Letting Go of Worry

I’ve often had people come into my office and describe themselves as a “worry wart.” On questioning, they also admit that both or one of their parents were the same. As they say, the apple never falls far from the tree!

However, there are no born worriers. People might think they are, but they’re not. As I’ve said to many people, I’ve never seen a baby born a worrier. Worry is something you learn.

However, worry is unreasonable for a couple of reasons.

First, worry exaggerates the problem. Have you ever noticed that if you start to worry about a future event coming up, the more you think about it, the bigger it gets?

Second, worry doesn’t work. I once heard someone argue that to worry about something you can’t change is useless. If you can’t change it what’s the point of worrying? Further, if you worry about something that you can, in fact, change, then that’s not smart. Simply just go and change it!

Your body wasn’t designed to handle worry. When people say, “I’m worried sick,” they’re probably telling the truth. Doctors typically say that the greater percentage of the physical ailments that patients present with are associated with mental health problems such as worry, anxiety, guilt and resentment.

As Proverbs 14:30 says, “A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body” (NLT).

Worry is unhelpful. Worry cannot change the past, and worry cannot control the future. All it does is mess up today. So, stay in the present.

As the Nigerian musician and author Babatunde Olatunji said:

Yesterday is history.

Tomorrow is a mystery.

And today? Today is a gift.

That’s why we call it the present.

Economic Recovery

Thanks Prof Blandy for some straight-forward common sense. Sadly though, common sense doesn’t seem to be that common any more.

The essence here is to understand that governments traditionally never “lead” the people. They simply wait until there is a momentum or a ground swell and then they tend to jump on board. Hence, they are not in a position to “lead” a jobs recovery or an economic turn-around.

However, what they can do is cut the red tape and bureaucracy and make it easier for both start-ups and established businesses to do business and then simply stand back and get out of the way to allow commercial enterprises to make it all happen.

Businesses are built by entrepreneurs and innovators willing to have a crack and those willing to persist and stay the course — something governments find difficult to do.

We have a wonderful example as to what can happen just across both waters; east to New Zealand and more recently, south to Tasmania which is now starting to leave SA behind. Just what more evidence do we need?

If success leaves clues, what’s so hard for the SA government to to replicate the NZ & Tas story and get out of the way?

The UK Rocks, but for all the wrong reasons

Early August has seen unprecedented rioting in the UK, first in London and then spreading to other parts such as Birmingham and Manchester. But this was rioting and looting with a difference; a big difference. Yes, it might have been started by the police shooting of a drug dealer in Tottenham, but the rioters in other parts of England had no concern for that particular situation.

Now that the carnage and anarchy has subsided, the real questions are being asked.

Note the following. This rioting was not restricted to any one class or ethnic group. The English press are reporting that the daughter of a millionaire has been arrested for rioting and looting as has an 18-year old young woman who has been chosen as an Olympic ambassador.

What does one speculate? There are deep cracks in the English society from the top to the very bottom. The UK Prime Minister David Cameron called it a sick society. He’s right.

And let’s not kid ourselves that it won’t happen here, because it will.

And what’s the remedy for a “sick’ society?

And the News Report from “Today Tonight” on Wednesday 10th August; see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZ3FCts6CE4

Coping with the Knowledge Age

Get your head around this.  According to Prof Urs Gasser who is the Executive Director of the Berkman Centre for Internet and Society, and the author of “Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives,” the following is true:

  • Researchers around the world are deliberating over the question of how the meaning of “knowledge” alters in a society which produces so much information in a single year that it will fill 12 parallel stacks of books reaching from the Earth to the sun.
  • If all information on the Internet were to be written down, it would take 57,000 years to get through it all – reading non-stop 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Wikipedia is yet another example of users collectively amassing information and moulding it into a comprehensive digital encyclopaedia of surprisingly high quality. It now comprises 14 million articles written in many different languages, mostly by slightly older Internet devotees, but keenly used by the digital adolescents.
  • According to an EU study, the current stock of freeware is the equivalent of 131,000 man years of work. As the development work is largely under remunerated, the estimated annual added value of Euro 800 million is not reflected in the balance sheets for the economy.

So, how will we attempt to get across this vast avalanche of information that is not only immense in size, but is coming at us at such a rapid rate?

Will we need to employ “Information Sifters” to sort through the myriad of information and get to the crux of what we’re after?  One thing is for certain, we won’t be able to sort it through ourselves.

Patience is a Virtue

It was only a small article in “The Advertiser” (Tues, 19th July, 2011), but it caught my eye.

A survey in the United Kingdom found that most of us lose patience after just 2.5 minutes. At that point of 150 seconds, 60% of us began to show obvious signs of annoyance such as muttering and shifting around, and at 5 minutes, half of the 3,000 adults questioned walked away from a queue such as in the Post Office, waiting for a train, or trying to get into a bar because they felt the anger mounting.

Interestingly, one in three rant at strangers if they are made to wait. And 1 in 6 adults admitted to having a row with a shop assistant.

The triggers that get our dander up include the following:

  • a slow internet connection
  • slow drivers
  • traffic jams
  • friends who are always late
  • waiting at home for a delivery
  • bad spelling
  • trying to get an appointment with the GP or dentist
  • struggling to get the bill in a restaurant
  • people spending too long in a public toilet

So there you have it.  What would it take to find more tolerance in such situations (because one thing is certain, they are going to continue!)?  What’s the point in getting so uptight? What does it solve exactly?

