It’s alright if you don’t have an agenda sometimes. Relax. It might be healthy.
Too often when we enter a conversation, it’s to make a point. But what if we didn’t. Next time, we could let the unimportant stuff slip away.
Choose your stressors wisely. I pulled this post from psychologist Rick Hanson’s post, Just One Thing. You are free not to do these anymore.
Freedom not to
For one or more of the items just below, imagine what it would feel like for you to have the freedom not to:
• Press your point home
• Struggle to get someone to change his or her mind
• Have a second drink. Or a first one.
• Worry what other people think about you
• React to what is swirling around you
• Act on an impulse
• Get into an argument
• Be swept along by anger
• Identify with a mood or point of view passing through awareness
• Take something personally
• Take responsibility for the experiences of other people
• Criticize yourself for not being able to fit into a pair of jeans
• Resist what’s unpleasant
• Drive toward what’s pleasant
• Cling to what’s heartfelt
For one or more of the items just above, imagine how your greater freedom would help others. Also, let others be freer themselves with you; give them room to breathe, time to think and feel. – Rick Hanson PhD
Why am I so unhappy? Sometimes I don’t understand the why’s. I feel failure, a vague discomfort similar to when I’ve forgotten to apply my antiperspirant. That awkward moment when the sweat beads under my armpits. Ick. But this moment was different. I knew why.
It’s been a rough month. A rough year. I’ve tried to convince Life to do things the way I wanted. She’s freakin’ ignored me. My air conditioner is broken. And I’m trying to sell my condominium. It seems as if there’s been a conspiracy against repairing my vintage piece of cooling equipment. Somehow they keep forgetting to follow up on my work order. Maybe my phone number is written in invisible ink. I’ve nearly given up hope on selling my place in the near 100-degree heat.
Well, weary shoulders or not, I keep trying. I can’t quit. For my happiness though, I have to move my finish line. Change my perspective. I need a different goal line because I can’t control the weather or the buyers. I can’t make my realtor do a smashing job of marketing my place. My neighbors are hoarders, and their junk keeps overflowing onto the staircase. But, these are not my problem.
I must create goals within my reach and reset my mental experience. This will release my tension level. Kaboom! Instant happiness. So, I made a fun goal, an easy task, a natural thing to make me laugh. Want to hear it?
Smile three times today in the mirror. Everything else is extra. Now, have an awesome day!
It takes effort to be strong. Conscious thought and awareness are needed to bring out the good in others, but if you can do it some of the time, most of the time, try. Because not trying, not even bothering to show up, is inexcusable. And turning bitter is usually the result.
Anger, resentment, sadness, grief are the leftovers of loves unfulfilled. Unplayable songs, words we held inside a moment too long.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat… Roosevelt’s Writings
I’ve stated too often that I’d rather be happy and poor than to be rich and miserable. Or said another way, I’d rather have choices and freedom than any beautiful house, car or luxury. I realize it’s time to update that picture in my head because it’s not an either-or choice. I need money. I want money.
Nowhere else in my life do I let myself off so quickly. In my work, I put in the effort to get it right. With my remodeling or repair of my house, I have some darn high standards. So why would I lower my standards in my finances? There was a point I was trying to make when I first said I’d rather be happy than rich. It goes along with the proverb,
It is better to live alone in the corner of an attic than with a contentious wife in a lovely home.- Proverbs 25:24
After living with a workaholic for years and longing for his companionship, my twisted logic kicked in. Happiness suggested less money than we had before. It sounds silly I know, but beliefs and life scripts don’t always make sense. I’m no longer in that situation, so I’m updating my knowledge.
It’s a fool’s choice. It’s not real, much like fool’s gold. You have what you have. You either have the money, or you don’t. There are no crossroads to meet the devil on, no trading of your soul for fame and fortune, no genie, no lamp, and no damn lucky rabbit’s foot. Work, rest, enjoy what you have.
Train wreck. Can’t stop watching. Addicted. Yelling. Screaming. Ugly names. Why do I keep watching? But here I am. Even though I despise the narcissism, I view the TV in fascination. I’m into the fight. I’m annoyed by the name calling. I yell at the television just like my grandmother. She argued with her favorite show, The Young and The Restless. This time, it’s me, and I’m watching the presidential debates. Grandma would be proud.
Shake It Off
Here’s what I know, we all slip. We say stupid stuff. At times, we can be downright rude, mean, and abusive. Kick the dog even. It doesn’t mean we are a complete waste of oxygen. Let’s get our shit together. I’m a good judge of character, but the flash, the mania machine, can sometimes blind me. That’s why we set up and teach guidelines we call enduring principles. Coming to an agreement on what these principles are has been the biggest difficulty. The wall of Mexico is the least of our worries.
