PERSPECTIVES: THE POWER OF SAYING “NO”

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“NO” is more than a word. More than a sentence. It is a principle.

 

Pick carefully what you say “YES” to. Life does not provide many – if any – replays. And Time is limited.

Being focused on something does not mean you are saying “YES” to the right things in Life. You may be focusing on something you should be saying “NO” to. And in the end you should be as proud of the things you said “NO” to as the things you said “YES” to.

 

Physical

Love and respect yourself enough to say “NO” to that which does not serve you well.

Say “NO” to the drug of over-achievement at work – short-changing and mistreating family, friends, and Life.

My pride and willingness used to let me say “YES” to every task I was given at work till it devoured 18 hours of my daily life. Ultimately a number of things showed cracks: health, relationships, quality, and more – apparent also the respect that a boss had for me.

Case in point: I used to visit the office over weekends to prepare for those who needed input from me for their early Monday morning start. Complete weekends disappeared whilst my few remaining friends recharged themselves with golf, fishing and playing cricket. One weekend I missed going in and my boss remarked on Monday that he visited the office over the weekend and missed seeing me there. I immediately recognized that I had been cultivating the wrong expectations within him – and stopped doing it. At the year-end review he told me that even though I delivered 120 % when compared to colleagues, he was disappointed that I had not been pulling my weight. Result: No raise. We parted company soon afterwards. But the mistake was mine.

Say “NO” to procrastination, eating junk food and no exercise and say “YES” to health.

My life was littered with late nights and early mornings, hard at both ends – work and play, to which I have learned to say “NO”. We now rise at 5.30am, ready for an early morning walk before I settle into a self-paced but creative day, basically saying “NO” to slumbering Time and Life away and with it a host of items that reflect on my self-respect and gifts.

 

Social

Say “NO” to those who may try to belittle you.

Recall – and arm yourself with – Eleanor Roosevelt’s powerful quote “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”.

Misery likes company. Do not be its victim, especially if someone else is trying to pull you into their vortex of self-pity.

Say “NO” to being financially challenged. Lift yourself up by your bootstraps if necessary. Today’s life offers many opportunities to maintain and advance yourself. Where there is a will there is a way. I tip my hat to an IT consultant I know who now “pumps petrol”, basically saying “NO” to letting unfortunate events at work overtake his life.

You do not necessarily have to explain yourself when committing to a “NO”. It is your Life after all. However, learning to say “NO” gracefully without hurting other people’s feelings is a skill that can be learnt. It becomes easier with a little practice – and may earn you the respect of others.

 

Mental

It has never been more important to say “NO”.

Many of us are married to – perhaps even held hostage by – a “To Do List”, either on an electronic device or tucked into our top pockets. I believe we should also have an “Ignore List” or better still a “No List”, especially in today’s world filled with “electronic noise”.

“Information overload” is a misused term. Much of what is being thrown at us should be called “garbage overload”. Information has four parameters, i.e. (a) relevance (b) useful content (c) timely available (d) packaged as required – which much of the “noise” don’t meet.

 

Emotional

Say “NO” to being abused, bullied, taken advantage of, ignored, made to feel second class, unwanted.

Learn to stand up for yourself. Have the courage of conviction and self-respect. I am well aware that victims in cases of household violence are often physically assaulted, even threatened with their lives – but acceptance of the cycle of violence and disrespect will let it continue, possibly with fatal results. Garner the strength to walk away from it. As a human being you deserve respect – and that includes self-respect.

 

Intellectual

Say “NO” when necessary to remain in control of your valuable time and energy.

It frees you from tasks that would otherwise have stolen your Life and Time away and leaves you with the energy to say “YES” to the things that matter in your Life.

Simplify the process of telling the difference between when to say “YES” and when to say “NO”. Whatever you spend your Time and Life on should basically be anchored by the principles which underpin your values that support your vision and what you see as your mission in this Life.

 

Spiritual

There is no denying it. Evil exists in this world – under different guises – none more so than under the cloaks of religion and politics. At times State and Church clash and history is strewn with many atrocities that have been committed in their name – separate or combined, but none more so where they merge with a common destructive goal as their purpose.

