Here are some words that come to us from a very smart man who lived 2500 years ago. In situations where there is conflict, it is one of the greatest challenges to remain calm. Trust me, I know this personally. When you feel you have been wronged, or someone has violated a principle that is near and dear to your heart, it would be extremely unlikely to avoid emotions entering into the situation. The benefits of limiting emotional aspects of any conflict should be relatively obvious. I think the quote from the Taoist master above is easy to understand, but very difficult to put into action. One of the things that could help us stay calm in the face of conflict is to remember the why the conflict exists to begin with.
Have you ever been arguing with someone so long, that you can’t even remember what the point of the disagreement is all about? I think a good amount of us can say we have fallen into that situation at least once in our lives. In a relationship that has not evolved, the goal can feel like it is to hurt the person who hurt you. While this may seem like a good idea at the moment, seldom is that really the solution. It is 100% certain it will not feel good in the long term. I find asking yourself, “What is the reason I am so upset?” throughout the argument will help keep you on track. An even better question to ask is, “What is the solution I hope to have with this disagreement?” This not only helps you stay calm, but keeps you solution oriented. Asking, “How can I use this disagreement to create a new sense of closeness and growth?” can be a very empowering question.
It can also be a little selfish to remain calm. The one who is the calmest usually can steer the conversation and resulting actions in the direction they choose. While the party ruled by emotion is usually in a state of reaction, the one who is calm can operate from a state of action. Trust the words of a 2500 year-old wise man. Next time you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of a disagreement, ask yourself one of the empowering questions to remain calm.
This bit of information that we do not have to agree on everything to be kind to each other hopefully is something you already know…at least intellectually. In this day and age of social media, individuals can broadcast their opinions to the world with a click of a button. It is my belief they should. I think one of the beautiful things about technology and social media is the ability to be exposed to others who are different than we are. Whether that is someone in a different city, state or a different country. I am blessed that this blog is followed in over 100 countries. I regularly converse with wonderful souls from Italy, Lebanon, Syria, Australia and a host of other countries. Still working on Greenland, but we will save that story for another post. What warms my heart is that on any given day people in countries that can’t seem to get along socially or politically both read what I have written. Just today I was in touch with some amazing individuals in both Pakistan as well as India. Yesterday despite what I read in the headlines, people in both Turkey and Syria read what was posted here. I equate this to my ability to speak to topics that affect all of us. No matter where we live, everyone would love to reduce their stress, increase their joy and become the best version of themselves. In general, we all have a burning desire to live a life full of happiness, abundance and love. All of us at some point enjoy motivation, inspiration and encouragement. Everyone enjoys receiving a smile. Well maybe not one of my coworkers, but she is the one who probably needs it the most. As you can see deep down we are a lot alike. We all have hopes, dreams and passions. True, they may not be the same, but we all have them. What about those pesky differences? There are major differences after all. Religion, sex, politics. All of the subjects we were told not to discuss because they precipitate many disagreements. I say we should discuss our deep beliefs and passions. It is learning the proper way to discuss them. I also think disagreeing is ok. We just need to learn how to disagree. Even at the highest level we have regressed to personal attacks and name calling. It can be challenging to admit someone has a right to a contrary opinion than us. It can be even more difficult to be able to respect that opinion. Do you know what happens when you can say things like, “This is the way I think, but I understand and respect you have a different belief on this matter. How can we work together to come to a common accord?” One, you sound like a really badass. Seriously. You are a warrior. You have conquered the fiercest opponent – your own emotions and your own mind. There is not greater challenge than that. Here is another bonus to being diplomatic and understanding – you never come out looking like a jerk. By displaying a sense of compassion and understanding you have taken the high road. You also give them an opportunity to not only be a part of the solution, but walk away with dignity and respect for their belief. Why people feel there can only be one correct belief, opinion or answer is beyond me. Instead of focusing on trying to change others, we should work on changing ourselves into someone who operates with more compassion and understanding. Some of you may be saying, “How can I agree with someone who has a different faith than I do?” Again, it is important to note that you don’t have to agree with someone to respect their differences. This picture is bordered in green and yellow. Those two colors happen to be the colors of the Green Bay Packers, the local professional football team. Every Sunday when they play you can read posts and comments on social media of a very intense and passionate nature. Again, nothing wrong with that. What is sad is often these degenerate into the same name calling nonsense of the other subjects. Here are a few quick news flashes… You can’t change others, only yourself. People are allowed to be different, just as you are. Two people can have different opinions and beliefs and neither or both of them can be right. You can both disagree and respect someone’s difference. There are civil ways to discuss differences. Being exposed to and not automatically rejecting different people and their thoughts and beliefs can lead to some of your greatest personal growth. So let us all be kind to each other and work to live with more compassion.
