Archive for the ‘Attitude’ Category

Oh How The Mind Churns

November 15, 2021

We get caught in a trap. It’s like the little exercise wheel we put in the gerbil cage. Much energy is expended going faster and faster but going nowhere.

What we did or said really wasn’t that bad. Besides, it’s all their fault. Or, how could I be so stupid. Or, everyone hates me.

It’s possible that we could be that patient whom the psychologist told, “You’re not paranoid. Everyone does hate you.”

But, probably not. Most of the time most people really regard you positively.

And, so, it becomes our task to realize that people really will give us the benefit of the doubt. We just need to get off that exercise wheel to nowhere. We must step away from ourselves a bit with some self-awareness. Then deal with it.

A quick apology from the heart when we’ve said the wrong thing or screwed up something keeps us out of the gerbil wheel of blame.

Smile at people you meet. Most return the smile. And both of you have a little bit of sunshine in your day.

The calm mind wins the day. Warriors understand that the calm mind helps them survive and win. Athletes learn that the calm mind leads to superior performance.

It starts with self-awareness. And continues with controlling our breath.

A Love Potion Without Drugs

October 15, 2021

The ancient Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca wrote to his young friend that they believed that a wise person is self sufficient, yet knows the value of friends, neighbors, associates. He asks, how then does one get a new friend when the current one is lost? He quotes another philosopher, Hecato of Rhodes:

I can show you a love potion compounded without drugs, herbs, or any witch’s incantation: ‘If you would be loved, love.”

Isn’t life simple? Yet, for some of us, that simple prescription can be most difficult. We must go outside ourselves and recognize other people—their needs, desires, insecurities, qualities.

How often have we dismissed someone as aloof or arrogant only to talk with them and discover they are merely quiet and actually quite lovely people?

In reality, I’ve met many lovely human beings from many parts of the Earth and only a few real jerks. How about you, if you pause to consider?

Maybe try this by just going out and being nice to someone today. Drop the cynical facade and smile. That brightens everyone’s day.

Smooth is Fast

October 7, 2021

Slow is smooth; smooth is fast.

Navy SEAL Saying

I heard a story of a guy who got into fitness, bought a bicycle, and began riding a route as fast as he could. One day he was somewhat more tired and rode at a little slower, yet more comfortable pace. His time for that route went from 43 minutes to 45 minutes.

I’ve noticed over the time of my life that I’ve stopped trying to do everything in a great rush. When driving I consciously stop and pause at stop signs (unlike the guy I saw this morning who blew through a stop sign making a right turn in front of oncoming traffic not far away–guess he trusted the other guy to slow down). Yes, I still commonly drive at speed limit + 5, but I no longer tempt more speeding tickets like 30 years ago.

Take a moment several times a day to pause, breathe, relax, refocus, then return to work. And accomplish more.

This season of the year finds me with the pressure of finding referees for soccer matches. This year has been especially hard. Before the season even began, I lost 20% of the officials on my list due to health, retirement, jobs, or moving away. I gained one person. Not a good long-term trend.

I could sit there and stare at my screen that said 90+ games lacking a referee and panic. Or, I could just breathe and tackle them one at a time. Solve this one and move to the next.

Slow is smooth; smooth is fast.

More gets accomplished; my attitude remains calm.

Try it, you’ll like it.

Repaired

September 8, 2021

I’ve heard this story several times lately. That must mean it’s time to share it with you. This one comes from Ian Morgan Cron, an Episcopalian priest, therapist, and Enneagram whiz.

In Japan, when a valuable tea bowl or piece of pottery breaks, the owner doesn’t throw it out. 

They take it to a craftsman who gathers the shards of the broken vessel and mends it with lacquer dusted with 24k gold powder in an art form known as “kintsugi.”

The result is an object that is imperfect but paradoxically more beautiful than it was before it broke.

What we can learn from kintsugi is what the Japanese call “the perfection of imperfection.” 

