Three little words that can change your life… Technology changes everything. (10 of ?)

March 31, 2014

Sometimes the simplest little things can have big impact on our lives. In this series of posts I examine very short sentences (each just three words long) that can make a difference in your life. If you have a three word sentence that changed your life somehow, share it with me and I will share it with the world.

I have seen today’s three word phrase – technology changes everything – used a lot over the past fewtechnology years, especially by the purveyors of technology. I come out of a background of technology, having worked for various computer companies for about 30 years before I got into real estate. I have witnessed the changes that technology has caused first-hand. I helped introduce that changing technology into many lives and companies and watched the disruption that is causes. I was there when the PC was born and have watched it grow up and evolve.

Having said that, I would assert that technology may change the “when”, “what” and the “how” of things, almost everything; but it does not change the “why”, because that is driven by human nature, which is the who. Technology may allow us to do things completely differently and certainly at much greater speed, but immutable at the core of it all is the human element of why. Why do we work? Why do we communicate with others? Why do we need to know that? Why do we make the decisions that we make? Technology may facilitate any or all of the answers to those questions, but it does not change our answers.

tablet computerWe are the children of a technological age. We have found streamlined ways of doing much of our routine work. Printing is no longer the only way of reproducing books. Reading them, however, has not changed. – Lawrence Clark Powell

Technology has made the work we do different and made the communications easier and faster, but in the end it is still one human being talking, texting, emailing or face timing with another human being. The technology makes that easier but it does not make the human decisions that come out of that communication. Technology may monitor and warn us, but it does not decide what to do about the warning. Even if technology does appear to make a decision, it is through a program, perhaps even “artificial intelligence”, that we humans wrote and coded in our own answer to why.

“Science and technology revolutionize our lives, but memory, tradition and myth frame our response.” – Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

In our immediate lifetime much of the progress of technology has focused not as much on replacing humans in repetitive physical tasks but on facilitating faster and faster communications and providing access to more and more data and information. That is a mixed blessing.

Technology is so much fun but we can drown in our technology. The fog of information can drive out knowledge. – Daniel J. Boorstin

The fact is that we cannot absorb and assimilate the overload of information that is available or pressed lady at computerupon us quickly enough to turn it into knowledge. Instead of building our own knowledge base we have become increasingly dependent upon the crutch offered by technology. I do not need to remember or assimilate things anymore because I can just Google a topic to pull up what I need at the moment. Now, through the use of “big data” tools I can have technology scan huge amounts of raw data looking for patterns. What I want to know what those patterns are is still up to me. Why do I need to know that and what will I do now that I know it? Still my call.

Perhaps the most widespread impact that technology has had on us as humans is on the speed and ease with which we can communicate. The issue of distance between people has been vanquished by technology; however, due to the technology, much of what we call communicating has become asynchronous in nature and in the process become less personal, less about communicating and more about exchanging information. Emailing, posting to Facebook or Twitter may be considered to be a form of communications but it is really not communicating – that only happens between two human beings. Texting, while still asynchronous is at least a bit more interactive.

The newest computer can merely compound, at speed, the oldest problem in the relations between human beings, and in the end the communicator will be confronted with the old problem, of what to say and how to say it. – Edward R. Murrow

man on cell phoneFor many, technology has enabled them to be connected to others more and more often. Cell phones have become ubiquitous in the developed world and are even in use in remote regions that used to be cut off from the world. Cell phone technology changed the way we communicate with others but not why.

So, the key take-away may be what technology does not do. Technology does not have a value system, it is agnostic and impersonal. It has no soul. It remains the role of the users of technology to supply that missing piece – the why (the soul).

Yes, technology changes everything; and yet, technology changes nothing. We are safe from the threat of technology that some have imagined because we still supply the soul of the machines – the why they exist.

Three little words that can change your life… You complete me. (9 of ?)

March 29, 2014

Sometimes the simplest little things can have big impact on our lives. In this series of posts I examine very short sentences (each just three words long) that can make a difference in your life. If you have a three word sentence that changed your life somehow, share it with me and I will share it with the world.

