Balancing Act: The Newsletter (No. 212, April 2017)

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Balancing act is in four sections this month:

1. Techniques for Balance

2. Musings

3. The Human Condition: Noise


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• Humility does not mean thinking less of our own worth, but rather thinking more of others.

• The more you exert control in your life, the less stressed you’ll be.

• Leverage is the key to high productivity. (“Give me a lever and I can move the world.” - Archimedes)

• We tend to pay too much attention to little things and too little attention to big things.

• If you’re angry most of the time (and/or anger very easily) the real object of the anger is yourself. Get some help.

• Ask what the upside and downside of a decision are. If there is no upside, don’t do it. If there is no downside, do it. If there are both, calculate which is more likely and more serious.

• One sign of being successful is that some people of less talent who are envious will snipe at you. Ignore them. It drives them crazy.

• The last time I looked, there was absolutely no cost in saying “thank you.”

• Road rage is bad enough, but some people have “life rage,” feeling that every unfortunate development or piece of bad luck was aimed specifically at them.

• HEP: Head Exploding Syndrome. Stop obsessing about something that didn’t go your way and get on with your life.


Chicken Little has been immortalized, like the little boy who cried, "Wolf!", because the constant braying and bleating for attention made people indifferent to the claims. Some people feel they have a preterition, selecting and obsessing about an important matter to them while omitting facts that might prove them wrong.

Marshall McLuhan said, "The price of eternal vigilance is indifference." That's why TSA screeners have to be changed frequently at the monitors, yet still miss weapons, liquids, and other prohibited items. When we keep harping on something we create a calloused indifference to the plea.

I think our society is at the satiation point for hearing about personal grievances. If you have a difficulty, deal with it, don't expect the rest of us to suspend our lives until you're completely mollified. When you're the only person in the room who needs the temperature raised or the music changed, that's not an expression of rights but an eruption of self-absorption.

It's also not required that all of us rally to your particular cause. You may have a good cause, but there are a lot of good causes. I respect your lifestyle and life choices, so long as they don't harm me. But I don't believe you have the right to publicly push them in my face every day and not expect feedback, or act as if the feedback is biased. There are rules of civility and conduct that supersede your place in life. If you don't agree with me, fine, but to assume I'm on a lower moral plain, or of lesser intelligence because I don't agree with you, is ludicrous.

If you choose to be a professional victim who isn't responsible at all for your condition or status, but rather forced there by others or the fates, that's your right, but that doesn't make you right.

No matter how many times you tell me the sky is falling, I'm not going to believe you and I'm going to stop listening. And no matter how many times you tell me you deserve some special treatment because of your particular grievance and victimhood, I'm going to ignore you and stop listening.

The sky isn't falling, and it isn't going to. And you're not going to improve until and unless you take accountability for your actions. Blaming me and everyone else will not change that. So stop trying to tell me that I have to change in order for you to change.


I’ve seen some plays where it seemed as if the noise lever were the attraction, not the content. The musical Rent was like that. The music and over-amplified voices were overwhelming. If you knew its basis, La Bohème, you could figure out the plot but, if not, it was just chaos. The author had recently died, so it became "art."

At Trinity Rep in Providence, one of the directors, Tyler Dobrowsky, constantly has people shouting as if to accentuate emotions. But it’s only noise, and in a small theater it’s ridiculous. The same applies everywhere from theme parks to large-screen theaters with overwhelming amplification: It’s an assault on the senses.

Our entire society has become over-amped, as if polarization and refusal to listen can be overwhelmed by sheer decibels. Ignorant, intolerant college students shout speakers with whom they disagree off the stage. Car horns sound a millisecond after a light turns green. Emergency vehicles have sirens so loud that it’s hard to determine from which direction they’re emanating—which would seem to defeat the purpose.

Television talking heads like Chris Matthews, Megyn Kelly, and Bill O’Reilly are constantly “talking over’ their guests, uninterested in any voice or opinion other than their own. Movements marshal people to protest loud and long in the streets. And when the streets are empty and the marchers have gone, nothing has really changed.

Exotic cars have their exhausts calibrated to create the right “roar” which is not endemic to the engine. Electric cars have recorded noises (so you can tell they’re approaching). Rock concerts seem designed to deafen, not entertain, and quite a few band members have experienced serious hearing loss.

We’re awash in noise. We seem to rejoice in it, as if we are making an independent stand against the turbulence around us, or as if we can overcome entrenched opposition by out-yelling them. (Some African tribes used to assemble thousands of fierce warriors, who would face each other across a battlefield, yell insults, and then head home declaring victory with no casualties on either side.) People on their cell phone on public conveyances scream on them apparently unaware of the technology of a phone—it replaces having to yell across a field. Some restaurants deliberately create acoustics that are deafening while you eat, I guess to take your attention way from mediocre food and service.

Emerson said, “Your behavior is so loud, I can’t hear what you’re saying.” He might say today, “You’re screaming so much, I can’t understand your actions.”


I owned a Corvette when I was in my early 30s. When I was in my late 60s I decided I needed another "fix" and have since owned two more. They are incredible sports cars and my current one is faster than all but the highest-end Ferraris.

In 2014, when the first of the new ones was delivered, my wife commented, "Remember all those years and all those times you watched men above a certain age getting out of Corvettes and said, 'What kind of man has to buy a Corvette past age 50'?"

"I do," I said, "and now we know the answer."



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Balancing Act® is a monthly electronic newsletter discussing the blending of life, work, and relationships, based on the popular Balancing Act workshops and writing of Alan Weiss, Ph.D. Contact us for further information at: [email protected].
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© Alan Weiss 2017

Balancing Act® is our registered trademark. You are encouraged to share the contents with others with appropriate attribution. Please use the ® whenever the phrase "Balancing Act" is used in connection with this newsletter or our workshops.


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