30 Ways to Stay Positive & Inspired

This collection is from a month-long campaign to create more GOOD in the world.  I hope some of these…even just one from the list, gives you a new idea, a new spark, and a path to creating more positive attitude for yourself.   As one of the points below highlights, “positive begets more positive; it’s infectious”, or something like that.  So give it  a try. Get after it. And stay after it.

  1. “No matter what, find the tasty kernel. And savor it. Toss the rest. It’s just chaff in the harvest of life.”
  2. Straight from Tim Ferriss. Absolutely true. “Make your bed every day.” Try it for a week. Feel the POSITIVE follow.
  3. Compartmentalize!
  4. Cultivate and maintain a good sense of humor. Find the funny in the everyday. I.E., “I’ve decided to stop wearing underwear.” Humor brightens your mood, and those around you too!-x.
  5. “Don’t compare yourself to others. If you do, you may become vain and bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”
  6. Foster Optimism.
  7. Practice Gratitude.
  8. “Celebrate other people’s joy and accomplishments. You’ll be surprised at how that effects you for the better.”
  9. When something good comes to mind, share it. The share perpetuates the positive within yourself, and it’s infectious.
  10. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!
  11.  Smile and laugh OFTEN.  Maintain a sense of humor. Be cheerful.
  12. Remind yourself to savor: a good moment during the day, a pretty sky, your kid’s laughter, your dog (or cat) being SO happy you’re home!
  13. Don’t dwell on the negative. Instead, find and celebrate the positives, no matter how minor or small they  might seem.  The more you celebrate and are thankful, the more good karma that tends to follow.
  14. “Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit.”.
  15. “It is so, it cannot be otherwise.’ ~ Inscription in Flemish in 15th century cathedral in Amsterdam.  The meaning?  Accept things as they are. THEN consider and take steps to improve them if need be, and if possible.
  16. Begin the day with 15 minutes of personal reflection, affirmations, reminding yourself to BE POSITIVE.
  17. Reward yourself frequently with little snippets of GOOD, whatever makes you happy:  a brief break at work or home doing chores, a bit of spontaneous entertainment (read, TV, internet wandering, a cookie,…).
  18. Lean in. Don’t avoid difficulty and struggle. Instead, shift your mindset. Life is difficult. Accept it.  Transcend it. On the other side? A more positive attitude.
  19. Music, lots of music. All kinds. Any kind. Let it left you. That’s EXACTLY what it’s for. Hold On. It’ll get better soon.
  20. Periodically, harken back to a another, maybe simpler time when you were happy.
  21. Let your hair down and have a slice of cold pizza for breakfast. Or have breakfast for dinner.
  22. Allow simple things to make you happy. Like birds eating from the feeder you put up.
  23. If something isn’t to your liking, don’t whine or wring your hands. Instead, change it, if you are able.  If not, accept it and move on.
  24. Celebrate within the small victories as big wins..
  25. Keep a to-do list, and USE IT, daily. Checking things off the list makes us feel more positive about progress and control.
  26. Journal. Everyday. Write something. Anything. But write it down. You’ll be surprised at the thoughts, and the insights.
  27. Ask for help. Accept help. And help others. We’re in this is together.
  28. Periodically center your attitude, and if you feel it’s slipping away from positive, purposefully RESET to GOOD.
  29. Consider the alternative. Studies show those who worry die young. So it’s not just fluff and fuzzy feel-good stuff, this positive thinking, it’s a matter of life and death.  Choose Positive. Choose Life.
  30. Believe that Positive is greater than Negative. Live that life. Share that life. POSITIVE Wins in the end!
Here are some resources to dig further into the GOOD.
Sources:
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Friday Faves, Issue #6

Busy day today, and this edition brought to you from the Stanford Blood Center. Enjoy this afternoon delivery of the Friday Faves. More GOOD tucked away…just waiting for you. ENJOY.

Destination of the Week: If I ever get to Spain, love to check this locale out. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cubillos_del_Sil

Quote of the Week: “You’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.” ~Brene Brown — Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/b/brene_brown.html#ADZXD24bkqXBBRJB.99

Band of the WeekDanger Mouse. Really he’s so much more than a band. Multi-instrumentalist, diverse producer, great hair.

Meal of the Week:  Flank Steak. Recipe to follow.  Jalapenos & string beans with shallots on the side

Website of the Week: Need glasses? Check these guys out.

http://www.zennioptical.com

There you have it, friends..  Have a good weekend!

Don’t Be Sneaky

spy_vs_spy_bust_by_daveigo

I was thinking about being sneaky yesterday, and for some reason, the old Mad Magazine comic strip came to mind, “Spy Versus Spy“.  I thought about the White Spy and the Black Spy sneaking around, in an endless battle to do the other in.  That gave me a chuckle.  But as I thought about the nature of sneakiness, my smile faded.

