Archive | May 2012

Appreciation

Years ago, not by choice but by osmosis, I began to incorporate a quality that my best friend is the master of.   What is it? Showing and expressing true appreciation to others.  Webster’s defines appreciation as : an expression of admiration, approval, or gratitude.  Most people think that appreciation only shows acts of gratitude.  That is accomplished by a simple “thank you” but doesn’t incorporate the other aspects of the definition.

Showing appreciation can be life changing.  Why so? Because by showing appreciation you are changing the lives of others.  We Americans live in a largely negative society.  I am quite a fan of social networking but I will tell you how much more often I see someone criticize others rather than compliment.  There are many people, especially via an avenue where they can escape the face to face confrontation, who seem to thrive on “throwing shade” on others.  It seems to be a lot easier to condemn celebrities and athletes than to have an appreciation for the challenges they face in life.  Yes, they are wealthy, but how many of us would pass the test if our entire lives are transparent and made visible to others?  My guess is very few.

Celebrities and athletes aside, many “everyday people” have very  few day-to-day encounters where the other person is showing approval of them as a person much less admiration.  People are starved for positive feedback.  Because of this truth, when you begin to let others know how much you admire them for various attributes, show thanks for all that they do, and approval in general you will see how receptive and loving they become towards you.  You see, once you show appreciation for others it breaks down the defenses and then they begin to show appreciation toward you.  It has a snowball effect and can indeed be life changing.

When appreciation becomes a part of your daily demeanor you will notice that things happen for you that don’t happen for others.  I really began to take notice of the phenomenon based on a seemingly insignificant event.  My friend made a purchase of some items for an international trip he was about to take.  Shortly after the purchase, he received word that the items were no longer needed.  I was on the phone with him when he went back to the store to return the items and found it closed for the day.  He stated he would call me back after trying make a call inside.  Well, he called them.  They reopened the store, took back his return and sent him on his way.  When I thought about it, I realized that events like this appear to happen all of the time in my friend’s life.  As I considered why that is so, I realized one simple thing.  People do nice things for him all the time because he is such an appreciative person in general.  He makes people feel good.  Not as a means of manipulation or selfishness, but because he has a genuine admiration for the positive attributes that others possess.

The realization changed my life.  I leave  it with you today in an attempt to effect a positive change in your life.  Look  for, acknowledge and appreciate the good qualities in others. Show your approval of the good things that people do, share, are.  Let others know you are grateful.  You will be amazed at the change that it makes.  I’m not promising a magic potion.  Some people are just genuinely unhappy and want to make others feel the same way, but I promise even those people will soften when you show them some genuine appreciation.

Let me know how this works for you or if you already discovered this secret.  In the meantime, spread love…peace and blessings.

Don’t Take It Personally

For the past few days I have been meditating on the following quote: “DON’T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.” – THE FOUR AGREEMENTS – Don Miguel Ruiz

The last part of that  parallels another quote that I often use: “I am beneath or above no one.  When I am independent of the good or bad opinion of others, I stand strong in my own divine power.”

So why the focus on these quotes lately?  Well, I’ve been giving more thought to the notion that we have more power over our circumstances than most of us acknowledge.  Within that, we have power over our moods, interpersonal relationships, etc.  So, more likely than not, if someone is “driving you crazy,” “stressing you the hell out” or “tripping” in general it probably because you have given them the power to.

So, back to the quote we go… “don’t take anything personally.”  I will be the first to offer a disclosure here.  I don’t buy this one hook, line, and sinker.  Especially… “Nothing others do is because of you” but I do recognize that my disagreement is in the nuances.  Here’s the thing that I know is true: most of the time people are reacting more to what is in their own head than to the particulars of the situation at hand.  The woman who wants to “fight” you for a parking spot in the grocery store lot just got off of the phone with a loved one or close friend and feels in some way that they were taking advantage of her.  She  wants the fight.  You  become the unfortunate victim, but it’s not about you.  Her fight is with the person who was on the other end of the phone.

Sometimes people have a lot going on in their lives all at once.  They are overwhelmed, overburdened and stressed.  They may lash out , but it is not aimed at you.  They are lashing out at life.  So I have been spending time on it because I have a more than basic agreement with the final tenant.  If we understand that what is going on with another is more about that person than us, then we don’t react to it.  We don’t stress over “I don’t know what she was trying to prove.  Why is he always doing this to me? I’m sick of this sh*t.”  We understand that they are shaped by their own perceptions of reality.  We accept it and move on.

