Regrets

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One of the unfortunate aspects of life is the feeling of regret.  Maybe unfortunate is the wrong term to use, but it is the first term that comes to mind.  The whole idea of regret is that one is sad or disappointed in either an action or a missed opportunity.

However, in the idea of balance and perspective, what is regret if not an absolute learning tool?  Yeah sure, it sucked that you were not able to go to the Taylor Swift concert that your daughter was begging you to take her too because you had to work late that day.  Yeah sure, it sucked that you were checking your phone in while driving and ended up swerving lanes, getting noticed by a cop, and getting a hefty ticket for it.  Yeah sure, it sucked that you decided to not ask for his/her number.

The examples above show the variety of breadth and depth of regret.  What they all have in common, however, is that they all show different levels of control and opportunity.

Let’s take the easy one first….getting his/her number.  Man, what a missed opportunity, right?  Well, maybe or maybe not.  The point is that to dwell on what could have been doesn’t actually solve anything.  Next time you have an opportunity for a number, might as well take it.  Doesn’t mean you have to use it, right?  Learning Achieved!

How about the checking phone while driving?  Sure, regretful.  However, in the grand scheme of things, getting out of that situation with just a ticket is a godsend.  We all know that scenario could have played out in a much more traumatic way.  Next time, put the phone down, ensure no trauma from a simple regretful action.  Learning Achieved!

Finally, the hard one.  Missing a concert.  What isn’t said in this example are the auxiliary details.  Was a promise made to the daughter?  Was the “working late” at work an emergency and unknown scenario?  Too many scenarios to choose from, right?  Well…maybe.  The devil’s in the details, so the point is to examine each detail and determine if a better choice could have been made.  It does not good to be regretful for things out of your control.  But you can make small incremental changes for the better.  Plus, there will always be more concerts to go to.

Examining how you are living your life is paramount to the success of living a happy life.  I’m not saying it’s easy to make changes.  We all know that it is not.  But the first step to making changes is to realize that regretting the decisions you have made does not actually propel you forward.   Learning from regretful decisions or moments is forward progress.  And any amount, large or small, of forward progress is the right kind of progress to make.

Examine.

Power of Self Image

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You have probably seen the trailers of “I Feel Pretty”. It looks pretty funny. Though I have not seen it myself, I think it is safe to assume it goes to extremes about the power of self-image.

However, it does pose the thought of how influential our self image is. Sure there are usually external factors at work when we create and mold our self image, but they only have power if we choose to believe it.

I would like to pause and state, for the record, that you cannot will yourself a new external image. If you are 80 lbs. or 800 lbs., but love yourself, you should probably still ensure that you are living as healthy as possible.

What I am talking about is strictly vanity. If you don’t like the way you look, then make sure you double check yourself on the “why.” If you do like the way you look, but feel the pressure to change clarify the “why” again.

Too many times in today’s culture, especially in America, we are driven by what others think. We become untrue to ourselves. It’s okay to not like something about yourself, but it’s not okay for someone to make you feel that way.

If you want a change, make it. Self esteem and self image are very important to happiness. Happiness is very important to overall health. Don’t let others dictate what it is that will make you happy.

You are in control. You have the power to make that change. Love yourself.

Examine.

A Good Cry

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I was having a conversation the other day and it eventually led to the subject of crying.  The question was posed, “Why do we hold in tears and the effort of crying?  Sometimes you just need a good cry.”  It got me thinking.  Why DO we not cry?

Sometimes it might be due to not wanting to show weakness/fear/whatever in front of someone.  Sometimes it’s an embarrassment factor that stops you from letting the tears flow.  And then sometimes it’s the fear that if you start crying, you may never stop.

I know that I have felt all three of these at different points in my life.  But, if I am honest with myself, I am probably leaning toward the third reason above.

I remember at one point, my dad telling me that if “you’re going to cry, you can just go to your room.”  In hindsight, and in previous conversations with my parents, I’m sure in that moment I was being a pill of a child and was probably crying to either get attention or get what I wanted.  My dad wasn’t condemning me to a lifetime of room-crying.  Nonetheless, that particular statement stuck with me and it was always my default reaction to tears. Go to my room or another private place.

Even to this day, if I feel that I am going to have tears, I will find a private place, a restroom, my car, whatever.  This is probably a normal thing, hiding while crying, right?  But in those moments, I do have that nagging fear that if I let the emotions turn on too far, there may be no stopping it.

I take this moment to pause any “worriers” out there….I am not depressed or have thoughts of never ending sadness.  Each time I have ever cried, I assure you, I have stopped.  🙂

The point is, that in that moment, you may just never know.  I have talked with people who suffer from migraines and it’s similar.  Even though they get migraines and they KNOW that they will eventually go away, there’s that “in-the-moment” fear that it won’t.  That this pressure will never subside and that the rest of their life will be pain and misery.

