Twelve Hours to Change Your Ways

Prelude

This article was originally published on a blogspot account I started in 2003 and closed down in mid 2006 before moving across the WordPress. Thankfully it has now disappeared into the void, but not before I archived the entire 3 years of articles. Many will never be published again, except for a few that I particularly enjoyed writing. This is one of them:

I found this great list over at Troy Wormans’ corner of the internet:

12 Tips on Building a Positive Attitude

  1. Make up your mind to be happy. Learn to find pleasure in simple things.
  2. Make the best of your circumstances. Everyone has problems.
  3. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Don’t think that somehow you should be protected from misfortunes that befall others.
  4. You can’t please everybody. Don’t let criticism worry you.
  5. Don’t let your neighbor set your standards. Be yourself.
  6. Do the things you enjoy, but stay out of debt.
  7. Don’t borrow trouble. Imaginary burdens are harder to bear than the actual ones.
  8. Hate poisons the soul, so don’t carry grudges. Avoid people who make you unhappy.
  9. Have many interests. If you can’t travel, read about new places.
  10. Don’t hold post-mortems. Don’t spend your life brooding over sorrows and mistakes.
  11. Do what you can for those less fortunate than yourself.
  12. Keep busy at something. A busy person never has time to be unhappy.

Here is my take on each one of these important issues.

1. Make up your mind to be happy. Learn to find pleasure in simple things.

To quote from aul Arden…

Too many people spend too much time trying to perfect something before they actually do it. Instead of waiting for perfection, run with what you’ve got, and fix it as you go.

Although this is not quite the adage that a web-site designer should follow, this cliché holds a lot of merit.

Over the last eight or so years, I have designed over forty different versions of my main site – but more than two-thirds have never been online. This is because I am always trying to perfect it, get the colours right, make it match my personality, thereby making it unique.

Small problem though: My idea of unique changes every five minutes. At least I am happy. Mostly.

2. Make the best of your circumstances. Everyone has problems.

It’s our circumstances that make us who we become. Not just what we choose to do with our life, but how we try to fix the problems we perceive we have. Or if we do anything at all!

Many of us, particularly SWMBO and I, dream about what might be if we win the Lottery. But its not like we are depending on that happening! We know the odds are remote – but that doesn’t stop us dreaming!

My circumstances come back to one crucial thing only: A new computer. Preferably a DELL Laptop. A desktop is a second option, but SWMBO says otherwise.
But I don’t use it as a problem – its just a situation that we are slowly working to resolve.

3. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Don’t think that somehow you should be protected from misfortunes that befall others.

5. Don’t let your neighbour set your standards. Be yourself.

When I was about sixteen years old, my parents gave my stepbrother a great book: How to Win Friends and Influence People. I am fairly sure he read it. And I know everyone else did too! I managed to get my hands on the book for a week, reading it cover to cover. But that was … sheesh, twenty one years ago! I am going to purchase it for myself.

This book not only taught me about interpersonal communication, effective negotiation, and how to win/lose an argument without getting beaten to a pulp. Twenty years on, and I sometimes wonder if I actually read the book! I remember it – but I sometimes have days where I take life a little too seriously, take on way too much for one person, and forget that I am not immortal.

As an Australian, the worst crime we have is believing we are so far away from the rest of the world that those atrocities could never happen over here. I am sure that’s what the fifty-odd dead people on the London buses thought too.

That reminds me: I must get a "Last Will and Testament" written up soon. You never know when that bus is going to hit.

4. You can’t please everybody. Don’t let criticism worry you.

Like most humans, this is probably my worst trait.

I regularly have little conversations with myself about what other people are thinking about me. I sometimes think that their face betrays them: I see hatred, dislike, frowns of disgust, and occaisonally looks of misunderstanding. No, not family, just the people I have to associate with during the day.

Since admitting to a few select friends that I keep an ‘online journal’ (because I prefer not to use the word ‘blog’ in public!), there have been some interesting reactions. It surprises me when people ask "What is a BLOG?". Thankfully most people haven’t been hiding under a rock for the last two years, so ‘blogging’ is recognised as a word, though not as a part-time hobby.

But my biggest nuance is that I try to please everyone – including my internet traffic. I avoid discussing the bigger issues – because it might conflict with work-place mission statements. I don’t give opinions on government or religion (well, not too much) or other taboo subjects – because I just don’t need/want that sort of attention.

Criticism is welcomed – but only if it relates to web site design and development, and the tools and languages used to give form and function to each.

6. Do the things you enjoy, but stay out of debt.

I enjoy this saying – and I try to live by it. I have discovered that there is little I actually need, therefore I can save all the ‘play-money’ I have leftover after all the mandatory expenses are paid.

SWMBO and I have a un-written agreement that we will not purchase anything over $20 without approval from the other. It has made window-shopping at Marion Shopping Centre much more interesting.

Because of this agreement, my soccer ball will have to wait another week until we are both in the sports store together!

Something I enjoy most costs me nothing: I have the internet. It’s a perpetual birthday gift from two years ago!

