Minimalism—Trendy Fad or Urgent Necessity?

Written by Les Dahl on March 7th, 2016. Posted in Prosperity, Sage's Scroll

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I’ve come across the word, as you probably have, more than a few times recently. Sounds kinda trendy—like a term someone in-the-know, up-to-date and on-the-cutting-edge would use.

I like to be that ‘someone’, but I’ve learned from experience to check the meaning and appropriate context of a term before acting like its part of my every-day vocabulary. Presumption is dangerous and embarrassment, which usually follows, can be a harsh teacher.

 

What is a minimalist?

 

A minimalist is born either out of an aha moment or necessity.

There comes a moment of realization that the true essence of life—joy, worth, relationship, growth, purpose, health and significance—is NOT found in possessions nor money.

(Remember the Beatles’ “Can’t buy me love”?)

 

A minimalist determines what is really important, removes what is not necessary (the clutter) to give place to only that which adds value to the true essence of life.

 

A minimalist asks, “Do I really need this? Does this add value to my life?”

  • If the answer is yes: a minimalist keeps it and builds a meaningful life with it—for him/her-self and for others. (A minimalist tends to be a giver not a taker.)
  • If the answer is no: a minimalist simply does without it—it just isn’t necessary for a meaningful life. It doesn’t add value.

 

Is minimalism really necessary?

 

Well…that depends.

You don’t have to look far nor wide to see that a major component of life today is stress. It rears its ugly face every which way you turn.

 

Look at these statistics.

At least 40% of office workers in America say they are stressed at work. Twenty-five percent identify work as the biggest source of stress in their lives.

It used to be that work was meaningful, satisfying and rewarding.

No more.

 

Next to work, relationships are the second major cause of stress.

Really not hard to understand, is it.

You’re bombarded all day at work.

You manage—with some difficulty—to keep the pressure in check.

Home at last. 

Finally, a respite from stress.

 

You step through the door—

     the kids are yelling and fighting…

     the house is in chaos…

And where is your spouse?

     on the computer…

     totally oblivious to what’s going on!

(How stress-free is that relationship?)

 

Words are spoken…

     and then regretted.

Feelings are hurt…

     apologies are made, and accepted.

But the pain remains.

 

Not far down the list, the fifth major cause of stress is ‘trash talk’.

     Negative self-talk, regrets,

     deteriorating self-confidence,

     unrealistic expectations

     add to the already crushing burden.

 

You want to take your mind off the pressure so you sit down to watch a little T.V.

Annoying in-your-face advertising won’t let you relax.

  • In 1960, a 1-hour program contained a mere 9 minutes of commercials—just enough time to run to the bathroom and grab a quick snack on the way back.
  • Today, a 1-hour program has on average 22 minutes of advertising. Late night talk shows run 14 minutes of commercials and anything after that has up to 30 minutes per hour—49% on average!

More stress.

 

What fuels this stress juggernaut?

 

In one word…consumerism.

 

Consumerism is the real life version of the PacMan video game.

Everyone is racing down the money trail gobbling up as many gold coins as possible before the credit monster eats you.

  • It is the pursuit of ‘the good life’ defined by money and possessions (consumables).

 

The endgame?

  • Success measured by the accumulation of wealth and things.

 

Paul James claims that second only to concern about global warming,

the pursuit of the ‘good life’ through practices of what is known as ‘consumerism’ has become one of the dominant global social forces, cutting across differences of religion, class, gender, ethnicity and nationality.”  (Globalization and Culture, Vol. 3: Global-Local Consumption. London: Sage Publications)

 

The consumerism juggernaut is global.

It’s huge.

It’s unstoppable.

And it consumes (pun intended) everyone in its way.

 

Is there no escape?

 

Actually, there is.

     If you are willing to face reality

     and make some tough decisions

     with intentional action.

 

You will also need the heart of a salmon.

 

Salmon have a singular purpose

  • to successfully complete their own life cycle and
  • give birth to a following generation of salmon
  • that will honor the integrity and mission of salmon.

 

After 4 or 5 years at sea, salmon swim against ocean tides to find their niche, the stream where they were born.

With a strange mixture of urgency and patience, salmon wait at the river’s mouth while their bodies embrace the massive change which will allow them to survive in fresh water.

