Archive for the ‘Habits’ Category

You Have The Power to Change–Sometimes

May 31, 2023

A part of my first “real” job following marriage and grad school was production scheduling in a small manufacturing division. One day I received an order from one of our customers necessitating a change in the production schedule for one of the departments. 

I rewrote the schedule and took it to the foreman. He said, “I can’t change the schedule. I have it here in black and white.” 

“I wrote the schedule, so I can change it,” I retorted.

After a bit of arguing, he, of course, changed the schedule. (In reality, part of his job was to teach the “college kid” the real world of interpersonal relationships in a manufacturing operation.)

Do you ever notice that sometimes you adjust something, say a window blind or a chair. Or, you put something around the house in an inconvenient place. And you catch yourself muttering about it. But, you put it there; you can change it.

There are so many things about our routines, our diet (not a diet, what we eat), our exercise, that we chose and we can choose again. Yes, changing habits is hard. You can read Charles Duhigg (Power of Habit) or James Clear (Atomic Habits) for tips.

One key to a better life is to recognize those things you can change and then takes steps to make the change if they aren’t working out. Constructing a routine is good. Changing it when it doesn’t serve you is also good.

Throw Out The Bad

May 25, 2023

Do you catch yourself rummaging through drawers looking for your “good” knife? Or, patting your pockets searching for your “good” pen?

That means you have “bad” ones. Throw those out.

[Note: I picked up this idea from a new book from Kevin Kelly, Excellent Advice for Living: Wisdom I Wish I’d Known Earlier.]

This thought can extended. Do you find yourself sitting thinking bad thoughts about someone or something? Do you catch yourself in a bad habit? Are you associating with people who lead you into bad attitudes?

Throw also those out along with the knives and pens. Clean house of bad tools, thoughts, relationships, habits. Simplify life. Live cleanly.

Put The Dough In The Oven

December 8, 2022

In Meditations, Marcus Aurelius marvels at “nature’s inadvertence.” A baker, he writes, makes the dough, kneads it and then puts it in the oven. Then physics, then Nature takes over. “The way loaves of bread split open,” Marcus writes, “the ridges are just byproducts of the baking, and yet pleasing, somehow: they rouse our appetite without our knowing why.”

We think, read, write. We might even talk to people.

At some point, we have to “put the dough into the oven.” We must turn the thinking and praying and talking into doing.

It pays not dividend to talk about helping others.

We put the dough in the oven by actually doing an act of kindness. Now. With whomever is near.

OK, maybe we can also send a check. That’s something, too.

Or call someone who’s lonely and despairing.

And that is pleasing to God.

Being Shouted At

November 23, 2022

During those rough early-teen years, my daughter would tell me that I shouted at her. I told her, “Girl, you don’t know what being shouted at is!”

It is true that we do not like being shouted at. I suppose that if we are US Marine Corp recruits and the drill sergeant is in our face, there might be a reason for being shouted at. (I only know from TV and not from personal experience.) I have experience with manufacturing plant managers screaming at me to fix a machine or get production moving. Not pleasant, although sometimes quite motivating.

Have you noticed that you listen more carefully when the speaker speaks quietly? The softly spoken word backed by full diaphragm support effectively communicates its message.

Let us take a look at a typical politician or Christian. How often are they shouting to get your attention? Even in emails the tone is shouting.

I notice people who are nervous or uncertain of their own value often raise their voices. Nassim Taleb notices that people tend to raise their volumes when they are lying.

A good spiritual practice–try speaking softly with full diaphragm support and distinct words. Try it again. Until you perfect it.

Being Full of Care

August 19, 2022

Later I realized this 1969 encounter was my introduction to a Baby Boomer/Yuppie attitude that I’ve noticed ever since. He had a good job lined up after graduation. However, if he didn’t pass this second-year German class, he would not graduate. The professor suggested he contact me (why, I don’t know) for tutoring to get through the class. I mentioned once about feeling bad about the professor’s lot of moving from Vienna, Austria to Ada, Ohio. My pupil remarked, “I don’t have time to care.”

Jesus’s fifth of the eight Beatitudes, “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘carefull’, you find yourselves cared for.”

Life is filled with these reciprocal situations.

Love when shared returns to the sender.

Gratitude when shared returns to the sender.

Even money at some point when shared appropriately returns benefits to the giver.

Jesus makes a point–we are blessed when we care.

Let us make that today’s mantra (saying that we repeat). We will then be presented with people or situations for which we should express care.

Tips For A Stable Life

August 2, 2022

Fear less, hope more

Eat less, chew more

Talk less, say more

Love more, and all good things will be yours.

