WHERE TO SPEND YOUR ENERGY

Last post we spoke about resisting posting or responding to negative content online. We also mentioned using these platforms, whether they be Facebook, Twitter or any other social media, to spread love and appreciation we may be hesitant to voice in person. Today we are going to expand that principle. We are going to ‘take it outside the classroom’ as they say.

As responsible human beings we always want to fix what is wrong. That is a good urge and one I could certainly get behind. The method in which this is often done can be focused incorrectly. We worry about fighting a world in which all people are not treated equal. That in itself is a rather noble pursuit. In my opinion our focus should be on creating a world where everyone is treated equal. This may sound like the same thing, but it is not. Instead of focusing solely on eliminating hate, we should spend the bulk of our time on spreading love.

This may seem difficult to do when we look at issues of things such as racism, spiritual persecution, bullying and other societal behaviors. It would indeed be rather overwhelming to change all of that, but what we do have complete control over is ourselves. Let us focus on creating the new that we desire with our own behavior. Do we desire a world that is more loving and accepting? Let us be more loving and accepting ourselves. Let us join groups and organizations that promote unity and love.

Beginning today, let us focus our energy on growing the new world in which we wish to live. Let us do it by both changing our own actions as well as promoting and joining forces with individuals and groups that do the same. Instead of focusing on fixing what is wrong, let us instead focus on growing what is right.

WHAT I LEARNED FROM 4TH AND 5TH GRADERS

As I mentioned last post, I recently had the opportunity to speak to several 4th and 5th graders about being a writer and how to improve their school and their community. I approached the day of my talk with some trepidation. How would I take many of the seemingly complex subjects we discuss on this website and in my book and convey them to these young children? After all, many adults take a while to grasp some of the concepts! Then the above quote from Albert Einstein came to mind. “If you can’t explain it simply, you do not understand it well enough.”

These wonderful young people were giving me a great opportunity to learn a new way to convey my teachings in a simpler format. Could that be done? I recall one of my favorite virtual teachers growing up, Mr. Rogers. His children’s television program routinely tackled very complicated subjects such as death and divorce and broke them down to simple ideas children would understand. I would do the same with the issues I believe allow young people to make a big difference in their community. I wanted them to know that each of us has a unique and special talent, different from our friends and family, but just as important. I wanted to show them the different talents people were using to better our community. We have artists painting murals on several buildings throughout the city. Those are artists using their talents. We have engineers that are redesigning streets to make them safer and easier to travel on. Those are people using talents in math, design and many other skills. It is by pursuing what you enjoy and are passionate about that can lead to a better community. A city full of people pursuing their passions would be a great community indeed.

I also wanted to instill the idea of believing in yourself and your dreams, even if others don’t and it may seem as if they are right. My grandfather, the older person in the picture above, only had an 8th grade education due to growing up during the depression. Despite this challenge, he ended up teaching college welding classes. He did so because that was his passion and he invested in teaching himself. In my own journey, as some of you may know, I was told by a well-meaning English professor that I should never pursue a career in writing. The sad truth is many people cannot see what talents may lay untapped inside of us. In fact, it may take us a while to see and believe in those talents ourselves. If I had listened to that English teacher I would have never written my book that has touched thousands of lives.

Bullying. The last bit of information I wanted to relay to these amazing young people was the need to work together. Especially in today’s world, we are connected more than ever. Not a day goes by that we do not rely on others for things we do and use. Anywhere from the engineers I mentioned earlier that design the streets we drive on, to the people who make our clothes we live in and the cars we drive. There is the farmers who help bring food to our table, the garbage men and women who make sure our waste does not collect rats and flies to, of course, our amazing teachers who instruct and inspire our young.

I used an example to speak to children, but I think it can benefit adults as well. Think of the Avengers. It is a group of different super heroes. Each one has their own talent. Spiderman can climb tall buildings where the Hulk cannot. If they were to arm wrestle the Hulk would win every time. Each super hero has their own talent, but they can do the most good when they work together. Each hero brings something different they can do well, even if it is different from what we can do well. We all have our own ‘super power’. What creates great change and a great community is when all of us ‘super heroes’ come together and use our super powers to make our schools, families and communities better.

I am so grateful to the three teachers who gave me the great opportunity to not only speak to and inspire and empower their students, but who forced me to take a new look at what I teach and to be able to pass that knowledge on to young people. If we can teach our children how best to be not only good citizens, but good neighbors and good people, we have done a great gift to our world and to our future. It is with that thought in mind I want to take a moment to acknowledge the effort and difference teachers of all kinds make in the world. They have not only one of the greatest responsibilities and one of most difficult jobs, but one of the most noble – shaping our future through the lives of the young.

