Meditation: Ego

Ego is Latin for I. That is it. It takes on a much broader meaning, much like karma did, when it is applied to everyday life. Egotistical is a very negative description of a person’s behavior. It is used to describe a person that is excessively conceited or absorbed in oneself; self-centered. The ego is what makes us try to justify our existence, and explain why we are here. Of course, we are here, just by a quirk of fate, because are parents decided to become intimate, at that exact moment. I have often wondered, why that is so hard to accept. Is it just the thought of our parents making love, that we try not to think about. However, those are the facts Jack. One definition of ego, states, that it is the mental organ of justification. Does this mental organ of justification, take on a whole new life, when there are many egos involved? I think, when there are many egos involved, that the justification syndrome goes out of control. I think we have just defined an organization.

An organization is an organized body of people with a particular purpose, especially a business, society, association, etc.. I will not get into specifics, but an organization is formed because a group, in some cases, can achieve more than an individual. Once the organization is formed, there are leaders, within the organization, that help achieve the goal. The other members of the organization will vote on proposed ways of achieving the goal, and will contribute their time and sometimes money, in achieving the goal. Sometimes the goal is to help members with the organization, or it can be to help the general populous, that are less fortunate or infirmed. Once the goal is achieved, that is where the problem can arise. Some organizations may develop some type of natural evolution and really need to maintain their group. In many cases, once an organization accomplishes its goal, it has to create a new problem, to keep its existence going. In some cases, the heads of these organizations, make a substantial salary. They have a big incentive to keep the organization viable, and to convince the membership that they are needed. There can be many officers in an organization, and when these egos are threatened with a loss of substantial income, they are going to find many ways to justify their existence. I call this, the multiple ego syndrome, trying to survive. This is very true, when the organization has been set up, to help the members of the organization. Once the goals are met, the organization needs to take a lesser role. Instead, the leaders of the organization will create problems, in order to justify their existence. This is when egos go out of control, and the membership of the organization will suffer, rather than getting any benefit.

The single ego is rarely a problem. A person may try to justify their existence, by trying to make themselves seem important, but in the long run, they really do very little damage to the general public. They may be obnoxious, and not very much fun to be around, but they are pretty much harmless. However, when egos unite, and their existence is threaten, public beware. The greater good is not being served, and we need to move far away from such thinking. Once an organization accomplishes its goals, it needs to step back, be happy for the achievement and either go into a lesser maintenance mode, or completely disband, and create a new organization that is really needed, to solve a totally unrelated problem. In order for an organization to continue to do some good, the organization needs to become selfless and suppress the ego urge. I am not too sure that multiple egos are capable of doing that.

Meditation: Karma

We have all heard of karma. The literal definition of karma is action, work, or deed. The world thinks of this word in much broader terms. To look at it from a Western point of view, karma would fall under the sayings of ” you reap, what you sow, or positive thoughts will create positive outcomes. The Eastern world wants to have good karma so they will have a happier rebirth. One has to have a belief in rebirth in order to make that work. Karma is associated more with eastern religions like Buddhism and Hinduism. You rarely hear the word karma by itself. Most of the time people refer to something or someone having good or bad karma. Some people have the idea, that if you do good deeds, then good things will happen to you. They also believe, that the reverse is true. Remember however, that karma is an act, and really does not impact the future. Is the idea of karma just another way of trying to keep individuals in line, much like the idea of heaven and hell in Christianity. Then, there is the belief that karma is tied to causality, not to be confused with casualty. Causality is defined as the relation between a cause and its effect or between regularly correlated events or phenomena. In other words, the type of action you take, will effect the next action that is taken. By the strict definition of karma this really is not true. So does karma exist?

