Being in opposition is easy, but stating what we believe in is often challenging. We’re living in strange times, there’s way too much stress in the system. It doesn’t matter what side (or center) of the American political spectrum you fall on—division and absolute certainty are not the products of a civil society. I find myself longing for a time when we agreed on some basic truths and then engaged in respectful policy discussions about how to achieve those shared goals.
After having my coffee and reading the news, I wanted to write about things I believe in—not what I’m opposed to.
HERE GOES (this is actually harder than you think, try it):
I believe our schools should teach rigorous courses in the following areas:
1. How to have healthy relationships: familial, personal, societal and self
2. Financial literacy
3. Digital life/footprint realities & cyber security information
4. Personal health: nutrition, exercise & sexuality
5. Stress management: I read in Psychology Today that the average high school student in America has the level of stress of the average psychiatric patient in 1950. Horrifying huh?
6. Home Economics & Shop courses mandatory starting in 1st grade: If we taught kids how to cook, clean, mend/repair things, lots of hacks for living, it would be powerful and empowering. The more we know, well, the more self esteem grows. I know many believe these things should happen at home, however, my children listen better to others than me (or at least it seems that way).
Congress should be filled with teachers, coaches, caregivers, engineers, small business owners, artists, writers, factory workers, farmers and so on. We need to take dark money out of the system and let congress reflect “we the people”. If the election cycle was much shorter and a defined amount of money is what could be spent, it would level the playing field considerably.
“The Citizens United ruling, released in January 2010, tossed out the corporate and union ban on making independent expenditures and financing electioneering communications. It gave corporations and unions the green light to spend unlimited sums on ads and other political tools, calling for the election or defeat of individual candidates.
In a nutshell, the high court’s 5-4 decision said that it is OK for corporations and labor unions to spend as much as they want to convince people to vote for or against a candidate.”
I believe we need to try to “MIND THE GAP” between our stated values and how we behave…and this is sooooooooo hard sometimes.
I know for me, when my values/behavior are out of step, I feel like crap and the people I love suffer. This is a muscle to be exercised like any other.
I started trying to pay more attention to when my values were out of alignment with my actions. It sucked at first to do this because it’s quite painful. We don’t want to see ourselves that way. However, the more I started noticing, the more quickly I could correct the behavior (most of the time). I’m hardly batting 1000%, but I’ve made slight improvements and that’s something to build upon.
“I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
I went to bed last night wondering what is the opposite of FEAR. Nothing came to mind immediately for me, or nothing that seemed exactly right anyway.
This is hardly an original ponderable on my part, but I wanted to research and see what resonated the most for me. You won’t believe how much comes up on a google search on this topic. Here are a few others: hope, love, bravery, courage, faith, trust, fearlessness, gallantry, unconcern, audacity, calm…and many more.
Out of all of the answers I thought and read about, I landed on CURIOSITY. When I feel most fearful, the more I know the less fearful I am. When I thought about the other possibilities, curiosity kept bubbling up again and again.
Please let me know, let’s start a dialogue.
Often I make things way too complicated. Today I’m choosing to simplify.
ASK. WAIT. LISTEN. REPEAT.
and modeling that for my children is really important to me. I find this concept to be really crucial in my adult development. I didn’t really understand this until I was entering middle-age. As an introvert, I’ve always loved my time alone. However, the concept of really being my own best friend took years to fully integrate. Thankfully, Lisa and I finally have this all pretty well figured out now…even though she can be a total pain in the ass sometimes. I love her in spite of her flaws.
My Positive Psychology teacher Tal Ben-Shahar frequently reiterates that we have to give ourselves “permission to be human”. This doesn’t mean that we have to accept every one of our behaviors as—”oh well, that’s me” and not even try to self correct. It does mean however, that when we screw up, we can take notice, mend the damage, alter our behavior, move on and try to do it a little bit differently next time.
As our own BFF we have to encourage ourselves just as we would encourage a friend who is going through some of life’s trials.
I would love to cut short some of these challenging years for my three children. The hard years when we often aren’t so kind to ourselves…teens and early twenties. I guess some lessons are like learning to walk before we crawl though. We simply can’t shortchange the steps.
Some of our growth requires more years of life’s joys and sorrows coupled with the experience and wisdom that follows. Regardless, I believe we can start talking to our children at a very young age about being their own best friend, enjoying their own company and knocking back negative self talk.
I was standing in front of a huge bank of drawers labeled something like this illustration. I was able to open and close the various drawers at will and things would stay magically in place. Well, of course the absurdity of trying to do this wasn’t lost on me, but I had to create the visual about how “in relationship” all aspects of our lives are all the time.
Trying to get various parts of myself to NOT AVOID EACH OTHER other has required a fair amount of strategy. It seems so obvious, however, when I thought about the reality of this…it wasn’t quite so simple. Below is a more realistic illustration I think, at least for me.
I’ve really tried to integrate who I am in my studio with the woman I bring home to my family. My family would love the woman at the studio. She’s this creative, resourceful, innovative, free-spirit sort of person. And she has chocolate and beef jerky stashed everywhere.
The reality was that my poor family would get a tired, cranky, unresourceful woman who made everyone feel like they were an interruption and a bother. So, now I’m making a real effort to bring my artist self home with me. I might manage this only some of the time—but hey, t’s a work in progress & really isn’t everything?
I would love to hear your stories of successes or struggles in this arena.
This morning I went to an “innovation breakfast” in Burlington, Vermont. The speaker was Warren Berger talking about his book “A More Beautiful Question” inspired by e.e. cummings. “Always the beautiful answer / who asks a more beautiful question.”
Here is the link to the author’s website: http://amorebeautifulquestion.com/
I am looking forward to diving into Warren’s book. Everything he talked about had no parameters—this is applicable to all of our relationships-kids, partners, friends, family or business. Thematically I am a sucker for far reaching messages.
The discussion was great and it confirmed something I’ve been telling my kids, mostly my 14 year old daughters a lot lately. The smartest person in the room is always the person asking the most questions. Genuine inquiry is where true connection resides. I also remind them that a few of their favorite grown-up women in the entire universe ask questions all the time. These women don’t let things hang in a conversation that they are uncertain about. They ask. They don’t worry about looking foolish, or being too personal—they are genuinely inquisitive and interested in people. These remarkable women are storytellers and have taught me so much about drawing people out and allowing people to feel safe to open up or share information.
I think this is a very good question to ponder today: