Archive for April, 2012

April 29, 2012

Kreativ Blogger Award

I am very grateful to Currie Rose and to Holistic Me for nominating “Influence Versus Control” for the Kreativ Blogger Award! Currie has been very supportive of my little corner of the blogosphere. Currie has a great blog entitled “Based on a True Story”, which brings truth, humor, and a positive spirit. Holistic Me summarizes her own blog with the Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” I definitely agree with Holistic Me’s philosophy that we “are responsible for our own health and our own well-being. “ I encourage you to stop by these blogs because they are awesome!

The Kreativ Blogger Award works in a similar way to a chain mail, in that if you are nominated, you then nominate seven other blogs for the award in order to accept.

To those I nominate (and for everyone else), here are the rules:

▪   Thank the nominating blogger and provide a link to that blog

▪   Spread the love by nominating seven other bloggers, including their links

▪   Tell your readers seven things they may not already know about you

So, here are seven things about me:

  1. I grew up in Berkeley California. The odd thing about growing up in Berkeley is that people can have a preconceived notion about what those crazy Bezerkley people. When growing up I loved all of the café’s in the Telegraph Avenue area. I also loved going to the original Peet’s coffee. Ummm, coffee.
  2. My mother was an Art History Librarian and UC Berkeley. She was in charge of the Italian collection. I know very little about art history.
  3. My father was a soil engineer. However, I did not end up being good at math.
  4. I received my undergraduate degree in Psychology at University of California at Davis. For the record, I did not get into Berkeley.
  5. After UC Davis, I spent about a year as a substitute teacher for special education classes. This experience was influential in my career decision of becoming an occupational therapist in school-based practice.
  6. I went to “The Ohio State University” for OT school. Spending a few years with actual winter makes me appreciate the weather that I currently experience in San Diego.
  7. I am in the process of writing a book. I started “Influence Versus Control” to encourage me to write on a regular basis.

And my nominees for the Kreativ Blogger Award are (in no particular order!):

  1. David Kanigan – Great thoughts, quotes and images about choosing a positive response.
  2. A leaf in springtime – Inspiring art and ideas
  3. Jay the Baker – A sweat dose of positivity daily
  4. Goss Coaching – Great advice on getting where you want to go in life.
  5. Looking at the Sky – Best described by the author: “My thought today is to keep moving forward.  Looking for new things to create.  Finding new ideas that inspire you to move forward and learn more.”
  6. Momentum of Joy – “Where spirituality meets reality”.
  7. A Kiss of Bliss – Positive art and great ideas. Well written and encouraging.

 

Thank you all!

influenceversuscontrol.com

influenceversuscontrol.wordpress.com

 

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April 29, 2012

Responding to Life Events

One of the most influential equations that I have learned in my life has been:
E + R = O
For this equation;

  • E = Events
  • R = Your chosen response to an Event
  • O = The overall outcome

In the model, the “Event” is neutral. It is not “good” or “bad”, it is just a life circumstance. It is our Response to an event that will shape how we label or perceive the event in our minds. How we choose to respond to an event directly affects the overall outcome.

For example, imagine you are a school-aged kid being called a name by one of your classmates. You choose to respond by calling the other kid a worse name. The outcome is that the other kid hits you.

Imagine this scenario with a different response. You are a school-aged kid being called a name by one of your classmates. You ignore the other kid and move to the other side of the playground to be with a group of your friends. The outcome is that you have moved on with your day without conflict.

Let us look at this equation from an “Influence versus Control” perspective

  • E = Events – These are things that you typically can’t control. You may be able to influence factors leading up to events, but the event would have happened without you. Life events can be the small events such as being cut off in traffic or misplacing your house keys to major life events such as your house burning down or losing a family member.
  • R = Response – This is where you have some control. You can choose your response. When a life event happens, you can remember that there are multiple ways to respond to any situation and you can practice taking the time needed to evaluate your response. Since your response has a strong influence on the outcome, it is important to take personal responsibility for your responses to all life events.
  • O = Outcomes- This is an areas where we have influence. If we react “positively” to a situation, we are more likely to experience a “positive” outcome.

One Saturday, I experienced an opportunity to reflect on my responses to a common life situation. While playing with my children at the beach, I noticed that I no longer had my car keys. I could not use my phone to call my wife since my phone was locked in my car. My kids had just come out of the water and they were cold. There was a storm coming and rain was just minutes away.

In the past, this situation would have freaked me out. I would have become extremely frustrated and my blood pressure would have risen. Most likely, I would have started using expletives at an increasingly frequent level.

