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.

Anticipation: A Good Thing or a Bad Thing?

When I hear the word anticipation, it makes me think of two things. The first is the old-school Heinz Ketchup commercial. The second is Wayne Gretzky’s famous quote when asked: “How do you score so many goals?”

Let’s take these one at a time and see how they may apply to a greater sense of satisfaction in every-day life.

Anticipation (in the World of Ketchup)

A Heinz Ketchup advertising campaign in the 1970’s used the famous Carly Simon song, “Anticipation,” in all of their TV ads.

“Anticipation, it’s making me wait. It’s keeping me waiting.”

In this context, I choose to look at its meaning as I would the word patience–looking forward to a future occurrence.

The hope for the ketchup is that it eventually comes out of the bottle and onto your food. In every-day life, anticipation is about looking forward to [fill in the blank] — a summer vacation, a new car, going out to dinner with friends, attending a sporting event or concert etc.

But life is not ketchup. And while it’s perfectly understandable to anxiously await your ketchup hitting your burger, that may not be the best way to think about more important things in your life. I believe it is important to enjoy the journey or the process, too, on the way to your destination.

It’s like the old saying, “Stop and smell the roses.” There is greater meaning and a greater sense of satisfaction at the end when you’ve enjoyed the journey.

 Anticipation (from the Mouth of a Hockey Superstar)

Wayne Gretzky, arguably the best hockey player in history, has a very different view on anticipation. He was once asked by a reporter:  “How do you score so many goals?” He famously replied: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” In other words, anticipation.

What a great response (and visual) to describe his goal-scoring philosophy. Wayne would put himself in the best possible position, based on his decades of hockey knowledge and game-day experiences, to positively impact a future occurrence. In this case, it usually referred to scoring a goal.

In Wayne Gretzky’s world, it’s important to not only be aware of where you are now, but also where you are going. That’s anticipation in the most productive, positive sense.

So Is It a Good Thing or a Bad Thing?

Anticipation is a part of life. Everyone thinks about the future at one time or another. Sometimes it’s in a good way, and other times it’s in a less productive way.

I believe that the key to happiness and success is finding the right balance between “anticipation” and “presence.” In other words, enjoy today and prepare for tomorrow. It will make for a great journey and an even more satisfying result.

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.