Friday, December 24, 2010

Reptiles in Literature Series: Eat Pray Love

flickr.com

 I found a great passage in the book Eat Pray Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert. She was describing her experience at an Indian ashram. She was specifically describing her job as hostess; an administrative job which required her to meet the needs of her fellow housemates.

I love all these people automatically an unconditionally. I even love the pain-in-the-ass ones. I can see through their neuroses and recognize that they’re just horribly afraid of what they’re going to face when they go into silence and meditation for seven days. I love the Indian man who comes to me in outrage, reporting that there’s a four-inch statue of the Indian god Ganesh in his room with one foot missing. He’s furious. He thinks this is a terrible omen and wants that statue removed --, ideally by a Brahman priest, during a “traditionally appropriate” cleansing ceremony. I comfort him and listen to his anger, then send my teenage tomboy friend Tulsi over to the guy’s room to get rid of the statue while he’s at lunch. The next day I pass the man a note, telling him that I hope he’s feeling better now that the broken statue is gone, and reminding him I’m here if he needs anything else whatsoever. He rewards me with a giant, relieved smile. He’s just afraid.


Now, few people reading this will be going anywhere near a Buddhist Ashram, I realize. But Elizabeth Gilbert’s ashram experience could be a microcosm of any workplace. The same principle applies to everyday life, especially the workplace.

Reading this reminded me that everyone has some level of fear in this life, and that fear dictates their responses to various stressors. Some have seemingly minute problems, like the temperature of the office; others are dealing with a boss who wants them to cheat to get ahead.

I think if I consciously made an effort to remember this, it might change how I respond to other peoples’ angst. Instead of taking it as a personal attack, I can respond with kindness and understanding, but most of all peace.

I’m not going to lie to you. This takes work. It isn’t instinctual. I will most likely want to reconsider my intentions of kindness, because, well, I hadn’t counted on it being this difficult today….

c. 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A glimpse inside the Cafe

I had a very funny, yet all too common reptilian incident that happened today.

image credit: flickr.com 

I was making the drinks on the espresso bar this afternoon, when amidst the long line of people, a youngish, very impatient lady asked if her tall sugar free, skim caramel latte would be up anytime soon. I looked at my queue of drinks, and didn’t see it. There was a tall skinny hazelnut latte that had been ready for several minutes on the receiving area.

I said to her, “There is a tall skinny hazelnut latte up, which is sugar free and nonfat, is this yours?”

“No, I had a SUGAR-FREE, SKIM latte with CARAMEL in it,” she said disdainfully, with a why must I deal with these incompetents look on her face.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t get that one, I’ll make it for you right now,” I said, as I passed the next lady’s tall caramel brulee latte. When the irate customer tried to grab it, I said,
“No, that one is her’s. I’m making yours right now.”

As I was marking the cup, my coworker, who had seen what was happening, came over, and said, “ma’am, that one is yours. You asked for a skinny hazelnut latte.”

With a blank look on her face, she said without remorse, “Well, I’m sorry, how am I supposed to know how to order these fancy drinks?”

After she left, my co-worker said, “Actually, she was so adamant about making sure it was a hazelnut latte, when she was telling me her order.”

Being accusatory and recoiling in defense are classic reptilian responses, [as is my  satisfaction in being right.] I don’t even want to try to guess what was stressing this woman out. We are at a hospital, so she’s certainly entitled to it.

And, I do it too…


 c. 2010

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A pique inside my journal...

Michael Dukakis 1988 election
image credit 
commons.wikimedia.org 


I had a funny, albeit surreal experience, reading one of my old journals tonight. It is always interesting to read my wistful thoughts with the benefit of hindsight. Amidst all the usual junior high angst, one entry particularly brought a smile to my face.

This entry was during the 1988 election, my earnest 12-year-old mind was very uneasy at the prospect of Michael Dukakis winning the election. 

July 4, 1988
Dear Diary.  Today is the 4th of July. All that is happening has got me thinking, this could be the last 4th of July we celebrate. Because if Mike Dukakis wins, we’ll probably go Communist, and  I am so scared about what might happen.

Now, granted. I was 12, and had precious little grasp on what was going on [I probably still don’t]. I remember being VERY worried. Of course I didn’t understand the intricacies of his ideology, I only knew that they were very different from what I thought was right, from my very fledgling Conservative beliefs.

My stress was very real that night, I remember obsessing for hours about it. The vague notions I had about his policies were frightening. I’m sure I didn’t yet know what all Communism entailed, or even how his policies were going to enable such a horrid effect. 80s-era Russia was my only association with Communism, which scared me. It brought to mind a Narnia-esque environment where it was always winter but never Christmas. I knew, at the time, religion and free speech were suppressed there, two freedoms, I enjoy very much.

Now 22 years later, I look at that and laugh. I had little understanding of government or politics. [Heck, thank goodness I was too young to comprehend Jimmy Carter]. Now that I’m older and wiser, I haven’t changed much at all. I still tend to allow my concerns to seethe and simmer, over actively idling like my car used to do. Exerting the same sort of wasted energy as well.

I always enjoy reading my old journals. They always put things in perspective for me. See how things have worked out seamlessly, despite your fretting about them, they seem to say. Obviously, everything turned out ok in that election. Even if it hadn’t, I suppose we would have learned to live with it.

c. 2010


Saturday, December 4, 2010

UNLIKELY JOYS

image credit bighappyfunhouse.com 


Finally an upside to the strangest of things.

In recent post, I talked about problems often being a matter of focus. Here are some fantastic new ways to reframe some unwelcome situations. How could there possibly be any good in;


ANGER??

From First Magazine…
Feeling enraged that you were passed over for a promotion, the kids won’t behave, that people are being rude? You could sit and stew about it, making it worse. Or you could take that time to really channel your fury into something physical.

Your anger will spark the fight-or-flight response, which will give you a surge of adrenaline. Adrenaline increases blood circulation, allowing more oxygen-rich blood to reach the muscles, enabling them to function at higher levels. This makes rage an opportune time for more effective time to hit the gym. 

But take note: Yoga or Pilates are better choices than weight training because these activities require a mental focus that can prevent you from ruminating on what riled you, explains Lavinia Rodriguez. Doing yoga also lowers levels of catecholamines, another stress-induced hormone produced by the adrenals, to create a feeling of calm.

Wil Dieck touches on it a little about it on his blog, As Stress Frees You.

•DEPRESSION??


