A Good Life

What is your idea of a good life?

Is it a life where you’re not afraid to follow your dreams?

Is it a life where you help as many people as you can?

Is it a life where you make as much money as you can?

Is it a life where you live as long as you can?

Is it a life where you have the best relationships you can?

For many it’s all of the above and that’s great, but how you prioritize will dictate your actions.

For example, if you prioritize health then that’s time you will not spend building relationships or helping other people.

A good life is not a balanced life. It is a life in which you able to be as true to your real self as possible. It’s a life where you can come to terms with what is important to you. A good life is a life where imperfection is perfection.

Determine for yourself how you define a good life and live in to it as much as you can. In the end some might say you lived a good life but only you will know for sure.

Nature

How much time do you spend outdoors enjoying nature?

If you’re like most then you probably take nature for granted and as something you look at through your windows. And in today’s world of knowledge work so much time is spent under artificial light that problems like vitamin D deficiency are actually increasing.

Research shows that spending time in nature has stress reducing and calming effects. Even stepping outside and standing in sunlight just for 10 minutes can improve your mood.

And if you’re too busy to go outside then bring nature indoors and invest in some plants that you can enjoy. And yes, you can talk to them because they will hear you.

If you ever watch children playing outside, digging in dirt without restraint it’s because they know the inherent pleasure of doing so. And they know it’s where we come from.

It’s easy to forget that we are in a dependent relationship with nature and without it we could not exist. So why not step out for a moment, take a deep breath and enjoy and appreciate all that nature has to offer.

I Disagree

I strongly disagree with what you said!

Let me rephrase.

I vehemently disagree with you!

I emphatically disagree with you!

What do you mean, let you finish!

I already know I don’t like what you’re going to say.

No! I won’t give you chance to share your thoughts or ideas.

Yes, I know you just started to speak but it doesn’t matter.

I’ve already decided you’re wrong.

No! I don’t need more time to think about it. In my mind seconds are like hours.

In fact, my response is chambered and ready to go before you even open your mouth.

…Why don’t you talk to me anymore?

If any of this sounds familiar then you might be suffering from a disease known as Closed Mindedness.

Fortunately for you there is a cure and the cure doesn’t mean you have to agree with everyone. It does mean giving people the opportunity to share their thoughts and allowing yourself time to process what you hear. Who knows, your actions might prompt them to listen to you too.

The Perfect Age

What is the perfect age?

When are you too young to be taken seriously?

When are you too old to try something new?

What if you didn’t know how old you are?

Age is a strange phenomenon because although it’s measured by how much time has passed it’s also measured in social context. Age is used to measure progress in life.

At 16 you should be doing this and at 21 you’re allowed to do this and by 30 you should have done this and at 60, well now you’re half way done and you really shouldn’t be trying anything.

When you ask someone how old they are it’s rarely because you’re interested in the number of years they’ve been alive. It’s so that you can mentally categorize where you think they should be in life.

I once read an interview where a woman born in remote area of the world was asked when she was born, and her reply was, in the winter. There was no context of time.

Do your thoughts about your own age hold you back?

If you look hard enough you will find examples of people from all ages accomplishing all kinds of things that they ‘shouldn’t be able to’ at their age.

What if today you dismissed your belief about age and explored all the things you want to do? Who knows, you might just be the perfect age.

Happiness

Do you know what the number one contributing factor to happiness is?

Here take a quick test.

A.Money

B. Success

C. Quality relationships

D. Health

If you picked C, then congratulations, you are correct.

Research shows that over time the number quality relationships that you have are what dictate how happy you are and will be.

Other factors such as money or temporary success metrics can cause you to have momentary happiness but tend to fade once you achieve them.

Investing your time in building quality relationships with family and friends will increase your happiness factor and this in turn will give you a level of optimism about life.

So step out today, get away from your screens and spend some time creating a quality relationship. You’ll be happy you did.

That’s how it’s always been done

Has anyone ever said to you, that’s how it’s always been done?

Did you question why or did you just comply?

Here’s a short story that I heard many years ago that will hopefully prompt you to ask or at least think about why things can be done differently.

