How Can You (ya, you) Inspire Others?

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” ― Albert Einstein

Yep, it’s true… we all have something in us that can inspire others. It doesn’t have to be something huge or even an enormous personal achievement to draw upon. Inspiring others doesn’t mean we’re trying to get people to want to climb the highest mountains or completely make that change in their life that they may have been grappling with. It can… but inspiration doesn’t have to be profound.

It can be subtle, kind and gracefully result in the softest of moments. Positive moments. It can be the slightest thing like our smile or a simple hello. It can be the tiniest way that we alter how we are looking at or even considering something. We can never fully know what kind of a day someone else is having and the possibilities that our own happy reflection could have on them.

Sometimes people are just looking for another person who they can connect with, even for just a blip in time, that says to them, “Hey there, I see you. You matter!” And sometimes all it takes to relay that is a simple, heartfelt smile.  

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Consider the possible outcomes if we all took a few moments each day to think like this. Imagine what could happen, not only to our own internal feelings but to the feelings of those around us. The more we put something in the forefront of our thoughts the more we will likely do it, live it, breathe it. The more we believe in our own positive reflections, inspiring thoughts, the more likely we are to pass those along to others in our life just simply by being them.

“It’s not about the words that come out of your mouth. It’s about the words that come out of your heart.” ― Lotus Love

That’s how awesome thought coupled with intention truly is. It results in the possibility of making others around us feel something greater within themselves. The resulting feedback loop then fills our own self with a greater sense of purpose. Even if that purpose is to simply tell someone with your smile “Hi!”. It will always feel amazing to know that you had a positive influence on someone else’s moment, even briefly.

There are many things we can work towards each and every day to inspire others. Even if you just pick one, give it a try and let’s see how doing that one thing, with true intention, makes you feel inside.

Elevate Your Enthusiasm

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Happiness is contagious. It really is. I’m not talking about over-the-top Carlton Banks kind of enthusiasm (but that’s fun too!). I’m talking about putting out there to those around you a reflection of your own inner happy. Engage, smile, and just emit happiness to those around and see what happens. Maybe even in your next meeting just go into it with a genuine intent to make others feel your happy vibe. I would almost bet that you will get a return positive vibe from at least one person in the room!  

Stay On The Positive Side Of The Fence

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We all get caught in negative talk now and then. Judging something or criticizing something that isn’t happening the way we’d do it. But what would happen if we just didn’t feel like we had to say it out of our mouth? Because really, just because you have a differing opinion on something doesn’t mean you have to express it. Especially if that opinion is going to make someone else feel less-than because of it. Stay in the positive. If you feel like you’re about to think judgmental thoughts or criticize something, say to yourself at that moment “Everyone is just doing the best they know-how, and it’s ok”. If we start assuming, in the positive, rather than the negative, that people ARE just doing the best they know-how, it keeps us in our own positive frame of mind.

Fill Up Others’ Buckets

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It’s a concept that my kids school used to use each day. Add to each other’s buckets, don’t take away from them. Be the person who builds people up, not tears them down. It’s amazing how far a “You’re doing a great job!” out of nowhere can go with someone. At work, home, school, or even to a mom at the mall who’s juggling three kids, strollers, and busy feet, but is doing her best to keep everyone happy, entertained, and out of harm’s way. It’s a big job. Imagine how she’d feel to just see someone smile and say “You’re doing a great job mom!”?  

We either inspire or are inspired by others. In other words, some people give you confidence; when you are depressed, they encourage you. Then there are others, who pull you down. But only those people become successful who master the art of building up others. ― Joginder Singh

Listen, Listen… And Then Listen Some More

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You know those moments when you’re speaking to someone and you think in your mind “They aren’t even kind of listening to me right now”. Or you’re speaking and the other person picks up their phone or interrupts you with an “Wait, wait, wait, I totally forgot to tell you….”. We’ve all been there. It sucks! It can make a person feel very insignificant and unheard. And over time, if the other person continues to do this it’s totally normal to not want to talk with them… or even be around them. Why? Because it makes us feel less-than when people aren’t listening. Like Oprah has been quoted saying many times over the years “Everybody just wants to be heard. Validate them. ‘I see you. I hear you'”. So don’t be that person. If you are speaking with someone, be in it, be present. If you don’t have a lot of time, tell them so. But in the 3 minutes you DO have for them, be there!

We might not all want to believe it but we actually do spend a lot of time thinking when others are speaking to us. We’ve all been caught in a moment where we were so intent on formulating our own thoughts and responses in the conversation that we weren’t at all listening… only to find the person speaking has asked a question… and we can’t answer it because we have no idea what that question even was, we weren’t listening. It’s mortifying, not to mention completely disrespectful to both of you!

