Pause and imagine smelling the roses this December…

December 7, 2017

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this thought –

“God gave us memories that we might have roses in December.”  (J.M. Barrie)

Our memories and our imaginations can provide wonderful relief from the dreary dayssmell lthe roses of winter to come; too remember roses in December; however, memory also serves to keep alive those who are no longer with us. As Thomas Campbell put it- “To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.”

Many people pause on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day to remember those who are no longer with them’ perhaps because those times in the past were some of the happiest when they were still here. Perhaps those we remember are not departed, just distant. A quote by Washington Irving seems appropriate for that circumstance – “Sweet is the memory of distant friends! Like the mellow rays of the departing sun, it falls tenderly, yet sadly, on the heart.” 

So, pause this December and at Christmas, and remember the smell of roses and the wonderful times that you had with departed loved ones or those who are just far away. They live in your heart, so they will never die.

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Make somebody’s day…appreciate them…

December 4, 2017

From a post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog some time back comes this little gem –

“A person who feels appreciated will always do more than expected.”  (Sent by Paul McCullough)

I suspect that there are many things that McCullough could have put after the words “will always…” in his quote. Things like “feel better” come instantly to mind. There are also other words that come to mind to replace the word appreciated that also ring true…words like respected or even loved.

One of the things that the Special Olympics does at their version of the Olympics is to make sure that every Special Olympian  who participates gets a medal. They don’t focus upon only rewarding the “winners” in each event; but, rather recognize all of those who made the effort… they appreciate the effort and all of the athletes who compete are the better for it and feel better about themselves.

hugging-bearsIn our daily lives there are probably lots of people who do things for us that normally go unnoticed and unappreciated. There’s the bus driver who helps get us to work or maybe the guard at the guard shack who there to help insure our safety. Maybe it’s the day-care worker who takes care of our children while we work or the lunch room worker or the waitress who is there to server our noon-time meal. It may be the paper delivery person who has to get up at 4 AM in the morning each day to go get the papers and deliver their routes. Perhaps it one of the many retail people that we may encounter during the day.

These are all people who in some small way make your day better and you have the opportunity to make their day better by appreciating what they do for you. Many of great-jobthese people blend into the background and become just a part of the environment to us. We only recognize them when something doesn’t go as we wish and we complain about it and them. We may call their managers in anger over some perceived slight in the service; but, how many call just to tell that manager what great service they gave us?

We have the power to change that. A simple thank you may put a smile of their faces. Sure, we may leave a tip on the table for the waitress; but, how often do we take the time to thank them for their service and tell them that we appreciate that they are there?  I have a friend who is a life coach who never misses the opportunity to tell others how much he appreciates what they do for others in their volunteer work in the community or for their ideas and contributions in meetings. It’s a small thing, but one that he takes the time to do whenever he can. I’m sure that it makes those whom he compliments feel better for having their efforts and contributions  be recognized.

old cooupleSometimes this tendency to ignore and not appreciate them extends to our life partners, especially to the career-oriented men in the relationship. Call it complacency or just laziness, we sometimes become so self-centered that take for granted all that a spouse does for us to make our life better. The cooking and cleaning and housekeeping and laundry and child care all seem to fade into the background and become unappreciated expectations, rather than something that could be and should be acknowledged and appreciated. It takes only a moment of your time to give your partner a hug and tell them how much you appreciate the meal that they just served, even though you may have no real appreciation of how much time and effort went into the making that meal.

So, start out this week with appreciation of others in mind and be alert to those that you handshakeencounter to whom you can show appreciation. It should start at home, but there are countless other opportunities throughout the day to show appreciation to others and make their day better because of it. You may be thinking, “what difference can it make?”; however remember that the great majority of people just don’t make the effort. You can be the one bright moment in that person’s life today and that’s a great opportunity that will make you feel better, too.

Let me start by saying that I appreciate that you took the time to read this post and I hope it helps make your day better for having read it. Thank you, I appreciate you. Now, go out and find someone else to appreciate.

