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Don’t Be Eeyore

Don’t Be Eeyore
Wild Burro

    One of the barriers to a happy, effective life is the way that we create negativity in our daily affairs. We swap stories of adversity — the store clerk that was rude to you, the boss that never recognizes your contribution, the accident we saw on our way into work — as a way of passing time, of connecting with each other. We kick ourselves for procrastinating, avoid colleagues we don’t get along with, gossip about ex-friends who screwed us over, and so on.

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    Hopefully, we’ve learned to put negative thoughts out of our mind when we face a crisis, but what about the more pervasive, low-grade negativity we create and even embrace in the act of working our ways through our lives? A lot of people seem to sabotage themselves not so much by being unable to deal with crises but by creating them out of thin air. How can we avoid being an “Eeyore“, someone who sucks the energy out of a room and out of ourselves?

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    Here’s a few ideas:

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    • Stop saying that! How many time a day do you tell people how tired you are? How often do you say “I’m bored”? When you screw something up, do you tell people around you how stupid you are? Is “I can’t complain” the best response you can come up with to “how are you?”

      For some reason, we feel obligated to undermine ourselves as part of our normal conversation routines. Well, stop. If you’re really tired, bored, or stupid, you’re doing something wrong and need to have a long conversation with yourself — maybe you’re in a bad job, a bad relationship, a bad place in your life. But usually, we’re just passing time — do so with something positive instead. Tell people how excited you are about whatever you’re working on — excitement and energy are contagious and who knows? You might even catch some of it back.

    • Don’t avoid conflict. Don’t go looking for it when it’s not there, either, but when a real conflict exists between you and another person, address it and get it out of the way, a.s.a.p. We can often talk, in-depth, with friends or other uninvolved parties about the problems we have with how someone else works, talks, acts, or just is — but we come up shy about talking about our concerns directly with that person. Not only does this put an additional strain on the relationships, throwing the conflict into a downward spiral until it eventually is unrecoverable, but the work of avoiding conflict usually takes more energy than dealing with it would. So take charge and deal wit conflicts as they arise, before they become a drain on both of your energies, and on those around you.
    • Don’t “but”. Replace “but” in your vocabulary with “and”. “But” is our way out, our excuse — “I know I shouldn’t do this, but…”. “And” doesn’t give any leeway — it demands action, it orders fulfillment. Try to catch yourself on the verge of letting yourself of the hook with a “but”, and see what happens when you put yourself under the thumb of an “and” instead.
    • Stop worrying about the weather. Or anything else you really can’t do anything about. There is a wisdom in the Alcoholics Anonymous admonition to accept the things you can’t do anything about — use your energy to solve the problems that actually arise instead of fretting over the thousands of problems that might happen.
    • Acknowledge and move on. Despite our best efforts, bad stuff happens. Give your mistakes exactly as much attention as it takes to acknowledge and learn what needs to be learned, and then put it behind you. Don’t dwell — dwelling on the negative undermines our confidence and energy and can easily lead to worse mistakes down the line.
    • Don’t be chipper. This may seem contrary to my message here, but there’s a difference between not creating any more negativity in our lives than life itself throws at us and going through life oblivious to the real negativity that does, in fact, need to be dealt with. Life has a way of throwing us curves, and when they come we need all our resources and abilities to deal with them. Don’t avoid dealing with the stuff that needs to be dealt with in a vain attempt to insulate yourself from the negative.

    Mark Twain said, “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” We often create and endure more troubles than actually confront us, just through the act of envisioning and fretting over negative scenarios in our heads. It pays, of course, to be prepared, but there’s a point of diminishing returns a point where we are investing more of ourselves into fighting off the troubles that don’t afflict us than we would dealing with the troubles that actually come to pass. We spin these scenarios out of our fears and anxieties about our own shortcomings, not out of a clear-eyed assessment of the world around us. And we feed those fears and anxieties with the thousand little negativities we generate in the course of our daily lives. So try starving the little buggers out, and save the worry for when things really are going wrong.

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    Last Updated on November 5, 2019

    How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

    How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

    Assuming the public school system didn’t crush your soul, learning is a great activity. It expands your viewpoint. It gives you new knowledge you can use to improve your life. It is important for your personal growth. Even if you discount the worldly benefits, the act of learning can be a source of enjoyment.

