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.

ISO Hope

As we wake up this morning, some of us are happy little sunshine rays while others personify, “Where the hey-hey is my coffee?” Thus proving everyone is unique. But we all have something in common. We all have some level of hope.

Do a quick search on Google, and we’ll find this definition for hope.

Hope: a feeling of expectation and desire for a sure thing to happen.

With that said, one can understand that a missed expectation can lead to the degradation of hope if our expectation is something we wanted. Repeat cutting this desire, and we soon lose our hope.

When we no longer feel that our dreams are attainable, we stop chasing them. This happens to over 90% of people around the world. We get on a schedule, and that is all we do.

We tell ourselves that we’ll chase our dreams after college, after the kids move out, or after that promotion or pay raise, or after retirement.

Today is the day for action because tomorrow will never come.

So, is it too late to start? Maybe. If we are 72, living on social security, and want to save a million dollars. That may be a far-reaching dream. Writing a memoir or touring a famous landmark is more achievable. The point is that our desire and expectations need to be reasonable. Frequently we set ourselves up for failure.

For example:
Let’s pretend we make over the poverty level, but we aren’t quite to the middle class yet. We have our associates and are a few classes short of a bachelor’s degree. Our bills have us stretched thin, and we do live paycheck to paycheck.

We want more money. We do not want to live from paycheck to paycheck. And last but not least we want to be seen enjoying the nice things in life. Hey, we aren’t vain. We don’t want to look poor. (I’ve heard that comment a lot from friends.)

The first thing we may want to invest in is a name brand coffee cup so we can drink our budget-friendly coffee with class. Secondly, we need to stop comparing ourselves to others. We will never keep up with “The Jone’s.” We should keep up with ourselves or keep ourselves up, either way.

Secondly, lose the baggage. This includes but is not limited to judgemental friends who love to express negative opinions at the most opportune times. I’m sure they ‘mean well,” but they don’t.
Drop the extra bills too. One HD tv stream uses 5Mbps. Why do we need to pay for 2000Mbps? If we want more money in the bank, then we need to opt for a lower plan. I’m typing this on a broadband plan. We had cable internet, but it always went out, not so with broadband. I like it, and it works.

Lastly, we need to be happy with what we have. So what if the roof leaks and the pipes in the wall make funny noises when we run the hot water. I’m sure someone out there is envious of our roof and our hot water. Living out of my car when I was young and on my own taught me the value of a hot shower.

These are massive changes, but if we are to preserve our hope for a better tomorrow, we need to take the necessary steps today. No one said the change is easy. And I’m sure new problems will arise. But we must always have hope. It is what keeps us going each day. Never lose hope.

Until the next blog, live life and be happy.

Self-deprecation, Wolves, and Fred Flintstone.

While at home on vacation, I decided to work on the truck. Having a lifter (tappet) ticking, I decided to change all of them on the passenger’s side of the engine. I’ll do the driver’s side when they begin to tick. Easy-peasy right? Well, maybe. The truck is outside, so rain, leaves, and pine needles are hazardous to an exposed engine. Then there’s the fact that the cast iron manifold is heavy. And as the laws of hoses and electrical wires go, when in a compromising position, something will grab hold and thwart any progress made. Despite the complications and aggravations, I love working on older vehicles. There’s a mechanical simplicity that provides a rewarding smile when fired up. The deeper the breakdown, the greater the satisfaction.

Anyone (male or female) who has worked on vehicles will agree that no advanced project goes perfect on older automobiles. This stress can present a mental challenge. For me, it comes in the form of self-deprecation.

“Why can’t I buy more reliable vehicles? I’m in over my head. Do you know what you’re doing, or are you pretending to be some great mechanic? Dude, face it, you suck.”

We can be downright mean to ourselves. But why? Aren’t we suppose to be our biggest fan? Yes. Yes, we are. However, we have this habit of imitating those around us. Receive support, and we self-replicate that feeling. The same goes with insults and criticism. We learn this at a very young age. Infants develop tones and attitudes that later affect that child’s developmental behavior. I’m not saying that a child raised with supportive parents will grow up to be a great person. I’m stating that that child has a greater chance of succeeding in life than a child without supportive parents.

“But I was raised by wolves.”

Then you, my friend, will have some hurdles to jump. In reality, we all have obstacles. The grass is always greener on the other side. It’s easier to find fault in ourselves than to see it in others because we have more incriminating information about ourselves than others. That’s how life is supposed to be.

