POLITICAL AD BURNOUT

Ah election time. Here in the United States it is election time. With this triumphant event comes the onslaught of political ads. These, I am to believe, are meant to sway your opinion from one candidate to another. The amount of money spent on these ads amounts to the income of many small countries. What good could be created if this money was put to a more productive use is frightening. It is my firm belief there is enough money there to allow all the candidates to fulfill their outrageous promises.

This would not be so bad if these ads contained useful tips on how to better connect with your government or say get that awful smell out of your gym shoes. Instead let us look at what we do get for all of the tax money and other funds allocated for such endeavors. All but a slight percentage of ads actually feature the opposition. If that party is an incumbent it will proceed to explain how everything that has went wrong in your life can be attributed to this individual. Be that the crime in your neighborhood going up, the quality of your life going down or that stain you discovered on your new shirt. If, by contrast, the party featured in the ad has yet to obtain an office the ad will likely feature a doomsday prediction of what will happen if this person is elected. Things such as taxes rising 3 million percent, everyone’s job disappearing and your dog packing up and running away from home. In short, both ads will tell you what a terrible world you are living in.

It would not be so bad if we had an option to avoid all of this negative banter and mudslinging. These ads, however, find their way into every facet of our lives. There are of course television spots filled with images of impoverished neighborhoods, homeless individuals and other dire circumstances set to spread across the land unless you vote the prescribed way. There are radio ads that fill our ears with such inspiring terms as ‘liar’, ‘thief’ and ‘scoundrel’. There are ads that fill our mailboxes that combine both. There are even emails, online ads, and today I received a text to go along with those very effective automated phone calls.

Being exposed to all of this negativity can have several bad consequences. If you are a staunch political opinioned party member they are designed to get your blood boiling and heart rate higher until you are telling everyone you know how they should vote and attacking friendly neighbors even if they display the slightest chance of supporting party. If, on the other hand, you are someone like myself who is focused on your little corner of the world and votes for the best candidate regardless of party affiliation, you can still be left feeling depressed and hopeless. You may become frustrated at all of the negative things you hear and read. Even if you do not vote and could care less who wins, you are still having to take out more garbage and your favorite program is being interrupted with more and more commercials.

What can we do to avoid getting political ad burnout? There are a few things. First of all, remember just like any disagreement, the truth usually lies somewhere in the middle of the two sides. All parties do some right and some wrong. I say all parties because it bears remembering there are many different parties to choose from so if you have had it up to here with all the negative banter between the two major parties you do have other options. Another very important thing to keep in mind is all you can do is cast your one vote. Sure, you can hold rallies or put a sign in your yard, but when all is said and done we all have just one vote.

Here is another thing that could make this season a little more bearable and even inspiring. Election time inspiring? Yes indeed. Every time you hear, see or receive a political ad say something nice about someone. Maybe send someone some well-wishes. A few of my friends even suggested turning this into a drinking game. Unless you would like to be incapacitated until mid-November I would not suggest this course of action.

Most importantly, remember to respect others. For whatever reason, politics can seem to bring out the worst in people who otherwise seem like fairly normal and even slightly sane individuals. Do not swallow the brainwashing that all people belonging to a certain political party secretly worship the devil and want to eat small children. Although they may subscribe to a different ideology, that does not make them, or you, any less of a person. It is only by working together that we can truly change this world to a better place.

“A house divided against itself cannot stand” – Abraham Lincoln.

SECRET TO A HEALTHY COMMUNITY

The man on the far right, with the megaphone, is the mayor of my fine city. Every year he holds a 30-day challenge to have members of the community be active for 30 minutes a day. This year the challenge was kicked off with a one mile walk that the mayor led. In politics there is too often examples of “Do as I say, not as I do.” It is refreshing to see a leader who leads by example.

Not only was this an example of a leader walking the walk, but of one who truly cares about the city he leads. Wanting the people who live in the city to be both healthy and happy is an extra step that most officials would not take. The position of mayor is filled with lots of obligations and responsibilities. Arranging both a walk and a 30-day fitness challenge creates a lot of extra work. Including, but not limited to, setting up police presence to make sure the course is safe. Working with sponsors and allocating prizes to be given away, t-shirts printed and what is sure to be countless other details I am forgetting.

