Thursday, December 31, 2009

Stupid Habits Can Be Cured

Stupidity can be cured, but not as easily as ignorance. No, you aren't really stupid, but we all have stupid habits we should work to replace.

You are ignorant when you don't know something. If you are doing something that is pointless, or worse counterproductive, you can change your behavior and make your life better at a single stroke.

Sometimes, smart people do stupid things even when they know better. The classic example of this is smoking. It costs money, impacts your health, and wastes your time.

Sometimes, they don't do something even if it is in their own self interest. You are guilty of this if you can sign up for a tax deferred savings plan and don't. You are doubly guilty if your employer has even a partial match. They are offering to pay you more without expecting more work. How often does that happen?

Either way, ignorance becomes stupidity when you know the problem but do nothing about it. An ignorant person is either cured or acts stupidly at the moment of revelation. To cure our stupid behaviors -- even smart people have them -- we need to be aware of them.

The first step, realizing your counterproductive behavior, is both easy (recognizing an "aha" moment) and hard (acknowledging it to yourself). The second, stopping that behavior, sounds easier than it may be. It is easy for me, as a non-smoker, to not light up a smoke. For others, the challenge can be immense.

The last step, finding and implementing a productive substitute, may help. Sometimes it is easier to break a bad habit by replacing it with a good one.

For New Year, make a list of things you should stop doing. Pick one and write a plan for eliminating it or replacing it with something positive. Make a resolution and take action to be a little less stupid in 2010.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Power of Small Changes

While I support the Japanese practice of kaizen (continuous improvement), the opportunity for improvement is not always continuous. When you buy a  car, for example, you have an opportunity to improve your fuel efficiency which cannot be improved again (except for tuneups) until you replace the car again. In such cases, even a small one time change can have a long term payoff. Let's consider an example.


Imagine that you are buying a car with an average fuel efficiency of 26 miles per gallon and that you will drive that car for 100,000 miles. In that 100,000 miles, you will burn 4000 gallons of gas. If each fillup gets you 15 gallons, that's 267 trips to the gas station.


Now, imagine that instead of 25 miles per gallon, you buy a car that averages 26. That one change saves 154 gallons of gas and eleven trips to the gas station. If a trip takes five minutes, that's almost an hour of your life saved in not filling a gas tank. You also save the cost of eleven tanks of gas.


Perhaps you prefer to get a new car more often. If you trade in at 50,000 miles, the savings for the car over a couple owners does not change. Your savings don't change either -- you just spread the savings over 2 cars instead of one. Of course, you've paid for two cars instead of one, too.  


Results get better if the difference in fuel efficiency gets greater -- if you traded up during Cash for Clunkers, you know this better than most. The same logic and similar math applies to any product with a significant life. Compact florescent lights save several times their cost over the life of the bulb, and newer CCFL and LED lights do several times better than that. You may pay a premium price for a more efficient furnace, but the payoff over its lifetime can be huge.


Almost every purchase is an opportunity to buy something that will save time, energy and money. If the product is going to be part of your life for years, put appropriate thought into life time costs, benefits and savings. Your planet and your pocket will thank you.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Gift for Yourself

Robert Grant, through the Facebook group Law Of Attraction, offered the following:

Here are some holiday season gift suggestions:

To your enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Life on Autopilot

If you think about it, there's a big difference between the cruise control we have in our cars and the autopilot installed in commercial jets. With autopilot, you set your destination and then make sure nothing stupid happens -- autopilot does a lot more than cruise control.

Because we're lazy, or crazy, or both, we don't take the time and effort to set up autopilot in certain areas of our lives, even though it is in our best interest to do so. Let's look at a few examples.

A few years ago, I was reading David Bach's Automatic Millionaire while waiting for lunch at a restaurant. The waiter mentioned that his manager had just given him paperwork to enter the company savings program which offered a partial match for money put into a savings program. His thought was "it's just a college job -- it isn't important." Even without an employer contribution, automated savings is something you should take the time to do. With an employer contribution, it's a no-brainer. Even so, people don't do it. If you're one of them, read Bach's book or George Clason's The Richest Man in Baylon.

Another area you should put on automatic is energy conservation. This may mean buying a programmable thermostat or motion detectors for stairway lights, but the savings can be substantial. You don't actually want that stairway light on for hours, do you? Energy efficient lights are a good idea too, but short of generating your own solar energy zero is as good as electricity usage gets and a one time investment will put this part of your life on autopilot.

Finally, look into how you can automate things on your computer. Write rules to thin out your email inbox, creating tasks you can address at your convenience. If you can, look into automatic fill processes for websites requiring passwords. Look into templates and form letters to automate your email responses to routine messages. A few minutes or dollars spent to automate things on your computer can free up huge amounts of time.

Look for chances to put parts of your life on automatic pilot, then do it. You'll thank yourself later. You might even thank me.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Stroke Identification

During a BBQ, a friend stumbled and took a little fall - she assured everyone that she was fine (they offered to call paramedics) .she said she had just tripped over a brick because of her new shoes.

They got her cleaned up and got her a new plate of food. While she appeared a bit shaken up, Ingrid went about enjoying herself the rest of the evening

Ingrid's husband called later telling everyone that his wife had been taken to the hospital - (at 6:00 pm Ingrid passed away.) She had suffered a stroke at the BBQ. Had they known how to identify the signs of a stroke, perhaps Ingrid would be with us today. Some don't die. they end up in a helpless, hopeless condition instead.

It only takes a minute to read this...

A neurologist says that if he can get to a stroke victim within 3 hours he can totally reverse the effects of a stroke...totally. He said the trick was getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed, and then getting the patient medically cared for within 3 hours, which is tough.


Thank God for the sense to remember the '3' steps, STR . Read and Learn!

Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer severe brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke.

STROKE:Remember the 1st Three Letters....S.T.R.

Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions:

S *Ask the individual to SMILE.

T *Ask the person to TALK and SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (Coherently)

(i.e. It is sunny out today.)

R*Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.

If he or she has trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks, call emergency numberimmediatelyand describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.
New Sign of a Stroke -------- Stick out Your Tongue

NOTE: Another 'sign' of a stroke is this: Ask the person to 'stick' out his tongue.. If the tongue is 'crooked', if it goes to one side or the other,that is also an indication of a stroke.

A cardiologist says if everyone who gets this e-mail sends it to 10 people; you can bet that at least one life will be saved.

Patience Lewis

Mobile: (530) 448-6650
Fax: (530) 583-2852
DRE #01103208