When mended, the owner displays the kintsugi bowl in a place of honor in their home where visitors and guests can see and admire it. The display reminds them that imperfections are not only okay–they can even be made resplendent!

So the next time your Inner Critic tells you that you’re beyond repair, incapable, or even unworthy of love and relationship, turn to it and say, “No. God has made me perfect in my imperfection.” We can overcome the many forces that conspire to keep us from fully living our lives when we believe that God can make our damaged hearts beautiful.

“Repaired” is also known as “Grace.”

Beauty

September 2, 2021

Sitting on my patio this morning, my thoughts drifted to the juvenile things I’ve recently seen and heard adults do. Then I lifted my eyes, as the Psalmist would say, and saw the beauty of the trees and grass and coffee cup (well, thinking of the direct trade coffee in the cup).

Far better it is to contemplate beauty than lose myself in negativity. My friend Sarah commented on a Facebook picture I had posted, “You live in such a beautiful place.” I had thought, beauty is where you look for it. My friend is a beautiful person. I am blessed to know many beautiful people. This place is beautiful. So is where I’m from. So is southeastern Ohio where we often vacation. Or Norway, Ireland, Hungary and the many other places I’ve visited.

Such a far better attitude to carry into the day ahead with the many problems I will have to solve. Sometimes we just need this perspective to survive.

Frustration

September 1, 2021

Frustration grows within us when things just don’t conform to our will. Or people don’t conform to our will. The bottle cap doesn’t screw on right away. You flip a switch and nothing turns on. You tell your kid to do something and they don’t.

Or life just doesn’t work out. You want to go to the store like you did a couple of years ago. Without putting on a mask. But now you’ll either spread a virus or catch a virus. Whether you believe in the reality of the virus or not. It doesn’t care, because it is. Or whether you think you are invincible or not–you’re not.

Frustrations often play out at sporting events. Especially those involving our kids.

We are half-way through the second week of the high school soccer season in Ohio. We already have three incidents of ejecting groups of spectators from games for unruly behavior.

Frustration. Leads to anger. Leads to behavior we’ll live to regret.

It’s hard to take that deep breath. Pause. Remember that life does not bend to your will. You must respond to life.

It reminds me of the first paper on philosophy I wrote as a college sophomore. Henrik Ibsen’s concept of truth as described through Peer Gynt. He called it a creative response to life.

I think Jesus would be happy with that idea. He certainly responded to life creatively, with great stories and teachings, and with how he lived (and died, and lived…).

Perhaps we could learn the hard lesson. It definitely isn’t easy. But give it a try.

Dystopian Prophetic Voice

August 24, 2021

In the year 2525

If man is still alive

If woman can survive

They may find

Zager and Evans

My wife tunes her car radio to Sirius XM 60s on 6. (Except I’ve been driving it lately and switched to Margaritaville. A little Parrot Head music will be good for her.) They played In the Year 2525 the other day. I remembered that era. About the same time Barry McGuire sang PF Sloan’s Eve of Destruction. People thought things in the world looked pretty bleak. It’s been 52 years, what goes around, comes around. We’ve been through bust and boom and now people thing things look bleak.

Yesterday’s post was my number 2525. Coincidences are interesting. I started thinking about the song.

In the year 9595

I’m kinda wondering if man is gonna be alive

He’s taken everything this old earth can give

And he ain’t put back nothing, woah, woah

Zager and Evans

We read prophecy–maybe the Hebrew prophets or Nostradamus or some contemporary wannabe prophet. Rather, we often misread them. Usually they are using if-then-else logic. “If you keep doing this, then this bad thing will happen, else changing your ways will bring better things.”

That last verse I quoted has many meanings. It hits (the old church word is “convicts”) each of us. How much do we take every day? How much do we give back?

Do we take love without giving back? Do we accept gifts without ever giving?

This idea is worth pausing for reflection. And maybe changing our ways, woah, woah.

