Sunday, September 28, 2014

Coffee Requires Five Senses

Image found here
Like many other people, I love coffee.

I'm not a coffee snob. If it tastes absolutely gross, I won't drink it. But if my cup of joe is even halfway decent, I'll sip on it until it's gone.

So often I drink coffee on the go, in the car, just for the caffeine kick or out of habit. I don't stop to enjoy that cup of coffee for what it is -- a delightful beverage that gives so much more than just an energy kick.

I realized today that my best coffee drinking experiences require all five of my senses working together to create a full body experience.

It starts with my ears. I hear the coffee grinder buzz and the little beans get crunched up into powder. Then the water in the pot begins to flow through the machine and I listen to it drip through the other end into the pot.

Now for the smell. I know the coffee is brewing when the smell of the dark, bitter goodness reaches my nose. I can be in the next room or even the next floor, but I recognize the fresh, savory scent of the drink.

Coming into the kitchen now, I open up the cupboard and grab one of my favorite mugs. This morning, it's my white and blue South Dakota mug which reminds me of my good times in the Black Hills. My anticipation builds as I concentrate on the fragrant coffee as it falls into that mug and I add cream, sugar, or neither (depending on my mood).

At last I hold the cup in my hand. The warmth makes me feel secure, happy, and ready to curl up and read a book. Even on a summer day, the heat of the cup makes me smile with contentment. It's the little things.

Now the final step to this full body experience arrives: the taste. The bitter and sometimes creamy and sweet taste of the coffee, even though it is so familiar, gives me a rush as I sip on my drink and feel the warmth of the brew fill my chest.

I don't know who first thought of grinding up these strange little beans and running hot water over them, but I'm so glad they did. Otherwise, I wouldn't be able to enjoy my daily joe with all five of my glorious senses.

Friday, September 19, 2014

"I'm angry, and there's nothing I can do about it"

What is anger?

A feeling, of course. An emotion.

But is it a driving force? Does it have control? Can it literally fill our head, rush down to our chest, and take hold of our entire being?

Sure it can... if we let it.

Anger can "make" us do things we wouldn't normally do, say things we think are generally rude, and act in an irrational way. But again, only if we let it.

The philosopher Seneca saw anger as something that we could, in fact, control. We don't have to be angry.

This is quite a relief for someone like me. You see, I get angry pretty much every day. Just ask my parents or sisters -- they'll speak the truth. It might not be anger that leads me to violence, but I might have a few choice words and a rushing heartbeat for a couple of minutes.

But hearing that perhaps anger can be controlled is great news for people like me.

Before we get to the secret of controlling anger, let's look at the cause. Whenever we are angry, there are elements of surprise and self-pity. We are surprised by what goes on around us and we feel sorry for ourselves that we have to endure it. According to Seneca, we get angry because we are "too hopeful". Anger is a result from wrong expectations.

Adjust your view of the world, and you won't be so angry anymore.

Here's what you do:

  1. Prepare yourself for the day. Wake up in the morning and list a few things that could "go wrong" and make you angry: being late for work, terrible drivers on the road, another project from your boss, and the fact that you'll probably start to come down with a cough before the end of the day. 
  2. If some of that stuff happens, you won't be surprised. You'll feel you were more in control of the situation because of your foresight. No surprise = no anger.
  3. If some of that stuff doesn't happen, you will be happy that your lower expectations were not met. 
For example, I get angry whenever I'm on the road. The driver's are crazy, everyone is in my way, he's going too fast, she's going too slow, there's construction, etc. etc. Before I get in the car, if I tell myself "There are some stupid people out there; I'll get delayed because of traffic; I'll probably end up in a wreck", then I won't be nearly as angry when I do in fact encounter some of those problems. 

The best way to counter anger is to be prepared -- so get yourself ready each day for the stuff that could (and often does) go wrong. Then be happy, because you can. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Lessons from the Shores of Seabrook Island

So about two weeks ago, I began a new and exciting journey with Praxis.

Fall 2014 Class
Remember that interview I did back in January? Well, I am excited to say that I am one of eight Praxis participants for the Fall 2014 class. I heard that as many as 200 young people applied for this class. I feel honored to be accepted into this group. 

For the next ten months, I am partnering with Tranquil Seasons in San Antonio, TX as my business partner. In addition, I'll be working through the Praxis online curriculum which covers topics such as Philosophy, Economics, Technology, and Entrepreneurship. 

To kick it all off, though, I attended a seminar on Seabrook Island in South Carolina conducted just for this Praxis class. Being on the serene shores and enjoying the company of brilliant minds was a memorable experience. 

Here are just a few of the bits of wisdom and knowledge that I learned from the speakers at the conference:

  • Don't complain about the status quo; reform it
  • Force yourself to create and you will become a creator
  • Don't waste anyone's time (including your own)
  • Don't take it personally... unless it gives you motivation to work harder
  • People invest in the jock, not the horse. Make your personal brand one people will trust and want to invest in.
  • We are limited by our own minds. Do something hard so that you know what you're actually capable of.
  • Don't get weighed down by a bunch of material stuff; take risks while you have so little because if you "lose", you're not losing much. 
  • Find people smarter than you and hang around them.
  • Find your sweet spot and operate in it.
  • It's okay if you don't have all of the answers.
  • Every job matters. Don't ruin your reputation because of your attitude in the workplace. 
  • Don't forget to love what you do.

I can't wait to see what the next 10 months brings. I hope that I not only consume more valuable information, but that I create and produce from all that I learn.