Annoy someone today…

July 16, 2014

“A positive attitude will not solve all the problems in the world, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.” – Unknown

I like that little quote because I’ve always found it to be true. I’ve hit a lot of negativity in my life – people who are mad or just disgruntled by some situation and who wish to take that out on someone. Sometimes I was that someone. The situations usually involved things that neither I nor they could really do anything about or change; but they were frustrated and needed to vent. Many times these are people who try to bully their way through life; always getting their way by being threatening, usually quite loudly.

positive attitudeI have found that it is initially annoying to them, but eventually disarming; if I did not rise to the bait of whatever comments they were directing towards me, but rather smiled and tried to react with some positive spin on things. It seems that people who try to bully their way through life need to see or sense some reaction of fear or acquiescence to their threats. It really bugs them when they don’t get that reaction. Usually they give up that tactic fairly quickly when they just keep banging into a wall of benign or positive responses to their attacks.

In other situations where there really isn’t an antagonist involved, perhaps just bad news or a cheering updisappointment in life, keeping a positive attitude in the face of events can impact those around you who see how you react or don’t react. That may initially annoy them too and lead to comments like how can you remain calm at a time like this or how can you not be sad that this happened. Well, I’m not immune to the immediate emotional reactions that we all have to disappointments or bad events; however, I can choose not to wallow in despair or sadness, but to find some good that might have come out of it or at least put it behind me and move on with life.

Allowing life’s tragedies and disappointments lead you down the path of despair stops you in your tracks and may lead to depression. Find a way to say, “OK, that didn’t work out and it doesn’t feel good, but life goes on” or maybe as we often hear from people who’ve lost everything in a natural disaster, “I’ve lost everything, but I’m still alive and that’s all that matters. I’ll rebuild my life.” What you are finding is a way to bring closure to the bad and focus upon the future – and there will always be a future.

Here’s another little quote that seem appropriate this morning. At least it puts a positive spin on things.

“Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body.”  (Seneca)

If you’ve ever met someone who has been through great difficulties you will understand that little quote. They come out much stronger people, not physically, but mentally. They usually also have a making rainbowpositive mental attitude, because they now know that they can get through things. They can be really annoying that way.

So go out today and see how many people you can annoy with your positive mental outlook on life. You’ll feel good and many of them will, too. You may be surprised how many other people have a better day from having interacted with you.

Make your time count…

July 15, 2014

“Don’t count time, make time count” – as seen in the Graffiti comic strip.

Do you often count time, looking every few minutes at your watch, the clock, or your smartphone to see if time has passed so that you can be somewhere else or be doing something else or be with someone else? When you count time like that you are just wasting it. Better to focus on the task the women looking at watchplace or the person at hand and make your time count.

Sometimes in church I’ll see people looking at their watches to see how much more time is left before the service is over. I doubt that they are contemplating or absorbing the message the pastor is trying to deliver. Sometimes I catch myself trying to politely end a conversation with someone that I apparently would rather not be talking with. And, I guess all of us have had moments at work or while doing a household chore that we hope will be over soon, so that we can do something more fun (or at least what we hope will be more fun). We are counting time, and not making time count.

During those times I’m not living in the moment; I’m not exploring the situation for interesting things to learn (in fact I’m not learning at all); I’m not giving that person the attention that they deserve (the attention that I would think I deserved if I had initiated the conversation); I’m not making time count. clockhead manIt’s not only rude to the person involved, but a missed opportunity to learn more about them and what it is they are trying to share with you.

