Downsize Your Life

Have you ever spent a day cleaning out your garage or cellar and then found that it really made you feel good? Well why not apply this theory to your life.?We tend to collect a lot of stuff through the years and much of this tends to get stored away, never to be seen again. Or sometimes it just becomes a source of something more to worry about. The older we get, the more important it becomes to simplify our lives. Here are some of the things that you should simplify.

Simplify Your Schedule. Here is an interesting and simple way of looking at how to reduce and clean up your schedule.

  • Make a list of things that make you happy.
  • Make a list of things you do every day.
  • Compare these lists.
  • Adjust accordingly

How many things are taking up your time that don’t either make you happy or add excitement and beauty to your life? Make a list of things you HAVE to do and a list of things that you WANT to do. What are some of the things on the HAVE to list that you can sacrifice to give you more time for your WANTS? Can you plan your day so that it includes special time periods to assure that you are doing some of the things you really want to do. For example, among other things I love to read, write, and listen to music. So I set aside certain times during the day to do these. Some of the things you love can be done simultaneously (like listening to music while writing), so work on building your multi-tasking skills.

Simplify Your Expectations – Shoot From the ‘Golds’. Sometimes, when we are feeling stressed out, it may be because we are expecting too much of ourselves. You may expect to be perfect at everything. You may have a need to be better than your friends and associates. You may have set your goals much too high. If your expectations are too complex and out of reach, your inability to achieve them may make you very unhappy. Take a serious look at your expectations and reposition and resize them so that are challenging, but achievable. And, if you find you just have too many expectations, eliminate a few that really aren’t that important.

So what do I mean when I say, ‘shoot from the ‘golds’? If you are a golfer this will make a lot of sense to you. Most courses have multiple tee sites (blue, white, gold, and red) based up on the golfer’s ability. I am by no means a great golfer but felt that I should always shoot from the ‘whites’. That is until a friend told me that I would enjoy the game much more if I played from the ‘golds’. He said I’ve earned it because of my age – and he was dead right. My game is so much more enjoyable now.

Downsize Your Stuff. George Carlin did a wonderful skit which was all about “stuff”. Check it out on YouTube if you can before you read any further. I remember back when I had a growing family and decided to get one of those storage sites so that I could make more space in my home for more stuff. When my kids all left home I decided to close this, and ended up throwing out almost everything I had stored – for years!

It feels great when you downsize. Pick a certain spot and begin cleaning out. Throw out or sell anything that you haven’t used in a while. You may discover a lot of things which you’ve long ago forgotten about. Some of those rediscoveries may still add value to your life – you don’t have to toss everything. And you will likely find that your family may love a lot of those things you no longer need. Why not distribute some of your stuff to your family and friends?

Cast Aside Your Negative Thoughts. Negative thoughts have the power to block you from true happiness. Through the years, a lot of us develop negative thoughts about a number of things. There may be certain people you don’t like. Perhaps you have developed a strong bias or prejudice about certain people, politics, religions, lifestyles, practices, etc. I am the first to admit that I once had some negative thoughts about some of these things. But I have tried my best to eliminate these, and I think I have succeeded. And I feel much better because of this.

So here is what you need to do. Take a careful look at each of these areas for downsizing and simplifying your life. Have fun and enjoy the process. After you have succeeded in downsizing, focus on maintaining a simpler, less complicated life and make sure you don’t slip back to where you were before.

And now for something completely different! My new book will be out in a matter of a couple of weeks and I am excited about it. Here’s a sneak peek at it. I’ll keep you posted.

 

Fifty Shades Full Mockup

 “Enjoy the little things in life because one day you will look back and realize that they were the big things.”

The Black Dot Story

My apologies for being late with is post. I have been focusing on the completion of my new book, Fifty Shades of Growing Old; How To Grow Young in Your Second Fifty Years. More about that later.

For now, it’s time for another story. This one has been around for a while but I try to use it frequently in thinking about my own life, and you should too. Read it through a couple of times and then play with the questions that follow.

