Keeping an open mind…

March 23, 2018

Jack Freed recently posted this little quote on his blog Jack’s Winning Words“I believe in having an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out.”  (Arthur Hays Sulzberger)

I like that quote because sometimes, under the guise of having an open mind, people do let their common sense (their brains) fall by the wayside and end up doing stupid things. An open mind is one that is willing to consider a change in position or understanding on a topic. Everyone and everything that we interact with conjures up some mental insightpredisposition in our minds about them/it and how to react to the encounter. Sometimes, those predispositions may be strong and well as wrong and have turned into unfounded prejudices. Many times it may just be a feeling of unease or fear, if we have little or no experiences upon which to fora more positive reaction.

When you’re a child prejudices may be more excusable, because you haven’t experienced enough or learned enough to really have an informed opinion. As you grow up there is an expectation that your will gain first-hand experiences and knowledge that helps you make better decision; or at least that is the hope. A key to that growth is your ability to keep an open mind, but also to use your brain to sort, categorize and assimilate new bits of knowledge so that the basis for your reaction to events and people is based on better knowledge. Some do a better job at that than others do.

arrogantSome people really don’t have a mind that is open to change, no matter what evidence is presented that a long held conviction is wrong. They have locked their brains tightly into a reality that is theirs alone and they “see” the world from within that realm. Unfortunately, that seems to be the case in Washington these days, as the politicians there become more and more polarized. One certainly doesn’t see a lot of open minds there, just a lot of brainless behavior.

How do you start each day? Are you open to new ideas, new thoughts and new ways of seeing things? Do you see meeting new people who are different from you as an opportunity to learn or as a threat? Is your brain open to learning new things or too busy defending old prejudices, fears and unsubstantiated positions?

Being open to new ideas, new thoughts and new people does not mean blindly accepting them or immediately acting upon them, as Sulzberger was saying in his quote. You still have to engage your brain to evaluate their worth and place within your life. Some newsmirk idea may well displace old ideas that you now know were not completely right or which no longer fit for you. New people in your life may replace old friends who no longer share your values or whose position on things is no longer aligned with yours. Life happens and you move on.

So, let changes happen in your life and your outlook on life. Don’t let where you were at hold you back from where you are going. Use your brain to sort through new thoughts and beliefs and to control the pace and extent of those changes, but not to block them out. Keep an open mind. Don’t worry, your brains won’t really fall out.


Love is like the Bird of Paradise…

March 15, 2018

In a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack used this quote – “The Bird of Paradise alights upon the hand that does not grasp.”  (John Berry)

Jack went on to explain that the Bird of Paradise is an actual bird, a very beautiful bird,Bird of PAradise in Indonesia and thought by many to be the first bird that God created in the Garden of Eden. To see such a bird is rare and to actually have one alight upon your hand even more rare.

It occurred to me that the quote could also apply to love. Just as the Bird of Paradise goes not wish to be grasped and possessed; love is something meant to be shared not grasp and held onto like a possession. I have heard of more than one relationship failing because one of the parties became “too possessive”, too “graspy”.

It is a fault of our human nature that we want to possess things and sometimes even to Controllingpossess people. We want them to be “ours” and ours alone. What we don’t understand is that love is a feeling that must be shared and not possessed. Saying I love you to someone does not carry with it “I own you”; but, sometimes people imply that into the relationship. Those relationships are doomed to fail. Love is something that is at the same time shared and earned in return.

One earns love in relationship through kindness, gentleness, consideration, attentiveness, loyalty and many other things that are all oriented towards giving in the relationship. Freedom is one of those things. You cannot earn the love of another by holding them captive as if they were a possession. Most often the possessor’s own insecurities and fears drive possessive behavior. Rather than show love towards the partner to earn their love in return; these insecure partners try to grasp them instead and hold them hostage.  We use terms like manipulative, domineering or controlling for men and clingy, manipulative and high-maintenance for the women in these possessive relationships. No matter what we call it, they are grasping for love.

Often these possessive relationships remain intact long enough to evolve into domesticgirl crying violence situations. It is often the case that domestic violence is driven as much by the need to control the other person as from any other reason. Once all other techniques of control fail, the possessive person is left with physical violence or threats as a mechanism of control. Domestic violence becomes the final spiral towards oblivion of a long failed relationship.

