Escaping TV Drama-Land

So I’ve started watching Hart of Dixie and Gilmore Girls again for the billionth time. Why would I subject myself to these “girly shows?” Because of one thing. I love simplicity. Although Each show contains drama, the characters don’t have a heavily stressed life.

When we watch TV shows, we don’t just sit and observe our hero. No, we experience the moment of loss and the moment of triumph. Throw in a slow-motion exploding background and a couple of expletives, and we are hooked. But drama TV puts us on an emotional roller-coaster, and this can harm our emotional health.

“But Steve, I’m not weak-minded like that.”

OK, fair enough. But, very few people watch TV and feel no emotions. We are quick to identify the hero and root for them. Even if they are criminals, we will still hope they don’t get caught. And heaven forbid that we are hooked into a tragedy, and the story ends with our hero dying.

“Stupid writers are playing with my emotions.”

So, to take a TV vacation from drama-land, I watch low drama shows. Friends, How I Met Your Mother, Frasier, and Two And A Half Men create a feel-good emotional experience. They put a smile on our faces.

As important as it is to rest after a good week’s work, so it is with drama TV. Take a break and revisit some of the old shows that made us smile when we were younger. Our emotional health will thank us for it.

Until the next blog, live life and be happy.

Sizing Up Hurricanes

Hurricanes and Tropical storms can cause stress. This stress can have a massive effect on our mental health. So, to help, I thought I’d share what I know. I use three factors to assess low-pressure storms; wind speed (category), which side of the storm is hitting our area, and the approach angle. I will repeat these, so please bear with me. 

Hurricane Isaias left a path of increasing destruction. My Floridian friends complained about how weak the tropical storm performed. For me, I was apprehensive. Living in Louisiana afforded me the experience to evaluate hurricanes. Before it’s asked, yes, I was there for Katrina. And yes, I ran for the hills. By experiencing these phenomena first hand, I have learned a lot. 

So how can one look at a storm and know how bad it’s about to get. That’s a good question and one worth entertaining. But before we get into the mechanics of a storm, let’s get a full understanding that a rotating low pressure is as predictable as a spinning top. We can only assess and assume the worse. No one knows for sure the damage that will occur. 

So what is a hurricane? In the purest form, In the northern hemisphere, t’s a counter-clockwise rotating low-pressure cell. We know that hot items expand and cold items contract. The same is with air low and high air pressures, but both forces can be either hot or cold. Low pressures draw air upward, pulling air to the center of the cell. And high pressure draws air downward. Due to the wind hitting the ground, it’s forced outward. This is how we get the inward and outward effect of each cell. 

In the diagram above, we can see that the right side winds are more robust than the winds on the left. If we were in the southern hemisphere, then the left side would have stronger winds. It is essential to know what side of the storm we are on. 

Another attribute of a hurricane worth looking at is the angle of approach. I’ll try to keep this as brief as possible. In simple terms, land often slows down the forward progression of a hurricane. The low-pressure cell is also drawing water up like a vacuum, which means that the sea level on the upper right corner is higher than the sea level of the lower left. If the left side hits land, then, surging waters can be expected to be minimum. But if the upper right makes landfall, then we can expect storm surges that are indicative of the low pressure’s strength. In 2018 we had hurricane Florence make landfall. 

Although it was a category one hurricane, its approach was almost perpendicular to the land. This approach angle had a considerable effect on it stalling, dumping much rain, and causing massive damage and flooding. Hurricane Isaias, on the other hand, was more parallel with the coastal line. Thus, it came and went. As discussed earlier, those on the right side of the center received stronger winds. Damages ranged from “Hey, where’s my trashcan lid?” to trees toppling. 

Storms will come and go. How we prepare ourselves determines how well we weather the storm. Anxiety is a common reaction, but with a calm head and collective thoughts, we can minimize the storm’s effects. Weather patterns are changing. It is up to us to educate ourselves and learn when we are safe and when we need to retreat. As we learned with Hurricane Florence, even a category one hurricane can bring devastation if the angle of approach is right. 

So, by knowing the category, which side of the storm is hitting us, and the approach angle, we can determine the outcome. Keep in mind that storms -cells are never 100% predictable. Prepare for the unexpected. Sometimes that may mean we need to evacuate. Speaking of evacuating. Please don’t do it during high winds or flooding. Unless a rescue team has made their way to you, leaving can be more dangerous than hunkering. Know and understand the risks associated with evacuating. 

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.  

My Sweet Depression

Live long enough, and depression will happen. We’ve all had those moments. Whether caused by the environment, an event, or physical condition, depression sucks.