In the final evaluation, while it’s fun to play by “sneaking around” — think “Hide & Seek”, or “Capture the Flag” — and while being sneaky is necessary in the context of planning a surprise party (birthday, retirement, anniversary, etc.), it’s decidedly not a good practice otherwise.

Being sneaky with family and friends is dishonest.  It’s being dishonest with them, and it’s being dishonest with yourself (unless deceit is your MO).  What are some examples of the sneakiness of which I speak?

Eating cookies on the sly from the cookie jar or the pantry when you know you’re not suppose to. That’s being sneaky.

Watching videos on your smart phone or tablet under the covers when you’re supposed to be going to sleep. That’s being sneaky.

Cheating on homework.  That’s being sneaky.    Your kids hiding their gaming from you. That’s being sneaky.  So is “sneaking” out of the house.  Habitually buying things on-line and hiding them from your spouse. That’s sneaky.  Hiding secret messages is being sneaky too.

In fact, the word “secret” is a good corollary word to consider when talking about being sneaky.  Being sneaky is a parallel skill to keeping secrets.

My wife wisely started teaching our kids at their still very young age that having secrets isn’t a good idea, overall.  Being secret means keeping information away from other people.  Within a family, that’s not only a bad idea, it’s potentially hurtful and damaging and mean.

With family and friends, the very purpose of those relationships is to nurture and strengthen and support each other.  Transparency and honesty are critically important.  Sharing experiences and feelings and thoughts strengthens the bonds with family and friends.  Secrets are damaging to relationships.  Pile up enough secrets, and the bond is weakened.  Ultimately a relationship will be destroyed by secrets, crushed under the weight of dishonesty.

So unless you’re planning a surprise party or playing Hide & Seek with your kids, don’t be sneaky.

Friday Faves, Issue #5

Once again, another edition of Friday Faves is here.  GOOD tucked away…just waiting to be found! ENJOY.

Destination of the Week:   China’s “Silicon Valley”…not far from Beijing….lots going on here!  Langfang, China.

Quote of the Week: “Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.  As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.” ~ Max Ehrmann, “Desiderata

Band of the Week:Throwback Time!  to 1999.  Moby opened my world to a new, bumping genre…this was my first foray. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMIfvDHYVWc

Meal of the Week:  Simple, SUPER nutritious, and delicious. Blanched Broccoli with a dusting of sea salt and Parmesan cheese. Here are the “blanch basics” ~

Website of the Week: Brain Pickings. Can’t say enough good things about this site and the source. Maria Popova has an amazing array of interests, deep, thoughtful perspective.  If you like to think, ponder, consider, reflect, THIS is for you.

There you have it, friends..  Have a good weekend!

 

Compartmentalize: Days, Life Issues, Relationships

In his seminal work, “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living”, Dale Carnegie talks about living in “day tight compartments.”

Sharing in part the instruction of Sir William Osler early in his book, Carnegie describes how Osler, using the metaphor of a trip on an ocean liner, told his medical students  at Yale to “learn to control the machinery as to live with ‘day-tight compartments’ as the most certain way to ensure safety on the voyage. Get on the bridge [of the ship], and see that at least the great bulkheads are in working order. Touch a button and hear, at every level of your life, the iron doors shutting out the Past-the dead yesterdays. Touch another and shut off, with a metal curtain, the Future -the unborn tomorrows. Then you are safe-safe for today!

Shut off the past! Let the dead past bury its dead. … Shut out the yesterdays which have lighted fools the way to dusty death.

The load of tomorrow, added to that of yesterday, carried today, makes the strongest falter. Shut off the future as tightly as the past. … The future is today. … There is no tomorrow. The day of man’s salvation is now. Waste of energy, mental distress, nervous worries dog the steps of a man who is anxious about the future.

Shut close, then the great fore and aft bulkheads, and prepare to cultivate the habit of life of ‘day-tight compartments’.”

The rest of Carnegie’s book helped me a lot in my early, post-college years, as I worked to establish myself as an adult.  For sure though, the basic strategy to “compartmentalize” is likely the most profound concept for me, and has been a significant factor in living a happy and productive life.  It’s helped me put worry in it’s place, well behind me, neutralized.

Recently I was reflecting on this strategy and drilled down further in its application.  The ability to compartmentalize helps me in (at least) three categories of my thinking.

First, it helps me be present, focusing the majority of my energy on the issues at hand, the activities of the day, the most pressing concerns of the “now.”

Being present and focused allows us to cope with the  many demands we have in our daily lives: pressures at work, deadlines at school, stresses at home.  The key is to close the door on the day once it’s concluded, actively release any negative energies, follow whatever process(es) you use to relax, and do so.  Reset your mind, reset your soul.

