Tag Archives: current events

Wasted, Invested or Well Spent… It’s all Relative

20 Mar

Life is seldom predictable, and when we look back at decisions we made, we are often overly harsh on ourselves about our choices. Hindsight is always 20/20, but… our judgment of whether the decision was a waste, a good investment, or resources well spent is anything but objective.

I believe that living with regret is one of the most harmful and unproductive ways to spend our days.  It is like “crying over spilled milk” (where no amount of assessment will clean up the mess or prevent it from happening the next time). Another analogy is that we living with regret is like driving by looking in the rear view mirror. Both limit our ability to live actively (and happily) in the present.

Regret is a state of mind based on a (negative) judgment of our past decisions. If we judge that we wasted resources instead of investing them or spending them well, we stay stuck in the past wanting to change where we are today. (But we have no guarantee that a different decision would have played out any better!)

I believe that if we were kinder to ourselves and could quiet our inner critic, we could change our outlook and move past regret. Would it not be easier to live  positively in the present?

Moving past Regret

I find that a 3 step process works to move past (and reframe) regret:

  1. Replay the decision objectively: Given the limits on our time, energy, love and money, no one wants to waste it on bad choices.  In this step, I consider the “me” who I was at the time and am compassionate knowing that I made the best decision I could, given the information available at the time.  I realize that my responsibility ends with my behavior (and not that of others) and this helps me to be kinder when I consider the decision.
  2. Realize that I am only one person party in a connected world. When I consider how a decision played out in my life, I remind my inner critic that other people and circumstances were involved to affect the outcome.  Whether the decision involved love (another person was involved), finances (market factors and economic considerations), time (a constant outside my control), relationships, a move (factors outside my control), job (others involved), or a variety of other things, the outcome was only partly determined by me.
  3. Judge the outcome with kindness and integrity. don Miguel Ruiz outlines the first agreement (from his book The Four Agreements) as: Always live with integrity; which means that we must treat ourselves in the same way that we would treat a best friend.  When it comes to judging our choices, we need to consider what we would tell a best friend in the same situation.

Let me give you an example of how these 3 steps can work.  Consider that you lost your house due to foreclosure or are danger of doing so and feel the regret of “wasting your money”.

  1. Consider your decision to buy the house in the first place.  Real estate was historically considered a safe choice and an investment. Regardless of the price you paid, you likely weighed a number of factors before your purchase, and made the best decision you could.  Remember your state of happiness (and probably some trepidation) and optimism when you finalized the deal.
  2. Realize that the market and circumstances are variable. Even if you considered the risks, your involvement in the current crisis was likely minimal.  The real estate downturn, the economy, and your current employment status affect you, but they were not your doing. Give yourself a break.
  3. Judge the outcome with kindness and integrity. If you were talking to a best friend, you’d tell him/her that the decision was the best one at the time and life never unfolds as planned.  You would remind them of the good things that came with owning a house (even temporarily), and how the decision manifested things (like new friends, tax deductions, stability, etc.).  Undoubtedly, you would encourage your friend to look at the past objectively, and to be optimistic about the future.  Live with integrity and do this when you talk to yourself.

Reframing your past with the 3 steps allows us to move past regret and view our decisions properly as investments and resources well spent.  Certainly, we will still view some events as a waste (of time, energy, money, or heartbeats), but the more we can minimize these, the better our present and our future can be.

What do you think – would this work for you?

Have a positive week!

Carol

We don’t “attract” the wrong people…

23 Feb

I am living proof that the Law of Attraction (Think and Grow Rich, The Secret, etc.) combined with The Four Agreements and other philosophies work! My life is moving in the right direction with the right people around me, but my happiness journey has not been without its detours and potholes.  My divorce was the beginning of the journey, although I didn’t realize it at the time.  After a quarter century with a self-absorbed husband, I found myself alone with an out-of-control 17-year-old son (his father was my ex who moved away immediately), a stalled career, and ruined finances.  I could only imagine a better life – and today, just six years later, I am finding happiness.  My son is healthy and thriving, my daughter has found a great career, my career is back on track, I have found true friends, and life is good.