The crazy thing is that so much of what we are in a hurry to scurry off and do is really meaningless and of less value than what we are so anxious to blow off. Is checking your email or text messages really more important than having a discussion with a friend, a relative or an acquaintance? Is it imperative that you immediately respond to that little sound that indicates that you have a new email or text message? Is the latest post to Twitter or Facebook of more importance than finishing your work for the day? How perversely distorted our lives have become if that is the case.

at sign bombI have to admit that I am as addicted to having my smartphone with me at all times as anyone. I’ve experienced the panic-attack response to discovering half way to somewhere that’s I’ve inadvertently left it behind. I’ve experienced the ghost buzzes in my pocket that seem to indicate that my phone needs my attention. And I’ve experienced both side of a butt-dial call. What does my phone know that I don’t, I’ve sometimes wondered?

I have discovered that life goes on when I forget my phone, albeit steeped in anxiety that I’m somehow missing something – some call, some email, some text or some importance. During those times I try to focus upon the moment and make my time away from my phone count. I have noticed that I do not have the same anxiety every night when I turn it off to go to bed. Perhaps my need for rest is stronger than my perceived need for connectivity. Then, again, I know that the system and my phone will be patiently collecting and saving anything that comes in overnight, so that I can spend my morning getting caught up.

Perhaps we need to look at all of the moments in life the same way – that the stuff on our phone (or anywhere else) will wait until later and we should focus on what’s at hand. No matter what it is or friends at tablewhere it is or with whom it is; if you say to yourself, “this is the most important thing in my life right now”; you can make the time count. Do the task or job, experience the place that you are in or enjoy the person that you are with right now. Imagine if you will that this is the last thing that you will ever do in life. Wouldn’t you at least want to enjoy it? You can, if you make your time count. Have a great day and don’t count every minute; make every minute count.

Be the best you…

July 14, 2014

“Accept that you are MORE than you think you are…. not less than what you think you should be.” -Sephanie Kathan.

ugly mirrorI think sometimes that we all spend too much time beating ourselves up because we don’t measure up to some expectation that we set for ourselves. Sometimes that is because we hold ourselves up against others, many of whom may have different or unique skills or knowledge that we will never match. It’s OK to have an idol, maybe a star soccer player or baseball player; but to beat yourself up because you can’t perform at that level is wasteful and harmful.

Perhaps you could learn by studying your idol’s work and workout habits, to see if using similar routines in your life would better prepare you to maximize your own performance. Most self-help guru’s recommend the practice of emulating the practices of successful people, in whatever you are trying to accomplish. Books have been written about the practices of highly successful people, so that others can see what they might try to do to also be successful. It just makes sense to try to learn from a winner and not emulate the loser.

The important message in today’s little quote is accepting what you are and realizing that who and what you are is more and better than you give yourself credit for. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t continue to strive each day to be the best “you” that you can be today. It is saying that if you have done that; if you have done all that you can during the day; then don’t beat yourself up for the things that you didn’t get done; rather congratulate yourself for what you did accomplish. You probably got more done that you might have thought that you could do, not less than you thought you should do.happy woman

I am reminded of a cute little saying by Dr. Seuss – “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

So, given that you are You, be the best You that you can be. I’ll be over here trying to be the best Me. Have a great week!

Snatch victory from the jaws of defeat…

July 10, 2014

From the Jack’s Winning word blog for today comes this tidbit – “I’m the best failure you’ve ever seen.”  (Matt Paxton)  Matt, a recovering alcoholic and gambler, a social loser, got an idea while cleaning his grandma’s basement.  She didn’t just give him money; she gave him a job.  That’s how Clutter Cleaners began.  He hires ex-cons (who need a job) to clean out basements, garages, you name it.

Now, obviously you needn’t become a failure to be successful; however, did you ever notice how many really famous and successful people embrace failure as a path to success. Here are some good quotes from  some of them:

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. – Winston Churchill

In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure. – Bill Cosby

I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed. – Michael Jordan

Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success. – Dale Carnegie

man winning racePerhaps the underlying message is not that you should strive not to fail (that would be an impossible goal anyway), but rather that you should use your failures as a learning experience and find a way to build a positive base for success from them. Hopefully, when you have an “Oh, Crap” moment of failure, you don’t just say “let me try that again”; it’s better to think about a different way to try that again and to keep trying until you get it right.

