Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Year of the Ox

Year of the Ox
The Lunar New Year, which begins today, ushers in the Year of the Ox. The Ox is the sign of prosperity through hard work and sustained effort. This powerful sign is a born leader, being quite dependable and possessing an innate ability to achieve great things. Like their animal namesake, the Ox is unswervingly patient, tireless in their work, and capable of calmly enduring much hardship without complaint.

The truly interesting thing is that Barak Obama was born in a year of the ox. Wouldn't you say these characteristics are EXACTLY what we need in a president right now?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Hot, Flat and Crowded

"The developing world feels like we sat down to dinner, had the hors d'oeuvres, ate the entrée, pretty much finished off the dessert, invited them for tea and coffee and then said, "Let's split the bill.""

"We will only breathe freely - in every sense of that phrase - if we can reduce global demand for oil and gas. Our own oil dependence is behind more bad trends domestically and around the world than any other single factor I can think of. Our addiction to oil makes global warming warmer, petrodictators stronger, clean air dirtier, poor people poorer, democratic countries weaker, and radical terrorists richer."

"Today, you cannot be either an effective foreign policy realist or an effective democracy-promoting idealist without also being and effective energy-saving environmentalist."

"Al Gore owes us an apology - I humbly suggest that he write an op-ed piece that begins like this: "I'm sorry. I am truly sorry. I want to apologize. I completely UNDERESTIMATED global warming. I beg your forgiveness.""

"...A lot of the IPCC math was developed when emissions from China were going down in the 1990's, and the Soviet Union was collapsing. What is happening now is worse than the worst-case projections that went into the IPCC model."

"Do not confuse the uncertainty about which trajectory we are on for uncertainty about where we are heading. And do not be confused that just because scientists tend to focus on the 10 percent they don't know that the 90 percent they do know isn't already a call to action."

end of interview of Friedman by Fareed Zakaria:

Zakaria: Finally, let me ask you--in that context--what would this do to America's image, if we were to take on this challenge? Do you really think it could change the way America is perceived in the world?

Friedman: I have no doubt about it, which is why I say in the book: I'm not against Kyoto; if you can get 190 countries all to agree on verifiable limits on their carbon, God bless you. But at the end of the day, I really still believe--and I know you do too--in America as a model. Your book stresses this--that even in a post-American world we still are looked at by others around the world as a role model. I firmly believe that if we go green--if we prove that we can become healthy, secure, respected, entrepreneurial, richer and more innovative by greening our economy, many more people will follow us voluntarily than would do so by compulsion of a treaty. Does that mean Russia and Iran will? No. Geopolitics won't disappear. But I think it will, speaking broadly, definitely reposition us in the world with more people in more places. I look at making America the greenest country in the world like running the Olympic triathlon: if you make it to the Olympics and you run the race, maybe you win--but even if you don't win, you're fitter, healthier, more secure, more respected, more competitive and entrepreneurial, because you have given birth to a whole new clean power industry--which has to be the next great global industry--and put your economy on a much more sustainable footing. So to me, this is a win-win-win-win race, and that's why I believe we, America, need to take the lead in it. In the Cold War we had the space race with Russia to see who could be the first to put a man on the moon. Today we need an earth race with Japan, Europe, China and India--to see who can be the first to invent the clean power technologies that will allow man to live safely and sustainably on earth.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Idealists Out of Balance

Note to self - reread this as necessary:

Dealing with Stress from Work: Idealists Out of Balance

How do you deal with work-related stress? Each personality type has different stressors and copes in different ways. Better understanding of your own stressors and coping mechanisms can help you reduce the tension and anxiety work stress often creates.

Since Idealists tend to work for a better future for all, if things keep going badly and they lose hope they become stressed. When Idealists experience great stress, they can have muscle or sensory problems.

The Teacher is likely to become stressed if they experience an absence of trust and too much pressure to conform. They also dislike interpersonal conflict. If this happens, they may become excessively critical, which is antithetical to their normal positive self. One of the signs that the Teacher is in high stress is muscle tics or cramps. To recover, this normally social type must be left alone. Solitude and journal writing can help them get back to normal. Also getting out of the current arena of conflict and taking on a new project can restore their sense of self. Says Josephina, “My old boss and I worked like a charm. I had plenty of freedom and a crew to lead. Then she retired and my new boss was quite different. She wanted to inspect everything I did and insisted upon her way of doing everything. Some of her ideas were good, but others didn’t work at all. She wouldn’t listen to me. I got a tic in my right eye and had problems sleeping because of restless leg syndrome which I’d never had before. Something had to change. Then I heard about a special project which needed a new team and I applied. I’ m now on the team, my tic and restless leg syndrome is gone. I never realized before how much I needed to be trusted and free to exchange ideas on improving things.”

