Whining about it is a waste of time…

December 11, 2019

In today’s post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack used this quote – “Realize that if you have time to whine and complain about something, then you have the time to do something about it.”   (Anthony D’Angelo)

Whining about things seems to be a favorite pastime for many, maybe because it is the easiest things to do when faced with a roadblock or setback or calamity. Whining is sometimes a cry for sympathy or help, but most often ii is just a convenient excuse for doing nothing about whatever it is that troubles the whiner. For them, it seems to take less effort to whine about it than to do something about it. Whining about it is a waste of time…

Now, sometimes having a good cry about something is a healthy emotional release. Once the tears stop, the next step should be about getting on with life and not about going into whining mode. There is an old saying that “misery loves company”, but nobody really likes to be around a whiner. That is why people try to avoid the “Debby Downer” types at work or socially. No one really expects, or hopes, to hear a long list of ailments or health complaints when they say to someone, “How are you?” Whining about it is a waste of time…

So, how do you implement the second half of today’s quote and do something about whatever it is that is bothering you? If it’s a problem that has you down, trying some of the problem solving steps that I’ve written about here many times (to start see my Problem Solving 101 post). If the issue concerns your health, the loss of a loved one or the end of a relationship, there are other steps that you can take to deal with it, rather than just whining about it. Whining about it is a waste of time…

Issues with one’s health can be particularly difficult because the initial reaction to bad health news is that there is nothing that you can do – it is what it is. The fight or flight reaction sets in and many use whining as their flight response. They seek comfort in someone else’s response to their bad news. Those people seldom appear in the nightly news stories about survivors of various forms of cancer or other ailments or afflictions. The people who appear in those stories chose to fight instead of whining. Instead of using what time you may have been told you have left whining about it, why not choose to fight instead and use that time finding a way to prove the prognostication wrong. You will find that many more people rally around a fighter than those who choose to commiserate with a whiner. Whining about it is a waste of time…

For those instances of the loss of a parent, child or life mate, the choice is more focused upon getting on with life and putting your memories of that person into proper perspective. For some, whose loved ones were taken by preventable circumstances; instead of whining about it they turn to doing something about it. That is how M.A.D.D. got started and how many worthwhile charities got started. The people left behind decided to try to do something to prevent the recurrence of the tragedy that befell them, instead of just whining about it. Whining about it is a waste of time…

The end of a relationship can also lead to whining or to actions. Step one is always accepting the fact that the relationship has ended. That is difficult for some and can lead to bad actions or disaster. For most, it is a matter of putting more time into answering the question, “What now?”  It is a time for some self-reflection. The breakup of a relationship is seldom a completely one-side decision. The importance of taking a little time for self-reflection is to understand the role that your own actions or reactions played in the end of the relationship. It is not a time to beat yourself up; but, rather, to understand what you might do differently in a future relationship. Whining about it is a waste of time…

So, did I mention that Whining about it is a waste of time…


Someone to share with…

December 10, 2019

Jack used this quote in a recent post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words“Let’s face it, friends make life a lot more fun.” – Charles R. Swindoll

Actually the quote Jack used was quite a bit longer; but, I chose to use only the last sentence.

If you substitute the word companions for the word friends in that sentence you will be closer to what I’m thinking while writing this piece.  Companions is more inclusive term that allows spouses to also be referenced better than just the word friends.

Man is not a solitary animal; at least not most men (women). There are examples in the wild kingdom of animals that prefer to be alone (albeit not in the mating season), but even the animal kingdom, there are more examples of animals that prefer to be in groups, packs, prides, gaggles or whatever they are called for their species. In most of those cases, they also interact with each other in helpful ways that go beyond just socializing – perhaps grooming each other or caring for the young of other members of the group.

For us, as humans, having companion gives us someone to share things with, both good and bad. For us, joining in on a victory celebration or offering a shoulder to cry upon is a natural part of life. We like to share the good things in life – a good joke, a promotion at work, the success of our team, the victories of our children. We also seek out a companion to share the bad things with – a death in the family, the breakup of a relationship or being laid off at work. We seek someone to share with.

How much less fun, or more miserable, life would be if we didn’t have someone to share those good and bad moments with. That’s part of what we sign up for when we take wedding vows – “through good times and bad”. As I look back over my 53 years of marriage the thing that comes to mind are all of those moments of sharing with my life companion – the many good times and the few bad ones. How desolate my life would have been had I not had someone to share with.

