“The more balls you try to juggle, the more you’re likely to drop.”

“The more balls you try to juggle, the more you’re likely to drop.”

—Mohit Pandey, The Scrabbled Thoughts

Image from Unsplash by Yi Liu

Did you know that you can become a lifetime member of the International Juggler’s Association for only $1,250? As a bonus, you can include up to five additional members of your family (if they live at the same address) at no additional cost. The world records for juggling various numbers of balls are:

# of Balls Record Time
3 12 hours, 5 minutes
4 2 hours, 46 minutes, 48 seconds
5 2 hours, 41 minutes, 27 seconds
6 25 minutes, 17 seconds
7 16 minutes, 25 seconds
8 1 minute, 13 seconds

EXERCISE:

How many balls are you trying to keep up in the air, and how many are dropping? To what degree have you already become a lifetime member of the association without paying the membership fee? What are the right balls, and the right number of balls, to put in your juggling rotation for an optimal life?

“Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake.”

“Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake.”

—Wallace Stevens, 20th Century American modernist poet

Image from Unsplash by Greeshma Gangadharan

In recent months, I’ve had considerably more time to think. My daily routines have changed a bit with my health club closing, and working from home.

Instead of my normal fitness efforts I have introduced a 50-minute walk. Although it is not around a lake, it allows for significant, peaceful contemplative time.

Although I am getting plenty of steps and fresh air, of greater interest and value seems to be my mental, emotional, and spiritual explorations. Taking this time to look far more closely and clearly at the truths of my life and our world has been profound.

EXERCISE:

Consider taking a walk around your own lake or neighborhood and see what truths are revealed. Feel free to reply to this post and let me know what you discover.

“Time is how you spend your love.”

“Time is how you spend your love.”

—Zadie Adeline Smith, Creative Writing Professor, New York University

The Serenity Prayer

So much has changed in our personal and professional lives over the past months.

How we spend our time has dramatically changed, and the normal routines and momentum we previously expected have been thwarted.

How are these events impacting you and those you love?

What aspects of your world can you control and influence? Which can you not?

Revisiting the Serenity Prayer might prove useful as a mindful exercise. How you are spending your time with your head, hand, and heart?

Despite the hard realities presented by this global crisis, I am delighted to see the outpouring of love within and between communities at all levels around the world.

EXERCISE:

Where and in what ways can and will you spend your life and time today to make a difference in your communities?

“Often the relationship that needs the most work is the one we have with ourselves.”

“Often the relationship that needs the most work is the one we have with ourselves.”

—Robert Tew, American writer

Image from Unsplash by Daniele Levis Pelusi

How much time do you spend in a typical day with your work colleagues, significant other, children, and friends?

Please do the actual math to count the hours, minutes, and perhaps even the tiny moments of your day.

If you expand days to weeks, weeks to months, and months to years, what do the numbers look like?

Now you know the question is coming…

How much time do you spend alone?

Have you ever wanted to get away from yourself and realized, in particular moments, that you felt a bit trapped or stuck, and were looking for some form of escape?

EXERCISE:

Knowing that wherever you go, there you are, how and in what ways can you make this most important relationship with yourself an even higher priority each and every day?

“No one wants to be the skydiver who pulled the rip cord too late.”

“No one wants to be the skydiver who pulled the rip cord too late.”

—Eric Barker, author of Barking up the Wrong Tree

Image from Unsplash by Kamil Pietrzak

Where has procrastination, putting things off, or just a hint of hesitation resulted in your experiencing negative consequences? Perhaps you have missed an important professional or personal opportunity?

Although delays and inaction rarely have life-threatening impact, they can chip away at our overall success, fulfillment, and life satisfaction.

Alternatively, where has acting too quickly or jumping the gun resulted in false starts, penalties, or disqualifications from important events in your life?

What value could having a far better grasp on your personal and professional timing have on your future?

EXERCISE:

Consider picking up a copy of Dan Pink’s book, When – The Scientific Secrets of Perfect to Timing – to glean a few nuggets of wisdom on this important life skill.

“God gave us our memories so that we might have roses in December.”

“God gave us our memories so that we might have roses in December.”

—James M. Barrie, 19th Century Scottish author of Peter Pan

Image from Unsplash by Debby Hudson

It is February, and Michigan is in the grip of winter. The blooming flowers of spring and summer are months away. For many, the weather can be physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually draining, making it feel that a good bit of our “get up and go” has gotten up and gone.

Our minds can, in such situations, operate as time machines, in which we experience some of those sunny days in which our lives were far rosier.

EXERCISE:

Consider a three-to-five minute daily meditative journey today, and for the rest of the weeks of winter. Reminisce and bask in some of the sunnier days of your past. How can and will you take this energy boosting experience into your day and spread its beauty to those in your personal and professional communities?

Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only

“Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly.”

—Sir Francis Bacon, 16th Century Lord Chancellor of England

Image from Unsplash by Thought Catalog

I have a math problem for you on the subject of books. According to Google’s advanced algorithms, about 130 million books have been published in all of modern history.

Consider multiplying 130 million by the number of hours it takes you to read an average book, giving your reading speed. To keep it simple, let’s assume it takes you ten hours. Multiply 130 million by ten and you see that it would take you one billion, three hundred thousand hours to read all the books published in modern history.

Now let’s pretend you began reading at birth, and that, given advanced medical breakthroughs, you live to be 100.

If my math is correct, it would take 876,000 lifetimes to read them all – far more if you took time to sleep, work, eat, or do anything other than read.

EXERCISE:

As you examine your book tasting efforts, which new books, or perhaps a few oldies but goodies, are worth your valuable time in the years ahead?

“My goal, with whatever I am working on, is to lose track of time.”

“My goal, with whatever I am working on, is to lose track of time.”

—Ben Marcus, American author and professor

Image from Amazon.com

How often do you experience a sense of flow through your vocational and avocational efforts?

In his book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi explores the topic of “optimal experiences” and what makes them extremely satisfying.

In this state, most people totally lose track of time and experience a powerful sense of deep enjoyment, creativity, and engagement.

Where do you lose track of time throughout your day? To what degree are these engaging times both productive and pleasurable?

Where do your efforts actually detract or limit you from being your best or cause problems due to the somewhat addictive qualities of certain behaviors?

EXERCISE:

What adjustments can and will you make to your flow-meter to make an even more positive and pleasurable difference in your life?

“Don’t live life in the Past Lane.”

“Don’t live life in the Past Lane.”

—Samantha Ettus, advisor at the Forbes School of Business & Technology

The holiday season is often filled with family and friends, time off from work, and hopefully a bit of self-reflection.

Today’s quote cautions us not to dwell too much on the past, where mistakes, set-backs, failures, or even thoughts about the “good old days” may limit our perspective and future efforts.

EXERCISE:

At this time of year, how will you get out of the fast land and the past lane to more fully realize the life you desire?

“You can’t expect to hit the jackpot if you don’t put a few nickels in the machine.”

“You can’t expect to hit the jackpot if you don’t put a few nickels in the machine.”

—Flip Wilson, 20th Century American comedian and actor

Image from Unsplash by DEAR

Are you a gambler? When was the last time you went to a casino hoping to hit it big, knowing in the back of your mind that the house always wins?

What if today’s quote were suggesting a different type of wager, in which we bet on our resources of time and effort?

EXERCISE:

In what areas of your life will you insert a few more nickels to guarantee hitting the jackpot?

Unlike money, you will never run out of the currency to bet on yourself.