I was surprised when I Googled this little phrase to see so much already posted about this. I sort of remembered it from the Tom Cruise movie Jerry McGuire, but it was the history going back to the ancient Greeks and Plato that surprised me (click here to read that article post on the Relevant Magazine site). Greek mythology has an elaborate explanation of how the human race was split into male and female by the god Zeus out of the androgynous offspring of the moon. The entire two parts of a whole thing is a fascinating read and is said to have led to the phrase “my better half” in our modern lexicon.

While not mentioned in the Google response I was thinking when I read it that the Chinese Yin andyin yang Yang Taoist symbols apply there, too; although in the Taoist beliefs they represent opposing forces in constant battle and not two parts that make up a whole. Of course, we all know couples that seem to be in constant battles, too.

Another thing that surprised me a bit is how overuse and maybe sometimes inappropriate use of this little phrase, some of it based upon the movie, has served to marginalize it. The phrase has not totally taken on the guise of a caricature in the vernacular yet, but it isn’t far from that. It’s referred to somewhat derogatorily as “an old soul mate saying” in many of the Google responses. That’s a shame, because for many it still has great personal meaning.

There is great value in the phrase when it is meant to allude to the love and companionship that may have been missing in one’s life that are filled by a meaningful relationship. Perhaps instead of “you complete me” the more appropriate phrase would be, “you fill the void that was in my life.” Over time, in long-term relationships, more and more layers of meaning are added to that little phrase.

old cooupleCouples in long term, committed relationships that last, move through phases in life, in which some things that were primary to the relationship in the beginning fade into the background; and new things, or things that were there all along but just not front and center, take more prominent rolls. Where once two bodies intertwined; now, two souls have become enmeshed. The heat of ardor and lust is replaced by the warm comfort of love and companionship. The rapid heartbeat of passion is replaced by the reassuring heartbeat of companionship. The two persons almost seem as one. Together they are strong and capable and unafraid, but apart they may become disoriented, confused and anxious.

You may have known older couples like that and thought, “How cute is that?” Sometimes they

"Image courtesy of Simon Howden /".

“Image courtesy of Simon Howden /”.

shuffle along, supporting each other, maybe holding hands or with arms intertwined. It wasn’t cute; you were witnessing true love and commitment; and, each of them made the other complete. I suspect that is why you occasionally hear of both parties in one of those relationships dying within days of each other. It is often been said that they couldn’t stand to be apart – they had become incomplete.

So, rather than snicker when you hear those three little words or thinking of the Tom Cruise movie or toss the line off cavalierly ; think about that little old couple shuffling along in the mall together. They have found something together that you can only hope you find in your life. They understand and are living the commitment that they made to each other. They know that the other half of them will be there in times of need. They have made each other complete. You should be so lucky.

Three little words that can change your life… Deal with it. (8 of ?)

March 28, 2014

Sometimes the simplest little things can have big impact on our lives. In this series of posts I examine very short sentences (each just three words long) that can make a difference in your life. If you have a three word sentence that changed your life somehow, share it with me and I will share it with the world.

Today’s three word sentence – “Deal with it.” – came from the retired pastor of my church, Pastor Jack Freed, whose blog Jack’s Winning Words I read daily. I asked Jack to help me think of three word phrases that I might want to write about that have life meanings. His list is challenging, but good material to work with and you will see more of them in the future.. Today’s phrase is oft accompanied by the corollary, “Get over it.” 

Whatever “it” is the point is to take it on, not to let it just fester or grow in your mind. Life throws us all sorts of curve balls, some pleasant and some sad and many just surprises that we have to deal with. The secret is not to get frustrated or let these events get you down, but to develop thelady under cloud ability to take them on, assess what they mean and formulate a plan to deal with it.

Dealing with things that hit us is easier if we don’t let them initially overwhelm us. It’s OK to say, “Wow, I didn’t see that coming”; but, you need to move quickly on to, “Ok, how am I going to react to and deal with this?” Becoming befuddled and paralyzed is not the reaction that you are going for in those cases. I wrote a post at the beginning of the month that was titled Problem Solving 101, which had this saying from George C. Marshall – “Don’t fight the problem, decide it!” Deal with it.

