Who will run your day?

March 13, 2019

From an article on planning and time management that I recently read – “Either you run your day or your day runs you.”

The article wasn’t about trying to control things, which is good, because there is no way to be in control of the day; however, you can be in control of yourself…and that was the point the article made. It was about having the self-discipline to get up and spend some time thinking about your day and how you wish to spend it, rather than getting up, looking at your phone and immediately going into react mode. In fact the article phone with msgspecifically mentioned being disciplined enough not to look at your phone until you had created a prioritized list of the things that you want to get accomplished that day – call it a to-do list or a schedule or calendar.

When you eventually do look at the messages and news that have accumulated on your phone overnight, you will be able to slot any needed reaction to things you see there into the schedule that you have set for yourself. You may have to juggle the schedule a bit, but you still have an ordered and prioritized list of things that you want to accomplish. You are running your day, instead of the day running you.

Another piece of advice from the article was not to let “shiny things” distract you. Shiny things are those distractions that occur during the day that are attention grabbing and shiny thingscan cause you to wander seriously off course. For some it can be the little ding or musical notes or buzzing that indicates that a new email or message has arrived on your phone. Somehow, we have become trained to react in real time to the need of the phone for attention. Most of the time the attention-demanding message turns out to be spam or trash, but we have interrupted whatever we were doing to answer the demand of the phone for our attention. Other shiny things might be something passing by outside that catches our eye or someone entering the room. Whatever it is, if you let those things distract you from what you were doing the day is running you.

The key point in the article is constantly being aware of what you are doing and why. If you are aware of that, you will not let other things (distractions) take time away from the tasks at hand. You also need to be aware of those times when you have nothing on your tree slouthschedule and decide how you wish to spend your down time. A popular term in our vernacular today to describe such a time that has no plan is “I’m just hanging out”. A person who answers the question, “What are you doing?” with that phrase is letting the day run him/her. You are basically saying, “I have no idea what to do and have turned off my brain.” There are always things to do. Things that you have been wanting to do. Things that you’ve been putting off. Opportunities to spend time with family or friends. You are in control of that down time.

If you are in control of nothing else, you do control how you spend your time. Don’t just hang out, letting the day run you…grab the day and run it.

Oops, gotta go…my phone just buzzed. I must obey. Ooooooh, shiny thing.

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Watch or DIY?

March 12, 2019

I don’t watch a lot of television anymore, but when I do it is likely to be a reality TV show. No, I don’t watch the Kardashians; more likely one of the car shows on the Motor Trend channel or American Pickers on the History Channel. My wife likes the Dr. Pol show and other reality shows on the Animal Planet channel and the National Geographic channel.

Obviously, these shows aren’t pure reality TV, since they are taped and edited and the participants know that they are being taped. I suppose that the live action police body camera TV shows come closest to being reality shows. However, the shows that  I mentioned do provide that mindless respite from our own reality that we all need everywatching TV now and then.

Occasionally, I’ll be watching one of these shows and the thought comes to mind, “Why am I watching what they’re doing instead of doing something myself.” Do you ever feel like that? It’s a guilt reflex triggered by the realization that I’m not “doing something”, combined with the inability to let go and relax. My wife gets on my case about not being able to relax all the time.

Still, there is a message there that living one’s own life is better than watching someone else live his or her life. Doing it yourself (DIY) is better than watching someone else do it. I am often inspired by that thought to get up and turn off the tube and find things to do. There are always things that need doing or that you know you should do. Even reading a good book is better than sitting there watching someone else reading a book (how dumb would that be?).

The next time that you find yourself mindlessly watching Duck Dynasty, The Real dinosaurHousewives of Wherever, or whatever reality you have tuned into, ask yourself if there isn’t something that you could/should be doing that would add more value to your life or the lives of others around you? I suspect that you’ll put down the snack, turn off the TV and start DIY. And that’s a good thing. Living your life to the fullest is a whole lot more exciting than watching the lives of others on TV and you don’t have to wait through commercials to get to the next good part.