It has not been a “cakewalk” – my journey is ongoing, frustrating (at times), lonely, enlightening, exciting, and disappointing, but I am happier than I have ever been. Along the way, the books mentioned above gave me great insight about life when taken in moderation.  However, with books like The Secret, there are overzealous supporters who believe (and spout) myths about the law of attraction.  Believing these myths can actually set you back in your quest for success and happiness.  I would like to debunk two of these “myths”:

Myth #1: You attract everyone into your life with your thoughts.
Truth #1: The world is like a pile of metal shavings… you attract who you attract based on magnetism

In the same way that you cannot choose who you fall in love with or to whom you are attracted, you cannot change this in others.  Humanity is like a mismatched pile of metal shavings (people in the world), where some will be drawn to you and some will not. I believe that attraction between people is fundamentally physiological – either someone is attractive to you or they are not; it is that simple.   The adage of “people like people like themselves” seems to prevail.

What we CAN control:  We CAN change our attitude and presentation to the world and thereby increase our potential attractiveness to other types of people, but our inner beauty and personal magnetism will not change.  What this means is that no matter how hard we “wish”, we would still attract a motley mix of good, bad, toxic, sociopathic, kind, narcissistic, damaged, wholesome and mottled people into our lives. Magnetism is not selective, but allowing them to stick to us should be VERY SELECTIVE! (If only we could buy mosquito repellant to keep away dysfunctional people!)

What this means to your psyche:  When you meet someone who says that you are attracting the wrong people into your life, remember that attraction is not a choice, but selecting who you allow into your life IS A CHOICE.

It helps me to remember that the people who are in my life (through either blood or they were attracted to me and I allowed them to take part in my life) do not have a lifetime pass.  It is my right (and choice) to end or suspend relationships with people who have become toxic to me — even if they passed the screening and selection process long ago.  Even if they are blood relatives, if they inject poison (through verbal or other abuse), we need to safeguard our emotional health and keep away.  We all have the right to positive influences and people in our life!

While you cannot change who you attract, you CAN increase your screening and selection criteria for who you allow to be in your life.

 Myth #2:  Life is a culmination of everything you manifested with your thoughts.
Truth #2: SHIT happens to good people all the time, regardless of their THOUGHTS

Another “rabbit hole” that trips up people who embrace the law of attraction is that “everything in your life you made happen through your thoughts”.  What utter rubbish!

For example, I can tell you that I NEVER wished for – or even thought about – having emotional abuse in my life.  I also did not wish for years of strife with a teenage son.  Nor did I wish for an aneurysm at age 40!  Moreover, I know that whatever strife you have in your life is probably not something you wished for or thought about.  Crap happens and you did NOT manifest it into being WITH YOUR THOUGHTS!

Certainly, our life is a culmination of our actions and beliefs, but circumstances, events and “shit” simply happens, regardless of how much we wish and pray and want something else.  Yet there are those who believe they can control the world with their thoughts and want to convince you that you can too (hmm… was not there a German leader who managed to manifest his thoughts of superiority into world domination?).

I met one of these such people several years ago and it was a downright “scary” experience.  “Mark” was an organizer of a self-help cult-style weekend called Landmark. (Note, I did not realize it was a cult until I saw their abusive and brainwashing at work.) “Mark”  convinced me to attend the seminar (against my intuition) and promised to make it more affordable by picking me up at the airport.  When I hesitated, he convinced me that this was my “ego” trying to keep me from growing and learning. When the weekend arrived, my flight was delayed and Mark reneged on his promise to pick me up.  I ended up taking expensive taxis because there were no rental cars available.  When I arrived at the site, he had lost my paperwork and I had to spend an hour completing new forms.  Strangely, Mark “justified” his poor behavior and the missing paperwork because (in his words) I made all of it happen with my thoughts.  WOW!  Somehow, I had the power to delay the plane, tie up all the rental cars, and psychically destroy paperwork.  When I laughed at his audacity, Mark insisted that even catastrophes like plane crashes are the result of “a group of people whose thoughts are harmonically aligned to bring the plane down.”  Can you imagine believing in such crap?  I left the weekend knowing that insanity is available for anyone willing to embrace dysfunctional thinking, like Mark.

