Why worry?

I just heard someone say they stopped worrying years ago. What a great idea!

What is worrying? My own definition would go something like this: It is thinking about or dwelling on potential negative outcomes. Or, it is fearing something that might happen in the future.

What does worrying accomplish? Nothing

That doesn’t mean we can’t plan for and prepare for the future, but it does mean that we should stop visualizing negative outcomes. Not only does worrying make the present moment less enjoyable, the possible negative outcomes become even more likely to occur.

For example, Think of a sports team that constantly worries about how good the other team is, and how bad it would be to lose. How does that impact the outcomes?
So, as the wise Bob Marley once said, “Don’t worry ’bout a thing”. Even though every little thing may not be all right, worrying isn’t going to help us at all.

5 things that make traveling with kids easier

All three of my kids were born abroad, and traveling is one of our family’s favorite hobbies. Here are a few traveling tips we’ve picked up over the years.

1. Get a portable crib

Peapod cropped

I’m not talking about the old port-a-cribs. I’m talking about something that weighs 2 pounds, pops up in seconds, has a cover from the sun, and zips closed for mosquito protection. We bought a Peapod travel bed a year ago, and I can’t believe it took us so long to discover this. Amazing. We take it to the beach, pop it up in the walk-in closet, or whatever. If your kid can sleep in something like this, it is AWESOME. (The Peapod Plus is a bit bigger. We got the smaller one for our baby, but may upgrade to the bigger one someday).

2. Itinerary Management App

TripItFree_iPhone_SOHP_CroppedThese are pretty awesome. All you do is forward your confirmation emails to a predefined email address, and the app will organize all of your itinerary details for you. This is a must to keep straight your flights, hotels, car reservations, etc. all in one place. I’ve used both TripCase and TripIt. They both work pretty well. These also make it easy to share your travel plans with your spouse or anyone else that you may be visiting.

3. Stay somewhere with a kitchen

Maybe your kids are different than mine, but for us, going to a restaurant is usually not the most relaxing thing in the world. There are lots of ways to get a kitchen, but Airbnb is our go-to option. Not only do you save tons of money, but you often get a nicer place, meet locals, and have a tour guide you can email before you get there for some sweet insider tips.

4. Remember that kids operate on their own schedule.

When I was single, or newly married, I’d take whatever flight was cheapest and travel at the craziest hours. That makes for some fun stories and tired days, but it makes for ruined trips when you try to do it with kids. We try to do a few of the following in order to make our trips more fun with the kids:

  • Take flights during hours that are reasonable
  • Schedule time to stop off at the grocery store on the first day
  • Don’t pack the schedule too full
  • Take joy in the journey. Don’t focus too much on the destination, or you’ll stress the whole time and then wonder why you got there.

5. Get a hand-held luggage scale

We said goodbye to stressing over luggage weight after getting this. Just do it. Here’s the luggage scale we use. It’s light, amazingly accurate, and totally worth a few bucks.

I’ll post more tips later, but I though this was a decent list to start.

You must abstain from consuming to create

We were built to create. However, in our modern day (and especially the US), we are taught that we are here to consume. We must stop consuming so we can start creating. 

Try consuming less of the following:

  • Media
  • News
  • Email
  • Shopping
  • Surfing the web

So you can create something like:

  • Deeper relationships
  • Art
  • Value for others
  • Goodwill
  • Develop new talents
  • A new business
  • A plan

Sometimes it is easier to abstain completely than to try to consume in moderation. Try abstaining from your phone or news for an hour, a day, a week, or a month, and when you do, decide what else you’d like to create in that time.

To kill a dream

It’s easy to kill a dream. All you have to do is tell someone it’s not possible. That it’s not worth it. That they are wasting their time. 

To some, that will kill it immediately. Others need to hear it a few times. And some have the instinct to persevere in the face of doubt, clutching to something they know has hope. 

If a dream will be killed, why not let someone else do it? 

Instead of making a judgement, ask an open ended question. Who knows what will come of it. 

