The Formula to Win Friends

It’s not about us – it’s about them.

Self-absorption is not new.  It’s been around forever.

The one way to guarantee to make more people like you without having to be someone you are not is to talk in terms of the other person’s interests.

Ask questions.

When was the last time someone asked you questions about how you are doing or feeling or about you thoughts and opinions?  And then actually listened without chiming in with their input.

This approach gives you great power to make people crave being with you rather than trying to impress them or win them to your way of thinking.

Then watch … more often than not, they will ask about you.

The power to make friends by being a good listener.

Worry About the Future

Millennials and Gen Z both agree that worrying about the future is the biggest problem they face and it’s certainly not limited to this age group.

51% of 13-17 year-olds and 46% of 18-36 year-olds tell researchers at YPulse something catastrophic will happen in the next five years.

Worry is useless.

Most things we worry about never happen and what few do are not exactly as we feared them.

There is fear thought and there is forethought.

Forethought is thinking about how to manage fears, lower expectations.

One way to change the way you look at worry is to write down your fears every time you have (or obsess) about them.  A month later, see the price you paid for worrying about a fear that feels real but statistically does not have a great chance of happening.

Or as Dale Carnegie called worry – sawing sawdust.

Training for Life’s Marathon

Ever watch a marathon?

After running for hours, the winners are the ones who find a way to dig down, give it everything they have and sprint to the finish line.

In horseracing, jockeys do this with the help of a whip.

According to Running USA the averages are 4:16 for men and 4:43 for women.  About 20% of the participants in the New York Marathon take longer than 5 hours to finish.

Just finishing a marathon is a worthwhile goal, but to win it more is required.

Life is a marathon.

Work is a marathon.

We train for marathons.

We should train for life.

Winning is giving all you have leaving nothing unused.

The Death of Kobe

Life is so short.  He was so young.  His daughter, Gianna, full of promise.  His family devastated.

You never know.

Makes you sad and concerned about how can it be possible to have it all and then have nothing.

When my daughter’s middle school experienced the loss of one of their students to cancer, these young people were shaken and moved to pay their respects and remember his brave fight.  Perhaps not knowing how to grieve, they returned to their daily lives.

The things we cannot anticipate and cannot control are reminders to live life to the fullest and value it.

Tell the people you love that you love them even if you have a hard time finding the words.

Deal with every day adversity even if it isn’t terminal.

And live the only way that is 100% guaranteed – fully focused in the present.

In Search of an Even Keel

Stay in the moment and push back on negative thoughts.

How long can we go without being negative?

Keeping a distance from negativity in any form pays big benefits.

If it’s a painful loss, search for something good.

A huge disappointment – push back on negative thoughts and find a positive.

Imagine how the goalie felt who let the winning goal in to allow the other team to win the Stanley Cup?

Or how coach Pete Carroll handled the sudden defeat of his Seahawks against the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX.  Russell Wilson’s goal line slant was intercepted giving Carroll and others plenty to second guess for years to come.  Should they have run the ball in one-half yard to a second consecutive Super Bowl victory instead of pass?

Carroll is still coaching – in fact the Seahawks made the playoffs again this year.

Weathering bad luck, misfortune and nagging hurt is easier when you try to maintain an even keel knowing that life is like a roller coaster anticipating both highs and lows.

Amping Up the Joy

The more humans focus on themselves to pursue greater happiness and recognition, the more the opposite happens.

When you focus too much on yourself, you become disconnected and alienated from others and as the Dali Lama wrote in his book on joy, “In the end, you also become alienated from yourself, since the need for connection with others is such a fundamental part of who we are as human beings.”

The more you pursue a butterfly, the more it eludes you.

Sit back and allow it to land, and the more you will enjoy it.

Same is true in finding joy in life.

Stress-Busting Plants

A new study reveals that simply looking at a live plant on your desk can considerably reduce stress.

You don’t even have to care for the plant, forcing yourself to look at it or interacting with it in any way.

Just the fact that a plant is in your sight brings anxiety reducing benefits.

Too much screen time even for things that we believe are pleasurable along with lack of in-person interaction may be some of the things causing a buildup of stress in addition to life’s challenges.

Stress-busting plants — a big claim so I’m linking to the study.

Slowing Down Conquers Too Much To Do

When we get overwhelmed with too much on our plate, our instincts tell us to work faster.

Work faster and pay for it with increased anxiety, headaches and the feeling of helplessness.

Slowing down has the opposite effect.

It takes discipline but forcing yourself to actually go slower means you are more focused. Instead of feeling slammed, you begin to feel like you are accomplishing something.

But what about all those things that are overwhelming you?

At a slower pace, instead of frantically trying to keep up, you begin to ask “is this critical”, “do I need to do it”, “do I need to do it today?”

Less may be more, but slower is less stressful and more effective no matter how many things are overwhelming you.

Small Accomplishments

Small accomplishments feel the same as big ones.

The euphoria lasts about the same – generally a lot shorter than we’d like to think.  (Even winning a pay raise wears off too quickly, it seems).

But here’s where small accomplishments come up so huge.

They make us feel good about ourselves no matter how small the victory.

And they help with sour moods or even depression because devoting time to accomplish something new is a diversion from dwelling on a nagging problem.

In this new year, most people don’t need lofty or ambitious resolutions that seem to fade away before the end of January.

They need an accomplishment each day – maybe even two or three little ones.

Anxiety is a product of worrying about worry.

Staying busy in productive ways is the residue of focusing on the now.

Starting Over

Starting over is not always better than staying with it.

As frustrating as it can be, each minute of continued frustration can also bring you closer to the prize.

Starting anew is an option that should be reserved for when you lose the passion.

For everything else endurance is what gets you to your goal.