What we CAN control: It is said that life is mostly attitude combined with your circumstances – but at times of strife, it can become so imbalanced that we lose control.  (In statistics, an “average” is the sum of all the events (good points + bad points + all in between) divided by the number of events.  As such, there has to be some great wins to balance out great losses to end up with an average somewhere in the middle!)

We cannot control the crap that happens in our life – bad things happen to good people all the time – but we can choose how we respond to it.  We can stand around the “pile of burning crap” when it lands in our life and make a choice!  We can watch it and wail that it is awful as it burns stronger… we can step in it and get covered in it (i.e., it can consume us)… or we can grab a bucket of water and douse the flames… or we can do any number of other actions.  The reaction and response IS OUR CHOICE, the burning pile of crap that landed IS NOT.

What this means to your psyche:  Stop listening to people who tell you that your life is the way it is because YOU CHOSE IT to be. This is NOT true and you know it! People do NOT choose to be unemployed or lose their home or have loved ones die… it JUST HAPPENS.  These things happen to good people all the time!  Change the things you can, wish (and envision) a better future, and adopt a healthy attitude.  It will not stop things from happening, but hopefully what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

I am sorry that the crap in your life happens to you… it is temporary and you have a choice about your future.  Life can always be better tomorrow, and even in the darkest moments, all you really have to do is make it through the next 5 minutes…

Have a great week and do the Royal We (me, myself, and I) a favor and stop allowing crap to invade your psyche.  YOU are a good person who deserves happiness.  We can all choose happiness and success – but sometimes the universe has a convoluted way of bringing it to us.

Carol

In honor of Valentine’s Day… Fantasy BINGO

14 Feb

On this V-Day – wishing you love and happiness no matter who you are or what relationship status you may have!

As a single who spent 1/2 my life married, it is interesting to watch the explosive growth of dating and matchmaking websites (Match.com, eHarmony.com, POF, golfmates.com, and a myriad of specialized sites!)  USA Today cites that 49% of adults in the US today are unmarried, and the Florida statistics say that over 75% of marriages here end in divorce!  Is love dead or have we become too narcissistic and self-centered as a society?

Matchmaking experts recommend that single (or even married) people write down their list of desired and undesirable traits in a partner, should the right person happen to come along.   I thought about this and realized that a creative and light-hearted way to do this would be on a  B I N G O card – something familiar to North Americans.  For me, I do not expect anyone (let alone in Florida!) to measure up to my stringent BINGO card (I should have done this years ago!) – but it was fun to fantasize.

What would you put on your BINGO card?

p.s., This photo depicts an attractive male who approached me on Sunday. (No he didn’t score a BINGO!) Life in Florida is always a pleasant surprise.

The Royal We (me, myself, and I) wish you a wonderful Valentine’s Day no matter what your status.

Win/Lose or Win/Win… It’s all up to us

26 Jan

Am I the only one who is dismayed by the Win/Lose or “win at another’s expense” mentality today? Is it just I who does not understand the celebrations of “good fortune” gained by taking advantage?

Today, calamities like foreclosures, unemployment, disease, layoffs, deaths, tornadoes and other misfortunes are not personal or predictable – yet to listen to those who benefit from other’s losses, you’d think there must be skill in avoiding these.  Today you can be on the sunny side of the street (financially or otherwise), and tomorrow you can be down and out.  While lifetime employment used to be the norm, today millions of unemployed say otherwise.  No longer are personality, work ethics or  skills enough to stay employed – with so many Americans out of work through no fault of their own, it could just as easily be you or me!

Yet our press favors the 1% rich or those who act like them, as “winners” and disregards everyone else.  (Perhaps this sells more papers.)  For example, headlines celebrated the good fortunes of condominium bidders who “earned” a property with bids less than 10% of what owners paid for the same properties only 4 years ago.  “Properties bought for a mere $7500 that sold for over $50,000 in 2007,” boasted the article.    What about the homeowners who lost the properties in foreclosures and whose dreams of home ownership (let alone life savings) were shattered by job loss and foreclosure proceedings?  When someone wins and someone loses, our society suffers.  Sure, one side wins financially at the expense of the other, – but I believe society ends up with a net loss in terms of morale, stress, and fallout of family breakups.  (The Tampa Bay Times reported last week that the 50% US divorce rate was actually 75% here in Florida.  I wonder if there is any relationship with FL’s unemployment figures…) How does it affect our societal health when a segment of society takes advantage of others left foraging for their necessities.

