Book Review – tuesdays with Morrie

I read a lot, probably about 2 or 3 books a month, which for some of you might be pretty typical or maybe even less than others. I decided to pick up the book Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. The book is about 200 pages, and could be read in a weekend if one was so inclined. Now one of the things I want to get straight right from the start is that in writing a book review, I’m not going to spoil the read for you. My intent is only to describe what I thought of the book.

Tuesdays With Morrie

So this is a relatively small book but may be one of the best books I have ever read. Morrie was Mitch Albom’s professor when he was an undergraduate student. The book details the Tuesday meetings that Mitch had with Morrie during the last year of his life. During those meetings they talked about a number of life lessons and that is where the magic of this book unfolds. You will find yourself drawn into the meaning behind these conversations and for me it was a very emotional experience. I would intend to read a chapter and move on to do something else, but I often found myself reading three or four at a sitting.

Mitch-and-Morrie

If you are looking for a book that addresses the big questions in life then this is a must read. You will come away with a new perspective on what is really important in life. What really struck me is how emotional I became when I was reading this book. I was often brought to tears, not by the tragedy of Morrie’s illness, but by the powerful lessons that Morrie discussed with Mitch.

That’s it, I don’t want to spoil it for you, but for me this is one of the top 5 books I have ever read.

Namaste

 

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Lighten Up

I’ll use the term or phrase “lighten up” to mean stop taking life so serious. There is a common affliction in our society that everything we do is serious business. We are constantly measured by metrics and KPI’s to attain more each year, to work harder, to be driven, and my question is what does it get us? We sacrifice our health and well being for goals that someone else set for us and make ourselves miserable in the process. I’m going to be a bit blunt here and call out a lot of this serious obsession as bullshit. We are not on this earth to work ourselves into an early grave for the sake of corporate profits or any other obligation imposed by someone else for that matter.

Cheryl Crow gonna-tell-everyone-to-lighten-up

Aside from all the destructive effects of the ultra serious demeanor that we have adopted; the real travesty is that we are sucking the joy right out of our life moment by precious moment. I used to attend a church where one of the parishioners worked for Pepsi corporation and had been working his way up the corporate ladder over the past decade moving his family with each promotion. Anyway I can recall how upset he was when someone brought a Coke product to the church picnic, and of course I thought this was pretty funny. I mean making sugar drinks that make people fat is pretty serious business after all. Now I’m not here to bash soft drink companies because I’m sure in their own weird way they contribute something to society other than obesity and diabetes. It is the serious nature of it all that drives me crazy. So much of what we do is just not serious by nature and we need to be able to distinguish from those things that are really serious in life and those things that we can give ourselves a pass on and relax a bit.

why-so-serious-little baby

Taking yourself or your role in an organization so seriously either emanates from ego or an anxiety you have about delivering something for other people. Let’s get real with ourselves; isn’t it much more fun and productive when we lighten up a bit? Being serious doesn’t equate to great results. I would argue that great results come from a calm state of mind and even more so from a joyful and happy state of mind. Be goal oriented, care about results, but in doing so lighten up and have fun.

Have fun at work pug.jpg

It is your right to have fun and you don’t need anyone’s permission except your own. I’m not saying give up on your goals and screw around all day, quite the opposite. I am saying that you need to stop being so serious and look for enjoyment, fulfillment, satisfaction, camaraderie, challenge, calmness, and fun in everything you do. There are times to be serious, but 95% of the time focus on making life fun.

Namaste

Tune Yourself

If you believe in the law of attraction and understand that what you think you become then read on, otherwise you are wasting your time by reading the rest of this post. I say that because if you don’t believe in the law of attraction what I’m about to explain becomes somewhat pointless.

how-to-manifest-law-of-attraction

In a recent post I wrote about how to stop reacting to life and begin controlling your thoughts to increase your level of happiness. I would like to think that what I’m about to say builds on this idea, refining and expanding upon it. If you believe that what you think about becomes your reality then you must make sure you are feeding your mind good thoughts. If you have a shred of introspection in your mind, you will begin to recognize when  you go from good to bad thoughts and you can then begin to catch yourself steering your thoughts back into the right direction. It doesn’t take much to go from thinking good thoughts about things that make you happy to reversing it and becoming critical. We often obsess over problems we are experiencing and in doing so we have blocked the good thoughts from taking their place. Obsessing over perceived problems is one of the toughest negative thinking patterns to break.

I like this quote because this is your only way out of the negative thinking patterns that come from obsessing over problems.

I dont fix problems-quote

There are basically two choices when it comes to creating that positive mindset that allow the law of attraction to work for you instead of against you.

  1. Stop the negative pattern from appearing in the first place.
  2. Using your ability to realize that you have slipped into a negative state of mind and replace it with positive thoughts.

