Are you happy with what you get?

April 15, 2019

“Success is getting what you want.  Happiness is wanting what you get.”  (Dale Carnegie) – as seen in today’s post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

Sometimes I think back to the simpler times of my childhood – ancient times, before smartphones or the Internet or even television. Wow. That is ancient. Yet, we were happy female soccer playeras children running around the neighborhood playing cowboys and Indians or cops and robbers or just hide and go seek. We were happy with what we got and did not spend our time wanting things that we didn’t have. Perhaps ignorance was bliss, since we didn’t have the ubiquitous Internet and Google to show us all of the things that we didn’t have. We just had fun and that was enough for us. We couldn’t wait for the next day, so be able to get out and play again. Nobody sat around with their head down, staring at a tiny screen.

It is harder these days for kids to just be kids and have fun. Even babies are often parked in their Bubble seats in front of TV screens, which serve as electronic babysitters and provide visual distraction. Young children, sometimes not even old enough for pre-school, are handed electronic tablets with simple, cute games on them to occupy their selfie 2time and keep them quiet. It’s no wonder that by the time they are old enough to go to school they have become completely hooked on electronics for their entertainment and as their source of information. It’s somewhat sad to think that there are only 1-2 generations alive today that did not grow up in the electronic age and who remember what we did to entertain ourselves before all of the electronics came along.

Getting back to the quote of the day, are you constantly chasing the things that you think you want; or, are you happy with the things that you have? In his post today, Jack went on to write about Loretta Lynn’s title song in the movie Coal Miner’s Daughter, in which she sings “We were poor but we had love  That’s the one thing that daddy made sure of.” That song makes the point that it is in our relationships with others that we find true mother with childhappiness. After all, you can’t have a relationship with a thing that you might want. Hugging your new car will never satisfy like hugging your wife and kids – they hug back.

Perhaps, it is that insight into what is important in life that allows some to be happy with what they get. They focus upon the relationships in their life – the love that they receive from and give to others –rather than upon material things. The happiness that they can recall is usually centered around events and activities with others and not about the car that they were in or the house that they happened to own at the time. Good times are almost always about sharing things with others – activities, events, milestones or whatever.

So, one can be successful and attain lots of material things that they may have wanted; but to be happy usually has less to do with those things than with the people around us with whom we share life’s events. If you focus upon those people, instead of things; you will find that you are happy with what you get, because you had them there to share it with you.

Start by putting down that phone and looking to see who is around you. Instead of couple-looking-at-phonestexting “WYD?” to someone that you can’t see; start a conversation with someone that you can see. It may be hard at first, actually talking to someone; but you’ll get the hang of it and you’ll probably find it to be a lot more rewarding than staring at a screen and waiting for a reply to your text.  Who knows, maybe that person that you are talking to may become your new BFF.

You can be happy with what you get in life, if you are first happy with those around you when you get it.

Hello. How are you today? Did you have a good weekend? OMG, we’re talking!

 


Leveraging diversity at work and in life…

January 18, 2017

I read a good article by Sally Krawcheck recently that focused upon the question – Why are we still asking women to act like men at work?  If you don’t know who Sally Krawcheck is go read the article and follow the links from her name that are there. She has quite an impressive resume.

Krawcheck was making the point in this article that diversity in the workplace has real value to companies, by giving them a wider perspective on the needs of the market, as well as a better knowledge base from which to make business decisions. She focused in the embrace diversityarticle upon the tendency in business to recommend (even demand) that women act more like the men in the business, in order to be successful and to be taken seriously. She makes a good case that diversity of thoughts and opinions, in this case letting women be women in business, makes more sense and leads to better decision making.

