First, believe in yourself…

July 31, 2014

“If you don’t believe in yourself, who will?” – seen in the comic strip Nancy.

Every now and then a daily comic strip from the paper will strike a chord with me; admittedly that was more unicornoften when the Calvin and Hobbs strip was a daily feature, but it still happens. In this strip Nancy and her Aunt Fritz were discussing the disappearance of Unicorns and Nancy offered that bit of pithy insight into what might have happened to them. They didn’t even believe in themselves, so they vanished from the earth.

The really important message in Nancy’s little saying is that your success, your breakthrough in life, your ability to cope with what life throws at you, your ticket to happiness begins with your belief in yourself. Others will not get or develop a sense of you as a person that they want to know and be around, if you can’t even develop that same feeling about yourself. I’ve written about that here in many different posts (so read backwards through my posts until you find them all). You have to like you first; then you can start liking others and they can like you back. Feel free to substitute the word love in that last sentence.cheering up

Now, I will admit that there are people who sometime may have more faith and confidence you than you have in yourself. Those are your personal “cheerleaders” and they are an important reinforcement for the belief that you must have in yourself. Some of these people may occasionally take on very aggressive roles similar to the trainers that you see on the TV reality programs such as “The Biggest Loser”. They may push or cajole you towards success; sometimes seeming harsh in their entreats, but always on your side and cheering you on.

It’s great if you have those supporters in your corner; but, the fact remains that it is you who must believe; you who must know that you can achieve the goal; you who be willing to push beyond your old, self-imposed limits to reach new heights. You must believe in yourself. After a while, if you don’t believe in yourself, those cheerleaders will turn into sympathizers or worse. People will cheer forever for the person that they think will keep trying forever; but they will leave the stands and go home on the person who quits and admits defeat in front of them. So, like the Unicorns, who may not have believed in themselves as Nancy put it; you will disappear.

reaching goalYou must believe that you make a difference, that your dreams and aspirations are worthwhile and that, if you work hard enough and long enough, you will achieve them. You must believe in you first. Others, who believe in you, too, will follow. I’ve met many people in my journey through life who struggled with believing in themselves. Some had been beaten down by bullies in their life (sometimes parents) who tried to convince them that they weren’t worth anything. Once they found a way to like themselves and accept who they are, as they are; they next found the strength to stand up and say, “I believe in me and there’s nothing that can stop me now.” They are a joy to watch and fun to be around, because they are finally empowered to be all that they could have been all along.

If you’ve already “jumped that shark” and feel good about yourself and empowered to be successful, reachhelping hand back and grasp the hand of someone you might know who is still trembling in fear of failure and help them get to that place, too. There’s nothing wrong with sharing some of the power by being able to say,” I believe in me and I believe in you, too.” Help them get to that state of belief in themselves that feeds upon itself and fuels success.

Have a great, empowered day!

“You can’t do life by yourself.”

July 30, 2014

Today’s little quote comes from a news story on the local news last night that concerned an international soccer competition for the homeless of the world. The story concerned this athletic competition which is between people who were homeless in various countries. Click here to see the ace of the homeless from around the world. As one participant from the U.S. was being interviewed about it he expressed his thankfulness for the program and the assistance that he has received and he said, “you can’t do life by yourself.”

That statement was much more profound than I’m sure he realized at the time. You don’t have to be homeless to come to that conclusion, but people who have lived on the streets probably realize it quicker and more deeply than most of us. None of us lives in a vacuum, by ourselves; however, many homeless people come awfully close to that – cut off from the rest of society many times they form a little society of their own out on the streets, because “you can’t do life by yourself.”

gloomy guySometimes there are people who aren’t homeless, just friendless. These are people, who for one reason or another, are cut off, or have cut themselves off, from others. They have a home and maybe even some pets (many time way too many pets), but they don’t have friends or relatives or anyone else to interact with, so they become little islands unto themselves. They are cut off and become hermits or recluses because they don’t realize that “you can’t do life by yourself.”