Let’s take the first one. What are some ways we can stop the negative thinking pattern from occurring? Here are a few things to consider:

  • The best time to set the stage for your thinking is when you first get up in the morning. Remember the idea here is to put those good thoughts in your head so that they become the dominant things on our mind.
  • I find that yoga and meditation both are great ways to start your day on a positive note.
  • Maybe for you it is music or watching some uplifting YouTube videos like the one below:

What about the second scenario where you have already allowed the negative thoughts to become predominant? We would all prefer that this doesn’t happen, but let’s be realistic we all must learn to cope with the negative thinking pattern that now has control. Here are a few ways to overcome the negative thought pattern and turn it into a positive one:

  • First you must understand the damage that is being done. You have now set the law of attraction into motion attracting more negative thoughts. Remember what you think you become, so if you think negative thoughts you become negative and negative things are now being attracted to you. All I’m saying is you have sufficient motivation to change the way you are thinking.
  • The longer you wallow in your negative thoughts the greater the damage, so you need to start catching yourself as your thoughts go from positive to negative. These are the moments when you say to yourself, I wish I hadn’t said that or reacted that way. Recognize this is very good, because you are not only aware of the negative thought pattern, but you are putting yourself in the state of mind to change it.
  • Once you recognize you have negative thoughts pervading your mind then you need to do something immediately to limit the damage and turn things around. Tune into something that you love, which sometimes means removing yourself from the thing you are doing if possible. Here are few ways you can snap yourself out of the negative and tune yourself to the positive:
    • Get up and take a walk for 10-15 minutes, this alone will give you a chance to think about something else.
    • Take a break. They have done a lot of studies that say every 45-60 minutes you need to take a break from what your doing and give your mind and body a chance to recover.
    • Think about some of the things you really enjoy like music, people you love, hobbies, areas of interest, your dog or cat, sitting on a beach, walking on a wooded trail. Add to this list the things that make you feel good. Oh I almost forgot as you think about those things you enjoy, smile!
    • Think about something or someone you are grateful for. As you think about each thing you are grateful for really focus on it for a couple minutes. It’s tough to be negative when you feel grateful.

The law of attraction is a powerful reality and it responds to what you are thinking, so it is imperative that you spend the majority of your time focused on good thoughts. What you think about is a choice so choose wisely. Ultimately it is you that controls the world that you see. Control your thoughts and control your reality.

Namaste

 

Stop reacting

I have always felt that we have a lot more control over what we think than we give ourselves credit for. It is interesting to watch how we interact with each other. Often these interactions set the tone for our thoughts. For instance you approach me at work and say let’s go grab a cup of coffee. I ask you how are things are going with your project and you start telling me about how unreasonable your client is and how you don’t have any way to address their clearly unreasonable requests. I nod a few times sympathetically, and recall a similar situation I had with one of my own clients this week. What started as a cup of coffee turned into bitching session about our customers, with no one walking away feeling any better. This is not unusual in most organizations happening over and over. So what’s wrong with this? Wasn’t I being empathetic? Sure I was empathetic to my co-worker, but not to my customer and I did nothing to change the tone of the conversation from what was negative to something positive. This is a pretty simple example of how we get pulled into conversations and instead of really thinking about how to control our thoughts, we just react.

You might think well no damage done, but think again. You go back to your desk and now you are focused on a difficult customer or what a pain in the ass this job is. Your colleague walks away no better off from the interaction, in fact you may have just reinforced his ill will towards his client.

What if instead of reacting to what people are saying you just listen or maybe even better you remove yourself from the conversation all together. I know this sounds weird but if you or someone else is intent on taking time to turn things into a pity party then in the long run you are doing both of you a favor by cutting it short.

These reactions are not limited to discussions. Let me give you a few examples of how we often react to various events during the day:

  • Someone pulls in front of or cuts you off driving to work. You hit the breaks and give them the finger. Nice start to the day.
  • Watching the news in the morning I see that someone with an automatic rifle that killed 14 people in a mall somewhere in the United States or Europe. I don’t visibly react but I think to myself the world is a dangerous place, I had better be careful when I am out in public.
  • You get up in the morning and go to make a cup of coffee and find that your kitchen looks like it had been ransacked by intruders. You fire off some expletive using one of you children’s name, roommate, or spouse.

Well I just thought this was funny.