The same logic can apply to life in general. There is a tendency, based upon staying in our comfort zones, for people to surround themselves with other people who are just like them. The tendency drives them to create or join organizations that are populated by arrogantpeople like themselves. Many social clubs and churches are good examples of that tendency in practice. The same stagnation and self-serving, if wrongheaded, decision making that Krawcheck says can occur in businesses because of a lack of diversity also sets in at those more or less homogeneous clubs and churches over time. Due to the changing demographics in the general population, these insular organizations eventually wither and die, due to the inability to attract enough people “just like us” to sustain the organization. More successful organizations embrace diversity and thrive because of the wider pool of potential members that comes along with diversity.

At the root of the lack of diversity at work and in our lives may well be doubts or insecurity with our own role and place in life. The different opinions or points of view about things disagreement2can be perceived as threats to our own view of things. We see the admission that someone else’s’ opinion about something being accepted as “right” must mean that our opinion is “wrong”. A more correct way to look at things is that both opinions or points of view have merit and should both be taken into account when making decisions. In business, to do any less is potentially to immediately discount an entire segment of the population and possibly to lose them as customers. In life, to do so is to ignore some solutions or answers and to limit the possible solutions to a problem. You may even discover that having the insight of another person’s point of view (especially someone not like you) will lead you to the conclusion that something that you saw as a threat or problem was not a problem at all, but rather an opportunity for you to grow as a person.

Back when I was in the corporate world (and the seems like a lifetime ago) I would, about once a month, join a group of women from the office who regularly went to lunch together. I told them that I was getting in touch with my feminine side, which they found amusing. I seldom got a word in edgewise on these luncheons, but it was fascinating and interesting to sit and listen to the conversations that went on over their lunches. The part that was most in contrast to lunches with the men in the office was the ability of the women to share their life experiences with one another, rather than just banter about work. Men’s lunches tended to be all about the business, whereas the women lunches tended to focus upon life and family and other “people-oriented” topics. Sure, there was also some sharing of office gossip, but mostly it was sharing at a level that invited empathy and shared concerns. The men’s groups were always very guarded about anything like that from their personal lives.

In her article Krawcheck used a great analogy for both business and life. She said that different-points-of-viewbuilding a good team (at work) or support group (in life) can be thought of like building a good basketball team. In her words – “it’s hard to build a national championship team if your players are all point guards.” The same is true of the teams that you might be on at work. You need different skills and different points of view in order to make good decisions. I life you need a diverse set of friends around you as a support group for your life decisions and crises.

I recall watching the TV show Queer eye for the straight guy in which a group of gay men would help with the makeover of a straight guy each week. There were experts on the gay makeover team for personal grooming, clothing, cooking and home decor. Some of the members of that show are still on TV on other shows, such as Chopped. Each week some guy would be proposed for a makeover, usually recommended by friends and family. It was the totally different point of view of the gay makeover team that drove the dramatic changes that most of the participants underwent. Most of us probably don’t need to go to that extreme, but all of us could use the advice that we can only get from having a more diverse set of friends around us. Somebody has to say “yes” when we ask, “does this outfit make me look fat?” Then maybe they can help us make better choices in clothes and in life.

diversitySo, the take-away for work and life is to encourage and embrace diversity and to understand how to leverage that diversity in order to make better decisions. After you stop being amazed that anyone would see things that way that a person “different” from you might see them; you then need to make the effort to understand why and to let that understanding help you take that wider view of the decisions that you need to make. You’ll make better decisions at work and in life.


Stretch your mind and grow as a person…

December 2, 2016

Recently Jack Freed posted this quote to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words – “A mind stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”  (O.W. Holmes Jr)

Jack went on to write – Dr Robert Cooper, a neuroscientist, says that we only use 10% of our brains.  We have programed ourselves not to stretch into new thinking.  “We’ve always done it this way!”  But, a willingness to explore new ways can open us to limitless ideas.  Have you had an “aha!” moment?  (Now, I get it it!) 

I belong to several local community organizations and serve on the boards of some. One of the things that I hear very often when something new is proposed in board meetings is the phrase. “We’ve always done it that way.” Usually this is in defense of resisting any change or anything that no-changeis new and different. In fact it is often used preemptively, before the idea is even discussed to try to shut down new ideas or suggestions of change before they even get a hearing. If can be very frustrating, especially if I believe that the changes or new idea are necessary to keep the group viable in the community.