Try for a period of time to remind yourself, when others are speaking, to just listen. Don’t pre-formulate your thoughts while they are speaking, just listen. Your thoughts and responses will still come to you if you do… and they will be even more mindful and respectful because you were actually fully listening.

It’s equally frustrating when someone interrupts what you’re saying to provide an answer to what they thought you were saying… only, had they let you finish they’d see that’s not what you were asking at all.

When we’re thinking and not listening people can feel this. People can also feel it when others are listening. Those are usually the times when people typically say “Wow, what a great conversation, thank you!”, not walk away from you really uninterested in speaking with you.

Great conversations and inspiring others through eliciting a feeling within them like they have been heard is something so simple. Yet, it’s something that requires not only intent, but quieting of our own ego (our own need to interject) and the true desire to want to listen to others and hear them.

Wear Your Calm Vibes On Your Sleeve

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If you’re judging someone for judging, you are indeed judging. If someone flies off the handle and you react by doing the same it’s not very inspiring to anyone around, let alone the person you’re speaking with. Chances are pretty good if someone is speaking to you in an overly emotional state and you manage to stay calm, present physical calm, be mindful with your response, you might just defuse any potential for unnecessary escalation, and, better yet, you might even help to calm their excited energy. You might help to bring them to a calmer space of their own.

Who’s the person in your life that you generally go to for advice? Very often we choose individuals to fill this life role for us who are calm, appear calm, exude calm, speak calm. They fully represent calm. We look to these people at various times in our lives because they help us find the inner space to locate our own calmness.

There’s a person in my own life (well, not really, as I don’t know him) Rich Roll, , who I see as the epitome of calm. He has a podcast that I watch regularly not only because his topics and guests interest me, but because I love watching how he handles many situations and guests, some rather pugnacious, with his calm exuberance. He, many times, doesn’t hold the same views as his guest but is so graceful in his intent to listen and speak that it provides for a very calming environment.

You can still be the person who fires everyone up, beams your enthusiastic message, and gets people full of energy and inspiration AND be calm and mindful at the same time.

Consider It Another Way

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In the same way that calm physical energy can defuse a more excited one, selecting how you actually speak can also have the same impact. If someone says something that isn’t your belief, isn’t how you might do something, or seems totally off the rails to you, it doesn’t mean they are wrong or that you have to point it out to them. Using the phrase “I have never considered it like that (or that way). I will give that some thought” is a very useful tool in times where our default might be to voice our own opinion or argument. Not only are you choosing to not criticize the person, you are validating that they are indeed a human too, one who also has the right to an opinion just like you.

By not engaging in a debate (negatively) we inspire others to do the same. They might not adopt this verbiage themselves… but they might think twice in their next conversation and consider that everyone really does have their own right and reasons for their opinions. Just because your opinion is as such doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right, especially right for someone else. We need to be mindful that everyone has a completely different set of experiences and circumstances that navigates them to the point of an opinion. We all arrive at our destinations of conclusions by various paths. Paths that aren’t necessarily wrong, nor right. Just different. Listening to others with more intent and purpose might actually add new ideas, ways of considering, to our own. It is amazing what we can learn from just listening. Learn about others, and even learn about ourselves.  

All of these things can go a long way in helping us (or someone else) become the kind of person who inspires others. It’s a great feeling to know that you have had a positive affect on another human being. We’re all searching to be heard in life. We’re all searching for meaningful relationships, more connected relationships with the people we interact with. By taking small steps each day towards better outcomes, socially and personally, we all have the ability to make huge change to the perceptions within and around us.

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Un-sticking Myself: How Forgiveness Changed My Life

Forgiveness is a idea that everyone must grapple with at some point in their life. Some more than others. And some lucky few, possibly very little. Whether it’s forgiveness for one’s self or forgiveness to another, it represents the same emotional path. Both can be tremendously difficult depending on the circumstance. For some reason forgiveness, and a certain amount of pain, typically go hand in hand.

I have dealt with the struggle of forgiveness in my life since I was a teenager. Not in a variety of ways or occurrences, but for one main occurrence, albeit overtime. I’ve gone through many stages of dealing with it from ‘fuck that, not happening’ to ‘ok, I’m over it’…all to find somewhere down the line I really wasn’t forgiving anything.

It wasn’t until I had a ‘light bulb moment’, which then moved into what Oprah called an ‘Ah Ha moment’ and associated something tremendously positive in my life back to this pain, that I truly think I was ‘over it’ and had legitimately forgiven it, so to speak.

Back in my mid teens I was introduced into a relationship, by no choice of my own, that was not ideal for me. My mother had formulated a relationship with an alcoholic who was terribly verbally abusive to me and to most people around him. I would learn, as the years went by, that he was also a master manipulator because sober, he was a very pleasant man and would do just about anything in the world for me, but drunk, well, not so much. That kind of confusion and mistrust can really mess you up when you’re at the young age of just learning the ins and outs of relationships and what healthy one’s should look like.