 


Keep winter at bay; put on a happy face…

November 29, 2017

The Jack’s Winning Words blog had a great quote recently that can apply to everyone – “Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.”  (Victor Hugo)

People who laugh often and seem to be happy are sometime said to have a “sunny disposition”. The opposite is to be thought of as a dour person, someone who always seems to have a frown on their face. Interestingly enough, many of us might be considered by others to be dour people just because of our “at rest” face. We don’t even realize it, but most of us, when we are relaxed and in a normal, “at rest” state allow our faces to droop a bit and we may end up looking like we are unhappy.

Related imageI’ve used a prime example of the impact of our “at rest” faces in posts a few times – ex-Speaker of the House John Boehner. Most of the time, when you saw Boehner on TV in the background at State of the Union Speeches or in photos taken at the capitol he looked unhappy, or in discomfort – he looked dour. If you Google his name there are tons of pictures that pop up; but, only a few show a smiling John Boehner. He looks like a much more pleasant fellow in those smiling photos.

 

 

So how do you look, when your face is at rest. You can get some idea by just standing in front of a mirror and allowing yourself to relax, with no emotions showing. Another way is to look at informal pictures of yourself taken at some event that you attended. Do you like what you see? Is your “at rest” face open friendly and inviting or does it appear to be a dour person who may not wish to be bothered?

What has all of this got to do with today’s theme? Well, while laughter is the sun that drive winter from the human face, we can’t be laughing all of the time. Otherwise they’d cart us away to the funny farm. What we can do is keep in mind some thoughts thatsmiling-sun cause us to smile, so that our “at rest” faces look like that are about to laugh and are more inviting and pleasant.

A nice by-product of having a smile on your face is that people will ask what it is that is making you look so happy. They will want to talk to you and share in your apparent happiness; as opposed to a person with a dour look on their face, who is someone to be avoided. If they ask, perhaps the best answer to give to get the conversation going is to reply, “I was just thinking how nice it is to see you.” You can see how much better that encounter is than one with a dour looking face who replies that he/she looks unhappy because their gall bladder is acting up again.

So start your day today by thinking of something that will put a smile on your face. You don’t have to go around laughing out loud; but, maybe your smile will be the sun in someone else’s life today and drive their winter away. Maybe keep this little song in your mind – Put on  happy face.

 


Your mom was right. Be nice to people…

November 27, 2017

From the Jack’s Winning Words blog of today comes this quote – “Be nice to people…maybe it will be unappreciated, unreciprocated or ignored, but spread love anyway.  We rise by lifting others.”  (Germany Kent)

I’ve never quite understood those who see life as a zero-sum game in which they only win if others lose. They are people who are sometimes generously called “competitive” by others. They see no value in lifting up others, but would rather climb failureshigher by climbing over the backs of others. They see others as losers or obstacles to be overcome, defeated or discarded. Theirs is truly a sad existence.

Jack went on to comment that Google had done a study that showed that teams in business made up of people who liked and supported each other generally did better than teams made up of “competitive” people. I’ve gone through enough team building exercises in my business career to realize that finding a way to recognize and use the unique talents that each individual brings to the group makes for a stronger and more successful team.

Another saying from an earlier post to Jack’s blog also seems appropriate within the context of this discussion on being nice to others –

“The only moral lesson which is suited for a child—the most important lesson for every time of life—is this: Never hurt anybody.”  (Rousseau)

predjuicesThe inverse of being nice to others is most often causing them some hurt, whether it be just their feelings or otherwise. Dismissing the abilities and contributions of others is hurtful to them and, in the long run, to the efforts of the team. Ignoring others points of view or their questions about your point of view on things is missing valuable feedback. If nothing else, a questions that seems to be based upon not understanding what you have in mind clearly points out that you have not been able to articulate your point of view or plan. If the person questioning your plan has those doubts or misunderstandings, then others will too and you need to rethink either the plan itself or how you explain it to others. That is a valuable insight that you need to take into consideration.

Stepping out of the business world, it is important that we each do our part in making the world a better place. That starts by how you interact with those around you during the day. I thought of an analogy that is based on some video games that I’ve played in the past. Some of them had little “health meters” embedded in them that showed the relativemeter-healthy health of the participant. These were games in which you could find things that improved your health or things could happen to you which took away from your health. You could always tell whether something happening in the game was adding to or detracting from your health.