CHILDREN ARE NOT THE ONLY BULLIES.

When I look back at my formative years, I am not sure there is too much that I am extremely proud of. As the years went by a lot of things seemed to change as happens with most people. Some seemed to improve, such as my ability to use humor in a constructive and healing way. Some things seemed to go in the opposite direction. When I was in third grade the teacher kept my stories when the year was over because she liked them so much (This is true. My mother will vouch for me) By my senior year in high school my English teacher informed me she prayed to God I would never have a career in writing. Some things didn’t change. Once, on a Facebook post people were asked what they remembered about me. A lot of them said my hair, but some said that I always seemed positive and nice. (who would have guessed I could’ve turned that into a career) In my yearbooks people made mention that I was always questioning everything and that I asked too many questions. I guess that didn’t change either.

One thing I am very proud of is that I never heard I was a bully to anyone. In my memory, I never thought of myself above anyone. There was enjoyment to be had in the company of almost everyone I am came in contact with. The same holds true of me as an adult. I do my best to find the good in every person I meet. There are a few who make me work harder than others. If I can’t find something to like in someone I find that to be my failure, not theirs.

Growing up all kids were not like me. I am grateful for that or it would have been pretty boring. Unfortunately, some kids were bullies. Especially when I was very young, there were kids I would dread even seeing and do my best to avoid. As I grew older I realized the best way to avoid having to deal with bullies is confront them. Not in a physical way, but by realizing bullies are generally people who have more problems than those they attack. It is by accenting the flaws of others they hope to hide flaws of their own. In many ways their insults and hurtful behavior are nothing more than a cry for help. This is hard to imagine, especially as a young child whose last name resembles that of a Disney character. When I would confront them it would usually be with a question as to why they say such unpleasant things. I would often follow that up with a compliment, which is what most bullies crave most of all. I would say something like, “I really admire your _____ and can’t understand why you feel the need to be so mean.” Even if that didn’t stop the action at that moment it usually provided food for thought at the next encounter.

As I started to mention earlier, I did not have much trouble with bullies. In part, I guess that was because I genuinely cared for everyone, even most of the bullies. When I ask you how things are going, I stop and listen to the answer. It was hard to pick on someone who cared about your well-being. I also understood that usually their cruel actions were nothing more than a thinly veiled mask for their own insecuries. I would usually find something good about them and pay them a compliment. Many times instead of picking on me they would open up and share some of their issues with me. I enjoyed helping even if it was just really listening to what they had to say. I truly hoped by relieving some of their pains, it may reduce the pain they inflicted on others.

Well, that is all done and over with now that I am older right? Wrong. Nothing could be further from the truth. I recall when I first started working for the United States Postal Service. In the office I worked there was an undertone of anger and hostility. Some of the rudest most insulting people were sad and lonely. In the world of being a DJ, I see it every night. Add alcohol to the mix and people’s insecurities are heightened that much further. The more insecure they feel? You guessed it, the more they seem to take it out on others. Some do not even realize they are doing it.

The sad part is they never healed from childhood. What they have failed to realize is that the pain they are inflicting cannot help them at all. Sure it may feel good in the short term. It may even hide some of their flaws they are so afraid of revealing. What it will not do is help them heal. Sadly, the effect it has on those they act out against can also be negatively life-transforming. It also trickles down. When they hurt others, those people either withdraw or then go on to hurt others. If you extrapolate this over time, the trend and amount of bullies will only increase.

Why are some children and some adults so mean and cruel? I believe the answer can be found in two words – fear and ignorance. It can be scary to face our own insecurities, much less share them with someone who may be able to help us. That takes a great amount of courage. What takes less and almost no courage is to find someone we perceive as weaker or in a lower social standing and put them down to make ourselves feel better. At the end of the day when we are in our beds, those actions will only intensify our feelings of guilt and inadequacy. The other side of the coin is ignorance. Even if we develop the courage to express ourselves, to show others our faults and be very strong as to ask for help with them, how do we do that? Those answers are best left to professionals and can be as complex as the people asking them and the problems. What we can do to help stem and stop the spread bullying is to be kind to everyone we meet and make an effort to listen to and provide a safe space for people to share their feelings and problems. I am going to leave you with a quote from one of my favorite philosophers to end this on an uplifting note.

STARFISH STORY

In my work there are many days in which I feel I am not creating the impact I would like. Stats may be down on my YouTube channel or blog post. Maybe there are not ‘likes’ or comments on a particular post and I can wonder, “Is anyone reading this?” My goal is to help create a world filled with positivity in which people can coexist despite their differences. I enjoy facilitating dialogue between parties in an effort to create an understanding, or at the very least a sense of compassion.