So, what is the take away from all of this? It is that love, like the Bird of Paradise, lights on the open hand of trust in a relationship. You love someone and hope that they love you back. There are things that you can do to earn that love in return andholdiing love in hand there are things that you could do that would cause love (and the Bird of Paradise) to fly away by being too possessive. Love cannot be grasped it can only be shared and it must be shared freely and without constraints. Just as the Bird of Paradise is beautiful to behold, love is a beautiful things to see and feel and even touch, but it cannot be grasped and possessed.

Share a loving day with your partner with an open hand and an open heart.

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?

Who’s watching you?

February 12, 2018

From a recent post on Jack’s Winning Words comes this little thought provoker –  “Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they’re always watching you.” (Robert Fulghum)

I believe that it’s true that our children learn from watching us and how we react to things that happen.bored They also learn about us from watching how we behave, as do others around us. You don’t have to become paranoid about it; but, it is something to keep in mind, that all of those who are around us on a daily basis either learn something about us from watching or they form some opinion about us based on those observations.

jerkHow many times have you seen someone that you didn’t know do something stupid and immediately you had had the reaction, “What a jerk.” You don’t really know if they are normally a jerk or not, but that was your first impression of them. If you were that person you certainly would hope that this isn’t their lasting impression of you, based upon that one incident.

Every lesson that I’ve ever seen or heard about how to deal with things (usually something requiring a reaction or resolution, such as an objection during a sales pitch) starts with the same piece of advice – pause. It is during that pause that you have the time to collect your thoughts before reacting or responding. It is that moment of reflection that may protect you from being perceived as a jerk, because it gives you the opportunity to respond better than you would have, had you made a knee-jerk reaction (maybe that’s why it’s called a knee-jerk reaction).

You might be surprised, if you pause, how fast your mind can work. You may have seen those sci-fi movies, like the Terminator series where the various options to a threat or problem flash by the cyborg eyes of the Terminator. Our minds can work like that, with WWJDseveral options being quickly presented to deal with the situation at hand. For Christians one option that should come to mind every time is the old standby, “What would Jesus do?” That is a great option because it makes us pause further to think about an answer to that question. Jesus never took the path of the jerk.

Another helpful mindset is to explore the options that an optimist might choose from, rather than visiting the dark list of the pessimist. I used to get angry (my own little version of road rage) when I missed making a stop light or turn signal while driving; but my wife kept calling me out on that smiling-sunand suggesting that I look at the positive side of things by celebrating that I would get to be first on the next green light. Now that has become a little joke for us when I miss a light. She gave me a different place to look for a response.

As you go through this week, keep in mind that all of those around you (including your children) are watching how you handle yourself and react to things that require a response. If you pause and keep the WWJD response in mind or start from an optimistic mindset, you are much less likely to be perceived as a jerk. If you are going to involuntarily be a role model anyway; at least focus upon being a good one.

Who’s watching you?

Living with Strong Women –

December 27, 2017

Recently, I told a couple of strong women whom I have known since they were born that Elizabeth_WarrenI would do a blog post on strong women in our society. There has been quite a bit of press coverage of strong women lately, whether in politics or business or life in general.  Later, in a moment of self-doubt, I got to thinking to myself, “What the heck do I know about strong women.” My answer to was to think of it more about a strong person, gender identity aside, and to try to identify the characteristics that makes them “strong”.

The more I thought about it the more I settled on one characteristic above all others that makes a person – man or woman – a strong person. That characteristic is self-assurance. This is not to be confused with conceit or being self-centered. Strong women have a verymystery girl clear understanding and acceptance of who they are and what they want in life. Strong women do not need a man to validate them. They are ready and looking for an equal partner, not just someone to assume the role of protector and provider. They have left the nest and their parents and aren’t looking for a man to come into their life and provide a substitute father figure.