Many small, volunteer community organizations (and even churches) die out because they resist all efforts to make changes that would keep them relevant to the changes in society within which they exist. Small, traditional churches seem to be having the most trouble staying alive in today’s highly secular environment. Many small local groups have particular trouble making the changes that will keep them relevant within their local community. The trouble is that the “we’ve always done things this way” mentality prevails over most suggestions for change or trying new things. Hopefully that is about to change, due to them having “Aha” moments before it’s too late. If not, those organizations will slowly disappear from our communities, although few may even notice.

At a personal level, we all need to challenge ourselves to expand our thinking and our experiences and to continuing growing as people. One of my dad’s favorite sayings was “Go with what you know.” My wife and I often use that when considering where to go out for dinner on weekends. It is so much easier to choose from our short list of well-known local favorites that to be adventuresome and try a new restaurant. Yet, when we reflect on it, all of the great places that we like to go now were once in the unknown category and it is only through trying something new that we “discovered” them.

comfort-zoneIn life in general the same thing is true. If you never get out of your comfort zone and venture into new relationships with people, you may never meet the person that becomes your BFF or even your life partner. If you shun those who are not like you, you will never get to understand their point of view on things and miss out on the new colors that they could add to the pallet of colors through which you see and experience life. You will never have that “Aha” moment when you understand why they do or say the things that they do, because of their completely different frame of reference for life. If you just go with what you know and who you know, life can become very boring indeed.

Many people find safety and comfort in the sameness of never venturing into the unknown experience or meeting the unknown person; however, even they must admit to themselves that those carefree risk takers who always seem to be meeting other people and doing new things appear goth-personto be having a better time than those pressed back against the walls in fear of trying anything new.

So, take a chance. Say hello to that person with tattoos and a nose ring and purple hair. Engage them in conversation and find out more about them. They are, after all someone’s son or daughter, someone’s boy or girl friend, maybe even someone’s wife or mother. They have opinions and feelings and life experiences that may be different from yours and maybe you’ll expand your mind by trying to understand those things. You may even find that you share a lot of common ground, too.

Instead of turning away from the LBGTQI person that you encounter, engagement them in lbgtqi-symbolconversation. They won’t bite you and standing there talking with them is not going to give you some horrible disease. Being open to them doesn’t mean that you are joining or even agreeing with whatever movement or lifestyle they are pursuing; it just means that you accept that there are differences and hopefully that you welcome the opportunity to try to see things from their different perspective.

So stretch your mind and grow. Try something different. Eat somewhere different. Meet someone who is different. Think differently. Grow and you won’t want to go back.

Before you go with what you know; grow with what you don’t know.


RESPECT…is that the secret to a good relationship/ marriage?

August 4, 2016

I deal with a good number of home sales that are precipitated by divorces; so, I get to hear about the issues that caused those failed marriages. One such conversation brought up the topic of respect for each other as a key (in that particular case probably THE key) to the success or failure of a relationship or marriage.

Leading up to that conclusion from my discussion partner, I had shared my observations Respect1that marriages, in order to be successful over time, had to be based upon things more substantial than the initial physical attraction that may have led to the marriage in the first place. I hadn’t really put a word to those things before, but respect seems to be an appropriate choice.

Couples who don’t respect each other end up in unbalanced relationships. One partner may come to think of their partner as somehow a junior partner intellectually or in terms of contribution to the marriage, because they don’t respect the thoughts, opinions or feelings of their mate or don’t put much value on the things that they are contributing to the marriage on a daily basis. This type of marriage usually results in one partner dominating the other in ways that eventually become so onerous that the marriage dissolves. It is not that hard to tell Respect3when one partner had no respect for the other; but it is hard to take over time. Marriages involving a so-called “throphy-wife” come to mind. There is often little respect involved in those unions.

