Stop Yelling

When I was a child, I was taught people only learn through pain. So, I learned not to touch fire only after getting burned, and specific actions brought on corporal punishment. If I didn’t repeat the deed, and my bottom was safe. The Department of Human Services (DHS) visited our home on occasions due to a reported bruise or two.

Since physical contact brought unwanted attention, yelling became the new form of outlet. Yelling for a minute or more can produce a fair amount of adrenaline, and coming down from a chemical high feels good. We know people can develop an addiction to adrenaline. This is how some drama llamas are created. In the aftermath of a scream-fest, a point was made, and a calm feeling soothes the soul as we collect ourselves. No bruising means no DHS representatives.

The irony of each scenario lies within the need for controlling a child while we are losing control. We do not need to hit anyone, nor do we need to assault them verbally. We are responsible for our actions. Others did not make us angry; we chose to get angry. Scenarios may upset or aggravate us. This is life. How we deal is this aggravation is up to us.

If we cannot express ourselves without yelling, then we need to excuse ourselves and calm down. I have stepped out of many conversations to collect myself. This, in turn, brought on newfound respect from my peers.

In my youth, I yelled at my junior peers to get the point across. I later learned that yelling at a group was less traumatic for individuals, but not for the ones observing the verbal onslaught via third-person. Third-person stress cannot be adequately controlled. Therefore, we must manage the stressors. As stated earlier, if we cannot talk without yelling or screaming, then we need to hold our tongues until we can. (not literally).

For those of us blessed with a quick or strong temper, it may take more discipline to achieve having an adamant conversation under eighty decibels. But, as with everything worth learning, it takes time and patience. Learn to express disapproval or aggravation without raising the volume. Everyone can hear us just fine. Breathe in slow, then breathe out slowly. We are the paragon of professionalism.

Until the next blog, live life and be happy.

Boat: Life

For years boaters have declared the word boat as an acronym: Bring On Another Thousand they state. This may sound silly to those of us who never owned a boat. Cars and trucks don’t cost much to operate. So why would a john boat or pontoon cost so much? And what does a boat have to do with happiness?

Don’t fret. The metaphor has everything to do with happiness. 

When it comes to watercraft, we want bells and whistles everywhere. GPS, fish finders, remote-controlled trolling motors, sonar, radar, weather maps, and dolphin translators. We want it all. The problem is, they cost a lot of money. And, once installed, we have to maintain them.  So, is there a perfect boat? Well, that’s like asking, is there an ideal car?

To keep the cost down, we must simplify our boat. A kayak cost less to maintain than a sailboat. After all, fewer parts equate to fewer expenses. Our lives are no different. Yes, frills are nice, but they cost. 

“So, we need to go without to be happy?”

As much as I would love to say no, there is a level of truth to this statement. Happiness is not in the “poor house”; it’s in the “simple house.”  Smaller bills leave more paycheck at the end of the month. Living within our means allows us to enjoy life. Live beyond those means, and we will always chase bills. 

Is there such a thing as too simple? I believe it depends on the individual. Some may find happiness with a canoe, while others need a gheenoe. Whatever the case, we must define our threshold. Stray too far from this point, and we’ll be unhappy. What good is a boat without some form of propulsion? Being stagnant has no “Woo” factor.  We need mobility.

Life works in a similar. When kept simple, life is easier to maintain and enjoy. Yes, a luxury yacht sounds great until it’s time to pay the crew, boat slip, and maintenance fees. We will find more happiness and satisfaction by staying within the means of our finances. This will also prevent us from Bringing On Another Thousand.

Until the next blog, live life and be happy. 

Mindset Of A Drama-Llama

Photo by Magnus Martinsen from Pexels

Solitude brings a deafening silence that forces us to take a long hard look at who we are. Some people may like what they see, but most will not. As we gawk at ourselves, we tend to focus on the negatives. 

“We don’t do this or that. We failed in these areas. And, our peers agree we suck.” 

We feed our inner demons and become our worst critic.

Deeds from the past come crawling out of their graves. Our minds begin to rationalize what we should do and what we should have done. An avalanche of “if’s” devour our confidence until we are nothing more than a whimpering soul wishing we had done more. 

Not everyone welcomes downtime and silence. Some need to stay busy to avoid the spotlight. Or, perhaps, they need to cause others trouble to prevent a judgemental eye from their peer.