The Counselor can become stressed when they are required to deal with too many unexpected events or required to be too extraverted for too long a time. They can get overwhelmed if they are required to continually do very detailed work. If this happens, their muscles tighten up and they begin to see the external world through suspicious lenses. To return to normal, they need time alone to recharge and a lightening of their usual schedule. It will not help if others give them advice. Stretching exercises and calm, solitary walks will help. Says Lorraine, “I’m good at giving speeches. People see me as confident. But then they will want me to do more and more so I have no time alone and no time to recover. It’s been hard, but I’ve learned to say ‘no’ because if I don’t the personal consequences will be worse, and I won’t be good for anything or anybody.”

The Champion is usually a bundle of energy, but they can become exhausted if they are overloaded with work. They also will experience stress if their values and principles are violated and they see others in the company being hurt by policies that kill the human spirit. Then they become hypersensitive to what is going on around them. Facts become exaggerated. They have feelings of paranoia and may withdraw. To regain their equilibrium, meditation will help. Kindness and support by others, but not patronization, will help them get back to normal. Says Gloria, “I’d given a number of years of support to one boss, then he started bad-mouthing me. It threw me into a turmoil. I became suspicious of him and everyone else. Then a friend said that the boss was blowing up at everyone, not just me, and encouraged me to look at a position in a new section. I meditated to become centered again, then applied for the job. I love my new job and now life is great again. My old boss retired; he was drinking too much.”

The Healer is the most sensitive of all the Idealists to a negative environment. They notice problems in a work group before anyone else. Divisions within a work group can cause fear of impending loss. Also violation of their values can trigger stress. When stressed, they are likely to act out of character and take on behaviors that are not normally associated with them. They can seem to others as if they are splintered. Sometimes they will blame themselves, other times they will lash out at others. They may act precipitously or not act at all. To get back to normal, they need a lot of space and need to have their feelings validated. It doesn’t help to tell them that they are imagining things. It is important that the negative environment be dealt with by others or that the Healer be allowed to move to a more positive environment. Says Heinrik, “I’m in health education. We have many programs to help people live healthier lives. An outsider began to influence our boss, saying that he was more successful and could do better. Our boss began to criticize all of us. Everyone started pulling away from each other. I found myself being nasty to others, which is very unusual for me. Luckily, our boss found out that this outsider was just good at getting and had moved from county to county and not accomplished much. I’m glad we’re back to being a team.”

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Stock Rally Over?

So was that the Santa rally over the past couple weeks? Seems to be over. So what's next????

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Sustainability in Clearwater

Sam found an article about a new local group working for sustainability and permaculture right here in northern Pinellas. Hurrah! I joined IMMEDIATELY and will attend my first meeting tomorrow - gathering seaweed on the causeway to use in composting. Don't know if they've considered that this is a limited resource utilized by many, many native creatures, but I'll find out tomorrow.

It's so good that even a small effort is being made - because more and more reports are becoming dire:

The World Water Council predicts that some 3.5 billion people will live in areas without sufficient water supplies by 2025. If global society continues to consume water in a business-as-usual way, there may not be enough water to produce the food needed to feed the world in 2050, according to the Worldwatch Institute's 2008 State of the World report.

Friday, January 2, 2009

10 Steps to Happiness

condensed by Daniel Pink

Alternet gleans several years of research from the field of positive psychology to reveal “10 Things Science Says will Make You Happy.” The list, paraphrased, is:

1. Stop and enjoy the present.
2. Don’t compare yourself to the Joneses.
3. Don’t obsess over money.
4. Aspire to leave an imprint.
5. Be intrinsically motivated on the job.
6. Build a supportive network of family and friends
7. Act optimistic even if you have to fake it.
8. Gratitude, baby, gratitude.
9. Exercise is all good.
10. Givers gain.

It’s worth reading the whole story:

10 Things Science Says Will Make You Happy

By Jen Angel, YES! Magazine. Posted December 9, 2008.

Daily habits can affect our well-being. Here are 10 simple actions that research has shown makes people feel good.