Of course, karma exists by the simple definition of action. We take action everyday, and those actions will have consequences, that will either be good or bad, or possibly neutral, for lack of a better term. It is how we feel about those actions, that may be the true karma. That may be what this is all about. Can we feel good about every action we take, and when we don’t, why is that. Why do we do things that we do not feel good about? I don’t know the answer to that one, just yet. Is that what true enlightenment really means? Always doing things that you feel good about. Karma is in the internal world, and in my view, has nothing to do, about the outside world, or your future actions. Does karma or action stand in the way of true enlightenment. Should we just be about inaction as much as possible, and meditate 8 hours a day. It’s a thought, but I don’t think I will be doing that, in the near future. I find it interesting that such a simple word has such a wide and diverse meaning. The literal meaning, does include, work and deeds. There goes work, getting in the way of things, again. You should feel good about the work you are doing, and the deeds you do, on a daily basis. Karma, I believe is quite simple, and I am not planning on a rebirth any time soon. I think we need to take away the power of karma. No more internal judgements of our daily actions. Isn’t this what it is all about, no judgements. Then we should feel good all day long. I am feeling better already.

Meditation: Just a Speck

The world population is approaching 8 billion people, and it is predicted that number will be reached in the year 2023. It is estimated that human civilization has been around for about 8 to 10 thousand years. The total surface area of the earth is 197 million square miles. It has been estimated that the earth has been here for about 4.6 billion years. In about 2 years if you are still living, you will be one of 8 billion people, in the world. The reality is, we are just a speck in the big picture of population and time. There is no room for debate on this point. This doesn’t even take into consideration, the universe and other worlds. These are the facts, Jack. When someone lives into their nineties, people will say that the person had a good long life. Long in comparison to what. I guess it is, when compared to other people, but certainly, to nothing else that has existed on earth. Even though people do not want to think about this, but it is hard to totally ignore it. It certainly can make someone feel insignificant. What are some of the consequences of these cold hard facts?

Does such a reality cause people to do things, to try and create a more “significant” life? Sometimes, this can lead to doing something for the good of the people. It can also lead to behavior that creates attention to someone, with not any good coming from it. It can lead to trying to get as much power and money as possible, at any cost to yourself and other people. It goes back to another topic of fame and fortune. This feeling of emptiness can lead to pursuing illegal or violent endeavors. The bottom line is this, no matter what happens in your life, we are all eventually going to end up in the same place, the end of life. This is really what people have a hard time facing. One way of trying to deal with this extreme vastness in time, space and population, is to create two perspectives. It is simply looking at the big world, and then the small world. The big world is what we have just been discussing. The small world is your world. The world of your friends, family, and loved ones. How should we handle the big world? If can be ignored. There is not a lot of support for this view, but I see nothing wrong with it. If you ignore something, then it really does not have an affect on you. It is fairly easy to do. Don’t watch the news, and don’t think about the problems of the big world, such as climate change, violence, economic issues, war, and all the other issues on the big stage. This doesn’t mean that you would even spend your entire life ignoring the big world, but a 2 to 5 year hiatus, can do wonders for the psyche. Another way to handle the big world is to embrace it, but don’t let big world problems, get you down. Realize that you can not change a lot of what is going on, accept that fact, and move on. Now, lets get to the small world.

This is your world, and you can do anything you want with it. The best thing to do with your world, is to stay involved, and stay in touch. These are the people, and the things that you care about. This is the world that time forgot. This is the world that you can feel, see, and respond to everyday. It is the world where you want to be. It is the place to savor everything that is good. It is the definition of knowing what you want to do each day in your world. Your world allows you to be yourself, and enjoy all the things in life. There can be setbacks in your world, but this is the place where you can get support to deal with these setbacks. Not everybody can change the big world. Can one man really make a difference in the big world? Many people think so, but I would argue the point. You have to be an exceptional person, and there will be many sacrifices made, especially in your world. Is it all really worth it? I am not too sure. What I am sure of, is that I can make changes in my world, that have and will make my world a better place. For me, that is enough and is definitely is worth it.

Meditation: Frustration

Frustration is defined as the feeling of being upset or annoyed, especially because of inability to change or achieve something. That definition is pretty tame, when you consider the emotions that frustration can bring on. I put this topic under meditation but it could apply to any of the subjects I write about, which will be covered in future blogs. Frustration has been divided into two types. Internal frustration is where an individual faces challenges in fulfilling personal goals, desires, instinctual drives  and needs, or dealing with perceived deficiencies, such as a lack of confidence or fear  of social situations. External frustration  involves conditions outside an individual’s control, such as a physical roadblock, a difficult task, or the perception of wasting time. We all seem to go through periods of frustration, at some time in our lives and some individuals seem to be frustrated all the time. We are always frustrated with a lack of success. I am always fascinated by fan’s frustration over the performance of the their sports teams. People will get frustrated over what another person is doing or not doing. How many times have you heard some say, I can’t believe he, she, or they did that. Frustration is an emotion, that can lead directly to other emotions, that some people feel can be good and then, there are some not so good.

