Optimism By Education

It is difficult to face every situation with a smile. I’ve discovered one trick that helps make even the toughest moments in life acceptable: approach every situation – good or bad – as an opportunity to learn. It may not turn coal into cheesecake, but at least you can walk away with the most important spoil of war: a life lesson. Few people will help you navigate life this way. It’s up to you to step back from the situation, take notes and review. The more you reflect on life’s lessons, the more prepared you will be to tackle any problem. With the poise and experience to tackle any problem, you may yet find yourself less unhappy and more excited by all that life has to offer.

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Side By Side

As much as it pains me to quote a Quentin Tarantino film on my blog, awkward silences always make me think of Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction: “Why do we feel it’s necessary to yak about bullshit in order to be comfortable?” You don’t need to flap your gums all the time. There are other ways to communicate and experience relationships. Sometimes it’s just nice to sit there with someone. Enjoy the company. Feel the breeze. Live life – and remember you’re living it together. I will never bash good conversation. But some of the best moments in life go unspoken.

Embrace the New Day

Every day is a new day. Put yesterday behind you and start out fresh. No grudges, no lingering stress, no bad memories – only the positive energy to move forward and seize the day. Ignore the past if you need to – whatever it takes to move forward with confidence and peace of mind. A fresh attitude and perspective can make a big difference in tackling life’s persisting problems. Get a good night sleep, forgive your past and face the day with the determination to make it a good one.

Love

People matter. Not process. Not systems. Not politics. Not technology. Your users or customers matter, not your product. Conversation matters, not social media or tools. Your employees matter, not your organization. Without people, none of these things would exist. Without people, you would be alone. Without people, what’s the point?

Take care of people. If you do, people will take care of you. What goes around really does come around. Don’t expect a return on your compassion – that defeats the point. But love with all your heart. Show everyone an unconstrained level of compassion. Let them know you care. Let them know they are important to you. Put them first. Love your friends, your family, your team. Love, even when you do not feel loved. Love helps your world go ‘round.

Wait

I spent my early years looking forward to summer breaks, movie releases, Christmas and vacations. I would wish my life away until the events came. Sometimes, my wish would come true and time would blow by. Other times, the waiting period would drag on and time would turn into my enemy. The older I get, the more I appreciate how finite time is. I don’t like wishing my life away anymore – it already moves too fast as it is. Before we know it, we’re all old and wishing for time to slow down. Wait for things you can’t wait for. Enjoy time while you’ve got it.

Sitting on a puzzle you can’t solve? Sometimes all you can do is wait it out and take a stab at it later. Passing time builds perspective. Wait a week and look at the puzzle again – perhaps by then you’ll have the experience and fresh eyes to solve the problem. They say patience is a virtue and time heals all wounds. I think both patience and time are valuable resources that, if budgeted correctly, can enable a fruitful, productive and fulfilling life.

Take Notes

What’s the value of stumbling through life and making mistakes if you do not make an active effort to record and study lessons learned? I keep a small Moleskine, Evernote or Google Docs notebook at my fingertips at all times. I take note of bad days, obstacles, discoveries, conversations, ideas and victories (for the record, Android dictation thought I said “a pekingese”). Ninety percent of this blog comes from notes I take day-to-day.

That said, notes are not enough. If you do not organize, consolidate or review your notes, what’s the point of having them at all? In practice, I tend to reduce pages-upon-pages into single fortune cookie-sized takeaways. I put them on sticky notes in discrete places that perpetually inform my decisions and the quality of my day.

Chronicle, recycle and learn from the past. It can sugar-coat your life journey as a personal parable.