Can this translate to other parts of life and society?  I’m sure it can.  The key is to make sure you do that gut-check with reality and what is KNOWN.  Not what is unknown.  Emotions can be fleeting or they can linger.  If you find that you cannot see through the fog or the light, please seek help.  There are trained professionals who can and will be happy to help out.

I like to preach a “mind over matter” mentality, but I’m also a realist.  In the end, you have to decide what is best.  You have to decide when you are at your limit and when you need to ask for help.  Self help for as long as you can, then call on your village.  If you don’t have a village, go find one.

Sometimes you just need a good long cry.  Trust me, it won’t last forever.  Also, you can find sympathy if you ask for it.  We aren’t alone, let’s work together to make sure that no one feels like they won’t stop crying if they start.

Examine.

Big Heart

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I may lose a lot of you in this next line, but that’s a chance I am willing to take. So, I watched the new “Andre the Giant” documentary that HBO created. It was awesome!

Andre was one of my idols growing up. I mean what can I say?  He was a GIANT! The documentary did a nice job of speaking toward Andre the man and also to the mythology around what type of persona he was in the professional wrestling world.

Hands down, everyone who knew him says he was a very generous human being. Very nice and gentle, despite his size. In an interview Andre stated that he just wanted to make people happy. That’s why he travelled the world 300 days a year, being the greatest sideshow act in the pre-TV sports entertainment world.

He also stated that he was never able to be normal. Being as big as he was in the 70’s and 80’s, he could not go anywhere without immediately being recognized and/or ridiculed for his size. What a lonely life that must have been. However, despite that, he went on giving people an opportunity to live in that fantasy world where Giants exist.

I realized, after watching the documentary and thinking about his scenario, that Andre was a great example of what joy you can bring into your own life simply by bringing joy into others’ lives. That is what made him the most happy, was seeing his spectators ooh and awe at the feats he would perform.

So, if you have made it this far into the article about a long dead “Rassler”, then take that point away with you. The art of making others happy has an amazing effect in your own perspective and self-image. Happiness is the most contagious “disease” out there, so go spread it!

Examine.

Passing Moments

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My youngest daughter is turning three in a couple of weeks.  So, that means she is just about out of her “terrible twos”.  Though, a little known fact is that the “terribl-er threes” are coming…

Anyway, she has been a very strong test of patience.  A test that I have probably been failing.  But there are moments.  Moments when we catch her with her guard down.  Moments where she is the perfect sweet angel we know she can be when she wants to be.

For example, every night she will start to whine/moan/cry a couple of times because she has kicked her blankets off.  She’s not even fully awake, just awake enough to know that she is uncomfortable.  So, I get up and walk to her room, cover her up and go back to sleep.  Now, I know what you’re thinking.  “What’s so precious about that?”  Well, every now and then, after I cover her up, a tiny whisper voice will say “Tank you Dada”.

THAT is a moment worth savoring.

Taking this a step further, we all have our bedtime routine.  For as long as I can remember, I blow two kisses to my kids before I leave each of their rooms at the end of the night.  My oldest has had this done to him for years now and he returns the kisses in earnest.  Lately, my daughter has also started to return them as well from her bed.  Those are great moments too….little affirmations every night that no matter how trying the kids can be, love is still abundantly present.

One of my daughter’s favorite games is to play “nap time” with her playmates, whether they be her dolls, stuffed animals, me or her grandparents.  And in her dramatic play, when she leaves the room, she also blows two kisses.  It’s awesome.

So, what’s the point of all this mushy kid talk?  It’s that we should never take these moments for granted.  These little moments will eventually fade away and make room for new moments as time goes on.  I feel that building these moments of affection and love in my kids’ heart will stick with them as they grow older.  Furthermore, I hope this will lead to an open and trusting relationship between us that will last a lifetime.

The grandest moments in life are really just a succession of cumulative smaller moments that combine into a larger whole.

Examine.

Patience

The evolution of air flight has been an amazing accomplishment over the years. It is definitely one of those things that I don’t completely understand, but completely appreciate. That being said, it is not always a smooth journey.

I am actually writing this from my flight. I sit here with my family, each one of them “plugged in” to their electronic device of choice as we soar through turbulent skies.

In front of us are a family of six. Behind us a series of strangers around a father and son separated by the aisle. The family of six are zonked out for now, the father and son, stewing in frustration.

