This glass might seem empty, but it’s actually full of possibilities waiting to be poured into it.
I have read several posts reflecting upon 2017, and I’m envious. It’s not that I didn’t have memories to reflect upon, it’s just that I didn’t do a very good job of tracking all that happened.
So, this year is going to be different. I started by buying a calendar with the sole purpose of making a brief notation of what I do throughout the year on the date it happens.
And it isn’t so I can share it out to the world. I want it for myself. I want to see all that I can do and accomplish throughout 2018. One of my friends and elementary school art teacher has a chalkboard wall in her kitchen. My favorite part is 1 year = 365 opportunities! She is so absolutely right! Each day we have an opportunity to do something fun, amazing, challenging, or however you want to fill in the ________________.
How do we get started?It starts by writing down some goal ideas on what you would like to accomplish in 2018, followed by why you want to do them, how you’re going to accomplish them, and finally execution.
I’m starting with my ideas, and I’m copying (the biggest form of flattery, right?) from The Minimalists (Joshua Field Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus) and their list of core values: health, relationships, passions (hobbies), growth, and contribution (adding to the lives of others). I’m seeing where my goal ideas fall into each of these categories and where I might like to add as is fitting to my life.
That’s exactly where I am at this point. I’m in the goal idea phase. I don’t like to rush things, because I want them to be meaningful. I will be taking the next week to brainstorm, plan, and then execute.
But for now, cheers to all of us as we embark upon new beginnings and possibilities. Let us fill our glasses to overflowing!
*I’m playing catch up in my series of black and white photos. This is from week #7. This piece first appeared in The Ascent.
**This is week #6 of my series on a year of black and white photos where I pick a photo each week and write about its significance.
In the late 1980s, there was an ad campaign for milk that went, "Milk, it does a body good."
Today, I present to you, "Exercise: it does MORE than a body good."
For me, exercise is a healthy mix of cardio and lifting light weights (I'm 50 and have no desire to bulk up!). While the physical benefits of improved health by feeling and looking better are near the top of my list of reasons I work out, the number one reason is this:
My mental health.
When I work out I'm in a more positive mood overall. I find writing ideas come much easier, and I'm more creative. Since I have more energy, I'm happier and seek to do more. I'm more social. I enjoy being around people and have more patience. I'm a better listener. I'm more engaged.
"Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity." - John F. Kennedy
It's a cyclical situation. When we exercise, we get both physical and mental benefits. They feed off each other. The more we move, the more we want to move. We want to keep it going.
While I know many people are not into resolutions, the beginning of the new year is a great time to make a commitment to physical and mental health. You owe it to yourself. As Jim Rohn once said:
"Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live."
We need to do a better job of treating the body like the temple it is. And I can't think of a better time to start than now.
For whatever reason, it seems we are more hard-wired toward the negative. We remember negative events far longer than positive ones. In fact, it takes at least 12 seconds of holding on to a positive event for it to transition from short-term to long-term memory.
While 12 seconds doesn't seem like very long, think about positive moments. They're just that, moments. In a blink of an eye, we are on to something else.
Now think about the negative ones. They weigh on us. They cause us to analyze and fret. We overthink instead of simply letting them go like a wispy cloud gently floating by. They are more like the gray cloud that broods over our heads with cracks of thunder and lightning followed by a torrential downpour.
But it's no wonder we're like this.
Author Ray Williams wrote in his article Are We Hardwired to Be Positive or Negative? that there are more negative emotional words (62 percent) than positive words (32 percent) in the English dictionary.
However, we can make the switch to a more positive outlook by doing one simple thing: connecting with others. Dr. Greg Popcak wrote about this in his article Why So Down? Studies Show Humans are Wired to Emphasize the Negative, Unless... . Popcak expresses we were meant to commune with others, but he also warns that it's not just important to be around people but to be around people who will fulfill and care about us.
And I would agree. It's imperative to be around others who generally have a positive outlook, care about us, and listen. Those are the ones who help us through those negative experiences more quickly, and they are also going to let us know when we're focusing too much on what is out of our control.
