The Lesser of Two Evils

The Lesser of Two Evils

Happy 2012 to everyone!  I hope the holidays treated you well.  I hope you thought of others and thought of yourself.  I hope that 2012 brings you a new year of happiness, new adventures, new beginnings and no regrets!

The beauty of the new year is it gives you an ULTIMATE chance to start over.  Right?  Right!  Take a look around you and see if you need to change things up.  Take a look at your life and see what great things need to be expanded upon and what evils need to be purged.

This leads up to today’s topic…the Lesser of Two Evils.  Funny expression, really…but widely used.  Just remember, as the shirt says above, the lesser of two evils is STILL EVIL.  So, I then ask, why choose either?

If you’re faced with a situation where both outcomes are negative or less than appealing.  Why not go a different route all together?  Sure, I know this isn’t always possible…sometimes decisions need to be made in a snap-worthy fashion…but not all times, and I’m willing to gather, not MOST times.

You know what it really is…the decison is EASY.  A lot of times, a “lesser of two evils” situation is pondered because the outcome is fast and dirty….gets near enough the results you want to make it attainable.

Well, don’t let this happen to you!  Make 2012 a NO EVIL year.  Okay…let’s be real.  A LESS EVIL year!  Purge the negativity, Enhance the greatness.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Volunteer more
  • Go outside and walk/run/jog three times a week
  • Save all of your spare change for a month and treat yourself to a movie/mini golf/bowling/etc.
  • Reach out to a family member you haven’t talked to in a while and see how they are doing (ON THE PHONE)
  • Take a weekend trip to the other side of your state.
  • Snuggle with the one you love!

There, take that and run with it!  NO EVIL on that list, am I right?

Examine the Glass!

Reactions

Reactions

Split second reactions.  Knee jerk reactions.  How many times do we do this?  How many times do we make a snap judgement about something we have seen or heard?  More times than we would like to admit, I’m sure.

Now, how many times have we looked back and said, “Gee, maybe I didn’t know the whole story” or “I wish I hadn’t reacted that way”.  Probably even more times!

With the fallout of the Sandusky grand jury report, the factual involvement of legendary coach Joe Paterno is a very sad thing to witness.  The facts are there.  He knew SOMETHING and did very little about it.  Subsequently he was fired.  What was the reaction of the students?  Look at the above picture.

They rioted.  They rioted because they were outraged at the firing of a man who knew another man was sexually assaulting young boys, and did not take the APPROPRIATE action.  Now, I know that if MY head coach was fired, and I didn’t know all of the facts, I would be pretty PO’d and ready to stand up for said coach.  That’s what the students did.  I would like to believe that they were just “not informed” enough to know the FULL story at the time of the riots.

I’m sure, in time they will look back at this and say, “Gosh, maybe I shouldn’t have tipped over that van.”  Students went to jail last night.  They will have a scar on their record and the regret of a mindless action for the rest of their lives…..all because they made a snap judgement and got caught up in the moment.

Again…this is something we all do.  Maybe this can serve as a wake-up call.  I’m taking NOTHING away from the victims in this scenario.  Rather, I’m looking at, and treating it as such, a separate incident.  The riots and the damage are a blaring example of a “worst case scenario” of snap judgement.

So, bring it home.  Take it down.  Examine your glass and see if there are times that you committed the same harsh judgement, maybe without cause.  When something happens, don’t judge…think.  Examine.  Once you’ve seen it from at least one other point of view, then react.  More and more, if that happens, mistakes won’t happen and regrets won’t be made.

The riots yesterday made me lose a bit of faith in humanity….until I realized that they just weren’t thinking.  It doesn’t excuse it, but it sort of explains it.  Hopefully this can serve as a reminder of what can happen.

Examine.

Therapy

Therapy

Therapy is spending the morning playing with my son and teaching him to crawl.  Therapy is playing Nintendo Wii with my wife.  Therapy is watching my beloved Seahawks, even when they are taking a beating.  Therapy is demolishing a wooden flower box with a sledge-hammer that my dog chewed up.

