What Exercise Teaches Us

TrailRunning

When we are forced to focus, we actually clear and calm our minds, which is the fundamental discipline of meditation. So, when this ‘focus’ happens during exercise, whether you realize it or not, you are actually experiencing moments of meditation. And, as documented by hundreds of books, experts and web sources, meditation is VERY healthy (link to one of the many documented meditation benefits given below).   Many sports including cycling, trail running, mountain biking, water skiing, snow skiing, snowboarding, surfing (and others) are ways that we calm our minds without even trying. Here’s why… Read More »

Picking Battles

29864348 - discussion between guy and girl over gray background

Aligned with some of the thinking in a previous blog called Don’t Engage (https://smartersooner.com/2016/06/03/dont-engage/), this blog suggests a very important strategy when dealing with conflict among friends, family and significant others. It’s called “Picking your Battles” and the name conveys it all. Picking your Battles simply means that one should carefully think about which ‘conflicts’ are worth arguing.  In other words, if you subscribe to ‘picking your battles’, you’ll only argue, challenge or otherwise ‘dig in’ when it’s a truly important matter. At first glance (in the heat of the moment) lots of things may seem substantial enough to justify arguing, but if you wait a few minutes and really consider it, you’ll often realize that it’s just smarter to keep quiet and move on. There are lots of reasons to be conscious of this. First and foremost, people who argue about ‘every little detail’ (or always have something to say) are annoying and taken less seriously. These people can aggravate their friends and family, and waste a lot energy in the process. Conversely, people who are very selective about their arguments and statements, are much more likely to be acknowledged when they do, in fact, make an argument or have something to day. The Smarter Sooner strategy is obvious here!

In the normal course of a relationship with friends, family and significant others, we can all find lots of things that we don’t necessarily agree with or otherwise have varying opinions about. These can be big and little things. If you made a point to correct or argue each and every issue, it would be quite tiresome and likely a waste of time. So many things will transpire in the exact same manner whether you choose to say something about it or not. On the other hand, if you’re generally more tolerant and only speak up when absolutely necessary, your words will have much more impact.  Remember, you’re not put on this earth to police people.

My brother-in-law talked about this a long time ago in relation to his marriage to my sister. I’ve not forgotten it and witnessed his behavior accordingly on a number of occasions. At the beginning of his marriage to my sister, he very frankly said, “I pick my battles because it’s definitely not worth arguing about everything.” That resonated with me and later occurred me to me as being VERY mature (he was being Smarter Sooner!). Finding it a waste of time and energy (and generally unnecessary) to have something to say all the time, he carefully picks his battles. When something TRULY is upsetting to him, he brings it up and my sister is much more likely to listen. My sister has a strong personality and my brother-in-law reads the room well. We all have our threshold for being instructed, ‘barked at’, etc. Think how this applies in so many different circumstances, including in the car when somebody is backseat driving. Backseat driving only really gets annoying when that person has something to say ALL THE TIME even when it’s really unnecessary. When the ‘back seat driver’ is being selective, he’s not annoying and his commentary is likely well-received.

The person who is SmarterSooner is thoughtful about how much or little he engages in arguments, instructing others, etc. Less is definitely more in these circumstances. Try taking a deep breath and being quiet next time you feel compelled to ‘say something’. I guarantee it will be soothing to just observe without saying anything.

Point of Diminishing Returns

53891816 - an illustration of downward trend or diminishing return

The best and, in many cases, the most common Point of Diminishing Return happens as the evening gets later when you’re at a bar, party or club. We’ve all experienced this… we are out for an evening on the town having a great time, drinking and socializing. The music is loud, the drinks are flowing fast, but it’s getting later and you’re getting tired. You’ve had a few drinks at this point and you’re feeling good and have had a nice night with your friends (meeting new people, whatever). At some point as the evening goes on, the quality of the evening hits a peak, plateaus and then starts descending / deteriorating. The point at which the night starts getting worse is the exact Point of Diminishing Returns, where the ‘returns’ or ‘gains’ for the evening start evaporating.Read More »

Key to Success: Be an Expert

expertSimply put, becoming a true expert in your field will increase your success. It’s a fact, but it’s something that I didn’t learn until much later.   No matter what you do, the more expertise you have, the more successful you will be.

Think about any successful people you know. Their success is most likely directly associated with their knowledge, familiarity and fluency with their line of work. The better your skills and the more knowledge you have, the more valuable you are in the workplace. Employers know the difference between those people who simply try to coast through versus those who are genuinely applying themselves. Just like in sports, you can be a player like everyone else, or you can be the MVP.

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Moderation & the 80/20 Rule

 

moderationEpicurus (the philosopher) brilliantly once said, “Be moderate in order to taste the joys of life in abundance.” What Epicurus is saying is that by doing things in moderation, we won’t (likely) ever have to exclude ourselves from things that give us joy.   If we stop for a minute and think, we all would agree that doing things in moderation (e.g. not “overdoing it”) is smarter and more sustainable in one’s life. The key is to remember this and apply the required discipline sooner than later.

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The 24-hour Rule

24_hours

In the heat of the moment when you’re upset about something, it’s easy to do things that you might regret. This is a simple concept and most people realize this… but this is an important reminder to really apply discipline here. When emotions are inflamed, nobody thinks very clearly and behavior can be erratic. So, if at all possible, take a deep breath and wait as close to 24-hours as you can before responding / reacting. You’re response may be an email, a phone call or a direct confrontation with somebody – whatever it is, 9 times out of 10, it can wait. Obviously, 24 hours is a target time period because you can technically ‘sleep on it’, but the point is to take some period of time to pause and calm down before reacting (and likely doing something you might regret).

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