Switching Gears

With the days getting shorter, and it getting darker earlier in the Pacific Northwest, I’m getting back to one of my favorite fall and winter pastimes: reading at night.  It’s one of the events I look forward to as summer wanes and fall approaches. 

Somewhere around 60-90 minutes before bedtime, I like to grab a pillow, a blanket, a book, and head for the sofa and spend my remaining moments of the day with a good book.  Our cats have become aware of these queues and are eager to join me on the sofa.  They don’t seem to mind what I read, as long as I stay put long enough for them got get a good pre-bedtime nap in.

During the spring and summer, when its light out right up until bedtime, I like to be outside or doing something more active.  However, dark, cooler, and often rainy nights are more conducive to a passive activity like reading.  It’s like nature giving me permission to slow down and relax.  Plus, by the time spring rolls around, I’m eager to start getting after it again.

Are there any activities that you look forward to as the seasons change?  If so, be sure to take part in them, and enjoy the time spent in said activities. 

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You Learn It Now Apply It

This week’s post is primarily a reminder for me to put into action what I learn.

During my electric bass lesson this week, I learned a new concept that appears to have some very practical application when I play on our worship team at church.  Now that I’ve gained this new knowledge, I have a choice:  I can either apply it, or forget it.

It seems like such a silly choice, doesn’t it?  “Of course, I’ll apply it!” is the response I tell myself.  However, I am surprised how often a good intention to apply newly acquired knowledge can be tossed aside when we get busy, or in some cases, just plain lazy. 

It takes effort to apply a new skill, yet it also takes effort to learn a new skill as well.  If I’m going to put forth the effort to learn something new, I need to follow through with the effort to apply that knowledge as well.  Otherwise, I’m just wasting my time.

So, let’s get out there (still talking to myself here, but feel free to follow along, if this is applicable to you) and start putting our knowledge into action.  New levels await!

A Quick Thought On Getting Along

Lately, I’ve been reminded of the obvious truth that the success and happiness we experience in life is largely due to do with how well we are able to get along with other people.

This truth reminds me that how I treat people and interact with them matters.  If I want assistance, kindness, or grace from others, then I need to offer these things to those around me. 

It seems to me, from my experience on both the giving and receiving end, that life is much better when I’m getting along with fellow-Earthly-travelers, than when I lead with demanding my own way, or thinking that the world revolves around me.  It has been proven multiple times, that the world, indeed, does NOT revolve around me, or any other single person.

Getting along with others doesn’t mean that I default to capitulating what I want or need, simply for the sake of getting along.  Rather, I see it as being considerate of the needs of others, in addition to my own needs.

Isn’t that what we all want: for others to be considerate of us?  If that’s the case, let’s make sure we’re doing likewise for others.

Reconnecting

On June 11th, I wrote a post titled, “Simply Reconnecting”.  At the end of the post, I mentioned that I was going to reconnect with my friend Dave.  Well, a couple of days ago, we got together for a visit.  We met at 3:30 in the afternoon and we didn’t say “good bye”, until just before 10:00 PM.  The time flew by. 

I hadn’t seen Dave for 6 years, but as soon as we sat down, we picked up right where we left off.  It was so much fun to reconnect and catch up on what we’ve each been up to.  At one point, Dave was talking about how much he enjoys observing someone who is excellent at what they do, regardless of their occupation.  At that point, I thought to myself, “That’s why I like Dave.  He’s my kind of person”.

If you have a friend you’ve been meaning to get in touch with, I’d recommend you do that immediately.  While there’s nothing to be gained by waiting, there is tremendous blessing in connecting today.

On Apologizes

This week, I had an interaction with someone where I could have behaved better than I did. What I knew I needed to do was offer an apology. Here’s the thing, when we know we need to make an apology: we can come up with all sorts of reasons not to.

It’s no different for me either. In fact, I was running through several reasons why I didn’t need to make the apology. My lame excused ranged from, “They probably don’t even remember the incident” to “I’ve got other things I need to be doing” to every other excuse in between. I told you they were lame.

In the end, I made the apology before my workday started. I decided it was, indeed, important and needed to be done. The person who I apologized to was gracious and said that they appreciated it.

All that to say, if you owe someone an apology, make it. Don’t wait, or put it off, or think of reasons to keep from doing it, because the person you owe the apology to deserves it.

Develop Habits and Stick With Them

When things go sideways in life, it’s easy to withdraw, to close off and isolate yourself.  That’s the worst thing we can do.  The best thing we can do is stick to the healthy habits we’ve, hopefully, already established.

For example, when life throws you a curve, continue you to do the following:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Visit friends
  • Attend Church
  • Read
    • Bible
    • For pleasure
  • Partake in hobbies and activities you enjoy
  • Pray
  • Maintain your positive outlook
  • Don’t let the bad circumstance change who you are

This last one is the most important.

I have been reminded of this in the past week, so I thought I’d pass it along to you.  In addition, I encourage you to establish some good habits before you need them.