Sure, setting up such an event can help you during reelection, but so could just being a great mayor. Why take all of the extra steps? That answer was made clear as we walked along. The mayor did not discuss politics, or as some national politicians are wanting to do, discuss how great of a mayor he was. No, today as we walked along he discussed his son’s love for sports, his family’s like for vacations in northern Wisconsin and an eventful trip they had made to Disney world. Most importantly, the mayor listened. Another sign of a great leader. He listened patiently as people voiced their concerns about aspects of the city, but also when they shared stories of their families as well.

After the walk had concluded, there was a small gathering where water, yogurt and prizes were handed out. Sadly, I did not win any of the State Fair tickets that were up for grabs. I did win, however, by being part of this great community.

I had the great pleasure of talking to wonderful neighbors like Jon and Robin who are also working diligently to foster a sense of community. Even though she wasn’t able to attend, there were plenty of discussions about my amazing neighbor Linda and what a caring neighbor she is. To make the day even better I was able to finally meet several neighbors I had only previously interacted with online including Denise and her fabulous husband. I look forward to chatting more with all of them as we work together to foster a greater sense of togetherness in West Allis Wisconsin.

If your community offers programs such as this I encourage you to join. If they do not, work with leaders to begin some. They not only do a great deal to reduce crime and increase a sense of community, but bring people together for positive and healthy reasons. Leaders, take mayor Dan Devine’s example. Caring about your constituents runs deeper than success at the polls and does not go unnoticed.

THERE IS NO OTHER WAY

In the world today we are faced with more division and anger then we have seen in a very long time. This can leave us with feelings of frustration, animosity, and worst of all fear. Daily I hear people complain about the government, different cultures, religions other than their own. It can also leave us with a wide array of questions. “Why do these people hate these people?” “Who is to blame?” Even if we are doing our best to fix problems the questions that come up can leave us without many answers. “Why is this happening?” and even the constructive “How can we fix the problems we face?”

How do we address all of the issues and questions above? While working my brain for an answer I thought of my favorite quote of all time –

“Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Gandhi

One answer I have found to all of these complex and difficult questions is rather simple. The best way to alleviate fear, to quell anger and to ease frustration is to become an example of the changes you wish to see in the world.

Being kind and understanding to people who are different from you may not change the world, but it will change your world and serve as an example to anyone who may be watching you. This advice goes double if you are a parent. Do not like the current political climate? Cast your vote and be a catalyst for change and not one who just curses the establishment. Not happy with the way the environment is being treated? Make sure to recycle and live a sustainable lifestyle.

As with many quotes that I enjoy the lessons I learn from them continue as the years go by. If everyone lived as the change we wished to see in the world, the world would change. Would you like people to be more friendly? Be more friendly yourself. As a bonus, if you are working hard on becoming the best version of you there is seldom any time left to complain about others, whom it should be noted, you can never change anyway.

IT IS REALLY THAT SIMPLE

For most of us, despite our differences, would fit into these categories. Ironically, often we search until we can find something that makes a person different from us. It is almost as if saying, “That person is a lot like me.” Somehow diminishes either one of you. When we understand that we all share the same basic needs and wants, judgment and hatred become all but impossible.

If you are a person who loves others and does not want to harm them, and reading a blog like this it would be a safe assumption you are, then it would serve you well to surround yourself with other like-minded individuals. Does it really matter where on this planet they are from? By writing these posts I have met and befriended many other like-minded souls from over 100 different countries. They have brought not only a unique perspective, but a great deal of joy to my life. Does it really matter what color they are? I am blessed enough to have friends of every race. Not only does it include many great and loving people, but our pictures together are a lot more colorful. Politics? Ooh…that is a good one. Quite often we can almost be at each others throats because of different ways to address the same problem. Instead we should focus on the fact that we are both trying to solve the same problem. Maybe their solution takes into account something we overlooked? Maybe a combination of both solutions would work the best? We will never get to that point if we busy ourselves with such low level minutia such as what political party is the correct one.