When I reflected on the fact that the only thing that I could control in this situation was my response to this situation, I was in a much better place for problem solving. I knew that there were just a limited amount of possible actions. First I unpacked all of our stuff to look for the key. Then I backtracked everywhere that we had been at the beach that day. Once I felt that I had just about exhausted all my options. I asked a fellow beach goer to barrow their cell phone. I called my wife to see if she could come pick us up. My wife’s phone went straight to voicemail, so the option of being “rescued” appeared off the table. While the kids played on a play structure, I went back to an area of the play area  that we had been playing before the key was lost and I started a grid search of the sand area looking for the key. After a while of searching,I found the key.

In this scenario, if had chosen to respond with anger, I could have “ruined” the day for my children and myself. By remaining calm, our family fun day continued on without incident. The next time “life happens”, remember you have the ability evaluate your response before you take action. When we chose to remain calm in a problematic situation, we are more likely to consider all of our options and problem solve effectively.

April 27, 2012

Go with the Flow

Photo Credit: http://www.cdc.gov/

Meditation is one method of getting into the right mind. We can also get “into our right minds” by getting into a “flow state”. A “flow state” or “getting in the groove” can occur when we perform an activity that  requires little thought that we love to do.

Last night, I played “Ping Pong” with a couple of my friends. When you get a good “rally” going, you can feel the “Groove” and then you focus less on your tthoughts. Getting into this “groove” is the most enjoyable aspect of the game. Yesterday afternoon, I was fortunate enough to go surfing. When the swelll is well organized and you have found the “sweet spot” of the break, you can fall into a groove and relax into taking off on waves. I find surfing to be a highly meditative practice.

When you are “in the flow”, you typically are so absorbed in the activity that you may not experience the passage of time. You will also be deeply rooted in the experience of NOW. Your focus may be so intense on the activity that you will be detached from your stream of conscious thoughts.

I have spoken with people that experience this “flow” experience through what they enjoy. Gardening, making art, playing music, running, biking, surfing, quilting, hiking can all be all lead to a flow experience.

What activities help you “go with the flow”?

April 26, 2012

Right Mind-ed-ness

Our left hemisphere is all about the past and the future and serves as the voice inside of our head. Our right hemisphere is all about the NOW and overall perception of being. 

One strategy of “getting into our right minds” is meditation. Meditation is the practice of detaching from one’s thoughts. Many people think that to engage in meditative practice, you have to absolutely free of conscious thoughts. In “Meditation in a New York Minute”,  Mark Thornton reviews many types of meditative practice. The one teaching that was the most valuable for me is that the initial focus of meditation is to detach from your thoughts. When meditating, you can still have your internal dialogue, but the goal is to detach and observe your thoughts as if they are just words floating by. In short, we breathe deeply and try to get in our right hemisphere.

If you are a recovering cynic such as myself, the mere mention of meditation may trigger a belief system that resists this concept. This resistant vision may include pictures of hippies with headbands across their long hair sitting on a grass field making daisy chains while chanting Ohmmm. At least, that was my internal response about six years ago.

Today, I look at meditation pragmatically. I have studied the effects of meditation on myself. The results of my “single-subject research design” (with very loose qualitative data) is that when I have the habit of meditating for at least five minutes per day, I am better able to detach from my thoughts. I also noticed that once I started to observe my thoughts objectively, I was better able to control my thoughts and to change my thought patterns.

In summary, Meditation allows up to observe and evaluate our thoughts and to increase awareness that we can be separate from our stream of thoughts.

Now meditation is good for the 20% of conscious thought that we can control. What do we do about the other 80% of unconscious thoughts and belief systems?

The short answer is….Work on it! On great way to work is through positive affirmations.

Again, six years ago my cynical self groaned a “good grief” every time I heard about positive affirmations. My belief system at that time was that positive affirmations are good for those “new age folks”. I had the comedic image of Al Frankin’s Stewart Smally  –

Affirmation helps re-shape our unconscious beliefs. The more we think and affirm our new belief and the more feeling that we attach to this belief, the more this new belief will become a part of our subconscious belief system. Positive affirmations can help improve our self-concept and self-confidence. Ironically, earlier this morning I was listening to a great podcast on self-confidence on “Life Habits”. http://lifehabits.net/2009/04/24/lh32-self-confidence/

In short, meditation and positive affirmations can be effective strateiges in re-shaping our thoughts and beliefs.

Happy thinking!

April 24, 2012

Don’t Judge a Book……

This weekend, I went down to the bay for a birthday party for one of our family friend’s four-year-old daughter’s birthday party. When we drove up to the picnic area, I noticed a “Biker Gang” in the picnic area next to us. There was loud “hip hop” music blasting on the sound system. Every few minutes, the air became full of the thunderous noise of another group of ten or more bikers arrived to the park. As we started the birthday party, there were at least 75 “bikers” at the park.