In this blog, I want to cover what I describe as a chemical depression. This depression comes when there is absolutely no reason to feel depressed, but there “it” is sitting in the corner of our soul. I felt this a lot after a night of heavy drinking. I’d wake up, may or may not remember the night before, may or may not know where I was. Yeah, I was a mess. I’d develop this feeling of anxiety and depression, as though I did something wrong or something terrible happened. After talking to people at the party, I’d find out that everything was fine. We all had a good time, and nothing was out of line. So why was I depressed?

First, alcohol is a depressant. I believe most of us already know this. It mellows us out. In small quantities, it helps us relax. However, in overabundant quantities, it produces depression. Anxiety kicks in, and self-doubt has us, well, self-doubting ourselves.

Secondly, waking up and not knowing where we are, how we got there, and what we did the night before is scary. Sober-me doesn’t want to cause trouble for anyone. Drunk-me doesn’t give a who-ha. This conflict of interest is a night-of-regret waiting to happen.

And lastly, the body has to recover from consuming alcohol. This fact is why small quantities have less harmful effects than large amounts. Sounds elementary until drunk-us shows up, and rationality goes out of the window.

Now that I am retired and no longer dealing with the military’s stress, I find myself drinking a lot less. As in, I don’t even think about it. I mow the lawn then go inside to relax in front of the TV. I work on the truck, then go inside and browse social media. These activities always consisted of beer. So how did I kick the habit so quickly? I didn’t realize it at first, but I became a sugarholic. Cookie monster has nothing on me. Two honey buns and a monster is just a start-up in the morning. Can I get a Rick Flair “Woooooo.”?

Last week I decided to reduce my sugar intake. Oh-my-Cookies! The worse decision, EVER! My energy level went down as the daily outside temperature went up. I became crankier than a three year old missing his nap. Then it hit me. I became depressed. Anxiety kicked in, and I was apprehensive about something but didn’t know what. I was not in my happy-zone. It took me a full day to realize this was the same feeling after a heavy drinking night. I was having a chemical depression, also known as a withdraw. Our body is trying to supplement for the lack of a particular substance. It’s a good thing. It sucks, and it means that the body is finding a new normal without the alcohol or sugar, as in my case.

Did I cut sugar out completely? No. I have only reduced it to the recommended daily amount (25-36 grams). Some days are less. I’m hoping that this is the last week for the “blahs.” Because this sucks, but like all good things, if we want to change ourselves for the better, we must start somewhere. Learning the root causes of problems and identifying them in our lives is one of the most significant ways to improve ourselves. No one is perfect, and we all have our vices.
I have found through talking with others who have reduced their alcohol intake, and sugar addiction is usually the next vice. No one says this, nor do they prepare us for it. So here I am telling it like it is. Alcohol can bring on depression. Quitting alcohol and lead to sugar addiction. Stopping sugar consumption can cause depression. This suppression is massive because many of us feel this depression but do not understand where it starts. So we tell our doctors, and they prescribe an anxiety pill. When the truth is, all we needed was to let our bodies finish the healing process. But hang on, I highly doubt that we would mention our dietary change to the doctor and his/her prescription was based on half-information. Make sure you inform doctors of every new routine.

In our quest to find happiness, there are a lot of obstacles. Just as every storm passes, so shall our hurdles. Patience is the key. Take the time to relax and enjoy the moment or some cookies.

Until next time, live life and be happy.

Steps Towards Inner Peace

In my search for happiness, I tried to find the good in everyone. Soon I found myself making excuses for others malice. I harbor no ill thoughts or feeling for these individuals. Instead, I accept their action and move forward. It may be apathetic on my part, but I’d rather invest my time in others who show appreciation.

As humans, we are imperfect. This inescapable fact is why it is important to forgive. However, if there is a trend of unfavorable circumstances, then we need to consider our course. There is nothing to be gained in being rash. Remember, we cannot undo our actions; a knee-jerk reaction can do more harm than good. Take each step with purpose, but do not stomp down the hall.

Praise people in public, but correct them in private. However, we should not pick a person we want to see successful and become their hypeman. We should treat everyone in this manner. Don’t make every private talk a correction. Allow some private conversation to be praise. This way, when others are nosey, they won’t know for sure which talk is given.

Everyone is initially worth our time. It is the return that we receive that determines the value of their friendship. However, don’t do a favor with the expectation of it’s returned. Instead, watch to see if our actions are appreciated or taken for granted. Be mindful of the deeds done for us. Are we taking others for granted? Spouses are easy to take for granted because we know they will be there tomorrow. But, tomorrow is never promised to us.