The drama we create keeps others on their feet and off of our backs. At first, the troubles are small, but as life goes on, we become better at manipulating peers. We fabricate so many stories that it is hard to see the truth. And the best part is we are getting away with it. No one knows we are involved. We have successfully become drama-llamas.

No longer do we need to look at our ugliness. We have the world dancing and trying to put out the fiery rumors that burn in their world. Our intentions lie within the fact that no one cares about unseen imperfections. Perhaps we’ll rush in and save them, becoming a hero and “true friend.” How great would we look then?

Some of us are addicted to drama. Peace brings tranquillity. Chaos brings change. New people equals new opportunities. We hope things will be better. This is a prodigal dream due to our lack of self-improvement. It is selfish to change our environment, peers, or stature, but not change ourselves. Only a juvenile mind would scream, “I want others to hurt because I hurt. Why should I be the only one with pain?” A fool seeks comfort from pity. We are better than this.

To peer into the thoughts of those who are mentally addicted to drama helps us to understand the simple fact that we cannot help those that do not help themselves. It is my personal opinion that we should avoid drama-lovers. They are toxic and will cause harm until they change their mindset. When dealing with anyone, whether good or bad, be professional. Treat others with dignity and respect. Sometimes this does mean that we need to excuse ourselves before we lose self-control. 

If we feel that trouble follows us everywhere, then we need to evaluate our disposition. We must accept the fact that life is not good nor bad. Life is existence. Our motive, mindset, and attitude determine our perception. We are the reason we believe life is for or against us. Events happen every day; our approach determines how we cope. 

When an unexpected bump in the road comes our way, we can either smile and say, “That was unexpected.” Or, we can get mad and chuck expletives and everything that moves around us. The choice is ours. 

Until the next blog, live life and be happy.

Coping Is Not Being 100%

If we are coping, then we are good, right? After all, to cope means to deal with a problem successfully. Yes, but no. I believe this is where we forget that we are human. If we are dealing with an issue, then we have not found a resolution.

Imagine a person treading water in the ocean. How long can that person last before being overwhelmed with fatigue? Now let’s say we cruise by in our boat, see the swimmer, and think, “Meh, they’re fine.” and pull away, leaving the poor soul to fend on their own. This is the same course we take when we assume others are all right.

All aspects of life can reach a level of fatigue. Social, financial, physical, mental, or whatever we are susceptible to catastrophic exhaustion. It’s at that point when we see no way out that depression and anxiety take control. By managing the stress in these areas, we can mitigate our problems. This means that we may need to rely on others to pull through.

When assessing our situation, be honest. Just because our head is above the water does not mean we are doing well. If someone asks how we are doing, don’t reflexively volley the answer, “I’m fine.” If we are not “fine,” then we shouldn’t say we are. That’s called lying. We do not need fiery pants.

Nevertheless, we don’t need to console everyone that asks how we are doing. That would be ridiculous. But, if we need assistance, then we should look for it before we sink. Don’t worry about being a burden on others. If they asked for our help, we would be there, right? The same applies to us. They will be there for us, especially if they are checking on how we are doing.

If we are coping, then we have not found a resolution to our problem. We balance and manage our stress effectively as not to overburden our daily routine. We may not be 100%, but we are steady. And when the time comes, and we need assistance, we will find it. All we need to do is ask.

Until the next blog, live life and be happy.

How A Happy Person Resembles A Lottery Winner.

Seventy percent of lottery winners go broke within five years of winning.

 “If I won a million dollars…” is an old dream tangled in misfortune. How can this be? After all, it’s a gateway to financial freedom. With a quick search of the internet, one will find that the number one reason that they go broke is taxes. Who knew that free money was taxed? In some places, that fee can be as high as 45 percent. I suppose a 50% tax would look too greedy. 

Another reason for losing everything is the fact Lottery winners feel obligated to family. Share the wealth they say. “You can afford it.” This scenario plays out until the money is gone, leaving the family wondering why “the winners” are tight with the money that the family blew.  And of course, once they learn that the money is gone, lottery recipients get the family reputation of not being good with money. Friends are just as bad. This factor is why there is a stereotype of the financially wealthy and seclusion. 

