Teach something

Teaching has its pros and cons.  It is very rewarding and incredibly frustrating, all at the same time.  I have been teaching full time for a few months now in China, at a Korean school.  The experience of teaching has taught me about the importance of sharing information, and the dynamic way in which you must allow each lesson plan to change, and let the class help set the pace.  It has been amazing to adapt myself to the new role, and I realized it is something I have done in many other professions.

Although I am still new to the profession, I find myself enjoying it when you can see the little light bulb pop on, and the light of understanding shines through the eyes of a student.  On the other hand, the some of the kids couldn’t care less, need to be constantly told to stay on task, and even disciplined because they are creating a disturbance.  Up until last year it was legal to beat the kids for educational purposes in Korea… it still is accepted in China.

It is easy to get angry, it is easy to feel disrespected.  but it is better to let it go and embrace the moments when they actually get what the hell you’re talking about.

I digress…

People love to teach.  It gives them a sense of importance, but more importantly, a sense that they matter.  That their opinions and experience matter, and that they can share a part of themselves with others.  You don’t have to quit your job to teach, in fact, many times you will realize you may already be teaching someone.  If you have children, you will find you are constantly teaching them new things.  It does not have to be a lesson, but if you take the time to show them something new, they will be better for it, and so will you.

If you have experience, or are good at something, you would be surprised at how happy it can make you to share a bit of yourself with another, even a stranger.  Teaching can be done in moments, even just by sharing some good will when you can tell  someone is having a bad day, they may learn that the problem is only minor, and there are more important things in  life.

Learn Something

We have the ability to learn.  Our brains are wired to continually want new stimulation, new experiences, new sensations.  We yearn to learn, and yet unless the process is forced on us, we choose to do what we know.

During our childhood and adolescence, we have structured learning, and are taught many of the basics to survive in our respective societies.  We learn about many things to prepare us to enter society on our own, and once we do so, we stop the process.  We fall into routines, we do what we must and no more.

One of the best ways to rediscover your true self is to learn something new.  We may at first feel uncomfortable, but generally will thrive during the experience.  Many people enjoy nature shows and documentaries.  If you are going to watch television, this may be your best choice, but you really don’t have to do anything, and as such, after the show, you may glean a few tidbits of information, and go back to your routine.

Many will try to learn top play an instrument, or a new language, but if it is self guided, we soon put it off, leave it in the closet, and hope to make it up later.  As time passes, this becomes easier to do, and harder to keep up, and any initiative is lost.  A structured environment is easier to maintain.  There are many classes at local recreation centres, and community halls, which are very reasonably priced.  To learn a language, try to find a native speaker and “trade” lessons for your language.  You may also make some new friends!

The idea is to create a new aspect of your life, you will either enjoy it, or try something else, but at least you gave it a shot, and are better for the experience.  As you begin to learn the new thing, you will start to crave more, and it may just help keep you young!  Some recent studies have shown that continued learning may actually stave off brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and even slow down memory loss.

Step outside your comfort zone

CONCEPT THREE OF: How to kill yourself by living

Too often we find ourselves, or rather, we put ourselves into routines.  They become familiar, and as such, comfortable, even if they are unpleasant.  These routines begin dictating our lives, and when we deviate, we feel uncomfortable and agitated on a subconscious level.  Many of these routines are not even healthy or beneficial, like watching TV.  It becomes necessary to watch a certain amount, it becomes addicting to watch certain shows.

Comfort zones can also be people and relationships.  Many times, families become under stress when you get into too many routines, many of which involve fighting or blaming.  Stepping outside the norm will usually help.  A couple with difficulties may “fall back in love” after a trip or vacation, or even just going out on a date, breaking their usual patterns.

Humans are constantly classifying and organizing everything in their lives.  We learn it from early childhood, by naming things.  It is human nature.  We call or name something to give it rules, to understand it or to define it with a purpose, and organize these things into groups.  We continue this behavior in every aspect of our lives, and only by looking at things differently, or changing our habits, do we find the magic of the world.

