51. Let’s make every day Christmas Day.

They (you know, them – the experts) tell us that this time of year brings out the best in people.

They say the closer we get to Christmas day, the stronger and more apparent become the eagerness of people to display acts of kindness.

During this enchanted time of the year the media fills us with heartwarming stories of people’s kindness, generosity and overall willingness to help our fellow man.

Indeed, we find ourselves experiencing greater feelings of generosity as we drop a few dollars into a collection kettle in the mall or volunteer time to help those many organizations that exist to make life a little easier for those in need.

This truly is a wonderful time of the year. Even the surliest among us seem to wear the occasional smile, and portray a slightly nicer disposition.

We have a name for this. We call this the Christmas spirit and it seems to have magical properties that bring out the best in us all and help us experience those powerfully good feelings that come from helping others.

It seems that this extra niceness begins to appear within us around December 1 of and lasts through the first few days of the new year.

For approximately 35 days each year we willingly share more of our time, our money and overall niceness to both friends and strangers.

I personally have been blessed to meet many people who do not do this. December 1 brings no changes into their lives.

This time of the year has no impact on their kindness, niceness or generosity.

The folks I am referring to are those who have adopted the Habit of Christmas Spirit 365.

These folks do not get caught up in the spirit of the season; they live that very spirit every single day.

And if you ask them, they will tell you there is no greater blessing.

They all share the same philosophy. They will excitedly tell you life offers no greater feeling than the sense of pure joy that floods your body each time you perform a random act of kindness or some other task that helps a fellow human being whose life is perhaps not quite as blessed  as yours.

Every one of these folks I have ever spoken to all say, somewhat guiltily, what drives them to live the Habit of Christmas Spirit 365 is how good it makes them feel to make others feel good.

These folks do what they do every day with no expectation of reward or recognition other than the reward of the wonderful feelings mentioned above.

They excitedly tell of buying a cup of coffee for a stranger, picking up the grocery tab for a senior at Safeway or volunteering their time to help new immigrants to our country learn to read and speak English.

Indeed, this is a wonderful time of the year made more so by the constant invitations to spend time with friends, attend terrific social events and sing-along happily to those familiar Christmas songs every time you turn on a radio.

Just envision, on this Christmas Day, how much better our lives would be if we elected to incorporate the Habit of Christmas Spirit 365 into our every day lives.

Imagine if every day was Christmas Day.

Have a wonder-filled Merry, Merry Christmas.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

50. Silence is often the best choice.

I have often wondered what would happen if we all learned to apply the Habit of the Seven-Second Delay to our relationships.

Most of us can, I think, relate to moments in relationships, be they personal, work related or transaction-based i.e. dealing with a clerk in a store, where our mouths have worked at a pace so furiously fast that our brains have had no chance of catching up.

Who among us has not had the experience of wishing we could take back what has been said or of chastising ourselves for speaking first and thinking later.

If you are male and married this is, of course, an absolutely essential habit to acquire unless you find your couch to be more comfortable than your bed.

A lady named Irene called the other day to tell me how reading the last two blogs in which we had discussed the Habit of the Seven-Second Delay had caused her to pause prior to taking action that would have led to uncomfortable consequences.

A few weeks ago Irene had taken a taxi to the local dealership to pick up her car. She had dropped the car off early that morning and had been assured that it would be ready by the time her workday was over.

To her surprise she discovered that the routine maintenance she had brought her car in for had turned up the need for a $400.00 part.

The service advisor explained to her that it is the policy of the dealership to contact the owner of vehicle before proceeding to order and install parts over $100.00 and somehow the service advisor had forgotten to do so. And as it was now approaching 5 PM it was too late to order the part, meaning that her vehicle would have to stay, disassembled, in the shop for another day.

The service advisor went on to inform that the shuttle service offered by the dealership closed each day at 5 PM and they “would be happy to call her a cab.”

Irene and a
friend had plans scheduled for that evening – expensive tickets to a play – and she was now at great risk of not being able to attend.

She was informed that there would be an approximate 90 minute waits for a taxi. She asked whether anyone in the dealership would be able to drive her home and was told there was no-one available.

A few minutes later the staff working in the shop side of the dealership exited the building leaving her sitting alone in the lounge.

By the time she arrived home, some two hours later, she was “fit to be tied.” Her friend had been dependent on her for a ride and they both, therefore, missed the play.

