How We See Others

If you’re looking for a feel-good movie this holiday season, I recommend you check out Wonder.  It’s a story about the challenges of a 5th grade boy who was born with some birth defects that resulted in a scarred and unusual looking face.  Beyond his struggles in school, Wonder is a great story about the capacity we all have to choose what we see in those around us.

What made this movie so touching was how a few of the kids at his school began to look past this boy’s disfigured face and see the positive attributes he possessed.  Once they focused beyond his appearance, they soon realized that he looked less like a freak and more like a friend.

While we may not be 5th graders any longer, we still have the choice in how we see those around us.   Let’s be aware of the opportunities we have to see beyond the appearances of those around us, and to focus on the things that matter, like character and kindness.  Because wouldn’t we like to be seen the same way by others?

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Turning Off The Auto-pilot

I like being in control.  Not in a “control-freakish” kind of way, but being in control of how I respond to events and scenarios I’m presented with every day, instead of automatically reacting.

Just because I like being in control of how I respond doesn’t mean that I always do it as well as would prefer.  Unless I’m consciously aware of how I want to respond to life every day, I find it easy to drift along on “mental auto-pilot” and automatically respond to the day’s events without much thought.

I listened to an excellent podcast from Brendon Bruchard this week that discussed how high performers have the habit of deciding in advance how they want to feel during a specific events or scenarios.  By defining in advance how we want to feel, we can avoid the feelings (usually negative ones) that automatically will arise.

For example, if we know we’re going to be giving a speech making a presentation to a large group, we may be confronted with fear, but that don’t mean we have to feel afraid.  We can decide ahead of time that when we’re confronted with this fear, we will instead choose to feel confident, prepared and capable.  We’re not required to feel afraid.  We can choose a different feeling.

I think this is a potential life-changing concept that can improve our relationships, careers, and attitudes, which can improve the quality of our lives.  All we have to do is be willing to turn of the mental auto-pilot and chose how we’re going to feel.

A Patient Reminder

This week my wife and I introduced a new cat to our house.  She’s a beautiful Siamese cat that is a little uncertain of her new surroundings.  As she’s getting familiar with us, I’ve been reminded that it’s a slow process that is best done patiently.

What I want to do is pick her up and squeeze and pet her.  However, right now she’s still not sure about us, so that would likely be off-putting, if not frightening for her.  While picking her up and petting her would be fun, we’re letting her slowly come to us as she feels comfortable doing so.  This approach certainly required patience, as it is usually much slower that we would like.

I think it’s like that’s with most positive changes we’d like to bring about in our lives.  My experience has been that most worthwhile pursuits take longer than I’d like them to, thus requiring me to be patient during the process.  For example, as I continue to learn the bass guitar, I wish I was further along in the process.  During this process I’m focusing on being patient and remembering that I need to focus less on being in a hurry to become proficient and more on what I need to do today to improve.  The result will happen if I am patient with the process.

Is there anything you’re currently working to improve that could benefit from a little patience; perhaps an improved relationship, an educational pursuit, or anything else that requires time to achieve?  If so, focus on what you need to do this day, and be patient that the results will follow.

Offering What We Have

On a recent fly fishing trip my buddy was telling me about how his young daughter was feeling down one night and his wife asked if he could try to talk to her and cheer her up.  As my friend recounted, he wasn’t sure what to do but he thought about what he could offer his daughter at this moment.  “So”, he told me, “I started talking to her while belching.  And it worked!”  My friend’s daughter was soon smiling and laughing along with her eructing father.

I roared with laughter!  Never before have I heard a parent say, “I didn’t know what to do, so I started belching.”

I really love my friend’s approach to this situation.  First I love how, even though he wasn’t sure what to do, he answered the call to assist his daughter, who was having a rough moment.  It would have been easy for him to say something like, “that’s really not my area of expertise” or “she’ll be able to work through it herself”, but instead he decided to engage.  He decided to be a dad.

Second, he thought about what he had to offer.  Despite not knowing what to do at the moment, he quickly thought of what he could offer his daughter to lighten the mood.  It didn’t have to be a perfect, parentally-correct method; it just had to be something he could offer.

Lastly, he offered what he had.  He didn’t hold back, he didn’t say, “belching will never work”.  He simply offered what he had, and cheered up his daughter.  (He likely created a silly memory she will never forget.  I would have loved to hear my dad offer me belches of encouragement when I was a young boy!)

Whether it’s encouraging words, thoughtful actions, listening ears, or myriad other things, we all have something to offer those around us.  All we have to do is offer what we have.