Tag Archives: Postitive attitude

Childlike is not Childish…

26 Mar

What a joy it is to watch confident children under the age of 10 at playgrounds or at social events!  They make new friends quickly, are color-blind (to race and gender), approach adults with sincerity, are uninhibited, and look at the future with wonder.

When I take my 8-year-old granddaughter out to a playground or the beach, it amazes me how quickly she makes new friends with other children.  There is no judgment, no hesitation, no sizing up of the other -a simple sharing of time, energy and fun for the duration.  It is nice to see children who are color-blind (not sensitive to racial differences) and gender neutral playing together as fast friends.

Somehow, between childhood and the teen years, we lose this trait of accepting others at face value, replacing it with judgment, scorn, racism, sexism and “society” rules that keep us from easily mixing with people we don’t already know.

It also amazes me to see how freely children will dance to music – they seldom care whether anyone is watching or judging their moves.  Somehow we gain so many inhibitions when we grow into adulthood. Inhibitions stick with us for a lifetime – at least until we are so old we no longer care.

Any newspaper I pick up (globally) is filled with stories about disagreement and hate in today’s world, and I long for and wonder what happened to the children we were yesterday.  Can you remember what it was like to be uninhibited and free of judgment? Can you imagine what our world would be like if adults were more childlike and could accept each other at face value?  Racism, sexism, ageism, and other biases are learned behaviors – can you imagine how incredible life could be if we fostered acceptance instead of discrimination?

We need more childlike behaviors in our world today (not the childish ones we so often see).  What do you think?

Just food for thought on the first Monday of spring.

Have a good week,

Carol

New Math: Subtraction can Add Years to your Life!

10 Feb

I love watching the late George Carlin‘s sketch about our Stuff where he describes how all of our stuff expands to fit into larger and larger areas.  No matter how much we upsize, we never seem to have the room we need.  Unless we have a garage sale or decide to downsize, many of us seem to collect until the day we die (and then others have to get rid of our “stuff”.)

I perused through Gail McMeekin’s The Power of Positive Choices: Adding and Subtracting Your Way to a Great Life yesterday where she describes the S in P O S I T I V E  C H O I C E S as the power of Subtraction.  It occurred to me that she is bang on with her assertion that the removal of unproductive factors from our life can be a positive thing.

That led me to ponder that human beings are not just “material” collectors, but also emotional collectors.  We collect people, experiences, and memories during our life – many of which we should have discarded long ago!  If we stopped to take an inventory of the intangible stuff we collect and store in our mental garages (our head), we would probably find a cache of garbage or things we no longer need.  Moreover, we might find things that actually work against us and no longer serve our best interests.

Maybe it is time for a mental garage sale – or even a run to the dump… I realize that I need to learn the new math: subtraction can add years to your life!

I started by taking inventory of my mental garage and here is what I found:

1.   A pile of Toxic Relationships.

For the past six years (I call December 2005 my awakening), I knew that I was hoarding this “pile”.  While it is not as big as it once was, it still resembled a stack of old clothes that no longer fit and served as reminders of times gone by.  These toxic relationships were not always toxic, in fact they involve people who once served a purpose in my life (I understand some of them); some resembled friends or colleagues, while others were family. Nonetheless, the relationships were not mutually beneficial and no longer fit what I could tolerate in my new self-loving life. Typically toxic relationships involve verbal abuse, manipulation, coercion, guilt or other unhealthy factor, or it is parasitic (one being lives off the energy or health of another.)  Regardless, a toxic relationship is at a minimum unhealthy, or even deadly (over time) to at least one of the parties. Unless the terms can be altered to become a healthy relationship, it is not worth maintaining.  In the same way that closet space can be better used for well-fitting new clothes, the space left by removing toxic relationships leaves room for new healthy ones.

 

2.      A wall of old horror movies.

It was not long after finding the toxic relationships that I noticed this emotional space-stealer! The once valuable cache contained hours of painful experience “replays” (from every possible camera angle) dating from childhood to the present.  While these served a temporary purpose while a lesson was being learned, today they are nothing more than cruel reminders of past negative events. The contents ran the gamut of pre-K pants-wetting, taunts of childhood bullies, pain of unrequited love, outbursts of hormonal girls, sports and academic disappointment, scoldings of disapproving parents, and physical and verbal assaults. Some of the actors were no longer even familiar, but reliving the pain was real.  Through the years a particular set may have served a purpose when I hoped to avoid similar screenplays, but realistically their value is mostly horrific. Moreover, by occupying valuable mental “wall space”, there is less real estate available for the happy movies.