Most of us have days where we feel that we are just not making a difference. It can be professionally, personally or something different entirely. It is on those days I am reminded of the story above. There have been days people have come up to be and mentioned how my writing has affected them. Some say it has helped them make it through a hard time. Others mention that it helps them keep perspective. One gentleman even told me this website and what I write here helped him think twice when he pondered taking his own life. Often I find myself being humbled by these compliments. It is then I sit back, and like the little boy, can say “I made a difference to that one.”

Another aspect of helping that one person we must keep in mind is the ripple effect. By inspiring, helping or saving one person, you never know what they may go on to do for others. It is like the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. We not be able to see what the world would have been like if we had not been there, but rest assured you make a difference.

While I would enjoy thousands of likes and views on YouTube or Secret2anamazinglife.com, I must remember the difference I made in the lives I have and use that to continue. Every time I get behind the keyboard I think of the soul who feels they have no reason to go on. I imagine sitting across the table from the teenager who is pondering taking their own life after being the victim of a bully. I think of the single parent who just lost their job, or the person who just lost their spouse of many years. It is for these wonderful souls and countless others that I write what I do.

I encourage you to remember that if you positively affect even just one life, you are changing the world. I am constantly reminded how little we know how many people we affect when I run into someone who tells me although they never mention anything online, the read what I write everyday and it makes a big impact in their life. I usually respond that I never even knew they read my writing. I am sure there are many more people we all positively affect that we never know.

Keep being a light in the world of darkness. If someone has inspired you, let them know. It may be just the motivation they need to keep going. I personally cannot express how much it means to me to hear how my writing affects people. Every time I do I want to run to my laptop and write some more. I want to take a second and thank each and every person who has inspired me.

NEVER LET THEM GET YOU DOWN!

This is a rather silly picture, but can give us a great idea. What if we only took the good out of every negative situation we were faced with? Turned every insult into a compliment? I can tell you it would drive those insulting us crazy. Someone calls you lazy? Thank them for encouraging you for being more active. Someone calls you unattractive? Thank them for keeping you humble and reminding you that your special beauty does not appeal to everyone. If someone dares to tell you that you will not amount to anything, I dare you to high five them (in the hand not the face) and say with all the excitement you can muster “thank you for motivating me to be all that I can be!”

If all this sounds a little like putting on ‘rose colored glasses’ or looking at the glass as half full, well it is. We must realize the very power in doing just that. Unfortunately, what the world may give us is not 100% in our control. How we react to it, or what we do with it is. If we let insults or situations to hurt us or bring us down, we let those situations win. Frank Sinatra, the famous singer and performer once said “the best revenge is massive success.” That is so true. Let us begin today by taking every negative thing that comes in our life and turning it on its head. It will take some practice, but I promise you will be smiling more and crying less. Not to mention, those cruel souls saying those mean things may give up in frustration.

THE INSPIRATION OF POOH

Proof that inspiration can strike anywhere, let me share some advice from a very sage philosopher, Winne the Pooh. Yes, the childhood character created by A. A. Milne. What can we learn about living an amazing life from a stuffed bear? Plenty. These words actually come from the book The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff. It explores the different religious beliefs in the context of the characters of Pooh and his friends. Sounds crazy I know, but check it out, a great read.

Ok, the part we are dealing with today is called the cottleston pie principle. It is based on a silly sound that Pooh sings as he walks through the Hundred acre wood where he lives. Again, the words seem simple, but the wisdom is hidden in there. We are going to look at one verse at a time. Here is the first.

cottleston, cottleston, cottleston pie,

a fly can’t bird, but a bird can fly.

ask me a riddle and I reply:

“Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston pie’

What exactly does all of that mean? Seems rather straight forward, but you would be amazed how many people do not understand. So many people are busy trying to be something they are not, or worse yet expecting everyone else to be something they are not. How much simpler would life be if we all realized our strengths and weaknesses and accepted others as well. Perhaps you have a coworker who is, shall we say…’sunshine challenged’ instead of viewing them as a burden, we can view them as a reminder to remain positive. You would no more use scotch tape to fix your car, than you would use a welding torch to put a torn piece of paper together. Everything has its use and purpose. When something seems ‘bad’ or ‘useless’ consider changing your view of it, or what you may use it for.

Still having trouble accepting advice from a talking bear? How about advice from a world-famous physicist? These words come straight from Albert Einstein and happen to be one of my favorite quotes of his. They also echo the words of the world-famous bear above.

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid”

So whether you repeat this quote to yourself or sing the verse above, it is important to remember everything, and everyone has a purpose and something they are good at. Do not be to hard on yourself or others. Maybe you just  haven’t found what you are here for yet. As Einstein said, Maybe you just haven’t found your genius yet.