How To Survive The Election

Everything coming at us right now is purposefully designed to unsettle us. We have to work to be settled in an environment like this. Here are three simple steps you can take to find peace in the midst of the chaos, and likely help others around you do more of the same:

1) Control Your Inputs.

A friend told me yesterday that he needs to replace the screen on his brand new, fancy-schmancy, big-screen OLED television. You know why? Because the banner running across the bottom of the screen of his news channel of choice has scorched itself into the screen. I didn’t even know that was possible.

Turn off Fox News. Turn off CNN. The former has a daily show called “Special Report,” a phrase that was once reserved for something that was Earth-shattering news, and the latter has a daily show called “The Situation Room,” which used to be an actual place in the West Wing of the White House reserved for the most serious of situations are discussed.

No, I’m not suggesting you should be uninformed or fast completely from watching the news, but how can you control those inputs better? For me, I swore off TV news years ago because it seems endemically prone to sensationalism and bias (although yes, everything is biased).

I prefer to read my news through an old-fashioned daily national newspaper and a daily email newsletter that doesn’t take itself too seriously, both with a financial/business bent. Then, I check a few currated newsworthy sources on Twitter a couple times a day.

But most importantly, if I sense my anxiety level rising, I shut down all inflows, because in order to best impact those in my sphere of influence, it’s better to be at peace than to be informed.

2) Broaden your perspective.

The present becomes the past instantaneously. Today becomes yesterday and this year becomes last year. “Can you believe?” becomes “Remember when?” much faster than it feels in the moment.

Whatever happens on Tuesday, it, too, will become the norm and subsequently, history.

3) Practice gratitude and empathy.

Well, I never thought I’d do this, but I’m going to quote Tony Robbins, because he’s just plain right:

You can’t be angry and grateful simultaneously. You can’t be fearful and grateful simultaneously. So, gratitude is the solution to both anger and fear, and instead of just acting grateful, I think of specific situations that I’m grateful for, little ones and big ones. I do it every single day.

Tony Robbins

And if you were as surprised as I was that I quoted Robbins, now I’m going to go off the deep end and quote Kanye West, but only because his presidential candidacy is entirely lacking in viability:

Empathy is the glue.

Kanye West

Practicing gratefulness is an inward step that can be insurance against anger and fear–and practicing empathy, putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, is an outward step that almost immediately eliminates the barriers between us as humans.

And maybe there’s another lesson in there someplace…that it’s possible to find Truth in unlikely places?

For further reading:

Gratitude and Gratuity

by Jim Stovall

During the current economic downturn, I realize many businesses and individuals are having a difficult time making ends meet.

Recently, my coauthor Tim Maurer and I released a book dealing with money and personal finance (  As a result of the publicity and promotion of that book, I have had the opportunity to talk with many groups and individuals about the economy, budgets, and personal finances.  While speaking to a group of people who work in the restaurant and food industry, I was shocked to find out how much economic conditions affect consumers’ tipping practices.

My first life experience in the world of business and commerce involved delivering newspapers.  I quickly discovered if I was reliable, dependable, got the newspaper on the porch or where the customer wanted it, and kept it dry during inclement weather, I could receive some generous tips.  I found that good service often brings a disproportionately higher tip.  This is to say that many times for slightly exceeding expectations, you can receive a tip two or three times larger than you would otherwise expect.

When you and your family or colleagues go out to eat, everyone knows that the standard expectation for tipping is a minimum of 15%.  If you cannot afford to comfortably pay for your meal and minimal tip within the context of your budget, you simply cannot afford to eat out.  Regardless of your personal financial condition or the prevailing economic trends, the person who serves you deserves to be compensated appropriately.

Experts disagree on how you should handle substandard or poor service.  Some feel you should not tip at all or limit your tip while others feel you should discuss your situation with your server or, better yet, management.  I feel if you’re going to withhold a tip, the server should understand why.  Withholding a tip should indicate the service was so poor that if your meal had been deficient to the same extent, you would discuss not paying your bill with the management.

Apparently, many consumers find a number of minor complaints in their own minds sufficient enough to withhold the tip, but they never express their displeasure or the reason for their actions with the server.  Tips are discretionary as are most standard expectations in polite society.  If you withhold a tip without discussing it with your server, it says more critical things about you than the waiter or waitress.

I have a personal problem with establishments that put a standard gratuity on the bill.  I guess there’s nothing wrong with it if it’s disclosed up front, but I simply think the practice defeats the time-honored tradition of tipping.  Invariably if there is a mandatory tip already added to my bill, that is generally all I will pay.

One of my favorite quotes from President Harry Truman says, “We will give millions for charity but not one penny for tribute.”  President Truman was expressing the sentiment that we enjoy being generous but not having things taken from us or required of us by people who feel entitled to what we have.

As you go through your day today, remember the people who serve you, and treat them as you would want to be treated.

Today’s the day!