It is our duty to stand up and emphatically say “NO” to such evil, which is bullying and “household violence” on a much grander scale – and say “YES” to a free and fearless destiny.

 

KEY PRINCIPLES

  • Pride often lets you say “Yes” to every task you are given at work till it absorbed your Life.
  • Learning to say “NO” gracefully without hurting other people’s feelings is a skill that can be learnt.
  • Many of us are married to – perhaps even held hostage by – a “To Do List”.
  • In the end you should be as proud of the things you said “NO” to as the things you said “YES” to.
  • It is essential to remain in control of your valuable time and energy.
  • Evil exists in this world – under different guises – often under the cloaks of religion and politics.

 

ACTION STEPS

  • Love and respect yourself enough to learn to say “NO” to that which does not serve you well.
  • Live Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote that “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”.
  • Develop a “No List”, especially in today’s world filled with “electronic noise”.
  • Stand up for yourself. Say “NO” to being abused, bullied, taken advantage of, ignored, made to feel second class, unwanted.
  • Be in control of your time and energy. Let “YES” support the principles that underpin your values.
  • Say “YES” to a free and fearless destiny.

 

 

(“PERSPECTIVES” are excerpts from my forthcoming book of the same name, to be published by Partridge Publications in early 2015.

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PERSPECTIVES: YOUR BODY IS NOT A WASTE BIN

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“Sins will come home to roost”

 

You alone have the prime responsibility for your health. Not your doctor. Not your government.

Good health is the presence of wellbeing, not the absence of disease. Do not take its continued existence for granted. It is your wealth – physical, mental, spiritual – to be maintained over the full spectrum of your life and the cost of neglecting it earlier on escalates dramatically as you age.

Continued dedication is a challenge. The hardest part is to sustain it day in day out year after year, especially through cold winters and after holiday breaks when one normally needs to turn “holiday fatness into fitness”.

 

Physical

Work out and stop stress – before it stops you.

The number of obese people on the planet equal the number of people dying of starvation. Obesity is defined as a medical condition where an abnormal accumulation of body fat may have an adverse effect on health and even lead to early death.

Be a player, not a spectator. The average adult is sedentary for around 10+ hours per day. A mere 30-60 minutes of physical exercise three to five times per week i.e. only 3 to 5 hours per week, will counter many health issues. Compare this with the estimated almost 20 hours per week that adults watch TV.

For the technologically inclined, electronic bio-monitoring wrist-wear is available that will count the number of steps / paces you do in a day and keep track of bio parameters such as heart rate, blood pressure, even sleep patterns and other indicators.

Eat less and healthier, and move more. A healthy and balanced diet combined with regular physical workouts have benefits – both physical and mental – which include an improved immune system and stress release, but more importantly a reduction in the chances of encountering life-threatening diseases, including heart attack and stroke.

Look after your knees and feet. They will have to carry you through life. Do regular bio-checkups. Get to know as much as possible about any illness you may have. Rest well and take a nap when you are tired. Limit your intake of processed foods, drink in moderation if you do and finally – don’t smoke.

 

Social

We are all aware that looking and feeling physically in good shape gives you a boost – socially, mentally and psychologically – at work and at play.

Stay socially healthy and connected. Volunteering and mentoring will broaden your support circle whilst keeping you active and providing you with a positive feeling of usefulness – that you in fact also still matter to those beyond your inner circle of loved ones.

 

Mental

A Busy Mind is a Healthy Mind.

Mental health is a state of psychological wellbeing in which you realize your own potential and display emotional and social maturity in negotiating and coping with the stresses of life, whilst living productively and interacting with other individuals around you and groups which you are a part of.

 

There are several ways to stay mentally active and engaged. Yoga is said to have a wide range of physical, mental and spiritual benefits. Millions of people – especially the more age matured – have also initiated “brain gym” programs which include simple movements that are done prior to a learning activity to “wake up, warm up and stimulate brain functions” and said to improve flexibility, memory, problem solving, and the speed with which the brain processes information.

 

Emotional

Be optimistic about Life.

Emotional wellbeing contributes to your ability to cope with stress and affects your self-esteem and performance in general – how you cope at work and possibly your longevity.

