From Chaos To Order

The world challenges us all the time. 


Yes, the world functions based on the “laws of nature,” scientific facts, and mathematical formulas, and so you’d think everything in our lives would be orderly and work like clockwork.


But, as human beings, our lives are too a great extend a function of what gets thrown at us and how we react to them, and not the constancy of the world context that these things are happening in. 


It’s easy to be surprised, become overwhelmed, or even be stumped by the daily barrage of things that we are new to us or we simply don’t know how to handle.


A world governed by Mother Nature thus, often seems more like a world ruled by Murphy’s Law. 


In a world that we can often experience as chaotic and disorderly, the answer is not to break down and cry or run and hide, but rather to create our own sense of order. 


Thus, the antagonist of chaos and disorder is consequence and order. 


The way to get to order in your life is through planning and preparation. 


The more you plan and prepare, the better you are able to deal with the challenges you are dealt. 


I believe this is the cornerstone of what a good education and training is–preparing you for real life!


Generally, if you plan and prepare for a broad spectrum of scenarios (especially the worst cast scenarios), you won’t be left sitting out there scratching your head when the proverbial “sh*t hits the fan.”


Thinking out of the box and ahead of the curve, and using scenario-based planning and preparation can give you the tools and confidence to leave the anxiety behind and move more swiftly to confront challenges head-on. 


Of course, we’ll never be able to imagine or be prepared for everything that can happen–but the more you can free your mind to think about the “what if’s” and how to mitigate the risks, the better shape you are in to act with determination and decisively when you really need to.  😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Elisa Riva)

No One Cares How You Feel

So parenting is not always an easy job. 


But it is one full of love and helping your kids. 


Sometimes, I remember listening to my kids say that they feel this or that and seeing that it was holding them back from accomplishing their goals.  


Often, I would tell them that the only people that really care about how they feel is your mother and father–but generally-speaking, it a tough world out there, and: 

“No one [else] cares about how you feel.”


I tried to focus them–not on being cold and unfeeling–but rather on being strong inside and focusing on the tasks that need to get done. 


Sure, feelings are important, but if you are getting held back from doing what you need to do–then there are times when you need to put the feelings in abeyance and go forward. 


Overall, there is plenty of time to feel what you feel, but don’t let anger, fear, or anxiety get in the way of you accomplishing your dreams. 


In a book that I am reading by Amos Oz, “A Tale of Love and Darkness,” he writes: 

‘I want’ and ‘I don’t want’ aren’t reasons, they can only be defined as self-indulgence.


Yes, it’s a little tough love, but also it is out of true love to help the kids to be willing and determined to try their best and not get held back by anything in the pursuit of the destiny they choose to follow. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Alternatives Are More Valuable Than Criticism

So one lesson of life that I have learned is about criticism. 


It’s easy to criticize, but tough to come up with real solutions. 


Criticizing someone else, does not usually provoke a good response. 


UNLESS, you can provide a bona fide better alternative in a loving way. 


It’s important to solve problems and not just create new ones. 


Criticizing without an alternative just causes anxiety and frustration in the other person. 


But when you says something isn’t right and why, and provide a better alternative, now the other person can see concretely what you are talking about, and they know they have options and that you are trying to help. 


No one wants to be told they are no good or their choices are no good. 


But people don’t mind and perhaps may even embrace being told that there is even something better for them out there.


Don’t criticize, instead give alternatives that are good for the other person. 


That’s real love without being a jerk. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Bills, Health, and Purpose

So I wanted to share some wisdom from one of my best friends. 


He was telling me about some of life’s stresses at work, home, etc., and he said even though every looks forward to retirement “one day,” the problems don’t go away. 


He mentioned some examples of people he knows that retired relatively young and with a pension.


Nevertheless, he said:

They still worry about bills, about health, and mostly about purpose!


And even though they don’t have the day-to-day grind in the office, he said:

Their own stress is as real to them as mine is to me.


I couldn’t help reflecting on his words and thinking how smart this was. 


No one has it all!


Everyone is this world has fears, worries, and problems. 


And you know what?  It’s okay.  


Life is about us confronting what seems unconfrontable and becoming better human beings because we did. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

When It Turns In

A friend told me something interesting about anxiety and depression…

Depression is anxiety turned inward. 


When people feel anxious and that they don’t have control over their situation that make them feel in a sense helpless, and then the anxiety “has no where to go,” it becomes depression. 


