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.

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.

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.

 

A Motherly Perspective

A Motherly Perspective

A friend of mine, Molly, posted the following on Facebook:

I’m in the bathroom sans kids so here comes another moment of enlightenment since that’s the only place I seem to have clarity: The older I get and the more things I put my body through (traveling, mountain climbing, marathoning) the more I am amazed at what these bodies are capable of. But it has been the 2 pregnancies and the endless caring of my children that has afforded me a new found grace and awe of this temple I reside in. And it is the unconditional love and support of my partner and husband that allows me to add to it confidence. My wobbly bits are multiplying like rabbits, but the 3 most important people love me more with each passing day and that makes me so proud of the journey that has gotten me even closer to a love of myself and a reason to smile when I catch a glimpse of the newest gray hair or saggy spot – I am truly, wholly loved by them, so I want in on it, too! I wouldn’t be me without any of them and without any of them I wouldn’t be this better version of me!”

With this quote, she fully expresses (whether she meant to or not) the best parts of what this site tries to preach.  It’s not what you necessarily believe about yourself or what other’s believe about you.  However, with the right combination of the two, gold can be found.

It’s about surrounding yourself with love and giving it in return.  It’s about recognizing that you aren’t alone, that you have support, if you know where to look.  With that support, the possibilities are endless.

The people who you choose to surround yourself with play an important part of who you are and it is important to ‘want in on it, too!’

I want to thank Molly for sharing the above quote and hope that any and all mother’s out there can relate and remember what amazing people they are.  To all of you, a Happy Mother’s Day!

Examine.

A Dad’s Wish Fulfilled

A Dad's TaleA couple of weeks ago, the fair came to town.  This is a smaller version of the big fair that comes around in the Fall.  However, my wife and I have not missed either version for the past 7 years.  My son is now 3 years old and he has gone to each instance of this fair throughout his entire life.  Watching him take more and more of the Fair in each visit is a wonder in itself.  Every time we go, he experiences it more fully and enjoys more and more of it.

Last fall, his highlight was the farm animals and the petting zoo.  So, this year we thought it would be a quick trip and just hit some barns and get the required ‘fair food’ and go home happy.  Then we turned the corner and saw……the RIDES.  My son immediately wanted to check it out as my wife and I exchanged the ‘oh no, is he tall enough?’ look.

Well, we get up to the roller coaster and see the measure line.  From 6 feet away I could tell that he wasn’t tall enough, but man was he excited.  He kept asking if he could do the ‘rorer coaster‘.  So, I explained to him that he needed to be tall enough and showed him the black line that marked how tall he needed to be.  Looking up at me with his big brown eyes, he says ‘Dada, can we measure?’  Of course we can…so up we walk and….

HE WAS TALL ENOUGH.  What?!?!  There was no way he was tall enough until we got right up to the measure stick and sure enough, he was good to go.  So, after forking over a small fortune, I bought a series of ride tickets and off we went.

So, where’s the wish, you say?  Well, 14 years ago, I met my wife and we started dating and I bought tickets to an amusement park for us to go to when she dropped the closest thing to a deal breaker in our relationship on me….she didn’t like RIDES.  WHAT?!?!  How could we be compatible…how could this happen?  Well, it did and we persevered.  Obviously.

So, by and large, after 19 years of being a thrill seeker, I went into a roller coaster hibernation.  Now my son, wide-eyed and excited, was asking his daddy if we could ride the ‘rorer coaster‘.

So, here we go…we strap in…Mom’s armed on the sidelines with a camera (which didn’t do much good because he was ‘just’ tall enough and could not be seen behind his behemoth of a father) and AWAY WE GO!

When we go around the corner and up the track, he’s smiling and giggling…when we go down for the first time, he loses….his….MIND!  I’ve not seen the kid smile so broadly, it was like a whole new world had been opened up.

Watching him have so much fun, reminded me how much fun these rides could be.  Furthermore, he reminded me what FUN really is.  It’s different for everyone, but for me, in that moment, it was able to show him a new experience and remember all the fun I’ve had in those situations.

Before the ride was over, there were a few times when he would just look up at me and smile.  In that smile, I could see him ‘thanking’ me for showing him this amazing experience of the ‘rorer coaster‘.

Sometimes, it takes a moment like that to remember.  And remembering his a good way to examine your perspective.  For me, personally, it has been a trying few months.  And all of that melted away with my baby boy’s simple smile.

Examine.

