Here’s the cover for my upcoming release The Final Enemy
We all engage in forms of habitual behavior. Unfortunately the ritualized, unthinking things we do create impediments to change and growth.
Instead of being preprogrammed and robotic in our daily lives, we need to get outside our comfort zones. We must confront what we want to change or achieve. We cannot be on auto pilot, we must be fully engaged.
Habits are nothing but repetitive behaviors that become automatic. You don’t think about it, you just do it. You feel a certain comfort in the practice of these repetitive actions which makes it more difficult to get out of the ‘rut’.
In many cases it is a false sense of comfort, offering you a cloak of normality, even when the behavior is considered abnormal.
They trap you into behaviors that hold you down and are self destructive.
There are strategies to change your habits and get on your way to happiness. Break free and you will achieve what you want your life to be.
Triggers and Cues
We receive many cues during our daily lives. These cues or ‘set ups’ trigger responses. A basic example is the time we go to bed, where most of us prepare ourselves to go to sleep by brushing our teeth. The cue to go to retire for the night triggers the response, we don’t think about brushing our teeth, we just do it. Nothing prevents us from brushing our teeth after eating our last meal or snack of the day but the actions are cued right before going to sleep.
Actions to Take
In order to achieve meaningful change in our lives we must alter the reactions to the cues in our lives. Here are the steps –
- Identify a behavior you want to change.
- Identify the cue for the bad behavior.
- Find a response that results in achieving your goal.
- Commit to it by writing down a planned response.
- Think about & read your plan for a day or two.
- Engage in the new behavior for 30 straight days, it will become habit and you won’t have to think about it!
Identifying your triggers or cues are the key. What situations trigger your current habit? For the smoking habit, for example, triggers might include waking in the morning, having coffee, drinking alcohol, stressful meetings, going out with friends, driving, etc. Eating after dinner when you watch TV can be replaced with a cup of tea, exercise, a diet soda…
Most habits have multiple triggers. Identify all of them and write them in your plan. The replace the habit with a new response to the trigger. It really is that simple!
Have strategies to defeat an urge to fall back into your bad habit. Urges are going to come — they’re inevitable and they’re strong. However, they are also temporary and beatable. Urges generally last a minute or so and come in degrees of strength. You need to ‘defend’ yourself, ride it out and the urge will disappear. Some strategies for making it through an urge: deep breathing, self-massage, eat something healthy and calorically light, take a walk, exercise, drink a glass of water, call a friend, post about it in a support forum.
I urge you to give this method, which has been universally successful, a chance today!
The suppression of the blind Chinese activist is just one of a hundred thousand incidents per year. China is a repressive country trying to mask itself as a modern society. No centrally planned, code word for socialism, economy has ever prospered for an extended period of time. You cannot manage a billion people and hundreds of billions of activities.
The pot of water is one stove, the water is boiling and the problems inside of China will become visible to the world.
Check out Push Back, my latest novel, where the recent case of the blind activist mirrors what a main character, Timothy Lee does.
Self Esteem and Confidence
The lack of a healthy self esteem is a dead weight on your life. It’s like dragging around an anchor, and it relegates you to the dark shadows of existence.
Low esteem is simply a self created falsehood. Plain and simple. Unless you are a truly bad person (i.e., murderer, child abuser and the like) you are an important, valued human being.
The problem is you have let others or importantly, your perception, make you feel worthless.
The origin of such misplaced feelings of inadequacy, are varied (cruel treatment as a child, lack of support, embarrassment over a physical state, failure on a large stage…) However, let’s not confuse these feelings with the reality that you are a special, unique person who adds to the vibrancy of the universe and is entitled to participate fully in life.
Let’s play devil advocate; Someone or group thinks you are stupid, not wealthy, incompetent, ugly, overweight, boring etc.
So f-ing what? You still have to get up in the morning, live your life, go to work etc.
Tell Them To Go to Hell
Can’t you muster the will to blow these people off? Remember you may think you are the center of their thoughts but I can guarantee that you are not. If someone is rude or embarrasses you, rest assured you will be the only person thinking about it an hour later.
The perpetrator will go on as if nothing happened, forgetting or not even realizing what they may have done. You must get past it as soon as possible. Dwelling on it will doom you.
