Tag Archives: SpongeBob SquarePants

3 Life Lessons From SpongeBob Squarepants

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Coffee. Puppies. Spongebob Squarepants.

This is my definition of the ideal Sunday morning. Slowly waking up to the gurgling of the coffee maker and the sweet aroma of fresh-brewed French Roast; the sight of my two dogs, Coco and Cece, eagerly waiting for permission to get on the bed; and tuning in to Nickelodeon for a few episodes of Spongebob Squarepants.

Spongebob Squarepants is about the cockamamie adventures of a sea-dwelling buck-toothed anthropomorphic sponge. He lives in a pineapple in the underwater metropolis of Bikini Bottom, with a pet snail named Gary, Squidward Tentacles his chronically cranky neighbor (and comic foil), and a pink starfish sidekick named Patrick. He works as a fry cook at the Krusty Krab, a greasy-spoon restaurant owned by Eugene Krabs, going through life with youthful exuberance.

I’m a huge Spongebob Squarepants fan, and probably watch more Spongebob than the average six year old (it helps that Nickelodeon runs an endless number of episodes during the day). It’s not high-brow entertainment, and humor is a combination slapstick and absurdist, consisting of one silly scene after another… perfect for those with viewing patience like mine. Created by artist and former marine biologist, Stephen Hillenburg, the show is one of the most popular cartoons on Nickelodeon, consistently ranking in the Top 10 in the Nielsen ratings, recipient of six Emmy nominations and winner of five Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice awards.

Amid all his misadventures, Spongebob never ceases to find the positives in any given situation. He is the epitome of friendliness, enthusiasm and resilience – the very picture of “Zen” happiness. And he’s the cartoon character I most relate to. An online “personality test” confirms this. A few weeks ago, my girlfriend Brenda sent me a “personality test” with a series of questions asking for my preferences in dates, movies, music, etc. Anyone scoring 29-35 points resembles Spongebob Squarepants. I scored 30 points.

According to the description: You are the classic person that everyone loves.  You are the best friend that anyone could ever have and never wants to lose.  You never cause harm to anyone and they would never misunderstand your feelings. Life is a journey, it’s funny and calm for the most part.

Ehem. Okay, even if this (admittedly fatuous) crackpot test isn’t true, I’d say I’m still “sponge worthy,” opting to see the sunny side of things and finding humor in every day life. David Myers, author of The Pursuit of Happiness, says that “Happiness is rather like cholesterol level – influenced genetically, but also by things we can do.” Often, when I start to feel sad, I self-medicate by watching hours of cartoons and comedy. Laughter really is the best medicine.

With the holiday season coming up, laughter and lightheartedness becomes even more important. Work, shopping, cleaning, visiting relatives, wrapping presents, and the slew of dizzying chores can be overwhelming, sometimes resulting in strain and gloominess. The Mayo Clinic identifies three main trigger points for holiday stress and depression: relationships, finances, and physical/emotional demands. The lack of relationships can lead to loneliness, while being around a continuous stream of family and friends can be exasperating. Whereas some folks overspend during the holidays, others feel guilt for not having enough resources to buy that “perfect” gift. And finally, fleeting from mall to mall, and party to party, can simply wipe us out. To ensure happy holidays, perhaps we can all take a cue from Spongebob.

First, become a friendlier person.

Spongebob has a knack for remembering the names of Krusty Krab patrons, and never fails to acknowledge people he passes on the street. Author and psychologist William James once said that, “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” But often, we are so consumed with receiving validation that we forget to dish it out – we focus on being loveable instead of being loving. Sincere appreciation costs us nothing to give, and means the world to those who receive it. Not flattery – sincere appreciation and recognition, which can come from a simple smile, a greeting, and a genuine interest in the other person. And in becoming friendlier, begin with nurturing existing relationships. Bonus points: studies have shown that those in intimate relationships – both men and women – have lower death rates than single people.

Next, live with enthusiasm.

Spongebob starts each day with the mantra “I’mmm ready!  I’mmm ready!”  Whether he is flipping Krabby patties or chasing after jellyfish, Spongebob tackles everything with enthusiasm and maximizes the fun in any endeavor. Aristotle called enthusiasm “the regenerative force of conviction.” It is a manifestation of confidence, positive attitude, and optimism.

Perhaps the best description of enthusiasm is its Greek root word entheos, “having the god within,” from en, “in, within,” and theos, “god.” Inner fire is infectious and can be the difference between mediocre and magnificent. Live with enthusiasm, and learn how to arouse enthusiasm in others. Remember that “a candle loses nothing of it’s light by lighting another candle.”

Finally, develop emotional resilience.

Regardless of what trouble Spongebob finds himself in, he remains positive and resilient. Even international leadership training organizations think that Spongebob is a good character to emulate. Using the model created by Daniel Goldman, author of Emotional Intelligence and Primal Leadership, researchers from the Hay Group in the United Kingdom evaluated Spongebob’s emotional astuteness and determined that while IQ-wise, he is not the sharpest, he possesses a high level of EQ, or Emotional Intelligence. Consistently demonstrating integrity and empathy, Spongebob is flexible and adaptable in his approach to adversity, trudging forward despite difficulties and setbacks.