Speak with kindness. What we say is important, but more importantly is how we say it. If we have discord in our heart, it will come out in our tone. Encourage others and ourselves. But we should never be vain about ourselves or our deeds. Be humble, but do not grovel. Smile while greeting others. And while one the subject of smiling. Smile with the eyes, not just the mouth. It makes a world of difference.

I am far from being the paragon of happiness. But, as each day passes, I get closer to finding my inner peace. There are times when we must allow the dust to settle before seeing what step to take next. This world moves at a fast pace, and slowing down seems impossible. Nonetheless, downtime is a must. Learn to clear the brain and relax. Otherwise, we will find ourselves burnt out.

Until the next blog, live life and be happy, my friends.

No Paradigm For Happiness

There is a theory that we live in an infinite number of universes. Rules in one world may not fully apply in another. This mindset got me thinking. In a psychological aspect, each person lives in their universe. My perception of reality may differ from yours, thus making two universes. We can extrapolate that unique worlds interact with each other. Therefore, it creates a singular reality interfacing with different lives wrapped up in their imperfect utopia. I promise I’m not tripping on LSD. 

Let’s look at this scenario.

Our verse:

Let’s imagine we are at the store standing in the dreaded checkout line. A couple with a cranky child in need of a nap stands in front of us. As we wait, we tap our pocket to verify that we did bring our wallet, Whew, no awkward moment for us.  Our attention turns to the couple as we overhear one of them say, “I thought you picked it up.” Well, it seems they forgot their check card. Recalling that the total was around twenty-five dollars, we offer to pay. This small action alleviates most of the stressor in this situation and allows them to shuttle Cranky-butt McGee to his nap. 

The husband’s verse.

As Dan loads the last item from the cart, he reaches towards his wife for the card. To his dismay, she doesn’t have it. His mind begins to race as he searches for the most natural solution. There is none. They have to drive home, put little britches down for a nap, and then drive back. Therefore, wasting an afternoon. Keeping his voice calm, he sorts these thoughts our with his wife when he hears, “I’ll pay for them.” Dan looks as the person behind them offers to pay. “I insist. The bill isn’t that much, and Lil-man is on his last leg. That is if you don’t mind.” Dumbfounded by the kindness of a stranger, Dan agrees. 

On the drive home, he sees his son peacefully sleeping in his car seat. 

“What happened back there?” 

“What do you mean?” his wife asked. 

“People don’t just offer to help like that. I mean, what are the chances of us forget our card and someone willing to help stands behind us. That doesn’t happen.” 

Putting her hand on his, she replied, “We are not in control. We can only take what is given. And today, we are blessed.”

A smile filled his heart as he felt the reward of a simple act from a stranger. 

The cashier.

“I wish someone would buy my groceries and pay my bills.”

(Thrown in for pure humor.)

Here we have four different views of the same scenario. One universe (Dan’s) is built up of selfish people, and we must depend on ourselves to survive. No one is there to help us. Another (Dan’s wife) is built on the faith that everything will work out for the good of those that believe. Help will be there when it is needed. In another universe (The cashier), good things never happen to us. We are forced to watch as others reap the kindness of strangers while we set alone on the sidelines. Then there is our universe, where a simple rule of every action that we perform will come back to us. We remain humble as we help those that need assistance. 

These worlds are realities. Each one comprises the person who lives it. We are the product of our environment, and our environment is a product of who we are. When two universes cross paths, we have a convergence of similarities and differences. The rules of our world or daily life may not equally apply. Dan thought that he and his family were alone in this conflict. We were allowed to exercise kindness, and his wife was able to solidify her faith. 

There is no paradigm for happiness. However, we know what makes us happy. Achieving that peace is a daily priority. But it’s not just our goal; everyone is struggling for that mark. How great it is when we can help others or allow others to help us. Though we live under our terms, our interactions with others have a considerable impact on our attitude and the peace of mind of others.  Our happiness is affected by the joy of those who surround us. It is essential to have quality people around. Positive attitudes create positive environments. Be the + in someone’s universe. 

Control Freak Or Failure-Phobia

Before I start, I’d like to wish all a happy independence day, even if you are from another country. For in the end, most of us are working towards some form of autonomy. May we all find financial, social, personal, and spiritual independence.