Fears Become Monsters
The fears and nervousness we all feel will be virtually impossible to overcome without the confidence in ourselves that comes with having a positive image of ourselves.
Steps to Take
Stop with the negativity! Self criticism is bad! Negative thoughts have a way of feeding on themselves, growing something minor into a major issue.
Everyone has good traits, talk up your small successes to yourself and build upon them. Don’t allow yourself to define yourself by external forces (maybe you are stuck in a crummy job, or are unemployed, have no fashion sense, are out of physical shape, etc…)
These things have nothing to do with who you really are as a person.
You must look beyond any criticism that anyone levels at you or that you hear whispering in your own head! Start believing in yourself, you will be amazed at how life will change!
Be Careful When Comparing Yourself to Others
There is a huge difference between using a role model or icon’s accomplishments as a goal and comparing yourself to that person.
One can be a motivational tool but comparing yourself to someone else can be deflating and inhibiting.
We always seem to be comparing our lives and situations against others. This can be very dangerous leading to an erosion of our self esteem.
Comparisions Are Trouble
The problems and distortions they present are many fold, including these;
- The media presents images they ‘sell’ as perfection causing you to be intimidated
- You only see a small slice of the person’s make-up
- Their flaws are not examined, only their particular area of excellence
- They may excel in one narrow area and not be well rounded at all
- They can be great at something but horrible as human beings.
As you can see it is incredibly superficial and best to avoid the practise.
You Are Unique
There is only one of you. Agreed? Therefore, comparing yourself to anyone else is a zero sum game.
Everyone is different, everyone has their own set of ‘pimples’ and plus and minuses, some you see while others are hidden or disguised. Do not allow some unrealistic portrayal or image of someone to trick, intimidate or depress you. Everyone, including you, has things they are good at and things they are not.
You are who you are, now try to improve yourself or reach a goal you have set.
Compare yourself to no one but who you were yesterday! It is the only measure that makes sense and once you get the hang of it, a confidence and self esteem builder.
A Word About Set Backs
The average number of failures people experience on the way to any success is four. When you look at someone remember the struggles and failures they had to experience in order to achieve their success.
Be prepared for at least four set backs before you reach any goal. It is a realistic way to insulate yourself emotionally when and if set backs occur.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…
Set your goal and get moving towards it today. Make progress each and every day by committing to doing something that helps to achieve what you want. Get up each morning looking to improve yourself that day, making progress on your goal.
Remember to compete with yourself and to compare yourself only to who your were yesterday.
Shoot for the Moon
Why not dream? Why not have outrageous goals? Why do we limit ourselves? There is nothing to be afraid of.
If you set your sights on a lofty goal and really commit to it, you guarantee yourself a measure of success. It’s as simple as that!
What is the worse that could happen, you fall short of the true goal but get close? In any case you have made progress.
I can make an argument that if you set a low, easy to achieve goal, while it has nice benefits in building confidence, and make it, that you would probably make more progress shooting for a higher goal and not making it.
Break the Mold
Don’t let the culture limit your existence. You can still make it, the people who are achieving their dreams (or importantly what you perceive to be their dream!) are just like you. The difference is they have acted and commited to the goal. I can not emphasis enough the need to act, to take steps in the direction of the goal you have.
Do not get boxed in by your personal situation, such as age or weight, economic status, lack of contacts etc. etc. There are countless people who have overcome the odds that our culture puts on us. (First off ditch the most common mind set that you’re too old to be doing that! You are never too old to do anything, so stop convincing yourself otherwise)
LIVE YOUR LIFE
Each of us have met people with a passion or purpose. They seem more alive than most people! They are engaging and pumped up! (some of us say they are nuts or crazy but that is just a manifestation of jealousy) Whether they achieve their dream or not is beside the point; its the damn journey that counts. I know it sounds like a cliche but if you get down to it, its the pursuit of whatever interest you may have that counts. It does not matter what you do as long as you enjoy the activity and improve at it.
Don’t be a bystander in your own life. Start doing the things that improve your life and that interest you.
LED, Fluorescent, Incadescent – What to buy?
Like alot of things in life, light bulbs are now complicated! The light bulb used to be an easy purchases. Now we must consider if it Is energy efficient? Will it switch on quickly? Can I use a dimmer? What is a lumen? How long will it last? The cost? The color? Etc.
