then it hurts like hell; and we struggle to make sense of it.

We are told that sex / sexual touching might be bad but it feels physically good; and we struggle to make sense of it.

We are told we can by one segment of society and that we can’t by another; and we struggle to make sense out of it.

We are told that Santa is real and then find out that he is not; and we struggle to make sense of it.

We are told that white lies are acceptable but dishonesty is not; and we struggle to make sense of it.

We are told there are laws and then we break them without consequence; and we struggle to make sense of it.

We are told that marriage is forever and then we divorce in anger; and we struggle to make sense of it.

And along the way we just do the best that we can.

Most of us.

We are born pure of heart, perhaps believing in unending possibilities and then we are told, we learn… something else.

It’s not anyone’s fault specifically as each of us has faced the same fate. We are all born into a mold of prior teachings that bends and shapes the beginning of our personal story until we have sculpted a cast of our own with the addition of social and cultural contradictions.

Essentially, we are all … each and every one of us … bent out of shape from our original, perfect form. Designed individually by the things we struggled to make sense of; the things that we observed and interpreted.

This is the foundation, the cornerstone of personal growth.

Learning how you came to think and understand the things that you do.

Why was it that you disagreed with your parents but your sibling acquiesced? Why did you learn to feed your feelings while your mother was a beauty queen? How did you learn to motivate yourself even though your father never held a full-time job?

We are products of our family life, social environment, town culture, and national philosophies. We come to believe that what makes one of us ‘right’ makes another of us ‘wrong’ when in fact it only makes us DIFFERENT.

Not one of us if free from the distortion that occurs after birth. We only experience varying degrees and intensities. We only differ in the shape, color, and size of those variants.

Not one of us is exempt.

The secret here is an absence of judgment. An understanding that we are all the same in that we are bent – broken – and twisted by our backgrounds, our heritage, and our experiences. We cannot possibly acknowledge that our extent of understanding is “the” best, “the” right, “the” optimal interpretation of life.

Once we allow for our differences and truly honor the fact that what makes me different from you is the way we were bent… we can begin the process of compassion and acceptance. We suddenly see one another as perfect human babies that are composed of the same material but shaped by different forms.

Like spoons.

The same molten metal is forged into any variety of individual and unique pieces. Each one of them intended for a slightly different use generating almost endless possibilities. And yet they all seem to serve a distinctive purpose and are enjoyed by a variety of populations.

We seem to accept that there are so many types of spoons without question; without judgement.

What would your life be like if you stopped to consider that the person you are angry with is bent? What about the person with whom you are disappointed? Have you considered that they may be formed into a shape that may be painful to exist within?

Have you thought about your own bends? Are they working in your life? Do you need to hammer out a few kinks? Can you accept that the forces at work as you were originally being shaped may have been bent and broken; making it impossible for you to exist without needing a few repairs?

Can you take responsibility now for those corrections?

You are where you are. Your shape is your shape. Anything that happens now must happen because you are aware and deliberate about making change.

Be what you want to be. Take the time to know your shape and learn how to bend in the way that makes life work for you.

 

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A Letter To Myself Series – Age 10

How many times must we fall before we learn to or decide to change direction? What are the right words to persuade us to change course?

“For in every adult there dwells the child that was, and in every child there lies the adult that will be.” ~ John Connolly

What would happen if you found a letter from your older self? Or your younger self? Like in the movie Back to the Future when Marty wrote to Doc that he was going to get shot so Doc wore a flack jacket (bullet proof vest) to the parking lot where the van of guys with machine guns came screeching through…

Would you listen? We don’t seem to take the advice of our older relatives or friends. Seemingly, each of us needs to learn firsthand – even when something is painful. I know it to be a source of frustration as a mom… watching my children head right into something I know has a high probability of turning out poorly. I only know that from years of experience – personally as well as my large collection of observations … they want to try it their own way. Presumably, due to the tweeks they may have made, it will turn out differently for them. (um..hm) Right.

My kids aren’t any different than any other person. I continue to see this fascinating phenomena in my clients too. It’s sometimes even more interesting when we are learning something that we already learned but think may be different THIS time. I do it too…. How often have I cut myself with a freshly sharpened knife? How many times do I have to shrink a favorite sweater before I learn to pay more attention when I am switching laundry?  How many times must we fall before we learn to or decide to change direction? What are the right words to persuade us to change course? Why are we so stubborn? Is there anyone void of this trait?

I’m beginning a series of letters to my younger self… for personal reflection but also for anyone there – in those years who might want to benefit from a little perspective or as inspiration for you to write your own!

A Letter to My 10-year-old Self

Hey there kiddo,

Wow. You have a great life right now – pretty much perfect don’t you think? Your baby brother is great and don’t sweat it… you’ll be friends forever. Your sister needs you. Be nice. Include her more. These two people will know you longer than anyone else and you will have amazing history together.

Those friends you have are the best! You are making memories that you will have for the rest of your life and that playing you are doing…. It’s so important! It’s great that you are outside so much and using your imagination – kids in the future don’t do that as much. So many of the things that you are doing are things that help you later on. You may want to back off on those marathon Monopoly games though… it eventually spoils your tolerance for the game.

Hey… don’t worry about being poor – it won’t matter when you grow up and the things you don’t have now aren’t all that important. You may want to hold on to that transistor radio; technology changes so fast that it becomes an antique relic more quickly than you can imagine. The fact that you are running around and inventing fun is training you for your future. You are going to use those attributes!

You know that song you learned at girl scout camp? The one about the three bears? You will teach it to your own children and it will become an important part of their childhood… Pay attention to as many of those things as you can. You don’t even know how much you are learning right now; how many of these things you will look back on.

Everyone tells you to be a kid… listen to them! You have so. much. life. in front of you – you have time – go ahead… go play and don’t worry about adults or problems. Try not to compare your body to other girls, your weight doesn’t matter…  people will love you and like you just because you are you, I promise.

Your mom and dad are having a hard time and life may get pretty tough for you in a little while but know this: they are doing the best they can. They are still growing up too and need to learn a lot of lessons. Remember that they both love you and want the best for you but may not know how to show it all the time.

Use your diary more. It’s great that you write down a few things but you will want to remember so much more. Those milestones you’ve already recorded… you’ll read them over and over – committing them to memory. That first kiss story – you’ll tell it over and over again – and laugh. Even though you think NJ is the best boy in the world… there are a lot more. 

The one thing that I want you to know more than anything else is that everything is going to be OK.  Learn to trust…

Love you girl!

What would you say to YOUR 10-year-old self?

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