For Peace of Mind

I started to think about those basic things that could be done to make life easier, less complicated, and more peaceful on a daily basis. Here's what I came up with, in no particular order. I laughed after I wrote the list, but I also think it's a good guide for me to check back with on occasion-- I'd like to be a high achiever in the "peace of mind" category, too. I hope it helps you decide what your list will contain.

  • Yearly Credit Check
  • Yearly Exam (important for men and for women)
  • Back up the Hard Drive Again
  • Weekly Self-Exam
  • Laugh More (with friends is good)
  • Get the oil changed and the wiper blades replaced sometimes
  • Listen to good music on a good sound system
  • Walk More, Gossip Less
  • Keep your tax packets from past years together in one place
  • Use a pop-up reminder program for birthdays
  • Own 3 pairs of sunglasses
  • Get your pet fixed
  • Have comfey dining chairs
  • Take a daily multivitamin that tastes good
  • Buy Organic Foods
  • Wake up 5 minutes earlier
  • Get to know your neighbors
  • Rent a Safety Deposit Box
  • Floss
  • Keep your favorite children's books handy
  • Throw out the skinny jeans, the fat jeans, and the itchy designer sweaters (anything you are keeping out of guilt-- doesn't fit, cost a lot, a recent gift, what if, never wear it but...)
  • Own a shredder
  • Set up a savings account with auto deposit from your checking each month
  • Collect Memories, not stuff
  • Schedule Alone Time, Beach Rambles and Tea Breaks, Too
  • Smile when they want to take your picture, even if you feel like a drowned rat
  • Don't burn candles on plastic surfaces
  • Change your pillow case more often than your sheets
  • Switch to Frozen Yogurt
  • Plan to sleep in sometimes
  • Dream.


On Procrastination

I have this book... "It's About Time!" by Dr. Linda Sapadin. The book is basically a break down and treatment of the six styles of procrastination. Now, I usually find self-help books to be rather silly. Either too simplistic, too full of themselves, too lacking in actual helpful "here's how" information, or just dumb. But this is one self-help book that I'm planning to buy for most of the people I know.

The book includes tests so you can figure out what your major form(s) of procrastination are, your minor form(s), and which ones might be good to read just on general principles. Apparently, most people have one major form, and a couple of supporting procrastination styles. And if you score over 10 on a test-- that is the major one you need to pay attention to.

Uhh.... Dr. Linda? I scored over ten on ALL of them... can I go home now?

Anyway, then I started reading the three I scored highest in. And for the first one, I kept saying-- "That isn't me! I don't do that. Do I DO that? I don't do that." So then I decided maybe my test scores were a little off. Maybe I was so intent on how horrible I am about procrastinating that all I could think was that I was horrible at everything. Well, so with a much lighter frame of mind (Okay, I'm not a total failure, here.), I read the one I scored second-highest in.


Yeah... That's Me.

I can now tell you with ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY that I am a perfectionist procrastinator. I'm sure you already knew that. But see-- I didn't. And for each of the two styles of procrastination I've read so far (means you'll probably get to read more blogs about this in the future)-- there are two sides to the coin.

So with the Perfectionist Procrastinator, you either are ALWAYS WORKING WAY TOO HARD to get everything perfect-- and may not turn things in at work (or school) on time because you are still busy adding things to it to make it PERFECT-- an impossible task that leaves you constantly stressed and worried and wanting to DO MORE and BE BETTER.

Or- you're like me.

You are so worried that you won't do it perfectly (whatever it is) that you find reasons not to do it at all-- or not to do it until your time is so short-- it's the perfect excuse for the final product to be imperfect-- and it's just NOT YOUR FAULT that it's not PERFECT LIKE YOU THINK IT SHOULD BE-- and you assume everyone else thinks it should be, too. Because if you'd just had more time, you'd have done it right. Whatever "right" is.

The best thing about this book-- other than helping me see the pattern of my behavior in a clear and unavoidable fashion-- is that it also offers simple things that I could actually DO to help each style of procrastinator overcome their habit. From now on, you'll hear me changing my "should" statements to "could" options. My "have to" shackles to "want to" intentions. And a few other things, too.