If you are getting frustrated with some aspect of you life, you can always do something about it. I do mean always. Many people look at a situation and do not see a solution. There is a solution to every problem or desire. The trick is in finding it. That doesn’t mean that you won’t still feel frustration over a situation. Once a solution is found, the next step is to execute it. Sometimes, that can be harder to do than anticipated. If you fail to execute the solution, then that can lead, right back to frustration. The external frustrations can even be more of a problem. Frustrations with other people, companies, government policies, retail services, and certain situations, can evoke strong emotions, that often times lead to no good. There is the added “benefit” of taking out your frustrations on someone or something else, rather than being frustrated with your self. This is where frustration will lead to anger and even violence. A lot of little frustrations, can lead to one major blow up. If you allow frustration to get the best of you, it will lead to regret and remorse. Is it better, to somehow, not ever get frustrated, or do you have to find a better way to handle the frustration, you are feeling?

It may seem unrealistic, to keep from getting frustrated. I can see getting frustrated over getting frustrated. However, despite what people say about frustration leading to some positive emotions, like trying to do better, and having more resolve, for the most part, frustration is simply not a good thing. The easy frustration to avoid, is external frustration. I am literally having external frustration, as I write this blog, because I can not get through to a restaurant, that I am trying to make a Friday night reservation. I am not feeling any frustration at all. Remember, I golf, so I really know what frustration feels like. My only feeling, right at the moment, is that if I never get through, this restaurant is not going to get my business. For external frustrations, you can always have alternative good thoughts. If you are stuck in traffic, because of an accident, be grateful you are not in the accident. If you think you are not being treated fairly, and even have suffered some financial loss, you will know not to do business, with that individual, again. Take legal action if the money loss is severe. Never get frustrated with an individual you know. Accept whatever they are doing, or don’t have the relationship. Remember, when it comes to interactions, never do anything you really don’t want to do. Trying to avoid being frustrated with yourself, is much harder to do, but it can be done. Frustration is usually brought about by failure. Failure to lose weight, failure to perform up to your expectation, and failure to achieve, are just some to the things that can lead to internal frustration. I am not one to say that failure is to be embraced, but realize that the only way not to fail, is not to do. If you fail, accept it and move on. Look for the solution, and try again. Frustration is not to be handled, it is to be avoided at all cost. By the way, I made my reservation.

Meditation: Obsessed With the Future

It use to be people would be told, you shouldn’t dwell on the past. Other than hopefully learning from mistakes, you do not want to be overly critical of some of the missteps, that were taken in the past. You want to try to remain in the present, and be aware of what is going on, right now. However, dwelling on the past, has been replaced in society today, by being obsessed with the future. This obsession with the future is seen everywhere. It is the new way to avoid being in the present moment. Going to the ESPN web site, anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 of the posts are about something in the future. I am not talking about the near future, either. Who is going to be the top college recruits in football in 2023. When the NFL draft ended, it was less than a week, and there was a post, about who would be drafted in 2022. Power ratings for hockey teams, for the 2021-22 season. Who is going to win this fight? Newscasts, take up almost as much time, telling you what they are going to show, than the time spent, on the stories themselves. There are previews of movies, new cars, new TV shows, and when something is going to open. Again, these previews may not be in the near future. In some cases, that may mean 6 to 8 months, before something is going to happen. Dexter is coming to Showtime, this fall. There is no question, that this constant obsession of thinking, and talking about the future, is the new way, to avoid the present situation. It’s thinking, that the future looks better, than what’s going on now. It can never really be that way, unless you start taking care of the present.

Are we ever right about the future? There are many instances in life, where there is a situation , that we may be dreading. It could be a visit to the dentist, an engagement with the in laws, a job interview, going to a party where you know very few people, or having some work related assignment. You may worry or fret about this for even weeks in advance. Once the situation has happened and is over, you realized that it was not near as bad as you thought it was going to be. This, in reverse, is what the main problem is with being obsessed about the future. Most of the thinking, is about how much better the future will be, when compared with the present. My team will make a really good draft choice next time. My favorite college team will have a great recruiting class, next year. We will win the game. I will have a better job. I will have a better relationship. I will have more money and time on my hands, to do the things I want. I could go on and on, about how people think about the future. The reality is, the future is never as good, as we project it to be. So how should we look at the future?

First, let’s look at how we should deal with the past. The past can be a great place to fondly look back on some of the good and wonderful things that have happened. Everybody has made mistakes and at times have behaved badly. As I wrote before, we must learn from these mistakes, and take responsibility, not blame, for our actions. The future should be looked at, as way to plan, for what we want to with our lives. That is the key words, our lives. We should not really care what are sports teams are going to do, to get more players. We should not care about future events, other than those that are close to home, so you can attend, if you would like. We should not care who is going to win what game. We need to learn how to enjoy the moment, even when the moment, may not be all that enjoyable. Enjoy seeing you team play, regardless of the outcome. Enjoy the food you are eating right now. Enjoy every moment that you are healthy and feeling good, with no issues. Staying in the present means knowing what is going on around you right now. We can all strive to be better in every way. The way to be better is to increase your level of awareness, of what is going on inside, and outside of you body, at the present moment. You can not do this, if you are thinking of what will happen to other people, other teams, or other countries over the next 12 to 24 months. You have got to stop caring about that aspect of the future. The future of what someone else is doing. You must stay present, and plan for your future, to get back in the game of life.

Meditation: Fortune and Fame

As with most blogs of this type, let’s begin with some definitions. Fortune is defined as a large amount of money or assets. We are not talking about the luck definition. Fame is defined as the condition of being known or talked about by many people, especially on account of notable achievements. I don’t know if everybody that becomes famous, has what is known as achievements, but I will accept the definition, just to move along. Some people become famous for breaking the law, and others become famous, simply by making an extreme amount of money. That can certainly be considered an achievement, but it is not the same as an athletic, or scientific achievement. Fortune and fame do not always go hand in hand. There are lots of wealthy people, who are not famous. By the same token there are famous people, who are not wealthy. Fame can have it’s obvious drawbacks. The worst thing about being famous, is that everything you do, is seen under a microscope and everybody seems to know about it. I think what it all boils down to is, there is a price to pay for being well known. When the famous develop problems of addiction, depression, run ins with the law, and general bad behavior, although not excusable, it can be understood, why these things can happen. The solution can be simple. Just stop doing what made you, and is making you famous. It is a sacrifice, and it may seem unfair, but it is a solution to the problem. It seems even the wealthy and not so famous are not all that happy, and some can be pretty miserable. When we hear about this, we often wonder, how somebody with all that money, can have so many problems, and be that unhappy. All the wealthy are not like this, but there are enough, that there are many articles in many journals written about this subject. Here is a short review on the general consensus, of why the wealthy are unhappy.

First, here are some quick stats. There are close to 800 billionaires in the United States. Here are the top 4. Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg, all have a net worth between 105 and 188 billion dollars. Sweden’s richest man, Stefan Persson, is worth 18 billion which would just slip him in to the top 25 in the United States. Millionaires are a totally different story. There are well over 18 million of them and just over 75% of them are white. Apparently being a millionaire is not really all that great. Even the titles of some of the articles are ominous. The dark reasons so many rich people are miserable human beings. Then the article goes on to discuss people that are making a little over 100,000 dollars a year. That’s not rich, when compared to the millionaires and billionaires. There is an article, simply titled, why aren’t millionaires happier. That article talks about people knowing, that material things can not buy them happiness. It’s also hard to stop buying, once you start, but people with lesser incomes, seem to have that problem, also. Millionaires do not seem to be immune to having fairly high suicide rates, compared to other sectors of society. When compared with the other wealthy countries, it seems one of the wealthiest, the United States is also the leader in suicide rates. Reading these articles, even though they create a certain amount of sadness, do not give a good reason, why there is so much despair among the wealthy. I have my own theory.

