The Art of the Chill

On Saturday, my lovely wife said to me, “You’re good at chilling”.

She has always known that although seeing me in my robe, on our country house terrace, reading a book as kids pranced around helped to give her the ultimate Gswede “chill” perspective.

My response to her:

“You’re right, I’ve always been.”

Chilling (or in non-slang terms, relaxing) has been prominent in my life for as long as I can remember.

I’ve always enjoyed my daily “Me Time” or being alone to relax my mind, body and soul.  I also find moments to relax on the rare occasions when I’m around stressful people or chaotic situations.  My life wouldn’t be as serene without the precious time I make to relax.

Even when you’re not alone, it’s not difficult to relax if you know how to do it.

Even with small kids, it’s possible although you need to be a “Michael Jordan” level relaxer to accomplish that. Some of my best and most relaxing moments have been alone with my children.

Deepak's words convey the importance::

Relaxation is the prerequisite

  For that inner expansion that allows a person

To express the source of inspiration and joy within
( Deepak Chopra)

The happiest and most well adjusted friends/acquaintances in my inner circle are master relaxers. They inspire me.

In addition, (and maybe most importantly), they are relaxed around their children which can only be a positive for nurturing a low stress and well balanced child

The aforementioned group also takes care of themselves FIRST as they know that they are able to serve others best if their soul is joyful and their mind clear despite life’s challenges.  If you asked them what are their top priorities, making time to relax would be near or at the top of their list.

As we all have seen, some people never seem to relax which probably stems from a variety of elements including but not limited to growing up with parents who more often than not kept them “doing something” instead of letting them learn to discover the beauty of relaxation or being a bit bored.

Boredom is something we all have to confront in life yet so many modern day parents with young children choose to keep their kids doing, doing and doing instead of giving them the freedom to deal with boredom or discover the adventure of life on their own. 

In my opinion, one of the best ways to relax is to let the “To Do” list wait. Doing so may ruffle some feathers or not sit well with the husband or girlfriend so keep that in mind.

That “To do” list will always be full in our hectic worlds so why not take the chance now and then to relax (especially if alone) instead of laborinng with tasks that are often tedious.

You might not want to take the “The Art of the Chill” to my level though as my wife recently said, “Sometimes you chill TOO MUCH”.  She’s right.....I need to work on that!

If you’re not someone who has mastered “The Art of the Chill”, I implore you to improve or seek help to learn.  If you can’t relax, what message/lesson do you think that sends to your children and/or loved ones?  And we know that being unable to relax isn’t a positive for anyone’s health.

If you care about “expressing the source of inspiration and joy within” that Deepak so eloquently writes about, then relaxing needs to be a part of your daily life in some form or fashion.

If not, your true happiness will probably stay hidden beneath the surface and your soul will be bubbling with anticipation for the joy to emerge.

One way to relax is to “Master your Me Time”.  A link to my article on the subject is below.

Master your "Me Time"

Whatever you choose to do, if you care about YOU, find a way to relax.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

Gswede basking in the warm sunshine on a lovely Swedish late afternoon.

Severely Disabled yet on the Treadmill

I found myself at the gym on 3 consecutive days last week. I was inspired to get into better shape by my wife as she is very consistent with her exercise.  I’m fortunate in that my weight doesn’t fluctuate, my health is terrific and I feel good almost every day despite inconsistent exercise.

Consistency is my aim as I know I can feel even better if I exercise more frequently. My body is already starting to feel stronger.

On the third day, a BIG dose of inspiration hit me. It was a “wow” moment.

It was 8am and I was warming up on the treadmill before my workout. The gym wasn’t crowded so it was easy to notice people.  I saw a guy come up to the treadmill who was mentally and physically disabled. I’ve never seen someone in his severe condition at any gym. He could barely walk on his own so his friend was guiding him.

Not soon after, he was on the treadmill doing his morning workout. What an inspiration! He was going along at a decent pace considering his limitations.  Later, I saw him downstairs attempting to do some other exercises.

