Symptoms of Growing Older: 10 Non-Physical Things to Watch Out for

Are You Better or Bitter... Grateful or Grumpy... Cool or Crusty?!?!

How Old Would You Be if You Didn't Know How Old You Are? - Satchel Paige Quote
The last time I worried about growing older, I was the ripe old age of 24. My birthday was around the corner and I remember thinking, “Holy cow, I’m going to be 25 years old… a quarter of a century!”

While I can’t help but laugh about it now, I remember it being quite a point of emphasis then. “A quarter of a century…”  The phrase kicked around in my brain for weeks.

Until I actually hit 25. Then I realized nothing different had really happened. I was still me. I still ate too much chocolate, still loved animals more than most people, still liked to color outside the lines, still wished baseball season lasted all year, and still vowed to make my daughters the most spoiled rotten little girls to ever twirl their hair and my husband the happiest husband to ever live, even if he often DID have to ask, “How? How can you spend that much money at the grocery store? How is it possible?

Hmmm… that’s quite a few years ago and – you know what they say, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Funny thing about birthdays, they insist upon coming annually. I learned, long ago, that your age is just a number -nothing more. Norman Vincent Peale said it best, “Live your life and forget your age.”

Works for me!

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.” – Sophia Loren

In this particular post, when I refer to growing older, I’m referring to the really interesting years… the particularly colorful ones beyond age 48.  Why did I choose 48? Because that’s usually the age that people begin to see the shadow cast by the big 5-0 and start to freak out just a little bit.

There are countless books, blog posts, magazine articles, and television shows that tell us all what to look out for physically as we age. We’re encouraged to have regular PHYSICAL checkups, so we can be alerted to anything unlovely before it grows into something dangerous.

This post is taking a page out of that book, but I want to look at things we all need to watch out for EMOTIONALLY and MENTALLY as we age. Below are some of the “common problems” that can turn up over the years. That’s the bad news – the good news is this: If we do regular “self exams,” we’ll be able to nip them in the bud before anyone ever even notices them.

Before we get to the 10 culprits, remember a few things:

  • Take an honest look inward with each one. All of them won’t tap you on the shoulder and say, “A-HEM” but one or even two will probably hit a little close to home. If NONE sound like you – look in the mirror and say, “You rock!” Then make a special note to never let any of them creep up on you… you’ll want to stay a rock star, right?
  • Don’t just read the words, then forget them by this time tomorrow. Carve them into your mind (especially the ones that make your subconscious clear its throat loudly) and perform regular self exams.

