Wednesday, September 27, 2017

I'm Human...In Spite of What You've Heard

The last two blogs have touched on seeing the world through mistake-colored glasses and and playing misery poker.

Yesterday, I heard two words that--while they don't make everything fine--can put life into perspective.

I'm human.

Now...I realize there are some folks out there who would disagree with me being human but...well...that's them.

A friend recently paid me a wonderful compliment by telling me, "You're one of the most postive people I know."

Unfortunately, though, I have a bad habit at times of hammering myself for some of the things I do/have done in life. In the last 24 hours, though, I've been focusing on the I'm Human thought and it's slowed me down on the negativity.

Try it. You're probably thinking of something right now for which you've have been putting yourself down.

Think, "I'm human."

As Sister Helen Prejean, the anti-capital punishment activist said in her book, The Death of Innocents, "People are more than the worst thing they have done in their lives."

You're human.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Well, if you think that's bad....Are you playing Misery Poker?

How often do you play “misery poker”?

If you are unfamiliar with the term, misery poker, it’s when someone tells a tale of woe (“it’s just my life”) and another person says, “Well, if you think that’s bad, here’s what happened to me”…and they proceed to tell their tale. 

Whoever tells the most misery-laden story wins. The truth, though, is that the telling and listening to the negative story means both people lose.

Julia Rogers Hamrick, author of Choosing Easy World, writes about Easy World (where you do want to be) and Difficult World (where you don’t want to spend your life and thoughts).

She says, “When you tell someone all the details of your experiences in Difficult World, you are asking to stay in Difficult World and even go deeper into it! That can only generate more problems. Not only that, you are providing an invitation to the person you're talking to to dive on into DW, too, which doesn't just harm them, it also serves to strengthen DW's hold on you as well! So best to keep your DW stories to yourself. Better yet, just let them go.”
Science is beginning to prove Hamrick right. Amanda MacMillan, writing on, says, “You can actually catch a good mood or a bad mood from your friends, according to a recent study in the journal Royal Society Open Science.”

The new study adds to a growing body of research suggesting that happiness and sadness—as well as lifestyle and behavioral factors like smokingdrinkingobesityfitness habits and even the ability to concentrate—can spread across social networks, both online and in real life. 

The study’s lead author Robert Eyre, a doctoral student at (England’s) University of Warwick’s Center for Complexity Science, says, “The fact that these negative feelings do spread across networks does have important health implications.

Thankfully, the study also found that having friends who were clinically depressed did not increase participants’ risk of becoming depressed themselves. “Your friends do not put you at risk of illness,” says Eyre, “so a good course of action is simply to support them.”

However, while you may believe that listening to their complaints is evidence of being a good friend you should understand that too much of that kind of caring is not good for you; it drags you down.

Here are two suggestions I’ve implemented with friends to lower the misery poker factor: In one case, my friend and I agreed that when a misery tale gets started either of us can ask, “Is it helping you to tell this?” If it is, ok. If not, the person stops telling the tale. In the second case, my best friend and I have a deal that each of us gets 3 minutes to complain and then the other person says, “OK, time’s up, what are you going to do about this?”

Either solution keeps the misery-wallowing factor to a minimum and changes the gears to a pro-positive focus.

And, just so you don’t think today’s blog is an example of misery poker, researcher Eyre notes, “The good news from our work is that following the evidence-based advice for improving mood—like exercise, sleeping well and managing stress—can help your friends too.” 

Here’s the bottom line, hang out with happy people more often than sad, depressed and negative—because all those moods and attitudes are contagious.

If you have a friend who plays misery poker on a regular basis, share this with them.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Are You Looking Through Mistake-Colored Glasses

 The devotion I read yesterday hit on an interesting I am, sadly, too guilty of.

In the September issue of Science of Mind Magazine, Rev. Terry Drew Karanen wrote, "Sometimes people accuse others of looking at life through rose-colored glasses. However it seems that when we are besieged by the energy and thoughts of our past missteps and mistakes, we see life through mistake-colored glasses. Out ability to live openhearted and wholehearted lives is deeply impacted by this shut-down energy that is focused on our negative past.”

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Uh Oh, Watch the Crossbar

Yesterday afternoon I was sitting in my garage watching the world go by and, once again, life offered up a lesson worth learning.

There’s a greenway that runs through our neighborhood. One of the entrance/exits connects to the sidewalk across the street from The Tree House (what my friends call my home…the house is surrounded by trees). In good weather lots of folks take advantage of the greenway to get a little exercise.

It’s about 2:30 and a young guy—he looked to be about 30—came cruising down the sidewalk and attempted to make the right-angle turn onto the greenway. Evidently, weather and a lot of folks trying the same maneuver had worn away the dirt at the edge of the right-angle turn and there was a hole…which his front wheel nosed into.

Let me stop at this point and explain that, if you are a male, you probably cringed when I wrote that last line; because you know what’s coming. 

The young guy pitched forward and straddled the crossbar. He threw his head back, cursed the biking gods, and reached down to make sure everything was still in place.

Then..and this is where the lesson appeared…he turned and flipped The Bird at the hole.


Then he quickly looked around to see if anyone had seen him (I was hidden in a garage with a mosquito screen across the front across the street).

Now, I’m sure the more mature among you are mentally chastising Mr. Hurt Pride for his reaction. But, there are certainly times in life when it seems that unseen forces jump out and bite us. I don't see a thing wrong with lashing out at those forces as long as you keep it private and don’t get too crazy. 

It’s said that former president, Lyndon B. Johnson would exclaim, “Godfrey Daniels!” when he was upset. Very often, I use, “Sunny Beaches!!” Again, having a standard response such as those is not a bad thing.

What do you use to get back on track?

If you know someone who could use this message please Like and Share!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Sit Means Sit

The truck beside me in the intersection had a big sign on the side…Sit Means Sit. 

It was a dog-training company.

Immediately, I thought about some of the folks we all have to manage at work and in our personal lives. When some people are given instructions, they want to know the What? Why? Who? Where? When? How? and How Much?

Think all 9 year-olds and lots of adults.

Often, we simply want to be able to say, “Sit means sit.” Just do it. Asking questions about every little instruction slows things down.

Unfortunately—or, fortunately, depending on the situation—we are better served by understanding enough about the other person to know that if they want more details we better give them something.  

Now…we live in such a vortex of political correctness that some readers immediately had the thought, “I can’t believe you’d think of using a dog-training technique for managing people!”

Chill out, the most creative people I know find great ideas everywhere. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Bump! Bump! Bye!

A couple of days ago a friend called to tell me about a good event in her life. She was about two minutes into the tale when I heard a couple of bumping sounds. She calmly said, “I’ve just been in a wreck. I have to go now.” 

My friend is fine, the folks in the other vehicles are fine and she only has some easily-repaired damage to her front bumper. However, the whole thing could have been much worse….and, avoided. 

Even though she was using a hands-free phone she was driving in traffic and distracted. 

Reading some of the information coming out of Houston I’m not amazed at reports of people texting in evacuation traffic, pulling over to shoot selfies with flooded buildings in the background, and other ridiculous actions.

I don’t have to tell you that this is Labor Day Weekend. The National Safety Council estimates that 438 Americans will die on the roads during the next 4 days. 

I’m sure you’re a good driver and smart person…but, everyone else out there isn’t. 

Stay alert, stay off the phone and stay alive.

Have a great Labor Day Weekend!!