#328 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

Are you able to share a piece of yourself? Do you have an hour a week to make a difference in someone’s life? Perhaps they could use a friend.

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#328

Befriend someone

Do you know someone who doesn’t have a big social circle? Do you know an older person who is lonely or actually… alone? Are you aware of someone who recently experienced a traumatic loss? Is there someone in your environment, at work or at church, who appears to be alone more often than not?

Are you able to share a piece of yourself? Do you have an hour a week to make a difference in someone’s life? Perhaps they could use a friend.

While carving out an hour from  your week may seem cumbersome or downright impossible, imagine bringing a summer of sunshine to someone else’s grey cloudy life. Imagine that someone chooses to live – actually makes the decision to stay alive – because you take an hour from your week to share kind thoughts and a little light. Imagine that someone counts the hours that pass by until your presence graces their path again next week.

Maybe it’s a kid who doesn’t have anything to go home to… or a widower who is tired of eating alone night after night. Your kind gesture to behave in a friendly manner to this person who may feel isolated and alone could mean the difference between a life of loneliness and a life of hope.

Be mindful of the people in your periphery. Pay close attention and then offer your friendship. It’s free to give and relatively cheap to maintain. The benefit is amazingly measurable when we take the time to…

Befriend someone.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#336 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

Self-awareness and self-compassion are essential components of splitting up with that judicial speaker. Each time you hear the criticism begin to drown out your more rational loving voice…

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#336

Speak kindly to yourself

It’s still a bit amazing to me when I become aware of how difficult it is for some people to engage in kind ‘self-talk’. From little put downs such as “I know this is dumb but…” to looking in a mirror and thinking “you stupid idiot” in a loud critical internal voice, some of us engage in self talk that is demeaning, shaming, and downright hateful.

People who struggle to feel ‘worth it’ are the most frequent offenders and may simply be repeating condemning assertions that were absorbed over time from critical or abusive parents, bosses, or partners. Rarely, do I find that the statements represent truths, yet many of them do underline belief systems.

Entire industry segments of publishing and psychological research have built up around this problem from books such as Shad Helmstetter’s What to Say When You Talk to Yourself to Dr. Kristin Neff’s Self Compassion lab at the University of Texas at Austin. Both of which, are resources I use with clients who experience antagonistic inner critic aggression.

Self-awareness and self-compassion are essential components of splitting up with that judicial speaker. Each time you hear the criticism begin to drown out your more rational loving voice… put your hand over your heart and imagine that you are speaking to someone you love. Begin a supportive and compassionate conversation that is empathetic and loving – the way you talk to a friend who is having difficulty. Be intentional with this practice and you will foster the ability to more consistently…

Speak kindly to yourself.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#338 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

While I believe we all miss that personal touch a bit, it is the older generation who is most affected by our reduction of using paper mail. They know what they are missing!

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#338

Spontaneous letter

Remember when we used to get ‘real’ mail? Think of how you feel when you get a card in the mail these days… it’s so nice to pick something up from the mailbox that is sent from an actual human being and isn’t asking for money, right?

Why not offer that feeling to someone you are thinking of and write a little note – or a long letter – and send it via snail mail? Really… even a short note that is handwritten for no reason other than to say “hello, I am thinking about you”. Imagine how that gesture would brighten someone’s day.

In particular, an older relative or friend who isn’t as proficient with electronic communication. While I believe we all miss that personal touch a bit, it is the older generation who is most affected by our reduction of using paper mail. They know what they are missing! And… they haven’t mastered the substituted forms of communication that connect the rest of us to the world.

It doesn’t even have to be fancy to be impactful. Just grab a piece of paper… share a few kind thoughts… fold and slip into an envelope… address & stamp… and let the postal services do the rest of the work. For the price of a $.50 stamp (in the US at least), you’re sure to brighten someone’s day because for no particular reason you wrote a …

Spontaneous letter.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

Photo by jjpacres on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

#347 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

If you have a few extra bucks it doesn’t hurt to treat people now and then to random surprises but mostly… kindness is pure heart driven.

