Thursday, November 23, 2006

What are you greatful for?

So what are you greatful for this Thanksgiving season?

Here's a wonderful post from Michael Masterson as it appeared in a newsletter called Early To Rise:

1. Take one or several walks.

Find a safe, relatively quiet place to walk - preferably a place that is beautiful. Walk slowly. Breathe deeply. Clear your mind. Notice everything around you - the feel of the ground you are walking upon, the quality of the air you are breathing, the sights and sounds that surround you.

Recognize that one day - sooner than you want - your life will end. You will not be around to breathe the clean air, to feel the sun on your skin, and to see the things you find beautiful. You will not be around to hear your children's voices, to feel your lover's touch, to enjoy the thrill of learning something new or feeling passion.

Dwell on the fact that after you are gone, after your ego is extinguished, all those things that you love now will not exist for you any more. But they will exist for those who survive you.

Realize that, in the scope of the universe, you are a temporary bundle of self-absorbed energy that is infinitesimally temporary and virtually meaningless - except to yourself.

With all of that in mind, take full responsibility for your future happiness and success.

2. Make a list of all the people you should be thankful for.

Start with the obvious ones - your parents, your teachers, your mentors, your colleagues, and other people who have helped you. Then include the people who have helped you by letting you love them - your children, your siblings, your friends, your students, your proteges. And then list the people who have helped you by trying to hurt you - your professional and personal enemies.

When the list is done, make a commitment to send a quick, handwritten note to each one of those people, one person a day. Just tell them that you were thinking of them and you want to thank them for the specific gift they gave you. Make it short and sweet.

This exercise will benefit you immediately and continue to benefit you for a long time. The benefits will be both expected (you will renew good relationships) and unexpected (you will have a stronger, braver, and happier heart).

3. Make yourself a promise that you will spend a few moments every day counting your blessings.

One effective way of doing that is to list your current blessings - specific things you can be grateful about - in your daily journal. (I hope you are keeping a journal. If not, start one today. If you do, you will be grateful that you did.)

  • I got to eat a turkey sandwich.
  • I got to spend a half-hour with Number Three Son.
  • I learned something new about blogging ... and so on.

4. To repay the many blessings you have received, promise yourself that you will spend some time every day being kind to others.

Giving kindness is its own reward. But it is also a great way to pass along the good that you have enjoyed. You will have more success in keeping this promise if you give yourself the task of "doing something kind" as a part of your daily to-do list.

It may seem artificial at first, but don't worry about that. After 19 or 20 repetitions, acting kindly will become instinctive and automatic.

5. Spend half an hour resting.

As you rest, think about someone you know or someone you have recently read about who is less fortunate than you are. Imagine how it would be to have that person's problems. Be grateful that you don't and, at the same time, make a wish that he finds relief.

Then think about all the things you are grateful for - your home, your family, the wealth you enjoy (not the wealth you don't yet have), the good food you will be eating, the wine you will be sipping, the games you will be playing, the jokes you will be laughing at, etc. Be specific in your thinking. Don't think "food," think "turkey breast and mashed potatoes with gravy."

6. Say grace before eating - even if, like me, you are not religious.

I usually say something simple, like "Let us be thankful that we have the health that we have, the wealth that we have, and the work that we choose." But you may prefer something cooler, like this gem from Eubie Blake:

"Be grateful for luck. Pay the thunder no mind. Listen to the birds. And don't hate nobody."

Brad Pollina
Your Good News Merchant
(314) 485-4528
Come learn how I now leverage my time and enjoy optimization.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Don't Criticize, condemn or complain!

My wife had a copy of Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends & Influence People lying around on her desk for the longest time. I decided this weekend to pick it up and start reading it.

I found a wonderful extended quote on pages 16-17 that I thought I would publish here for comment:

Father Forgets by W. Livingston Larned

Listen, son: I am saying this as you lie asleep, one little paw crumpled under your cheek and the blond curls stickily wet on your damp forehead. I have stolen into your room alone. Just a few minutes ago, as I sat reading my paper in the library, a stifling wave of remorse swept over me. Guilty I came to your bedside.

There are things I was thinking, son: I had been cross to you. I scolded you as you were dressing for school because you gave your face merely a dab with a towel. I took you to task for not cleaning your shoes. I called out angrily when you threw some of your things on the floor.

At breakfast I found fault, too. You spilled things. You gulped down your food. You put your elbows on the table. You spread butter too thick on your bread. And as you started off to play and I made for my train, you turned a hand and called, "Goodbye daddy!" and I frowned, and said in reply, "Hold your shoulders back!"
Then it began all over again in the late afternoon. As I came up the road I spied you, down on your knees, playing marbles. There were holes in your stockings. I humiliated you before your boyfriends by marching you ahead of me to the house. Stockings were expensive -- and if you had to buy them you would be more careful! Imagine that, son, from a father!

Do you remember, later, when I was reading in the library, how you came in timidly, with a sort of hurt look in your eyes? When I glanced up over my paper, impatient at the interruption, you hesitated at the door. "What is it you want?" I snapped.