 If one is deeply introspective, another thought that comes to mind is that we are never really alone. God is, always has been, and always will be there with us. I think of the times that I was physically alone or away from my life companion and something happened that I needed to share. Who did I turn to? God was there to share the good times and to comfort and reassure in the bad times. I am guilty of not giving Him enough credit for the good times and perhaps turning too late to Him during the bad; but, He was always there when I needed a companion. He was someone I always knew that I could share with.

So, Swindoll was right. Friends (companions) and God make life more fun. They give us someone to share life with.


What pain will you turn into a strength?

December 7, 2019

A post to the blog, Jack’s Winning Words ,not too long ago used this quote – “Life is very interesting.  In the end some of your greatest pains become your greatest strengths.”  (Drew Barrymore) 

You could substitute other words like challenges or tribulations or roadblocks or setbacks for the word “pains” in the quote, and add the word “overcoming” right before the word “some”. If you did that, I think you would have what Barrymore was trying to say.

At the time that they are occurring, trials and tribulations don’t feel good and you usually don’t think about how you will look back on the events that are unfolding as a learning and growth experience. However, extraordinary events, especially bad events, force us grow by forcing us outside of our comfort zone and into problem solving mode.

My wife and I often use a little phrase between ourselves as a tension breaker, when we’ve hit a hiccup in life. We say, “someday we’ll look back on this an laugh”. We’ve had a lot of laughs in our 53 years of marriage, much of it over things that felt bad when they occurred. To a certain extent what we end up laughing at is not the event; but, rather, how we reacted to the event.

So, how does a pain, a failure, a setback in life become a strength? It has to do with building your store of wisdom and your character at the same time.  Wisdom and character don’t just happen or increase on their own; they happen and grow because you have been “through” something – some adversity or new experience. They can both grow from good things happening as they do from dealing with the bad things in life.

I’ve posted here many times about problem solving, so I won’t repeat that advice. What I want to add to that advice is that you make a conscious effort while going through the problem solving process to learn from it and to find a new strength in the solution. Maybe you can use a slight variation on the little saying that I use with my wife and say to yourself, “someday I’ll look back on this and appreciate what I’ve learned from it.” You will have learned things about both the event and about yourself and how you reacted to it. Both add to your wisdom base.

Life’s pains can seem to be overwhelming. Take some time each day to think about the “pains” in your life and how you are dealing with them. While you are in that introspective mode, take a moment to ask for God’s help with them. Trusting in God to help with your pains allows you to step back a little bit and gain some perspective on them. Oft times, that ability to “see” the pain in the broader perspective of life will allow you to regain enough control to be able to effectively apply the logic of problem solving. No matter what the pain, dealing with it can be broken down into a series of manageable, solvable steps. Step 1 is to get God involved.

It is interesting that some of the best motivational speakers on problems like drug addiction or human trafficking or other horrible pains in life are recovered addicts, or people who were sex trafficked themselves. They have found ways, not only to overcome the pains, but also to turn them into strengths in their lives.

What pains are you facing? How can you turn them into strengths? Have you asked for God’s help yet? Take step 1 and  turn your pains into strengths.


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Look for the door today…

December 2, 2019

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog used this quote – “Every wall is a door.”  (Ralph Waldo Emerson) 

Life often throws things at us that appear to be walls – things preventing us from moving ahead. In bad times, it can feel like the walls are boxing us in and closing in on us. All of these times are opportunities to look for the door that Emerson alluded to in his quote.

Yesterday I wrote about dealing with crises and I have posted more than once about problem solving. A key to both is seeing that there is a door, an opportunity, in every wall that life throws our way. So, instead of sitting there moaning, “woe is me” in hard times, one needs to start searching for the door in that wall and figuring out how to open it.

If you ever watched the old Price is Right show, you know that they often presented contestants with multiple doors. They would tell the contestant that behind one of the doors was a really great prize, but behind the other(s) was a bust. The contestant then had to choose a door. Sometimes we are presented with multiple doors in the walls that life throws at us. We know that one of the doors will lead to a good outcome, but that some of the doors could lead to even bigger trouble. Many are frozen in place by the choice and are unable to get through the wall. Some just continually choose the wrong doors in life and sink deeper and deeper into trouble.

Wouldn’t life be so much better if you had help finding the doors in your walls and then choosing the right one to go through? There is a cute cereal commercial running right now in which a father advises a young girl about to ride off on her bicycle to make good choices. We are not told where she is going or why, nor do we get any insight into the choices that she may have to make. Life is like that. We don’t know what choices we will be faced with today or how many walls may be thrown up in our way. The things that we can do is to set out with the thought in mind that we will make good choices and find he doors in whatever walls we encounter. Just taking the approach that we will find the door in those walls is our first good choice of the day.

