Habits and attitudes shape our lives. Isn’t it good news if we can change our habits and attitudes?

Isn't it good news if we can change our habits and attitudes? Habits and attitudes shape our lives.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Suppose you are wrong? How would you know? How would you test for that possibility? Thomas Sowell

Having a year of blogging behind me means I can look at a year ago and see what I was writing about. Last year I was writing about mother love is the greatest love of all. I don’t mean mother’s love their children more than father’s do, but in the wild no one says don’t get between a father and his cub.

Today I am reading that the facts don’t really matter if we repeat them often enough, we believe them. There is a glitch in the human psyche that equates repetition with truth.

“Repetition makes things seem more plausible,” says Lynn Hasher, a psychologist at the University of Toronto whose research team recognized this effect in the 1970s. Is this where the idea of affirmations came from? Telling ourselves, we are beautiful, powerful, successful, over and over again hoping one day to believe we are who we want to be. Or the reverse, telling ourselves, and being told by others we will never get a break, never be successful, no matter how hard we try, so maybe it’s better not to try at all?

We have to be careful about what we listen to, swallow, and believe. We have to be careful what we tell ourselves, and what we tell our children. My son was telling me last night about Thomas Sowell an American black economist who served in the Marine Corps during the Korean War. He said Thomas Sowell was speaking somewhere and young black men came up to him saying they would love to be pilots but they wouldn’t be accepted if they tried to join the air force. He was dumbfounded by the ideas these young men had been brainwashed with, that they shouldn’t even try, shouldn’t even apply.

It seems hard to believe it is true people think they shouldn’t even try.  What happened to, “It is better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all?”

Is it more important than ever to try to ferret out the truth of all the propaganda, misinformation, and fake news we hear? What are the questions we should be asking? What is fairness? What is equality? What is justice? What does equal opportunity look like?

Much of the social history of the Western world over the past three decades has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good. Thomas Sowell

Do we want the truth, or do we want someone to tell us things we know can’t possibly be true?  If we don’t accept and embrace the truth then we will be fed lies, because lies are what we want to hear, and the person with the best lies is who we vote for.

Are we at a place in history where we need to look at things as they really are? Not how we wish they could be. If it is true that differences in habits and attitudes are the differences that result in the differences in economic outcomes, don’t we need to recognize this, and not pretend it isn’t true? If it is true, then everyone can change their habits and attitudes. Isn’t that good news?

The fact that so many successful politicians are such shameless liars is not only a reflection on them; it is also a reflection on us. When people want the impossible, only liars can satisfy. Thomas Sowell

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Discrimination and Disparities Hardcover – Mar 20 2018

by Thomas Sowell (Author) 4.7 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews#1 Best Sellerin Distribution & Warehouse Management

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Wealth and scarcity. Having more isn’t always the answer. What we do with what we have is.

Having more isn't always the answer. What we do with what we have is. Wealth and scarcity.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship. Buddha

What does it take to consider ourselves wealthy? Is wealth just money? According to Dr. Jim Muncy author of One Door Two Locks, wealth is having what we need to fulfill our purpose in life.

If we go with this definition then adding things to our lives that don’t help us achieve our purpose is not necessarily a step in the right direction. Everything we add takes a chunk out of our life. When we go to the gym that’s a chunk of time we can’t spend somewhere else. Belonging to community groups, taking roles in the Church, starting a side hustle, hobbies, time spent with family, friends, watching TV, going to sports events everything takes time away from something else. Owning a larger home, a second and third property, these take chunks of time to maintain.

I’ve watched parents spend so much time coaching a sport after their child no longer plays it that their child appeared deprived of the time they needed with their parent. The parent was so busy being the volunteer of the year they didn’t see how much their child needed them.

It is easy to be so busy helping others we deprive our families of what should be theirs. The other day a pastor was talking about how his marriage was falling apart because he was looking after the Church flock but his wife felt neglected and last on his list. The members of the Church always needed him, and he was always there. When his wife needed him he wasn’t. Even when he set aside time for his wife the members of the Church would need a ride somewhere and they were going that way so the date or weekend they planned had a parishioner in it. The Pastor’s wife never complained because she was a Pastor’s wife. His wife signed up for a shared ministry but she was on the sidelines.