Face reality. Knowing that we have the potential to be over-cruel to ourselves brings to light the fact that we need to throttle back on the self-criticism. Everyone has their good and bad points, no one is perfect, and lastly, don’t put people on pedestals. No one is better than we are. (Ok one more) Don’t look down at others. We are not better than homeless drunks. We are all human.

Why can’t I buy more reliable vehicles? Because I love to restore old cars. I love the mental challenge of fixing a broken puzzle. Yes, I do get in over my head, but I always come out on top despite not knowing what I’m doing. Yes, I make mistakes and mess up. I’m human. And there are times that that simple fact is hard to face because I fail to see others’ complications. Sometimes it appears that I am the only one struggling. But, that is because I am only looking at my flaws. My focus creates my perception. Fact: No one goes through life without a struggle.

For those of us who self-deprecate, stop. We are more significant than our negativity. Don’t listen to the “Yeah, but.” rebuttals that we present to ourselves. We are better and more valuable than that. Besides, “Yeah, but” is what Fred Flintstone says before he yells, “Dabba doo.”

Take the time to bask in self-complements now and again, but don’t go overboard. 🙂

Until the next blog, live life and be happy.

Acting Vs Reacting

Acting vs. reacting.

Acting and reacting are two different mindsets. One takes charge of a situation while the latter waits for the scenario to warrant action. Negligence develops from procrastination. We don’t need to do everything at once, but  we need to do something. 

In our journey towards a peaceful life, it is imperative to understand the importance of taking action. When reacting, we are not in control. This reaction to an external source creates uncertainty and increases stress. By acting, our decisions are from withing as we take control of the situation. 

“What if we fail or make things worse?” 

In simple terms, we cannot break broke. It is already broken. Never fret over increasing degradation by trying to correct the problem. Acting is better than nothing. We may need to hire a professional or call a friend, but implementing a solution puts us in a better mindset than waiting for an emergency. As soon as we find a problem, we begin to worry. Some may worry more than others, but the stress effects us all. As the situation grows, so does our anxiety. By acting, we are implementing control, and that provides relief. Our problems may not have a solution, but we are doing something, and that leads to a resolution. 

“But I don’t know how to fix it.”

Welcome to “A rainy day.” Remember when our grandparents told us to put money back for a rainy day. They weren’t speaking literally. Nope, they were referring to not so sunny days. When the washer decides it has had enough and goes on strike right after sudsing up our clothes. Then the dryer turns in its resignation letter as well. That’s enough to make anyone scream, “Expletive!” When it rains, it pours, right? There will come a time when we need to hire a professional. Everyone has a story similar to this. The difference is some of us plan for emergencies, and some of us don’t. 

Having that extra cash buys peace of mind. How much should we have in savings for that rainy day? There is no magical number, but one year’s wage is a good start if an amount is necessary. Yes, that is a lot for most of us. But with proper planning, we can achieve it. Remember, there is always a reason to spend our savings. So we must find a reason to save. 

When times get tough, can we afford not to have those savings? 

Let’s switch gears and look at procrastination. Give me a deadline, and I’ll meet it a week later.  Trust me. I get stressed out when placed under a clock. A get-it-done-date may motivate some, but that isn’t me. Clutter, procrastination, lack of research are a few stressors associated with meeting the due date. It is human nature to push through to the deadline. However, we need to implement the best action.  That may include stopping the project to declutter and gather quality information. Despite the anxiety associated with pausing a project, everything begins to make sense, and progressions are more comfortable to achieve once we have some sort of organization. 

Acting creates a better product than reacting. With more time afforded to the task at hand, there is room to correct any errors that may come our way. There is nothing worse than not having time for plan B or plan C. 

If things are getting behind, don’t wait until the deadline to let others know. Assessing our timeline during our “organizational time” will let us know if we should alert others. Plan for the worse, but expect the best. 

When we act, we are leading, and when we react, we are following. Even if we are passing a project off to someone else, do it promptly. Timely action will prevent our assistant from reacting to the situation.  No one guarantees that they won’t react to our decision. 

Until the next blog, live life and be happy.

Everyone Is Eager To Point Out My Flaws.

Everyone is eager to point out my flaws.

There may come a time when it appears the world is against us. Trust me when I say it is not. But the fact that people are willing to point out our flaws to others is intriguing. So, let’s take a moment to analyze why everyone is eager to point out our flaws.