Top 10 Non-Physical Problems to Watch Out For As You Age

  1. Talking too much about your health. Now, don’t jump off the deep end – if someone asks how you’re doing, tell them. Just don’t fall into the trap of letting the majority of your conversations revolve around your aches, pains, weight, medications, stomach problems, or HEAVEN FORBID bodily functions. (Disclaimer: If you have serious health issues, your family wants and needs to know how you feel. Just don’t get stuck in a cycle of letting your every sentence involve your health. There’s no surer way to appear ancient than that.) This one kind of got me recently. I hurt my back recently and, I hate to brag, but this is the most painful week I’ve ever hobbled through. Anyway, I caught myself saying again and again, “My back hurts.”  I said it to the kids, the hubby, the cats, the pillows on the couch, God… as though none of them could tell with me popping Tylenol with one hand and positioning my ice pack with the other. The last time I said the words, I silently told myself, “Enough! If you say it again, I’m hiding your chocolate.” Not another peep from me.
  2. Expecting everyone else to do things for you.  Three words: Why should they? If you are physically able to perform your own chores….. shouldn’t you? My grandmother cooked Thanksgiving and Christmas meals up into her late 70’s.  Heaven help you if you dared ask if you could bring a dish or help clean up afterward! She took joy in her tasks and pride in her work.  Could she have, easily, passed off work to the rest of us? Of course. But NOT ONCE did she ever play the “age card.” She was far too smart to shine a spotlight on her age and far too proud to want to appear weak or incompetent.  She knew it was far more attractive to appear strong and capable. If you’re physically unable to do certain tasks – that’s a different ballgame. Then, by all means, politely ask for a little help. But, be honest with yourself – if you’re capable… you’re capable. Besides, staying mentally and physically active is the best thing for you. .. as long as you don’t put yourself in harm’s way or do something “dang stupid.”
  3. Moaning, Groaning, Sighing, and Complaining.  As they grow a little older, some people tend to gripe about everything they have to do. They have to sweep the garage? Prepare to hear about it for a couple of hours. They have to make a phone call? Get ready for the longest sigh you ever heard. Philippians 2:14  encourages us to “Do all things without murmurings and disputings.” (KJV). Different versions of the Bible use different words for murmurings and disputings such as complaining, grumbling, arguing, doubts, division, etc. Basically, this verse is God’s way of saying, “Go about your task quietly.” And don’t you wish more people would?! This isn’t an age “thing” as much as it is a personality “thing” – some people just seem to think they shouldn’t have to do any darn thing – but, as people grow older, they often tend to think everyone else should do their bid and call and IF they do have to do something on their own… well, you’re going to hear about it!.  Philippians 2:14 is a much more peaceful approach, isn’t it? Don’t be a martyr. Don’t be a victim. Is what you’re having to do really worth all that drama?
  4. Becoming too content. Wait – isn’t it good to be content?… absolutely. IF you’re referring to the type of contentment that means you’re happy and at peace. However, there is a real danger in becoming content with things we really shouldn’t ever be content with –  like our knowledge. We should always want to know more tomorrow than we know today. We should always want to learn new things. That keeps the mind sharp and the heart young.  Try to learn something new every single day.
  5. Shhhh, don’t look now, but are you becoming an old grouch?!?! Have you ever seen an older man or woman in public and instantly thought of the Grinch of Whoville fame? I certainly have and each time I wish they could see a mirror. They’d probably be horrified. Unless you just watched your best friend get abducted by two headed aliens, there’s just no need to go around looking like that.  No… not being able to find what you’re looking for in Aisle 3 is not an excuse. Having to wait in line for 5 minutes isn’t an excuse. Frankly, there is no excuse EVER to wear an expression that would frighten small children. Seriously, do you want to be that person? Whenever I see someone like that, I always want to ask them, “Really? Is life that bad?!”
  6. Being overly judgmental about young people. Okay, this one’s a pet peeve. I guess it’s because some of my favorite people – people I love DEARLY – are young people. I simply hate to hear someone running down “today’s young people.”  Are there areas where they need to “shore up?” Of course. Do some of them make highly suspect fashion or hairstyle choices? Boy do they?! But, here’s the thing – think back to when you were a young person. Would your grandparents (or maybe even parents) think you were an exemplary citizen?! Doubtful.  Being a young girl or boy has got to be tougher than ever these days – what with social media, the media, expectations, peer pressure, etc. Don’t pull out your holier-than-them vibe or make hateful expressions. Don’t say unkind, unnecessarily rude things to them. Again, do you want to be that person? Of course not. You’re cooler than that. Realize that everyone has their own journey – you’re taking your’s, allow everyone else the same freedom.  Walk along with them… but never try to make them step into your footprints.
  7. Becoming Hyper-Critical and Condemning. Come on,now.. life’s not that bad! Remind yourself that just because YOU don’t get it doesn’t mean it can’t be GOT. Whether it’s Twitter, today’s movies, today’s music (though, by gosh, you’d have a leg to stand on there), television.. whatever.  By all means, express your opinions – but don’t suck the life out of everyone else’s day in the process. Here’s a quick example. When I was a teenager, my mom would let me put the radio wherever I wanted it when we were in the car. She didn’t complain about the music I listened to – in fact, she sang along. She, invariably, got the words wrong… but she didn’t nag, complain, or try to make me feel stupid for liking what I liked. I remember one song’s lyrics she blew especially bad. The song went, “Whatcha gonna do when she says Good-Bye.. Whatcha gonna do when she’s gone..” My mom sang, “Whatcha gonna do when school’s out? Whatcha gonna do when it’s gone.”  One time she even turned to me after the song went off and said, “So.. what are you going to do when schools’ out?” I told her “Sleep and maybe watch soap operas all day.” She laughed and slipped in a little mother-in-law joke. Contrast that to what it would have been like riding in the car with an adult who starts ranting about how bad this music is – how kids today don’t know good music.. yadda yadda yadda.  Thank God my lyric-butchering mother didn’t want to be that person.
  8. Neglecting how you look.  Recently, my youngest daughter (Stephany) and I saw a lady who had to be 80 years feisty in Kroger. She had on a snappy looking hot pink top, gold bracelets jingling against one another, expensive looking ankle boots, and glittery fingernails. I told Steph, “That WILL be me one day!”  If you always embraced being a girl, keep on embracing. Guys, keep grooming… girls keep glamming. Instead of thinking, “I’m getting to old to care – it doesn’t matter any more…” take the lady with the glittery nail’s approach – I’m going to rock this age!
  9. Failing to slow down.  This may seem like an ironic one, but it’s really a problem for A LOT of people – especially men.  The further past 40 some guys get, the faster they go. Their mindset seems to be, “I gotta make all the money… gotta work all the hours… gotta make all the money…” Nope. Actually, you could slow down enough to enjoy your family and the world around you. No one ever said, from their deathbed, “Dad-gummit, I wish I’d worked more! I wish I’d chased that almighty dollar more!”  Truth be told, money would be the furthest thing from their mind. Way, way, way, way after thoughts about their loved ones. Slow down – not just your mindset, but your daily approach. You don’t have to blaze a trail throughout the house, for example. Slow down and go about your day with purpose and clarity of mind. You’ll misplace your cellphone far less often that way!
  10. Make your own sunshine. With Self Help Daily, I write a lot about happiness – how to be happy, how to get happy, how to stay happy… I throw out a lot of words, but the crux of all the verbiage is this – if you want to be happy… be happy.  Choosing happiness is the best decision you’ll ever make.  Sometimes as people grow older (remember, we’re talking about the 48+ crowd primarily), they somehow want to shift the role of making them happy to someone else. Big mistake. It’s no one else’s job or role to make you or me happy. Putting the key to our happiness in someone else’s pocket makes about as much sense as baptizing a possum. Instead of wondering when “the last time _____ called” was, call _______! Instead of complaining that no one comes to see you – either go see them or get busy having so much fun you don’t care who – if anyone – is there to see the shenanigans!  It may sound brutal (sometimes that’s what’s called for), but the reason “they” may not come around more is you’re a real downer! Maybe you  feel sorry for yourself or complain too much. Maybe you’re a world class conductor on the Guilt Trip Train. Maybe you snarl and frown so much “they” have forgotten what your smile looks like or even if you have teeth or not.  Be the sort of smiling, happy, fun, uplifting, and encouraging person that draws people to you.  Get so busy having fun and enjoying life that “they” want desperately to step in your sunshine!