We go to work because we want to survive and thrive.  We want to eat, live comfortably, and fill our lives with things.  We opt for many new tangible “somethings” over an extended vacation or travel.  Sure, we dream of travel, and may even do some, however, most times traveling is only location based.  Many times we will take trips like cruises, or “all inclusive”, visiting these wondrous places almost like we are watching TV… we are there, but we are disconnected.  We buy these things, we visit these “safe” and “known” places, and we feel a small amount of gratification.  That gratification is fleeting, however, and we slip back into our comfort zones, and dwell in prisons we constructed ourselves.

Step outside your comfort zone

Do things you normally wouldn’t do, that make you feel uncomfortable, and that may even help someone else!  When waiting in line, connect with someone! Don’t worry, you don’t have to talk for too long, and keep the conversation light, but you will be amazed how easy it is to do, and how you can make someones day out of it.  This is just an example, one you could start today, but what’s important is to become aware of what you are doing, and if you find it is not making you happy, change it up.  This doesn’t mean quit your job, kick out your dead beat teenager, this means change the nature of the relationship with the stress factor.  Spend time doing something new with your partner, and you will discover new joys in the same old same old.

Some will take more drastic steps and relocate.  This is a great thing to do, but be careful you are doing it for the right reasons.  If you plan to move, embrace the new area or culture, don’t try to bring your comfort zone with you.  Try new things, be present, and step outside the mundane!

Smoking is one of the leading causes of statistics

CONCEPT TWO OF: How to kill yourself by living

This is a complete no brainer.  If you want to kill yourself by living, quit smoking.  If you want to simply kill yourself, fill your boots.  If you don’t smoke, or have already quit, count it as a WIN and move on!

This is a hypocritical chapter, as I am STILL smoking.  I know it is stupid.  I know it is expensive, is hurting me, my family, and does absolutely NOTHING to better my life.  I really hope to update this post SOON saying I have quit…

Why do we smoke?

We smoke to feel like non-smokers.  Even a few minutes after we putt out the smoke, we start to withdraw and get that little nagging feeling… but, for those few minutes while smoking, we actually feel like normal people.  No craving, just like before we started in the first place.

We need to come to the realization that smoking DOES NOTHING FOR US.  It does not help us on that phone call, it does not help us when we are bored or to calm us down, it simply feeds the DRUG addiction.  A great book to check out is Allan Carr’s “The EASY way to quit smoking”.  I had some success with it (then fell back into the trap) and have just started reading it again.  It is a great book because it really helps you get past the mental part of the addiction, which, after a few days, is the REAL reason we going back to cigarettes.

Escape your prison.

Smokin’ quotes

  • Cigarettes and coffee: an alcoholic’s best friend.
  • It is easier to stay out than get out.
  • Sooner or later, everyone stops smoking.
  • The believing we do something when we do nothing is the first illusion of tobacco.
  • Smoking is one of the leading causes of statistics.
  • A cigarette is the only consumer product which when used as directed kills its consumer.
  • I tried to stop smoking cigarettes by telling myself I just didn’t want to smoke, but I didn’t believe myself.
  • Nicotine patches are great. Stick one over each eye and you can’t find your cigarettes.
  • I kissed my first girl and smoked my first cigarette on the same day. I haven’t had time for tobacco since.
  • Cigarette: A fire at one end, a fool at the other, and a bit of tobacco in between.
  • To the average cigarette smoker the world is his ashtray.
  • Cigarettes are killers that travel in packs.
  • The best way to stop smoking is to carry wet matches.
  • I’m not really a heavy smoker any more. I only get through two lighters a day now.
  • Some things are better eschewed than chewed; tobacco is one of them.
  • To cease smoking is the easiest thing I ever did. I ought to know because I’ve done it a thousand times.
  • My smoking might be bothering you, but it’s killing me.
  • I have made it a rule never to smoke more than one cigar at a time.
  • If we lose the battle against tobacco, we will lose the war against cancer.
  • If I cannot smoke in heaven, then I shall not go.
  • If we see you smoking we will assume you are on fire and take appropriate action.
  • Smoke your pipe and be silent; there’s only wind and smoke in the world.
  • Smokers don’t get to smoke. They have to smoke.
  • The only safer cigarette is your last one.

