Training to Be Relaxed in Stressful Situations

Training to Be Relaxed in Stressful Situations

By Leo Babauta

Many of us face things every day that stress us out: overwhelming number of tasks, a big meeting, a project that feels really tough, behind on paying bills, someone is upset at us, there’s a family crisis, the world feels chaotic.

Can we find a way to be relaxed in almost any stressful situation?

Absolutely. It just takes some training. And lots of practice.

Let’s imagine you’re feeling stressed right now, about whatever you need to do, about an interpersonal conflict, about something coming up in the near future …

What is it that’s stressing you out about this? You might start telling me all the details of the situation, or all the things the other person has done wrong … but that’s your narrative about it. The thing that’s stressing you out is the narrative, or how you view the situation or person.

What if you could let go of that view, and just be in this present moment, without the narrative? There can be a feeling of peace and openness. Try it right now.

This is the training. Relax the narrative, loosen your view, and drop into the openness of the present moment. Breathe deeply, and relax your body. Relax the jaw, relax the muscles in your torso. Feel the openness in this moment.

With training, you can do this as you go into a stressful meeting, or enter a chaotic scene, or have a difficult conversation. But start with the easier situations: when you’re on your laptop, or washing a dish. When you’re out for a walk, or talking with a friend.

Breathe, relax, let go of the view and narrative, and find the peaceful openness of the present moment.

loving their children

loving their children

of the parent

By Henry H. Walker

I am in awe
of the love and care
with which adopting parents
can hold their children,

much of life is all about choice,
and much of that choice centers upon whim((h)wim):
which food? which entertainment?
which way to follow for a vacation(vāˈkāSH(ə)n)?

to choose adoption is not a whim,
it is a lifetime of parenting.
a lifetime of unconditional love
for a child who needs you.

I have been blessed(blest) to work at a school
with parent after parent totally invested in their children,
neither birth parents nor adopting parents
greater or lesser(ˈlesər) in their overwhelming giving of self
to these young people given into their care,

as a teacher I hear a calling and I follow it,
a calling from each child who can come near,

how glorious(ˈɡlôrēəs) to be a parent
who consciously chooses to adopt a child
who calls to them:
sometimes as mother and father,
sometimes as mothers,
sometimes as fathers,

in case after case, in situation after situation,
the child who could have been alone
becomes part of a family,
companioned(kəmˈpanyən) by those who love them,

every soul(sōl) born into every body
deserves to be loved without condition,

today I salute(səˈlo͞ot) the parents who choose
to give their lives into the service
of the young who need them,
of the young they need, too,

the broken circle strives(strīv) again to be whole.

Partners, Brothers and Friends

Partners, Brothers and Friends

By The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

The promoter(prəˈmōdər) says he wants to cancel
‘Cause there ain’t(ānt) enough tickets sold
The air conditioner(kənˈdiSH(ə)nər) on the bus just broke
And I can’t shake this cold
The single lost the bullet(ˈbo͝olət)
The singer’s losin’ his wife
Well, I might be crazy but I wouldn’t change
A single thing about this life

Sometimes we feel like champions(ˈCHampēən)
Sometimes we just can’t win
Sometimes our records hit the top of the charts
Or the discount bargain(ˈbärɡən) bins
Through almost 20 years of touring(to͝or)
We’ve remained(rəˈmān) partners, brothers and friends
Well, we keep it together ‘cause we’re sure we’re gonna be
Big time before it all ends

Just as long as Johnny’s(ˈjänē) got his fiddle(ˈfidl)
And Jimmy’s(ˈjimē) got his drums(drəm) along
Then Jeffrey and me and Bobby(ˈbäbē) will be
Singing all our favorite songs
Catch the fire from the folks in the front row
Fan the flames as the beat gets strong
It’s great to be a part of something so good
That’s lasted so long

Well I saw a story in the paper
Suddenly the band’s big news
The critics(ˈkridik) all like our records just fine
But they seem a bit confused
Is it folk or rock or country
Whoa((h)wō), seems like everybody cares but us
So just leave us an early wakeup call
So we don’t miss the bus

Just as long as Johnny’s got his fiddle
And Jimmy’s got his drums along
Then Jeffrey and me and Bobby will be
Singing all our favorite songs
We’ll catch the fire from the folks in the front row
Fan the flames as the beat gets strong
It’s great to be a part of something so good
That’s lasted so long

The band says it can’t stand my latest song
It’s too personal
But my first wife’s second marriage blew up
They had to get the dang thing annulled(əˈnəl)
Well, if that ain’t something to sing about
Well you tell me what is
And we’ll give it a beat and put it on the street
And we just might have another hit

Just as long as Johnny’s got his banjo(ˈbanjō)
And Jimmie’s got his harps(härp) along
Then Jeffrey and me and Bobby will be
Singing all our favorite songs
We’ll catch the fire from the folks in the front row
Fan the flames as the beat gets strong
It’s great to be a part of something so good
That’s lasted so long
Yeah, it’s great to be a part of something so good
That’s lasted so long

Five Years of Morning Reading

Five Years of Morning Reading

by 王渊源John

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been posting here each day for five years. Five years is more than 75% of our eldest(ˈeldəst) son’s life. It’s over 10% of my own.