The 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond (don’t laugh – people are living longer and longer) can be the happiest, funnest, most peaceful, and enjoyable years of your entire life or they can be the most negative, loneliest, grumpiest, darkest years.

The choice is your’s.  The key is in your pocket and it has been all along.

“There’s always a lot to be thankful for if you take time to look for it. For example, I am sitting here thinking how nice it is that wrinkles don’t hurt.” – Author Unknown

 

How to Use Your Subconscious Mind to Help You Achieve Goals

3 Simple Steps to Making Your Subconsciousness Work for You

Quote About Achieving Goals with Our Subconscious Mind
The quote above, by Earl Nightingale, is a beautiful reminder of the power of our subconscious mind. Whether we fully realize it or not, our subconsciousness is one of our most powerful weapons – sometimes all we really need to do is get out of its way.

If we were to take the quote above and drain every drop of self improvement goodness from it (something we should do with all inspirational quotes), we’d realize a few things:

  1. First of all, we should make certain that we feel as strongly about our goals as we think we do.  Have you ever found yourself struggling with a particular goal or dream only to realize it isn’t even your dream? That, in fact, you’re actually trying to live up to someone else’s goal for your life? There’s a reason that doesn’t work – YOU have to feel strongly and passionately about the goal or dream. It has to be YOUR dream. YOUR vision. YOUR passion. If it’s someone else’s dream, let them work on it while you work on your own.
  2. How do you make sure the idea is “buried deep” in your subconscious mind? At the risk of grossly oversimplifying… you put it there!  Think about the goal you want to achieve and think about it often. You aren’t working some sort of mumbo jumbo – trying to bring the fulfillment to you, you are taking yourself to the fulfillment. Proactive beats inactive or reactive every single time when you’re going after goals. Goals and dreams aren’t on wheels, you can’t coax them to come to you, you have to lace up your own skates and roll to them. Frequently thinking about these objects of desire puts the wheels in motion. This particular step is why things like “vision boards” (picture collages of images that represent goals and dreams) are so popular. It’s also why so many experts recommend “picturing” yourself where you WANT to be. Both of these exercises are ways of burying the idea deep in your subconscious.
  3. When you’ve put your subconscious mind on the path to your goals, let it works its magic. You’ll find yourself with fresh ideas for making your way down this particular path.

Your subconsciousness is your own personal superhero and he/she is just waiting for you to call them to action.

The more intensely we feel about an idea or a goal the more assuredly the idea, buried deep in our subconscious, will direct us along the path to its fulfillment. – Earl Nightingale

“The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.”  – Socrates

I think Socrates hit it pretty much on the head with this one.  Then again, he never missed when he took aim, did he?

 

How to Find Time to Read More

We all know how vital reading is to mental health – and if we choose the right books, reading is just as vital to our physical, emotional, and Spiritual health. The problem is we’re all too familiar with another fact.. there are only 24 hours in the day!

If reading is one of the things you’re trying to find more time for, I have a quick and easy tip for you and it all has to do with location, location, location.

Place the different books you’d like to read in strategic places around your house.  Maybe these books include the Bible, a promising mystery, a couple of inspirational books you’ve been meaning to read, the latest National Geographic, a self help book everyone’s raving about, and maybe even a good old fashioned Stephen King hair-raiser (better you than me, I’m fond of sleeping).

