WHO YOU SHOULD TALK TO

Desmond Tutu has always been a person I admire. Although strong in his faith, he, along with the Dalai Lama, have put differences aside to work together for the greater good. In this single quote I think the reason they do so is summed up rather nicely.

When facing a conflict, the first thing many of us do is run to our friends to vent. Whether that venting is in person, on social media or in some other medium it generally degenerates to gossip and leads to both parties growing further apart on the issue at hand. It also reduces the amount of trust between the two parties. We see examples of this on the world stage between governments. The end result, all too often, results in war. This not only leads to the loss of countless, often innocent, lives, but decades of trust between nations and their people.

This also happens on a personal level. Working as a DJ, and as a bartender for years before that, I have seen this happen far too often. These adults have issues with each other, sometimes legitimate, sometimes petty. Rather than act in a solution oriented manner by approaching the person in a non-confrontational manner to discuss their differences, they begin complaining to others, or worse put things out there on social media. This usually results in name calling, and even others joining in and fueling the anger and hate.

This also happens on an intimate level. At my day job I have overheard men complain about their wives and girlfriends nagging them, or driving them crazy. I have heard ladies complain their husbands are inattentive and ignorant. What happens? The other party usually agrees with them, maybe even adds a story of their own and both parties leave with an even greater angst for their spouse. When they get home a loving resolution is further away then when they left that morning.

Enemies do not always have to be those we are against. As mentioned in the above examples they can be our friends, our coworkers or even those closest to us. No matter how we define those we are in conflict to, it is important to realize the only way to reach a peaceful solution is to confront them in a peaceful manner, while expressing the desire to reach a solution beneficial to all parties.

I am not foolish enough to think that this will be easy, solving conflict generally never is. The reward, if we do pursue this path, will be peace. That peace will not only benefit us, but those around us. We cannot control the actions of the governing bodies of the world, but we can set an example for them and for others by rising above the negative and petty. By doing so we will begin to foster a world full of peace and love.

A HIGH SCHOOL REUNION AND TWO OLD MEN

A customer came into the post office the other day to mail thank you cards to people who showed up to her 40th high school reunion.  She had nothing to do with the planning of the event and stated quite simply, “I just wanted to thank them for showing up and being kind to me”.  Not only do I think it is a marvelous idea to sit down and write people a proper thank you letter, but she said something that impressed me even more.  She stated that everyone she met seems to have turned out so nice, but some people she spoke with after told her they had the opposite experience.  Even though they talked to the same people.  How could this be? How could two people go to the same event, talk to the same people, but have entirely different results?  There are many factors I suppose, but it reminded me of a story I heard that I would like to share with you.

Two old gentleman were sitting outside of a local diner discussing how the neighborhood was changing and a lot of new people were moving in.  Suddenly their conversation was interrupted by just one of those people.  “Excuse me, but you look like you may have been a member of this neighborhood a while. What are the people like here?”.  That was the question put forth to the old men.  “Well what were the people like in the town you came from?” replied one old man.  “Oh they were very nice.  In fact, we were sad to leave, but my husband’s job had us relocate here” was the reply from the new neighbor.  “Well there is no need to worry, I believe you will find the people just as pleasant down here” replied the old man.  She thanked them and was off.  Well in the middle of a heated debate as to the fate of the local college football team the old men were interrupted by another new neighbor asking the same question.  Again the old man replied by asking what the people were like where the individual came from. “They were terrible.  Never friendly, rarely said hi to us.  That is why we moved here in hopes of finding a nicer group of people”  replied the young man.  “I’m sorry to tell you, but you wasted your time.  I’m afraid you will find the people the same here” replied the old man. The new neighbor left shaking his head.  Well now the other old man couldn’t help but ask how he could give two completely different answers to the same question and which one he believed was the right answer.  “They both are.” he replied.  “People will find just what they are looking for. It has to do with a great deal in how they see the situation.”

Now I like this story, and it brings up a good point.  People often do find what they expect to find. Unfortunately there are people who have no expectations and wait for the world to dictate to them how the situation will be.  Even worse, there are people who expect the worse in every situation.  Have you ever heard someone say “Expect the worse and you will never be disappointed”?  Not only is this a very dismal and cowardly way to go through life.  Effectively saying you have no control over how things turn out, but it is also negating one of our greatest powers.  If you enter a situation or even a day expecting it to be a good day, chances are you will have more good than bad happen.  Even if some things do not go as planned, they are easier to take in stride and quite often may be part of a greater plan.  If you approach ever day with anxiety and expecting the worse, you will quite often find yourself correct. There are a million reasons why this is so, and we shall discuss them another day.  We must ask ourselves, what feels better expecting joy and experiencing the occasional disappointment or glumly expecting the worse and being occasionally pleasantly surprised? I can tell you the attitude I would rather bring to life.  The important thing here to realize is we have the power to choose, or to leave it to chance.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE LEAST ABOUT YOURSELF?

Normally I don’t advocate focusing on things you do not enjoy especially about yourself.  Lately though I have been learning through a lot of great people strength in looking at things from a totally opposite perspective.  This is one fine example. Like the title asks, what do you like least about yourself?  Why would we want to think about that you may ask.  Well, it was pointed out to me, that things we may like least about ourselves is something others may give the world for.  Think of the person that just seems to be unable to lose those last few pounds, with someone who’s life is compromised because they can’t store any body fat.  The example the person who shared this idea with me used was freckles.  She grew up disliking the fact that she had them.  Through the years listening to people tell her how much they love them, she has grown to as well. (side note, they do look amazing on her).  So as I often do, when a great bit of knowledge or a deep thought is presented to me I tend to share it with those around me.  Much like I am doing with you here.  There is a young man who comes in to the post office I work at.  He is a veteran of Iraq in his late twenties.  He mails small boxes from a veteran group he started after he returned.  I was sharing this story with him and he seemed quite riveted, which I must confess is unusual for people listening to a story I am telling.  Suddenly when I got to the heart of the story, about how the thing you love least about yourself somebody else would love to have, he started to tear up and get quite emotional.  I apologized and asked if I had said something to offend him.  The next course of events took me a bit by surprise and made me emotional as well.  He asked if I could come around the counter.  Well, considering the story I had told him was the reason he was so upset I thought it was the least I could do.  When I did come around he took me by surprise by instantly giving me a huge hug and crying on my shoulder.  He apologized as he composed himself and lifted up his pants leg to reveal a fake leg.  “Ever since I have returned from Iraq after having my leg blown off I have cursed the fact I only have one good leg.” he went on to explain while he was in the hospital both over there and back here he saw men younger than him who had lost both legs, an arm and a leg and other conditions.  “Those kids would kill to just have lost half a leg, but do you know what beats that?” he asked in a mix of laughter and tears. I kind of nodded as I was left speechless at the moment. “Do you know what I send in these boxes?” he asked.  “T-shirts to families that have lost someone over there.  The men that died would have given anything to trade places with me.  To be able to hug and talk to their families.  Here I was just being selfish, I should be grateful for all I have” he said. For hours after that man left all I could ponder was how wonderful we have it.  How each of us has so much more that we should be thankful for then we know and all we do is worry about what we like least.  I’m still not sure who got more out of that conversation, and quite honestly I do not care.  So tonight remember the things we like least about ourselves someone would love to have.  So be grateful, hug your family while you can and while you are at it, thank the brave men and women who keep us safe.  Thank you