Your Life: Summed Up

October 9, 2012

The average American spends nine years of his life watching television and two million commercials. Only two weeks of his life is spent kissing another person. Imagine if those numbers were reversed (and probably are in some countries!).

The average Joe spends 4,050 hours at a standstill in traffic (that is the equivalent of 506 nights of sleep), 4,320 hours at traffic lights, 5,365 hours talking on the phone and 122,400 hours working. He will have walked 35,000 miles in a lifetime, which is equal to walking from Paris to Shanghai and back ~ twice. At the same time, he will drive 798,000 miles: That’s 3.5 times to the moon and back.

If you look at these staggering statistics, it makes you realize how much of our time is spent with machines, not Nature or even each other. It makes me want to hug a tree and remember that we are all connected to everything: Not just through Facebook, but through our ultimate purpose in life, which is to love each other with all our might.

How will you spend your day today?

Life Summed Up

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Out of Control

September 28, 2012

Our modern age has given us so many new tools to manage ourselves. iPhones, laptops, PCs, traffic navigators, you name it. In effect, these gadgets offer us a semblance of control. And feeling in control is necessary for our mental health.

And yet we really aren’t in control as much as we think we are. That is why Facebook is so intoxicating. Updating your status, checking in with others, posting feelings, thoughts and memories provide us with pseudo-connection with others. But we don’t really hear their voices, feel their feelings or see their faces as they express these things. In addition, Facebook is another way of controlling our image. I like to call it Fakebook because in reality, who is going to admit that they just did something less than reputable, yet perhaps very human?

As connected and controlled as our lives appear, it is a virtual world we create when we use these social media platforms. Our real lives on the ground are the ones we need to nurture the most because there is no substitute for a physical hug when you need it.  It takes a moment of thought. It takes a human touch. And it takes time.

Everything else is a neatly controlled world, a cartoon version of ourselves.

I’m for being real. Are you?

 

Clueless

September 25, 2012

What happens when you are absolutely clueless about a situation? You simply have no direction and your inner compass has gone haywire. Resting in the place of unknowing can be scary for most of us. We are used to always having an objective, a goal, a vision. In our linear understanding of time, the clock marches forward, not backward or sideways. When we are clueless, we are in a swirl that has no boundaries.

Did you know it takes the human brain a few milliseconds to process information so that what you experience is actually delayed in time? What you see, smell or hear happened in the past. So when you are clueless, it is as if you are standing in the immediate moment between what has happened and your experience of it. And that can be your bridge to understanding.

It is a place of suspension, of absolute nothingness, of inner space, of Ma. We can use that space to truly allow things to unfold, then let our brains catch up to experience its unfolding.

Imagine being clueless as a powerful place where you needn’t have the answers. They will come in their own time. And you get to be the participant-observer of their birth.

You don’t always have to run the show. In fact, in many ways your personal script has already been written. The question is which part will you play?

Better Days

September 17, 2012

Bruce Springsteen sings of them. So do the Goo Goo Dolls. But the best lyrics I’ve heard recently about better days is a line in Dave Matthews’ Song, “Cry Freedom.” “The future is no place/to place your better days.”

Better days refer to better times. It usually is followed by “When I do X,Y,Z, then A,B,C can happen,” such as “When I have lost five kilos, then I’ll be happy.” Deferring the good stuff in life is not a good idea because you really don’t know when your personal bank account of time will close forever.

Better days are here and now. If you let them in. And they can be found anywhere at any time in the still, small moments that frame our lives.

Getting to your happy place isn’t hard if you make it a habit every day. When you wake up in the morning, what’s the first thing you think about? Your worries? Your to-dos? Or do you focus your attention on what’s right in your world? Do you greet the day with the reverence it deserves?

The good news is if you are reading this, you get another chance to make today that better day. Are you with me on this one?

Have you ever experienced the domino effect in your calendar? One person shows up too late and, because your schedule is so jam-packed, your entire day collapses like a house of cards? You end up racing from one thing to the next. By the evening, you are completely worn out without the feeling of satisfaction such level of effort deserves.

For those of you who have listened to any of the countless executive Webinars I’ve given over the past few years, you will know I often refer to the Japanese term ‘Ma’ as a great illustration for what is required to avert calendar disasters like the one I just mentioned.

‘Ma’ is a theatrical word that translates as the space between things either in music or in theater. It literally means the silence between the beats of the music or that theatrical pause, which keeps you on the edge of your seat. That which comes after the pause has more import because of the pause itself.

The Japanese (who also invented the concept of Wabi Sabi) are just so wise.

When we go from one appointment to the next in a seamless thread of activity, we have no time to digest what we’ve experienced before heaping on the next one.

This is what I imagine, in rather Picassoesque fashion, our scrambled brains look like after a ‘ma’-less day.

Note all the stuff surrounding our minds: the white noise, the distraction, the interruption, the input! I always know I have too much on my mind when I can’t decipher what my kids are saying. Okay, it’s hard enough to translate teen-speak into understandable language. But after a day without pause, I’m toast.

Now imagine your calendar as an open field of opportunity. You get all this time to play with. How will you divide it up? Insert ‘Ma’ between your major appointments. It will give you space to handle unexpected events and the breathing room to sustain your energy throughout the day. So instead of scheduling back-to-back meetings, give yourself at least fifteen minutes between things. And if people show up too late, reschedule if possible so your day isn’t impacted.

We could all use fifteen minutes of breezy nothingness to kick back and simply be. That’s when we are most creative, after all. Our juicy requires that soft crevice between the ‘must-do’s’ of our everyday lives.

Give yourself the gift of ‘Ma’ and tell me how it goes.

You know what? I can see a smile forming on your face already.