Finding Your “Me Time” (and How to Use It Wisely)

The hustle and bustle of daily life can feel like it’s eating up every minute of every day. How many times have you said: “There aren’t enough hours in the day,” or “I’m so busy I can barely breathe.” Translation: you need some “me time”.

The Importance of “Me Time”

If you are like most people, your daily task list includes: spouse and/or children tasks, work tasks, house tasks, pet tasks, sports/club/group tasks (and more)! There is, however one glaring omission from this exhaustive list: the me time” task. That’s the time when it’s all about you.

Can you remember, the last time you had time to or for yourself? How about the last time you were alone and it was so quiet you could actually hear yourself think? It’s probably been a while.

These opportunities, while limited, often provide a way for people to take a temporary time-out from the roller coaster of life and check-in with their inner voice. This is when you can really reflect on your life, your decisions, and your state of emotional being.

3 Questions You May Ask Yourself

When you finally have the time to get deep in your thoughts and connect with your inner self, your mind is likely to wander to these three important questions.

1. Am I on the right track in life? As I’ve said many times before, time is precious and life moves at warp speed. If you listen closely, your inner voice will tell you whether or not you are on the right track. If you find that you are on the right life-track, great. If you realize that you took a temporary detour, you can make the necessary changes to get your life back on track.

2. Is my life filled with joy or tension? All of us need to be surrounded by positive influences in our life — be it people or activities. Your inner voice will let you know honestly and objectively whether you’ve been successful at that. Is your life filled with people and activities that bring you joy and pleasure or stress and tension? Negativity breeds negativity. You set a high standard and bring a lot to your relationships. Expect the same from those you consider part of your inner circle.

3. Does my life have purpose and meaning? This is a topic that is often overlooked, but I believe that individuals derive a lot of their personal happiness and self-worth from it. Feeling like you have purpose and meaning could mean having a job that you love, being involved in rewarding volunteer work, or raising good children. When people feel they’re making a difference in their little corner of the world, they typically feel good about themselves and their lot in life. On the other hand, when people feel that they are just spinning their wheels, it can lead to unhappiness and discontent. That can have a ripple effect on many aspects of their life.

If you listen closely to your inner voice you will usually find the answers to these three important questions. So next time you’re working on your to-do list, add one more item to it. Your “me time.” This bit of self reflection may lead to more long-term happiness than you could ever imagine.

Lose the Battle Win the War

I believe that the topic of winning is one that’s rare and special enough that you just can’t write enough about it. Today’s theme, as the title of this blog post implies, relates to the wise saying “lose the battle win the war.” I’ve found that very few successes in life, at least for me, have come without hard work and, in most cases, also rebounding from a loss or a setback.

In a previous blog entry, which I called “What Is the Definition of Winning in a Cancer Battle?,” I wrote about what it means to win from the perspective of legendary Green Bay Packers head football coach Vince Lombardi. That’s definitely worth reading. But today we’re taking a different perspective.

Winning, According to Aerosmith

As you know, my love of music often leads me to quoting song lyrics as a way to convey important life messages.

In Know Your Enemy, the 1st edition, Chapter 9 (titled “Winning Is A Mindset”) I articulated a perspective on winning that ties into the following verse from Aerosmith’s classic song, Dream on. It has one of my favorite rock song phrases of all time.

Yeah, I know nobody knows

Where it comes and where it goes

I know it’s everybody’s sin

You’ve got to lose to know how to win.

Do you get where I’m going with this?

Winning the Cancer Battle

To me, those lyrics put into words what I took away from both encounters with cancer; that you’ve got to lose or give up the sense of being in control or controlling the treatment outcome — to know how to prepare yourself to win your battle against this enemy.

During the early stages of fighting cancer, many people will begin to feel — and maybe even believe — that they are in the driver’s seat when it comes to effectively managing their cancer treatment. Chances are they are not.

There very well may come a time in this journey when no matter how much spirit you bring to the battle, the tables will turn and the feelings will become one of helplessness or vulnerability. It’s equivalent to someone grabbing the steering wheel while the car is still going down the road.

The Aerosmith lyrics I quoted describe this sensation; that is, one of losing your way and sliding back, then learning how to release control.

Surviving the “Losing” Part of Lose the Battle, Win the War

And while I am using music and lyrics to emphasize the keys points about winning is this blog, I can’t think of a better anthem then Argent’s Hold Your Head Up to help pick you up through the difficult times in your cancer journey.

And if it’s bad

Don’t let it get you down, you can take it.

And if it hurts

Don’t let them see you cry, you can make it.

Hold your head up oh, hold your head up oh.

Hold your head up oh, Hold your head high.

Every successful journey includes minor setbacks along the way. My best advice to you, your loved one, or anyone you know who is fighting cancer is this: be prepared to have the steering wheel torn out of your hands at one point or another. That doesn’t mean you’ve lost. It just means you’ve hit a pothole. And once you’ve survived that, any future potholes seem a lot less scary.

“Thank You:” The Most Powerful Phrase

Think about it. What phrase makes you smile more than almost any other? What phrase makes you feel good? Or feel appreciated? I would venture to say that the words “thank you” make up one of the most powerful two-word (non-profanity-laced) phrases in the English language. Why is this? Let’s start exploring.

Breaking Down the Meaning

Merriam-Webster defines the word thank as: to express gratitude to (and I would add) or appreciation for. The word you is defined as: the one or ones being addressed.

So, put together the phrase “thank you” is: a polite expression of gratitude to or appreciation for an act, offer, service etc.

But somehow, this doesn’t seem to do it justice. Individually, these are just two ordinary words in the English language. Together, they take on a life of their own.

Research shows that hearing the word “thank you” truly does make a difference. And that people tend to underestimate the power of saying thanks.

What “Thank You” Makes Me Think of

When I hear the phrase “thank you,” I’m reminded of the Dido song “Thank You,” written and performed by English singer/songwriter Dido and released on Dido’s 1999 debut album No Angel. The first line of the chorus, to me, captures the true power this phrase packs into two lines:

I, want to thank you, for giving me, the best day of my life
Oh, just to be with you, is having, the best day of my life

As Dido’s song points out, there may only be one feeling equal to or better than being the beneficiary of a nice gesture or an act of kindness. That would be being the recipient of the gratitude or appreciation expressed by the receiver of a “good deed.”

The power-phrase “thank you” also reminds me of the many acts of kindness directed toward my mother (Maxine) and wife (Alyson) during their battles with cancer. In the Acknowledgements section of Know Your Enemy, I had a four-page thank you to all of the special individuals that touched our lives. I want to take this opportunity to publicly share two passages from the book:

Each of them (Max and Alyson) literally had “an army” of supporters that were with them every step of the way. I want to thank this special group of individuals for their many acts of kindness and prayers during our greatest time of need. This group included: family members, longtime friends, neighbors, classmates, work colleagues, church parishioners, and fellow cancer patients…

Max and Alyson were blessed with an exceptional group of highly-skilled healthcare professionals – warriors in their own right – who cared for them and worked tirelessly on the frontlines every day of our battles…

Harnessing the Power of “Thank You”

In this informal age of email and texting communications, individuals tend to be less likely to acknowledge and respond to written acts of kindness (e.g., a referral request, an answer to a question, a special recommendation). I personally, don’t view this as progress or as Martha Steward would say as…”a good thing.”

So maybe it’s time to take a good look at yourself and how often you stop and say “thank you” when people help you whether it’s a small favor (like taking in your mail) or a huge one (like caring for you when you’re sick).

If you are currently going through a major health matter, a personal or professional challenge or a typical life issue, hopefully, you have a strong support network that you can rely on for strength and assistance.

Just remember, most friends and family members will rally, when called upon, to help fellow loved ones in their times of needs. Oftentimes, these special individuals only want to be asked to help and directed as to how they can help.

And when the help is delivered, in whatever form it is required, a sincere recognition of the gratitude and appreciation followed by the power-phrase “thank you.”

How do you feel when people say “thank you”? Do you think you say it enough? Do other people? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

You Get What You Need

I was thinking about The Rolling Stones Classic “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” single off of their 1969 “Let It Bleed” album. More specifically, I was focusing on the depth behind the second half of that line “But if you try sometimes, you might just find, you get what you need.

How many times have you really wanted something only to find when you finally get what you want, it’s not really what you expected. Or even more important, it’s not what you thought you needed?

You Get What You Want vs. You Get What You Need

There are so many great examples of this in life: seeking something and then realizing after we get it that it’s not what we really needed. We all have our own stories. Love and money tend to be a part of many of them.

For example, you really want to make more money. So you leave your current job and take another job that pays you $10,000 more a year. That’s what you want. But after you make the change you realize that the pay raise isn’t changing your life all that much. Maybe it’s letting you go out to dinner more or lease a more expensive car. But that’s not making you happy. Meanwhile, the new job is incredibly demanding (What do you expect for more money?) and it’s taking that free time that you’d like to spend going out to dinner and making you stay late at work. You don’t like the people you work with as much and you miss your old life.

You got what you wanted. You didn’t get what you really needed.

Figuring Out Want vs. Need

Life has a funny way of tempering or grounding our envisioned wants or desires.  I’ve found on my journey that the harder I try to get what it is that I think I really want, the greater the obstacles or road-blocks keeping me from reaching or attaining “my desired want.” It’s almost as if a giant Detour sign (see Follow the Signs blog post) has been placed directly in my path. And it’s flashing… “You are about to make a really big mistake… Are you sure you want to go here?”

I’ve learned over time to adhere to the detour sign and have found that this acceptance and patience is oftentimes rewarded with an outcome better suited for me and even greater than I could have ever imagined.

When it comes to making key decisions in life, I’ve found that having the patience to really assess and think through my options–followed by an acceptance of those options based on a present-day reality–usually enable me to get more than what I need.

Keep an eye out for the detour signs in your life. Be introspective and take the time to assess your options. It will help you ensure that you get what you need more often than not.

Sometimes we can learn a lot from music. The Rolling Stones are a great example. Many of their songs, including “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” can teach us some good life lessons. We just have to listen–both to them and to ourselves.