In a prior life, when I was in the big, corporate world, I took a course that was aptly titled “I’m OK, You’re OK”. While the course focused upon how to identify and deal with praying-togetherdifferent types of people, one of the basic premises was that you are OK being you; that you aren’t trying to be someone else. Strong people and strong women are OK being themselves. They like who they are and what they are doing in life. They might invite you to share that life with them, but they are not looking to replace it or change it, just to suit you. They may be willing to make some accommodations in order to share life with you; but you shouldn’t expect subservience or too much deference to your point of view.

There is a tendency to call strong people “headstrong”; and, indeed, they can seem that way at times, even to the point of becoming argumentative. Unanswered in the complaint that they are unwilling to budge from their position on something is the question of how willing you were to move your thinking in their direction. Sometimes winner-loseryou can find compromise and sometimes you just have to agree to disagree; and, that’s OK. Life does not have to be a “winner-loser” game.  In fact it is best when lived as a win-win game.

I’ve posted here before about the importance of developing the bond of friendship with the one that you may be sharing your life with. The jewelry companies have picked up on that aspect of a successful partnership with their two stone rings – one stone for the one you love and one for your best friend. That is the relationship to strive for with a strong partner.

So, guys; when you meet a strong woman, you should not be frightened nor should you see it as a challenge to try to dominate her. Rather, see it as an opportunity, perhaps to soulmate1form a relationship with someone who can hold their own as your best friend in life’s journey. It can be an amazing trip when you have a partner alongside you who can give as much as he/she takes in the relationship. If you just want arm candy, you can find that, too; just don’t expect too much from someone who sees you as her sugar daddy. You can drag that cute, little dependent being along with you, like a puppy on a lease;  or, you can find a strong woman who will pull her load in life as an equal partner – you chose.

As for me; I’ve got to go now; my partner and I have plans for the day.

The pause that refreshes…

December 21, 2017

From a post not long ago to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes today’s inspiration – 

“When you press the pause button on a machine, it stops, but when you press the pause button on human beings they start…to think, to reflect, to reimagine what is possible.”  (Thomas Friedman)

So often life becomes hectic and we allow ourselves to be swept up in the hustle and bustle of trying to keep up, trying to make snap decisions and react quickly to the changes that are happening around us. What we need sometimes is our own pausepause symbol button for life. We need time to think and reflect, to evaluate things and, possibly, to reimagine our role and reactions to what is happening. How many times we think back to situations and from that new point of view, say to ourselves, “if only I had thought of this back then.” Perhaps you would have thought of that back then, if you had hit the pause button.

So maybe imagining that you do have a pause button is a good way to deal with things. Maybe we should hit pause and step back from the situation long enough to think and consider all of the possibilities and reimagine our future direction. Hurtful things that bored2happen to us often elicit equally hurtful reactions from us and usually just end up compounding the problem. Problems that are so big that they overwhelm us too often cause responses that are overly ambitious and not well thought out. Pausing to see how to break the problem down into a series of smaller and simpler responses can lead to a much better chance of success.

In my life I have a built in pause button in my two dogs. We take four walks a day, starting with the first one at about 6 AM each morning. Those walks, each lasting about 20-30 minutes, require that I pause and give me time to think about things. The first walk of the day is my planning walk, in which I have the chance to reflect on what is upcoming during the rest of the day and lay out a plan of sorts. The two in the middle of the day provide a pause to reflect on what has happened, what things I ‘m faced with responding to or allowing me to make changes to my original plan in reaction to how the day has gone so far. The end-of-day walk allow for reflection upon the events of the day and the decisions that I made. That pause allow me to learn from the day’s events and hopefully to increase my store of knowledge on how to deal with upcoming events.


You really don’t need dogs to walk in order to pause in your daily life; but, you do need to have the discipline to hit the pause button a few times during your day, in order to give yourself time to reflect and make the best decisions on what to do next. The ability to reimagine what is possible is critical to good mental health. The alternative is to allow yourself to become overwhelmed by seemingly impossible situations and perhaps to woman-prayingslide into depression because you see no way out. You may wish to say a little prayer, asking for God’s help with the decisions that you have to make or perhaps you would finbd comfort in the little prayer that I use and have written about here many times – “Not my will, but thy will be done.”

Pause and think, reflect and pray – then reimagine your future. It’s the pause that refreshes.