A couple of weeks ago, the same newspaper described how hundreds of homeowners in Florida used a loophole to pocket insurance proceeds for vacations and luxuries intended for home sinkhole repairs.  Fraud perhaps, but legal according to Florida law – and the “proud” recipients beamed at readers from full-size photos.  The insurance premiums of all Floridians will increase because of these wins.

I believe that the universe has infinite capacity for abundance when it comes to prosperity and positive energy.  Witness the upward energy amplification that enthusiasm and optimism can generate in a crowd!  There is no indication that the universe needs to balance prosperity with misery or wins with losses.  Win /win situations lead to openness, innovation, creativity, health and increased fortunes for all.

Perhaps there is some pleasure in taking advantage?  It is really a win when success comes at the expense of a corporation, government or people.  Does it matter that it is not illegal?  Can society gain when some bend moral values to justify unethical behavior?  When winning comes at the price of an unfair (or unscrupulous) advantage is it really a superiority of wit, skill or intelligence that prevailed? More often than not – it is sheer luck or opportunity that separates the winners from losers… and if the win/loss mentality continues much longer, we will all pay the price.

Win/Win events give us Hope…

Tonight, in a departure from regular news, a network broadcast featured the story of our local Gulfport, FL idea to assist one of its own. This coming Saturday, instead of following the Win/Loss trend, neighbors are gathering at one resident’s house to repair damage from a kitchen fire, clear brush, and in the words of the homeowner “do in one day what it would take me two years to do.”  It was uplifting and motivating to listen to both the recipient and the helpers talk about the plans.  Participants are donating time, supplies, skills and equipment – all of which will create a Win/Win situation for both the homeowner and the community. 

Why are there not more Win/Wins?  It all starts with an idea, a wish for a better future, and a willingness to give rather than take for oneself.  Win/Lose may be primitive capitalism, but Win/Win benefits all.

What do YOU think?

Where have all the Young Girls Gone…

5 Dec

Where have all the young girls gone?

This phrase from the popular song “Where have all the flowers gone” by Pete Seeger in 1961, came to mind this week as I am in Thailand visiting my daughter who is teaching sixth graders their core curriculum subjects in English.  I am so proud of her and the other foreign teachers who are here: bright, twenty-something college graduates, citizens of the western world.  My daughter is here for at least four reasons: 1. She was tired of using her Honors English credentials (from a top US college) to land bartending and after-school jobs, 2. Promising leads turned into fruitless endeavors (even though she graduated the top of her class) ; 3. She wanted to make a difference where her contribution mattered, and 4. The Thai government and the King have a mandate for all high school graduates by 2020 to be fluent in English. (More about this point later.)

It has been two months since she arrived and my daughter is thriving – she is enthusiastic about life and the future, she eagerly designs lesson plans, and she is passionate about teaching and instilling a love of learning in her students.  The challenges of a foreign language, new customs, and classroom discipline (her students are typical unruly 12 year olds) are minor in comparison.  It is a great thing for a parent like me to behold!

Opportunities abound – overseas

More and more of our professional young people from the Western world are becoming expatriates, and moving overseas to contribute positively in today’s world.  Your response might be, “Good for them, see the world, then they’ll come back home and simply appreciate all they have in America,” which couldn’t be further from the truth.  Many of these young superstars may look at the world outside the US with fresh eyes and see opportunities that the US only once provided in the past. More often they read the news from home on the internet and wonder why it took them so long to leave in the first place.

We are no longer the world

As one of the world’s current superpowers, we are failing our youth and continue to be ignorant of the fact that what made our nation great is eroding in corporate greed, survival of the rich, disdain of social welfare, and ignorance.  Unemployment hovers as two digits in most states, the American dream is in foreclosure, food stamp distribution is soaring, governments fight for partisan wins, and peaceful demonstrations erupt in police brutality. Europe, at the same time, struggles as their financial house of cards readies to tumble at the slightest wind. The rest of the developing world, meanwhile, progresses towards their own sustainability and adapts to a changing world climate:  the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries are propelling ahead in their economies and embracing technology – and English – like never before.  Our dollars, while still returning more than half of what we invest overseas (USA today article cites $.55 return on investment for every dollar produced in Chinese goods), are sought by developing nations, whose citizens yearn for our lifestyle and prosperity. On top of this, many Americans have little interest or regard for what is happening beyond our borders. (Take a look at Thomas Friedman’s books from “The World is Flat” to his latest “That Used to be US” for a NYTimes foreign correspondent’s expert view on the diminishing influence of the US in the world.)