Even my wonderful friend Nick who sent me this picture, and by doing so inspired this post, has different opinions than me on a wide array of different subjects. Do you know what? That is great to me. Often when we talk he will bring to my attention a way of looking at things I had not considered. Even on subjects where we just ‘agree to disagree’ we still have the same respect and admiration for each other. Not only is it ok with us that we are different in some regards, but it is quite cool that we are also the same in many ways. It is that similarity that prompted him to share the above picture with me and allowed me to share it with you.

Today, celebrate the fact we are all a little different, and when it comes down to the core of who we are, most of us are really the same. Both of those should be reasons to celebrate with your fellow humans.

WHAT I LIVE BY

is

This is, by far, my favorite quote. It is a lesson I find we should all live by. There are two ways I enjoy looking at this quote. The first one is about ‘walking the walk’. One of the worst things we can see is someone who professes one thing, but then does another. If you want your life to be filled with less drama, but you spend your afternoon writing on social media about how filled with drama everyone else is, you are only adding to that. If you want the world to have less drama, start with yourself. There is only one person that we can have complete control over in this world and that is ourselves.

That brings me to the second way in which I enjoy this quote, as sense of hope. This is why I am writing what I do today. For those of you unfamiliar with my story, it was at the depths of darkest despair that my journey of positivity started. I was facing many negative situations in my personal life and was desperately seeking a solution from outside of myself. Everywhere I looked it seemed as if I saw one negative thing after another. The newspaper was full of negative news meant to sell and shock. The evening news on television was more of the same. I saw posts on social media that were certainly less than inspiring.

All of this negativity everywhere was not only frustrating, but had me enraged at times. It may be how some of you feel. I felt angry at politicians and celebrities that seemed to have no regard for human decency. The media only reporting these stories caused more frustration. Seeing people treating each other with hate and prejudice made me so mad.

I wanted to change governments to be more responsible and caring towards the people they serve and less driven by profit. I wanted celebrities to use their fame and position for good. It would also be nice for more of them to respect the people that allowed them to achieve that status. I wanted more people to live in light and love and treat each other with respect and compassion.

Do I still want all of these things? Absolutely. The difference is I decided to be that change. I joined political causes I believe brought about unity and positive change. I made sure I did my best to be an example of treating people with respect and compassion. Daily I work to spread positive news and keep the negative things I hear to myself. I wished more men acted as gentleman, so I do my best to treat my lady as I want to see all men treat theirs. In every way I strive to lead by example. I realized the best thing I could do to reduce the amount of negative people in the world was not be one of them.

What change do you wish to see in the world? Ask yourself honestly, do you embody that change? It may seem like changing yourself is only a small change, but doing so has caused several big changes in my own life. First, by focusing on being positive and not adding to the negative, I have felt more positive myself. I have attracted into my life people who have the same goals and aspirations as I do. Changing yourself has a ripple effect that touches the lives of so many others. If every one of us focused solely on being the change we wished to see in the world, the world we see would change.

THE BEST ACCESSORY 

Last year people spent over 55 billion dollars (yes that is billion) on cosmetics. Jewelry and fashion were both multi-billion dollar a year expenditures as well. We spend time and money reading and perusing fashion and style magazines. Presidents and other leaders in both politics and business pay people to write speeches for them and even pick out what they are going to wear. Why? Everyone, whether you are a leader or a follower wants to look good.

Still, the number one thing we can do to look good is often over-looked and does not cost a thing. What is this accessory? A smile. When we meet someone and they are wearing a smile we are more likely to believe what they have to say. We are more likely to trust them. When you are wearing a smile people are more receptive to your ideas and what you have to say. Not to mention wearing a smile feels good and makes those we come in contact with feel good.

With all these benefits why is everyone not wearing a smile? It’s free, it is emotionally and physically healthy, it encourages others to listen to you and makes them more receptive to what you have to say. You would think every job interview, every first date, every important business deal and appearance by a public official would all contain many smiles.

