The care of our bodies

In this follow-up to my post entitled “Stewardship or possession“, I talk about the care of our bodies, which in a way are our ultimate possessions. How do we and how should we regard and care for our bodies? We each only get one body during our lifetimes. How do we want to spend our last years of life? As invalids, caught in a painful, dreary existence or as vibrant individuals who are still able to move around, spend meaningful time with others and travel to see the world?

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Stewardship or possession?

What’s the healthier, saner way to view that which have or enjoy?

Should you regard it as a possession or should you see yourself as a steward of it? What’s the better long-term approach to these matters? Join me for a (non-religious) discussion of the subject in this video. I’ll talk about various topics related directly to this subject, such as the relationship between husband and wife, one’s home, business and other “possessions”, such as cars, furniture, clothes, etc.

I hope this helps you!

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!

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.

Why are challenges a challenge?

I suppose they wouldn’t be called challenges otherwise, right? So how do we tackle them? What makes them so… challenging? Methinks it has to do with the things I’m about to write. They’re not groundbreaking, and I don’t think they’re new, but they’re worth stating.

First, we should remember that our attitude determines our altitude. Don’t know who said this, but it holds true here. How we perceive a challenge, whatever it might be, determines how we deal with it. Is it insurmountable? Do we think it is? Then we’ll cower before it and procrastinate till we absolutely can’t procrastinate anymore. And then, we’ll put out a mediocre, last-minute, so-called solution to the challenge that faced us. We’ll hope it’s good enough, and keep our heads low so we don’t meet with such challenges again. Or worse, we’ll give up. We’ll avoid it. We’ll call it quits.

Or do we find it an easy task? Great, then we’ll get right to work on it, till we get stuck, and all of a sudden, that small challenge starts growing before our eyes. The more stuck we get at whatever phase we are in our progress, the more scary the challenge becomes. If there’s a deadline looming, things get worse. All of a sudden, it’s insurmountable. It’s there that we face a choice. Do we move forward and get over that obstacle, or do we do what I outlined in the paragraph above? Most people opt for the “so-called solution”. Of course, others move right past that obstacle. They find a way, and they complete what they set out to do. We call them winners. I suppose we could call the others wieners, at the expense of offending them…

So what is it that separates the winner from the wiener? (I love saying that…) I don’t think it’s just innate ability, although that plays a part. The thing is, all of us have different gifts, and while we may be great at some things, we’re not so good at others. So what stumps us may be a piece of cake for the next fellow. What’s more, that means that we’ve all been winners AND wieners, so there’s no reason for anyone to feel offended. I think we can all think of times when we met with success, and times when we failed… or we put out the “so-called solution” and got by, but felt we could have done much better. I think what separates us is the ability (and this is not innate, but learned) to step back and look at things in a different light when we’re faced with an obstacle. It doesn’t mean we’ll necessarily come up with the solution, but it means we’ll give it another go, with a different mindset. It may mean we call for help, or we try a different method, or we go back to the drawing board — the specifics of what we do are different for each challenge. The point is, we don’t quit, we persevere.

What also helps is breaking down each challenge into bite-sized morsels. I actually can’t stress this enough, because it goes back to what I wrote in the second paragraph above. This directly affects our attitude, which then all but determines our success. I’ve found time and time again that if we take the time to plan something carefully and break it down into small steps, while that challenge may be huge, it becomes achievable and much less intimidating. I wrote “morsels” before because each step should feel like a small achievement, a victory, a reward that we can give ourselves. Feel free to do a little dance if you wish when you achieve a step in the process. Marking progress encourages us to push forward. I think it’s called a positive feedback loop.

It’s funny that no matter how intellectually advanced humans are (okay, that point may be a little debatable when we consider humanity as a whole…) we are motivated in the same way as animals. We give a hamster a morsel of food repeatedly after performing a certain action, and he’ll keep doing that action in the hope of getting more food. Pavlov’s dog is another example of this. Sure, we don’t usually strive to achieve goals for food — we do it for a sense of accomplishment, success, pride, vanity, lust, money, power, sex, things, and sometimes, food… but it still works the same, and that’s funny to me.

The next time you are faced with a challenge, remember, don’t be a wiener, be a winner. Break it down into small, achievable steps. Find out what motivates you (hopefully it isn’t something bad) and feed that motivation with little morsels of success. Get help when you’re stuck, or look at it in a different light. Above all, don’t give up, keep at it, and before long, you’ll find you’ve overcome it.