A young woman is preparing a pot roast while her friend looks on.  She cuts off both ends of the roast, prepares it and puts it in the pan.  “Why do you cut off the ends?” her friend asks.  “I don’t know”, she replies.  “My mother always did it that way and I learned how to cook it from her”.

Her friend’s question made her curious about her pot roast preparation.  During her next visit home, she asked her mother, “How do you cook a pot roast?”  Her mother proceeded to explain and added, “You cut off both ends, prepare it and put it in the pot and then in the oven”.    “Why do you cut off the ends?” the daughter asked.  Baffled, the mother offered, “That’s how my mother did it and I learned it from her!”

Her daughter’s inquiry made the mother think more about the pot roast preparation.   When she next visited her mother in the nursing home, she asked, “Mom, how do you cook a pot roast?”   The mother slowly answered, thinking between sentences.  “Well, you prepare it with spices, cut off both ends and put it in the pot”.     The mother asked, “But why do you cut off the ends?”     The grandmother’s eyes sparkled as she remembered.   “Well, the roasts were always bigger than the pot that we had back then.  I had to cut off the ends to fit it into the pot that I owned”.

Don’t always fall for the, that’s how it’s always been done. Give yourself permission to ask why. Who knows, your idea could become the next, that’s how it’s always been done.

P.S. Thank you JA

QA Testing

Are you familiar with Quality Assurance testing?

The job of a QA tester is find flaws in physical products or bugs in software. They are given a set of performance guidelines which they compare the product with to see if it meets the designer’s intentions.  They then report any flaws so that only the most perfect version of the product can be sold to the end user

Do you ever find yourself QA testing life?

Constantly looking for flaws in individuals or seeing what’s wrong instead of what’s right?

Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your perspective, life and people are unlike manufactured products, because flaws are part of the package. There are no pre-set guidelines and you don’t know the intentions of the designer.

So if you want to QA life then by all means do so, but I suggest you look for what’s working instead of what’s not. Because the truth is that you don’t know what’s not working since there is no perfect version to compare it to.

Serendipitous Accidents

Are you familiar with ‘accidental discoveries?’

One of the most famous is Penicillin, which according to the inventor Alexander Fleming was discovered by a serendipitous accident.

Throughout history there have been many other serendipitous accidents that have created many of the products you take for granted today.

Corn Flakes for a clean healthy diet.

The Slinky was supposed to hold equipment on naval ships.

Coca-Cola was supposed to be a medical remedy.

Post-it Notes were supposed to be a super adhesive.

Potato chips were the result of an angry chef.

Play-Doh was supposed to be wallpaper cleaner.

These are just a few, but you can find many more that are now multi-million if not billion dollar products.

The thing about serendipitous accidents is that you have to be continuously creating and experimenting for the accident to happen.

Now there’s no guarantee that you’ll have the next million dollar idea but the next time you find yourself using a product in a way that is not what it was designed for, ask yourself, is this a serendipitous accident?

Mind Full?

Do you constantly assault your mind with steady stream of inputs without taking any time to digest and think about all the information you’re consuming?

Are you mindful of your activities or is your mind full of activity?

Mindfulness has become quite popular recently but there is still much confusion as to what it is and how to practice it.

I don’t have all the answers but can share what works for me and others that I have spoken to.

Being mindful for me is nothing more than being attentive and consciously focusing my attention on an activity. And I found the easiest ones I started with were driving and eating because I could do them alone. Just focusing on these simple activities without any additional inputs gave me ability to really appreciate them for what they are.

Practicing mindfulness during your day can also relieve stress, because each time you consciously focus is like mental speed bump, it slows down your day.

Being mindful doesn’t mean you have to spend hours on a yoga mat or take long walks in the woods, although neither one of these would hurt you. All mindfulness means is that you allow your mind to take a break. You give your mind the opportunity to breathe and to fully exhale.

Blurt it Out

When was the last time you really expressed your true feelings about a sensitive subject?

How often do you let out unfiltered, non-politically correct, uncensored commentary?