React funny

In any of these cases you are spending your time as some kind of reactionary organism where stimulus and response rules the universe. I would be the last person to say that you will ever gain complete control over your thoughts and the way to react or not to those things that are happening around you. In fact I think because we all have a tendency to do some of this; thus the need to be very careful about what we expose ourselves to. It would also be giving up to say that you have no control over how you react to the events you encounter each day. There are ways that you can stack the deck in favor of being a rationale being and not a reactionary fool. Here are few things you can do to go from reacting to thoughtful responses:

  • Condition your mind – Read inspirational books, watch YouTube videos, read positive affirmations, or meditate. Remember you are training your mind, putting good things in to create that positive mindset, which will offset some of the negative events of the day, by starting from the right mindset as your day begins.
  • Know your triggers – If driving to work in heavy traffic is absolutely killing you then, start earlier in the day when traffic is not as hectic or use an audio book or some other means to take your mind off it.
  • Avoidance – I’m a big fan of just not exposing yourself to things that I know may be negative. For instance I quit watching all cable news stations and even local news. My only exception would be a few minutes of CNBC to get some business news. Avoidance is a risk management technique where you put into place ways to completely avoid the risk altogether and it works pretty well for avoiding negative bullshit.
  • Take responsibility – Instead of blaming the world for how you react to events occurring around you, take responsibility for your reaction. Quit blaming everyone else for your poor behavior and attitude. You know deep down, it is you who chose to perpetuate negative thoughts, to be critical of others, to blame the world around you.

If and when you decide you can control how you think, then you will be in the top 10% who do not react, but instead control their thoughts. You will be one of the few that controls  your own state of mind, and your happiness now becomes a decision not a reaction.

Namaste

Turning garbage into gold

It has been a long time since I’ve actually written anything myself on this blog site, and while I could reel off a list of excuses it would be pointless. Well back to the actual purpose for this post. I have recently been burning the candle at both ends working some crazy hours, partying too much, and driving myself into the ground if you will. As with any stupid behavior things eventually catch up with you and a week before the holiday I catch a pretty bad cold and am literally bed ridden. To add to my list of bad habits I have been smoking for years, not a lot, but enough to worry me about what might be the long term affects.

I had been gearing up for another attempt at quitting, but this time I thought the timing could not be better, since I felt so terrible from the cold. It turns out the severe discomfort from the respiratory illness created a great opportunity to kick this rotten smoking addiction. I felt so bad that the first 3 days which are usually incredibly difficult were actually a breeze. As terrible as the respiratory infection had been it turned out to be a blessing in disguise and helped me break a four decade long habit. The lesson here is that each time you suffer a set back of some sort their is usually an opportunity buried in the pile somewhere, but you need to be aware enough to sift through things and seize it.

I recently landed the job of my life, both in terms of compensation and challenge, but my previous job had been a mental beat down for nearly a year and half before landing my new job. You would not have thought given the turmoil, lack of progress, and utter incompetent leadership that I would ever have the opportunity to work for the company I do today. One thing that my previous position held for me was an opportunity to work in what is one of the hottest technologies, and I knew if I could hang in there for over a year this pathetic job would turn into a much greater opportunity somewhere else and it did. My short term discomfort was traded for a much longer term gain.

Difficult situations provide the most fertile grounds for change and growth in your life; the key is to take advantage of these situations and not let them become something that drags you down. If you can see something like a layoff, an illness, a divorce, conflict with family members, bad investments, or any other difficulty as a chance to learn and start over then you become resilient and resilient people thrive in this environment.

Let’s be honest with ourselves when things are going great and we are cruising through life as fun as it is, we are not making great progress. The great improvements in our life come from overcoming or adapting to difficult situations. If you think back at the greatest lessons you learned in your life; they came when things didn’t go so well, in fact they have occurred during days or years of great pain. The greater the difficulty the greater the insight that can be gained, but only if you look at it as an opportunity.

I like the Jim Rohn quote:

Jim-Rohn-Quote-Don-t-wish-it-was-easier-wish-you-were-better-Don-t.jpg

Be resilient my friends.

Bend but not break.

Each setback in an opportunity.

It’s not a failure if you learned something from it.

Namaste

 

Study shows women more naturally fit than men

One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living Past 100

At the risk of sounding sexist, I am surprised by these findings. I guess because men are generally bigger and stronger, I assumed the opposite was true.

Women can process oxygen more quickly than men when they start to exercise, according to a new study from the University of Waterloo.

Stanford professor Michel Serres hikes the Dish on a regular basis. Stanford professor Michel Serres hikes the Dish on a regular basis.

Quick oxygen uptake places less strain on the body’s cells and is considered an important measure of aerobic fitness.

“The findings are contrary to the popular assumption that men’s bodies are more naturally athletic,” said Thomas Beltrame, lead author on the study.

The study compared oxygen uptake and muscle oxygen extraction between 18 young men and women of similar age and weight during treadmill exercise. Women consistently outperformed men with around 30 per cent faster oxygen handling throughout the body.

“We found that women’s muscles extract oxygen from the…

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