making a choice: hard rock

How many times have you found yourself in that crushing space, faced with the dilemma of making a choice between two much-less-than-ideal alternatives? Having to choose HardRockthe lesser of two evils speaks for itself, yet difficult choices are often the most helpful in the long run. Why, then, are they generally looked upon as eagerly as invasive surgery?

But our days are filled with just such decisions. Here is one area of life for which acting dispassionately is inarguably the best course of action. Put the inescapable emotional component into perspective and move forward. Avoiding such decisions only makes them harder to make and accept.

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the freedom of patience: losing wait

Perspective is among the defining aspects of our days and nights, offering myriad ways to endure what cannot be changed. Why is it, then, that some people consistently face the clock with equanimity and acceptance, while others fight reality with the relentlessness of a watch’s hyperactive second hand? LosingWait2

Two people find themselves in stultifying rush-hour traffic, each needing to attend a key meeting, yet it looks like they’ll be late. (Sure, the easy answer is to simply leave earlier, yet so many no-fault things can interfere with that obvious goal.) One of them constantly cuts in and out of traffic, airbrushing cars right and left, and perpetually instigating the seeds of road rage, with all of that activity gaining a whopping quarter-mile “advantage” after half an hour. The other calls ahead to notify colleagues that he’ll be 30 minutes late, and asks whether the meeting can be delayed or promises to do whatever it takes to catch up with what is missed. He then uses the extra time to make hands-free calls that he’d otherwise have to get done while at the office, or listens to an engrossing audio book or language-learning CD. His blood pressure remains within safe levels and his day is that much richer, generally absent of stress-induced barking.

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cutting screen time: embracing turnoffs

Few of us wake up in the morning looking forward to a day of turnoffs.Turn-your-email-off

Yet such days can be filled with the kind of productivity and focus simply not possible without them. Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, have demonstrated concrete findings that reveal how removing the nonstop distractions of email during the workday not only reduces stress but enables tangibly sharper focus. “We found that when you remove email from workers’ lives, they multitask less and experience less stress,” said informatics professor Gloria Mark, who coauthored the study, “A Pace Not Dictated by Electrons,” with a UCI project scientist and U.S. Army senior research scientist, funded by the Army and the National Science Foundation.

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moving forward: reading & righting

Arguments. Disagreements. Disputes.

Or perhaps with a bit of floor polish: contretemps.

They have happened every day among friends, lovers, relatives, spouses and business associates since the beginning of time. Must this state of affairs continue unabridged, accepted as the cost of getting up in the morning, as inevitable as stale bread? Or can people learn to read problems in light of the bigger picture by considering the brevity of life and how genuinely good it feels to be generous, to be forgiving, to be proactive in righting the mistakes that each of us inevitably make? Does the ego really need to hold sway as some sort of unchecked emotional dictatorship?

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