What would your relationships look like if you always said what’s on your mind?

If you decide that you’re always going to say what’s on your mind then know this, you are not in the friend making business, you are in the being true to yourself business.

The good news is that some will respect your honesty and accept you for who you really are. Others might find you rude, offensive or impolite because from their perspective other priorities outweigh honesty.

If you want to learn from experts that always speak their mind then spend some time around young children, the ones that haven’t yet learned what’s proper to say and what’s not. You’ll find their honesty entertaining.

Speaking your mind can be refreshing feeling, especially if you’re not used to doing it. And if you choose to do so then good luck and watch out, life’s about to get a little bumpy.

FOMO

What is FOMO?

It’s the Fear of Missing Out.

You know that feeling of anxiety you have when you can’t go to the party that all your friends are going to, and you know that they’ll all be talking about how much fun they had? Well that’s FOMO

How do you get it? You have an internal emotional hole that you’re looking to fill by an external activity.

How do you get rid of it? You take FOMO for a walk in to the woods and you bury it. You learn to fill your own emotional hole.

FOMO is you experiencing emotions that you might feel based on a future activity. I know, it sounds confusing and that’s because it is. You see, almost everything you do is driven by how you think you might feel or the reward you’ll receive once you do it.

The problem with FOMO is that it causes you to overcommit, because you don’t want to miss anything. It also prevents you from being present in what you’re doing because you’re thinking about what you’re missing.

Learn to accept the fact that you can’t be everywhere and that you should thoroughly appreciate, enjoy and leverage the opportunities you do have. Remember YOLO so why waste it living in FOMO.

P.S. this one’s for you CO.

Know Your Sport

Do you know that there are currently 28 different sports represented in the Olympics?

Can you imagine what it would look like if the gymnasts were asked to power lift? It would probably be entertaining but I doubt any new powerlifting records would be set.

Now I’m sure that there must be some mutual admiration, respect and perhaps even some envy amongst the different sports because of the attention and money associated with them, but the athletes know that they are going to perform their best at the sport that they are good at.

What about you?

Are you performing at something you’re good at and have natural talents for? Or are you pursuing endeavors because of the attention and money associated with them?

So how do you know what you have natural talents for? You try lots of things. And you learn that some come to you easier than others.

This is not to say that you don’t pursue things because they are difficult, because being great at anything is hard.

What I am suggesting is that when you find something that really resonates with your natural abilities then double down on it, and if you’re a power lifter then so be it. Don’t waste your time envying the gymnasts.

Who Lost?

Did you know that you already lost?

That’s right, and I won.

My house is bigger than yours.

My spouse is better than yours.

My children are smarter than yours.

My bank account is bigger than yours.

It’s so unfortunate that you spent all your time and energy trying to compete with me, and you still lost.

Wait! What did you say?

You weren’t competing with me?

But I spent my whole life thinking you were, and all I focused on was being better than you.

I sacrificed my own happiness and was never content because all I thought about was you.

I now wish that for every moment I wasted thinking about you I would have instead been grateful for all that I had.

In retrospect looks like I’m the one that lost.

Care Less

How can I get you to care less?

To care less about your own life and also give you a sense of hopelessness that things might never improve.

I think I’ve found a way.

I’ll continuously bombard you with bad news so that at your subconscious level you’ll think that nothing you do will make a difference. And I’ll constantly show you people that have ‘special’ gifts and talents so that you lose confidence in yourself, hold them in high regard, and believe you can never be as good as them.

What do you think about my ideas?

Do you like my apathy cocktail that’s designed to make you care less?

You see, when you care less then I’m free to do whatever I want because you no longer care. You’ll just go on from day to day caring less, while I do whatever I want to.

If this sounds terrible that’s because it is. But you don’t have to participate.

You can foil my master plan by carefully choosing what you watch, listen to and engage in. And I sincerely hope you do.

What do you want?

What do you really want?

When I say want, I mean really want. Want to the point of deep down commitment, stop at nothing want.

