Tag Archives: Philosophy

An Acceptable Level of Chaos

The known and the unknown.  Order and its opposite – disorder, mess, chaos.  The traditional dramatic struggle is between good and evil, but every day life’s struggle is in the intersection between order and control or varying levels of chaos.  Even people who aren’t drawn to structure, who are comfortable in ambiguity, need some touch points of order – normalcy.

 

Whether we actively and consciously understand our own needs for order, or we lash out in unease caused by too much chaos too close, every one of us has an acceptable level of chaos.  When we can still mostly function, beyond which we get bogged down.

The Course of Empire Thomas Cole, 1836 - public domain image

The Course of Empire Thomas Cole, 1836 – public domain image

 

Somehow I learned fairly early on that I could create some of the structure that I need to feel comfortable in my environment.  I am thankful for this since it has greatly helped me to navigate my life.  I know immediately that when anxiety starts to build that I should take a breather, mentally take stock in all that is going on around me and identify a few simple things that I can straighten out.  I know that to press on will be foolish – and yet sometimes I press on.

 

Even knowing the level of order that I prefer, having such an interest in problem solving as I do, I am finding that the level of complexity in our modern life – the amount of oversight and active monitoring that is necessary on my part to get an acceptable level of service from the companies and people that I interact with – is exhausting.  I can’t begin to imagine how people who have a much stronger need for order, or people who find standing up for themselves a challenge, manage these interactions.

 

I didn’t mean to sound stilted in this post, but I am trying to wrap my head around a solution to this encroaching chaos.  It feels too close lately, in too many areas of my life.  Naming it is the first step to a solution.  Finding joy, or having a laugh will reduce the anxiety while I continue to sort through.  Finding some easy wins will give me a little boost of energy to press on.

 

How are you managing your chaos?

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Breaking the Escalation Pattern

How many times do we see the news or hear about a situation when we think how did it get to that point?  Why didn’t someone intervene, somehow put a stop to it?

 

When to step in?  How to step in?  Who should step in?

 

I don’t remember how old my boys were when I started to talk to them about the part they could play in keeping things from escalating to a point where there is a loss of control and something unfortunate results.  Somewhere in their grade school years, long before their brains would mature enough to develop impulse control.  (Of course, age doesn’t always correlate to impulse control.)

public domain image

public domain image

 

The calmest among us still has a trigger or two – perhaps one or both of the universal triggers, hunger and lack of sleep.  The calmest people are less likely to be set off by their very calm nature, do they also better understand how to take action to keep their surroundings more serene?  Or how best to respond to chaotic surroundings to keep themselves serene?

 

We are under constant bombardment from outside forces – bills, relationship pressures, the world around us – which can keep us at a low simmer.  Add in one more aggravation and it might make a volatile mix.  What do we each do to understand our own simmer, our own triggers; what do we each do to counteract or prevent our triggers from being tripped?

 

Diffusing a volatile situation takes some skill, but helping ourselves, a friend or a family member to ease down their simmer is a much simpler and more pleasant task.  Breaking the escalation pattern early, before it even has a chance to start, is sometimes as simple as getting a meal with a friend, sharing a laugh or offering a hug.

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Different isn’t Deficient

When I was learning to drive, no one said that your foot had to always be on a pedal – either the gas or the brake.  Maybe my dad actually said coasting bought me some time to think about the right way to handle an oncoming situation and maybe I figured it out as I gained experience.  I don’t exactly recall.  But I did teach my boys that you can coast sometimes.

 

Similarly, somewhere along the line I realized that there are more categories than right and wrong.  I don’t have to put something or someone into a ‘right’ or a ‘wrong’ category when they are different from my own understanding of the world and I need time to think about how I think about them.  So things and people that I don’t readily understand go into the different area for further evaluation.

 

Different isn’t a good or a bad thing, it isn’t more than or lesser than what I do feel confident that I understand.  It isn’t deficient.  It is just different – different than what is familiar to me, sometimes just slightly so and sometimes radically so.

they all hold liquid to quench thirst...

they all hold liquid to quench thirst…

 

I can grow to understand different.  I can learn from it.  If I decided that it was wrong because I didn’t understand it, then I could never hope to understand it and learning from it would be a much more difficult proposition.

 

My son who loves to cook asked me to give onions, specially prepared by him, a try even though he knew that I’ve disliked onions all my life.  He just wanted me to move a category of onions, ones that he has prepared into the different area.  I resisted.  He persisted and now sometimes I eat onions.  They haven’t moved into the ‘right’ category exactly, but I eat them and even allow that they add to the overall flavor of a dish.

