From the May 2002 issue of Startups

In this high-speed, high-intensity, high-stakes, leave-'em-high-and-dry world, moments of clarity are hard to come by. If you're not sure what I'm talking about, try to remember the last time you were able to relax--I mean really relax--for a decent amount of time. I'm not talking about putting your feet up and reading the paper for an hour. Let's face it--reading the paper alone is enough to get you all riled up again. This morning I read about the Middle East, a local train wreck and the scandals in the Catholic Church--all before I ate my bowl of Cream of Wheat. Not exactly conducive to a relaxed state of mind.

I've come to realize that escaping the "real world" requires a redefinition of what the real world is. Sure, the crises and murders and scandals and drug busts are part of it, but isn't there so much more? The air in the mountains, the trees in the woods, the sand on the beach, the dust on your shoes--aren't they just as real? And yet they're free of the stress and trauma associated with typical "real-world" things. So why do we spend so much time with the negative and ignore the positive?

Part of it is that it's often difficult to escape the negative when it seems to be all around you. Not many of us have the luxury of stepping out the door onto the sand or into the woods each morning. Instead, we're bombarded with traffic, bills, stressful work days and, of course, the news. But that's precisely why it's incumbent upon us to make time for the positive. For me, that means escaping on a run, a hike, anything in the outdoors. For you, it might mean spending time with your daughter or nephew or enjoying a night out with friends. It might be something as simple as allowing yourself that extra slice of cake.

Whatever it is that allows you to appreciate the positive aspects of life, please do those things, and do them often. Don't let yourself get caught up in that endless cycle of taking in negative energy and regurgitating it in the form of bad moods, quick tempers, lost creativity and self-pity. I'm not old enough to know what it's like to live a lifetime of negativity, but I'm old enough to know that that kind of attitude gets you nowhere, fast.