Archive for December, 2013

Forgive

Forgive

Forgive, for your own sake. Forgiveness is not about them as much as it is about you and creating a better, emotionally healthier future for yourself. After a betrayal, you are usually the one living with the rage, jealousy or feelings of victimhood.

Find a way to forgive. Forgiveness is the choice NOT to suffer.

Maybe you’re telling yourself that you want to feel better first before you extend forgiveness. I’m suggesting you’ll feel better faster if you forgive first!

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you. — Lewis B. Smedes

Unfortunately a rational understanding of this concept doesn’t suddenly make it easy. Trying to get your head around this does, however, begin to let you see and experience the feelings you’re having a little more objectively, which is a huge step in the right direction.

Of course it applies to forgiving yourself as well.

D.I.Y.

DIYWomanThe Do It Yourself industry is worth billions of dollars. Virtually everything we do is experiencing an explosion in the D.I.Y. realm, ranging from home improvement (one of few categories where in store sales were up Q4 of last year) to publishing to medicine. There is a utility to it, of course. The benefits are many and vary depending upon the domain in question. Some of it is just people exploring a hobby, but much of it is from people legitimately wanting to take things on themselves.

There is a less visible component to it as well. A man can list dozens of reasons why he wants to build his own deck, and they’re mostly valid to some extent. But he is also choosing to use a valuable resource (time) to accomplish something he’s probably not that good at. He’s doing it for the sake of avoiding something else. It can simply be boredom, but it’s often more. Everyone is quick to cite the money saving aspect. I argue it’s more fiscally sound to leverage what you are good at than to spend your time piddling away at something you’re not. But that involves confronting the fear. We keep ourselves busy with other things for the sake of avoiding, and we usually end up with a nice feeling of accomplishment in exchange.

This is the unspoken linchpin of the D.I.Y. explosion.

Documented Kids

dossierKids are growing up in a world where their entire existence is documented and likely widely available on the net. Parents and other relatives have probably shared numerous details and photos by the time the child is old enough to talk. Later, friends will add to this database.

Technology is just beginning to mature around all of this information. Facial recognition, and systems that build and manage metadata are all conspiring to take any schred of privacy away. Imagine a cute kid photographed in front of the house with the house number visible in the background. Triangulate that against a photo of her parent at work with a logo in the background. Find a blog post written by the parent containing a negative parenting experience relating to the child.

While there are some safety concerns to be mindful of, the “needle in a haystack” principle applies. Unless there is some reason for your kid to be a target she is probably just lost in all the noise. But all of these things are starting to be tied together in such a way that the child will have a semi-public identity before he or she has had a chance to manifest her own, actual identity.

Could that innocent blog post later cost her a chance at a job? Or maybe they determine the health insurance will be too high because she “liked” fried chicken. Will that innocent photo of her at one year of age in the bathtub become a source of embarrassment when another kid posts it at school? Will the child be targeted in sophisticated ways (unbeknownst to the parents) by savvy marketers?

We’re all public figures these days so we may as well get used to it. Our generation did it to ourselves. Now we’re bringing along a generation where it has been done for them…to them.

We might want to think about that. I’m not suggesting that we take things so far as to choose names according to what Google finds (as some do), or that we preregister our children to Facebook and YouTube (as some do), but they’ll later appreciate it if we’re mindful enough in what we post that they have a chance to decide for themselves a little bit about what they want their public persona to be.

Giving?

giving-backA wealthy person donates to the orchestra or art museum he enjoys. It’s a nice donation, but how much is it really accomplishing in terms of the overall well being of the city’s inhabitants? Obviously it has a positive effect, but that money has to trickle down quite a bit to get to those who need it most. It satisfies the legal definition of being a donation, but is in many ways more for his own good than anything. It’s a tax write-off, but more. It makes the donator feel good existentially.

Giving makes us feel good, which is often why we do it even when there may not be any direct benefits to ourselves. It’s largely about us. Consider the difference between an anonymous donation and the one with the donor’s name etched into the marble of the building. One appears more selfless than the other, but that isn’t necessarily the case when you factor in how much of the motivation is really about making oneself feel good.

