Image via WikipediaWe all have the tendency to tailgate other cars when we're driving. Don't tell me you've never done it! First of all, it's not safe, that's obvious. And it's just rude, you're probably pissing someone off by doing it; you're "adding bad karma" to the universe, if you will.
A good way I've found to stop myself from doing it is by looking at the back of the driver's head, and trying to picture someone I know (particularly, someone I don't hate) and imagine that it is them driving the car. Because no matter who it actually is, they are a real person and have a real story just like the rest of us. It's amazing how much this little bit of consideration will change your attitude towards them and make you feel like you should be kindly backing off.
In general, the world Image via WikipediaIn general, the world is moving at a much faster rate today than it did a decade ago; things need to be accomplished quicker and people are more impatient than ever. Maybe, instead of impatience, I should say, we have a different level of patience now than we did in the past. If we isolate the level of patience we have today and quantify it, there's no justification to refer to it as "impatient"; such is the evolution of man.
Um.. This article is about teeth, right?!?... yeah....ok.
My point is that when people have to continually do one task, especially as mundane as brushing your teeth for any amount of time, it can seem very BORING, and you will have the desire to be finished so that you can move on to other things.
My advice: Do something else while you brush your teeth. Read the mail, check your email, feed the cats, read the newspaper, or all of the above.
Finding one-handed or no-handed tasks to do while you brush your teeth will make it feel much less like you are wasting your time in front of the mirror. If you're doing other things it should be easy to brush for an excess of 5 or even 10 minutes. And I guarantee you will notice that your teeth feel much cleaner if you double your brushing time. Granted, if you are preoccupied with something else, you will have a tendency to stop moving the brush, or get stuck brushing one section for a long time. Just be conscious of that and you'll get better at it with time!
"The Pain is Only what you Make It"
I used that advice to my advantage that day and achieved a great victory that would reward me for the rest of my life.
Physical pain is an interesting phenomenon described by the International Association for the Study of Pain as:
"an unpleasant sensory and emotional association with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage"
Another widely used definition of pain from Margo McCaffery is:
"Pain is whatever the experiencing person says it is, existing whenever he says it does"
The thing I've learned about pain and the perception of it, is that the body, nervous system and brain overcompensate quite a bit with its warnings. In the first definition I've italicized 'potential' tissue damage. Even if the body is in no immediate danger of physical harm it still gives indications of pain to the brain as a warning. It's time we stop this tyrannical behavior of our own bodies and do our due diligence to learn exactly what they can handle and what they can't. The older we grow and the more we experience, the more pain we will naturally encounter and therefore, the more familiar we become with how our body reacts to different stimuli. That is, IF we are paying attention and learning as we go.
Self-observation and getting to know your limits and what you are capable of, I am convinced is of great importance to leading a happy healthy life. (See post: "Always Challenge Yourself") If you know the exact moment when this false alarm called "pain" will turn into actual physical harm, you should convince yourself that it is okay to dance on this line. For example, often times when lifting heavy awkward objects it can be uncomfortable for many people and the object may cause pain in your hands and fingers. But if you are aware that this amount of pain is safe and will cause no physical harm you can easily endure it and rest assured that you will be able to shake your hands out when you are done this task and there will be no harm done. Do you see how this realization can increase your physical strength? You are now permitting yourself to lift 15 extra pounds than your body and pain threshold would otherwise allow.
Furthermore, if you know the extent of physical harm that will be done by any given action, it may be acceptable to endure it depending on the task at hand. For example, you can probably commit to catching or breaking the fall of a falling dish if it means you may get some abrasions on your knuckles from the counter top, or a bruise from the falling dish. But you may not commit to that if it is not your dish, or if it is unimportant to you.
The more you learn about yourself and your body the more control you will have over what you do with it, and you are able to take the control away from your tyrannical bodily instincts.
If you have the kind of venetian blinds with horizImage via WikipediaIf you have the kind of venetian blinds with horizontal slats, like I do (like the one in the image) , there's a simple little trick you can use to help retain the heat.
When you're closing up for the night, angle the blinds the opposite way you normally would. I mean, angle them so that to look out of them you would need to look downwards through them and not upwards. Since heat rises and cool air falls, this will help to deflect some of the cool air (at or around the window panes) OUT, and the warm air (rising inside the room) IN.
The number one New Year's resolution in the US is to lose weight. Especially after a big holiday season of fruit cakes and chocolates. So you resolve to lose weight, but didn’t you do that last year? And did it work?
We all have off-days, when we just don’t feel like working out. But what happens when that day falls on a day you’re scheduled to go to the gym? (oh yeah, you need a schedule too) Well here’s a simple trick to get yourself motivated to go to the gym when you really don’t feel like it:
Just change into your gym clothes!
And here’s why:
The clothes that we are wearing at any given time become part of our self-image. If you are wearing boots your feet will feel heavier, your gait will be different and your self-image will be different than if you are wearing sneakers. If you change into your sneakers or gym shoes, your feet will feel much lighter and you will inherently feel more agile and able to run, jump, exercise, etc..
You’ll also guilt yourself into going to the gym because you’ll be sitting around the house in your gym clothes.
A zen koan (short story) tells of a boy who was training under his father as a burglar:
The boy followed his father on a burglary one night and once inside the house, his father intentionally made a ruckus and fled the house. The boy darted to the nearest closet and his heart began to pound furiously as the home owners rose to see who was in their house. The boy had been given very little training, but the adrenaline of this moment was all he needed to be able to do anything he needed to do to prevent being caught. Eventually he made it out of the house undetected, and while he was not pleased with what his father had done, he had learned many lessons that night.
