New Year’s resolutions – blowing in the wind…

December 30, 2016

It’s that time of the year when our thoughts turn to the changes and renewals that we hope for in the coming year. We codify our hopes in New Year’s resolutions, many of which don’t make it past the first week before they are broken or forgotten. But, why is that?

“New Year’s resolutions often fail because toxic emotions and experiences from our past can sabotage us or keep us stuck with the same old thoughts, patterns and regrets.” – Debbie Ford

Perhaps it is our inability to let go of the past, to purge our minds of the poison of let-go-1prejudices or left over anger or regret that causes us to fail in our resolutions to do better in the future. Look closely at that picture to find help with letting go. Or perhaps it is the focus and content of the resolutions themselves that doom us to failure. Maybe we are too self-centered in the topics of our resolutions and maybe the baggage that we drag with us from the past does get in the way. Or, maybe we make resolutions that are too vague or too grandiose. What would be so bad about making a resolution like this one –

“Let our New Year’s resolution be this: we will be there for one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word.” – Goran Persson

I’ve posted here in the past about being there for others. See Don’t try to understand and don’t judge, just be there… and Be there for someone today… or Just be there…

A common theme through all of those posts is the important role that you can play in the lives of others by being there for them to listen, to hug, to reassure, to forgive (if necessary) and to accept them.

We could spend some time discussing what Persson meant by “in the finest sense of the word”; however I think you probably get that and get that it isn’t about something new-years-resolutions-1happening to benefit you, but rather doing things that will benefit others. You would benefit from that too; I think. Maybe time spent worrying about others will take our minds off worrying about ourselves. Maybe “doing the right things” in business and in life will cause the right things to happen for you. Resolve to be there for others.

A second observation that I have about many New Year’s resolutions is that they don’t contain any commitment to accountability. Maybe that’s why we make many of them in private and then don’t share them with others. David Brin said – “When it comes to privacy and accountability, people always demand the former for themselves and the latter for everyone else.”  Resolutions made in private carry no accountability. We might be ashamed that we have to resolve to lose weight or quit smoking or drinking or quite some other bad habit or behavior; but unless we state it in public and have others to hold us accountable it is all too easy to let the resolutions slip away, at first into tomorrow and then into never. If you are serious about making a resolution to change some aspect of new-years-resolutions-2your life, get yourself an accountability partner for that resolution; someone that share the resolution with and then with whom you can meet regularly and share a progress report about that resolution.

My final bit of New Year’s resolutions advice is to shorten the time frame of your resolutions dramatically. Don’t make grand resolutions that are supposed to play out over the entire year. Take Henry Moore’s advice – “I think in terms of the day’s resolutions, not the years’. If you start out each day with resolutions for that day perhaps the “resolve” to actually accomplish them will be fresh enough and strong enough to actually be successful. Maybe instead of resolving that you will stop smoking this year, you could start by resolving that you will quit smoking today. If you do that today and tomorrow and the next day, before you know it the grander resolution will also be accomplished. After all it’s just for today, right?

I’m not personally a fan of New Year’s resolutions, but for many the New Year provides an artificial point in time from which to try to move in new directions. More power to you if that is the case for you. I hope that you find some value in the advice that I tried to give above and good luck to you with your resolutions. Have a Happy New Year!


Don’t be a phubber…

December 28, 2016

In a 1997 movie called “Flubber”, an absent-minded professor, played by the late Robin Williams, invents a super bouncy rubber product that is the central theme in the comedy movie. More recently a phenomenon called phubbing has swept the land. Jack Freed wrote about it in his blog Jack’s Winning Words recently.   ‘Phubbing’ was coined in 2013 and is a mix of words ‘phone’ and snubbing’ It is the act of snubbing someone in a social setting by looking at a phone. P-phubbing is the act of ignoring a partner by being distracted by tech. Snubbing your partner by checking your phone can cause them to become depressed and anxious.

Jack’s post was titled “Stop looking at your phone.  Look around you.”

