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Archive for May, 2012

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“Living in the moment brings you a sense of reverence for all of life’s blessings.”

                                                                                                            ~   Oprah Winfrey

 Life is filled with many challenges. Opportunities to feel frustrated, hurt, angry, irritated, jealous, sad, incompetent, discouraged, overwhelmed…are served up to us constantly. Sometimes we bite the hook and fall prey to these emotions and our day takes a turn for the worse. What started out to be a pleasant morning turns into an ugly afternoon. The quality of our lives is deeply affected by the way we respond to what happens around us…if we allow it.

We are taught how to care for our bodies if they are sick, we are told what foods to eat to bring us health. We are told what exercises to do to keep up our physical strength. We know how to service our cars to keep them running, can read up on parenting tips to keep from ruining our children, and have periodic performance reviews to help us continually improve at work. Yet, perhaps the most important exercise and behavioral change we can ever learn how to do is how to positively respond to whatever comes our way. Each time we are proactively reacting and directing our own emotional responses, we are in control of our own lives. When we let the circumstance or situation or other person negatively affect our day, then we essentially hand over our power and become victims of something or someone outside of ourselves.

The best spiritual exercise (and it is spiritual because it affects out spirit) is to learn how to be present, and that requires being ever conscious of our breathing. Just like toning our muscles takes daily exercise, so too do we need to frequently practice the art of breathing as a tool to relax, stay centered, grounded, calm and quiet. From this place, we can make more balanced choices and be responsive to the world around us in a way that generate healthy, balanced and positive reactions.

Another thing we can do is find gratitude in simple little things that are in our lives. We do that best by staying in the moment. Start off the day with being grateful for having a comfortable mattress. Luxuriate in the way it supports your body. If it’s raining, be thankful for the plants getting watered; if it’s cold, think about how lucky you are to have heat. If the project at work gets rejected, appreciate the opportunity to be more creative. If someone rejects you, realize that perhaps it’s best that they move on so there is more room for those who appreciate you.

Of course, some of the best opportunities to practice being in the moment is when you are met with surprise at some random moment in the day. Perhaps a person says or does something that irritates or hurts you. Be grateful. This is not a problem; it is an opportunity to exercise your spiritual muscle. Understand that this person, given their own human shortcomings and fears, is doing the best they know how in that moment. Find a way to be thankful for absolutely everything that enters your life and your life will never be the same again.

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“Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.”

Albert Einstein

Harriet and Harold met in a previous business where she was in charge of marketing and sales. They fell in love, got married, she “retired” and they now have two teenage daughters, house payments, car payments and all the organizational demands of daily living. They are very involved in their girls’ school activities, sports and social events and have many demands made on their time. In order to manage their lives effectively, I suggested a weekly meeting as a good time to align calendars, plan the week, review their relationship agreements and purpose and discuss any “business” issues/decisions relative to the practical functioning of their home/family.

Additionally, I suggested that they also go out once a week for a “Date Night” – a little R&R time, which I explained was a time separate from the Meeting time. Date Night is a time to PLAY and have FUN with each other with NO decision topics to be discussed. Meeting time is WORK time. It’s a time to discuss important DECISIONS and ACTIONS you need to take.

Imagine if you will, a particular dinner date…candlelight, a little wine, having a good time. They might be talking about politics, the news or about their next vacation. Or maybe they are romancing a bit, laughing, smiling, flirting.

And then Harold says, “Oh, by the way, Harriet, did you contact the driveway guy to get the drainage fixed?”

And she says, “Oh, no I didn’t.  I need to call on Monday. Where can I write this down?” She puts down her wine glass and starts rummaging through her purse.

“And while you’re at it, ask him what it would cost to repave the whole thing. In fact, it might be a good idea to get two or three estimates. Why don’t you call that guy the Watsons used? I think they liked him.”

What has happened to this FUN date?

Right. It’s turned into an ACTION meeting.

And what happened to the chemistry? It has potentially been ruined…simply by replacing Play with Work.

The longer you are involved in a committed relationship the more joint responsibilities you are going to have. So it’s appropriate to have more meetings. But if you replace all of your dates with meetings, then all of the “spark” and fun can go out of the relationship and out of your life.

So if you are in a long-term romantic relationship, regularly ask yourself this question:

Are we still dating? Or are we just having…meetings?

Another mistake Harold made too often in the past with his managers also made an impression on him. He always operated in a fast-paced, get-it-done environment. Occasionally, some of the team would ask him if he wanted to join them for lunch. He knew that they just wanted to take a 45-minute break from work, get recharged and come back in ready to make things happen. But he would always go with an agenda.

He would listen to them talk about their kids, the ball game or the trip they were planning. Then, at what he thought was the appropriate time, he would say, “Oh by the way, Sue, how did third shift do last night?” or “Dave, how did West Coast sales look through midweek?”

Instantaneously you could see the whole complexion of that lunch change. They didn’t have a very good “date” and they didn’t have a very good meeting either. And you know what else happened? They quit asking him to lunch.

So PLAY time means no major decision topics whether they are about work, the leak in the roof, the kids’ report cards or even your health, unless it’s good. Clarify up front whether you are going to have a DATE or MEETING. Don’t mix them up or you’ll find that neither one turns out as well as you would like.

Make sure you give the kiss the attention it deserves!

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