Jim Muncy says wealth comes from having what we need and not being distracted by what we don’t need. Poverty comes in two forms. There is a poverty of scarcity, which happens when we don’t have what we need. There is also a poverty of bondage when we are tied to things we don’t need.

True wealth is not of the pocket, but of the heart and of the mind. Kevin Gates

There is a book I picked up in Indigo one day and I can’t remember the title. The author was talking about abundance and scarcity in relation to hornets and honey bees. When you look at the hornets’ nest they have an abundance of materials to make their nest out of so they are not elegant. The premise of the book is how we live more elegant lives with less, and cluttered wasteful lives with more.

We live in a wasteful society because we have an abundance. When we didn’t have abundance people did more with less. If we watch documentaries of the Victorian Age everything was used. Even bones were sold after they had been used in every way within the household.

There’s a blog called The Zero-Waste Chef she asks how can colonizing another planet that cannot support life be easier than mitigating a crisis on a planet that can and does support life?

It is an abundance that is causing most of our modern problems. It is abundance creating the plastic garbage disaster in our oceans. It is the abundance of food around our waistlines causing most of our health problems. Our healthcare costs are skyrocketing because we are killing ourselves with our knife and fork.

What would it take to consider ourselves truly wealthy?

Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. . . . Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country. It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. ” — Robert F. Kennedy

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One Door, Two Locks: The 7 Keys to Unlocking the Door to Success in All Areas of Your Life Paperback – 2009

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Find answers through walking. Ask questions as we walk.

Ask questions as we walk. Find answers through walking.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day. Henry David Thoreau

Sometimes when nothing is going right in our life the best thing to do is go for a walk. Pierre Trudeau went for his famous walk in the snow. Walking is recommended for artists to work out their problems with their writing and art while they walk. I have found when walking, answers will come to me about art, writing, life, relationships, directions to take in life.

I’m working on a painting and nothing about it was doing what I wanted. Yesterday my dog and I went for a walk and I thought about the blues I was using and two of my blues Cobalt and Ultramarine are dried up. The thought came to me I should go to the art store and replace my dried up paints that adding those blues to my painting might be part of the answer.

One has to be disciplined in an art store, the array of colors is dizzying, and there are always colors that call out to me and I pick up but then put back on the shelf.

When I spent time in my studio last night I struggled less with the painting and I attribute that to my walk. Using the new blues created more harmony. It’s starting to come together.

Walking gives us room to think, making time to think can be the most productive part of our day. I can’t seem to manage meditation, but walking meditation is a thing. People will teach us how to do guided mindful walking. For now, I just want to walk more, enjoying the scenery, my dog, the rhythm of footsteps, the thoughts that float in and out of my mind.

The healthiest people on the planet walk. We think we should join a gym if we want to be healthier. We should walk. Walking is a proven method to stave of cognitive decline. This might be why my Mom is doing so well. At 94 she goes for a walk almost every day. Dad in his later years didn’t walk much. Mom says even in his early life he wasn’t a great walker. He got old a lot quicker than Mom. They were only a year apart in age but he aged more quickly and declined more rapidly.

When you hear the word “disabled,” people immediately think about people who can’t walk or talk or do everything that people take for granted. Now, I take nothing for granted.  But I find the real disability is people who can’t find joy in life and are bitter. Teri Garr

Friends from Toastmasters climbed the CN Tower yesterday. I applaud them but hesitate to even think of joining them on this endeavor. Running and climbing stairs has in the past caused knee pain. Knees are so important I protect mine by not abusing them. Even at the gym, I don’t buy into the “no pain, no gain” ideology. Sometimes pain is telling us something and I listen. I’ve ignored the pain in the past and then dealt with the healing I wouldn’t have needed to deal with if I’d listened to my body in the first place.

It may be if I ran properly it wouldn’t bother my knees. There may be a proper way to take the stairs as well. All I know is if I run when my knee starts to hurt, I walk.

Yesterday we were talking about “runners high”. My husband says he’s experienced “runners high”. I’ve only ever experienced being grateful and happy I’ve quit running. I’ve watched people run with grace and ease I can only envy. I don’t think its something one develops, that seems like a gift one is born with, like being musical, having a great voice, or talents in any area.

