A Distraction Hack

The Biggest Distraction

It’s easy to get distracted these days. There’s little respite from the media. If you’re even a touch obsessive, it’s hard to turn off the TV …if only for fear of missing something. It kind of reminds me, as I’ve said before, of the scene in “A Clockwork Orange” where the guy is forced to watch what they wanted him to see.

The problem with TV is it kidnaps at least 50% of my focus. This is okay when I’m folding clothes. But any activity requiring more than 50% focus, like reading directions, cleaning the litter box, paying bills, talking on the phone, or especially reading, is half- baked with the TV blaring in the background. In fact, talking on the phone becomes a battle of the talking heads if I happen to be watching a News channel. 

Bottom line, there are many things vying for my attention, and it’s become increasingly more difficult to focus. I’m at the point I need to memorize my morning and evening routines so I don’t leave out a step.

The Magic Elixir

So, what’s the magic elixir to cure my lack of focus without a drastic reduction in TV? After all, this isn’t Lent. I don’t want to actually give up TV. I just want to be more efficient.

The answer, in my mind, is Meditation. Meditation trains your brain to focus. It’s like a magic pill, and it’s free!

They say if aspirin came out today, no one would be able to afford it. We tend to take it for granted, in the same way we water down our respect for freebies as potent healing modalities. In this way, we’ve drunk the kool-aid.

Meditation is a freebie…a potent freebie, and one of the benefits is an increased ability to focus.

Not only is it easy on your pocketbook, it’s an easy process. You simply find a quiet spot, set a timer for 5 minutes (if you’re a beginner), and focus on your breath or a word, such as “one”, or any word that won’t lead you down a trail of other thoughts.

Of course, other thoughts will interrupt you because the brain is always percolating with thoughts. That’s what the brain does. You’re simply harnessing, or in other words, training the brain by limiting it to one thought, or one focus, for a brief period.

This is your mental gym. It requires concentration. But the benefits are off the charts. And one of the coolest benefit is how meditation beefs up your immune system

In my next blog I’ll explain how, and go over the other benefits. 

So powerful…so cheap…so cool!

Stay tuned.

My Favorite Pastime

My Faves

Do you have a favorite book? I have at least five…probably more.  My love of reading started early.  The summer I was 13, I read Gone With the Wind. (Living in Oklahoma, that could have been the title of my autobiography.)  Lazy summer afternoons were great opportunities for reading. 

My other favorites include To Kill A Mockingbird, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Book Thief, The Prince of Tides, The Lords of Discipline, as well as many others I can’t think of at the moment.

Why Reading?

What makes reading my favorite pastime? Maybe it’s the degree to which I get lost in the story. When I can’t put it down, that’s a clue. When I start the mourning process as I approach the final chapters, that’s another clue. I only wish I could remember all the books that met that criteria. 

Another advantage of books is their longevity and resilience. Books may change form, from hardcover, to paperback, to Kindle, but they stand the test of time.

Alzheimers Prevention

Books are good for your brain. They require you to create mental pictures. You get to be the director, creating your own idea of what the characters look like. Unlike television, you have the latitude to create your own images.

I’ll never forget my disappointment viewing the movie “Gone With The Wind” for the first time. My vision of Ashley Wilkes was a total disconnect from the character they picked to play him. 

In this way, movies leave no room for creativity. They create what they want you to see. Watching movies takes less brainpower. It’s passive…enjoyable… but passive.

Time To Chill

Reading is escapism. When I want to get away from it all, armed with a good book, I can enter another world entirely. My own stresses and troubles are temporarily put on hold. It’s both entertainment and therapy. What’s not to like?

I recently started a second blog entitled I Read the Book. You have to wait a while between blog posts because I actually have to read a book before I post. 

Check it out, though. One of my favorites may turn into one of yours.

I remember the first day of first grade. We sat huddled around the teacher, who pointed a long stick at the word “cat”, as we were taught the short “a” sound, and repeated the word cat with an emphasis on the short “a”. 

This method, as I learned, was called “Phonics”, and it gave me the ability to read almost any word because I can sound it out. I am so grateful for Phonics.

It’s the reason I can read.

Need a Coach?

What Do You Really Want?

The Important Question

The first question I usually ask my Life Coaching clients is, “What are you wanting for yourself?” 

That’s a loaded question because, of course, we’re all wanting innumerable things. You could probably make a list of 50 wishes, or “wants” in the next 50 seconds…easy-peasy.

But what do you really want? What’s most important?

 Now, we get down to the meat and potatoes. You have to prioritize. What’s numero uno on your list? 

How Can You Know?

One way to figure out what you really want is to identify your biggest problem at the moment.

Once you’ve identified what you want, you can build your roadmap to attain this prized “whatever”. This means action steps. This is the opposite of wishful thinking, similar to how exercise is the opposite of sitting, which I hear is the new smoking.