Value of Life

Value of Life

 

I listened to the President of the United States speak today about the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting.  First of all, I was watching a VERY important football game that was interrupted by this special presentation.

You know what?  I didn’t mind.  Not one bit.  I feel that means I’ve grown as a human being over the past few years.  Anyway, enough about me…

President Obama said something early in his speech about us, as humans, needing one another.  And earlier today, a good friend of mine posted a saying on Facebook that we should stop talking about controlling guns, and start teaching the value of human life.

I think these two concepts are connected in a big way.  I have stated before that the only way to start the ‘prevention’ of such tragedies is to teach our kids respect, love and courage.  But the question is can we do this by ourselves?

The answer is no.  We need to help each other out.  Create our communities and look out for each other.  There will be time that we will be high on life and our neighbor will be down in the dumps.  That is the time that we need to step up and offer assistance.

However, we must also remember that we can ONLY offer.  It’s a two-way street and once the offer is made, the offer must be accepted for it to be affected.  So, we must also remember that we need help and be open to the offerings of others.  That’s the only way it will work.  That is the way we realize the value of human life.

In this crazy journey we are all a part of, we only get what we put in.  So, let’s all make the conscious effort to put in a lot.  Be there for your neighbor, they will be there for you and BOOM both lives are enriched, thus increasing the value.

Show this to your kids and guess what happens?

Examine.

Elevator Fun

Elevator Fun

I know you have all heard of those ‘fun things to do in an elevator’ social experiments.  Like, stand right next to the only other person in the elevator.  Well, let me tell you that is fun…especially if she’s cute.  But then after a while, you just feel creepy.  Anyway….

That’s not what I’m talking about.  Well, it sort of is, but not entirely.  Well, I should back up and make sure you all know what an elevator is.  If you had to click on that link I have ONE question for you:  How are you connecting to the Internet way up in the Ozarks?  That’s amazing….what digital divide??

Well, there are two digressions I’ve made so far in this post, let’s move on to the meat of the subject.  Elevator Fun!  Here’s the setting.  I get in the elevator and there is already a guy standing there.  He has pressed 6 and I need to go to 5.  So, I press 5.  Following along?

So, then I look at the guy and say “I’m always feel a bit awkward pushing the button for one floor below the floor already selected.”  He chuckled and said “Don’t worry about it, it happens.”

We got to 5 and I said “Have a good one” and he said “You too!”  Amazing dialogue isn’t it?  I should write a novel.

Anyway, the point is this.  I reached out with a disarming comment, it made both of us chuckle, which I know I needed after a long day at work and I can only imagine it lightened him up a bit too.

Very little effort.  Depending on your perspective, fairly large rewards.  We live in a society where a lot of people shy away from contact.  Especially if that contact involves a stranger.  But we also live in a society that MOST people will open up when presented the opportunity.  I’m not saying there was a HUGE break in this guy’s personal walls, he was willing and took the opportunity to enjoy a slight moment of idle banter.

Or not….maybe he was just being polite and I am the only person that got any sort of profound happiness out of this.  If that’s the case, then no harm no foul.  I enjoyed it and I plan on making sure I continue to allow myself to be open to moments of idle banter…especially when riding in an elevator.   DING!

Examine.

Hopes and Dreams

Hopes and Dreams

It’s my second favorite 4 year tradition….second only to Leap Day!  The Summer Olympics are HERE!  Growing up, I had two Olympic images in my head.  The first being that I would one day be an Olympic swimmer.  I remember dedicating myself one summer to being the best swimmer possible.  Needless to say, that didn’t quite work out.  The second image I had in my head was a time and place that the world could put aside their differences and just compete in friendly competition.  A naive thought, you say? Maybe…maybe not.

As I grew older, I came to realize the amazing accomplishments that an Olympic athlete is.  Not just what they do, but who they are.  They are the epitome of dedication and drive, hopes and dreams.  They are amazing athletes who show you that anything is possible.  Oh, and if you have this thing called natural talent, that helps too.

There are two cases I want to bring up in these current Olympic Games.  Two gifted athletes, Michael Phelps and Jordyn Wieber.  Two American athletes who have tasted their own flavor of defeat over the past couple of days.  Two of the most amazing and gifted athletes in the world who came up a little short.  What am I doing harping on the negativity when this blog is supposed to be about open perspective?  Well, let’s dive into it.