Here we are in the middle of the week. A time I like to pause and ponder. The quote in the picture above is great to meditate on. In all of our relationships it is important to understand the different perspectives. This can be extremely hard to do, especially when that perspective contains a strong emotional attachment. That is why topics such as money, sex, politics and religion are best avoided being discussed by those of differing opinions. Sometimes it is not only helpful but necessary to have these discussions. Maybe your occupation is in one of the fields mentioned above? The same holds true if you are a parent talking to a child. It is especially important in intimate relationships where the more you understand your partner, the better your chances for success are. When I speak of these issues at some of my seminars or during coaching sessions one of the first questions I am asked is “How can I get my partner to agree with me?” or for the more enlightened, “How can I come to an agreement with my partner?” The answer to both of these questions is you do not have to. What the goal of such conversations should be is to come to a mutually understanding of each others perspectives and beliefs without judgment. When you do so, you can then consider the best way to proceed that includes actions that both accept and respect both sides. I cannot begin to convey the healthy growth that will happen in any relationship when you realize, “This person views the world differently than me and that’s ok.” You will be able to better predict how a person may act or react to a certain situation. It will help you with knowledge in many areas including, but not limited to, what makes them happy, what motivates them, what will upset them and what will make them feel loved and appreciated. You can see the importance of becoming someone who does not waste their time with disagreeing with a different perspective, but instead one who seeks to understand. When we happen to cross paths with someone who is not so enlightened (and why do these people seem to be some of the loudest and most opinionated?) we can either direct them to this blog or just calmly thank them for their opinion and move on. It will not serve them to explain that we have a different perspective and it certainly will not serve us. Be open to different perspectives. Just because you do not agree with them, do not let that stop you from using them to help you better understand and relate to others.
This is a puffer fish. His look kind of reminds me of mine when the alarm goes off in the morning.
You can eat puffer fish, but they must be prepared correctly. If not, you could die. I recall while on vacation once I saw just such a dish on the menu. Normally I am quite the adventurous man, especially on vacation, but this time I considered the situation. I was fairly certain the chef knew what he was doing as the dish was actually listed on the menu. The odds of tasting something new without it ending fately were pretty good.
Even with all of this confidence the trade off wasn’t worth it. There was a possibility of death just to taste a new fish. Normally decisions are not this black and white, but every decision we make has a trade off. Don’t want to go to your job anymore? You will be awarded great freedom, but then again you won’t have much money to enjoy said freedom.
The most important time I have found this to come in handy is in disagreements with others. Have you ever found yourself in a disagreement with someone who in your mind has clearly done something wrong or hurtful but either cannot or refuses to see it? Now you are faced with a few options. If you continue to disagree until they see your side, which may never happen, there will exist the possibility of additional hurts being said. If you end up convincing them that they are ‘wrong’ or ‘to blame’ they may end up feeling resentful, hurt, ashamed or a host of other unpleasant emotions. While it may ‘serve then right’ it does damage to your relationship. Knowing 2 things going in may help. One, people seldom do things maliciously. Especially if they are people who care. Perhaps rather than make them feel bad, what is really needed is to help them understand how it made you feel. That leads us to our second point, know your goal. Is it just to prove your right and they are to blame? If so, you won’t be looking forward to keeping too many friendships alive. If you are reading a blog like this i hallucinate your goal would be more to solve the issue at hand, find a better plan for the future and return to the love and goodwill that was there before the disagreement began. Knowing this ahead of time will certainly lead to a different course of actions. Even realizing it in the middle of a disagreement can lead to a quicker and more loving resolution.
So think about what payoff your actions will lead to. Is this easy? No. Especially in extreme emotional states. With practice you will get better at it. This will leave you with less regret and “why did i say that?” Situations.
As we watch what is going on in our current political climate i am reminded of my great friend Cari. That is a picture of her above. Not only does she obviously have great taste in books (you can get a copy of that very book by clicking this link A Happy Life for Busy People) but she is one of the sweetest people I have the honor of having in my life. Cari literally will help anyone and everyone she can. When her friends are hurting, she is hurting. She is a great listener and has a kind word about everyone. She even bakes amazing cookies.
Other than the fact I am grateful for my friend and can take a moment to brag on her,what is this post about? Here is something about Cari and I, when it comes to some very important issues we have major differences. We are both very spiritual people and lean heavily on our faith. It is one of the things that I respect most about Cari. She stands by her beliefs even when it is not the easiest thing to do. She also does her very best to not only stand by them, but live her faith as well. She ‘walks the walk’. She also expresses her faith quite openly.
One evening Cari and I met for dinner which ended up lasting several hours. We discussed at length our beliefs and how they would apply in certain situations. We discovered on a lot of issues, important ones, we were miles apart. On others our views were in direct conflict with each other.
A discussion like that could lead to conflict between the two individuals. How often have we heard never to discuss religion and politics? Here is what came of the evening with my friend. We expressed our views openly and passionately while the other party listened with the intent of understanding and not to ‘correct’ or even contradict each other. On several issues we agreed to disagree and on others even incorporated each other’s belief to gain a more complete understanding.
The reason i bring this up is to encourage all of us to do the same. We can obviously see on a bigger scale governments having difficulty doing this, but it starts at a fundamental level between two people. I encourage us all to search for common ground and learn to agree to disagree. You can certainly respect someone and their convictions even if you do not agree with them 100%. Feel free to share any ideas you have for doing so in the comments below.