In the last few years, psychologists and researchers have been digging up hard data on a question previously left to philosophers: What makes us happy? Researchers like the father-son team Ed Diener and Robert Biswas-Diener, Stanford psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky, and ethicist Stephen Post have studied people all over the world to find out how things like money, attitude, culture, memory, health, altruism, and our day-to-day habits affect our well-being. The emerging field of positive psychology is bursting with new findings that suggest your actions can have a significant effect on your happiness and satisfaction with life. Here are 10 scientifically proven strategies for getting happy.

1. Savor Everyday Moments

Pause now and then to smell a rose or watch children at play. Study participants who took time to “savor” ordinary events that they normally hurried through, or to think back on pleasant moments from their day, “showed significant increases in happiness and reductions in depression,” says psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky.

2. Avoid Comparisons

While keeping up with the Joneses is part of American culture, comparing ourselves with others can be damaging to happiness and self-esteem. Instead of comparing ourselves to others, focusing on our own personal achievement leads to greater satisfaction, according to Lyubomirsky.

3. Put Money Low on the List

People who put money high on their priority list are more at risk for depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem, according to researchers Tim Kasser and Richard Ryan. Their findings hold true across nations and cultures. “The more we seek satisfactions in material goods, the less we find them there,” Ryan says. “The satisfaction has a short half-life -- it’s very fleeting.” Money-seekers also score lower on tests of vitality and self-actualization.

4. Have Meaningful Goals

“People who strive for something significant, whether it’s learning a new craft or raising moral children, are far happier than those who don’t have strong dreams or aspirations,” say Ed Diener and Robert Biswas-Diener. “As humans, we actually require a sense of meaning to thrive.” Harvard’s resident happiness professor, Tal Ben-Shahar, agrees, “Happiness lies at the intersection between pleasure and meaning. Whether at work or at home, the goal is to engage in activities that are both personally significant and enjoyable.”

5. Take Initiative at Work

How happy you are at work depends in part on how much initiative you take. Researcher Amy Wrzesniewski says that when we express creativity, help others, suggest improvements, or do additional tasks on the job, we make our work more rewarding and feel more in control.

6. Make Friends, Treasure Family

Happier people tend to have good families, friends, and supportive relationships, say Diener and Biswas-Diener. But it’s not enough to be the life of the party if you’re surrounded by shallow acquaintances. “We don’t just need relationships, we need close ones” that involve understanding and caring.

7. Smile Even When You Don’t Feel Like It

It sounds simple, but it works. “Happy people…see possibilities, opportunities, and success. When they think of the future, they are optimistic, and when they review the past, they tend to savor the high points,” say Diener and Biswas-Diener. Even if you weren’t born looking at the glass as half-full, with practice, a positive outlook can become a habit.

8. Say Thank You Like You Mean It

People who keep gratitude journals on a weekly basis are healthier, more optimistic, and more likely to make progress toward achieving personal goals, according to author Robert Emmons. Research by Martin Seligman, founder of positive psychology, revealed that people who write “gratitude letters” to someone who made a difference in their lives score higher on happiness, and lower on depression -- and the effect lasts for weeks.

9. Get Out and Exercise

A Duke University study shows that exercise may be just as effective as drugs in treating depression, without all the side effects and expense. Other research shows that in addition to health benefits, regular exercise offers a sense of accomplishment and opportunity for social interaction, releases feel-good endorphins, and boosts self-esteem.

10. Give It Away, Give It Away Now!

Make altruism and giving part of your life, and be purposeful about it. Researcher Stephen Post says helping a neighbor, volunteering, or donating goods and services results in a “helper’s high,” and you get more health benefits than you would from exercise or quitting smoking. Listening to a friend, passing on your skills, celebrating others’ successes, and forgiveness also contribute to happiness, he says. Researcher Elizabeth Dunn found that those who spend money on others reported much greater happiness than those who spend it on themselves.

Jen Angel wrote this article as part of Sustainable Happiness, the Winter 2009 issue of YES! Magazine. Jen is a contributing editor for YES! Magazine.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Dilbert defines consulting

Leave it to Dilbert to nail the essence of one of my former careers!

Celebrating 2009

Went to bed at 10:00 PM, got a great night's sleep and watched a brief video of the worldwide celebrations this morning. That's a superb way to start the year!

Hope the president-elect got some rest, too. He's going to need it!