Talent, of course, is not all it takes. The most famous singers don’t necessarily have the best voices. Sometimes their gift was promotion and picking great songs. I’ve heard the best writers aren’t usually great oral storytellers. Some people can have you laughing till you cry recounting their trip to the grocery store.

Whatever we do, whatever we want to accomplish, whatever we dream, taking a walk often will help us do it, accomplish it, dream it. If we don’t know what to do, maybe we should go for a walk. Answers may come, or at least we’ll have gotten some exercise, and fresh air.

The landscape painter must walk in the fields with a humble mind. No arrogant man was ever permitted to see Nature in all her beauty. John Constable

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Beneath My Feet: Writers on Walking Hardcover – Apr 2 2019

Getting out of our comfort zone. Facing the fear. Being the change we want to see in our life.

Being the change we want to see in our life. Facing the fear. Getting out of our comfort zone.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

If you want something you’ve never had, then you’ve got to do something you’ve never done. Unknown

Getting out of our comfort zone what does that even mean? It happens at Toastmaster’s every week. We pay to have the opportunity to get out of our comfort zone and see other people getting out of theirs. It is as encouraging, perhaps even more encouraging when we see the progress other people make as they get out of their comfort zone again and again. We watch people who never thought they would win an award as best speaker, evaluator of impromptu speaking, proudly having their picture taken.

These small steps out of comfort zones can have big effects on lives. We never know where getting out of our comfort zone will take us.

The night we moved into our house a man put his fist through our sidelight trying to get to a phone because he and his friends got out of their comfort zone and decided to do off-road driving in the undeveloped site across from us.

We need to think about the comfort zone we are leaving. Is it safe, is it wise, is it dangerous? Some of us are too cautious, and some of us are too brave. Putting everything on red might be out of our comfort zone, it will usually for sure be out of our partner’s comfort zone.

Sometimes I buy a lottery ticket, often I see people who don’t look like they should be spending the amount of money they are on lottery tickets trying to get out of their comfort zone. They aren’t going about it in the best way. That amount of money saved and invested would build them a future, buying lottery tickets is unlikely to pay off.

Last week we watched a video on YouTube telling us that a high percentage of people without high incomes spend a high percentage of their income on luxury goods. Frugality is not being embraced by those who need it most. When we want to look successful before we are successful chances are we will never become really successful.

You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new. Brian Tracy

Habits of the rich:

Eat right. 70 percent of wealthy people eat less than 300 calories in junk-food. 97 percent of poor people eat more than 300 calories in junk-food.

Keep fit. 76 percent of wealthy people exercise at least four days per week, and only 23 percent of poor people do.

Set goals for themselves. A goal is a dream with a plan to reach it. 80 percent of the wealthy focus on a goal. Only 12 percent of poor people have a goal written down.

The wealthy don’t share all their ideas. Only 11.6 percent of the wealthy blurt out what’s on their mind compared to 69 percent of the poor.

Keep a To-Do list. 81 percent of the wealthy keep a To-Do list compared to 19 percent of the poor. 84 percent of the wealthy believe good habits create opportunity and luck versus 4 percent of the poor according to Dave Ramsey.

Wealthy people never quit educating themselves. Wealthy people read at least thirty minutes per day compared to 2 percent of the poor.

Stay in touch with people. Wealthy people show their love by keeping in touch.

Rich people watch less TV. Poor people have a big TV. Rich people have a big library. Jim Rohn

Wealthy people are not big gamblers. Only 23 percent of wealthy people gamble compared to 52 percent of the poor.

The wealthy make daily positive choices. 74% of wealthy people teach good daily success habits to their children versus 1% of the poor. Dave Ramsey

We are building our life by the choices we make every single day. More of our life is up to our behavior, attitude, and habits than a lot of us want to believe.

Are there choices we could make that would move us out of our comfort zone and make our lives better? If we only do what we’ve always done, we’ll only get what we’ve always gotten. If we want change, we have to change. Who but us can be the change we want to see in our life?

I was born poor, raised in poverty and watched my parents die that way. I worked hard, eliminated my bad habits, started doing what the wealthy did. Mostly I stopped blaming others for my lack of wealth. Now I am wealthy, and I help others who want to be helped. Dave Ramsey

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Will the truth set us free? Can we live with radical truth and radical honesty?