A recent article by WSJ’s Katherine Boehret answered some of the questions I had and I thought it might be a useful subect, even if it out of my wheelhouse.
Bulbs can be divided into three main categories: incandescents, compact fluorescents (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). We now mainly use incandescents, they are cheap but throw off heat and use up alot of energy. An incandescent lasts about 1,000 hours.
Recently, halogen incandescent bulbs have become popular. The bulbs, which cost as little as $3 for two, look and act like incandescents by dimming and turn on fast, but use less energy. The Philips EcoVantage line uses 28% less energy: A 72-watt bulb replaces a 100-watt, and a 43-watt bulb replaces a 60-watt. They last as long as a traditional incandescent bulb.
Compact fluorescents, the spiral bulbs, use less energy than incandescents but can appear harsher in color and don’t turn on immediately. They cost about $5 to $10 each and have an average lifespan of 10,000 hours. They contain mercury and should be recycled at stores like Home Depot.
LEDs, which look like the incandescents we’re used to, are the latest in energy-efficient bulbs. They’re also the most expensive, costing around $20 to $60 a bulb, though this will drop as they become more prevalent. These bulbs don’t contain mercury, turn right on and many can be dimmed. Their light-emitting surfaces remain cool to the touch and the hue of light from these LED bulbs are more like traditional incandescents. They are estimated to save up to 85% more energy than incandescents, with a lifespan of 20,000 to 50,000 hours, or 20 to 40 years.
Watts = Lmens = What?? Help!
For years, we’ve measured light bulbs by watts, which show how much energy a bulb uses. But bulb brightness is measured in lumens. Many of the new light bulbs’ boxes list lumens and include info about how the bulb compares with the wattage you want to replace. An incandescent 40-watt bulb gets replaced with a 450-lumen bulb; a 60-watt bulb with a 800-lumen bulb; a 75-watt bulb by a 1,100 lumen; and a 100 watt by a 1,600 lumen.
Many bulbs are now packaged with a “Lighting Facts” label. Besides lumens, this may include factors like lumens per watt (bulb efficiency); watts (energy used to make the light); correlated color temperature, which indicates cool or warm color (about 2700 Kelvin replicates what we’re familiar with a traditional incandescent); and a color-rendering index (the measurement of a light’s appearance on objects).
Consumer Reports recently tested several bulbs for factors like brightness, warm-up time, light distribution and actual lumens. The $10 GE Energy Smart SAF-T-GARD earned the highest overall ranking for 60-watt equivalent spiral CFL bulbs.
The $25 Philips AmbientLED 12.5W ranked best overall in the 60-watt equivalent A19 style (the typical pear-shape found in incandescent bulbs) covered bulb category.
Light-bulb savings calculators are online, like one from National Geographic, giving you a rough idea of how much they may save over time.
Now your are armed with some lighting knowledge!
Some people just seem ridiculously ambitious, attempting to achieve either a high or broad based level of success. I have been accused of being somewhat ambitious myself, but so what?
When I hear people make negative comments about someone with a lot of ambition it drives me crazy. Most of it is envy or jealousy. Just because some people seem to have resigned themselves to a ‘treadmill’ existence, does not mean everyone has to.
Ambition is a form of positive energy that can be infectious. Life is infinitely sweeter because of it.
First off, you simply cannot accomplish anything if ambition does not help to drive you to make the attempt in the first place.
Secondly, ambition glosses over a lot of mistakes as it provides the stimulation to overcome the inevitable setbacks that come with every pursuit
Ambition also makes the attempt more important than the results. In other words, it’s a journey not a destination. Results are important but the geniune pursuit has be invigorating.
I have discussed confidence in several other postings, use the search bar to find them, as I am convinced it is the key to a fuller life. I would like to look at the connection between ambition and confidence.
It appears clear that a person’s level of ambition is directly related to the amount of confidence they possess. With a healthy dose of confidence and a solid self esteem, you are much more likely to get ‘tuned’ up about trying something new. Building on small ‘wins’, which increases your confidence, leads to a sense that there is nothing to fear in attempting to reach a goal. Its a self feeding cycle!
Success and ambition are also indelibly linked. It is your ambition that leads you to make the attempts for success. An ambitious person leads a fuller life, positively approaching what others view as road blocks to be nothing more than challenges that will be overcome.
