A collection of distilled sarcastic wisdom, numerous photographs, discussions of books and stuff to learn and more stuff to think about from a retired economics professor turned blogger and photographer.
After my wife read my Do List task for yesterday about improving one's self esteem, she told me "Your task for tomorrow should be to be patient in achieving your goals." I have learned not to ignore my wife's advice and so today's task will focus on patience in seeking results from the changes that we make.
We know from experience that setting big and overwhelming goals never works because the goals are just too far over our current abilities to achieve them. Thus, we give up after a few false starts or we quit when we become forgetful and we simply don't care whether we make any change or not. For these reasons, making small changes, as we have repeated over and over again, is a more sensible way to begin. We are more likely to implement a small change than we are to achieve the goal we really want to achieve, such as losing 100 pounds.
We wake up today. We get on the scales. We are afraid to look at the dial. The dial tells us what we already knew. We are 10, 20, 30, or even 100 pounds overweight. We know being overweight is damaging our health. We have tried for months, maybe even years, to lose a few pounds. We have had zero success in losing anything. In fact, we have gained a bit more. We take blood pressure medicine that makes us feel groggy part of the time. We take diuretics that send us to the bathroom enough to get our exercise for the day from frequent trips. We tell ourselves, "I've just got to lose weight." And then we go on about our business. And nothing happens. We do not lose 10, 20, 30, or even 100 pounds. In fact, we do not lose any weight at all and we may even gain a little because the dessert last night was just so outstandingly tempting and delicious that we could not resist eating a lot more of it than we know we should have eaten. So we are depressed. We have failed again. For the thousandth time we have failed to start losing weight. We know our spouse is worried about our weight. We know our doctor will go "Tsk, tsk, what is happening here?" So we swallow our pills, push our weight worries out of our minds, and go on with our life.
Or, we might wake up and begin the day in this way: We acknowledge that we have a weight problem. We know we must do something about it. We know we cannot keep postponing a serious effort to lose some pounds. So we cheerfully set a small and manageable goal. We set a goal of losing one pound. And we commit ourselves to eating a bit less so that we can lose one pound. Losing a pound then becomes a game we are playing. We can make moves to win the game, or we can make a stupid move that will cause us to lose the game. We can try to cheat, as I once did when playing Monopoly with the kids and they caught me red-handed. I explained I was just applying the principles of creative finance, but they would have none of my subterfuge. Cheating will never help you lose one ounce.
And then we are patient. We do not panic if we have not lost our pound of weight in one, two, or three days. But we do keep eating less, cutting out soda, taking smaller helpings. And then, one magic day, what do you know! We have lost one pound! Or perhaps, even better, we have lost two pounds! And then we smile. We hug our spouses. We hug the dog and scratch the cat behind his or her ears. We speak cheerfully to our teenage kids. We look forward to going to work even though we hate our job. We give our kids an extra dollar or two to spend. Now we know what we have to do. Even better, we know what to do and how to do it. We are no longer victims because we are now in charge. Little by little. Patience and persistence are the keys.
Task Number 149: Be patient in achieving your goals. We have used the example of weight change to illustrate the importance of patience, but you can apply the same general principle of patience to making any small change in your life and then being patient as you wait for the benefits of your efforts. Good luck, be patient, keep going. The Curmudgeonly Professor.
Original photo is a tiny corner crop of a large photo of a group of iris.
The bottom two photos were processed in Topaz color filters. I was reading the advice of a flower photographer the other day who said we should look for flawless flowers to photograph. I disagree. Every flower in every phase of its existence is a gift of nature and an object of beauty. The stems of dying iris are just as much a part of a photograph as the ruffled petals of a beautiful iris in full bloom.
Our self esteem, the way we feel about ourselves, is a precious commodity. The lack of self esteem leads to feelings of remorse, sadness, and worthlessness. When we belittle ourselves and don't give ourselves credit for being worthwhile, we limit our ability to make positive changes and we make it difficult to get ourselves out of the mental funk that we may find ourselves in.
Whatever our negative attributes, we all have positive attributes that we need to foster and allow to grow. The lack of self esteem is fostered by obsessing with thoughts of hopelessness and with the idea that we just aren't good for much. Similarly, improving our self esteem enriches our positive thoughts about ourselves and diminishes the feelings of despair that accompany a low self esteem.
Making one small change that feeds upon itself and grows into a succession of small changes, inch by inch, little by little, can work wonders in improving our self esteem and elevating our feelings that we are, after all, worth something to ourselves and to others. This week our task is to develop and follow a theme that leads to starting and continuing some small change that we have needed to make. If you have not identified a theme and if you have not begun thinking about various ways to implement that theme, now is the time to begin.
