July 9, 2010
Since having a baby, I’ve developed the habit of continually going back to bed. Get up and go back to bed. Repeat. It’s obvious and natural to think that, after getting up three, four or five times a night, you go back to bed; however, after several years working quietly and productively in the stillness of 4:30 AM, I’m starting to lose my early morning mojo. (Apparently my mojo is slipping into the stillness of 4:30 AM…) Instead, it has become increasingly difficult to get up and begin working so early because, guess what, I want to go back to bed.
While I can’t blame myself or anybody else for this lovely new habit, every time I get up at 4:30 or 5:00, I want to go back to bed. So, the question I have to ask myself is, is that extra hour of sleep really worth it?
Sometimes, yes, it totally is. Nothing beats taking advantage of a little extra time quiet time before the day starts. Other times, not so much. I break a deep sleep cycle and totally drag getting out of bed, trying to get ready for work. At that rate, I’m already behind with everything I need and want to do. Then, by the time I arrive at the office, it’s later than I prefer and I’m not as prepared for the day as I’d like. My high need for closure barks the entire time.
So, is that extra hour of sleep really worth it? I don’t know. But, at this point, I can say it’s become a habit to choose whether or not I go back to bed every single morning.
June 30, 2010
A recent study from the US Department of Labor was released about American Time Usage in 2009.
Not surprisingly work, household, childcare and leisure activities comprised the major categories. Here’s what stood out: the average person over the age of 15 watched nearly 3 hours of televisions EVERY day. 3 hours every day?!?!
It may be hypocritical for an avid golfer (who, I might add, rarely plays once a week…) to suggest that seems like a lot. But, really, do Americans have that much time?
That’s a whole lot of unproductive relaxation: 3 hours a day equals 21 hours a week, 1,092 a year and 10,920 a decade. Add an average of 8 hours of sleep a day and the number skyrockets. Obviously sleep is necessary and, if you’re retired or have already paid your dues, watching as much television as you’d like isn’t a crime; you’ve earned your keep.
I ask everyone else, though, how do you do it? How do you take the time to watch 3 hours of television every day?
I’ve been on a personal quest to add hours to the day. The goal is to maximize productivity within any given period. I’ve diligently tried to manage time and effort to the point that I’m so conscious of making a simple choice that I can become indecisive. Before I know it, fifteen minutes and layers of unnecessary communication go by to simply answer a freakin’ question: “yes, dear. Let’s go to (blank) restaurant.”
I previously wrote about being mindful and tending to your immediate surroundings. Another dimension to your Personal Ecosystem is time. Your time. If you’re busy, time is valuable. Then, your ability to choose how to spend time becomes increasingly important.
In the end the question becomes, is it worth it? Is watching 3 hours of television a day worth it? If so, good for you. If not, do you really want to watch 3 hours of television? Your choice.
September 17, 2010
See. There it is. I have a bad habit; I lead with negativity.
As an analytical person with an extremely high need for closure, I tend to focus on the negatives. I often think of such ‘negatives’ as opportunities, though, and immediately get in solution mode; however, those with whom I interact may not understand. They could easily assume I’m simply a pessimist, wet blanket, etc.
While that may be true, my ambition creates this belief that there’s always room for improvement. I’m in this perpetual self-assessment mode that produces drive. As annoying and self-conflicting as it may be, this angst keeps me motivated.
So, my instincts are typically negative and, when responding as such, my response typically produces unnecessary drama, tension or retraction. Heck, this post title says it all. It’s not, I Have Lots of Room For Improvement or I Can Be More Optimistic. Instead, it’s, I Have a Bad Habit.
The ‘bad’ habit is simply stating a negative first and not leading with a positive. All too often I jump into a negative ‘thing,’ which could easily be stated in a positive manner. Then, the receipt of such ‘thing’ by others is less likely to be offensive. Consequently, there’s less chance for unnecessary drama, tension or retraction. And, ultimately, a productive outcome is more probable in less time.