One day a professor entered the classroom and asked his students to prepare for a surprise test. They waited anxiously at their desks for the test to begin. The professor walked around the class and handed the question papers with the text facing downwards.

Once he handed them all out, he asked his students to turn the page and begin. To everyone’s surprise, there were no questions, but just a black dot in the center of the page. The professor thoroughly read through everyone’s bewildered expressions and said- “I want you to write what you see there.”

The perplexed students began to do what they had been asked to do.

At the end of the class, the professor took all the answer papers and started reading each one of them aloud in front of all the students. All of them with no exceptions described the black dot, trying to explain its position in the middle of the sheet, etc.  After all had been read, the classroom silent, the professor began to explain:

“I am not going to grade you on this test; I just wanted to give you something to think about. No one wrote about the white part of the paper. Everyone focused on the black dot – and the same happens in our lives. This is exactly what we end to do with our lives. We have a white paper to hold onto and enjoy, but we are so busy contemplating about the dark spots that’s in there. Life is a special gift and we will always have reasons to celebrate. It is changing and renewing everyday- our friends, jobs, livelihood, love, family, the miracles we see every day.”

And yet we insist on focusing only on the dark spots – the health issues that are bothering us, the money that we need to have, the luxuries we don’t have, complications in any relationship, problems with a family member, the disappointment with a friend and so on.

You need to realize that the dark spots are very small and only few. And yet we allow these to pollute our minds.

Take your eyes away from the black spots in your life. Enjoy each one of your blessings, each moment that life gives you.

Be happy and live a life positively!

What are the ‘black spots in your life that seem to command most of your attention? Jot them down on a piece of paper.

 

What might you do to eliminate, or reduce these ‘black spots’?

 

What are the ‘blessings’ you have in your life? Jot these down as well.

 

How might you focus more on these ‘blessings’?

 

Build a list of steps you want to take in your life to begin focusing your energy on all the miracles that lie outside your life’s ‘black spots’.

 

Live life to the fullest and be happy!

 

And now a little about my new book which I am very excited about. My fascination with the idea of ‘growing young’ is why I began this blog a few years ago. As I looked back on all the ideas I have been sharing with you all it occurred to me that this would make a wonderful book. I was originally going to call it “Scattered Thoughts on Growing Young’  because that’s what it is. Then I decided to give it the title, Fifty Shades of Growing Old; How To Grow Young in Your Second Fifty Years.

It should be out in paperback in just a few weeks followed shortly after by the Kindle version. Everyone over fifty will want this book!

 

Fifty Shades Full Mockup

 

Senior Discounts – You’ve Earned It!

There is one great advantage to being a senior, and that is that there are a lot of discounts available to you. You can find this information easily on the web but I thought I’d share it here, especially for those of you who may not be web browsers. Of course, this information is all subject to change but this will give you a good starting point. There are also a lot of discounts for those of you who are Veterans. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of these – you’ve earned it. And don’t be afraid to ask any vendor not on the list if they too have discounts.

Go to theseniorlist.com for a more detailed list about specific discounts. Here is a partial list of various categories that offer senior discounts:

  • Restaurants. There is a long list of these but, if your favorite is not on the list, ask and ‘ye maybe shall receive’.
  • Hotels. Probably every hotel has a senior discount but other options might be cheaper (AAA, Choice Privileges etc.)
  • Movies. Most movie houses offer discounts, mostly for daytime use.
  • National Parks. If you visit these often you should look into buying a Golden Pass which will give you free access forever as a senior.
  • Amusement Parks. Most amusement parks love seniors since they are often dragging along a bunch of grandkids.
  • Cruises.
  • Stores. Many stores have what they call, Senior Days, with some very good discounts.
  • Airlines.
  • Car Rentals and Public Transport.
  • Medicines. There are a lot of options for seniors in this area to discover.
  • Home Refinancing. HARP, Veterans Loans, and reverse mortgages are something you may want to explore if interested in refinancing your home.