I guess it make sense that if you feel that you can’t really do anything to make things better–and no matter how hard you try–then you feel somewhat helpless/hopeless and get depressed


Perhaps it’s almost like a frustration at your own inability to change things you feel you need to change. 


That is why a person’s feeling some sense of control over their environment and life is so important. 


When things are looking down, it helps to try and do something to take back control over what feels like spiraling uncontrollable events and circumstances.  


Of course, only G-d really has control over what ultimately happens. 


But we need to do our part to try to make things better. 


Just taking that first (and second and third) step is freeing. 


I’m pretty sure that an element of this is that you can tell yourself that you “did everything you could” so in effect there is a lifting of guilt about the situation, but at the same time there is also a genuine feeling that you are here for a purpose and perhaps have made a difference in this world. 


Some people feel big and important, but the reality is that we are all so small in a very big world and universe where suffering and loss can strike (G-d forbid) at any moment. 


Man is but a speck of dust in the realm of things. 


But at the same time, our speck is filled with a soul of the living G-d. 


So we must do what we can to be a good influence and impact. 


Whatever it is, it is what we can do. 


If everyone–7.6 billion of us out there—does their part that can make a difference. 


Don’t let life’s anxieties become your depression.


Look for what you can contribute–do it!–try your best to make a difference and make the world better.


It’s what you’re here for and what you can positively do.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Anxiety Filter

What a brilliant picture of “Anxiety” by a child in Montgomery County, Maryland. 


Notice the great big letters–and all in caps–for what ANXIETY feels like. 


Anxiety is black–it’s when we are in a dark foreboding place and we can’t find our way out–it holds us back from doing what we need and like to do. 


Anxiety feels so all-enveloping and ginormous–it dwarfs us in the “I”–and we feel so small and are paralyzed, incapable of freeing ourselves from it. 


Anxiety is a cognitive and emotional bias where we see things in black and white–everything is to the extreme–and there are no greys; we tend to talk in all or nothing and our actions may mimic our extreme feelings. 


Around the anxiety, we are bordering in blood red–we are in a dangerous place–where our feelings of fear, inadequacy, and being incapable of overcoming it can lead us to do something desperate and final. 


When we are drowning in anxiety, it is like a lens or filter that clouds our vision and thinking, so we can make bad decisions, not make any decisions, or just procrastinate in order to avoid the issue and thing we are afraid of. 


We have to fight off the octopus grip of anxiety.


We have to find our courage within and from G-d.


We have to conquer our demons so we can meet our destiny head-on. 


We have a mission to fulfill in our life, and we can’t let anything get in the way. 


Fate is waiting for us to make our important contribution, so then we can be gathered to our fathers and rest in final peace. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Essence of Time Management

So here are some quickies on the essence of time management.


1. Urgency vs Importance:


Don’t sacrifice the important items for the urgent ones!


– Focus on the items that are important on the right side of the matrix–if they are urgent (upper-right), you need to do now; if they aren’t urgent, but they are important (lower-right), you need to make time for them. 


– Deemphasize the items that aren’t important on the left side of the matrix–if they are urgent and not important (upper-left), limit them or delegate them; if they aren’t urgent or important (lower-left), delete them. 


There are two potential areas of dissonance that can cause you tension, stress, and anxiety.


– When the urgent top row items and the lower-left life necessities get in the way of your focusing on the quality life items that are of long-term importance to you (the lower-left).  For example, work and errands can crowd out your personal, family, community, and spiritual time. 


– When you have too many items in the lower-right quality time area and these are in competition with each other for your time and attention, and you don’t know how to prioritize them and get it all done.  It’s like there is never enough time. For example, we ignore our spouse, the kids, or closeness with G-d, because we just can’t get to it all.


This is where our personal values and conscience come into play to drive what we do and how we spend our precious time in this world. 


We all only have 24 hours in a day, so our actions need to be purposeful and driven by our values!


2. Tasks vs Relationships


Imagine another matrix with focus on tasks on the vertical access and focus on relationships on the horizontal access. 


Again here, we want to ensure a healthy balance of focus on both task and relationships (upper-right corner). 


If we focus on tasks at the expense of relationships or relationships at the expense of tasks, we are going to have a problem.  Moreover, it makes no sense to focus on items that are neither task- nor relationship-focused (lower-left).  


We need to collaborate with others to accomplish great, complex tasks (we can only accomplish so much alone). 


Again, dissonance (tension, stress, anxiety) is caused when we are pulled off-balance to focus on work or people to the exclusion of the other.  


