Sometimes our lives appear to be in chaos. Don’t let the world, people, or events affect you. Let it Go!

Pandemic is a word we did not use a year ago. The China Flu became known as COVID-19. Nearly everything we used to do changed – face masks, social distancing, and more.

Some businesses failed and others flourished. Many people were sick and died. Statistics told us everything was the result of the virus, no matter what other calamities happened to cause death. Headlines continually reminded us of the records being set daily in various states. How are we supposed to cope?

Buddhist Parable,waiting%2C%20unable%20to%20cross%20alone.&text=The%20older%20monk%20replies%2C%20%E2%80%9CI,the%20side%20of%20the%20river. The story of two monks and a young girl at the river is very appropriate for us today with the pandemic and more. Summarizing it – two monks, one older and the other much younger were traveling and came across a young woman trying to cross a river.

She asked for help and the monks were restricted from talking to others, especially women. The older monk reached down, picked her up with her bags, and carried her across the river. This was a major breach of vows. The younger monk became livid but did not say anything.

Body language, facial expressions, and lagging behind finally caused the older monk to ask the younger one what was bothering him. The younger monk told him that monks are not supposed to talk to others, much less touch them.

The older monk told the younger one that he carried the young woman across the river and left her there. The younger monk was still carrying the woman in his mind. We tend towards the same habit of holding onto something that should go flying from our minds.

Stress and Health Stress happens to all of us. The sources of stress are innumerable. It is not the stress that is critical for your life or health, it is what you do with it that counts. Hold on to it and become a victim and your health and relationships will suffer. Let it flow off your back like the rain off a duck’s back and things do not look so bad.

Yes, inconveniences are not life-threatening. I live in the Houston, Texas area. We had temperatures at near-record lows with rain, freezing rain, sleet, ice, and snow. Over forty hours below freezing with temperatures approaching single digits. (

It was days later before the outside temperature broke 40 degrees F. This is not normal for us living in south Texas. Many friends and family had no electricity or water for days. Several friends opened their homes for people to take showers, wash clothes, and get a hot meal.

Again, how are people supposed to survive and thrive when viruses and weather slap you in the face? Let it GO!!

Professionals I use the expression, ‘Amateurs practice until they get it right, while professionals practice until they cannot get it wrong.’ Failures abound while learning lessons to improve yourself. Many of us accept the failure and live in that world hibernating in a comfort zone that meets our immediate needs.

Malcolm Gladwell tells us that to become a master or expert in a specific field requires around 10,000 hours of practice. That is a lot of practice! How true is it? I do not know. It gives a perspective about learning something or mastering it though.

My first degree was in Chemistry. I thought it was a tough degree. However, I tip my hat to music majors. Mastering music (or an instrument) takes many more hours than I ever spent in a lab. Professional and Olympic athletes probably practice more than 10,000 hours to be considered the top in their fields. What about becoming a chess grandmaster or professional golfer? I can easily see some fields requiring more than 10,000 hours to master and others less.

What else separates an amateur from a professional? One thing is that most professionals play through pain and discomfort. Most of us are not willing to endure that little extra pain to become better.

Planning for Success 10,000 hours seem like an eternity. Is there anything shorter? Many gurus will tell you that a plan is needed to succeed. There are countless books telling us how to plan and how to succeed. My favorite quote on planning and succeeding comes from Mike Tyson, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

Plans work when we are trained to use them, take appropriate actions, and are accountable to someone. It is difficult to plan a normal life with pandemic restrictions on businesses, schools, and families. Some things cannot be overcome unless we fail and learn from our mistakes.

Navy Seals – Hell Week,than%20four%20hours%20of%20sleep. One of the most grueling challenges a human will face is the Navy Seal Hell Week – over five days of cold, wet, and brutal conditions with less than four hours of sleep.

I mentioned that stress happens to all of us. It is not what happens, but what we do with it. Mental toughness, physical endurance, tolerance, teamwork, and more drive 75% of potential Navy Seals to ‘ring the bell.’ In this context, ringing the bell means quitting.

Lean into the Pain! A military expression that has surfaced is, ‘Embrace the Suck!’ It means that we cannot control what happens to us, but we can control how we react to it. The pandemic sucks! Big time! No doubt about it! Yet, some of us are better today than a year ago.

Nearly every Naval Aviator is a first-born male married to the first-born female of a family. I heard this early in my aviation training. Over the years, I looked around and asked and it is true – over 90% of first-born males marry first-born females. My father was a Navy Pilot and married a first-born female in her family. Likewise, I am the oldest of nine kids and I married the oldest-born female (the middle of seven). This was one of three characteristics of naval aviation that stayed with me from the early days.

The one that helps me more than any other is ‘compartmentalization.’ I cannot change the rules and restrictions on my personal and business life with the pandemic still raging across the world. I can compartmentalize it though.

In the truest sense, compartmentalization is a psychological defense mechanism to avoid something, especially if it is an emotional event. In the navy jargon, it means that you do the best you can with what you have and the time you must do it and then move on to the next task at hand.

Worry will not fix something not done. Worry will not change an outcome. Learn to budget time better. Become better trained so that when ‘push comes to shove’, you are ready. I worry about what is inside the compartment in my mind, not what is not there. When it is time to move on, close the compartment door and move on – let it go!


Yogi Berra, the New York Yankees catcher for many years said, “Baseball is 90% mental; the other half is physical.” Our mental ability to cope can get people through Hell Week, to ‘answer the bell’ as a professional fighter does to go to the next round, injured, hurting, or not.

I had a Plan B at the beginning of the pandemic that quickly became newer plans only to be phased out quickly and more new plans developed. I am probably somewhere around Plan M or N. I gave up counting. Too many things too quickly.

I did plan very well for the Cat 5 winter storm last week and survived well without electricity and limited water – nothing as bad as my daughter faced, but still more than an inconvenience. Eighty-degree temperatures this week almost wipe out the memory of snow and ice from a week ago.

The Texas Freeze reminded me of a couple of Saturday Night Live skits with Gilda Radner playing the role of Roseanna Roseanadana, “Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.”  and “It’s like my father always said to me, he said to me, he said, Roseanna Roseanadana, it’s always something. If it isn’t one thing–it’s another! It’s always something.”
— Gilda Radner (

Viktor Frankl, the holocaust survivor, summed it up nicely, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” The pandemic will be over sooner than we think when we look back on things. Are you mentally preparing to return to normal? Or are you preparing for a better life?

Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin –


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