Can we live with radical truth and radical honesty? Will the truth set us free?

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.” — Richard Feynman

People have committed suicide because they didn’t know how to deal with reality. How do we come to grips with who we really are, what the circumstances of our life really are? How do we figure out what we can change and what we need to accept with grace, wisdom, and gratitude?

Being our self, accepting our imperfections, is part of living the “good life.” Accepting other peoples faults, foibles and imperfections is also part of life.

We can live with reality. We have no choice because what is, “is”. The only choice is how do we live with it, can we change it, can we mitigate it, or do we just accept it with gratitude and grace?

When I loved myself enough, I began leaving whatever wasn’t healthy. This meant people, jobs, my own beliefs and habits anything that kept me small. My judgement called it disloyal. Now I see it as self-loving. Kim McMillen    

We need to ask our self some hard questions. What is this reaction of ours trying to tell us? What do we need to deal with head on? What do we know but not acknowledge? What are we seeing in other people’s lives that bother us because those same things are part of our life or part of us?

We need to become radical acceptors of reality. It is when we do this we become powerful. We cannot change what we don’t or won’t acknowledge. With knowledge comes power. We may think deceiving others is bad but it is the lies we tell our self that do the most damage.

I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do. Brene Brown

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My quest to become a good pack leader.

Photo of Lulu by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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All fear must be cast out; it should never exist in the human mind and is only possible when we lose sight of our Divinity. It is foreign to us because as Sons of the Creator, Sparks of Divine Live, we are invincible, indestructible and unconquerable. Dr. Bach

Dogs are good at picking up on our emotions. It’s one of the things we love about them. Can our emotions affect our dogs?

Anxiety is our body’s natural response to stress. It’s a feeling of fear or apprehension about what’s to come.

My little dog makes a big fuss every time she hears the basement door open. She barks at the newest member of our family when she sees him. If someone is home whenever someone else comes in, she barks, and she doesn’t like to see people leave.

She starts waiting for my son and daughter to get home at about four o’clock. I’m sure we are part of the problem, are we the whole problem? Yesterday I bought Bach’s Flower Remedy for animals.

I do not consider myself an anxious person. Yet somehow I do believe my little dog is a mirror. I don’t sit on the step waiting in anticipation until my kids come home, yet I always feel a little easier when I know they made it home safe and sound. Is this being anxious?

I’m reading an anxious mind is a strong, powerful mind. An anxious mind can outrun, out power and outwit rationality and logic. Can we harness the strength and power of our fiercely protective mind to work for us instead of against us?

When the brain is oversensitive to a threat, it puts us on high alert even when there is no need to be. This is when anxiety becomes intrusive and hard to live with. It turns from the gentle security guard who shows up when needed, to the crasher who steals our joy and tells stories about nameless dangers.

Part of my dog’s problem is a habit. I wish I could just tell my dog, you are safe, you are secure. This behavior of hers is the excitement in her life. Why would she want to give it up?

Paradoxically it seems the more we try to change something the more energy we give it. It is very hard to ignore a barking dog. I believe she would protect us with her life. We don’t need the kind of protection she wants to give. She loves to have something to patrol. All twelve pounds of her protect us. She doesn’t know she’s a little dog. She is fiercely loyal, protective, gentle and loving. All she wants is a little love and attention, to be constantly at our side, a bit of cheese, and a potato chip now and then.

I’m looking up Cesar’s Way, Dealing with dog separation anxiety. He says there is real separation anxiety and simulated separation anxiety. I think we have a problem with simulated separation anxiety. If my husband and I go out and come back in together she doesn’t bark or act badly. If I come in alone and my husband comes in after I’ve shut the door. She barks and carries on.

Cesar says we need to let our dog know what is expected of them. Our dogs are not happy if they believe they are in control. This may be part of the problem we have. Perhaps we need to get in the habit of making her do something before she gets something? Maybe I need to get her crate out and put her in it when people are expected home? Maybe I haven’t been a good pack leader?

Dogs have given us their absolute all. We are the center of their universe. We are the focus of their love and faith and trust. They serve us in return for scraps. It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made. Roger A. Caras

Cesar says the goal is to have our dog accept all the normal everyday movements, noises, and happenings within our home. It is not necessary for her to be involved in everything because we are the ones in charge.