The finer details are unimportant, but a high level of emotional turmoil went on for years, profoundly altering the person I was. In the end, fast forward, his death meant very little to me. And for me, that’s terrible. I’m a kind human being who really doesn’t judge people to that extreme, and yet, in the spirit of being honest, it didn’t impact me in any way. I felt almost a sense of irony, a very unhealthy sense of ‘it’s about time’. If there has ever been mass judgment in my being towards another human, this was it, in SPADES, for sure.

My struggle’s as a result of it became very clear over the years to those closest to me. I’m sure there were also some hidden messed-up constructs and belief systems in there that were not so clear…I guess what one might call baggage. I struggled throughout my 20’s and into my early 30’s with anger towards a lot of things, but the most being drunkenness, not being listened to, and harsh judgement. Drunkenness being the top of the pile!

Funnily enough, not my own (of course), but others. (probably worthy of writing about somewhere down the road)

But I wasn’t ‘that girl’ who went on diatribes whenever someone got drunk. It was only when other’s appeared to become aggressive I would have an emotional and physical reaction to it. I managed to justify my own when I had had a little too much wine, in that, never in my life have I gotten aggressive through alcohol. But this kind of made my internal narrative even worse. ‘Why must people drink if they turn into assholes?’ was my feeling. ‘If I don’t, why can’t others be the same?’ An unrealistic expectation and a strict focus in all the wrong places.

I never really lashed out at people in this scenario (another thing I really don’t do and I believe it’s because confrontation has never served me well in the past. Maybe another bonus at heart). I would simply remove myself or just quietly try my best to ignore it. But again, it would physically affect me through things like adrenaline surges and heart rate blow outs.

Once I had my children, many things in life started to change. And my children were very young when he passed away…so the abuse was over.

But, the pain of it all certainly wasn’t.

The idea of ‘He who shall not be named’ came about one day when speaking with my kids’ dad. I simply was unwilling to bring any thought, memory or anything of him into my children’s world. The tag line just came out of my mouth one day and then kind of stayed there. I would never speak his name around my children out of some form of protection, for me, and them. I started using the phrase even around others if a topic was such that I needed to use it. I built an entire wall around the whole deal. And not just a wall…a fortress. And I held that baby tight! LOCKED DOWN, DEFCON 1 type of lock down. Forgiveness was NOT an option.

Prime example of my level of lock-down, fast forward to just this past year (once I had experienced forgiveness) I asked my daughter (at 14 years of age) ‘have I ever mentioned Ned to you?’ She had no clue! Never heard the name and had no frame of reference as to who this person might be. My point being, I held it HARD…and held it long!!

But I digress. It wasn’t until I met my current partner and started making connections between forgiveness, self, healing, and happiness that my world started to change. I could never quite get there before and it was simply because I was looking at this all wrong.

The saying is true…’when the student is ready, the teacher will come’. I guess I was ready.

But why now?

A little more back story. Starting around the time I was 16, my mom and Ned (sober) would talk about spiritual ideas and ways of being. I can vividly recall not giving 2 shits about it then (because I really didn’t give two shits about anything that came out of Ned’s mouth) but sometimes conversations, if more lead by my mother, would intrigue me enough to sit tight and listen, and possibly engage. Not often, though. But somehow, as I can see now, this information sank into my subconsciousness without me even knowing it. My mother was always very soft and we talked a lot about life and spirituality prior to the Ned years…and I was always interested in learning ‘what’s this life all about’. So the stage had already been set in my mind for acceptance of this type of teaching.

But once Ned came along and I was then living under excruciating stress most days at the hands of verbal and emotional abuse, there was not one part of me that was open to hearing ANYTHING that came out of his mouth. I didn’t even want to hear my mother speak of it because this was her common bond with Ned…Spirituality and Higher Consciousness. She brought this into my life…AND she brought this man into my life. I internalized both together…and refused both in my own life. I associated these concepts with Ned and Ned with these concepts. I would have NONE of it…on a conscious level.

That said, there had to be times that my mind was willing to listen. I believe now that those sort of sub-conscious ‘listening moments’ would be the moments where life (for 24, maybe 28 hours) would be ok. And by ok I mean sober. And, as everyone in my family did, in those moments, we didn’t rock the boat. We would interact and participate in ‘life’, and sometimes even feel temporary happiness in the situation. I was present but more in a protective way because one can only take so much stress. But, presence, in any capacity, means growth and learning.

So it was likely in those moments that I was actually listening …and maybe even wanting to learn more. But then, just like that, like every other day, it was over. The bubble burst and I was back to being called a piece of shit 100 times a day. So any good that I had just learned most likely got shuffled waaaaaay back into the hollow depths of my unforgiving mind.

And things got worse and worse from 16 to later in my 20’s. So that deep down repository of spiritual learning was so far gone, had you asked me about it I wouldn’t even have recalled it ever being there to begin with.

Like 15 years ago, still in anti-forgiveness mode, I would have never been able to recall any of these teachings from my younger days. They meant nothing. If anything I would have rolled my eyes at the thought of spiritual learning. It was gobbledeegoop! I was very blocked, very closed, and very stuck.

But, like many things in life, sometimes life can change on a dime. Instantly and profoundly. Once I started searching for my own enlightened path and met my partner, funny things started to happen…quickly! Things began to resurface. Memories of conversations and concepts learned nearly 30 years previous kept popping out of nowhere. But in the most positive ways. I would find myself saying ‘oh I remember Ned talking about that one day.’

Wait!! WHO??? I hadn’t said this name in years. I had it down to a science. Am I letting my guard down? Where is my anger? Where is all of my resentment? I felt like somehow it wasn’t there.

It wasn’t until this started happening almost daily that I really was able to sit with my thoughts and think ‘wow, is it possible that something ‘good’ came out of that time in my life.’

I was amazed at how I felt towards conversations in the realm of spirituality. I was excited and completely intrigued that this new person in my life knew these concepts and ideas…and so did I! I believe that somewhere deep inside I always had an affinity towards these teachings but the massive anger and resentment I felt was holding me back.

It became obvious very quickly that my connection (albeit still rather ‘inner’) to my spiritual side was what started creating an instant bond between my partner and I. And most definitely one that neither of us really expected it. Especially me!! Because not only do I think I was blocked to anything related to Ned and spiritual learning previously, I had lived in anger, self doubt, and a whole other gamut of limiting beliefs for a very long time.

Having just recently months before gotten out of my 20 year marriage, I wasn’t really ready in life for too many big steps. My current partner had asked me out several times…always to the answer of no. Finally one day, after exchanging an email about entanglement and enlightenment (which must have tweaked something for inside) I agreed. ‘What harm could come out of coffee or a beer’. That’s what I told myself. But meanwhile (negative talk) thinking full well we are never going to have any kind of connection.

Much to my surprise the real him (not the persona I knew, as I had known him for almost a year previously) came out almost instantly.

We started the normal ‘omg we talked for hours’ kind of thing immediately…but it was somehow VERY different in how it felt in my soul. He would ask me questions like ‘how do you feel about…’ or ‘have you ever heard of …’, ‘do you want to watch this video with me on…’. And very quickly all of these previous concepts, names, and ideas started coming to the forefront of my mind. I would say ‘oh ya, I know him. I learned about him when I was 18.’ or ‘Really? How do you know about that? My mom used to talk about that’. You can’t imagine his shock in hearing this. And you can’t imagine MY shock in saying it!!

Needless to say our bond became strong rather instantly. But had I still been in a total place of lock-down on my previous experiences in life I don’t think that part of us would have appeared. Made the connection we did. It’s true what they say about connection. There’s physical connection and then there’s connecting with someone on a much deeper level. And through the grace of god, and my sub conscious mind attempting to let go a little, we had both!

So what does this have to do with forgiveness? Well, in my case everything. Almost instantaneously I had a massive mind switch, and fast! A mind switch from a place of ‘he who shall not be named’ to ‘wow, somewhere in the horror, Ned brought a bounty of knowledge to my world’. Knowledge that would not only allow the opportunity for the most incredible relationship I’ve ever had with another human being, but also be the stepping stone to my life’s path going forward. I came to realize the gift that was given to me. I found the positive, the gratitude, in the shit pile.

I immediately starting looking through the lens of ‘what was going to suit me better…living in anger, non forgiveness, hatred, and very limited beliefs in certain things…or changing my own narrative from a victim mentality to a winner?’ The answer is obvious!

I love my life!

By no means am I looking at my past and thinking Ned was a hero, kind of thing. I still occasionally feel anger towards all the years I ‘lost’ because I was so frozen in my anger. But where I see things in a whole new light is that I have to forgive my past and embrace how certain elements of it have been pivotal in developing my present…and very likely my future.

No one can say for sure but I don’t think my partner and I would have the life we do and the relationship we have if it weren’t for the presence of this person in my past. Or maybe we would, depending on how one feels about divine intervention and ‘things happen for a reason’, who knows! …but that’s another post.

But I do know that all it took was one person to walk into my life and simply start showing me who he was, for me to dive into who I was…REALLY was. The thoughts, narratives, mind chatter, and years of anger just all started to release over a common, very unusual, bond.