My husband is generally a positive person, but traffic is something that definitely gets him into a negative spiral. He knows what other people do while they are driving is out of his control, but he can't help himself. While he grumbles, I listen patiently (most of the time). I gently let him know recently that he's been a lot more negative when it comes to traffic and he agreed.
And it's a two-way street. He lets me know when I'm being a negative nelly. When it comes from someone who has our best interest at heart and knows this behavior is not the norm, it's a lot easier to flip the switch.
Look at those people in your life who are generally more positive and lean on them during those cloudy days. Just their very presence will add a ray of sunshine and will more than likely chase those thunder clouds away from our lives.
Chloe is experiencing how we are all feeling in our family: tired. But it’s a good tired! We have had the most joyous Christmas with lots of fellowship, love, and laughter. We’ve had late nights and early mornings. And we couldn’t get enough as we met for lunch today and joined the rest of the crazy people out shopping the day after Christmas in single-digit temps.
But guess what?
I wouldn’t trade in this tired for anything. Time with loved ones is time well-spent. It’s also time you can’t get back if you waste it. And it doesn’t end with the holidays. I don’t know about you, but one of my goals is to have more of these moments.
I bought a new calendar for the purpose of recording events throughout the new year. I can’t wait to start filling it up!
There are always different interpretations when hearing the same information.
Everybody that listens to something hears it differently from their own perspective. […] — Buddy Franco
I work with a small group of 4th graders in a voluntary leadership program called Student Ambassadors. Each week we meet to discuss what leadership is and participate in activities that tie back to what it means to be a leader.
Recently, the students were given the following instructions for an individual project: create a snowman poster. Each student was given one sheet of various colors of construction paper, a pair of scissors, and a glue stick. They were to sit at individual tables and they could not talk once they started their project.
I gave them an opportunity to ask questions once they heard the instructions. However, once they got their supplies, they could no longer ask questions, and they had 15 minutes to work.
When they were finished, there were five different snowman creations.
Not one of their creations was remotely alike. As one of the 4th graders so eloquently put it:
We had to use our imagination and think outside of the box. — Austin C.
Although they had the exact same instructions, the students had the latitude to create what their minds conceived. They had broad directions and had to figure things out.
One student was anxious, because there were no writing utensils and she didn’t think she could figure out how to make the circles for her snowman. When she handed in her poster, she told me how she solved the problem. She used the glue stick as a writing utensil to make the circles and then cut them out.
That’s thinking outside the box. That’s problem-solving.
A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have. — Steve Jobs
These students had a broad perspective of a problem, in this case how to create a snowman poster. Because they had different ideas, background knowledge, and information, they attacked the project in various ways.
The lesson here is much deeper than a poster. It’s the fundamental idea that we think in different ways and we need to come to a better understanding of various perspectives as leaders.
I recently wrote a piece published in The Ascent called Negativity is like running into a brick wall. I wrote from the perspective of someone who doesn’t understand why people choose to be negative, and then I got a new perspective.
On the one hand, it’s true that we have more control over our mood/positivity/negativity than we are sometimes willing to admit, but at the same time, I am hesitant to dismiss or devalue the stories of people who suffer from mood disorders and other issues who find it much harder than the average person to get out of a cloud of negativity. I suppose what I’m learning most is that everyone has a different worldview based on their different backgrounds, experiences, upbringing, and that’s the way the world works. — Sarah Cy
Sarah and I started a dialogue over her response to my piece, and it allowed me to grow as a writer, a leader, a person in general.
Leading has always been about communication through the expression of ideas, but more importantly from listening. We all have our interpretations and perspectives on similar experiences. The true leaders are the ones who listen with an open heart and an open mind.
In my elementary classroom counseling classes, we talk about the five parts we need to be an effective listener: our ears, our eyes looking at the speaker, our mouth off, our brain to interpret information and ask questions, and our heart to show the other person that we respect what he/she is saying.
The one that most students bring up first when we review the parts is the heart. They get it. They understand that when listening with your heart that you are truly in the moment with the other person and you care about what he/she is saying.
We can learn a lot about leadership and perspective through a simple snowman activity and listening to others.
**This piece first appeared in the publication The Ascent on Medium.com.
I'm a lover of life, an eternal optimist, and I have an intense desire to add value through simple living and positive vibes.