“Bouncing Forward”

Instead of “bouncing back” from trauma and loss, Sheryl Sandberg, in her book Option B, suggests the possibility of, and preference for, “bouncing forward,” citing multiple examples of how real peoples’ lives improved after horrific ordeals of pain and loss.

As Sheryl Sandberg, I do not want to minimize the pain of having “option A” ripped from our hands, only point out that believing in “Option B” will do us a heck of a lot of good. Rather than succumbing to the mantra of “I can never recover from this,” we can join forces with those who bounce forward by asking, “How can I make this pain count?”

Here’s to a day of bouncing forward…not just back. Cheers.

I Don’t Know Why

I don’t know why people say and do harmful things, but I do know that I have said and done many harmful things when I…

  • thought I was doing something good
  • didn’t know what else to do
  • was reacting with hormones instead of heart
  • assuming I knew all the facts when I didn’t
  • was too absorbed with my own stuff
  • was being reactive instead of proactive
  • didn’t pause, breathe, and think before blurting or exploding

So, if I take the road less traveled and choose to remember my own crimes (of both omission and commission) before I spend my time pontificating about, and pommeling “clueless” people, I will have done the world a big favor, and, will be closer to achieving the most rare quality of maturity.

“Every atom of hatred we add to the world makes the world more inhospitable.” -Etty Hillesum

Want Ecstasy?

“When we blend our unique talent with service to others, we experience the ecstasy and exultation of our own spirit, which is the ultimate goal of all goals.” -Deepak Chopra

For many years, while working as a mediocre middle-manager, I told people I had no talents.

Privately, I wondered if caring about people and talking could be talents.

This morning, I offered up to the Universe my inclination to care about people and to speak honestly about my failures.

Yesterday, someone paid me to do that (and, I could tell it made a difference).

Ecstasy.

Ticket to Freedom

Awareness of my being is my ticket to freedom…when in pain, anger, frustration, exhaustion, jealousy, despair, boredom, desperation, or fear.

Much too easy to say from my desk chair, yet I have found this to be a lifeboat in the most terrible situations.

When I stop, notice my breathing, pull into an awareness of the trillion cells keeping me alive, and shift my thoughts to the incomprehensible majesty of the Universe, my sanity returns…with power…to meet life on its terms.

“Attachment (to anything temporal) is based on fear and insecurity – and the need for security is based on not knowing the true Self. Chasing security creates anxiety; it ends up making you feel hollow and empty inside, because you exchange your Self for the symbols of your Self.” -Deepak Chopra

No One Is Listening

No one is listening when we…

  • nag

  • preach

  • repeat ourselves

  • brag

  • make excuses

But, we keep doing it, with irrational hope, ignorance, or annoying arrogance.

Suggested alternatives (only if we want to be heard):

  • Ask more questions.
  • Mirror emotions.
  • Listen without interrupting.
  • Drop our agenda and just be present.

Transformation of the Unappreciated

I never liked Phantom of the Opera…until I understood it was about my own struggle with the dark side.

I dissed Sci-Fi…until I found it could teach me essential things.

I mocked country music…until, okay, I still mock country music.

I hated tomato juice…until I tried it.

I ignored animation…until I laughed my way through Toy Story and Shrek.

I never made the effort to learn enough about other cultures…until important people came into my life from other cultures.

I undervalued my enemies…until I knew they were like me.

I didn’t appreciate other points of view…until I listened carefully.

I can become bored with my partner…until I look at him as an eternal, masterfully-created being.

I wonder how much wonder, joy, insight, pleasure, and happiness I have missed because I confidently and callously refused it.

When Telling Our Story is Inappropriate

If someone is telling you about…

  • their cancer diagnosis
    • They don’t want to hear about your diagnosis or someone else’s.
    • They are only asking you to care enough to listen.
  • their pain or challenges
    • They don’t want to hear about yours.
    • They are only asking you to show concern.
  • how you offended them
    • They don’t want your excuses.
    • They are only asking you to hear and understand first.

A friend recently shared his frustration since his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer; “Everyone wants to tell their story. We only want people to care.”

Disabling the “Shut Down Switch”

While teaching a management class, one of the participants continuously spouted off condemnations against his boss, his company, stupid coworkers, and the “tragically unmotivated younger generation.” When solutions were offered for one of his complaints, he shut it down with a standard reply; It won’t work. Tried that. You can’t fix stupid.”

He reminded me of me; of the times I refused to listen to anyone who challenged me to take responsibility for change.

As much as we hate a Know-It-All, sometimes the Know-It-All is us.

To keep myself from throwing cold water on others’ suggestions, I am learning to say:

Tell me more about that.
What am I missing?
What else?

By disabling my shut-down switch, I listen, learn, and grow up.

What’s on the Menu?

And, the rest of the quote…

Every time you get angry you poison your own system. Expect problems and eat them for breakfast.

Maybe it wasn’t what we ordered, but it made it to our table anyway. When we just pick up our knife and fork and get busy cutting those problems into bite-size pieces (instead of getting angry at whoever or whatever caused us the extra trouble) we’ll save a heck of a lot of time and energy.

And, it will sure taste better than poison.

What’s the Payoff?

Why do we get so much enjoyment out of telling people how busy we are, how hard we work, how little sleep we got, how people disappointed us, or what went wrong at the restaurant or auto shop?

I understand the need to vent or get sympathy from others, yet this type of complaining often becomes our conversation MO.

Is it because we don’t have anything else to talk about?

Do we think this gives us some type of status in the brotherhood/sisterhood 0f whiners?

Is it because we think other people don’t have enough frustrations of their own?

Whatever the reason, complaining only adds more unrest, emptiness, and static to our already crowded lives.

When we decide to bring “music” instead of noise to the world, our conversations might sound more like this…

“I was thinking about you today and how glad I am that you are in my life.”
“Tell me the highlight of your day.”
“Have I told you lately how proud of you I am?”

Want a better payoff?