Should We Look For Gnu (New) Ways?

February, 2012

Instead of "always doing it the way you did before," try something GNU! :-)

Throughout my life and on many different occasions, I’ve heard (the) reason(s) for doing something, stated as: “We always do it this way.” In other words, don’t do it in a new (or the recursive acronymgnu :-) way, but continue doing it the same old way.

Of course, there’s merit in doing something because it was proven to work in the past. If we’re familiar with what we’ve done, then we will have a certain degree of confidence in doing it “like before.” If it has worked in the past, then we readily assume it will work in the present. And, it might!

"GNU is a recursive acronym for 'GNU's Not Unix!" Now, there's a new or gnu way of not doing it because that's the way it's always been done. :-)

So, why consider doing it differently? If we do something a certain way because, we always do it that way, then what are we giving up by not trying a different way?

Consider Henry Ford and his invention of the Ford assembly line. He decided to have the cars move to the workers instead of the “we always do it this way” of having the workers move to the cars. That simple switch revolutionized the automobile industry. How did Ford think of this? I’ll bet he didn’t know exactly what the result would be when he decided to change his assembly line. I’ll also bet he was operating on a hunch. He decided to do something that wasn’t the way it had always been done.

How can we get out of the rut of doing something the way it has always been done? One way is by using the old education adage: “start with a clean slate.” Literally, start out with nothing from the past. I’m not saying we shouldn’t use past knowledge, but I am saying we should set it aside, as much as possible, in order to have a fresh new look at what we’re trying to do. Do some what if-ing. Consider the implications and consequences of the “what if’s” and then, if they seem reasonable, try them.

Henry Ford decided to have the cars move to the workers instead of the "we always do it this way" of having the workers move to the cars.

Starting out with a clean slate allows the creative part of thinking to be manifested. As long as we use our critical thinking to help assess the creative output from our mind, we should be able to have fresh approaches to problems, while still using what we know from the “way we have always done it.”

For a change, consider trying new approaches to some of the mundane parts of your life. Instead of mowing your grass by going back and forth, try going round and round. Instead of going to the grocery store using your usual route, try a completely different one that takes you by a new area. Instead of eating a salad at the beginning of the meal, try eating it at the end of the meal. There are many times during a normal day that we could change our approach and reason of, “we always do it this way.”

By getting rid of the reason, “We always do it this way,” we will be able to have a new look at our present and future. Too often, people are stuck in the past by not trying new ways of doing things.

"If you always do things a certain way based on previous methods, then your vision of the future is like the past."

Think about it – if you always do things a certain way based on previous methods, then your vision of the future is like the past. You have nothing new to look forward to. This is especially true for those of us who are “up-there in years.” We have so much history that we can’t imagine a new and different way of doing something. “That’s the way we’ve always done it!

How about a fresh and new look on life? Let’s use the philosophy behind the statement, “we always do it this way” sparingly.

Consider changing the statement to, “We always DID it that way, but now we are considering new ways.

Should we look for new ways to do what we do?

Well, if we like stale and mundane, then no.

If we don’t want “freshness” in our approach to doing what we do, then no.

But, if we want to learn from the past AND not necessarily repeat it, then yes, we should look for new ways to do what we do. :-)

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How Can We Escape The World Of Entropy?

May, 2011

A "beautiful" example of entropy near Sedona, AZ.

Is there one thing we, as humans, can never overcome? My dad would often say: “It’s impossible to stop rust; we can only slow it down.” As a farm boy, I found evidence of his saying’s truthfulness all around me. It seemed to me, that no matter what we did, eventually all metal would “rust away.” This same idea also seemed to apply to non-metal objects. On the farm, I observed, on a regular basis, that all things would eventually rot, deteriorate, and/or “break-down.”

You're right doc! "Nothing remains that's not maintained." When I eat my carrot, I'm not maintaining AND nothing remains

All things will pass.The only thing that doesn’t change is change itself.” “Nothing remains that’s not maintained.” The preceding quotes are all statements that I have used in the past. They, in a way, are similar to my dad’s statement about rust. All of these statements, in one form or another, have to do with entropy. Entropy is a law of physics which asserts that all systems left unattended will eventually decay or “run-down.”