Often times it is important to leave your comfort zone and throw yourself into new situations where, if you think about it, you might not be entirely sure of yourself, but if you just do it you will find a way to get through it. This doesn't necessarily have to involve adrenaline - it can apply to cooking a new meal, changing careers, taking up a new sport, or virtually anything else.
Don't forget - this also offers a great way to observe yourself. Once you are thrown into a new situation, take a little time to observe your actions, your words and your feelings. You never know what you will learn about yourself.
"Observe all men; thy self most." - Benjamin Franklin
It's getting close to that time of year when people will be scrounging for gifts at the last minute, I know, I do it too.Image by Longzero via FlickrIt's getting close to that time of year when people will be scrounging for gifts at the last minute, I know, I do it too. One idea I often overlook is magazine subscriptions.
Reasons that magazine subscriptions make great gifts, especially if you already subscribe to the magazine:
- Like-minded people tend to enjoy the same type of magazines.
- If it is a subscription that you have now, chances are there will be 2-for-1 gift offers for renewing your subscription, so you can probably call that a $2-5 gift.
- Also, if it's something you subscribe to you can just grab one of your back issues from the end table, throw a ribbon around it and call it good! You can even send in the subscription card AFTER Christmas if you do that.
- They last for a whole year, sometimes two, so that's a good value.
- Generally speaking, people can LEARN from magazines, which is more than can be said about most other Christmas presents.
Happy shopping! Merry Christmas from Mini Life Hacks!
If you have a great last-minute gift idea, leave a comment!
The "Ice Storm of 2008" had wiped out power to over 1,000,000 homes and businesses. Over the past few days many people have been forced to leave their homes and seek refuge at nearby shelters. Other people have tried to stay in their houses and brave the cold. Others have tried to warm their houses by blasting their gas stoves or using un-vented kerosene heaters. These are BAD ideas. Don't try them at home.
If you're one of those people who, like me, stubbornly wants to brave the cold and be independent, try this:
- Fire up your gas grill or charcoal grill. OUTSIDE!
- Throw some big rocks (5-10 pounds each) on indirect high heat.
- Cook for approximately 1 -2 hours with the cover closed.
- Let them cool for about 20 minutes.
- Check the temperature of the rocks carefully with your hand.
- Wrap them in towels or blankets if you don't think they will burn the towels.
- Enjoy the heat! It should stay very warm for around 8-10 hours.
This is not fool proof.. obviously dealing with hot rocks is not the safest thing either, just be smart about it and don't come to me if you burn a hole through your mattress. Even if you let the rocks cool for quite a while they will still retain a lot of heat. The trick is to allow the outer layer to cool so that you can touch it easily, but the center of the rock will still be hot and it will emanate heat slowly over the course of the night.
Bricks, patio blocks, or ceramic tiles will work too, although the bigger the object is, the longer it will retain it's heat. Similarly, it will take longer to bring a larger object up to temperature.
Image by Amin Tabrizi via Flickr
It’s aggravating to drop things you’re carrying or to spill your briefcase or book bag all over the floor because you were in a hurry. Do you think a samurai would ever drop his sword if he was in a hurry? Do you think a ninja would drop... anything... ever? The likelihood is that they would not. The trick here is that they have a level of understanding of these objects that allows them to know exactly how they will react under any given circumstance.
For example, a Samurai would know the following about his Katana:
- How is it weighted?
- What is the exact physical size in all three dimensions?
- How much weight can it support?
- How fast can he wield it with two hands? One hand?
- What will it cut through and how easily will it cut?
Know your book bag / briefcase
By understanding how your object (book bag or briefcase in this example) will react to certain circumstances will help to give you a fundamental understanding of what you will, or will not be able to do with it. For example:
- What happens when you hold it in a different place? Different handle? From the side? From a hanging strap? Does everything fall out? Will it break or tear when you hold it this way? Are there any other dangers you should know about if you’re holding it funny? Sharp edges, etc?
- How many fingers are required to hold its weight?
- Is there any way you can hold it with something else, like your elbow, or your foot?
- How much friction is there between your hand and the material it is made from?
Ask these questions, and ask any other question you can dream to ask. Ask these questions about any object you may encounter.
Be Prepared. Know all your utilities.
Make observations about your cell phone, wallet, pen, keychain, etc..
Your awareness for things around you will increase as will your fundamental understanding for these things with respect to how they function and react in this world. You will slowly be able to piece together the results from the physical tests and be able to infer other bits of useful information. You will probably be surprised at how you can use this information and how much it can benefit you.
Food is good. There aren’t too many people that don’t appreciate certain foods. During this season it’s especially easy to happen upon some decadence and improperly indulge.
I think it’s important to appreciate this privilege and accept indulgence once in a while, but one thing to keep in mind while doing so, which may change the amount you eat, is that: The first bite tastes the same as the last.
What I mean to say is that if you take time and adequately appreciate whatever food you’re eating (sourdough bread & spinach dip for example…) you’ll notice that this appreciation can be taken away from only one bite. All subsequent bites of the same thing will taste remarkably similar and you’ll begin to realize that it is not necessary to continue eating once you have gotten what you were after: An appreciation of the taste of the food. So make it a good bite, take it very slowly, move it around in your mouth, try to concentrate on every atom in the food and ENJOY IT!
This concept pulls influence from an ancient Buddhist meditation called the “Raisin meditation”. Buddhist monks were known to concentrate on a raisin, study it, smell it, feel it, listen to it, and fully appreciate its entire existence to the point that they got so much sincere appreciation and substance out of the raisin that it could sustain them for an entire day.
More about the raisin meditation