Sunday, October 29, 2017

Let's Bring Back Some Old Words: Respect

I struggle with the idea of respecting someone I don't hold in high esteem. The definition of "respect" is "to hold in high esteem." But, really, it is more than that. It is a way to treat someone or something. I think that is the kind of respect we are losing.

To respect another person, to treat them with respect no matter who or what they are, requires us to at the very least be polite. Name-calling is disrespectful. But to tolerate behavior that is harmful, that is hurtful, that is hateful is not part of being respectful. So how do we walk the line between enabling that kind of behavior without becoming harmful, hurtful, or hateful ourselves?

It is hard. It really is. But to be our best selves we need to practice being assertive without being aggressive. We can voice our disagreement in "I" statements. We can give feedback about how their behavior makes us feel. "I find that offensive." We can confront inappropriate behavior by being specific and forthright. "When you ________, I feel _______. Let's discuss this calmly." "I don't agree with you, and this is why _______."

Even the thoughts we have need to be reworded to be more respectful. If you hear yourself starting your statement with "You", then you are probably heading down a path that leads away from respect. "I think you are not aware of other perspectives on this issue."  Rather than "You don't know what you are talking about."

So, yeah, it is hard. And it is important to stop the flood of disrespect that seems to be sweeping our culture right now.

I'm struggling with it. And I hope others are too. We can learn to live together in peace when we learn to treat others with respect.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Let's Bring Back Some Old Words: Courage

  1. Courage can be said to be the ability to do something that frightens one, strength in the face of pain or grief, bravery, pluck, valor, fearlessness, nerve, daring, audacity, boldness, grit, hardihood, heroism, gallantry.

    • defines courage this way:

      What is courage?

      Courage is the ability to do something difficult even when there's risk. Courageous people do and say what they think is right despite opposition.
      Kids build courage as they mature and take on more challenges. As kids increasingly grow up online, often in very public ways, courage is an important asset. It gives kids the confidence to be themselves, risk their own social status to stand up for others, and share their work even in the face of criticism. Some kids like to take bold action to test their courage; some kids take it gradually.
      You can help kids develop courage by encouraging them to take calculated risks, supporting their individuality, and allowing them to "fail" safely -- online and off.
    • While you may not think your life requires much courage, that you don't consider yourself heroic, you are wrong, especially if you want to change the world for the better. Creating change often takes courage, takes risking on your part. But to live courage will make the world a better place for all of us. It can teach kids courage.

    Risk living courage.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Let's Bring Back Some Old Words: Honor

If you want to help make the world better, try living by some of the old words we don't hear a lot of these days.

Live Honor.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

You Are What You Think

Descartes said "I think, therefore I am."  “I thinktherefore I am ” was the end of the search Descartes conducted for a statement that could not be doubted. He found that he could not doubt that he himself existed, as he was the one doing the doubting in the first place. In Latin (the language in which Descartes wrote), the phrase is “Cogito, ergo sum.” [Google search]

We are thinking beings. Our thoughts are very powerful. Never doubt that!

Your thoughts can bring things into being, like thinking about a favorite food can make you hungry, sometimes even salivate. Or you can think about a painful memory and after a while you have the same emotions that you had when it happened.

There is a saying "If you think you can or you think you can't, you'e right." In other words, you can set yourself up for winning or losing by what you think. Athletes know that thinking about performing well helps them play/do better. Many teams use visualizations in training to help them do their best, even make their best better.

So how does that work for the rest of us? I've been thinking about this since writing Sunday's blog [Oct.15, 2017]. We have so much negativity thrust in front of us that it is little wonder that so many of us are feeling negative about not only our present but also our future. When we think about all the awful things that are happening it is easy to flow in that direction and expect that we are powerless to change anything.

But the reality is that we are better than what we see in the media. There is more good than bad. We just have to open our eyes to it.

One shooter destroys so many lives in Las Vegas. And yet hundreds of people pitched in to help that night and beyond. People lined up in the wee hours of the morning to donate blood. By-standers ran to help get the wounded to hospitals. One many even stole a truck from a nearby parking lot to haul injured people to the hospital, making more than one trip. [He later return the truck.] 

Hateful rhetoric is spewed on the media about minorities, while hundreds of people reach out to help the very people that have been treated so badly. Protesters send the message that the wrongs that are committed are not acceptable.

We are better, as individuals and as a nation, when we think good thoughts, do good  things. Look for the good around you. Be the positive that someone else needs to see.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

What Is America?

So America is in the midst of change, in many ways. But what IS America at the core? Who are we?
Are we what other countries see? Are we the image of America that is in the media?

Someone told me "Trump is America." I objected strongly that even though many think he represents us, one person doesn't define America. We are more than any president and definitely more than this one.

But are we, and can we fix what we see is wrong? Will we? Will we come together as a nation and work for equality?

We have income inequality, racial inequality, gender inequality, education inequality. Yes. All of that. So is that what America is, inequality? That certainly is part of who we are.

And sometimes we let those inequalities divide us. Even though that is what we see the most of in the media, it isn't really what I experience day to day. The people I know and come in contact with are working for change to a more positive, more balanced, more equal country.

We aren't dividers. We come together to help in times of disaster and tragedy. I see people from all walks of life volunteering, donating, creating healing, building relationships across the inequities. This is the America that I know and believe in.

