Crawl or Fly

Time flies when you're having fun, and time crawls when you're not having fun.

Think about how long an hour feels when you're stuck at a desk doing less-than-exciting things, just waiting for the clock to reach the time when you're permitted to do something you love.

It stands to reason that if we could have fun during unenjoyable activities, we'd theoretically be able to fast forward through them.

For example, I'm teaching karate camp this week, which means six hours of the same twenty kids every day, which means I need an endless supply of patience and emotional strength. It would be very easy to wake up miserable every morning, watch the minutes tick by, and only think about how great it's going to feel when the day is over.

But thinking that way actually makes the day feel slower. If I try to make the best of it, the day goes by faster, which makes the experience itself less miserable and—because time flies when you're having fun—it makes 3 PM arrive sooner rather than later.

If I was sitting at a desk all day, I'd want to make it as enjoyable as possible: keep the area clutter-free, buy some decent speakers to listen to music, and maybe add something to my desk that makes me smile when I look at it.

The point is that the quality of our experience during times we don't enjoy is entirely dependent on our ability to make the best of them. So when I wake up in just a few short hours to spend yet another day teaching the same rambunctious kids, I have to decide whether I want to make the day fly or crawl.

It's up to me, and to you.

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Not Eating Cookies is Harder When You're Tired

If you read the site yesterday, you know all about my awesome Saturday. What you probably don't know is that when I got home at almost three in the morning, I enjoyed a package of Chewy Chips Ahoy! and some Phish Food courtesy of Messrs. Ben & Jerry.

Which is ridiculous, given the amount of food I consumed throughout the day.

But as I sat there on the couch — possibly making little ice cream cookie sandwiches — I realized that the reason I couldn't help myself was because I was so incredibly exhausted.

I have very little willpower when I'm exhausted.

I could have fallen asleep immediately had I just gone upstairs. But my sleep-deprived brain decided that cookies and ice cream sounded like a much better plan, and I was powerless to argue. I knew it was a terrible idea, but I literally didn't have the strength to say no to myself.

Of course, this speaks to the importance of sleep, but there's also a bit more to it.

Here's an article by Tony Schwartz called "The Only Way to Get Important Things Done":

It turns out we each have one reservoir of will and discipline, and it gets progressively depleted by any act of conscious self-regulation. In other words, if you spend energy trying to resist a fragrant chocolate chip cookie, you'll have less energy left over to solve a difficult problem. Will and discipline decline inexorably as the day wears on.

"Acts of choice," the brilliant researcher Roy Baumeister and his colleagues have concluded, "draw on the same limited resource used for self-control." That's especially so in a world filled more than ever with potential temptations, distractions and sources of immediate gratification.

Via Shawn Blanc

So not only are we less equipped to make good decisions when we're tired, we're less equipped to make good decisions after we've already made a bunch of decisions. And because those two variables tend to coincide at the end of the day, it's no wonder the glow of the refrigerator always seems most tempting after midnight.

The solution?

Get your sleep, and automate as many decisions as possible so you don't have to think about them anymore.

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The Futility of Grudges

Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.
Oscar Wilde

I’m terrible at staying mad at people.

No matter how hard I try, my anger rarely lasts for more than a few hours, let alone an entire day.

I just don’t have the strength.

And why would I want to? Why would I want to walk around carrying all of that anger, hatred, and jealousy in my head all day?

I’ve known people who seem to flaunt their grudges like badges of honor. “So-and-so made fun of me in middle school, and now she’s my mortal enemy.”

I don’t get it. What’s the point? Why waste your time and energy being mad at someone for something that happened years ago? Months ago? Yesterday?

Why choose to promote negative energy?

Staying mad at someone is hard work. I have to constantly remind myself why I’m angry over and over again. That takes mental and emotional energy. It’s exhausting.

And what do I have to gain? The satisfaction of knowing that my enemy knows I’m angry at him?

Holding a grudge means I’ve become attached to the notion that I was right and he was wrong. I believe it so strongly that I’m willing to devote a portion of my brain to preserving that altercation. To preserving negativity.

It’s not worth it.

I can’t control what someone thinks of me. But, I can control how my mind deals with their opinion. If their opinion is valuable — regardless of whether it’s positive or negative — I can choose to learn from it. That’s constructive criticism. But, if their opinion is not valuable, I can choose to transcend it.

If someone has an irrational problem with me, it’s not my problem. It’s their problem. And their problem isn’t really with me; it’s with themselves. They’re projecting their own self-hatred onto me. It’s unfortunate, but not something I should worry about. I wish them the best in their struggle.

When it comes to grudges, life really is too short to spend it preserving anger and hate. The world has enough of that. Do not be a source of negative energy.

Let go.


Be free.

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Emotionally Responsible

Randy Murray in Emotionally Contagious:

Your emotions can and will carry over to the others that surround you. And theirs to you. Be aware of it. Your anger and frustration will breed it in others. Don’t contaminate your friends and family with it. If you sneezed, you’d cover your mouth. Do the same thing for your negative emotions. It won’t do you any good to blast your anger all around you. And it will do others harm.

I like this a lot.

As far as our planet is concerned, we are in charge. No corporeal creature reigns over human beings here. It’s just us. When we look around, so much of the world is the result of our actions. Buildings. Cars. Money. These are things not found in nature. They are here because we put them here.

We decided so much, and I’m not sure it’s all in our best interest. We decided we needed to work eight hours a day. We decided college needed to cost tens of thousands of dollars. We decided big houses and fancy cars are symbols of success. Things are the way they are because we made it so.

I’m reminded of this quote by Steve Jobs (see the video here):

When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is, and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money.

That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact. And that is, everything around you that you call “life” was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.

Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.

I like to think that we are responsible not just for the buildings and cars, but also for the energy our planet exudes. That is, the “life” we made up includes everything from physical inventions to our own emotions. We are responsible for all of it.

If we assume an Earth without human beings is a world that exists in a state of natural harmony in accordance with the rest of the universe, then we, as the most sentient of creatures, are responsible for the continuation or disruption of that harmony. We produce not only physical creations, but also metaphysical energy in the form of emotions. Joy. Hatred. Humor. Jealousy. Malice. Pride. These are the byproducts of humanity. Negative energy exists because we allow it to exist. Because we create it. When we choose to fight and compete with one another, we choose to contribute negative energy to the universe. We project it onto each other and off into space.

Like Randy says, emotion — and therefore, energy — is contagious. A healthy person can become ill by being around sick people, but who says a sick person can’t feel better by being surrounded by healthy people? Similarly, enough negativity can drag down even the best of spirits. Why can’t the reverse be true?

Attempting to alter the entire universe’s energy is too big a task for a single person. Our personal energies and emotions, however, are entirely within our control. I’ll worry about me, and you worry about you.

The universe’s collective energy is a matter of individual responsibility.

We each must ask ourselves, “What kind of energy will I project out into the universe today?”