Have faith in yourself and humanity, regardless of what the world dishes up from time to time. Take time to evaluate your life and your achievements.

It is natural for people to compare themselves with others, especially friends, as they mature through life. Do not become vain or disheartened by comparison, but focus on the blessings that you have received in Life. On a recent train trip I was stunned by the bravery of two people: One, a legless man on a custom made push scooter who moved about by pushing himself along with his disfigured two-fingered hand, the other most shockingly a lady with a broken neck who navigated her battery-powered wheelchair by way of moving a steering stick with only her chin.

“There but for the grace of God go I” adapted from an alleged mid-sixteenth-century statement by John Bradford, who watched a prisoner being led to the gallows.

 

Intellectual

Find yourself.

Intellectual well-being is reflected in how you see personal growth and strive for it, your openness to new and challenging ideas, how you stay connected and being curious about the things around you and matters that affect yourself, your community and the world in which you live.

It is a cornerstone for life-long learning, the search for knowledge, solving challenges and remaining creative throughout life.

We often reflect that humankind is at the top of the “intelligence tree” on this planet. I daresay that we are not alone and it behooves us to see ourselves and our actions in a broader perspective and context not only on this planet but within the universe as a whole.

 

Spiritual

Develop faith as a measure of the meaningfulness of your life. Meditate. Imagine. Pray. It has withstood the test of time with proven benefits and unlocks the real “You” from its mental and spiritual cage.

Nurture your Inner Person by reading inspirational books, watching uplifting movies and positive TV programs. Make time for your peace of mind, your spirit and your faith. Stay engaged with the Universe. And respect your Gift of Life.

 

Key Principles

  • Your health is your wealth. Respect it.
  • Physical wellness gives you a psychological boost.
  • Mental health displays emotional and social maturity in negotiating life.
  • Emotional well-being is reflected in how you cope with life in general.
  • Intellectual well-being is reflected in how you strive for personal growth throughout life.
  • Meditation has proven mental as well as physical benefits.

Action Steps

  • Eat healthily and exercise. Move more.
  • Stay connected. Volunteer and mentor.
  • Stay mentally busy.
  • Be optimistic about Life. Have faith in yourself and humanity. Don’t become vain by comparison.
  • Search for knowledge. Be a life-long learner.
  • Nurture your Inner Person: Meditate. Pray. Imagine.

 

(“PERSPECTIVES” are excerpts from my forthcoming book of the same name, to be published by Partridge Publications in early 2015.

PERSPECTIVES: THE GIFTS – TIME AND LIFE

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“Life is priceless. Don’t procrastinate it away”.

 

(Reworked summary of the final chapter of my earlier book “Over 65 And Still In Demand”.)

 

Money can be printed, but the Gifts of Time and Life cannot. Treat them with the respect they deserve.

Time is of the essence and eventually becomes the variable centerpiece but constant reminder of Life – for us and for those whom we care about and those who care about us.

Identify and affirm your purpose in this life and the passions that drive you. Stay focused. Steer your Life; don’t let it steer you. The past is not the future. Every day is a new day brimful with possibilities, opportunities, discoveries and surprises.

You can be free in a jail or a prisoner in a palace, depending on your perspective and outlook. The choice is yours and note that the consequences may last a lifetime.

Develop the mindset of living rich, not dying rich. Life is not a race to see who gathers the most earthly possessions, since none of us will come out of it alive and there is no use for it in any possible afterlife.

 

Physical

Health comes before wealth in the dictionary. Keep it that way in real life. You will spend your whole life living in your physical body. Treat it well.

As our biblical lifespan is said to be three score and ten, it is important to come to grips with the fears of aging and the concept of eventual death – the reality of which cannot be denied. This is not meant to be a morbid reminder, but rather to serve as a wake-up call to enjoy every living moment with the most possible zest you can muster – all 86,400 irreplaceable, non-renewable seconds of every day.

Make the Life in your years count. The concept of aging incorporates much more than the chronology of your years.

 

Social

Count your wealth not in terms of money but more so in terms of relationships, friendships, accomplishments – and ultimately your legacy.

Revisit and spring-clean your relationships periodically. Water and strengthen those that continue to matter and form your support structure. Explore and build new relationships by revisiting old hobbies and taking up new ones.