Our Morning Reading Club started with a very simple idea. If someone practices something each day, they will get better at it. Many people want to get better at English, but they’re not sure what or how to practice. So if I could provide practice materials(məˈtirēəl) each day, it would help people be more likely to succeed in learning English.

The idea has remained simple, and the format has remained essentially the same. I share a passage in English each day and also provide a recording for readers to listen to and imitate(ˈiməˌtāt). Many readers have persisted in practicing for a long period of time and substantially improved their English.

Starting this year, I also established a group in which I explain each day’s material. I’ve found that it helps readers who might otherwise find the material too challenging be able to persist, and that the explanations(ˌekspləˈnāSH(ə)n) and cultural(ˈkəlCH(ə)rəl) background information that I provide is valuable for advanced learners as well.

The Morning Reading Club has become a part of my life, and it’s hard to imagine giving it up. As long as readers are willing to put in the time to practice, I’m willing to put in the time to find, record and share the materials. It’s gratifying(ˈɡradəˌfīiNG) to see readers improve their English and use English to enrich(inˈriCH) their lives. Thanks for your support and dedication(ˌdedəˈkāSH(ə)n), and here’s to another five years!

Your Relationship With Your Alarm Clock

Your Relationship With Your Alarm(əˈlärm) Clock

By Steve Pavlina

If you use an alarm clock to wake up in the morning, think about the relationship you’d like to create with your alarm clock. What would be the healthiest and happiest version of that relationship for you?

If you were an alarm clock, what kind of relationship would you want to have with your human?

For instance, maybe your alarm clock would appreciate it if you’d pat(pat) it on the head now and then and say, “Thanks for waking me up today. I appreciate you!”

How would your alarm clock feel about being put across the room and kept at a distance from you? How would it feel if you groaned(ɡrōn) when it sounded off?

How would your alarm clock feel if you kept using the snooze(sno͞oz) feature? Would it potentially lose(lo͞oz) respect for you?

Have you ever thought about the kind of relationship you’d like to have with your alarm clock? How would you like to feel towards it, and how would you like to imagine that it feels towards you?

I normally use an alarm clock to wake up in the morning, set for 5am. I never use the snooze alarm since that wouldn’t help me experience the kind of relationships I want to have – with my alarm clock, with myself, and with the start of my day.

I like relating to my alarm clock on the basis(ˈbāsəs) of mutual(ˈmyo͞oCH(o͞o)əl) trust and mutual respect. My alarm clock is my buddy(ˈbədē) who helps me start the day at the time of my choosing. It’s very reliable(rəˈlīəb(ə)l). I like knowing that I can trust it to sound off when I tell it.

Review: Gone With the Wind

Review: Gone With the Wind

By Roger Ebert

“Gone With the Wind” presents(ˈprez(ə)nt) a sentimental(ˌsen(t)əˈmen(t)l) view of the Civil(ˌsivil) War, in which the “Old South” takes the place of Camelot(ˈkaməˌlät) and the war was fought not so much to defeat the Confederacy(kənˈfed(ə)rəsē) and free the slaves(slāv) as to give Miss Scarlett O’Hara her comeuppance(ˌkəmˈəpəns). But we’ve known that for years; the tainted(tānt) nostalgia(näˈstaljə) comes with the territory(ˈterəˌtôrē). Yet as “GWTW” approaches its 60th anniversary(ˌanəˈvərs(ə)rē), it is still a towering landmark of film, quite(kwīt) simply because it tells a good story, and tells it wonderfully well.

For the story it wanted to tell, it was the right film at the right time. Scarlett O’Hara is not a creature of the 1860s but of the 1930s: a free-spirited(ˈspiridəd), willful modern woman. The way was prepared for her by the flappers(ˈflapər) of Fitzgerald’s(fitsˈjerəld) jazz(jaz) age, by the bold(bōld) movie actresses(ˈaktrəs) of the period, and by the economic reality(rēˈalədē) of the Depression, which for the first time put lots of women to work outside their homes.

Scarlett’s lusts(ləst) and headstrong passions(ˈpaSHən) have little to do with myths of delicate(ˈdelikət) Southern flowers, and everything to do with the sex symbols of the movies that shaped her creator, Margaret(ˈmärɡərət) Mitchell(ˌmiCH(ə)l): actresses such as Clara Bow, Jean(jēn) Harlow(ˈhärlō), Louise Brooks and Mae West. She was a woman who wanted to control her own sexual adventures, and that is the key element in her appeal(əˈpēl). She also sought to control her economic destiny(ˈdestinē) in the years after the South collapsed(kəˈlapst), first by planting cotton and later by running a successful lumber(ˈləmbər) business. She was the symbol the nation needed as it headed into World War II; the spiritual sister of Rosie the Riveter(ˈrividər).

