Priorities

When forced to choose between two options, choose the things you can’t buy:

  • You can’t buy peace of mind, it must be earned.
  • You can’t buy a healthy body, it must be earned.
  • You can’t buy a great marriage, it must be earned.
  • You can’t buy an intelligent mind, it must be earned.
  • You can’t buy affection from your kids, it must be earned.
  • You can’t buy authentic friendships, they must be earned.

When forced to choose between two options, choose the things that are not easily reversible:

  • Can you reverse obesity? Probably, but difficult.
  • Can you reverse anxiety? Probably, but difficult.
  • Can you reverse bad parenting? Probably, but difficult.
  • Can you reverse bad marriages? Probably, but difficult.
  • Can you reverse cognitive decline? Probably, but difficult.

Decision-Making Criteria: All the things that are not buyable and not easily reversible deserve our daily attention.

Examples:

  • Peace of Mind: When will you write in your gratitude journal? When will you pray or meditate?
  • Parenting: When will you play with your kids? Which activities will you do together?
  • Intelligence: When will you read today? When will you write today?
  • Fitness: When will you exercise? When will you sleep?

Final Thought: Your money won’t buy you relationships. Your relationships won’t give you a healthy body. Your six-pack won’t make you a good person. Get your priorities straight.


Options

Decisions:
Most adults make 35,000+ decisions per day. If we sleep a little more than eight hours per night, then we make approximately 2,200 choices per every waking hour (37 decisions per minute).

Toys:
The average American child owns 117 different toys and 70% of kids play with 15 toys or fewer (100+ untouched toys). The average cost of a child’s toy is $14, meaning most American children have about $1,400 worth of toys that never get touched. If your family has 3 kids, then you can estimate to have $4,200 worth of unused toys in your home. 

Menus:
Approximately 60% of restaurants shut down within their first year and nearly 80% before their fifth anniversary. These restaurants love to blame their failure on poor location or undercapitalization – but I think their menus deserve more criticism. Most successful restaurants have 50 – 75 menu options and most failing restaurants have menus with 125 – 150 options.  

Choice Overload Considerations:

  • Energy: Each decision depletes our available cognitive energy.
  • Paralysis: Difficult to decide, so no decision is made.
  • Delay: Evaluating several options takes too long.
  • Regret: Should have chosen something different, something better.
  • Satisfaction: Opportunity cost often yields disappointment.
  • Quality: Decision quality decreases at the end of the day.
  • Ungrateful: Discontentment is created by too many options.

Question: In what ways can you simplify your life so you don’t need to make as many decisions?

Meditate on How This Quote Applies to You: “A happy man marries the girl he loves, but a happier man loves the girl he marries.” -African Proverb



Unreactive

Study: A 2019 Gallup poll of 150,000 people in 140 countries found 45% of Americans felt “a lot of worry” the previous day and 55% of Americans said they felt “a lot of stress” the previous day. The rest of the world said 39% and 35%, respectively.

Question: Why does the richest nation in the history of the world have little evidence that our citizens are happier?

Answer: Perhaps we have more money, but part of the problem is that we’ve given up control of our time, which is a bigger issue than most people realize.

Psychologist, Angus Campbell’s Research: Having a strong sense of controlling one’s life is a more dependable predictor of positive feelings of wellbeing than any of the objective conditions of life we have considered.

Now Look From This Angle: Having no or very little sense of control of one’s life is a more dependable predictor of negative feelings than any of the objective conditions of life we have considered.

Disruption Inventory: I dare you to go through an entire week and log everything you react to throughout each day. Every email, text, tweet, phone call, social media notification, advertisement, mail delivery, Amazon delivery, boss request, customer request, employee request, kid request, bills, traffic, invoices, music, TV, website pop-up ads, etc.

Disruption Mitigation: After you complete the log, go through your list and ask yourself these questions:

  • How can I eliminate this disruption forever?
  • How can I eliminate this disruption temporarily, so I can respond on my terms?

Neuroscience of Disruption: Constant interruptions, disruptions, and response-requiring mandates are stressful. Why? The human brain has a strong desire to be able to predict, meaning we like certainty. When you add uncertainty (unplanned disruptions) to the equation, this is cortisol-inducing.

Unreactive: You are more confident and influential when you are unreactive. When you are always available to respond, it gives the person or thing demanding your attention the power to control you. Being overly available to anything is a sign of weakness, and it minimizes the amount of control you have over your own life. If you design your day intentionally, you don’t have to be the victim of these unending interruptions.