We can never truly know where ‘dark times’ might take use. But what I feel I have learned, and am still learning, is that shitty situations will probably always be there in life. But they really don’t have to ‘be’ if we can transcend the negative, the anger, or the hatred of them. If we can be present and above the negativity, in a space of gratitude and forgiveness for ‘what lessons can be learned from this?’, ‘What strength is this cultivating within me?’ then I think we can live happier lives. And maybe not spend the better part of 25 years stuck in something that wasn’t mine to be stuck in. I was stuck in his misery when I should have been embracing the strength, emotional awareness, and emotional competence that it was bringing, and brought, to my life.

Resentment only hurts us. A lack of forgiveness only hurts us. Especially if the person involved is a) no longer walking the face of this planet, b) could care less, or c) may have no clue that they even had a negative impact on you.

Resentment and lack of forgiveness keeps us STUCK! They both need to be released in order to move forward.

I’m so happy to be unstuck. It has opened my world, my mind, my body, and my soul to things in life I was never able to consider.

Apathy: Learning It, Transcending It, and Positively Serving ‘The Other’

I’m going to take a leap here, and likely a very small one, and guess that if you have teenagers you’ve expereinced what I’m about to discuss. In one way or another, you’ve probably been on one side of this coin.

Over the last few weeks and months there have been many instances in the world of people speaking out in negative ways against other groups of people. High profile people along with simple cases that just caught the attention of media.

As is generally the case, I use a lot of what goes on in the world (or even in my small little world) as conversation starters for learning moments with my children. I spend a lot of individual time with them the weeks I have them, driving them back and forth to school. I cherish this time and I’m very lucky to have it. Here’s why…

A while ago we deemed our car rides were to be a ‘safe space’ where anything can be discussed without repercussion. The kids (or I) can talk about anything they want or need to and know that no matter how good, bad, or ugly it is, it’s safe and there will be no immediate consequences to sharing. It was my way of building in a forum for honesty, open sharing, and unconditional love for my kids.

As we as parents all know, lying is the root of all evil. It can cause so much more challenge, in an already challenging time of life. So anything I could do to try and help them (and myself, frankly) through these years of unnecessary untruths, I am willing to do. As I’ve said in previous posts, my children know that there will be no consequence to telling the truth…but lying, well, that comes with a price. But it’s a hard concept for them. They, I think, always feel like I’m tricking them into the truth…so it’s a slow process but I feel like we are a team working together for the betterment of man. Well, maybe just the betterment of us…but sometimes it feels bigger than just us!

For the last few weeks a lot of our discussions have floated around the subject of being better human beings. Better friends, better family members, better students, and better people in this world. This is not a new subject for my kids, I’ve been speaking in this way to them their whole lives. I believe at the core of my being becoming a kind and mindful human being starts when you’re very little with the teachings and actions of your parents.

I believe that it is our responsibility to take time, and not just a chat here or chat there, but real time UNTIL to teach our children what it means to be a good person. And when I say UNTIL…I mean forever. Forever and a day if that’s what it takes! And really, it’s not that hard.

There are so many examples in everyone’s life that can be put out for discussion and further dissecting to help them build on these qualities. There are moments every single day that can be conversation starters for teaching our kids. Some big, some little. Some ugly and some very beautiful.

BUT…and there’s always a but…

Sadly, I’ve come to a rough conclusion on certain aspects of these teachings. I’ve realized that one aspect of learning to be kind and mindful can be super challenging for kids and might possibly be the catalist for them growing up NOT being able to put this behaviour into action.

Specifically what I’m referring to is standing up for what you believe is right and good. It’s not really a hard concept and as adults we see it all the time. As in most societies, peoples’ lack of empathy can lead to many problems on both sides of the situation.

How many instances have we all read about where someone is being spoken harshly about, negatively about, and no one stands up to it? Many! How many times conversely have we heard people say ‘When you hear something disparaging, like a joke or even just gossip, stand up to it. Don’t tolerate it.’ Many!

I believe in this myself, we should speak out when other’s are speaking disparagingly. But I have also found myself in this situation many times in life and not said a word based on learned social constructs or acceptable social restraints. This has got me thinking, why??

Enter my son!

Without going into too many details, the simple car story goes, he has a friend, that friend is having trouble with being ‘bullied’. (Not a fan of that word, but for now let’s just stick with it). He has made several attempts to stand strong for his friend and stick up for her. He tells me he’s not being challenging in the way a fight would start, just trying to stop some pretty mean spirited words being said to this young girl.