The term blind ambition, can be both negative or positive. It is used most often negatively to describe someone who is blind to the realities or does not understand what it will take to accomplish something. That is true to a degree, you can not just have ambition, you have to take action. Reckless ambition, pursuing things in the search for security to fill whatevr voids one may have is also dangerous and I have written a novel on this called Ambition Cliff.
On the other hand, if you are willing to take action and are blind to the difficulties, it can be a blessing. How many times have you heard someone remark, “If I would have known it was going to be that hard I wouldn’t have tried it!”
Get pumped up about something, even if you need to muster up some false bravado! Get excited and getting moving towards getting a new job, losing weight, stop smoking, learning to dance, play a sport, etc, maybe even blog! Let me hear from you!
The Trust Connection
I am convinced confidence is the key to a fuller life. I would like to look at the connection between trust and confidence.
The definition of confidence is often boiled down to a strong belief in yourself and your abilities. However, this definition misses an important component of confidence and the boost it provides in your ability to achieve a goal. What I’m referring to is trust.
The trust or faith you have in yourself is built over time and plays a large role in helping you to overcome a challenge or make progress on towards a goal.
If you are attempting something you have never done before and cannot rely on the confidence that comes with having achieved a similar thing before, you can get the boost you need from the faith or trust in yourself.
Take a Leap of Faith
You may not consider yourself a success in anything. But it’s simply not true! It may sound basic, but you have learned and overcome obstacles since you were an infant. You’ve learned to talk, walk, read and write! You may have learned to drive, swim, cook etc.
I am positive that if you examined your life you will find accomplishments that you can build on. Just because they aren’t broadcast on T.V. doesn’t diminish them. They are tangible accomplishments, even if they are from the distance past, you can use them to build a trust in yourself that you can do it. Take a leap of faith, this time for yourself!
No matter how little you have may have achieved, the one thing you can control, irrespective of your skill set, is the effort you put forth. I am speaking to the number and intensity of the attempts you can make. Persistence is indelibly linked to confidence and success. You have heard the cliche; If I bang my head against the wall enough times, it will crack. An extreme example, but it shows that if you are persistent and do not give up, you will definitely have a measure of success.
Confidence and success are rooted in the acceptance that what you are attempting to do will be challenging, and that set backs that will come, but with knowledge that with a steady application, you will persevere.
If you can’t trust yourself, who can you?
We all feel insecure at times. Sometimes it may be a new situation or environment which leads to a sense of insecurity. However, I want to focus on those deeper rooted feelings that we may not be good enough. This lack of self worth expresses itself as insecurity.
Bogs You Down
The manifestation of insecurity is truly an anchor. It prevents us from living a full, normal life. Feelings of insecurity usually result in a socially isolated life and in extreme forms can produce paranoia.
Feelings of self doubt are crippling. Even if we are prepared to execute something we can easily do, we can be tripped up by self doubt.
Don’t confuse unpreparedness, which causes nervous doubt but is limited to a specific event, for insecurity.
Feelings of insecurity impacts relationships negatively. If we don’t have a good self image it makes a having good relationship difficult. If we don’t love ourselves (warts and all), how can we love another person?
Roots of Insecurity Are Multi-Faceted
There are many causes and theories of how one becomes burdened with insecurity, such as a terrible childhood or subjection to bullying. However, I am not a therapist and though it may be helpful to unearth the root cause, I would rather focus on an acknowledgement of insecurity, moving forward to chip away at it.
Insecurity can be overcome or mitigated. It may take time and patience but the rewards are huge and must be pursued. You can balance an acknowledgement of any shortcomings you may have (while working to improve them) but still believe and recognize your own self worth.
Don’t confuse, for example a lack of education, or physical awkwardness with your value as a person. The world is filled with smart, athletic, successful individuals who are terrible people. Our culture elevates someone with Hollywood good looks, tons of money or possesses some talent. However, those superficial attributes are just a tiny slice of each of us.
You are important and valuable. You have as much to contribute as anyone else on the planet. Some may be able to express themselves or a point of view easier than you, but that does not make what they say or believe any more valuable than your views. Don’t let yourself get caught up with what other people may or may not think of you. Being a selfless, humble, honest, loving individual is the true measure of a ‘valuable’ person and in the end the only thing that counts.