Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘engagement’

Enough with the Negativity!

My blog written last week entitled, ‘Stress and the Sexes’ explained the different way long term stress effects men and women. If you are like me the stress of this election year has reached a fever pitch and yet we have over 9 months left to go – that’s a sobering and exhausting thought. Think of it this way, by the time it’s over it will be nearly a year of our lives that will never be regained. How are we going to choose to spend it?

At first listening to every candidate helped me understand what they believed in and would hopefully work for once in office. There were major differences which is understandable. Catching each debate – both Democrat and Republican – seemed like the responsible thing to do as I scratched the dates off my list. Watching the candidates evolve on issues gave me a sense of pride. Yes, some were listening to the folks they talked to along the primary trail and seemed genuinely interested in the opinions of us ‘regular folks.’ Some even went so far as to admit that they alone are not a miracle worker and cannot simply promise to make big things happen in isolation of our Congress. After all we do not live in a dictatorship and our country cannot be run as such. Honesty is inspirational and humility refreshing. We all know that it requires those folks we elected into office from our states working together with a President to get lasting changes for the country. From our recent history we can see what devastating effects emerge when that does not happen.

Early on in the campaigns there was a thread of negative messaging by a few of the would be hopefuls but it has now reached a point of no return. No longer do we hear what a candidate stands for but why someone running against them is incompetent, out of touch, a liar or just plain bad for the country. In other words, the debates and interviews are no longer about what the candidate would do if elected but why we must fear their opponent. Fear seems to be the operative word in this campaign from some of the candidates. Fear is debilitating, depressing and a cheap shot in an attempt to win votes. Have we truly devolved into a culture where character assassination is not only accepted but applauded? The last time I checked dog fights are illegal yet somehow this practice has morphed into the behavior of some of the candidates. When I listen to them I find myself embarrassed by their theatrics.

Will we choose to be motivated to vote from a position of hope or fear? It will be a long election year if fear, hate and discontent continue to emerge as the flavor of this years election cycle. Do we have concerns and serious areas of needed change.. absolutely! The list is quite long actually. Recognizing these needs can be enlightening or overwhelmingly depressing – I choose the former.

It’s always a challenge to look optimistically at whatever life presents us. It takes strength to believe in the possibilities of our tomorrows. Yet, to do so allows us the positive energy to go on. A can do attitude is what formed our country – and a great country it is…maybe it’s time to turn off and tune out the barrage of negative campaign adds, interviews and debates in an attempt to protect our own psyche. Being informed is our right and responsibility in the democracy in which we live. Once we feel we know what the candidates stand for it might be good for our own emotional health to say to ourselves enough – and pick up that good book we are reading or escape to the latest NetFlix movie for real entertainment.

Have a great few days!

Three Distinctive Types of Happiness

Given the amount of human interaction involved during the holiday season it may be helpful to visit the topic of happiness in an effort to better understand ourself and others. A little knowledge is a powerful thing. It can help us remain calm, cool and collected and avoid judging others when they do not react as we would hope for or expect. Martin Seligman, known as the father of positive psychology has contributed much to the field. From his research he has discovered three highly distinctive types of happiness. The differences are real and identifying them empowers us to be our better self during this holiday season.

The first type of happiness Seligman called the ‘pleasant life’ in which a person strives to surround themselves with as many pleasures as possible. Folks in this category are in a constant state of accumulating stuff such as the latest technology, clothes, furniture, cars – the list goes on and on. They are driven toward making themselves happy first and foremost. Happiness to them is showing the world what they have achieved by having newer, better or more. As you might guess, the research shows that since this type of happiness is determined by accumulating things it does not result in lasting fulfillment or happiness. Thus, the cycle continues – as they decide to purchase the next thing to make themselves happy. The sad part is that there must always be – the next thing – for them.

The second type of happiness comes from ‘engagement.’ People in this category find happiness from deep involvement with their family, friends, or their jobs or career. They want to be engaged with others and find great personal reward by doing so. In fact, they receive such positive feelings from their connections that they can become totally absorbed in a life that revolves around others as their source of happiness.

Seligman found a third type of happiness results when we live a ‘meaningful life.’ Once we discover our personal strengths we find ultimate happiness and satisfaction by applying these strengths in service to a cause bigger than ourselves. A meaningful life is more than simply accumulating things or maintaining our connections with others. This type of happiness is achieved from making a difference – a contribution – in a field or to society in general. George Bernard Shaw wrote ‘A Splendid Torch’ which explains this particular view or orientation to happiness quite well.

“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish, little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no ‘brief candle’ for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”

The reality is that each of us has our own take on what we need to be happy. Our challenge then is to learn to accept others and their own unique perspectives when they don’t match our own. Acceptance through greater understanding is key.

Have a great few days!