We have many brain processes that focus on survival. One of these brain processes is “heuristics”. Heuristics is a basic problem solving strategy that uses a limited amount of data to generate a conclusion. This is helpful for survival since we need to respond immediately to any pattern that looks like a threat. For example, if we are outside in the mountains at night and hear a sudden noise, we need to instantly decide if that noise is a group of deer moving away from us, or an approaching mountain lion. If we decided to spend extra time to make sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that the noise we heard was a mountain lion, it may be too late for us to get out the “threat zone”.

Socially, we are also programed to look for threats. We instinctively see people that have more similar characteristics to ourselves as not being a threat and those that are more dis-similar as being “outside our tribe” or a possible threat. Unfortunately, we may use this “heuristic” to evaluate people when there is no obvious threat. If we are in a social situation where there is no indication that someone is out to “do us wrong”, we need to use our conscious mind to suspend judgment.

At the Birthday party on the bay, I consciously reflected on the common cultural stereotype of a person that hangs out in a biker club. People typically imagine that people who associate in biker clubs as rough and tumble folks that are up to no good. When I decided to suspend judgment, I noticed that these guys had a bake sale, and a “bounce house” for the kids. One guy that was associated with the motorcycle club drove his ice cream truck to the motorcycle club meeting. Every “biker” that I spoke with was open and friendly. One of the “bikers” offered to help me move my Kayaks to the water. My kids had a good time with the “biker” crew. They were able to jump in the bounce house, they got cookies from the bake sale and they got ice cream from the ice cream truck.

As the old saying goes “you can’t judge a book by its’ cover”. Some times you need to gather more data to see the common humanity in all of us.

April 23, 2012

David Kanigan Rocks!

Live & Learn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Source: Mental Pinata via Observando

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April 20, 2012

Get Back on The Horse!

On Day 18 of the “Habit Change Challenge”, life got in the way. I decided to stay up late playing “Ping Pong” with a couple of friends. When I got home, my youngest child kept me awake the remainder of the night and early morning since he had difficulty sleeping. I chose to sleep next to him so he would feel more comfortable and sleep better. Since I did not get much sleep, most of the night, I decided to sleep in to 7 AM. Therefore, I did not exercise or meditate in the morning. In the evening, my wife and I had a birthday party to go to after work. When we got home, I feel asleep with my youngest when I put him to sleep. So, I on this day I strayed from the habits of logging my gratitude, successes, meditating and exercising.

I almost made it! I hope that if you took up this challenge that you are still going. If this is a competition, I hope that you beat me.

I am not a victim of certain circumstances. I made decisions about life priorities that allowed my new habits to fall into the background. I chose to spend time with people that I do not see as much and I had a lot of fun doing so. I had a great time playing games with my friends and going to an adult birthday party without my kids. I choose to prioritize sleep over my target habits. The sleep that I got felt good! I do not feel badly about the choices that I made these last few days.

I am “jumping back on the horse”. I am not giving up on my new habits. I am starting over with the resolve of going another 21 days of being consistent exercising, meditating, listening or reading affirmations and logging my successes & gratitude. I have made progress and I choose to reflect on my “setback” as “feedback” instead of “failure”.

From this setback, I had a few thoughts about “falling off the horse”:

  • 1)   Get back on the habit as soon as possible!
  • 2)   Look at the larger goal of what you want to change
  • 3)   View the break of habit as a “blip on the screen” and start over
  • 4)   Commit to the new habit “one day at a time”
  • 5)   Avoid letting the exception become the rule! If you break a rule once, do not think that it is OK to do it again since you are already “off track”.
  • 6)   Focus on how awesome it feels to keep moving forward towards you goals instead of any possible shame of making a “mistake”
  • 7)   Analyze what happened that lead to you getting off track and use that feedback to get back on track
  • 8)   Forgive yourself!

Remember, the ultimate goal is to appreciate all the good that is a part of your life and make choices that bring more opportunities to appreciate what you have. Have fun with your own adventure!

-Andrew

 

April 19, 2012

Chapter 2 – Hillside Elementary

Here is Chapter 2 of Connor’s book. More at hillsideelementary.wordpress.com

Hillside Elementary Book

Jake was the meanest boy in his class. Well, at least everyone thought he was. Even though he was really nice, things always seemed to happen that made him look bad, so everyone thought he was just plain mean.

“Hello, Jennifer, how are you?” asked Jake, smiling.

“Jake, if you don’t have nice things to say, don’t say anything at all!” yelled Jennifer.

Jake’s smile dropped onto the floor. He was totally confused.

Other students called Jake “Crabby Pants” behind his back.

“Why does everybody think I am so mean?” Jake wondered to himself. He felt like he might cry.

What Jake didn’t know was that last week’s substitute, Mrs. Hilda, was really a witch. Mrs. Hilda had cast a spell on the class that made everyone nice seem mean, and everyone mean seem nice.