My goal is to share a daily life lesson, tip, or hack. They are the things I want my children to know and the things that I teach to clients. They are the things that make my life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#347

Spread kindness

This ‘life hack’ is a no -brainer. It’s as old as time with the essence of ‘do unto others as they would do unto you…”.

We ‘know’ to do this; some call it chivalry – others call it manners. But… how much attention to we really pay to distributing kindness – especially when people are neutral or worse, unkind to us?

Our lives are busy and we are more increasingly finding it difficult to pay attention to our individual family members, let along complete strangers. And yet, the simple act of extending a kind gesture carries an impact that may extend far beyond either of the parties involved. This ‘ripple effect’ is mostly silent and unseen.

Suppose I take a grocery cart from an elderly gentleman in the parking lot and return it for him, smile brightly and wish him a good day…

I have no way of knowing how lonely he felt that morning and my comment lifted him. He goes to the bank and feeling lifted – comments to the bank teller about her beauty.

He had so way of knowing that earlier that day her drunk husband called her a pig and she was still reeling from the insult. Because her esteem was slightly lifted, she extended a courtesy to a customer and credited back a bank fee.

She had no way of knowing that the bank fee she was crediting made the difference that allowed that customer to afford extra groceries to make a dinner for a neighbor who was sick.

And on… and on… and on… it goes.

Performing acts of kindness of a regular basis has tremendous health benefits. It appears that extending kindness contributes to happiness, slows aging, improves heart function, improves our relationships and is reportedly – contagious.

And… it’s mostly free! The only thing it takes to extend kindness is effort & attitude. If you have a few extra bucks it doesn’t hurt to treat people now and then to random surprises but mostly… kindness is pure heart driven. Pick up a piece of litter, pick something up that has been dropped, open doors, smile, say kind things, let someone go first or jump in line, run an errand, cook a meal, clean a room, take in garbage cans, loan a book, et cetrra, et cetera… it doesn’t matter what the effort, just look around and…

Spread kindness

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

Damn Those Expectations

We generally expect that if we are willing to do something for someone, they would do it back.

“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.”
― Alexander Pope

When my birthday was approaching one year (I think it was my 33rd), my husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday. My reply was “I can’t ‘think of anything”. Now, to me – this means ‘Oh I don’t know – pick out something you think I will like’ – but that’s not what I said. Because what I said and what I meant – exactly – were two different things… on the day of my birthday – there were no presents.

“I don’t have ‘anything’ to open?”, I said. “You said you didn’t want anything!”, he exclaimed. Aside from the fact that his interpretation of “I can’t think of anything” transformed into “you said you didn’t want anything” – which, is an entirely different post about communication…. In my mind – the way ‘I’ would have treated that situation… would have been to find something – even a little token gift – so that he would have something to open on his birthday. Who doesn’t like opening presents??

How many times have you found yourself thinking… ‘that’s not what I would have done?’ or ‘why did they do it that way?’ or ‘they should know me by now’.  We typically make the assumption that people who are similar to us in one way must be similar to us in most ways. The assumption is so strong in fact, that we fail to talk about very basic needs; assuming they will be met because the people who love us – “know” us. Even more frequent are the assumptions we make when we have been in a partnership for a long time… ‘after all this time, you should know.’

You remember the golden rule right? ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’. And then there is the biblical reference in the New Testament, Luke 6:38 – “Give and it will be given to you.” And Confucius said “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.” There are similar quotes that permeate throughout social media, posters, and books such as “treat people the way you want to be treated” and “Be a reflection of what you’d like to see in others.” And we make general assumptions along the parameters of ‘What comes around, goes around’ and ‘What you put out there, comes back’.

I believe the general premise of these ideas are helpful. I believe that they are meant to guide us and stimulate positive intent. However, I believe they also set us up with the expectation that people are paying attention to how we treat them – literally – and then we anticipate that we will be the recipients of similar treatment.