When the change is fully embraced, salmon swim upstream against the current until they reach their destination.

Along the way, they encounter and overcome indomitable barriers and obstacles with courage and instinct that can only be described as supernatural.

 

For some, the decision to become minimalist will be relatively easy.

For others, it will be similar to the journey of the salmon.

For all, it will eventually become necessary.

 

Shalom!

 

Image attributed to Dmitry Azovtsev (http://www.daphoto.info)

Is Coffee Healthy or Harmful?

Written by Les Dahl on February 27th, 2016. Posted in Health

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Caffeine affects perception, emotion, mental activity, mood and behavior. There is no question about that. The issue is— is it healthy or harmful?

Caffeine, in the form of coffee, tea and cola soft drinks, is one of the most traded commodities in the world. Coffee is outranked only by oil in value of exports by developing countries. More than 75 million people depend on coffee for all or most of their livelihood.

That’s interesting, but why are coffee and other caffeine beverages so popular? Are the reputed benefits back by science or is it just marketing hype?

Actually, researchers have conducted numerous studies and come up with some interesting results.

  • caffeine increases alertness and improves performance of various tasks including those that require sustained response and focus
  • caffeine releases norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter and hormone that stimulates emotional and cognitive centers of the brain and produces a sense of well-being
  • low levels of norepinephrine can result in depression, low energy, memory problems and loss of interest in everyday activities
  • high levels of norepinephrine can result in anxiety, restlessness, irritability, muscle tension, jumpiness and increased heartbeat
  • dopamine, another neurotransmitter released by caffeine, produces as sense of pleasure and helps improve working memory, focus and attention
  • low levels of dopamine can contribute to ADD (attention deficit disorder), social anxiety, withdrawal and apathy
  • caffeine improves physical endurance and affects the perception of fatigue—i.e. you may be exhausted but after a cup of coffee (or tea) you feel you can keep on going
  • caffeine affects mood by helping you to calm down, relax and feel rejuvenated
  • tea produces similar positive effects despite lower caffeine levels but is less likely to disrupt sleep
  • caffeine does not produce dehydration as is thought
  • even though this may be true, we recommend drinking 6-8 cups of water daily—the health benefits of this habit are substantial 

 

There you have it.

Coffee lovers, tea drinkers—science supports your pleasurable habit.

Enjoy your cuppa…

And check out the added benefit of ganoderma in OrganoGold coffee

Shalom!

Takers and Givers — 5 Simple Ways To Empower

Written by Les Dahl on February 21st, 2016. Posted in Prosperity, Sage's Scroll

 

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Two kinds of people will cross your path—takers and givers.

 

Takers want something from you.

With little or no regard for you or your property—takers poach.

It may be money, something you possess, or your time—takers leech.

 

Give them an inch, they take a yard.

Whether material, intellectual, emotional, your energy or your labor—they sponge.

 

Takers are annoying, burdensome.

You can’t avoid them. 

These pirates are everywhere.

And in the end they sap the life out of your soul.

 

Givers are a different breed altogether.

Givers are busy, productive—movers and shakers.

 

But they are not always visible.

Many givers fly under the radar and are happy to do so.

Givers want nothing from you except to see you succeed.

 

They are fully engaged in their own business,

     yet intuitively aware of others’ needs.

 

They passionately pursue their own success and prosperity,

     yet always have time to empower others to achieve theirs.

 

They readily give a listening ear, a helping hand, and a shoulder to lean on.

 

How do they do it?

 

Givers give in little ways, until giving is a habit.

Givers persist until giving becomes their nature.

 

Givers would have it no other way—giving is their lifestyle.

Givers simply love to give.

 

5 Simple Ways To Give That Empower People

 

1. Give worth

 

Address people by their name.

When you speak to people by name, you send a message

   that resonates deep in their psyche.

You are not a faceless, generic, taken-for-granted human robot.

You are a name-brand individual with personality and significance.

I acknowledge the name that identifies who you are.”

Who is not empowered by such an affirmation.

 

Affirm human worth by using each person’s name correctly.

 

 

2. Give dignity

 

Learn to compliment people sincerely and for no personal gain.

Compliment appearance—everyone wants to look good.

Compliment performance—everyone wants to be recognized for their effort.