Learned behavior is probably what we are dealing with. I have allowed her to develop bad habits. She gets attention and even bad attention is rewarding because she gets noticed.

I was talking with my brother who just acquired a new puppy. He said, “it’s bad when a dog is smarter than its owner.” This is my problem, I have to fix it. It is hard to believe we cause the problems in our life. When we accept the truth we can change them.

My dog is teaching me things I didn’t want to know. Many of the lessons we get in life are not welcome. Only after dealing with what we can no longer ignore do we understand the worth of the lesson.

Maybe next year or next month I will be looking at this opportunity and challenge with gratitude. Being a good pack leader is an ongoing challenge. I have to step up and be the pack leader my dog needs. I owe it to her, myself, and the rest of the family.

I’ve seen a look in dog’s eyes, a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt, and I am convinced that basically, dogs think humans are nuts. John Steinbeck

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Are we comfortable with compliments?

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Sincerity is the highest compliment you can pay. Emerson

Last night I was listening to the radio as I came home from the gym. The radio personality was talking about how we don’t seem to be very good at receiving compliments. He was talking about an interview with quarterback Tom Brady being called the Goat (greatest of all time). Tom Brady said, “It makes me cringe, I guess I take compliments worse than I take, ‘you’re too old, you’re too slow, you can’t get it done no more.’  And I would say, ‘Thank you very much, I’m gonna go prove you wrong.’”

There are four reasons given why we are uncomfortable with compliments:

We have low self-esteem. A study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found people with low self-esteem have the most difficulty accepting compliments. According to the study, compliments aren’t likely to improve our self-image. Sometimes people feel they are being lied to, that the compliment is not genuine.

Our self-image doesn’t line up. The compliment doesn’t line up with the way we see our self.

We are uncomfortable with big expectations. Studies show people with self-worth issues prefer to set the bar low. If they meet the expectations they are pleasantly surprised. High expectations may make self-doubt creep in and cause anxiety. We may feel it is only a matter of time before we disappoint someone.

We want to be humble. It’s hard to know how to react when someone showers us with accolades. Saying “Yeah, I know,” puts you in jerk territory. Even a simple “Thank you” can feel awkward. Studies link humility to a variety of positive outcomes, increased self-control, and effective leadership.

We need to learn how to accept a compliment gracefully. The best response is a simple “Thank you”. We need to resist the urge to criticize our self, and if others have helped in our success we should be sure to spread the limelight.

Next, to a sincere compliment, I think I like a well-deserved and honest rebuke. Unknown

When we read self-help books we are often advised to look in the mirror and say good things about our self. If we get used to being able to say good things about our self, we may be more comfortable when someone says them to us.

Maya Angelou said, “Others will not remember what you did or said, but they’ll remember how you made them feel.” When someone gives us a compliment it isn’t only about us, we need to be careful not to make them feel diminished for saying it. If we brush off their compliment we may make them feel stupid, awkward, or like they’ve done something wrong.

Learning to give and receive compliments is a skill worth developing. When we say “Thank you” to a compliment we are acknowledging what the other person sees in us.

It may be “Thank you” for recognizing our individuality.

It may be “Thank you” for acknowledging our contribution to something.

It may be “Thank you” for offering space for our purpose to serve the world.

It may be “Thank you” for allowing us a chance to shine our light in their life.

It may be “Thank you” for seeing something in us we are only starting to see in our self.

It may be “Thank you” that our vision is worth striving for.

It may be “Thank you” that they too see the world how we do.

It may be “Thank you” we’ve found a group, a friend, or space where we feel we belong.

Being fueled by wanting to prove things isn’t necessarily bad. Not wanting to rest on our accomplishments but wanting to continue to move forward is inspiring. Genuine humbleness is a great quality, so is being able to accept a genuine compliment.

Are we comfortable giving and receiving compliments? Not all compliments are sincere. How should we handle the insincere compliment?

Do not offer a compliment and ask a favor at the same time. A compliment that is charged for is not valuable. Mark Twain

Simply Charming: Compliments and Kindness for All Occasions by [Matheson, Christie]
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Simply Charming: Compliments and Kindness for All Occasions 1st Edition,Kindle Edition


Moving forward, trying new things.