If you feel that you just aren't happy with your life as it is. You are bored, or stressed, or you just can't seem to ever do the things you want to do in your life, your career, your personal life, or somewhere else entirely-- this book might be a good place to start. You might find yourself using some of the patterns the author describes, and you might find a way to change your style for the better. the way...
I'm not shooting for perfection anymore, either. I just want to be a high achiever. I think maybe I can do that. Without so much stress, and so little free time. And without feeling bad about myself and how little I actually achieve (or do perfectly) anymore. What a relief.


Do I Matter?

I think most of the people in the world are not big picture people. If they were, they'd all be advancing quickly from high school student to CEO of a large corporation. They'd all be competent. They'd all be overworked and underpaid. They'd all be making strategic plans or starting their own side businesses.

Most people in the world are only comfortable knowing their relative importance in relation to a scope that lets them BE important, without having to grow or change or do anything uncomfortable. You know? It's the idea that if most people looked into Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker's Guide series) slice of fairy cake and saw their relative importance to the whole universe, REALLY, they'd go insane. People need to feel needed-- on some level, in some area of their lives. It's part of what makes us human.

For a lot of folks, this shows up as a complete lack of interest in business practices or advances that occur in a business other than their own office. An administrative team might set a goal that only takes into account their position relative to similar businesses in the same geographic location (the same town, the same state). Or a coworker becomes so preoccupied with looking good compared to YOU that he/she doesn't realize that when you BOTH do a good job and look good doing it, the company benefits, and therefore you BOTH BENEFIT. It's the driver who doesn't care if he causes an accident so long as he (or she) gets to be the one in front. The fastest. The coolest. The one getting the most attention. And that is one way to feel important.

But it is a limited view. The reality is that we can each make a big difference in the world-- be needed or be valued for our contributions at work or at home-- but we have to work at it. We have to take risks. We have to keep learning and growing and stretching. We have to keep giving to others. And we have to change our perspective.

Look around. Who do you respect for what they gave? Not for how much they got, not even for how much they gave-- but for the quality of the thing they gave away to help someone else. I see doctors who have a day job, and a free clinic for people who could not otherwise receive quality medical care. I see teachers who start college funds for every child who passes through their classroom, creating an expectation and a sense of possibility in each child. I see a teenager who volunteers at the local retirement home on a regular basis. I see the big brother who shows respect and appreciation to his younger siblings for their accomplishments.

Now, look at yourself. What do you have to give that would make you feel good about your impact on the world? Do you want to get active in a city-wide committee to improve living conditions or parks or to change bad laws? Do you want to devote a certain number of appointments or products in your work week to folks who couldn't afford what you do or what you make otherwise? Do you want to bring flowers to a stranger who never gets visitors at the local nursing home once a month? Do you want to start a carpool for soccer practice, to save gas and reconnect with your child's daily life? Maybe you just want to work on being a safer and nicer driver when you're on the road.

Believe it or not, the littlest things make a big impact on the world. If it is given freely, and with an honest desire to do something to make someone else's life a little better-- you will feel better about your place in the world for doing it. Take another look at that piece of cake. See that tiny speck that is you in the universe? See how it's tinged with purple? Now look-- there is a spider web radiating out from you of glistening purple gifts. The good feelings you gave someone else. They show up. They show up in the universe long after you cease to exist.


Power of Positive Thought

Yeah, it's a cliche-- if you think good thoughts, good things will happen to you. Well, you see, it's a bit more complex than that. Positive thinking is a great idea. A good thought. Positive. But sometimes bad things still happen-- and sometimes we are doing our best to be positive in a really negative situation, and just run out of energy. What then?

Well, positive thinking is a strategy, and there's more to it than just saying "it will be okay" to yourself over and over while the world falls apart around you. First, you have to decide what your goal is. Be a cheerful person? Enjoy your life? Get something good out of every adventure/accident in your life? Find a job with higher pay and a better work environment? Get through school or through training with an A? Or something else completely? Decide on one thing for now.

Next, phrase it in a positive way. "Stop Being So NEGATIVE" is pretty difficult to feel good about-- it's your old negative self adding on another criticism to the situation. So start being positive, or find some other way to make your goal something you are moving TOWARD and not moving away from. Also, make sure it's a goal that doesn't require a magic wand. Make it something for your every day experience.