Watch or DIY – you make the choice.


Make today the better day…

March 11, 2019

“Something to keep in mind… When one thing comes to an end, another thing begins.”  (From the movie, Love Happens) – as reported in the Jack’s Winning Words blog today. Jack went on to write a few upbeat and encouraging words, as he always does. He concluded his remarks with, “A new and better day is ahead!”

bored2Maybe you had a tough week last week or the weekend didn’t turn out as you had hoped. Whatever the disappointment or set-back from the past, today is a new day and you still have the opportunity to make it a better day, a great day. Even if the problems that you were facing yesterday, or last week, are still there and still must be faced; you can make it a better day by approaching them with a new attitude and a new resolve to get through them and make it a better day.

Perhaps it was the loss of a loved one or the failure of a relationship or marriage. Maybe it was getting a layoff notice at work or word that the company was going under. Maybe it was something less dramatic, but none the less serious to you, such as your furnace going out on a cold weekend. Whatever the cause of yesterday’s bad day and no matter how it affected you then, you start today with a clean slate in terms of how you will react to the situation.

In most situations, you can’t really control the things that are happening or which haveangry woman happened. The only thing that you control is how you react to those happenings. You can give up and let them drag you down into the pit of despair and depression or you can take a deep breath and begin to work things out. There may not be a “solution” to what happened, but there is a way to accept it and move on with life.

Perhaps one of the best ways to find your way out of the mess that your mind may have put you in is to stop and have a moment of prayer. God has said that He will always be woman-prayingthere with us and that if we trust Him everything will be all right. He didn’t say that there would be no pain, no hardship, or no grieving. He said that if we believe in Him through those things we will be rewarded with a peace that passes all understanding. I have found that nothing helps more in life to get through life’s crises than to be at peace when all of those around you are in panic. That peace starts by going to God andgods-hands-2 saying, “Not my will, but thy will be done.”

So, if you want to make today a better day, start by getting yourself right with God and asking for His help. Then bring it on. You’re ready to make it a better day.

Peace be with you.


Is always being “connected” good?

March 10, 2019

There is a company that Realtors and many others use to stay in touch with their past or future clients called Constant Contact. The company specializes in using electronic and paper-based messages to keep your name and product in front of people. One technique is called a drop-mail program, which is sort of like the Chinese water torture that the name conjures up in the imagination. Constant Contact keeps drip, drip, dripping emails and/or paper mail notes to the recipients until the give up and buy something or use the services being advertised. At least, that is the theory.

Our lives have evolved over the last couple of decades to include the concept of being constantly in touch, being connected somehow. For a while it was through emails and the “Crackberry” became the tool of choice for those who became hooked on constantly checking their email. More recently, of course, the smartphone and aps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Whatsapp have dominated our time and attention. We are morecouple-looking-at-phones connected than ever. But, is that a good thing?

Stories about distracted walkers getting hurt or distracted drivers getting into accidents, sometimes very bad accidents, would suggest that being this connected in not good. We may laugh at the videos of people walking along fixated on their phone until they walk into a fountain or out into traffic, but it is really not funny. It is certainly not funny to see people blow through a stop sign or light because they are looking at their phone. What we don’t see are eh countless other hours a day that these people are oblivious to the people and event around them because they are absorbed in their connected world of their phone.

It is not just dangerous physically to be so focused upon that world, it is harmful and dangerous to be that disconnected from real life. Social skills fall by the wayside and are left undeveloped. Communication skills become bastardized by the use of catch phrases, acronyms and whole thoughts being reduced to 2-3 letters that are easy to type. Face to face communications, where body language may be studied to help interpret the situation are replaced by screen time where misunderstandings are commonplace and emoji’s attempt to replace facial expressions.