I must admit that I’m a bit of a phubber these days. I have a really hard time not taking my phone out to see what just came in, if it dings or make any other sound to indicate that a phone with msgnew email or message or Instagram has just arrived. There is a sense of immediacy about it that demands me attention. My wife finds that to be both disturbing and sad. I agree when I sit and think about it, but so far cannot overcome the urge to see what is happening that caused the alert sound.

I’m not sure that my behavior actually fits the definition of Phubbing, since I am not overtly trying to snub those around me, although I am ignoring them while distracted by my phone. Perhaps it is more like the epidemic of distracted driving that has caused so many accidents since he rise of the smartphone. I guess one might call this phenomenon “distracted living.”

Whatever it is, the advice that Jack’s blog contained to stop looking at your phone and start looking at (and interacting with) those people and things around you is sound. One cannot have a relationship with a device and even though the visual experiences available group-of-girls-looking-at-phonesthrough the phone are amazing, they do not contain the other sensory cues that real experiences contain and are thus somewhat one-dimensional. The sights may be wonderful, but the sights, sounds, smells and feel of actually being there and in the experience are far more wonderful and lasting.

Some people think of this activity as “multi-tasking”; however, I think that might be best described as “doing multiple things poorly at the same time.” If you don’t focus upon the things and people at hand you don’t really understand what is happening around you or catch the clues from the people that carry the real messages that they are trying to get across. Perhaps the most important message is the request – “Look at me.” You cannot be there for someone if your eyes and mind are focused somewhere else, like on your phone.

Don’t let distracted living rob you of the truly important moments in life when others couple-looking-at-phonesreach out to you for help or to show affection. You cannot really love your phone, nor can it show you love back. Besides that, real life doesn’t need to be recharged every 8-12 hours. Your significant other shouldn’t need to tape your phone to their forehead (see Jack’s post) in order for you to look at them, nor will seeing a Facebook post about your children’s sports events really be the same as being there for them. Put the phone down and pick up life again.

Oh, sorry, I’ve got to go; I just heard a ding from my pocket.


Maybe it is my business…

December 27, 2016

“What other people think of me is none of my business.” (Wayne Dyer) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog recently.

I liked that little saying when I first saw it, but couldn’t quite figure out why. Then it hit me that what other people think of me is my business to an extent. It is their business how they react to me and what opinions they form; however it is my business as to how I conduct myself to cause those opinions to be formed. None of us probably wants to be thought of as dishonest or cruel or insensitive or uncaring; yet many times we do things that cause those opinions of us to be formed.

Most people really do care what others think of them, even if they say the opposite. We all crave some level of acceptance by others. Many strive for understanding by others, perhaps of a different lifestyle. Some just wish for acceptance (see my post – Just Accept Me). Some may wish for the love of others or perhaps pone in particular. All of those things are dependent upon what those others think of you.

jerkRecently I read a question in in one of those newspaper advice columns concerning how to get people to accept and form new opinions about someone who apparently acted like quite a “jerk” when he was younger, but who has now matured and is a better person. Many people face that same dilemma in life, especially young men who really did act like jerks when they were younger. Some people don’t seem to be able to give them the benefit of the doubt, once they matured enough to begin acting in a more acceptable manner. Most grow out of that phase. Unfortunately some of those young men get themselves trapped into feeling like that have to continue to act like jerks, because that’s what people expect of them.

Much of what small children do that we might describe as bad behavior is actually a cry for attention. If they can’t get the reaction that they want from just saying, “Mommy, look at me”, they cause a ruckus because they have figure out that this brings them the attention from mommy that they craved. Many adults use the same techniques. I’ve always thoughtmotorcycle that there is no real reason for motorcycles to have loud, un-muffled and annoying exhausts other than the riders need to attract attention to themselves. They are saying, “Mommy, look at me” by being as noisy as they can be. They never outgrew the need to be a jerk to get attention.

Now, I don’t need to make it my business to go around asking everyone that I interact with, “What do you think of me?”; however, I do need to be aware that everything that I do and say may contribute to the formation of an opinion about me. If I keep that in mind and perhaps pause before I do something or say something that is insensitive or cruel, maybe they won’t think I’m a jerk. And maybe if I start thinking about those things before I do or say them I will actually grow up and not be that jerk that I may have been.  Maybe the advice in the Bible about treating others as I would like to be treated and loving my neighbor as I love myself was right after all.

boredSo, maybe Dyer was wrong. Maybe what other people think of me is my business. It certainly is within my control. If I don’t want to be considered to be shifty and dishonest, then I can decide not act in a manner that would lead to that conclusion. If I want to be considered to be dependable and a good friend, then I can be there when needed and be the good listener that is oft needed in times of crisis. If I want to be accepted, I have to accept others, too.  If I want to be someone who is loved, I need to give love. What others think of me are opinions that reflect the behaviors from me that they see. And that is my business.

Have a great week before the New Year and maybe make one of your resolutions for the New Year to be more aware of the things that you do and say that form the basis of the opinions that others have of you. It’s never too late to stop being seen as a jerk. And that is your business.


Just accept me…

December 23, 2016

Recently, I spent some research time trying to gain and appreciation and understanding of two separate groups that are sometimes marginalized within our society.  One group are those with what we classify as brain or mental disorders of some sort, whether it is someone on the autism spectrum or someone struggling with depression or other disorders of that nature. The other group is made up of those living a different lifestyle who identify with being in the GLBTQI community. I posted here a few times along the way (see Trying to understand others without a frame of reference and What does depression feel like. Then I wrote about being there for those in need, Don’t try to understand and don’t judge, just be there.

acceptI didn’t realize it at the time, because I hadn’t gone back and liked for a common thread, but there was a theme that ran through all of articles and posts that I had read and referenced in those posts. The theme is the request from all of the people who may be living in any of those groups that they just be accepted.

As I went back and read more from each blog that I had visited I could see a common undercurrent that said – I do not want your pity. I do not need your “help”. Who and what I am cannot be “cured” by your misguided efforts. Who and what I am is not contagious and I will not infect you. I am not like you; but, I’m not asking you to change and become like me. All I ask is that you accept me.

It is part of our human nature to believe that anyone who is not like us somehow wants toarrogant be like us or would somehow be better off if they were more like us. That belief is based upon the rather egotistical viewpoint that we represent “normal” and be definition those who are not like us mus be sick or somehow are abnormal. So, we jump in to try to “help”; but that help carries demands for change and conformity to what we see and define as the norms of our group, for which we have usurped the title “society”. Behavior that is not like ours is defined as somehow being anti-social and wrong. We feel that we must do something about that. While all the while, the person that we are trying to “help” is saying:

Love me without restriction, trust me without fear, want me without demand and accept me for who I am – Unknown

I certainly hear all sorts of rationalization for this behavior of fear and loathing from people when encountering those who are different. Sometimes it is “Holier than thou” predjuicesappeals to religion or the Bible, sometimes it is just ignorance manifesting itself in fears of catching whatever it is that they find offensive. Many times parental concerns about the influence of these different people on children are sited as the justification for the bad behavior that we call prejudice. Yet that different person is not going to steal the minds of our children or infect the world with their difference; rather they are just standing there and asking you to accept them as they are.

For those living those alternative lifestyles or living with the pain and confusion of a brain or mental disorder, many times the problems caused by being perceived to be different are compounded by those seeking to either avoid them or help/cure them, when all they really want to be accepted and treated as you would want others to treat you. For most, the simplest way to put this is –

Love me for who I am, not for who you want me to be. – Unknown

Christmas is a great time to give the gift of acceptance to all who you encounter. Accept mangersomeone different from you today and maybe you will find that it will allow you to Stretch your mind and grow as a person.

Have a great Holiday season!


Do you hear what I hear?

December 21, 2016

“All people want is for someone to listen.”  (Hugh Elliott) – from the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

The title to today’s post is the title of one of the most popular of Christmas songs. Unfortunately most of us don’t take the time to “hear” the most important things of all – what other people are saying to us. That can be especially true when those people are in listenneed and trying to reach out for help. Sometimes, as Hugh Elliott said, all they need or want is for someone to listen to them. In our society today we are far too distracted by other things to really listen or perhaps far too focused on what we want to say next to pay attention to the person speaking to us.