I think the concept of entropy applies to individuals and relationships. If I don’t maintain my body, it will breakdown. If I don’t maintain my marriage, it will breakdown. In fact, I’m finding it extremely difficult to find anything in my reality that entropy isn’t an integral part. What won’t breakdown if we don’t maintain it?

It appears, on the surface, that we can’t defeat entropy. At least, we can’t defeat it as a physical force. Having stated that, we should be able to rise to an expectation and realization that is untouched by entropy. You see, unless new energy is supplied, entropy will “win.” So, if we want to continue to enjoy good lives, we must maintain them and pump new energy into them.

"The world is a stage..."

We are surrounded by creation and destruction. They constantly perform before us. I suppose this is one interpretation of Shakespeare’s statement of, “the world is a stage….” In a way, I believe our thinking is immune to decay (entropy). Even though we are constantly making cells and losing cells, the intelligence our bodies use to make cells is always there. In other words, the knowledge of how to make a cell is passed on from one generation of cell to another. Wow, we have just left the world of entropy! :-)

I'm exercising to overcome entropy!

It’s encouraging to think that we have, at least, some control over entropy. Of course, I’m talking about having control at the level of thinking. In fact, it’s there that we are able to change the things that are affected by entropy. Take, for example, trying to keep a healthy body. When we use our minds to rationalize how exercise and good eating habits help us keep healthy bodies, we find it much easier to overcome laziness and taste cravings that encourage entropy (an out-of-shape body).

Perhaps, this ability to rise above creation and destruction, gives us a way to break this “duality.”

"I'm thinking about it!"

We don’t need to think in an either/or manner. We have more choices for life than creation or destruction. At least, we have one more choice – thinking! With our minds helping us maintain the elements in our lives which are affected by entropy, we have a way out of the world of entropy. Creation is the beginning of destruction (entropy), and thinking can help slow, or even reverse, the destruction.

How can we escape the world of entropy? The same way the knowledge of how to make a cell is passed on from one generation of cell to another – intelligence. And, how do we increase our intelligence? I’m thinking about it! ;-)

So, if you have entered the world through the door of entropy, feel free to leave through the door of your mind.


Can Depression Be A Positive Learning Experience?

May, 2011

Scranton Depression Fight, Date taken: June 06, 1950, Photographer: Walter Sanders

A decade ago, I went through a bout of depressionDuring the experience, I wondered whether or not it was an opportunity for a positive learning experience. At the time, my brain felt like it was overloaded and generally, I constantly felt overwhelmed. So, is it possible for something, that makes me feel so overloaded and overwhelmed, to ever be a positive learning experience?

I've heard that everything in life can be a learning and/or growth experience.

I’ve heard that everything in life can be a learning and/or growth experience. Many times, no matter how positive or negative the experience is, I have not, consciously, tried to make it a learning/growth experience. For example, I recently came to the realization, after having a negative experience with a person for the “umpteenth” time, that I should learn from my experiences with the person and CHANGE. The question is, “Why didn’t I think of doing that a long time ago?” The answer – ???? I think, now, that I have decided to change, the negative experiences with the person will cease.

It’s a nicer experience to learn from a positive experience, but for this post I will focus on the negative. Why? Well, I believe depression is negative and how can I address the question in the title without dealing with the negative? I’m not going to search for painful experiences just to have a learning experience, but if I have such an experience, why not learn from it? If I can, then I will be turning a past negative experience into a future benefit. So, let’s press on with depression! :-)

When depressed, the heart feels like it is yearning for something that is impossible to have.

When I was depressed, I felt like my heart was yearning for something that was impossible to have. This yearning was like having a bad nightmare and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t wake myself up and end it. As you read this, I can imagine that you would like to know more specifics. Due to the sensitive nature of subject and the feelings of some of my friends, I have chosen not to be specific regarding the details of my depression. Besides, in my opinion, the question I’m addressing doesn’t require me to be specific regarding my personal bout with depression.

A popular psychiatrist in the 80s, Dr. David Viscott, suggested that depression can be used as a sign that a person has reached the point where the “yearnings of the heart” should no longer be ignored. Depression is a sign that something very important is going on in your mind. Usually, depression involves loss. In my personal case, loss played a big role. My life had changed and the loss of my “previous life” left me with what Dr. Viscott calls, a yearning of the heart.

Depression was like being stuck in a "deep dreary winter scene."

