Over the years I have found that the best way for me to enter the day is to sit quietly with my coffee and simply be with the silence. This has not always been possible due to a career that has taken me on the road for over thirty years. Some of the individuals I traveled with loved to start their day by flicking on the TV so they could be informed about the latest happenings around the globe, or they would start chatting on the phone. After all they might be missing an announcement about the end of the world. I would try desperately not to have a rise in blood pressure, but it was very difficult. I desperately needed to give myself time to get ready for the day which was often filled with lots of talking, book signing and more travel, all of which can be very stressful. Yes, I believe in different strokes for different folks, but the latest greatest research on how we can navigate our lives without feeling crazy by the end of the day, states that getting your brain in the right zone starts by how you greet the day. I know this can be very difficult when you have kids and they begin their “woodpecker drills” as soon as they open their eyes. But it is possible to set your alarm to go off a few minutes early so you can lie awake in bed and allow your thoughts to focus on how grateful you are for what you have and not what you need to do. In fact I believe this could be a great lesson to teach your children. Today’s kids are suffering from stress overload. If you allow yourself to be led by the incessant inner chatter you will leave your house feeling like a whirling dervish and your body will be in a vigilant state ready to slay a dragon. There was a time when we could put things off and get away with it. But with the advent of e-mail, texting and cell phones, you are pretty much at the mercy of ASAP. It doesn’t matter where you are, you can’t hide from the technology that demands immediacy. Your only defense is to learn to create good mental habits that allow your brain to have mini-vacations from the cacophony of daily life. The ultimate irony is that productivity increases when we take time out to refresh ourselves. Lily Tomlin said it best” The trouble with being in the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat”.
Over the years I have heard the statement “you have to learn to love yourself” over and over as the anecdote to a myriad of mental and physical problems. When I first heard someone utter these words I realized that I probably didn’t love myself very much. I was brought up primarily by a grandmother who never made a “big deal “out of herself and a mother who tried desperately to make sure I didn’t think I was a “big deal” ! If I got an A minus she would try to find out what happened to the other half a point. She had very little filter between her thought process and what came out of her lips. If she thought I had gained weight she didn’t think twice about mentioning it. Did it make me wince? Oh you bet it did, but you always knew where you stood. My teachers, the good sisters of St. Joseph never gave a compliment unless you preformed a miracle, and we all know how long it takes the church to verify that. Yes, It was tough going, but I was lucky enough to have a nature that is tenacious and resilient, something I think we’re losing. Today young people are bathed in messages telling them how “special” they are. Most of the time there is no evidence to support the compliments that are often profuse and go from the sublime to the ridiculous. Could it be that as a society we are creating praise addicts? It feels that way. You Tube is full of people doing everything from brushing their teeth to warbling songs that sound worse than someone running their fingers up and down a blackboard. They post pictures of themselves on every gadget and send it immediately in case someone has forgotten who they are. Reality shows are filled with content that makes stupid look smart and is primarily about watching people do nothing of importance. I am in awe as to how the Kardashians are constantly in the limelight. They obviously have learned to understand that the path to fame and fortune is to constantly make sure that someone, anyone is looking at them. “Look at me, look at me” is the new metaphor. Self-effacement was a huge part of my generation, which has now been replaced with self-expansion. I don’t think that either method is the best. But there is a balance and we better find it, before we end up with Chuckles the Clown for president.