As a veteran you are entitled to a number of benefits. Go to militarybenefits.info for more detailed information. Both Home Depot and Lowes offer a 10% discount to veterans which can come in real handy. Go to their service desks with your DD214 and they will set it up for you. And don’t be afraid to ask any vendor if they have veterans discounts. They will probably say yes and, if they say no, should be quite embarrassed. You’ve earned it big time! Florida (and perhaps some other states as well) has an option to have your veteran status on your license which comes in handy for identification purposes. Check your local licensing bureau for information.

“I’m not getting old. I’m just becoming a classic.”

Announcement!

Be on the lookout for my new book, Fifty Shades of Growing Old; How To Grow Young in Your Second Fifty Years. It should be out by mid-August.

The Beauty That Surrounds You

After losing my wife of 40 years, Jan, my life changed in so many ways. Some were expected, and some were not. One thing that I didn’t expect was that I would see beauty in some of the things around me that I never gave a second thought to. And things that I thought were beautiful before the loss took on a whole new meaning. I would hear things in songs and musical pieces that I never heard before. I began to see things in pictures that I didn’t remember being there before. Simple instances in nature would launch me into deep, introspective thought.

That life-changing experience taught me to see an entirely different world. The question I kept asking myself was:

“Why did I have to wait for something like this to happen before I could see all the beauty around me?”

So my advice to all of you is to focus on your world in a different way. Pretend you are a camera and look at your world using your telephoto lens, wide angle lens, cropping, portrait and landscape views etc. Look at things from as many vantage points as you can. Find the beauty in everything you see. Find things that are just downright ugly, and search for the beauty within. Find the beauty in people and things you really never cared for before. Find all the things that are beautiful about growing older. I guarantee your world will change when you do this.

You need to take advantage of this phenomenon and make it work for you. Take more walks, go to parks, notice the things around you, listen to the music and the sounds of nature, be aware of the various aromas that surround you, and experience the touch of everything you can. This will give you a great opportunity to explore the mysteries of life. You may not solve these mysteries but you’ll come a lot closer to understanding them – and you’ll be a better person for it.

As an aside, after losing my wife, Jan, I wrote my book, Surviving the Loss of Your Loved One; Jan’s Rainbow. Writing this was a major contribution to my recovery and it has continued to provide meaning to my life for the past 18 years. I firmly believe that when you help others, you help yourself. And this book has given hope and comfort to so many people. If you know someone who is experiencing loss why not give them the gift of hope?

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Your Life as an Iceberg

I have long thought that icebergs were great metaphors for life. I used them extensively in my consulting as an expert in creativity and innovation. What makes icebergs such an intriguing metaphor is the fact that such a small part of them appears above the surface. The so-called tip of the iceberg is what we see, but most of it is below the surface. This metaphor has all sorts of implications for you as you look more closely at your own life experience.

We tend to deal with those things above the surface that we can see. The part that lies beneath the surface tends to be ignored, but it doesn’t go away – it comes back to affect us eventually. People who have tried to deal with change have often been blocked in their attempts because they failed to change some of the powerful underlying assumptions and behaviors that influenced their results. If you try to make drastic changes to the tip of the iceberg, does the bottom of it change or go away?

  • How might you define the part of you that exists above the surface?
  • What are some of the things in your life that exist below the surface?
  • What is the impact of some of those things below the surface on your life?
  • What actions might be necessary to deal with these issues?

You may even want to draw a picture of a large iceberg and play with it for a while. Label the things that come to mind which define the tip, and those which exist below the surface. Think of everything you can and see what ideas come to mind regarding changes you may want to make in your life?

In dealing with your life challenges, there is a lot that lies beneath the surface. If we don’t work on that it will likely prevent us from changing. Think of your task as being to melt the iceberg (or at least partially melt it). You need to melt equal proportions of the tip and the mass below – otherwise it will become very unstable. For every issue that you deal with that is above the surface, you need to deal with multiple proportions of what is below.

Have fun with this exercise and beware of any approaching ships.

This has nothing to do with the topic of the day but I thought I’d bring it up anyway. I’ve had Amazon Prime for several years now and really think it’s a great deal. For about $100 per year you get free shipping on most products, a huge amount of free music and playlists, unlimited storage of your pictures, hundreds of prime videos, and more. I personally find I save more than the annual cost just with the free shipping each year. Check out my Pinterest site for a 30 day free trial and a lot more very interesting and surprising Amazon deals.