You could place one book beside each of your most frequented spots in the house…

  1. Near your favorite “evening spot” – you can always squeeze in at least one chapter before the ballgame (or “Bachelor” episode, if you’re so inclined).  You’ll often find yourself squeezing in a little reading during commercials and… depending on how the game’s going, maybe even during the broadcast.
  2. In the bathroom.
  3. In the kitchen. I almost always have an Agatha Christie mystery going and keep it in the kitchen. I sneak in chapters while keeping watch over my cooking or while procrastinating the dish-washing.
  4. In your pocketbook.
  5. Beside your bed. There’s nothing more relaxing that doing a little reading right before bedtime – unless, of course, it’s Stephen King. I wouldn’t invite him or his minions along for an evening read.

While I prefer good old-fashioned books I can flip through, there’s also a lot to be said for e-books and Kindle books. If you’re like most people, this would mean your books are ALWAYS within arms reach.

And that is a very positive thing, indeed.

+++ If you’re looking for a great inspirational or self help book, check out my book reviews on Self Help Daily. If it’s a novel you’re interested in, check out my daughter Emily’s book review blog, She’s Got the Book!

 

Good…. Better…. Best

As Your Choices Move Up the Scale, your Results Will Follow

Good Better and Best

Have you ever wrestled with something that was kind of in a gray (or grey for our British readers) area?  Maybe it was a habit that you couldn’t really call “bad” – but, at the same time, you certainly couldn’t call it “good.”

Years ago, a friend and I were having one of those deep conversations that can only take place over pizza. In fact, it was just me, her, two tall glasses of Coca-Cola and an extra large pizza with mushrooms, onions, and green olives.  That’s what I loved about her – she liked the same pizza toppings I did.

The girl had such good taste.

Although, like a fairy tale, it was a long long ago, I distinctly remember our conversation. We were both young mothers at the time, with lots of little girls between us – and the prospect of raising daughters, in what seemed at the time the toughest time period to do so led to many heart-to-heart “mommy conversations.” Little did we realize that late 1990’s and 2000’s would make our particular time period look like Little House on the Prairie. Even then, however, things kids were exposed to in music, television, and movies was reprehensible. We may have been pizza drunk, and we may have been incredibly young – but even we knew that life choices and decisions should be broken down into three categories:  Good. Better. Best.

Sure, watching this television show (compared to the rest) is good… but is there a better option… and, then, is that the BEST option?

Over the years, a lot of things have changed. After frequent moving on both of our parts, I’ve totally lost contact with my pizza buddy. Thanks to gluten intolerance, I no longer sit in restaurant booths shoveling pizza in my mouth and, thanks to a metabolism that IN NO WAY got better with age, I no longer drink Cocoa Colas. What is it with metabolisms, anyway? Why do they turn on us?

What hasn’t changed, though, is the fact that we should all periodically take stock of how we spend our time, the choices we make, and the the way we’re playing this game called life.

First thing we need to do is to own the fact that everything we willfully do throughout the day is because we made a choice.  If someone buys a Big Mac and large fries, they chose to eat something profoundly unhealthy.  It didn’t just happen.

If we squander our time and, at the end of the day, realize that we didn’t get a darn thing done – we chose that path. Unless someone tied us to a chair, the choice was made by only one person – and that’s the person we see in the mirror.

Every action we make or inaction we take, we choose to do so.  That’s why, whenever it comes time to talk about self improvement, self growth, or self help, the first thing we have to hold accountable are our choices.

They lead the way – everything else just follows.

One of the fastest and most efficient ways to get the most out of these choices is to give honest answers to these questions:

  • Does anything GOOD come from this?
  • If not, why am I doing it?
  • If something GOOD does come from this choice, is there a choice I could make that would bring about an even BETTER payoff?
  • If there is a BETTER choice… is it the BEST choice?

Let’s look at a quick example, because if you’re anything like me, that’s where things really begin to take shape.

I don’t have to tell you how important it is to eat healthy. You don’t look like a perfect idiot to me, so I know you get that.  We tend to kind of “misplace” this bit of common sense as soon as we drive past a fast food restaurant, don’t we? We’ll see a sign that says something like Free Drink When you Buy Two Juicy Cheeseburgers and Large Fries, and automatically say through a smile, “Don’t mind if I do.”

While the convenience of this choice might appear GOOD, I’m pretty sure we can do better.

How about ordering just one burger and an unsweet tea? That’s BETTER…. but, can we do even better than that? Is there a BEST option available?

Absolutely.

The BEST decision would be to either go home and have a wholesome, cheaper, lower calorie lunch or find a Subway and “eat fresh.”

