BROKEN ARROW is the code word used for an unexpected event involving nuclear weapons in the accidental launching, firing, detonating, theft or loss of weapon. When I heard this term on the radio yesterday, I linked BROKEN ARROW to the accidental emotional launches that happen in my nuclear family life.
As a 51-year-old woman, married since I was 25, and raising twin 17-year-old girls, a BROKEN ARROW can easily be disarming—hopefully not devastating.
There have been thirty-two BROKEN ARROW incidents since 1950. I’ve had many more. However, maybe with more awareness I can launch less frequently. I’m quite certain my nuclear family would appreciate the diplomacy.
of being way too serious way too much of my day. I started out this morning reading the New York Times and all of the crazy political news. David Duke is back, really? Then I landed on this piece about “cognitive closure” and it really struck me. I was so interested in this concept that I read it to my highly disinterested 16-year-old daughter, Lucy. My husband, Jeff kind of listened to me, but he really just wanted to work on the 1970s song “My Maria” and play his guitar while our cat, Karen watched him adoringly. Clearly, I need to lighten up. Goofing off more lessens the anxiety of those around us too. Our cat was trying to show me what to pay attention to this morning. Oh the wisdom of Karen.
AND YET…I still couldn’t quite help myself. “Dr. Kruglanski is best known for his theory of “cognitive closure,” a term he coined in 1989 to describe how we make decisions. “Closure” is the moment that you make a decision or form a judgment. You literally close your mind to new information.” By
Changing habits is hard, fun is coming—I promise. Conceptually “cognitive closure” is something to consider, especially when you feel unable to see the options available to you and a choice needs to be made. The middle path always allows us to see a lot more options. But, it’s much harder to do. Our brain wants to shut down our options. It’s way easier than considering new information. I told you I’m guilty of being way too serious. Good Golly, Lisa enough about cognitive closure (no matter how interesting of a psychological concept this is)…it’s time for fun.
So, after I read this piece I searched for FUN and landed on a country music video about HANGING OUT. Here’s my gift to you today. Thank you LITTLE BIG TOWN. You guys clearly know how to lighten up.
Back this hitch up into the water
Untie all the cables and rope
Step onto the AstroTurf
Get yourself a coozie
Watching this video reminded me that we used to hit golf balls off the front of our boat when I was in college. Oh, we really knew how to play then.
Often I make things way too complicated. Today I’m choosing to simplify.
ASK. WAIT. LISTEN. REPEAT.
I read about this great behavior study program to help students be more successful during college IDEAS42 (link below). With the school year approaching and entirely different rules of engagement nipping at my heals, I’m looking for strategies. This site is well worth checking out if you have kids of any age. It really made me think about the partnership between parent and child required to aid success with transitions. I’ve come to realize that NUDGE is a pretty swell word.
NUDGE is different than telling someone WHAT or HOW or WHEN to do something. It’s a little bit gentler and it’s quieter. NUDGING is setting up the possibility of a beneficial behavior being implemented. And sometimes that’s the best we can hope for with ourselves, our loved ones or colleagues…the possibility.
I think about the use of NUDGE with food, money, exercise, reading, chores and so much more. If I wash fruit, cut up vegetables and make them front and center when the fridge is opened by hungry customers…I’ve nudged them (or myself) to a good choice.
If I leave out books that I think the kids would love or magazines opened to an article I think they would enjoy without saying a word…I’ve maybe nudged them into reading something I think they would be interested in. This is way more effective than telling them. I read things to my husband Jeff and pretend I don’t want them to hear it. I do that a too much. Ask my kids. It drives them bananas. A nudge is better.
This year I’m going to fill a basket with graph paper, binder paper, paperclips, tape, highlighters, pens, a stapler, a zip drive, a ruler and whatever else they may need to be successful…NUDGE them toward self sufficiency. And potentially avoid a run to Staples late at night. This helps me too. Having a shelf with cards, envelopes, stamps and an address book makes it way easier to get a message in the mailbox.
As a WIFE and MOM, I don’t want to be a NAG. I would much rather NUDGE.
I have a college age son and I know that I need to be on top of deadlines for him. I don’t mean schoolwork, but other things…dentist, applications for trips, health care, financial management, family birthdays (so he can call or send a text) and so on. I won’t do this forever, but NUDGE is the right thing to do for a lot of young adults. And they can have a sense of accomplishment.
When I lay out my sketch book, charge my ipad, phone and put a note about my intentions for the day next to my coffee cup…I’m a tiny bit closer to accomplishing what I want to get done that day. When I don’t, I’m less likely. The same is true with automatic savings plans, laying out our exercise clothes, making to do lists or putting reminders in our phones, on the fridge or on a calendar.
I’m hardly saying I’ve got this organizational stuff nailed. It’s an area of profound struggle for me. But, NUDGE…well, that I can wrap my highly disorganized head around.
When my kids were little I wanted to see all of the similarities to me and other family members…moles, mannerisms and so much more. Those observations were really fun—welcomed and celebrated.
However, as a parent of young adults I’m acutely aware of how they are differentiating themselves now. It isn’t easy to “parent” their emerging adulthood and separateness, but it’s really quite necessary.
I’m trying to understand their choices and what they represent—freedom, a (hopefully) healthy sense of self and discovering their place in the world. This is really important work for all of us. I feel more compassionate and slightly less pissed off when I access how I felt at sixteen or twenty years old. Sorry Mom and Dad. I had to do what I had to do.
Our kids are trying to understand this brand new adulthood thing and the process is a little clunky (to say the least) for everyone. Young adults that on occasion still need us like they are little kids. Little kids who want the privileges that come with adulthood. And parents who would much rather be snuggled up reading bedtime stories than watching the clock and waiting to hear the car pull in the driveway.
I don’t want to spend a lifetime feeling like there should’ve been one more book read. One more camp. One more trip. One more lesson. One more skill taught. One more ______________ (fill in the blank). If I don’t let go of the ONE MORE(S) they will keep us all from moving forward. I’m pretty sure we all want to keep moving forward.
When I realized that every minute of every day I have a choice, even though it seems so simple, I really felt like I had been liberated.
We have the privilege of getting to make choices (good or bad) and learn from them and get up another day and make another round of choices. We are choice makers—not constant victims of circumstance. Fabulous, huh?
Well, not entirely, because when I began to study about the nature of choice it put a bunch of victim crap I’ve carried around back on my own broad shoulders. Wait, I can’t dump that on someone else? Someone didn’t DO that to me, that was my choice? I didn’t want to think about it. Choosing is not an easy process, but that’s the way the universe operates. I tried to unlearn and block out what I was reading. I just couldn’t, the genie was out of the bottle and now I’m grateful.
Every moment of every day we have choices to make.