It really boils down to not knowing, what to do with all that money. A lot of billionaires and multi millionaires do a lot of philanthropic work, and help a lot of people. They are all set up through some foundation, so even though a wealthy or famous person’s name is attached to it, it is the foundation doing the work, with a lot of people volunteering, and donating money. I think what the very rich need to do, to end all their misery, is to help people on a 1 to 1 basis. The 800 or so billionaires could give away 1 billion dollars each, in increments of 100,000 thousand dollars, to the poor and needy, directly. They could go down to the border right now, and give that amount to everyone crossing the border. They could walk into homeless shelters, and give each person there, 100,000 thousand dollars. There is approximately 5000 Americans with a net worth of over 100 million dollars. All of those Americans could give 1 million dollars each, in increments of 100,000 directly to the needy and poor. Just get the money, make a bank check made out to cash, and start passing them out directly. Don’t worry about tax breaks, and write offs, just go out and start giving that money away. You have plenty of it. If you have a foundation, it will be fine and will continue the good work that it is doing. For those of you under the 100 million mark, give what you can, but give it directly to the person. In order to be a happy billionaire, or multi-millionaire, you have to have that feeling of the one on one gift. It makes everyone feel good, and you get to do it many times. So just do it, all you millionaires and billionaires, and you are not going to feel miserable any more. It will give you a whole new feeling.

Meditation: Results

When you read or hear anything about life, or life coaching, it is always about the journey not the destination. It is about the process, not the outcome. This subject, results, could have been written under any of the titles, that I discuss. Food, how does it taste? Golf, what did you shoot? Sports, what was the final score? Meditation, what are the benefits? All the answers to those questions, have nothing to do with the process, but the results. On your job, you need to have results. What is the bottom line? Every boss has said, at one time or another, I do not want to hear about any excuses, I want results. We all want to get to our destination, whatever that may be. People set a goal, and some will have a plan to achieve that goal. The best laid plans can go awry, due to many unforeseeable circumstances. This philosophy, that what’s important is the journey, or the process, is just a way to help handle failure. I am not too sure, if that’s the reason, that coaches try to get their clients to think this way, but to have this results only attitude, is not something that is going to improve your health.

There is no question, the sports fan is at the top of the list, of the results only philosophy. You will see many fans tweet, that if my team does not reach the championship game or series the season is a failure. Now in professional sports you are really fighting the odds. There are 30 to 32 teams in each of the four major sports leagues. That means, that with everything being equal, there is only about 3% chance, that your team is going to win the championship. Now, we all know that everything is not equal, so there are going to be some teams that have a better chance than others, to win the title. The teams that do win the title, seem to have some process, or plan, and when it succeeds, then everybody tries to copy them to some degree, with various results, that are usually not as successful as the original team. One thing about the process it is not ignored, especially in golf. In fact the process is given too much credit, by some professional golfers, who have had success in the past. They have a had a great stretch of golf covering years, and run into a bump in the road, and will change coaches, and swings, to see if they can recapture their previous success. Sometimes they don’t even need a bump in the road, to completely revamp their swing, supposedly, trying to get better. The best example I know of this, is Tiger Woods. After winning the Masters by 12 shots, he changed his swing. Now because he went on to have great success, that decision is not questioned, as much as it should be. There are many other examples of this in golf, the most recent is Rory Mcilroy, who is going through this process right now. He is only ranked 11th in the world, I would be changing my swing, too. Is it really the journey, and process, and what are we to do if the results are not what we want?