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We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we are curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. Walt Disney

Last night I went down to my art studio and looked at my bookshelf. There I saw a book I bought years ago. Take The Step The Bridge Will Be There by Grace Cirocco. I was listening to the radio in the office one day quite a few years ago, and I heard a voice I recognized. We’d met when our daughters were in ballet.

She was on the radio promoting her book. The book is inspirational. I picked it up last night and started reading it again. I didn’t pick up my paintbrush. Instead, I read and started doing some of the exercises, answering some of the questions.

This morning I looked her up on the internet and she has a YouTube video. It’s a compilation of interviews. She’s talking about believing in our self, taking the step and knowing we are enough. She offers couples retreats and the reviews look good. I’ve never been to a couples retreat. I just looked her up on facebook and she does a Goddess Club workshop near here. There is one on February 13th, I’m thinking of going.

This is our life, it might be hard to fit everything in we want to do. We can fit in a lot if we put our mind to it. Is it time to pick up that guitar again? Or did you never put it down? If it feeds our soul it is worth doing. Visit an art store, a music store, a book store. Maybe it’s time to join a pickup band, an art group, a group of like-minded people. Is it time to attend seminars, take a class, buy a book and learn something on our own?

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. Steve Jobs

What is something that would bring a new dimension into your life? Is there something old that if you picked it back up would feed your soul? What did you not have time for while the kids were being raised, or you focused on other important things?

We build our lives with moments; moments spent with people, pets, artistic pursuits, traveling, enjoying the outdoors, and reflecting on life. This is our life, is our life too exciting, we don’t have time to stop and smell the roses, or not exciting enough? Is our circle enlarging, or shrinking? Are we looking forward to the next stage in life? Are we afraid the best is behind us?

We don’t know whose life we will touch, or who will touch ours? We need to be open to new experiences, widening our circle, learning new things, rekindling old interests. Are we worried we won’t look as cool with our guitar as we once did? Get over it. Enjoying life is cool, at any age.

I’m reminded of the advertisement of grandparents looking cool and enjoying life, but when the family is coming over they get into their grandpa and grandma clothes so they look like what their kids and grandkids expect of them.

What do we need to add to our lives to spice it up? Is there a dream we would go for if we knew we couldn’t fail? What chance would we take? Is there an adventure that never fit into our life, still calling to us?

We can take the step at any time, the bridge will be there. We can’t do everything, but we can do something. If something calls to us we can explore it in small or big ways? It may become a hobby, or play a larger role in our life, we won’t know if we don’t try.

Don’t fear failure so much that you refuse to try new things. The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have. Louis E. Boone

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Considerate or manipulative? Straightforward or a jerk?

Swan photo taken by Errol Thomas

Photo taken by Errol Thomas.

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Everybody has the ability to be manipulative, to be hateful and deceitful. Neil LaBute

Yesterday I came across an article on what a healthy person is:

Don’t we love to read these and see if we qualify as a healthy person?

Here’s the list:

Open to feelings (meaning we’re able to experience and express emotions).

Warm (meaning we’re friendly, affectionate, and able to form close relationships).

High in positive emotions (meaning we experience a lot of happiness, love, and other good feelings regularly).

Straight forward (meaning we’re genuine and not likely to manipulate others).

Confident in ourselves.

Emotionally stable (meaning we’re generally not too depressed or anxious and aren’t particularly predisposed to getting angry or responding negatively to situations).

Fairly resistant to stress.

The one I question is straightforwardness.

So today I looked up straightforward and it says “Straightforward means direct in your approach.”  Then I read; sometimes straightforward people are misjudged as impolite or impatient. There’s the rub.

When I am not being straightforward for instance, is if I am going to Toastmasters and I don’t know if my husband wants to go to the gym. I will ask him if he plans to go to the gym instead of asking directly to use the vehicle. My thinking is if I take the vehicle, he can’t go to the gym, but if he drops me off at Toastmasters, and I can get a ride home we both win. If I can’t get a ride then he can pick me up. If he isn’t planning to go to the gym, I won’t ask my friend for a ride.

Women are often accused of being manipulative, but if we want to know if someone has plans to use what we were planning to ask to use, then we won’t ask, is not being manipulative it is being considerate.