You see, as we all were boarding, everyone was taking their seats and arranging their belongings. Our aisle was empty when we arrived so I took advantage of the extra space to open up our carryons and organize the “distractions” for the upcoming long flight. Then one of the people came to sit in our aisle and I quickly mobilized do allow them to sit down.

Eventually we were all in our seats and the flight attendants were calling for closing up the plane. All of a son, the father behind us gets up and opens the overhead compartment to get something out of his bag. He starts cursing under his breath and, it seems, takes everything out of his bag. The flight attendant approaches, asking if he can help. The father snaps back that he does not, to which the attendant lets him know that we cannot move the plane until he sits down. The father curses and slams the overhead compartment shut.

Oh boy, we can’t wait to see what “shifts during flight”.

As the flight goes on, the attendant checks in and asks if they are okay, obviously aware of the mounting frustration. Father and son say they are fine each time and you can sense the tension clearing.

It was amazing to see the flight attendant remain calm and composed. I realize that they deal with this every day, but I can vividly remember many times where flight attendants snap back and escalate the situation. Not this time, though.

I can tell you that the tension was thick at the back of the plane where we were sitting, but through calm words and offers of assistance, the situation diffused.

It is a nice reminder to not fight fire with fire. Keeping a cool head tends to prevail. It did in this case. So, thank you Mr. Flight Attendant. You definitely showed the power of patience and allowed us all to have an enjoyable flight.

Examine.

Gifts and Invites

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It might be time to throw away some old-fashioned social norms.  In particular, I am speaking of gift giving and invitations.

No, I’m not saying we should STOP giving gifts and STOP inviting people to things.  Rather, I feel it is time to stop having negative emotional responses to them.

Hear me out here.  Gift giving a a thoughtful process, right?  You see something that you think someone else will enjoy, so you buy it for them.  Sometimes it is spontaneous and sometimes it’s for a specific occasion.

But here’s where the obsolete social norm comes into play.  If someone gives us a gift, we feel compelled to return the favor.  Right?  WHY?  I mean, really…why?  Isn’t the whole idea of a gift….well, giving?  I know someone who keeps a closet full of random, wrapped gifts, just in case someone brings a gift over and they were caught un-prepared.

“Oh, my!  Thank you for this amazing print of the cover art from Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.  It just so happens, I have something for you too!  Haven’t you always wanted a set of Tiffany glasses???”

I’m sorry…I would almost be MORE offended for getting a thoughtless reciprocated-induced gift, than no gift at all.  The best gifts are the genuine gifts.  Not gifts for gifts sake.

Which brings us to invitations.  Invites are a funny thing.  Have you ever invited someone because you felt you had to?  How about NOT inviting someone because you thought they wouldn’t have fun or wouldn’t be able to make it anyway?

Hogwash to both, I say.  Again, the purpose of invitations is to invite people to a certain gathering or occasion you are organizing.  There should be a definite reason and desire behind each invitation.  Invites should NOT be influenced by what someone may or may not think about said invitation.  They should be focused on whether or not YOU want them at the occasion.

On the flip side, if you don’t get invited, try not to be too harsh on the invitee.  There could be NUMEROUS reasons you don’t get invited.  If it truly bothers you, then you should ask them directly, but not offensively.  This could be the third social norm that is outdated.

“I don’t want to ask them because they might get offended.”  Wait, so you would rather stew about being offended, then have a conversation about it?  Not healthy, my friends.  Not healthy at all.

The idea here is to stay genuine.  Genuine gifts leads to genuine happiness. Genuine invites leads to genuine happiness.  Genuine conversations leads to….well, genuine answers, which is where we should all strive to be.  It’s how we all become better and happier in the long run….genuinely.

Examine.

Control

What does control mean to you? To some, it means the ability to influence others. To others, it’s the ability to influence yourself.

What about the circumstances that we find ourselves in every day? Can we really control those?

We’ve all heard that saying about being granted the patience to deal with those things we cannot change. But it’s really true. If there is something we cannot control, what benefit do we gain by worrying about it?

Instead, we should focus on what we can control and how we can react to things that we cannot control.

In the IT world, I preach to my team that we need to be more proactive. Work on preventing future pitfalls, accidents and incidents as best we can. This makes our jobs easier. Of course, we can never be 100%, so then I reinforce to my team that is is not the mistake or incident that matters most, but how we react to it.

When we can’t control the negative, we must do what we can to make the most positive out of it. It is not always easy, but it is possible. When we learn from the things that we cannot control, our jobs become much easier.

The same can be said for life, in general. We cannot control everything, but we can learn. Learning is one of the keys to success and happiness. Learn what makes you happy, control what you can to achieve that happiness.

If we learn that we can’t control everything, anything can happen.

