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Something wonderful happened last night

I want to share something with you, something wonderful that happened last night. Read on, it’s worth it.

Around 4 pm, the water company turned off the water for the entire city due to emergency repairs. Late at night, they turned it back on but it was full of silt and mud, so we let the faucets run to clear the pipes. I went back to my work and Ligia took Sophie to bed.

About an hour later, I got up from my desk and went to see if the water was clear enough to take a shower. To my surprise, the entire kitchen was flooded with about 1-2 cm of water. The kitchen sink had run over. There I was at 11:15 at night, faced with having to mop up all that water when all I wanted to do was to take a shower and hit the sack.

I got the mop and the bucket and got to work, grumbling to myself about the water company and the sink and the pipes and the dirty water and my luck.

A few minutes later, Sasha (one of our cats) came into the kitchen, stepped right onto the wet floor (you know cats, they avoid water) and started looking at me. She even drank some of it.

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As I looked at her, I was suddenly reminded of one of my favorite cartoons featuring Tom and Jerry, entitled “Mice Follies”, released in 1954. In it, Jerry and Nibbles (his nephew) flooded the kitchen and froze it with the aid of the refrigerator in order to create a skating rink. Tom naturally pursued them, leading to lots of pratfalls, pranks and laughter.

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That wonderful memory of a wonderful cartoon was enough to wipe the slate clean for me. All of a sudden, a late-night disaster was an opportunity to enjoy the moment. My attitude toward it changed completely and I began to enjoy mopping up all that water. I half expected Jerry and Nibbles to tiptoe into the kitchen holding a couple of refrigerator wires in hand, ready to freeze it.

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It took about 45 minutes to get all the water mopped up. All of the cats joined me by the end, entranced by the circular movements of the mop through the water. I even started a roaring fire in the kitchen stove to keep me company. I had a blast and went to bed with a smile on my face.

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Isn’t it amazing how differently we can perceive the same event if our attitude toward it changes? We can complain and grumble or we can smile and enjoy ourselves thoroughly doing the very same thing. And of course it helps if we also love Tom and Jerry cartoons!

Introducing “The Elegant Gentleman”

I’d like to present a new project of mine, something that I’ve been thinking about and planning for a while. It’s called “The Elegant Gentleman”, and it’s going to be a journey on which I’ll hope you’ll join me, where we will explore clothes, manners and the finer things in life, in the search for a noble, enlightened existence as gentle-men, in this modern world of ours where stress and busy-ness seem to dominate the lives of those around us.

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Naturally, we won’t have an enlightened existence without the inner search for higher ideals. A preoccupation with “the finer things” alone will leave you empty in the end. But the practice and appreciation of character traits that ennoble us, and the search for meaning and happiness in the world around us, will make us enlightened. And I’ll tell you a little secret: when the search begins within and reaches outside, those “finer things” will begin to have a meaning that enriches our lives and helps us stay on a higher plane of living.

This all sounds somewhat esoteric, and on some level, it is. That’s why there are so few true gentlemen in the world. So won’t you join me as we seek membership in this exclusive club? The journey will be the initiation ceremony. The dues will be the experiences we will each have. And the reward will be a life better lived, a life worth living, a life full of wonderful memories for us and for those around us.

I’ll be creating and posting videos to my YouTube channel. Here’s the first one of the series:

And I’ll be posting frequently on my Facebook Page, and writing articles here on my site, where I’ve added a new category, called… you guessed it, “The Elegant Gentleman“. There’s even a website by the same name.

See you soon! Cheers!

What if money was no object?

That is a question every single one of us should ask ourselves, as early as possible in life, ideally when we’re still in school. It’s not too late for you now if you’re out of school. It’s just that it’s so important, you should do it as soon as possible. Asking it makes you aware of yourself; it raises you out of the dull routine of supposed life and supposed work that you thought you ought to be doing and opens your eyes to the possibilities that are out there. You’d be surprised how much of what we consider reality is just supposition — a matter of perception.

So, what if money was no object? What if income became irrelevant? What would you do with your life? Would you be willing to sacrifice a life of supposed luxury to pursue what you really love to do? It doesn’t have to be a permanent sacrifice, you know… It need only be for a while, until you get so good at what you do that the income will come automatically.

You only have one life to live, remember that, and for most people, it’s not that long. What would you do? Don’t you want your life to be fantastic? Don’t you want it to be amazing? I do. I want my life and Ligia’s life to be fantastic and amazing and spectacular and I hope that others want the same thing for themselves. We sacrificed a lot to be where we are today and yes, the effort was and is worth it, because we’re doing what we love.

As I was thinking about this tonight, a video appeared in my news reader, a video which talks about this very thing. Coincidence? I think not; we make our own fortunes.

Watch it and then take at least a few minutes (a few hours is better) to think about your life. What do you or did you want to do with your life? Are you doing it? Why not?

If you’re a parent, think about the life of your children. What are you pushing your children to do? Is it really worth it to impose yourself on them, only to have them blame you and avoid you later in life, when they discover they’ve been pushed down a path they didn’t really want? Do you want them to accuse you of manipulating them? There’s a thin line between guidance and dictatorial control when you’re a parent, and so many parents cross it…

The video is courtesy of the TragedyandHope channel on YouTube and it came to me via Likecool.

These modern times

We live in some interesting times, don’t we?

We’re more than happy to share private information with all kinds of strangers online, but we can’t be bothered to share our private thoughts with our spouses. Too busy for that… It’s no wonder the divorce rate keeps increasing.