If given the option, most of us would opt for the lump sum rather than annuity payout. But little do we realize taking “the lump sum,” can leave us with 60-70% of the winnings. This deduction does not include taxes. Is it any wonder why we would ever choose the annuity in a world obsessed with instant gratification?

Another factor falls under the way we perceive our winnings versus our earnings. We are less likely to splurge the money we “earned.” The fact remains that money is money.  But for some strange reason, we feel that the money we won is more fluid. Easy come, easy go, right? We can afford this and that. When the truth is, that money would make for an excellent IRA. But that is boring. I know. 

There is a bit of euphoria that most winners encounter. They feel compelled to buy bigger homes or more luxurious cars. But with luxuries come luxury taxes, and that bigger house costs more to heat and cool, not to mention uses more electricity. 

And lastly, they don’t seek advice from professional counselors. I mean, all they’re going to say is that we should invest it and save for a great retirement. Still boring. Across the board, both men and women have a hard time asking for financial advice. We may appear juvenile if we ask for financial help. After all, we know how to manage our accounts. We’re responsible adulting adults. 

Now let’s take a moment to look at our happiness. 

There are similarities between lottery winners and happy people. The term happy people refer to the self-motivating go-getter who chooses to look on the bright side of life. Their happiness is deliberate, and the results of the choices they make. But, this happiness can be lost.

It may come as a shocker to some, but life is full of stress. This stress is taxing on our soul. Just like the lottery tax, it takes more out than we expect.  Due to this stress, we must have down-time or quiet moments to recharge. We cannot stay happy every day. We ride on an emotional roller coaster with ups and downs with every turn. Each day presents new challenges. Those that don’t prepare for these daily challenges may find themselves overwhelmed. 

Learn from the lottery winners who went bankrupt. Friends and family are another reason for depression. Happy people are, well, happy. And they can afford to listen to our problems. Every one of us knows over 100 people. Imagine a bombardment of 100 complaining souls. It would wear us down. Who wants to listen to negativity all the time? It is essential to say, “I cannot listen at this moment.” We are not obligated to give an ear to every drama-lama. Listen to others on our terms. If we are feeling up for listening, then it is our choice. However, if we are not, then it is our choice as well. We should never force our problems on others, nor should they force their problems on us. 

Instant satisfaction may prove disappointing. In a world of fast cars, fast food, and quick deliveries, we love “instant.” But, with instant gratification comes instant disappointment. The glamour fades, and we face the truth that our expectations exceeded our reality. It is crucial to take the rose shades off and meet the true colors of life. Things worth having take time. And once we find that thing-of-happiness we should invest more time and energy into developing it, for example, quality friends. Quality friends are those that support us as we support them. They bring as much happiness into our lives as we try to bring into theirs. This type of joy develops over time. It also includes family members who have our best interests. It is easier for family member to become toxic due to the fact that we will always be family. Friends do not that this freedom/obligation. Some members are here to mooch off of everyone. And when they don’t receive their payment, they cry about blood being thicker than water. Never argue with stupid people. They will beat you down with their ignorance. 

The longer we invest our time into a situation or person, the more likely we are to stay committed. This statement doesn’t hold up in all scenarios. But for the most part, it does. Why? Because we do not want to say we wasted our time. Doing so may bring on the feeling of failure. And no one wants to fail. We want to be successful and prosper. This fact brings me to my next point. 

When we are happy, there is a level of euphoria that we experience. Life is good. So much so that we want to share it. We want to make others feel the same great feeling that we have. Unfortunately, we cannot make everyone happy. If we try to make everyone feels as great as we do, we will only end up disappointed and deflated. We can be there for others, but we cannot make them happy. 

Now the last part of this is the hardest. Seeking help or assistance is not always easy. “Why do I need to see a shrink? I’m not crazy.” And that is the most crucial reason to seek professional counsel. We are not crazy, but it helps to have a non-bias conversation.

In most cases, we are given support and encouragement. We all need this. Psychiatrists are not in the position of judging but analyzing and figuring out the source of complication that one may encounter. Never underestimate the value of sage advice. Some reputable psychiatrists are worth visiting. Some people are in it for the money. Research and find out who the majority of people visit. Notice I didn’t say suggest. Quality references don’t come from hearsay. 