Figuratively “tossing out” the wall of movies was empowering and refreshing.  While I realize that each experience taught me something, I do not need to relive them.  It is more important to note how the collection contributed into making me the strong, independent, self-reliant woman I am today.

 

3.      Bookcases of obsolete encyclopedia:

Don Miguel Ruiz talks about how we are “domesticated” with lies during childhood -intended to nurture us into submission as safety-minded, cooperative, giving (and over-giving), “civilized” adults. Many of the agreements we unwittingly entered as children no longer serve us, and need to be severed along with the “encyclopedias” from the past.  Agreements such as “children should be seen and not heard” and “strangers are dangerous” can become debilitating in adulthood unless we rid them from our psyche.  I found several encyclopedia series on my bookshelf – all long outdated – with focuses on religion, geography (now obsolete), and rule books promoting decades old opinions and sexist attitudes. I had no idea I stored so many “textbooks” because they all blended into the mental garage. As I unload them to the trash, I am amazed at the beauty of the wood grain and thrilled to see how much room is left for new beliefs and fresh ideas.

4.      Outdated survival provisions.

Even though I live in a state where we annually stockpile provisions (water, batteries, and canned goods), I was surprised to find a cache of outdated provisions in my psyche.  I found torn “sandbags” intended to keep watershed tears at bay should there be another flash flood (a divorce or death); expired “cans” of justification to feed anyone if they exploit my vulnerability (“you’re too sensitive” or “you shouldn’t feel that way”); an expired “fire extinguisher” to combat verbal abuse (gosh I wish I knew this was when I needed it!); and tins of emotional “mace” to ward off intruders who don’t respect my boundaries.  All of these were at one time fresh and necessary to provide security, but their utility has since passed and they all need to be ditched and possibly replenished.  Wow, I am amazed at the space these took up!

5.      Luggage filled with emotional “stuff”.

When I “travel” outside my comfort zone, I have a few prized bags that serve me well. When I glance around inside my head, I notice so many nearly new pieces of luggage that I might have used once or twice, filled with items that are doubles of what I already have. It is like having a mismatched set of sports bags, suitcases, and backpacks – all beautiful in their own right, but they are “extras” and take up space. As an idea collector, this luggage housed concepts from self-help books, motivational speakers, “gourmet” lifestyle magazines, all good in their own right, but together they create clutter and take up space.  A cluttered mental garage is as dangerous as a real life counterpart – and could be fire starter to a misguided spark.  I commit all these orphaned ideas to the garage sale.

 

Now that I realize how much space emotional subtraction can add – I am on a quest to declutter and clean out my mental garage.

Next on my agenda will be to do the same (again) in my physical environment.   This brings to mind the idea of The 100 Thing Challenge, but that’s the topic of a future post.

Does any of this make sense to you?

Have a great week!

Carol

Do social media kill social skills?

17 Jan

In this day of social media and instant messaging, I think that people are forgetting how to be social.  People everywhere seem more direct, curt and intolerant – and I believe this increases both our personal and societal stress.

I have been out with more than a few colleagues who hate Facebook and Twitter, yet they are increasingly direct to the point of rudeness in their demeanor.  If a “barista” or sales clerk makes a mistake, the error is quickly noted and announced.  Is it just me or is the world becoming “too honest”?

rudeHave you noticed how much more direct people became since text messaging got popular?  People don’t talk naturally in 140 character sound-bites (the Twitter limit) – yet that seems to be the way that interactions – even in person – happen today.

I could chalk this behavior up to age (most of my friends are over 40 and proudly assert their new-found intolerance to things on which they stayed silent on in the past) – but it seems to pervade age and culture.  While Andy Rooney (of 60 Minutes fame) calls this “refreshing” in his discourse about why he likes women over 40 (because they speak their mind), it also opens the door to sometimes abrasive behavior under the guise of integrity.  When someone follows up a searing statement with “I’m just being honest” you know that they said something heavy on opinion and low on substance.

I believe that language erosion due to text and twitter shortcuts increases stress in our everyday lives. I hasten to add that the adage of “if you have nothing good to say, say nothing” is extinct.

