Monthly Archives: August 2015

Your Weekly Noodle: August 26, 2015

Collage of people laghing

Everyone needs a good laugh!

Noodle* on This…
People with a sense of humor tend to be less egocentric, more realistic in their view of the world, more humble in moments of success, and less defeated in times of travail.
~ Bob Newhart

Humor is a basic human need. We are hardwired for laughter. In fact, there is a branch of brain science called gelotology that studies the physiological and psychological aspects or humor and there are entire research organizations such as the International Society for Humor Studies (ISHS) dedicated to the study of humor. There is even laughter yoga. So, humor really is a very serious business!

Humor helps us relieve stress; build bonds with others; and improve our life satisfaction (aka well-being).  Author Paul McGhee suggests that your sense of humor is one of the most powerful tools you have to make certain that your daily mood and emotional state support good health.  By humor, I do not mean aggressive humor, such as sarcasm, teasing or ridicule. I mean the type of humor in which we do not take ourselves too seriously, where we can find something to laugh about even in a bad situation.

Oscar Wilde wrote that life is too important to be taken seriously. When we can see the humor in a situation, we are less anxious about it. Humor gives us perspective so we can look at a problem or situation objectively. It also helps us be more creative reduces stress so we have the energy to deal constructively with difficult situations.

My silly dog

My silly dog always makes me laugh, which helps me solve problems.

For example, my dog is a great source of humor for me. Just looking at him makes me smile. In fact, his photo is the screen saver on my computer and when I am feeling stressed or stuck in my writing, I take a break and spend time with him. Just watching him running around the yard chasing birds, butterflies and bugs, which he never catches, makes me laugh. And, after a few minutes I happily go back to my writing and suddenly, easily find the exact words I need.

 

Your Weekly Noodle Challenge…
I think the next best thing to solving a problem is finding some humor in it.  ~ Frank Howard Clark

I work in a hospital and on a recent weekend evening I was in the Emergency Department waiting room. It was crowded but quiet with a sense of anxiety. A little old lady, wearing a very large cowboy hat and using a carved walking stick shuffled up to me, looked me straight in the eyes and announced I am 100 years old! I didn’t know what to say and  blurted the first thing that popped into my mind, Well, you are just a sweet young thing. She started laughing and within a few seconds everyone who saw the exchange was laughing. I could feel the anxiety in the room decrease.

Think about a stressful situation, in hindsight what was funny about it? Share your experience with us in the Comments section below.

* To noodle: A verb meaning to mull over, think about, contemplate, ponder, puzzle over or brainstorm.

Image courtesy of Positive Health Online.

Your Weekly Noodle: August 19, 2015

Man jumping for joy by the ocean represents letting go of the past

Letting go of the past frees us to live in the present… and to experience joy.

Noodle* on This…
People spend too much time finding other people to blame, too much energy finding excuses for not being what they are capable of being, and not enough energy putting themselves on the line, growing out of the past, and getting on with their lives.
~ J. Michael Straczynski

When we hold on to the past, we have no room for the present or the future. When we hold on the past hurts, we re-live the pain. When we dwell on our past successes, there is no room for growth, adventure or even joy.

Accepting and letting go of our past is hard but essential to our well-being. We are the sum of our live experiences and when we can accept them, let go, we have the energy and ability to move on. The following Buddhist story illustrates the importance of letting go.

Two monks were walking to their monastery when they came to a deep river. A young woman sat weeping on the riverbank because she was afraid to cross the river without help. She begged the two monks to help her. The younger monk refused to help her because members of their order were forbidden to touch women.

But the older monk picked up the woman without a word and carried her across the river. He put her down on the far side and she thanked him for his help. Then, she went one way and the monks continued on their journey in the opposite direction. As they walked, the younger monk continuously scolded the older monk for breaking his vows.

Finally, as they approached the monastery, the older monk said to his young companion, “I only carried her across the river. You have carried her all day.”

Letting go means taking responsibility for our lives by showing compassion and forgiveness for ourselves and those who hurt us. We cannot change the past, but we can have the “serenity to accept the things we cannot change.” We can stop reliving the pain of the past and use that energy to move forward with our lives, focusing on things that bring us growth, joy and peace.

Your Weekly Noodle Challenge…
Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.
~Hermann Hesse

Do you have the strength to let go of the past? Share your experience of letting go with us in the Comments section below.

* To noodle: A verb meaning to mull over, think about, contemplate, ponder, puzzle over or brainstorm.

Image courtesy of The Grief Recovery Kit.

Your Weekly Noodle: August 12, 2015

Man worry over a laptop

What? Me Worry?