To get the first part of question out of the way quickly, the answer is a resounding no. If this kind of thinking helps you, then go ahead and continue, but do not delude yourself into thinking, that results do not matter. The one factor that is forgotten about, when there is any successful outcomes, whether it be on a small or short term scale, or a large or long term scale, is luck. Yes, that’s right good old luck. We never give luck enough credit, whether it be good or bad luck. The reason for this, is if we think luck played a major role in our success or failure, it takes the results, out of our hands. It can also, make it seem like all the hard work we put in, may have been wasted, if we were not lucky. Instead of being grateful for our good fortune, we brush it under the rug, and try to forget about it, because we do not want to lessen our accomplishment. This doesn’t really lessen the accomplishment, it is just our perception. When our luck is bad, we don’t talk much about it then, because it looks like complaining. If it is not the journey or the process that is important, how are we to handle the less than desirable outcomes or failures. You have to handle failure with acceptance. In other words you almost have to be happy to fail. This will not stem your desire to succeed, but it will allow you to move on, and possibly try again, or move into a totally new direction, with a new plan. It is the process that allows you to try and find your path. There is that fine line between having faith in yourself, and continuing on the journey, or finding a new path toward a different life goal. It is the hardest part of the whole process, of finding your way through this life. Results are important, but the most important part of any result, is what you do with it once you get it.

Meditation: Masks and Governors

At first, this blog was going to be a rant. Rants can be very cathartic and make you feel good, when you are doing them. Rants can also be very nasty and unkind. Since I have put this under meditation, and have just finished meditating, I decided to write this in a more conventional way. I am not going to use the words, moron, idiot, stupid, crazy, and brainless. The subject of masks and governors have come up a lot over the last few weeks. Masks have been in the news for a long time, and have caused confrontations on many levels, in many areas of the country. Governors have been in the news, more than usual over the last year, because it has been up to them to handle the pandemic, in their respective states, since we never have had a national policy. However, in the last two weeks there has been some new twists concerning both. I am taking big breaths, to remain calm, as I begin to discuss each one.

With more people getting vaccinated, there was a confrontation between Senator Rand Paul and Dr. Anthony Fauci, over wearing masks, with Senator Paul calling them theater. There has even been mask burning gatherings, with kids participating, in many parts of the country. Being against wearing a mask, is like being against wearing clothes. Walk into any establishment without wearing a shirt or shoes, and see what happens. You will see your “constitutional rights” trampled, as you are escorted out of the building. Unlike clothes, masks are not required 24/7. You only have to wear a mask, when you are inside. You don’t have to wear one in the parking lot. You don’t have to wear one as you walk toward the building. You only have to put the mask on when you enter the building. When you are doing grocery shopping, inside a mall, or a larger mega mart, you are probably going to be there between 30 to 60 minutes. That is all that is being ask of you. Such a small and insignificant thing to do, but you will be protecting many people, including yourself. Restaurants even require less time with a mask on. How such a simple thing to do, created such anger and rage is something that is very difficult to explain. The human race, apparently, has really failed in their ability to do things for the greater good. Even though mask wearing will never become law, it should be, to save people, from themselves.

Recently, there have been articles in many news sources giving positive reviews to governors that have essentially kept their states open during the entire pandemic. They say that these states are not any worse off with corona virus cases than states that went through lock downs. Their economies are better, because of the governors policies of allowing businesses to function, like there was no pandemic at all. These articles miss one very huge point. It really doesn’t make any difference what a governor does or doesn’t do, people are going to do what they want, therefore the states really aren’t much different from each other. In states that went through restrictions, people still found ways to meet in large groups, not wear masks, and find restaurants that defied restriction mandates, and opened anyway. In states where the governors kept things opened, most businesses still required masks, people sheltered in place on their own, and followed social distancing guidelines. The reality is, that no matter what a governor mandates, without some intense enforcement, many will simply defy the mandates. The idea that a governor should be praised for whatever he did, or did not do, during the pandemic, is ignoring this fact. The governors policies only had a minimal effect, on how the pandemic played out in their state. As in the case of masks, many people did what they wanted to do, not really caring about the common good. As far as I am concerned, this pandemic has brought out the worse in society. People fighting over, trying to keep from getting sick. A disease, that essentially many people do not want to stop from spreading. One can only hope, but I am not optimistic, that we may learn from the mistakes we have made.