Irene told me that she could not remember ever having been as angry as she was at that moment. She sat down and wrote a scathing email to the owner of the dealership. She made sure to describe in detail her disgust at the way she’d been treated by the service advisor.

She detailed the lack of apology, the seeming indifference, and the complete absence of remorse and not having phoned her earlier in the day to obtain permission for the needed part to be ordered and installed.

She demanded that this employee be terminated immediately.

Just as she was about to click on the “send” button she remembered the messages she had read in the last two blogs relating to the Habit of the Seven-Second Delay.

She also remembered having heard a long, long time ago that writing an angry letter when you are feeling angry is a healthy and cathartic exercise. And that is all you should do – write it.

Sending it should be left to a time when the anger has disappeared and the letter can be viewed with calm second thought.

Irene poured herself a glass of wine, watched a bit of TV and went to bed.

Around 7:30 the next morning, just as she was about to call me taxi to take her to work, her phone rang.

It was the general manager of the dealership. He was calling to apologize profusely for what had happened the day before and to let her know he was sending over a driver to bring her back to the dealership where she could pick up a loaner vehicle until hers was ready.

He went on to explain that the actions of the service advisor were completely out of character.

He asked if he could explain why this had happened. He was careful to point out that what he was about to say was a reason and not an excuse. He just wanted her to know.

The service advisor has been an employee of the dealership for the past three years. Six months ago her husband had passed away from a rather rare form of cancer and she had been working double shifts to try and make ends meet.

Yesterday, a call from her family oncologist confirmed her worst fears. Her 16-year-old son, who had been undergoing surgery that morning, has the same form of cancer that took the life of her husband.

She had come into his office hysterical and despite his suggestion that she spend the day at the hospital with her son, she had insisted on staying at work because “I can’t see him until after 6 o’clock and I’ll just go crazy sitting in a waiting room.”

Irene told me that by the time she hung up the phone tears were pouring down her cheeks and in her sadness for this woman she hardly knew was a strong feeling of relief that she had not clicked on that “send” button.

On her way to pick up a car later that day she stopped at a florist and bought a bouquet of flowers for this person who she now viewed not as an incompetent service advisor but rather as a mother suffering indescribable pain.

She left a note with the flowers inviting this lady to contact her anytime she needed a shoulder to cry on. And they have since met up for coffee a few times.

Irene taught me a lesson. It is one we can all benefit from.

Let’s all vow to adopt the Habit of the Seven-Second Delay as a filter that will always cause us to take a healthy pause and carefully think through the consequences of what we are about to say whenever you find ourselves about to respond in anger.

Perhaps in doing so, we will, like Irene, create a new friend rather than an angry memory.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

P.S. My company, Strategic Pathways, recently introduced our newest Personal Coaching experience called Boot Camp for Your Brain. Please click here and take a peek at our Ebrochure

My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours has its very own website. Please visit us at  www.lifesinksorsoars.com  and let me know what you think.

49. One minute at a time.

About an hour after I posted my blog last Wednesday I received a phone call from a man named Joel.

Joel called to tell me a really interesting tale about his own life.

He was raised by two alcoholic parents and by his early teens he was consuming a couple of beers each day. By his early 20s his daytime hours were spent working menial jobs and his evenings were spent consuming as much alcohol as his small paychecks would allow.

Joel described himself as a “high functioning alcoholic.” He explained that because he had started drinking early in his life, he had developed extreme tolerance for alcohol and was able to hold down a steady job without arousing suspicions of any of his coworkers.

He was even able to hide his excessive drinking from Belinda, his fiancée, who he married when he was 29. The marriage lasted less than a year because, “after she moved in with me I was no longer able to hide my drinking from her.”

Finally acknowledging his problem to himself, Joel joined AA – several times. Each time he would experience a few weeks of sobriety, convince himself that he had beaten this affliction, quit going to meetings and, begin drinking soon thereafter.

Five years ago, at age 42, with a freshly minted drunk driving conviction, Joel realized that unless he found a permanent solution to his daily drinking, he was destined for an ever – increasingly difficult life.

He decided to employ a simple strategy to help address his challenge. Each time he found himself craving a drink he would look at his watch and wait 30 minutes. If, at the end of 30 minutes, he still wanted that drink – which invariably he did – he indulged his desire.