Now, here are the nuances.  This DOES NOT mean that we allow others to treat us any old kind of way.  We have standards on what we allow others to “do” to us.  But within that framework, we save ourselves the mental duress/needless suffering if we make the basic choice.  We can either choose to help the person along without internalizing their problems or allow a little space for them to take care of it themselves and then get back to us.  In either case, we recognize that it is not about us, we don’t take it personally, and thus we are able to continue to love them with no stress on us.

My struggle with this concept, which I definitely know I need to incorporate more, is how to walk the fine line of the subtle nuance between don’t take it personally and I don’t care.  I have to learn how to save myself the mental anguish but continue to live in love.  If you have mastered this concept I would love to hear how you did it.

Spread love…peace and blessings.

STRENGTH

A family lost their son today

he died in an unusual way

they will need prayers

they will need God

they will need family and friends

they will need STRENGTH

A mom is staring divorce in the face

she is economically dependent

her spouse has tried to break her in many ways

on many days

even attempted to do so through her kids

but he can’t and he won’t

because she is STRONGER than he allows himself to recognize

and she will bend but not break

A young man faces a choice today

does he sling dope on the corner

to someone’s son or daughter

or does he face the fact

that he can approach life another way

can he accept that he is smart enough

and STRONG enough to not continue to be led astray

his entrepreneurial talents can build a family empire

but not this way

A young lady will today decide

after her endless tears subside

that she can not continue to allow

the foulness of her mom’s boyfriend to invade her

and she will find the STRENGTH she needs to garner

to leave them both and go to the refuge where real love is offered

You see strength is not in your swagger

not in your walk and especially not your talk

if you have to proclaim the magnitude of your strength

then your meter is probably off

for the strongest people don’t speak about it

they just are about it

they continue on in the face of adversity

often with a smile and a word of encouragement for others

the phrase quiet strength holds much weight

some come by it early for some it comes late

The strength I wish for you today

is that you will have the fortitude to live life your own way

set goals and pursue your dreams

recognize that life is not always what it seems

but no matter what the obstacles you face

you have the power to win this race

you have the strength of your convictions

the love of others and self

don’t leave your strength on the shelf

everyone has it somewhere within

find it own it use it

you have the strength to win

Lean On Me

Let’s spend a minute talking about compassion.  Webster’s Dictionary defines it as sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.  The operative words being “with a desire to alleviate it.”  Each of us goes through periods of struggle.  Sometimes we make others aware of the challenges we face, and sometimes we choose to keep them to ourselves. If you do not share your experiences then others are not conscious of them. There is little they can offer by way of compassion.

What happens, however, when we allow someone that little glimpse?  Will they say “oh that’s too bad,” pat you on the back and go on their merry way?  Or, will they take they fully take the time to honestly HEAR what is going on with you? Will they ask someone close to you in order to minimize your pain of repeating the story multiple times?  And upon hearing what will they do?

I’ve noticed that a lot of people are too concerned, burdened, overwhelmed by their own burdens to help lighten anyone else’s load.  Some people are not overburdened; they are just undercaring.  Frankly, your woes have no effect on their lives and they don’t care to hear the details of your issues.  But then…along come the compassionate ones.  These are the folks who will let you unburden your heart leaving all your troubles on their strong shoulders.  Because of the type of hearts that they have, you may never know how heavy their individual load already is that day.  They may never get around to sharing their struggle with you.

I love compassionate people.  Not only are they caring and concerned about you, but for me they remind me of all that is good in the world.  Compassionate people do what they can to help others.  They do it often because that is how they are designed.  They are truly the architects of the song  verse “if I can help someone along the way, then my living shall not be in vain.”  These people have large hearts and the things they do for others is not for public knowledge or accolades.  They would honestly rather that no one know.

I don’t know if true compassion can be taught, but is certainly worth looking into.  If you find yourself somewhat detached from the “issues” of others consider what your wish would be were the shoe on the other foot.  Consider the little things you can do to help alleviate someone else’s pain.  I don’t believe that compassion lies solely in large gestures.  As a matter of fact, I more believe it is the little things we do that count toward lightening someone’s else’s load.  I love the Kirk Franklin version of the song “Lean on Me” especially the line that says “Here’s my shoulder.  You can lean on me.”  Be someone else’s crutch today, if only for a few minutes.  Lighten their load.  Help them laugh when the tunnel ahead looks bleak.  Give them a meal to tide them over.  Offer your sincere friendship when they are feeling all alone.  And by all means, don’t be the one who adds one additional brick to the pile. Being kind is free.  Spreading love is priceless.