Let me guess, it seems like a small thing, right?  But that’s kind of what choices are  – they’re the small brush strokes that paint the big picture.  Now, which is going to make the best picture – the best strokes, of course.

Same thing with self improvement – if you want the BEST you, you have to practice making the BEST choices.  Unless, of course, you just want to settle for a “good” you…

I didn’t think so.

If you want the BEST from yourself and the BEST from life, it all starts with making the BEST decisions.  Like a single unit, they will all move in the same direction.  May as well swing for the fences!

 

The Success of Others: Does it Irritate or Inspire You?

The following isn’t really a tip or a quote, so much, as it is a thought – just a random thought.  I have a lot of those.  Random thoughts in my mind are like snow in a Christmas snow globe.

Fortunately or unfortunately I don’t have to be turned up on my head to make them flow. Not always anyway.

Anyway, here’s the question on my mind: Why do so many people hate to see other people happy or successful?  Shouldn’t we all be motivated by the success of other’s?  Aren’t they proving that it’s possible?

If our circumstances aren’t lining up the way we’d like them to, shouldn’t we be motivated when we see circumstances falling into place for others? Shouldn’t we look at them and say, “Well it IS possible for things to work out after all!”

We can even take this whole self growth, self realization, and self improvement thing one step further (the next step is often where the good stuff is): Maybe we can even LEARN from someone else’s good fortune.

The next time something good happens to someone in your world,….

  1. Be genuinely happy for them.. and tell them so. You’ll instantly look 100 times cooler than over half the people they know.
  2. Realize that this is “their time” for a rainbow and yours may very well be around the corner – headed your way.
  3. Finally, ask yourself what things they did to invite success into their life.  What GOOD habits do they practice and what GOOD traits do they possess? Long story short, where’d they get their edge?

At the end of these three steps, you will have experienced self growth and gained priceless winner.  So, really, who is the biggest winner?

Why Being Busy Isn’t Always Such a Bad Thing

Mental and Even Physical Benefits to "Busyness"

Quote About Being Busy

What. A. Week.

Fellow cat lovers, have you ever noticed how gleefully busy your cat gets immediately after you’ve cleaned her sandbox and given her fresh litter? It’s as though she can’t do enough or do it fast enough.

I’m so there.

And, frankly, I love it. I love busy-ness. I don’t know why, but I kind of get a charge from it. It makes you feel alive – as though every one of your senses has to stay on guard because something’s about to come around the corner like Vin Diesel – guns blazing.

Intense.

That, and the fact that it’s justification for keeping chocolate and coffee in front of me. My greatest riddle in life is, “Which makes my engine hum along better, chocolate and coffee?”

I think I’ll need more work in the lab to arrive at the answer.

One of my favorite quotes is by Satchel Paige: “Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits.” This week has been one that – on several occasions – I actually went out of my way to carve out a few chunks of time in the evening for think-free sitting. It was such an uncommonly busy week that I felt like I owed it to my psyche.  While I believe that being busy is actually a darn good thing for us body and soul, it is imperative that we make quality time for our loved ones – which, of course, includes our family, pets, and even ourselves.

My extra business has been more than just this week, actually. The past few months have been kind of crazy. It’s all good, though, because I like crazy – quite a bit, actually. It’s normal that gives me the heebie jeebies… at least I think it did. Let’s see, that would have been 1980…

I’ve been swamped with online work. Again, that’s a good thing, but I don’t have a to do list anymore. I have to do lists - they start on one page then continue on the next. Then the next. Then the next. When I hear someone complain about their to do list (emphasis on singular), I want to throw all of mine at them.

But I just smile – sometimes I wink.

Here’s one of the beautiful things about being busy… ironically, it’s THEN when you actually get the most done. It’s as though the mind says, “Well, I’m already running at a frantic pace, I might as well do THIS too.. and THIS… and why not THAT?!” We went to a particular church in Madisonville, Kentucky for years and our Pastor always said that if he needed something done, he’d look for the busiest person and assign the task to them.

Why? Busy people get stuff done.

Another benefit of busyness is the fact that it keeps you sharp. Your brain cells crave activity – in fact, I’m convinced that every cell craves activity. We weren’t designed to sit and do nothing day after day. We were designed by the Creator to get busy and stay busy.

On a mental level, staying busy forces your brain to come up with new solutions. Your brain is also challenged to become more creative and to, often, think outside of the box.  All of this may seem like chaos to us, but to our brains, it’s like a mental gym. Inactive, unchallenged brains are the ones headed for the most trouble. Never, ever resent extra activity for your brain – it’ll reward you for it today, tomorrow, and in years to come.

Emotionally, busyness is also a blessing dressed in work clothes.  When we’re busy, we don’t have time to worry, grieve, or cave in to feelings of loneliness, sadness, envy… or any of the long list of negative emotions that can drag us down. Staying busy is actually the best remedy for just about every negative emotion on the list.