 

Affirm self-respect by complimenting appearance and performance.

 

 

3. Give confidence

 

Like a tree, everyone has roots and branches.

Show genuinely interest in who they are and in their family (i.e. roots).

Show unfeigned enthusiasm for what they do and for their passions and dreams (i.e. branches).

When people reflect on their personal journey and the future they hope for, they gain confidence to keep pressing on.

 

Affirm strength by acknowledging past successes and future possibilities.

 

 

4. Give motivation

 

People enjoy talking about themselves.

Ask questions they will enjoy answering.

Pay attention to details.

Be sympathetic to their ideas and passions without judgement.

Recalling their story to a willing listener inevitably inspires the teller to greater achievements.

 

Affirm aspirations and inspire greater achievements by engaged listening.

 

 

5. Give purpose

 

Assign tasks, require responsibility and demand accountability.

The power of delegation is that it feeds the deep human desire to feel important and to do something purposeful and significant.

This is facilitated by establishing clarity:

  • easily understood instructions
  • clear, achievable expectations
  • precise, reasonable time frame

Everyone desires a high regard for themselves.

Challenging tasks with distinct parameters appeal to the nobler motives of human nature.

 

Affirm the sense of significance by assigning purposeful work.

 

 

We are familiar with the adage,

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for life.”

I say,

“Affirm a man’s worth, dignity, confidence, motivation and purpose, and you have empowered him for life.” 

 

Shalom!

 

Question: How will you give to empower someone today?

 

 

A Profitable Asset Too Few Invest

Written by Les Dahl on February 1st, 2016. Posted in Peace, Prosperity, Sage's Scroll

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Everyone has an unlimited supply of this asset.

Investment opportunities abound.

The R.O.I. is phenomenal.

 

What am I talking about?

A smile!

 

It’s no joke.

The numbers back up my claim.

After evaluating 3,000 participants from 79 countries, Jessica Pryce-Jones and her team of researchers compiled the following figures. Pryce-Jones is the author of Happiness at Work and CEO of iOpener.

The happiest employees are 180% more energized than their less content colleagues, 155% happier with their jobs, 150% happier with life, 108% more engaged and 50% more motivated. Most staggeringly, they are 50% more productive too.”

The researchers found that unhappy workers spent only 40% of their week actually ‘doing their job’, while happy workers were engaged in work-related 80% of their week.

Says Pryce-Jones,

This means they are putting in only two days a week of real [work], while their happiest colleagues are doing four.”

And, the happiest workers took 66% less sick leave.

 

But I don’t feel like smiling,” you say.

Just do it.

 

It is easier to control your actions than your feelings. Actions are the result or consequence of choice. You act on what you choose.

So, if you choose to smile, a smile will appear on your face, regardless of how you feel.

And if you practice long enough, smiling becomes a habit. You become an expert at it, and you reap its rewards.

Abraham Lincoln remarked, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

 

“But what’s that got to do with business?” you ask.

A Chinese proverb gives the answer: “A man without a smiling face must not open a shop.”

 

7 Reasons to Smile

  1. Your smile is the messenger of your goodwill—it brightens the lives of all who see it.
  2. To someone who has seen a dozen people frown, scowl and turn their faces away, your smile is like the sun breaking through the clouds.
  3. When someone is under pressure at work, at home or in the supermarket, your smile helps them realize that all is not hopeless—there is joy in the world.
  4. Your smile enriches those who receive it, without impoverishing you who give it—it costs nothing, but creates much.
  5. Your smile is rest to the weary, daylight to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad and Nature’s best antidote for trouble.
  6. A smile cannot be bought, begged, borrowed or stolen, for it is of no earthly good to anybody until it is given away.
  7. Nobody needs your smile as much as those who have none left to give—be generous.

       (Adapted from How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie)

 

I am determined to be successful and prosperous.

Seeing the ROI on a smile, I’m on a mission.

I am collecting as many smiles as I can every day.

How?

With a cheery smile, a friendly greeting, a sincere compliment, some light-hearted humor.

The response is delightful, the reward immeasurable.

Shalom.

Challenge: Make it your mission to give away and collect as many smiles as you can every day.