I think as a parent we would all want to know that our children are making choices to be a good friend and help their friends in times of trouble. I am no exception. I am super proud of my child for what he’s doing. But I’m not going to lie, my first priority with my child is to ensure that he himself is not going to get into something more with this kid. Trying to find the space between praising him for standing up for his friend and cautioning him against get too far in the middle of something that isn’t his. (Weird, maybe. But this is entirely my point as you read along)

The story unfolds further…

In his attempts to stick up for his friend the situation has escalated. A few instances of back and forth…which ultimately the other day led to him being pushed down the stairs at school (backpack, chromebook, and even his teeth through his lip and all) by the child who’s being the ‘bully’. All just because he is standing up for his friend. (There were witnesses throughout the whole ordeal who confirmed no wrong doing on my child’s behalf (other than speaking up) and the situation was dealt with by the school).

So here’s where we land. The beef the kid has is not with my son (it’s not even a legit beef but just one young person, for whatever reason, trying to exercise control (negatively) over another), but my son is paying a price for standing up to this and trying to not allow it. So not only is the other child bullying a classmate, he’s physically challenging my son. One problem now turned into two. (This is how bullying becomes empowering, but that’s for another day)

The one problem has actually now turned into three. You see, what is now happening is my child is learning that there are consequences to ‘standing up for something’. He stood up for a friend —> He got hurt. And that’s a problem if we’re ever going to stop these kinds of bullying actions.

This is where my brain starts to run away with an idea.

We live in a society that has many kinds of people. A school is no different. It’s like a mini city. There’s popular kids, quiet kids, kids of all races, backgrounds, and beliefs. Empathetic kids, apathetic kids, emotional kids, combative kids and everything in between. It’s the same as any community, city or country out there. And of course, as we all know, put all of these social groupings together and as history would go, there’s bound to be some struggle.

So add all of this ‘struggle’ into the lives of our children (whatever category they may fall into) and top that with trying to teach them behaviors that will hopefully start building their tools to cope…and one can easily see how some efforts (in the right direction) might be thwarted by negative learning experiences.

Is it so hard to imagine that a lot of adults find it challenging to stand up to racism, negativity, bullying, or any other form of degrading commentary when, as kids, when they were first learning about this concept, their very first attempts to do so turned into highly negative ramifications for them? In trying to stop a bully, one starts to become bullied!! It only takes burning your hand on the stove once or twice before you learn the consequence of your actions. Could this not be the same?

If I stand up for this…something shitty is going to happen to me.

It’s absolutely true. Total learned behavior. And as a child, one who is far more likely to want to avoid harmful or adverse experiences than a adult, who’s more experienced in life and dealing with challenges, it is completely understandable that this would become something to avoid.

But then what happens??? Nothing good, that’s for sure.

What happens is that people at a young age can start becoming apathetic to many situations because no one WANTS to put themselves in harms way. People may want to do what’s right….but to what end? Is the backlash going to far outweigh the interference? (in this case, by far) And if no one is willing to stand up to it it simply decreases the amount of ‘road blocks’ a bully may face. Potentially empowering them further. It’s a pickle!

If no one ever stands up to people because of negative fallout, how will it ever stop?

My point here is that we learn many of our foundations in life from a very young age. We all have experiences, some better than others, some more horrifying than one can imagine. But the stage is set, very young, for what we’re willing to pursue into adulthood as far as our personal values go.

There are behaviors and emotional constructs that we learn as a child that will stick with us for a very long time, if not ever. So learning early-on in life that standing up for someone can have very negative implications can follow one far into adulthood.

The problem grows beyond that. We seem, as a society, to start to focus negativity on the person standing on the side lines – and somehow forget they’re not the root. They become the easier target in the situation because dealing with a ‘bully’ is difficult. So let’s focus on the people not standing up to it and bring some sort of shame or guilt to them. Not the solution!

How do we hold people accountable for not standing up to a bully more so than we hold the bully accountable? If you think about it, it’s mostly true. Just look at the Don Cherry and Ron McLean incident a while back. McLean took as much heat for not standing up to the comments Cherry made as Cherry himself. It’s a little skewed if you ask me. Should he have said something in that moment to possibly diffuse a situation that didn’t really need to be? Sure. But right, wrong or indifferent…he would have taken heat no matter WHAT he did because we’ve become a society all about blame, shame, and being offended.

Gone is the rational thought in dissecting a situation and coming at it from a solution-based opinion. Here to stay, or so it seems, is immediate offence, equally immediate un-tethered emotional response, and complete controversial/debating/non-solution-based opinion.

It appears to me when one stands up for something today they will be praised by the side of humanity that shares in the same beliefs…and they will be torn to shreds (or pushed down the stairs) by the side that doesn’t.

So what is one to do???

We really have become a society where we are dammed if we do and dammed if we don’t. It’s the root of the problem that is the root of the flipping problem, but we somehow have lost focus at times in that. So unfortunately people trying to do what’s right can get caught in just as much of a shitstorm as the person doing the wrong.