I’ve posted here in the past about being a good listener as a part of being a good friend or helper. Being a good listener takes focus and a selfless commitment understanding what the other person is trying to say. Many times you might pick up as much content from the body language and timbre of the speakers voice as from the words themselves. Many caringpeople have trouble finding the right words to get across what they are trying to express, but the fears and concern or maybe the pain that is driving the conversation will come through if you just listen. You might also be able to pick up on the level of guardedness that the person is using, which may be an indication that you are not yet truly a trusted adviser. That should cue you to try to build that trust.

Sometimes just “lending an ear” is all that is needed. Maybe the person just needed to “get it off my chest”. Having someone to sit and listen to their story can be cathartic for the speaker. Sometimes they will actually work things out right there in front of you whilebeing kind 1 they are speaking. The opportunity to verbalize their issue to someone else helps clarify it for them, too. Sometimes they might just need someone to say, “It’ll be alright” or “you’ll make it through this.” Maybe your time and attention is all that they needed to reassure themselves.

Sometimes you may actually have to act as a counselor or guide to help them see a way out of the situation or at least sew where they can go to get further help. You can’t be as helpful if you aren’t listening and paying close attention to the details. Maybe you feel like you have enough problems of your own and don’t need or have time to take on the problem of others. What a sad world of lonely, troubled people we would live in if that were the case. We’re all in this thing called life together and all of us will eventually hit issues or problems that exceed our ability to deal with them by girls huggingourselves. The time you spend listening too and helping other is just paying back or paying forward for the help that you will need and receive some day.

The Holiday season can be especially difficult for people who may be undergoing hardship or loneliness. So, beyond listening to the music and carols of the season, listen for those who just need someone to hear what they have to say. The gift of your time and attention to those people may be the best gift that you give this Christmas.

Do you hear what I hear? Listen.


Reach out and touch…

December 20, 2016

“Strange, isn’t it?  Each man’s life touches so many other lives.”  (Clarence) – from the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

Remember when you were little and your mom would take you into a shop or maybe to someone’s house and she would tell you, “Be careful and don’t touch anything”? And even though you were careful, you did touch some things and sometimes something got knocked over and some even were broken. Remember how you felt bad and maybe even cried? Did that make you stop touching things? How about touching people.do-not-touch

Well, life can be like that. Sometimes, even though we’re being careful a relationship that we’ve had with someone else gets broken. Maybe you didn’t set out to break that relationship. Maybe it was just an accident. Then again, maybe it was something that you did knowingly. Maybe you said some things about them that you now regret. Maybe you rejected an invitation or left them off a list of people that you invited to something. Maybe you got to know more about them and discovered some things that are just too alien or repulsive to you to be masked by the things that you liked about them. For whatever the reason, maybe that relationship failed.

You cannot let that failure or a few failures stop you from reaching out and touching others and allowing them to touch you. Maybe you will become a bit more guarded and less quick painted into cornerto open up to others, but you cannot allow yourself to become an island, set apart from others, unapproachable and cold. Man, by nature, is a pack animal. We want to belong to a pack and run with a pack. We are social animals and being social means touching others and letting them touch us. The fact that every now and then, even though we might be being careful, we break something doesn’t mean that we stop trying, stop interacting and being social.

There is a term in social media circles for those who never join in the posts, but who just sign in to the group and read all of the posts. They are called “lurkers”. In real life there are always people who hover around the edges of events like dances, watching from the periphery but never joining in the dancing. They are sometimes called wall flowers. Both of these examples are classic cases of people who look but don’t touch. They are also sadask for dance cases of people who are not touched by others, because of their reticence. If you see someone like that, make the effort to reach out and touch them. They need that interaction and you may be surprised that they actually have the potential to make significant contributions to the conversation, once they are pulled out of their protective, “don’t touch” shells.