So, get out there today and start failing your way to success. Just remember to keep your desire to succeed stronger than your fear of failure.

Gotta dance your worries away…

July 8, 2014

“The one thing that can solve our problems is dancing.”  (James Brown), as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

Snoopy had his happy dance and Ellen DeGeneres is famous for her dances on her show. Do you get happy feet, too? Dancing is a way of letting go and expressing yourself through the movement of your body It is usually done to the sound of music, but occasionally the music is in your head. If it is organized and rehearsed it is called choreography.

Women seem to be much more able than most men to just let themselves go and dance freely. Men onWomen dancing the dance floor can look like they’re struggling to get out of a potato sack (at least that’s what I imagine I look like trying to dance to modern rock music). Men seem prefer the slower songs that allow them to move slowly around the room while trying to maintain some dignity and decorum. Perhaps it’s just that the slow songs accommodate their otherwise stiff and stilted movements.

Women on the other hand seem to be able to get into the moment, feel the music and go with it. I’m reminded of the opening of the movie Flashdance, in which Jennifer Beals just goes wild with her dance club number. Young people too seems to be uninhibited in their dance, especially young child dancingchildren and teens. I recall enjoying the movies Saturday Night Fever, Foot Loose and Dirty Dancing, too; which were dancing oriented and fun. Here’s a link to a list of the top 20 dance movies ever, as ranked by Danciness (whatever or whomever that is).

Dancing is letting go and getting into the music. Sometimes we all just need to do that. So, if life is starting to weigh you down, put on some good tunes, kick off your shoes and let go – dance. It will be impossible to dance and worry at the same time, so let get into the moment and let your worries fade away. Maybe that’s what you need to start each day. People will wonder why you came to work with a smile on your face. Maybe you’ll need to dance when you get home. Put on the song “Gonna Dance the Night Away” and go for it.

Be unbroken…

July 7, 2014

“Never give up, no matter what!” (Louis Zamperini)

Zamperini died recently, but he was the inspiration for the upcoming movie Unbroken, directed by Angelina Jolie. He was an Olympic runner who served in WWII and was captured by the Japanese. The book about him, and now the movie, chronicles his unbroken spirit through great hardship while in captivity. Louis may have died, but he never quit.

I recently also watched an old episode of the TV show Extreme Weight Loss in which a young man named Bruce lost 50% of his body weight, going from 382 pounds to under 191 pounds in a year. He is the epitome of that same spirit, especially since his back story contained the disclosure that he had ugly mirrorbeen sexually abused by his father, who is in prison for that abuse and abusing several other boys. Bruce’s story was about not only losing weight but losing the monkey that had been on his back since childhood. He did that by confronting his father at a parole hearing and testifying against him being released. The transformation of Bruce’s body was amazing and the transformation of him as an individual no longer haunted by his past was special, too. He never gave up, no matter what.

I’m currently trying to lose weight, too; although nothing like what Bruce did. I want to get down to a weight that will allow me to get off all of the meds that I take for Type II Diabetes; so, I need to lose about 40 pounds total. So far I have been using only dietary methods and dropped about 10 pounds, but it’s time to add more exercise. I think it’s time to join a gym. Fortunately I have a friend who owns the Anytime Fitness in Milford, so I’m going to try that. I guess, for me, what’s important  to focus upon right now is not about giving up but getting started.

struggleDo you have things in your life that are frustrating you to the point of almost giving up? Maybe you have a goal that just keeps eluding you, no matter what you have tried. Maybe you’ve been playing a game or sport and reached a plateau that you just can’t seem to break through. Perhaps you’ve been trying to save to buy a new house or car and every time you get a little ahead, something comes up that causes you to have to use some of that money. Maybe you’ve tried several times to take classes toward a degree or certificate and just can’t seem juggle them with other obligations and finish enough to move ahead. Never give up, no matter what!

