The Pain of Being “Endured”

Even on the faces of strangers, it is often easy to spot relationships that have passed from enjoyment to obligation. Sadly, so many of us think we are doing someone a favor by “trudging through a relationship” when this could not be farther from the truth. Humans are not built for the pain of being “endured” rather than celebrated.

In this type of arrangement, both the “tolerater” and the tolerated are cheated. Both are inviting all manner of disease into their bodies, minds, and spirits, and tragically, into their other relationships.

We can only unlock the door of this toxic prison at work and at home by:

1) Getting back to a place of delight by focusing on what we love instead of what we dislike about someone (this works wonders!), or by

2) Being honest enough to own the dysfunction and mature enough to set each other free without bitterness.

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Real relationships give life…not the appearance of life.

Identifying and Thanking Our Collaborators

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I was laughing at my own jokes recently, I realized that my ability to write sick quips and funny dialog had come from my family; not always in the best of circumstances, my mother, sisters, and brothers contributed to my proclivity for absurdity (along with a steady diet of Mad Magazine).

Each of us owe much to people who have helped us identify our gifts…however painful the process. Along with using our unique gifts, showing them appreciation is the right thing to do.

Today, I write in memory of my mother’s whacky life, my sister, Angela, the master jokester, and for my brother, Ronnie, who bought me my first MAD Magazine.

It’s too late to thank them any other way.

(originally posted 2012)

Misunderstanding Introverts

All my life, I have irritated introverts by pushing them, overpowering them, interrupting them, and by trying to remake them into extroverts.  Please forgive me.

I now realize I needed to give space, rather than judgement.

On the other hand, as an extrovert, I have been misunderstood by introverts to be flirting or showing off when I was just enjoying the energy I receive through being with other people.

I guess all of us need space to be who we are (even when it doesn’t make sense to our opposites) rather than judgement.

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When Confronted with Injustice and Tragedy

When confronted with injustice and tragedy, (which is a frequent event if we keep up with the news)

Do not merely ask, “Who could do such a thing?” 

Also ask, “Help me recognize the depth of pain, loneliness, and anger in humans who think of doing such things.”

Do not merely ask, “How could something so terrible have happened?”

Also ask, “How can I be more in touch with the painful, tragic things that are happening in people’s lives all over the world, right now.”

Do not merely ask, “How can I physically protect myself and my family from this evil?”

Also ask, “How can I  psychologically shield myself and others from despair and live a courageous life in spite of tragedy?”

Return from Tomorrow

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Psychiatrist George Richie, author of one of the first books about the NDEs (near-death experiences), shared these three insights in a television interview with Joan Rivers many years ago:

1) Immense and unfathomable love (vs. immense and unfathomable judgement) is in the afterlife.

2) Death is a mere continuation of life. There is no cessation of existence.

3) Our thoughts direct and determine what our afterlife is like. We go where our thoughts take us. George used the analogy of school to explain this; “just as if you are in first grade you wouldn’t try to get into a graduate program, so we admit ourselves to the ‘program’ for which we are the most suited.”

Three more good reasons to choose positive, beautiful, marvelous, healing, hopeful, and kind thoughts…right now.

(original post 2011)

The Happiness Illusion

If I only had _______________, I’d be happy. Is that too much to ask? Why does life have to be so difficult? Why can’t I just have what I need?

Whatever word is used to fill in the blank in this sentence doesn’t matter: money, a partner, freedom, a vacation, a child, a family, friends, job, beauty, health, a house, a car, a better body, recognition, fame, respect, you name it, the statement is still untrue.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a test:

Have you ever met, or heard of anyone who has what you are seeking but still isn’t happy?

Are you aware that drug addiction, suicide, depression, alcoholism, despair, and abuse still thrive among people who have what you want?

Changes in our circumstances can make us temporarily more comfortable. Happiness still has to come from inside; a you-decide deal.

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I Have a Dream…Not a Nightmare

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Historian Rutger Bregman’s TED Talk about eliminating poverty is worth watching even if you don’t agree with his conclusions. His quote, “The one thing that history teaches us is that things can be different,” reminded me that even when things have been the same for centuries, the tenacity of courageous thinkers and doers have made huge differences for us all.

Radical, “impossible” changes occur when we:

  • Use our gifts to make a difference
  • Dream new dreams
  • Refuse to give up
  • Face the world with courage

Living like this is so much more fun than complaining about, or shrinking away in fear from, the way the world is. As Bregman said, “Martin Luther King’s famous speech is “I have a dream, not, I have a nightmare.”

Humble Pie for the Self-Improvement Diet

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If you haven’t had to say you’re sorry or eat any humble pie lately, count your blessings.

But, it wouldn’t hurt to prepare your palate. Unfortunately, humble pie is an indispensable element of the “self-improvement diet:” the fastest program for transforming us into more balanced, compassionate, and less self-centered people.

To prepare ourselves for the inevitable, it helps to:

1.  Practice being merciful to others who make mistakes.

2.  Laugh when we catch ourselves taking ourselves, and our opinions too seriously.

3.  Embrace the limits of our knowledge, perspective, and memory.

4.  Listen better. Speak Less.

5.  Remember it is more rewarding to have good relationships than to be right.

 

Avoiding Blind Spot Terror

Those of us who have almost had a terrifying collision because we failed to be aware of our blind spot, can understand the total shock or pain of finding out what someone really thinks about us.

It’s radically confusing and bewildering, especially if we have…

  • allowed ourselves to depend too much upon what others think of us
  • expected people to be better than us when it comes to talking behind backs
  • expected people not to be dishonest when they are afraid of hurting someone

Being honest is a challenge for us all…not just our “enemies.” We are smart to admit it rather than let dishonesty be our blind spot.

Loving Mercy and Mercy-Givers

The words of Micah, “…do justice, love mercy and walk humbly…” have always been a basic tenet of how I wanted to live.

Only, I’ve changed my mind about loving mercy. Before, I thought that phrase meant that we should passionately believe in doing merciful acts, but, now, I think it might mean more than that.

Maybe it means changing what we love. Maybe it means that we should love mercy (and people who model mercy and do acts of kindness) more than we love winning and money and power and prestige and status and sports (and people who model the best of those things). Maybe it means that we shouldn’t be beating ourselves up for not being rich and successful if we are working hard to be a mercy-giver.

Which prompted me to think about the opening story in Emotional Intelligence about a kind NYC bus driver who changed peoples’ moods…

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And Anne Lamott’s challenging and irreverent book…

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