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Postcards from over the edge

Postcards from over the edge

A few potentially useful thoughts about work and working life.

  1. When you’ve reached enlightenment, your boss will still be a jerk. The good news is that it won’t bother you any more. The secret of maintaining a calm mind is letting go of emotions and refusing to waste energy on fretting about whatever you can’t change. The world is an unsatisfactory place; your boss is an unsatisfactory person. Life is good.
  2. There are no acceptable excuses for your bad behavior. Not your dreadful childhood (most people were dreadful sometimes as children, even if their childhood was idyllic), your miserable relationships (miserable people give themselves more of them), the fact you have no money (maybe you did nothing to earn more, or wasted what you had), your frustrating job (you’re presumably too frustrated to do anything about changing it) or the pains in your neck (and the ones you give to others). Life sometimes sucks. Get over it. Don’t add to the mess.
  3. Reality keeps coming at you. There’s no “off” switch. All you can do is cope with it as best you can. Since you’re human, you’re fallible. There will be many times you mess up totally and many more you mess up a little. If you beat yourself up over each one of them, you’re going to be a continual hospital case. If you feel guilty whenever you screw up, you’ll end up a basket case too.
  4. No one can insult you without your permission. Whatever he or she says about you, it’s your emotions that make you feel bad. That, and going over and over the insult in your mind, imagining what you should have said (but didn’t think of until it was too late). Ignore them and insults will have no power over you.
  5. You can always be yourself. You don’t need to prove it. It’s impossible for you to be anyone else, however hard you try. Doing something just to prove your ability, courage, or anything else is merely showing off. Only doing something because it needs doing is the real thing.
  6. Whatever changes you have in mind, begin with yourself. Many people work diligently to change others, while leaving themselves untouched. If you succeed in making the other person better, it will only show up your own deficiencies in a harsher light.
  7. You won’t find meaning in your life by sitting and thinking about it. To create meaning, you have to take action with some purpose in mind. Locking a new car in the garage and thinking about driving it won’t put any miles on the clock. Thinking about what your life means is the same. You need to get a little mud on the wheels and a few dints in the bodywork. Later, when you look at them, you’ll recall what happened and what each one meant.
  8. If you aren’t satisfied with your life, change it. If you won’t change it, put up with it. There’s no middle way. Whatever you do, don’t keep telling us about it. We don’t want to know.
  9. Keep living until you die. Some people give up on life while they’re still alive. You can see they’ve done so, because they no longer do any of the things that show life is present. They don’t learn, they don’t change, they don’t develop, they don’t adapt. They may be alive physically, but they’re already dead in any sense that matters.
  10. There’s no such creature as a self-made person—unless she conceived and gave birth to herself, fed herself as a baby and a child, made her own clothes from cotton and wool she produced herself, taught herself, built her own house and car, and never needed to go to a doctor, a dentist, a pharmacy or a store. We’re all utterly dependent on one another. Gratitude seems more appropriate than egotistical fantasies.

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Adrian Savage is a writer, an Englishman, and a retired business executive, in that order. He lives in Tucson, Arizona. You can read his other articles at Slow Leadership, the site for everyone who wants to build a civilized place to work and bring back the taste, zest and satisfaction to leadership and life, and Working Potential, where you’ll learn about great ideas for self-development. His latest book, Slow Leadership: Civilizing The Organization

    , is now available at all good bookstores.
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    Last Updated on September 20, 2018

    How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

    How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

    Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

    If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

    1. Breathe

    The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

    • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
    • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
    • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

    Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

    2. Loosen up

    After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

    Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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    3. Chew slowly

    Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

    Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

    Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

    4. Let go

    Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

    The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

    It’s not. Promise.

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    Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

    Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

    21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

    5. Enjoy the journey

    Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

    Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

    6. Look at the big picture

    The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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    Will this matter to me…

    • Next week?
    • Next month?
    • Next year?
    • In 10 years?

    Hint: No, it won’t.

    I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

    Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

    7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

    You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

    Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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    8. Practice patience every day

    Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

    • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
    • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
    • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

    Final thoughts

    Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

    Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

    Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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