Handle the little things in life or they will handle you.

In a day and age when most gratification is expected to be immediate, sometimes the aforementioned ideas may be difficult indeed to implement.  It seems at times, as if there is an enormous amount of background noise in our lives which prevents us from accomplishing what are sometimes the simplest of tasks. It may sometimes seem as if there isn’t enough time in the day.  And yet the lore of Asatru has gone to great lengths to describe the who, what, when where and how of each day and night.  I don’t believe that those ideas are presented to us to further romanticize these ancient tales.  Furthermore it is not the length of the day which is the problem.  This time has been allotted to men and I assure you there is plenty of it.  The problem is we don’t know what to do with it.  But we are told in the Havamal exactly what to with it and I’ll tell you why.

  1. Give praise to the day at evening, | to a woman on her pyre,
    To a weapon which is tried, | to a maid at wed lock,
    To ice when it is crossed, | to ale that is drunk.
  2. When the gale blows hew wood, | in fair winds seek the water;
    Sport with maidens at dusk, | for day’s eyes are many;
    From the ship seek swiftness, | from the shield protection,
    Cuts from the sword, | from the maiden kisses.

Now we all understand that these are but just a few examples of things to do and when to do them.  We have a reasonable expectation that if we undertake these tasks, at this time, there is a high likelihood of a success in these endeavors.  Now take just a minute to think about what you do for a living or even the chores around the house and ask yourself if you have been able to implement a successful approach to accomplishing them or if you are easily distracted by what people sometimes refer to as loose ends.  Who said what on Facebook, an interesting email in the junk folder, a dynamic turn of events on your favorite show, the radio, a billboard, a newspaper headline? All of these things are designed to catch and hold your attention. All of them take us out of the Now.   Ninety percent of the time when I am counseling people, it has to do with something that has not happened yet or something which has caused them a great deal of pain in the past. Typically people have not been able to deal with it and it keeps them looking backwards.  Usually the two collide; the grief or regret about the past and the worry about the future and the noise in one’s mind is like the waves of the ocean. All of this makes it very hard to think in the Now- the Present.  Harvey MacKay, the well known envelope man whose columns concerning business are in syndication around the world, suggests that if you see one of your employees staring at the wall, don’t yell at him, shake his hand and congratulate him.  This is because he is thinking.  In his estimation; this is one of the most difficult things for a successful business person to accomplish.  It’s also a positive way to deal with daydreamers.

We’ve got to figure out how to tie up all of those loose ends which drive us to distraction. This is how I explained it to my son.  He wants to be a champion football player.  This requires dedication and lots of it. It also requires a great deal of focus.  So, the coaches put together 4 hour daily practices to do it over and over again until the motions, speed and assignments become almost secondary.  And yet the team across town is having state championship seasons with much less effort.  Both of the great football teams across town have multiple and sometimes consecutive 6A state championships in football.  It is old hat for them. They know what it is like to be in the big game. The worry of failure, the projection of defeat in their mind’s eye just is not there.  This allows them to spend a great deal of time on the things which matter. Step by step they understand how to build champions.  The coaches do their best to keep the boys from becoming distracted by all of the extraneous stuff kids are fascinated with and motivating them to take care of business.  I told my son to think of it like this: if you want to be a champion you know that you have to run faster, hit harder, follow the ball and be a true student of the game.  It requires your utmost and full attention when you are out there practicing. If you are worried about your grades, the trouble you got into last night, the mess you left in your room, or whether or not some girl likes you, every single one of these thoughts is pulling your attention away from coaches who are teaching you how to be just as good as they were.  If you take care of your grades, have respect for yourself and handle your chores and home life with respect, then you will be able to focus on learning how to hit harder, run faster, read the game and make the play and then you will be a champion!  No matter which direction from which you approach this issue, there are certain things you must take care of to get to where you want to be. Doing those routine tasks we all must deal with will not make us better at playing football, but when the coaches are talking, there is a far better chance that we will be able to actively listen.  H&R Block had a very successful “Well, my broker is HR Block” campaign.  In each commercial, everyone would stop what they were doing and focus on what the professional might be preparing to say. For us to stay in the now, focus on this moment and the opportunities for growth it provides; it seems imperative that we take the action necessary to enable us to focus with this same level of intensity.  This means that we need to get up and spend a certain amount of time handling the little details of living.