I believe that we will come together to shape a better, more compassionate, more dedicated government that cares about serving the people more than about party loyalty. I think that we will create political parties that learn to work together for the common good.

I know that won't happen quickly. Large ships don't make tight turns. And the Ship of State will turn slowly. But change is happening, all the time. We mustn't devalue the incremental changes that are happening at the grass roots level.

Just look at the marches on Washington. Look at how many people have been energized and motivated to run for office to make changes at every level, local, State, Federal.

More than ever Americans are waking up to the challenge of improving who we are and who we want to become.

What do you want to change and what will you do to help make that happen? Want to change how campaigns are funded? You might want to check out the video below.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Is Loneliness at the Root of Today's Problems?

On NPR the other day I heard a doctor discuss the research into the relationship of loneliness and illness, both physical and mental illness, how loneliness changes body chemistry. It was enlightening,

He referred to loneliness and a multitude of physical illness like heart disease, hbp, stroke, and others. He also talked about the relationship of loneliness and mental illnesses like depression, substance abuse/dependence, and even some psychiatric diagnoses.

He went on to discuss the relationship of loneliness and violent behaviors.


And it all made good sense. Loneliness can make people more fearful. Fear can easily lead to anger and acting out behaviors. And it can also lead to withdrawal, depression, low self-esteem. All of these things support the problems we are dealing with as a nation today.

And guess what? Loneliness is easy to treat! We only need to reach out to our neighbors, friends, family, even strangers, to create connection. There is much we can do to reach out to those who are less able to reach out. Don't wait for the lonely to find you. Make contact with those you know who might be experiencing loneliness.

Now, I admit I'm not very good at that. I'm VERY introverted and don't tend to make friends easily. But I know now that I need to work at that to help make the world better, not just to benefit myself.

Some ways to develop this can be as simple as making eye contact with people you come in contact with, people you pass on the street, service people, cashiers, etc. Greet folks with a smile and a "Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening."

Whenever it is appropriate, reach out a hand to touch a shoulder or forearm, shake hands. If it is someone you know, give them a quick hug. [Always get permission to hug. Abuse victims can be re-traumatized by unwanted touch.]

Even small talk can build relationships over time. Find some excuse to ask your neighbor a question, create a conversation. Drop off a plate of cookies or something, just because. You don't have to wait for the Holidays.

If you attend worship services, don't rush to be the first one out the door. Linger a bit to greet other worshipers. Attend social events with your faith community and get to know other folks.

Make an effort to contact/get to know people who live alone, especially those with disabilities that make it difficult to leave the house. Imagine being housebound and alone. Take them a little something - a magazine they might enjoy, a bit of baked goods if they are not diabetic, a book of word and number puzzles, etc. But most of all, stay a few minutes to chat. Brighten their day.

Get to know people you think may be feeling intimidated or threatened by someone. Become an ally. Let them know you are there for them if they need something or someone.

Each of us can change the world of someone who is experiencing loneliness. And the statistics they quoted said that 70% of Americans reported they experience loneliness.

Imagine if we could help people be healthier and happier simply by being there for and with them! Help people feel heard, seen, and valued.

Reach out. America needs you! The world needs you! You need you!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

How To Stop Bullying Before It Begins

Bullying does not have to be the problem that it has become. The way to prevent bullying to to raise children to be kind.

Children see a lot of unkind behavior and can come to believe that it is o.k. or even "cool" to be unkind. But as parents, teachers, and anyone in a child's life we have to constantly point out how unkind behavior is not o.k. We have to model kindness and to call out bullying and meanness. 

Here's a video about parenting kids to be kind and to not be bullies.

Whenever you see unkind behavior point out to the child that it is not o.k. Remind them that they want to be the best person they can be. And being a bully or being unkind to others is not the person they want to become.

Most importantly, we must model kindness. When children see adults' behavior they think it is o.k. and try to emulate those behaviors. So be kind to everyone.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Teach Love, Not Hate

Love Is an Action Verb

Practice teaching love by what you say and what you do. Today is a good day to start.

Thanks YouTube for these videos "Teach Love, Not Hate"  and "Crazy J- Spread Love Not Hate Music Video.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

It's Not Fair!

Recently I read a book about fat phobia. [I've been fat most of my life.] And there is a paragraph that I think would be good for everyone as we try to make the world a better place.

"And I know opportunity isn't equal. That life isn't fair, and sometimes it's not even remotely kind. I know that sometimes gigantic barriers get in the way of that perfect dream we see in our future. But one thing that will never change in this world of ours is the fact that we need and deserve all the happiness, success, love, kindness, and joy we can get our hands on. So don't let your self-doubt stop you; whatever you want . . . you already deserve it"  Jes Baker, Things no One Will Tell Fat Girls, A Handbook for Unapologetic Living.
While being fat, or loving someone who is, may not be part of your life history, this book has wisdom for everyone. And the above paragraph in particular speaks to us all.

My kids used to complain "It's not fair!" and my response has always been, "Life is not fair. And whoever told you it was lied." It is important to recognize that things happen that get in the way of our dreams and goals. That is just life. But we can be certain that each person deserves happiness, success, love, kindness and joy. And each can create that within themselves.

And with that certainty we can persevere toward our goals.  Not only that, but we can acknowledge that others also deserve to be happy and treated with kindness. We can create a little fairness by being kind to everyone!

So remind yourself today that you deserve to be kind to yourself and to others. Make that your goal for the day!