Actions that don’t seem they would fill the same day in one man’s life, but that was my life yesterday.  Needless to say, yesterday was a very therapeutic day for me.  It was a hard week, a busy week, and yesterday was just what I needed.  It allowed me to step back, examine my glass and realize that no matter how hard, busy or hectic my week is, I have comfort around me.  I have surrounded myself with people and things that not only make me happy, but add meaning and joy to my life.  My wife, my son…they are my therapy.

What’s your therapy?  Don’t have any?  Time to get some.  Whether it is spending time at a firing range or a golf course.  Whether it’s reading a book or knitting a sweater.  Whether it’s baking a cake…or eating it (in moderation, of course).  You need a release in life.  I can attest to you the significance of relaxation and how it makes all of the hard things in life melt away, at least for the moment.

My therapy today is running with a new pair of shoes that I got this weekend.  Getting back into shape, preparing to meet my fitness goals that I have already set for 2012.

What’s your therapy?  Examine your glass, find out…

Scars and Demons

Scars and DemonsGuess what?!?!  Everyone has them.  Scars, fears and demons are all these things we like to lump together as “emotional baggage.”  And yes, we ALL have it.  Some say it’s an unfortunate part of life.  Well, I tend to disagree…

As you know, the whole point of this site is to take a look at things from a different perspective.  Scars and demon are, in and of themselves, not a bad thing.  It’s all in how you deal with them.  To break it down, it is as simple as how you know to not touch fire or hot things.  One time in your life, you probably tried to pick at a candle, or put your hand on a hot stove, or ironed your clothes while they were on (yep…I did that….I mean, it just seemed MUCH more efficient at the time!).

Did the burn leave a mark?  A physical one, maybe.  An emotional one, definitely.  This goes for ANY type of emotional scar.  Being hurt emotionally is MUCH harder to deal with being hurt physically.  But a similar principle applies to both.  With time, wounds heal.  Well, as long as you let them.  If you have a cut and keep picking at it, it won’t heal, or it will heal abnormally and leave a mark.  Which will then, hopefully, remind you not to pick at it so it heals quicker next time.

Emotional scars are no different.  With time they will heal, but you must let them heal.  It will take self-reflection and honesty.  Try to reconcile what happened to make the hurt occur.  It is NOT always or completely your fault.  Sometimes it’s not your fault at all.  You need to recognize that and accept it.  Stop blaming yourself.

I had a friend who carried a lot of baggage around with him.  We went to middle and high school together and became close friends.  His mom and dad divorced when he was very young and his mom remarried.  After visiting his house a few times, I could tell that he and his step-dad did not see eye-to-eye.  In high school, I obviously didn’t know as much about life and the little intricacies that make up life, so I was not in the position to step in with him.  What I did do, was stay his friend.  Offered him to come over and stay with me if need be, which he only took up once.  We used to carpool a lot together, talked about a lot of things.

His defense mechanism, as I found out later, was to fabricate stories.  Stories that he thought made him look good.  Stories that also made him look like a victim, so he would garner pity.  I called him out on a couple of these things.  I know I was probably harsher than I should have been, but I was also a teenage boy and that is one thing that teenage boys do to each other.  We rag on each other whenever we can.  But it doesn’t matter because the male populous is an impersonal one, so we forgive easily.

We ended up going to different colleges.  I stayed near home, he moved to Montana.  Whenever he would come home, we would get together and he would have stories.  Stories and stories….

In our third year, I get an e-mail from a friend of his, sent to all of his address book saying that he committed suicide.  No note, no warning, just hung himself in his dorm room.  Needless to say, it rocked me to the core.  I was in shock and didn’t believe it.  In all of his “fabricated stories” this took the cake.  I was in such denial that even when a group of friends and I went to his funeral, I was convinced that the young man in the coffin that we all saw together was NOT him.

It was him.  It was hard.  Almost 10 years later, it is STILL hard.  I think of him often and think about what, if anything, I could have done to help.  In some small way, he may be a founding reason for this site.  Not sure, that’s for a therapist to find out I guess! 🙂

So, after that joyful story, what’s the point?  Don’t fabricate.  Don’t disillusion yourself.  BE HONEST with yourself and your friends.  There are those around you that can help you deal with your “baggage” if you need it, but deal with it.  I can only imagine how long my friend suffered emotionally before he finally broke.  It makes me sad even writing about it, but it’s now a part of my life.  It’s something I get to live with and deal with and hopefully use it as an experience to help others.  Yep, that was a self-blogging prophesy there.

