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“Before you marry a person, you should first make them use a computer with slow internet service to see who they really are.”
– Will Ferrell  
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  Volume No. 16 Issue No. 2 February 2019  

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  Pack lightly
  By Mark Stoller

   Mark Stoller is a nine-year resident of Colorado. He and his wife, Andra, both U.S. Air Force veterans, moved to Falcon in 2007 and are now raising their three teenage daughters in Latigo. They enjoy their home on the prairie with plenty of room for their six adopted dogs, bagpipes & Celtic Festivals and beekeeping. Mark enjoys the privilege of his wife and daughters being his muse for topics, people to meet and places to investigate.
Bear Grylls, former British Special Forces soldier, reality show host and survival expert draws a parallel between the gear people pack for expeditions and the gear we pack for dealing with life. Unnecessary gear becomes too much baggage, and too much weight only slows you down. In life, too many emotional hang-ups (expectations, fear, anxiety) and baggage from the past weigh us down and distract from the joy we could be seeking instead.
   On a grander scale, if we look at the fabric of American society, it is torn and disheveled. Civil discourse is dead. Today, one side of a given disagreement screams their beliefs at the other to silence any difference of ideals. The societal norms pendulum has swung from conservative order toward blatant in-your-face chaos. We are enveloped by negativity and character assassination.
   How do we stay above the ruckus and fray in our own travels and adventures? How much burden and baggage do you carry every day to weigh down your daily path?
   We must choose to maintain a positive attitude, or as Bear says, to pack lightly.
   The Roman Stoic philosopher, Seneca, once wrote, “We suffer more from imagination than from reality.” Reread the sentence, let it sink in for a moment, and see if you can relate.
   This quote grabbed my attention to the point of studying and applying Stoicism to my own life. There’s a great difference between the philosophy of Stoicism and Webster’s definition. The word “stoic” defines the ability to endure hardship without showing feelings or complaining.
   Comparatively, the philosophy of Stoicism proclaims the virtues that lead to happiness are self-control, courage, justice and wisdom. It’s our perception of events and people –- rather than the events and people themselves –- that cause most of our trouble in life. Our focus should be on what we can control and the discipline to choose how we react to the events and people we can’t control.
   Our time is something we should control and treat as a valued possession. Social media is one of the worst time robbers around. How often do we see people with their faces glued to their phone instead of to the person across the table from them? How have they benefitted from each other’s company by staring at a stupid phone and not talking or sharing an experience? We’re alive now and need to choose quality activities and to build memories.
   While we fill up our lives and schedules with hustle and bustle, the inability to say, “No,” can steal happiness, too. Invitations and requests for activities in which you don’t care to partake infringe on your valued time. The inability to say, “No,” to consuming emotions such as anger, hurt and obsession can also take us away from where we would rather be and quickly overwhelm.
   While it may upset your friends and family, you owe it to yourself to get in the practice of saying, “No thank you” or “not right now” or “no, I am not going to get caught up in that.” Take control of your life, direct your efforts and stay on the path leading to the feeling of time well spent and contentment.
   In a world of negativity, sometimes you just have to blaze your own trail. Robert O’Neill is the Navy SEAL famous for killing Osama bin Laden. He’s taken no end of grief from civilians, SEAL teammates and Internet trolls for coming forward. When asked how he deals with constant criticism, O’Neill said, “Do you really want to sit around in the cesspool with the negativity? Positivity gets us everywhere.”
   To reiterate Bear Grylls’ message — pack light in life. Positive attitude is king, and it is the greatest resource we all have inside.
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