So, here we are at the beginning of a new week. No one has failed at anything yet; no one has said no to you yet, no one is telling you that you can’t do it; so we don’t have any excuses. Take the opportunitywoman boxer to do a mental reset, reflect on the things that you’ve tried already to reach your goal and discard those that didn’t work or think about a way to approach them differently so that your chances for success improve. Think about your goal and re-energize yourself with resolve to reach it. Pump yourself up and then get out there and go for it. And remember the advice of Louis Zamperini – Never give up, no matter what!

Have a great day…I’ll be in the gym.

No regreats… No fear

July 4, 2014

“Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, ‘Where have I gone wrong’. Then a voice says to me, ‘This is going to take more than one night.” ― Charles M. Schulz

Like many in America, I grew up on Charles Schulz’s Peanuts comic strip. Admittedly I switched to the slightly edgier Calvin and Hobbs strip for the time that it existed, but Charlie Brown, Lucy, Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts cast were always still there.

Schultz had a way of capturing the essence of the common man’s life and travails that few could match and Charlie Brown’s life became one with which many could identify.

Today’s Schultz saying certainly resonates with me. How often have I had sleepless nights worrying about dissapointed ladysomething that I probably couldn’t change anyway?  Sometimes the dread would be over events to come that might span many days perhaps a whole vacation that would be anything but a vacation for me or an upcoming closing on a real estate deal that I knew was going to be difficult. So, I also like another Schultz quote that seems to fit –

“I have a new philosophy.  I’m only going to dread one day at a time.”  (Charles Schulz)

Actually I’ve tried to adopt a much more positive attitude than those expressed by Schultz, I just like his sense of humor that is embedded in them.

I’ve written here before about dread and I found this little quote that sums that up nicely –turtle

“Regret and fear (aka. dread) are twin thieves that rob us of today.”- Robert Hastings

I chose not to let those twins rule my life or rob me of today. They may steal a portion of the night on occasion, but by morning I try to put them aside and live that day as if it were my last – exploring, learning, sharing, enjoying and relishing it.

“I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.” – Groucho Marx

No doubt many of you may not even know who Groucho Marx was, but I grew up watching him and his brothers (The Marx Brothers) on TV and in movies, along with some other famous, but long gone comedy groups – The Three Stooges, Abbot and Costello and Martin and Lewis to name a few. Groucho always had a quick retort or funny line to drop, especially on his TV show – You Bet Your Life. Remember the line, “Say the secret word and the duck will come down and give you $100”?

Yesterday is over and tomorrow will take care of itself when it gets here. Have a great today!

Only you can make it all right…

July 3, 2014

“Everything will be all right in the end.  If it’s not all right, it’s not the end.”  (From The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel–British Film), as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

I like that line from the movie because underlying it is the thought to never give up, never quit, never reach the end until things are all right – until you have reached whatever goal that you had for that situation. That doesn’t necessarily always have to be a win; it just has to be an outcome that you are happy or satisfied with at the time.

In recent World Cup matches, playing to a tie, scoreless or otherwise in some matches was all right – the team still advanced in many of those cases. In life coming to a point in which neither side has to feel a loss is all right, too. Sometimes that is a win-win situation, where both sides feel like they scored a win in the deal (which is what we strive for in the real estate business); and sometimes it’s just deciding to quit while neither side is “ahead” and declaring a truce on whatever issue was driving the battle (a good strategy in marriage many time).

angry coupleThe alternative to accepting a tie or achieving a win-win is the dark side of this little saying. That occurs when people focus on an end-game that requires revenge. Seeking revenge means that the game can never be over, since one side or the other will be put in the position of having to get even again. That is a no-win game that should be avoided. For some people it is hard to find a way to stop that cycle, to call a truce and abandon the revenge game. For them, that would feel like a loss, which of course they have been fighting to avoid. For most, perhaps it involves embracing the concept of forgiveness. Here’s a good quote that I found about that –