The next time you find yourself having “one of those days,” don’t recoil… rejoice!  Then listen really close – you’ll hear every cell in your body buzzing.

Going Further…

What if you simply don’t have enough TO keep you busy?!  I’ve heard about this from quite a few individuals and, frankly, I’d never really stopped to consider it! Being a mother of three as well as running a web publishing business and writing leaves me wondering what that must be like.

I have a lot of days when I’d LOVE to find out!

In all seriousness, though, when your life simply doesn’t have “an awful lot going on,” it’s up to you to create the busyness.   The options are pretty amazing and once you start thinking of things to do, you’ll be amazed at just how many things there are just waiting to be done. Below are just a few…

  • Redecorate a room in your house.
  • Redecorate every room in your house!
  • Plant a flower garden (or vegetable garden or herb bed).
  • Adopt a cat or dog from you local shelter and make your life (and their life) something special!
  • Write the next great novel.
  • Learn to cook.
  • Learn a new hobby.
  • Get a full or part-time job doing something new and exciting.
  • Write a cookbook.
  • Learn to sew, quilt, or do woodworking.
  • Clean/organize your closets.
  • Volunteer your time to a worthy cause.
  • Clean/organize your kitchen drawers.
  • Start a blog.
  • Take up painting.
  • Take a college class or two.
  • Take up yoga.
  • Take online classes.
  • Choose three from this list and never wonder what busy feels like again!

Are You Trying to Do too much?!

How to Know When it's Time to Dial Back

Quote About Trying to Do Too Much
If you’re a parent, you know where I’m coming from when I say that, as a mom, I give out a great deal of advice.  If you’re a parent, you also know where I’m coming from when I half-jokingly say, “Sometimes they even listen to me!”  A recent conversation with one of these young people left me thinking about this question, “If I had one piece of UNCOMMON advice that I could give someone, what would it be?”  By UNCOMMON, I mean advice other than my “somewhat expected” mini-sermons like:

  • choose your life partner carefully (because 95% of your future happiness will ride on this choice)
  • spend time with your loved ones and tell them you love them every chance you get
  • don’t nit-pick!
  • develop a close relationship with God and keep it that way
  • eat healthy foods
  • get plenty of rest
  • do the things that make you the happiest
  • never ask someone to do something for you that you’re fully capable of doing yourself

And on and on.

I tired to think outside of the traditional advice box (or off of the traditional platform) and see what I could come up with. The answer came almost immediately and, given the fact that we live in a world that says, “Do this!… do that!… do everything!” AND given the fact that those of us who write about self help are often the ones with these very words on our lips… the advice I came up with may seem contradictory.

My number one piece of UNCOMMON advice:  “For crying out loud, don’t try to do everything!

Have you ever fallen in the trap of trying to do too many different things? Or have you ever tried to put on too many different proverbial hats? It’s exhausting, at best, and unhealthy, at worst. Trying to have a hand in too many soup pots and a foot in too many doors leaves you:

a. looking like a perfect fool

b. too busy to truly enjoy life

Ironically, it’s also woefully unproductive.

We’re all only human – we can only give our undivided attention (where the good stuff is conceived) to so many tasks.

The more things we try to do, oversee, or take care of – the more diluted our attention becomes. Diluted attention is the place where mistakes and half-assed results are conceived.  It kind of reminds me of a big batch of freshly-squeezed lemonade I made this summer. The first day, it was out of this world. It tasted like summer and it was just crazy delicious. In an attempt to extend its life, I added more water to the pitcher a few times. Each time, the great flavor was diluted or literally “watered down.”  That’s what we do, in effect, when we have too many things going on.

We take something that could be awesome and add to it until the awesomeness is threadbare.

It’s common sense, really. The fewer things on your “to do” list, the more time you have to devote to each.  When we try to do too many things, we spread ourselves too thin and aren’t able to give our best to anything.  We become watery lemonade without a lot of flavor or oomph.

Many people simply try to do too much and, whether they realize it at the time or not, they aren’t getting the most out of themselves by doing so. These are the same people who search for magic answers on Google  – “how can I manage my time better?” and “time management tips” are frequently searched because TRYING TO DO TOO MUCH is a popular way to go through life. Not effective, but popular.

And people wonder why they’re so stressed!

It actually isn’t even a time management issue, when you think about it.  We’d all do well to remember that we’re given the same number of hours in our days and days in our weeks that were allotted to Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi, Benjamin Franklin, Martin Luther King, Jr, Mother Teresa, Eleanor Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson…   As Chinese author and teacher Lin Yutang said, “Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is a nobler art of leaving things undone… The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials,” possibly the difference is these people knew what to eliminate and what to keep.   They had a beautiful clarity and singleness of mind which allowed them to..