Quotes from coolnsmart.com

You are what you eat

CONCEPT ONE OF: How to kill yourself by living

This is a pretty simple concept.  You are what you eat.  One of the best ways to feel better and get yourself into a better state of being is to modify your diet.  Too often we turn to “convenience” foods, which are actually quite inconvenient to our wallets, our health, and even our time!  When shopping, use a basket instead of a cart.  Shop more often, get FRESH ingredients.  More and more, processed foods are being found everywhere, and most have little nutritional value.

After two months of living in China, I lost 20 pounds.  Sure, I was walking more, but it was mainly a change in my diet.  I could not read the boxes here, so I had little or no clue what they contained.  I could, however, recognize a carrot.  I found myself at the market daily, picking up fresh food for only a day or two, instead of opening the fridge and staring, or worse, opening a cupboard and seeing what I could microwave so I didn’t miss any TV.  Daily shopping may not conducive for you, but trust me, buying fresh is the best way to increase your energy, lower your spending, and even get the whole family involved.  Bring your kids, have them pick something fresh and cook it with them.  Visit a farm sometime (many farmers that sell produce would be happy to let you see how they grow) and maybe you will start appreciating the process.

Try to buy local

I remember back in Canada, staring at a couple heads of lettuce.  One was local, organic and looked phenomenal.  The other was imported from California, and probably had been out of the ground for at least a week before it showed up on the shelf.  The dilemma, however, was that the local lettuce was an extra dollar.  When it is written, it seems ridiculous that a dollar would weigh so heavily on what should have been an obvious decision… but it did.  Funny how I had no problem the day before spending almost $10 at McDonald’s for “food” that, when left out, isn’t even touched by insects…  I also had no problem spending five bucks on the latte I was holding while deliberating about lettuce.

If it’s in a box, DON’T EAT IT!

This is a bit of a sweeping statement, but makes sense for the most part.  Almost everything in a box or can has been processed, had colouring and preservatives added, and really won’t do you much good.

Fat is a drug

There have been many studies that say eating fatty, salty foods will make you crave MORE fatty salty foods.  Bet you can’t eat just one… true.  I found many times where I would “slip” and eat chips, pizza etc. and my body would want more the next day.  It’s a cycle that can be broken.  Eat fresh for a week, and your body will crave salad.  Seriously.

Eat your veggies

Fruit and Vegetables are the most important things we can eat, yet we look at them as “side” dishes.  Eat your veggies!  A good way to get more is to snack on them during the day (which will help you decrease your portion sizes too) and try splitting that chicken breast or steak between two people, and fill up on veggies.

Incorporate more fish

Most of the world eats a lot of fish.  Why don’t we?

Learn about your food

We take WAY too much for granted.  We think that if something is being sold, it must be ok, because why would they sell something that would harm people.  Ummm…  THEY STILL SELL CIGARETTES!  There is a ton of information out there about food and nutrition.  You don’t have to become a calorie Nazi or anything, but the more you learn about the horrific things corporations and governments are doing to our food industry, the more you will veer away from your old favorites.

There are more recipes than can be counted on the internet.  Search some out.  You can get ideas from them, you don’t have to do things exactly as they say… there won’t be a test.  You can just search the ingredients, you’ll be amazed what you find (i.e. “chicken” “mushrooms” ) and Google will do the rest.

Have fun

Food is a necessity, but it is also a way to connect with your family or friends.  Cooking, tasting, sharing are all wonderful ways to get closer to those you enjoy spending time with, and can strengthen your family’s bond.  Learn some stuff, eat some good, and make sure there’s wine!

Photo credit: Carl Warner.  Check out his collection of foodscapes, they’re awesome!