Monthly Archives: September 2014

REDISCOVERING THE PLEASURE OF SILENCE

Appreciating escaping the rat-race for a while.
Photo:Sprengben

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. — Max Ehrmann, Desiderata

I’m writing this on a Sunday morning. In fact, this is the first Sunday in a long time when I’ve had some time to be by myself. I decided early this morning, with great deliberateness, to take this one day and underachieve.

Normally I would have the television tuned to something informational (not necessarily profound, just informational), a one pot meal beginning to simmer on the stove, and a load of laundry ready for drying.

But not today.

This morning I rediscovered the pleasure of silence. Of doing nothing more than staring into a steaming cup of green tea infused with mint and lemongrass, gently shimmering, residing in temporary glory, in an over-sized, clear glass teacup.

Most of the time a hot beverage is merely a desk-side companion, the main purpose of which is to allow me to punctuate the end of one task and the beginning of another. Something appreciated in passing, but otherwise barely noticed.

But not today.

Momentarily, my thoughts drift back over the past week, a hectic blur of emails and appointments, traffic snarls, and pedestrians, telephone conversations and quick exchanges — first at the bank, then at the UPS store, then at the supermarket.

But not today.

Nothing dramatic has come of this absence of chaos today, just a renewed appreciation for the reinvigorating effects of serene downtime.

I’m not good at building such time into each and every day, but in the future I’m going to make a point of far more periodic breaks like this one. I’m going to say to myself:

Today!

Please share your thoughts on this topic in the Comments section below.

In the meantime,

Bestest to all,Cynthia Dalton signature

 

HOW TO AVOID BEING DISCOURAGED AND LOSING FAITH IN YOURSELF

Negativity in people is a natural phenomenon just like lightening.
Photo: Bo Insogna

One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn’t pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself. — Lucille Ball

Lucille Ball is right, but what causes us to get discouraged and lose faith in ourselves in the first place.

It usually comes down to our reaction to negativity in others.

Everything from snide comments to deliberately unkind gestures can cause us to take things personally, question what it is about us that attracts such treatment, feel like we don’t rate, and stand still in our tracks.

Making decisions, taking on new projects, and moving forward becomes depressing instead of exciting. Following Lucille Ball’s advice seems almost impossible when your morale plummets and you feel dejected.

The thing is, when people treat us badly it’s important to remember that it’s all about something internal to them; it’s not really about us at all. Some people have such massive problems with their own insecurities, power needs, and esteem issues that they routinely take it out on others. As Steve Maraboli has said:

People who lack the clarity, courage, or determination to follow their own dreams will often find ways to discourage yours. Live your truth and don’t EVER stop!

Unfortunately, some people are just messed up. But we don’t have to ‘catch’ the same ‘bug’ and we don’t have to examine ourselves through their eyes. When we do, we see a grossly distorted view of ourselves that can’t help but drag us down.

It’s crucial that we never base our assessment of ourselves on what we presume to be the opinions of others.

Look at it this way, suppose you’re out playing volleyball on a balmy, cloudy day and you’re having so much fun you don’t even hear thunder in the distance. All of a sudden you feel yourself knocked to the ground and your whole left arm is tingling and partially numb; as you regain your equilibrium you realize, “Hey, I just got hit by lightening!” You wouldn’t take that quick jolt of electricity personally, set out to assess what it is about you that made it happen, and conclude yourself unworthy in some regard. You would simply conclude you were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

So my proposal is that we rethink how we process the messages we think we’re getting about ourselves from others and view the negativity of others as a phenomenon of the natural world, not unlike getting struck by lightening.

We can’t always avoid bad treatment from others, but we can limit the damage it causes us by realizing that:

  • Negativity exists as a part of the natural world
  • Negativity has to do with something internal to that person (or group of persons)
  • We can take a brief period of time to ask ourselves, “How does this make me feel and why?”
  • Once we acknowledge our feelings we can choose to let them go because ultimately, considering the source, what we think they think of us is useless and potentially destructive information
  • Mentally clear, we can consciously choose to surround ourselves with happy, positive people who are supportive of our interests and goals

As Craig Ballantyne says:

I know, as the old saying goes, that you become the average of the people you spend the most time with…Long ago I resolved to never spend another minute with people that speak poorly about others behind their backs, or who are selfish, bitter, or negative in any way.

Even if we have to work somewhere where there are negative people or there are negative people in our own family with whom we have to interact, viewing their behavior as a natural phenomenon takes anything ‘personal’ out of the equation and provides us with the emotional distance we need in order to avoid emotional detours.

When we take this approach, it becomes obvious that it is completely unnecessary to let other people rob us of our energy, excitement about our lives, or our faith in ourselves.

It also becomes a lot easier to take Lucille Ball’s advice to keep busy and make optimism a way of life.

So the next time someone crosses your path reeking of negativity, just think about that lightening bolt, and you’ll ‘weather’ the situation nicely.

Please leave your thoughts on avoiding discouragement and a loss of faith in oneself in the Comments section below.

In the meantime,

Bestest to all,

Cynthia Dalton signature

 

 

 

 

WHY IT’S A BAD IDEA TO SQUEEZE A NICKEL TOO HARD

Don't be penny-wise and pound-foolish
Artwork: www.openclipart.org

Charlie was a wonderful man, but Charlie could squeeze a nickel ’til the buffalo pooped. — Betty White as Rose Nylund in an episode of, The Golden Girls

Yes, it’s wise to be conservative when it comes to one’s finances — the old proverb, ‘Take care of your pennies and your dollars will take care of themselves’ is sound advice, unless it’s taken in the wrong direction.

Here’s a true story I was told that illustrates what I mean.

It seems there was a self-made millionaire who wanted his son to follow in his footsteps in the family manufacturing business. In furtherance of this wish, he sent his son to college and in due course the young man earned an MBA.

It was decided that the son would run his own separate division of his father’s company. The millionaire’s son was anxious to make his father proud of him and in particular, he wanted his father to know that he knew the true value of a dollar — he wanted to avoid even the whiff of being thought of as a spoiled heir to a fortune.

Everything the son did was designed to drive home this point, including his purchase of a modest bungalow in which he and his new bride lived.

One night, as the son lay asleep in his bed, a tremendous thunderstorm blew in and soon rain was pouring. That’s when the first drops of water started hitting his face. The roof was leaking.

The next morning the air was clear, the sky was bright blue, and the day was warm and sunny. The young man decided to take the day off and save money on roof repairs by fixing the leaks himself.

Up on the roof, stripped to the waist, tools in hand, the young man felt downright virtuous.

It was a bigger job than the young man first realized, and one day off from work became two days off from work, and two days off from work became three days off from work. Still, the young man was determined to save the money he would have spent hiring professional roofers.

On the third day the young man’s wife called up to him that his dad was on the phone and wanted to speak to him immediately. He thought, “Great! Wait until Dad hears what I’ve been doing — he’s going to admire my thriftiness!”

Holding the receiver to his ear the young man was dumbstruck at his father’s reaction. “You idiot! You’re risking botched orders and lost accounts to play hooky and get a deeper tan? Get yourself showered and changed and back to work where you belong! There’s no telling what money we’ve potentially lost because of your short-sighted, cheap-assed foolishness!”

To put it another way, the buffalo pooped! And that is why it’s a bad idea to squeeze a nickel too hard.

 I’d love to hear your reaction to this story. Please leave your thoughts in the Comments section below.

In the meantime,

Bestest to all,Cynthia Dalton signature