There is an old Zen story that uses the comments, “Where are you going? Don’t know,” to make its point. For those who may not know, Zen is an ancient spiritual practice related to Buddhism that frequently uses stories, parables or “koans” to explain and deepen its teachings among followers. Many koans are paradoxical and used to shock the mind into enlightenment. So, when you hear a Zen Koan for the first time, it may not make any sense at all. However, at exactly the right time and place, the truth behind it suddenly becomes clear. That’s what happened for me after a few recent events.
“Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.” –Buddha
Do you realize how much power you possess every time you open your mouth? Or what about when you post something on Facebook or send out that email? Every communication we have with others carries with it the ability to bring a smile to someone’s face and potentially lift one’s spirit. Or, we simultaneously have the power to create fear, doubt, or even worse. While we usually can’t turn another person’s life around without their cooperation, we can, with the simple words we say or write, instantly shift the energy in a person or in a room. Let’s start remembering that the words we share with others are like a wand bestowing blessings or curses.
With the new school year fast approaching, I think it is useful to recognize that people generally have one of two different mindsets when it comes to learning. Some people think you “just have what you were born with” as far as smarts or intelligence goes, while others live their lives with the belief that you can always learn more and become more with effort. Which are you? Sort of like a brain “operating system,” believing and behaving with either a growth mindset or a fixed mindset will go a long way towards determining your success and happiness in this lifetime. The good news is, if you haven’t been getting the results you crave, you can always change your mindset and go from there.
Drop a light bulb on the floor and it shatters. Drop an apple and it bruises. Drop a hard rubber ball and it bounces back—good as new. What about you? Every single one of us experiences a variety of events every day. Some experiences are smooth and pleasant, some merely okay, and others downright tough. While most of us can sail easily through the good times—whether we shatter, bruise or bounce during the tough times are as individual as we are. We all know a few people who are amazing at bounding right back. Others—not so great. The good news is that with the desire, every one of us can improve our bounce-ability quotient. [Read more…]
“I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority.” ~E.B. White
A few weeks ago I posted about how it was “SMART to Spend Time in Nature.” That’s because there are dozens of scientific studies that now prove that not only is it healing for the body, it is also extremely good for our mental health to experience time in the great outdoors. Since writing that blog, I have since discovered that not only is it good for us physically and mentally—spending time in nature also makes us nicer and more generous people.
Has anything pleasantly unexpected happened to you lately? Why not? If your day is starting to look and feel like the movie “Ground Hog Day” then maybe you have closed yourself off from the new and possible. Just holding open the possibility that something new and wonderful could happen today—might be what’s needed to crack open that door to a miraculous possibility that never before seemed feasible.
An important part of SMART Living 365 is creating happiness. But what do I mean by happiness? Unfortunately, many people in America seem to be working to either buy happiness or make happiness happen, and that can actually lead to more stress and dissatisfaction than anything else. So, before we go further, let’s explore what happiness is, and isn’t—how we can experience it—and why should we want it in the first place. [Read more…]
Just over six months ago Thom and I added a new family member to our household—a puppy we named Kloe. To be sure, a puppy ads havoc, lots more work and a great deal of responsibility to anyone who cares for them. However, the increased value and joy Kloe brings to our lives more than compensates for any inconvenience. Not only does Kloe make us laugh on a daily basis, there is plenty of proof that she is also good for our health.
“Research has shown that people with a greater sense of vitality don’t just have more energy for things they want to do, they are also more resilient to physical illnesses. One of the pathways to health may be to spend more time in natural settings,” Richard Ryan.
As some of our friends and family know, Thom and I have been renting a house for a month every summer up in Idyllwild for around 17 years. Idyllwild is a very small mountain town, (less than 2,000 permanent residents) about an hour from our home in the desert. Back in 1993 we did it for the first time because, quite frankly, we couldn’t afford any other type of vacation. It seemed like a good way to escape the desert heat and was a great bargain as well. Little did we know back then that the experience would be so rewarding, that we would still be doing it 17 years later. Now, not only do we consider it still an amazing vacation value, we are living examples of the restorative power of spending time in nature. [Read more…]
“There’s more to life than increasing its speed.” – Mohandas Gandhi
It’s summertime here in the Coachella Valley where I live, and because it is the desert southwest, it is expectedly hot outside. While we locals have certain tricks and techniques to stay cool, most of the time the heat of the season makes me lethargic and under-motivated. While none of us like to think of ourselves as lazy, me included, maybe the season is both an invitation and permission to slow down, relax and enjoy life. After all, pushing yourself when it’s extremely warm (or cold) outside isn’t SMART no matter how you look at it. [Read more…]