Get more out of your church attendance

“Make no mistake about this: You can never make a fool out of God. Whatever you plant is what you’ll harvest.” (GOD’S WORD® Translation Galatians 6:7)

“But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” (KJV 2 Corinthians 9:6)

I go to three hours of services at my church every week. I’ve been doing this for the past 33 years. Recently, I’ve been struggling with feeling bored. The topics are not new, and usually they are presented in the same ways. There’s even a pretty strict curriculum which ensures uniformity across a worldwide church. This is great for making sure you don’t have too much variation, but it can also lead to a lack of variety.

I was discussing this with my wife, and she reminded me that you get out whatever you put in. I’ve been focusing on putting more into things for the past couple weeks, and boy is it true! The more focus and attention I can place on the meeting, or on getting answers to the questions that concern me, the more I get out of the meetings.

In the past, I’ve excused not getting much out of church because I am the father of small children, and I usually spend a lot of time focused on keeping them from running (or crawling) around the chapel.

Today was stake conference (a 2-hour block with no break-out sessions), and in spite of being responsible for keeping 3 kids under control, I was able to focus a lot, and as a result, I got a lot out of it. One of the factors may have been that I left my phone at home (which I highly recommend). Mostly though, I was just focused on being present. It felt wonderful and refreshing, and I’m going to keep working on focusing better in the future so I can reap the benefits.

I think I’ll try to keep my Sunday postings to something of a spiritual nature. Let me know what you think.

Product Review: Wunderlist

It’s been a couple years since I’ve tried to use software to manage my to do lists.  I’ve been using paper-based systems for awhile. Therefore I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered Wunderlist and how awesome it is.

Pros

  • Free (there is a pro version geared towards businesses)
  • Smooth interface
  • Seamless integration and sync between web app and iPhone app
  • Easy to share lists with others
  • Due dates, reminders, are easy to customize.
  • Organization of lists. You can make separate lists, make folders of lists, and my favorite of all:hashtags. Ive tried implementing GTD (getting things done) before, but I have a tough time with the number of lists. With hashtags I can make dozens of lists and keep them all in the same list very easily. For example, I have a work list. It’s what I should be focusing on while I’m at work. Sometimes I should focus on client work or a specific client. So, I just tag every to-do that has to do with clients with the client hashtag and a separate tag for each client name. That way I can click on client and get all my client to dos, or I can click on a name and focus on one specific client. This is awesome.
  • Recurring checklists are easy to setup.
  • There is a rewarding ding everytime you check something off. (Helps to compensate for the fact I’m not physically drawing a line through stuff, like I do with paper systems).
  • You can work on the lists offline.

Cons

  • Alerts can’t be customized as much as I’d like. If I set a reminder it gives me a pop up and an email. I can mute the alerts on a whole list, but I’d like to be able to tweak alerts a bit more.

Summary

If you are like me and haven’t tried online to do list managers in awhile, you should definitely give Wunderlist a try. It didn’t take long to learn how to use their interface. This is a great product.

Being rushed vs. being late

Being rushed. It’s something we do. Most of us don’t even think about why we are rushed–we just are. Sometimes, we rush because we have a certain appointment on our agenda.

Being rushed implies more than just moving quickly, there is a component of elevated stress. Especially when things that are out of our control are not being cooperative (e.g., that red light, or the slow driver in front of me).

I’d like to make the case for analyzing the consequences of being rushed versus being late. Rushing will usually increase our stress levels, cause us to act in ways that are less charitable towards others, and potentially put the safety of ourselves and others at risk. Furthermore, we will probably carry our stressed attitude into our next appointment, which may have some serious negative consequences. 

Being late can also have consequences. We may miss a flight, bus, or train (which would cause us to be late to something else). We might make other people wait for us. Or we might feel sheepish as we walk in to something that has already started without us. 

I’m not saying that we should never speed ourselves up to avoid being late, but we should think about what is worse. Perhaps we could send a message telling people we are likely to be 5 minutes late instead of tripping over ourselves only to arrive 2 minutes late anyway.