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.
“What could I have done differently?”
The first time I used this phrase was in a case where I felt my partner had not listened to me. When I asked, “Can we talk about what just happened? What could I have done differently to have gotten your full attention?” he relaxed, said he was sorry, and gave me a suggestion that I still use…with unprecedented success!
The phrase removes accusatory language and doesn’t put people on the defensive, thus increasing our chances of staying in dialog and experiencing the thrill of cooperation.
I wish it were not the case, but most of us have multiple opportunities to work through relationship dysfunctions. This phrase is a useful tool.
(Dr. Dean C. Delis has a similar discussion about “No-Fault Communication” in his book, The Passion Paradox.)
At the beginning of 2018, I decided I was sick and tired of hearing myself complain about my weight (which I had been doing for many years). I made a plan: try Weight Watchers or hypnosis. I had tried everything else. Counting calories since I was 18 years old, I thought I knew everything about weight loss.
I reluctantly enrolled in a WW program that would pay me back if I lost 10 lbs. in two months. That was not a resolution, it was a challenge. And, I wanted to win it.
To my surprise, it was fun and rewarding. I didn’t have to starve myself. I learned new tricks and new habits, got my money back, and started 2019 at my lowest weight since High School! Who knew I loved winning more than I loved wine?
“I did it!”
Those three words can be life to my spirit, implying I have:
A) beaten the odds
B) accomplished a goal
C) risen above my fears or
D) given it my best shot
2. Also important words when I am owning a mistake or failure. In that case, “I did it” frees me from the debilitating psychological and physical drain of hiding.
3. Harmful if I use them to steal credit from someone else who deserves gratitude and recognition.
3. Dangerous if I follow, “I did it” with “And, I’d do it again!” instead of humility. My mother used to say this with vehement arrogance and, then, cry herself to sleep.
Here’s wishing only the best “I did its” to you in 2019!
(Modified 2015 original Post)
The sense of danger must not disappear:
The way is certainly both short and steep.
However gradual It looks from here;
Look if you like, but you will have to leap.
This stanza from W.H. Auden’s poem is certainly about risky love, but the sentiment can be applied to a multitude of decisions in our lives that will take us off the beaten path, away from the mundane, and into a more adventurous, fulfilling life.
Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts to becoming that person we admire.
We can’t kid ourselves forever. Living vicariously on our couch through media, books, sports, fantasy or our children will never be enough.
Today, I wish that courage to leap for you and for me.
(originally posted in October 2015)
I put clean dishes away in a warm kitchen
As I sip my tea to the purr of Leonard Cohen
Whatever else may happen to me along the way
I have just now, most assuredly, visited heaven
Had I focused instead on that funky pain in my pounding right ear
Or what my clueless family member should not have done
I would have plodded blindly through my tasks
Oblivious to its gift; this purest form of fun
I may be tossed mercilessly about and into labyrinths or holes today
Unbalanced or badly broken by life’s unexpected pitch or sway
But even there, in the darkness, focused on the simplest moments and simplest gifts
I can remember that heaven is, and is never so very far away
I dare you.
Take one day and count the number of times you pass judgment on someone or something 1) without giving them a chance to defend themselves, 2) without calling for witnesses, or 3) without examining contradictory evidence.
I dare you.
Imagine a world where we don’t casually and chronically contribute to the complaining or criticizing of institutions, politicians, decision makers, or acquaintances; where guilt is proven before we jump onto the band wagon of discontent.
I dare you.
Remember your own offences before drawing attention to someone else’s.
Today I was imagining what a lifetime graph of my mistakes and offenses would look like; how many times in one day, one week, one year I have needed forgiveness and forgetfulness from those who share the world with me.
Because gathering carts at a grocery store is such a tedious and physically demanding job, I always try to take one or two back into the store so someone else won’t have to. Recently, I saw another person doing the same. Even though he seemed to be in a hurry, I stopped him and said, “I’ve never seen anyone else do that. What drives that behavior?”
“I try to always leave things a little better than I found them,” he answered, then recommended Jordan Peterson’s podcast to me.
He was correct to assume I would also appreciate Peterson’s common sense approach to life.
Here are a few things I love so far about Jordan Peterson:
- “Make at least one thing better every place you go.”
- “Tell the truth and act so that you can tell the truth about how you acted.”
- An Antidote to Chaos as part of his bestselling book title (because everyone wants that)
And, also this…
When the voice tells you to give up
Get out! Get out and go anywhere but where you are
In search of a different voice to tell you
Success lives right next door, so very close to your despair
When the voice says the pain is too much
Get out! Get out of your story into a story of courage
Where the poor and defeated rise up to turn pain
Into passion for millions of forgotten sufferers
When the voice says whatever you do won’t help
Get out! Get out into an infinite universe
Where every invisible particle and connection
Crackles with impressive power all around you
When the voice says you are worthless
Get out! Get outside to see — or inside a curious mind to hear
About your improbable existence among the teaming billions
Of living things–every one of them essential
When the voice says no one cares
Get out! Get out quickly and be your own big bang of care
Explode with a clear and bellowing voice to replace
The numbing, nagging one making slaves of millions
(He or she. Please, forgive the gender specific quote. )
I wrote this poem because I wrestle with the unrelenting voice of discouragement every day and have found that if I shift my perspective I can hang on five minutes longer.