Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Better Life Through Chemistry

I’m a little behind the times, but I set aside an article that caught my eye. The Boston Globe reported recently on a drug being developed to produce the benefits of exercise, without the exercise. This, from the same scientist that brought us the genetically engineered Mickey ,who could eat more without gaining weight, as well as running twice as far as his mouse friends.

Okay, I know some people need to exercise and lose weight and can do neither. And I’m talking about those who cannot, for various reasons actually beyond their control, not just because of general lassitude and whatever other reasons. But what about the rest of us? Let's face it…the temptation would be far too great. Or would it?

If you could have the perfect body, the perfect mind, the perfect life, through chemistry alone, would you? I’m reminded here of Woody Allen’s Sleeper.

It’s like cooking. Sometimes I’m in a hurry and open a jar of Ragu. But if I really want a good meal, I’ve got to start from scratch. Or at least from canned tomatoes. It’s not that I don’t like shortcuts. But after a point, what’s the use of so many shortcuts? If you could be hypnotized and then block out everything painful in your life, what would be left? And what if you accidentally blocked out some of the positives. Like the way Prozac keeps you from getting too low, but also keeps you from getting too high.

I guess what I’m saying here is the only better life is through work and effort. Sometimes it’s difficult. There’s pain, loss and grief. But sometime it’s easy. There’s joy, abundance and ecstasy. So go for the burn baby.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

It’s Never Too Late (or Too Soon)

I’ve really been enjoying an AARP article, 50 reasons to love being 50+. Corny title aside, the vignettes are based on personal experience or research. Here's my spin on the highlights :

You can care more: You’ve been through enough to really understand difficulties experienced by others, and they can tell. You realize that learning something new is as good (or probably better) than buying something new. Waking up reasonably healthy is something to cherish.

You can care less: You realize that what others think doesn’t really matter. You now know your mistakes really won’t matter six days, weeks, months or years from now. Who cares what my race time was [whether I had the perfect dress, whether I earned the highest score, etc] I did it!

You can do more: When you let yourself, you really can think outside the box. Research shows you’re better at detecting honesty in others. You can tell by the evidence who your real friends are. You can try new things with abandon.

You can do less: You know you don’t have to please everyone. Taking time to smell the roses is okay. Meditation is starting to make sense. Communing with the cat [dog, canary, ferret] is a good thing.

After all, life really is short. By the time you reach the big 5-0, isn’t it time to drop pretense and be yourself? Often you have to work hard to notice if you’re being true to yourself. Ask yourself the hard questions. Am I doing what I want to be doing? Is this what I want my legacy to be? How do I want to be remembered?

You can start now, even if you’ve only reached the big 2-0. And…

It's never too late to be who you might have been. - George Elliot

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Olympian Challenges

All the hoopla about the Olympics makes me ponder the Olympian challenges that face us all, and how we conquer them.

I’ve noticed that many of the articles that I scan, or that are sent to me by family and friends, from publications as varied as Women’s Day, The NY Times, The Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated, and more, frequently propose the notion that we can all do great things, Olympian things, as it were. These things, it is posited, are accomplished by means of such behaviors as perseverance, tapping into strengths, following dreams and passions, focus and problem-solving, to name a few.

We are able to attain said accomplishments according to said articles, and their sister articles that focus on taking time for oneself, by not only doing, but also not doing. Not doing covers such things as relaxation exercises, meditation, yoga, walking, jogging, reading, pondering, fishing, biking, and driving, to name just some. While, you may say, these things are really doing, they’ve not doing the thing we’re trying to accomplish.

Thus, we work, and then we take time to regroup, replenish, re-whatever, in order to continue on toward our chosen goals. As we often point out in coaching, taking even 10 minutes toward your goal, or toward your time-out from goals, is well worth the effort. Come one, how many times have you read that taking three deep breaths (in through the nose, out through the mouth, from the abdomen, not the upper chest, add a few seconds on the exhale) once a day improves health and wellness? It doesn't even take 3 minutes.

Right now, my Olympian challenge is mastering Microsoft Vista. I know I can do it. I also know it’s going to take time as well as perseverance, focus and problem-solving, among other things. But that didn’t stop me from doing 15 minutes of yoga and running 30 today.

I’ll make it to the top eventually, cause I won’t back down (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers). Sorry for you regular readers, but some songs you just have to use more than once.

20 one minute ways to beat stress got me started on this. Check it out.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Electronic Anthropomorphism

Someone actually studied how anthropomorphism toward computer terminals affected loyalty to the terminal .

How did I learn this, you ask? I was wondering if anyone studied electronic anthropomorphism.

You see, when I returned from my two weeks away from my computer, it started misbehaving. The screen would go black, or blue. It was very unresponsive at times. I started getting pretty peeved with it. I decided it was time for a replacement. Normally, I’m quite monogamous. But it had, after all, lived a full life. Five years for a laptop in daily use is about what we’d expect. Less than a marriage, but more than a fling.

There’s an interesting article, if you’re interested in this sort of thing, which attempts to explain the conditions under which we are more or less like to anthropomorphize. On the basis of the article, I might conclude that I’m lacking in adequate human relationships or that my relative novice status vis-à-vis machines enables me to react as if the machine was intentionally willing me harm.

Now the replacement machine is almost completely functional for my purposes, I’m wondering is the Vista system is, in fact, plotting my demise. Really, it’s not bad I told a friend earlier this evening. But now, as the night wears on, I’m beginning to wonder. Multiple internet explorer screens appearing unbidden. Outlook address book that is clearly my new bad boy.

But am I going to let it get in my way? Heck no. It’s just another bounce back opportunity. I’m working, very slowly at this point, on my next newsletter which I think will be about resilience. One way to look at resilience is to think of the ability to bounce back, which I have in exceptional abundance I’m told.

You see even with this computer snafu, I’m still working on ideas that I’m sure will come in handy at some point. After all, there was R2-D2, the i-Cybie and Blade Runner’s replicant, Rachael; and was Deckard a replicant after all? Who knows, maybe I’ll write the next 2001.