Stay engaged in your circle of friends and community. There will be times when their support will be valuable, if not indispensable.

Engage people of different age groups and backgrounds. Enjoy your holidays in different countries to experience a variety of cultures.

Volunteer if you are so inclined. In addition to being noble, it also provides an outlet for your energies and the satisfaction that you matter in the grander perspective.

Discuss your Life’s plans with your partner, especially when it involves decisions about retirement.

 

Mental

Open your mind to constant personal development.

Stay engaged and be a life-long learner in a world that offers a multitude of opportunities to do so. Your brain is multi-dimensional in a four-dimensional world. Think of new ways to do things. Read multiple books on different subjects concurrently and see how they cross-pollinate.

Creativity is the prerogative of all. Life does not come with a “limited edition operations manual” and much of what you can do can be self-invented and created unless you follow others like a sheeple.

 

Emotional

Stay emotionally healthy.

Maintain a sense of perspective and let it translate into emotionally positive feelings that enable you to see through the challenges that present themselves throughout your daily life. Ready yourself for Life’s challenges, be it the loss of a job or – devastatingly – of a near and dearly loved one.

 

Intellectual

Keep finding yourself.

Review and re-invent your life periodically. Re-confirm who you are. Re-valuate the road you are travelling, where you are on it, what you have achieved and still want to achieve – then re-energize yourself and go after it. Develop, prioritize and express your goals in writing and set in motion strategies to achieve each one of them.

Dust off and dare to re-dream your childhood dreams. Experiment and develop new interests. Seek out intellectual challenges. Research and write a book. It will stretch you and may ward off illnesses that can eventually deteriorate your intellect.

 

Spiritual

Develop an awareness and understanding of Self, and a reflection of who you are, the reason and purpose of you being here, your relationship with the world around you and your outlook on Life. It empowers you and gives you the necessary humbleness, hope and strength to neutralize any possible onset of vanity, apathy or despair.

Do not live someone else’s Life. Stay true to yourself. You are unique. Your Life and Time are your Gifts.

Let your values be your drivers throughout Life. Every day is a new day for self-actualization. Define what will make you truly happy and fulfilled. Then go after it with all your heart.

Be kind and good to yourself and those around you – whom-ever they are and whatever that may be. You share this universe with all. Be a proud custodian. And don’t give up. Ever.

“Because Dreams are but Achievements-in-Waiting”.

 

Key Principles

  • Health comes before wealth in the dictionary. Keep it that way in real life.
  • Count your wealth in terms of relationships, accomplishments – and ultimately your legacy.
  • Creativity is the prerogative of all. Life does not come with a “limited edition operations manual”.
  • Emotional health translates into positive feelings that enable you to see through Life’s challenges.
  • Express your goals in writing and set in motion strategies to achieve each one of them.
  • Let your values be your drivers throughout the gifts of Time and Life.

Action Steps

  • Enjoy every moment with zest – all 86,400 irreplaceable, non-renewable seconds of every day.
  • Review, revalue, re-invent and re-energize your life periodically.
  • Stay engaged and be a life-long learner in a world that offers a multitude of opportunities.
  • Maintain a sense of perspective and ready yourself for any of Life’s challenges.
  • Find yourself. Dust off and dare to re-dream your childhood dreams. And live.
  • Stay true to yourself. Live your own Life. And don’t give up. Ever.

 

(“PERSPECTIVES” are excerpts from my forthcoming book of the same name, to be published by Partridge Publications in early 2015.

PERSPECTIVES: LAUGHTER – POWERFUL ACTIVATOR

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“Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly”…G.K. Chesterton

 

The enigma of humor and why we laugh has been studied for many years – and still there is no single successful theory or explanation for this phenomenon – but for me the easiest one to understand is that “something tickles my funny bone”! Other explanations are too scientific and cumbersome.

 

Physical

People laugh in different ways. Some of my friends laugh with a submerged “hihi”, others manage a cultured “hahaha” and for still others – including myself – it overflows into a golden guttural guffaw like the proverbial “drainpipe”.

