Monday, April 30, 2012

If you can't say anything nice . . .

 . . you are doing it wrong.

A while back a federal task force met in Detroit to discuss violence and children.  The findings were that pervasive violence has become a norm in some communities and when children grow up with violence as the norm it becomes easier to increase that level.  Communities are destroyed.   The task force went on to describe ways to counter that violence early.

The low-level negativity about people's lives is similar.  In situations where people describe how they dread Mondays or their job or their family or how they are tired of the same ol' thing for lunch (when they pack it themselves).

The best counter to that attitude is to . . . . counter it.  It's not about countering the comment (something I do and need to control better) but to counter the attitude.  there are so many good things that happen every day in our lives.  Talking about good things has it's own power.

Making today a good day is more than *not* saying anything when you can't think of something nice to say. Making today a good day is about going above and saying something nice.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Compare and Contrast

One of the staples of primary school writing assignments is the compare and contrast paper.  The student take two things and has to writ how hey are alike and how they are different.  The complexity changes as the children grow up.

Judging if today is a good day is also an exercise in comparing and contrasting.  Deciding what you are going to compare and contrast with may be critical to how good your day is going to be.

If you want to be unhappy today, compare your life to the best life you can possible have.  Don't compare it to the best thing you've ever had, compare it to the best possible.

Compare your breakfast, and your job, and your vacation, and your bed, and whatever you else have to the best of those things you have ever seen or imagined.  Your life will fall short and you'll be unhappy.  Congratulations.

On the other hand, while not focusing on "worst first" thinking, contrast your life to what it might have been had you made other choices.

If you are dreading your work on Monday, imagine your life without a job.  If you are tired and don't want to make dinner, imagine not having a choice of food or food at all.  If your family is driving you crazy, imagine your life without them.  Maybe now is a good time to watch or re-watch "It's a Wonderful Life".

So next time you feel that your life is not what it should be, don't compare it to that magical world where everything is perfect, contrast it to what it might be and be grateful for what you have.  And, for bonus karma, do something kind for someone who does not have everything you have.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

It's all about perspective

There was a study at Purdue University that showed that golfers that overestimated the size of the hole when golfing sunk more putts.

Further, when using an optical illusion in the lab, golfers sunk shots better there too.


Perception matters.  And positive perception matters if you are trying to have a good day.

What we see and how we choose to perceive things can make a huge difference in how we do and how we feel.  
If you go into a situation at work (or school, or home) and expect that whatever happens is not a bad thing; not an attack against your happiness or your peace you'll see and hear it differently.  You will react to it differently.

In the same way, if you assume that Mondays will be Mondays or that every day not the weekend is less than the weekend it is likely that you will make it so.

None of this is a surprise.  But making a choice to see things differently may have surprising effects.

What's the worst thing that can happen if you change your views?  You'll make today a good day.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Holding on.

Take a moment and think of the last argument or fight that you had with you spouse or sibling or child or friend.  Think about how it started . . and how it progressed  . . . . and how it ended.

Did you hold on to it after it was over?  Did it color what you did with that person for the next hour . . or day . . or week?  Is it still affecting you?

Now let's go the other direction.

Take a moment and think of something that you did with a friend or spouse or parent or child.  Try to find something that was equally as powerful as the argument above.  Do you have it in you mind?  Are you smiling?

How long did those feelings last after the event was over?

Sadly, I'll bet not as long.

People seem to value anger and hurt more than happiness if we look at how they act.  And, while anger and hurt have value, they aren't more valuable.  The longer you hold on to them the less worth they have too.

Today is a good to to remember that good thoughts and happiness are worth holding on to.  The longer you hold on to them the better off you are and the people around you are.  Further, if you are holding on to hurt and anger and unhappiness today is a good time to ask yourself if they still have value to you or if they are stopping you from making today a good day.