So, instead of just tossing off a casual “I love you” from time to time; try saying “I respect you” and then stop to think about what saying that entails. You are saying, I value and respect your opinion on things and want to hear it before we make decisions about things that are important in our lives. You are admitting that the things that you do to make out home what it is and to raise our children are as important, maybe even more so, that the things that I may do at work each day to earn our income. In two-income families you’re really saying that I respect the job you have and the contributions that you make to our livelihood. You are also saying that I recognize and admire the things that you do every day for me and I hope I can do some things for you, too. Self-esteem is how you keep yourself together; respect is how you keep your relationship together. Both are essential to a happy married life.

Respect in the marriage also means that you must understand and appreciate that your partner needs to have their own time, their own interests and their own privacy, when they want it; that they have not given those things up entirely to enter into this relationship with you. You need to respect them as their own person just as you expect that respect for you. It’s not all aboutRespect2 me or even all about us as a couple; it’s really all about mutually respecting the two individuals who have chosen to go through life together. You both have feelings and thoughts and opinions that the other needs to respect, even if they can’t quite understand them. Accept them, respect them and move on together. Also remember that respect in a relationship is a 2-way street – you don’t earn it unless you give it.

So maybe Aretha Franklin had it right in her rendition of the song RESPECT – all you need is a little bit of RESPECT to make things work. Give some thought to the level of respect that you currently have for your life partner and make the effort to examine your own expectations, behavior and efforts in making things in your relationship work. If you can’t say that you respect your partner, perhaps you are in a union that will not work over the long run. If you can honestly say that you respect your partner, then you have a great chance of making the relationship work.

Have a great and respectful relationship!


Growing pains…

November 5, 2015

mother and childI remember that, when I was a child, any time that I had some unexplained pain with no apparent cause my mom would say that I was just experiencing growing pains and that the pain would go away soon. She was usually right and that advice saved lots of unneeded trips to the doctor. I still get unexplained pains from time to time, but now at the other end of life’s cycle it is hard to explain them away as growing pains. They are just “getting old” pains, I guess.

Many of life’s “growing pains” actually involve not physical pains, but emotional ones. These are the pains of disappointments or failed relationships; sometimes the pain of dealing with hurtful comments or actions and sometimes the pain of leaving behind destructive relationships that didn’t work out the way that one had hoped. Yes, they all hurt; but, we live through the pain and come out the other side divorcebetter off. We have “grown” emotionally and intellectually by adding to our experience base. Once we get to the place where we can look back upon the experience with a little less emotion we are able to see our own errors and make mental notes for the future on things to avoid or things to do differently. We had some growing pains.

While growing pains are most common in the young, they are really with us all of our lives. As we age and learn, we may make fewer mistakes that come back to cause us pain. Maybe we become a little more cautious, hopefully without becoming cynical, about relationships. Perhaps we become more realistic about “changing him (or her)” before we get into a relationship with someone with noticeable faults. Maybe, as we become more comfortable with whom we are, we are less inclined to blame ourselves for things that the other person does or says. Maybe we learn to love ourselves first and then are better listening to musicable to love others. We’ve been through some growing pains.

That last little bit above is one of the keys to a happy life. You must learn to love yourself. You must be comfortable being alone with yourself and not need constant reassurance of your worth from others.  I know people, and you may know some too, who just cannot stand to be alone. They really don’t like themselves and need to have others around all the time. That’s a shame, because we spend all of our lives with ourselves and share but a few moments with others. For some, even sharing those few moments is really hard. It’s a real conundrum for those people – they cannot stand to be alone, but they do not trust enough to let others in. For them having others around all the time provides the crowd into which they feel safe just disappearing. For them life is full of growing pains.

So, the next time you experience some growing pains in your life, take the time to reflect on what just happened;women dreaming be happy that, while it may have hurt at the time, it didn’t kill you.  You’re still standing and the pain is subsiding. Make a memory out of it and learn from that memory. Promise yourself that you won’t make that same mistake again, but don’t let the memory of that pain harden you against the future emotional risks of realtionships. Life is full of those opportunities most of them work out great but a few turn out to be just growing pains.