Mr. Phelps is undoubtedly one of the most natural-born swimmers to walk on two legs.  Tearing through both Athens and Beijing, he was unstoppable.  Coming into this Olympics, he was definitely a major favorite, despite his age and apparent lack of training.  Then all of a sudden, he lost.  Okay, he didn’t lose, but he got 4th place, which means no medal, which to an Olympian means he lost.  Still one of the absolute best in the world, but not THE best.  Why?  He, himself, said he didn’t put the training in.

I bring this up, because it seems like a slap in the face.  What sort of arrogance is going through your head to make you NOT put in the training and still compete?   He also was a part of a relay team for the US and they did not win Gold either.  Did his lack of training effect that performance as well?  I don’t want to speak for Mr. Phelps, but it seemed very self-centered to think he could walk into the Olympics and win without giving 110% to his training.  Oh, and it may have also affected his teammates.

Next, let’s take a look at Jordyn Wieber.  By all accounts Miss Wieber is said to have a very rigorous training schedule and a very dedicated ethic.  Watching her perform only verifies the previous statement.  She is a well oiled machine and one of the best female gymnasts in the world.  So, what happened?  Well, on that particular day, two of her teammates were better.  Sure, she made a couple of mistakes, but unless you’re Nadia or Mary Lou, nobody’s perfect.

Here is where these two athletes differ.  Both tasted defeat, but for very different reasons.  Mr. Phelps did not train as much as he should have and Miss Wieber just wasn’t the best on one particular day.  Later on the same day, Miss Wieber ‘tweeted’ that she was excited about Team USA finals and happy for her teammates.  Who knows what Mr. Phelps will do, but at least for the moment Miss Wieber is 100% a team player and representing her country well.

I don’t take anything away from Mr. Phelps, he is an amazing athlete and should be looked upon as a great role model.  But in this case, fame appears to have gotten the better of him.  He achieved his hopes and dreams, and got used to winning.  More than likely, Miss Wieber will not achieve her dream of an individual Gold Medal, but she still has a chance to be a part of a Gold Medal team and thus far it appears that she is embracing that as she should.

Who would you model yourself after?  The undeniable athlete whose character is slightly in question or the one who gave it her all, came up short, and is still pursing for the benefit of others?

Examine.

Emotions vs. Education

Emotions vs. Education

First of all, let me say that this post means NO disrespect to anyone.  This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for a while now and it all kind of came to a head in a situation last week.

Sometimes we think things through and sometimes we just plow ahead with our emotions.  Both scenarios can lead to success, but sometimes not.

How many times have you been caught in the moment and said something you didn’t necessarily know was true, but felt so strongly about it that it didn’t matter?  It happens.  NO doubt about it.  However, in order to be truly successful, you must be able to give rational thought and a bit of research in order to make sure you aren’t spreading false information.

Does this mean that you need to research every little detail before you execute your strategy….probably not.  There’s a definite time and place for gut feelings and knee-jerk reactions.  However, dispensing information is not one of them.

In a world of freedom speech, freedom of religion and basically the freedom of opinion, everyone has one.  People will tout off a lot of information….and usually put it up on the Internet somewhere.

It’s very easy to fall into the public perception and forget to check the facts.  No examples are needed here as I’m sure you have already brought one or two up in your mind just reading that.

All I’m saying, is make sure you get the facts before sending on that forwarded e-mail or passing off that “Did you hear…”  If we all get a little better at educating ourselves, we will have more opportunity to have civilized discussions.

Examine.

Care More

Care MoreA friend of mine posted this today on Facebook:

“In a world full of people who couldn’t care less, be someone who couldn’t care more.”

A very simple quote….a very simple design to live by.  Stop caring less, start caring more.  A lot of times when I see people who have ‘given up’ on their hopes and dreams, it is because someone (and quite possibly themselves) have stopped caring.

When you stop caring about what is to come or what is happening around you, you stop believing….you just stop.  Remember what I’ve said before.  Every action in life needs to be, in some way, promoting yourself to move forward.  A stagnant life or a life in reverse is counter productive and will only lead to unhappiness.

Change is incremental.  Change is also contagious.  If you start changing your life, others around you will start to notice.  If you start caring about something you may have ‘given up’ on, the effect on others can be profound.  It can be two-fold.  It can motivate them to start caring more about what you are doing and become positive re-enforcement to you.  It can also allow them to start caring about dreams and goals they may have given up.

Stop caring less, start caring more.  Spread the love, joy and happiness you start to feel.  The change can be astounding!

Examine.