When Life Gives You Cookies…

English: Half a dozen home-made cookies. Ingre...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Bible instructs us not to worry and be attached to the material things in life. The truth is that most of our pains and afflictions stem from an attachment to things that we mistakenly see as permanent.

This façade of permanence is what drives us to achieve all the things we deem important – a certain job, maybe a relationship, a prestigious title, or in my case, a piece of delicious banana bread. Before you furrow your brow in confusion, hear me out.

Even as a vegetarian, I’m not a particularly picky eater. There are, however, certain foods that I get very Gordon Ramsey about. Banana bread happens to be one of them. I’m so obsessed with the perfect density, moist-ness, texture etc…that when I find a place or person who makes a loaf that at the very least meets my culinary standards, I become a faithful customer. The cafeteria near my workplace has exceeded them by leaps and bounds. So much so that I find myself looking forward to lunchtime just so I can take the walk across the street in my heels and wait in line during the lunch time rush all to get my hands on that delicious, sweet, confectionary work of art.

A few days ago, I set off for lunch at exactly 12:30pm, right on schedule to pick up my tasty treat. My morning had been lackluster at best, and still feeling the effects of the morning commute, the thought of taking that first bite perked me up enough to put a pep in my step. When I arrived, to my horror, there was no banana bread to be found. That’s right. After I checked all the regular spots—twice— I searched at the counters where I knew it definitely would not be…all in the hope that it would magically appear just because I was hoping so hard. As a last-ditch attempt not to waste the efforts of my journey, I quickly purchased a chocolate chunk cookie and was on my way. Hungry and dejected, I meandered, sullen-faced and miserable, back to my office. I slumped into my chair and looked at the cookie with disappointment as if it would never measure up. As I took my first few bites, I realized, “Hmm. This cookie is actually pretty tasty. What was I so upset about?”.

The insight hit me like a Mayweather left hook. I had attached a permanence to the banana bread. I had become so dependent and sure that it would be there, that eventually I set an expectation for myself that was beyond my control. And when it wasn’t met, I felt a loss of control; a loss of order to my day. I was even indignant that the cafeteria would have the nerve not to at least put out some sort of notice! Yes, it’s actually a little embarrassing to admit that something so trivial could affect me so much. But the fact that I was able to recognize the emotion, identify it, and reframe the situation was extremely meaningful to me in terms of what it meant for other aspects of my life. How often do we set unrealistic expectations for people or things from day-to-day? Or expect things to happen perfectly according to our neatly scheduled timelines and storyboards?

It’s been said that the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray, and really, the cookie was just as good if not better than the banana bread I had been looking forward to. I was just so irritated about not getting exactly what I wanted that I nearly missed out on what I had been able to get instead. The lesson? We need to be open to the idea of something we didn’t plan being the solution or the answer to whatever issue we are facing. Don’t let your happiness depend on that which is temporary. Breathe energy and positivity into your life and go with the flow. There is so much opportunity to be seized if you would just reach out your hand to grab it as it passes by.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path.” – Proverbs 3:5-6

Goodnight 🙂

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Fake it til you make it

After a long hiatus from blogging, I have returned with a somewhat settled mind, a very well-rested body and something I strive for each day– clarity. This post is by no means linguistics related but it is about communication. Mainly, communication with yourself.

A few days before my last exam way back in April, I came across a TED talk presentation given by this beautiful and vibrant woman named Amy Cuddy. Always known for being “the smart one”, she gave an emotional account of an accident that left her at an intellectual disadvantage, robbing her of her identity. She then proceeded to explain how she was able to overcome her obstacles simply by ignoring her limitations and just attempting something she “knew” she wasn’t able to do. Her experience inspired her to conduct research on the truthfulness to the well-known phrase ‘fake it til you make it’ and she found that while we have always known it’s possible to use our minds to control our bodies, it is also the case that we can use our bodies to influence our minds. ‘Powerposing’ is the evidence she uses to back this claim.

Cuddy had two groups of participants undergo a simulated job interview (to mimic a high-stress situation). Half the participants posed for two minutes in a dominant position e.g. a ‘Superman’ stance and the other half posed in a submissive stance e.g. crossing arms or legs. She also took saliva samples before and after the posing sessions. Cuddy found that regardless of what was actually discussed during the interview, the group that ‘powerposed’ not only had more favourable reviews from the interviewers, but they actually had less of the stress hormone present in their saliva compared to before the posing.

This blew me away for a number of reasons. The most important lesson I was reminded of is that sometimes, it really is just mind over matter. If you put your body in a situation or position that is positive and empowering, your mind will respond accordingly. Two minutes alone to position your body for success is all you need to exude confidence. Your body and your mind communicate and can encourage the other to step out of the box to do the unthinkable. Whether you THINK you can or not, if you DO it with your body, your mind will eventually follow suit. And that is just beautiful.

Politically Correct? or Just Correct.

Brian Jane's Blog.

Language, it turns out, is pretty important. After all, how do you complain to tech support, or order fast food, or be sarcastic, if you don’t use language? Language can be used to persuade, inform, convey emotion, and, this is becoming more clear to me every day, hurt people.

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Lessons on Coping: Character & Discipline

stressOkay, it’s time for a personal post. This last week has been crazy busy for me in terms of school work, work work and personal commitments (hence the lack of blog entries!). While I love being in an academic environment and absorbing all the knowledge I can, there are some days where my brain simply feels exhausted. Over the course of my studies I’ve had to adopt multiple coping strategies to deal with the stress of a heavy workload while still trying to stay healthy and treat my body and mind properly. One big example: sleep. Through the years I’ve learned the hard way that multiple nights in a row with less than four hours of sleep will not only make me less productive the next day, but it affects my mood, my eating habits and (more obviously) my energy levels. As a result, the quality of my work declines– It’s all a spiral effect.

Thankfully though, I’ve been taking small pockets of the day to reflect, meditate and do some reading as stress relief. One of my favorite authors, prolific Christian writer Ellen White, was known for her direct ‘tough love’ approach to advice on life, love and developing character. Here is some very helpful and encouraging advice from her book Mind, Character & Personality for strengthening the mind and the will in order to perform and function more efficiently every day:

1. Potential of the Disciplined Mind:

Self-discipline must be practiced…An ordinary mind, well disciplined, will accomplish more and higher work than will the most highly educated mind and the greatest talents without self-control

2. The Cultivated Mind Measures the Man:

Never think that you have learned enough and that you may now relax your efforts. The cultivated mind is the measure of the man. Your education should continue during your lifetime; every day you should be learning and putting to practical use the knowledge gained.

3. A Well-nourished and Healthy Brain

The brain is the organ and controls the whole body. In order for the other parts of the system to be healthy, the brain must be healthy.

4. Overtaxing the Mind

The student who desires to put the work of two years into one should not be permitted to have his own way. To undertake to do double work means, with many, over taxation of the mind and neglect of physical exercise.

To those whom this applies, keep these thoughts in mind while studying. While work ethic is an excellent quality, don’t forget to take breaks. Don’t overdo it. Eat well. Sleep well. Be well. Do well. 🙂

What are some of the ways you deal with stress? Start a conversation in my comment box!

Source: White, E. G. (1977). It’s importance. Mind, character and personality (pp. 3-10). USA: Review and Herald.