Tuesday, October 26

Attitude conditioning?

I was looking through my email quickly and saw something from Groupon. "Attitude conditioning? That can't be right," I thought. And it wasn't. The ad was for altitude conditioning, which makes so much more sense. But there was still something intriguing to me about the notion of conditioning one's attitude.

I have a colleague who likes to say that the only thing we can control is our attitudes. I believe there are a few more things, but many of the other things are related to one's attitude. Years and years ago I remember talking with someone about choosing to be happy. She scoffed at the idea, preferring to burrow a little deeper into her discontent. Okay, so "happy" was a bit of a stretch, so we talked about choosing to be something other than spiteful, vengeful, discontent, disgruntled, etc.

We've all heard that bromide: "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." Those of not inclined towards perkiness nor towards optimism have a few other ideas of what one might do with those lemons, but that is, of course, a matter of choice.

The phrase "attitude adjustment" has been around for decades and we all know that's basically an adult time-out, a period of time to step away from the madness or chaos or whatever it is, do a primal yell or adopt a yoga pose or take a deep breath and find one's mello or center or whatever. The idea is to step away, however, and adjust one's attitude, or choose a different way to respond to whatever the situation may be.

But that's still different from conditioning one's attitude and I really like that idea. So with altitude condition, an individual goes through a series of planned stages to prepare for a change in altitude. Someone from a low altitude environment who wants to compete in a high altitude, for example, has to acclimatize. That means a slow ascent to the target altitude, appropriate hydration, gradually increasing activity once at the target altitude. It's like any kind of conditioning: it cannot happen overnight, it has to be done in stages, and it has to be well-planned. If I were to go through a physical conditioning program, I'd have to work my way up to a target number of reps or a target amount of weight to lift, etc. I can't go from being a couch potato to running a marathon without appropriate training and conditioning.

While I might choose to go through that kind of conditioning, I'd do so because I had a particular goal in mind. And I'd know ahead of time that my conditioning plan might represent a lot of time and hard work. Is that the same with attitude conditioning? I don't know. I suppose it depends on where one is and where one needs or wants to go.

I'm blessed to be in a work situation and one that I really like, but I've been in a work situation that required a pep talk every morning so I could get out of bed. That was a sort of attitude conditioning, I think. There are always people with whom we have difficulty working. Prepping (or bracing) ourselves to work with that individual is a form of attitude conditioning, I think, and conditioning that gets easier each time we choose to work well with an individual who otherwise seems difficult.

So I think that conditioning one's attitude is a matter of choice and each day we choose to exercise our attitudes in a particular way, the easier it should get. Just like any kind of conditioning.

Monday, October 25

Thinking about elections

Early voting has started in the US. The report is that the Democrats are off to a good start so far. Michael McDonald, a professor at George Mason University, asserts that while the numbers are good, they aren't as good as in 2008. He also notes he would have expected to see more Republicans voting early if there is what he calls a "pure enthusiasm gap."

That's all well and good, I suppose, but I also wonder if there remains a voter antipathy for pretty much anyone on the stump. I saw a great editorial cartoon the other day with the Democrats jackass, er, donkey on one side and the Republican Dumbo, er, elephant standing at their respective podiums, pointing at each other and shouting "I'm not him." We have far too many politicians telling me what a horrible, unethical, untrustworthy, and miserable scoundrel their opponents are but no one, NO ONE is willing to say with any absolute certainty what they will do. Of course they won't. Who is that certain? And if they say what they really think might work rather than what they won't do, they probably figure they haven't a snowball's chance in Florida in July of getting elected.

But I think they mostly say nothing about what they'll do once in office because they haven't a clue.

I don't usually watch 60 Minutes, but I watched a bit of it on Sunday, October 24 while waiting for football to start and for The Amazing Race, which follows. Anyway, the bit I watched was a report on the employment situation. Boomers who had been unemployed for about two years. Boomers with college degrees, many with Master's degrees, and a few with doctorates. Most had expected to retire from their companies.