I couldn’t help but think of the times I’ve a) been too lazy to run or b) not gone to the gym or worked out because I was tired. After seeing him, I hope those “lazy moments” disappear forever.

After a friend heard about this brief encounter, he wrote the following:

“I use to work with the Special Olympics and these special groups of people are truly inspiring. You will be surprised how much you enjoy working with them and how you will build some special relationships that you would truly cherish.”

I’ve read or seen many stories about Special Olympics although it was good to get that encouragement from someone who has previous experience. 

His encouragement went further:

“I would definitely think about doing some things with the special needs populations or the mentally disabled and mentally ill with your sports background.”

I do have some experience in that area as I’ve worked with a special needs 7 year-old boy for six months at his school. It was a tough yet worthwhile adventure. I learned quite a bit about myself and gained a better understanding of what individuals like him go through on a day to day basis.

Inspiration comes in many forms. This past week was a trifecta - (wife’s exercise consistency, disabled man’s ability and friend’s encouragement).

Three days in the gym and three doses of inspiration. Life is good.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

The Moat at a couple's castle - A lovely Sunday afternoon in southern Sweden

If Helped, Return the Favor when Asked

Few things in life irritate me. This is one that does.

Recently, Friend A asked Friend B for a minor favor – a favor most of us would have done without blinking an eye. Instead, Friend B selfishly voiced major complaints before finally agreeing to do it. I was beyond surprised that he didn’t freely and immediately say yes as Friend A helped him in a MAJOR way previously.

Without the help of Friend A, Friends B’s enormous task would have been much tougher and the outcome wouldn’t have been nearly as nice. He obviously didn’t appreciate what Friend A had done for him.

To put things in perspective without divulging their details, what Friend A was asking for was the equivalent of borrowing a car for one day while the major favor Friend B received from Friend A was equal to a car being loaned to him for six months.

I confronted Friend A and asked, “Why didn’t you mention what you did for him” as I knew that would enlighten his selfish act and make him act respectfully. Friend A wasn’t comfortable doing that.

My philosophy has always been:

If someone has helped you or been good to you in the past, you do everything in your power to help them when asked.  You might not be able to fulfil their need although the effort should always be made. 

You would be surprised how many times I’ve seen or heard of a person unwillingly to help someone who has helped them in the past.

Fortunately, I’ve only experienced it a few times. In those moments, I warmly and directly reminded the people what I had done for them in the past – kindnesses that usually required more effort than what I was asking for. After those conversations, I had no issues with the help I needed, including future requests.

The majority of people I’ve helped have bent over backwards to assist me when asked. And I have done the same for those who have been good to me or simply provided a helping hand to someone in need.  Helping one another is a beautiful thing and something that is essential to moving forward in our busy and often complex worlds. 

What I don’t mean to convey is that those you’ve helped owe you something. They don’t.  Helping people is what we should all do more freely and consistently.  But, when you ask for their help, they should be there with open arms.

One favor I needed (since I was asked for help) still touches my heart. A few years ago, I asked a friend in the USA for a favor – something that had to be done quickly.

The request was to deliver flowers to a woman who was visiting NYC for a cancer treatment. Another friend in Sweden was close to the woman (and her husband) yet had no way to have them delivered fast and inexpensively. He asked for my help because of my Manhattan connections.

I immediately got on the phone with my NYC pal and he sprang into action without hesitation; not only buying and delivering the roses but doing so with style and grace. The couple was touched that my friend in Sweden had thought of her and I was impressed by the eloquence of the delivery. I heard it was a lovely moment.

Helping people is what life should be about. Do it whenever and wherever you can. Even be pro-active sometimes by offering help before you are asked.

If someone has been good to you in the past or helped advance your being in life, don’t disrespect yourself or that person by NOT being open to assisting them if asked. It’s the right thing to do.

“People nevor forget that helping hand especially when times are tough” -- (Catherine Pulsifer)

Happy Gswede Sunday!

My son and friends excited before the summer circus in August!