 “Forgiving isn’t something you do for someone else. It’s something you do for yourself. It’s saying, ‘You’re not important enough to have a stranglehold on me.’ It’s saying, ‘You don’t get to trap me in the past. I am worthy of a future.”  ― Jodi Picoult, The Storyteller

If you think about that little quote, it is allowing you declare a win to yourself while reaching a draw caringon whatever issue has been driving the relationship between you and the other party. You have forgiven them for whatever you believe they did or whatever position they have taken. Boy, will that frost their patootie. Now, in order to get revenge they’ll have to forgive you, too. Maybe you can have a contest now to see who is the most forgiving of the other. All right then, it’s not the end until everything all right.

Getting back on the plus-side of life; there are things in life that will never be all right – homelessness, hunger, abuse, discrimination and more; so, there will always be things that you can continue to work on making right. You can join the efforts in service with other volunteers to deal with those issues and always have something to keep you busy. At the end of each day you will have a reason to get up the next day and continue the battle, because it’s not all right yet, so it’s not over.

Maybe you can’t tackle world hunger or homelessness or abuse and bullying, but you can do something about them where you live and wrestling them down to zero in your town or village or city will feel like a major win. All you have to do is look around you and see the things that aren’t right and then start doing something about them. Start today. Start on your block and work your way out from there.

Remember that it’s not over yet because everything is not all right. You can make the difference.

Be determined, not stubborn…

July 1, 2014

“Stubbornness is also determination.  It’s simply a matter of changing won’t power to will power.”  (Peter McWilliams) from the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Jack went on to talk about stubbornness as a characteristic of the “terrible twos’” in children and in many of our current legislators locally and on the national scene.

I also saw another post on this topic some time ago that serves as a warning not to let things get out of hand which might apply mainly to our Congressional representatives –

Determination becomes obsession and then it becomes all that matters. – (Jeremy Irvine)

stubborn muleAre there things that you are stubborn about, maybe bordering upon obsession? I suppose there’s a fine line between stubbornness and determination. My suspicion is that in many people stubbornness may be misdirected determination to achieve something that maybe they should not be striving to achieve in the first place – maybe something that is above their current skill or knowledge level. Sometimes that can lead to injuries as we stubbornly push beyond our limits, perhaps driven by obsession.

Obsession seems to me to be stubbornness unchecked by rational thought. For example, people who obsess about other people become stalkers. There is no rationality to what stalkers do to try to be with the people that they are obsessed about. They just need professional help.

Determination on the other hand would seem to be a rational commitment to achieve a goal in the face of obvious or known obstacles. The determined student studies longer and harder than others toreaching for stars achieve academic excellence. The determined worker puts forth the extra effort required to get ahead. The determined suitor does not stalk; but, rather is patient, persistent and does the things that he/she knows the person of their desire will like.

There are things that determination or even stubbornness/obsession cannot achieve. I accept the fact that I cannot run a 4-minute mile, no matter how determined or stubborn about it I may become. The fact that I accept that limitation is not defeat; it is the rational acceptance of my personal physical limitations. Losing the ability to see where the limits are (or should be) is what moves one beyond stubborn and into obsession.

So, while it’s good to always try changing won’t power into will power as the Peter William quote for today says; that does not automatically change can’t into can. The Little Engine That Could in the children’s story made it to the top of the hill pulling his train by concentrating on the mantra “I think I can, I think I can”. Perhaps a better mantra might be “I think; therefore, I can”. Thinking before letting determination turn to stubbornness or all the way to obsession can save you a lot of time and effort woman catching starstriving for the wrong things in life.

Applying rationality to your life will allow you to sort out the things that you might achieve with determination from those that even stubbornness won’t allow you to accomplish. Wouldn’t you rather be happy celebrating life’s little victories rather than obsessing over life’s frustrations? Be determined to have a great day!