So, where is the help in all of that? Maybe it is in pausing at the start of each day to say a little prayer, a prayer that God helps you make good choices throughout the day. That gives you a sense of confidence that you are not alone in facing those walls and the courage to pick a door and go through it. You are not asking God to solve all of the problems that come your way, but rather to give you the wisdom and courage to make good choices and find the way through those walls.

Don’t stand there lamenting that you have hit a wall…find the door to your future today. Ask for God’s help and the door will appear.


How will you handle the crises in your life?

December 1, 2019

In today’s post to his Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack Freed used this quote from John F. Kennedy  – “When written in Chinese the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters—one represents danger and the other represents opportunity.” 

We will all face a few crises in our lives or at least situations that we feel are crises. How we react to them perhaps depends upon which of the Chinese characters we see. Do you see only the danger in a crisis or can you see the opportunity. We see and hear on the news almost daily about “heroes” who spring into action to rescue someone who is experiencing a crisis moment – perhaps involving an accident or fire or some other calamity. I’m sure that those heroes see the danger involved, but they choose to take the opportunity to help.

More important for most of us is how we, ourselves, with handle the crises that life throws our way. Those who see only the dangers involved may seek relief by hiding or withdrawing into their own protective shells. It is all too easy to let fear take hold and paralyze us from taking any actions. Maybe we don’t step in when we see bullying taking place or perhaps we cross the street to avoid the person with whom we have a disagreement. Maybe we refused to believe that a mistake that we have made has ended a relationship. In the realm of “fight or flight” reactions, those are all flight responses to crises.

The response that sees opportunity in the crisis is not necessarily a “fight “response so much as it is a “take action” response. These people see the opportunity in the situation – the opportunity to do something in response.  People who see opportunity in crises immediately go in to problem solving mode, whether it’s jumping into action and quickly figuring out a rescue plan at an accident or conflagration, or assessing what needs to be said or done to defuse and calm a personal conflict. It’s not so much that they don’t see the danger in the situation (after all the burning car right in front of them is hard to miss), it’s just that the opportunity to help, to do something , overrides their fear of personal danger. They NEED to act – to seize the opportunity.

For most of us, life is quite a bit less dramatic than encountering accidents with people trapped in burning cars or, maybe,  having to react in an active shooter incident. Our “crises” are usually the result of interpersonal conflicts or misunderstandings and certainly the “danger” involved is usually not immediately  life threatening.  For some, however, the anxiety or depression that can result from these crises is life threatening in a very real way. Setbacks or dissapointments may become crises because of their inability to deal with the events that occur in their lives. Those “crises” may represent an opportunity for you to jump in to save the life of your friend or loved one; but, that’s a topic for a future post.

What is a crisis? There is an interesting article on the Marking 91 web site that classifies 8 different types of crises –

  1. Technological
  2. Financial
  3. Natural
  4. A crisis of malice
  5. A crisis of deception
  6. A Confrontational crisis
  7. A crisis of organizational misdeeds
  8. Workplace violence

Who knew that crises could be so neatly categorized? Go read the article and see if there are any other categories that you might add.

No matter what the crisis the key thing is how you deal with it. I’ve posted here a few times on problem solving, so I won’t repeat all of the at advice. Just search problem solving to see the posts.  What this post is focused upon is the recognition that one is in a crisis situation and the considered decision to deal with it rationally. It is not unusual for crises to occur at a fast pace and perhaps in a confusing environment. That makes it all the more important to be able to step back for an instance, recognize that you are dealing with a situation that requires that you take some action and then formulate a quick action plan. Just that moment of clarity is often enough to snap you out of panic and into problem solving mode. In that moment, you have regained control, not of the situation, but of yourself.

Some people actually think ahead about what they might do in a crisis situation. Airline pilot Chesley Sullenberger said in his post crisis interviews that he had been thinking hew entire career about what to do if the plane that he was piloting suffered a catastrophic failure of both engines. He certainly didn’t think that he would ever have to put those plans into action until the day that he had to land his crippled plane in the Hudson river. I have also posted here in the past about not overthinking (called worrying) about all possible outcomes for some future event, especially those involving personal confrontations. There is a big difference between doing some planning and just plain worrying about things.

So, how will you handle future crises? It is OK to recognize the danger in the situation. That keeps one from becoming foolhardy. Rather, try to keep calm and focus upon the opportunity that is also there. There ae good, bad and ugly possible outcomes in all situations and you can find he good outcome if you just look for it. If you are a person of faith, take heart in this passage from Philippians 4:6-7 – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Imagine how much better you could handle the crises in your life if you approached each one with the Peace of God in your heart and mind.

Be at Peace and see the opportunities.