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Name of author Rick Baker, P.Eng.

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Say “Adieu” and then forget.

by Rick Baker
On Jan 9, 2017

Forgetfulness plagues us all. At least from time to time, everyone forgets things. We forget things on our shopping lists, we forget the places where things are located on grocery store shelves, and sometimes we forget where we parked our cars in those massive shopping mall parking lots. Forgetfulness comes to us easily. It’s a natural thing. Sometimes we can forget two or more of these things during one visit to the grocery store. When we forget these things [as long as our spouse doesn’t make a big deal out of it] we rather quickly write off our forgetful experiences.

On the other hand, if someone steals that last open parking space we have been zeroing in on then we will have a tough time forgetting their ignorance, rudeness, and self-centeredness.

Most of us can quickly forget and forgive the grocery store people after they pick such good hiding places for the most-important things on our grocery lists. However, many of us will not treat grocery store parking-space thieves so kindly. At the very least, we will ruminate about their ignorance, rudeness and self-centeredness. At most, we will fight the parking-space thieves until one of us is dead. Between these two extremes we will retell the stories of parking-space thievery to our relatives, friends and coworkers until we have exhausted our inability to forget. When we finally let go of such tough-to-forget incidents they will leave no vacancies in our minds because other ignorant, rude and self-centered people will fill the voids by bringing other unforgettable experiences to us.

Sometimes we really struggle to forget things, especially the negative experiences brought to us by others.

Our minds exhibit curious abilities, including:

  • our minds are quick to blame others for our negative experiences and
  • our minds hold onto negatives and are fully receptive to upgrading negative content by adding fresh, unforgettable negative memories.

These are symptoms of our unforgettable-negatives mindsets. These are weaknesses. These are bad habits.

With persistent work, the bad habit of unforgettable-negatives mindsets can be corrected. 

All we need to do is understand and believe forgetfulness comes to us easily and upon that foundation build the good habit of looking our 'unforgettable experiences' in the eye and persistently bidding them, “Adieu”. 

Pessimists aren’t doomed to experience 'tough lives'.

by Rick Baker
On Jun 6, 2016

Today, I've been thinking about Attitudes & Struggles and how to help pessimists gain more enjoyment in life and more peace of mind. My thoughts have been laced with optimism, or, at least the optimism known to someone who has been spared some of the challenges faced by pessimists. Despite my natural pessimism (and despite much evidence to the contrary) I believe most people can change for the better. While I do not see the silver lining in every cloud, I do believe people who do the right things do find clouds with silver linings. My optimism in this area is bounded by realism...(or, at least, that’s how it seems). 

I find myself repeatedly telling people things like:

You can change for the better.

  • Problems are a fact of life so we are better off facing them with all the positive attitude we can muster.
  • Some problems contain opportunities and those opportunities are never seen by people who observe with victim's glasses.
  • When you get knocked down, as you will throughout life, you must get back up, shake it off and press on with constructive action.
  • Without problems we would have no chance to gain self-confidence let alone courage.

Yet, it seems some people are such entrenched victims. Some people's victim-attitudes are so ingrained they cannot imagine/envision achievement or success. Their perceptions are caged in never-ending, unfair confines.

When victim-thinking becomes your state of mind:

  • Escape is impossible. 
  • Struggle is now. 
  • Failure is the future. 

We all know people who live lives filled with vicious cycles of struggle and negative-attitude. 

The question is - How can we help these people?

The answer contains many steps. 

The first step is – 

We must believe pessimistic people aren’t doomed to experience 'tough lives'.

Even when people show us over and over and over again they are unable to change for the better we must believe their thinking is temporary. 


Optimism & Pessimism

Be There, Be Positive.

by Rick Baker
On Feb 8, 2016

Sure, we can be distracted or negative but let's remember we have these other two choices: being there and being positive.

If you are not naturally inclined to ‘be there’ and ‘be positive’ it will take some time and effort to adjust your mindset into those zones. 

Being There: It is easier to 'be there' when you are curious, tolerant, and truly interested in other people.

Being Positive: It is easier to 'be positive' when you are genetically predisposed toward optimism, hopeful about the future, and creative enough to envision alternatives and possibilities.

Perhaps, you are not at this time blessed with any of these traits.

Regardless, you can become an expert at 'being there' and 'being positive'.

Yes, any normal human being can become an expert at 'being there' and 'being positive'. It will, of course, require some effort. It will require some thought. It will require some education - ideally, self-education over a patient period of time. In addition, it will require a desire to grow and excel as a person. And, a good sense of humour will help you along the way.

There is no perfect approach to developing the abilities to 'be there' and 'be present'. These abilities are built over time, by trial and error, and you will make missteps along the way.

It seems to me one of the most important considerations is 'control'. To fully succeed you must understand and (wholeheartedly) believe you can control yourself. To fully succeed you must understand and (unconditionally) accept you cannot control other people or situations. The more you believe in and practice self-control the greater your ability to 'be there' and 'be positive'. The more you accept the limitations around your ability to control other people and situations the greater your ability to 'be there' and 'be positive'.

