There are things buzzing around my little environment right now that are frustrating since I do not know how I can ease them into a less volatile state. I am sure you go through similar circumstances from time to time. It’s all part of the process of living…and living with others.
There are two books that I always recommend that people read if they want to get some help, some guidelines if you will, to get through life. They are Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and Robert Fulghum’s All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Both of these books have been around for a good number of years, each having sold a gazillion copies. This alone is testimony to the timeless and highly insightful advice they offer.
Covey’s book, when I read it back in the late 80s, actually motivated me, at age 47, to go back to school and get an MBA…while working full-time in a pretty heady job. It wasn’t easy, but it was a true learning experience. For two years, I had to give up sleeping and just about everything else in my daily routine in order to meet the demands of both school and work. My wife, meanwhile, had to pick up just about all my share of the household chores and errand-running. Think of it: two years of really dig-in sacrifice on both our parts simply because I had read and reacted to a book.
Getting back to the state of volatility that whirls around my environment right now, I have thought about my own bullet list of guidelines that people, especially younger people, might adopt to get through the “stuff” we all have to deal with from time to time. This is “sage” stuff. It didn’t come to me in a dream or a bolt of lightning. It took years to accumulate the failures, mistakes and mishaps that formulated my list. So, off the top of my head, here are some of my “habits” that I wish I had developed at a much earlier age:
- Manage well that which you control. If you don’t control it, give it up because you have no influence in changing it. This is not my original advice. It’s been around for a long time. It was the favorite saying of a boss I used to have and over the years I have learned how accurate it is. There is a natural tendency for us, especially parents, to take charge, handle, guide or otherwise manipulate our environment and those who reside in it. Beyond the basics of safety and wellbeing, give it up.
- There is no such thing as common sense. “Common” to me means just that—spot-on identical to all. Not everyone, in fact probably no one, thinks exactly as you do. There is nothing common about the way human beings act. Perhaps on the surface it appears that way, but most of our “commonalities” are derived from rules and regulations. Traffic rules are a good example and even those are not always perceived as common sense. But take the concept of common sense someplace more radical, say to the Middle East where conflict and differences in thinking have perpetuated a hatred resulting in an endless war that has existed since I was a young child reading about it in my third-grade Weekly Reader. In fact, it goes much further back than that. If we all thought similarly, or more “commonly,” imagine how much more pleasant the world would be. There is nothing common about hatred, ruthless treatment to others and disregard for human life.
- Neatness Counts. Orderliness is necessary. Okay, I know lots of people are slobs and are disrespectful of others and the environment we all share, whether it’s the home we live in or the earth we walk on. If we allow these people to have their way, disease and conflict, rape and pillage with eventually obliterate us.
- Learn how a thermostat works. It will not only make the temperature consistently pleasant, it will help you get through life. I’ve written a posting on this topic. Few people know how to work a thermostat. They usually jerk it way up or way down depending how cold or hot they are. They do not approach setting the thermostat in the increment of individual degrees—one at a time. Going to the extreme in either direction will eventually lead to a subsequent readjustment because when the extreme is met it is either too cold or too hot. ‘Tis best to take things one degree at a time until they have reached a permanently comfortable state. The concept goes well beyond the thermostat on the wall.
- Chew before you swallow or spit it out. This is the basic concept of stop and think before you react. Too many of us never chew. Man of us are more apt to explode or implode the minute we are attacked by someone or something we object to. Often, the reaction only worsens the circumstances, heightens the conflict and enrages the rage–especially when things are found not to be as they originally appeared. Take a moment or “punt” as I like to say.
I’ve got more, but that’s enough for one day’s gulp. I like to wallow in my mistakes and give them time to ferment and grow mold. Then I extract from the goo some kind of meaningful learning experience. Too bad this process takes so long to happen. I should be grateful it at least happens…for some of us, it never does.