The meaning of that saying is the gist of today’s Three Little Words. You can’t just leave the problem or issue laying there, in hopes that it might just go away. In most cases, the longer something sits there unresolved the worse it gets. It’s like leaving a dead fish in the trunk of your car. The longer it sits in the back the worse it smells up front. Deal with it.

confrontationFor many the issue that is preventing taking any action is the fear of confrontation. You are usually not just confronting the abstract notion of a problem, you are confronting a person who is associated with the problem or who may be causing the problem. It may be something as simple as a difference of opinion or as deeply rooted as a difference of basic beliefs. Sometimes it is a difference of interpretation of events or statements that may have been made, but sometimes it is a difference in basic moral positions. Neither case need be intractable but the latter takes much more understanding, work and finesse. Deal with it.

It is perhaps that word understanding that is really the key to success here. Too many bitter arguments in life are based on misunderstandings or a lack of understanding and appreciation for the other person’s point of view. I talked of the challenges of trying to understand someone else’s point of view by putting yourself in their shoes in my post Eleven Hints for Life – Number 8. A take-away from that post is how hard it is to allow for all of the cultural differences that might be present; but you have to try to understand the other person’s point of view or frame of reference. You can’t assess the difficulty of the problem without understanding the gulf that separates the two of you from agreement. Deal with it.

So, start by getting as good of an understanding as you can about where that person is comingtwo women talking from or what is motivating them or just admit that you don’t have a clue and ask them to help you understand. That at least shows them that you are willing to try. Then, hopefully having clarified what the issue./problem is and what is driving them to take the position that they have established, you need to decide what you might need to do in order to make things right and whether it is worth it. I know that the last part of that sentence sounds harsh, but not all problems are worth the effort to solve them. Sometimes it is better to skip right to corollary and get over it and move on. Deal with it.

So, whether you make the problem solving effort to work things out or just decide to by-pass the problem and move on, the key is to make a conscious decision and take action. You will feel an immediate sense of relief, no matter what happens, because you are no longer facing this problem. It is behind you. Now you can start the next phase – Get over it. It is unfortunate that sometimes that also means deciding to get over the person with whom you have the problem, but that is a part of life, too. Deal with it.

Three little words that can change your life… I forgive you (7 of ?)

March 27, 2014

Sometimes the simplest little things can have big impact on our lives. In this series of posts I examine very short sentences (each just three words long) that can make a difference in your life. If you have a three word sentence that changed your life somehow, share it with me and I will share it with the world.

I won’t pretend to understand the unbelievable grief that can overcome you at the loss of a loved one, especially if the loss was caused intentionally or unintentionally by someone else. We see it on the news all the time – horrific accidents that leave people dead, many caused by drunk drivers, or shootings either intentional or of innocent bystanders. We sympathize with the people dissapointed ladyleft behind and share some of their pain as they weep on camera for the ever present and callously intrusive media.

Occasionally, usually months later, there will be a follow-up story about the person who caused the death being sentenced for whatever charges were brought, from manslaughter to negligent homicide to murder. In many of those cases the convicted perpetrator faces the family of the deceased and apologizes for what happened (some do not). In a few cases I have watched the reports as the remaining family members express forgiveness to the accused. I have always wondered at that. How could they, while still in mourning and with obvious grief still a part of their lives, bring themselves to forgive the person who caused the death of their loved one?

Often the media will pursue these people with that very question, not content to have been an interloper in the original incident. The reporter shoves a microphone into the faces of the family and asks them how they could do that, how they could forgive the killer of their loved one? There seems to be an interesting and telling similarity in many of the replies, “How could we not forgive?”

Even as I can’t get my head around their level of initial grief, I have difficulty assimilating that reply, too. I know that it is the right reply, the only reply that makes sense in the long run. It is what the teachings of our religious beliefs prepare us to do, yet it is hard to imagine in practice. It requires strength of character that most of us will never have to test and I think most are suspect of in ourselves. Yet, what is the alternative?

Holding on to anger and grief and continuing to direct it against someone else does nothing good for you or them. Letting go of those feelings by forgiving the other person brings closure to things and frees you to move on in life. It may have a positive effect on the other person, too. We occasionally see stories that follow up years later about how the original perpetrator turned their life around, in part because they were forgiven for their tragic mistake.

As we look at how to apply this in our more mundane daily lives, there are many little things that can happen – a partner forgetting an anniversary or other special occasion, a spouse who comes home drunk or who stays out too late, an agreement in which hurtful words are exchanged. In those cases, too, it is important to be able to say, “I forgive you” and move on. Now, this is not to say that the abused spouse or partner in a bad domestic situation should just keep saying I caringforgive you and allowing the abuse to continue. That is not the case and help should be sought in that case. There may be an opportunity later for forgiveness.

But for those other, minor things in life that are disappointing or angering, It is important to be able to forgive and, if not forget, at least move on. Most of the time the forgiveness can be silent but sometimes it is important to say it out loud and to the other person. Sometimes they’ve been wallowing in remorse over the incident and didn’t know how to make things right. Saying, “I forgive you” makes it right on many different levels.

Are you carrying around some burning little ball of bitterness over something, some rancid little dollop of hate or disappointment that you can’t seem to get rid of? Try this. Confront the person that caused this and say, “I forgive you.” If you can bring yourself to say that and mean it, a great weight will be lifted from you and you will know peace and be able to get on with life. While only God can forgive our sins, it is within our own power to forgive each other. From my tip from a couple of days ago – just do it.

Three little words that can change your life…I was wrong. (6 of ?)

March 26, 2014

Sometimes the simplest little things can have big impact on our lives. In this series of posts I examine very short sentences (each just three words long) that can make a difference in your life. If you have a three word sentence that changed your life somehow, share it with me and I will share it with the world.

My second post in this series was probably the toughest for many, especially the men in the audience. It was the I need help post.  Boy the three words for today are tough to say for many, too – “I was wrong.” Sometimes it’s because the corollary is, “You were right.” Not only are we loath to admit or own error, for some reason we are reluctant to allow the other person the satisfaction of being right.

It is the highest form of self-respect to admit our errors and mistakes and make amends for them. To make a mistake is only an error in judgment, but to adhere to it when it is discovered shows infirmity of character. – Dale Turner

angry coupleWhatever the circumstances or reason, the best course it always to swallow your injured pride and admit that you were wrong. Just as important, if this was something between two people; you need to admit that the other party was right. It may also be the time to apologize if you made a big deal out of belittling their correct position on the matter, as some are want to do; or maybe you just put a little too much emphasis on the correctness of your position vs. theirs. In either case, you were wrong. Admit it. Don’t stop at, I was wrong” proceed directly to “and you were right” and try to start repairing the damage that you may have caused, perhaps even asking for forgiveness about how you handled the original argument.

 Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.- Bruce Lee

So have the courage to admit your errors when you are wrong and show others that you can learnblowhard
from your mistakes. Not doing so may lead people to believe that you are an idiot, too stupid to realize your mistakes; or, worse, an obnoxious boor, too uncouth and belligerent to reverse
yourself even in the face of the truth of your error. Neither conclusion will result in other people wanting to spend time with you. We all know some insufferable blowhards that we try to avoid. Don’t be that guy/gal.

In marriages a liberal use of both the three words of the day and it corollary will ensure harmony. In fact Ogden Nash is quoted as taking that one step further in this little couplet –

To keep your marriage brimming, With love in the loving cup, Whenever you’re wrong, admit it; Whenever you’re right, shut up.

It can do almost as much harm to gloat over being right as being bull headed about being wrong. caringSo, be quietly confident in knowing that you are right and wait for the light bulb to come on in the other person’s head. Sometimes that never happens, a condition for which the term dim bulb was coined; but, don’t say that to them out loud; then, you’d be wrong, too.

I must admit to being quite an expert on today’s topic or at least well practiced, since I get the opportunity more often than I care to admit to practice them. Fortunately I have an understanding wife who puts up with the little things and calls me on the bigger ones. Most of the time she was right.

Three little words that can change your life… Just do it! (5 of ?)

March 25, 2014

Sometimes the simplest little things can have big impact on our lives. In this series of posts I examine very short sentences (each just three words long) that can make a difference in your life. If you have a three word sentence that changed your life somehow, share it with me and I will share it with the world.

Nike-Logo1Nike has ridden those three little words to fame and fortune and I used them in Hint 7 of Eleven Hints for Life. So what was the hint – don’t get to the end of life with a bunch of coulda, woulda, shoulda’s on your bucket list; in fact don’t get there with a bucket list; just do it!

If you write those three little words down and post them somewhere where you can see them at the start of each day maybe that will allow you to start each day on the right foot. We all tend to let caution and fears stop us from taking chances in life. Sometimes that is good and prevents us from doing things that would be dangerous. Many times it stops us from doing things that we think could be dangerous that really aren’t. For too many people that leads to a timid life of safe disappointment. Just do it!

anxiousIf I don’t put out my hand to welcome a stranger have I stayed safe from some unknown consequence or just lost the opportunity to make a friend? If I don’t go to the ball game in downtown Detroit because I’m afraid to go there, have I been prudent or foolishly passed up the opportunity to have a good time. If I don’t raise my hand to volunteer for a good cause, is it because I’m really too busy or just that I’m too afraid to get involved? How much of life do I let pass me by because I am afraid of disappointment or just letting the fear of the unknown rule my life. Just do it!

Have you ever noticed how happy those people seem who just do it, how much fun they’re having that you are not, because you pulled back in fear from some new afraid turtleadventure? You can be happy, too. You can experience new things, have new adventures and make new friends. You just need to free yourself from the chains of fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD). Just do it.

Probably the biggest thing that people who are immobilized by FUD have to overcome is their own vivid imaginations. We have an amazing ability to imagine worst case scenarios in life. Every dark alley that we must pass by becomes filled with pimps and muggers. Every long walk from the parking lot to the event venue is a gauntlet full of dangers and hidden threats. Soon the world closes in on us and even the places we used to feel safe are now suspect. Taken to the extreme, some people develop agoraphobia and are trapped like prisoners in their own homes. Don’t let your imagination rule your life – Just do it!

For most of us things don’t get to that point of agoraphobia ; however, we do let prejudices and false information limit us. We just don’t do it, because we feel safer. We try to convince ourselves that it was the prudent thing to do, not to go, not to join the group that is having fun, not to reach out and belong. But those decisions ring hollow. We see that everyone who went made it back and they all seemed to have fun. Dammed, why didn’t I go, too? Just do it!

female climberSo, there’s nothing wrong with doing a quick intelligence check on whatever it is that you’ve been invited to do; just don’t let that quick check get bogged down by the baggage of prejudice and fear of the unknown. Don’t do things that are illegal or really stupid (you can watch those things in the Jackass movies). Remember, everything is unknown until you’ve done it once. Just do it!

Three little words that can change your life – Be at peace (4 of ?)

March 24, 2014

Sometimes the simplest little things can have big impact on our lives. In this series of posts I examine very short sentences (each just three words long) that can make a difference in your life. If you have a three word sentence that changed your life somehow, share it with me and I will share it with the world.

I’ve gotten to know Pastor Doug McMunn, the Pastor of the Milford United Methodist Church here in Milford through our involvement in the Huron Valley Chamber of Commerce (HVCC). I’m not a member of his church, but he and I are both members of the HVCC and he attends quite a few of our HVCC events, especially the coffee clubs on Friday mornings. Doug is just one of those people that it’s a pleasure to know. He is a very good listener and you get the impression when you are with him that he really cares about what it is you are saying, too.

I feature the events of his church on my web site – – in the Upcoming Events calendar. In order to do that I’ve asked him to have the church staff send me emails with event information and, if possible, to also send a PDF file of any flyer or poster that they’ve created for the event. I recall one coffee club in particular at which I was sort of railing away at Doug that his staff had not sent me anything to post about an event that I saw a poster for in a store window downtown. As I ranted on to Doug about needing that information to post, he quietly said, “Be at peace, Norm. I’ll get you that information.”

Be at peace. What a powerful little message. I’ve since thought about how does one get to be at peace? We all get into agitated states about things in our daily lives, some of them major things that are important; but, many of them minor little things of no great importance other than in our minds at the moment. We need to be at peace. But, how?

I suspect that the first step is just to STOP. Stop whatever rant or tizzy you are in at the time. Stop and pause to fearthink.  Is this really that important or am I just flustered and flopping around for an answer or a way out of whatever I’ve gotten myself into. Many times, if you can stop and step back (figuratively) and look in the mirror at that person with the flushed face and raised voice who seems to be so upset you may start to laugh. What was that all about? Be at peace.

Sometimes it is not anger but grief that has overcome us – the loss of a loved one or the grief that comes along with guilt when we have done something wrong. In those times it may be impossible to find peace without the help of someone else to tell you that it’s OK to let it out and then let it go. If you are in Milford, there’s no one that I know of who could help you more with that than Pastor McMunn. Be at peace.

Sometimes the things that has you agitated is something that you cannot control or stop yourself, perhaps a bad habit or trouble with alcohol, drugs or gambling. In those cases, I’ve suggested that you need to admit to yourself that you cannot do it alone and reach out and call for help. See my earlier post in this series – I need help. Get the help you need and be at peace.

Sometimes it’s just the frustrations of daily life that get to us and cause up to snap at a co-worker or a loved one. That is usually accompanied very quickly with feelings of remorse at having said something unkind or off-putting lifes stormsto someone that we did not mean to offend or alienate. The best solution for that is a quick apology. Be at peace.

Sometimes we are actually mad at ourselves or frustrated by failing at something that we are doing. We talk to ourselves; maybe even berating ourselves for our failures. We beat ourselves up over things that we think we did wrong, things said or left unsaid. If left unfettered this tendency towards self-deprivation may go too far and lead to depression – we end up not liking ourselves. Whoa! Be at peace.

If you are happy, you can give happiness. If you don’t love yourself and if you are unhappy with yourself, you can’t give anything else but that. – Gisele Bundchen

So, be at peace and love yourself; then, you can go out and find others to love, too.

You need to love yourself and be yourself one hundred percent before you can actually love someone else. – Christina Perri

In my church, we exchange the peace every week; members shake each other’s hands or hug and the exchange handshaketakes place – “Peace be with you” – sometimes the reply is “And also with you.” I think Pastor McMunn’s saying, “Be at peace” is really saying the same thing and would work equally well. So, as you start each day, start it off right by whispering to yourself – Be at peace. At least you’ll be starting from the right place.

Three little words that can change your life… Can I help? (3 of ?)

March 23, 2014

Sometimes the simplest little things can have big impact on our lives. In this series of posts I examine very short sentences (each just three words long) that can make a difference in your life. If you have a three word sentence that changed your life somehow, share it with me and I will share it with the world.

In yesterday’s post I discussed how hard it is for some, especially men, to admit that they need help and to ask for it. Today let’s look at a simple little sentence that seems is equally hard for many, if not most. Can I help? It probably is used in sentence contexts of more than three words, like “Can I help you?” or “Can I help with that?”, but they all start the same way, with a conscious effort t reach out and offer your help.

caringThat sounds so easy to say, much easier than the sentence “I need help”; however, offering your help, volunteering or rushing to someone’s aid in a time of need is something that we all hesitate on to some degree. We see stories on the news all the time about local “heroes” who run into burning buildings to rescue someone or pull people from burning cars at an accident scene. One thing that is fairly common when they are interviewed afterwards is the statement, “I didn’t even think about it I just acted.” That’s sort of the nature of emergency situations and how we as humans react to them.

But what about all of those times when it isn’t an emergency, it isn’t a burning building or a car crash; maybe it’s just seeing someone with a flat tire along the highway or seeing an older person having trouble getting across the street or loading her car at the grocery store. We’re actually pretty good about those things, too; but all too often we are too busy, in too big of a hurry and we avert our eyes or turn away.

Now, take the case of the neighbor that you see crying on her front porch or the fellow office worker that you see has had too much to drink at the office party. What then? Or how about the call from the church asking if you can visit some shut-in congregation members or maybe asking if you can drive to deliver Easter Baskets of food to several needy families. Is it getting tougher to say yes to those situations?

dissapointed ladyHow about that co-worker that just got the layoff notice, the woman next door who seems to always have a bruise on her face or the neighbor who just lost his wife to cancer. Can you help them?  Of course you can, but will you. After all you’ve got a life, too; and, you have things to do. You have work and golf on the weekends and kids games to go to and on and on. You just don’t have time, do you? Or do you and you just don’t want to take the time to offer that help?

“Never underestimate the difference YOU can make in the lives of others. Step forward, reach out and help. This week reach to someone that might need a lift” ― Pablo

You may not know what you can do to help. Don’t worry; just being there for that person is a great start. Being a good listener is probably the best way to help initially and you can go from there. Obviously there is only so much that you have the skills to help with, but maybe you are there for the purpose of helping that person seek the professional counseling that they need. Don’t try to be a psychologist yourself, but try to get that person to see one if things are really that bad. Sometimes just letting them talk things out is all that they needed; but sometimes they need that final push to seek more help than you can give them – perhaps a shelter for battered helping handwomen or a professional grief counselor. Take their hand and lead them to that help.

“I don’t want to live in the kind of world where we don’t look out for each other. Not just the people that are close to us, but anybody who needs a helping hand. I can’t change the way anybody else thinks, or what they choose to do, but I can do my bit.” ― Charles de Lint

All of us can do our little bit to help.

Maybe it gets down to a choice that you make because you “don’t want to get involved.” I would submit that you’re already involved. You are a fellow human being and one of the things that defines us as humans is our ability to have compassion for others.

The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another. – Thomas Merton

So you see that you are already involved, you just haven’t committed to play your role in things yet.

If all of the above is not enough to convince you to reach out and help someone, then do it for yourself; to bring purpose to your life. I discussed the end game in life in the 11th post of my Eleven Hints for Life series.

When you get to the end, the things that you will remember and bring that smile to your face are the times that you didn’t turn your back on the opportunity to help someone, the times that you weren’t too busy to reach out; the times that you made a difference in someone’s life just by being there and offering to help. Some of those you’ve helped will probably show up at your funeral and some may even know that they are there because you stopped to help. You’ll know, too!

“It’s not enough to have lived. We should be determined to live for something. May I suggest that it be creating joy for others, sharing what we have for the betterment of personkind, bringing hope to the lost and love to the lonely.” ― Leo Buscaglia

Can you help? Yes, you can.

Three little words that can change your life… “I need help.” (2 of ? in a series)

March 22, 2014

Sometimes the simplest little things can have big impact on our lives. In this series of posts I examine very short sentences (each just three words long) that can make a difference in your life. If you have a three word sentence that changed your life somehow, share it with me and I will share it with the world.

If the first three word sentence – I love you – is the biggie, then today’s three word sentence may be the hardest for many to say. First you have to admit it to yourself and then you have to say it out loud to someone else. I suspect that people who work in various self-help groups, like AA or DA or GA, would tell you that admitting it or, maybe better stated, realizing that you need help is the biggest barrier to getting the help that you need.

I suspect that this is more of a guy problem than it is for women. From fairly early childhood boys are taught and conditioned to try to be self-reliant, to be stoic in our pain or disappointments and to keep a stiff upper lip and carry on. You don’t cry when you get hurt, you “shake it off.” In some street-level scenarios this goes even further and we are taught not to be snitches, even though we know that fingering the perpetrator of a crime to the proper authorities is the right thing to do. We are essentially taught to hold it in; to try to work it out ourselves; not to ask for outside help. Running to mommy to get help with the bully who is bugging you is considered to be bad.

And so it goes from a young age. We build layer upon layer of self-reinforcing rationale for not asking for help. It is after all not the manly thing to do. When we finally get to adulthood we are faced with a completely new set of challenges. How do we deal with getting laid off when there is a new baby on the way? How do we deal with having gambled away this week’s paycheck, even though the rent is due? How do we deal with homing home so drunk so many nights that we can’t remember when the last time was that we saw our kids before they went to bed? How do we deal with feeling like we have let down the one that we promised to cherish and protect through thick and through thin?

Like crap, would be the quick and easy answer to those questions; but, that does not really face the problem. The problem in many, if not all of those cases, is that you need help. The good news is that help is out there; all over the place, among your family and friend, in churches, in groups and organizations like AA, DA and GA that are just waiting to help you. The bad news for most is that you have to realize that you need it and ask for it. No one is going to come knocking on your door and say, “Hey, I was just out here and wondering if you need help?”  You need to ask.

So, how do you get to the point where you can ask for help? For some it is only possible when they are staring into the abyss and realize that the next step in that direction leads to the end. They literally have to be scared to death or scared of death, before they will act. For many it can be arriving at the logical end of the line of all of the things that they thought that they could do by themselves. They literally have to exhaust all possible alternatives that they can think of. The problem with both of those approaches is that they often lose those that they love along the way, because they let things go on for too long and resisted getting help to change. Ask any ex-wife of an abusive spouse how long they stayed just hoping that the one they loved at one time would get help that they never sought.