So, after a wordy and darker post, I’ll call it a night.

Examine the Glass, get help if you need it, but more importantly be honest with yourself.

Confidence, It’s All Inside!

Confidence, It's All Inside!When I was in middle school, we had numerous fundraisers.  You know the kind.  Sell candy, sell magazine subscriptions, sell this, sell that, sell your soul….well, okay, we didn’t go THAT far.  But hey, in order to get that free trip to Victoria, B.C. in 8th grade, I would do just about anything!

I remember one time, selling magazines, when I wanted to be the top seller!  So, I hit all of the easy targets…my parents, my neighbors, my family.  Except that, when I called one of my uncles up, and asked if he would buy a magazine, he asked me for my pitch.  Well, I didn’t know what a pitch was, other than something that happens in baseball.  Turns out my pitch was, “Umm, do you want to buy a magazine?”  SALESMAN OF THE YEAR, FOLKS!!!!

Anyway, back to my demanding uncle.  He said that he would LOVE to buy a magazine from me, but I would need to come up with a pitch.  When I did, I was to call him back and pitch it to him.  If it was good enough, he would buy a magazine.

Honestly, at this point, I was ready to just move on to my next family member who would just buy from me, no questions asked.  But, something clicked.  Something about what he said, made sense.  So, I sat down with my #2 pencil and wide-rule paper and made my “pitch.”  Now, this story would be AWESOME, if I still had that pitch and could give it to you.  But I don’t.  So, this story just gets to “mediocre” level.

So, what’s the point?  Well, it turns out, my uncle gave me a swift kick in the rear, opened my eyes to a new sales technique, and you know what?  I was top fundraiser that year.  AND the next year.  AND I got to go to Victoria, B.C.

See, what he did, unknowingly, was give me an opportunity to grow.  To build confidence.  This confidence was always inside of me, it just needed an outlet.  And selling magazines at age 12 was the magic trick!  That confidence is still inside of me and it is what propels me through life.  I’m NOT afraid of what is to come, because I am confident in myself and in my ability to take whatever comes and deal with it accordingly.  No need to Examine THAT Glass, because I already know it’s well more than half full!

So, what about people who may not share this confidence?  Is there a way to BUILD confidence?  YES!  Believe it or not, everyone has it inside of them, they just need to bring it out.

So, here’s the plan.  When you wake up in the morning, set a small goal for yourself.  And I mean SMALL.  Like, I’m going to skip that soda at lunch today.  Or, I am going to smile at every stranger I see today.

If you ACHIEVE that goal, reward yourself in some way.  Or just congratulate yourself and take pride in knowing that you’ve just accomplished something you set out to do.  What’s going to happen is little by little, day after day, that “small” goal will get bigger and bigger.  Eventually you’ll start changing things in your life that you have wanted to for a while, but never thought that you could.  But now you KNOW you can.  Duh-Da TADA!  CONFIDENCE!

No no no….don’t thank me.  Thank my Uncle!

Examine the Glass, make the change.  You won’t regret it!

Good Tired and Bad Tired

Good Tired and Bad TiredI will be quoting Harry Chapin here, and I will forewarn you that I will probably quote Harry Chapin more than once in this blog.  His music and lyrics probably have influenced my views a lot, so here we go.  Here is an excerpt from a monologue about something his grandfather told him:

“he said, ‘Harry, there are two kinds of tired: there’s good-tired, and there’s bad-tired.’ He said, ‘Ironically enough, bad-tired can be a day that you won. But you won other people’s battles, you lived other people’s days, other people’s agendas, other people’s dreams and when it was all over there was very little “you” in there, and when you hit the hay at night, somehow you toss and turn–you don’t settle easy.’ He said, ‘Good-tired, ironically enough, can be a day that you lost. But you don’t have to tell yourself, ’cause you knew you fought your battles, you chased your dreams, you lived your days, and when you hit the hay at night, you settle easy–you sleep the sleep of the just, and you can say “take me away.”