Life is a little like those games. As you meet people during the day, do those encounters add to or detract from your state of mind (your “health”)? What does someone encountering you get from it – an addition to their health or a downer that takes away from their mental health? That part is up to you and that is where being nice to others comes in. Being nice to others is not a passive thing; it requires work on your part. Showing them love means showing them the respect to listen to what they have to say, when you ask, “How are you?” Being nice means pausing from your busy schedule to take those moments to interact with them in a way that is more meaningful than a tossed off greeting as you pass on the street. Being nice means that you give them a lift on their “health meter” and hopefully you see a rise on your meter, too.

So, be aware of the potential impact that you could have on others this week, both positive and negative. Go out and be nice; spread the love and move their health meters up, always aware that your health meter will be rising, too.

Have a great and healthy week! Be nice to people.

 


Let’s give thanks for what we have…

November 22, 2017

Today’s post on the Jack’s Winning Words blog is a great reminder that we need to pause and give thanks for all that we have, rather than getting ready to bolt out the door on Friday morning in search of more stuff.

“Lord, as we bow our heads to pray, 

We celebrate Thanksgiving Day.

 

Help us have the right attitude, 

As we turn to you in gratitude.

 

Thank you for our festive mood; 

Thank you, Lord, for this good food;

 

Thanks for blessings great and small; 

Thank you, thank you for it all.”  Amen

 

(Thanksgiving Table Prayer by Joanna Fuchs)

 

Black Friday is named for the fact that the money made on that one day is what puts many retailers in the black for the year; however, it might as well be named for one of the darkest aspects of human nature – greed. The need for more, more, more drives people as much as the savings that they think they are getting on that day. Thanksgiving is just another example of the perversion days that are supposed to be set aside for thoughtful reflection and gratitude for the things that God has given us. The requirements of children’s sports have already taken away most Sundays and turned Sunday mornings from family time at church to travel time to games.

It’s common for people to ask, “What are you doing for Thanksgiving?” My response will be what I’m not doing for Thanksgiving. I’m not going Black Friday shopping. If anything, I will shop in Milford, where the local merchants have decided to turn it into Give Back Friday and will be donating a portion of all sales to local charitable causes. That’s one thing that I’ll remember to be thankful for on Thanksgiving Day.  Maybe I’ll see you there.

Give Back Friday

Picture from the Give Back Friday Facebook Page


Get going in a different direction…

November 15, 2017

Thaccess deniedis little quote from the Jack’s Winning Words blog got me to thinking about the rejections in my life and how that changed my direction.

“Sometimes rejection in life is really redirection.”  (Tavis Smiley)

Rejections in life can come in many forms. We tend to remember the bigger moments of rejection, like being turned down for a date or being passed over for a promotion; however, life is full of little moments in which something that we want to do is somehow rejected or, at least that path is blocked and we must go in a different direction.

 

 

How we react to rejections in life and what we choose to do in the new direction says a bored2lot about us. Some don’t deal with rejection very well and may slip into anger or depression every time things don’t go the way that they and planned and hoped. Some are so flighty that rejections are quickly forgotten and they flit off in a new direction, seemingly oblivious to the rejection. Do you know people who react to rejection in those ways?

For most of us rejection is just a temporary bump in life. They may stop us for a moment, as we internalize what just happened, but we go on. What few of us take the time to do is to think about that rejection as a redirection in our lives. I wonder what would happen if woman-prayingwe paused and thought to ourselves, “OK, God didn’t want that to happen to me or for me; I wonder what direction He wants to take me in now?”

By taking that moment to attribute the rejection/redirection in your life to God’s will, you remove the need to seek an answer to the question of why that just happened. You also excuse yourself of the need to find blame in yourself or others. It was God’s will, not your will or actions that brought about the rejection, so use it as a redirection and seek His will in which way to go next. Maybe start off with a little prayer like, “God I know that you have something else in mind for me; please help me see the path that you wish for me to take.” Do that, knowing that God has only the best outcome in mind for you; and you will joyfully start off in your new direction.