Why Go It Alone?

Can you build your own roadmap? Or would you like someone to help you along the way…to serve as a listening ear, encourager, and accountability source?

As they say, “two heads are better than one.” 

Let’s cut to the chase. Maybe what you need is a Coach. 

Ok. You’re a mover and a shaker. Why would you want a Coach?

Yes, Why?

There’s a commercial on TV that says something to the effect,” An object in motion is likely to stay in motion, while an object at rest probably stays at rest.” 

I may not have the exact words, but you get the idea. Humans need motivation. A Coach provides motivation and keeps you accountable. This is why Mastermind groups work well. The members are accountable to each other. It’s harder to drift off course.

So, I guess what I’m saying is, as a Certified Life Coach, I’d love to help you stay on course. I’d love to see you achieve your goals. 

But first, you have to know what you want. Once you zero in, you’re on your way.

So, make a list. Dig deep. Prioritize.

What do you really want?

The Enigma of Time

Einstein Was Right!

Why do my monthly bills seem to come due every two weeks, and my dental cleanings every two months? 

Of course, this isn’t actually happening. It just seems that way. 

Einstein was right. Time is relative. Fourth grade seemed like an eternity, and I liked fourth grade. 

It seems that the older I get the faster time goes. Is this even fair? When you know you’ve got less time left on the planet, time seems to speed up, as if to hint, “You’ve been here long enough. Better luck with your next life.”

I don’t mean to sound maudlin, but really? 

There’s More

If that’s not bad enough, with age and all that wisdom, you still have to deal with the two new men in your life, Arthur-itis and Charley-horse. Ok. I know there are three, but I can’t conjure up the third. All to say, old age brings health issues. Some of the things you loved to do at 30 are out of the question at 70.

Another thought I’ve pondered is this…it takes a long time to become wise. Wisdom, hopefully, is accumulated with age, the result of learning from experience. Hopefully, we don’t opt to learn, as they say, “the hard way”.

I’m not arguing with God, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could age backwards? Come into the world with arthritis and 70 years later run a marathon, but hold on to the wisdom? Is that asking too much? 

Is It My Eyes?

Even my perceptions have changed. Things don’t appear the same. It’s like I’m in a space warp. Why do the rooms in the house I grew up in look so small? 

What are the years doing to me? Should I donate my brain to science like the nuns in the study?

Can they peer into my 9 year- old brain and figure out why one thin sliver of glass suddenly brought my entire world into focus? 

According to Science In the News, a Harvard periodical, there’s an explanation as to why time seems to speed up as we age. Professor Adrian Bejan presents an argument based on the physics of neural signal processing. He hypothesizes that, over time, the rate at which we process visual information slows down, and this is what makes time ‘speed up’ as we grow older.

I’m not sure I like that explanation, but here’s my response…Carpe Diem!

My Take on Feelings

The Purpose of Feelings

I’ve been thinking about the purpose of feelings.

Actually, having feelings is a gift, an asset, a blessing. It’s our inner GPS…our personal game of “hot” and “cold.” It delights us and warns us. It’s almost like our Guardian Angel, and it never sleeps. It’s your nocturnal BFF.

It’s what separates us from our furniture. Although I’ll admit, a few times I’ve moved my table and I can almost hear it saying, “I liked my old location better.” 

Animals have feelings. If you’ve ever been adopted by an animal, you know what I mean.

We, as humans, tend to categorize feelings as either good or bad. Actually, it’s what you do with those feelings that makes them good or bad.

Ew…Anger

For example, anger is often considered “bad”. But what if you lost your ability to feel anger? You’d turn into a doormat. People could walk all over you.

Even Jesus got angry. Remember the incident in the temple with the tax guys? And Jesus wept. I think that’s the shortest verse in the Bible, but it illustrates his humanity on top of his divinity.

Feelings are our divine legacy. I was recently reminded how much words affect our  feelings. Now, I’m not blaming my mother. She sang a lot of beautiful songs to me as a baby. But I had a light bulb moment about one of those songs. It’s called “Rock-a-bye-baby”. I emphasize the word “bye”, and here’s why. 

Brace Yourself

Have you ever really listened to the lyrics? They were supposedly written by Effie Crockett, a relative of Davy Crockett, who wrote the lyrics in 1872 while babysitting a restless child.

Ok…here goes.

Rock-a-bye baby, in the treetops,
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock,
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall,
And down will come baby, cradle and all.

Did you catch the last line? “And down will come baby, cradle and all?” I can’t tell you how many times she sang me this lullaby? This isn’t just a lullaby… It’s a doomsday scenario!

I’m not scapegoating the song. My life has turned out pretty well. No damage done.