 

There are things that should not go into ‘different’ – people or situations that make you less than you should be, or make you feel uncomfortable, in danger.  Anything that really belongs in the ‘wrong’ space.  Different isn’t meant to remove this option.  Just to provide an option for an unknown that deserves an opportunity to prove it’s worth.

 

I think of times when I was quick to judge and came out wrong because I didn’t take some things into account.  I remember a story of a long road trip, a broken gas line and some questionable looking teens who made sure that my mom and sister got home safely despite my mom judging them initially on their appearance.

 

Do you have a ‘different’ category where you set things aside for further consideration?

 

© 2014 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations

Directionless Progress

Let’s face it, sometimes it really isn’t clear what our next step should be – in our career or in life.  We can ask friends, coworkers and family for assistance or suggestions and we will get varying opinions and conjecture but it is up to us to create the direction.  Since we expect life to be ever advancing and improving we put a lot of import on making the right decision about direction.

 

Maybe it is our years in school that give us this impression of life as continuing advancement.  We have to learn the basics to build on with later, more specialized classes – calculus won’t make sense until we know the fundamentals of math.  Each grade builds on the information gained in previous grades, and school goes on and on for what feels like forever.  But life doesn’t really work this way, so in that respect school hasn’t prepared us at all.

DSC03746

If only it were as simple as a video game where the arrows show up ahead as you drive to tell you the next stage of your route.  Instead we have to explore, experiment and experience occasional false starts.  Or seem to stay in place while the world moves forward without our active participation.

 

If we don’t have clear direction, can we really make progress?  If we decide to change direction does that negate everything that we did toward our old progress?  Who is to say that all of us are meant to click into a certain track in our early twenties and follow it through thirty odd years of a career without any pause or deviation?

 

I haven’t taken anywhere near a traditional path (assuming traditional is that set 30 year career track).  I think that I’ve done all right with my progress despite some meandering directions – mainly because I have learned so much along the way.   In fact, since learning has been a main goal, I could say that I really didn’t meander in my direction in that respect.

 

How do you define progress for yourself?

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Cultivate Your Inner Two-Year-Old

I don’t think that this post will interest people who like to have a steady, few task oriented occupation.  I was thinking the other day that 2 year olds have it right to be so inquisitive.  The world is more interesting when you want to learn more about the things around you – how they work, why they are the way that they are.

 

Going farther back, I had a revelation about colic as I tried to soothe my sons when they were babies.  And suddenly I saw the world as they saw it and while my realization didn’t ease my own exhaustion and wish that they would just stop crying, it did give me empathy to continue my quest to bring them peace.  The revelation was just this – there is a tremendous amount of stimulation around us every waking moment of every day, lights, sounds, movement, touch and our senses are bombarded, we have learned how to process it all to the point that we are nearly unaware of how much stimulation is around.  But to a baby it is all new and disorienting.

 

By the age of 2, we can filter through the familiar stimuli and get drawn to anything new that tickles our senses.  We explore this new thing with delight and share this pleasure with anyone who might be around.  Who can’t help but be charmed?

DSC03720

Somewhere along the line, the curiosity and delight in new things dries up for many of us.  New things might start to mean more to do, or harder to understand, or any number of unpleasant associations.  Sadly.

 

I won’t deny that much of this reasoning can be true, but we miss out on new things that could be good by this wholesale shutting down.  I was thinking the other day about one of my least favorite responses to the cheerful good morning that I offer around the office, which is ‘what’s good about it?’.  I’ve gone to the effort to fire up my cheer and get a snarl in return?

 

Well, here is my hard-won answer to that question – the possibility.  I’m breezing through my own apprehensions and morning grumpy to cultivate my inner two-year-old.  There is possibility for something interesting, potentially delightful just ahead.  And I don’t want to miss it because I filtered it out.  If I channel this inner curiosity, I might just make more opportunities for myself at work by expanding my knowledge of the how and why of my work place.  What do you think?

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Getting to ‘Normal’

I usually keep Christmas décor up until on or about January 6th, so now I am in the process of taking it down.  Getting back to ‘normal’.  In our house this often means this pile up of Christmas that you see in the picture.  Almost every piece tells a story – of the person who gave it to me, or the shopping trip when I found it, or a family member no longer with us.  Sometimes I need an interim period before I’m ready to pack everything away until next year. 

DSC03718 

The rest of the house looks a bit spare and bare now stripped back to its standard decorations.  Normal.  Not festive.

 

Outside the snow blows and looks bleak.  Normal January.  No green except tiny spots of evergreens waiting under snow mounds.

 

I used to briskly put away Christmas items in one fell swoop, the boys would leave for school a day or two after winter break ended seeing Christmas and come home to regular, every day house.  Festive to normal in a few frenzied hours.  Now I put out less of our Christmas bounty and take much longer to bring myself to store it.