Smile Because It Happened

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”  ~Dr. Seuss

I came across this quote last week and it’s such a great reminder about perspective and also about how to handle ending. Since endings are a part of every life, it feels that this quote from Dr. Seuss is applicable for all of us.

There are a number of things that come to an end:

  • A season of life
  • An event
  • A place we enjoy visiting
  • A business we enjoy frequenting
  • A friendship
  • A life

To be clear, some of the endings on this list are more impactful than others, and deserve tears as part of the healing process.  That said, I think that remembering the experience or the person lost with smile, and gratitude for the experience, helps us move forward in away that allows us to remain open to new people and experiences yet to come.  What a shame it would be to close ourselves off to trying new things or getting close to people because we are afraid of the tears that may come with loss.

Dr. Seuss’s quote also reminds me that I don’t have to wait until something is over to smile about it.  I can do so even while it’s happening.  😊

Play The Long Game

Disciplined behavior in the moment can be challenging when we’re trying to achieve a goal.  Whether it’s fitness, good health, financial, relational, or any other long-term goal, it’s easy to get knocked off track in the moment.  What I’ve found helpful for staying disciplined toward the pursuit of a goal is to play the long game.

By that, I mean to look way into the future to what achieving this goal looks like.  For example, I want to live a healthy life.  That goal is way too vague to withstand the temptations (like ice cream!) that that present themselves on a daily basis that are perpendicular to my goal.  Instead, I frame my goal with a bent toward that future.  Rather than having a goal to “live a healthy lifestyle”, I have a goal to be an active, engaged, curious, ninety-year-old who is in excellent physical condition. 

I’m playing the long game by focusing on the person I want to become when I turn 90.  This focus helps me consider my choice on a daily, monthly, weekly, and yearly basis.  The question I present myself with is, “are the choices I’m making (in relation to diet, finances, relationships, intellectual development, and spiritual growth) or have been making, leading me closer to or further from the person I want to be in my 90s”?  If the answer is, “Yes”, I move keep making those choices.  If my answer is “No”, then I consider modifying my behavior.

Playing the long game helps give my life daily direction.  I know where I want to go, so all I need to do now is make sure my choices are taking there.

Choose How You Age

Most of the weakness and frailty we blame on aging is not due to getting older but to inactivity.”

~Dottie Billington

When I read the quote above earlier this week in Dottie’s book titled, “Life is an Attitude: How to Grow Forever Better”, it leapt off the page at me, because I’ve also heard complaints from people recently about the negative impacts of aging.  These complaints have come in the form of a frustrated resignation that this deterioration is an inevitable part of aging.  I disagree.

Every day we get to choose to either be sedentary or to carve out time in the day to move our bodies.  If we choose one day not to move about or exercise, that single day really won’t have an impact on us.  However, if we decide day after day not to move or exercise, the compounding of those days over month, years, and decades, will certainly have negative impacts on our physical ability as we age. 

Likewise, if we choose to exercise and move every day, the compounding effects of those decisions over months, years, and decades, will have a positive impact on our physical ability in the years to come.

By exercising our bodies (and our minds!) we’re telling ourselves that we need our bodies and minds to be in peak shape, because we plan on using them.  Here’s the cool think, when we train our minds and bodies to be ready for use… they respond!

What encourages me most to reject the assumption that we deteriorate as we get older, is that I’ve seen too much evidence to the contrary in the lives of folks that have been around a lot longer than I have.

I encourage you to reject the false assumption that aging is a downward spiral and that after a certain age, you’re washed.  That statement is only true if you choose to believe it.

So how have you decided that you’re going to age?

It’s Not Just Physical

We’ve all heard how exercise and diet are key components of maintaining good physical health as we age.  You’ll certainly get no argument from me about this!  However, I do think there’s more than just our physical health that we should consider as part of a healthy lifestyle.  We should also keep our minds healthy as well.

Two of the best ways I can think of to develop a healthy mind is to use it, and to be aware of what you’re putting into it.

This is just my opinion, but I think our minds were created to be used.  Just like a car is meant to be driven, and a piano is meant to be played, so too our minds were meant to be used rather than to sit idle.  By “using our minds”, I mean we should continuously be sharpening them by:

  • Exposing them to new and interesting (to us) content
  • Learning new skills
  • Listening to new, and even opposing ideas
  • Talking to people who are different from us
  • Reading
  • Journaling
  • Connecting with others

In addition to using them, we should also be aware of the content we’re allowing into our minds.  If you put gas in your car that is full of debris, it won’t run well.  Filling our minds with negative content will have the same effect over time.  The content we put into our minds is how we train our think, respond, and form our worldview.  I want to put content in my mind that will yield positive thinking, not only now, but well into the future.

So the next time you’re taking a walk, exercising, or doing any other activity that benefits your physical health, take a moment to make sure that you’re also developing a healthy mind as well.  Because if you’re like me, you want to age with a heathy body AND mind.