12 December 2017      

Good day, and welcome to this week's issue of our e-zine!
We hope that this month finds you healthy and doing well
in your life--in your work, relationships, and emotions, among
so many other things that make up a life!

Human Being (an excerpt)
Rachel Naomi Remen

You're Allowed to Say "No"!
Jeff Keller

Expectations
tom walsh

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When you live your life with an appreciation of coincidences and their meanings, you connect with the underlying field of infinite possibilities.

Deepak Chopra

Education does not mean teaching people to know what they do not know; it means teaching them to behave as they do not behave.

John Ruskin

May our walking on earth be gentle
as the union of the butterfly and the flower.

traditional Buddhist blessing

  

Human Being (an excerpt)
Rachel Naomi Remen

In the beginning of December the year I was thirteen, my father declared bankruptcy.  That was the year we all made our Christmas presents.  I remember waiting for Christmas with more than the usual anticipation, anxious to know if the muffler I had secretly knit for my father would please him and how the bracelet I had designed and made from copper wire would look on Mom.  Despite the stress in the household,  on Christmas morning the living room was much as always, the familiar decorations out and the coffee table heaped with presents, only wrapped this year in the sporting green section of the newspaper and tied with last year's red ribbon.  Among them lay a small velvet box.

Even at thirteen, I knew that such a box was not likely to contain something homemade.  I looked at it with suspicion.  My father smiled.  "It's for you," he told me.  "Open it."

Inside were a pair of twenty-four karat gold earrings.  They were exquisite.  I stared at them in silence, bewildered, feeling the weight of my homeliness, my shyness, my hopeless difference from my classmates who easily joked and flirted and laughed.

"Aren't you going to try them on?" prompted my father, so I took them into the bathroom, closed the door, and put them on my ears.

Cautiously I looked into the mirror.  My sallow, pimply face and lank hair, oily before it even dried from a shower, looked much as always.  The earrings looked absurd.

Tearing them from my ears, I rushed back into the living room and flung them on the floor.  "How could you do this?" I shrieked at my father.  "Why are you making fun of me?  Take them back.  They look stupid.  I'm too ugly to wear them.  How could you waste all this money?"  Then I burst into tears.  My father said nothing until I had cried myself out.  Then he passed me his clean, folded handkerchief.  "I know they don't look right now," he said quietly.  "I bought them because someday they will suit you perfectly."

I am truly grateful to have survived my adolescence.  At some of its lowest moments, I would get out the box and look at the earrings.  My father had spent a hundred dollars he did not have because he believed in the person I was becoming.  It was something to hold on to.

Behind my father's gift lay the kind of double vision which is the mark of every healer.  He could have told me not to cry, that someday I would be a lovely woman.  But that would have belittled my pain and invalidated my experience, the truth of the moment.  What he did was far more powerful.  He acknowledged my pain and its appropriateness while backing my process.  His belief that change would emerge, naturally, in the course of things made all the difference.  Wholeness was just a matter of time.

"Human being" is more a verb than a noun.  Each of us is unfinished, a work in progress.  Perhaps it would be most accurate to add the word "yet" to all our assessments of ourselves and each other.  Jon has not learned compassion. . . yet.  I have not developed courage. . . yet.  It changes everything.  I have seen the "yet" become real even at the very edge of life.  If life is process, all judgments are provisional.  We can't judge something until it is finished.  No one has won or lost until the race is over.

"Broken" may be only a stage in a process.  A bud is not a broken rose.  Only lifeless things are broken.  Perhaps the unique process which is a human being is never over.  Even at death.
   

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You're Allowed to Say "No"!
Jeff Keller

You've got more work than you can possibly handle.  Not to mention the time you're spending as an officer of your trade association. . . and as coach of your child's soccer team.

Your phone rings and it's Sally, another officer of the trade association.  Sally tells you what a great job you're doing for the Association and then asks if you'd be willing to chair the Committee putting on a large event in three months.

You know this project will involve countless hours of work, including weekends.  You get a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach.  Your heart tells you to say "no."  Your spirit tells you to say "no."  But somehow, what comes out of your mouth is "Yeah, I'll do it."

What happened here? How did "no" turn into "yes?"  Maybe you didn't want to let others down.  Or, perhaps, you wanted to be liked.  For whatever reason, you agreed to do something that you didn't want to do.  For most of my life, I lived this way, saying "yes" when I really wanted to say "no."  I'll bet you've done the same thing many times.

This can happen at work when someone asks you to take on an extra task, or to help out on the weekend.  And in our leisure time, we also have to make decisions when it comes to family, community and other activities.

I know what some of you are thinking.  If I say "no" to some of these things, I'm going to look bad or hurt my chances for a promotion.  For example, if I decline a request from my supervisor, I'll be viewed as someone who isn't loyal to the team.  If I say "no" to attending my cousin's wedding (the cousin I haven't seen in 15 years), the rest of the family will be talking about me.

