Pay attention. I am not kidding. Really.

Tag: live successfully

Living Well 1

profile view of Teddy Roosevelt facing his statement about what self-discipline is

Pay attention to the simple, “little” things.

Most of us, thank goodness, don’t love money; we love what money can DO for us – allow us to live well. A key component of living well (and one of the most powerful stress-busters known to modern man) is living within our means.

Yeah. Yeah. It’s a sneaky way of backing into the real topic of this three-part, Living Well blog post. But if I had called it what it’s really about – Living Within Your Means – wouldn’t you have skipped it? Yes, well; there you go.

Now that I’ve come clean, just stick with me for a bit. Don’t stop now, because I HAVE GOOD NEWS. Living within your means requires only one thing. Of course, that one thing – self-discipline – is a rare commodity in 21st century U.S. Oh, let’s just tell the whole story. The other dirty little secret: self-discipline is on the same black list – in our society – as personal responsibility.

Are we really clueless –
or just not paying attention?

Why are we so unwilling to make ourselves follow our own rules so that we can achieve our own goals for our own lives? Looks suspiciously like self-sabotage to me. (And why do we snicker at those who practice personal responsibility, following their own rules to reach their own goals for their own lives?)

We SAY we want to live within our means. We SAY we know our mounting debts cause us sleepless nights and ever-increasing stress. We SAY we know stress is bad for our bodies and our minds. We SAY we’ve learned that having more things doesn’t necessarily make us happier (translation: allow us to live well). We SAY we know all these truths, but we live as if we don’t.

I first wrote the material that appears in this set of Living Well blog posts almost five years before I started this blog. Since that time, our country experienced The Great Recession. Life got ugly. People lost jobs, homes, self-respect.

I was hopeful. Yes, hopeful. I was hoping that venturing so near the guillotine would’ve scared our society enough that we’d stop the self-sabotage.

Dang. I was wrong. We’re still doing it. I see it all around me. Shoot, I even find myself shooting myself in the foot, even when I know our economy is still shaky. Again I ask, are we clueless or just not paying attention?

Could it be …?

I’m just thinking aloud here. Could it be that we’ve forgotten that self-discipline consists of tons and tons and tons of little – teeny, tiny, minuscule –  decisions? Have we overlooked the fact that making small AND EASY behavior modifications will help us live better?

Could it be that relatively painless, minor decisions will slowly but inevitably lead us into a more self-disciplined lifestyle and a lifetime of living well? As you can tell, I think so. And I’m not alone. Thousands of generations before us have learned this lesson. Read Living Well 2, if you don’t believe me. And then tell me if I’m wrong.

red box with white text of quote fro Robert J. Ringer

We know this. Now we need to practice it.

© 2013 Teresa Layne Bennett

The Haves and The Have-nots

cute baby with silver spoon in mouth

The silver-spooners get no guarantees.

You know about The Haves and The Have-nots. They’re talked about enough. You may even make excuses for yourself because you, through no fault of your own, were born a Have-not.

You’ve observed – perhaps with envy and maybe even some resentment – that bunch born with high IQs, excellent bone structure, high metabolism, strong bodies, boundless energy, AND a loving, wealthy family. The Blessed. The born-with-silver-spoons-in-their-mouths bunch: The Haves.

And you may have even used this observation to explain to yourself why some people just seem to get along so much better than others.

But I’d like to add just a little perspective to that. Yes, many of The Haves do quite well. But have you also noticed that sometimes they make incredibly crummy decisions and live out shabby lives, compared to how they started? The Blessed don’t always stay blessed. The Haves don’t always keep what they have.

And have you also noticed that some of the rest of us – The Have-nots – who weren’t blessed with all those inherited resources, seem to do all right for ourselves? In fact, some of us outshine The Blessed and often figure out how to live quite successfully, in spite of being The Ordinary rather than The Blessed.

Now, how does that happen?

Lots of factors enter into that. (Read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers.) But it all starts when we pay attention, when we learn life’s lessons from other people’s experiences. It continues when we work at applying those vicariously learned lessons to our own lives. And there you have it – a really cool success-to-pain ratio. One very ordinary Have-not + very ordinary abilities + pay-attention mindset = one person who gets to live a cool life with less experiential pain than most.

Let me be clear: I haven’t been paying attention my whole life. I’ve had my share of what the educational gurus like to call SLEs (significant learning experiences). Big ole mistakes in non-educator-speak.

But I’ve also paid a decent amount of attention. These PayAttention! blog posts are a combination of the experienced and the observed. It’s one very ordinary person’s attempt to help others sidestep some of life’s painful experiences and live a successful life.

Really. It can be done, regardless of the resources you have – or haven’t – been given. Life – your life – can be lived quite successfully, even if you don’t belong to The Silver Spoon Club. Everything you need to live a happy, productive life is right in front of you, if you have the WILL to just look – to pay attention – and live life accordingly.

Is it work? Well, of course. Anything worth having is.

Is it do-able? Well, of course. Why else would I bother with this PayAttention! blog?

But those aren’t
the questions you should ask.

Here’s the question to ask: are you willing to do the necessary pay-attention work to work yourself out of The Have-not category and into The Have category?

red box with white text about he HAVES and HAVE-NOTS, the WILLS and WILL-NOTS

Do you have the will? Then pay attention.

George Orwell's quote about how what a constant struggle it is to see what is in front of one's nose.


© 2013 Teresa Layne Bennett
[photo from Silver Spoon Baby Planners]

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