Golf: Why Is It So Hard?

It looks like the surge in golf play due to the Covid pandemic may be coming to an end. It’s too early in the year to evaluate how many people will be playing golf. However, I base my opinion on a visit to a local golf repair shop. This shop takes used clubs on consignment and sells them to the public. The last two springs have been pretty slim pickings because of many people either taking up golf for the first time or playing again after not playing for many years. During the height of the pandemic, golf was about the only thing you could do. The last two summers have seen more play than normal. There were what I called Covid foursomes. These were beginning players that had no idea how to play or what the game was all about. I visited the shop last week to get a couple of grips put on my clubs and the used club racks were filled to the brim. There were more clubs there than I have ever seen and I have been going there a long time. The fact remains that many people take up the game of golf, and after a year or two of playing, will quit the game. There are other stories of people who have played the game for years, and then after being so frustrated with their games, finally just throw in the towel and quit for good. What makes this game so difficult? I have always been hard on golf instruction, for not being very good at teaching the game and this is, indeed, a factor. There are, however, several things about golf that has nothing to do about trying to hit the golf ball, which makes the game unique, but also very difficult. Winston Churchill may have summed up golf best when he said, “Golf is a game whose aim is to hit a very small ball into an ever-smaller hole, with weapons singularly ill-designed for the purpose”.

The first thing that makes golf so difficult is you are trying to hit a target with an object, and you are not able to look at the target. This is not lost on all of instruction. Some advocate that you look at the target and as soon as you look back at the ball you start your swing right away without delay. This sounds all well and good, but you still really have the same problem, you are not looking at the target when you are in the act of trying to hit the target. I feel this is even worse than trying to hit a target with your eyes closed. Think of any other situation where you are trying hit a target. Every time, you are looking at the target. I am a little surprised that putting while looking at the hole is not more popular. Tennis is similar, but the target is in the same place and distance every time. There are 18 times in golf that you hit the ball off the tee ground. On a golf course that has 4 par 3’s, 4 par 5’s and 10 par 4’s, that means that the other 18 full swings will most likely be totally unique shots. Not only will they have different distances to the green, but the lie of ball, the lay of the land, and the environmental conditions will all be different for all of those 18 shots. Let that one sink in for a while. In fact, I am thinking about it, and I think I will quit the game. What kind of swing are you going to groove for those kind of shots? Let me clue you in, you are not. You are going to have to make 18 adjustments for 18 shots during a round of golf. If you do not make those adjustments, you will hit the ball thin, fat, left, right, short or long of your target, depending on what adjustment you failed to make. Some shots, you may have to make 2 or 3 adjustments from your normal swing. The more slopes and hills a golf course has, the tougher all this becomes. Even if you have played some relatively good to great shots, you then have to deal with the nightmare called putting. Putting has nothing to do with the golf swing. Putting is to golf like a bowel movement is to eating. You have to do it but it is not near as enjoyable as the first part. Putting can save a hole or ruin a hole with no in between. Other than a club face coming in contact with a ball, putting has absolutely nothing in common with the process of hitting a golf ball. There are entire books just dedicated to putting. The worse part, it looks maddingly simple. Finally, there is the way that golf can just play havoc with your mind. It can get to the point where your body just simply does not function. It would be like putting a fork in your eye when you are trying to eat, or pouring something into a glass and missing the glass completely. In a nutshell, golf completely controls your being. It can be the scariest thing about golf and would make anybody quit the game.

If you continue to play the game after reading this, is there anything you can do to try and make such a powerful game more enjoyable. The short answer is no. I could go through the acceptance bullshit and that has some truth to it. Resignation may be a better word to use and cultivate when trying to play golf. What makes golf a great game is that everyone wants to help each other, even a competitor. Golfers seem to root for their fellow golfers. The game is the definition of good intentions. However, there is that little devil inside of all of us that does find some pleasure when the greatest players in the world hit some of the worst shots ever known to man. When those same players miss that 2-foot putt with a twitch of the putter that they could not possibly duplicate on the practice putting green, you shake your head and think it happens to them, too. Even those these players are millionaires, golf still makes their bodies do things that they just can’t believe and did not think was possible. This game is hard, and technique has nothing to do with it.

Meditation: How

How to meditate? It should be simple enough but if you google such a question, there are over 13 million results. I think even better are the related searches. These include meditation technique for beginners, meditating spiritually, ways to meditate at home, meditation how to start, and guided meditation. Then looking at images associated with meditation, they are almost all of people in various cross-legged positions with their arms in front of them and their eyes closed. Of 200 images, there were 2 lying down, 2 standing and 2 sitting in chairs, with all the rest in the cross-leg position. The videos for meditation will even go so far as to say that you can meditate wrong, which can-do damage to your mental health and wellbeing. In the videos, there is one that is called The No Bullshit Guide to Meditation. I find that amusing because many people feel that meditation is bullshit, so I don’t think it is a good idea to use the word if you are trying to get people to start. If you look under news, you will find articles and news reports on meditation, that are very recent. There is one written about 2 weeks ago for people who cannot sit still. Meditating while moving, perfect. They call this visualization meditation. Well, let’s just try and keep visualization and meditation apart, shall we. Despite what seems like an endless supply of videos, articles and books on meditating, there does seem to be some things missing and lots of PARTICULAR ways to meditate. Even for beginning meditation, there seems to be a very specific way to do it. Is there a way to meditate?

The answer to that question is simply no. Despite the list of the many benefits of meditation, there is only 3 things that meditation is designed to do. Meditation will relax the body, relax the mind, and to explore your inner self. When you begin meditation, one should concentrate on the first two, then worry about finding your inner self, once you have established a good solid routine. A meditation should last at least 20 minutes. That does not mean that when you start meditating you have to go for 20 minutes. This is what many of the beginning guides seem to leave out. They are so much into a so-called technique, that they seem to say that you have to start out doing it for 20 minutes. When you start out, meditating for 30 seconds to a minute is acceptable. This should be fine for people who cannot sit still. They should be able to handle 30 seconds and eventually work their way up to the 20-minute minimum. If you are just starting out and meditating for just 1 minute, you can do it 2 to 10 times per day. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. Then just gradually stretch it, 30 to 60 seconds at a time. As far as a certain technique goes, there is none. Certainly, you can do the cross-legged style, sit on a chair or couch, or you can simply lay down on a bed or mat. The only thing about laying down is that you cannot fall asleep. I have meditated for almost 30 years sitting on a couch with my back supported by the couch in the crossed-leg position. You are just trying to relax the brain and the body, nothing else. Remember that sleep does neither. You can put your hands in front of you, to the sides, or in a prayer position, whatever is the most comfortable and logical for your meditation. There is only one other rule for meditation. You must do belly breathing. Belly breathing is simply your belly expanding on inspiration and contracting expiration. This is considered relaxation breathing, get it relax. The opposite of tension breathing, where your belly contracts on inspiration and expands on expiration. This is where laying on you back to meditate can be especially helpful, because when you are on your back you can really feel the difference between the two.

Believe or not that is it, my friends. It might seem like I have left out a few things, like the room being very quiet or dark, the time of day to do it, and using things like fragrances and music. All of these things may help, but they are not essential. Even the room being quiet is not essential when it comes to meditating. All you are trying to do is to relax, not figure out a calculus equation. You can meditate any time at all. Morning meditations are nice, but when you get the chance, meditate, especially if you are just beginning. Meditation can be a scary endeavor, but how to do it is not.

Meditation: An Up and Down Holiday

I rarely write about my direct personal experiences, simply because they are personal and private. However, with the pandemic approaching 2 years, I finally was affected directly by that little corona bug. On December 30th I tested positive for Covid, who knows which kind. I probably contracted the disease while out in California, for the holidays. I am fully vaccinated with a booster in mid-October. My 14-year-old granddaughter tested positive late Christmas morning. She was not feeling well and did have a fever. At that point we all got tested and were negative. I flew out early the next morning just so I would not risk getting sick away from home. What is interesting and good news, is that none of my daughter’s other family members have shown any symptoms and all have remained negative. They are fully vaccinated. What is even more interesting, is on Christmas Eve, my granddaughter was around people that were not vaccinated, and they have not experienced any symptoms. She had a friend of hers come down with similar symptoms, but she tested negative for Covid. Later in the week, my granddaughter tested negative and has recovered. It makes me wonder if she could have had a rare false positive. Regardless, I started not feeling well on December 28, and of course, none of the at home tests could be found. I went to a mobile test area on the 30th, and it took 4 days to get the results on Jan. 3, which showed the test to be positive.

The best way I know how to describe how I felt during the illness, was it was just like having a bad cold. I did not ever run a fever. I have had much worse colds and really just had very low energy levels. I was never congested to the point where I could not breathe in the upper nasal passages. The only odd symptom was that for the first 2 nights I could not sleep, even though I had no trouble breathing. I also went through this odd vision, when I tried to sleep, that had numbers, that were above and below a certain line, and they would appear and disappear above and below this line. In my vision there was some significance to this, but I have no idea what it may have been. This only lasted for about two nights and now my sleep is now pretty much normal. This is my 10th day of illness and I still have some coughing and low energy levels, but overall, I am feeling pretty good. I feel very fortunate that this is all the symptoms I have had with this serious disease. I feel that my vaccination status has helped keep this illness at a fairly minor level. I am not completely better, but I am getting there.

Needless to say, this has gotten the New Year off to a slow start, for me. Hopefully I will continue to make progress, get into the swing of things, and start to write more. There will be lots of things happening. The college football championship game will be Monday between Alabama and Georgia which I have little interest in. The baseball lock out looks like it will head into February. The Steelers have a snowballs chance in hell of making the playoffs, but that is probably just as well. Golf is on the back burner, and we actually have had some golfing weather since I have been back. There is lots to write about and hopefully I will be raring to go by next week. Everybody stay safe, and Happy New Year.

Meditation: Money

Money is defined as any item or verifiable record that is generally accepted as payment for goods and services and repayment of debts, such as taxes, in a particular country or socio-economic context. The main functions of money are distinguished as: a medium of exchange, a unit of account, a store of value and sometimes, a standard of deferred payment. Any item or verifiable record that fulfils these functions can be considered as money. That sounds so simple, but money and/or, the lack of money, seems to cause a lot of problems in the world. There are lots of sayings and cliches concerning money. The best things in live are free. Money or the love of money is the root of all evil. A fool and his money are soon parted. Can’t buy me love. Money, may not make you happy, but it helps you be miserable in comfort. Some of these sayings are truer than others, but money does seem to have a hold on our brains, and mental wellbeing. Some people seemed to have more money than they know what to do with, while others can never seem to make ends meet. Even if people somehow acquire a lot of money, through good fortune, they do not seem to be able to hold on to it. There are many stories of people who win the lottery, but seem to end up broke anyway in just a few years. They allow money to make them into a totally different person. In time, this new person, just blows right through all that money. On the other side of the coin, we have multibillionaires in the world today. The five richest men in the world have a net worth ranging from 174 to 97 billion dollars. It seems that money can create and solve a lot of problems at the same time.

For whatever reason, money does not seem to bring happiness, to those people who seem to have a lot of it. The rich and famous are well known for having many issues, that just seem to make their lives miserable. Maybe the key is being rich and not so famous. Of course, it’s hard to be one of the top 100 richest people in the world and not have some notoriety. We probably don’t hear that much about the happy millionaires. Misery loves company and the news media is well aware of this. It gives the middle-class comfort that the rich are just as unhappy as they are. Most people think the other guy is getting paid too much for he does. This is particularly true when professional athlete’s salaries come up. Money always seems to be an emotional subject. There are people that seemed to be obsessed with money and try to do anything to get more of it. The concept of using money to make money, which is the backbone of wall street, is looked at in some circles as immoral. The movie The Wolf of Wall Street did nothing to dissuade this type of thinking. Money is one of those inanimate objects that we must develop some kind of relationship with. It along, with food, alcohol and drugs, seem to be the main things that control are lives. Many of us blame other people for our problems, but in reality, most problems are related to one of those 4 things. Few of us think about having a “relationship” with something that is not alive. We only consider relationships we have with other people or how we look at ourselves. What is the best way to feel about money?