Consider: “Doing something you love on a schedule you can’t control can feel the same as doing something you hate.” – Morgan Housel

Tradition

Today is one of my favorite days of the year… 

How The Tradition Began:

The Friday of March Madness has been a special day in my family since I was ten years old. It was fourth grade and I was in Mrs. Williams’ class, and Dad picked me up from school for a morning “Doctor” Appointment. I don’t ever remember going to the doctor, but we played golf, ate wings for lunch (at Buffalo Wild Wings), and then we watched every minute of March Madness basketball. We had so much fun that we made it a priority to do it again the next year. And the year after that. 

The Tradition Continued:

This tradition carried on every year until Dad passed away when I was 25. Even after college, when we were both working full-time. Didn’t matter that we lived in different states. We didn’t let my college soccer schedule interfere. Even when I didn’t have any vacation time to use – we found a way to overcome these different obstacles. It was our tradition – nothing was going to get in the way. 

The Benefits of Traditions:

  • Disruption: A planned disruption from the normal continuum can be healthy. Intentionally giving yourself a break from the ordinary is good for your brain.
  • Anticipation: The planning and lead-up to the ritual forces communication. This helps create an expectation of excitement and joy.
  • Security: The brain desires prediction. When we are able to predict, this gives us a feeling of psychological safety. 
  • Belonging: Not only can traditions help you form your own identity, but they allow you to build a type of “club membership” with other people who have the same values as you. Belonging to something bigger than you can give you a purpose and provide comfort.
  • Memories: Creating experiences with people you love is a great investment. You can take My Dad away from me, but you can’t take the memories we created. Those will be cherished forever and passed on to my kids. Investing in experiences together almost always provides a tremendous ROI.

Final Thought: Build traditions with the people you love and care for. Yes, this includes family and friends… But it should also include your work team-mates. Find a reason to celebrate. Search for milestones to commemorate. Make excuses to enjoy annual rituals together. 

Relevant Resource Recommendation: Power of Moments (Chip & Dan Heath). One of the best books ever written. Seriously, it is that good.

Happy March Madness to you! Enjoy your weekend.

 

Gratitude

Quote: “I’ve never owned a dishwasher, but I’ve always had the best dish-dryer in the world.” – My Grandma 
 
Story:
My Grandma passed away on Tuesday. She lived in Pierceton, Indiana – a tiny midwestern town with one stoplight. Their home was small, but always well taken care of. They didn’t drive flashy cars or go on lavish vacations. My Grandpa worked as a truck driver and Grandma worked as a nurse for several decades. She didn’t know how to use a cell phone, a computer, or any type of Bluetooth device. And as mentioned above, she never owned a dishwasher. Instead of being resentful for not having a dishwasher, she was grateful for her dish dryer (my Grandpa). Those were their roles. Grandma hand-washed all the dishes and Grandpa hand-dried all the dishes. Maybe that was one of the keys to 60+ years of a happy marriage? I digress.
 
Superpowers:
Grandma had so many superpowers, too many to mention in a Friday email. Perhaps the most blatantly obvious gift she gave to the world was her commitment to serving. They happily opened their home to kids in the community who didn’t have a safe place to sleep. Handcrafted and hand-sewn quilts, blankets, shawls, and clothes to give to those in need. Delivering homemade meals to the community for every possible occasion. Shoveled snow for all her elderly neighbors. Served their little church in every capacity known to man. She gave generously to nearly every charity that asked. She was the salt of the earth… A doer, and a giver, and a servant. 
 
Enough:
I have a theory on how she always made the time and found the energy to serve… You see she always had enough, but never too much. Not having too much is a modern day superpower. Most of us have so much stuff (both in terms of possessions, but also items on our calendar) that we don’t have any reserve time, energy, and money. We spend our time, energy, and money on the “stuff” and we can’t take advantage of opportunities to serve people in need or give generously when unexpected opportunities arise. With Grandma, there was never a need to keep up with the Joneses. No need for the latest and greatest anything. Just grateful for what she had. In our world, especially on Black Friday, we are bombarded by thinking we need more of this and more of that. I think we would be better served if we all smashed our stupid cell phones into a million pieces and invested our energy loving our neighbors and offering a helping hand to someone in need. Today, I am especially grateful for my Grandma’s reminder that in life, less is often more. 
 
Truth: “Gratitude turns what we have into enough.” – Aesop
 
Reflection Question: What if you woke up today with only the things you expressed gratitude for yesterday? Would that be enough?
 
I sincerely appreciate you. Enjoy your weekend!