Yes, there ARE consequences to saying "no."  You might not get the promotion.  Your relatives might talk about you behind your back.  But let's not kid ourselves here.  There are also consequences to saying "yes" when you don't want to say "yes."  You become resentful and angry.  You feel that you're not in control of your own life.  You're not living a life that's consistent with your values and priorities.

I'm not encouraging you to become lazy and refuse to go the extra mile at work and in your personal life.  We all do activities that we don't particularly enjoy, like working through lunch on a key project or attending a wake after a long day at work.

Furthermore, this isn't about being selfish and thinking only of your own interests.  But I'm here to say that YOU count, too!  And you block your own success when you feel resentful about doing things you don't want to do.  Unwanted activities are not only time consuming; they drain your energy.

So, what can you do to help you say "no" instead of "yes?"  It's very helpful to set boundaries, because that will help dictate your answer when someone asks you to do something.  Even better, let people know about these boundaries beforehand so they won't be taken by surprise when you say "no."  For instance, if you resolve that you won't work on weekends (except in certain limited, emergency situations), when someone asks you to help out on Saturday, you can decline and tell them you spend weekends with your family.

For me, my exercise time on Saturday and Sunday is sacred.  If I'm not doing a weekend presentation or traveling, it takes a lot for me to cancel or re-schedule my exercise sessions.  If someone asks me to do something during those times, I will politely say "no" because I value my health and well being too much to let other things get in the way.

I also get numerous requests to speak at certain service clubs and trade association meetings on weekday nights.  I am honored to be asked, but in most instances, I will politely decline.  I set some boundaries and decided that I will do a certain number of these presentations each year, but that's it.

Otherwise, I won't be able to spend quiet time at home in the evenings.  If anyone thinks I'm being unreasonable, that's okay.  I feel better about the decision I've made because I'm being true to what's important in my life.  As a result, I've found that my presentations are more authentic and effective.

You might think that you're indispensable. . . that you have to say "yes" because the world will fall apart if you don't run to the rescue each time.  What nonsense!  In the end, you let yourself down and wind up feeling hurt.

Here's the bottom line: You're allowed to say "no."  It's a small two-letter word with the power to liberate you and significantly improve the quality of your life.


Jeff Keller is the President of Attitude is Everything, Inc.
For more than 15 years, Jeff has delivered presentations on attitude and motivation to businesses, groups and trade associations throughout the United States and abroad. Jeff is also the author of the highly acclaimed book, Attitude is Everything. For more information, go to  http://www.attitudeiseverything.com

   

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I decided to start anew—to strip away what I had been taught, to accept
as true my own thinking.  This was one of the best times of my life.  There was
no one around to look at what I was doing, no one interested, no one to say anything
about it one way or another.  I was alone and singularly free, working into my own,
unknown—no one to satisfy but myself.  I began with charcoal and paper and
decided not to use any color until it was impossible to do what I wanted
to do in black and white.  I believe it was June before I needed blue.

Georgia O’Keeffe

   

 

Expectations

'Tis the season, no?  It's a wonderful holiday season during which we share our love and compassion and caring with our fellow human beings.  A time of the year when more people are cheerful and willing to share warm wishes with their loved ones, their co-workers, or even complete strangers.

But 'tis also the season of high expectations.  Over the years, for many people the season of gift-giving has become the season of gift-getting.  The high spirits and joyful greetings have become an expected "norm," sometimes causing enormous amounts of stress for those who aren't so joyful or simply not as able to express their joys aloud in social settings.  The bar for gifts in many cases has become so high that many people are doomed to failure from the start--there's no way they can meet those expectations without taking out a second mortgage on the home or selling the car or the diamond jewelry that was inherited from grandma.

Expectations have been something that have harmed and even destroyed relationships all through the history of humanity.  We've all heard the stories of the wonderful gift that someone received that wasn't appreciated because the recipient expected something else.  These stories are often ridiculous to those who see them from the outside, and they usually involve a man or woman going out of his or her way to buy a gift that's personal and that shows caring and attention, only to have the recipient say "You know I wanted that exact diamond necklace because I told you a million times," or "I asked for that new phone--you knew that's what I wanted."

   

A life that is burdened with expectations is a heavy life.
Its fruit is sorrow and disappointment.

Douglas Adams

   
When this happens, it's rarely a case of someone not caring--the anger and resentment and pain in these situations comes when the recipient is absolutely sure that the other person is going to get them exactly what they expect, and the disappointment is about the other person not meeting those expectations, not that the other person doesn't care or has hurt them in some way.

Of course, there are other reasons for disappointment.  The man who buys his wife the gift of a bowling ball that she'll never use--with the holes drilled for his fingers--is an idiot, and his wife is justified in feeling disappointed and used--among many other valid feelings.  The person who buys a significant other a generic sweater because it was on sale, even though they knew exactly what the other person wanted, has done something that isn't at all in the true spirit of gift-giving.