Another facet of compartmentalization is as an approach to combat the possible linkage of life issues, especially in the negative sense.  What I mean here is, often if something “bad” happens to us, some negative issue comes up, we may have a tendency to allow that one negative instance effect other things in our life.

This linkage is not helpful to your attitude, nor is it good for your health.  Don’t allow one (or two, or three) negative circumstances dictate your outlook overall.  When faced with a challenge, a bad outcome, etc., deal with the situation as best you can, debrief with others (and/or yourself) as soon as possible, and then put issue behind you.  Give yourself a few minutes to gather yourself — a few deep breaths, a brief walk, whatever you need to reset yourself, and then move forward with your day.

The final area that the skill and strategy of compartmentalization can be extremely helpful is in relationships.  This fact is true whether you’re considering your work colleagues, new people you meet or interact with everyday, or those most intimate relationships with friends and family.

Put succinctly, “don’t let other relationships suffer due to a few turkeys in your life.”

In other words, if you have a negative interaction with someone, whether it’s in the office, at school, or on the highway, be it with your wife, or your son, or a customer, or your boss, or the mailman, if a bad exchange occurs, don’t let it effect how you treat everyone else.

You’ll serve yourself best if your remember that you can’t control other people’s actions, their mood or what they have to say.  That’s the thing with free will:  we do what we want, and sometimes an individual’s actions aren’t the best.  Take the same approach suggested above:

  • Deal with the circumstance as best you can when it’s happening with the other person;
  • Consider and solidify the most accurate assessment that you can of the instance (i.e. debrief with yourself and/or others);
  • Gather yourself, reset your attitude/mood, and move on.

Altogether, following Dale Carnegie’s suggestion taken from Sir Osler’s characterization is sound advice. And in fact, that advice didn’t originate from Sir Osler, but in fact was even passed down to Osler who’d first heard the advice nearly 150 years ago.

It was Thomas Carlyle that helped Osler lead a life free from worry when Osler ready these twenty-one words: “Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.”   And if you’re able to compartmentalize the negative things that we come across throughout life, we’ll be able to do just that.

— Footnotes —

  • If you want to read from the “horse’s mouth”, as it were, here’s a link to “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.”
  • Learn more about Sir William Osler here.
  • Deep breaths to calm, reset, control yourself?  Oh YES. Wim Hof (“The Iceman”) uses breathing as the foundation for his unique method. Read more here.
  • The man behind the man behind the man? Read about Thomas Carlyle

Friday Faves, Issue #4

And VOILA!, another edition of Friday Faves is here.  Snippets of GOOD I found anew, or remembered from before, and offer up here to share.

ENJOY!

Destination of the Week:      An ancient trading country (human remains have been found here dating back eight thousand years), and one of the more stable in the region, Oman is the pick this week.  Also came to mind thanks to some renewed business interest in the country. 

Quote of the Week: “The author is not responsible for vulgar or other inappropriate content that appears in this message due to this stupid phone’s auto-correct function.” -the email tagline from a work colleague who travels a lot, thus conducting a lot of business via his mobile phone.

Band of the Week: An oldie but a goodie from the 1980’s:  Y & T.  Went to my first real concert to see this band from the San Francisco bay area and they cemented my love of live music and straight-ahead guitar-based rock & roll.  Here’s the hook, live, for good measure:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjSY3U1DJUk

Meal of the Week:  Not a meal this time, but a beverage. A high-octane selection from none other than Tim Ferriss.  It’s a “clean drink”, the Nor Cal Margarita (two shots of high-grade tequila, club soda, and as much lime (or lemon) juice as you can handle.

Website of the Week:  I use this site pretty much every week to get the low-down on any country that comes up during the day’s work.  And imagine that, it’s from the US Government! Check it out.

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/

There you have it.  Have a good weekend!

 

Far Away Lands, Moving Mountains, and a Cry Down the Hall

An old friend from high school has been traveling and living in Asia, Africa, South America, and even Antarctica, for some time now.  Thanks to social media channels, I’ve been able to follow his wanderings, and be inspired remotely by his adventures, insights, stories.  I love reading his posts, hearing about his latest experiences in other parts of the world. The vagabond spirit within me is stirs every time.

I’ve been an opportunistic traveler all of my adult life.   I’ve visited maybe fourteen countries so far.  Those pleasure/adventure trips lasted anywhere from a few days to at most a couple of weeks.  I was lucky to spend one year living and teaching soon after college in Donetsk, an industrial city in eastern Ukraine [and of late, sadly in the news with the violent civil conflict happening there].