This is a perfect time to join because Amazon is having its annual Prime Day on July 16th when they offer some great deals.

 

The Story of Five Apes

Here’s a story I used often while helping organizations create breakthroughs in their thinking about the future. It may have some interesting implications on how you think of your own future.

In a cage there are five apes. In the cage hangs a banana on a string over some stairs. Before long, one ape will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana, but as soon as he touches the stairs, all the apes are sprayed with cold water.

After a while, another ape makes an attempt with the same result and all the apes are sprayed with water. After another while, if an ape tries to climb the stairs, the other apes will act to prevent it.

Now, remove one ape from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new ape sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his horror, all the other apes attack him. After another attempt and another attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted. 

Next, remove another of the original five apes and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm.

Replace another ape with a new one. The new one makes it to the stairs and is attacked as well. Two of the four apes that beat him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs, or why they are participating in the beating of the newest ape.

After replacing the fourth and fifth original apes, all the apes that have been sprayed with cold water have been replaced. Nevertheless, no ape ever again approaches the stairs.

 

Why not?  Because they all think that’s the way it’s always been done around here, and none of them question it.

Are there some things in your life that you do because you think, that’s the way it’s always been done? I bet you can find a few of these and, when you do, ask yourself how you can change it.

“Forever is composed of ‘nows’.”

Emily Dickenson

Using “Trim Tabs” in Your Life

Trim tabs are small surfaces connected to the trailing edge of a larger control surface on a boat or aircraft, used to control the trim of the controls, i.e. to counteract hydro- or aerodynamic forces and stabilize the boat or aircraft in a particular desired attitude without the need for the operator to constantly apply a control force. This is done by adjusting the angle of the tab relative to the larger surface.

Buckminster Fuller, one of the great geniuses of the 20th century, loved the metaphor of “trim tabs” for understanding how to leverage personal power. “Bucky” was famous for inventing the geodesic dome, and coining the word “synergy. After experiencing some rather challenging events in his life an interesting thought came to him:

Something hit me very hard once, thinking about what one little man could do. Think of the Queen Mary — the whole ship goes by and then comes the rudder. And there’s a tiny thing at the edge of the rudder called a trim tab. It’s a miniature rudder. Just moving the little trim tab builds a low pressure that pulls the rudder around.  It takes almost no effort at all. So I said that the little individual can be a trim tab that could give the power to one person to affect society

Why not think of the power of the trim tab metaphor in a more personal way? Instead of trying to change society, what about the changes it could make in your life? What personal trim tabs could you find to create small shifts in your awareness or behavior that might leverage a much larger effect in your life? How might the idea of trim tabs affect your life?

When I think about trim tabs, the first thing that pops into my mind is how something very small can have such a huge influence on something very massive. A relatively tiny trim tab will help to easily turn a large rudder which will in turn change the course of a massive ship or aircraft. Are there some things you can change in your life using one of your small trim tabs? Here are a few possibilities. Feel free to add some of your own.

Do small favors for your family and friends. You don’t have to paint your neighbors house or anything like that. Just keep an eye out for opportunities to help people out in ways that show you care. The reward to you could be some substantial positive changes in your relationships.

Don’t hesitate to thank people, and show your gratitude. Just the words, “thanks. I appreciate it”, can create a very positive change in how people feel about you.

Appreciate every moment of your life – even the small ones. Let the things you enjoy, no matter how small they seem, serve as trim tabs to steer you in the right direction.

Try to look at things you ’have to’ do in a different way. Learn how to look forward to them instead, and convince yourself that they are things that you ‘get to do’ rather than ’have to do’. That mental shift becomes a trim tab for change. You will begin feeling that you are lucky to be able to do anything in your life, even those things that you have been resisting. The more you can appreciate each moment in your life, the happier you will be.

Spend some time thinking about how some other trim tabs in your life can help you move forward in some exciting directions. And have some fun in the process.