All that happens, is that because we have an expectation that the world is just waiting for us to appear so that we can be immediately served, is that when this unrealistic expectation does not eventuate, we huff and puff. To what end?

When you get caught in a queue or are held up, talk yourself down (and not up), and use the time to check your emails, send a message, read your ipad or iphone, or think about the life you lead. Do anything but waste your energy on needless negative emotions.

Do yourself a favour, and get a grip.

An ‘F’ Grade for Education

Dr Stephen Covey wrote in his book “The 8th Habit” that “We live in a Knowledge Worker Age but operate our organisations in a controlling Industrial Age model that absolutely suppresses the release of human potential [bold type mine]” (Page 15). Just substitute the word “schools” for “organisations” and you have it.

Our schools were originally designed to put students in rows in order to learn to read and write so that they could move off the farms and into the factories for the Industrial era. Not much has changed really. Sad, but true.

We wonder why our adolescents are dis-engaged with school, why the truancy rate is high and why adolescent depression is at an all-time high.

In fact, the issue is so problematic that our enlightened bureaucrats and politicians have seen the need to legislate for children to stay longer at school. Really?  Ever thought about changing the system so that teens might actually enjoy the experience?

How? View the work of Salman Khan where he uses video to reinvent education — see http://blog.ted.com/2011/03/09/lets-use-video-to-reinvent-education-salman-khan-on-ted-com/

Or perhaps you’d like to review the work of one of Australia’s leading educators, Dr Tim Hawkes, the Headmaster of The King’s School in Sydney — see “The Failure of Schools to Educate” http://www.kings.edu.au/about/documents/The-failure-of-schools.pdf

Get Serious; Early Intervention is the Key

I happened to fall across the documentary last night on ABC1 called “Drive” largely about our young men killing themselves on our roads. There were interviews with the parents (largely mothers), the ex-girlfriends or fiancés, the mates, friends and so on. There was a reciting of their history, their struggles at school, their development into teens, a snap-shot of family life (or lack of it) and the culture that they embraced with alcohol, thrill-seeking and such.

It seemed clear to me. If we are serious about our young people in this country, then we have to be serious about early intervention. No if’s, but’s.  Governments can talk all they like about about strategies or programs, but they are only band-aids or patch-ups. If they don’t get to the root cause of the problem, then they are simply hot air and vote catching.

There is no doubt that these young people would have been clearly identified in the early years of school (Reception, Year 1-4) as having problems, as experiencing learning difficulties, as being disruptive, as being hard to manage.

But what do governments do about this? Zip.  Nil.  Zero.  Nothing.

This you can therefore expect…that the problems with our youth will continue to spiral out of control…there will be many more deaths and carnage… that much is clear.  Very clear.

When are we going to get serious?  Really serious…

Christmas Office Parties; Career Stopper or What?

The reporter from “The Advertiser” rang to ask what advice I might have about Christmas office parties. In short, they can be a big negative or a big plus.

On the negative side, the combination of a festive spirit, coupled with the expectation of holidays, along with alcohol (and possibly recreational drugs) all caught up in a party scene means that inhibitions are thrown to the wind and people behave and say things that ordinarily they wouldn’t do. Yes, such actions are career limiting. Don’t for a moment believe that your bosses aren’t making mental notes of your behaviour.

On the positive side, it is a great occasion to network and meet others in your company or group that typically, you may not have had the opportunity to do so. One of the hallmarks of those who are successful are that they know a lot of people, and are well connected, which means that they can get things done and done quicker. So, this Christmas, just don’t hang out with those you work with, move around the group and enlarge your contacts. One day, you may be very grateful that you did just that.

Cyberbullycide

Cyberbullying is on the rise and out of control.

This is the reason why I have created a special website called www.cybersafetydoctor.com.au which seeks to bring the whole community together to fight this growing and insidious assault. The site provides a course for students, parents and teachers. Together we can make a difference.

There have been several cases where teenagers were driven to committing suicide because of cyberbullying. The case of 14-year-old Megan Meiers made headlines worldwide because it was found that she was being tormented by her adult neighbor, the neighbor’s daughter, and an employee of the neighbor, who spread a cruel online hoax about her. A 13-year-old boy Ryan Halligan from Rhode Island in the USA was tormented for months and called gay until he committed suicide. A mother from Melbourne, Karen Rae, blames cyberbullies for her 14-year-old daughter’s suicide.

But one case is already one too many. Perhaps the measure of this alarming trend is the fact that this phenomenon now has an unofficial name: cyberbullycide.

Transitions

When I travel, I get to think…all the new experiences.

It triggers in me the thought that we tend to live life often as though we are “unconscious” when one of the secrets seems to be to allow ourselves to be fully alive to the experiences we have; all the “hullo’s” and all the “goodbye’s”. Frequently we tend to get caught up in the routine of life and when we do have those hullos and goodbyes (which we actually have on a daily basis), we struggle or perhaps fight them rather than perhaps really learning to live them.

What would it take to really live life, to be fully alive and conscious and aware?