The range of observations go from extreme (out-and-out public displays of anger) to mild (restaurant conversations that leave one dumbfounded).  Let me share with you what I’ve seen lately:

  • Public Facebook quarrels with ex-partners/spouses/former friends.  No longer are disagreements between two people, they are displayed for all to see and live on in cyberspace indefinitely.  What people cannot say in person gets blasted to the world with amazing venom and speed.
  • Road rage and text rage (the worst part is that this is often done while driving) – it is one thing if the offender is a passenger, but when they are operating a 2000 pound piece of dangerous machinery at 70+ miles an hour, the person should be cited for WMD (weapons of mass destruction) violations.
  • Public displays of anger where people yell, berate, pout, and otherwise demean another human being they choose to be out with.  Is love gone from our world between husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends?
  • I hope you don’t mind but… table talk where a friend or colleague feels compelled to be “brutally honest for your own good” and spouts out why you do not have a spouse, significant other, job, money – you name it.  Whatever compels someone to say what they do in direct sound-bites and then top it off with “I just thought you should know” is beyond me.  Most often it is a pure opinion piece with little substance and illustrates the intolerance to accept you as you are. (Sidenote – when this happens, remember the song line: You are amazing – just the way you are! – BECAUSE you are.)

We need more patience, tolerance and understanding in our world today.  Good, hard-working and honest people are facing stresses beyond those ever faced since the great depression.  Work is scarce, real estate is shaky, the rich get richer, and the middle class is disappearing. Each and every one of us has (in my opinion) and obligation to practice self-love, self-respect, and respect for all living things – including those you meet during your day.  How much better would things be if we held our tongues when it does not matter, and instead focused on the strengths of others and not their weaknesses?

On that note, who have you shared a kind word with today?  Thanks for reading – have a happy, healthy, positive week!

CarolkindnessShare
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Whose Opinion Matters Anyways?

25 Aug

Last evening was the Florida primary election and as I was watching the election results pour in, I realized just how much a politician’s future depends on what the electorate thinks of him or her.  It is said that you must have a “tough skin” to survive in politics and it certainly was true as I saw how Rick Scott, the millionaire at the center of a healthcare scandal, bought his way into the Florida Republican choice. Scott spent an unprecedented $30+ million dollars of his own (healthcare business) money to throw dirty advertising at his opponent – and the money paid off as he defeated the incumbent “career politician” he faced off with.

opinionIt didn’t matter during the primary ad campaign whether the accusations and mud-slinging between the opponents was based on fact or fiction – the only thing that mattered in the end was the opinion of the Florida electorate and what we voters believed about the candidates.  Our opinion of the candidates and their truthfulness about themselves and their opposition was the only thing that mattered in this and many elections.  But is this true only of politics – or does this same premise hold true for the majority of us in many aspects of our own lives?

Self-help books proclaim that the only opinion that should matter to us is our own – yet unless we live on an island apart from society, this is more idealistic than realistic.  Even the most hardened and tough skinned among us can be influenced by the opinions (especially negative) of others about us. As you read this you might say that you are immune to the opinions of others, yet I challenge you to consider:

  • The opinions of our bosses, clients, customers and peers translates into money and contracts. Can you truly say that you don’t care about these opinions when your livelihood and income depends on such opinions?
  • The opinions of our family members (sons, daughters, parents, siblings) comes out when we share our ideas with them.  If you’ve ever gone in to work and second guessed your decision about child rearing based on someone else’s opinion – you know how these can affect your judgment and your own intuition.
  • The opinions of a spouse, partner or significant other can be dished out often without due consideration of their effect. When we’ve been with someone for a significant time and consider them important to our life, sometimes both we and they can take each other for granted and as such, opinions can be thrown out without considering their full effect.  Do you give added weight (or less) to your significant other’s opinion (especially if it is negative towards you or your views)?
  • The opinions of friends can affect your choices – especially when such friends are judgmental or intolerant.  If you’ve ever reconsidered a restaurant choice or what you wear to an event based on a friend’s less than complimentary comment about your choice, you know exactly what I mean.

It should be true that it is only our opinion – especially of ourself – that matters, but unfortunately we sometimes let the opinions of others overrule and override our own.  Remember that you are the only one, when push comes to shove, who will stand up for you, so it becomes survival and essential to nurture and  honor your opinion above all others.

Aside from politicians, I hope you learn to trust and realize that the answer to “Whose opinion matters anyways?” is more and more often just YOURS!

Have a great week!