Let me suggest a different way to cope. If you’ve hit a problem or recognized that you have a problem that you don’t know how you can solve yourself, admit that to yourself first and then free yourself to seek help. For some, with a religious foundation to their lives, that may start by admitting in prayer that you need help. I have found in my life that the simple prayer, “Not my will, but thy will be done”, frees me from the baggage of being stubbornly self-reliant and allows me to move from being isolated by my own stubbornness to asking for help. I’ve always found the help I needed, once I found the will to ask for it.

For others it may be that sitting down and talking about the issue with a loved one or good friend will be the start. They’ve probably been telling your for some time to get help, but you weren’t listening . Maybe they can even suggest where to get the help that you need. I almost assure you that they will be supportive, because they’ve probably been concerned about you for some time and this will let them be a par to the help that you need. For an unfortunate few it may be that the ride in the back seat of a police car will be what it takes. That is usually too late to recover without consequences; but it can be the sobering experience that pushes you over the edge and allows you to ask for help.

If nothing else, maybe here’s a way to start when you are dealing with a problem that you feel lost about. Go find a mirror and look into it and say, “I need help…I can’t do this by myself.” Don’t just say it once; say it over and over until you have peeled away those layers of resistance and believe it and are ready to act upon that thought. Don’t be surprised if the guy you see in the mirror has a tear running down his cheek. He needs help…offer yours – get him help.

Three little words that can change your life…I love you. (1 of ?)

March 21, 2014

Today I start a new series of post without a clue as to how many there may be in the series. Sometimes the simplest little things can have big impact on our lives. In this series of posts I examine very short sentences (each just three words long) that can make a difference in your life. If you have a three word sentence that changed your life somehow, share it with me and I will share my comments on those words with the world.

loving coupleOK, let’s start with the biggie – “I love you.” I don’t know of to any other three word sentences that will follow in this series that can have the impact of those three, once you have the right person to share them with. Now, it’s true that you have probably used them before in your life, with family and maybe even with best friends; however, they take on a completely new level of meaning once you have found your life partner. I’ve been with my wife for 48 years now and we make it a point to say those three words to each other every day; and we mean it.

Getting to the “I love you” stage with someone else is not easy. Just saying it out loud is a challenge for some; but, once said, it becomes the most liberating, most warming and most comforting thing in your life. Not only does it make the person that you just said it too feel great; it makes you feel great, too. Why is that? Well, it has to do with letting your shields down and exposing yourself, your feelings, your dreams, your desires, and your hopes. You sort of lay it all out on the line when you use those three words with conviction. It is founded on trust and commitment to each other. When you find that special someone who reciprocates that love and openness you will also know what contentment is in your life.

Making sure that it is the right person to say those words to is why so many are so cautious, so slow to get to that point; especially if they’ve had an experience where their feeling s were not in sync with the other person. It’s a major “ouchie” when you’ve just laid your heart out there and it got stomped upon. That really doesn’t happen all that often, but the stories are out there to keep the fear level up. Yet, without taking that risk; without laying it on the line and exposing yourself to whatever is coming, you cannot and will not get to that point where the ultimate reply comes your way – “ love you, too.” SCORE!!!

And what about the “I’m just not ready to make a commitment” angle on this? That’s valid and there is no place in that relationship for the” I love you” words. Maybe “I lust you” fits better. That happens a lot before you are issued your big boy/girl panties.  It’s just a fact or stage of life. Most grow out of that stage and desire something more, something even more satisfying than good sex, in a relationship; some don’t and they make great TV shows about people like them. I won’t attempt to comment on who grows out of that stage first – men or women; but I suspect that we all have an idea on that. Just remember that Peter Pan, after all, was a boy who never grew up.

Great things happen when you finally get to that stage with someone. For one, you stop wasting a lot of time putting on young couplefalse pretenses; on trying to hide who are really are because you are concerned that you are not handsome/pretty enough or not refined enough or not interesting enough or not whatever enough. Enough already! Now you can just be you with someone that you have gotten to a point at which they accept you for who you are, just as you accept them for what and who they are.

So, once you get past the stage where “I love you” is written in tiny letters on a little candy heart that you give to someone on Valentine’s Day and when you move on from mistaking sex for love; then find that one person with whom you can share your life, let down your guard, say, “I love you” and understand what that really means. Those three words will change your life.