Top Five New Years’ Resolutions from the Wisdom of Taxi Drivers

By Ran Zilca
Taxi

2014 has been a year of travel for me. I found myself flying domestically and internationally very often, and taking long cab rides to and from airports. If you travel much, you know that most taxi drivers do not notice much about their passengers, but there is a small group of drivers that represent the village elders of our society. These are the drivers who spend their entire workdays listening to people and observing their behavior, and over time model their collective stories into insightful life-perspectives. If you are lucky (as I have been on several occasions), such drivers will share their advice with you, and anchor it in a good story that will help you pass the time on your ride.

Here is some free advice I was able to gather from taxi drivers that I decided to adopt as my 2015’s New Years’ resolutions:

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Your Inventory of Good

By Ran Zilca
Gratitude

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines gratitude as “a feeling of appreciation or thanks”, and appreciation as “an ability to understand the worth, quality, or importance of something”. To be grateful is to run an inventory-check of the good things in your life, and to be reminded of their value. It’s an interesting exercise, because when you do it you often realize that the list is longer than you thought, and that each item on it has immense. It is well-known people often realize the value of things only when they no longer have them – it is easier to assess the value of a loss. Being grateful means that you check the balance of your life-account intentionally. You don’t have to lose it to appreciate its wealth, and when you find it, it’s like finding a treasure or winning the lottery.

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Stop Looking. Open Your Eyes and Start Seeing.

By Ran Zilca
Looking but not seeing

A few days ago I gave my daughter a ride back from school. It was a sunny fall day, and the sky was clear blue. We both enjoyed the cool air and remained quiet, looking out the window, taking it all in, and postponing the typical “how was your day” conversation. When we arrived at our street, she looked up to the top of the trees that are lined up on both sides of the road, broke the silence, and said: “These trees are really beautiful. Were they always here?” And indeed, the trees were beautiful that afternoon, dressed in colors of fall, their tops touching each other, forming a tunnel that enveloped the road. Of course, they were always there, on the daily route back from school. Yet in the two years since we had moved, my daughter and I never really noticed them.

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How to Buy Happiness Instead of Selling It

By Ran Zilca
Money

Life before money was sometimes unbearable. Let’s say you had two goats, some homegrown tomatoes, and a sack of salt, and you needed eggs. You would try to find someone who had eggs, but is in dire need of one of the things you have. If it turned out that the guy with the eggs actually needed lettuce, you would try to facilitate a three-way deal, trading some of your salt, goat-milk, or tomatoes for lettuce, so you can trade it back for eggs. If the eggs-guy was still around by the time you got the lettuce, you would be in luck. If not, you would make yourself a lettuce and tomato salad.

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Reality isn’t Really Real

By Ran Zilca
Reality isn't really real

Pause for a second, and turn your look away from this screen. What is the reality that you see around you? What are the objects, their colors, and their shapes? Are they in motion or are they still? This reality that you see is the world as it is right here and now. It may seem that you are outside of it, and simply observing it. Yet this reality is not outside of you. It only exists in your mind, and you view it through your own unique lens, filtered by your senses, your memories, your mood, and by your thoughts. A different person would look through his or her own perspective, and may describe a vastly different reality, as if the two of you are not at all in the same place and time.

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Coulda Woulda Shoulda – How choosing your words defines your future

By Ran Zilca
Coulda Woulda Shoulda

As kids, we didn’t have dreams. We had plans. We planned to become astronauts, rock stars, movie stars, authors, and inventors. These were never dreams. They were very concrete plans. But with age, the language started shifting. We started saying “I may” instead of “I will”, and “someday” instead of “when I grow up”. Plans turned into to dreams, and for many of us, the language shifted even further, until we were left with “Coulda Woulda Shoulda”, abandoning or dreams and our plans.

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What Lesson Can Our Children Teach Us about Finding Meaning at Work?

By Ran Zilca
Pail and shovel

Last Saturday I went the beach with my family. The days are the last days of summer. The sun was comforting, the breeze was cool, and everyone at the beach were in a wonderful mood. Everyone but me. I couldn’t quite tell why I was groggy. I had no imminent reason to be upset or worried, but it was one of those mornings where you feel like everyone conspired to annoy you. Most likely, I was probably overworked and needed some downtime with my family – at the beach…

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Three Bedtime Reflection Routines that Will Help You Sleep Better

By Ran Zilca
Good Sleep

 

There’s a lot going on in the critical moments when you lie in your bed with your eyes closed. As you slowly fall asleep, your brain goes through the gradual process of disengaging from the external world, and quieting your normal train of thoughts. At first, the brain exhibits increased alpha activity, and you start to relax. As you continue to let go, alpha waves slowly makes way to theta waves, with small bursts of alpha activity still connecting you the real world, until finally – you sleep. What makes this process tricky is that it involves letting go of all thoughts and intentions, so “intending” or “trying” to fall asleep only keeps you awake.

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The One Thing You can Do Right Now to Grow Younger

By Ran Zilca
Grow Younger

In his 1982 hit “Jack and Diane”, rock singer John Mellencamp describes two high-school sweethearts, who are  oblivious to the inevitable awakening of adulthood, waiting around the corner. In the famous chorus, using only a handful of words, Mellencamp conveys one of the saddest processes that many people experience:

“Oh yeah – life goes on – Long after the thrill of living is gone…”

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The Risks of Distracted Living

By Ran Zilca
Distracted living

By now, we all know the risks of distracted driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, every year thousands of people die in car crashes where the driver was occupied in something other than driving, mostly texting on their phones. A driver who is texting is 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash (for comparison, talking only increases risk by 30%), yet most drivers admit that they do it. The temptation for distraction is too strong, even in the face of a substantially greater risk of death.

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