Too often we focus on what’s wrong with people, not what’s right. Our absence of heroic, virtuous individuals is a telltale sign of a culture that values perversity rather than morality. The reality shows featuring dysfunctional individuals is fast becoming the entertainment of choice.
What saddens me is that we are not acknowledging people who have been tested beyond anything most of us can imagine. I’ll never forget one man in particular who had Lou Gehrig’s disease. Two aids by his side, he sat in his wheelchair and smiled at me throughout my presentation. Afterwards his wife, who helped interpret for him, told me how happy he was to have attended my lecture and how blessed he felt to have his wife and others help him in his hour of need. Driving home, I had flashbacks of incidents in my life where I turned a hangnail or a traffic jam into a catastrophe. I know I’m not the only one that does this; otherwise, I wouldn’t be in business. What meeting this man taught me was that even in the most dire circumstances we can find “the bless in the mess”. It sounds rather esoteric, but there are many incidents that can be reframe into something that becomes easier to tolerate by making small mind shifts.
Our perceptions create our realty, and some of us seem to want to make a situation much worse than it is, because we’re hooked on drama. Consider the simple act of waiting in a line. It can be frustrating, but it really isn’t a death sentence. According to a study done at MIT, you’re going to spend three years of your life waiting in lines. Why make it feel like prison? You might want to consider the fact that while you’re waiting you are literally at rest. Nothing to do and no one around to make demands on you. Of course that means you have to stay off your cell phone. No one really needs to know you’re in line. They need a break to.
Life will consistently challenge you in many different ways. If you develop skills to handle the inevitable glitches, you will gain tremendous resiliency. The title of author Richard Carlson’s book says it best, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…and it’s all small stuff” Words to live by!
I’ve noticed in the last several years that I’ve met more and more individuals who love to talk about themselves. They seem mesmerized by what their saying and leave little or no room for a response. One of my acquaintances hardly takes a breath. I’ve often wondered if he carries an oxygen tank in case he runs out of air. He seems to have a tremendous need to inform me of every minute of his day starting with breakfast. The content is often heavy in the area of his work life. Since he’s a musician he wants me to know who he’s playing with , what kind of people have hired him, how long it will take, and how much equipment he has to set up. I have tried to interrupt with even the shortest phrase like “that’s nice”, to no avail. I could and have left the phone for a few minutes to do something around the house, only to return and find that he didn’t even know I was gone.
Another individual I know finds it necessary to inform me of every activity her children are engaged in, what they wore to school and what TV shows they watch. One conversation she had with me was a vivid and detailed description of her latest dental procedure , which was a root canal. She practically had enough information to perform one herself. I literally jumped in at one point and suggested she might want to go to dental school. There was not even a giggle. She actually agreed with me and went on to give me another fifteen minutes on her trip to the supermarket and the vegetables she bought that she read would be good for her brain. I really wanted to respond that perhaps she might consider buying some tape for her mouth, and some cement to fill the hole in her head, but I held back.
Oh, I know I could get off the phone with some lame excuse, but I keep hoping that I might get a chance to respond. Either that or I’m a sucker for verbal hostage taking. I really feel the reason some people do this, is because we’re in a culture where being busy is more valuable than having deep, meaningful conversations. They have forgotten how to listen or how to engage the listener.
Maybe the next time you talk to someone, you should periodically say “what do you think”. If they don’t answer you know their probably vacuuming or cleaning the toilet.