 

 

 

The Marshmallow Test

Written by Les Dahl on January 17th, 2016. Posted in Parenting Strategies, Prosperity, Sage's Scroll

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What does resisting the temptation to eat a marshmallow have to do with the ability to succeed? How important is it to teach our children self-control and the ability to delay gratification?

Some 40 years ago, a psychologist devised an unusual test of self-control. Walter Mischel set a plate with a marshmallow before preschoolers and then told them he had to leave the room for a few minutes. He gave each child a challenge.

If you wait until I return. I will give you another marshmallow. If you just can’t wait, ring this bell and someone will come immediately—but you will have only one marshmallow.

 

Two-thirds of Mischel’s subjects gave in to the excruciating temptation, rang the bell and ate the marshmallow. Only one out of three mustered enough will-power to delay gratification.

In which group would you have fallen, a mere 4 or 5 years old faced with a mouth-watering delight and no one else in the room except Jiminy Cricket whispering in your ear, “Don’t eat it!”?

Mischel revisited his ‘marshmallow subjects’ as adolescents. The teenagers who had passed ‘The Marshmallow Test’ as preschoolers scored higher on the SAT and displayed a “greater ability to plan, handle stress, respond to reason, exhibit self-control in frustrating situations and concentrate without becoming distracted.” (Source)

Mischel and several colleagues tracked down 59 of the original ‘marshmallow kids’ who were now in their 40s. Were the attributes displayed as successful, high-achieving youth still active as adults?

Amazingly, the character qualities that marked their adolescent years continued into adult life. Those preschoolers who just couldn’t resist the marshmallow “performed more poorly on the self-control task as adults.” Those who were able to delay gratification became successful, well-balanced and happy adults.

The ability to delay gratification has long-term positive consequence.

QUESTION: How can we cultivate the ability to delay gratification in our children?

Shalom!

These short videos will interest and amuse you.

(1) The Marshmallow Test <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5DGAsjUa6cA>

(2) What about Hispanic children? <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7UUfrnnbb8>

(3) What about Canadian children? <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4L-n8Z7G0ic>

(4) The implications? <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPZ5R9EA968>

 

 

 

 

 

Be the Difference — Care

Written by Les Dahl on January 9th, 2016. Posted in Peace, Sage's Scroll

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All of us want to make a difference. Our sense of worth is validated when we make a difference—in our family, at work, to our friends. The question is how?

The starting point is to focus on being rather than making a difference. Making a difference is not so much our performance as it is the natural out-flow of who we are. Our presence alone is enough to make a difference. Words and actions simply magnify the difference.

Difference springs from a heart that cares. When compassion is deeply rooted in the core of our being, we intuitively express sympathy (identifying with the anxiety or anguish of someone else in their suffering) and empathy (understanding someone else’s plight by sitting where they sit or walking in their shoes). There is no other response to suffering from a heart that cares but compassion.

Compassion will not and cannot be confined to feelings of sympathy and empathy. Through acts of kindness, giving and sharing, compassion seeks practical expression. These are prompted not by pity but by the desire to empower.

A difference is made with small steps. Little things, like a smile, a compliment, a courtesy or a simple “thank you” make a big difference.

 

Blossom sold vegetables in the Linstead market. She was anything but her namesake when I first met her. Blossom’s constant scowl matched her miserable disposition.

I determined to be the difference. Every time I passed her stall, I greeted Blossom with a smile and a friendly “hello”. Although her produce was not always the best, I purchased “a little something” regularly.

Several months passed before Blossom returned my greeting. With the ice broken, I paused often to chat.

As she perceived my sincere interest, Blossom began to share her story. I had no idea of the hardship she endured as the lone breadwinner for her family of five children. Someone with less character would have buckled under the burden Blossom carried because she loved and cared.

In Blossom, I ‘discovered’ a bloom in a garden of hardship. Little acts of kindness that acknowledge the goodness of others make a big difference.

 

Mahatma Gandhi said it well, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” I am resolved to be that agent of change. Because I care!

Be the difference — care.

 

Question: Are you ready to make a difference? Are you ready to BE the difference?

 

Spread the Message

I have created a t-shirt to inspire others with this simple message. See it here. Purchase one and join me in the movement.

About the photo

Jacqueline Nytepi Kiplimo’s shows compassion that ultimately cost her the race and the $10,000 prize. Hear her tell the full story

 

Shalom!