So, how can depression be a positive learning experience? Well, after I realized what I lost and how I was blaming myself, over and over and over again…, I realized I was just wasting my time AND health. After reaching that realization, I knew I wasn’t going to be happy with my new life and I immediately started working toward changing it. This meant I had to get rid of the thinking that kept me locked up in my depressing life. I had to “clean-out my mind” and change my thinking. You see, the depression was like being stuck in a “deep dreary winter scene.” Later, after realizing that blaming myself was getting me nowhere, the depression became a “mental spring clean-up.” In other words, I went from depression adding clutter to my mind, to depression cleaning-up my mind. Now, how’s that for spring cleaning? :-)

Helplessness is a feeling and NOT a lifestyle.

Depression, though it’s a very negative experience, can also be a positive learning experience. In my case, I discovered some strengths I never knew I had. Actually, the word strength doesn’t necessarily describe what I discovered. You see, it was the weakness I felt that really became a strength. The “weakness” feeling of helplessness, which was overwhelming during the major part of my depression, became a strength later. I now realize helplessness is a feeling and NOT a lifestyle. Helplessness is temporary and is generally in the mind. Instead of being helpless to myself, I focused on being helpful. Help with less less and more ful! :-)

Can depression be a positive learning experience? Yes!

How can you turn depression into a positive learning experience? By being Helpless Helpful to yourself. You might start by not blaming yourself, changing the thinking you had while depressed, and using depression as an incentive to clean-up your mind.

Simple? Absolutely not! Reasonable? I hope so!

Since depression is part of life, “Let’s Keep Improving With Life!” :-)



What’s Most Important For Maintaining Good Health?

April, 2011

We WANT good health, but we NEED to maintain in order to have it.

Since I’m mortal, I most likely won’t always have good health. There’s an excellent chance that I’ll face some bad health before expiring. So what’s most important for maintaining good health, knowing there’s no way I’ll always have it?

Can I buy good health?

Before I go any further with this, please understand that I’m not a doctor, nor am I an expert on healthcare. Having stated that, I have lived over sixty years and most of them have been very healthy years. I also have studied my own health and how to maintain it. And, I have an open-mind for learning new and better ways to keep my health at its best and highest quality level.

I think most of us know, deep in our hearts and minds, what it takes to stay healthy. We know our bad health habits, but we don’t do what’s needed to break the habits. For example, if we don’t exercise enough to maintain our good health, then perhaps, we have a bad habit of being lazy and sedimentary. Or, maybe we have a bad habit of drinking too much soda pop, knowing that soda is very high in bone-dissolving phosphorus and can lead to diseases of the bones, such as osteoporosis. The point is that in today’s world, it’s very easy for us to know what, most likely, we should do in order to maintain good health.

I have never exercised, so why change now?

With the medical knowledge, technology and medicine we now have, people are living longer than ever before. As we live longer, we also have more chronic illnesses, like osteoporosis, to deal with. These chronic illnesses cause us pain and the inability to live a quality life. Fortunately, many of these illnesses are preventable. Most of us know what to do – eliminate bad habits, have a high-fiber and low-fat diet, exercise and stay mentally active – which results in a higher quality of life as we get older. We know, but we don’t do!

Why don’t we do what we should do in order to have a better quality of life as we get older? I think it’s like the joke about the farmer who doesn’t fix his roof. He says: “I can’t fix it when it’s raining because it’s too dangerous to get on the roof and when it’s not raining the roof doesn’t leak.” We don’t do what we should do for a better quality of life when we’re feeling bad, because it’s too late. We don’t do what we should do when we’re younger and feeling good, because nothing needs fixing.:-)

Maybe this old dog can teach us some tricks for maintaining good health. :-)

Isn’t how we handle change the main problem of not working toward maintaining good health? Do you embrace change? Do you try to change what you don’t think you will be able to change? Probably not! You see, often times, people will justify their bad habits by proclaiming they’ve always been that way and “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” In other words, they don’t think they can change – it’s just too difficult.

I think our ability to change our life is directly related to how strongly we believe we can. Self-efficacy, our belief in our own ability to perform in a certain manner in order to attain our goal(s), certainly plays a role here. If we think the change necessary to improve and/or maintain our health is too difficult, then perhaps, our problem centers around self-efficacy. If you are interested in learning more of my thoughts regarding self-efficacy, please check out one of my older posts entitled, “What Is Addictionial?” by clicking here. In that post, I wrote about self-efficacy and it’s role in overcoming addictions.

