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Kings Mountain, North Carolina, United States
"A mind lively and at ease" is a blog by a first-generation Russian-Ukrainian immigrant Maria K. (Maria Igorevna Kuroshchepova). An engineer by education, an analyst by trade, as well as a writer, photographer, artist and amateur model, Maria brings her talent for weaving an engaging narrative to stories of life, fashion and style advice, book and movie reviews, and common-sense and to-the-point essays on politics and economy.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Big Little Change digest - April, 2014

Weekly small change challenges

Week 1 - pick a song, any song.

Sometimes, it is tough to find time to exercise. Even when you already don't watch TV, there are still plenty of distractions, especially the ever-present Internet. I find that the easiest way to build any habit, including the exercise habit, is to start small.

So, find some songs that never fail to get you moving. Make a playlist on your MP3 player, your smartphone, or on your computer. Every morning, as you pop out of bed, queue up one song and come up with a little exercise routine to go with it. Most songs are less than five minutes long - surely, you can squeeze it in somewhere. Maybe set the alarm five minutes earlier - it's just a few minutes, it's not like it's a whole hour or half an hour.

This will get your heart pumping, get you moving, give you an energy boost, and start you off with good mood.

Week 2 - realize that what works for you may not work for others.

Finding any job can be tough these days, let alone one's dream job. For those of you who managed this feat and found your perfect employment - congratulations. I am happy and proud of you. Have fantastic fun at work - you'll be awesome.

My current job is only half my dream job. It is in the sense that I LOVE being an analyst. I eat, drink, sleep, and breathe numbers, and that is fantastic. I don't care if the rest of the world thinks my job is boring - I love what I do. It is not quite as dreamy, because of being a part of a corporate workplace, complete with the pompousness, and politics, and other traits thereof that make it less than palatable at times. That said, most time, the love of what I do and the benefits (such as the ability to work from home) vastly outweigh the issues.

That said, while I might ask people whether they have considered a career as an analyst, I am certainly not going to insist that it's the best thing since sliced bread if they show no natural inclination for it. The same goes for any other job. Much as you may love your career in programming, or life insurance, or real estate, or online marketing - or anything else - recognize that it is YOUR dream job. It works for you. It might not work for others. It seems easy, pleasant and rewarding to YOU. But it may not appear the same way to others.

If you tell other people about your job, try to recruit them into the same field, and feel pushback from them, don't get offended and, more importantly, don't get snooty as in, "Fine, I'll collect my paycheck and yours while I am at it."

There is a reason why there is such a vast multitude of various professions in the world. Many things need to be done, and many different people get to do them. We can't all be astronauts, or writers, or ballet dancers, or college professors. There are jobs out there for all of us. By all means, tell people about the opportunities, but don't bash people when they thank you politely and state that it's not for them. Respect other people's choices.

Week 3 - resist the temptation to troubleshoot.

Life is not perfect. Nor should it be - it would be awfully boring if everything went our way 100% of the time. And so, we all have days when something goes awry - sometimes more than one thing. Social animals that we are, we need to tell someone. Sometimes we seek advice and sometimes we just want to talk it out and let out the steam.

As a type A and an engineer, I am constantly in the "what can I fix" mode. So, when someone tells me about a problem, it is VERY hard for me to not to go Wonder Woman on them and not to start spewing solutions at the rate of ten per minute. However, with time, I had to discipline myself to pause, take a breath, and ask, "Are you looking for advice or do you just need to vent?" That's all it takes, really.

I cannot tell you, how much difference this makes in your interactions. People appreciate you more because you listen better and you respect their right to find their own solution. So, if you are a troubleshooter, like me, consider forming this habit. Repeat after me, "Are you looking for advice or do you just need to vent?"

Week 4 - it's NOT going to be one of THOSE days.

Sometimes, you get up and slide your foot into your slippers only to discover that a dog threw up into one and a cat left you a dead mouse in the other. Sometimes, you go to brush your teeth and stub your toe on the nightstand leg. Sometimes, you go to get dressed for work only to discover that the shirt you were going to wear is missing a button, your jacket needs to be dry-cleaned and your shoes are scuffed. When things like that happen, what's the first thing many people are tempted to say? "Oh, sheesh. It's going to be one of THOSE days."

No. No, it's not. Do not pre-program your day to be lousy. It's just a mouse - if you have pets, you know things like that happen.

Yes, that stubbed toe hurts - put some ice on it, make sure nothing is broken, and take an anti-inflammatory. Wear comfortable shoes to keep from bothering it too much.

It's just a button - it takes five minutes to sew back on.

The dry-cleaning can wait a day - just brush your jacket as well as you can, maybe steam it if there is time (hanging it in the bathroom while you take a shower and closing the door to trap the steam actually works quite well).

Give your shoes a quick shine - another couple of minutes. Done!

No, it is NOT going to be on of THOSE days just because the start was rough. Unless your roof fell in, a tree fell on top of your car, and a loved one had just gotten hurt or something equally disastrous happened, other things are small by comparison. You can fix it, take a breath, and go on to have a great day.

Week 5 - smile on the treadmill.

Or on the elliptical. Or while stretching on a mat. Or on the running track. Wherever you happen to be exercising. Seriously, why do so many people look so glum when they exercise? I can understand a look of grim determination - because fitness is a challenge, and I get that. But some people look like they would rather be hanged by the neck than be exercising. The last time I checked there were significantly worse things one could be doing. Hauling cement. Cleaning elephant poop. You know... It's a long list.

No, exercise is not easy. Establishing a steady fitness routine is SERIOUSLY not easy. But one thing to remember is that by doing that, you are doing something well and truly incredible for yourself. You are doing your future self a huge favor, by keeping your current self in the best possible shape, by getting some muscle, by boosting your metabolism, by keeping your joints moving. Considering all that is involved in the physical process of exercise, that is an awesome thing! And you get free endorphins on top of it.

Smile. Put some kick-ass uplifting music on, visualize whatever you have to but smile. People will notice. First they will think you are insane. Then they will think you are up to something. And then they will realize it's possible to be happy while exercising, and might even decide to give it a shot as well. Smile.

Member contributions

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Recommended reading

How to live in flip-flops by Sandy Gingras

We always welcome new members to our Facebook group and new choppers and change enthusiasts to our Big Little Change store.

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