Swedish Proverb

I wrote about some of my disciplines recently. These four thoughts speak volumes with few words.

Let me be quiet and allow the meanings to sink in.

Happy New Year, We Hope

December 31, 2021

Welcome to the last day of 2021, or maybe the first day of 2022 depending upon when you get this. We hoped 2021 would be an improvement over 2020 when we had the shock of the first major pandemic perhaps since the Spanish Flu of 1918. It has caused immense changes in how we live and interact.

Still, a year end is an ideal time for reflection and gathering ideas for change in our lives–and maybe our thinking. We, the people, seem to be woefully short on reflection. Since most people have a few days left of holiday, use yours to set aside a few hours to just sit and think. That is called reflection.

What good did you do last year?

Where could you have done something and didn’t? No guilt. No excuses. Just a short list.

Who did you lose track of, perhaps due to Covid or not?

Where did you grow last year?

Then we can project into the new year.

What one thing can do in 2022 to grow intellectually, spiritually, or in relationship? What trigger can I set up to encourage it? For example, setting out workout clothes at night so that in the morning they are right there to be put on getting you in the mood of exercise.

What good can I do in 2022?

I stopped doing New Year’s Resolutions many years ago. I think of what kind of person I’d like to be and what changes I can make in my daily life to assimilate it.

I started this blog in 2008 as a service to my local church with another person. She left to go to seminary. The pastor was transferred to another place. I changed it in 2009 and then took it seriously a year later. Eleven years and 2,600+ posts later, it’s a part of my daily discipline. The blog never caught on to the tune of hundreds of thousands of readers. But I only promote it on Twitter. I seldom try to hit a “click bait” issue to trick people into clicking. And still there are a few thousand readers. If you care to pass it on, I’d appreciate it. I have no income from this. It’s as much for me to organize some thinking as anything.

What Good Will I Do Today?

November 3, 2021

What good will I do today?

Sometimes I write about goal setting, as in New Year’s Resolutions or the like. Actually I write about not doing that. Just thinking about what kind of person I’d like to be. And writing it down.

This question makes that thought real. Every day, if we do it. This is a practice handed down from the early American “founding father” and statesman Benjamin Franklin.

Begin the day asking of yourself What good will I do today? End the day answering What good did I do today?

It is best not to leave that question in the abstract. On one hand, we could remind ourselves to be open to at least one opportunity to make someone’s day better.

  • A bigger tip for the barista
  • A smile and helpful hand to someone you meet
  • A donation to a worthwhile charity
  • Participate in a food drive or blood drive

Following good Getting Things Done (David Allen) practice, perhaps we should write at the top of today’s calendar or to do list one thing we will do. Writing something and then crossing it off the list is oddly satisfying.

I had not thought of doing that next step that of writing down a specific action until I started writing this post. Maybe that’s my good idea for the day.

Now, what’s the good thing I can do today?

Disciplines of the Body

July 8, 2021

It was not an afterthought that the Apostle Paul referred to the body as the temple of the holy spirit. He also often used athletes as metaphors for aspects of the spiritual life. I practice, and teach, a number of physical disciplines including daily walking exercise, weight training, Yoga, nutrition, and the like.

While cruising through Twitter, I saw this infographic about drinking water. Consider this–8 Best Times to Drink Water:

  • After waking up to activate internal organs
  • After workout to bring heart rate back to normal
  • Half hour before a meal to help in digestion
  • Before taking a bath to lower blood pressure
  • Before going to bed to replenish any fluid loss
  • When you’re feeling sick to hydrate body for proper function
  • When you’re feeling tired to recharge your system
  • When you’re surrounded by infected and sick people to prevent infection from settling in the body

People Like Us

April 14, 2021

Not that people like us, but people such as us. Seth Godin likes to talk about “People like us do things like this.”

That is a definition of culture. Within your group. Your church. Your business. Your neighborhood, perhaps.

It is worth stepping back mentally and observing: is what we do in our business, our church, our committee on target with our goals and mission; or, is what we do dysfunctional?

If we are starting a business or committee or organization, we must be conscious of this. Or, it will just happen. And the loudest or strongest personalities will determine culture.

If we are joining something already existing, we need to be aware. Do we fit in? Are we the type of person who does what they do?

You can tell. There are hints when you walk in. Do people complain? Are people full of energy and focused on mission?

What do you project when people see you and talk with you? Would they think, I want to join her group. I would like to be like them in order to do things like that.

“People like us do things like this.” Choose the right things to do and join in. If you’re the leader, be aware and make changes as necessary.