Am I grateful for my depression?  Definitely.  I can't imagine where I would be in life right now if I didn't have this illness.  It's a curse and a blessing - I don't know how else to describe it.  I certainly don't want to make it sound like depression is like winning the lottery and that everyone would be lucky to live with it - but since I DO have to live with it I've decided to stop fighting it and learn from it instead.  Our life is a journey in self-discovery.  My depression has led me this far - and led me to wonderful people and places.  I truly believe the universe has its plans for each and every one of us and that plan is working out as it should.

Feel free to comment on your unlikely joys. 

c. 2010





Sunday, November 28, 2010

Reptiles in Literature: Stressed in Scottsdale, by Marcia Fine


Marcia Fine is a wonderful author who I recently met online. Her book, Stressed in Scottsdale’s title made it a must-read for me. It didn’t disappoint, either. Just one in a series (The Jean Rubin series); it examines reptilian behavior unintentionally, perhaps, in one of it’s meccas, the female mind. (the other mecca being, of course, the male mind).

Fear and suspicion originate in the reptilian brain, whether rational or irrational. It is for good reason, though. That brain is responsible for our survival as human beings. However, our brainstem can take this a bit too far. “Survival” can turn into obsession and paranoia, which also reside in this brain.

A prime example of this is main character, Jean. Jean has a whole list of stressors, too lengthy to list here. Not the least of which is her suspicion that her husband, Maury having an affair because he has taken a recent interest in the caloric content of kung pao chicken and heading off to the gym more. While this alone might not constitute an affair, his switch his from tightie whities to plaid boxers might be more cause for alarm.

In The Professional Communications Toolkit, author, D. Joel Whalen says,

       Time and time again, your brain stem makes you miserable. It gives you rotton feelings when you                                                                           should be feeling excited and powerful. It makes you stupid when you need to be intelligent. You become a klutz when you need grace and charm. Your brain stem can’t learn from its past mistakes. It continues on its consistent track record of failure, as it obsesses about things that will go wrong. Fear and anxiety are hard to ignore. Your brain thinks it’s protecting you. In reality, it may be harming you with pent up stress and preventing you from optimal performance.

I won’t spoil it for you as to whether Maurey is indeed having an affair. {You’ll have to read it for yourself). But as it turns out Jean discovers that she is addicted to stress, like a lot of us.  As she puts it,

“I am alone in a chasm of appointments, management, and problems.”

c. 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Simmer Down

explorefaith.org
In today’s world it is rare anyone gets a moment to quiet their minds. Work struggles, family struggles, “oh-my-gosh-it’s-the-holiday” struggles seem to vie for space in our heads. Merely entertaining these thoughts can be enough to wear you out.

Yet we want to think about our problems. We think we need to.

As Scott Aaron Gaul, of the QuietMindCafe.com says, “Stress is automatic but relaxation is learned.”

This is because at the root of our stress is fear. You don’t need to tell yourself to worry about imminent doom. That is automatic. The primal part of the brain that is responsible for worrying, doesn’t know the difference between imminent doom and frustration or exasperation. So it responds the same way in either case. It takes higher brain functions to reason and respond.

Myrko Thum tells us in his blog, awakeblogger.com ;
The mind is busy
According to Eastern spirituality, the mind is always attempting to seek pleasure and avoid pain. The mind is never at rest because this attraction and avoidance causes an unending string of thoughts. For some people, most of the thoughts are not satisfying and this lack of satisfaction causes fear and stress. The mind will never find rest through achieving more, it will only find rest through slowing and becoming quiet. 

When we pause for a moment, and take a mental break from the situation, we better able to “reframe” situations as solutions and actions rather than dangers and threats.

c. 2010


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Too blessed to be stressed…


c. http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3421
/3298557327_7bc4bb2a7e.jpg
Thanksgiving, the holiday, doesn’t actually stress me out as much as thanksgiving, the concept does. My parents do Thanksgiving dinner, so they are the ones who do the stressing out about that. My dreamy boyfriend and I enjoy the fruits of their labor. [I do help out a little].

Occasionally I’ll hear someone use the phrase, “I’m too blessed to be stressed.” It always makes me think, Why can’t I have that mindset? And I tell myself that next time I am stressed, I’ll repeat that saying to myself.

With the Thanksgiving holiday around the corner, I always feel somewhat guilty for stressing out about seemingly trivial things when I have so much to be thankful for. And to be honest that kind of stresses me out too. [Ugh, I’m such an ungrateful person].

It’s all a matter of focus, though. If I am concentrating on the aggravations of my daily life, which can build up, if I’m keeping count, it’s hard to be thankful for the many good things I have.

Rhonda Byrne, author of The Secret,  suggests not allowing negative things to take up space in your brain. I disagree with this. How am I supposed to fix them if I don’t think about them? I just can’t let them become my focus.

I am, after all, too blessed to be stressed.

c. 2010

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Emotional GPS


image credit: flickr.com

In SARK’s newest book, Glad No Matter What, there is a chapter entitled Emotional GPS.

She talks about the difference between responding and reacting. [An example of setting Intentional Moods]. She talks about creating an Emotional GPS in our minds that will “recalculate” the emotional route we happen to be going down at that moment.

She cites her experience at the bank where she was dealing with repairing the damage done by fraudulent checks [an understandably tedious task that only few can handle with grace]. By “recaulculating,” she was able to upshift from her reptilian response to her reasoning cerebral functions. Don’t think it doesn’t take work, and practice.

Fortunately, life offers us many opportunities to practice "recalculating." When your children are unappreciative of the meal you spent hours cooking just right, “recalculate.” When your boss isn’t satisfied with your best effort, “recalculate.” When there is a long line at the grocery store, “recalculate.” 

SARK shares,
"If difficult or destructive feelings persist, I keep recalculating until I've discovered a different way to go."

You will then be in a better place to be able to handle things. Responses inspired by thought and consideration are much better than reptilian reactions any day.

She ends her chapter by saying that "we all have access to an emotional GPS within and can utilize our transformative practices and skills to support feeling our feelings, create new routes, and tell new stories."

c. 2010

Monday, November 8, 2010

An interview with Susan Kennedy, aka SARK


SARK is a best-selling author and artist, with sixteen titles in print and well over two million books sold, including the national bestsellers Succulent Wild Women, Bodacious Book of Succulence, Eat Mangoes Naked, Prosperity Pie, Juicy Pens, and Thirsty Paper. Her newest book is Glad No Matter What. She is also the founder and CEO of Planet SARK, a thriving business that creates innovative products and services to support empowered living. SARK lives and creates in San Francisco, CA. But you can visit her in Charlotte, NC, online, at http://www.planetsark.com.