  1. get things done
  2. live fully in the moment
  3. change the world

I think we’ve covered #1 and I’m not going to even pretend to know the secrets for #3 – but you KNOW I have to spend a few minutes with the second one.  You know me, I’m way to feely-feely not to want to shine a spotlight on this one, right?  I couldn’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve seen the following scenario play out:  I’ll find myself in an especially remarkable place (the mountains of eastern Kentucky, downtown Nashville, the banks of a gorgeous lake, a Julia Roberts movie….) and as I’m soaking the experience up with my every pore, I’ll notice people all around me looking down at their phones, iPods, notebooks, games, or devices I couldn’t possibly identify without either a cheat sheet.

The moments pass them right by because their next “Status Update” was too important or because they just HAD to know what so-and-so had to say about such-and-such.   And it’s not just kids, either. You’ll see people of all ages looking down when they really, really, really should be looking around. Live in the moment, see what there is to see… THEN tell everyone about it or THEN see what everyone else is up to.

Eliminate the nonessentials.

Rachael Ray is another name that comes to mind when I think about singleness of mind.  This fantastic cook and cookbook author will be the first to tell you that she is a lousy baker. She doesn’t make desserts, she buys them. Why? She has chosen what she considers to be essential and has eliminated the nonessentials.  How do you suppose that’s working for her?

The main reason people don’t get things DONE is because they’re trying to fit too MUCH into 24 hours. 

Sometimes we bite off more than we can chew and, other times, someone throws more onto our plate than we have the time or inclination to handle. What happens more times than not when our plate is too full? We walk away because we either aren’t sure where to start or we feel so overwhelmed that get a headache!

So what do you do when there’s simply too many things for one person to deal with?  Repeat after me, Something’s gotta give!  Oftentimes a good, honest, realistic assessment of everything you’re trying to do will show you the things that can easily be removed… things you’ll never even miss.

Just be careful not to try to pull something into the vacancy a few days down the road.

We could all take a “Lin Yutang” Approach:  Get a piece of paper and a pen. Make one column that says ESSENTIALS and one column that says NONESSENTIALS.  Beneath each, list 5 things that fall under that particular category.  But don’t miss the whole idea and leave out time for things you enjoy under the essentials.  Things that bring you relaxation and bliss are possibly the most essential things of all.

One final thought.  I firmly believe that age is mostly in the mind.  And if someone says, “You’re only as old as you feel,” I quickly nod in agreement. However, let’s  be completely honest and open for a minute.  As we grow older (and each year we all grow older… whether it’s in our 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s or beyond) – we’d do well to realize that we need to approach life a little differently.  We may need more sleep than we once did – or we may even require less. There will be some things we can do better than ever and there’ll be some things we simply can’t even think about any more.

The way I look at it is this: When you pass 40, you’re in an especially beautiful place. It’s a place where you can set your own pace.  Where some people drop the ball is they try to suddenly UP the pace.  They seem to think they have to do all they did when they were younger and then some.

Again…. and people wonder why they’re stressed.

Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is a nobler art of leaving things undone… The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials.”  Take an honest look at your essentials and nonessentials, you may find that a lot more time, energy, and enjoyment suddenly open up.

More Wisdom from Lin Yutang:

Find wonderful Books by Lin Yutang on Amazon.

v

How to Use Positive Affirmations to Create More Positive Energy

And Why It's A Whiz Bang Idea to Do So

  Quotes About Positive Affirmations

 

No doubt you’ve heard about positive affirmations.  You’re probably even a believer in the power of positive affirmations. But do you actually use them?  Do you give yourself the extra boost that comes from creating more positive energy in your life?

Positive affirmations have the power to change your life because they have the power to change you. From your mindset to the way you go about your day, there’s no area of your life positive affirmations can’t benefit.

Before we get to positive affirmations, let’s think for a minute (but just a minute, okay, because they’re bad news) about negative affirmations. Negative affirmations are equally powerful and pack their own kind of wallop – as in knocking you down, kicking you in the liver with steel toe boots, and then spitting in your face.

I told you they were bad news.

Negative affirmations are those unkind, hurtful, and destructive little things we frequently say to and about ourselves.  Sometimes we say them out loud but we usually play them for an audience of one, ensuring that we’re the only ones that hear them. Problem is, we’re the only ones that NEED to hear them for them to do their damage.

Imagine, for a scary minute, that someone followed you around all day and all night.  Each time there was a lull in the conversation, they’d lean in and whisper something like, “You’re too fat for that outfit…” or “You look really old, you know that?”  How about the one we all love to hear, “There’s NO WAY you can do this… absolutely NO WAY.”

So long, self esteem… nice knowing you!