I’m not talking about the generalities such as doing nice things or speaking kindly. I find that we develop expectations of specific behaviors and I see examples of it across my life and the lives of almost every client I’ve talked to. Examples are almost boundless… (names made up)

Joyce speaks her mind and is quite opinionated. She has a strong point of view about almost everything. Bob cooked dinner for her the other night because she had to work late. Joyce was appreciative of the meal and commented that if he ever were to make it again, he should add more spices so that the flavor was more intense. Bob was insulted that Joyce would comment about the meal. His comment… “I’d never tell her how to cook, I’d just eat and enjoy.” Joyce’s thought process was very different… she would want him to tell her if something needed more flavor. She didn’t understand why his feelings were hurt.

In this example, Bob decided he was inclined never to cook again because it would open him up to what he believed to be criticism of his cooking. Since he would never think of commenting on her cooking, he was insulted that she did.

Pete and Chris had a small apartment and when Chris’s parents came to visit she thought that they would sleep in the bedroom and she and Pete would use an air mattress in the office. Her thought was that her parents should be as comfortable as possible. Pete had never given up his bed for anyone and resented that he was being asked to now. His thought was that if her parents wanted to sleep in a bed, they could get a hotel room. Chris knew her parents could afford a hotel but she wanted to spend as much time as possible with them. She would make the same concession for Chris’s parents and didn’t understand why he wasn’t willing.

That’s the crux of the issue here – ‘I would do this for you – why won’t you do it for me??’ – no matter what “it” is. We generally expect that if we are willing to do something for someone, they would do it back. We subconsciously ‘expect’ it. Sometimes, we count on it.

Lucy was home on bedrest with her third baby. It came about suddenly and she didn’t have time to plan for the downtime but wasn’t concerned because she was very active in the neighborhood and had cooked for other families often throughout the years. In fact, she was often the organizer for helping other moms when there was a need. After a week, it was apparent that no one was coordinating efforts for meals or childcare help and she felt abandoned by the people she thought were friends. She never reached out specifically with a request for help but she didn’t believe she needed to… couldn’t they ‘see’ that she needed support?

In this case, the fact that Lucy jumps up to the plate to direct and facilitate services when someone needs help dictates her expectation that the ‘like-minded’ people (other moms) from her neighborhood would surely know to reciprocate the efforts.

Kevin is the kind of guy who pays really close attention to the times when his wife says “I wish I had…” and makes a note to add that to a ‘gift list’. For birthday’s and Christmas he always gets just the right thing and she is amazed that he knows her so well. She, on the other hand typically comments that she “never knows what he wants”. Kevin feels unappreciated and unimportant to his wife. He fails to see that she fixes his favorite meal once a month and always has his favorite ice cream in the freezer – her way of saying ‘you matter’.

Some are lucky to have people in their lives that are so like-minded that there is an effortless symbiotic flow between them. My friend and her family lived with us for a month while they were house hunting – many years ago. Even though we had eight children in the house (7 of them under the age of 8) dinner and bath time were amazingly calm and harmonious because we were of the same mind… we were so precisely in tune with one another that speech was barely needed. This same person and I drove through a fast food restaurant one day, attempting to pacify the cranky toddlers in the back seat with French fries. Each of us grabbed a couple of hot fries that we intended to hand back to the kids when I noticed that we were both holding them out the window to cool off. It was a funny moment although, reading this… I guess you had to be there. In regards to those things… we thought the same way.

Of course, we don’t want a world filled with people who are exactly like us – that’s not the point here. We need to acknowledge and honor our differences. We do, however, need to become aware of how WE think… what assumptions am I making? What are my expectations? Have I communicated them in a clear and concise manner? Am I asking questions? Have I sought to define and clarify?

One thing is clear… many, many times, if there is disappointment… there is a failed expectation because we ‘assumed’ that someone would do ‘what we would have done’.