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4 Things Japanese People Taught Me

4 Things Japanese People Taught Me

Several years ago, I spent some time in Japan. I was a Japan Fulbright Scholar — the Japanese government invited me to their country to learn as much as I could about modern day Japan and its people. I had an absolutely wonderful time and it is still very much impacting my life today. Though I learned many lessons while I was there, I would like to share these 4 with you:

1. Have Integrity 

Integrity is not as easy to come by these days as it used to be. Honesty, doing the right thing, and having pure motives just may not be evident everywhere we go. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to follow suit. Do what is right, even when no one is looking — that is the definition of integrity I heard many years ago. You see, when I was in Japan I went to see a baseball game. While there, during the second inning I needed to go to the restroom. I accidentally left my new digital camera in the stall hanging on the hook. When I realized what I did, in the seventh inning, I went back. The camera was still hanging where I left it. Now, I am not saying that people didn’t think of taking my camera, but they didn’t. Integrity. Sometimes, thinking of how your actions will affect others really is important. I was ever so grateful no one took my camera that day!

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2. Be Clean

Here, in America, it seems that everywhere I look I see trash on the ground. At camp grounds, at national monuments, even just walking around the neighborhood. There is trash everywhere. I must say, while in Japan I not only noticed that there was little to no trash on the ground, but commented on that to my guide. She simply replied that if you love where you live you take care of that place. Children even spend the last 30 minutes of every school day cleaning the campus, they do not have Janitors (it was wonderful to see children taking care of their school’s campus). What a novel idea, take care of where you live/work/play. I say that this starts in the home. Teach your children, if you have any, to pick up after themselves. Teach them where trash goes. Don’t pick it up for them (even though that would be much quicker) instead train them to take care of this wonderful place that we live in. My father used to tell me, “we may not live in a mansion, but we don’t have to look like we live in a pigsty.”

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3. Be Polite

Everyone I met while in Japan was polite and kind. They did know me, yet treated me as I was a respected guest. I must say, in light of the divisions that are occurring here politically, we would do well to remember to be kind to one another. The Golden Rule really needs to be put back into our lives much more. Who knows, maybe one kind word or deed you do today could affect someone in a huge way you never know about.

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4. Have Pride in Your Country

This kind of goes with the prior thoughts above. We live, in my opinion, in the greatest country there is. Yet, there are those who try to destroy others’ property through rioting. That would not happen in Japan. While I was there, it was very evident that the Japanese people love their country, speak highly of their country, and fly their flag proudly. Now, I didn’t say that everyone agreed with things their government did all of the time, but they separated their thoughts from pride of country. We too must get back to that place where we remember how great it is to live in these United States of America!

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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