Mrs. Hilda was substituting again this morning. Jake was hoping to read his book on…

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April 19, 2012

Parental Pride

Hello all,

I was informed that my 8 year old son just one a Poetry Contest! In his honor, I have posted the first chapter of a book that he has been working on.

Enjoy!

Hillside Elementary – Chapter 1 – Room 43 (re-posted from hillsideelementary.wordpress.com)

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Mrs. Anderson entered Rm. 43. Everyone was chewing gum except for one person, Jake. Mrs. Anderson walked right up to him and said,” Young Man, there is no chewing gum in class!”

“ But I’m not chewing gum at all! See?” Jake opened his mouth to show Mrs. Anderson.

“Oh My! You swallowed your gum! Go to the school nurse this instant!” yelled Mrs. Anderson..

“Yeah, Jake, have fun at the school nurse!” yelled Ron chomping on his gum.

“Yeah, have a great time!” yelled Jane.

“So, we have lots of learning to do. First, we will start with long division,” said Mrs. Anderson.

“But we haven’t even done long subtraction,” added Brian.

Mrs. Anderson let out a long sigh. “OK Brian, what is 75-41?”

“Um. Uhhhh…,” stammered Brian, “Is it 34?”

“Yes, you are correct!” said Mrs. Anderson.

“I was?” asked Brian.

“What is 86-43, James?” asked Mrs. Anderson.

Before James could answer, Jake burst into the room.

“43!” he screamed. It just so happened that Jake was coming back to class from the nurse’s office. He had been counting the rooms out loud. “39. 40. 41. 42…” Just as he got to Room 43, his classroom he screamed, “43!” and entered the classroom.

“ Although Jake is correct,” said Mrs. Anderson, “He was speaking without raising his hand. Jake, Principal’s office please!”

This type of thing went on for the rest of the day. First, the water fountain broke as he was trying to get some water, squirting Bridget with water. Then he left his retainer on his lunch tray and accidentally threw it away. He and Mr. Davis spent two hours searching the garbage for it.

He spent over half the day in the principal’s office and the rest covered in spaghetti and meatballs. By the time his mom picked him up, he was tired, smelly, and he hadn’t learned a thing.

April 17, 2012

Priorities

It is very challenging to get where you want to go without establishing some priorities. Without establishing priorities, everything has equal weight or equal urgency. This could result in either a) everything needs to be done NOW and you feel overwhelmed and panicked or b) everything could be done “whenever” and progress is easily procrastinated.

In my job, I have had more experience working with people who have difficulty placing everything in the “oh no it’s a crisis and everything needs to be done now” category. In my opinion, these folks are easier to help than the class of “why should I bother performing my basic job duties” or the “if I procrastinate long enough, someone else will do it” group. People in the “crisis now” category are motivated to take action; they just have more difficulty knowing what to do first. Setting priorities helps classify work tasks into “what needs to be done now” versus “I will get to this when I can”. By establishing what needs to be accomplished first, we can focus on one thing at a time and give our full attention to the present moment.

When working in an organization, it is helpful to understand that organization’s institutional priorities. In almost all jobs, there are essential tasks that absolutely must be completed. Additionally, most jobs have time sensitive projects and tasks with absolute deadlines. We can also determine what aspects are important to our supervisor. Therefore, in most job situations we can determine the job priorities just by paying attention to our work environment or by collaborating with our co-workers.

Setting life priorities help us organize all aspects of our daily routines. Priorities help us budget time, energy and finances to the things that we hold to be most important. A very important element of setting our own life’s priorities is being honest. We need to reflect on what is truly meaningful in our lives instead of following a dream that was dictated to us by our parents or by copying the lifestyle of our peer group without some level of reflection. For myself, time with my family is the highest priority. If will re-arrange my work schedule (if allowed by my supervisor) to make sure that my family is taken care of. I make sure that I spend time each day to spend with my children. There are other people that I know that do not have children and prioritize engaging in leisure activities. In this example, our life priorities are just different and it is pointless to label one’s priorities as “good” or “bad”. However, I do feel that it would be harmful to prioritize a life activity that has little meaning in our life.

Many people know Randy Pausch for his book and viral YouTube video “The Last Lecture”. However Randy Pausch also gave a great lecture on time management during the last year of his life. One of the best strategies he shared on time management was based on priorities. The first step of this exercise is to establish you basic “to do list”. Once you have everything listed, you sort each item into four categories; important, due now, unimportant due now, important, due later, unimportant, due later. Most people habitually prioritize based on due date. The crucial point of this exercise is that you prioritize based on importance! Therefore, your classification would be:

  1. Important, due now
  2. Important, due later
  3. Unimportant, due now
  4. Unimportant, due later

Once we understand what is important to us, we can allocate our resources appropriately. Since our time is described as our most valuable resource, it is best that we spend it wisely.

I hope that you are able to find the time to do the things you find most valuable in your life!