So, what’s most important for maintaining good health? Find out what you need to do, focus on your self-efficacy and, if change is needed, CHANGE!

If quality of life is important, then start with yourself and maintain/improve your health. Instead of good health, I wish you good health maintenance. :-)


Why Affirmations For Positive Change?

January, 2011

Visualize - Affirm - Change

In a recent post on change, I made reference to affirmations. I mentioned that if you want to change, one way of doing so is to visualize your change, make what you visualize into an affirmation, and repeat the affirmation over and over and over… For this post, I will discuss affirmations and how they can help us facilitate the personal change we desire.

Affirmations can help you change!

So, what should you do in order to change and become a better person? This is an important question for all of us. When you are faced with the realization that something you are thinking and/or doing is not helping you to be that better person you want to be, then what should you do? One good tool to use is an affirmation. An affirmation, something that you assert strongly, is a present-tense, positive statement of a desired outcome.

In order to change in a positive way, you need to know what the change is and then set out on a plan for changing. Usually, knowing what the change is means you must first stop what you are currently thinking and doing. Then, visualize what the new thought or deed should be and change. It’s the “and change” that becomes the hardest for many.

Using affirmations I have changed my rage to contentment!

The “and change part is where the tool of affirmation can help. For example, suppose you want to become a better person by not becoming full of rage every time someone does something to you that you don’t like. A specific example might be the rage you feel when, while driving, someone cuts you off and glares at you as if you have no right to be on the road. In order to become a better person, you decide that you want to become, in general, a more loving person and specifically, a person who treats all people with respect and courtesy in every possible circumstance. This changed way of treating people now becomes your affirmation.

Given the before-mentioned affirmation, what will happen the next time someone cuts you off? It’s possible you will still respond, almost automatically, in a most disrespectful manner! Does that mean that this idea of becoming a better person, using affirmations, doesn’t work? Not really!

Did Dr. Martin Luther King use affirmations?

You see, before, when you responded in the disrespectful manner, you probably would not have recognized your disrespectful behavior as anything different or unusual. Now, because of your affirmation and the promise to yourself, you would most likely feel a sense of guilt. You now know this is not the way you want to behave and realize that is the way the old you acts. You say to yourself that next time, “I will respond differently.” Therefore, your affirmation gives you the visualization and direction to change into someone who intends to behave in a respectful and courteous manner, no matter when or how you are provoked.

By saying your affirmation over and over again, you visualize and realize how your new behavior feels – day in and day out. After awhile, your new and desired behavior will become second nature to you. In this manner, you eventually will not remember any other way.

Affirm yourself into being better!

Affirm yourself to comment! :-)


Why Not Change, For A Change?

January, 2011

Change is inevitable! Yes, this animal WILL change!

The only thing that is constant is change! To change everything simply change your attitude! Change is inevitable! To learn means changing your mind! These are all statements about change that I have heard and used through most of my adult life.

"The universe (Milky Way) is change; our life is what our thoughts make it."

Many well-known people throughout history have made insightful statements about change. For example: “Nothing endures but change” is a quote from Heraclitus (540 BC – 480 BC). The statement is similar to my first statement: “The only thing that is constant is change!” Another quote, from a person who lived a long time ago and has a similar message that brings our thinking into the process, is from Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (121 AD – 180 AD): “The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it.” The simple word, change, represents an important concept for humans. We can’t avoid change and we shouldn’t ignore it.

A question involving change that I have often heard and asked is: “If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?” When thinking about this question one must realize that many things in life cannot be changed. We cannot change how tall we are nor can we change how old we are. On the other hand, we can change many things that we think are impossible at first glance.

Eat the sandwich, one bite at a time!:-)

Many of us want badly to change something that is changeable, yet we are unsuccessful. Why? Wanting to badly is a wonderful start. Having stated that, wanting to badly usually won’t get you anywhere, by itself. Actually, neither will the use of affirmations and visualizations, if that is all you do. This is because when we want to make a major change in our life we often try to “bite off too much.” Think of a change that you want to make as the act of eating a big sandwich. In order to eat the sandwich you must consume it one bite at a time. If you try to eat it in one bite you are overwhelmed by its size and either give up or choke! Either way, change in that manner is usually impossible.