Meditation: Stress

Stress is defined as a a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation. Stress is thought of as a natural response to a challenging or dangerous situation. Most stress responses are only designed to function for a short period of time, of about 1 to 2 hours. It is when these stress feelings, or emotions, last for days on end, that health issues can arise. These health issues can be many things, ranging from high blood pressure, heart disease, cognitive problems, mental disorders, mood swings, digestive and sleep problems. They intertwine with each other, which leads to a multitude of issues. However, one of the most concerning problems about stress, is how it can affect the brain. Stress can affect the memory, and other brain functions like mood, and anxiety. Stress also seems to promote inflammation, which can not only adversely affect the brain, but also the joints, and the cardiovascular system. The ways to deal with stress are well known, and have been around for a long time. They can range from meditation, listening to music, exercise, reading, social interaction, and deep breathing. It is a foregone conclusion, that stress is a natural part of life. One article goes so far as to say that a life without stress, is not only impossible, but also would likely be pretty uninteresting. Many feel that a certain degree of stress is helpful for growth. In fact, there is a term eustress which means beneficial stress. Is that really the way things have to be? Since stress seems to cause so many problems with our bodies and minds, when does beneficial stress become harmful stress. Instead of trying to deal with stress, maybe we should be trying to prevent it altogether, even though that seems to be impossible.

There are many things out there, that can be good for us, in small to moderate amounts, but if we overdo it, can be harmful. Sunlight, alcohol, food, and even exercise, if carried to extreme can do us harm. The difference is, these are all tangible items, that we can see and do. Stress is something that we create, 95% of the time. There is natural stress, which is mostly caused by danger, and our fears. Fear is a very real thing to the person who has the fear, even though many people may think the fear is ridiculous. I am not going to get into specifics, because this blog is about stress. These stressors are there to protect us in times of danger or can help us conquer our fears. These natural stressors do not make life any more, or less interesting, but I agree are impossible to avoid. The stress related to our relationships with friends, loved ones, spouses, life partners, coworkers and careers(yes, we have a relationship with our career/jobs), is the stress that we create, and need to prevent, not manage. We all know the things that create this stress. Things go wrong, not the way we want them to, job related pressures, and all the things in an interpersonal relationship. The list can go on and on. Preventing this stress is like most things in life, it is easier said than done. I believe there are ways of doing it. Start the day with meditation, and end it by counting your blessings. Acceptance of a situation is a big step in preventing stress. Make a move, that you have been thinking of doing for a long time. Do something. There is a solution to every problem, it just hasn’t been found yet. Do not think of the consequences, if someone else, is in control of those consequences. Do your best at all times, and move on. Deep breaths, when fear and anxiety seem to be taking over. Anticipation always seems to be worse than what will actually happens. The bottom line is this, just don’t feel stressed. It does not have to be created. The idea that in order for a life to be interesting and full, it has to have stress in it, is absurd. Natural stress is protective and necessary. Created stress just makes life miserable, not interesting. You may not be able to control outcomes, but you can control how you react to them. Think like you just received an anti stress vaccine. It is possible to live a life, free from created stress.

Meditation: N. O. M. V. Suicide

It stands for Not One More Vet, and is an organization to give help and support to veterinarians, who are feeling overwhelmed by some of the unique problems, and stress of the veterinary profession. The suicide rate in veterinarians is about 2 times the national average when compared with the general population. On social media, you are seeing pictures of people in the veterinary profession, with N. O. M. V. superimposed on their profile picture. When people find out what that means, they are surprised to learn, that this is such a problem in the profession. The N. O. M. V. organization was started in the year 2014, when one of the most well know veterinarians in dog behavior, Sophia Yin, took her own life. I listened and spoke to her at many veterinary conferences, and her training methods, and her lectures, were the best I have ever experienced, before or since. I am sure I was not alone in my feelings, and that is why her death was so shocking. This organization has been around for close to 7 years now, and people are still are not aware, of what a veterinarian has to go through on a daily basis. They are not aware of what it means to be a veterinarian. It starts with the reason why people want to become a veterinarian. It is what gets people off on the wrong foot, before they even get started.