So, going forward, I will choose to be conscious of said habit (with ‘room for improvement’) and will make a concerted effort to lead with a more positive action (all the while wondering how I can really address the negative).
May 5, 2010
While choice may come in varying degrees, the Idea of Choice allows every person to live equally with the responsibility and accountability of choice. Together, this responsibility and accountability place a high priority and focus on nurturing and cultivating your immediate surroundings. In this way, your immediate surroundings create a unique network of interactions that form a personal ecosystem.
Personal relationships are an extension of your personal core. These connections extend themselves into daily life, personally and professionally. Every day is filled with such interactions that, on some level, we choose and, in turn, define our experience of life itself. Daily interactions span a wide range of activities, including close relationships, personal and professional acquaintances and complete strangers. It’s the person-to-person interaction that creates a personal core, which is the foundation for our personal ecosystems.
So what’s the big deal? Why is the “personal ecosystem” so important? Take a moment or two to notice everyone around you. Look at and feel the space around you. Every person you see and think of creates an inter-linked web. This is your personal ecosystem. It creates every interaction you experience in life. In fact, these connections are your life.
Every person’s exchange with other people, ideas, places and things, is dictated by the flow of life. Your personal ecosystem affects this life stream by your choice to interact with life. Moreover, you give more time, energy and thought to different people, ideas, places and things. That is how your personal ecosystem is nurtured.
For now, just look at the world around you. Take notice and consider how the bustling or slow web of interactions affect your life. Is it positive or negative? Do your surroundings seem pleasant or disgruntled, mindful or ignorant, conscious or unconscious? Recognize and tune in to your surroundings. That’s your personal ecosystem. That’s the world around you.
May 1, 2010
CBS Sunday Morning recently ran a piece called, Decisions, Decisions… I enjoyed the article since the topic was of particular interest. Writers Jonah Lehrer, author of How We Decide, and Sheena Iyengar, author of The Art of Choosing, discussed how we have many more choices than ever before. Given the amount of choices and decisions we face, our instincts and intellect play important roles throughout the decision process.
I totally agree with the sentiments of each writer, particularly Lehrer, who said, “I like to think of life as just one decision after another.” Very true; however, the context of Decisions, Decisions… is more focused on consumerism than choice itself. This is where the Idea of Choice differs.
While life may be comprised of one decision after another, we all have the fundamental ability to make choices. Intellect, intuition and instinct all play a role. If considering potato chips in the grocery store, you have already made a choice to consider potato chips. You then make another choice to act on looking and then selecting from the dozens of varieties. Or, you simply choose to avoid the aisle altogether.
The Idea of Choice‘s premise is that we not only live through decisions, but we have an active responsibility to make conscious choices, which create ripple effects through life. One decision after another, we live through choice and the results they produce. It’s your choice to acknowledge, respond to and take responsibility for this level of consciousness.
The bottom line is eating potato chips (or not) will affect your health in the same way that every choice affects life. There’s no hint of potato chip consumption or deprivation here; just a mere suggestion to take a moment and consider the impacts of your choice.
April 23, 2010
Have you ever noticed how one day can be absolutely great and the next is simply crap? Or how things can be going really well and instantly change for the worse? It’s kind of funny how cyclical life seems.
Ten years ago I was studying and playing music in New York with some of the brightest musicians in the world. Opportunities seemed endless and my life, as I knew it, was pretty clear. Then, in one fell swoop, my priorities changed. Fast forward ten years and I’m living in my hometown with a completely different profession, happily married, a new father and surrounded by family.
While the apex of ten years ago is very different from today, the choices along the way are the same. Each phase has been dictated by my willingness to grow in or out of the next thing. And, together, the subtleties, nuances and impacts of choice have contributed to the cyclical nature of each phase.