Affirm over and over again the change you visualize!

If you really want to get started making a major change in yourself you should pick one reasonable/small part of the change to begin with. For example, suppose you wanted to become a more loving person with your mate. Instead of trying to change everything that causes you to not be a loving person, you should, instead, choose one part of your relationship that needs improvement. You might focus on always being cognizant when your mate is in your presence. This concept of “being present in the present” is valuable as motto to follow always and is especially so when relating to loved ones. This would be an excellent “first bite” toward consuming the “sandwich” of becoming a more loving person with your mate.

In general, make the change you want into an affirmation and repeat it over and over and over… Visualize how you will feel and behave after the change is made. Keep repeating your affirmation that supports your visualization. Make a plan, have sub-goals (those bite-size changes), and develop tasks that support the change. Hold yourself accountable and reward yourself as you achieve your sub-goals.

Consider your life to be your house in which its biggest room is the room for CHANGE.

Don’t worry about how long it takes — only be concerned that you are on track and working toward the change you want. Keep track of your progress and keep in mind that the journey is more important than the destination.

Life is a journey of constant changes, of which we have more control of than we often realize. Embrace change and make it a positive for your life.

Finally, here’s another (metaphorical) way of thinking about changing. Consider your life to be your house in which its biggest room is the room for change. Now, make that room for change a room for improvement and you will be on your way to having a better life.


Is Change Different for Older Adults When Compared to Younger Adults?

March, 2010

Cherry Blossoms in Washington DC – Do young adults see this “change” differently than older adults?

Does change affect the older adults differently than the younger ones? This is an interesting question for me since I am an older adult. I became interested in how change affects us after realizing that many of the commercials I have been watching and listening to on television were really encouraging the viewer to change. Recently, on the evening news, I saw commercials encouraging me to change my eating habits, my medications and in general, my lifestyle. Of course, that is not exactly the way it was presented, but that is how I interpreted what I saw and heard.

These are all about quality.

As a member of the baby-boom population, I see many commercials featuring people in my age group encouraging the viewer to try particular products that would be appropriate for my generation. Products like medicine for heart disease and sexual dysfunction are advertised on the major network evening news shows on a regular basis.

I have noticed that when advertisements are directed toward the older adults there is a strong emphasis on quality. The commercials push quality and seem to assume that the older adults will spend more on products for the sake of quality. I guess that makes sense, because an older person will naturally look for deeper meaning as compared to the younger adult. The experience and knowledge that the older person has gained, due to having lived longer, will allow her/him to understand the relationship between various concepts more quickly.

These adults are happy with their change. :-)

I have been writing a lot about change recently. In fact, I think it is “safe to say” that in at least twenty-five of my posts you will find change as a central theme.

Without change we wouldn’t have learning or life, at least, not in the manner that we currently have. Think about it! Whenever you learn, you must change your mind. Life implies change; growth, movement, adaptation, organization, reproduction are all part of life and involve change. So change is a necessary part of who we are. But, since change is a constant part of life, it naturally will affect the older adults in a different way when compared to the younger. The older adults have experienced more change and therefore, don’t find it as much of a novelty as the younger adult does.

Younger adults, in my opinion, don’t value quality as much as their older counterparts. David Wolfe, the principal author of Ageless Marketing: Strategies for Reaching the Hearts and Minds of the New Customer Majority, proclaims that there is a new dominance of the marketplace by people in the second half of life. These middle age and older adults often have their experiential desires overtake materialistic desires in their influence on lifestyles and buying behavior. So, when change occurs in their life, they value the quality of the experience over the quantity. When an older adult considers changing, the quality of the change is usually more important than the features or novelty of the change.

My experiential desires have overtaken my materialistic desires.

So, is change different for older adults when compared to younger adults? In general, yes! Of course, there will always be exceptions, but when attempting to reach a particular group for advertising, government programs, education, etc., it is useful to consider the difference. In advertising, this is especially important since the new customer majority is now middle age and older.

Lynn Hall, an author for young adults, once wrote: “We did not change as we grew older; we just became more clearly ourselves.” To expand on that thought, we could say that change affects the older adults by making them more clearly themselves.:-)

If you write a comment, perhaps we will “more clearly” see you.  :-)


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