Regards,
Carol

Living Keywords – The Top Five

14 Jun

Google ranks websites by keywords, search engine optimization (SEO) maximizes keyword provisioning, we remember concepts by keywords… and business coaches rely on keywords to transfer knowledge and concepts.

As such, there’s a recurring theme to keyword selection: make them memorable. I’ve found five top keywords that reoccur no matter what book or guru or model I come across.

LighthouseThe top five keywords are (in no order):

1. Present: as in the current state.  Focus on today’s results, moods, plans, accomplishments because they are all we ever really have.  It is said that today is a present (a gift) which is a play on words but tells the true meaning.

2. Self: as in self-love and making sure that you take care of yourself first.  While many of us bear other roles in life (mother, father, son, daughter, caregiver, partner, friend, etc.) we can never truly give our best in these roles unless we truly love ourselves.  In some models this is called “Integrity” and means that we should always treat ourselves as we’d like others to treat us (a bit of a twist on the golden rule!)

3. Trust: as in trust that others carry their own baggage and do things based on their own perspective. Some advocates call this “never assume” or “don’t take things personally” because others only speak from their own point-of-view — never ours.  This also translates into trust ourselves and our intuition.

4. Flow: as in life is a continuous flow of energy – positive and negative – and is constantly changing form. Nothing that exists in this moment will be the same again. This means that we can celebrate the positive moments, and also know that negative ones can change for the better in the future.

5. Belief: as in the universe is plentiful beyond our belief.  The Law of Attraction, The Secret, religions, etc. all support that there is an ever-expanding capacity that the universe will support more love, energy, prosperity, finances, success, happiness, money, than we can even imagine.  Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich and many other popular models hinge on the premise that what we envision we can achieve – without limits.

What are your living keywords?

Wishing you a successful and prosperous week!

Regards,
Carol

Carol Dekkers, Software Measurement and Global Software Development expert, author, speaker. Want to engage Carol to be a speaker at your next event? Email Ms. Dekkers at dekkers@qualityplustech.com or carol@caroldekkers.com or visit http://www.caroldekkers.com for details.

Copyright Carol Dekkers 2010…

Social Media – Friend or Foe?

13 Apr

Social Media (the term used collectively for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Naymz, Ning, even Second Life) has gone “viral” (meaning out-of-control with “hits”).  Did you know that if Facebook was a country it would be the 3rd largest in the world?  And, that it is unremarkable when a teen racks up tens of thousands of text messages on their cell phone a month, yet may be grounded all the while they are texting and tweeting?

facebookIt was interesting to read in the St. Petersburg Times about a reporter who “Unfriended Facebook“.  Yes, you heard me right – she defriended (quit) Facebook outright.  Her rationale came down to that the fake relationships Facebook garnered represented a lazy person’s way of making friends, and she found herself neglecting her real life relationships.

Can you imagine life without social media?  Can you remember what it was like not to be tweeted at, friended (and defriended), connected, tagged, blogged to, linked-in to networks, groups, and invited to join hundreds of fan-clubs (pages) and attend a myriad of events – not even in your geographic area.

It is seldom these days to get phone calls on my home phone from anyone but solicitors or to talk to anyone in person without e-mail confirmation, e-vites, or texting.  And, what happens when it all does NOT work together?  What happens when an e-vite (email invitation) doesn’t work and people feel rejected because an invitation isn’t delivered?  Or when a text message is delayed (sometimes for days)?  Or when voicemails don’t register or the caller id fails?  When any of these things happen, we are so tied up in the e-world that we can end up reacting or feeling something when there was nothing to react to.  In the past, we’d call people on the phone when we’re feeling neglected or rejected to ask about a potentially waylaid piece of mail or a potential missed phone call. And often we’d be relieved to find out that our imaginations created a situation that simply wasn’t.  Mail got misdelivered, phone calls were missed, answering machines failed. It’s just life as humans.

But, with social media we forget that it too is faulty.  Texts don’t always come through (even when the sender gets a “confirmation of delivery”), voicemail and emails get corrupted, cell phones go out of range (too often) – and yet we collectively don’t confirm our assumptions with technology.

So, do you think social media is a friend or a foe?  It all depends on whether it furthers your human relationships or strains the ones you have in real life.  If the latter, then unplug (quit the sites) for a while and see what happens. You’ll be forced to work your human magic on real life people who can talk, breathe, and listen back – and isn’t that what relationships in the real world are all about?

Have a happy week!

