Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Conventions!

I will not be watching any of the TV coverage of the Republican and Democratic Conventions.  The partisan, inane rhetoric would be nausea-producing.

As a concerned and interested citizen, however, I will follow these events by watching Stewart, Colbert and Charlie Rose.  They will enlighten (and entertain) me sufficiently to satisfy my curiosity.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Message #22 - Give Yourself a Break! - Part 3

How often are you wrong?  How often do you admit you’re wrong?  How often do you apologize for being wrong?  If your answer to all three questions is the same, you’re more enlightened than I think you are.  It’s much more likely that if your answer to the first question is, say, 10 times a day, your answer to the second will be less than 5, and to the third, what, once?  Maybe?

Why is it so hard to say, “I was wrong?”  I don’t have a good explanation.  I have a theory, but my theory could be wrong (sorry about that – I couldn’t resist.)  When you think you’re right about something it’s like love at first sight.  You fall in love with what you think or what you do.  And anyone who challenges what you’ve thought or done better watch out.  You’ll put up a strong argument to prove you’ve been right.  Admitting you’re been wrong isn’t part of your defense strategy.

In fact, it’s more than a strategy.  You identify yourself with what it is you think you’re right about.  Your ego is now involved.  It’s like your very being is at stake.  You forget that the argument is not about something handed down by some supreme being.  It’s just about an opinion you have or an action you’ve taken.  You forget that you’re the boss.  You’re the one who said it.  So if you want you can unsay it.

You won’t die if you admit that you’ve been wrong about something.  All you’ll be doing is admitting you’ve been wrong about something.  So Give Yourself a Break!  You’ll be making it easier on you and those around you.

Which brings me to telling the truth about yourself.  You’re fine just the way you are.  You don’t have to pretend to be something you’re not.  You don’t have to lie about your age, your weight, your job, your education, anything.

I know that in this Internet age with the anonymity that is available you can create an online avatar that better fits your picture of how you think you’d like to be.  Don’t bother.  It’ll either come back to bite you in the ass and/or you’ll start down a fantasy road doesn’t serve you well.  If you want to make some improvements, that’s OK.  But start with who you really are.  Don’t lie to others or yourself. 

Lies are like explanations and complaints.  They don’t change anything.  Lying about yourself won’t change you.  You’re kidding yourself if you think you’ll fool people with your lies.  They won’t be fooled – or at least they won’t be fooled for long.  And then you’ll have to deal with the impact your lies have on your relationship with whoever you’ve lied to.

But I’m more interested in and concerned about you lying to yourself.  What’s the point?  Unless you’re living in a fantasy world of your own making, in which case you need a different kind of help than I can offer, is there an upside for you if you lie to yourself?  I don’t think so.  You know what the truth is.  Pretending otherwise will cost you.  You’ll pay a price in self-esteem.  You’ll worry about being caught lying.  Some joy will go out of your life.  You’ll feel burdened, less alive.  And in the end the truth will come out anyway.  It’s not worth it.

Give Yourself a Break!

Monday, August 20, 2012

The News!

In the front section of a recent San Francisco Chronicle I found the following:

Police shoot and kill 34 striking miners in South Africa.  An additional 78 are wounded.

Cuba is fighting an epidemic of Dengue fever.

A tropical storm is threatening Mexico.

Also in Mexico, 11 people die when a bus plunges into a ravine.

A fire in a Phuket nightclub kills four.

Two more U.S. troops are killed by an Afghan policeman.  Two soldiers killed by one of our ‘friends.’  Seems to be happening every day.

More battles and more deaths in Syria as rebels fight the government.

93 people killed in Iraq in a string of attacks across the country.

Two sheriff’s deputies killed in Louisiana.

The drought in the U.S. Midwest intensifies.

A woman and two children are found dead in a Detroit home.

All that and I haven’t finished page 4 yet.  Have a nice day!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Good & Bad

Paul Ryan is a good choice for the Republicans.  Articulate, attractive, smart, very conservative.  With him as Romney’s man there is no doubt where the party stands.  And good for the Democrats for the same reasons.  In the end, of course, the election will be won or lost by the guy at the top of the ticket, not his sidekick.

