Developing control

Human beings have a natural tendency to control. You see it on many levels. We try to arrange and decorate our homes in a way that satisfies us. It may be an image we are trying to project, and the process of control would manifest itself in decorating our homes to reflect this. If you want to project a glamorous lifestyle, you fill your home with glamorous things, perhaps such as expensive art, or pictures or artifacts from far-flung places. If you want to have a functional home, or if perhaps your lifestyle demands so, then you would fill it with multifunctional furniture.

But it is not just physical surroundings that people try to order. We control our relationships with others this way too. For example, we join groups or clubs that we have an affinity with. We go out with people whose company we enjoy. At the root level there is still a level of control at play. After all, being surrounded by people who have little in common with you, or those you are not familiar with is hard work.

In our work, too, there is a need to develop mastery of tasks instead of being controlled by our circumstances. For instance, developing knowledge and experience to deal with situations is what people get paid for! If a firm wants to hire a banker to make money, they go for someone who has sound financial knowledge and the experience to deal with emerging situations.

It is a good idea to involve ourselves in situations that demand control over a multiplicity of tasks. Learning driving? You have to manipulate controls while instinctively looking out the window instead of blindly adhering to the steering wheel. You can even start people younger with music lessons, where individuals have to adapt to read music, manipulate the instrument, while receiving aural feedback and attuning to it. The Finsbury Park piano teachers website estimates that it is learning to manage six or seven different tasks at the same time!

Control is an essential aspect. Developing control is the way we remain positive about our ability and our skills, and ultimately our place in the world. It may be worthwhile, hence, to involve youngsters in areas such as sport or music to develop control and refinement.

Going on holiday!

Why do people go on holiday? For most of us, the main reason would be to get away from the daily grind, to do something away from what is a mundane life. Now there is nothing wrong with doing the same thing over and over again. Many people, especially those with children, may appreciate that level of familiarity of daily life. Where some may point to their lives as mundane and boring, others might appreciate that the lack of excitement and adrenaline-inducing work might free them with energy to spend elsewhere. There is nothing wrong with routine. But holidays are a good way to break up the regularity of things because with regularity comes stagnation, and then trying to find something interesting to go into work for becomes difficult.

You can see it in people whose jobs involve a great deal of repetition. Checkout supervisors, shelf stackers, or other occupations that involve manual repetition are those hit most by routine. Unfortunately, manual jobs – such as those involving physical work such as road sweeping – are the most important, yet pay the least because of the perception that they don’t involve much thinking and are hence not highly skilled. Those who need a break most are the ones most unlikely to be able to afford it!

With a new year, why not seize the chance to take a break? Start the year with a fresh approach and you will remember in years to come about the time when you went away on New Year’s Day, and it will give you the positive motivation to face new opportunities and start new phases in life. Now it might not need to be an expensive affair, with bargains to be had from every corner – you need not have to fly overseas; you can go somewhere on a train. Or if you really cannot afford the cost or the time away, maybe do something new like learn a musical instrument or pick up a different skill – you will feel refreshed for it, and it will give you a welcome distraction over the course of the year. Until the next resolution!

The Case of Chopin: To go or not to go?

For many years Katherine Hough, now a twenty-seven year old woman, suffered excruciating pains in her body that made daily life difficult. She seemed to suffer from strange symptoms that started out from a sense of unease and tiredness and progressed on to stomach pains. And when she was off at University her health declined even more. She began to faint frequently. Her hair fell out. She suffered from severe joint pains and was often simply just tired. Her mother thought it was down to what she termed a hectic student lifestyle. Then Katherine visited her GP.

For many of us a trip to the GP may come perhaps at too late a stage. We all suffer from niggles here and there which do not warrant a trip to the doctor’s – such as having a cold and a temperature. In fact, the better thing to do would be to have a rest at home instead of trekking out to the doctor’s office, possibly infecting other patients, or picking up something worse from the airborne atmosphere of ill patients. What do you do? You simply phone in work or school and then leave a message to say you are unwell.

This may be the most common occurrence in Great Britain, but strangely enough, in the Far East, in some countries you are expected to go to the doctor’s to be certified unwell, receive a medical certificate advising of home rest of a certain duration (usually two days’ leave for a temperature or a cold) then produce this certificate when you return to work or school. This medical certificate, or MC as it is commonly abbreviated to, is your proof that you were unwell and a legal work requirement in some countries.

Imagine have to trek to the doctor’s for him or her to write you a note, telling you that you are unwell when you already know that in the first place!

Footballers have to continually find a balance between playing, or knowing they cannot perform at their best. Arsenal captain Mesut Ozil has often been slated for missing big games with colds, but perhaps it is good to give up your place to a team mate who can do better if you cannot perform to your best.

The classical piano composer Frederic Chopin died young – on a trip to Majorca in the winter, he and his partner George Sand failed to find accommodation and had to seek refuge in an abandoned monastery. Chopin was quite frail anyway, but no doubt spending a whole winter in the wet and without heating didn’t do much good for him! Perhaps he should have sought medical help instead of toughing it out. Always two sides to a tale!