It is the same thing with surgeons, scientists, engineers, and any of a host of technical and scientific undertakings. The actual work environment has been created so as to minimize the distraction or contamination of the effort.  Whatever distractions are present were most likely brought to the workplace by the people themselves.  This is one of the reasons games are so successful and to some extent the military. Games provide a set course of action with a required set of motions to reach or achieve the desired goal, it’s all very structured and the reward is immediate. Our internet age is helping us focus alright, but not in any direction we need to be focused in.  It’s almost like a drug. Picture this, you come home from a dead-end job or one that doesn’t pay anything and figure “I’m going to relax a little.”  Some people have a beer, but there is a whole generation of people who have another way to succeed and feel good about themselves.  They sit down for a little game time. And when they are doing this I can assure you that they are focused on earning that reward of immediate gratification.  As soon as the game is over, it all comes rushing back in and all of those loose ends may be starting to fray a little.  Confusion, procrastination, and frustration become personal confidants and stop us right then and there. If our lives are to be successful, we have to align them with successful initiatives.  Just like we are told in the Havamal we must set ourselves up for success in the things we do. The military does this for literally millions of men and women the world over.  If you do this, this and this you will achieve this.  We’ve got to be able to do the same thing on a very personal level.  We need to be able to stop our brains from going into overdrive and take one thing at a time.  Every little step to be dealt with should be, so that when it comes time to achieve greatness or when the opportunity presents itself, we will not be paralyzed into inaction wondering what someone will think about you or if supper is burning.

That means paying the bills when they come in, avoiding the use a credit card. Make sure your insurance is in order. Use direct deposit whenever possible. If you cash your check at a check cashing place every Friday and pay even two dollars to do so, that is $104.00 a year in unnecessary fees. Debit cards and ATM’s as of 2011 were a $7 Billion a year enterprise.  If you use your card outside of your bank’s network the machine and the bank will both charge you.  All of this stuff adds up to keep your mind distracted from successfully doing or focusing on anything.  Then at some point, we begin to wonder “How did this happen?’ To avoid that feeling of falling behind or just making ends meet is as simple as taking care of the little things when they come up. Don’t borrow money from pawn shops and lenders.  You’ll lose your stuff and have to deal with daily phone calls. Skip that stop at the convenience store, recycle your aluminum cans, grow a container garden, make a sandwich for lunch instead of fast food.  Trim your expenses to a point where you can save some money.  Most importantly; write it all down and stick to it.  Remember; good enough is the enemy of great. The simple success in handling our business properly in this day and age will lay the groundwork for us to achieve some of those great things we all dream about.

And those dreams are important! Now that we are standing on new ground so to speak, we need to make sure our dreams are clearly outlined.  Notice I did not say achievable, I stated “clearly defined”.  There is a reason for that and that is I believe in this day and age, with all of the resources available to us and a powerful faith and confidence in ourselves the only thing stopping you is you. But jumping into a situation half-cocked and minimally prepared will be a forced lesson in humility and it can be avoided.

If you have listened to people, shown compassion to what they are thinking and saying, if you’ve allowed them to demonstrate their importance to you, if you have handled all of the little things in your life and worked as hard or harder than the man next to you and praised him for his own efforts, now just look at all of the little things you have just taken care of to become the best you, you can be. You will begin to realize that you have changed the circumstances in your life in such a way that you will now be able to undertake those opportunities which present themselves in your life when you are on the right track.  Imagine the places you will go.

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