More Creepy Stuff

I know robots are being used more and more for surgery, and programmers are now trying to develop robots with feelings.

Maybe you’re thinking, “How cool!”

” I’m thinking, “ Creepy.”

I can just imagine you and your robot in therapy for your roommate issues.

It could even have global implications, like another Star Wars, and I doubt we’ll be the stars.

Bottom line, I’m thankful for my feelings…all my feelings. They make me a lot of things, but mainly they make me human.

http://www.stressbustercoach.com

Is Your Brain a Time Machine?

Yes, your brain is a time machine. Your subconscious mind keeps track of every detail of your life. What they call a “life review” could be as simple as a rewind of the tape from the transcript of your life. 

And it’s not limited to just one lifetime.

Just Ask Brian

Many believe it can go back even further than one lifetime. No one was more surprised than Dr. Brian Weiss, author of “Many Lives Many Masters” when, during a routine hypnosis session, his client slipped into a previous lifetime.

 Even if you’re not a fan of this belief, the book is pretty fascinating. You can appreciate the diversity of thought. 

A Question

If your brain truly functions as a time machine, ask yourself where you’re spending most of your time…in the past, the present, or the future? It’s a choice.

Or is it?

How many times are you interrupted by a disturbing trip down memory lane? 

You’re mindlessly brushing your teeth when a memory of an encounter with your ex slips into your consciousness. Now, you’re angry. This machine has taken you to a place you didn’t really want to go. 

The Fix

Start by recognizing where you are at this present moment. This isn’t foreign territory. You aren’t lost. Your time machine is like a self -driving car with a mind of its own, and it’s taken you to a place you don’t want to be. 

Your only hope is to grab the throttle and blast yourself back to your present activity, which is brushing your teeth. You probably missed a spot anyway. Time travel can have periodontal consequences.

However, If, by chance, your time machine takes you back to your first kiss, consider yourself lucky. You’ve just won the time machine lottery. But don’t bet on it. Your brain likes to focus on the negative…it seems to value the enduring qualities of pain…lest you forget. 

My advice…don’t underestimate the workings of your brain. It’s definitely a time machine, but you usually have to steer.

Why You Can Call Yourself Courageous

Yes, You Really Are Courageous!

I’ve read that only the most courageous souls volunteer to come to earth.

If you’re reading this, count yourself among the courageous. 

The Evidence

As a former history teacher, I’m well aware that horrific times have occurred with each generation …the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the Holocaust, the atomic bomb, and multiple other atrocities you can probably name if you’re a student of history.

Man seems always ready to conquer. There has to be a winner, which means there has to be a loser. Maybe that’s why they call it “the game of life.”

It seems most exploration on the planet is merely a race for autonomy…a need for power and acquisition, determining who can conquer the world first. 

 Is it any surprise that the first act after landing on the moon was to stake the American flag into the moon’s sandy surface? This isn’t a criticism…just an observation.

Our Changing Planet

I used to live on Amelia Island in Florida. This beautiful island has been under 8 flags…Spain, England, France, the Patriots Flag, the Green Cross Flag, the Mexican Revolutionary Flag, the National Flag of the Confederacy, and finally, since 1862, the U.S. Flag. A lot of nations wanted this island. 

When I was a kid, our family had a globe. I used to study it to see where different countries were located. Now, that globe is an anachronism. It’s obsolete. Just look at Europe. Look at Russia. The boundaries have moved and the names have changed. Little stays the same. 

Do We Question our Courage?

So, what makes us so special, so courageous? Maybe we’re not. Maybe this belief is simply a balm for our overall lack of meaning… a band-aid for the soul. Maybe this is what Thoreau meant when he said, “most men lead lives of quiet desperation”. 

Now we’re involved in the race for space. I think this is programmed into our DNA. It’s not a bad thing. I define it as being pro-active. What if we’re hit by an asteroid? What if our earth, for some reason, becomes inhabitable? Having a condo on Mars may someday be as common as a summer home in Aruba. So, this type of exploration makes sense…it’s critical to our survival as a species.

Throughout history there have been challenges. But here’s one of the challenges of this century. We now have the ability to witness worldwide calamities in real time. Social media and the 24-hour news see to it. It takes courage to live in a world where there are no blinders. It reminds me of the scene in “A Clockwork Orange” where they force the guy’s eyes open so he has to watch the film they’re showing. There’s no place to hide.

The Good News

But before you get too depressed, here’s the good news. There’s an antidote, and it’s called purpose. Knowing your purpose is the answer to serenity.

 On a spiritual level, you need to believe you’re here for a reason…at this time…in this place…in this way. 

This is why I love the quote from Richard Bach in his book,” Illusions”, where he says, “Here is a test to find whether your mission on earth is finished: If you’re alive, it isn’t”.