Failure is defined as not reaching a goal or expectation. Life is chaotic, and variables change within a glance. No wonder weather is challenging to predict. Unless you’re in Hawaii, where every day is beautiful, but, for the rest of us, storms can come without warning. To reduce the impact of the damaging winds, or the uncontrolled variables, we place controls. These controls are a great thing until we take it too far. Here are some traits that will help identify someone who needs to control everything. 

Correcting Others: It is acceptable to correct children on their grammar, etiquette, and attitude. After all, they are in the learning stage of life. It is not all right to correct every adult on these same terms 24/7. We are not their guardian. Unless they ask for help, please don’t force it. If someone spells beer y-u-c-k, let it be; this is assuming that their action is not malice. 

Winning Arguments: We do not need to “win” arguments. Our conversations should never be a competition. We do not have a “point.” We have a view, and we love to share it. It’s a universal human trait. When conversing, we should listen, not think about our next rebuttal. How rude would it be if we were giving our input and noticed the glazed over look signaling that the other person was not focused on what we were saying? Yeah, that is never a fun time. 

Trouble Admitting Errors: No one is perfect, and we all make mistakes. But for some of us, we feel the need to hide our mistakes and deny they exist. Perhaps this stems from the need to correct others. In the military, we groomed each other all the time. We did it in an accepting manner, not condescending. It’s better if we catch each other’s mistakes than our superiors. Every once in a while, someone would take it in the wrong manner. We all have those days when we don’t want to be spoken to or even looked at. But some deny ever being wrong. Denial is not the right mindset and does not promote a healthy relationship. 

Being Judgmental: This mindset takes “correcting others” to the next level. When we can only see the “wrong” in others, then we need to reevaluate our viewpoint. We are not better than anyone else. We have no right to look down at others. We are all human, beautiful, and ugly at the same time. That’s what makes us so awesome. But, to place judgment on others is to put ourselves on a pedestal and take away that glow that we have. A lack of acceptance is an error on our part. This simple fact may be a hard pill to swallow for someone who can’t admit they are wrong. 

Road Rage: Here is where this ties in together, and some of us are about to have an “A-ha! I get it!” moment. Let’s take driver-A. They are judgmental, have trouble admitting they are wrong, and always correct others.  Yup, this is a road rage maniac in the making. This is the person who complains that people never let them in, but never allows others to merge over. They are late because of others driving, not because they didn’t plan for delays. Yelling and violent hand gestures fly from our friend at every mile of the way. Of course, their blood pressure is elevated, and rational thinking is out the window. It’s now time to start erratic lane changing to escape this hell we call highway 10. 

These caveats define a controlling personality. Does this mean every control freak falls under these premises? Of course not, but most do. If we take the time to evaluate ourselves, we may find that we fit the bill closer than we would like to imagine. This revelation doesn’t mean we are inadequate. It shows that we have similar traits. At some point in our lives, we will have days where we meet each criterion listed above. 

So to achieve our independence, may we all find that footing that allows us to progress closer to our goals. Life is too short to waste on petty idealisms such as misused grammar, other people’s manners, and defending ourselves when we know we are wrong. If we are to be happy, then we need to find peace within ourselves. We must accept our flaws and move on. After all, no one is perfect. Right?

Five Daily Tips Towards Happiness

Everyone has room for some improvement when it comes to our daily routine. Life seems never to stop. Seriously, can we just pump the brakes a little? A day turns into a week that turns into a month that grows into a year. We never seem to have time to apply changes to our lives, or do we. Here are five moves to consider.

Slow down. Life is not a race. For my competitive friends, this is a challenge. I have never been a competitive type, more of a sharing kind. Some of us need to have that bragging right. And there is nothing wrong with that as long as it is within moderation. Winning makes us feel good. That sense of accomplishment raises our self-esteem. But like everything else, we must manage our downtime. Otherwise, we will crash. Take the time to learn how to relax.

Listen to what others say. When we converse, a lot is happening. Not only do the words matter, but how we say them affects their interpretation. Body language is another crucial aspect that we need to target. And please stop thinking of the next thing to say. If we are preparing our following answer, then we are not fully listening. It’s a bad habit that is not fair to us or the conversation at hand. Give the person talking the attention needed.

Never assume you’re right and others are wrong. Our first assumption should look at how both views are correct. Two opposing views can be accurate. Suppose we wrote a superb article, but our editor kicked it back, stating that it didn’t fit the format required. As frustrating as this situation may be, take the time to assume that the editor knows how to do their job. Ask for a format reference to avoid future mistakes. Perhaps a company policy changed, and we didn’t get the memo. Never assume that either side is wrong. A superb article will not fit every specification. That’s life.