The vast majority of people that think about having a veterinary career, do so, because they have a love of animals. This sounds all well and good. However, it is the second word of the profession, you better love, medicine. As a veterinarian, you are going to practice more medicine in your career, than than any 10 MD’s combined. Even though veterinary medicine is becoming more specialized, the general dog and cat veterinary practitioner, is most likely going to manage, and treat cases involving, the heart, the liver, the kidney, the skin, the intestinal tract, the spine, the brain, and hormonal conditions, involving the pancreas, thyroid, and adrenal glands. The veterinarian will handle those cases from beginning to end. Even in cases, where a specialist should be involved, many people can not afford the cost, and the veterinarian will have to do the best that he or she can, under the circumstances. The amount of medical knowledge one has to consume in veterinary school, and continue to consume throughout one’s career, concerning diseases and conditions in dogs and cats can be overwhelming. You must have a never ending thirst for knowledge. Plus, you are going to be doing surgery, which is a totally different aspect of the job. Even though you may have a great love of animals, you are still going to have to deal with people, on a daily basis. You will have to deal with them, most of the time, in very difficult situations, when they are dealing with a sick pet, and financial difficulties. If you are not a people person, you are going to have major problems, in a veterinary practice. This may be one of the reasons, that in many surveys, less than half of the veterinarians surveyed, recommend their profession has a career choice. Veterinary schools need to show what it really means, to be working as a veterinarian. This is not to discourage people to become veterinarians, but to become veterinarians for the right reasons.

The other factor in making a veterinarian’s career difficult, is the overall sadness that happens of a daily basis. Veterinarians and their staff, probably see more people cry, than in any other profession. There is hardly a day that goes by that a veterinarian is not euthanizing a beloved pet. Many people, not in the profession, think that euthanasia is such a good thing. Many times, when I had to put an animal to sleep, I would have a client say, I wish they would do this for people, so they would not have to suffer. Intuitively, this seems correct. But the process of deciding, when to euthanized an animal, can be extremely stressful, for the owner. Then you have the other side of the coin. As a practitioner of medicine, the enemy is death. When a life is saved in human medicine, whether it be, from an accident or a disease, the physician may see that person go on to live a wonderful and fruitful life. The person may be alive, whenever the doctor retires. He will see the fruits of his labor, for years and years. The veterinarian, when he saves a life, knows it is a temporary postponement. In 5 to 10 years, that animal will die or be euthanized. The victories can be savored, but you know that death will win out at the end. Euthanasia can also be used as a convenience. When a child is diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, one of the options not given to the child’s mother is, if you don’t want to go through the issues of managing a diabetic, we can just put Johnny to sleep. Yet, I have had many cases of diabetes in dogs and cats that were under the age of 10, where the owner elected euthanasia. Then you have the dichotomy of thousands of dollars being spent to treat dogs and cats illnesses, while every year over a million dogs and cats are being euthanized at shelters, across the United States. The strangeness of that, can really make one think, why am I doing all this? Dealing with, and watching this much death, can take it’s toll. It can lead one to believe how peaceful and serene death is, and a way to solve one’s problems.

Other issues today, are the high cost of the education in relationship to the return. The information highway, that makes people feel, that they know more about how to diagnose and treat their pet, than the veterinarian does. Even though things have improved on this front, there still is this lack of respect for the profession. You will hear that famous line, why didn’t you become a real doctor. There has always been this certain paranoia in the profession. Back in the 70’s and 80’s when the profession had it’s most popularity, we were inundated with, we were graduating too many veterinarians, and there would not be enough business for this huge influx of veterinarians. Veterinarians have always been paranoid about losing business. They were worried when emergency clinics started, that they would lose patients to them, because clients would go back to them for their regular visits. It may be this attitude of trying to keep clients at all costs, that leads to much of the abusive behaviors, that veterinarians and their staff have to endure. When I had my practice the first thing I said to an unhappy client ( and I had plenty of them), was that there were 4 other clinics within 5 miles, and I would be happy to send their records there, so they could try them. If we are going to put a stop to this crisis in veterinary medicine, we need to educate young people about what it takes to be a veterinarian, not this James Harriot bullshit. We need to find a way to make a veterinary education less expensive, cutting the years down to become a veterinarian, from around 8 to around 6. We need to find ways to help veterinarians deal with the concept of death and seeing it on a daily basis. Yes, veterinary MEDICINE can be a very challenging, rewarding, and satisfying career, if you realize just how tough it is, and know what you are getting into. I still recommend it, whole heartedly.