Take a Breather – You’ve Earned It!

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a great start.

Those of you who have been with me for a while know I try to be an upbeat person who can find the good in just about any situation. I’ve always believed life is what we make of it, and if we choose to focus on the positive, we’ll get a little extra bounce in our step and find more reasons to smile. And let me tell you, it sure beats wallowing in the negativity that is just looking for a chance to sneak in.

But lately, it seems I’ve allowed that negativity to take a more prominent place in my mind. I find myself letting little things get under my skin more than normal, to the point that I don’t really even notice it. And I guess it’s starting to show. Several times lately, my wife has suggested I should go back and read a little more of what I’ve written each day. Ouch!

It can happen to any of us. Positivity isn’t something that comes naturally. It has to be practiced, sometimes with a conscious effort, in order to become a habit. That’s the way habits work. Negativity, on the other hand, doesn’t take much effort. If you pull the plug out of a sink, the water will drain out and air will take its place, because nature seeks to fill a void. Let the positive thoughts slip away, and negativity will rise to the surface.

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned signs of stress. We all like to think we can handle stress. Some folks even brag about it. “I thrive on stress!” No, you don’t. You may think you do, but the reality is stress erodes away your spirit until there’s no room left for anything but more stress. And along with stress comes the inability to enjoy life’s little treasures. Positivity out, negativity in. Just like clockwork.

Well, in a conference call yesterday afternoon, I was asked a simple question, and I gave a simple answer. No big deal. Twenty seconds later, another person on the call sent me a text message … “You sound happy!” Wow. I had to think back to what I’d said, and still didn’t realize it came off a bit abrupt. The next message was a little more direct. “You need a vacation.”

It’s easy to get so caught up in everyday life that we forget to slow down and enjoy everyday life. There are jobs to be done, bills to pay, people to see, things to fix, walls to paint, grass to mow, stores to shop, oil to change, trash to take out, and all those hundreds of little things that consume our day. At some point, we need to take a step back and say, “TIME OUT!”

And you know the answer most people give when you suggest that? “I can’t take time off … I’m too busy!” In the immortal words of astronaut Jim Lovell, Houston, we have a problem! It’s like saying you can’t go to sleep because you’re too tired. Trust me, you WILL go to sleep. It just may not happen exactly when or where you choose.

We all like to think nobody is quite as busy as we are. We wear it like a badge of honor. Because, if we’re busy, it means we’re productive. We’re getting things done. The world depends on us every day for its very existence, and we’re not about to let the world down. Sound familiar?

But sooner or later, your body and mind go off in a corner to chat behind your back, and when they come out, they have one word for you … enough! It’s time for a break. And if you don’t take one voluntarily, your body will find a way to make you do it. Now, let me ask you, which sounds more appealing? A week on the beach, or a week in bed wishing you were on the beach?

We’re raised to believe life is about working hard and getting ahead. And there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as we remember that life is also about taking time to smell the roses. It’s about dropping everything to enjoy what we’ve worked so hard to build. It’s about family, and dancing, and laughter. And if you dance like me, those last two come as a package deal.

When it’s time to work, give it your best effort. If you have to be there anyway, make it count. But know when it’s time to step away and give yourself a break. If you’re waiting for a “good” time to take off, forget it. Put something on the calendar and let it be known that you’ll be doing something else during that time. You’ll be happier, and so will everyone around you.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

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