Thursday, July 26, 2012

Beware of Betrayal

There’s an old cliché, “your word is your bond”.  Ever hear it?  Well in the end, it’s true.  You can have all the legal documents you want stating this or that, you can have witnesses claiming this or that, and you can promise this or that until you’re blue in the face, but ‘your word’ is more than just air across your lips.  In regards to trust, ‘your word’ refers also to your intentions, beliefs, character, conviction, and worth.  Pretty heady huh?  I know to some it might seem like I’m going too far or being a bit grandiose, but am I?  People are who they are and their actions speak silent words.  Words you can trust or distrust depending on the person and circumstances. 

I think the best answer is to stay true to your own personal convictions, reinforce in your own mind what is right, true, and honorable, and go from there.  Despite how hard you may try, you can’t change anyone but yourself.  So don’t waste valuable mental energy trying to exact change from anyone but you.  The stronger sense of positive integrity you have for yourself will reveal, in one way or the other, the negativity of the other person.  Now this isn’t a perfect answer.  It doesn’t negate the daily, or weekly, or momentary struggles you may have with this problem.  Sadly, there is not silver bullet, no magic pill, no incantation that will wash away the problem.  We must all deal with it.  Being steadfast in your own integrity will help follow you through to the other side and stay true to your own mission

Comments and questions are always welcome.  Thanks for reading.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

What Do You Need?

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed” – Mahatma Gandhi

Depending on how you look at it “What do you need?” is either a rather innocuous question or a very profound inquiry about life.  Answering that question when it comes to basic survival is easy: food, water, and shelter.  But since when has answering life’s questions every truly been easy?  If you think about it for a few minutes, what do you really need?  When I say need, I mean what do you need to be happy, successful, content; those sorts of things. 
Now I know we’ve all heard it, or said it.  It’s that line where we say we need something because it is so awesome or cool, or it would make things so much better than they are right now.  I remember thinking when I was a teenager thinking “I need a car”, or “I need to get a Playstation.”  Yeah, it’s funny how our priorities seem so out of whack when we re-examine them years later.  I obviously didn’t need a car or a playstation; the truth is I really wanted them.  And that’s a big difference, between need and want.  Sometimes it’s hard to make the distinction.

You can look at it from this perspective.  If something is going to give you lasting inner peace, contentment, or understanding, I’d say you need it.  If something is going to provide stability and security, I’d say you need it.  If something provides a distraction, fill an emptiness brought about my envy or greed, you don’t need it, you want it.  I think too often people have wants that go unfulfilled for so long, those wants become what seem like needs because nothing else will satisfy their desire.  But that still is not need.  It is an unhealthy want.  And really, what you should strive to do is eliminate unhealthy elements in your life.  Purging those destructive and limiting wants will show you what you really need.

I’ll tell you, I want a high paying job; I want a big house; I want to take trips to Europe. I don’t need any of those things.  I need to see my daughter every day; I need to give her a hug and kiss and tell her I love her; I need to express myself, mostly through writing or I feel stifled and depressed; I need to be free to make my own choices.  I guess you can say I need mental freedom most of all.  When I weigh the pros and cons of it all, most of the stuff society tells us we need, is just stuff.  Sometimes we need to be reminded of what’s important so we don’t want for things we don’t need. 

Think about it.

Thanks for reading.  Comments and questions are welcome.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Take Care of Yourself

When we are Young

When we are young, our parents and family have a responsibility to take care of us.  As we grow, they should take the time to nurture and protect, teach and instruct.  As children, sometimes we don't understand why those things are important or what the bother is, but children have a voracious appetite for learning.  That learning should be encouraged and reinforced as much as possible.  Teaching children to look at things from multiple perspectives and to have an open mind prepares them for the massive amount of conflict and confusion life has to offer.  Parents should teach by positive example so children can adjust to life as an adolescent and eventually as an adult.  But what happens when parents fail at preparing children for life?

Children are smart and capable. They can learn to cope, but if they aren’t given proper guidance, their coping skills will be inadequate and inefficient.  I do my best on a daily basis teaching my daughter how to cope, even with things that are upsetting, difficult, and troubling.  Don’t get me wrong, I focus on the positive, but it’s impossible to ignore the negative aspects of life and expect things to turn out okay.  