Of course there are very good uses for our smartphones and I’m not advocating that we get rid of them. They are wonderful tools for finding information when you need it and they even allow for great communication with others when distance is an issue; however, they are no substitute for good, old fashion conversations face to

Emoji_Face-with-Pleading-Eyesface with others. Don’t let you phone take over your life. Remain in control of it as a tool; otherwise it can become your master and lead you into electronic isolation. Maybe there’s a three letter word for that – SPS (SmartPhone Syndrome) –

So, maybe always being connected is not a good thing. Maybe it’s time to put down the phone, look up and see what’s really going on around you. Maybe you should put a smile on your face and say “Hi” to someone instead of ending an emoji to Wave at them over Facebook. You may be surprised how much more fun it can be to actually talk to someone, rather than sitting there typing away on your phone.

Oops, got to go. My phone just beeped. It might be something important. Or not. Someone wants to know where I am and what I’m doing. Maybe I’ll find out where they are and what they are dong. How exciting.


Don’t rust out…find new challenges…

March 9, 2019

Seen recently on the internet – “Most people rust out due to lack of challenge. Few people rust out due to overuse.” (Denis Waitley)

Like rust on things, rust on people can be prevented with a little effort. The key message in Waitley’s saying is to keep finding new challenges for yourself. Many people “retire” from work and almost retire from life. They no longer have the challenge of lazygetting up and going to work every day and many fail to challenge themselves with new things to do, new skills to learn or new knowledge to be gained. They begin to rust because they are not using their minds and bodies as they were meant to be used.

Admittedly, our bodies change as we get older and start to put some limitations upon what we can do physically. That just means that we need to adjust by doing different things or doing things differently. That’s one of the mental challenges that we should be focusing upon – not quitting, but finding new ways of doing things that we love to do. caregiverAnother challenge may be finding new challenges to replace those lost with the last job. Some may take on new or different jobs, as I have. Some may find both the challenge and satisfaction that they seek in volunteer work. I do some of that, too. The key (to steal a phrase from Chevrolet commercials) is to find new roads (new challenges) to keep yourself busy and stave off the rust.

Taking on the challenge of a new job, especially one in a field that you have no experience in can be both a physical and mental challenge. You must learn new skills or maybe just sharpen and adjust old skills and you usually must learn a new vocabulary of the terms and words that the new job uses. Both are a bit frightening, but that ads to thevolunteers challenge and the rewards of the new job. Some may find new jobs that take advantage of management skills that they have developed over time. The challenge there is to recognize the differences in the job settings and to find the best ways to implement the skills that you may have developed in a big company setting to a small company or non-profit organization. That can be quite a challenge.

It’s really easier than you think to find new challenges. The need for volunteers is everywhere around you. You just have to try a few to find one or two that suit your needs, your interests and the time that you have to give. Most churches have lots of volunteer opportunities, so check with your church. Then, there are all of the non-profit service organizations that exist in every community in America, from Meals on Wheels old-ladyto local mobility services. If you can drive a car you can help them. There are community food banks and homeless shelters that need help. There are local retirement homes that are full of people who would just like someone to talk too. If you can talk and listen, you can do that.

The point is that there is no reason to sit around and rust out. Some get it in their heads that no one needs them anymore. Not true. There are tons of people that need you, but you just don’t know who and where they are. Get off your duff and find them. Be useful and be patient with yourself and with the new challenge. You’ll be in learning mode take actionagain and isn’t that exciting! You’ll figure it out and it will feel great when you do.

Don’t rust out. Find those new challenges. What are you waiting for?


Start your day with a laugh?

March 4, 2019

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this piece of advice – “I love people who make me laugh.  Laughing cures a multitude of ills.  It’s probably the most important thing in a person.”  (Audrey Hepburn)

The important message there is the ability to laugh. For some it is the ability to laugh at themselves; to take life less seriously than others do. When we let life get so serious that we can no longer laugh is when we get into mental health problems. People who experience depression have temporarily lost that ability to see any humor in life; theydepression3 can no longer look at what is happening and laugh. Sometimes things in life can seem so bad that they become absurd. It’s at those moments when the ability to look at the situation and just have to laugh at the absurdity of it all that can get you through it.