Speaking at the Hubert Humphrey Building dedication in Washington, D.C. on November 1, 1977, former U.S. Vice President (1965-69) Hubert Humphrey spoke about the treatment of the weakest members of society as a reflection of a government:
“the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”
There are surviving principles in life. We know of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Everyone brings up the subject of the right to bear arms. Is that an eternal principle? I’m not certain. I do like to bare my arms and my legs in the summertime, though, just FYI. That’s a joke. I feel strongly about the freedom of speech and the rights of all people of society to have access to education. Principles? You tell me.
There are plenty of posters and travel blogs promising bliss and restoration. Smooth, polished rocks, cascading waterfalls, and green plush grass are there for you. Rest and Restore. Leave your worries behind. Well, I chuckle. Life’s just not that convenient. Worries are like clingy little babies. They want to be fed, and they want only you. To remove them takes some conscious choice. Mindfulness.
Mad Max Highway
I drive the same short stretch of highway connections every day. People like me are jamming this interchange, just leaving work and wanting to go home as quickly as possible. Tired. Cranky. Maybe short on patience. Twice this week I’ve had the same thing happen. Two different people cut me off when there was an opening for me to enter a lane. Once it was my lane and the fellow thought I wasn’t quick enough I’m guessing, he passed me. The nerve! Both episodes I reacted poorly by speeding ahead, glaring or yelling. Something inside me quickened, warning me. Bad responses. Not that I might harm someone, but what if another, a third party, was injured. Was I willing to continue this same path? As I realized I wasn’t mindful or grateful, I noticed a large tire in the middle of the highway. Would I have hit it?
Allowing Stupid to Be Stupid
Last week I mentioned in Mindless Searching clicking through one book after another. I realized after twenty minutes had passed that I was not interested in any of the books I was looking at. I was in a trance. Mindfulness doesn’t happen by accident. It’s something I have to do. Pay attention. Watch the road. Stay calm. Let the anger go. Allow the stupid to be stupid and not even the score, because life isn’t fair.
Serendipity and Irony
I’m a passionate person, which is why I’m not good at just letting things slide. Some things can be planned, but there are a lot of stuff that just happen that are so much better if they happen on their own. For instance, the lemonade that I drank in Mexico. I couldn’t have planned that and made it taste any sweeter. And the memory of that day couldn’t bring me any more joy if I’d planned it.
When a moment happens and the events come together it seems perfect, as if you’d planned it, serendipitous. Athletes call it the flow or the zone. They’ve planned for it by practicing, maybe even visualizing. Who knows, that could be what happens to us when our lives have real things that fall into place. Ironic isn’t it?
Hang on you say, people aren’t that easy to label. I agree, but we do label. Sometimes it comes out in our favor.
A few years ago I was in Texas with a friend and we walked across the border into Mexico. As we maneuvered through the narrow streets, we were greeted by shouting street vendors calling out, Hey Blondies! Wanna buy? Just five dollar. It overwhelmed her. I was used to the whole Blondie bit. That’s been my life. Her, not so much. She’d only recently become a blonde. I wonder how that felt.
We escaped into a small bistro and ate nachos topped with real cheddar cheese and downed glasses of freshly squeezed lemonade. I can still taste that juicy lemonade. The best cold drink I’ve ever had. The quiet conversation was a relief also.
When we finished and had our arms full of shopping stuff, we started back across the border. It was then that I realized I’d forgotten my birth certificate. It was only a block away from Texas, but I still panicked a bit. I explained my situation to the guard, he looked at me and smiled with a wink, No problem. You’re American.
I’ve been told more than a few times that I look like an all-American girl and I was never sure what that meant. I see females from Ireland or France that have the same coloring as mine, so what’s the deal? I’m certain there’s an attitude or a mannerism that I’m not aware of. Whatever others see, apparently it’s enough for someone to call it a profile.
What about you? Are you a type? Something quirky? Witchy? Maybe you can be pegged as afraid of spiders or a cat lover. Foodie anyone? Nerdy?
Here’s one that I ran across on a podcast this week. This American Life-Vocal Fry.I hadn’t heard of this voice nuance before until it was mentioned. Then I realized I’ve noticed it but never named it. They say it’s common in college-age girls, sometimes in boys also. It’s an inflection of the voice that squeaks or grates a little towards the end of a sentence. Interesting, but it doesn’t seem as annoying to me as it did to their audience.
Maya Angelou once said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”
I used to be foolish and believe what people told me. I do hope I have grown past that by now. Other’s have said that they could look people in the eye and tell what type of person someone is. I don’t have that gift I guess. All I see are blue or green and if they have cataracts. For me, that is like looking under the hood of my car. I can stare all day at the oil dipstick and the battery cable, but I can’t tell a darn thing about the vehicle and why it won’t start.
