Evolving towards unhappiness?



My days felt sluggish. Have you ever felt like your body was walking through mud?  This is how I felt.  Work was not challenging me, and it had been three weeks since I had been to the gym. I wanted to get back, but only out of habit.  Then, in the middle of my workout, after I’d pushed past the point when my mind had told me to stop, I was overwhelmed, but not from any physical pain.  I realized how much I needed a consistent challenge in my life, and I wondered: Do most people get challenged in their daily lives?

Challenges bring us happiness

I looked in the gym mirror, breathing deeply. I saw past my face and looked into my eyes, and everything fell away. I didn’t worry about what I needed to do later, or what I should be doing next week. Their time would come, but right now, I knew I was ready, and whatever happened, it would be ok.  I took the barbell onto my back smoothly, and balanced it there, feet planted firmly on the ground, and I gazed forward undistracted, but then I thought: Why don’t I feel like this all the time?

Work gives value to our life

Today we have evolved to get things done faster and with less work.  Or we’ve evolved to a point we don’t need to do them at all. In the past, the time we spent resulted in a barn, a pair of pants, or a tasty meal. With exercise, there is nothing tangible.   All we gain is the feeling that we’ve challenged our whole being, our heart, mind, every living part of us. It is a happiness that lasts all day, and can integrate into our whole life.

I think this is something we can all afford to spend time doing.

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It’s easy to follow the crowd, even when the crowd is wrong

I went to a fitness expo and was walking by the vendor booths, where they were giving away samples of supplements and magazines. I was walking around the side of the area, past an unmarked table that was stacked with packages of sports drinks. I saw a person reach in a package and take a bottle. Soon there was another person, and then another, and then a whole crowd of people started taking bottles. A few people even grabbed a whole package! Soon, a sale representative of the company selling the product noticed and came over to stop it.

I wanted to steal a bottle or two after I saw that there were so many people who were involved. I thought that it wasn’t really wrong since the company was planning on giving it away. I don’t feel good about my inaction, because I should have said something to prevent others from stealing.  And then I thought of my banking.

What does stealing sports drinks have to do with your bank?

The name of the bank is Goldman Sachs, and it made some really bad investments worth $1.2 billion. To try to save itself, it sold the investments to its customers and then made a $2 billion bet that the investments would crash. It didn’t tell its customers it bet against the investment.  And then the investments did, in fact, crash.  The federal government fined Goldman Sachs $550 million for fraud, and then gave it about $13 billion to keep it and its customers from going bankrupt.

As an individual, you have little power, but together, we can make a moral society

Would it have made a difference if I had said something while people were stealing the sports drinks? Possibly. There may have been too many people for my voice to have made a difference. Individual action has little power. But when that one person who speaks out becomes two people, and two becomes four, and four becomes thousands, then our actions become quite influential.  Because other people continue to use Goldman Sachs as their investment bank does not make it right.  Neither does our government allowing the bank to continue doing business. Tell three of your friends about what Goldman Sachs did to its customers and let’s ask ourselves whether we want to support a dishonest business.

I know we will make the right choice.

For details on the Goldman Sachs fraud, please go to the Rolling Stone article

Do the right thing, especially when no one else does

Tomorrow is Monday, the head of the work week but the weekend is recess time. This is my life, like it is for most of you, but this blog is about jumping off the swing between play and work.

I was sitting by the pool one weekend, reading The Art of Non-Conformity, by Chris Guillebeau. The book is one of the main drivers that has empowered me to let go of the swing. I recommend setting aside a snippet of your day for one week to have Chris realign your perception of work and life. As I lay on my lounge chair reading, I noticed two young girls jumping into the pool. I saw one climb up on a molded plastic chair. The chair wobbled and tipped slightly as she jumped into the water. I watched the other girl start climbing up on the chair. I spoke forcefully across the pool, “You guys, that is bad idea.” They both immediately stopped what they were doing. One of them quietly said, “Ok.”

There was a couple close-by to me and the guy said, “Good going, man.”

I replied, “I couldn’t help saying something. It would ruin my day to see someone wreck themselves right in front of me.”

And the two girls were right in front of us all. It was a small pool, with at least five other people besides me sitting around it.  Why hadn’t anyone said anything?

During the week, we gather into groups, in our offices, managed by others and by our schedules. We know our responsibility there. When we are not working, we are back on the playground, but without our teacher. Whose job is it to supervise? We supervise ourselves. We decide when something is right or wrong and it is our responsibility to speak up.

I felt good after preventing the girls from having an accident. But I felt strange that I had hesitated because of the acceptance of the others.  I think everyone has the same sense of right and wrong. We just need to be reminded that we can express it, and take responsibility for something outside of our work description. We should not be afraid to speak out even though no one else will.

Our existence as human beings depends on it.