Dealing with rejections as redirections from God in your life will allow you to keep a positive attitude towards life, no matter how and many or what types of rejections you hit. Sometimes God may throw a rejection at you to help re-ground you on the important things in life, like family vs. possessions. A rejection may force you to realize that you had begun to value the wrong things and to pursue the wrong things. Sometimes that rejection is a wake-up call that says that you have become too complaisant and too expectant of success; that you have become full of yourself and God needed to take you down a peg and remind you of who is in charge.

man prayingMaybe you can start each day with a variation of that little prayer that I suggested earlier. “God, I don’t know what you have in mind for me today, but help me accept the things that happen and see the new directions that you have laid out for me; trusting in You and your love for me, through your Son, Jesus Christ.”

Then get out there and get going in those new directions.


Creative Destruction…a part of life

November 8, 2017

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this gem of understanding from an unlikely source –

“Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”  (Marilyn Monroe)

In the world around us there is a process called Creative Destruction, which is defined as the “process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one”. Sometimes the changes take place quickly and sometimes it is what seems like slow motion. A prime example that we can all relate to is the Creative Destruction that took place in the retail world when Sam Walton started Walmart. At the time Walmart was created the big names in so-called big box” retail were Sears, Montgomery Wards, K-Mart and Penney’s. Today it is Walmart, Target and Kohl’s. The old gave way to the new sears store closing(although Penny’s has held on longer than the others). These days stores like Walmart, Target, Best Buy and Kohls are fighting to remain relevant in the on-line world of Amazon, Ebay, ETSY and Wayfair. Things continue to evolve and Creative Destruction continues to change our landscape.

I suspect that Marilyn’s little quote may have had a more personal meaning, since she had a few marriages fall apart and she moved on to new men in her life. That seems to happen all too frequently in marriages these days. One of the reasons that companies fail, especially retail companies, is that they don’t evolve as the world around them changes. Tastes change. Fads come and go. New generations have different desires in cloths and other things. The retailers who can keep a sense of those changing tastes survives, while others fail.

couple-looking-at-phonesPersonal relationships also evolve and change over time and it is the couples that can’t seem to keep up with those changes that end up in divorce. Many marriages are based almost solely on the relatively narrow base of physical and sexual attraction. Once that ardor cools a bit, if there is no underlying foundation of friendship and common interests, the “love” that was professed cools and creative destruction can take over. Cheating in a marriage is a form of Creative Destruction.

For some couples Creative Destruction in their marriage starts when the first child of the marriage is born and the man discovers that he is no longer alone at the center of his wife’s universe. The passion that once obscured all else may cool and faults that went unnoticed or overlooked before may bubble to the surface and become issues of contention or conflict. It is harder for that to happen, or at least for it to have destructive consequences, if one can also say that they truly like the person with whom they live. How many times have you heard, “the sex was good, but I couldn’t stand to live with him/her”?

What can be done to ensure that a marriage doesn’t end up on the dust heap of Creative soulmate1Destruction? I think it takes a mindset that realizes that a marriage is something that will evolve and must be constantly invested in to keep it relevant and growing. The birth of children must be viewed as a new opportunity to share new things together and not as a threat to the relationship. The sharing of responsibilities and work in a marriage must be viewed and an investment in the relationship and not as a burden to be borne.

The continued development and strengthening of the friendship aspect of the marriage must become more and more important as the sexual relationship runs its course over time. Viagra is not the answer. Working upon your friendship with your spouse will insure the longevity of the marriage. Sharing common interests. Doing things together. Sharing the parenting load and the household chores. Showing love to one another, in ways other than sex, all become more important over time. Things need not fall apart in

ID-1009082

“Image courtesy of Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

your marriage, in order for things to get better. However, things will change and you need a more solid base than just the sex that was there upon which to base your future together.

You can look at the changes that have occurred in your lifetime and come to the conclusion, “Yes, things changed, but I’m still here.” Those in a good marriage will say, “Yes, things changed but we’re still here, still together.” Jobs come and go, along with the people who were there. Old friendships from school or sports or other things in life may come and go. In the end, when you look back on the pictures of your life (real or in your memories) the one constant is that person standing next to you in most of them – your spouse. Remember that and work on that relationship as it evolves over time. What you’ll achieve is not Creative Destruction; but, rather, Creative Growth of your marriage.

Have a great rest of your week. Kiss your spouse and say “I love you” at least once every day and think a reason that it is true when you say it.