I have written this before, but never do anything strictly for money. If you can find something to do that you love and if it can make you enough money for the basics in life, plus some extra amenities, then you are well on your way to the happiness destination. You must not let money make you feel all the things that you should not feel, in the outside world. Things like envy, comparison, jealousy, bitterness, insecurity, and rage, can all be triggered by thoughts of money. Money is the object that tends to keep you from making the inward journey. If by acquiring a lot of money, you have ignored your inner self then the results and things that are made with this money will not make you understand yourself any better. This can fuel fear and anxiety in everyday life, rather than comfort and joy. You must be true to your inner self and journey. That should be the number one goal of every living human being. In the end, when your life is near its completion, all the money in the world is not going to help you. If being true to yourself and acquiring money can be one in the same, hallelujah, and go for it. Otherwise just be true to yourself and you will always have that good feeling right in the center of your gut.

Golf: Maybe Sam Snead Was Right After All.

Before I get to the subject of today’s blog, and the resurgence of my golf game, after a very frustrating season, I must take personal moment. This past Tuesday I had cataract surgery on my left eye. My left eye is my only good eye, with my right eye only seeing fuzzy images, that for some unknown reason, is not correctable. Needless to say, I was pretty uptight about the procedure, even though I have a great surgeon, and this is a pretty routine procedure. I am happy to report that 3 days post op, everything is fine, and my vision is better than its been in 3 to 4 years. I am cleared to play golf, this coming Wednesday, and can not wait to see, if I can see a ball land on the green. Before the surgery, I could not see the ball on the green from a 100 yards. I still have to take it easy for a few more days, but it seems that I am not going to have any complications. Complications from this surgery are rare, but there is no solace in 1000 to 1 odds, if you are that one. Now, on to the surprising turn around in my game.

I have broken 80 for 12 consecutive rounds. I have had two 79’s, three 78’s, one 77, four 75’s and two 74’s. There have been three things, that have been the key factors in my improved play. First, I have tried to get into a more balanced position at address. I like to feel that my weight is evenly distributed over my feet, and I make sure that there is no pressure on the balls of my feet. This is nothing new, you do not want to get your weight falling forward to your toes. I am just more aware of my feet at address. By doing this I am getting a little closer to the ball. The biggest factor is the new way, that I start the downswing. The traditional way of starting the downswing, is by making sure the lower body initiates the movement, with a turning of the left hip, and a distinct shift to the left foot. However, back in the fifties, Sam Snead and few other pros, wrote about initiating the downswing by pulling down with the left hand. In fact, Snead even went so far as to write, that you should pull down with the last two fingers of the left hand. This type of instruction was often ridiculed by other well known instructors of that era, and in the future. Tommy Armour in his book wrote, “Chick Evans, years ago, when he was an excellent player, described the feeling as that of pulling a bell cord. That’s the way Sam Snead describes it. Confidentially, I think that all the bell cords Chick and Sam pulled Sunday morning wouldn’t disturb many sleepers”. There were many others who criticized this advise over the years, because they felt that starting the downswing with the hands, would cause the average golfer to over use his hands, and bring the clubhead into the hitting position too fast for the body to catch up, resulting in many pulled or sliced shots. In fact, this criticism caused Snead to change his downswing advise to a turning of the hips, in some of his later instructional writings. Well Sam old boy, I am afraid you may have been right after all. Now, many times the way a swing feels, may not be what is actually happening. What was not emphasized enough, by the pros that advocated the pulling of the left hand in initiating the downswing, is that the feeling should be one of pulling straight down from the top. By pulling straight down, rather than feeling that the hands are moving toward the ball, will automatically push the hips forward, and start the turning and weight shifting process. I have utilized this straight down pulling action from the top for all of my shots, including, bunker shots, short pitches, and even chip shots. The easiest way I know how to describe it, is you get to the top of the swing, and pull the left hand straight down to the ground. Once I started doing this, many positive things started to happen.

