Tag Archives: balance

Sticks and Stones . . . But Words Will Never Harm You. Really?

Sticks and stones will break your bones but words will never harm you. Once held to be true, in the age of speech codes and sensitivity to the feelings of others perhaps it is time to retire this axiom. Will doing so benefit you and your loved ones?Sticks and Stones . . . But Words Will Never Harm You. Really?

My daughter is a sensitive little girl. A stray look or elevated voice often reduces her to tears. She was upset for several weeks because someone called her a crybaby. While it pained me to see her distressed, I used this situation to explain to her that when a person says something mean about her such a statement means nothing – about her. It may, however, provide important information about the person who made the remark.

Movies of the 1930s and 1940s showcase a rich vocabulary of nicknames, many of which would be considered rude today. To call a fat boy Fatty or a smelly boy Stinky would raise howls of protest. But how does protecting a child from such epithets impact his ability to handle mental stress?

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Being given such a nickname can help a child learn to distinguish between good-natured ribbing and true invective. If such names are said in jest or a spirit of camaraderie, they help a child to learn humility and can serve to bind him to a group. When said to wound, like with my daughter, they teach a child how to deal with people of questionable or poor character. In either case, the child is more emotionally resilient and thus better prepared for the rigors of life.

What happens when speech is prohibited? Merely because someone is forbidden to utter something does that changed his attitude? Clearly, it does not. Is it better to know the character of a person with whom you may associate or have it hidden from you? Indeed you are probably wasting your time dealing with someone who is prejudiced against you.

While you cannot always control your feelings, in most cases allowing them to be hurt is a decision you make. Whereas if someone attempts to strike you it may be difficult or impossible to avoid or ward off the blow, you can ignore a rude remark, especially if it is false. A remark that is harsh but true can be reframed as an inspiration to change.

Sticks and stones will break your bones but words will never harm you. Time to write its obituary? For the sake of your and your loved ones' mental fitness, an extension of tenure is in order.

Question – How do you respond to someone who has spoken to you harshly?

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Lesson from Taking Lyrica

When should you break the rules and when should you obey them? It seems being radical is the new norm. To label something as traditional is its death knell. But is this the way to live?

Lesson from Taking Lyrica

About a month ago I awoke to severe back pain. Visits to an urgent care clinic and two emergency rooms did not help so my wife took me to a pain specialist. He prescribed Lyrica, a drug for nerve pain. Even better, he gave us free samples.

Within a day I was feeling better. I finished taking the medication on a Saturday and was looking forward to getting back to exercising. Late that night I started feeling strange and remarked to my wife that this must be what the DTs feel like. She laughed.

Twenty-four hours later I was in severe emotional distress. Some research revealed that Lyrica must be tapered off of slowly. It took a week for me to be able to think calmly, and almost two more weeks for the medication to work its way out of my system to the point where my body could properly regulate temperature.

The funny thing is even if I had been given the finely printed document with all of the warnings I would not have read it.

The rule is: when taking medicine read the warnings. Once you are conversant in how medications work and their side effects you will know when or if you can break this rule. Indeed this is part of being a doctor or nurse.

Of course not everything is as serious as taking medication. Nonetheless, you have to know the rules, inside and out, including why they were instituted. The greatest painters, lawyers, musicians, salespeople, composers, athletes, and filmmakers know this. There is no shortcut to creating this foundational knowledge. Once you know how to play by the rules then you are qualified to decide when they can be broken.

Question – If everyone is rebelling which is rebellious: breaking the rules or following them?

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How to Judge People by Standards

Standards. Are they permanent or variable? Are some the former and others the latter? How should people be held accountable to them? These are not idle philosophical questions. They get to the root of how we view the past and interact in the present.

How to Judge People by Standards


Recently I finished reading several Charlie Chan novels. One of the most famous characters in detective fiction, when I saw the book on sale for $1 I realized I had never read any of the stories or seen the movies. While reading them I kept swinging back and forth between thinking the author, Earl Derr Biggers, was quite enlightened in his attitude toward the Chinese or a racist.

Researching his life, I found that Mr. Biggers was disgusted by the bigotry toward the Chinese in California during the early decades of the 20th century. While vacationing in Hawaii, he decided to write about a Chinese professional, loosely based on a police officer he met there. In the novels, Charlie Chan takes umbrage at overtly racist attitudes by other characters. He bristles at the less obvious ones. Yet at times Mr. Biggers accords to Detective Chan what today can only be characterized as grossly stereotypical behavior.