How can we be glad when so many bad things are happening?

How can we not? “Bad” things always have, and will always continue to happen. It is how we choose to respond that makes the difference. We all have an opportunity to respond to whatever is happening with as much gladness as possible, which will always shift the very things that are happening. If you look at every bad or difficult situation, you will ALWAYS find the goodness and gladness. Focusing on that is what creates the real movement and solutions that we are always wanting.

Why are YOU so glad?

I’m NOT all the time, just as much of the time as possible. I’m glad because I’m alive and well and able to contribute to the world and share love in significant ways. It’s not about the glass being half-full or empty, it’s about living with a glass that’s both. We can feel all of our feelings, and find gladness and joy more often. It’s not about finding the silver lining, as much as it is the rainbow lining, which includes all of our feelings, not just the glad ones. Paradoxically, this creates more gladness.

In what specific ways can we all be more glad?

Feel what you feel. When you feel it, then let that go. This will open the channels for more gladness. Look for things to be glad about, and talk about them, write them down, celebrate them. This will call more gladness to you. Make your most “alive choices” which are the ones that are a little scary, or make you a little nervous. These are the things that will fill your soul, and in turn fill the soul of the world. Do your transformative practices, which means taking whatever happens, and finding new ways to respond, and continue to practice. Telling and living new stories. This means that you should stop repeating and reliving negative incidents, and instead focus on retelling the great and good things. This will cause and create more goodness and gladness.

Why this book now?

We are all seeking better ways to live and love our lives and assist the world in being a more creative, nourishing, and glad place. This book demonstrates how I do that, and gives powerful stories and examples of how you can do that. Here are a few examples; facing a 3 hour flight delay, I built a fort in the airport. Being at the DMV with a lot of unhappy people, I stood up and sang Amazing Grace. Hearing that I was being audited, I transformed fear and worry into a great exchange with the IRS agent who cried because she said no had ever been that nice to her.

What was your biggest inspiration for writing this book?

The deaths of my mother and cat, and the end of a romantic relationship formed the initial reason for writing the book, but transformation is always my greatest inspiration, and how we can literally “change the form” or what happens to us and what we do with that, is the basis of this book. All of my changes and losses have been transformed into gifts and opportunities, and those gifts and opportunities create more GOODNESS and GLADNESS to share with the world.

Can one really be “glad no matter what”  ?

Yes. By finding the glad parts in WHATever happens, and doing our transformational practices. We will still feel all of our feelings, we will just be invited not to spend so much time there. By feeling what we feel when we feel it, we can learn to better hold multiple feelings and find the glad parts in as many of them as possible.

What losses have you transformed into gifts or opportunities?

I was molested by a family member and transformed it into compassion and forgiveness. The death of my mother was transformed into feelings of unconditional love and gladness that she lived and that she was my mom. The death and physical loss of my cat showed me that his unconditional love lives within me, and that I now share that with the world. The loss of youth has and is being transformed into wisdom and self-love that is profound and life changing. The loss of money has transformed into knowing that our true wealth does not lie in the material but the spiritual. The changes in my business have resulted in entirely new uses of technology and creativity.

You say that whatever is happening, we have the opportunity to practice centering ourselves. What does that mean and how do we do it?

By doing our transformative practices, we can choose to respond to what is happening instead of reacting. We can allow whatever is, instead of resisting what we say we don’t want. We center ourselves by knowing that whatever is happening, it is external. We go within and center in the internal. This will create calm, compassionate responses to outside circumstances. And when we forget and react instead, we know that our transformative practices will lead us back to our truer responses. Here is a recent example; a driver was late in picking me up to drive me to the airport. Rushing to meet him, I slipped in cat poop and fell down. He greeted without explanation or acknowledgment about being late. I reacted defensively and so did he. I considered not riding with him as part of my reaction. Instead, I sat in the back of the car staring at the back of his head, disliking him. Then I went within and responded differently and asked if we could start over. We ended up forgiving each other and hugging and crying at the airport.

What is the middle place? How do we get there?

The middle place is in between the extremes of our emotions. It is where we can find our greatest centering and compassion. The middle place is messy and full of multiple feelings. It’s not concerned with “being right.” It’s where we might say; “I’m disappointed that my friend didn’t ___ , but I love him/her and choose to think the best about it.” We get there by going within before responding and choosing not to quickly react to outside circumstances. And when we forget, we go to the middle place to find our calm, compassionate responses.

You encourage your readers to go towards the broken, dark, and difficult places. Why?

Avoiding them doesn’t work. It is very tempting to avoid, deny, lie, and create cover ups. It seems to work in the short term, but it accrues and causes tremendous damages later. Time does not heal anything either without applied transformative practices. I know this because I tried everything to not feel the darker, more difficult feelings. Then I attempted suicide and woke up to really begin my transformative practice work. We need to feel everything. We can use a flashlight to look at the darkness and get help to support us. We can learn not to dwell in repetitive negative stories and live with life-long grudges. We can do our transformative practices now and all of our lives and live in a much more self-loving, self-caring way.

How can we support others with their losses/grief?

By doing our transformative practices, we are much better positioned to support others. We can compassionately witness their experiences, which means to listen without judgment or fixing. We can be present for their pain, which means to just be there. We can acknowledge what has happened or is happening, which will open up the channels for them to allow instead of resist. We can hold them in the highest light, which means to see them coming through a change or loss, and not stuck there, which is what they fear. We can remind them of their holy purpose and how we can see them changing or growing. We can light little lanterns in our hearts for them and tell them that. We can remind them that THIS TOO IS CHANGING and will not last. We can encourage them to “hold their experience,” which means to deeply experience all of their feelings as much as possible and result in greater healing. We can let them know that we see, hear, and feel them We can create opportunities to creatively assist them in times of transition. Instead of focusing on our helplessness, we can think of things we can do, that will be of use. We can understand that our BEING is more important than our doing.


What will being glad really DO for people?

It will fill them from the inside, so that they become and live like “full cups of self-love and gladness” sharing the overflow with the world.

What’s the “glad game?’