Hopefully you are not homeless or like one of those people who have become islands unto themselves. What you can become, without realizing it, is someone who by their actions and reactions pushes people away, refusing help or advice when it is really needed. You may be trying to live life by yourself and not even realize it. If you are lucky you will have friends who see this and realize that you need help, even if youcheering up can’t find a way to ask for it. Those are true friends; let them into your life. They know that “you can’t do life by yourself.”

There are those who, for reasons of pride or arrogance or bullheadedness, can’t seem to admit that they need the support or help of others. Some are people who will steadfastly resist a hug and may need a slap up-side-the-head. They may resist your help, but don’t give up on them. Sometimes you just need to grab them by the shoulders and give them a good shake and yell at them “you can’t do life by yourself.”

For the most part, though, I think you’ll find a welcome smile and warm embrace from someone that you see needs your help and concern. Don’t be afraid to ask if you can help. Don’t be shy about offering to help caringand don’t hold back when your help is accepted. You’ll feel good about helping and you’ll feel better knowing that when your time comes to need help, others will be there because they too know, “you can’t do life by yourself.”

So, go out today and be a friend, be there for someone in need, listen to someone’s sad story and offer comfort and help. Help someone who is down and out. Reach out to someone is alone and lonely, even if they won’t admit it. Basically be a human being, because as a human being you know that “you can’t do life by yourself.”

Wind yourself up…

July 29, 2014

“You can’t turn back the clock, but you can wind it up again.”  (Bonnie Prudden)

That little saying that I saw on the Jack’s Winning Words blog hit home for me because I’m in the process of trying to wind my own clock up a bit by turning back the clock on my weight. I’ve been on one of those diets where one substitutes a supplement shake for a couple of meals a day for about a month now and have dropped a little over 10 pounds. I kiddingly measure my progress by trying to remember who was in the White House the last time I was at a certain weight level. I think I’m at the same level now as I was when grandfather clockRichard Nixon was President. I’m shooting for the Kennedy years, before too much beer in college took over.

Some people are naturally upbeat and full of energy; while others (I count myself in this group) need a little push I the right direction to get started. That’s one reason that I look forward to getting my daily email about the topic that day on the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Jack tends to choose more upbeat quotes or at least quotes that make one think and that’s a good start to any day. That allows one to engage the brain before engaging the mouth, which is another little saying that I’ve seen somewhere.

I also get a good start to each day curtesy of my dogs. They need to go for a walk the first thing each morning; so, off we go usually at about 6 AM to tour the neighborhood and take care of business.  They arewalking dogs usually frisky in the morning, so this is a brisk walk to start my day and theirs. I find that to be refreshing and it gives me a little re-charge before I launch into each day. We actually walk four times a day and visit the dog park every day, all of which is helping with my weight loss goals.

But, enough about me; how about you? Do you need on occasion to rewind your clock, to re-energize yourself?  How do you do that? Sometimes just starting your day reading something inspirational can help to get you in a more positive frame of mind. That’s one reason that I try to write more upbeat posts and get them posted early in the day. I hope that they help someone somewhere get a better start on their day.

reaching goalSo, don’t look back and try to turn the clock back. That isn’t going to happen anyway. Instead rewind your clock and look forward to new things, new opportunities, meeting new people, having new adventures in life, learning new things and achieving new goals. Remember this little piece of advice…

“Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.” -Bil Keane

Rewind your clock and enjoy the present of today. And, for those coming off a bad yesterday, here’s a another simple but great thought for today –

“If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.” – H. G. Wells

Wind yourself up and have a great today!

Don’t overthink life…

July 28, 2014

I recently watched a couple of videos about a home improvement product that is used in level out uneven floors. It’s a simple thing, really; just mix it up and pour it on the floor. There’s a little bit more to it, but not much and one piece of advice in the videos that was particularly valuable was “don’t over think this.”

man thinkingI got to thinking (not about the product) that we all make that mistake of overthinking lots of very simple things in life, whether they be tasks that we have to accomplish or things like relationships. Things don’t have to be as complicated as we make them sometimes. In fact, I suspect that the simpler something is (or should be) the more we overthink it and make it more complex than it needs to be. That is a by-product of having very creative imaginations and probably too much time on our hands.

Have you ever run into people who are always asking you, “what did you mean by that?” For some reason, these people want to (or need to read something into everything, even if there was no hidden meaning in whatever it was that you said. If you say, “you look good today”, they take it to mean that you didn’t look good yesterday or that you usually don’t look good, but today you do.  They are overthinking everything that you say and probably everything else in theirsurrounded by sharks lives.

The same thing can happen to people who are asked to perform simple tasks for someone else, like watching their house while they are gone or getting in the mail. All of a sudden their imaginations conjures up all sorts of things that could go wrong or reasons for the request that go beyond the obvious. They are overthinking that simple request.

Sometimes relationships get overthought, too. One of the parties in the relationship may start wondering why the other party likes them or what they may want from them. They may conjure up convoluted scenarios of plots or schemes by the other party. After all, there must be a reason or motive for their interest, right? That’s overthinking things.
Most things in life are as simple and straightforward as they appear, without guile or suspicious motives. I tend to be the type that trusts people until they prove me wrong and not the other way around. I feel bad thinking womanfor people who go into every relationship encounter with suspicion or fear. I think the best advice is that that was given for the home improvement product – don’t over think this. Learn to just go with the flow and let people into your life without concern or fear that they are somehow out to do you some undefined harm. Open up to them and they will open up to you.

Got to go now, I think I might have overthought this topic. Have a great, simple and straightforward day. Don’t overthink it.

You can’t please everyone…

July 27, 2014

“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” – Bill Cosby

I certainly can relate to this little saying attributed to Bill Cosby. I’m the type of person that doesn’t really like conflict and sometimes that can result in trying to please everyone in a situation that ends up pleasing no one. I’ve written here before about trying to find a win-win solution to things that crop up in my real estate business. The same is general y true of how I approach conflicts in life; however, sometimes that is not possible and I must come down on one side or the other in a disagreement.

alternate outcomesI’ve known people who just couldn’t bring themselves to take a side or to say no to someone. They were trying to please everyone and usually ended up making everyone unhappy with them. It is important not to be closed minded, but there are many things that you need to have an opinion about that may not please everyone. There are also people whom you just can’t please, no matter what; and wasting too much time trying with them is just that – a waste of your time. Successful people can make those calls and move on in life without agonizing over them or beating themselves up because they didn’t please everyone.

So, perhaps you can try to accommodate everyone, as best as you can; or maybe you can at least toleratepositive attitude
everyone, even in the face of rebuke or anger; but, don’t try to please everyone. That’s a fool’s game at which you cannot win.

Never start over…

July 25, 2014

From the Jack’s Winning Words blog  (Seen in a Hallmark store) – “If you’re tired of starting over, stop giving up.”  Jack went on to write – I like to browse in Hallmark stores.  Some good Winning Words can be found there.  Another saying that relates to this one is by J.K. Rowling:  “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” 

I’ve written here before about perseverance – not giving up; but, I like the twist that this little saying that struggleJack found in a Hallmark store brings to the message. I think to many of us get all too used to starting all over again, which means that we gave up on something. Maybe it was a task or challenge that we had been given or put upon ourselves, perhaps something like losing weight or stopping a bad habit. Maybe it was more personal, like the seemingly never-ending search for Mr. (or Ms.) Right. In relationships it may become too easy to just give up on someone before you’ve really gotten to know them. Perhaps you are judging people too quickly or against a very shallow set of criteria.

I suppose that J.K. Rowling’s statement represents the extreme case – having reached rock bottom in life. I don’t think it’s necessary to go that far before making the decision to stop giving up on things so quickly or easily. One can become way too comfortable with failure. Failure is not our friend and readily accepting failure should not become a way of life. Seeing life’s temporary setbacks as just temporary is a start. Roadblocks do not stop the journey; they may require detours along the way, but one can go on and complete the trip. In many cases we have to make our own detours. We stop, learn from our mistakes (hopefully), and try a different path. We don’t have to start over because we never gave up.

greek manThe underlying thought to today’s quote goes back as far as recorded history, as evidenced by this saying from Epictetus, an ancient Greek philosopher –  “It’s so simple really: If you say you’re going to do something, do it.  If you start something, finish it.” 

Really, it’s that simple. Never give up and you’ll never have to start over. The good news for today is that it’s a Friday, so maybe you can hit the pause button for  the weekend – just don’t give up.

Are you open minded?

July 24, 2014

“Some minds are like Pullman berths at noon—made up and closed.”  (Harry & Joan Mier) as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Jack felt the need to explain what a Pullman berth is for those too young to remember sleeper cars on trains. I guess I do, too. Think of it as tiny little camper bulk bed on a train. Pullman cars and berths were quite popular when trains were the main way to get across the country and it took several days to do so. It’s a quaint concept, sort of like snail mail is these days, too.

But the idea behind Jack’s use of the quote was to highlight, especially in this political season, the dangers of having a closed mind, one that is already made up about things and which refuses to entertain compromise. I’ve written about that topic here before, especially in the political setting. Jack went on to write – But you do know about people who are closed-minded.  That’s one of the problems with today’s world…people closed mindwho will not consider other points of view and come to a compromise.  It’s as if compromising means losing. 

I’ve also written in the past about the zero-sum mentality that says that the only way that I can win is if the other person loses. I much prefer finding a win-win solution in life, where no one has to lose. Sometimes it is difficult for a person who has to open their mind to compromise not to see that as a loss. That is a person too ridged in their beliefs to ever really be happy, because the world around them will seldom be in lock-step with their beliefs.

Another short saying by George Bernard Shaw seems to apply here, too –

 There is nothing more dangerous than the conscience of a bigot. I think I would modify Shaw’s quote a bit to better fit here by stating it this way – There is nothing more dangerous than the conscience of a zealot. The definition of a zealot, if you Google it, is – a person who is fanatical and uncompromising in pursuit of their religious, political, or other ideals. These days many of the zealot type people tend to be politicians, but you can run into them anywhere, even in sports (the so-called “super-fans”).

Of course there are things all around us to which we may have a closed mind, without even thinking about it; or maybe we are just ignorant about some things, and thus are ambivalent; which some may take to be a sign of a closed mind. There are many things that I just don’t encounter enough or think about enough to have formed any opinion at all. It’s not that I’m for or against anything; it’s that I don’t yet care one way or the other. Sometimes that’s a good thing, because too many people try to make you line up behind what they see as the only two alternative positions – for or against. You seldom see the “I don’t care” choice on surveys; although “I don’t know” often shows up in survey results. Sometimes you just scratch your head and ask, “how can they not know about that?” I suppose a blank mind is better than a bigoted mind most of the time. At least that person is still open on the topic.

man with key to mindI find comfort in the fact that I don’t know all of the answers. I still have questions. I still have room to compromise. I don’t necessarily agree with the opinions that some politicians are expressing, but they certainly have the right to make all of the noise that they want (just don’t call me during the dinner house with one of your surveys, please).

A corollary to having an open mind about things is having the ability to change one’s mind. Often an opinion that we might carry for years will change if e acquire additional knowledge on the topic. Sometimes the “conventional wisdom” that we have bought into proves to be wrong or at least based upon inaccurate information. I’ve used this quote that is also by George Bernard Shaw before, but it fits well here – “Progress is impossible without women with open mindchange, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” Hopefully you are ready to make progress when it makes sense to change your mind on something. Do you have a mind that is open to new things, new ideas and new beliefs today?

Go for it; but have a Plan “B”…

July 23, 2014

Anticipating difficulties is far better than recovering from failures…

OK, so today’s quote is from me (at least as far as I know). There is a difference between anticipating the difficulties in any venture and having a “negative attitude”.  My wife is always admonishing me not to be so negative, which is how she sees my caution in certain things. Most of the time I’ve probably let that caution man thinkingget the better of me and she’s probably right; however, I reserve the right to at least consider in a somewhat thoughtful way what might go wrong and try to plan for it. It’s is when I let that planning turn into anxiety or fear that I need the slap upside the head (a duty she only too happy to perform).

The story of Captain “Sully” Sullenberger having the presence of mind to safely land his crippled airliner in the Hudson River is an example of someone who had anticipated what could someday happen and who had planned, as he put it, ”all my life for this moment.” Sullenberger had thought about what he would do if the plane that he was piloting lost power and he had to set it down. He knew instantly, based upon that planning what to do that fateful day. It was not instinct and it was not a plan concocted on the fly (other than perhaps the circumstance of being close to the river to begin with); it was the result of thoughtful deliberation of what the alternatives would be in such a case and what the best plan of action might be. He had anticipated this emergency.

For our run-of-the-mill, type of day-to-day plans, spending a little time thinking about what might occur that could throw your plans off could avert disaster. Checking with the Road Commission web site to see what roads may be closed or severely limited due to construction before you set out across town could mean the difference between arriving for an event on time or being late. Checking the weather forecast could mean not getting rained upon without your umbrella at hand. A few minutes up front can avert disaster and is time well spent.

So, in day to day life; does every invitation to someone to do something (maybe asking for a date) have toalternate outcomes be accompanied with anticipation of difficulties or failure? No, but knowing what you’d do or say if the person that you are asking is already busy for that time is at least advisable. What are the other times when you might be able to get together or plan the date? What other event might he/she want to accompany you to? When is another time when he/she did not have plans already? Obviously, if you get absolutely no positive answers to any of those approaches; it may well be that this is not a person who wishes to spend any time with you. Time to move on to Plan “B” or person “B”. At least, if you have a plan “B” you can tell yourself that you are not recovering from a disaster; you’re just moving on with life as you anticipated that you might have to.

Anticipating difficulties does not always mean that you do things to avoid them. You would have to hunker woman thinkingdown in the corner of a room and never move, if that was your only strategy to deal with rejection or difficulties. Rather, anticipating the difficulties gives you time to consider the alternate approaches to overcoming them and to choose the best plan. It may also provide you with a readily available Plan “B” and “C”, if needed. So, take a moment before launching into your day and think about any of the things that you have planned for which you may need to anticipate any difficulties and plan ahead. Have a great and safe day; and have a Plan “B”.

Believe, see and do…

July 21, 2014

“I wouldn’t have seen it, if I hadn’t believed it.”  – that little quote from today’s Jack’s Winning Words blog sounds a lot like something Yogi Berra might have said; however it was actually by  Marshall McLuhan, a well known media guru and futurist. Marshall was talking about the Internet as we know it, which he foresaw by decades. He is also the coiner of the phrase – “The message is the medium.”

aha momentThere are other things to which that quote might apply. Quite often people testify to witnessing miracles, which are usually based on believing that they can happen in the first place. Jack went on to discuss “aha” moments – those times in our lives when the light bulb comes on over our heads and we suddenly understand something or maybe have a great original thought or idea. Do you have those times in your life?

Sometimes the “aha” turns out to be an “oh, crap”, when you finally realize that you’ve been doing something wrong or just committed a faux paus. At those times, the light bulb that comes on is shedding light on something that we’d probably wish not to be in the spotlight. But, let’s stay on the positive side of things.

