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.
Most of us are drama queens—yes, even you, my macho friends! While it is pleasant to hear good news from others, most of us are more easily sucked into situations where something unusual and oftentimes dreadful occurs. Psychologists say that urge comes from an inborn biological imperative in place designed to keep us safe and constantly on the look out of danger. But for most of us, our lives are routinely safe and secure. So, instead of looking out for lions and tigers and bears, we are drawn into the dramas around us with amazing fascination. And instead of choosing something saner or more helpful, we frequently pass it on to others rather than taking the high road and doing otherwise. That’s why it is SMART to let go of your inner drama queen and instead become a queen of calm.
“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…]
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…]
Some of the posts here on SMART Living 365 might lead you to believe that SMART Living is merely keeping a positive attitude. You might also think that once you embrace what I have been calling SMART Living that nothing unpleasant or bad ever happens in your life. Actually, while it might be nice if that were true—it’s not. SMART Living isn’t a place you arrive at like taking a trip to Hawaii and never coming home. Instead, SMART Living is a journey of discovering that no matter what happens, you have the consciousness, understanding and tools to deal with whatever comes your way.
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.
“It took some good calm thinking in order to get myself to calm down and stop throwing myself against the boulder.” –Aron Ralston, mountain climber and author
Yesterday Thom came across an interesting article on Huffington Post about the lack of common sense in the world today. The article by Dr. Jim Taylor said, “common sense is neither common, nor sense. There’s not a whole lot of sound judgment going on these days… so it’s not common.” We both agreed with his suggestions on how to bring more open and rigorous thinking to our decisions, but there was something else missing. Maybe that final ingredient to all common sense should be some “calmNsense.” [Read more…]
Just over three years ago, Thom and I bought a new home in the “village area” of La Quinta, CA. We called it an experiment because we weren’t sure if we could live in a house that was nearly a 1,000 sq. feet less than the one we had before. Never mind that the new house had 1,400 square feet with three bedrooms, two bathrooms and was plenty large enough based on comparables around the world. But with huge changes happening in the economy, and our personal growing awareness in the “green” movement, Thom and I felt it was time to discover if the American obsession with size was just a habit we’d adopted or a true necessity. What we’ve come to know during the last two years is that smaller is plenty big enough, especially when it fits perfectly within your needs. [Read more…]