Laughter is a three-legged chair: firstly there is grasping the “humorous” aspect, which then develops – in quick succession – into a mental-emotional response followed by the act of physical laughter itself, bestowing on us a number of proven physical benefits including that it:

  • Busts stress by instantly increasing the natural chemicals that reduce the effect of stress.
  • Boosts our immune system, reduces baseline blood pressure and with it the risk of possible stroke.
  • Re-energizes us by flooding our lungs and body with air and oxygen.
  • Kills pain naturally. Research shows that people withstand more pain when viewing humorous films.

 

Social

Laughter is a cultural mechanism that has evolved over time so that members of the same species – and possibly inter-species – can get along. It is a great equalizer inasmuch as that popes and presidents, princes and paupers all laugh. There are those who say that animals can find things humorous and laugh or at least grin. Try frowning then smiling successively at a dog and notice the reaction. Mine had a droopy look followed by a wagging tail.

From a social perspective laughter has a large impact on our lives. It releases tension, builds rapport amongst people, helps us bond with others, gives us a shared purpose, and makes “light of heavy work”.

Research shows that children laugh on average between 350 and 400 times a day. Most adults, however, will laugh on average only about 15 times a day – some less. This is one aspect where adults can learn from children – and consider becoming childlike.

 

Mental

Laughter distracts us from stressful moments and almost always improves our mood. It helps us see and appreciate the mental aspect of life and lets us put our worries “in their place”.

If you make a mistake be sure to understand and accept the seriousness of it. Put it in perspective and learn from it. Then, nothing should stop you from having a giggle or even a laugh at your own expense – possibly in your head if it is safer – because it takes the stress and sting out of the mistake.

I established “A Joke a Week” club with a few friends and within two years I had over 800 jokes, quotes and funny stories. I constantly add to this by collecting humorous DVD’s – and together they make a timely and welcome break from reality.

 

Emotional

Laughter helps us improve our self-esteem and well-being. If someone makes an unpleasant remark and we can laugh it off, it clearly establishes our maturity.

Laughing at ourselves increases our optimism and may even give us hope in the face of adversity. Once we accept a bad situation, we are in command of it and it can only get better.

 

Intellectual

Court Jesters were the only ones who were allowed to poke fun around and at Kings and Queens. They would oftentimes give stingingly sane advice to their Mad Monarchs – and get away with it where others would be put to the sword. At other times court jesters would meet the same fate – underlining the fact that it was a privileged but perilous position to occupy. I can attest to that, having been labeled “court jester” by a boss due to my propensity to poke fun of and around colleagues. In my resignation speech I proposed a toast to my boss BUT concluded it with “Long Live The Jester” – something he still remembered when – through an unexpected confluence of circumstance – he became my boss again many years later! Since I have matured somewhat by then we parted as better friends with “Long Live The Boss” the second time around when I opted out of mainstream society to go back-packing for 3 years.

 

Spiritual

Life presents us with many challenges, some of which we cannot control. To help you manage those, remember The Serenity Prayer written many years ago by Reinhold Niebuhr: “Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

  • Change. Grow wise.

The enjoyment of spiritual laughter is the welcome change that we experience in going from an ordeal to redemption – from crisis to salvation. For those who start their day with a prayer, it may do well to also ask for the Lightness of Laughter during the course of the day.

Key Principles

  • People laugh in different ways for different reasons.
  • Children laughs on average 20 times more than adults every day.
  • Laughter lets you put your “worries in its place”,
  • Laughter improves your self-esteem and well-being.
  • Court jesters could poke fun at kings and queens whilst carefully giving sane advice.
  • “Spiritual laughter” is what we experience going from personal crisis to salvation.

 

Action Steps

  • Laugh in your own way – being it submerged, cultured or like a “drainpipe”.
  • Be childlike in laughter – they laugh 20 times more than adults.
  • Put your worries “in their place” by seeing them in the right perspective.
  • Laugh at yourself. Do not take yourself too seriously – life is too short.
  • Laugh with people – not at them.
  • Put a “Laugh-a-Day” on your To-Do List. Ask for the “Lightness of Laughter”.

 

(“PERSPECTIVES” are excerpts from my forthcoming book of the same name, to be published by Partridge Publications in early 2015).