Many times an “aha” moment just pops out at us. It could be the name of someone or something that you just haven’t been able to recall or it could be the solution to a problem that you’ve been wrestling with for days. Sometimes; however, you just have to bear down and make that “aha” moment come, or as Gary Freidman said –

“Think until it hurts, until you can see what others can’t see so you can dothinking hard what others can’t do.”

Marshall McLuhan saw things in our future that others couldn’t see and he thought about them, wrote about them and did something about them. Lest we forget, it is that second part of McLuhan’s quote that supports the first part- first he believed.


So, if yowoman catching staru believe that you can overcome that obstacle in your life or make that breakthrough at work or achieve that relationship that you’ve always imagined; you have taken the first step to achieving your “aha” moment and making it come true. Maybe you will find it easier to believe that God will be there to help you achieve that “aha” breakthrough and that’s OK, too; at least you’ve placed your faith in the right place. Once you believe, start thinking and think until you can see a way to your goal when others can’t.

Believe and have a great week! I can see that.

Where did compromise go?

July 18, 2014

“Lasting change is a series of compromises.  And compromise is all right, as long as your values don’t change.”  (Jane Goodall) as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

I suppose you could restate the second half of this quote a bit as “And compromise is all right, as long as you don’t compromise your values.”  Unfortunately in what passes for our political process lately the politicians both locally and at the national level have lost the ability to compromise and have become rigid in the mistaken belief that the only way to prevent compromising their values is to just say “no” to everything.

I observed the supporters of one local candidate marching in our recent Independence Day Parade, with signs and handouts that basically said no to just about everything – no to providing access to health thumbs downcare, no to any form of birth control, no to any taxes, no to most laws no, No NO. The only thing they seemed to be for was the right to have guns. Their message boiled down to “give us our guns, get out of our way and we’ll take care of ourselves.” There seemed to be little room for any compromise on anything in their message. It seemed to me to point to a desire for armed anarchy.

I am old enough to recall a time when politicians were able to find a way to govern by finding a way to compromise on big, important issues. Neither side was forced to change their values; so, as a result the laws that they passed often reflected the compromises that were required. There were always protests from the extreme fringe groups of both parties; but, logic and a sense of duty to get things done on behalf of the people prevailed. These days the fringe groups seem to rule the parties arguingand quite often nothing gets done. That appears to be the strategy of many – to them doing nothing or preventing everything is preferable to any compromise.

I suppose it’s our own fault as a constituency that we have allowed the political process to be taken over by minority extremist groups. The ambivalence of the great majority of citizens has allowed the only people who have passion (however misplaced it may be) for their views to gain control. The result at primary or election time is often a choice between the lesser of two or more evils, with most candidates trying to “out extreme” each other in their positions on issues. A by-product is often nasty, negative campaigning even within the two parties.

I’ve espoused this before, but it’s time to say it again – we need a viable third party alternative. We need a party in the center, a party that is not dedicated to the extremes of either conservatism or liberalism – a party willing to compromise to get things done. Maybe they could call it the Common Sense Party (CSP), since that is a political space that is currently not being occupied by the two existing parties. There seems to be a role for government somewhere between the “let me do it all for you” and the “let’s do nothing” extreme poles. Somewhere between “rules for everything” and “no rules at all” is a happy medium ground where the needs of the individual and the needs of the society are both served well.

Will the CSP ever come to be? Maybe not, but perhaps the voting public will tire of having to choosedumb and dumber between Dumb and Dumber and having to put up with the misinformation and attack ads that are used to try to influence our votes. There is hope on the horizon in the form of the changing demographics of the U.S. population. As the population grows and becomes more and more diverse the minorities at both ends of the political spectrum will become smaller and smaller. Maybe, just maybe, there will be enough honest people with common sense who will be willing to crawl through the slime of our political process to get elected and bring some sense of compromise back into the process of governing. One can only hope.