Examine.

Thunder and Lightning

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Have you ever went to talk with someone and they just go-off, explode, bite your head off, etc…?  Have you ever done that to someone else?  It happens, a lot, and usually takes the receiving party by surprise.

Have you ever met someone who is very sad, maybe depressed, and unsure how to react?

I bring up these emotions, specifically, because I have found that they are more impacting than their positive counterparts.  Very rarely do you meet someone who is so OVERJOYED that you think back on that moment the next day and say, “Wow, Kyle was really really happy yesterday.”  It’s more likely to be said, “Man, Kyle really bit my head off yesterday.”
**The previous statements were meant to be generic.  If your name is Kyle and you were either REALLY happy or you were REALLY mad, that is completely coincidental.**
In my experience, when these sorts of events happen, we usually take them at face value and either get offended or put-off by them.  However, what we are experiencing is the “thunder”.  As you have probably heard, thunder always follows lightning.  So, the root cause of such a strong reaction, has more than likely already taken place well ahead of when you came across the situation.

More times than not, we hold things in and let them build until a flood of emotion comes out, usually in a negative sense.  The point is, you don’t usually know the whole story of why someone acts the way they do.  Furthermore, both parties involved could benefit from that knowledge being shared.  A lot of times outbursts are cries for help, a desire to be heard.  It’s easy to be quick to judge, harder to ask deeper questions.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard to swallow an outburst, especially if it seems aimed at yourself.  I can’t tell you how many times an outburst ends up causing me to outburst onto someone else.

There’s definitely a time and place to start probing for what lies underneath the surface.  So, take time to cool off (or let them cool off) and bring up the subject again.  This clears the air.  Not only that, but it allows for negative energy to dissipate, thus ending the cycle of lightning and thunder.

Examine.

No Left Turn

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A strange thing happens when you’re in a hurry.  You end up making compromises.  For example, I drive my kids to daycare and school each morning before I go into work.  When I get to the school, there are signs along the driveway carefully ensuring you navigate to your destination without causing undue traffic.  One sign is a “No Left Turn” even though you see that you can turn left to drop kids off at the secondary school.  The reason for this is the school would rather you drive forward another 50 feet to the roundabout, come back and turn RIGHT into the secondary school entrance.

Makes sense, right?  Well…it does unless you are running late, then that left turn looks SO tempting.

I know this….because almost every day as I am leaving the school grounds, I get stopped at that same exact spot when a secondary parent has turned left before the lane was clear, thus blocking my exit. 🙁

Now, I get it.  I’ve been late more times than I would like to count.  I have made the same type of decisions that ultimately impact others while not actually gaining any real benefit.  I THINK there will be a benefit.  However, when it is all said and done, I have not gained anything, but I have negatively impacted others.  As I was negatively impacted in the above scenario.

Ironically, I have multiple situations during this same drive that create the same cause/effect scenario.  When I drop my son off, he likes me walking him into school.  So, instead of pulling up to the curb and dropping him off, I go to the side parking lot, park, walk him in, then walk back, get in my car and go on my way.

Funny thing.  By the time I leave, there is a line of parents waiting to drop their kids off at the curb.  Important note:  the line to the curb is a LEFT turn….in order for me to exit, it’s a RIGHT turn.  Now, take your DOL handbooks out…who has right a way?  Yep…the right hand turner, me.  🙂  Who ends up waiting for someone who is turning left to let me through, me. 🙂

Again, it’s not costing them anything to let me pass, they won’t lose their place in line.  They won’t even be delayed, because they can move up the line after I pass and still have 30-40 feet to go before they can actually drop their kid off.  But they PERCEIVE that they will benefit from turning and not letting me in, when instead they are only delaying my departure.

What’s the point?  Am I just ranting?  Well….maybe.  HA!  Just kidding.  Honestly, I don’t even mind.  It’s not a huge drain on my time frame.  I’m either already running late and a few more minutes won’t cause me harm, or I’m on-time and still have the freeway to delay me.  Either way, I’m going to be late!

The point is that perception will beat reality.  I’m sure that while reading this, you’ve probably recalled these scenarios….both being the delayer or the delayed.  But, let’s be honest, how many times have you been the delayer and actually realized that there was nothing gained by delaying others?  Probably none.  I know I hadn’t realized it…until I did, and decided to write this post about it.

It’s all perspective, right?  And what better time to try and gain it than when you are sitting in traffic or waiting in line.  Try to put yourself in the other side, the other mindset, and that might might make things easier to digest.  Yes, running late is not a great feeling, but is it worth making others run late as well?  Maybe by working on NOT being the delayer, you will end up not being the delayed.

Examine.