You said nothing, but ran across in one tempestuous plunge, and threw your arms around my neck and kissed me, and your small arms tightened with affection that God had set blooming in your heart, and which even neglect could not wither. And then you were gone, pattering up the stairs.
Well, son, it was shortly afterwards that my paper slipped from my hands and a terrible sickening fear came over me. What has habit been doing to me? The habit of finding fault. and reprimanding -- this was my reward to you for being a boy. It was not that I did not love you; it was that I expected too much of youth. I was measuring you by the yardstick of my years.
And there was so much that was good and fine and true in you character. The little heart of you was big as the dawn itself over the wide hills. This was shown by your spontaneous impulse to rush in and kiss me good night. Nothing else matters tonight, son. I have come to your bedside in the darkness, and I have knelt there ashamed!
It is a feeble atonement; I know you would not understand these things if I told them to you during your waking hours. But tomorrow I will be a real daddy! I will chum with you, and suffer when you suffer and laugh when you laugh. I will bite my tongue when impatient words come. I will keep saying as if it were a ritual: "He is nothing but a boy - a little boy!"

I am afraid I have visualized you as a man. Yet as I see you now, son, crumpled and weary in your cot, I see that you are still a baby. Yesterday you were in your mother's arms, your head on her shoulder. I have asked too much. Too much.
"Instead of condemning people, let us try to understand them. Let's try to figure out why they do what they do. "

Brad Pollina
Your Good News Merchant
(314) 485-4528
Come learn how I now leverage my time and enjoy optimization.

Of Casino Royale and Cars

This weekend I took some time off to work my other sideline business -- mystery shopping. Saturday I made $50 for 2 hours of work at the Argosy Casino in Alton, IL observing whether the 28 people I interacted with made eye contact, greeted me and gave me a parting comment.

And I made $10 plus reimbursement for 2 movie tickets, popcorn, soda and candy to observe the cleanliness and upselling ability of the staff at the local Wehrenberg Theatre.

We saw the new James Bond movie Casino Royale . But when we got out, it really made me stop and think back......

....As a child, I was always enamored with glitz, glamour, and most importantly the latest and greatest gadgetry money could buy. I used to dream that I worked as a lead scientist in a top secret laboratory that needed the highest clearance. I worked by myself as I couldn't have any helpers on what I worked on as it was so secret.

....time passed and the love of gadgets and technology has never departed from me. But my brain doesn't have the finite raw capability to memorize exact facts and figures that a mathemetician or scientist needs. So I went into computers.

I strove to be the very best ever since Junior High School when I was first introduced to the Apple II+ in 1982. I came in before school and stayed after school just to be with the machines! I used every program the Math teacher had and became quite proficient with it. And I had a great time, because the PC did my bidding exactly as I told it without complaining, whining, or any emotions whatsoever. I've never been much of a social butterfly, so the PC helped me become my own best friend.

In High School I became the President of the Lyons Township High School Computer Club. Back then we had those wonderful TRS-80 computers and air conditioning to boot! (Back then only the Library, computer lab, and Offices had A/C). But I could count the number of friends I had on less than 1 hand. I didn't even miss not going to the Jr. and Sr. Prom.

On I went to Eastern Illinois University to study what would become a B.A. degree in Psychology of all things because I had to pick a major if I wanted to graduate in 4 years, and I was doing best in my Pschology courses. I loved to read as well as study the Spanish language, so I minored in both Creative Writing and Spanish.

Little did I know that I would meet the love of my life, the ONLY woman I ever dated in my entire life and marry her just out of Graduation. She came from a small farming community in south central Illinois called Effingham. It was she and her family that slowly began to draw me out of my selfishness and introspection.

You see, while they were dirt poor and my family and upbringing upper middle class, they taught me one thing that money can NEVER buy -- unconditional love for people for just their being them!

You see, when I grew up, love was always conditional and expressed in varying degrees. My brother was a jock, so dad went to EVERY ONE of his Football games. But when I had the chance to sing the entire Messiah my Freshman year at EIU, Daddy couldn't come because "they don't travel that far in the winter -- it's too dangerous". They would pay for airplanes to fly me home, but hardly ever pick me up, or only when it was convenient.

My parents-in-law-to-be, on the other hand, ALWAYS helped out. They'd go out of their way to pick us up on campus and take us places. Simple things really, like picnics, walks in the park, and spur-of-the-moment road trips to the malls of Champaign-Urbana 45 miles away.

My wife-to-be and my parents-in-law taught me that the love of money only leaves a big, empty hole in your heart that even all the trappings James Bond had couldn't satsfy. They tought me how to love people unconditionally.

And tonight I watched the movie Cars with our two children Marissa (8) and Ross (4) in their bedroom along with my wife, it felt so good to have one child on each shoulder, snuggling down, going to sleep and to hear them say out of the blue several times during the evening "I love you daddy!"

So how does all this sappy stuff relate to Business and Mr. Joe Schroeder?

It's simple really.

This weekend and these movies help solidify the idea that PEOPLE MATTER! And as you make more and more money in this world, it is absolutely crucial that you don't forget where you came from and to help those in need!

In order to get, one truly does have to give and be generous.

Brad Pollina
Your Good News Merchant
(314) 485-4528
Come learn how I now leverage my time and enjoy optimization.