Two friends were walking through a dense jungle. Knowing the dangers, they promised to stick together whatever happened.
Suddenly a tiger appeared in the bushes. One friend immediately turned and ran, climbing up a tree and leaving his companion behind. He watched as his friend dropped to the ground and played dead.
The tiger approached, sniffed around, and leaned down, seemingly whispering something in the man’s ear. It roared once, then stalked away.
Feeling ashamed, the other man climbed back down the tree. “What did the tiger say to you?”
The man looked up. “He said, ‘Never trust a false friend.'”
Some days, you just need to know you have got a friend.
The point is you need to feel that someone “gets” you and is in your corner. With all the push, pull and tug that can go on in the workplace (and it happens everywhere, folks, even at the good places), you have to develop your own support systems – and friends can be invaluable. Good ones are like rocks; they keep us anchored during our personal storms.
You probably spend most of your waking hours at work, so friendships are natural. Working together can easily turn co-workers into best friends, making jobs more enjoyable and the workplace a home away from home instead of just a way to make a living.
But friendships need to be managed appropriately just like every other workplace relationship. Follow these simple guidelines so neither your friendships nor your job is at risk.
Limit social chatter.
Everyone chats a little at work, but don’t let your friendly conversations overshadow your responsibilities. Stay focused on your job.
Keep private issues private.
When you have problems to discuss, do it over lunch or after work.
Most of us love to talk about other people, but keep your natural inclination to share rumors about co-workers or managers in check. If colleagues realize you’re gossiping about them, the backlash could be unpleasant.
Don’t do each other’s jobs.
Pitching in to help a friend in a crunch is admirable, but keep it to a reasonable limit. Your manager is in charge of assignments and responsibilities, not you. Don’t spend so much time helping a friend do his or her job that you neglect your own.
Include, don’t exclude.
You may prefer the company of your friend, but don’t ignore the rest of your co-workers. Invite other co-workers to lunch, and include them in your conversations so they don’t feel left out. You may even make new friends by expanding your circle at work.
Being there for another person can offer you huge rewards psychologically as well. After all, part of the joy of a good friendship is being there for the other person when life gets rough – and it does get rough at times for everyone.
Keep in mind the words of Abraham Lincoln – someone who often needed friends along the difficult path of his presidency: “The better part of one’s life consists of one’s friendships.”
What is a friend? The following description of friendship was discovered on the wall of a doctor’s office. It was attributed to C. Raymond Beran.
Friends are people with whom you care to be yourself. Your soul can be naked with them. They ask you to put on nothing, only to be what you are. They do not want you to be better or worse. When you are with them, you feel like a prisoner feels who has been declared innocent. You do not have to be on your guard. You can say what you think, as long as it is genuinely you.
Friends understand those contradictions in your nature that lead others to misjudge you. With them you breathe freely. You can avow your little vanities and envies and hates and vicious sparks, your meannesses and absurdities, and in opening them up to friends, they are lost, dissolved on the white ocean of their loyalty.
They understand. You do not have to be careful. You can abuse them, neglect them, tolerate them. Best of all, you can keep still with them. It does not matter. They like you. They understand. You can weep with them, sing with them, laugh with them, pray with them.Through it all – and underneath – they see, know, and love you.
What is a friend? Just one, I repeat, with whom you dare to be yourself.
May your wisdom guide you,
Until we meet again
Benefit from clearing your head.
Do you find yourself having trouble focusing when you really need to get something done? Chances are, life has happened to you, making it hard to concentrate on the productivity at hand, and it might be hampering your work or personal life.
Here are three powerful tips that will help you capitalize on the benefits of having a clear head.
1. Write your thoughts on paper.
Sometimes you can’t express yourself the way you want to or should. Perhaps you are worried about hurting someone close to you or you’re afraid your words will create more trouble than they’re worth. The fact of the matter is, keeping emotions bottled up isn’t healthy for your mind or your body.
To remedy those occasions, go purchase a special notebook to be your outlet for expressing yourself, without causing hurt feelings. Whenever Abraham Lincoln wanted to really tell someone how he felt about them, he would write a nasty letter to that person and not send it. Therapeutically, it allows you to get everything out, all the while making you feel better and more productive.
Not really concerned about a certain person? That’s OK, too. The notebook is a catchall for your emotional distresses and anything you’re worried about. Keeping these thoughts together gives you an outlet, and when you release emotional distress from your mind, it allows you to make better decisions, think clearer and, therefore, be more productive.
2. Find your meditation practice.
While you might go for crossing your legs, closing your eyes and chanting om as to quiet your mind, there many other meditation practices you can try.
Meditation can be any place or practice you enjoy. My mother goes into the kitchen to cook. My father goes fishing. I run. It’s an exercise I can enjoy in solitude. It’s a place I can go to be alone and clear my head.
Whatever the scenario, make it yours. Find a place you can go to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday living. This daily practice of getting alone and thinking about the events ahead of you will give you peace of mind. And if you choose some sort of physical exercise, that is doubly good for you mentally and physically.
3. Find your distraction.
This may seem counterproductive, but neuroscientists at Brown University have concluded that the key to some productivity lies at the root of distraction. Your mind can only house one idea at a time, and when you are not being productive, then you are harboring other thoughts that keep you from your goals.
So in order to create a clear mind, you need a distraction. For example, at work, get some of your co-workers together and have a night out. Don’t talk about work at the lunch table, either; rather, find something everyone is interested in, like that basketball game last night. It allows your mind to recharge and reassemble for the rest of the day.