Giving until it hurts, really hurts, is different. When you make a real and substantial sacrifice to help someone else all of the selfish rationale still applies, but now there’s a degree of altruism in it. Pure altruism is almost unheard of. Many accountings of Jesus and a few other religious leaders would fit the bill, but beyond that there aren’t many examples that can pass the purely selfless test.

We sometimes do good to avoid guilt. That’s a different side of the same coin.

When you recognize that even some of the best and most heroic things you do have a significant element of pleasing yourself as the source of motivation to do them it begins to get easier to balance taking care of yourself against taking care of others.

Take a look at why you really do things. There are scars left from past pleasure and pain. If your road to happiness seems like it’s to mitigate guilt then you need to step back and recognize you are covering something else up. Get to the source of that and deal with it for a chance at real happiness. If you do things for others for any reason (as we all do) beyond just helping them, just be honest with yourself about it. It doesn’t negate the good you did, but don’t try to fool yourself, as that has a way of eating away at or otherwise undoing the good you feel, which often leads to reciprocal actions…and guilt, which leads to…(you get the idea).

Tech Fashion

iGlassesIt’s a given that technology is all around us now. It’s gradually even starting to become part of us. The novelty of tech has long worn off. Function is the ante to be in the game. So what’s the differentiator now? Why buy Apple or Samsung, or…?

There are still nuances in performance and features that make a legitimate difference to some people. But the difference maker is shifting to form. How does a person feel being associated with one or the other. It’s fashion all over again.

Your brand of fashion may be to compare pixel spaces, while another’s may be to note how the OS feels, while another’s may be to look at the overall appearance, etc. In the end those factors are fading into the context of the message we receive and/or choose to communicate by using X versus Y. It’s fashion. It’s lifestyle. Even the geeks who try to fixate on the specs (because that’s their fashion) choose based on the message it sends, on the basis of the tribe they want to be part of (though they will never admit it).

Fashion deliberately creates or leveridges (widens) the divides that allow the different tribes to exist and be distinct. Followers then march in step, some parroting the talking points that rationalize their choices. Other’s quietly letting the statement they make speak for itself. A person who wears fine suits can spot them at a distance.

A fine watch doesn’t keep time any better than a cheap one (in many cases not as well). But it doesn’t matter. It keeps time well enough, and serves another, more abstract purpose. A fine piece of art hanging on the wall doesn’t do anything more than the cheap picture purchased at Target…or does it?

Of course it does.

Hasselblad

The Chosen Ones

Chosen1The phrase “chosen ones” can have a very different subtext to it depending upon context.

The word “blessed” seems to have similar characteristics. Some people affected by the events of these photos were blessed. Others appear not to have been (I could have chosen MUCH more dramatic photos than these — use your imagination).

It’s possible we’re wrong about which ones were blessed. Any discussion of it, however, assumes that the events were not random. If not random, then they are by design.

Some were chosen to suffer…or?

Chosen2

Ideal World

ideal worldThere is no ideal world. We know that. Yet we sometimes can’t seem to stop trying to get others to conform to our idea of it. Most of our communications are (at least on the surface) to accomplish something, yet we often don’t fully consider the best way to go about it. We’re pushing for the ideal world, and in the process submarining our ability to get any positive movement, let alone achieving satisfaction. This is especially true when there is conflict, or some stressor involved.

The starting point is to communicate to get an intended result rather than merely releasing whatever emotional baggage there may be.

First figure out the result you really want. Then the proper method of communication can be devised. Resist the temptation to add any extra and (especially) emotionally charged components unless those are truly germane to a message that will get the result you need. All of the extra baggage from your misery or frustration over all the other stuff may only distract from the core message you need to convey. Instead give a person clear and relevant (to him) instructions about what you need. You’d be surprised how much better you are heard and how much better the results will be when you strip all the extra information (noise) away.



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