#148 Read a book about History

The older you get, the more you realize that humans don’t change that dramatically from generation to generation – at least not from those things that make us human – behavior and intention.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#148

Read a book about History

Was History a class that you zoned out on in High School or College? Did you resist listening to the story about Christopher Columbus or Napoleon for the umpteenth time after awhile? Have you ever found yourself wishing you knew more about certain time periods now that you are an adult and perhaps more traveled?

Fiction or Non?

Learning about history can be accomplished in a variety of ways but reading a book that is either biographical in nature, a factual presentation of historical data, or a historical novel can offer a great perspective and tons of information you never knew you’d actually find interesting.

Outside of reading about Mary Todd Lincoln and fantasizing about being able to wear hoop skirts, my interest in historical information was minimal until I became an adult. Interestingly, it was my love of historical fiction and generational novels that enticed a wider interest in other time periods and I’m not sure I gave it much significance until Downton Abbey rekindled my interest in the fashions of the late 1800’s – shortly after hoops were removed from the skirts of ladies dresses.

Emotional Investment

Since then, and perhaps in tandem with a couple of visits to Europe in recent years, my interest in history has bloomed. I’ve enjoyed the fiction of Ken Follett and Edward Rutherford – both authors who create magical fictional characters against the backdrop of actual events. I am able to imagine the depth and breadth of those moments far better than a college history lecture when I am emotionally invested in the characters who are being invaded by the Nords, grieving a war loss, or losing their fortune in a market crash.

Biographies

Biographies are another way to establish an emotional connection to a character; one who is historical in their own right. These books are stories as well as factual (in most cases) accounts that are shared in the context of the person’s life – mostly historical. The need for environmental context is almost always present and so we are introduced to this person in relation to their historical surroundings, often giving us a front seat view of an event we read out in the paper or in a textbook at some point.

Politics

Maybe even more recently, I am intrigued by political history and as they say, “history repeats itself” (I know this to be true with firsthand experience in fashion and furniture design) so I search archived accounts of leaders who demonstrated attributes similar to our current president. I think I am looking for hope.

Perspective

History gives us perspective. The older you get, the more you realize that humans don’t change that dramatically from generation to generation – at least not from those things that make us human – behavior and intention. We may do different things but our motivation is often similar – allowing us to experience compassion and empathy when we look backwards. It can also promote deep gratitude; for the people who came before us – their struggle, efforts, and intent.

We can always be learning and growing. One of the ways to do that is to…

Read a book about history.

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

#257 Activate for a day

What do you care about? What cause or group of people stimulate your values or moral beliefs? What are you outraged about? What breaks your heart?

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#257

Activate for a day

How do you find purpose in life? One sure fire way is to become involved in a cause. Working to save the planet, animals, clean water, personal freedoms, borders, etc., will surely boost your sense of purpose. Thousands of animals are saved and replaced each year because of the love and support of people working to save them. Millions of gallons of clean water are provided to people in need because someone is dedicated to that initiative. Millions upon millions of people have marched over the years in support of a cause that they felt loyal toward.

It’s possible that activism is more prevalent today than at any other time since the Vietnam War. In part because of our current political climate but also because the need for sustainable support is significant around the globe.

What does it mean to be an activist? By definition, it is a “person who campaigns to bring about political or social change” and it can be accomplished in a myriad of ways.

  • Make a poster and walk with it; stand on a busy street corner with it; post it in your window or yard.
  • Spend a day calling the ‘powers that be’ – the president of a company, or your elected officials.
  • Engage in a letter writing campaign.
  • Find out what type of supplies your ‘cause’ uses and shop for /donate them in person.
  • Take to social media for a day and post articles and/or memes that demonstrate the needs or points of view of your ‘cause’.
  • Start a petition.
  • Start a blog about your ‘cause’.
  • Join a group invested in your ‘cause’.

These are but a few methods of involving yourself in an activity that serves something you care about and they are starting points. An argument I hear a lot is ‘one person can’t make a difference’ but truly… it only takes ONE person’s idea or love of something to get a ball rolling. In fact, most radical change is accomplished when a MINORITY of people get on the same bandwagon and make noise. What do you care about? What cause or group of people stimulate your values or moral beliefs? What are you outraged about? What breaks your heart?

Think what might change if every single one of us got up and became committed to ACT on a ‘cause’ close to our hearts. If you are not currently contributing any time or talent on behalf of someone other than yourself, I encourage you to…

Activate for a day.

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

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Quick Stress Relief – There’s an APP for That!

When we don’t get a break between perceived stressors, we need to FORCE our bodies to chill out.

I am taking a brief departure today to address stress. In the last two weeks, I’ve had a surge of clients making last minute appointments to cope with feelings of elevated anxiety and stress over the current political climate. I’ve shared this information so much in private sessions that I feel it may be beneficial to help alleviate accruing tension for any of us.

The Process

Any time your brain perceives a threat it stimulates the flight or fight response (FOFR) – there doesn’t have to be a REAL threat – just a perception of one. The FOFR is a series of chemical reactions in the brain that activates the sympathetic nervous system by pumping adrenaline into the bloodstream creating a faster heartbeat, higher blood pressure, faster respiration, etc…  That’s the first thing and it happens in microseconds – before your eyes or ears fully process what is happening. To keep you in a state of readiness, more chemical reactions take place until the adrenal gland starts to produce cortisol.  It is cortisol that sustains your readiness.

The Problem

Our bodies are not designed to sustain high levels of cortisol. In fact, a continuously elevated level of the stress hormone can suppress the immune system, increase blood pressure, impact sleep, cause weight gain, impact your libido, and much more.

Typically, after the threat passes, our parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) naturally takes over, returning our heart rate and breath to normal.

When we don’t get a break between perceived stressors, we need to FORCE our bodies to chill out. The chemistry works like this:  By extending your exhale longer than your inhale – the vagus nerve is activated and signals your brain to activate the PSNS, calming you down.

I know some people can’t pull themselves away from news or are surrounded by people who have differing opinions and so they stay stressed. Aside from the obvious… get away from news and people who suck your strength…. There is another solution to offer immediate relief…

Breathe

I recommend the app RELAX LITE to everyone I see who has difficulty with stress.

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I love it because it has calming music and a great visual to follow. Let’s face it, when we are stressed, it can be hard to find focus without a little help. Relax Lite has offers both breathing and meditation. Start with the BREATHING.

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Choose Beginner – and then set the length of time you want to focus on your breath. Even 5 minutes at a time is helpful. Start there.  LEVEL THREE is designed specifically to induce the PSNS by extending the exhale longer than the inhale.

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Sit quietly for a minimum of five minutes even if you must lock yourself in the bathroom stall at the office or on the pot at home. No excuses!

Not sleeping?

High levels of cortisol prevent melatonin production so you may find that you have a hard time getting to or staying asleep. Here are a couple of quick tips:

No news or bright lights at least two hours before bedtime.

Use a meditation CD or app as you lay down – guided meditations that use progressive relaxation are great!

Make sure you have actively made an effort to engage your PSNS.

Use synthetic melatonin – but sparingly.

Focus

Don’t forget to focus on what you DO have control over. Taking control of your body is first and foremost but there are other things as well. When you become proactive on any front, your stress is mitigated!

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