Unfortunately, I know people that have terrible coping skills because their parents taught them nothing positive.  What happens is an unfortunate cycle of negativity that accomplishes nothing but keeping those people in a dark place. They aren’t really capable of taking care of themselves, because what they learned was piecemeal, ad hoc, and unguided.  The consequences of this are devastating.  I have experienced an element of this.  Someone I know keeps asking advice only to ignore it, and sometimes gets mad at me if they don’t like what they hear.  I have experienced having this person lash out at me and people I know for odd reasons.  Now you might find yourself in uncomfortable situations where the other person takes out their frustrations on you, or someone you know.  You must recognize that they aren’t able to cope well and what they are doing is the only coping mechanism they have.  They aren’t able to take care of themselves properly.

What to Do

If you find yourself acting like this, stop.  It might be hard, but recognizing there is a problem is an amazing first step in solving it.  Some of you might remember the GI Joe cartoon.  At the end, there was always a Public Service Announcement where one of the characters would say “Knowing is half the battle.”  It’s true.  Part of earning to take care of yourself properly requires recognizing if you aren’t doing a very good job if it right now.  Sometimes, getting through to a person with this problem is impossible.  But I would suggest that you start with yourself. 

Remember, you can’t really take care of someone else if you can’t even take care of yourself.  There’s no shame in asking for help either.  Sometimes it takes a simple request for assistance.  If you can learn to accept your faults and rise above them, you can take those first difficult steps in becoming self-reliant.    

Comments and questions are welcome.  Thanks for reading.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Don't Pardon the Interruption

Excuse me, what?

Have you ever gotten to the point where you’re so distracted, you become distracted from your distractions?  Let me explain.  There are times when I have a chore to do, or assignment and I can’t focus.  So I find my mind wandering to something else only to wander even further into something even less productive.  Here’s an example.  I knew I needed to get some writing in this last weekend, so I sat down and tried to get into the right state of mind.  As I sat and contemplated where I wanted my story to go, my eyes wandered across my desk until I realized it needed to be straightened or I’d become buried in junk.  So I started to clean up.  While doing this I imagined my characters going about their daily lives until I realized that my desk needed a good dusting soon or the dust would require an archaeologist to clear it away.  So what did I do?  I started dusting (I don’t know any archaeologists). 
After about 20 minutes I looked down at my computer screen, which now had gone dark with its energy saver mode, so I slapped down the cover and continued to clean.  Once done, I sat down and checked my text messages.  It wasn’t until I checked the clock on my phone that I realized almost an hour had gone by.  I was like WTH?  I put the phone down, lifted the lid on my laptop and just started writing.  I managed to get a good amount of words on page, but it bothered me that such distractions could take over. 

I’ve got to concentrate!

So what do you do when you’re so unfocused, you’re distracted by distractions of distractions?  I mean it happens to all of us and it can be rather disconcerting.  For me, analyzing what happened and why works most of the time.  What it really comes down to, for me at least, is having the wrong mindset.  Have you ever told yourself “I have to get this done?”  I have, but think about what that means.  It’s the ‘have’ that frames the activity, not a ‘want’.  Everyone has chores and responsibilities that have to be done, it’s a matter of fact in daily life.  Sometimes those chores suck, are boring, are difficult, and the do provide a drain on your motivation and morale. 

I know what you’re thinking, “thanks for depressing me man.”  Sorry, so now that you’re depressed, what do we do about it?  Change your mindset of course.  Remember, perspective is how we view our lives, our dreams, motivation and ultimately our mission.  So you couldn’t concentrate, lost your focus and were distracted by multiple levels of distractions.  I’ve found when something like that happens, I need to re-examine why I’m even trying to do that task in the first place.  If it’s a chore, well, sometimes you just have to hunker down and get it done.  But I’m more interested in the hobby, you know, the thing you want to do that’s supposed to make you feel better, feel happy. 

The simple answer is: Maybe you don’t really like what you’re doing.  Too easy?  Maybe.  You could also be stuck in a rut.  Being so used to doing something you forgot that it’s supposed to make you feel energized, revitalized, and refreshed.  Solution:  Try something new.  In my example, I was trying to write.  Now I love writing, but I found I needed something else for inspiration.  Enter the Saxophone.  Playing is still creative and expressive, only in a very different way.  Once I started playing the Sax you know what I found?  It was easier to write.  I went back to writing with new vigor and stamina. 

So, try something new, if only to remind yourself how much you like your original hobby.  A bonus is you find a new activity that inspires you even more than before.  And that kind of focus is a good was to avoid distractions.  Good luck!

Comments and questions are always welcome.  Thanks for reading.

Understanding Pandemics

By Doug Clark Head Writer -  The Inspiration Engine With all that is going on with Covid 19, I thought it would be a good idea to help ...