You can have it all but you will be exhausted!

There are so many books on how to get what you want as soon as you can without much effort. You simply “put it out there”, wherever there is, and voila it is manifested. Techniques include writing down your affirmation, imagining yourself doing it, and sharing it with those close to you. The later could be problematic because they will probably ask you if you did “it” until you want to avoid them at all costs.You also become at the mercy of those individuals who are hell bent to never address the possibility that you may not have the where with all to accomplish your affirmation, or a plan to execute it. Their primary goal is to endlessly cheer you on which leaves you feeling guilty and having a strong desire to throw them off a cliff.

Lately a few researchers in the field of Positive Psychology have begun to question the merits of thinking positive without a good dose of reality. After all I can write,” I am tall and thin” all I want, but I am short and somewhat pudgy and unless I put myself on a rack and reduce my calories it is unlikely to happen.

What seems to have lost traction is the idea that attaining a goal takes time and patience and the ability to assess ones strengths and weaknesses. The ability to tolerate frustration is also part of the process. Unfortunately “ the art of waiting has become less and less available in a society that loves instant gratification.

“ In the late sixties and early 1970s a psychologist Walter Mischel, then a professor at Stanford University, created a series of studies on delayed gratification. Children were offered one small reward provided immediately or two small rewards if they waited for about 15 minutes, during which the tester left the room and then returned. The reward was  sometimes a marshmallow, but often a cookie or a pretzel. In follow-up studies, the researchers found that children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes, as measured by SAT scores, educational attainment, body mass index (BMI), and life measures.”

Once again, I feel that the research simply defines what is obvious. If we can learn to enjoy the process of reaching our goals, our ability to be patient and our anxiety levels are reduced. So much of our culture is predicated on going from one task to another in a mindless fashion. Stress is at an all time high since the motto, “You can have it all” became part of our cultural dialogue. Having it all is exhausting! The ability to savor each step of our journey toward a goal is as important as attaining it and it is certainly less frantic.


Common Sense is Great Practical Advice

I firmly believe that a lot of stress can be handled with a big dose of common sense. However, what would seem to be an innate quality that every human being has available is practically ready for a spot in the Smithsonian. I have often mentioned to my literary agent that I would love to write a book on common sense. He always counters with “Nobody will buy it”! I guess that says it all. What was so readily available to my grandparents and my parents seems to have withered and died on the vine with each succeeding generation.

Today it seems that the smallest problem is blown out of proportion, sent out on some form of social media and regurgitated over and over until you feel like sticking a fork in your eye for relief.

I live in New England where the weather is like a game of roulette. You never know what to expect. Of course you do have a slight chance of being right sometimes, like the winter. Most often it’s cold and it could snow. But the newscasters act as if a week that drops into the 20’s is akin to discovering an ice cream stand on Mars. If snow is in their forecast they begin to cover it day and night as soon as the first snowflake emerges. A plethora of weatherman are positioned all over the state and especially near the ocean so that we can be scared silly with each succeeding wave. After all I’m definitely going swimming or boating on a frigid, snowy day. Aren’t you?

Then the stores start filling up with people buying the proverbial bread and milk, which I have always found ludicrous. If the lights go out and I’m hungry, I don’t think a piece of limp bread and lukewarm milk is going to do the trick. I probably would have some cheese, crackers and a glass of wine.

Of course the weather is just one piece of the pie. Food has become another lost cause when it comes to common sense. You have to be told constantly that too much fat and sugar are bad for you.You should really be eating your fruits and vegetables. My first grade teacher Mrs. Bernstein told me that back in the Neanderthal era.

We seem to have to be told to get up and move more too. One of my science magazines just had an article called “Sitting Kills”. Well, yes it does, especially if you never get up from the chair.

So here’s some practical advice. When or if it snows, make sure you have lots of carrots in the house, go outside without your coat for about five minutes since shivering burns calories, then go back and sit in your chair, knowing that you just might live a little longer.