Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Doing Good - Part Deux

Okay, Part 2 of my “doing good” series. Or really, the “doing bad, and how to stop it” portion of the evening. I’m probably the least qualified person short of Lindsay Lohan to be babbling life philosophy. But, I think regular people need to talk about this stuff more. Sure, Tony Robbins seems to have these things figured out. But he’s kind of an exceptional case. And we aren’t all going to be the Dhali Lhama or Oprah or Gwyneth Paltrow. I think if more standard issue human beings talked about the things that we do that seem to make a difference for us, we can really learn from each other things that, you know, make life easier for those of us in the trenches.

I really have come to believe that most of the time when you aren’t feeling good, it’s because you’ve been doing bad. And for me, at least, I’ve broken bad (ha!) down into 3 types: doing bad to your body, doing bad to your life, and doing bad to your karma. Today, bad for your body.

The easiest thing to fix, I think is doing bad to your body. Okay, maybe not easiest, but at least less soul searching intensive. But if you feel bad, you start taking a look around and wondering, what am I eating? Am I getting enough sleep? Do I need to get out and move my body more? It’s hard in the sense that most bad for your body is a lousy cycle to break. If you’re feeling bad, you want comfort food . . . which can lead to more feeling bad. If you’re tired, you gulp more coffee . . . which can make it harder to get to sleep at night. If you feel a little sluggish, you sit down and watch the tv . . . which is the farthest away from exercise you can get. And I’m not saying we should all be clean eating, fitness freaks. But I think everybody has a minimum amount of care and concern that they need to show their body. And when you drop below that level, it can be hard to pull yourself out of the ditch.

I’ve had about 8 years of small steps. Trying to get over the bad for my body hurdle. I’d say I’m about 75% there. I don’t eat as many vegetables as I should. I don’t floss my teeth. I eat too much fast food, and don’t cook often enough. And they will pry the last can of Dr. Pepper from my cold dead hands. But, I can say that with the changes that I’ve made, I feel better at 41 than I did at 31. That’s not half bad.

Tomorrow, we’ll dig in the bad for your life stuff.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Doing Good

I’m adore advice columns. My newest fave is Cary Tennis’s Since You Asked ( I love his spin on things. What I’ve noticed since picking up his column is how many of the LWs (that’s “letter writers” in advice column slang – yes, there’s advice column slang) are experiencing a problem that grows of existential angst. Turns out life agita is not just for Woody Allen. It’s not so much the bad ex, nowhere job, pushy parents or life goal confusion that throws people. It’s that “who am I, where am I, what am I doing” crisis that just makes anything from molehill to mountain seem unmanageable.

I’ve made it through my mid-30s existential angst (thank the powers that be), but I’m expecting my mid-40s existential angst any minute now. I’m hoping I handle it better the second time around. I was a hot mess of moody the last time. Oh, I’ve still got the same problems, for the most part. But I’ve come to a Stuart Smalley level of coping about the whole thing.

I think the big thing I’ve come to realize is that the whole angst thing makes you feel powerless. Like you’re a little speck of dust in the grips of the mighty winds of time. And the only way to not feel powerless is to, and this sounds simplistic because it is, just do what you can. Abraham Lincoln said, “When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. And that's my religion.” Pretty much sums it up.

Tomorrow, I’m going to talk about how that works for me. A two-part blog! It’s like my own little series. Very organized. And quite unlike me. But, let’s try something new and see what happens.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Apply Yourself

We were talking about this last night at the Girls Dinner. Does a college degree matter any more? When you look at job ads, they all say “degree required”, even for jobs making little more than minimum wage. Why? Part of it is certainly that it’s a buyers market. There are a lot of very highly qualified people out there looking for any kind of work they can get. Why have somebody with a college degree do data entry? Well, why not?

But there’s another side of the story. Many companies have dumped their professional HR staff. People who had actually worked in human resources, knew how to write a job req, and knew how to interview to find out if somebody really knows how to do the job or not. A lot of people who are just managers in their own departments, but have no experience screening candidates, are now responsible for hiring. So, what’s the easiest verifiable stat? A college degree.

We all know that a degree can get you a leg up in a field. You learn theory quickly, and have proven that you can complete a program. But we all have also met people who have a lot of book learning fresh out of school that gets in the way of understanding how things work in the real world. Plenty of people have learned a business from the ground up, and could teach a college professor a thing or two.

Not that I’m saying a college degree is a waste of time. I love what I learned in school. Intellectually, it was a phenomenally stimulating experience. But 50% of it has been of little or no use in my career. Okay, granted, I studied a lot of Shakespeare, and do not actually wear a doublet to work. But still, because of that piece of paper with my name on it, there are a lot of jobs where I get looked at over people who are just as qualified, if not a certified.

What I’m really saying is, as an applicant, what I really want to see is the phrase “four-year degree or commensurate experience”. To me, that says that the employer is looking for good people, and they’ll go to the extra step to find people who know what they are doing, regardless of how they learned how to do it.

TIME: Quotes of the Day