Manipulation, fueled with good intent, can be a blessing. But when used wickedly, it is the beginning of a magician’s karmic calamity. T.F. Hodge

When I want to use any of the three vehicles in our household I ask first if they plan to use the vehicle before I ask to use it. If they have plans to use it then I don’t ask. If it is going to be sitting in the driveway during the time I want to use it, then I ask. This is not being manipulative, it is being considerate.

Manipulation would be if I wanted them to not do what they were planning to do, so I could use the vehicle to do what I am planning to do. When I had my own vehicle I didn’t ask, I just got in my vehicle and away I went. Now, I have so little need for a vehicle it isn’t worth paying for a second vehicle to sit in the driveway most of the time just so I am not considered manipulative when I ask to use someone else’s.

There’s a fine line between straightforward and manipulation. We can be manipulative when we use telling it like it is as an excuse for being mean and putting others down, and call it being straightforward. We can also be manipulative when we dance around the issue waiting for someone to give us what we want.

How do we know when we are being manipulative? The answer lies in whose best interest is it in. If it is in our best interest then we may be manipulative. If it is in the other person’s best interest then we are not being manipulative.

Living in truth and honesty means looking at how we interact with people. Not just what is said, but what is behind what is said. If we understand t the only improvement we have a right to expect is our own. That living in denial is not a good way to live. Everyone will not see things how we do, and we can’t expect them to. Is our goal to live our life to the best of our ability? Do we understand we won’t be perfect, we will make mistakes? Are we willing to accept responsibility and own our mistakes and our successes?

If we deal with others truthfully and honestly to the best of our ability and keep in mind what is best for them as we build a life that is best for us. Isn’t that’s as good as it gets?

Do we get accused of being manipulative when we have someone else’s best interest at heart? Is being called manipulative, manipulative?

The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words. Philip K. Dick

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Arguing isn’t the problem. How we handle it is.

Photo of pink daylilly by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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Explain your anger, don’t express it, and you will immediately open the door to solutions instead of arguments. Unknown

Talking things out is a pathway to growth and problem-solving. It can also descend into arguments. It is not good to avoid conflict by withdrawal and stonewalling, it is not good if every discussion turns into an angry argument. We all argue, are there ways to do it more constructively?

The answer according to Barton Goldsmith is yes, and he gives his tips to argue correctly creating a pathway to growth and problem-solving.

  1. Understand that anger itself is not destructive. There is a vast difference between anger and rage. When someone is angry they need to state their feelings, they don’t break things or relationships – that is rageful behavior.
  2. Talk about your feelings before you get angry. When you or your partner can approach the situation as it happens and deal with it in a safe way, it may not get to the point of being an argument. Sometimes things just need to be verbalized and most arguments can be avoided if your partner understands how you feel.
  3. Don’t raise your voice. It’s amazing how issues of hurt feelings or differences can be resolved with a whisper. I counsel couples who are yellers to only communicate with a whisper and it greatly reduces the anger factor in their relationships.
  4. Don’t threaten your relationship. And don’t take every argument as a threat to your relationship. This type of emotional blackmail puts the other partner in a panic/flight or flight mode. While you’re telling them you want to leave, they may be making plans to find a roommate. In addition, they may be so devastated by the thought of losing their family they can go into a deep depression and be unable to give you what it is you need.
  5. Don’t stockpile. This is where you bring up issues from the past to use as a hammer against whatever problem your partner has asked for help with. Deal with their issue first and if you really have unresolved feelings from past problems talk about them at another time.
  6. Don’t avoid your anger. If you stuff your feelings long enough you will explode and say or do things that you will regret. Anger does not diminish love, you can be angry with those you love. In fact the ones we love hurt us the most because we love them the most.
  7. Create a process for resolving problems without anger. Start by each of you taking five minutes to state your feelings, then take a twenty-minute break to think about things and come back to the table for another ten minutes to discuss how you think you can best deal with the problem. Also, know that it’s okay if the problem doesn’t get solved right away.
  8. Abuse is NEVER allowed. This includes verbal abuse, any type of violence including slamming doors, breaking plates or hitting. If your arguments escalate to this level you need to leave the house. If one partner ever hits another a police report needs to be made and an appointment with a therapist is mandatory.
  9. Don’t engage. Remember that negative attention is still attention. If your partner tries to goad you into an argument, simply don’t go there. Some people actually like to argue because it gives them a temporary feeling of power and gratification. Avoid being sucked into their need for attention.
  10. Listen to your body. When you are angry your body releases chemicals that may cause you to react in ways that can be destructive to you, your partner and your relationship. Learn to understand your feelings and how the process of anger affects you physically and emotionally.

