Worrying

I’ve never met anyone who didn’t worry about something at some point or another. The things that are of concern to one person could very well be things that another person will never care about, ever. After having personally wasted too much time and energy worrying about things that I can’t do anything about, and even things that I can do something about, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not worth it to worry about anything.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t ever be concerned about anything, but first, evaluate whatever it is that you’re concerned with and determine if it’s something you, or anyone in your circle of influence, has the power to change. If scientists are right, the world is going to be devoured in a firey death in a few billion years. Is it something worth fretting over? I don’t think so, because even if I would be alive to experience it, there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it.

Yes, something like the end of the world is a macro event and it’s very easy to see how it’s something a person can’t control, and therefore shouldn’t worry about. Here’s an example that you’re more likely to run into. The actions of other people. Think about it. As much as you’d like to, you can’t control what another person thinks or does, so why worry about it? Why let something you can’t control take up so much of your energy?

When it comes to the acts and opinions of others, it’s something that many people seem to think that they do have the power to control, and while you can certainly influence it, don’t fool yourself into thinking that anyone has the ability to force another person to do anything they don’t want to. Instead of worrying about what a person thinks, it’s a much better use of your resources to control the one thing you can do something about, yourself.

In the example of the actions of others, worrying about it isn’t going to affect what they think, but what will affect the outcome is what you do with their actions. Instead of quickly reacting, taking the time to process what happened and responding in an appropriate manner will yield a much better result. What about something less tangible? Something like worrying about your car getting broken into while you’re attending an event in a part of town you’ve never been to before? Instead of worrying all night, why not do the best you can ahead of time to find a good place to park and then enjoy yourself at the event? Your concern isn’t going to make your car any safer, so why take up time and energy pondering it?

Whether it’s the bully threatening to beat you up after school, your car potentially getting keyed in a sketchy neighborhood, the amount of your next utility bill or yes, even the firey demise or our planet, worrying isn’t going to help make the situation better. Make the effort to educate yourself about the situation, take any appropriate steps to prepare yourself, and then go on and life your life. It’s too short to be wasted contemplating every bad outcome, and if I’ve learned anything in my three decades on this planet, it’s that most of that bad stuff will never happen anyway.

Helpless

Tonight I witnessed something beyond upsetting. The President’s speech on the debt crisis was surreal enough, but what followed from the Speaker of the House just made the situation even more bizarre. As I sat watching the two elected leaders speak I couldn’t help but think that this seemed like a scene from a poorly written movie. It seems like everyone I know, that is to say, normal people, know that we need substantial reform, we need compromise and we need to do something. Right now our country is being held hostage by unwavering ideologues. This will not end well.

I’m usually pretty good at taking a complex problem, breaking it down into manageable tasks and then working through them in order to accomplish that greater goal. In this case, I think everyone knows what needs to be done, we even know how to get there, but unlike most situations where you may only have a few people working on the problem, not only do we have people not willing to work on the task at hand, but they’re working against the people who are trying to get something done.

I’ve never understood why in Congress can’t pass the parts of a bill that they do agree on quickly, then go back and debate the pieces that they disagree on. It’s come up time and time again, some times with more serious consequences than others. What makes me sick over this is that when it’s all said and done, all of the harm that is being done to our country will not affect the people who did the harm. Sure, they may not get re-elected, but even a petty thief gets a harsher punishment than the worst that the people who are running our nation into a ditch will get.

Our political system is broken. I fear it’s getting to the point that it’s beyond repair. Unfortunately, the only people with the power to change it are the very people who are abusing the broken system. Tonight I’ve never felt more helpless about the future of my nation. I really don’t know what I can do to help fix it, and that scares me beyond words.

Opinions

Everyone has opinions and while I am a believer of the mindset that opinions can’t be wrong because they’re subjective, I am certainly suspect to how opinions, including my own, are formed. Opinions aren’t formed in a vacuum, they are shaped by a lifetime of experiences. Some are more important than others, but the sum of those opinions and the decisions we make because of them shape who we are as a person.

Today when someone I greatly respect made a comment dismissing food as disgusting by merely looking at the packaging, I was disturbed. Delving further I’d discovered they never tried it, but they felt it was necessary to say “Ewwww!” Does someone’s opinion of a food item in and of itself make a hoot of difference? Probably not, but it says a lot about someone. If you’re that quick to pass judgement on something as insignificant as a pastry without getting the whole story, what else are you forming opinions on that way?

Take the time to learn more about something before you form an opinion on it. If it’s a new food, try it before you say it’s disgusting or delicious. If it’s a town, visit it before saying you think it’s terrible or incredible. If it’s a new person, get to know them before you swoon or cast them aside. I think we’ve all been guilty of forming an opinion on something or someone without giving it due diligence. In the end, we may not agree on our opinions about something, but at least we can be informed about them.

Showing Up

Ideas are a dime a dozen and promises are easy to make, but what separates the dreamers from those who are actually making a difference is one thing. Their willingness to show up. If you come up with a great way to improve your workplace, but you do nothing to see it come to fruition, then your idea isn’t making a bit of difference. True, most ideas require the involvement of more than one person. A team effort isn’t something that happens by itself, it takes a commitment from multiple people. Whether it’s your job, a volunteer organization or a group of friends, if you do make the commitment to do something, either by following up on an idea to improve a process, create a new one, or even just to attend an event, if you don’t do it, it says a lot about you.

Certainly things happen and life can hamper the best of intentions, but if you’re constantly unreliable, it’s something that is going to be remembered about you and when opportunities stop coming your way, you’ll have no one to blame but yourself. I’m certainly guilty of not following through on things in the past and it’s something I’m continuing to work on, because, to quote the great Keanu Reeves, “one of the most important things in life is showing up,” and I want to be there when great things unfold.

Map Maker

Today Google tweeted about a guy who decided to map Kazakhstan. Yes, the entire country. For those of you who don’t want to go read the news article, the summary is that Kyril Negoda discovered that his home country wasn’t mapped on Google, so he took it upon himself to use Google’s Map Maker tool to map it himself.

This article, combined with sightings of the Google Street View car in Bethlehem today inspired me to check out Map Maker for myself. It’s pretty easy to get the hang of and after a bit of playing around with it I managed to add the building at Penn State Lehigh Valley and Nittany Lion to the map. It’s a community reviewed project, so everything you do has to be approved by other users before it shows up on live Google Maps.

As someone who has been into mapping things for a few years now, this is pretty cool, since it’s helping improve maps for everyone, not just myself. I’m not sure how items for review get queued up, but I’m hoping someone will finally push through the change that it’s no longer Lehigh Valley College and that it’s Penn State Lehigh Valley at that location, considering that Penn State has been operating at that site since 2009.

If you’ve ever used Google Maps and noticed that something you looked up was inaccurate or if you ever wanted to add some more detail to a map, I encourage you to check Map Maker out. It’s fun, easy to use and helps make maps more accurate for everyone.