My swing became more balanced, all the way to the end. My short game improved dramatically, and I had very few yipped chips, and short pitches. My bunker game slump came to an end. I began to work the ball much better, especially moving the ball from left to right, in a controlled manner. All of this resulted in improved ball striking, and better scores. Naturally, you are not going to see improvement in your scores unless you are making putts, and that is the final change I made. This will be the subject of tomorrow’s blog. I have made some philosophical changes in my putting and it does seem to be working. You will find out tomorrow, how I am now succeeding on the greens. I do not know how long any of this is going to last, but for right now it feels really good. Oh, and by the way, I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW.

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: 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.

Golf: Frustration

My last post was about frustration in general. This post is about what has frustrated me the most in my life, and that is golf. There is nothing, that even comes a close second. I have been playing golf since I was 8 years old, beginning in 1958. There were two years, 1964 and 1995, where I did not play at all. There have been years that I have played very little golf, due to other commitments. Since 1996 I have played regularly, at least 2 to 3 times per week. Since 2010, I have played at least 100 rounds every year. When I tell people this, they will comment that I should be able to play well, playing that often. If you are playing badly, it doesn’t make any difference how often you play, you are just playing badly often. The game has many ups and downs, which can be expected in any endeavor, but golf takes this to an extreme. What makes golf so frustrating? Let me count the ways.

Golf has many unique qualities, when compared with other sports, and I have written about them before. These unique qualities do contribute to some of the frustrations, but they are far from being the most frustrating thing about the game. The biggest frustration with golf, is how much your game changes from day to day. If I drove a car, like I play golf, I would have an accident, about every third trip. Right now I am going through a down time in my game, which has developed, into what I call, a full blown slump. About 10 days ago, I had, out of the blue, one my best rounds of the year, which enabled me to shoot my age of 71. In fact, I was going to write a blog about this accomplishment, going into fine detail about the round. However, I slowly, but surely, got back to my slump levels, which dampened my desire to write about the round, which now seemed like such a fluke. The next day I shot 76, and then the following day ballooned to an 86. Last week, due to some unforeseen circumstances, I was only able to play two rounds, and did not break 80, either round. Naturally, I was doing some certain swing feelings, when I shot the 71, and I thought wow, this could be what is going to lead me out of this slump. Wrong yip master. This happens all the time. The other frustrating thing about golf is just hitting horrible shots, that should be easy. Missing short putts is another wonderful facet of the game. Not being able to perform at your normal level, when the round is more important, is mystifying and frustrating. Playing well for about 14 holes and then shooting terrible for the last 4 is just another fun part of the game. It does not help, that you see all the same problems and issues at the highest level of the game.

So, how do I deal with the frustrations of my golf game? I have tossed wedges into the woods, never to be found. I have thrown at least 100 balls into various lakes and woods. Slamming a clubhead into the ground seems to relieve a lot of stress. Swearing seems like a nice senseless thing to do. Trying to put my foot trough the bottom of a golf cart, when I hit the accelerator, was another method, that seemed to have some merit. Frustration was a big part of the reason I did not play in 1995, and I almost quit in 2010. I just read my blog about frustration, and I don’t seem to recommend any of these methods. Maybe I am going to have to rewrite that blog. Anybody who plays golf at any level, goes through exactly what I have been describing. It is the nature of the game. If the frustrations of the game are just too hard to overcome, then getting away from it for awhile, or permanently, is a viable solution. Even though I wrote previously, that seeing the greatest players in the world go through the same thing, does not help, but there is some comfort in the fact, that you are not alone. My recommendation to avoid frustration with your golf game, is truly the only way to handle the problem. Other than quitting, how is that accomplished? It is not easy, but I believe there are a couple of things you can do. Have no expectation for any round of golf. When you have that unexpected great round, be happy, and then forget about it. Be ready for the surprises that can happen in any round of golf, good or bad. If you are ready for anything, then whatever happens is not a surprise. Remember, there is a solution out there, we just haven’t found it, yet.

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.

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