It originated with Eleanor Porter’s book Pollyanna. Pollyanna was a young girl whose parents died and she was sent to live with relatives in a small town that she didn’t know. Her relatives were less than kind and the town unwelcoming. Pollyanna invented the glad game to play with everyone she met. In time, her relatives and the whole town transformed. In this way, we can all play the glad game with our lives. With whatever is happening, we can feel our feelings, and then find the good and glad that’s there, and share that too. For example, my friend jus thad a car accident on the freeway and her car was totaled and she had no collision insurance. She was shocked, scared, worried, and angry. She was also grateful not to be physically injured and glad that I came to help her. Later she was even more glad that her estranged father appeared in her life and helped her to get a replacement car.

What’s the biggest difference between this book and the first book you wrote/published?

The fact that I’ve been doing my transformative practices for 20 years and it shows in my ability to live “in the middle,” and live like a full cup of self-love and gladness, sharing the overflow with the world. That I practice feeling all of my feelings fully as much as possible, and that I can show others how and why to do the same. That I’m a “transformative change agent,” actively living and practicing what I’m writing about.”

What is one question people never ask you that you wish they would?

What are your NEW dreams? Do you have enough romance in your life and would you like more? How has your work nourished you?

Who or what inspires you?

YOU. The world. Everything from my toaster crumbs to purple starfish on the beach in British Columbia, next to bioluminescent water.

When did you know you were a writer?

When I was 10 years old and my 80 year-old best friend Mr. Boggs went into the hospital and my mom told me he probably wouldn’t be coming out. So I wrote and created something for him every day for a month. And he did get out and said to me; “I think you saved my life. Nobody else called or wrote while I was in there, and I had to get out to see you.” I ran in the house and said; “Mom! I’m supposed to be a beacon of hope and write books for the world.” And she said, “eat your peanut butter sandwich.” I wrote my first book that summer.

photo credit: http://www.planetsark.com/eshop_products_books_feat_15.htm 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Trivial Reptiles?


I witnessed a hilarious reptilian episode at our trivia game this past week. Finn is a regular participant at most events. Oh yeah, and he cheats. Everyone knows this, but can’t seem to prove it. Since I could, I said something to the host. As he was turning in his answer sheet, I came beside him, and said to Scott, the host. Don’t accept Finn’s answers. He was cheating. I listed my allegations, along with my proof that he had been looking up his answers.

I’m used to denial when I turn people in for cheating, [yeah, I do it a lot]. But this was a sight to be seen. I really wish I had a video of this, it is just too indescribable.

Oh my GOSH! Why would I cheat? I turn people in for cheating! When else am I supposed to go to the bathroom? I don’t even have a signal in there. Follow me in there, I want to show you that I don’t have a signal! He says in a high- pitched voice, not taking a breath.

This went on for at least 5 minutes straight, maybe longer. Poor Scott didn’t know what to do.

Finn felt threatened and went first into the classic “fight” defense mode. The thing is, he is all talk. He went into “flight” mode by running out the door at the end. When he was caught breaking the rules, a misdeed, he had probably crafted an entire alternative reality to himself as to why it was justified, he was frantic to defend it.

Our reptilian brains are our most primitive brains, and are incapable of reasoning or rational thinking. Finn’s reptilian brain, like ours, which is responsible for stress responses, doesn’t know the difference between being my accusing him of cheating at trivia or physically threatening him. All it knows is that it’s being threatened. It requires more cerebral thinking for that to happen. Usually this happens rather quickly, but it is possible to get stuck in your brainstem, as Finn was.

He was getting so combative that it was provoking my reptilian stress response as well. I’m not exaggerating when I say that it took some real upshifting to not call him the piece of shit that he was. After all, it’s just trivia for me.

photo credit: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2570/3984964652_c52233b3cd_z.jpg?zz=1

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Workplace Stress As a Source of Humor

Today's post is borrowing from John Kinde's e-letter.  John Kinde is a humor specialist, which has to be the coolest job EVER! Anyway, I am hoping he doesn't mind me using his post.