Regards,
Carol

Carol Dekkers, Software Measurement and Global Software Development expert, author, speaker. Want to engage Carol to be a speaker at your next event? Email Ms. Dekkers at dekkers@qualityplustech.com or carol@caroldekkers.com or visit http://www.caroldekkers.com for details.

The freedom to DISassociate is a basic American Right…

18 Mar

Most of us were raised with good morals and values including be nice to others, share, don’t kick sand in another’s face, and if you don’t have something good to say, don’t say anything.  I find that these are good childhood teachings but our current society seems to be more and more devoid of such practices.

In my travels to conferences and public events throughout the world, I have the opportunity to observe human behavior at its best (at charity events where people are truly devoted to making a difference) and its worst (crowded airports on a snow day) and everything in between.  While it seems that the overall societal level of frustration in the U.S. has increased since the recession set foot, the majority of people I meet are kind, considerate human beings.  Every once in a while I encounter someone who is just plain “nasty” and it always gives me pause because they are so different from most people I meet.  Last night was one of those times.

Every year on my friend’s birthday eve, we go out to to a local neighborhood pub to celebrate her birthday and St. Patrick’s Day, and we are always amazed at the variety of “characters” and how the economy doesn’t seem to have affected St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. We were lucky to get seats at the bar and were enjoying the atmosphere and high energy of bar patrons who came up close behind us to jostle for position and attention of the bartenders to order their concoctions.  It was an interesting vantage point for observing patrons who seemed to be invisible despite their courtesy and patience – some simply couldn’t attract the attention of the servers (they weren’t scantily clad) and became increasingly frustrated as others who arrived later were served first. We ended up having “informal jobs” of flagging down passing bartenders when people in our vicinity started to lament the length they waited to be served.  Patrons were appreciative when we assisted them and were relieved to finally get a drink.

Things were going swimmingly until a “mean” (I’ll explain) bartender yelled “don’t point” and then “don’t call my attention” – loudly scolding three separate people at the bar for trying to aid stranded patrons whose pleadings for service fell on deaf ears. I can understand frustration (the pub WAS crowded) and the stress of working (but there were another 6 bartenders on shift behind the bar) — but the behavior was so sudden and disrespectful that it attracted the attention of everyone within earshot including other servers – who stopped to pause – before continuing on.  Everyone around us was stunned!  Had any of the other bartenders reacted or if they had with anyone else at the bar, it could be considered to be a single mean moment… but as we sat there in shock and silence we realized this same server had done this exact behavior last St. Patrick’s day!

I remember reading a Dec 2009 column from RealSimple.com called “10 Truths I wish I’d known sooner” by Amy Bloom. #7 on her list came to mind “Mean doesn’t Go Away”. In the article, Amy states:  Mean people suck

“7 Mean doesn’t go away. Some people get better looking with age; some don’t. Some people soften; some toughen up.  Mean streaks tend not to disappear. A person who demeans and belittles you and speaks of you with contempt to others is probably going to be that way for years. The first time it happens, take note. The second time, take your coat and go.”

That’s exactly what we did – took our coats and went – since it is a pub we want to revisit again, we will register complaints with the management.  Over the past several weeks I’ve come to realize that a basic freedom is the Freedom to Associate Freely, which we readily embrace – but we don’t often practice the freedom to also DISassociate freely.  Whether it is in our homes, our neighborhoods, at work, or in public – as adults and Americans we have the choice and the freedom to DISassociate! With over 7 billion people in the world, we need to know that there are many good people with whom we can CHOOSE to associate.

I spent far too many years defending and justifying mean behavior because I simply didn’t recognize it and didn’t exercise my right to DISassociate, but I’m learning. Disassociation from mean people is an important part of our own health and welfare – yet somehow we fail to practice this freedom.  What do YOU think?

Wishing you a productive and happy week and weekend!

Regards,
Carol

Carol Dekkers, Software Measurement and Global Software Development expert, author, speaker. Want to engage Carol to be a speaker at your next event? Email Ms. Dekkers at dekkers@qualityplustech.com or carol@caroldekkers.com or visit http://www.caroldekkers.com for details.

dekkers@qualityplustech.com
http://www.caroldekkers.com
http://www.qualityplustech.com

Read Carol Dekkers’ other blog (Musings about Software Development) at http://musingsaboutsoftwaredevelopment.wordpress.com

Copyright 2010 Carol Dekkers – All Rights Reserved ———————

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