So in answering the question ‘what is one to do?’, well, I really don’t have the answer, like most people. But I believe there IS one out there. My wish in writing this was to simply put out there a reason (in my own words and thoughts) why so many people might be apathetic in life. I can see it becoming a ‘thing’ more and more. People being more apathetic and people being more judgmental towards that apathy without even consider why…or even considering that they are very likely the same way in certain forums. I think there are many discussions to be had.

Maybe we need to stop judging someone for what they are or aren’t doing? I wholeheartedly agree we SHOULD be standing up to ‘stupidity’…but in doing so how do we protect ourselves from emotionally immature repercussions? I think we need to stop judging others (whatever side they are on) and start putting some long hard focus into ourselves. Asking ourselves ‘If we’re judging someone else’s lack of response or defense, what are WE doing to make anything better?’, ‘What are our children doing in their social circles?’, ‘How can we protect people who stand up for the wrongs in life?’, and ‘If we can’t protect them, how the fuck can we expect them to do it in the first place?’.

If we can’t really answer any of these questions, we really don’t, or shouldn’t, feel free to have an opinion. This is basic stuff. But totally not the way the world rolls.

I want to tell my son he’s doing the right thing by standing up for his friend, and he IS. But I don’t want him to get hurt in the process. So how does one navigate through that? (I’m legitimately asking!!)

The long and short of it is, like any other post written on any topic that involves humanity, we just all need to be better people. We all need to look at life in service to others. When we give of ourselves in beautiful ways to the betterment of others, we are better ourselves. To take away from someone else is to take away from your own self.

Teach your kids to be kind because no matter what you think, conspiracies, bullshit, racism, religious wars, cultural wars, etc. etc. someday they are going to need someone to be kind to them. Teach them to not have expectations of others…but only expectations of themselves. Because we are only in control of ourselves. Knowing this, living this, teaching this, BEING this, is where is begins. And maybe ends!

As for what I will tell me son. I will always tell him to continue to be a friend, stand up for his friends, love his friends. If ramifications occur, we will discuss them in our ‘Car Talks’ and we will deal with them. But try to avoid negative, unnecessary ramifications. Try to use mindful words to defuse a situation, don’t use hurtful words which will escalate it. If you feel it escalating, disengage. Walk away. Take your beautiful sweet friend and simply walk away. But mostly, try and hold onto the idea that standing up for what’s right is what we all should do.

If you have thoughts or opinions or real life stories to share, please do so. Sharing is learning. Learning is growing. Growing is evolution.

Choosing Happy: Be The Positive Reflection Of What You Desire

I’ve come to a conclusion lately on what it takes to live a well balanced, happy life in our relationships. A life in which one can feel satisfied, fulfilled and heart-happy. It boils down to simply choosing the feelings you want to feel yourself and making those your priority in every situation. Giving those feelings to others, reflecting them onto those around you, emitting them in everything you do. Not just asking for them to be given to you as a means to your own happiness…but giving them selflessly to others and living them unconditionally.

Like all things in life, this doesn’t mean that some situations are not going to feel crappy every now and then. But if all situations are viewed from the internal looking glass of happy and we work to maintain that positive head space, not only will we receive back what we’re reflecting outward, we won’t find ourselves in the place where we’re judging someone else or are dissatisfied with the way someone else is treating us. It simply won’t matter. When you choose happy yourself, other people’s unhappiness cannot affect you. Ideally though, your choice of the positive will be the inspiration to them, affecting how THEY feel.

Sound tough? Maybe. But the only reason it becomes difficult to look at life this way is because we’re looking at it from an ego point of view. ‘What am I getting out of this situation?’, ‘Look what they are doing me ME‘. Our ego is asking these questions and will ultimately drive us to a negative place. A place where we might believe there’s been some wrong-doing towards us from the other person or that we have some control over how others treat us and their opinions. And we all should know by now that we don’t. We have no control over others thoughts and feelings. Zero! But what we DO have control over is ourselves, our perceptions, the energy we put into our relationships. We can absolutely affect how others may view themselves in their relationship with us, which can have a significant impact on the quality of that relationship.

Only by being a positive source, by being the one who doesn’t think of the ME in the situation but thinks of the US, can we possibly change someone else’s head space from a combative one to that of a cooperative and caring one. Think about it…if you feel someone is listening and caring about what you have to say, are you not more likely to reflect the same back to them? Are you not likely to be far less combative, more cooperative in your reactions? I believe yes!