On to,  Workplace Stress As a Source of Humor, by John Kinde
Stressful work conditions, hospitals, war zones, police work and
other life-and-death situations are fertile grounds for humor.
This is because stress builds tension...and tension begs to be
released.  Humor is one of nature's stress relievers.
In the 1970s I worked with nuclear weapons as an ICBM (missile)
Launch Officer.  It's a job with certain stress factors that come
with the territory.  The possibility of being directed to launch
your missiles is an obvious stress situation.  But other, more
persistent stress factors were built into the system, similar to
the artificial stress of military basic training.  If you can't
take the stress of training, competition and evaluation, how could
you ever handle the stress of an actual combat situation? And then
there was stress from boredom, created by hour-after-hour working
shifts in the underground launch centers and never having to do
your job for real...thankfully.
One of the groups well-known for creating humor in the missile
business was The Groobers from FE Warren AFB.  In the mid-1970s,
four missileers formed a singing group which created humorous songs
about the Strategic Missile business.  They even produced a vinyl
record album of their music.  They were a hit performing as musical
guests at many command functions including the Olympic Arena
competitions at Vandenberg AFB, where I first saw them perform.
One of the lesser sources of stress for those in the missile
business was the second-class citizen feeling of some crew members
being in a pilot-dominated Air Force.  A group at Vandenberg AFB
created a parody for a banquet based on the USAF Thunderbirds, an
elite fighter-jet demonstration team.  Since the skit they created
was focused on missile launch officers, they adopted the name of
The Thunder Chairs and featured precision-demonstration launch
center activities from crew changeover to turning the keys (we
didn't launch by "pushing the button").  They were a big hit.
It was the environment of the missile career field that got me into
the humor business.  In 1976, I teamed up with two really funny guys
who worked in my unit.  As a serious person, I started learning the
foundations of good humor.  For three years we created entertainment
for our holiday parties, going away events and retirements.  The
two funny co-workers taught this not-naturally-funny guy the skills
of creating humor.
I recommend that you volunteer to be on a committee at your
workplace and help plan entertaining parties.  You'll help raise
morale and you'll sharpen your humor skills.  Creating fun parties
gave the initial focus to me, the Groobers, and the Thunder Chairs.
Volunteering gives you a hands-on workshop which trains you to be
funnier.
There are many career fields more stressful than the missile
business.  One at the top of the list is working in a hospital
operating room, where life-and-death decisions are an every-day
reality.  Humor becomes an important coping tool.  A person working
in a surgical unit is most likely aware of a category of humor
called Gallows Humor.  It's humor created in the moment, normally
by a person under stress.  It's a coping tool.  There is a
right-and-wrong time and place for this type of humor.  A health
care professional, using this type of humor under pressure, needs
to be aware that one person's coping tool is another person's
inappropriate humor.  A health-care professional needs to be
cautious of using coping humor while in the presence of patients
and family members.  What is being used as a survival,
pressure-relief valve could be perceived as unprofessional by
someone not in the business.
Last week I received an email with a link to surgical room humor.
Toastmaster friend Karen Lewison referred me to a song parody which
also happens to fit into the category of our latest Joke Contest
theme...Music on Hold.
The link took me to a song parody by The Laryngospasms adapting the
song "Waking Up Is Hard to Do" to the profession of
nurse-anesthetists.  It is NOT an example of Gallows Humor, as it's
not created on-the-spot by an individual as a reaction to a
stressful situation.  It's a terrific parody produced by a very
talented group of nurses.  The parody itself will be funniest to
nurse-anesthetists and medical professionals.  People outside of
the business will also likely find it funny, but less so than
people who work in a surgical suite.  Many patients would also find
it funny, but there will be some who would not like it, as a
reaction to the apprehension they are feeling. What I do know, is
that if I'm wheeled into an operating room anytime soon, I want the
people working on me to have a good sense of humor! It's an
essential tool I want in their bag.
Before I give you the link, let me prepare you for what you're
going to see; some lessons to be learned:
The parody is funny primarily because working in an operating room
is a stressful job.  That makes it a place ripe for humor, because
of the humor principle of tension relief results in laughter.  The
Laryngospasms
 take their workplace and use it to grow tasteful song
parodies.  Their work provides an excellent source of stress relief
for professionals in their line of work.
A lesson to be learned from watching this video is:  Doing a parody
of a song where you customize it to fit a specific group is a very
effective way to get laughs.  And the secret is, you really don't
have to be a great singer to make it work (although in this example
The Laryngospasms are terrific singers).  The strength of a good
parody lies in the content, the writing, the tailoring and the
customization and not primarily in the musical skills of the singer.
Although if you ARE a good singer, that's a plus.  Remember that
the audience usually respects a good effort.  The rule in the
improv world is:  "If you can't sing...sing loud!"  Be bold and
confident.  It's the fit of the parody to the audience that
carries the day.
Also notice how they record the song music-video style in an
operating room.  This allows them to use props to accentuate the
humor.  It also allows them to include a nice twist by having the
"patient" sing along.  So even if you're presenting a parody at a
special event, it's an option to video record it in advance rather
than to perform it live.  Both performance techniques have their
advantages.
Here is the link to the Waking Up Is Hard to Do parody
For information on The Laryngospasms and other parodies (Mr
Sandman
 and All I have To Do is Dream) visit The Laryngospasms
web site
 and click on VIDEOS.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Follow your bliss...


I’ve been able to catch up on my outside blog reading today. I found a great post by my friend, and fellow writer Sabrina Steyling, on her blog, Runnin’ Down a Dream.


Sabrina cites Ellen from Love That Max, as the inspiration for her post, What makes you happy - really, REALLY happy?

In it, she talks about making a “bliss list,” which is simply a list of things that make you smile. I think this is an ingenious idea, and can prove to be a useful reference during stressful times at work, 
when everything seems to be going wrong.

Is your boss yelling at you? Conflict with a co-worker or client? Just having one of those ineffective days? Refer to your “bliss list.”

What exactly IS a bliss list? I’ll share a couple from mine to get you started.

• The quiet stillness of a fresh new morning.

• The first stream of consciousness I get from a delicious cup of Komodo Dragon coffee.

• Laughing my head off in the midst of stress.

• Knowing I’ll be able to come home from a tough day to write, and mock whatever bad may have happened.

• Being able to wake up refreshed from an afternoon nap. [when I can].

What’s your bliss?

c. 2010
image credit http://www.flickr.com/photos/21974665@N00/3154158468/

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Interview with Patient Care Leader/ RN, Joellen Inman-Puckett

Joellen Inman-Puckett is by far, the cheeriest person I have ever met. She is always a breath of fresh air to our morning at the Cafe. I asked her how she keeps your wonderful disposition amidst working 2 very stressful jobs, along with being a wife/mother.

LEXAPRO! Hahahahhahahaha. Listen, in my line of work as a Patient Care Leader and ER nurse, I work with people who have REAL problems. I realized years ago that, if I'm not grateful for my abundant blessings, God may look down and give me a REAL reason to complain!  It can always get worse.  And it's two jobs, for which I am eternally grateful for in this economy when so many people can't find ONE job!  Wife/mother?  Well, the Lexapro DOES help...but I'm a nurturer, not a leader.  I don't think there's anything more pittibul than a patient in the hospital with no friends or family to care or visit.  I'm so grateful to have my family....again, it can all vanish in the blink of an eye!

I can't imagine you stressed. what would really flip your lid?

Well, I AM a natural redhead....and you know those Scotch-Irish genes run really strong in my family!  I have actually become hysterical when seeing an animal abused. I'm a mother hen by nature, so any type of neglect or abuse of those who can't fend for themselves, animals, children, elderly, really gets my hackles up.  I don't care WHO you are.  I can be a real mean-y....

And don't talk down or look down your nose at me. I grew up with a bit of a chip on my shoulder ("I'd rather be dead than red on the head") and it can rear it's ugly head from time to time...usually when I've been off the Lexapro for a couple of days.  Usually I consider the source and laugh it off, but sometimes.....  I once had a patient who was irritable due to the amount of post-procedure pain he was having. I was explaining the need for him to take deep breaths and cough, which was, of course, uncomfortable for him.  He asked "and WHY should I be listening to you?"  Before I could think I answered " Twenty seven years as a Registered Nurse and Two graduate degrees...do you REALLY want to continue down  this road?"  with the sweetest smile I could muster.  I told you the temper can flare at times!  Hehehehehe.

Could you describe your jobs, along with the things that really stress you out about them. 

I am a Patient Care Leader on a post-surgical unit during the week, and work in the ER about three Saturdays a month.  Unfortunately I'm seeing more and more patients who are seeking narcotics as an escape from their unhappy life (I can't do anything about that, Honey). And of course there are always more patient needs than nurses to cover them, so we are never as good as we would like to be.  But I figure, hey, you do the best you can, then let God take over. I believe God is in charge anyway, and all I can do is all I can do. 