But if our focus is on being the gift receiver, then what are we accomplishing when we set our expectations high for certain things and let someone else know that we expect them to get those things for us?  Are we allowing those people to find something personal that they think we may like, or are we simply trying to manipulate them into fulfilling a need or desire that we have?
    

When we no longer expect people to live up to our standards,
but allow them to set and follow their own standards, our lives
become that much more richer and that much less stressful.

tom walsh

    
This is perhaps one of the reasons for which it's so popular now to buy people gift cards as gifts--that way, we're not going to disappoint them with a "crappy" gift.

But that gift card shows no personal touch at all, no thought or effort or even originality.  And that's okay, of course--after all, it's better that someone buy something they definitely can use than that they get something they never will be able to use--but it takes a lot of the personal relationship out of gift-giving.  Part of the fun of gifts has always been the mystery and the surprise, as well as the gratification of knowing that the other person has taken the time and made the effort to get something special for us, personally.  And if we lose this personal touch in gift-giving, then what does gift-giving really become other than just another responsibility that we need to fulfill?

Perhaps the greatest gift that we can give as a gift receiver is a completely open mind with no expectations at all.  Maybe it would be nice to let other know that we don't have any specific expectations, and that anything that they do as far as gifts are concerned is just fine, because we know that it truly is the thought that counts.  Can we take them off the hook before they buy so that they don't feel any stress at all when they're out looking for a gift for us?  It could be very liberating to know that the person you're buying for definitely will not be disappointed in any gift that we bring--any at all.

Personally, I'd be just as happy with a box of donuts as I would with an expensive watch (which I'd probably never wear anyway).  I'd be just as fine with a book whose author I'd never heard of as I would be with a book that I've been dying to read.  With the former, I'm also learning a lot about the person who gave me the gift, and I can always buy the latter myself.
   

Cease expecting, and you have all things.  Take whatever people
give you.  If you appreciate it, hug it, kiss it, and take it in joy, but
don't expect it.  If you want pain, just go around with expectations.
People are not here to meet your expectations.

Leo Buscaglia

   
Let's do away with expectations this Christmas.  Let's not let other people stress about what they should get us--we can let them know that anything is fine, and that anything is appreciated.  It truly is the thought that counts, and if someone gets us anything at all, that means they've thought of us (even if that thought is that they owe us something so they're obligated to get us something!).

Can we truly be happy, though, if they tell us they've gotten us nothing?  Of course we can--our happiness does not and should not depend upon the actions (or inactions) of others.  Personally, if someone blows me off, I treat it as a lesson learned about who that person is and how that person views our relationship--and that can sometimes be the most important gift of all.

Please don't let expectations tarnish your enjoyment of the holiday season.  And for goodness' sake, don't let your expectations make others miserable during this season--the misery that you cause by trying to make others feel guilty that they didn't meet your expectations can never be compensated for by any gifts that you give or any apologies that you give later.  When a moment is ruined by someone, that moment never can be reclaimed, so let's not be the ruiners of other people's holidays!

   
More on today.

   

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Practically all the progress that humans have made is due to the fact that they are mortal. . . . If there were no death, life would become a thing stagnant, monotonous, and unspeakably burdensome.

Robert W. Mackenna

  
The word education comes from the Latin word educare, which means "to draw out."  We do not teach our children the love of learning.  We do not hold knowledge before them as a powerful tool for personal development.  We don't produce broadly educated, well-rounded leaders for tomorrow.  We teach more and more about less and less.  We don't draw out the individual.  We impose upon the individual--systems and structures.  We don't reverence individuality, we don't treasure it, we stifle it and try to stamp it out.  We don't educate, we formulate.  We abandon the individual in his or her own need and uniqueness and "impose" the same upon all.

We provide an education in specialization.  We produce clones for the modern world.  We throw people into a mold, which we call an education system, to form cogs for the global economic wheel, all the time dangling the golden carrot before them as incentive and reason.

Truth be told, our modern education systems crush the very spirit they claim to instill.

Matthew Kelly
   

  

The ego, as a collection of our past experiences, is continually
offering miserable lines of thought.  It’s as if there were a stream
with little fish swimming by, and when we hook one of them there
is a judgment.  The ego is constantly judging everybody and
everything.  It has its constant little chit chat about things that can
happen in the future, things about the past, too, and these are the
little fish that swim by.  And what we learn to do—this is why it takes
work—is to not reach out and grab a fish.

Hugh Prather

    

  

   

A new way of reading has been here for a while now.  And while we still love our books, if you're like many people, you get tired of lugging around the books that sometimes weigh more than anything else we carry.  Imagine carrying hundreds of books--novels, self-help, history, travel, you name it--and reading them comfortably on a no-glare screen, setting things like text size to your own preferences.  It's a great experience, and it's available to us now for less than the cost of ten books.  And there are plenty of free books to download, especially timeless classics--you can easily get enough free books to pay for the Kindle.  Give yourself the gift of wonderful literature that you can easily bring with you, wherever you go!

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