Momma was right; the pain goes away; the key is to keep growing. Have a great day!


Doing the right thing…

October 6, 2015

“Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same thing.”  (The Fray)  – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words Blog.

That line is from the song “All at Once”. One might think (or hope) that it would be easy to do the right thing. Most of the time I believe that we make it hard on ourselves, because the “right thing to do” isn’t always the popular or “in” thing. We don’t stop to really examine our motivation for doing something that we may know in our hearts is not the right thing to do. Instead we temporarily put aside our values and better judgement and make the choices that we think will make us more decisionspopular, more attractive, or maybe more powerful. Sometimes the decisions may involve wealth and we may believe that with more money we will be able to make things right later – only later never comes.

I guess that, getting back to the values upon which we should be basing our decisions, one of our core values should be that we will not abandon our values for convenience sake or for temporary gains. If we say to ourselves that we know right from wrong, then what possible argument can we make to choose wrong? How can we look at ourselves in the mirror and say, “I know this is wrong, but I choose to do it anyway”? Situations come and go, but values like ethics and integrity and honesty stay with us, or at least they should. I’ve posted here before about people who seem to employ “institutional ethics”- ethics that change with the situation. For these people, there is no right or wrong, no black and white, only shades of gray which they get to conveniently define as the situation requires. Convincing yourself that what was right was right for this situation, but perhaps not for another is a slippery slope that you do not want to step out onto.
loving coupleSo, getting this back to a more personal level, sometimes it’s hard to end a relationship, even when you know  in your heart that it’s the right thing to do. Perhaps that “friend” is doing things that you know aren’t right and you don’t want to follow him/her down that path. Maybe that boyfriend or girlfriend has not turned out to be the person that you thought they were and you can’t see a future for the relationship. Perhaps it is even within the context of a marriage and you can now see that your partner has turned out to be someone that you do not want to spend the rest of your life with. That is especially true in abusive relationships. The right thing in each case may be to end the relationship and that is quite often the hardest thing to do.

In those situations; before you consider delivering the old “it isn’t you; it’s me” speech or the old sawangry couple “this just isn’t working out”, stop and take some thoughtful time to examine what your role has been and what efforts you have put into the relationship. No one ever said that relationships were always going to be easy. Marriages especially take work and commitment and compromise from both parties. Perhaps the most honest assessment of a failed relationship could be that you or your partner just weren’t ready to play the expected role.

Maybe you or your partner weren’t mature enough yet to make the commitments and compromises that were required. Perhaps one or both of you allowed certain aspects of the relationship, maybe physical aspects, to overwhelm your better judgement or cloud your perception of the other party and mask their faults. Maybe you even masked your own faults from them in order to get the divorcerelationship going. Over time the fog of “love” clears away and the mascaraed cannot be maintained. When you get to the point of “what you see is what you get”, there needs to be a foundation built on something better than just good sex or good looks or some other superficial thing. If there is no foundation for a future together, then the right thing to do may be to find a way out, even if it is the hardest things to do.

The bottom line for life and relationships is to always try to do the right thing, not necessarily the easiest thing. You will sleep better at night and save the waste of time of having to look over your shoulder to see if some wrong is catching up with you. So; do the right thing, even if it is the hardest thing.


Life off the wheel…

March 12, 2015

When I was in college (yes, that was a long time ago) I had a white rat for a while. I’ve long ago forgotten who gave me the rat or even what I called it at the time, hamster wheelbut it did come with a cage. In that cage was what is more often called a hamster wheel – a wheel that the rat could get on and run. And run he did, sometimes for hours and unfortunately usually at night. The wheel squeaked when he ran and sometimes kept me aware at night, which eventually led to me giving him to someone else.