Noodle* on this… 
It makes no sense to worry about things you have no control over because there’s nothing you can do about them and why worry about things you do control? The activity of worrying keeps you immobilized.
~ Wayne Dyer

Worrying is a normal human activity. We all do it and to a certain degree, worry is a good thing. A mild degree of worry improves our performance. It also provokes us to use a seat belt when we drive and pay our bills on time.  Worry is defined as giving way to anxiety or unease. When we worry, we allow our minds to dwell on past or future problems and how we dealt or will deal with them.

But constant or long term worry or worrying about things we cannot control can be counterproductive.  Concern is a form of worrying. Agonizing, brooding, and stewing are synonyms for excessive worry, which is exhausting. It increases our blood pressure and stress levels; and it pulls our focus away from our priorities. At work, it means that we are less productive, anxious and maybe even grumpy. Worrying is also exhausting. According to John Lubbock, A day of worry is more exhausting that a week of work.

How do you manage your level of worry? Here are some suggestions:

Recognize and accept the fact that you are not perfect. You will make mistakes, we all make mistakes. Rather than worrying about it, use that time and energy to focus on how you can correct it.

Stay in the present instead of dwelling on the past or on what might happen. Being mindful focuses your energy and thoughts on the present moment without judgment or blame. Take a few slow deep breaths to help you focus.

Maintain your perspective. First, acknowledge your emotions about the situation. Then, stick to the facts. Go into Dragnet mode – “Just the facts, ma’am.”  What happened? Collect and analyze the information. Ask yourself some questions:

  • Is it really a bad thing? If, yes, how bad is the situation and why?
  • Have I done everything I could?
  • Is it something I can control or influence?
  • What are the next steps?
  • Who can help me with the problem?
  • Have I notified everyone who needs to know about it?

Make a decision based on the facts, not on your emotions.

Keep your sense of humor.  Find something to laugh about in the situation. Humor expert and author Michael Kerr recommends asking, “What is the one thing I can take away from this situation, learn from or laugh at?” Or, imagine how your favorite super hero, comedian, or fictional character would deal with it. I’ am fond of author Carol O’Connell’s heroine, NYPD detective Kathy Mallory. I see her as a cross between Dirty Harry and a computer nerd. Usually, she responses to worrisome situations with a piercing look and razor-sharp intelligence. So, when I worry, I ask, “What would Mallory do?” And, don’t call her Kathy!

Your Weekly Noodle Challenge…
If you want to test your memory, try to recall what you were worrying about one year ago today? ~ E. Joseph Cossman

Today, how important is what you were worrying about a year ago? Managing worry is about keeping things in perspective. Share your thoughts with us in the Comments section below.

* To noodle: A verb meaning to mull over, think about, contemplate, ponder, puzzle over or brainstorm.

Image courtesy of TechVert.com

 

Your Weekly Noodle: August 5, 2015

 

 

Noodle* on this…

Photo of a frustrated office worker destroying his computer with a sledge hammer illustrating that we need to take regular breaks on the job to support our well being.

Take a Break to Avoid This Career Killing Behavior
(Image Courtesy of MS Office)

 It took about 200 years for unions to get us a 40-hour workweek; it took smart phones about five years to completely take them away. ~ Bob Sullivan, NBC Nightly News, January 29, 2014

Put down you smart phone and step away from the computer.  Take a break! You will feel better.

We think that we must be constantly connected to be productive and successful and it seems that our electronic devices rule our lives. My friend Lisa is a Six Sigma Black Belt who is constantly on call for questions and issues related to the process improvement projects she leads. She said that the only way she could get away from e-mails, instant messages, and phone calls was to go to Antarctica – literally!

The situation is serious, but it is not hopeless because even in this hyper connected world, a five-minute break a few times a day and away from our desks, computers and cell phones actually improves both the amount and quality of our work and our lives. Regular breaks also help us be less cranky, healthier. happier and better able to get along with our family, friends and co-workers.

Here are some simple suggestions for taking a break. By the way, stopping work to check e-mails, voice mail or to surf the Internet are not breaks.  The best breaks involve physical movement. So, step away from the desk!

  • Do not take your smart phone, electronic table or laptop to with you when taking a break (unless you are going to check in with your kids, spouse, or best buddy).
  • Go outside for a breath or ten of fresh air.
  • Walk to a co-worker’s desk to ask a question or share information instead of calling, e-mailing or texting.
  • Go to the break room for a cup of coffee, fill your water bottle, or look through a magazine or newspaper left  in the break room or read a book for a few minutes.
  • Walk to the supply room and stock up needed supplies.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Find an empty meeting room, close the door and do some simple stretches.

Your Weekly Noodle Challenge…
Technology demands a lot of us on top of our already demanding lives. So let’s disconnect as we need to and renew our interest and ourselves. ~ Simon Mainwaring

How do you disconnect to renew yourself and your interests, without going to Antarticia? Share your suggestions with us in the Comments Section below.

 * To noodle: A verb meaning to mull over, think about, contemplate, ponder, puzzle over or brainstorm.