Why do more people not smile? I guess there are several reasons. One, is they simply don’t realize they are not. I used to be guilty of this in the past and to some extent are still in the present. We get lost in our thoughts or what we are doing and may unintentionally find ourselves wearing a blank look, or even worse a scowl when really our inside emotions do not match. Eventually our physical actions affect our emotional well-being. If you are feeling down, try putting on a smile and leaving it there for 2 minutes. Slowly you mood will begin to shift. Try also looking at pictures of people (or animals) smiling. I have several pictures of people smiling on my phone. My screensaver is my lady wearing a bacon hat with the biggest smile on her face. Looking at these pictures will also help bring you out of that funk.

Another reason I have heard people do not smile is they are afraid. Afraid of smiling? You bet! Why would people be afraid of smiling? I have been told they are worried people will think they are up to something. To me this is foolishness. We are all up to something and if us looking happy makes people nervous that is on them. I’ve also been told that “I’m afraid people will take it as an invitation to start talking to me.” Yes, this sometimes does happen. As long as you do not make it a habit to smile at the strange man on the corner in a clown suit holding a knife what is the worst that could happen? In fact, some people are lonely and looking for someone they can share their stories with. You never know, sharing a smile with someone may even save their life. When you feel that nobody cares a smile from a friend, or even a stranger can turn your day, and your world around. Think of how you feel when someone shares their smile with you, why would you not want to give that gift to others?

So let us all do our part to share a few more smiles. Still nervous, uncomfortable or afraid? That’s ok start slowly. I suggest begin with the person in the mirror. Give yourself a smile every morning with a positive affirmation like “Let’s make this a great day!” Then, begin to branch out. Start with loved ones, maybe move on to friends, coworkers, the person helping you at the coffee shop? When you see how good it makes people feel and how they react to you, trust me, you will be tempted to share more. Also try practice wearing a smile while you are engaged in work. I have started this when I am writing and notice I feel a lot less tired when I am done. I am going to close this with a quote from the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln “Every man over forty is responsible for his face.” I am sure Mr. Lincoln meant to include woman in that statement as well.

I would love to hear about your experiences sharing a smile in the comments below!

WHY WE ARE ALL TIRED 

This quote comes to us courtesy of the movie “The Green Mile”. In todays world of extreme politics and social conflict there has been a fair share of ugliness. On social media everyday we see conflicting opinions which are healthy when presented in a healthy way. We also see our share of name calling, and sarcastic portrayals of those who have a different opinion than that of the person doing the posting.

Let us take a step back and look at what this accomplishes. Some may say it causes the person posting to be a little happier and that may be true, only temporarily. You see in order to post something like that the person has to focus on this conflict and the low opinion they have of that group. How “Stupid” there are or how “Hateful, Racist or evil” they are. Try saying these words out loud three times, “Stupid, hate, racist and evil”. If you are unable to try even saying them to yourself. Do it now, I’ll wait….Ok, how does that make you feel physically? Did you notice an effect? Even focusing on things we strongly dislike and thinking about them make us feel sick. It can even make us feel helpless. Plus, remember what we said about the RAS and how the brain seems to begin to notice more of what we focus on?

So should we ignore all the injustice we see? Absolutely not! What we should focus on is solutions we can think of. Perhaps find examples of people or situations that are the opposite of those that upset us. We will still be victim to reading how wrong we are for feeling what we feel, but understand as much as we may disagree with someone they have a right to feel as they do too. Again going back to the golden rule, we no more want to hear that we have no right to feel as we do or are stupid, evil or any other negative term for doing so than anyone else does. Not to mention by attacking others we only add to the feeling and atmosphere of hate and conflict.

Here is what I suggest. Does racism bother you? Then promote everyone getting along. Does war leave you feeling sad? Then promote peace. Poverty leave you feeling sick and helpless? Promote an atmosphere of giving and everyone having enough. It was this very thinking that caused me to embark on the life path I am on now. It was my disgust at the vast amount of negativity in the world that had me determined to begin to promote positivity and to provide tools to help others do the same.

So next time you catch yourself saying “Did you see what that person/politician/company did?” ask yourself, “What am I doing?”. Sure maybe we cannot make as big of a difference as the president of the United States, or Walmart, but all of us doing little acts of kindness and love can counterbalance those doing that which we disagree with.

I invite you all to share groups that do good or even your own ideas to promote love instead of bashing hate. Let us all work to be a little less ugly to each other and make the world a little more beautiful.