So, what kind of “tired” are you?  My favorite part of this is when he says “there was very little ‘you’ in there.”  That is how I see a lot of people.  They go to work day in and day out, strictly for a paycheck and not for any sort of enjoyment.  Yes, this economy is hard and yes, you can’t be choosers when it comes to being gainfully employed.  But it doesn’t mean you have to give up and I have seen a lot of people give up.  Or seem to.

Is this you?  Why?  What has happened that makes you lose all hope of becoming your dream?  Bring it back.  Examine the glass and find out what it is that makes you happy.

My cousin (favorite?) recently started baking classes.  She has wanted to become a baker for a long time and she is finally taking the steps to do so.  It makes me REALLY happy.  Whether or not she follows my blog, she has in essence, “Examined her glass” to find a way to start making her dream come true.  It may not happen this year, it may not happen next year, but she has taken a strong step forward and I am proud of her.

As for being good tired or bad tired….well, that is for you to figure out.  If you are bad tired, stop!  Start making the change you want to see in yourself today so that tonight, you can be good tired!

Take me away!

Mind over matter

Mind over matterWe’ve gone full circle, now it’s time to bring it back to YOU.  Most everyone has heard of the term “mind over matter.”  Like this blog, it is a simple idea with a more complicated execution.  But the gist of it is to not underestimate the power of the mind.

To be cliché’, whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.

The easiest and most prominent example I have for this is endurance running.  Over the past five years I have worked with some amazing people, helping them achieve their goals of completing a half or full marathon (that’s 13.1 or 26.2 miles, respectively, running or walking).

To the beginner or non-runner, you may think that this is just a feet and leg thing.  And to a certain extent in the beginning it is.  However, feet and legs are just muscles, just part of an overall system that is controlled by the brain.  If the brain is not on board, then it won’t matter how “ready” your legs are.

I’ve done this for the past 5 years because it is an amazing experience to watch the realization set in.  To see people start to believe that they can do something that until very recently they thought was impossible.  And to see them complete their goal and be happy with their results, that is a great thing to see.

From experience, I can tell you that the number one reason someone does not reach their goal in endurance running is because they stop (or never start) believing that they can do it.

Such is with life.  That was one simple, albeit a bit long-winded, example.  But it can be applied to ANY part of your life.  The moment you START believing in yourself is the moment you START to succeed.  The moment you STOP believing in yourself is the moment you START to fail.

Simple, yes.  Easy, no.  But it all starts with one thought, one choice.  Which one will you make?

Be true to yourself

Self ConfidenceYeah, you are awesome!  Just remember that.  If nothing else prevails today, know that you are in the best position to make yourself the best person you can be.  Today, take a look at those around you.  Don’t compare, just take a look and ask yourself, “Do they have self-confidence?” and then ask yourself, “Do I want to be like them?”

The answer of the first should dictate the answer to the second.  But then again, you don’t want to be someone else, you want to be you.  The best YOU possible.  That all starts with what’s inside.  It really counts, that stuff inside.  No no no, not the cream filling.  Though that is delicious and satisfying…I’m talking about the essence of you.

Having trouble finding it?  Think back to when you were a child.  What made you the happiest?

WARNING: here’s where we get deep and meaningful!!

So, say for instance, swinging on the swings made you the happiest.  Then maybe the essence of you is the part that reaches for the sky.  Always wanted to go higher and higher.  If that’s so, then tap back into that inner swing swinger and see where in your life you can make changes to reach higher….then REACH!

Or, say that playing board games or doing puzzles or reading made you happiest.  Then maybe the essence of you is to keep a close circle of confidants.  Family, friends, whatever.  Maybe that part of your life has gone missing.  If so, reach out to old friends.  Reach out to family.  Try to make the connection again.  It might not happen overnight, but the effort is what will make miracles happen.

Whatever it is, if something is missing, then the first step is to figure out what that is.  Bring it back, little by little.  A happy you is a productive you.  Remember, you are AWESOME….even if that awesome part is hidden, it’s there.  Today, I challenge you to go find it!

Examine the glass, my friends, and you will see that a small change today can make tomorrow brighter!