Stop sharing every thought and opinion. Ouch, that sounds harsh. Right? It is, but there is a simple reasoning behind it as well. We find ourselves in the company of two or more friends, and somehow the conversation no longer includes us. The fact that the conversation is happening in front of us is a sign that the information shared is not private, but that does not mean that the interaction isn’t. Sometimes we try to engage ourselves in everything around us, and we miss the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful scene of two people reuniting. Think of it as a person who is always trying to sing along but never listens to the sound of the music. Some conversations are for observation.

And finally, love yourself. We affect more people than we realize. On June 25, 2020, I had a friend post a picture of my Navy retirement. I gave my thanks for sharing because “Hey, it’s cool he was thinking of me.” But I was more moved by the kind words that he received on his page for sharing that picture. Everyone watches us, and they listen to what we say and how we vocalize it. Talk about an invasion of privacy. But it’s not a bad thing. As humans, we are often looking for guidance. Are we going in the right direction? Do we meet or exceed the expectations of those around us? These are simple questions that we need to answer every day. We are role models. Some of us are good at being a role model, and some are not. It is for this reason I work towards being a “daily professional.” I want to be that person who professionally performs everyday tasks. I’m still working on my expletives. Hey, it an excellent skill that only a few know how to appreciate fully. But seriously, you are a valuable asset to this world. High five yourself in the mirror every morning if you have to. But, love and appreciate yourself. You are needed.

There are more great caveats I could include. But, for this Friday blog, these were the ones I wanted to capitalize on it. We are superstars in our peer’s limelight. What we do and say matters? Having fun and being professional go hand in hand. Enjoy being in the presence of others and listen to the music of friendship. Life will change as we get age, and we must change with it.

Mutual Respect

“Mutual: (of a feeling or action) experienced or done by each of two or more parties toward the other or others

Respect: due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others.

Mutual respect: Understanding that we all don’t share the same beliefs and values. … For relationships to remain healthy, both partners must be equally respected and appreciated. Mutual respect is a proper-regard for the dignity of a person or position.” – Google Search

Like it or not, respect is a two-way street. Your life experience is different than mine. Therefore, it is easy to understand that we may have different perspectives on life. This difference does not imply that we are wrong. Living in the country and living in the projects requires food, clothing, and shelter. These similarities do not mean both lives are the same. They are quite different. But, you don’t need me to tell you that. We already understand how city life differs from country living.

Social media is quick to classify people. Some quizzes deem how redneck or how street smart we are. This division is where we begin to fail. We divide ourselves into groups. “Us against them” is a common theme. The division can continue until it’s me against the world. Some days it feels like that. No one understands or takes the time to care. Nope, everyone has their plan, and they are in a hurry to get it done. No one has time to stop and listen. What’s in it for me? What do I get from listening to you? We see this attitude a lot. Truth be known, there is nothing in it for you. But, there is something in it for us.

This truth is where mutual respect starts. If I listen, I may begin to understand. But, if I’m thinking of my next rebuttal while you are rambling about something… am I listening? A five-year-old child understands this concept. We need to clear our thoughts and listen to what is said and how it is said. It’s called fundamental communication. We are eager to win an argument that we are willing to shut each other down without understanding our opponents’ views. What good is talking, if we aren’t going to listen? We might as well argue whether apples are red or green.

We have two ears, two eyes, and one mouth, and yet, we talk a lot more than we look or listen. This fact is sad. Stop trying to “win” the argument. The concept of communication is to exchange thoughts and ideas. Some of us are so competitive that we feel the need to win the conversation. Our point must be unanimously accepted. This “need” is wrong. Do not make everything into a debate. Instead, I implore you to find how two opposing views can be correct. Apples can be red or green.

Find value in the thoughts and words of others. Imagine a person who only spoke with three-letter words, whose articulation of speech was less than academic, but a joy to hear. Whose observation is as simple as their speech. How sad, to be so hung on their accent, or simpleton speech that we miss the chance to see the world through their eyes.

Mutual respect is a two-way street given without the expectation of receiving it in return. Life isn’t a game or contest. We aren’t keeping body counts of who we respected. How juvenile. And yet, this is our approach to justifying our actions.” I showed respect and courtesy to everyone I met this morning. I deserve a little mean-time. After all, I am only human.” If keeping score is what we seek, then the score is our only reward.

In our journey towards finding our happiness, we should practice being perpetually positive. Or, as I like to call it, a daily professional. Life is easy. We make it difficult. Learn the extremes of mutual respect and find your median. Together we can make this a beautiful world, but it starts with us and the quality of connection given.