I have almost always had the ability to see the humor in life, even in it’s most absurd moments. My wife and I often say in bad situations, “Someday we’ll look back on this and laugh.” Of course, just saying that usually makes us laugh in the present, too.

Some comedians based their whole routines around making you laugh at the absurdity in their lives. Rodney Dangerfield was one such comedian and his stick based upon how absurd his life was never failed to make everyone laugh. Here’s a routine from the old tonight show – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MecU2keW54I

I believe that it is important that we retain the ability to see the humorous side of life dumb blob guyand not get so serious about it that we lose the ability to laugh at it and at ourselves. My first reaction to having done something stupid is usually to be mad at myself, but that lasts only a moment until I see the humor in the dumb thing that I just did. Then I step back, have a good laugh and move on with life. It helps immensely sometimes to be able to see the humor in the absurdity of life and in our own reactions to things that are happening.

One of the things that I have advised in this forum in the past is to start each day as you finish your morning routine in the bathroom by looking into the mirror and making a funny face 2funny face. Stick out your tongue. Scrunch up your face. Do whatever it is you need to do to make yourself laugh at what you see. Break the grip of seriousness on you the first thing in the morning and see if that doesn’t make your whole day better. Laugh at yourself first and then find the humor in whatever life throws you way during the day. Life cannot defeat you if you can still laugh at it.

Can you still laugh? Make a funny face today.

Have a humerus week ahead.


Technically – misused, overused and generally abused

March 3, 2019

If there is a word in the vernacular that I would nominate for banishment it is the word “technically”. Look it up on Google and you find this –

technically/ˈteknək(ə)lē/- (adverb)

from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary

1 : with regard to or in accordance with a strict or literal interpretation of something (such as a rule, a term, or an official description or designation)

2 : with regard to technology

3 : with regard to technique (as in a performance or movement)

from Vocabulary.com – Something technically true is actually, really true or correct but it may not be the way people think about it. For example, although people call a tomato a vegetable, technically it’s a fruit.

and the definition that I like the most and think best describes its current usage –

jerk

 

from the Urban Dictionary –  What 12 year olds say to sound smart. Often found said by smartasses to make someone look wrong and stupid.

Recently I called into the local Detroit Free Press office to report that I had not received a paper that morning. I usually find the paper on my front lawn when I return from the first dog walk of the day at about 6:30 AM. That morning there was no paper and none when I checked again at about 7:15 AM. So, I called to report that I had not received one.

Of, course, I got an automated voice-response system and dutifully worked my way dinosaurthrough the various menus and options until I got to the place where I could say No to the question, “Did you get a paper this morning?” Upon answer that I had not received the paper, the machine (a machine!) proceeded to make me feel stupid by replying, “Technically, the carrier has until 7:30 to deliver your paper, so it is not yet late.” There was an implied “dumbass” at the end of that sentence, but the machine graciously left that part out. Perhaps the machine was programmed to say that by some 12 year old who found it amusing to make the machine sound superior to whatever dumbass was calling in before the deadline. Technically, I was not amused.

Also from the Urban Dictionary definition comes this further explanation –

When used at the beginning of a sentence, this word is a variety of the ‘filler’ word basically. Another direct replacement for technically is essentially. Maybe the speaker sees his or her own bad speech patterns and recycles these three words while speaking. Filler words add absolutely nothing to the sentence being spoken. Other filler words include like, just, and stuff and y’know, but they tend to be in the middle of or at the end of a sentence. Filler words are rarely used in writing and are part of acquired speech habits.

So, technically, the use of the word “technically” adds nothing to the sentence. It’s, like, just a verbal indication on one’s own level of ignorance or verbal incompetence. Y’know? Just sayin’, dude.

Say or press “1” if you understand or 2 if you are technically lost.