    “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” — Mark Twain

    But in a busy world, it can often be hard to fit in time to learn anything that isn’t essential. The only things learned are those that need to be. Everything beyond that is considered frivolous. Even those who do appreciate the practice of lifelong learning, can find it difficult to make the effort.

    Here are some tips for installing the habit of continuous learning:

    1. Always Have a Book

    It doesn’t matter if it takes you a year or a week to read a book. Always strive to have a book that you are reading through, and take it with you so you can read it when you have time.

    Just by shaving off a few minutes in-between activities in my day I can read about a book per week. That’s at least fifty each year.

    2. Keep a “To-Learn” List

    We all have to-do lists. These are the tasks we need to accomplish. Try to also have a “to-learn” list. On it you can write ideas for new areas of study.

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    Maybe you would like to take up a new language, learn a skill or read the collective works of Shakespeare. Whatever motivates you, write it down.

    3. Get More Intellectual Friends

    Start spending more time with people who think. Not just people who are smart, but people who actually invest much of their time in learning new skills. Their habits will rub off on you.

    Even better, they will probably share some of their knowledge with you.

    4. Guided Thinking

    Albert Einstein once said,

    “Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”

    Simply studying the wisdom of others isn’t enough, you have to think through ideas yourself. Spend time journaling, meditating or contemplating over ideas you have learned.

    5. Put it Into Practice

    Skill based learning is useless if it isn’t applied. Reading a book on C++ isn’t the same thing as writing a program. Studying painting isn’t the same as picking up a brush.

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    If your knowledge can be applied, put it into practice.

    In this information age, we’re all exposed to a lot of information, it’s important to re-learn how to learn so as to put the knowledge into practice.

    6. Teach Others

    You learn what you teach. If you have an outlet of communicating ideas to others, you are more likely to solidify that learning.

    Start a blog, mentor someone or even discuss ideas with a friend.

    7. Clean Your Input

    Some forms of learning are easy to digest, but often lack substance.

    I make a point of regularly cleaning out my feed reader for blogs I subscribe to. Great blogs can be a powerful source of new ideas. But every few months, I realize I’m collecting posts from blogs that I am simply skimming.

    Every few months, purify your input to save time and focus on what counts.

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    8. Learn in Groups

    Lifelong learning doesn’t mean condemning yourself to a stack of dusty textbooks. Join organizations that teach skills.

    Workshops and group learning events can make educating yourself a fun, social experience.

    9. Unlearn Assumptions

    You can’t add water to a full cup. I always try to maintain a distance away from any idea. Too many convictions simply mean too few paths for new ideas.

    Actively seek out information that contradicts your worldview.

    Our minds can’t be trusted, but this is what we can do about it to be wiser.

    10. Find Jobs that Encourage Learning

    Pick a career that encourages continual learning. If you are in a job that doesn’t have much intellectual freedom, consider switching to one that does.

    Don’t spend forty hours of your week in a job that doesn’t challenge you.

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    11. Start a Project

    Set out to do something you don’t know how. Forced learning in this way can be fun and challenging.

    If you don’t know anything about computers, try building one. If you consider yourself a horrible artist, try a painting.

    12. Follow Your Intuition

    Lifelong learning is like wandering through the wilderness. You can’t be sure what to expect and there isn’t always an end goal in mind.

    Letting your intuition guide you can make self-education more enjoyable. Most of our lives have been broken down to completely logical decisions, that making choices on a whim has been stamped out.

    13. The Morning Fifteen

    Productive people always wake up early. Use the first fifteen minutes of your morning as a period for education.

    If you find yourself too groggy, you might want to wait a short time. Just don’t put it off later in the day where urgent activities will push it out of the way.

    14. Reap the Rewards

    Learn information you can use. Understanding the basics of programming allows me to handle projects that other people would require outside help. Meeting a situation that makes use of your educational efforts can be a source of pride.

    15. Make Learning a Priority

    Few external forces are going to persuade you to learn. The desire has to come from within. Once you decide you want to make lifelong learning a habit, it is up to you to make it a priority in your life.

    More About Continuous Learning

    Featured photo credit: Paul Schafer via unsplash.com

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