My way goes back to SHOW me who you are. Yes, people can fake it, but not for long. Something of who the real person is will leak out. I had an incident happen this week that reminded me of this. I was having a conversation with someone, and they had said something but meant another, like “I went to Paris” when they meant to say “I went to France.” I was no big deal, but she was shocked, believing she SAID what she had THOUGHT because obviously her brain doesn’t get her words mixed up. At that moment, I received a very clear picture of that person. Here is a person who never faults herself. It’s not so much that she doesn’t think she is capable of error, more that she couldn’t see it.
Do you know the time when you got that car, maybe the blue one because not too many people had a blue car and especially not the brand that you had? Then suddenly you see blue cars everywhere. You COULDN’T see them before, but now they are everywhere. In that way, SHE couldn’t SEE that she could make an error and didn’t take it into consideration. In her thinking, we heard her wrong. Hmmm, all 5 of us. Blindspots.
Arrogance and Humility
In my eyes, this is the difference between arrogance and humility. The arrogant cannot see the flaws in their judgement. Their opinion is correct because their opinion is all they see. To contrast, there are those with humility. And to that extreme there are the self-abasing humble people who need to see themselves as well as others. These are the ones who have been long considered low on self-esteem and self-conscious. Psychologist have been telling them they have a flaw, and God knows that they are aware of this, and they cringe. They want to hide. They see their flaws and are very aware that of the errors of their ways.
It’s time for some moderation. It is good be kind to others but remember the arrogant ones will never see you except to use you as an example or an icon to prove their “rightness.” You had best move out of their way and shut your doors. The arrogant won’t read this, so I’m not talking to them because they know more than me anyway. So to the humble I say, be good to yourself today. Show yourself some love and lock your doors.
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received was to get to know people for myself, then decide who I think they are. It’s too easy to listen to everyone else’s opinion of people. It’s tempting to get advice about vacations and books, but there is no accounting for some folks taste.
There are many versions of the cities we visit and especially the places we live in. If you live in a historic city you would know what I’m talking about. For instance, New Orleans. There’s the highly romanticized version that’s in the movies with all the drama and music, then there’s the vilified version that the preachers on television like to blame for the downfall of society. Of course that’s not the only city I could name. I’m sure you could name a few also. London. Las Vegas. There’s an actual list. Top 10 Sin Cities in the World.
And the versions are about as many as there are people. The city varies from, nasty, busy, stinky, a rip-off, crowded, bawdy, etc. I’ll leave the rest to you. Perceptions are plentiful to opinionated people, just as ideas are to inventors. Cheap. What creates atmosphere that you can almost touch and even seem to come to life, is when a story is born. Give me a good story, combined with a strong visual perception, and you have a customer. Otherwise I couldn’t read about Gotham city. Who in their right mind would otherwise want to read about an orphaned child, a corrupt city, with a backdrop of darkly drawn ink caricatured bad guys? But all of us who have grown up with this story line for some reason have loved it. In this story line there is redemption. There’s hope for even the worst possible circumstances.
Some of my favorite stories are from well-known cities with their own flavors. Jim Butcher writes about Chicago in the Dresden files. There are underground tunnels, vampire councils, and of course the a slew of bad guys that no ordinary citizen wants to meet. And Dresden is the guy to take them all on. You see Chicago through his eyes.
Karen Marie Moning starts her Fever series in the peach of sunny Georgia but continues in Dublin. I’ve never been to Dublin but I can almost taste the froth on the beer. And the chill from the misty rain makes me want to grab a blanket every time I read another of her books. I can’t wait until the 20th of this month when the next one comes out.
Currently I’m reading a series by Faith Hunter, Jane Yellowrock, which in the currently centers in New Orleans. There’s dancing, eating, and hunting vampires. Here’s a scene that shows the city coming back to life after a hurricane/storm. If I were a photographer, I’d be itching to take snapshots.
Lanterns, lamps, and candles lit windows. People sat at tables on second story balconies, by lamplight, and the smell of food wafted down. Tinny music came from open windows, battery-powered boom boxes perched on ledges shared a soft dissonance of musical tastes. Live music, a guitar, saxophone, a drum came through an open bar door. Tables inside were lit with candles, a generator roaring in back. Small businesses that depended on the tourists trade twenty-four/seven, just to make the rent, were opening, despite the lack of city power. More generators began to hum. – Blood Cross excerpt, by Faith Hunter.
How does a view of a city apply to people? Get to know them yourself, then decide. Never judge a book by its cover. Think about it. And check out Re-framing.