Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Laughter and a bad memory will help you beat stress.

I was reading this month’s Woman’s World magazine, when I came across a little snippet in the front of the issue where they list random tips. The tips can range from household to beauty, to anything you can imagine.

This weeks’ list included a tip about managing stress by laughing at it. They cited the journal of Anxiety Stress and Coping as a basis for this tip.

I know the benefits of laughter as a stress reliever, but this seemed a little overly simplistic to me. You can’t solve all problems be laughing at them, I thought. Plus that’s one way to really get in trouble with management at work. Laughing at the boss is generally NOT a good idea.

But I was curious about this, so I tried it. Trying it on a Monday was the perfect test.

Darn it if it didn’t work! Not exactly as I expected, It certainly didn’t solve anything, it just helped my attitude. I didn’t have to meet each stressor with a huge guffaw, just an inner chuckle was enough to change my outlook.

When the man came in with his large list of orders that he sped through, without taking a breath, all the while holding his money out, seeming annoyed when I wasn't following as fast as he was ordering, I just smiled.

When the really high-maintenance lady came in who likes the whipped cream for her third-caf mocha on the side, in a separate cup, like she always does, I chuckled to myself.

I laughed and calmly switched the trash bag which one lady dumped her entire Venti coffee in it after putting the wrong creamer in it. Because what else would you do with it? [My boyfriend insists that this isn’t all that clear].

When the lady who doesn’t acknowledge me, because apparently I am invisible to her; I laughed to myself, very pleased with my newfound shape-shifting abilities

Ordinarily the combined angst of these individual annoyances would have put me in a none-too-pleasant mood. These things would have momentarily bugged me, and I would have given them more space in my brain than they deserved; ruminating over them and getting annoyed over and over again.

But today I was laughing at them and forgetting about them.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Path to Your Dreams

In our current economic predicament, lots are finding themselves without a job. While terrifying, I realize, I am seeing this as a good thing, though. It opens doors for new entrepreneurs to open their doors.

Trying new things is very risky, but so is anything these days. Nothing is secure, least of all any large corporation. Why not move from one insecure situation to another one that will make you proud?

Now is the opportunity to really live that dream of yours. Always dreamt of opening your own business? Consulting, coffee, computer, whatever…. Give it a go. The worst that can happen is that you’ll fail miserably.

You’ll learn many valuable lessons. You’ll learn a lot about how not to do it. You will also be able to decide if it’s worth it in the first place.

What about the money, you say? There are all kinds of grants available for this sort of thing. You may need to take a part time job to help finance it. I didn’t say it would be easy; just rewarding.

If you do have to take a “menial” part time job to make ends meet while you are pondering your dream, don’t think of it as “menial.” Enjoy the scenery. Live in the moment, but think of it as a stepping stone to your destiny.  It will give you networking skills. You may even gain future clients who will remember your professionalism in what they see as a “mediocre” work environment.

When people ask what you do, as they always will, don’t roll your eyes and say, Well, I work at such and such place, but I’d really rather be doing….” Say, I am a professional web designer, or whatever. I moonlight here to finance my business."

So investigate that website, business model, restaurant idea that’s been in the back of your mind for years. Make “someday” today. It will energize you just thinking about it.

c. 2011

Sunday, September 11, 2011



I witnessed first-hand an example of the fight response at trivia this weekend.

Friday nights we go uptown to the Buffalo Wild Wing, which sits amidst some other restaurants, nightclubs, and theaters in an area known as the Epicenter. There is a Nascar theme to this particular Buffalo Wild Wing. It attracts a more unruly crowd than what we’re used to.

It’s a large, open space with a central bar area, with three rooms full of tables for dining.  The area is full of TVs with a few arcade games

We usually sit at a table within full sight of the bar, where all of the cheaters sit. As we were playing, we happened to notice that the two girls who were currently in the lead were using their cell phones to “Google” their answers.

We told the Andy, probably the most non-confrontational host in the league. When he saw them, he called them out on it. The girls got really belligerent and defensive.

“I’m sorry, I really can’t accept your answer,” he said.

“OH MY GOSH!! ,” She shrieked, “We were texting. We were having a conversation about…,” she paused for a moment, “...RELIGION!!”

I think we were all so caught off-guard by her answer. We have heard every excuse in the book for having a cell phone out, but this was a first. I think this might have been the only time we have ever been speechless at a cheater.

These girls were caught red handed, and they knew it. But they weren’t going down without a fight.

They continued for about 15 minutes, just arguing and pshawing the host. Their protests were met with unsympathetic ears.

When you are in defense mode, you don’t give up. You have convinced yourself completely of the reality of your version of events, and you are defending that version with all of your might.

It is not until you upshift to your more cerebral brains that you can step back and realize how ridiculous you are being.

Everyone’s been there. It's just funny.

c. 2011

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Dropping the Ball...

photo credit: bostondirtdogs.com

Or, just as bad, being perceived as dropping the ball.

How are we to react? We are doing everything in our power to make things work smoothly, but for some reason it doesn’t; and we end up looking blameworthy.

This is a question I pondered after a rough day at work.

We’ve all been there. Things weren’t going as planned. Humans were being humans. I ended up looking as though I were dropping the ball. I was juggling it a bit; I managed to keep it above ground. But it didn’t look that way. I was responsible for a few mistakes, but not all of them.

Everything in me wanted to protest, It’s not me, I did everything right!! I could offer all kinds of reasons it went wrong, but I’ve found, in situations like this it’s pointless. I just sound defensive, it wastes time, and it really doesn’t make any difference.

Different people have different stories, feelings, emotions, etc. People create a narrative based on their perceptions. This becomes their reality. People are going to think what they think, whether it’s right or not. I know I have faulted others in my own head to fit my perception of reality. We can’t help it.

After discussing my day with my wise and dreamy boyfriend, he said some very wise words.

There is no such thing is an illegitimate emotion. If someone is treating you like crap, or you are just having a bad day, it is natural to feel bad about it.

Having said that, it is important to know that you are bigger than what somebody else thinks of you, how a certain day is going, your performance at a certain task, or even your opinion of yourself. You are not the voice in your head.

I was dubious. The voice in my head sounds a lot like me.

He continued,
I’m all for wallowing in how stupid and unfair the world, the system, and other people are, but sometimes my energy can be spent on better things.

I felt so validated. I had wasted so much energy worrying about it, feeling so guilty for things I couldn’t help.

I was rehashing everything over and over again in my head. Once I got over myself, I was able to forget about it for a few minutes, and take steps to productivity.