During the first week of this new activity he discovered something interesting. During those 30 minutes he spent very little time thinking about the drink. So at the beginning of week two he decided to up the ante and extend his waiting time to one hour. Same result – very little time spent anticipating and waiting for the hour to be up so that he could have his drink.

At the beginning of the third week he increased his waiting time to two hours, and then three hours and four hours and each time he increased his waiting period, he found it easier and easier to avoid having that drink.

Joel had discovered the power behind the Habit of the Seven Second Delay. He very quickly learned that if his first waking act each morning was to mentally set his timer for 24 hours, then he could easily go the entire day without a drink, and the next day and the next.

Joel has been sober for five years now. He no longer needs to set the timer as drinking is no longer part of his conscious awareness. He is convinced that the pathway to acquiring any new behavior is to put off doing the old one for ever lengthening periods of time.

The Habit of the Seven Second Delay provided Joel with the opportunity to shed himself of a debilitating addiction and to carve out a life that he loves.

He asked me to write about his story and to let you know that every moment we spend not giving in to temptation brings us a moment closer to our own personal salvation.

Thanks Joel. You have taught us all a valuable lesson well worth learning.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

P.S. My company, Strategic Pathways, recently introduced our newest Personal Coaching experience called Boot Camp for Your Brain. Please click here and take a peek at our Ebrochure

My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at  www.lifesinksorsoars.com  and let me know what you think.

– Robert French – an accomplished author – recently posted a flattering review of my book, Life Sinks or Soars, the Choice is Yours. Please click here and take a moment to read it.

Here is another review of my book by Actionable Books.

–  I have recently completed a series of radio interviews. If you would like to listen to them, here is a link.    

I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas or suggestions once you have listened to the interviews. Please contact me at rael@raelkalley.com and share your thoughts.

48. 7 seconds to a new you.

Back in the day when live radio and television broadcasts were the norm, an idea was born to prevent profanity, mistakes, violence or other undesirable material from being transmitted. This became known as the 7 second delay. This meant that we were not seeing or hearing the broadcasts in real-time, but rather 7 seconds later.

My friend Joel used a modified (actually elongated) version of this to shed 85 unwanted pounds.

This is what he did.

When Joel decided that the time had come to get serious about losing the weight that had slowly crept up onto his frame over 20 sedentary years, he came up with a very simple method of doing this.

He made a commitment to himself that every time he had the urge to eat something that he knew he shouldn’t eat e.g. Snickers bars, potato chips and the like or consume a greater quantity of food than he knew was necessary, he would simply an enact his version of the 7 second delay.

He made a note of the time with the understanding that if, at the end of two hours, he still desired the same food or treats, he would indulge himself.

And he discovered something rather interesting along the way. He learned very early on that cravings do not last anywhere close to two hours. Not once since he began this practice has he still felt an urge to eat, or overeat, once the two hours had passed and, in his words, “the weight fell off me faster than I ever imagined possible.”

In less than six months the 85 pounds, plus an additional five, had disappeared.

Joel came up with a name for his technique. He calls it the Habit of the Seven Second Delay and has since applied it to many other areas of his life.

He realized that his prior habit of instant gratification – giving in to the cravings – was a sign of having low impulse control and he began to examine where else in his life this impulsiveness was having a deleterious effect.

He found a few areas where is hastiness had led to him making poor choices and he began applying the Habit of the Seven Second Delay to these issues.

He learned that he was an impulsive shopper and modified his use of the Habit of the Seven Second Delay in order to change his behavior.

He decided to never go shopping without a list and to purchase only those items on that list. Like so many of us he was frequently tempted to make purchases outside of the list and addressed these temptations by stretching the Habit of the Seven Second Delay to 24 hours.

This meant that if, at the end of 24 hours, he still wanted to purchase those items, he would have to make a trip back to the store in order to do so.

He told me that in one year there was only one occasion when he made the trek back to the store.

By his calculation, his adherence to the Habit of the Seven Second Delay saved him approximately $18,000.00 over the 12 month period.

Joel swears that the discipline imposed by the Habit of the Seven Second Delay has changed his life in ways he could only have dreamed of and the buyer’s remorse and eater’s remorse and all the other remorses’ that had been part of his life, have now been removed permanently.

If you think the Habit of the Seven Second Delay can help you realize many of your life’s dreams, please don’t make any rapid decisions.

Think about it for 7 seconds and then get started.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at  www.lifesinksorsoars.com  and let me know what you think.