Good for London.  They pulled off a great Olympic Games, making many naysayers wrong.

Bad for Fareed Zakariah.  Caught plagiarizing.  Shame on Fareed.  And he was, in my view, one of the best voices on foreign policy.  Can’t imagine what he was thinking.  Was it the first time?  Don’t know for sure, but probably unlikely.

Bad for the New York cops who fired 12 bullets at a crazy guy brandishing a knife near Times Square.  Seven of the slugs hit him.  I guess that should do it.

Good for Morsi, the Egyptian President.  Got rid of his top military and intelligence officials and took back some of the power that the military had taken away before he assumed office.

Bad for Bashar Assad, the Syrian leader who keep slaughtering his own people.  I keep remembering my trip to Syria three years ago and wonder what the areas I visited in Damascus, Aleppo and Hama look like today.

Three goods and three bads.  That’s about par for the course.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Message #22 - Give Yourself a Break! - Part 2

New, and related, subject.  Did you know you’re funny?  I don’t mean funny like strange.  I mean funny like laughable.  Funny like ha, ha.  Sometimes, if you observed you you’d have a hard time not laughing.  How do I know this?  Because you’re a human being and therefore, by design, you do funny things sometimes.

If my saying this annoys you then I’m on target and you’re definitely the person I’m talking to.  Loosen up, friend.  Relax.  You’re being too serious.  Don’t take yourself so seriously.  We won’t take you less seriously because you take yourself less seriously.  (If this is a tautology, good.  If it isn’t, I need more practice.)

It’s OK to laugh at yourself.  From a strategic point of view it’s a good way to disarm those who are inclined to laugh at you rather than with you.  As a tool for personal well-being, laughing at that which is laughable about you is good for your health.  And demonstrates a degree of self-awareness that might otherwise be hidden.

Speaking of self-awareness, I endorse the notion that it is fine for you to think well of yourself.  I don’t endorse the notion that thinking well of yourself is license to unleash ego and arrogance to prove how great you are.  Which leads to a conundrum.  On a continuum with ego and arrogance at one end and humbleness and false modesty at the other, where is the appropriate place to be?

I like ‘unassuming’ as a place to be.  If you are unassuming you aren’t exhibiting pretensions, boastfulness or ostentation.  This doesn’t mean you have no basis for being prideful or that you lack self-esteem.  It only means that you choose not to exhibit off-putting qualities that probably stem from a basic insecurity rather than real confidence.

I’m amazed at how seemingly intelligent people can be oblivious to the impact they’re having on others.  A foolproof way to gauge how you are affecting your audience is to turn it around.  If the other person were doing what you’re doing how would you react to it?  If you’d be turned off, the chances are close to 100% that he would be too.

You don’t have to go to self-improvement school to learn this lesson.  It’s not some arcane Oriental skill.  Just common sense.  Or, you could say, common everyday awareness of how the world is reacting to you.  Just open your eyes.  It’s easy to see – when you look.

I hear a lot about self-awareness.  I don’t hear much about other-awareness.  There is lip service, like putting you in the place of the other, walking a mile in the other’s moccasins – stuff like that.  But you don’t really spend much time doing that.  I’m talking about compassion.

Compassion is often thought to be synonymous with pity.  I don’t mean pity.  Pity is more feeling bad for someone.  Feeling sorrow.  If you’re inclined to pity someone, that’s fine, (it’s not of much use because it doesn’t help, but if you want to feel pity, fine) but that’s not what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about having a deep appreciation for the other person.  Being able to see what it takes for him to overcome the circumstances he faces.  Feeling in a way that the person is ennobled, not demeaned.  For me that’s compassion.  Maybe you’ll be able to be of help, maybe not.  But even if you can’t, you will be uplifted by the level of humanity you see expressed over there.

When you are compassionate, you Give Yourself a Break!

Friday, August 03, 2012


I have deleted two posts from 9/6/11 because they are generating a lot of spam.