 

I think more about what normal means.  All of its definitions and connotations.  How normal shifts all of the time, even while we think it is safe and steady.  Normal is sturdy, utilitarian – without sparkle – background expected to support effectively without attention or effort.  Certainly not expected to crack, break or suddenly alter to something unfamiliar.

 

Here in Illinois, Normal is actually a place on the map that you can visit or live if you choose.  For a little while The New Normal was a show that we could all watch on TV, though I don’t think that it lasted.  ‘You’re not normal’ probably still shoots around schools as an effective epithet, meant to lance an offender, real or imagined, to the quick.

 

How do you feel about normal?

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

That Snap into Place Feeling

Legos go together with a satisfying snap.  Lids on containers of all shapes and sizes are snuggly in place when they snap.  Locks are set when we here that snick, and doors shut tight with a click.  Now we know that at least that particular item is secure.  There is plenty of unknown only feet away, so giving ourselves any kind of assurance of safety is paramount.

DSC03637

If only the right decision would offer the same satisfying snap when we land upon it.  Particularly with the big scary decisions that we sometimes have to make with little information or time to contemplate.  Have that surgery, go for the short sale or ride the foreclosure, change careers or stay the course, time to put dad in the nursing home?  All of the options have down sides and leave us feeling slightly ill – no snap involved.

Every once in a great while a decision will come with an immediate snap, reinforcement that it was just the right decision for us for that moment, for that situation.  Because if we take the same option the next time, it doesn’t always turn out so well.  What the???  Crap, I thought that was The right decision – as in my go-to from here on out.  The moment was no longer right, some alignment was different and no snap resulted.

The initial evaluations, weighing of options are tough enough.  Did we apply the right parameters, ask the right questions to get a clear understanding?  But then the re-evaluation starts with the smallest opening of doubt.  ‘I didn’t think about this, consider that point, take into account for this other…’  If only I’d gotten that snap, or known it was coming, then I would have kept looking for a better option.

I always thought that part of being an adult would be a strong ability to make solid decisions.  Ha.  The adults around me seemed to know what they were doing, to be making decisions with snap in them because they didn’t let me see the machinations and ruminations that went into the decisions not because they had a perfect sense on how to make good decisions.

I’m going to keep searching for a snappy decision making method, in the meantime I’m going to snap together some Legos.

© 2013 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

The Quality of Sound

It looks as though we may be in for a cold and snowy winter season.  I’m sure that some of you are smiling and cheering but I am equally sure that there are plenty in my camp of winter endurers.  I believe that I have mentioned before some of the litany of why I am not a fan of winter – there is the cold, the snow, the slush, the cold, salt everywhere, exponentially bad driving and the cold.  Did I mention the cold?  I am also worn down by the monochromatic vistas – wonderfully dotted with Christmas decorations for the next couple of weeks.

But I digress.  There is one thing about winter that pleases me, which I rediscover every year.  This thing that quietly delights me is the quality of the sound when there is a blanket of snow on the ground.  The snow brings a silence that is very welcome in this time of electronic beeps, dings, trills, buzzes, and tweets.  Nature has many methods of redirecting our attention to joys it has to offer.

Looking for a means to soothe your hectic pre-Christmas day, go out into your backyard for a few minutes to commune with the quality of sound.  Softer sounds are muffled as the snow acts as natural baffles and round out many noises.  Sharp sounds crack, shattering the brittle cold air but are quickly replaced with that enveloping silence.

DSC03639

To get the full effect it is best to get to a park or nature preserve or any tract which is populated more by trees than the constructs of humans, but it isn’t entirely necessary.  Especially after dark.  Your backyard will do nicely.  If you haven’t taken the time to experience the way that snow changes sounds since childhood, I suggest that it is high time that you do so.

The crunch as you break through the crust of the snow, the sound of your own breath, the rustle of small animals, and the creaks and cracks of trees shifting under the weight of the snow.  These are the little gifts of winter.

© 2013 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Boosting that Mood

(I admit to updating this post from last year, see my recent post on the busy season as my excuse.)

 

Memories of Christmases past

Memories of Christmases past

This is the happiest, most joyful time of the year.  Or it is supposed to be, so I thought it appropriate to remember that regardless of evidence to the contrary, there is always joy to be found.  I learned this from my mom who was the most perennially positive person I have ever known.  Personally, I tend to melancholy, but having been raised within the realm of her spirit of joy, I am now the most upbeat melancholic you will ever meet.

 

Mom sang – whether to express actual joy or to bring it when it was flagging.  She would just burst into a specific song, ring out a few notes, or hum.  She would also ‘throng’ (her word) upon the piano.  I find myself doing the same, usually making up nonsense verses based on known songs.  This is because I discovered as I moved farther into adulthood that the singing was like a talisman against negativity.