Research has shown that couples who argue more than twenty percent of the time are probably not going to survive.

Most couples don’t have hundreds of arguments; they have the same argument hundreds of times. It’s not always about trying to fix something that’s broken; maybe it’s about starting over and creating something better. You can’t have a relationship without any fights, but you can make your relationship worth the fight… Unknown

How an argument unfolds is important. We need enough balance in our relationship that both partners feel they can talk about anything and everything. It isn’t good when one partner rants and raves and bullies, and the other partner shuts down. It is even worse if both partners shut down and stop bringing up problems altogether. When this happens we walk on eggshells and stay distant to avoid conflict.

We need to contain our arguments where they don’t turn into open warfare, and where we don’t bring up the past to fan the flames of our emotional fire. When we do this, hurtful things get said, sometimes arguments even get physical, and emotional and physical scars can be created that don’t go away, they just create more fear, resentment, and fuel for future arguments.

When the argument is over we need to make up. We can make mistakes at this point too.

One mistake is to pretend the argument didn’t happen. We get up, pour our coffee, and sweep everything under our already full rug.

Another mistake is we continue to punish our partner. We give them the silent treatment. We use passive-aggressive behaviors to rub salt in our partners wound.

Even if it isn’t about punishment but anxiety and awkwardness we should avoid the deep-freeze treatment because it creates a negative climate in the relationship as we create a who will give in the first environment. It is even worse if children are forced to endure this untenable situation and negative environment. They sometimes believe they are the problem.

Another mistake we make is not apologizing. We often don’t apologize because we believe we are saying their ridiculous accusations are correct and we are wrong. An apology is simply acknowledging that we hurt our partner’s feelings. We are taking responsibility for our part in the argument and maybe even for our part in the situation that created it. We did play a part even if all we did is get defensive and escalate the argument

How can we make our relationship better after an argument?

First, we need to cool off and get our rational brain back in control. If we talk too soon we may trigger another argument. Men it seems often take longer to cool down. We can acknowledge the other person by simply saying, “I’m still upset; I’m not trying to ignore you, I just need more time to cool off.”


Solve the problem that started the argument if that is possible. Many of us fall down at this point. We don’t solve the problem because we are worried discussing it will turn into another argument. Our challenge is to talk about it and solve the problem. We need to stay sane, move forward, and figure out a way to deal with the problem. Do we need to go through this loop a few times because of the situation?

We need to figure out what is the moral of the story of our argument. We want to fix the problem but we also want to learn what the argument can teach us about communication, and what’s the underlying source of the problem. We may be fighting about dishes in the sink, kids bedtimes and other sundry items but the underlying problem may be something else entirely, money, not spending enough time and attention with each other, old hurts we haven’t let go of.

What is the deeper issue underlying the problem? The dishes are not about the dishes but about feeling criticized, feeling we are doing more than our share, and our requests for help are dismissed. We need to do real soul searching to figure out the larger pattern, why did this trigger that argument, and what needs does our partner have we are not meeting? How empty is their love tanks?

Were we holding things in and something finally burst the damn and we finally blew up? Were we feeling disconnected from each other and developed the habit of picking fights to feel connected and energized? Our challenge is having the courage to be honest with our self and each other about what is really going on. What aren’t we discussing? What aren’t we fixing? What are we regretting? What emptiness are we feeling? How have we let our self or our partner down? How have they let us down? We need to deal with our anxiety and the reality of the situation instead of avoiding it. When we deal with it, we can make it better. It might not be better in the short time, it may take a while, but if we are both committed to figuring out the problems, fixing the problems, and meeting each other needs we can build a better marriage and relationship.

Is an argument an opportunity to analyze a problem, fix it, strengthen our marriage, and be closer to our partner?

Relationships include fights, jealousy, arguments, faith, tears, disagreements, but a real relationship fights through all that with love. Unknown

Breaking the Argument Cycle: How to Stop Fighting Without Therapy

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