Distractions, while they are not the perfect solution for someone who is supposed to be focused, can be a great way to charge up the old brain cells to have them ready for round two.
If you’re having a little trouble being productive, these suggestions are powerful enough to restart everything.
I’m a sucker for list articles. Especially ones providing tips for fostering personal growth. The more I’ve clicked on these stories, the more I’ve noticed a recurring suggestion: meditation.
I’ve been intrigued by meditation for a while now. I’ve even tried it out a couple of times, always without direction, and I never found success.
In my experiments, I’d sit for a few minutes, attempting to think about one thing explicitly, or nothing at all. The goal varied on the technique I was trying, often something I’d read online or my mom had seen on Oprah’s channel.
And inevitably, I’d go insane. I couldn’t get it right. When my timer went off, I was more tangled than when I started.
The problem was clearly me, not meditation, which is why I decided to sign up for a class. I figured the structure and guidance would give me a chance to get out of my own way. I was right.
For more than a year now, I have been meditating daily. The results have been so positive that I’ve come to view meditation like any foundational health block, such as quality sleep or a nutritious diet. It impacts everything. It makes it a little easier to be me.
Although it helped to find a technique that fit, the difference has come from my commitment to show up consistently and remain open to whatever happens.
Because once you do that, the benefits are boundless. Here are three.
1. Meditation has helped me be myself.
I admit it: I have road rage. Which is uncharacteristic, because when I’m anywhere else, (I like to believe) I’m easy going. It’s not the kind of rage where I confront fellow commuters, but it’s arguably as hazardous.
Every day I navigate two rush hours, and every day I’m faced with offenses that drive me to exasperation: people not letting me merge, people driving below the speed limit, people cutting in at the lip of a freeway exit so they don’t have to wait in line (as if the rest of us want to either).
I sit there seething, banging my steering wheel, as the tension inside simmers. My only recourse is pulling along the offending vehicle to give its driver the turn-and-look treatment (which is never as satisfying as it should be).
But since I’ve started meditating, I’m not pushed beyond my boiling point as easily or as often. Don’t get me wrong—the aforementioned misdeeds are just as unacceptable; I’m just not as affected.
As handy as this composure has been on my commutes, it has also permeated other areas of my life. I still feel impatience, anxiety and fear; they’ve just been dulled to a more manageable level.
It’s as if the daily meditations have doubled as dress rehearsals, allowing me to practice being calm and even-keeled, reminding me that the extra four seconds I have to wait for that guy to go when the light turns green aren’t worth being a jerk about.
For the first time in a long time, I’m more capable of behaving like the person my parents raised me to be.
2. Meditation has given me new perspective.
In the Seinfeld episode “The Pick,” George doesn’t know how to handle a particular situation, so he asks Kramer for advice.
“What does the Little Man inside you say?” Kramer says. “The Little Man knows all.”
“My Little Man’s an idiot,” George replies.
Like Costanza, I struggle with my Little Man—that inner narrator who critiques everything I do, say and think. At different times, he’s instilled fear, shattered confidence and sabotaged attempts I’ve made to move forward.
So naturally, my meditation was ripe for invasion.
When I first started practicing, the Little Man would grade each effort, not just after I was done, but as I was doing it. Going full backseat-meditator on me, he’d judge how well I was connecting with my mantra or impatiently whine, How much longer?
Finally, the teaching kicked in. My class taught me that there’s no such thing as a good or bad meditation session, because each one gives you what you need: Sometimes that’s the chance to learn or process stresses; other times it’s the chance to relax or gain critical insights.
And really, the same can be said of any experience I have. Too often, I’ve gotten hung up on what I could’ve or should’ve done differently, or how I was victimized by an unfortunate fate.
Now, no matter what comes my way, I’m much quicker to accept it. I recognize that whatever happens, for better or worse, is what was supposed to happen. And it’s up to me to acknowledge it, learn from it and trust that it provides the building blocks I need to progress.
With an outlook like that, the Little Man has no retort.
3. Meditation has made me tougher.
My family and King’s Hawaiian sweet rolls aside, my two passions are writing and golf.
As a writer, I often like having written something more than I liked actually writing it. The destination can be more enjoyable than the journey.
Staring at my computer, the screen is as blank as my brain feels. I either have no words and no direction, or a million words I can take in a million directions. The net result is the same.
There’s also that blinking cursor, like a tapping finger, taunting me with its I’m waiting! impatience. It doesn’t matter how many times I fight through this inertia; there’s at least a part of me convinced that this time I’ll be exposed as a fraud.
In golf, every shot you face can be as intimidating as that blank screen. On the first tee, your round is unwritten, and though there are outside forces like wind and water, the story that unfolds is ultimately up to you.
The ball is just sitting there, waiting for you to tell it where to go. And when you give it bad directions, there’s nobody to blame but yourself. Do that enough during a round, and it’s not long before you’re overwhelmed by a sense of inadequacy.
Fortunately, meditation has made writing and golf more manageable, even more enjoyable.
I once heard someone describe meditation as a shower for your brain. That’s a good characterization. My daily practice helps cleanse the filth—fear, anxiety and self-doubt—that derails me. This keeps me calmer while also making me tougher and more resilient.
When I can’t think of what to write or when I’ve banana’d my Titleist into somebody’s swimming pool, instead of my mind turning in on itself, I now have the energy and clarity to absorb the hit, put the past in the past and get back into the present.
The results prove it. Since I began meditating, I have lowered my golf handicap by salvaging numerous disaster-destined rounds, and I have been more productive as a writer.
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