It is safe to say no one is perfect. Although this is common knowledge, we are quick to find flaws in others. It’s a social-measurement that we use to keep ourselves and others in check.  We may share these flaws in a taunting manner, or hold our observation in silence. Either way, everyone is doing it. 

So, if we are judging, then there must be a benchmark. Right? Two types of touchstones affect this scenario, individual-standards, and social-standards. The first is yours, or mine, and the second is ours.

 What happens when we apply social-standards onto one person? Well, we create a community environment. Common mindsets exist amongst families and friends. 

“This is how we do things around here.” 

And when we place individual-standards onto a social group, we create a cultic setting. 

 “It’s my way or the highway.” 

That moment when one person is in control, can consume one’s reasonable judgment. We’ve seen this in many cult leaders, churches, and mayors. Leading a group gives power, and that power can be intoxicating. 

Let’s approach the question, “Why do we judge?” No one maintains a perfect benchmark. So why hold that expectation onto others? 

As humans, we love order and organization. We treat, clean, and purify anything that we see dirty or unfit to use. If it can’t be fixed, we toss it. The same goes for our peers. We have a level of expectation for those we spend time around. I highly doubt we would hang around a person that refused to bathe. This person would not meet our expectations for basic hygiene. Right?

Here is where it gets tricky. Some of us would keep our comments to ourselves, while others would confront the individual. This confrontation is what divides moral and immoral. Some would approach the individual to inform them of their offensive odor, while others would seize the opportunity to ridicule and gain public favoritism. Perhaps another group would show their hatred to lower the non-bathing peer’s morale. “After all, why should they be happier than me?” 

It’s easier to fix others than it is to correct ourselves. Why should we work on our happiness when we can lower others? Welcome to the fundamental of bullying. When we are sad or depressed, we correct what made us this way. Our non-bathing friend may bathe now that they understand the discomfort they present. Or perhaps we were sharp with our words, and embarrassment is the reason for bathing. Either way, the problem is fixed. Right? Sure, let’s look at our point of view. We no longer have to smell our peer. 

“Hey, that’s not a bad thing. Stinky people stink. And that stench brings discomfort, and sometimes we need to show some tough love. Why should we suffer? Sure our words were uncouth. They needed to be to convey our level of dismay.” This mindset is the antithesis of professionalism

Perhaps our peer didn’t come from the Home&Garden family. Some live with undiagnosed mentally ill parents who physically and verbally abuse their children. Others come from a family of alcohol and or drug abusers. We never know what hell the person next to us has traversed. This is why it is crucial to treat everyone with dignity and professionalism. 

Let’s analyze the flip-side.

If we are on the receiving end of the comments and ridicules, then perhaps we should look at why such statements are made. Maybe we are offending and don’t realize it. It happens. I’ve offended a lot of people on accident. I may end up annoying a lot more, who knows? My point here is that I cannot satisfy everyone. There are going to be people who grumble for the mere opportunity to complain. Google search how many Americans are happy, and 14% shows up as the answer. If only 14% of our peers are satisfied with life, we can expect a lot of belly-aching. 

Don’t take the opinions of others personally. In the end, those comments are not facts. Allow me to say that again; opinions are not facts. I want to make it clear that the assumptions are not concrete. And there are times when we ramble to get things off our chest. We have no substance to our temper tantrum; we merely want to vent. 

It’s not easy to take criticism. As I went higher in the military, I received more criticism on everything. Not because I was doing things wrong, but because I was held to a higher standard. Sometimes we are held to a higher standard than we realize. We are role models to our peers. And when role models stumble, people are quick to voice their concerns. This may come in the form of jeering. If we show offense to the statements given, we frequently receive a lot more. It’s human nature to find a button and keep pushing it. The best advice I can give is to roll with the punches. 

Because most of our peers do not have malicious intent, it is safe to say most of the criticism received is not malice. Our complication comes from a lack of digesting the judgment from others. 

We do not have to answer for everything. Therefore we shouldn’t always be on the defense. Relax and enjoy life. Yes, people are going to point out flaws—big whoop. Stick around, and I’m sure I’ll do something else worth critiquing. There are times people laugh with me, and there are times they are laughing at me. It bothered me when I was young. Now that I’ve been around the sun a few times. I will laugh with you at my expense.  

In the end, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is finding inner-peace. Although the world may seem horrible, a calm soul helps us traverse those times.

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.

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?

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.