Nice and Friendly People

July 26, 2021

My wife and I are wrapping up a road trip. I wanted to attend a memorial for one of my aunts. She was a great blessing to my mother. She also tried to teach the town’s geek (me) some social graces. (note “tried”). Once the pandemic cleared enough to have a gathering, the family settled on last weekend in the rural Arkansas area that had been her home before Ohio.

I had this brainstorm. I’ve visited 46 of the nation’s 50 states. Three of the four remaining were almost contiguous–Alabama, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. Today, we’re in Tulsa wrapping up a week of travel and vacation.

We’ve been in rural areas and small cities along the way. The church where the memorial service occurred was in the middle of the countryside several miles from a town. We accidentally arrived quite early. There was a man giving food boxes to people in need when we arrived. He let us in to wait. First of about 50 people from the area we met all friendly and helpful. The same everywhere we went.

We were close to Little Rock, so we visited the President Clinton library. We’ve been to a few of these. Always interesting to remember the conflicts and successes and failures of the times. I was struck by the many displays of letters from people in the various conflict areas. They expressed wishes for peace. I thought about how (well, almost) all of us want peace.

We can choose to see friendliness, smiles, wishes for peace, and live much the better for it.

Is Your Attitude Lowering Your Altitude?

June 17, 2021

There was the Christian podcast. The interviewer is not polished or articulate, but the heart is pure gold. The guest a learned person. Most likely more letters following his name than I’d have ever dreamed of having.

There is something I’ve discovered about those advanced degrees, though. They are not a guarantee of anything other than the tenacity to work through the system and a lot of knowledge about a narrow field of study.

My problem was that I had not the tenacity to work through the system and I wanted to know everything about everything.

But, we didn’t come here to talk about me. Or what that learned guest knows.

It’s all about attitude.

I came away from that podcast discouraged for a bit. The guest was so negative. It’s the old thing “the world doesn’t agree with me so everything is going to hell in a handbasket.” I was thinking of donating to the charity and came away from the podcast thinking that I’ll never send another dime.

Upon reflection, though, I thought about different attitudes.

Maybe it’s where I work versus the guest. Even though I am not meeting many people in person, I work with overall the nicest, most intelligent, hard working people. And I stay far away from deep involvement in church politics. These two things reinforce my generally optimistic outlook on life.

That guest’s altitude will never get above the clouds, whereas your attitude could have you soaring. If, that is, you choose the right attitude.

All In Your Mind

June 1, 2021

I am currently reading through the teaching of Epictetus. He was Greek mostly living in Rome. His main teaching period was perhaps from 85-120 CE. I am fascinated at how the problems with growth within individual human beings has little changed in thousands of years.

Society has no doubt improved. We don’t have the extreme cruelty, although we still retain too much. But humans, we still struggle to mature.

Reading Epictetus is as fresh as reading some of the current literature from the airport newsstand to occupy time on a flight.

He talks right away about rational mind and attitude. That made me think.

I rise in the morning from sleep. Arrange my nutritional supplements and medications for the day, drink my greens, pick up my book and notebook. Then, I fix a cup of coffee.

Many people say they need a cup of coffee to wake up. Do they really? Or is that attitude a result of a 50-year-old advertisement—“The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup”?

I know that it matters not whether I have the coffee or not as to how I’ll feel the rest of the morning. On the other hand, I really enjoy the taste of a well-roasted, direct trade coffee.

I have a bed filled with sensors connected to the “cloud”. I wake up and almost always feel awake and fine. But some days, the bed tells me I had a great night of sleep, perhaps 85 out of 100. Most days I’m at around 73. This morning, I awakened alert and ready to get up. The bed told me I had a terrible night—in the low 60s. Whom should I believe? Do I let the bed change my attitude toward this morning?

A person tells me they cannot do mathematics. I assure them that someone put that negative thought into their mind. They may never be a professional mathematician, but they could if properly trained be thoroughly proficient at a necessary level in algebraic and statistics and probability thinking—essential thinking skills for modern life.

Right Attitude.

Humans figured that out as the essential for a successful life 3,000 or even 4,000 years ago. Each of us must figure it out for ourselves anew every day.