1 Main Capital: Outlook

1 Main(mān) Capital(ˈkapədl): Outlook

My expectations for the coming year are for a (hopefully) boring economy. I am optimistic(ˌäptəˈmistik) that COVID vaccines(vakˈsēn) will be successfully administered(ədˈminəstər) to broad swathes(swäTH) of the global population and that global GDP will gradually enter a period of recovery(rəˈkəv(ə)rē). That, in addition to massive stimulus(ˈstimyələs) spending should provide a favorable backdrop for consumers to spend and for businesses to grow their earnings.

At the same time, market valuations(ˌvalyəˈwāSH(ə)n) are on the high end of historical levels, though they are not extreme(ikˈstrēm) by any means, and especially not when compared to historically(hiˈstôrik(ə)lē) low interest rates(rāt).

As pointed out in prior(ˈprī(ə)r) letters(ˈledər), there are certainly pockets of euphoria(yo͞oˈfôrēə) and speculation(ˌspekyəˈlāSH(ə)n) out there. As these pockets grow, it is natural to be concerned that their unraveling(ˌənˈravəl) could eventually hurt consumer confidence and spending. However, I am hopeful that the global reopening will, at least for the mid-term, be the overwhelming factor helping to drive economic(ˌekəˈnämik) growth.

Of course, the most dangerous risks are the ones we are not thinking or talking about today and hopefully none emerge(əˈmərj). If they do, I will keep an open mind and make sure we are positioned as though my net worth was substantially invested alongside you (it is).

Scientist Yuan Longping, whose rice research helped feed people in many countries, dies at 91

Scientist Yuan Longping, whose rice research helped feed people in many countries, dies at 91

By Huizhong Wu

Yuan Longping, a Chinese scientist who developed higher-yield(yēld) rice varieties that helped feed people around the world, died Saturday at a hospital in the southern city of Changsha, the Xinhua News agency reported. He was 91.

Yuan spent his life researching rice and was a household name in China, known by the nickname “Father of Hybrid(ˈhīˌbrid) Rice.” Worldwide, a fifth of all rice now comes from species(ˈspēsēz, ˈspēSHēz) created by hybrid rice following Yuan’s breakthrough discoveries, according to the website of the World Food Prize, which he won in 2004.

On Saturday afternoon, large crowds honored the scientist by marching past the hospital in Hunan province where he died, local media reported, calling out phrases(frāz) such as: “Grandpa Yuan, have a good journey!”

It was in the 1970s when Yuan achieved the breakthroughs that would make him a household name. He developed a hybrid strain(strān) of rice that recorded an annual yield 20% higher than existing varieties — meaning it could feed an extra 70 million people a year, according to Xinhua.

Meet America's Newest Chess Master, 10-Year-Old Tanitoluwa Adewumi

Meet America’s Newest Chess(CHes) Master, 10-Year-Old Tanitoluwa(tə) Adewumi

By Mary Louise Kelly

Tanitoluwa Adewumi, a 10-year-old in New York, just became the country’s newest national chess master.

At the Fairfield County Chess Club Championship(ˈCHampēənˌSHip) tournament(ˈtərnəmənt) in Connecticut(kəˈnedəkət) on May 1, Adewumi won all four of his matches, bumping(bəmp) his chess rating(ˈrādiNG) up to 2223 and making him the 28th youngest person to become a chess master, according to US Chess.

“I was very happy that I won and that I got the title,” he says, “I really love that I finally got it.”

“Finally” is after about three years — the amount of time that Adewumi has been playing chess. When he started, Adewumi and his family were living in a homeless shelter(ˈSHeltər) in Manhattan after fleeing religious(rəˈlijəs) persecution(ˌpərsəˈkyo͞oSH(ə)n) by the Islamist(ˈizlaməst) militant(ˈmiləd(ə)nt) group Boko Haram(ˈherəm) in their home country of Nigeria(ˌnīˈjirēə).

Now, Adewumi practices chess “every day” after school for “10, 11 hours” — and still manages to get some sleep.

His hours of practice have paid off. As a chess player, he describes himself as a bit of an every man, “aggressive(əˈɡresiv)” or “calm(kä(l)m)” when he needs to be, and always thinking ahead.

Not what it used to be!

Not what it used to be!

By Derek Sivers

At music-business conferences, there are always panels(ˈpanl) of experts, talking about the current state of the music business, from their point of view.

They’re usually men over 50 who have been in the music business for 20 years, and they say things like:

“The music business isn’t what it used to be.”
“It doesn’t have any vision anymore.”
“Nobody knows what’s going on anymore.”
“It’s too big and bloated(ˈblōdəd) and corrupt(kəˈrəpt) now.”

My friend Clem Chambers(ˌCHāmbərz) said, “Have you noticed they’re just projecting their own decaying(dəˈkāiNG) health into things?”

They aren’t what they used to be.
Their vision is fading.
They don’t know what’s going on anymore.
They’re big and bloated and corrupt.

So of course that’s how they’re going to see the world!

Wouldn’t it be interesting to get a panel of under-20 musicians and entrepreneurs to talk about how the music business looks to them?