Divas irritate me.  Diva patients, Diva doctors, Diva visitors.  Someone get out the preamble of the Constitution, because I do believe it states that ALL MEN (AND WOMEN) were created equal.  I am SOOOOO unimpressed with a person who feels the need to impress me.  Ungrateful people are a  pain in the arse.  Character comes from triumph over struggles. Divas avoid struggles.  

How do you handle your various stressors? Because you give off a very relaxed, ‘together” vibe. Tell us your secret of success.

Hahahahaha.  If you could see me at 0500 or before I fall in bed!!!!!!!  Hahahaha. I joke that, when coming out of the stairwell at work, people are inclined to ask for a CODE/CRASH cart because I look like I'm on my last breath!

Getting older is THE BEST!  I KNOW what I KNOW at 50, and plan on becoming more outrageous as I age!!! The great thing about this stage in my life, is that life is not about the appearances or shallow factors.  One KNOWS what matters.  I have realized, at the ripe age of 50, that no one CARES if I'm wearing mascara or not.  I'm no longer competing with the skinny girl to see who can be the prettiest, the thinnest, or the richest.  My goal is to be the one having the most fun...laughing the most...making a difference in the most lives I can. 

One of your nicknames is "pitbull RN," how can you be a pitbull and not be stressed? 

 I know what I know....do NOT mess with my family, my friends, or my patients.  You mess with them, you mess with me.  And if your mother didn't teach you right from wrong, I will.  Before you leave this world, you WILL know.   And if I die in the process, well, that's OK because I go to a better place and can haunt you the rest of your days!
Voila!  Ce'st PitbullRN!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Let your smile be your umbrella

I have been LOVING Aaron Wong’s blog, Looking for my Life. A recent post is on the importance of smiling and ways to keep a smile on your face.

Smiles are important not only for interactions with others, but they are also beneficial to us as well. How many times has “comic relief” softened a situation, or has an unexpected genuine smile lifted our moods?

I don’t want to say something cliché like, “let your smile be your umbrella,” or “smile through the pain,” or something like that [even though that is the title of my post]. But it is true that a genuine smile that lights up your face will also brighten your mood.

Taking it a bit further from a smile to laughter, Saranne Rothberg,
Founder/CEO of The ComedyCures Foundation. The organization is committed to bringing healing through laughter. Saranne is a cancer survivor, who truly knows her topic, as she has experienced it. She and her daughter discovered that therapeutic comedy served as a great family coping strategy as they dealt with Saranne’s early stage IV cancer diagnosis.

“We bring joy, laughter, and therapeutic humor programs to kids and grown-ups living with illness depression, trauma and disabilities.”

Similarly, Rhonda Byrne, author of The Secret, tells of Norman Cousins, who was diagnosed with an incurable disease. His response to this was not to stress, but to laugh. All he did was watch funny movies & laugh. As he laughed he released all negativity, and basically cured himself.

But you don’t have to have a terminal illness to benefit from laughter. Laughter is a proven way to eliminate reptilian thinking.

Fortunately we are provided with a wealth of material just from watching the people around us.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Reptiles in Literature Series : Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell


That's Stupid!

Ever notice, the more threatened someone is by something, the more apt they are to put it down; call it stupid, ignorant, etc.? Laughter or mockery is a classic defense mechanism. I’m not even sure most of the time we consciously know that we do it.

I was reading Suanna Clarke's fictional masterpiece, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell, when I came across an all too familiar example of this primal defense.

Some years ago, there was in the city of York a society of magicians. They met upon the third Wednesday of every month to read each other long, dull papers on the history of English magic.

They were gentlemen-magicians, which is to say that they never harmed anyone by their magic -- nor ever done anyone the slightest good. In fact, to own the truth, none of these magicians had ever cast the smallest spell, nor by magic, caused one leaf to tremble upon a tree, made one mote of dust to alter it's course or changed a single hair upon anyone's head. But with this one minor reservation, they enjoyed a reputation as some of the wisest and most magical gentlemen in Yorkshire.

These men were the most esteemed men in Yorkshire. They studied magic, yet did not practice. When they were asked the legitimate question, "Can you do magic," or "Can I see a trick," the questioner was mocked, as if it were a preposterous notion.

They were threatened by the thought of actually having to perform magic. None of them knew how to do that. It is easier to laugh at the questioner, than risk a situation where they look foolish, and might be laughed at.

c. 2010

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Anonymous in Atlanta



This week’s interview requested that she be kept anonymous, for security purposes.
She was a Physicians Assistant in the large hospital I work in, before she transferred to Atlanta.

Susan assists with a lot of surgeries, so she is dealing with not only her own stress, but the heightened stress of the patients, as well as the doctors. So her job is very stressful. Honestly though, she either has a really good mask or really handles stress well. You wouldn’t think she has a care in the world, to talk to her. So I asked her about it.

She said that her two biggest stressors are making sure that her patients’ needs are met in a timely manner. This would include medications, pre or post-operative care, to just making sure they are comfortable. If there is anyone who can put an ailing person at ease it is Susan.

Always the joker, she certainly can’t be accused of taking things too seriously. She’s always got a prank or a joke up her sleeve. I can guarantee that you won’t spend 2 minutes with her before you start laughing.

Though I couldn’t imagine it, I asked her if she ever had disagreements with anyone, staff or patient, and how she handled such altercations.

“Aside from cussing them out?” she asks. Then she explains, “physicians and doctors have egos, you have to be careful not to bruise their egos, let them know [that your way might be better] in a non-threatening way.”

She says her best ways of releasing stress are grinding her teeth, Peruvian coffee beans and humor. She has her gal pals. She always knows where the party is. She says good people make all the difference. She cites my cardinal rule, Leave work at work.

c. 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010

No Contest: Night Owls, Early Birds


I found a blog today discussing the benefits of early risers as opposed to late sleepers.

The early bird gets the worm? Not always.
To me, there is no need for early birds and night owls to vie for success. Not only will they both be successful, but they will be less stressed if they work when they are most alert. I am most alert in the morning time. I get more done before 8 am than many people. However, don't ask me to do anything requiring thought after 5 pm, when I am at my most sluggish. Most "normal' people can get a lot done then. It all evens out.

The Zen Habits website tells us in the article, Simple Manifesto: Break Free from the Tyranny of the Clock;

"The clock is a very very recent invention, and even more recent is our modern society’s slavish adherence to the dictatorship of the clock.
Only very recently have we been forced to work from 8 to 5, and to go to school and follow a very rigid class schedule. Only very recently have we become obsessed with tracking and making use of every minute, so that we have things to do when we’re waiting for other things to happen."