So what’s the big deal? Life happens. Change happens. There’s nothing you can necessarily do to stop this from happening. And it’s all cyclical anyways, right?
Well, you can embrace the evenflow of life. Funnel momentum like it’s kung fu; don’t break it. If life is going well, make the most of it. Things will change. If things aren’t going so well, accept it and initiate change for the next step. Also know that it’s temporary.
You can choose to proactively seek positively productive momentum. Sidney Harman, founder of Harman Kardon, firmly believed in constantly increasing the odds. In this way, the idea of choice allows you to constantly increase the opportunity for an intended outcome. And the more you hedge your bets, the more likely you’ll see positive results.
It’s not a spiritual or religious thing. It’s simple, common sense. Make the choice to follow, control and perpetuate life’s cycles. Take ownership of funneling your life’s work in directions and outcomes of your choosing. It may take a little time but you’ll live the difference.
April 8, 2010
Computers, cars and cell phones all come with default settings. They’re innate. Computers function on specific operating systems (i.e., Windows or Mac), cars are manual or automatic and cell/mobile phones operate on provider networks (e.g., Sprint, Verizon, AT&T, etc.). Likewise, people have default settings. It’s how we operate.
As humans, these default settings are our innate or essential qualities, which allow us to uniquely exist. It’s nature’s version of an operating system. In fact, nature, as a word, is derived from natura, which is Latin for “essential qualities or innate disposition”. The literal meaning is “birth.” So, when life starts, every organism is given a natural, innate operating system (a.k.a., default setting). To this end, nature may initiate every person’s biological manifestation but people, as individuals, choose how to operate and exist.
Biological manifestation can be organized in the following states.
- Organization – a living thing’s basic composition of one or more cells.
- Metabolism – the process of converting nonliving material into energy, which is used to maintain a living being’s internal organization and produce its life activities.
- Growth – the production of new cells and an increase in size after larger amounts of energy are consumed and wasted. A species will then multiply, expand, evolve and begin to flourish.
- Adaptation – a living thing’s accommodation to its environment and ability to evolve, which are determined by its innate disposition (a.k.a., default setting). The internal organization, or metabolized substances, and external environmental affect its ability to adapt.
- Response to stimuli – a motion, whether simple or complex, in which a high functioning animal uses many senses to react to a particular situation.
- Reproduction – the production of a new, living thing through the division of one cell into two. Also known as the process of growth.
How does this relate to choice? Simple: we affect biological manifestation, despite its seemingly instinctual or natural state of being. While more technical in nature, life’s biological manifestation can be applied to more simple, tangible life stages.
As an example, organization is simply our existence, as people, and the general health of our bodies. Metabolism is the ongoing care for our bodies, minds and spirits through nutrition, exercise, intellect, emotion and intent. Growth is the byproduct of metabolism. Adaptation is our state of existence in the environment we create. Response to stimuli is our default setting, as adapted through our environment, growth and metabolism; we chose the degree to which we receive and respond to activity. And, finally, while reproduction can literally be considered procreation, it also describes our interaction with others as defined by our own default setting. It is in this way that biological manifestation creates our innate, essential qualities as human beings. We choose to exist. Temperament, habits (i.e., productive versus detrimental), frame of mind and intent are all examples.
If you choose to take care of your body, you have a higher chance of living longer. If your metabolism is fed with positive and productive care, your growth will be more positive and productive in nature. This allows you to adapt and thrive in any environment. It becomes easier to respond to and interact with others in a caring and positive manner. Together, these increase the potential for others to positively interact with you.
Suffice it to say the opposite is true. Poor health can reduce your life span, feeding your metabolism with negative things can produce detrimental results and, perhaps, prohibit growth. And so on.
In its most fundamental state, life is dependent on the manner in which we choose for ourselves. Our existence is either positive or negative, and completely dependent on life’s biological manifestation…or our default setting. Unlike computers, cars or cell phones, we can choose how to operate and exist. It’s our choice.