In his post today, Jack wrote about the classic Christmas movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” and how the main character in the movie, George Bailey, was shown by his Christmas angel how important his life is within the lives of others – how he touched them. Like George, most of us don’t stop to consider what impact we might be having on others. In fact, most of the time we have no idea what the impact is of anything that we have done.

Charity advertisers know how to plug into that feeling by showing you pictures of the people that your donation will be helping, so that you feel good about putting your dollar into the bucket. There is another ad for a breakfast food that shows the person who walking manconsumed that food spreading a smile to the many people that he meets that day. His smile is then passed on to another person and from them to yet another.is smile is then passed on to another an then from them to yet another. How nice it would be if we could see the kind word of greeting that we speak or the smile that we share being spread from person to person throughout the day. Maybe we have to use our imagination, but the ripple effect of you smile or you friendly “Hi, how are you?” does spread far and wide.

There is a theory called “Chaos Theory” that postulates that all things are somehow interconnected. Under Chaos Theory the wind created by the flapping of a butterfly in China eventually has an impact on the weather in America, even though the local impact in China was minute. Perhaps the smile that you share today in America will cause someone else to smile in China a few days from now. Maybe the meal that you provide to someone in Africa today because of the dollar that you dropped in a donation bucket will be enough to sustain a child who will grow up to be a great leader in the future. Maybe the hug that you give someone who is hurting today will be enough to draw them back from the abyss and get them started back to a more normal life. Those things will never happen if you don’t reach out and touch others in some way.

Along the way, as you reach out and touch others, you find that you are touched by othersbeing kind 1 and that they have an impact on your life, on the decisions that you make and on how you feel about yourself.  We all seek the approval of others, but what we are really seeking is to be touched by them – to allow our souls to feel the touch of sharing with another’s soul. The feeling that it really is a wonderful life doesn’t take place unless you allow it to happen by reaching out and touching others and them allowing them to touch you.

Reach out touch and be touched today…

 


Be happy to be you…

December 19, 2016

If you Google the little phrase “Happy to be me”, you’ll discover that there are a number smiling-sunof videos from Sesame Street skits to pop songs that all have that same title and theme. The string that runs through them all is that you should be happy to be the person that you are and not try to be someone else.

Sometimes it’s hard to be happy being with yourself, especially in the formative years when you may not be real sure who that is anyway. Children take cues from all around themselves as they grow and learn and try to find their identities. Sometimes they are not happy with their circumstances and who they think they are, especially as compared to others whom they think they would like to be like. They get predjuiceshung up on how they look for dress or act in public and who they hang out with (or are not invited to hang out with). It’s hard to be happy with yourself if you don’t see yourself as being “cool” or being a member of the “in-crowd”. I posted here about that in a blog Trying to be Cool Isn’t Cool.

Sometime those who were rejected by one “in-crowd” form their own alternative groups. That phenomenon is seen a lot during the middle and high school age years. Those are still very chaotic years in the search for one’s identity and some since of comfort with who you are. There tends to be a false sense of security in being a member of some group during school-of-fishthat time in our lives. Being in those groups is like being a fish that is swimming in sync with a large school of fish. One can look around and feel a sense of security and belonging that feels good. Just go with the flow and everything will be alright. You’ll be cool.

Some never really outgrown that need to be identified within some group context and many of those people never really get comfortable with themselves as individuals. Most, however, at some point after high school develop a sense of understanding and comfort with who they are and move on with life witfake people sign.jpghout depending upon the approval of a group to bring happiness. They discover that they are “happy to be me”. We tend to identify people who are at that stage in life as being self-confident. People who have not yet arrived at that level of self-aware comfort with themselves are sometimes be said to be “phony’ or perhaps “fake”.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be better. In fact you may wish to start each day with a little prayer that says, “God help me be the best me that I can be today.” That isn’t asking God to change you, only that He allow you woman-prayingto remain focused upon being as good of a you as you can be and not get distracted by desires to be something or someone else.

I wrote a while back on this topic with a post called Just be you. Be happy with who you are and ask for God’s help to be the best you that you can be. The rest of life will take care of itself, if you get right with yourself first. Have a great week just being the best you that you can be.