You will be most successful working with your body's own clock, not necessarily the world's.

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Interview with Starbucks' Manager Jamal Magness


This week I decided to interview my manager, Jamal Magness. Let me just say, that Jamal is the best example of how to handle stress. He is by far the most laid back person I have ever met, [and certainly ever worked for]. So I talked to him to find out his secret.

He tells me kind of incredulously that he has been working in the food service business for 12 years. When I asked him how he has stayed sane all those years, he laughed wryly.

“A lot of exercise and a lot of patience; but really the best thing you can do is leave work at work.”

His rule of separating work from his personal life is probably the best advice I know of. I also can attest firsthand to it.

Since Jamal seems so unaffected by the stress that comes naturally with his job, I asked him how he handles conflict in general, and with his superiors, in particular.

He claims he’s been very “lucky,” not to have ever had any interpersonal problems with his managers. At the same time, he says “as long as you are doing the job to the best of your ability, you shouldn’t have conflicts.”

He said that when he has disagreements with his superiors about how things should be done, the only real way to change their minds is to demonstrate how his plan is the better one.

He laughs about “the customer is always right” rule. He says it’s usually a situation where we both end up being 50% right. Both of us will have to compromise.

I asked him to share a funny stress-related story. He brought up one I clearly remember because I was there. This lady who is by no means a regular. The last time she came in had to have been at least a year ago. Our espresso machine was broken, so we couldn’t make a good majority of our drinks. She wanted a double espresso. Her response to our machine malfunctions was to throw a fit. I would like to say that I have never seen an adult behave that way, but unfortunately I have. [Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve
been her once or twice].

“You mean I can’t get my espresso?” When we told her that that was indeed the situation, she started to whine. “I HAVE to have my espresso.”

Jamal handled this with nothing less than aplomb. He was sympathetic. “I’m so sorry,” he said knowing her disappointment.

He said that many customers don’t understand that our job is more than just pouring coffee. They don’t realize the many variables that go into it. If something is off, it won’t be right.

So, how does he respond to this? He often goes above and beyond the call of duty.

“I’m not going to serve you bad coffee,” he says. “These days stuff is expensive, and that is a source of stress.”

That is one thing you don’t have to stress about if Jamal is serving your drink.


c. 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010

Tales from the Cafe...


There was a no-nonsense, harried, business-type lady who came into the Cafe the other day asking for a doppio macchiato; a hard-core drink to match her personality, it seemed. (A doppio macchiato is a double shot of espresso marked with a dollop of foam.)

She asked for a doppio macchiato in a larger cup with foam all the way to the top. Simple enough for a coffee connoisseur, only we work in a hospital, where a lot of the clientele aren’t well-versed with our menu. There have been several instances where people will order an espresso macchiato meaning a completely different drink. To avoid any confusion, I clarified, do you want a caramel macchiato?

To be fair, I probably would have responded similarly, had the situation been reversed. She kind of rolled her eyes, and very curtly corrected me explaining what she wanted. “No, not a caramel macchiato. I want 2 shots of espresso with foam all the way to the top.”

Now this is also a source of confusion. Some people want a little milk with their foam, because it is really not much of a drink, as a powerful gulp, otherwise. So I usually confirm that is what they, indeed want.

This woman clearly did not have time for questions. “OK, this is what I want. 2 shots of espresso in a tall cup with foam all the way to the top,” she replied in an oh my gosh, can they be so ignorant tone.

Granted, we are in a hospital, so I can’t even begin to imagine what sorts of stress she is feeling. The fact that she is venting a little on an easy target, the baristas who can’t seem to get it right, is understandable, I guess.

And I’ve probably have done it too….

c. 2010

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Interview with Comic Book writer, Don Smith


I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing my friend, Don Smith. Don writes comic books, and he has made me a fan. Right now Don has a column on InvestComics.com,
as well as the New Jersey Patch

BROOKE: I've read several genres of your work; articles, reviews, fiction. You have a real talent for writing. How did you narrow down your writing skills to comic books?

DON: First, thank you so much for the kind words about that. I really appreciate it.

However, with writing skills, I tend to have one view on writing and that is just to keep it simple as possible.

For me, I find if I spend my time wanting to over do my writing or go into directions I do not need to, I tend to ramble.

With comic book writing, what appeals to me as opposed to say fiction, is getting right into the action. Instead of saying, "It was a dark and stormy night and he felt his heart beat faster. It was just thunder, he thought, as he heard the rumble."

BROOKE: As a comic book writer, what are some of the stressors you typically encounter?

DON: Much of what stresses me is meeting deadlines. To be 100 percent honest, I have a major deadline due towards the end of September and right now as I write this I have a pit in my stomach.

I call it a tightening and I think there may be some anxiety issues here.

Simply, at the risk of sounding like some sad person dealing with self-esteem issues, I have been a newspaper reporter but my real love has been comic books, and now that I acutally write them I am waiting for "the man" to come in and say, "Mr. Smith, there is a mistake. You need to go back to data entry!"

But a lot of my stressors are more personality inflicted and that comes from me never learning how to deal with personality conflicts and the like, but for the record, I have been reading and talking to some real smart people and learning how to do it.

BROOKE: What sorts of conflicts does your particular work group encounter? Do you always agree with the way the artist portrays your work, does the artist always agree with your story line?

DON: Oddly, the biggest conflicts I have are intnernal (see the previous question). I still can't believe I get to do something I love and a lot of it coming to terms with that.

However, I will say that biggest issue I find in this industry is jealousy.

There is so much about the entertainment industry that is a crap shoot (comic books especially). A guy who has been slaving in his comics for years will go unnoticed, but some kid comes out of left field and happens to be the son of the landscaper for the president of Marvel Comics and boom, this kid gets a comic like SPIDER-MAN.

(For the record, this did not happen, but I use this as an example).

The old-timer begins an underground backlash of the kid's success (whether deserved or not).

While I get the old man's frustration, and I get the promotion and nepotism that has been going on since the beginning of time, the old man needs to realize, we all have different paths.

I find I end up meeting the dumb old guy.

That can be very, very disheartening.

Now regarding artists, a lot of times, I have a "Let the artist do the job" sort of thing. To me, they are very, very important, so I almost do not want to make waves.

Also, some of the comic stuff the publisher has the final say in the artist and I don't. I hate to say that I have been known to "Grin and bear it," but I have too.