Beginning a small change is easy if you just think about it long enough and seriously enough so that you actually make the change instead of being wishy-washy and continually saying "I know I should do that, but . . . ." We know that making the small change we want to make is difficult because otherwise so many of us would not be overweight. Fewer among us would be visiting doctors so often because we didn't take care of a myriad of health issues that we just swept under the rug and ignored. Our lives would be richer, enhanced by new adventures and learning experiences if it had been easy for us to get off dead center and make one little move in a new direction. If it were easy to begin to make a small change, we may have saved ourselves from the self-pity that accompanies low self esteem.
I know that since I have focused more intensely on losing weight, that my spirits have been lifted each time I get on the scales and come report the favorable results to my wife. What kept me from losing more weight for decades? Why did I let myself get in such a weight predicament that my cardiologist told me I was taking months off my life? Why didn't I start and reap the benefits of losing pound after pound? And then, miracle of miracles, once I started losing weight again, making other changes became easier. So we are not making just one small change, we are beginning a new and more positive mindset that enables us to move forward in many different directions.
Give yourself a gift today that will enhance your self esteem, improve your disposition and your life, and start you down the promising road that will lead to the achievement of whatever goal you are seeking. Task Number 148: Improve your self esteem. Watch your life improve. Just do it. You will be thankful, as I am, that you made one small start. Good luck, keep going, the Curmudgeonly Professor.
I just told my wife that I didn't really feel like writing up a new task today so I asked her what I should say. She said, "Tell them to keep working on what they are are already working on." Brilliant idea. Yesterday I suggested that we identify a theme for the following week that highlights one small change we need and want to make. If you just skipped that task, you have another chance today to choose a theme that highlights some small change that you can make that may start you on your way to accomplish something you need to do.
My wife and I have both found that by focusing on the tasks we have discussed in our 2015 Task List that we have become much more aware of some changes we need to make. By concentrating on the things we need to do, and by thinking about them each day, we have discovered something we should have known already: We have discovered that continual attention to something we need to do increases the chances we will actually achieve something by several thousand percent.
When I committed myself to writing something each day for 365 consecutive days, I knew I would have up days and down days. On the up days, my mind will be running over with ideas and I could keep writing with a dozen new tasks. On the down days, I don't really want to write anything at all. I know that many people who are aware of what I am writing just ignore the blog anyway because they don't want to consider doing anything any differently than they are already doing it because making a change is a huge pain that they don't want to bother with. So on a down day, I conclude that what I am writing is really of no benefit to anyone else.
I know all too well, however, that if I just skip a day in writing up a new task or amending an old one, that it will be easier to skip another day, and then another, until the Curmudgeonly Professor's 2015 Do list becomes a relic of a bygone idea that fizzled out in a puff of hot air. The parallel between giving up on my blog and giving up on trying to implement a small change that can bring major benefits to our lives and to the lives of others has become all too clear. We start something, like committing ourselves to lose a pound of weight. We take it easy on overeating for a few days and then we go to the Memorial Day picnic, and we say, what the heck, I can't give up the opportunity to over indulge with all of this great food. Or, we just simply quit, give up, stop trying after we work at something for a few days or a few weeks. Giving up is exactly what I did for decades as I remained far too overweight for my own good.
So after these reflections, I decided that continuing my daily task list is too important to quit. If nothing else, the task list is important to me as I think about the things I can do. After focusing on my weight for a couple of months, I have lost another 10 pounds after being on dead center without losing an ounce for several months.
Thus, Task Number 147: Keep working on what you are already working on. Don't quit. Don't give up. Don't just let your goal vanish in the wind. Good luck, keep going, and pay attention each day to one important theme that is helping you make a small change that can easily lead to larger benefits. The Curmudgeonly Professor.
One of the main reasons that I never accomplished some of my goals is that I never paid enough attention to what I originally intended and wanted to do. I would day dream about the great and wonderful things I wanted to accomplish and then the day dreams would vanish into the ozone layer somewhere and perish. I have learned through eight decades of life that small changes multiply into larger changes with persistence and continued effort. I have also learned, to my sad regret, that lukewarm and half-hearted beginnings fizzle as fast as a bottle of soda after you open it and leave the lid off.
The year 2015 is hastening along, day by day, week by week, month by month. We have listed 145 thoughts and tasks thus far as we are nearing the end of May. While 145 tasks may seem like a long list of impossible duties that we think we have neither the time nor the inclination to pay any attention to, we really have only one task and that task is this: We want to improve ourselves. We want to take care of some nagging and perpetual issues in our lives that are dragging us down and keeping us from living as happy and healthy a life as we want to live. As our New Years' Resolutions vanished into the stratosphere somewhere between January 1 and May 26, our commitment to make a few changes that would benefit us in so many ways also vanished with frequent trips to the fridge and total forgetfulness of just exactly what we thought we had in mind during a few moments of serious reflection early in the year.