This holiday season, if you ever find the need for a quick jolt of cheer, tune in to Nickelodeon and watch an episode or two of Spongebob Squarepants, a positive role model for adults and kids alike. And Happy Holidays!

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First Things First

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Lovers Desire | TheSociaholicOver the years, very few things have affected or upset me. And when they do, I comfort myself with endless episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants and America’s Funniest Home Videos.

At the beginning of our relationship, my swift emotional recoveries confounded my husband. He couldn’t understand how I could get over things so quickly. Is it that I’m hard-headed or just plain heartless? At first, I told him about the concept of Human Dynamics developed by Sandra Seagal (which explains how people process information and experiences) and that I am “physically-centered” – very systematic and practical, primarily concerned with progress and results rather than logic and structure.

Then, I had an “A-ha!” moment – perhaps it had nothing to do with my “information processing center” nor my heart of stone. I was just an Über-Optimist. A textbook Pollyanna (minus the denial and passiveness). How could one remain upset when one truly believed that there is always a positive spin to unfortunate events?

In Stephen Covey’s book, First Things First, he talks about living life guided by a “compass” of purpose and values rather than a “clock” of schedules and due dates, and where the long run is where we go for life balance. By focusing on the big picture, our ultimate legacy, we can identify what roles and activities need our attention right now, helping us determine what battles to face and decisions to make at each moment.

For example, on your way to visiting with family, are you really going to waste your time chasing after that rude driver that cut you off on the freeway, just to shake your fist impotently at him, or focus on driving safely so you can spend quality time with your loved ones?

Often, we’re distracted by what’s most urgent that we forget about what’s most important. This leads to frustration, dissatisfaction, and disappointment. By valuing and living in a “state of abundance”, we’re able to appreciate the little victories in life and find meaning in everyday occurrences.

We could all learn from Viktor Frankl, Holocuast survivor and author of Man’s Search for Meaning, who says that “Life has [a purpose and] meaning under all circumstances, even in the most miserable ones.” He also said that “Everything can be taken from a man, but the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.”

So today, and everyday, I choose to be grateful. Hopeful. Happy.

Here’s to a wonderful 2013!

The Immobile Arts

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Waking up at the crack of noon, I hesitated peeling the eye mask off my face for fear that the explosion of sunlight might trigger a sneezing fit. It was another weekend of back-to-back gigs with my band, and I decide to savor the last few moments of darkness provided by my trusty eye mask, sandwiched between my fluffy comforter and comfy pillow-top mattress.I started counting in my head… 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12… good. That means I’ve had about eight hours of sleep now.

Next on the agenda, 30 minutes of slowly rising into a sitting position to watch SpongeBob SquarePants. First up, it’s the episode where SpongeBob’s klutzy cousin Stanley S. SquarePants comes to visit. As I turn up the volume, the following conversation ensues:

SpongeBob SquarePants (character)Patrick:  Looking for your calling, huh? Hmmm. So what are you good at?

Stanley:  Nothing.

Patrick:  Nothing at all?

Stanley:  Yep.

Patrick:  Interesting. Let’s see how good you are at nothing.

SpongeBob: That’s perfect! Patrick can do nothing better than anyone! You’ll be learning from the master!

Patrick: Come with me. First, sit down on this chair. Clear your mind. Empty it of all thoughts. Until you’re doing absooooluuuuuutely nooooothiiiiiiing (Patrick hunches over with glazed eyes, drool suspended in mid-air, to the sound of a cow mooing)

Stanley sits, but no sooner, his foot starts tapping, eyes start twitching, sweat rolling down his forehead, the ticking clock pounding in his brain. Hard as he tries, he just can’t sit still.

Stanley:  I can’t do it!!!!

Patrick: You’re not worthy of instruction in the Immobile Arts! Leave my presence!!!

Ah, yes. The Immobile Arts. The art of doing absolutely nothing. Now how many of you actually practice this? We are a society of super-achievers and wonder-women, multi-taskers with over-booked calendars. While I am guilty of pushing the limits of endurance and sanity, there is one thing I have learned to do quite well – nothing.

Several years ago, while attending a professional business women’s conference inSan Francisco, I sat in on a talk by a woman who espoused “mastering the tyrant within.” One of the messages that really stuck was that “sometimes, good enough is good enough.” Caught up in a perfection-obsessed world, this was news to me. Growing up, my adult role-models always encouraged me to “do better, do more” and so it was a never-ending quest to get to the top of Mt.Never-Rest.

After that conference, I took inventory of everything I did, and carefully determined which activities demanded perfection, and which didn’t. Super-squeaky clean floors? I can live with dust-bunnies here and there. Community involvement? Only as a volunteer for select events and fundraisers. Corporate ladder?  I like the flexibility of working from home. I don’t need to run the world. As I slowly re-organized my life and re-arranged my priorities, my me-time increased and my stress level dropped significantly.

I then decided that the one activity requiring perfection was the art of doing nothing, which I discovered, was a critical part of doing everything else well.