As we all know by now, actor Robin Williams died by suicide earlier this week. Sadly, his passing comes on the heels of other departures by famous people like Maya Angelou, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Shirley Temple and Paul Walker to name just a few. And while death always catches our attention, sometimes it also causes us to catch our breath—especially when it strikes those we consider too young. Yet the truth is, we don’t know these people. Our only connection to them comes from highly filtered stories from the media. So what is it that triggers the widespread mourning that so many feel when tragedy hits our celebrities? Here are nine reasons I found that might help to explain the phenomenon.
According to the online publication Business Insider, the average person works over 1,800 hours per year and almost 90,000 total hours during their lifetime. That might be low because if you figure 40 hours per week for 50 weeks, it comes to 2,000 hours without even counting commuting time. An even more depressing bit of information is that nearly 80% of people are dissatisfied with their jobs. So if we spend over a third of our life working and another third of our life sleeping, that leaves only one third to do everything else. Is that enough for a happy, purposeful and rewarding life? Maybe. If not, perhaps there is a better way to live by right-sizing your work in ways that help to create a SMART life 365. [Read more…]
When I sat down today to make up my to-do list it occurred to me that this was going to be a very busy week. And to make matters worse, I had no one to blame except myself. For much of my life I’ve had trouble saying no to people, especially when it comes in areas I think are important. But as I’ve mentioned before, I recently read Essentialism—The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. Not only does the book focus on eliminating everything that is unessential in our lives so we can focus on what really matters, McKeown suggests that learning to say “No” is a critical and courageous step required to do just that. So for those of us on the path to simplifying our lives or those of us who want to live by design rather than default, it is very SMART to learn ways to say No from here on out. [Read more…]
So May is my birthday month. On May 23rd I turn 59. Yes, really! I only get to say that once so here it is in writing. And as I was sitting around thinking about how I wanted to celebrate I came up with a couple of ideas. Most importantly I want to offer all of you, my SMART readers a gift. If that’s sounds even remotely interesting, and/or you are curious about what I am giving away, please read all the way to the bottom of the post to discover how you can claim your free birthday gift from me.
But my thoughts about birthdays don’t stop there. By the time you get to be my age you’ve certainly been-there done-that with traditional ways to celebrate. So how can we celebrate in a way that makes this year stand out and not only be different, but be one of the more special years of all? [Read more…]
Last week I noticed a very suspicious looking blemish on my cheek, and I started worrying. I was especially nervous because when my mother was my age, she developed skin cancer under her right eye. Then several years ago my sister Ann had an angry looking sore on the back of her leg that wouldn’t heal for months. Even though hers turned out to benign, the experience made for some anxious times. So it didn’t require much imagination on my part to convince myself that my blemish could require a big chunk to be cut out of my cheek, scaring me for a lifetime. Or worse.
Finally, after waking up in the middle of the night with worry on my mind, I called the dermatologist. Although he couldn’t see me for a week, I realized that I could continue to allow fear and worry to control my life for the following seven days, or I could do something else. But isn’t that choice something we all face every day in this thing called life? Fear and worry? Or peace and happiness? We decide. [Read more…]
Let me state right up front that this article is not about getting rich or making money. It is also not about the latest in security technology or the suggestion that you should be happy just the way you are. Instead, I want to explore the biggest obstacle to why most of us don’t really feel rich, safe or content regardless of how much money we have in the bank, the circumstances surrounding us, or how great things might be at any point. That big “elephant in the room” is an underlying, all-pervasive and largely unconscious belief in scarcity and lack. In fact, whether you are on the path to a simple or minimalist lifestyle—or just trying to get by as you are—I’m convinced that discovering what I mean by that, growing ever more aware of it, and taking steps to counteract it are some of the most important steps we can ever take to increase our individual well being. Interested? [Read more…]
A couple of weeks ago Thom and I had lunch with a long-time friend I’ll call Bob. After a great meal our conversation turned to health and successful aging as it sometimes does for people in midlife. We all agreed that we were extremely fortunate to live in an area where we can observe people well into their 90’s who are vibrant, active and younger in mind and heart than many people half their age.
Next we talked about the importance of living each day as a gift, never taking a moment for granted, and fulfilling our bucket list while we were all healthy and financially able. That’s when Bob joked that he recently had dinner with a woman in her late 80’s who had a different take on the idea. She told him very emphatically that she was done with the idea of a bucket list. At her age, she was working on her F*^k It list! And while we all laughed at the spunk of Bob’s friend, that declaration got me thinking.
Sure, it’s healthy to have a bucket list containing all the goals and dreams we hope to accomplish during the remainder of our lives. But maybe a F*^k It list is good as well. After all, at a certain age we should be both willing and able to let go of anything that drags us down and holds us back from living a happy and content life. So, after some time thinking about it—here are a few things I’m putting on my F*^k It list that perhaps might convince some of the rest of you to make such a list as well. [Read more…]
Retirement is a big topic for many of us in midlife. The usual approach is to figure out how much money you can possibly save up so that you can continue the lifestyle you have created for you and your family. The other approach is to downsize and sacrifice so you can live on whatever you think you’ll be forced to get by living on and with. There is another way. Several years ago Thom and I came up with what is a middle (and we think better) way that is seldom mentioned. That way is to “right-size” your life as soon as possible. Then whether you choose to finally retire, or decide you will continue creating in some capacity for as long as you live—your life will be filled with qualities and activities that bring you happiness, purpose, and peace of mind. [Read more…]
Last week was my birthday. Or I should say, one of my birthdays. That’s because we all actually have many birth-days or major turning points during our lifetimes if we choose to remember and acknowledge them. Each one of these birthdays marks a significant turning point in our experience here on planet Earth. And even though there are always a large number of major and minor days of significance for each of us, I believe my life contains four extra-ordinary days of beginning. By sharing my special days with you, perhaps it will be easier for you to pinpoint and acknowledge similar events and birth-days in your life that you might want to honor and commemorate.
Like it or not, most of us are familiar with the idea that much of life is a trade-off. Like to live in the city? Then you’ll likely have to put up with noise and people. Hate exercising? Then you may gain weight and lose muscle mass. Want to live in the country? Then you might have to drive miles to find a Starbucks for your morning latte. But even if you are aware of the trade-offs you’ve made in your life on a regular basis, you may not have considered them in terms of the “opportunity costs” involved. What I’ve recently discovered is that when faced with trade-offs, calculating what are called “opportunity costs” is a great way to stay true to your values and focused on the benefits of a simple and happy life.