What’s The Rush?

I don’t know of too many people who wake up in the morning yearning to take their spot in the rush-hour commute. There are a few occasions where some people are determined to show the very worst side of their personality, and that one ranks at the top of the list. Can I get an amen?

And, other than an accident that ties up traffic even worse, few things can ruin the morning commute more than rain. Anything more than a sprinkle is enough to do the job, but a downpour is a special kind of messed up. Wipers blazing, puddles in the worst possible places, and people driving like the green flag just dropped at Daytona. That describes my commute yesterday.

I’ve often wondered what goes through a person’s mind to make them drive just as fast as they can, weaving in and out of cars that are at least trying to maintain a safe distance, on days when every instinct and everything they were taught in driver’s education tells them it’s about as dangerous as a coiled-up rattlesnake. “It’s raining! I need to hurry up and get there!!!”

I usually say a silent prayer that they’ll get where they’re going in one piece, and without taking anybody else out along the way. Because that’s usually how it happens. The accident they cause is behind them, and they race on oblivious to the mess they just caused.

It makes you wonder, are these people even half as energetic when they get to work? Do they approach their whole day with an equal sense of purpose and urgency, determined to outdo everyone around them? Or are they the ones sitting in the bathroom stall for a half-hour reading the newspaper, right before they clock out to take a break? We may never know.

In his 1974 song, Mac Davis reminded us all that it’s important to “stop and smell the roses along the way.” And, given the hectic pace in which most of us are forced to live, I can’t think of a more befitting sentiment. Sure, we need to get things done. But we miss a lot of the world’s beauty when our eyes are only fixed on that car in front of us.

Okay, I’m not suggesting we should take our eyes off the car in front of us. But you get the point. It’s easy to get tunnel vision, so short-focused that we never see the wonder around us. The baby calf in the pasture, the eagle perched in a dead tree, the snowman carefully crafted a day earlier, or the toddler lovingly waving goodbye to an older sibling.

It’s easy to see our world as a challenge to be conquered, full of people who are determined to get in our way. That guy in the left lane who’s only going five miles per hour over the speed limit. The person you have to reach around to get a can of corn off the grocery store shelf. Or the child who won’t stop crying when it should be obvious to the whole world you’ve got a headache.

But it’s just as easy to take a step back and enjoy those same situations. Instead of lamenting heavy traffic, turn up the radio and sing along. If you can’t race through the grocery store, take a little time to read some labels and find healthier alternatives. And when a child is crying, think of the innocence of youth. Try to remember a similar time in your own life.

It’s all about perspective. George Carlin once said the same words that hurt can heal. It’s that way with just about anything in life. Even the deadly venom of a rattlesnake can be used to make blood-thinning medicines that can lower blood pressure and prevent stroke. Now, I don’t suggest petting one, but they do have a purpose in our world. So does everything and everyone around us.

When the pace of life starts raising your stress level, slow down and take a deep breath. Take a moment to enjoy the world around you. Smile a little. Wave somebody else into traffic in front of you. It’s therapeutic – try it sometime. And when the jerk behind you starts blowing his horn, just wave and wish him a better day. You may get the finger in return, but that’s on him, not you.

When we take time to smell the roses, we find another level of existence. We find enjoyment in things that once were a source of irritation. We make new friends. We find new paths and enjoy new scenery. But most importantly of all, we enjoy this journey a lot more, and maybe even help those around us to do the same. That, my friends, is living.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Think Happy, Be Happy

Yesterday at work, I was asked to help a new teammate get some things set up on her computer and show her how to navigate some of the programs and collaboration sites we use. Having just come back from five weeks of convalescent leave, it was a good refresher for me as well. You know the old phrase – use it or lose it.

I was able to get her pointed in the right direction, but I have little doubt she walked away thinking, “He’s certainly no expert.” Okay, no argument here. But I remember the first few days on the job, feeling completely lost, and how grateful I was for any help at all. And as we begin using what we’ve learned, it’s easy to find those areas where we still need a little more help.

One of life’s greatest truths is that we never stop learning. Hopefully we’re learning something useful, but as long as our brain is accepting input, all of that input is stored away for future use. Not some of it, or even most of it … all of it. So, it’s important to be careful what goes in. If you seek knowledge from unreliable sources, that’s pretty much what you can expect in return.

As a technical writer, I had a sign over my desk – “Garbage in, gospel out.” It was a constant reminder that, to the person on the receiving end of my work, it was their primary source of truth. If I told them to torque a set of bolts down to 22 foot-pounds in a certain sequence, they did it without question. And, since I was writing aircraft maintenance manuals, there was a lot at stake.

The same is true when we’re talking to family, friends, and co-workers about pretty much anything. Everything they say goes in the ears, and right straight to the brain. There’s no filter and no fact-checker – just a straight path to the part of our brain that stores information for later recall. And, much like a computer, the brain will spit that information back out exactly as it went in.

Yet sometimes, the information we’re receiving may contradict something that’s already stored in the brain. Maybe we have an opinion of our own, or something we’ve experienced in the past suggests another reality. So, the brain has to sift through those thoughts and combine it all together. At that point, the best we can hope for is a plausible average.

And that’s okay, if your goal in life is to be average. But if you want to step it up a notch, you have to actively seek out information that raises the average. You need more of the good, and less of the bad. Keep doing that, and all that garbage starts getting pushed to the bottom. Then, when you need to tap into your bank of knowledge, your brain will pull the good stuff from the top.

And you can’t find that positive input in negative situations. There’s a reason a lot of companies will simply let an employee go when they resign, instead of letting them hang around another two weeks. Because misery loves company, and people are only too happy to share their “wisdom” with anybody who will listen. Before long, several others are questioning their own satisfaction.

But people love sharing their successes as well. Have you ever seen a woman wear an engagement ring at work for a week before anybody notices? Never. You’ll know as soon as she walks into the office, because she’ll be showing it off to everybody she knows. And, for good reason. That is definitely something to celebrate.

Hang around happy people, and after a while your brain starts to produce happy thoughts. Hang around successful people and you start thinking like a successful person. Sure, there will be some who question your motives or make a few unflattering assumptions regarding the color of your nose. But whose opinion counts the most? Theirs, or the person you’re hoping to emulate?

Fill your brain with positive thoughts. Read some inspirational books, listen to some motivational speakers, and spend a little more time with people who are achieving their dreams. That doesn’t mean you can’t hang around your old friends. But, if they’re not raising the average of positivity in your brain, spend more time with people who do.

You can’t plant weeds and expect to grow roses. And, even when you’ve planted the best seeds, you still have to nurture them on a regular basis if you want to produce something of beauty. The weeds will always be there, doing their level best to take over. It’s a constant struggle, but if you keep your focus on the good, sooner or later it’ll rise to the top. It always does.

That’s all for now. Be safe and have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved