What do you see?

August 25, 2015

“I wouldn’t have seen it if I hadn’t believed it.”  ―  Ashleigh Brilliant

What a great little quote; and how true. We all tend to “see” things through the lens of our beliefs. If they are bad digital thinkingor hateful beliefs, they are called prejudices. If they are good beliefs, they may be called optimism and sometime even Faith. Sometimes we see things through the lens of fear and they appear to be dark and foreboding. Sometimes we see things or people through eyes filled with love and they look wonderful and can do no wrong. Perhaps you are looking through eyes filled with tears, which makes everything a little blurry.

One point that Ashleigh makes in his quote is that maybe we don’t see things as they are but as we wish or believe them to be.  The old saw that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” seems to be based upon that thought. I suspect that what we choose not to see is sometimes as important what we see. A person with a positive and optimistic outlook on life may be able to look past many things as they seek to see the good in any situation or gloomy guyperson. Those who are negative in attitude will have no trouble finding bad things to see in life.

So, it seems that you have a choice in life to see what you believe in others and in life in general.  What do you see? Are you looking for the good or the bad in life? What lenses are you using to gaze at the world? Is your vision enhanced by your beliefs or does negativity dim your view. What about the visage that you provide for others? Is there a smile on your face? Is the person that they see someone that looks like it would be fun or interesting to know or someone to be avoided?  Make it easier for people to “see” you by making yourself more pleasant to look at – smile. If nothing else, they may see that smile and wonder what that is all about. Be ready to show them that what they saw is what you believe.happy going to work

So, like Ashleigh Brilliant, go out into the world today and see the things that you believe. It’s hiding in plain sight; so, it’s easy to see in people and events. Have a great and insightful day!

Sharing the wisdom of all ages…

August 21, 2015

“If you only get involved with young people you don’t learn anything about the world.”  (Edmund White) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

Edmund White was probably trying to encourage young people to spend some time with older people and not toold and young just hang around with people their own age. The young can hopefully tap into the wisdom that their elders have accumulated from a lifetime of experiences and perhaps avoid repeating the mistakes that led to some of that wisdom.  As Jack went on to point out, there is also much for older people to learn from the young.

The youth of every era represent the changes that are taking place in our society; so, spending time with them and understanding their perspective on things will help older people see and understand the changes that are taking place in society. Conversely, the youth might gain the perspective of where things came from and better understand how different things are for them than they were for their parents or grandparents. Many of them are growing up never having experienced the things and life styles that shaped their elders viewpoints. For them a life lacking modern technologies would be as weird and bewildering as some of their elders find their use tutoringof technology to be today. Imagining a world where the phone was attached to a cord is as strange to them as their elder’s bemusement over modern smartphone usage.

Hopefully, if you’re a younger person, you will make some time to spend with your grandparents or other older relatives just talking about life as it was and as it is today. You might enjoy some of the stories that they have to tell you, and you might even learn something. If you have no older relatives close to where you live, perhaps you could visit a senior living home in your area and see if there are some lonely seniors there who would enjoy a visit and a chance to talk with you.

If you are the elder person in this scenario, put aside your suspicions and concerns about modern technologies and the youthful life styles that you may not agree with and see if you can tap into and understand the energy and enthusiasm that is there in youth. You may have forgotten what it was like to be young or you may only selectively remember your own youthful exuberance and the mistakes that you made while you were growing up. Perhaps those weren’t mistakes after all, just learning experiences. Share your wisdom with the young while recapturing some little piece of that wonderful, innocent and naive that we call youth.  You can’t go back, but maybe some of those memories and feelings can come back to you.

In a broader sense, you could restate today’s quote to read “If you only get involved with people who arediversity just like you, you don’t learn anything about the world.” It is through diverse relationships – across ages and races and religions and ethnic groups – that we broaden our perspective of the world. The ability to understand other viewpoints and share the experiences and wisdom of diverse groups enables a richer understanding of the world around us. Integrating those differences into our own thinking allows us not only to be more tolerant of differing opinions, but gives us a much richer knowledge base upon which to base our own life decisions. Enrich your life today. Talk to someone not your own age, race, color, religion or ethnic background. You’ll be glad that you did.