To be clear - I'm not talking about 'fundamentalist' perfectionism...or about taking huge leaps or about making major sacrifices.  I'm talking about taking some initial small steps aimed at 'experiencing the moment' as an observer. I'm talking about setting personal desires/goals aside for brief moments...long enough to listen to one other human being. I'm talking about imagining another possibility that isn't laced with annoyances (or doom-and-gloom thinking). I'm talking about trusting others. I'm talking about thinking between the lines of other people's comments/actions rather than jumping all over them and proving you are right and they are wrong.


PS: Now this all makes sense doesn't it? I mean, it makes sense at least until all that adrenalin and cortisol kicks in.

Stress – a not-all-bad fact of life

by Rick Baker
On Jan 25, 2016

Stress is one of our natural response mechanisms.

But, what exactly is stress?

There are a huge range of definitions. Stress is what you feel/think in reaction to things ranging from little annoyances [such as slow-moving lines in grocery stores] to major life events [such as deaths in the family]. Stress is linked to anxiety and a number of other psychological and physiological things.

Even the experts cannot agree on a definition of stress. When it comes to defining stress, I expect it is best to ignore the experts.

Regardless, don't get tied up in efforts to define stress: you know what stress is. At least, you know what stress means to you. You know how you feel about stress. And, if you are like the vast majority of people you don’t feel good about stress. You view stress as a problem. If you are like the vast majority of people then for you stress is, at best, a necessary evil…a persistent problem you must cope with.

If you believe in The Law of Attraction [i.e., either in a general way or in a hard-core way] then you must accept that viewing stress as a problem enhances the likelihood stress will be a problem. Even if you don’t believe in The Law of Attraction, you might agree that negative thinking tends to exacerbate problems.

That said – perhaps, you can adjust your thinking to believe stress is a not-all-bad fact of life.

Sure, stress may bring about psychological problems like anxiety and depression. Sure, stress may increase the risk of disease and death. Those are possibilities. Those are logical-supported conclusions. However, they do not create very helpful mindsets. In fact, they make for rather troubling and possibly self-destructive mindsets.

When we stew over stresses, we cannot at the same time hold thoughts and feelings of self-confidence.

Without self-confidence, we have little to offer ourselves or others.

For this reason alone, we must believe stress is a not-all-bad fact of life.

When we believe this, we approach life’s problems [both the small ones and the major ones] with a different mindset…a more-productive attitude. Opportunities become visible.

And, we ingrain the habits required for peace of mind.

There’s something about “The Details”

by Rick Baker
On Mar 27, 2015

We’ve all heard that idiom/saying, “the devil is in the detail”. And, we know it means important-troublesome things lurk in the details.

Wikipedia tells us that idiom/saying derives from a predecessor idiom/saying, “God is in the detail”, which [according to Wikipedia] means - whatever one does should be done thoroughly; i.e. details are important.

I believe that fascinating fellow James Allen would agree, “God is in the detail”. That would be consistent with his views about work mastery and bliss.

On the other hand, for some reason the saying - “God is in the detail” - was replaced with the current saying, “the devil is in the detail”.

Perhaps, when it comes to sticky idioms, sooner or later the pessimists out-muscle the optimists and positive messages are submerged in negative messages.

Regardless, it seems to me most people have a love-hate relationship with “the details”.

Some related points…

  • Most people love certain details and hate other details.
  • Many people feel work-details should be delegated down the hierarchy.
  • Many people believe positions of power & authority provide excuses for detail avoidance.
  • Many people who side-step the details expect others to delve into those same details.
  • Perfectionists have a troubled & tangled relationship with “the details”.
  • 24 centuries ago an ancient Greek fellow named Euripides said, "Leave no stone unturned." Evidently, he was all for digging into the details. And, that saying has survived the test of time.
  • A century ago, in his classic 'Pushing To The Front', Orison Swett Marden wrote, "Go to the bottom of your business if you would climb to the top. Nothing is small which concerns your business. Master every detail."
  • More recently Steve Jobs said, "This is what customers pay us for - to sweat all these details so it's easy and pleasant for them to use our computers.
Considering all these centuries of talk about the details...

There must be something in 'the details'.

Perhaps, we should check out the details from time to time.

If you're in the dark, don't make light of things.

by Rick Baker
On Jun 23, 2014

The Thinking Behind The Tweet

Optimism, Pessimism, & Realism... how do you find the right overall balance and the right strategy for the situation at hand?

Some thoughts:

1.     Overall, be Optimistic: look for the bright side, consider the possibilities, be around and listen to others who are enthusiastic. Optimists live happier lives.

2.     Place realistic bounds on Optimism. Despite what they say about big, hairy audacious goals - BHAGs are not for everyone. And, often, over-zealous optimism injures other people.

3.     Pessimism demotivates. If you are naturally pessimistic...think before your share your views and your body language.

4.     Leaders - anticipate situations. And plan for situations...of course not all situations - but some. Recognize some people handle stress well and some folks handle stress poorly.


Humour | Optimism & Pessimism | Thought Tweets

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