Life example: currently my partner and I have differing opinions on a certain topic. The subject matter is irrelevant, but let’s just say the topic is an emotional one. It could easily be something that could derail us and possibly change our dynamic. The discussions surrounding it have been challenging, sometimes awkward and not entirely enjoyable. But our relationship is super solid. And although we have disagreements, possibly even arguments, we always manage to do so in a very constructive manner. A supportive manner. One in which we show the other that we’re listening to them, hear them and support them. We show one another that we are on each other’s side, we’ve got each other’s back. As Jay Shetty says ‘In relationships, you’re not fighting against one another, you’re a team. You’re fighting for one another.’

This positive way of thinking really changes the way you hold ‘arguing’ and hold the importance of another human being you love. Our discussions have been presented in a safe manner, a loving manner and we both are working to understand the others side. A methodology, or way of being, that I believe can truly change ones own mindset in something. You see and feel the importance of the subject from your partners point of view, which can make you think ‘Is being bullheaded on my point really that beneficial to me? To us?’ The answer may be yes or no…but what tends to happen is, because you are both working as a team FOR your relationship, you both move forward, not getting stuck in your ego. Together you find a new place in the matter where you can BOTH be happy and satisfied with the outcome.

When you fight ‘for’ each other it naturally comes from a positive, happy place. One can’t fight on the ‘for’ side of something and be against. Anything you do FOR another person is a gift, a positive presence. One that is then returned to you by the way they feel in it. Have you ever experienced how it feels to cheer someone on in a race and how exciting it is when they cross that finish line and are beaming with pride? You yourself take on some of that excitement and pride and actually FEEL IT! This is how we should view all of our situations in a relationship. Feeling the excitement of seeing our partner successfully ‘cross the finish line’. Wanting that success for them more than needing to tell them all the ways in which we might have done it differently.

They may have ran that race in a very unconventional manner, in our opinion. A way that we wouldn’t have done it ourselves, but it’s not up to us, it’s their race to run. It’s up to us to support them in their methods and ideas because they are striving to achieve their own success, not our success. In this scenario, the positive feeds the positive, which, if you’ve ever been in an inspiring situation you know that positive plus positive can ignite such incredible feelings of love, value and worth. It can quite literally fuel you for a very long time and inspire you to do things you might otherwise have never considered doing. So imagine we do that all day long? Feeding positive in others. Fueling them and subsequently ourselves, over and over. The impact on us can be nothing but positive because we’re not getting caught in the weeds of negativity. The impact on them will likely be one of feeling valued, listened to and important.

Very often when you have a point of view in your life that you feel strongly about, and possibly your partner differs, it can turn into an emotionally fueled situation. What really helps is to take a few steps back and actually see their struggles, their reasons for their own decisions. ‘Put yourself in their shoes’ is a very old adage, but so important in a relationship. It places you in a position of empathy, to see past your own self-focused views. If we are always fighting for our own beliefs, how can we consider ourselves a partner? If we only ever think that our ways are the right ways, how is that a partnership? When one is constantly looking to satisfy their own ego in a relationship, they are coming from a place of insecurity and fear. And an ego driven, insecure partner is not a partner. It takes confidence to be able to consider someone else’s point of view. It also takes love. But one thing I’ve learned in my life is that love IS confidence.

Confidence in your system of beliefs, confidence in your ability to prosper without the fear of losing…and confidence in your bond with your partner. Confidence to put all of your own shit aside and fight for them. Because ultimately that’s fighting for both of you!

Every now and then we find ourselves in a place where we feel so passionately about our own opinion but feel like we’re not being heard. We want to fight for it. But realistically, how many times did you successfully come out of that scenario, fighting to be heard, feeling like you achieved something? Feeling good about the result? Chances are, very few. I would estimate that more often than not people come out of these situations feeling angry, dissatisfied and frustrated (even if they do feel like ‘they’ve won’). I can also guess that their partner did not come out of it feeling loved, supported and positive about themselves either. And there’s no ‘winning’ in having a partner feel like that. Remember, it’s a team! Everyone should come out on top. Together! There’s not a person on the planet that doesn’t feel the love when someone chooses to fight along side of them. So we can never consider it ‘winning’ when our partner feels beat down, deflated and anything but elevated and loved.

Relationships aren’t about the ‘I’s’, they are about the ‘us’es’. We are all going to have disagreements in life, we’re human! Walking into those situations, fully loaded with frustration and anger isn’t going to solve anything. But walking into them knowing that you are choosing the happy, choosing the other person and supporting them, choosing to be a team, will result in a very different ending.

And when your team has positive results, multiple wins, over and over…that’s what changes the mindset. Repetition can change the neuro pathways in our brains to view things more positively, training our minds to choose happy. Happy then becomes less of a conscious choice, it becomes an automatic, subconscious decision. Choosing happy then becomes a regular part of who you are…and becomes the beautiful looking-glass you make the decisions to see life through.