Monthly Archives: January 2010

Lessons Learned from Shooting Pool

I thought I’d continue with the theme of new beginnings during the first week of the new year by telling you a “biggie” for me – something I had to learn at a deeper level than just on an intellectual level.  I took up the game of pool about a year ago.  And like everything I do, I jumped into it “full bore” and with ferocity unmatched by any other living creature.  I practiced hours every day in this mad-like rush to conquer this goal as soon as I possibly could.

In general, my enthusiasm and full commitment pay off in learning and conquering new goals, but there are some that actually require a dispassionate approach.  That was tough for me.  I got thoroughly emotional whenever I missed even one shot!  I quit several times out of utter frustration. 

Fortunately, I have a great coach/teacher who keeps trying to get me to be quite robotic.  He has me do what amounts to a ritual routine with each shot:  look at the shot and imagine it happening as I put chalk on the cue tip.  Then, put the chalk down and I pretend I’m doing the shot once or twice in the air, then get way down on the table and do practice motions up to the cue ball and then fire.

Once I am down, no more thinking, moving, judging…just faith that my mind and body have this covered. 

This took the better part of a year to learn.  But it works.

The too easy frustration with myself comes from a most critical father’s constant berating of me, and taking up pool has helped a tremendous amount with getting rid of that knee-jerk response. 

I was setting up my weaving loom the other day, and everything was going wrong.  The set-up looked seriously trashy.  But instead of getting down on myself (like I would have done before), I just smiled, leaned over, cut it all off the loom and threw it away.  I walked away feeling quite accomplished!  Why?  I just accepted that sometimes it doesn’t work – thrown away yarn is not the end of the world – and having the calm to make that decision to come back and loom another day is a big victory!

I hope this story helps you.

The Best Way To Make New Year’s Resolutions

I was asked the other day what New Year’s resolutions I’m making.  I couldn’t come up with any, not because I’m in denial about having to change anything about my life, but because it’s just that I live each week, much less each day, already making those changes that I choose. 

I like the idea of frequent “small course changes,” rather than abrupt, major alterations in one’s life.  I find that the latter kinds of changes are harder to keep, since they are such a divergence from normal reality and routine.

So, I’m not trying to talk you out of losing that 100 pounds, or finishing the roof on your house all by yourself.  I just believe that it’s unrealistic to put yourself in front of a 100-foot-tall pile of whatever with a spoon and told to “go at it.”

If it’s weight that you want to lose, forget about that, and just decide not to have salad dressing loaded with fat calories, and just decide to walk 1 mile with music in your ear – iPod-style.  When that gets too familiar (or starts to feel “old”), then decide that you have to eat smaller portions and ride your bike for 1 mile each day (but I recommend doing that without the iPod, in order for you to hear traffic). 

Get it?  Small things are easier to stay with, because you get instant gratification, which we all love.

The weight?  Don’t get on the scale more than twice a month.  Just revel in those small changes.  The weight will take care of itself.  And then, you can go shopping for new clothes (yay)!

Five Ways to Be Happier

At the beginning of the new year, people tend to make lists or resolutions.  I have five tips for you to help you be happier in the coming months.

1. You may have to recognize that you inherited some propensities which are counter to a happy attitude:  less emotional stability, less social activity, less physical activity than others.  However, you may have also grown up with people who “bounce” or “squish,” and you’ve learned to deal with life through parental example – good and bad.  So, some things you’ve learned might have to be “un-learned” or consciously worked against in order for you to be happy. 

2. After performing good deeds, people are happier.  That’s a fact.  And when many of you feel “mulchy,” you tend to withdraw from people or just get downright nasty.  That’s counter-productive at best.  Coming out of that dark place you’re in to bring light to someone else shines back on you.

3. Winston Churchill said that a pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity, but an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.  Attitude is everything.  I’ve taken people from “yuck” to giggles during three minute calls on my radio program just by using humor and getting them to “remember” a blessing or chuckle in their lives.  You can simmer on “negative” or try to replace that with something “wonderful.”  It’s your choice.

4. Physical activity diminishes cortisol (the adrenal gland hormone secreted by angry or scared people which also increases blood pressure) and increases endorphins (which are natural, free and legal mood elevators, and give you a natural “high”).

5. Maturity works in your favor.  As you spend more time on the face of the earth, you learn to endure and filter out the negatives, while focusing on what you truly enjoy.

Happiness takes some time and some work…and it is worth it.