Friday, November 03, 2006
Techniques for balance:
- Learn to rest. Whether a nap, or simply reflective time, or staring at
the horizon, recharging batteries is important. I've never seen anyone
who was a better decision maker, performer, or comforter when fatigued.
- Get a second opinion. The world is so complex, technology so fungible,
medicine so controversial, that it's often safer to hear from several experts
on any one issue. In any court case, lawyers usually have equally impressive
"expert" witnesses making completely contradictory points based on the
exact same evidence.
- Resist peer pressure. This is usually worse among upper income families
and friends. No teenagers need a "keg party" supported by their parents.
Juvenile behavior among adults is not the result of contagion. It's voluntary.
- Deal with unfairness. Bad calls go against your team. Someone else gets a
break you deserve. Your best efforts went unrewarded and unrecognized. Get
over it. Stop whining. Deal with the here and now, not what might have been.
- Volunteer and contribute. No matter what our status or economics, we can
all spare an hour and a dollar. There is a significant invigorating affect in
volunteering, and the impact on others is inestimable. If we were all involved
in this process, even to a small extent, we'd have a healthier society.
- Demonstrate empathy. Put yourself in the other person's shoes. Are you
telling them what they need to know, or everything you know? Can you be
brief yet still effective? Are you treating them the way you'd like to be
treated? Self-absorption is toxic to everyone within distance.
- Develop perspective. Don't overreact to trivial setbacks and inconveniences.
Save your outrage for major issues concerning values, ethics, safety, health,
and urgency. If every slight issue sets you off, you'll soon run out of fuel.
- Appreciate beauty. Aesthetics involve more than arbitrary taste and visceral
reaction. There are skills that can be acquired to enhance your ability to
appreciate music, understand art, and interpret literature, for example.Light in a
painting, minor chords in music, and recurring themes in literature often require guides to help you appreciate their significance.
- Treat yourself. Don't depend on the "kindness of strangers." Do something for
yourself each week that constitutes a reward, or fun, or a break. There's
nothing selfish about that. Life is short, and some things—a child's soccer game, a new movie, watching the fall foliage—can only be enjoyed at the moment.
- Don't obsess. We're all after success, not perfection, and success itself
comes in stages. Life is like racquetball—it usually gives you a second chance to hit
the ball after a miss, the game is fast but you can play repeatedly, and you can
improve your game even in a loss. Just remember to wear protective goggles
an good sneakers.