Pause and Ask Yourself

We’ve all had situations where we are struggling in our relationship with a person we closely interact with, be it through work, family, or some other community.  When we do, it’s easy to point at them and identify their faults, or how their actions are making the situation worse.  I think that a more productive thing to do might be to point our finger back at ourselves and instead identify what we’re doing to negatively contribute to the situation.

Ouch!!  That Smarts!

Personally, this is not my normal course of action.  It’s a challenge to put aside what I might be feeling toward the other person and take an honest look at the role I’m playing in the scenario.  It’s much easier to keep my focus off of me and on the other person and their actions, where I self-righteously feel it should be.

I’m working to get belter in these situations.  In doing so, I’ve found that a few questions I pose to myself usually bring a new perspective to the situation.  They are:

  • What role am I playing in this scenario and how it is negatively impacting the outcome?
  • If I were an impartial 3rd party, what would I say about my actions and behavior?
  • What thoughts or beliefs am I holding that may be having a negative impact?
  • Where is the other person right, or acting with proper motives?

These questions and others like them provide a moment to pause, step back and potentially see the scenario from a whole new perspective, giving us clarity and insight we might never have gained, had we not stopped to ask them.

The next time you find yourself getting fired up at another person, pause and ask yourself one or more of these questions.   You will likely find a new perspective and potentially, a path to a positive outcome.


It’s Worth It

This week my wife and I learned that our cat Lily has cancer on her kidney and on her intestine.  The veterinarian told us she as about 1 month to live.  Bummer!



My wife is having an especially hard time knowing that Lily’s end is near.  It’s sad to think of her not being around soon.  I’m amazed at the impact a cat or dog can have in the life of its owners.  They very quickly become so significant, so important, and so loved, which makes it so painful when they leave us.

The sadness and pain we feel over the loss of a pet is evidence that we loved them, and that they brought something positive to our lives while they were with us.  When compared to the joy we receive while they’re with us, the pain of losing them is relatively miniscule, but it still hurts.

It would be easy to avoid that pain, by ether never having a pet, or by not loving or becoming attached to them.  I don’t think either of those are very good options, at least for me.  Had we thought this way about Lily, my wife and I would have missed out on so much joy that we experienced with her.  I’m glad we didn’t miss it.

What I’ve been reminded of this week is that loving a pet, and even a person, comes with a price.  Although that price is sometimes painful, as in the case of loss and separation, it’s worth it.

For my wife and me, our plan is to love Lily up during her final weeks and send her out well loved and well-remembered.    I know that saying good-bye to her will be painful… but it will have been so worth it.

Don’t Pursue Happiness

We should never pursue happiness.  That sounds weird to read, and write, but I believe it’s true.  I don’t think we should pursue being happy as our primary goal.

I’ve heard people say that they just “want to be happy”, but when questioned, they often lack a plan or any idea how to achieve the happiness they seek.

I think our efforts would be better spent focusing on doing the things that bring happiness.  “But wait!” you might be saying.  “Isn’t that the same thing as pursuing happiness?”  Not really.  Here’s why.

Being happy is a byproduct of doing something else.  The feeling of being happy follows an action.  You don’t just “be happy”.  Something comes first; some initial action sparks happiness.  The action is the cause, happiness is the effect.

Here’s what this looks like in the real world.  If you want to be happy, determine the things that make you happy, and do those things.  (The premise I’m working from is that the things that make you happy are good, moral, legal, and will build you up and those around you.)  Perhaps being in good physical condition or serving others makes you happy.  Maybe something in your career or spending time with family friends or a community you belong to.  It might even be using a gift or talent you possess.  Most likely there are multiple things you can do that make you happy.  Whatever those things are, do them.  Don’t avoid them or diminish their importance.

Instead of continuing pursue happiness alone, begin stoking the fire of happiness by taking the actions that cause happiness to follow.  When you do, you’ll find that happiness is waiting on the other side.