R U OK? Day

R U OK? is an Australian not-for-profit suicide-prevention organization founded by Gavin Larkin in 2009.

I love this a-conversation-could-change-a-life initiative as I love its US counterpart of Hi, How Are You? Day.

Today, in the States, Hi, How Are You? Day reminds us to show genuine concern for “how people really are.”

Because “How are you?” is too often a mere rhetorical question rather than an expression of a legitimate desire to know, being willing to ask the deeply sincere version and really listen (rather than talk) can be a life-saver for those who struggle with suicide ideation.

Not being too busy or too frightened to take such an initiative is the critical point.

I hope many will find “we are ear” for them today.

Best Skill on Earth?

Communicating without offending.

People who have this best skill on earth, have…

  1. Enough awareness to recognize their communication dysfunctions
  2. Enough humility to apologize for, and adjust, counterproductive communications
  3. Enough commitment to practice listening, insight, and proven techniques of highly effective communicators

Whatever other skills we might want to acquire in life, nothing will help our digestion (and the digestion of those who have to live with and around us) more than better communication skills (along with our social lives, success, happiness, and mental health.)

When There Is Nothing to Do

Even the busiest among us will run into boredom in certain seasons of our life.

So, at times when things are slow, when no one is calling, or when feeling useless I can prepare.

Instead of being bored or disappointed with myself for wasting time, I could…

  1. Send notes of acknowledgement or thanks to people I haven’t seen in a while
  2. Reach out to other people who are lonely and also have nothing to do
  3. Text, voice mail, or email family members, coworkers, and friends to tell them why I appreciate them

(If we all made a vow to do this when we were bored, we would radically reduce global boring.)

And, being oneself is primarily an acknowledgement that we are here, right now, for a reason.

Are You a Zapper or a Sapper?

I don’t like to listen to someone complain. Do you?

I don’t enjoy hearing someone obsess over something that should not have happened to them. Do you?

I don’t want to spend my time with someone who is criticizing, judging, or pontificating. Do you?

We have better things to do with our lives.

Then, why is it so difficult for us to remember not to subject our listeners to our own monotonous monologues?

Making sure to “zap” instead of “sap” people of energy is a good way to jog our memory.

 

Why This Is Not a Joke

When resources are sparse and our circumstances are bleak, this poster feels like a cruel joke.

Yet, when we dismiss our cynicism, we’ll experience why visualizing unlimited abundance is worth the effort:

1) Dreaming puts a smile on our face. (Ask your friends, family, and coworkers which they prefer, the smile or the grimace?)
2) Visualization is scientifically proven to change our body chemistry, disarming harmful toxins that feed dis-ease. (Ask your body what it wants, angst or relaxation?)
3) Relaxing into hope stamps out doubt, worry, and anger. (Ask your past which worked better, despair or faith?)
4) Stopping long enough to recalibrate gives us the energy to take positive steps forward. (Ask anyone which works better, giving up or gearing up?)

(Original post 2013)

How I Justified Exaggeration

When telling a story…

  1. It wouldn’t sound interesting enough if I didn’t exaggerate just a little
  2. Otherwise my story wouldn’t get the cred it deserved

When I was a kid…

  1. I didn’t want to get in trouble
  2. I didn’t know how to get attention

When I was hurting…

  1. No one seemed to understand
  2. I didn’t know how to communicate my pain

Finally learning to accept myself with all my flaws, brought…

  • freedom to tell nothing but the truth
  • healthy detachment from how others responded to me
  • new, unaffected ways to describe inner pain, boundaries, and needs

It is also the rule of…

  • relationships that thrive
  • good nights’ sleep
  • uncomplicated lives
  • the best definition of success (even if telling the whole truth gets us in trouble, at least we will have a clear conscience)

Ban Excuses!

Whatever happens, take responsibility…instead of blaming, shaming or making excuses for ourselves and others.

Even if wronged, ask…

  • How do I move forward productively?
  • How do I keep from doing the same to others?
  • Have I ever done the same to others? (Be humble enough to entertain the possibility, keeping in mind that it is easy to forget how we hurt others but difficult to forget how others have hurt us.)
  • Besides my own perspective, what are others’ viewpoints?
  • What can I learn from this experience?
  • How can I avoid wasting my energy on blame and shame?
  • What narrative will I choose about this experience? The narrative of a victim or the narrative of an overcomer?

The Misguided Quest to Save Time

I made a promise to myself years ago to reflect, pray, and meditate daily before I started my task list. Sometimes I cheat. Like today. I decided to get started on my list and paint my toenails before I sat down on the floor to center myself. Oops. There is now a permanent royal blue stain on the carpet to remind me to keep my commitments and do things in order.

So often, I think I am too busy to put first things first until I waste my time doing it my own way. This mistake was minor. Some mistakes permanently damage others and take a whole lot longer to repair.

The following Bruce Lee quote reinforces that nothing is as important as the time we use for personal growth.

Searching for a Heart of Gold?

Searching for a heart of gold is a worthy quest, and not just for Neil Young. Neil Young might have been singing about a romantic connection, but we are all searching for hearts of gold in people we meet. It is like a quest for home.

A heart of gold is about honesty and authenticity. It is about loyalty and honor and about refusing to become small or vindictive in our words or actions.

And people with hearts of gold are not doormats, they are strong people who refuse to stoop to hatred.

To show respect to all people, even those who have disrespected us or treated others disrespectfully, is sometimes torture and often counter-intuitive. Yet, the reward of having that caliber of character is worth the exertion.