Sunday, November 24, 2013

Satisfaction in the Simple

We often seek satisfaction from the biggest and the best in life. We imagine that the bigger and better the experience, milestone, and reward, the more value it will add to our days. Then we look at a cat, happily preening herself in a sunny spot on the carpet, and we wonder how that small action can provide her such satisfaction. Is the cat weird, or are we sometimes out of touch with the satisfaction inherent in the simple?

Simple avenues of enjoyment are all around us, yet we often ignore them while chasing after the big stuff. Why? Sometimes we don't even know because bigger and better seems written into the trends of culture. But if you pay attention, you can feel the body and mind tugging at you to reward yourself with more simple moments like the cat does.

Instead of seeing it as a bummer when you don't have plans on a weekend, it's a perfect opportunity to relish in simple activities. If you enjoy cooking, pull out that unique recipe you've had stored away for months in a kitchen cupboard. Let the process of cooking and eating your food deliver as much reward as you imagine a "big" experience would.

If you want to try your own form of preening, soak your hands in warm water for 15-20 minutes, then massage lotion into them while watching T.V. or listening to music. You could do the same for your feet. Practice a new hair do for no reason at all, that no one will see but you. Re-arrange your closet and notice how your taste has changed over time. Write a short story, even if you've never done it before. Play piano or learn how to play. Make up a new song.

Daily activities like making coffee, washing the dishes, or walking the dog are all simple moments that offer not only satisfaction, but also an anchor during strange or stressful times. Just because you don't get a blue ribbon or trophy for creatively stacking the dishwasher doesn't mean it's an unimportant or useless part of your day. How you approach the simplest moments can influence how you approach other experiences in life, large or small.

This week, let yourself find satisfaction in the simple.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Blank Page

Imagine pulling your resume up on the computer---and deleting it. Did your brain say "ouch" at the very thought of electronically crumpling up the piece of paper that claims to know everything you're good at and that you should be striving for?

The resume is a handy tool to get a job, and it's also a confining piece of paper that can spark feelings of anxiety, inadequacy, and dissatisfaction. Even without the paper itself, you can see "resumes" metaphorically in how they affect life.

Each of us has roles that we can pressure ourselves to perform perfectly, and sometimes unrealistically. The roles and tasks performed can become larger than the person. The person can drown in the resume. It can feel like nothing's ever enough.

Again, imagine deleting all the lines on the resume page. The lines that talk about being the perfect business person, parent, daughter or son, teacher, worker, student, athlete, human being, and so on. What's left?

A blank page. It may seem like just an empty page, but it stands for a lot more than that. It's potential, free and ready for you to use. How would you fill it if you didn't have to stick with 12-point font, employment history, years worked, qualifications, education, and skills?

There are probably things that you imagine doing from time to time, fleeting thoughts in your mind. Maybe after you imagine them, you're habitually used to scrapping them because there are more important things to do on your resume. Of course the resume is bible...or is it? Maybe you do have space to do the things you've imagined doing. As long as you do them your way. The blank page may not come with directions, but it frees you to go where you've never been.

Just because we use resumes, doesn't mean we have to become them. Try pulling out a blank page, and see what happens.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Wants Can't Be Discovered in Worries

Despite any tricks your brain pulls, it can be helpful to remember that wants can't be discovered in worries. Worries masquerade inside our heads as being caring, ambitious, and more "on it." Are they really helping, though?

Worrying is the mind's attempt to exert more control over situations that feel uncertain or uncontrollable to us. With enough worry, we imagine we can tease apart the ultimate answers to life's problems and get what we want. The act of worrying ties up a lot of energy and potential that can be used in other ways.

Ever had an experience where something you want comes around when you're not constantly worrying about it? Life doesn't usually seem that concerned with our worries, and it may actually wait until the worrying subsides before opening new doors and opportunities. Worrying is easy and common to fall prey to. What's challenging is to step back from it and see what else the world is made of. Energy, adventures, uncertainties...not always bad uncertainties.

By worrying, we can focus so much on the unnerving side of uncertainty that we lose sight of the other shades of it. Would you want to keep watching movies that you always knew the endings to? With worries, we seek to know the ending right now before going through the meat of the experience itself. Trouble is, worrying doesn't exactly produce real endings or results, so it can leave us spinning our wheels instead.

Next time a worry is waking up with you, piggy backing all day, and snuggling up beside you at night, look at it in the face and ask, "What? What do you want from me?" Reducing its importance will help you remember what you want instead.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Too Cool for School

In today's heavily social (media) world, sometimes a "Too Cool for School" craze catches on. What's "too cool for school?" You stop wanting to learn and experience life. Why? Because you're already being told what's "cool."

All of us are exposed to this phenomenon today over the internet, pads, phones, and myriad devices. It's worth challenging the net-like peer pressure to keep learning and discovering for yourself. Nothing against nets. After all, spiders use nets to catch food...just not other spiders. It's not easy to resist the pervasive culture. But your health and well-being benefits from wisely choosing how much you want to be involved.

Too cool for school tells you what's important to value. The more hits, the more news-worthy. The more likes, the more reliable. Is that how we really feel inside? That's a question for each individual to ask for his or herself. When it comes down to it, tweets, likes, hits, and thumbs up will never compare to solo and individual experience. Taste something and decide for yourself how you feel about it.

Even if a million people say it's worth following, it's okay to say you don't dig it. In fact, you'd probably rather go for a walk, write a story, or do nothing at all. The point is, you're not uncool just for having ignored it. Life is yours to live and learn through. Learning to filter all the stimulus available today to decide what's valuable to you makes a difference.

If you feel out of vogue, behind the times, not hip to it, or out of touch with the scene...maybe your mind and body are trying to tell you something? They're probably reminding you that you are cool for school. It's hip to be square.