Working Through Sadness

How long is it normal to mourn a loss?

As long as we are able to go on with our day-to-day activities there is no timetable on mourning.

Television’s “Mister Rogers” in an interview with Karen Herman once had the ultimate challenge.  I’ll let Fred Rogers tell it in his own powerful words.

“My greatest challenge?  I suppose to walk through the door and sing ‘It’s A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood’ when I have had a real sadness in my life. I had to go to Miami one hour after my father’s funeral because they were having a Mister Rogers Day there that could not be cancelled. We had 23 fifteen-minute performances in one day. I had to sing ‘It’s A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood’ for each one of them.”

Gratitude is the elixir for sadness.

The more grateful we remain, the more we can live life with all its up and downs.

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  • Dealing with the death of a close lifelong friend a couple of summers ago taught me something very valuable.  I was in the midst of talking some summer courses for my business degree.  I had to work through through a term paper and my grief at the same time.  trust me, it wasn’t pretty; I wrote portions of the paper in a state of near drunkeness, just to get through it emotionally.  I did get though it though, and in fact I aced the course.  So I learned that I could function in a crisis.  A very valuable lesson indeed.

  • Friday just passed was the 18th anniversary of the passing of my wife Lynne who had undiagnosed and terminal breast cancer when we met. I have never had a major GF since. And have never been able to process through the grieving to get past that. And really don’t feel bad about it.  I have gone on about my life and my work, but it still feels like part of me is missing, that I remain incomplete. One quibble: I dislike the word “gratitude” about which once I heard described as “the NICEST form of resentment.” Much prefer thankful. “Gratitude” implies debts owed in return while “Thankful” doesn’t have that baggage.

The 5-Minute Favor

Organizational psychologist Adam Grant never turns down an opportunity to help others.

Grant is the youngest-tenured and highest rated professor at Penn’s Wharton School. He has published more papers in his field’s top journals than those who have spent a lifetime trying.

This guy is the opposite of the four-hour workweek.

A full inbox is an opportunity to help, not just tantamount to answering emails.

When you look to helping others succeed, you succeed.  No one ever failed who also helped another.

Grant says there are givers, takers and matchers:

“The takers are people who, when they walk into an interaction with another person, are trying to get as much as possible from that person and contribute as little as they can in return, thinking that’s the shortest and most direct path to achieving their own goals”.

“At the other end of the spectrum, we have this strange breed of people that I call “givers.” It’s not about donating money or volunteering necessarily, but looking to help others by making an introduction, giving advice, providing mentoring or sharing knowledge, without any strings attached”.

“A matcher is somebody who tries to maintain an even balance of give and take. If I help you, I expect you to help me in return. [They] keep score of exchanges, so that everything is fair and really just”.

If this intrigues you as it does me, try what Adam Grant does.  He hardly ever says no to the “five-minute favor”. 

Here is an interview with Adam Grant, author of Givers and Takers that describes the benefits and research that backs up the concept that helping others helps us.

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Happiness 101

I’ve come across a powerful paragraph that jumps starts our ability to transcend living in the past or future so we can fully enjoy and concentrate on the now. 

I thought I would share this with you from Gina Lake’s “Living In the Now:  How To Live As The Spiritual Being That You Are”:

“The ego is always trying to improve on the present moment, but instead, it ruins it with its dissatisfaction. It tells us the present moment would be better if: “if I had more money,” “if I were in a relationship,” “if I were thinner,” “if I were better looking,” “if I lived somewhere else,” “if that hadn’t happened,” “if I hadn’t…,” “if I had…,” and on and on.  Those are all lies. None of those things change your experience of the moment unless you believe they do. If you believe you need anything else to be happy, you won’t enjoy the moment. You won’t really let yourself fully experience it. If you don’t believe you need anything more to be happy than what’s here right now, you discover you have everything you need”.

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4 Things That Make You Happy and Productive

The professional golf instructor Sandy LaBauve has a great way of balancing happiness with productivity.

Think of what is important to you as the four tires on a car.

It may be faith, exercise, family and work.  Substitute your own priorities.

What drives you?

Then – and this is the part that will help keep life in balance when one of these “tires” needs inflating —  you devote attention to the one that is going flat and pump it up.

That way you’re literally always in the driver’s seat in achieving all four of the things that make you happy and productive.

“Just as your car runs more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and farther when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you perform better when your thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals and values are in balance” – Brian Tracy

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The Power of Quiet

The author Pico Iyer wrote a piece in The New York Times over a year ago that I have not been able to get out of my mind.

It was called The Joy of Quiet.

But joy is not the only benefit – it is increase productivity and a happier life.

Iyer wrote, “The more ways we have to connect, the more many of us seem desperate to unplug”.

In 2007 Intel mandated 4 hours of quiet time every Tuesday morning for 300 engineers and managers.  No phone.  No email.  Most of those participating recommended that it be extended to others.

The average office worker, by the way, gets only three minutes of uninterrupted time according to researchers.

The average American teen sends 75 text messages a day.

And the average American spends at least eight and a half hours in front of some type of screen each day.

We’ve got no time to think, enjoy, interact or recharge.

Iyer suggests an “Internet Sabbath” every weekend – no online connections from Friday night until Sunday morning.  Okay, that’s not going to work for me.

There’s yoga, meditation and tai chi.

Long walks on weekends without a cell phone.

Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows about how much time we spend online, suggests that people who spend time in rural settings “exhibit greater attentiveness, stronger memory and generally improved cognition.  Their brains become calmer and sharper”.

Even simply becoming aware that a lack of quiet is a problem empowers us to find a workable personal solution.

“When things come at you very fast, naturally you lose touch with yourself” – Marshall McLuhan

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