There we have it, how a happy person resembles a lottery winner. The difference lies with how we handle ourselves. Life is sweeter with happiness. Learning how to maintain and preserve it is essential, and knowing what to do with our lottery winnings. There are a lot of people who would love to have our happiness. But, that would require change on their part, and it’s easier to bring others down. Find quality friends and support each other. You are worth every bit of support that you give others. 

Until the next blog, live life and be happy.  

OCEAN-5 Traits- Conscientiousness

Conscientiousness, the most deliberate of all traits. This lovely trait envelopes control and self-discipline. A person who scores high in this trait know where they want to go in life, and have the long range plans to get there. These are not your spontaneous half hearts. No, this type of person is deliberate. If they want spontaneous, they’ll plan for it. 

The Good:

Being a conscientious person can have its rewards. People can depend on them for their dutifulness. Others want to emulate their sense of order. These are the ones who are prepared for anything .  Experience has a funny way of culturing conscientiousness. As we grow, we learn what actions to take.  And, we learn the consequences for not taking them. “Adulting”  utilizes this trait.  

The Bad:

Welcome to the world of a workaholic. They feel obligated to complete the task at hand. “Its for the greater good”. They will sacrifice time with family in order to make the deal. They struggle within their logical soul,;knowing they should relax and take a load off. However, there is so much to complete. And they will complete it.

The Truth:

As with Openness, most of us fall in the middle. We find a balance between work and home. If things don’t go as plan, we don’t throw a raging fit. We circumvent and overcome. However, some of us do feel obligated to our work or to others. We do not want to let others down. A word of advice… No one ever looks back on their life and says “I should have put more time in at work.” Well, maybe that one guy, but he loves working. We do make a lot of sacrifices. But it’s not fair to our spouses, children, families, or friends if we neglect them.

A person who scores high on this trait means well. We would do well to remember that if we want to express our concerns. Go to them ,not at them. Anyone who has chased a career has been guilty of burning the midnight oil. It happens. This trait is a good one to have, if balanced in the correct proportion. 

That wraps up another letter. Come back next week as we explore extroversion.

Until the next blog, live life, be happy, and find life’s happiness.

Steve Curtis

OCEAN-5 Traits- Openness

This week we start by jumping into the acronym with openness. Just as the word states, a person who scores high in the openness trait is more likely to be adventurous, social, and open-minded. New ideas and expressions tickle their interest. Creativity shines in the work they produce. A person of openness does not merely work, they spawn an expression.

The Good:

The imagination knows no limits. Unlike an overly analytical person, a person who thinks outside of the box will produce new solutions to new problems. This is why researchers, advertisers, designers, and landscapers need creativity. A person of openness is not afraid to ask what if. No, they dance outside of conventional thinking. Outgoing and adventurous, they seek new ideas and plow onward to unthought thoughts of thinkingness… and stuff. Thus, my friends, these majestic brainstormers cannot be entertained by Dolly Parton’s 9-5. They need substance; not monotony. For the love of jelly beans, do not cubicaltize (made up word) these poor souls.

The Bad:

What could be so bad with a little creativity? In a cookie cut world, flair and design is needed like a breath of fresh air; unless precession is needed time after time after time. There are things in this world that do require a lack of creativity. Working a non-stimulating factory assembly line job everyday, every month, for 40 some years is not for the person who craves new experiences. In tandem,  cubicle life, as mentioned earlier, can mentally drain a person who loves to meet new people on a daily basis. Or even worse, monotonous life can lead a person of openness to depression. The lack of inspiration, creativity, or problem solving can be mentally damaging.

The Truth:

It is rare that a person scores absolute on openness. Honestly, most of us score somewhere in the middle. We have a healthy balance between “what is” and “what if”. We need to be mindful of those who like change, and those who embrace a monotonous lifestyle. Never assume a person of openness is creative or a great problem solver. They may be adventurous or love meeting new people.  Understanding this trait and how we fall within it will help us understand how we act and react to our environment.

Keep in mind that we can change our trait score.  Perhaps not overnight, but it can be done. A person who refrains from being social and open to new experiences can learn to enjoy meeting new people and trying new things. As we go through life we change. Our likes and interests in our 20’s no longer seem to be in view in our 40’s. Don’t think it’s true?  Try partying with 20 year olds when you turn 40. Like a slap in the face reality shows us how much we have changed. As stated in the Introductory Blog please do not run out and try to change others. This is for us to self-evaluate and assess what changes we need. This is how we become the person we want to be. Or, maintain the person we love being.