As they say,


“Mission first, people always!”


We’ve got to build meaningful relationships and work together to get the mission done and the mission can be helping people and building a better society in a variety of ways. 


In a sense, it’s people helping people. Love thy neighbor to help thy neighbor.  


Time is of the essence–we have so little of it–it is precious–we can’t get it back–it goes so fast–we need to manage it like gold. 😉


(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

Why Worry?

So I had an interesting conversation with a colleague, and they tell me their philosophy about worry, as follows:

Worrying is suffering twice!


I thought this was pretty smart. 


With worry, we suffer when we worry and then we suffer again if the thing we are worrying about actually comes to fruition. 


So in essence, we are doubling up on the suffering.


Yet, worry can be constructive if we use it to spur us to positive action such as in confronting and dealing with challenging situations. 


But when we worry just for the sake of worry because we can’t control our anxiety and moreover, it actually may paralyze us with fear, then this is obviously a bad thing. 


Do I worry?


Sure do, but like my dad, I use worry to try and think out-of-the-box, to plan, to problem-solve, to figure out coping mechanisms etc. 


Worry is suffering for sure. 


However, if we can channel the worry to positive impact, then the worry can be worth the pain it inflicts on us. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Faith Has To Win Over Worry

Anxiety is worry and fear on steroids.


Some people have separation anxiety.


Others have social anxiety.


And then there is good ‘ol generalized anxiety.


It was fascinating-scary to learn that nearly 1 in 3 will have an anxiety disorder before the age of 18.


Despite all the abundance, affluence, advancement and technological progress, people are nevertheless more fearful about their present and futures. 


Perhaps like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, when people weren’t able to satisfy their most basics physiological and safety needs, they didn’t know better to worry about everything else like whether they were truly loved, integrated, on the right track in life and fulfilled.  


These days, we have more money, time, and information to know that there is plenty to be anxious about. 


We know the most horrible stories of trauma, illness, death, corruption, disaster, terror, and war–it’s plastered on the news and Internet 24/7/365.


Moreover, our “friends” and connections are blabbing about it on the social networks day-in and -out.


We are aware of our mistakes and foibles in real time as feedback is given and received with both likes as well as open criticism, marginalization, and alienation at every turn we take.


You have to ask yourself–is it meant to help anyone or to degrade and destroy the others, the opposition, the ones we don’t like anymore. 


It’s not just trolls that can make your life miserable, but everyone from your bosses to your peers and social circle who give you pause with continuous reaction and footnote–much of it driven by alternative facts and fake other world self-serving reality.


Perhaps yesterday you were a genius and on top of the world, but then all of a sudden you’re low-life garbage.


Your self-worth and future are measured by likes and dislikes, connections and reactions by people who are driven by their own agendas, power, and biases. 


It’s not just local either. 


North Korea and Iran are tweeting about destroying the world and their latest rocket launches and WMD development. 


Tomorrow maybe the end of one or of many. 


There is truly plenty to worry about in society driven by selfishness, materialism, faithlessness and a moral vacuum where truly anything goes. 


Selflessness, meaning, morality, and faith have to win over all the reasons to be anxious. 


We know too much about the bad every day, and this can only be overcome by anchoring ourselves in the good. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Faces of The Metro and The Times

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Do these people look happy and fulfilled or are they looking more vacant, exhausted, and miserable to you?


Is it the Metro? 

Is it Washington, D.C.? 

Is it their work? 

Is it family issues? 

Is it the economy?

Is it health problems?


For a superpower country with supposed incredible wealth, might, and freedom to enjoy it all–what the heck is going on.


Should we blame the politics and fighting? 

Should we blame the fake news optics?

Should we blame our gnawing adversaries (Axis of Evil Russia, Iran, North Korea…)?

Should we blame materialism and consumerism (and a corresponding lack of spirituality and values in our lives)? 


We have the greatest advances in history–revolutionizing energy, transportation, healthcare, communications, and more–so much to advance our well-being, to savor, and seemingly endless more to come. 


Why aren’t people smiling?

Why aren’t people jumping for joy more? 

Why aren’t people even awake with eyes open to enjoy the life’s journey?


There should be great hope in the future–with fruitful life there is hope and with hope there is excitement and joy–but without hope all is meaningless and lost.  


What is going on out there–psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, clergy?


We are trying to do everything right.


So where are we going wrong-wrong-wrong? 😉


(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)