Where are you coming from?

March 7, 2018

In a recent post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Jack Freed used this little quote – “So much of who we are is where we have been.”  (William Langewiesche)

Jack went on to write about places that he’d been and to opine that what is more important in shaping us as humans are the other people that we have interacted with and the books that we may have read.

If you look at the little quote from a metaphorical point of view, perhaps a better way to state it is, “So much of who we are is where we’re coming from.” That point of view encompasses everything that is in our background – the places that we’ve been, the people that we’ve met and the things that we have done. Understanding where someone is coming from is important when you are trying to figure out how to deal with them or the situation that you find yourself in with them. It’s that old saw about trying to put yourself in their shoes or see things through their eyes. Where are you coming from?

Sometimes it may be helpful for one to pause and consider where you are coming from as you try to deal with issues in life. It is hard not to let your past dictate your futurebored actions, unless you become more conscious of the impact that the past has on shaping your thinking. Do you reflexively mistrust others because of a bad incident in your past? Does fear based upon some old prejudice drive your reaction? Do you find it hard to allow yourself to love someone because of a bad relationship earlier in your life? Do you get down on yourself because you have experienced criticism and scorn in the past, perhaps even from your parents? Where are you coming from?

Lots of things in our past dwell in our thoughts as we face the issues and decisions of each day. Recognizing that the immediate thought that pops into your head may be an old prejudice or fear that really shouldn’t apply to the situation at hand can at least give you the opportunity to take a different direction. If nothing else, taking the time to have a second thought on the situation may give you the opportunity to break out of the knee-jerk reaction that your past might conjure up. Take time to think about –Where are you coming from?

Keeping that little phrase at hand also allows us moderate our response to others. handshakeInstead of lashing back at some unkind remark, perhaps we might ask, “Where’s that coming from?” and try to understand what is driving the other person to make that remark. Maybe they are just having a delayed reaction to something that they thought you did or they might be acting on bad information. In any event, before we respond in any way we need to better understand the answer to the question, “Where are you coming from?”

Perhaps, just as important is understanding where we are coming from each day. One way to establish a great starting point each day is to begin it with a little prayer. man prayingBeginning each day re-centered on your faith give you a great place to be coming from all day long. You can certainly choose any prayer that you wish that makes you feel good about your faith. I’ve posted here often that I like to start with a very short prayer that gets me in the right frame of mind – “Not my will but Thy will be done.”  I know for the rest of that day where I’m coming from. How about you?

Where are you coming from?

Choose to be kind this week…

March 5, 2018

“Choose to be kind over being right every time.”  (Richard Carlson)

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Jack went on to write about the Mr. Know-it-all syndrome that some people exhibit. Unfortunately, that hits too close to home for me, as my wife often calls me out on.  I really have to work on not jumping in to arrogantcorrect some factual error (at least in my opinion) that I think may have just been made in something that is said. Sometimes (probably most of the time) it is better to just let things go, even if you know that what was just said is not correct. Be kind this week.

One way to look at things is to just say to yourself that what was just said is what the person who said it believes and messing around with beliefs is usually a losing cause. Perhaps it was their opinion about something; and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. It is surely a mistake to jump in with a correction on anything that may be political or religious, since those are two areas that are very personal and difficult to argue. Just say to yourself, “I don’t agree with your opinion or judge thingsview on things, but that’s OK.” Don’t say that out loud, unless you are just spoiling for an argument. Be kind this week.

Rather than trying to assert the “right” (from your perspective) opinion into the conversation, be kind and try to understand the other person’s point of view or at least honor his/her right to that opinion. One can be kind without being condescending and one can be kind without surrendering their own position or opinion. Be kind this week.

Another good trait to develop is being able to admit when you were, in fact, wrong on some opinion or “fact” that you held a strong belief about. Sometimes additional information or event prove the position that you held to be wrong and rather than cling stubbornstubbornly to a disproved position, it is much better to admit your mistake and move on by embracing the new “truth” of the matter. Perhaps now you will be better able to understand the position that others held all along, which you considered “wrong-headed” until now. You will probably also realize that, had you chosen to be kind rather than right in your position, you would now be in a much better position. Be kind this week.

So, choose to greet others ready to accept and understand, rather than ready to correct. Try to understand things from their perspective rather than forcing them to see it from disagreement2yours.  Maybe there is no right and wrong, just two wrongs that will get you nowhere. Life does not have to become as dysfunctional as our current political system, where everything is judged using a far-right or far-left litmus test. There is a win-win middle ground were different opinions and perspectives may be valued for providing diversity to the conversation and where the truth is somewhere in the middle or, perhaps, somewhere else altogether. Be kind this week.

When you hear someone say something that you would normally try to correct; rather than blurt out, “You’re wrong”, try “How interesting of you to say that”, or perhaps reply, “I hadn’t thought of that view of things.” You may be pleasantly surprised at the conversations that follow. Be kind this week.

Say something nice to somebody today…

March 1, 2018

From the blog Jack’s Winning Words comes this quote of the day – “Why do we have to wait for special moments to say nice things or tell people we care about them?”  (Randy Milholland)

Jack went on to tell a little of Randy’s life success story because someone took the time to say something to him in his youth.

I believe that there is also a benefit to you if you take the time to say something nice to someone – it makes you feel better, too. Taking the time, making that effort to think of handshakesomething nice to say to someone puts you in a positive frame of mind, because you are being positive and not just finding fault with that person. It can be something as small as “your hair looks great today” or maybe just “you look great today”. You’ll probably get a smile and maybe a reply and it will usually be positive, which helps reinforce the positive vibe that you were on when you made the comment.

The second positive thing from doing this is that it puts you “out there”. By making the comment, you reached out from your protective shell and touched someone else in his or her shell. If you get a response, you have the beginning of a conversation and perhaps a relationship building moment. Humans are really all about interacting with other humans and it can be very lonely if you never take the opportunity to interact. Even if you just a get a fleeting, “Thanks”, from the person as they scurry away, you tried and they did acknowledge you. Perhaps the next time that you meet, they’ll have more time and they’ll remember that you’re the one who said something nice to them.

this-is-meAnother side-benefit of making the effort to say something nice is that it will usually put a smile on your face, which may be a pleasant change from your normal “at rest” face. It is quite natural that most people’s faces droop a bit into what might be interpreted as a frown by others. You aren’t really unhappy or trying to frown and probably don’t realize that your “at rest” face doesn’t look inviting or friendly. By conscientiously preparing to say something nice you will reflexively put a little smile on your face, which will be a pleasant change for those that you meet.

So, go out there today prepared to say something nice to those that you meet. You will make it a much more pleasant day for them and I think you’ll find that you have a much more pleasant day, too. Bye the way; you look great today; have you been losing weight; is that a new hair style for you; where did you get that great outfit? I feel better already. How about you?