There we have. Come back next week as we explore conscientiousness.

Until the next blog, live life, be happy, and find life’s happiness.

Steve Curtis

OCEAN-5 Traits-Intro

This week we are starting a new segment geared towards our personality. Get ready as we begin to dissect our soul, or that tender part that makes us feel … feelings … and stuff. 

Moving on!

 Characternaturedispositiontemperamentmakeuppersonapsyche, and identity all describe our personality. So, what is personality, and why is it important? Imagine, if you will, a life without personality. Smiles and frowns would not exist. We would go about our business without emotional impulses. Music, dancing, even corny dad jokes would not have a place in this world. <Scream> The horror!

Our personality plays a huge role in who we are and how we interact with others. Are we open to new ideas or do we have a death grip on tradition? (The song from Fiddler on the Roof is now stuck in my head.) Perhaps we are neurotic (moody) in the most extreme way. Is that bad or wrong? Not in the least, so long as we treat others well and keep our negative disposition and anxieties in check. And that my friends is where the Big 5 Traits come in.

There are other tests and personality defining tools out there. However, as of today, there isn’t a single test that fits everyone. That is how unique we are across the board. Even the Big 5 falls short. However, I love it for it’s simplicity and the traits score changes as we change. So, without further adieu, I present the Big 5 traits.

Think of OCEAN and the five traits become easier to remember.

Openness – Those that score high here are creative, abstract thinkers, and may love new challenges.

Conscientiousness – High scores here point to a thoughtful, goal oriented and organized person. Attention to detail may be a top priority.

Extroversion – (also written extraversion) Expressive, loves to converse, and finds meeting new people rewarding may define a top scorer in this category.

Agreeableness – Score high here and we may find a person who cares about others. They tend to be more of a team player; as opposed to a competitive person.

Neuroticism – Anxiety and stress may plague this high-scorer. They may be the one to get upset with ease.

There you have it folks the five traits we will cover through the next several weeks. We’ll cover the good, bad, and the ugly side of each personality. It’s all in an effort to help learn what makes us act the way we do. And, how to change. Seriously, people can change their personality. With that being said… Do no run out to annoying people and tell them to change or how to change. That would be uncouth. To the level of uncouthness that uncouth would shout “I’m not like that!” Don’t be that person. This is for us to use so that we may become better towards those around us. Or so that we may become the person we want to be.

So, until the next blog live life, be happy, and find life’s happiness.

Steve Curtis


The Light Bulb

Darkness envelops the room.  Each step is  made with caution; remembering key item placement. Recollection of past encounters with the sofa, end table, and recliner intensifies the “Marco Polo” moment.

A flip of the light switch would be capital. Instead, a little toe cringes with each step. A noise from the darkness brings inquiries filled with hair raising fear.  The black canvass builds the perfect stage for imagination to dance on. One can almost see a clown with a knife-filled smile. Or perhaps the coat rack makes the perfect clown mannequin. Either way, expletives were announced.

The hand glides along a painted sheetrock wall until the target is found. A single flick chases the darkness away. Another pinky toe is saved. Though completed many times before with different results, an enlightened thought enters the room.

Does the light bulb know the darkness, or does the luminary friend merely shine; unaware of the salvation?

Positive people bring happiness as a light bulb brings peace of mind. The depression, stress, and tension melt within a single smile. Hope is found in the realm of a friendship; not realizing the peace and happiness captured in the moment.

How sad the world would be without a light bulb.

The Battle Within A Soul

Darkness envelops as fear takes hold.

Anxiety clouds the mind.

A dry throat reveals the nervousness within.

Hopelessness beckons the heart as despair soon follows.

These to behemoths have quenched the life out of millions and seek millions more.

Salvation seems so far away.

However , a truth resides deep within.

Darkness can only reach an absolute value. Once the light is completely extinguished darkness has reached it’s full capacity.

But, light has no limitations. What starts as a spark soon wisps into a flickering flame.

Forced to back throttle, darkness loses it hold. A roaring fire quickly illuminates everything. Darkness will always have it’s shadows, but light will always control the shadows. Thus, continues the battle within the soul.