Recently during a conversation I mentioned that I used to weigh 260lbs and dropped 60lbs in one year and have managed to keep it off for 20+ years and the person I was speaking with asked me how I did it. My answer was that I wanted to and still do.

My answer sounded flippant and almost too simple but it’s the truth. And it’s also true that my want is not temporary but daily, long term and continuous.

Your want can apply to anything you’re willing to commit to, forever, because just like weight loss, every accomplishment is temporary. There is a doing phase and a continuous maintenance phase, there is no stopping.  If you decide to stop it will go away.

So what is your want?

Decide, commit, pursue, learn, and make changes as needed until you get there. And once you’re there you’ll need to figure out a way to stay there, if you still want to.

Don’t Embarrass Yourself

How many times have you heard any of the following warnings?

Don’t, you’ll embarrass yourself.

You’ll look foolish.

Stop acting that way people are watching.

I wouldn’t if I were you.

You’ve probably heard some form of these statements in your life and usually from well-meaning people that care for you, the ones that are closest to you.

But, are they concerned about you embarrassing yourself or how it will reflect on them?

These are the same people that line up to watch others fail at things, and are entertained the world over by artists, actors and business people that continuously risk embarrassing themselves in the name of entertainment and commerce.

What are you stopping yourself from doing because you might look foolish?

Are you playing it so safe because people are watching?

In the grand scheme of life, your failures, embarrassing moments and mishaps will be forgotten by others in a blink of an eye.

However, if you keep worrying about embarrassing yourself every time you think about trying something new then you might lead a ‘safe life,’ but where’s the adventure in that?

When it’s Inconvenient

What do you do when it’s inconvenient to?

Fulfill a promise

Stick to a diet

Wake up early

Finish a project

Not abiding by commitments not only creates issues with others but it also erodes your own view of yourself. Even if the commitment is internal and no one will ever know, not staying committed will affect your confidence to accomplish in the future.

The ability to execute especially when it’s inconvenient gives you a sense of pride and confidence to not only take on future endeavors but also know that when things get difficult you have the mental fortitude to see them through.

When you find yourself making excuses because it’s inconvenient to do something, stop and consider if this kind of person you want to be known as, not to others but to yourself.

Temporary Custody

What do you really own?

And if you do think you own what you have, then for how long?

The illusion of ownership is powerful yet false. Even your body is on borrowed time.

Since everything is temporary then why the constant feeling of wanting, holding on to and controlling.

The feeling of ownership is driven by the ego, which causes you to have the feeling of ‘it’s mine.’ But the reality is that nothing is and it can all disappear in a moment.

Release your self-worth from what you own, your titles and who people think you are and remind yourself that you only have temporary custody over these things.

Infinite Loop

Is your life on an infinite loop?

In the world of software development an infinite loop is when a computer program loops endlessly and occurs because certain conditions will never be met.

According to software developers the infinite loop is usually caused by a bug in the program.

Do you have a bug in your software that keeps you on an infinite loop?

For you does one day roll into another day and on and on because you haven’t set any conditions to be met?

You’re probably familiar with the idiom of ‘stop and smell the roses,’ but do you?

Do you take pause to appreciate, to think, to relax?

Knowing when to stop is just as important as knowing when to start.

Get in the habit of actively stopping, even if just for few minutes. Step away from the computer, the phone, the TV, and the continuous inputs. Give your software the opportunity to reset and stop the infinite loop.

Top Line

Are you familiar with the business terms Gross Profit or Top Line revenue?

Essentially the terms mean the amount of money a business made before any expenses were subtracted.

When you hear that a company has earned billions in revenue, there’s also the possibility that they are losing money because their cost of doing business is higher than the amount of money they earned.

The same principal can apply to people.

When you see people that you consider to be super successful and have everything together, all you’re seeing is the top line, you don’t know if they are operating a net loss in other areas of their life.

It’s human nature to compare ourselves with others and social media has magnified the comparisons a thousand fold because all you see is top line constantly bombarding your mind.

When you find yourself comparing your life to others, try to stop for a minute and be grateful for all that you have, because I can guarantee you that there’s someone out there comparing their life to your top line.