Back in those days, and occasionally even today, I think about the rat and what he was doing on that wheel. Was he running for exercise or did he believe that there was somehow a better life up ahead, if only he could make it to the top of the wheel?  Without giving the rat too much benefit of the doubt about his ability to comprehend his situation and the futility of the wheel, his constant striving does provide an interesting analogy for life. To some extent most of us are running on the big wheel of life and constantly trying to reach the elusive top of the wheel.

man rushingMany of us might be able to easily relate our daily lives to the hamster wheel. We run and run and run and really seem to get nowhere. Yet that next rung on the wheel is just ahead and after it the next and if we run hard enough, maybe we’ll get to the top of the wheel. What do we expect to find there? Most of us probably couldn’t even formulate and answer to that question. Mumbling something like, “a better life” or “happiness,” is essentially a cop-out and a sell-out to all of the commercials that we see and hear each day that exhort us to stay on the wheelwomen looking at watch and keep running. Our entire consumer-based society is built upon the notion that the rats will keep running on those wheels and striving to get to the top. From the earliest days of our lives we are encouraged to never give up; and to keep running, to keep trying to get to the top of our own personal wheels.

Some jump off the wheel at an early age. They are different, weird, they don’t quite fit in. Some end up as what we call bums, some end up as artists and are excused from wheel-duty because of their talents. Some just slow down their factory workerspace, but stay on their wheels, accepting a life of constant toil without much reward. They are often called “the working poor”, by the people who own many of the wheels. A few just jump off and wander out beyond the boundaries of society, living “off the grid”, as well as off the wheel. Interestingly enough, almost everyone ends up off the wheel. These are the people who are now too old to spin their wheel. They may have retired or they may have just gotten too tired to run on the wheel any more.  Some have even discovered that the goals of the wheel were not worth the effort; that reaching the top of the wheel that you were on doesn’t lead to happiness, it usually just leads to yet another wheel.

I’m kind of at that stage in my life. I’ve been running on various wheels for various companies or various goals for many, many years. I got to the top of one wheel a few times, only to have to jump on the next wheel. I’ve also had a few walking manwheels pulled out from under me, when companies that I worked for were bought out or went out of business, so that I had to move to a new cage. A few years ago I got off the corporate wheels and onto one that I could run on at my own pace (real estate sales) and one that I knew had no greater reward at the top, other than more money. Now, like deciding how much time to spend at the gym, I can decide how much time to spend on the real estate wheel, chasing that next listing or buyer. It’s nice to have at least that amount of control or to think that you do. The reality is that anytime that you have to say you work for (any name but your own here) you are running on a wheel and in a cage owned by The Man. Without launching into a huge diatribe about society in general, suffice to say even those who are self-employed must live within the rules and laws of The Man and thus live with only the illusion (some might say the delusion) of being off the wheel or out of the cage.

Can you just get off the wheel?  Can you really do that? Probably not; at least not entirely. After all, you have to live somehow, so you have to work for someone exercise wheeldoing something to earn enough to live on; I get that. But the point is to not let that wheel become your entire life; not to let it define you. It’s just a job. It’s how you earn a living, It’s not who you are. That’s something that you control. It’s not a cage and it doesn’t have a wheel; unless you let it. You may have to don your hamster suit and get on the wheel for a few hours every day; but once the whistle blows at the end of the day, be free, be you, run after meaningful things, not just the next rung on the wheel.

So, what is the answer? How does one get off the wheel and escape the cage? The answer is amazingly simple – just chose not to play the game of the cage and the wheel. Change the rules. Reset your goals and redefine success for yourself. Forget the chase for things and rediscover the joy to be found in relationships. Trade accumulating possessions for meeting people. Trade power and money fordreams love and caring. Trade longer periods of running on the wheel for  periods of meditation or serving others. Stop pursuing perfection and start showing affection. Life is too short to spend all of your awake time on the wheel. Get off, slow down, leave the cage and engage with other people. Give and receive love and learn to savor those moments. You don’t really ever get anywhere on the wheel, but life can be an exciting and interesting journey when you get off the wheel and start really living it with those around you. Yes, there really is life off the wheel and it can be great.