We talk (a lot) but we don’t listen.

We know how to eat right, but we still eat crap.

We know how to exercise, but we’re getting flabbier and fatter.

We have access to more information than ever before, yet individually, we know less than ever. Our ability to condense the avalanche of information into knowledge is decreasing, because we’re more focused on quantity than quality. We read tons of articles every day, but we’ve lost the art of enjoying a single good article and thinking about what we’ve read.

We know exactly what we’re doing that’s hurting the environment, and instead of changing, we move our factories to developing countries, where no one cares (yet).

We can be entertained in more ways than ever thought possible. We can have incredible amounts of fun, yet most of us will admit to having little fun in their lives. Everything seems empty to some.

We know how to de-stress, but we don’t do it.

We know how to de-clutter, but we continue to accumulate more stuff.

We know how to be more efficient, but we continue to waste.

We have the manual, but we don’t RT*M.

We know when we need to grow up, but we continue to be immature just the same.

We know what meaningful work means, and we’ve heard of focusing on the task at hand, but we prefer to whittle away the hours on meaningless tasks that could be postponed or avoided.

We know we have innate abilities that make each of us special, but we don’t pursue the development of those hidden talents. Instead, we dream about what would happen if we did.

Our lives could be so much richer, individually and collectively, if we only did what we already know to be right and true.

Anger is just not worth the trouble

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I’ve recently written about how to respond effectively to stressful situations, and now it’s time to write about how to respond effectively to anger.

One thing most of us do battle with each and every day is our temper. We encounter a situation that pushes our buttons just the right way, and wouldn’t you know it, we’re angry again, in spite of our best intentions!

In recent weeks, a number of realizations dawned on me, all of which have been leading me to this conclusion: the easiest way to deal with anger is to let go of it. Regardless what some may say, there are no constructive ways to handle anger; there is no healthy way to channel it, or to use it as a motivator for something else.

Anger toward someone or something hurts you more than it could ever hurt that person or thing or situation, or whatever the case may be. If your body is a living vessel, then anger is a poison that fills it up and slowly eats up its walls. It weakens you, it makes everything taste bad, look bad and feel bad. It not only makes your life miserable, it also shortens it.

Life is already too short as it is. Why waste even a single minute on anger? It doesn’t solve problems. Many times, it compounds them. When the situation could be solved much better by cooler heads, getting angry only makes things worse and eliminates a quick, efficient solution.

One of my defenses has been that my anger is oftentimes righteous. Why I mean by that is I believe I’m justified in getting angry with someone because he or she wronged me, or because the situation warranted it (perhaps it was idiotic or illogical). Unfortunately, life is full of such people or situations, so my days are often punctuated by episodes of anger. When there’s always a fire inside, one that usually smolders, but often burns, it ends up taking precious energy away from useful pursuits and leaves me spent at the end of the day.

What’s more, even in cases where the other person fully provokes me and I’m entitled to get good and angry, what I’ve discovered is that it’s not worth it. The desire for retaliation, or revenge, or for making things right, or for punishing the other person in some way, is more damaging to me than their crime, whether it be theft, or lies, or who knows what. Another thing that I’ve discovered is that life will deal with them in good time, and they’ll get a far more painful and fitting punishment than anything I could have done to them.

The thing is, everyone pays for what they’ve done, in one way or another, and they pay for it in this life, sooner or later. The more I live, the more I realize how true that is, because I’ve felt it on my own skin. I’ve paid plenty for some mistakes I made in the past, I’ll be paying for others in the future, and so will those people that have wronged me. I don’t need to do anything. They’ll all get what’s coming to them. We’ll all get what’s coming to each of us, and you can take that to the bank.

So, the best way to deal with anger is to simply let go of it. It’s a conscious decision that takes only a little willpower. Just take a deep breath, then as you breathe out, imagine that anger exiting your body. Let go of it. Let it evaporate away, and focus on the good things in life.

Each day is so short, and our time with our loved ones is so brief, that we must do all we can to use our time wisely. If we don’t, then we’re wronging them, and we’re wronging ourselves, and yes, we’ll pay for that, too.

One way to respond to stress

I was reminded today of something I’ve known for a long time, something that still hasn’t become second nature to me. I was faced with stressors, and how I chose to respond to those stressors determined my mood and milieu for the rest of the day. On a long-term basis, the sum of all these responses determines how my body will look. Scary, isn’t it?

Hence, a rule I will try to keep in my mind at all times: my response to stress is determined by my attitude, which in turn determines how my body feels and looks afterward.

There have been countless times in the past when my attitude toward a stressful situation caused me pain (anger, headaches, malaise, arguments), and yet, today, and a few other times, a simple switch in the way I chose to perceive the situation (it wasn’t even a complete 180° turnaround, just a different way of looking at the problem) allowed me to roll with the punches and go right on with my business. Instead of being stumped by stress, I overcame it and that allowed me to be productive and avoid feeling ill.

I remember my dad telling me about attitude more than a decade ago, when I was in college, but as a wise man once said, college is wasted on youth. It didn’t stick then, and it’s still not sticking. Sure, it sounds nice and you and I agree with this stuff (I bet you’re nodding your head right now) but until you bang your head against the wall a few hundred/thousand times, you don’t get to learn this lesson.

The simple heart of the matter is that I can look and feel like this…

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… or I can look and feel like this.

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I’ll take the latter any time, because I know the costs involved with the former state.