What the 60 Minutes staff assert is that the real unemployment rate is not below 10% but is actually closer to 17.5%, and that the unemployment rate in California is 22%. The reason the real unemployment rate might be scandalously higher than the federal government reports is because the fed doesn't report the people who are no longer on unemployment for a number of reasons.

If this number is true, then I'm even angrier that the primary focus of the Obama Administration seemed to have been health care reform which seems to be causing gradual increases in the cost of health care for me. But I'll set that aside because I'm grateful to have health insurance at all. But what I really want to know is what the politicians and the banks and the big employers are going to do about jobs.

I keep hearing that manufacturing jobs lost to overseas are gone forever. What were those morons thinking when they outsourced all those jobs to companies overseas? Who the heck did they think were going to buy their goods and services? The people overseas? I'm just so irritated that anyone thought that was a good long-term business model.

As for this election, I'm reluctant to vote for anyone. In my state, Illinois, my choices for governor are Pat Quinn and Bill Brady. Lesser of two evils. I look at the rest of the slate and I'm not at all encouraged by anything I hear from anyone.

In April of this year, a town in Wisconsin elected a 22-year-old as mayor. There was a story earlier this month that a 20-year-old girl was elected police chief of Guadalupe. An in August, a 20-year-old was elected as the youngest MP in Australia. Maybe there is some value in electing kids who are barely old enough to have graduated from college. They have fewer preconceived ideas of what "ought" to be. They are not yet dragged about their noses or their balls (thanks to Rush Limbaugh's "balls to the wall" comment in September about getting Christine O'Donnell elected) by corporate, political, party, or other influences. They may not be "wise" enough to make long-term decisions, but I have to think that many of them can't be much worse than those made by so-called career politicians.

So why hasn't there been a throng of people rushing to early election? Seriously? Have you seen our options?

Monday, October 18

A brief reflection: Oct 18, 2010

I celebrated a birthday today. It's interesting to me how a birthday is a sort of special "new year" event for the individual. People wish the birthday celebrant well and hope for a good year much like we tend to wish each other at the start of a calendar year.

With a birthday we mark the end of a year of life and the beginning of another year of life so it is, in many ways, a "new year." So I've been thinking about resolutions, which I rarely make for the calendar new year and which seem hardly worth making for a birthday new year. Nevertheless, it's hard not to think about how this year might be different from that last. How I might behave differently, which habits I might try to break and which I might try to instill. At this point, I have no clue.

But I was also thinking about the well wishes and how gratifying it is for people to remember one's birthday. Though others might share that day, it's still special in that people make a particular point of wishing one a "Happy Birthday." For those of us on Facebook, it's quite encouraging to see a long list of wall posts with birthday good wishes. I didn't have a Sally Fields "You like me! You really like me!" moment--well, maybe a small one--but I did feel incredibly fortunate, incredibly blessed.

A random odd thought. I was reading something about a comedian; I want to see it was Larry the Cable Guy, but I could be wrong. Anyway, he was talking about overhearing his son whispering to their baby and was fairly sure he heard "I love Jesus, Reagan. Do you love Jesus?" He then went on to say that he realized his son was saying "I love Cheez-Its." That made me laugh out loud for four reasons: 1) I'd just see the "Cheesus" episode of Glee, which seemed a little odd and disjointed in spots, and yet thought-provoking; 2) a friend of mine just had a baby and named her Reagan; 3) I love Cheez-Its; and 4) I love Jesus, though I'm fairly certain I manage not to confuse the two.

So at the end of this birthday day, I've not really done a lot of self-reflection about this birthday and this new year of life. This is I do know, however. First, I'm incredibly grateful to have another year of life. Second, I feel incredibly blessed to have so many friends and colleagues and acquaintances who seem to care for me quite genuinely. Third, I'm honored to be able to be a part of these peoples' lives and if I resolve anything, I resolve to be more generous to and for those people who mean so much to me.