Don’t rush to judgement…

August 20, 2015

“We should not judge until we see clearly; and when we see clearly, we will not judge.”  (G.D. Gregg) – from the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

Detroit Prosecutor Kim Worthy went to great lengths recently to explain her decision not to prosecute a Federal Immigration Officer after he shot and killed a young black man during an arrest attempt. What she was trying to do was explain clearly the facts that had been gathered in the case and the conclusion that she came to concerning the shooting. Due to the number of recent incidents involving white police officers shooting black men during police actions, there was a considerable rush to judge this latest incident as just another case of the use of excessive force against those of color. People had been judging the case without clearly seeing the facts; so, Worthy made a lengthy and detailed explanation to explain her conclusions ad decision not to charge the Immigration Officer, who happened to be white.

opinionatedThis little saying has widespread applicability in our daily lives. Many of us, and I have to admit to being in this group from time to time, rush to judgments without clearly seeing all of the facts. Snap judgments are often based upon the use of stereotypes or prejudices – some preconceived notions that we have going into a situation. It is very difficult not to have some mental “pre-sets” in life and even more difficult to learn not to use them to render a quick (and most of the time incorrect) judgement of people or situations.

How many times have we all looked at someone who might have been dresses strangely or at least differently and made a snap decision about them? You might decide that they represent a danger to you or that they are to be ignored or avoided, because of how they look. Perhaps you just silently say “tsk, tsk” to yourself and wonder how they could have such poor taste in clothes, at least according to your different lookstandards. Perhaps they appear to be unkempt to you. These are all judgments that you might make before you even speak to them (if you speak to them at all). Have you had experiences where you ended up talking to them and discovering, to your surprise, that they turned out to be very interesting people? Do you remember how quickly your concerns about their appearance faded into the background, once you got to know them? Once you saw them more clearly were you still ready to judge them solely on their appearance?

Situations can also present the opportunity to pre-judge or rush to judgement, before we have all of the facts (or maybe any facts at all) to support those judgments. Confrontational situations almost always cause us to get on one side or the other without understanding all of the facts involved. Situations involving the unknown or possible dangers may provoke reactions or responses made without taking the time to see things clearly. We may avoid participating in an activity that turns out to be fun because of some preconceived notion of the risks or dangers involved.

The key word at work in the opening quote is “judge”. It is very hard to put off making a judgement about people judge thingsand situation until we have the time to collect and analyze the facts that should be driving that decision. We seem to have this need to respond; to answer the internal question, “What should I do?” Sometimes the best answer is to do nothing at the moment. Instead of “think fast” we should just think and try to get a clear picture of the situation or the person. Secondly, one must ask the question about the word judge – “By what or whose standards?” Taking that extra moment to think before you judge may help you see that the judgement you were about to make is based on prejudice or pre-conceived notions and not supported by the facts at hand. At least it may allow you to take the extra step of trying to see the picture more clearly, before you rush to a judgement. Most of the time the answer to the question “what don’t I know?” about this person or situation is more important and more interesting than what you think you know already.no judgement

Ultimately we can get to a state where making judgments is not something that we spend much time and energy
upon. Perhaps if we rushed to learn more about people, rather than rushing to judgments about them we’d have less fears and prejudices and more friends.

Have a great day and put off judging those whom you meet today. Try to make a friend before you form an opinion.

Do you have a plan?

August 19, 2015

“One possible reason why things aren’t going according to plan is that there never was a plan.” ― Ashleigh Brilliant

I love Ashleigh Brilliant quotes. What a great sense of humor and understanding of mankind he displays. Many of us think we have a plan for our lives or maybe even just for the day. Perhaps we start each day with a “To Do” to do listlist, but that’s not really a plan. Perhaps we have even spent some time thinking about the day and the things that we need to do or want to do; but those thoughts aren’t plans either. Maybe we have visualized how the day might go. Maybe we have dreamed about or wished how the day might go. None of those are plans.

So what is a plan? The WikiPedia definition of a plan is –

A plan is typically any diagram or list of steps with timing and resources, used to achieve an objective.  It is commonly understood as a temporal set of intended actions through which one expects to achieve a goal. The definitions in other sources are similar and likely similarly unachievable in life.

We like to think we can plan and that we have plans for our life. We have, instead, some goals in mind andchasing goal perhaps we have considered a few alternatives at a few decision points in the processes necessary to achieve those goals. What we have are dreams and ambitions surrounded by a vague understanding of what is required to achieve them, nestled in good intentions and held together with the gossamer threads of naivety. In fact there never was a plan.  I often say that I had a plan and then life got in the way.

The thing is that not having a clear and firm plan is OK. A dream or a goal provides us with some sense of the direction that we wish to go in. Our plan (an outline at best) gives us a starting point and the rest of the journey towards those goals falls loosely under the category of learning and maturing. Another thing is that the plan changes as we go, or at least it should. Finally, it’s almost useless to try to keep track  (score) of how you are doing in achieving the original plan. As Brilliant put it –

“Please don’t ask me what the score is. I’m not even sure what the game is.”  ― Ashleigh Brilliant
Have you ever met someone who says that they are still trying to find themselves, to figure out what they want to be; what they want to do with their life? You may initially pity them or even be repulsed by their lack of ambition or purpose; but, the truth is, they may be stating more honestly than you what their plan is for their life. They have no plan yet and they admit it. Some of the most famous and successful people the world has known spent a part women dreamingof their youth bumming around the world trying to figure out what they wanted to do with their life. Along the way they accumulated wisdom about people and different cultures that served them well later in life.

So, let’s all continue to make our daily To Do lists. They aren’t plans; just task lists that we may get to in some random order and feel good about accomplishing. As for real plans in our lives, maybe we should just make sure that our moral compasses are set right, let life happen and enjoy the ride. We can still have dreams, because as Brilliant says –

“The best reason for having dreams is that in dreams no reasons are necessary.”  ― Ashleigh Brilliant

I’ve posted here before3 about dreams, see the post What’s in your Dreams?

But as for plans – go back to the top and read the first quote. Don’t spend too much time on a plan that goes out the window the first time things don’t go as planned. You’re better off to prepare yourself to react properly to the things that come your way on your way to your goals. Maybe a re-read of my post on Problem Solving 101 would be a god start.

Take a minute to think about it…

August 17, 2015

“Ours is a generation bloated with information and starved for wisdom.”  (Arianna Huffington) – as seen on  the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

While it is ubiquitous and easy to use, Google has also encouraged intellectual laziness. The Google answers returned are also not always even correct or the truth; however, as a society we’ve become such Google knowledge inzombies that we tend to believe whatever we see there, without taking the time to think about it. We consume the “information” that is returned, but do not necessarily make the effort to evaluate it and to add it to our store of knowledge and wisdom. It’s just as easy to go get it at Google again the next time that we need it.

Don’t get me wrong. I think the store of available information at Google is tremendous and it does make many things in life much easier than they used to be. It is our own mental laziness that detracts from the potential value of having all of that information at hand. It is a thought pattern that says, “Why learn it when you can just Google it?” The easiest answer is that learning leads to wisdom and it is that ability to learn and accumulate wisdom that separates us from the other animals.

thinking womanSo, the next time you Google something to get directions or get an answer to a question, take the time to evaluate the answer that you get and to find a place for those answers that seem valid in your storehouse of wisdom. Don’t just accept the first answer at the top of the returns, without checking a few further down the list; and always take the time to understand who posted that answer and consider why. That is especially true on the Wiki posts that you might get back, since anybody can post things there true or not.

Speaking of that, there is a little routine that a local sportscaster does from time to time called, “I saw it on the Internet, so it must be true.”  Too many people have come to believe that little statement and accept things that they see on the Internet as the truth. The Internet probably has nearly as many hoax posts and false posts as it has valuable information. Anything that you see on the Internet should be viewed with at least a critical eye, if not a skeptical one.

Remember, too, that companies and people pay Google for placement in their query returns. So, when you ask a question like “which is the best of something” or “where is the cheapest place to”, you will likely get back answers that someone has paid to put in front of you, rather than an honest answer to your question. Most of the times you’ll probably get ads back first. Ask for low cost hotels somewhere and you’ll be deluged with ads for travel sites, rather than any real hotel information. Maybe the “wisdom” there is realizing that Google won’t really answer your question. See, you learned something by taking a minute to think about it. You’ve added to yourman thinking wisdom.

Perhaps, instead of starting down at your smartphone to see what Google says is going on in the area around you, you should put it away and actually start seeing and doing the things that are going on around you. It’s called living and the thing that you gain by doing it is called wisdom. Google that.

Three little words – live within today…

August 15, 2015

“The past, the present, the future are really only one; they are today.”  (Harriet Beecher Stowe), as seen at the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

Harriet’s little quote is good advice to take to heart. It does no real good to spend time reliving the past or worrying about the future. We can’t change or control either one, so that is wasted time and energy. What we can do is focus upon today. We can enjoy today, we can react to today’s events we can live within today.

visualizationWe might spend some time planning for something that we’d like to do in the future – tomorrow or beyond – because many things require advanced reservations, commitments or plans; however, until we get to that time we cannot really live it or react and respond to the things that might happen. We might waste a lot of today if we get too fixated on the future, so it would be better for us to live within today.

I am certainly guilty of sometimes spending too much time worrying about what might happen tomorrow. I tend to play out all of the worst-case scenarios in my mind and try to anticipate how I might react to them. What a waste! None of those imagined things ever seems to happen. In fact, the only place where there is usually any drama at all is in my mind. Do you ever do that? Wouldn’t it better for both of us if we could learn to live within today.

As I get older there is also a tendency to re-live the past, especially as more and more of my relatives or friends and acquaintances are now referred to in the past tense. We use the term reminiscing and that sounds pleasant, but it too is really just a waste of time, albeit a waste that can bring a smile to my face from time to time. Still, other than filling an idle moment, more important and fulfilling than reminiscing is to live within today.walking man

So, don’t spend time re-living the past or worrying about the future. Here are way too many things going on around you a the time, people to meet and places to go, to be traveling backward or forward in time. Today; right now; this is the most important thing you have to do – live within today.

Have a great weekend – it’s all around you. Live within today.

So, what’s your problem?

August 12, 2015

On the Jack’s Winning Words Blog today –  “The way we see problems is the problem.”  (Stephen Covey) Jack went on to write –  Everybody’s got problems …big, small, and tweener.  Problems are simply choices that we have to make each day.  S.C. says that problem-solving begins with correctly pinpointing the problem.  “What’s your problem?”  Calmly look for all possible solutions.  Prioritize, and then follow through.  If “1” doesn’t work, try “2”, etc.  And, remember the adage, “Not to decide is to decide.”    😉  Jack
painted into cornerI’ve posted here previously about problem solving; however, Covey’s little quote spurred some additional thinking on the topic. If I was to suggest a slight change to Covey’s quote is would be, “the way we see things as problems is the problem.”  There are, of course, real problems in life; but, then there are the things that we see as problems which are either totally imagined or best just left alone or ignored.

Maybe you know someone who is so paranoid that they believe that everyone is out to get them or that everybody’s talking about them behind their backs. Those people are creating problems out of nothing but their imagination. Of course, since they think there is a problem, they expend a great deal of energy trying to solve those problems. They may run aroundgossip confronting people whom they believe are talking about them or they may spend time denying imagined allegations which they believe are being spread about them; and that’s their real problem.

Others may see things that are best left alone as problems that they should try to do something about. An oversight by someone else becomes a slight against them, in their minds. Not being invited to an event becomes a major problem for them to be investigated and perhaps corrected. These same people may encounter things in life that just occur without thnk about itrhyme or reason and decide that they will try to correct things. They may spend hours or days researching the
“problem” without ever really accomplishing anything. Eventually they lose interest in the problem and wander off in search of the next windmill with which to tilt.

So, maybe Covey should have started his advice on the resolution of problems by saying that first it is important to take a moment to decide if this is really a problem and then maybe is it really your problem? Trying to “solve” something that is not really a problem is frustrating and taking on problems that aren’t really yours is seldom successful. There are problems that are so large and general in nature that they spawn movements to resolve them, so maybe joining a cause is the best solution for you. You won’t solve the problem by yourself, but you can help.

If the problem really is yours, you can follow Covey’s advice and perhaps read my post on Problem Solving 101. Almost all advice on problem solving follows the same path. Another good piece of advice is to keep problems in some perspective. Almost no problem that you will encounter in life is a life or death situation and most are way less critical than we make them out to be. The world will not end if you do not resolve the problem at hand. Don’t let your problem solving efforts totally consume your life. Step back or step away from them every now and then to catch your breath and to re-evaluate their importance to your life. You may be surprised how many of them just evaporate before your eyes as you are e-examining them. Some of them you may just decide to let be andhand reaching for heaven
stop your efforts to solve them; and that’s OK, too. Some of them you may need to take to God and ask Him to
take them off your shoulders. There is an immense sense of relief when you take your problems to God, because you have now engaged the best problem solver ever. You gotta problem with that?