Now, think of one person-- or two or three, if you have them-- that you have access to who can help you with your goal. They can be a role model of someone who already achieved it, or a person who gives good advice and might know some tips to help you on your way. Maybe this is a friend who will check in with you to see if you've done anything to reach your goal this week, if you ask them. The important part of this step is to acknowledge that you you don't have to do it by yourself-- you can look for help, even ask for help. As long as you remember it is YOUR GOAL, not theirs. This makes you the one who has to do the most hard work to get it. Have someone in mind? Put their name(s) aside for now, but know you have a back up plan if it gets hard as you go along.

Okay, good. Now, close your eyes and picture yourself in that situation. In your mind, have this image of you feel the things you will feel when you reach your goal. Look around and see evidence of having attained this goal. Do you see new faces, smiling and industrious, all around you in a strange office? Do you see a new and better watch on your wrist because with your new job, you can afford it? Do you feel more powerful, more positive, more excited about getting up to face the day? Stay with this image of having reached your goal until you recognize yourself in it.

Makes you want that even more, doesn't it. This is the power of positive thought. Going back to this image, smell, taste, feeling in your head when you get up in the morning, and before you lie down for bed at night--- and as often as you want in between. This is what starts your subconscious self on the path to achieve it. Suddenly, you'll start to notice that job ad in the paper or on the web that might be what you are looking for. Maybe you'll find yourself sitting down to re-write that resume so that it highlights your achievements-- and the things that will make you a good hire for a good job when it comes along.

Maybe you'll notice that the sun makes the trees look especially cheerful today, or the rain is making it easier to breathe. You might comment on how you like a coworker's silk scarf or a comic on his cubicle wall-- whatever it is, if you keep envisioning this goal WITH YOU IN IT, as something you focus on exclusively for a few minutes each day-- you'll start to see the opportunities that exist in your life (yes, they've been there all along, you just weren't mentally prepared to notice them)-- and realize that you do have the choice to follow up on them.

Choosing to make the best of each chance we are offered to be better people is what makes us better people. Making the best of a bad situation that isn't going to change-- that's when we start envisioning a new situation for ourselves, and get out of the bad one that isn't going anywhere. That's when WE have to get going. And making those choices-- now that you see the opportunities to do so-- is what gives Positive Thought it's power.

So-- to give you an idea of how looking for the good brings good things into your awareness, here are a couple of websites to get you in the mood:

Simple Things

Three Beautiful Things

Mo's Inspiring Moments

Really, I'm as Old as I Feel?


The Cards We Are Dealt

We all start somewhere. Maybe you started where I did-- scared, alone but for a few loyal friends, still loving the person you need to get away from, not sure you will survive the next step, knowing you won't survive if you don't take the next step. Maybe you started somewhere else-- life was okay, but something was missing, so you kept adding more projects, more purchases, more plans-- hoping you'd find that THING that would make you content with what you are and what you have. Maybe you started somewhere else entirely.

The thing is-- you've started. That first step toward health is often the most difficult one. Starting toward health and away from the familiar is scary. Sometimes we've actually been moving in the right direction for a while when that hardest step comes, and we bog down, lose direction, lose self-confidence, because we thought the tough stuff was over... So here you are, starting again, feeling a desire for hope-- maybe even feeling hope.

Be hopeful. Your life has started, and wherever you are, you can always move forward from there. But be aware-- it is a choice. You choose your path. And that, my friend, is the most powerful piece of advice I will ever give. Even when the choices are horrible, there are choices to be made. You choose your path. The next most important piece of advice I will ever give you is this:

You cannot choose the outcome of your decision. You can have clear intentions, you can have clear goals. You might be a world-class manipulator... unhealthy and dishonest as that route may be for your own development... (and sometimes, we live that life to survive until we figure out how to choose something better) But the fact remains-- you don't control the outcome. Just the effort and the intention.

When you start putting your energy into the effort and into the intention, and stop wasting energy on trying to MAKE him react like THIS, or make your boss do that, or make your friend feel like this because of what she said... you will become productive. That is a huge step toward living a better life, and having more energy to spend on feeling hope for your future. Huge.

Have hope. Make the effort. Take responsibility for yourself.