We take on the scary role of this evil stalker every single time we cut ourselves down with negativity.  The sooner we learn to stop in our tracks before any negative venom comes spewing out of our mouths, the better.  What’s the best way to make the negativity stop?

Simple. Replace the negative with positive.

Pull the plug on negative energy and fill your life up to the brim with positive energy.

If we train ourselves to get into the habit of practicing positive affirmations, we’ll begin to build ourselves UP rather than tear ourselves DOWN. But notice the words “train” and “practice.”  They’re our cues that this is a pro-active exercise, not a passive mindset.  You don’t tell yourself one day, I’m going to start being more positive, then expect it to happen magically.  That’d be like using shampoo one night and expecting your hair to stay clean for the rest of your life.

When you implement change in your life, you must be mindful of it each day. You have to purposely commit to making a positive change on a daily basis. If you’re one of those who tends to bash yourself regularly, this so-called daily basis may be more of an hourly basis.

So, if the best way to get rid of negative affirmations is to replace them with positive affirmations, where do you start?  Let’s start at the heart of the matter.  What area or areas do you criticize, condemn, and ridicule yourself in the most?  Is it your appearance… your age… your education… your job? Do you have bad habits or shortcomings that you consistently beat yourself up over?  Is there a particular aspect of your life you want  to improve? The answer(s) to these questions will give you an idea of what positive affirmations you need to focus on.

It’ll also put the negative affirmations on notice – they’re about to get kicked to the curb.

The best positive affirmations are those that are short, direct, clear, and assume the desired outcome has already happened.  For example, if an individual feels held back by shyness and wants to be more outgoing,  a few positive affirmations would be:

  • I’m Outgoing and Confident.
  • I am confident.
  • I am a confident person.
  • I boldly voice my opinions.
  • I stand up for myself.

Experts say that one of the most important things about choosing positive affirmations is to keep any and all negative or potentially negative words out of the mix.  That’s why using an affirmation like, “I am confident” is better than saying, “I am not shy.”  The word shy is the very concept you’re trying to avoid! If you say, “I am not shy” throughout the day, you are still reinforcing the shyness.  Whereas if you say “I am confident,” you are reinforcing the word confident?

See the difference? It may seem small, but it’s actually huge.

Someone may ask, “How about using the words I FEEL confident?”  While that’s still a better choice than “I am not shy,” I personally think it’s still second-best. Why?  Too much wiggle room.  If you say “I FEEL confident,” it kind of implies that it’s a momentary thing.  As in, you’re wearing your favorite blue top, so you FEEL confident.. but when you change back into your white one… the confidence might just bottom out!  Saying you “feel” a certain way isn’t the same as saying you OWN the train and OWN the situation.

Again, it seems small – but it isn’t.

Finally, choose TOP SHELF adjectives.  This would mean going with, “I make great decisions” rather than “I make good decisions.”  Using good rather than great implies room for improvement and, while that may be true, you don’ t want to dwell on that in your affirmations.

So, make your positive affirmations…

  1. 100 percent positive – without a single negative or undesired trait mentioned
  2. direct and to the point
  3. free of wiggle room!
  4. top shelf

A unique approach

I once heard a positive affirmations cd that was filled with positive affirmations in the form of questions.  The man would say things such as, “Why am I so happy?,”  “Why do I make the right decisions?,” etc.  The thought process behind these questioning affirmations was, apparently, that you’d be forced to focus on the answers.  I can see how this approach would be fantastic for a lot of people.

So, now you know the importance of positive affirmations, how can you sneak them into your life?

While there are some truly wonderful Positive Affirmations available for downloading and using immediately, you can also come up with your own.   If you use these, just be sure you repeat the affirmations, yourself, and don’t merely listen to someone else stating their affirmations.  That really won’t do you much good, will it?

The best way to have custom, personal affirmations is to make them yourself. In addition to using affirmations for personal areas you want to improve in, use general affirmations such as:

  • I love my life!
  • I love my personality.
  • I have a great sense of humor.
  • I am great at ____ (writing, cooking, your job…)
  • I am fun to be around.
  • I love who I am.

You just have to remember to use these affirmations daily – several times a day, in fact.  Some people have suggested recording yourself as you slowly and confidently say your affirmations and playing the recording several times a day. I can’t say I’ve ever done that, myself, but it seems like a pretty cool idea.

I’ve also read that a lot of people write their positive affirmations on index cards or notes of paper, then leave them in random places where they’ll be reminded to use them.  While I certainly use index cards for motivational quotes, inspirational words, and reminders, I think of positive affirmations as a really personal thing – for my eyes only. However, if you don’t have a lot of other eyes around, index cards could serve you well.

The most important thing is to surround yourself with as much positive energy as possible. Come on, how could that be anything but a great thing?!?!