How do we judge Mr. Biggers and his work? By the standard of his day, Mr. Biggers’s portrayal of a Chinese man was enlightened. It countered the common image of the evil, conniving Chinaman. Yet by our standards, Charlie Chan appears one-dimensional, clichéd. Is it just to hold Mr. Biggers and his writing to a standard that he knew nothing about? Should his laurels be revoked because in today’s world he would not merit such praise? Or can we justify applauding him for his enlightened views on race, perhaps not even footnoting the change in societal standards?

I maintain people should be judged in the context of their own time. Stipulations based on a change of standards should the exception.

In contemporary times the issue is more complex. First, I distinguish between a settled societal standard and a popularly espoused view. Few people would assert that randomly shooting someone to death is acceptable. But what constitutes murder is open to any number of opinions. Next, I decide which viewpoints, though I disagree, fall within an acceptable range. This is tricky since the tendency is to conclude that those who disagree with me fall outside my range. I am challenged to stretch in the interest of civility while not abandoning standards.

Question – How do you decide the standard to which you will hold someone?

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How to Multitask Effectively

Have you been very focused on getting something done when someone calls you or walks into your office with a new task? Do you find yourself feeling pulled in too many directions at once? Have you ever had the feeling that if just one more person adds to your to-do list you will explode? Well, you are multitasking. It stinks, doesn’t it?

How to Multitask Effectively

Like all of us, I struggle with trying to get more done. I have two choices: work longer hours or accomplish more in the time I spend working. If I use the first option someone else, usually my family loses out. For me, that is unacceptable. So I have to complete more tasks in the same amount of time. Here is the rub: I do not want to sacrifice quality.

Multitasking as it is usually understood is a myth. Trying to get two things that require close attention done at the same time is counter-productive. As magnificent as the mind is, it still takes time to shift back and forth between two problems. The primary rule of multitasking: Avoid it if possible. Focus on completing the task at hand then move on.

If you routinely do things that are repetitive or mundane, what Dave Crenshaw calls background tasks, now you have the opportunity to double up.  Here are the steps:

  1. When you plan your day, identify background tasks such as exercising, housework, or walking your dog.
  2. Pair the background task with another one that takes concentration. For example, while doing my stretching and strength exercises I listen to podcasts. I come up with writing topics when I run.
  3. Avoid planning background tasks when you need to be interacting with other people.

What do you do on those days when you lose control of your schedule? I recommend each time you have to change tasks, stop for 15 to 30 seconds, close your eyes, recall a quiet place you love, then continue with your day. Think of it as double-clutching your brain. It will allow you to shift gears more smoothly.

Question – What techniques do you have for more effectively getting things done? Please respond below.

3 Steps to Greater Balance in Your Day

Remember playing on a teeter-totter when you were a kid? If you were bigger than your playmate you had to move forward in order to gain balance. Later in science class, you learned that a larger weight a shorter distance from the fulcrum equates to a lighter weight a longer distance from it. Do you realize that life works the same way?

3 Steps to Greater Balance in Your Day

Recently I was listening to a Michael Hyatt podcast on balancing work and life. He suggested that rather than balance, priority management is the issue because we cannot put equal effort into all things. He misses the point. All activities do not require equal amounts of concentration and effort.

To keep your life in balance you need to maintain a proper mix of tasks. Create a blend so some can be accomplished with relatively short bursts of focused energy (large weight – short distance) while others take longer but do not require such intense focus (light weight – long distance).

For example, when I write a blog post I give myself 70 minutes for writing and editing. I immerse myself, shutting out all possible distractions. But when I work out, I intersperse my exercises with other tasks like checking email that do not require my undivided attention. Running is a time to let my mind wander and generate ideas.

The same concept applies to your life. Short term goals require greater intensity, medium term goals less so, and long-term goals can initially be pursued at a relaxed pace. Here are the steps for balancing your day:

  1. Write down what you need to accomplish in the coming week or month. I keep a running list and revise it each Sunday.
  2. Categorize the week’s tasks as heavy, medium, and light weight, keeping in mind that the deadline by which it has to be done may impact its weight.
  3. Plan your day the night before or first thing in the morning, making sure to schedule a mix of tasks.

Will you achieve perfect balance? Probably not. Some days will be loaded with heavyweight tasks that have to be muscled through. But the greater equilibrium you can bring to your life the closer you will get to that unattainable Zen’ness.

Question – What techniques do you use to bring more balance to your life? Please respond below.

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