When I think about a life of travel and the call of the road, nearly every time John Steinbeck’s words from his book, “Travels with Charley” come to mind. There he described his wanderlust, how his “toe starts tapping when he hears a train’s whistle…”, or something like that.  Since I read that book some 25 years ago, I’ve felt that simple characterization describes well my own feelings about travel.  I love it. I long for it. It inspires me.

I’ve lately been following the adventures and work of another person I recently became acquainted with via social media. This person started her professional life as a social worker, then turned to entrepreneurship, and finally blended the two skill sets to be a force for meaningful, measurable, positive change.  The first project was borne from time spent teaching and living in Nepal. in the states now, she’s leading an effort to build a solar system to provide reliable electricity for classrooms and a local monastery.

Project Exponential and Khata:Life are two additional manifestations of her drive to change lives for the better. My wanderlust stirs again with thoughts of Nepal, and my soul is sparked by the inspiration this new friend creates.

Then I pause and juxtapose all these thoughts to about four and a half years ago, when our first child was born.  This event changed my life in a dramatic way, and even a little different from the obvious, expected manner.

You see, I became a new dad later in life. While many of my friends were married and having children in their 20’s, kids weren’t in my present nor future at that time. I was married but had no plans for children. That marriage ended when I was 39.

As life (and luck) would have it, I met my second wife soon there after. She knew with certainty that she wanted to have children. The rest, as they say, is history. We started our family four years back. But the wanderlust still bubbles up from time to time. The desire to “change the world” on a massive scale still heats up within me.

And so I find myself, now with three young children – 4 years old, 2 year old, and 1 year old — trying to reconcile my previous, more self-centered life — yearning to travel the world, meet new people, see new things, get in adventures; and also my drive to bring positive change to as many people as possible, willing to drop what I’m doing to help others — with my new, family-focused life.

As I’ve looked into the eyes of each of my children, I’ve NEVER seen the opportunity, nor felt the responsibility, to shape lives for the better as with these three little people.  It’s an awesome, joyous, sometimes frightening prospect:   these little people rely on their mother and me for everything.  And we can’t let them down.

Then it dawns on me.  Being a parent is maybe one of the most inspired jobs anyone can have.  For someone like me, who thought he’d never be a parent, that feeling is intensified. We should think of our role as parents in that manner, and treat it with the hallowed respect and gratitude that it deserves.

The excitement, learning, insights, meeting new people (at daycare, school, playgrounds, etc.), even language challenges (try to understand little kids, as any parent knows, is quite an experience!) parallels in many ways those very similar opportunities that come with international travel and work.

The sleeplessness, the unexpected changes to schedule and activity, witnessing the wonder in the seemingly mundane, even some strange meals (if you’re a parent who eats his kids leftovers so as to not waste food, that can make for odd culinary combinations):  it’s all swirled together in the everyday life of being a parent.

What’s more, I have fresh inspiration as a father, to help other dads be the best they can be for their children.  I’ve quickly felt the desire and motivation to share my insights, my struggles, my support mechanisms, and have found a ready audience in friends, and also via social media channels like twitter.  Indeed, I’ve connected with a whole new sub-set of like-minded folks who seem to appreciate what I have to give, and who also share with me their wonderful lessons on parenting.

And that wanderlust?  I’ve found two avenues to help satiate that need for adventure, new discoveries, and excitement from the road.

First, that same wonder in the mundane one finds over and over traveling to distant lands also exists right in our own backyard, quite literally. And also in the neighborhoods, parks, museums, libraries, playgrounds, etc. that I’ve started to wander in a whole new way, following little people around, seeing the world through their eyes.    As they discover, so do I, the simple joy waiting patiently until you shift your perspective and suddenly think, say, “Look at that!  THAT is amazing.”

And what about the literal call of the road?  New thoughts and plans of exploring the vast and varied lands of the American West — road trips to Yellowstone and Joshua Tree and Yosemite and Bryce and Pinnacles and Redwoods and Crater Lake and…the list goes on…I find myself already plotting the time of year for each destination, the number of days I’ll need off work, how far we will drive each day, what snacks we’ll bring, etc.

I can’t wait to hit the road with my wife and a car full of kids, my stomach buzzing with the excitement and anticipation traveling stirs within.   No doubt there will be plenty of challenges during those adventures. As in life,  the lessons and bonds and new things we’ll see and experience together as a family…well, that’s just priceless, as least as far as I’m concerned.

So as I follow my friends’ lives and the cool places they travel to and good works they’re engaged in, I take heart anew because I know that I too am living the life I’m meant to live.  Indeed, by simply living, shifting perspective to find joy in the now, nurturing and promoting a deep sense of gratitude and finding satisfaction in my every day, I am who I want to be.  Now not just for myself, but for others too.  Especially three little people who are with me on the journey.