"Monday 5 Things" with D. Paul Graham

Monday 5 Things…..Avoidance…..

Sitting in a local basement watering-hole on Broughton street sipping bottomless mimosas, I engaged in one of my most favorite activities – watching and listening to the people around me. There were definite highlights – three brothers who brightened up the room with their laughter, clearly enjoying their time together as they shared an early lunch; the woman and her boyfriend who were oh so clearly in love with each other and with life; and the bartender with an infectious smile, who, despite how busy the place was, had time to talk to everyone seated at the bar. However, as I looked around hoping to interlope on some conversations, I was saddened to see most couples and groups of friends ignoring each other at their tables, with faces illuminated by small screens in their hands. Today’s M5T considers things to avoid to live a fuller, richer and more connected life in the here and now.

1. Avoid multi-tasking 

There is a false perception that if you are multi-tasking, you are doing more, and that you are capable of handling stress. In fact, there is empirical evidence that proves multi-tasking actually exhausts your mind, depletes cognitive resources and mental sharpness, and actually increases the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. It’s no wonder you’re agitated at the smallest of issues. Your brain is simply not wired to simultaneously do multiple things at the same time. Something will break down when you try to complete two or more tasks at the same time at home or in the office; driving and calling/texting, or putting on make-up, or reading a book (yes, I have seen that on Highway 16); or being fully engaged in a meaningful conversation with someone when you have one eye (or more often than not, both eyes) on your cell phone.

2. Avoid hatred

Hatred about yourself. Hatred directed at others. When hatred is manifested it is always ugly, destructive, and can be emotionally (and at worst), physically violent. A heart that is cold and unforgiving takes an inordinate amount of negative energy. Hatred, anger and grudges cheat you of a fulfilled life. We all have a story to tell that we don’t talk about willingly, if ever. We all have experiences and feelings that detract from joy and can lead to hatred. We’ve all been hurt by others. It’s when we make a conscious effort to connect with others; when we can learn to forgive ourselves and those who have hurt us, that we can move on in our lives by replacing hatred with compassion.

3. Avoid worry

Worrying about what may or could happen in the future. Lamenting decisions and mistakes from the past. Both can cripple emotionally and even physically by keeping us from literally moving on with life. How often do we break our legs by jumping to conclusions? Why do we assume responsibility for things that are outside of our control? There is a time and a place for genuine worry, but to avoid allowing worry to paralyze, we need to take a deep breath, re-focus on what and where we can affect change, and replace negativity with positive thoughts and actions.

4. Avoid drama

Life can be lot simpler if you MYOB not OPB – or more precisely, ‘mind your own business’, and don’t worry about ‘other people’s business’. Rebuff petty behavior from others. Stop trying change others into what you expect of them. Refuse to allow others to dictate how and where you spend your time, or to try and define who you really are according to their expectancies. Keep silent rather than gossip; take the Thumper approach when taking about others – if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. Stop passing judgement, comparing yourself and seeking approval from others. Leave the drama to Broadway.

5. Avoid over-packing

I’m not talking about suitcases here. Rather, the dilemma of over-packing your time, your schedule, the activities you fill your day with. Refer back to point #1 above. It’s easy to become overwhelmed with being busy for the sake of being busy. Being connected by cellphones, emails and texts all clamor for a finite amount of time in your day and have created expectations for immediate responses for even the most mundane of tasks or needs of others. Technology has created a lifestyle for many of us that we seemingly are unable to unplug from. All the more reason to take time to just think; to put into your calendar some downtime to simply clear your mind. It may seem counter-intuitive but doing less of what is not really important will actually let you experience more in life. Rather than procrastinating, focus on solving your most important problems first, and by adapting a ruthless approach to how you can most effectively spend your time today to move you toward achieving your goals and objectives. Schedule your day with true priorities, learn to say no, shorten meetings, and prune away wastes of time. Today would be a great day to start.

Here’s to a week of living in the here and now.

© 2018 D. Paul Graham, all rights reserved.

D. Paul Graham is passionate about people, culture, photography and business. He has embraced his wanderlust with his travels around the globe and is at peace with his need for spirited drives in all things automotive.

You can find M5T each Monday here on www.southmag.com and by friending D. Paul Graham on Facebook. Paul is also a contributing photographer to South Magazine. His photographic work can be found on Instagram @dpgraham and at www.imageGRAHAM.com . Your feedback is always welcome. Email Paul at dpg@imagegraham.com