Tag Archives: emotion

Move

Sharks have to move to stay alive.

This is mostly true (Must Sharks Keep Swimming to Stay Alive?). For most species they have to move to push water thru their gills to breathe. So, to stay alive, they must constantly swim, be in constant motion.

What about us?

Do we need to move to live?

I say, yes.

And not just physically. We need to move mentally and emotionally. Living is moving. One of my dadisms is “We are all works in progress.” I know that we can stop growing, but we shouldn’t. Yet, there are too many things today that hinders us from moving in our lives.

The obvious factor is smart phones. I see the effects of this device as a dad and as a teacher. 

My students get restless when we take notes, but if I give them some down time with their phones… the room is quiet… and they just sit there looking at the screen. I see this with my daughters, too.

The way we use our smart phone gives us a false sense of motion, of living. An interesting TED Talk, “Why our screens make us less happy” by Adam Alter, highlights the fact that many of the apps, social media, and games have no “stopping cues”. Moments that allow us to consider moving on to something else, like the end of a chapter in a book. So, we scroll through Twitter or Instagram because we can, it feels like moving. It keeps us scrolling because the feed is moving, too. There is nothing that cues us to stop. Of course tools like this don’t want us to stop.

Adam’s talk also highlights why this can be an issue. In his talk he visually shows how much time we have in a workday from three different years; 2007, 2015, and 2017. The blue sections indicate work, responsibilities for family, and eating/sleeping. The white space is our “personal time” and the red area overtaking the white area is how much time we spend on a screen.

Chart from Alter, Adam. “Why are screens make us less happy.” TEDTalk. April 2017.

Life is moving. We are not moving when we hold a screen in front of our face. It’s not just the physical aspect either. If you think about it, much or our life is lived in our hearts and minds. The way we think, what we feel, our motivation affects how we move about in a typical day. 

We need to move in this field of our lives, too. Screen time is not the main hurdle in this area, attitude is. As an English teacher I have to fight the belief students have that reading is stupid. Understand, I teach seniors, so their belief about reading (and writing) is hard to break through. Reading is one way we can learn, but we can learn from others through listening to their stories and perspective. Social media is not the place for this, especially at this moment.

Growing takes emotions and thinking. Feeling all of our emotions allow us to understand ourselves. This takes courage and a willingness to face our own shortcomings. Thinking through our emotions and our perspective makes us better people. Also, this type of moving allows our everyday life to be lived on a deeper level, to have a fuller, more joyful life. We stop taking things for granted because our hearts and minds are in constant motion. We are moving. We are living.

Maybe Ryan Bingham (character from the movie Up in the Air) was right…

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ACTION!

Life takes action.

Well, it takes action if you truly want a deep, fulfilling life. This post will be longer than normal and has some resources to follow to learn more.

There are two major aspects of action; the physical and the abstract. The abstract is our mental, emotional, and even spiritual aspect of our lives. Both parts work together to create our life, but I will look at each part separately before I bring it together.

Right now, especially with smartphones and computers, we are not as physically active as we could be. We think we are active because we respond to a notification on our phone. (Here is a quick and interesting article from TechCrunch, “The Psychology of Notifications”.) Technology is cool and can enhance our lives in many different ways. Yet, how do we spend our time on our phones or computers? Check your screen time. It will tell you.

Again, I am not against technology. Life is more than the screen though. The physical act of doing something brings us a more fulfilling moment because actions help create or strengthen our emotions. The article, “Action Creates Emotion,” from Psychology Today highlights this connection. Different theories and studies show that physical actions can change our emotional state for the better.

Yet, it is hard to get moving. There are a number of factors for each of us. Technology is a major one, but not the only one. Job demands. School. Hardships in life. All of these can keep us down, keep us stationary. That is why action in the abstract aspects of our life is important.

Again, the abstract is our emotional, mental, and spiritual states.

I have what you might call a “dad-ism” I use to help me keep perspective with people; “We are all works in progress.” I wish it was true for everyone, but it helps me keep a perspective of growth. I strive to grow in the abstract part of my life. To be a better man, a better husband, and father. Working in these areas take a different kind of action, but it is still action that creates a life filled with joy.

The phrase “growth mindset” is popular in education and the workplace. It means that a person understands that they can continue to learn and improve their skills in school or the job. But what about life? Well, we do now have life coaches, self-help books, and you can Google the keywords and get results from Psychology Today and LinkedIn. The advice is good, but it takes action.

How do you take action in this realm of life? I will share a few ideas (which you will also find in different resources), but honestly, each person has to find their own path…

1. Quiet time: This might look like prayer, meditation, or coffee on the porch. However you find it, find time and a place to be quiet, to reflect, to listen to your inner voice. This time allows us to consider our thoughts. Even challenge our own beliefs. The article, “7 Reasons Why You Need Quiet Time,” from Psych Central expands on this area.

2. Read (I know, English teacher coming through): OK, what I really mean is to learn. A book is a great way to learn, but we can learn from other people’s stories, pop culture, or just observing the world around you. Any type of learning expands our thinking and understanding. It can help us strengthen our skills in the area of physical action.

3. Challenge yourself: This component is personal because there are different ways to stretch ourselves. This is both a physical and abstract experience. You can remove sugar from your diet for 30 days. You can listen to a song from a different genre. The idea is to discover more about yourself. Test your strength. Remove bad habits. Challenge different parts of yourself.  A great TEDTalk to watch is “Try something new for 30 days” by Matt Cutts.

Life.

We discover the meaning from what we do.

We live deeply by becoming who we are.

That takes action. Physical action and abstract action.

What are you going to do today?

 

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Landmarks

I used the essay, “Dearly Disconnected” by Tim Murphy in class as an example for an anecdote introduction. The heart of the essay deals with Tim’s interest in payphones and the change in our society because of cellphones. Without giving anything away, Tim takes his kids to a payphone that played an important role in his story. It was a landmark in the love story between him and his wife.

Teaching the essay got me thinking about the landmarks we have in our lives, both physical and emotional ones. Both are important in understanding where we are in life, and how we got there. Landmarks can also inspire us to move forward.

Physical landmarks are fun to revisit – to share the stories connected to that place.

Your childhood home

Your high school

The street you cruised

The place where you asked the question…

The photo above use to be a coffee shop. The coffee shop moved to a busier street, but this is where I proposed to my wife. We even had a few wedding pictures taken here. The place has changed. The story hasn’t. The importance of the moment hasn’t. Obviously that moment changed me… proposing to my wife was an emotional landmark. We are all works in progress. We have emotional landmarks that identify moments that impacted who we are today. Some good. Some hurt. Others almost destroyed us.

Many times the physical and emotional landmarks intertwine in our personal stories. The difference is that the physical setting had no real role in the moment. The emotional component is the focus. No matter if the landmark was positive or negative, emotional landmarks are worth visiting. The stories may be more intense, making them hard to share. But it is worth it.

We grow… we may even change to a degree. Our landmarks are there for us to remember, but even more importantly, to share with the people in our lives. To inspire. As a dad, I’ve come to understand the importance of sharing my landmarks with my children. My path is part of theirs. More importantly my landmarks can help them develop into who they become. 

Let’s connect; share a landmark in the comments.

 

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