We may have the same pants or dress size that we had in January, eliminating any chance of making a few wardrobe changes by midyear. We may have overlooked the need to catch up on tasks we have lagged behind in fulfilling. We may continue to have nagging concerns about our weight, about our health, about our job, about our finances, about our family, and about our ability to grasp hold of two or three basic goals and then hang on to these goals for dear life, and make something happen as we work toward achieving these goals that will cheer us up and give us a sense of accomplishment.
To start things off, Task Number 146 is to identify a theme for the coming week. Only you can determine what this theme is. Identify one task that you need or want to accomplish. Or write down a habit that you want to overcome. Possibly, like me, your theme is to lose more weight. This task or theme should be a small task, a tentative but definite beginning that is manageable and achievable. Now use your inventive genius and imagination and write down all of the ways you can make this theme important throughout the week. Write about your theme daily. Post little signs and reminders. Discuss your theme and objective with your family. Make something happen each day to contribute to the achievement of the change you have identified in your theme. Keep track of your progress. Think about your theme on your way to work, during your lunch break, on your way home, and in the evening. Decide that you are going to accomplish something so that by the end of the week you can look back and feel that, even though you let nearly five months slide by without doing anything you intended to do earlier, that you made this week a landmark week in this year and time of your life. And then you can continue the next week, and the week after that, and the month after that.
Task Number 146: Identify a theme of action in making a small change this week. Good luck, enjoy your efforts, and keep going. The Curmudgeonly Professor.
Today's task is an important task as we show respect, honor, and love for those who have gone before us and as we pay special tribute to military men and women who have sacrificed so much to keep us free.
My parents' grave is in the Penrose cemetery on a lonely hill overlooking the isolated Penrose valley in northwest Wyoming where I grew up. On Memorial Day and on many other days, my thoughts turn to the enormous sacrifices my parents made so that we could survive the Great Depression in the 1930s. I also think about the lives of unrelenting hard and unending work that my parents did to make a living on a small farm to raise a family of six children. We were poor, but we were rich in everything that mattered.
My wife's parents' grave in the Orem UT cemetery. My wife's dad was an engineer on the Union Pacific Railroad and never quit working his entire life. Rain or snow or 20 below weather or day or night, her dad answered the call that signaled his turn to his engineer's station on another train headed for Rawlins or Cheyenne WY. My wife's mother was a patient and loving person who cheerfully adopted me and never discouraged me from courting or marrying her daughter.
Take a few minutes today to show your love and respect for those who made your own life possible. Read from a family history, or get out an old photo album and spend a little time reminiscing before you go to your picnic. And then pay special attention to those in your family who have served or who are serving in the military. And, finally, turn your prayers and thanksgiving to the countless numbers of the military who are resting among a sea of white memorial gravestones who paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we can live peacefully in our daily lives. The Curmudgeonly Professor.
We may spend so much time feeling sorry for ourselves that we forget that others may be having worse problems than we have. No matter how difficult our own situation may be, we can lighten our own load as well as help lift a burden for someone else if we offer cheerful words of concern and encouragement. I am not especially happy with some of the health issues that I now face in my 82nd year, yet I can make a long list of people I know who are far worse off than I am.
My day is always brightened when I get a call from our pest control exterminators to schedule our regular visit. The lady who calls is always so bright and cheerful that you cannot help but feel that bug exterminating is the most wonderful activity in the world. Another caller who is a bright ray of sunshine is the lady who calls to schedule our air conditioner and furnace checkup. Our plumber's wife who runs his office is always a delight to visit with when scheduling work that needs to be done.
My wife remains a regular cheerer-upper when I get down in the dumps or become overly concerned about something that is never likely to happen. And yet my wife has far more difficult pain and health issues to deal with on a daily basis than I have. A smile, a cheerful greeting, or an expression of kindly but not overly intrusive concern costs us nothing but the effort to forget about our own selves for a few moments and think of someone else. If we can brighten the day for another person we have enriched their day and we have gained a respite from spending all of our time thinking about ourselves. Just turn a dozen or so little babies loose in the grocery store and see how much better you feel after they all shine their smiling faces at you.
Task Number 144: Use cheerful words that show concern for others. Good luck, and keep going and while you are going, spread a few smiles and cheerful words. The Curmudgeonly Professor.