 

Singing is my ritual.  Not, that I am any good – but that isn’t the point.

 

There is a power to ritual that we modern people seem to have forgotten.  We leave rituals inside the place of worship for the most part and we shouldn’t.  Rituals are soothing and can focus or refocus the mind to a more positive bent in the midst of a hectic day.  The one ritual I can think of outside of religion is the making and drinking of tea.  What rituals do you follow?

 

“Happiness is the whole aim and end of human existence.”

~Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics

 

Rut is the ugly side of rituals; these are bad habits that we get into that encourage negative feelings for the most part.  We should all take care to root ruts out of our days by replacing them with simple rituals that will refocus our minds to the potential good things going on.

 

6 Happiness Tools from What Happy People Know:

  1. Appreciation
  2. Choice
  3. Personal Power
  4. Leading with your Strengths
  5. The Power of Language & Stories
  6. Multidimensional Living

Dan Baker, PhD. & Cameron Stauth

 

I hope you discover some joyful rituals in the coming days.  And if you hear someone humming down the aisle from you in the store, it might be me so give that person a smile as you pass.

 

© 2013 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Revisiting a Question

We back away, brush our hands off and think, ‘whew, that’s done now on to the next thing’ – problem solved, to-do checked off the list.  File it away.  Next.  But what if it isn’t?  What if in a few weeks, or months, or even years something happens to make us have to go through it all again; possibly even come to a different conclusion?

 

The medical community has revamped the protocols for cholesterol and statin use and that seems to have knocked people for a loop.  That question was resolved, we all thought anyway.  But life is cyclical, we learn new things on some other topic and the ripple effect can alter the decisions that seemed set in stone just a short while before.

 

“That is the one thing that I’ve learned, that it is possible to really understand things at certain points, and not be able to retain them, to be in utter confusion just a short while later.  I used to think that once you really knew a thing, its truth would shine forever.”

~ Lucy Grealy

Capture

It seems a bit like Lucy and I aren’t coming at this issue in quite the same way, but I think that we really are.  Where she mentions retain, it might be about keeping the knowledge fresh in our own memory, but it could also mean keeping it solid in light of new information or experiences.  Almost anything that we think we know is based almost entirely upon the context in which we know it.  If the context changes, our understanding of the thing can be thrown into confusion.

 

It might seem as though we are moving backward in revisiting a question, but if we are looking at it with fresh eyes and understanding then it is actually a good thing.  When the elements that went into the original answer have changed, then the nature of the question and the basis of the solution might be wholly different.

 

It isn’t a retread at all then, but a deepening and broadening of understanding.

 

© 2013 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

The Sarcastic Muse

Writing. Information. Inspiration. Sarcasm guaranteed.

Stefanie O'Connell

Just another WordPress.com site

Retirement - Only the Beginning

Retirement Planning Beyond Financial

Voices In His Head

Recognized as Blog Of The Year! (unfortunately, it was given the year 1910, the start of the Great Depression)

O at the Edges

Musings on poetry, language, perception, numbers, food, and anything else that slips through the cracks.

Chicago Guy 14

Chicago's Street Corner Spirits

BAReed Writing, Business Writing

Clear, professional writing is closer than you think.

Dancing Beastie

Seasonal living in a Scottish castle

The Middlest Sister

There are 5 sisters. She's the middlest.

American Oz

Clear, professional writing is closer than you think.

Blog to Work

Blogging your way to a job.

rarasaur

frightfully wondrous things happen here.

somanyblogssolittletime.wordpress.com/

A good story can transform the way that you see the world.

Always The Write Time Blog

by CHRIS MADAY SCHMIDT

The Art of Non-Conformity

Clear, professional writing is closer than you think.

xplorenorthshore

Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever

Medievalists.net

Clear, professional writing is closer than you think.

The Creative Penn

Clear, professional writing is closer than you think.

Gifts Of The Journey

The Fearless Pursuit Of A Life Worth Living

BGeneric

Through The Glass Darkly

an interconnected life...

Discovering the threads that connect us, one story at a time.

TED Blog

The TED Blog shares news about TED Talks and TED Conferences.

animatingyourlife

A great WordPress.com site

Second Star to the Right

and straight on 'til morning

CAHOOTS

Success is meant to be shared

Bob Mayer

Write on the River

Farmlet

Living cheaply and richly on an acre in Puna, Hawaii

J T Weaver

When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose. — Dylan.

Gen Y Girl

Twentysomething. Annoyed with corporate BS. Obsessed with Gen Y. Not bratty. Just opinionated.

Jenna Dee

....living with a following wind