7. Don’t borrow trouble. Imaginary burdens are harder to bear than the actual ones.

Much like taking oneself too seriously, one can imagine that life’s burdens are terrible cross to bare!

The truth is that most troubles are nothing more than something in the mind, or a state of the heart, or simply a gross exaggeration of something that we only imagine is bad. Don’t fret over something until it actually happens, and don’t dwell on it in the mean-time. If you think something is going to turn out bad, find a way to stop it, prevent it, or alleviate it. Think of trouble as opportunities to improve oneself.

I used to respond to my name being called with "What I do this time?" Now I say, "How can I help you?" If it should be something incorrectly done, I quietly think about what could be worse. Then I remember I live in Australia. Nothing is so bad it cannot be washed away with Bourbon Whisky or Chocolate Ice Cream!

8. Hate poisons the soul, so don’t carry grudges. Avoid people who make you unhappy.

I gave up hating anyone many years ago. It is so true that it poisons the soul. It also makes you a recluse because you cut yourself off from anyone who can do whatever what was done last time again.

What we need to do is not ‘avoid people who make us unhappy’, but ‘find like-minded people’. This might joining community-groups and/or non-profit organisations, joining a local sports group, going to new locations to meet new people – particularly those who don’t smoke and don’t mind sushi for lunch!

I am in the progress of trying to join a new group of friends. It’s never easy: First to find out from local newspapers and websites about the sort of people that you would most like to hang-out with. Maybe its a group of people who like to write children’s-books, or enjoy a few hours of Chess-playing in the Botanic Gardens, or a LAN-group who either enjoy Dungeons and Dragons or testing CSS-ideas. Pick which two I would like to be with.

9. Have many interests. If you can’t travel, read about new places.

This is the one thing I love about the internet. I cannot afford to travel far and wide overseas. We managed to get to New Zealand about five years ago – but unless we win the lottery or one of us manages to secure a better-paying job, or Email Cash finally pays out, I don’t see us going anywhere further than a thousand kilometres for a few years yet.

So I travel around the internet. Google News, Technorati, Bloglines, and many other desktop configurations allow me to go around the globe in sixty minutes! Who needs airlines when the world-wide-web gives us instant access. It like when the Twin-Towers unfortunately fell: Most of us who had internet access watched the second tower fall in REAL-time. Scary!

Having a wide interest in a lot of differing subjects means I am not restricted to one or two websites. The world-wide-web is the ultimate oyster!

10. Don’t hold post-mortems. Don’t spend your life brooding over sorrows and mistakes.

Ain’t this the truth?! To much time is spent by a lot of people brooding over things that happened years ago, even two minutes ago. Time cannot be brought back, nor reconstructed, not really. Trust me: I have tried.

Ok, so we all make a few mistakes, we send out an email to the wrong people, we snail-mail a bill to the wrong office, or leave a brown-bag of steaming dog-poo on the wrong porch – hey, life goes on. Everything will wash away eventually…

If you must grieve the loss of a few dollars on a bad purchase, at least use the pump-action torches a few times before giving them to charity!

11. Do what you can for those less fortunate than yourself.

This is one area that I am constantly aware of. When I see how huge sums of money are being wasted on the most pointless events or things – like marquees in Victoria square to house a Coffee for morning commuters, Israel tanks bombing the Baghdad airport for no apparent reason, or flying into orbit around the planet to see foam burn – I have to ask if we are doing all we can for those people on earth who live on next to nothing every moment of the day.

When associates during my day-job light up a cigarette, I have to ask if they know what the price of a packet of cancer-sticks would do for someone living in the third world. The sorry-part is that they don’t seem to care, nor want to know, nor even realise why they have that bad cough that won’t go away!

An estimated 1.1 billion people in the world don’t have access to clean drinking water, and an estimated 1.6 billion don’t have electricity.

I do what I can for the less fortunate by not spoiling the stratosphere with chemical-laden and poisonous cigarette smoke. I do my best to remind people that we have pretty easy in this country. The last time Chinese people tried to strike, we all found out what a Tank looks like in Tiemann Square.

12. Keep busy at something. A busy person never has time to be unhappy.

Having taken an interest in a few different subjects over the last twenty years, I am happy to have settled into this one: Web Site Design and Development. What do I enjoy most? Making a site work properly. Testing CSS and watching it work better than expected.

But I have many other interests that take up a lot of my time! When people ask what I do in my spare time, I say "Sleep." Simple as that. Some people seem to think I am copping out of an answer, so will ask again, "Haha, but really. What do you do?" That’s a different question, I respond, but do you really want to know the answer? Usually they do not.

Anyhow, it’s my life, I am keeping myself very busy at a lot of different things. Ambidextrous, multitasking, and slowly getting somewhere else entirely!

For those who are asking, "Why?" Because sometimes its good for both the brain and spirit to remind oneself of the journey, not just the pit-stops along the way. Especially when they are pits and stops, but not an oil change.

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