Case in point, the third world is embracing English and western ways like never before:  Korean universities now offer English language technical curriculums to keep academic spending at home; Chinese universities include golf as a core subject; India and China feature sold-out IT conferences on weekends; and the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) open university lectures are viewed over the internet by thousands of third world students. While the world embraces English as a second or third language, we are struggling with illiteracy with English as our first.

What is happening in the US?

Moreover, what do we offer our nation’s aspiring youth?  Unemployment, video games, government ignorance, and outright police violence (with little consequence) when there are peaceful “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrations.  What is happening in America today?  As the upper class professionals shutter their windows to silence the cries of the starving and burgeoning lower class, and the middle class erodes into homelessness while foraging for work, our youth – proud college graduates eager to contribute to our society – are quietly exiting because they cannot find good jobs, or worse, giving up!  What kind of America will we have tomorrow if our brightest stars twinkle overseas and make a better world elsewhere?  Who will lead our nation into a sustainable future until the politicians finally wake up and realize the poverty and suffering in our own backyard?  All of this depends on a government who, for the sake of its people, can suspend the trivial blue-red bickering.

English fluency, a novel thought…

It is very interesting to note that the Thai government mandated English fluency for high school graduates by 2020.  What a forward thinking initiative for a country who first language does not even use the western alphabet!  Whether or not they meet this goal is secondary to the fact that this Asian nation recognizes that English is the language of business and technology.  Can you imagine if the US government mandated this same goal for our schools?  As a melting pot nation, I believe that we ought to recognize that English is the international language of business and technology – just so that we can compete in the world.  Instead, I believe that we focus so much on political correctness in favor of minority rights that we fail to recognize the benefits we could gain if all of OUR graduates were fluent in English.  Just food for thought.

Pride in our youth

You might not agree with me, but the previous observations are real and I do not see the situation for our young people getting better.  Open any newspaper today and read about the demonstrations, government corruption, crime, economic distress, foreclosure nightmares, whining of the rich/poor, national woes and international wars, but nowhere will you see the success stories about our youth abroad and the strides they are taking for other nations.  I am proud of our youth who have the fortitude to demonstrate peacefully at home, study relentlessly to earn their degrees, work at sub-poverty jobs to make ends meet hoping to score a job where they can use their skills, and then finally emigrate overseas where their contributions are truly valued.

Our youth should be our pride and joy and a priority.  If we can’t wake up our nation’s leaders to the value and the incredible contributions our youth could make at home for a decent wage, we ought to applaud the rest of the world for doing so.  It may take our government years to glance up from their Republican / Democrat score sheet and realize what is happening, but when they do, it may be too late. As more of our nation’s youth move abroad while the youth of other nations study at home, it is only a matter of time before we import more than we export.  Maybe then, someone in power will look around and ask, “Where have all the young girls gone?”

Wishing you a healthy and productive week!

Carol

The Reality “Fog”…

16 Nov

FogYour life is YOUR story – and whatever you experience and feel is your reality.  Personally, the past few months have had its share of ups and downs dealing with false friends, real estate agents, inspectors, banks, movers, and various sundry “characters” in my story.  The good news is that I emerged from it all with a new beginning (having sold my “albatross” house – far too big and far too costly!) and now claim a wonderful waterfront apartment as my new home.

Just like yours, my story is laden with emotions, experiences, and observations that are unique to me.  No one else can tell my story or your story like either of us can, yet we often lose sight of this.  Frequently, we get caught up in thinking that we know another person’s story as well as our own.  I call this the reality “fog“.

As a case in point, last Saturday’s St. Petersburg Times featured an article about a  78-year old woman whose at-home death four months ago was only discovered this week by a property manager.  The article stated that the woman lived alone and that “there’s no evidence that there was anyone in her life as far back as 1992,” according to a police official.