Sometimes I voice my concern, other times I don't. It depends on the time and place.

BROOKE: You’ve written some political comics, which are incredibly deep for what people would expect from comics. Do you ever run into problems from the editor/producer?

DON: Actually, right now my experience has been very positive with the few editors I have worked with.

If something needs to be changed, I tend to go along with it.

BROOKE: Do you ever experience writer's block? How do you deal with it?

DON: Writer's Block is interesting. Some days the words come flying out of my fingers to keyboards like I am taking Supernatural Dictation.

Other times trying to get the next word on to the page is like squeezing out that last bit of toothpaste. Or better yet, it's like getting that last sip from a soda at the bottom of a cup of ice.

The best way to deal with Writer's Block I find is stepping away from the computer. I have been known to go and lay down for a half hour, not sleep, but not think about anything. I meditate, I call it.

Recently, I have found that going out for a walk and not thinking about it helps.

In the HITCHHIKER'S TO THE GUIDE GALAXY series, Douglas Adams said that the best way to fly is throw yourself to the ground and think about something else. Your mind will be so used to the idea of you hitting the ground it will be distracted and you can levitate up.

In an odd way, writing is like that. Writer's Block even more so.

You know when people say they do their best thinking in the bathroom, it's the truth. Without getting too graphic, people go in the bathroom to either shower or...well...um...we all saw the movie DUMB AND DUMBER (thank you, Jeff Daniels and a bottle of Super Lax). But the point is your mind is so wrapped up in the story or the problem that you need something to take you outside yourself and all the synapses that were not connecting, connect.

Same principle.

I try to think about something else, and usually that refocuses me on the writing problem.

BROOKE: Part of the writer’s life, is dealing with unemployment. How do you deal with the ups and downs of this industry?

DON: You know, I wish I had some massive answer to say, "I let go and give it to God."

But some days are harder than other.

Right now, I am learning to surrender things over to God. I don't mean one of those "I give up!" sort of deals, but a full blown, "I offer God control of this situation."

Some are easier, and some are harder. I am dealing with some stubborn issues right now, that as I said, are ingrained in my core, so I am praying this gets lifted.

Not the thing causing me stress, but learning what my real worth is.

As much as I love comic books and being a writer, if something should happen where I stopped doing this (here I mean like a disease or something that stops my brain from working) I want to be defined by myself inside not because of people's views of me.

Make sense?

BROOKE: Absolutely. What is your best outlet for stress?

DON: I find a lot of time just walking away and going "I can't deal with this. This is to big, God I give this to you" and then focus on something else tends to help.

I would love to say, "I burn off my stress with jogging or racquet ball " but none of that is me.

I will admit, I do walk a lot, and I tend to do that when I feel more stressed and that really works wonders, but most of the time, I look for the cause of the stress and eliminate it.

It makes things so much easier.

BROOKE: Is there a particularly funny story involving stress on the job that you experienced, please feel free to share?

DON: Yeah, I have one.

In my comic book POLITICAL POWER: RUSH LIMBAUGH, I wrote myself in as narrator (which is the custom of the comic series). For the heck of it, I wrote in my cat Banjo to bring the narration some more life.

BROOKE: Oh yeah! I heard that!

Anyway, when the comic came out in May of this year, a caller called into Rush Limbaugh's show. The reader was some "genius" from Ohio who said, "Well, Rush, did you have a cat named Banjo?"

You see, I admit I am a big guy, and the artist drew me similarly to Rush. However, if he had read the comic he would see the narrator say, "I am Don, this is my cat, Banjo."

Well, on national radio, it was great for Rush to talk about the comic, but it was inaccurate. My goal was to be as accurate as possible, because I thought Rush really did get the raw end of the deal on a lot of media.

Thank God I did speak with one of his producers Kit Carson and told him what I was about and what the comic was about. He told me that the people he spoke with had responded positively to the comic, so I was happy.

But several months later, THE NEW YORK TIMES ran an article about Bluewater Comics (the publisher of the Rush Limbaugh comic) and they brought up the Banjo incident.

All I can say is considering THE NEW YORK TIMES is putting the details of the United States Terrorist Surveillance Program and done with an erudite manner, I am not surprised.

But still I will say, "Don Smith, whose work has been featured on the RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW and in THE NEW YORK TIMES, has a new comic book coming out."

Either way, it works out.

BROOKE: Indeed. That’s quite a feather in your cap.

Brooke, thank you for this chance. I really appreciate it and am grateful for it.

c. 2010

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Being Present


We can easily manage if we will only take, each day, the burden appointed to it. But the load will be too heavy for us if we carry yesterday's burden over again today, and then add the burden of the morrow before we are required to bear it. ~John Newton


In an age where multi-tasking is admired and encouraged, few people even know how to live in the moment. It takes no rocket scientist to determine that this is probably the reason most are so wigged out.

We’ve all heard the quote from John Lennon, “Life is what happens while you are making other plans.” I could take it a step further and say, “Life is what happens while you are doing other things.”

We consider it to be more productive to be “doing” all the time. Not that there is anything wrong with doing. But in order to be truly effective, “doing” needs to be balanced out with “being.”

How often do we enter a conversation with our friends or family, and not recall what they said, because we are busy planning our next move? It is impossible to truly spend quality time with people if your mind is not engaged. This most definitely affects our relationships.


The Zen Habits website list some benefits of being in the moment:

• Increased enjoyment. I find that I enjoy life more if I’m present rather than having my mind elsewhere. Food tastes better, I have more fun with my family, even work becomes more enjoyable.

• Reduced stress. Worrying about the past and future gives you stress. But being present is almost like meditation. There are no worries. There is just experiencing.

• Better relationships. When you really commit yourself to being with someone, to listening to them, you are being a better father, husband, friend, daughter, girlfriend. You have better conversations. You bond.

• Get things done. I find that focusing on what I’m doing, rather than trying to multitask or multithink a million different things at once, I actually complete what I’m doing, do a better job on it, and get it done faster. I don’t necessarily do more, but I get things done. Focus tends to get things done, in my experience, and when your focus is split among a lot of things, it is less powerful.


I’ve never been a good multi-tasker. I hear others say that it is the same for them. But we do it anyway to try to get things done. I know for me, if I can focus on doing individual tasks correctly and thoroughly, it will improve my overall performance, as well as enjoyment with the tasks.

Being present is a win/win situation for everyone involved.

c.2010