Archive for August, 2008

I found it interesting that some people were mean and nasty to others and just kept up that behavior on a regular basis.  So I decided to try an experiment.  When someone found it necessary to treat me in such a manner, I decided to do something nice for that person.  The results were amazing.


For most people who choose to act in a negative manner, they are using their behavior as a defense mechanism.  I am going to get you before you get me.  These people are very insecure and believe that if they make someone else look bad, it makes them look better.  They always blame someone else for their mistakes and love to pass around all of the negative gossip that they can accumulate even if the information is not true.


Recently I was faced with such behavior and I was really fuming when I was blamed for the actions of another person when it was that person who had created the problem.  She incorrectly thought that I would never know about her lies but someone else who was involved in the action shared the information with me.  I decided to deal with her in a different manner than I had ever dealt with someone who behaved that way.  I was going to reward her.  Not only was I no longer angry but I actually found myself laughing out loud when the troublemaker received her reward.


I must say that she was first shocked and then beside herself with guilt for what she had done and she didn’t even know that I knew what had happened.  She had assumed a completely different demeanor and all of a sudden, she started acting like I was her best friend.  Now please realize that I am not stupid enough to think that she will never do this same thing to me again but it does seem to have substantially reduced the likelihood.  She has already moved on to another individual who is now the recipient of the majority of her bad behavior and I seem to be off the hook for the moment.


So now that I was on a roll, I decided to employ this same technique with another person who was really in a bad mood and seemingly taking it out on all of those around her.  Even in the midst of any display of bad behavior, you can usually find a positive note and this was no exception.  So I seized the moment and rewarded her for that one feature and of course, her demeanor immediately changed.  A smile returned to her face and she started to embrace the ideas of the group in a way that no one had seen for quite some time.


I have employed this technique many times since that initial test and I have found it to be extremely helpful.  Not only does it change the behavior of the person behaving badly but also it changes me.  If the focus of the bad behavior has been directed toward me, instead of focusing on myself and responding emotionally, I focus on finding a point where I can flip the issue into something that is positive and there is immediate gratification when that happens.  It also portrays me in a good light with everyone else who may also be interacting with the negative person and that is of major importance in the professional world.  Even if you are not convinced that such an approach is wise or can potentially diffuse a bad situation, I would suggest that you give it a try.  Then you can sit back and laugh at how easy it was to create a positive situation rather than letting the negative take over the moment.  It won’t be long until you find yourself living a much easier life.




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As the 2008 Olympics play out, I find myself being quite disturbed about the games for the first time.  I have always watched from the perspective of the great athletic prowess that it takes to compete at that level and how these athletes continue to fight through all adversities in order to be the best.  But, as the behind-the-scenes stories continue to unwind, I understand what it has taken for these athletes to even participate at such a high level and I am sad.


I listened to the stories of some of the little girls who are taken from their families at the age of 3 in order to train as gymnasts.  They get to see their families, at the most, once a year.  Should they choose to quit anywhere along the way, they are discouraged from doing so as those that participate and succeed will have the quality of life that most others will never know.  And you look into those faces and you don’t see any of the happiness of other children of the same age.


Even if you look at the lives of our own athletes, the incredible amount of time and training that must be accomplished on a daily basis is mind boggling.  And how many of these athletes suffer injury after injury and have to be put back together over and over again.  No one cares that these injuries will have long-term effects on these people, not only on a physical level but also mentally and how they are pushed through rehabilitation so that they can meet competition schedules rather than anyone caring whether they are really physically ready to meet the next challenge.


What is the driving force behind those who compete at this top level?  For a few, according to what they say, it is watching the games and thinking that that is what they want to do and they go out and do it.  For most, it seems that if they show the slightest bit of talent in a certain area, they are pushed by the coaches and families to excel.  Just look at how many of the current athletes have coaches and parents who have also competed at this level and push their children to do the same.  The part that is sad to me is that those who compete at this level have to practice 6-8 hours a day and have such a discipline to every aspect of their lives that they have no idea what it is like to grow up and experience what it is really like to enjoy their childhood.  You see coaches yelling at them and showing their disapproval if they don’t do as expected and they are not allowed to show any emotions.  Everyone seems to forget that these are people, not machines.


And at the end of the 17 days of these games, who will remember any of these competitors?  There may be a name or two that will be recalled when someone raises the subject but most of the competitors, even if they win a medal, will soon be forgotten.  Everyone will go back to other television shows and their own lives and find entertainment in other arenas.  So what about the athletes?  Most will have broken dreams and will have sacrificed their lives to find out that not only are they not “the best” but they couldn’t even qualify to compete on that top level.  They will realize that they have had to give up so much to just be able to make the journey to the Olympics but in the end they had to focus so much on the regimen that allows them to compete that they never had enough time to really enjoy the experience.  Are all of the efforts worth the rewards for these athletes?  You can decide for yourself but as for my own opinion – no way; not for what all of these athletes have had to sacrifice in order to reach this point nor for all of the repercussions that will be a part of the rest of their lives. 

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When the word “acceptance” is mentioned, it is usually associated with religious or racial tolerance of those that may be “different” than you.  However, there is a much larger scope that I believe needs investigation.


Each person is an individual and has a separate set of experiences in which they were raised.  Most of our beliefs are what we were taught by out parents, teachers and other authority figures as we grew up.  For some people, these teachings have become infallible and there is no way that there will be an acceptance of any other tenets in their lives.  And if you look at the reason that wars are fought, it is because of people’s steadfastness in their personal beliefs that they are right and anything that does not fit into their teachings is wrong and the holders of those opposing beliefs are a threat and should be eliminated.


If you look at the underlying reasons for such steadfastness, I believe that you will find that such beliefs are based upon fear of the unknown and/or a struggle for power by those who believe that they are better than others.  I was raised as a Catholic and do believe in the basic teachings of the religion.  However, when I went to Catholic school, I was taught fear of God and that I had to behave in a certain way or God would punish me.  I was also taught that every other religion was wrong and that it was a sin to enter their places of worship and to investigate anything about those religions.


Thank heavens I was also taught to think for myself.  My God is a loving God, not a God to fear.  And if other people believed differently than me, that didn’t make them bad people as I would have been led to believe.  So I decided to explore not only my religion but everyone else’s as well.  As I studied, I determined that there was no reason for me to believe that my religion was right which meant that all other religions were wrong and ultimately I decided for myself to not participate in any organized religion.  Such organizations represented to me only that certain people had chosen to have power over other people and they were using religion in order to make that happen.


I believe that all of us have the right to believe as we choose and that no one has the right to judge those beliefs.  This does not only apply to religion but also to every other choice that we make in life.  I may not always believe that a decision that someone else makes is the best one but I am in no position to judge that that decision is not the best for that person.  I accept people exactly as they are and have no desire to attempt to change anyone in any way.  After all, I need all the time and information that I have to make my own decisions and can’t begin to think about those of anyone else.  As a result, I would hope that others would accept me for who I am and what I do just as I accept them on the same basis.  Now if everyone would accept everyone else in that same way then we would have no more conflict on any level.  What a prospect!

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I had dinner with a friend the other night and I was all ready to catch up on everything since the last time that we had gotten together some 4 months ago.  But, the first question that I got was regarding politics and who would I vote for if the election was tomorrow.  Excuse me!  First of all, I don’t think that it is anybody’s business for whom I would vote and second of all, I never want to spend my time discussing politics in lieu of having a real conversation with an old friend. 


Now don’t get me wrong.  I have been watching the news channels almost non-stop for the last year and I can’t believe that I have wasted so much of my good time.  The more that I watch, the more I become disenchanted with not only the Presidential election but every other aspect of politics.  I am tired of all the personal attacks and the promises to fix everything with nothing of real substance being proposed anywhere.  Between the sniping and the spinning of every sentence uttered by the candidates to fit the agenda of the political parties and the news media, it is just beyond my imagination.  And all of the blame game and finger pointing that goes on is enough to drive anyone away from the polls.


This whole situation makes me very sad.  The only way that anything positive is ever accomplished is by people working together for a common cause or the common good.  But you only have to listen to what is currently happening in this country to realize that nothing positive is occurring for the citizens and that the politicians could care less.  Otherwise, they wouldn’t take off for 5 weeks of vacation when the average family can’t even afford to take a week of vacation together in this economy.  That is just plain arrogance.  So I have officially sworn off of politics and I don’t believe that my vote or the vote of other individual citizens really counts.  The political machines and the money buy the power for those who can afford it and we suffer the consequences.


I have decided to use my good energy instead to help the people around me.  It becomes very difficult for most people to focus on making good political choices when their time is spent working to earn a living, feeding and clothing and housing a family and trying to figure out how to stretch every dollar in order to meet these responsibilities.  We need to turn our energies back into our individual communities and help each rather than waiting for help from a government that has run the country into the ground.  We need to help each other. 


If you know of a family that needs help, it is so rewarding to pitch in to make their lives a little better.  Your help doesn’t need to be financial.  Maybe you know a single mother who is working hard and could use some help with babysitting a youngster while she is gone or perhaps to give her a few hours of free time to rest her mind and body.  Maybe you know of an elderly person who could use some help with some repairs around the house or some assistance with running some errands.  Or you can get involved in volunteering with just about any church, hospital, shelter, etc. in your own town.  And if you find yourself in a financial situation where you can assist with some extra cash, you can always buy food and clothing and school supplies and recreation equipment and musical instruments, etc. for those are not able to afford these things.  The opportunities to help are endless and there is nothing that can make you feel better about yourself than helping others in any way that you can.  Your time and your efforts and your financial contributions will definitely brighten up the lives of so many others.  How can you not help???

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