The relevance of the article to my topic concerns not the woman’s death or the circumstance, but rather the judgements and observations by virtual strangers.  “She really was as much of a hermit as somebody can be… she really did not want anybody to come inside ever. It’s a sad thing for sure,”  remarked the managing member of her apartment complex.  A landlord from 16 years ago said “She kept her head down and walked fast and worked hard… I think she was upset that she didn’t have a family or wistful that she lost touch.”

Personally I find it astonishing that people who barely knew Joan Greeley (the woman) would so eagerly think that they knew her story well enough to tell it themselves.   Certainly the story reads better as a human interest story by including observations, but it illustrates that reality in absence of facts is really just “fog.”

I believe we can change this situation!  Before you judge another, get to know the people in your life personally – take an interest in their life and their loves.  Truly listen to their story and be patient to hear their perspective and insights.  Then and only then can you or I begin to see through the fog to envision their reality.

I know that I do not want others to tell my story without listening to what I have to say – how about you?  Let us give others the same courtesy and let them tell us their story!

Have an awesome week of listening, learning, and living!

Carol

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“Garage sale people”…

19 Aug

I think that garage sales are an American institution and last weekend, I rediscovered just how much I hate them!

Having a garage sale is a LOT of work (arranging, pricing, setting stuff out, putting advertisements in newspapers, placing neighborhood signs, and actually running it!) for little financial return (I realize this is the wrong way to look at it – see the end of this post for my insight!)

The whole Saturday experience gave me insights into human behavior that I’m not sure “enriched” my life! If you are a “garage sale person” I apologize in advance if what I say below offends you.  I am not garage sale people!

Here’s what happened – let me know what you think!

1. There is no such thing as a start or end time!  I set out all my stuff (a lot!) on my driveway the night before because I’d heard that people do not respect the posted times.  I advertised a 9am-1pm sale, and at 7:30am a guy rang my doorbell and greeted my sleepy head with a gruff “how come no one is out here yet?  I have some stuff I want to buy!”  I hurried downstairs… the disrespect continued as he haggled me down to prices “he wanted” to pay.

2. Unexpected behavior. People rummaged through everything (expected) and rearranged it all (also expected) then wanted to pay prices that were 1/2 of what they thought the price should be (also expected) based on the table pricing where they moved the items (unexpected).  In many cases, it was more worth it to have someone pay a dollar for a five dollar item than to argue!

3. Blatant disrespect runs rampant.  One guy picked up a chainsaw I was selling and expected me to start it.  I told him that I was not a chainsaw kind of gal, at which point he pulled the starter and filled my yard with piercing chainsaw sounds – frightening other buyers near him.  When he stopped it, he remarked that something was wrong with it and he’d only pay a fraction of the cost.  At that point, I just wanted him out of my face and out of my yard.

4. Nothing is surprising with people.  One woman begged me to sell my used bicycle to her and when I agreed (I thought that I might fix it to ride myself) – she told me she would only pay $10. of the $15. asking price.  I anticipated that new inner tubes would make it road worthy and she wheeled it out of my driveway.  The following day she called me to try to return it based on her “bike shop” assertion that the frame had been run over by a truck (it hadn’t been!) She felt that I had ripped her off.  After listening to her lament about the “principle of the transaction” – I finally told her that the negative energy she was generating was too much and if she really wanted her $10 back to bring the bike by.  So far she hasn’t.

5. People will happily pay $5.00 for a beer at a local pub but will argue about paying $2. for a $30. item at a garage sale.  One guy chose a 50 cent item and then whined that he only had 31 cents on him…I wondered how he paid for the gas to drive his car down the street.  Another woman scoffed when I would not accept a dollar for an item marked two dollars – it was a $40 brand new blanket from overseas!

I guess I will never understand the mentality of those who purport to make a “game” out of garage sales – to me it is disrespectful to sift through another’s property and then offer a pittance for their wares.  Yet there are many people for whom garage sales are a Saturday staple.

My daughter has it right when she says “Mom, consider that

a garage sale is a way of having other people pay to take away the stuff you don’t want and no longer need!

She’s right, and I will try to remember that in a couple of weeks when I have another garage sale (more people can come and pay me to take away even more stuff!)

Have a good weekend!

Carol

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