Posted in connections, ebb & flow, know better do better, mental health, mindset, socializing, vulnerability

Your contribution to collective emotional pollution

“You choose what you put out into the world.”

I don’t remember where this crossed my path recently, but it was timely.

It ties in to an earlier post about negative people—from a first-person perspective.

My output of complaining goes in cycles. When I notice it’s increasing, I make an effort to cut it back. It makes my life better, and it makes better the impact I have on the people around me.

(There’s a difference between complaining and talking about something negative that’s happening.)

Soon after seeing the sentiment, I was posting on Facebook. I had been driving The Kid to school, followed by getting myself to work, and the way drivers in front of me interacted with traffic lights was not enhancing my morning commute.

I know there are people who would have joined me in my rant about these drivers.

I chose to post a light and lovely story about The Kid instead, which still got interaction—from many of the same people—but of a different variety. And we were all a little smiley-er for a moment.

(Caveat: there’s a lot of bad stuff happening in our world, in our communities, maybe in our families or homes that we need to speak out about. We can’t pretend these things don’t exist. I’m not at all suggesting that we whitewash all that and just share rainbows and unicorns. Again: there’s a difference between complaining and talking about something negative that’s happening. I could argue that staying silent in the face of injustice—whatever the scale—is allowing said injustice to be put into the world.)

If making the world better by contributing to it in a positive way is insufficient motivation for you, there’s some truth to “you get what you give.” Not in a tit-for-tat kind of way, but I can attest that seasons in my life when I have been friendlier, more attentive, less negative, etc. to and around the people in my circle of influence, in general, I have been met in kind. And it has been easier for me to let go of those who did not treat me in kind. (Certainly, exceptions exist. There are people whose insecurities don’t allow them to be kind, regardless how they are treated.) Saying, “I’m going to be nice to people just so that people are nice to me” might leave a smear of “ulterior motive” in your intentions and knock things out of whack.

Or, we could just boil it down to: reputations are hard to change. Build a good one.

You choose what you put out into the world.

 

Posted in about me, connections, mental health, socializing

Socializing while busy

If you read Monday’s post on time organization, you know I feel busy too much of the time.

This is a sentiment shared by nearly everyone in my social circles.

(If you don’t, please go to Monday’s post, read it, and tell us your secrets in the comments.)

A while back, before Christmas, I had plans one weekend. I was getting together with one friend on Friday evening and another on Sunday afternoon.

It’s hard to schedule time to see people, and my socializing is often limited to people whose kids play well with mine. This isn’t all bad—I’ve met a lot of great people through school and play dates—and not all of the local people I’d like to see face-to-face fit this mold.

Anyway. I was excited to make plans with both of these people. (Sans children!) And then that weekend came and, as usual, I was tired and felt overwhelmed by All The Things and dragged my butt to my first date … and it was lovely. We had a great time, and I left feeling energized. My cup was fuller than it had been before we started.

Exact same story repeated on Sunday.

In either case, I would have felt some disappointment if they’d canceled but also relief. One less thing to do. Time to get done some of the other things.

Ultimately, it was good to squeeze in the time together. It gave us some face-to-face connection—something in ever-shorter supply.

If we hadn’t gotten together, I would have spent the time doing mundane things off the to-do list, and while there’s value in getting those done, they wouldn’t have fed my soul the way a couple of hours with a good friend does.

I guess what I’m saying is, even if you’re busy, make some time. Have dinner or coffee or take a walk or make some art or something with a friend or two. Your lives will be richer for it.

Posted in connections, gifts, thoughtfulness

Be happy

I was at physical therapy.

There was an older woman finishing up her appointment.

She had one of the standard old white lady perms.

Her hair was dyed purple, fading.

She had on a grey long-sleeved T-shirt with an emerald green short-sleeved T-shirt over it which read BE HAPPY in white letters.

And shiny silver high-top shoes.

(I don’t remember her pants beyond that she was wearing some.)

We exchanged a smile and a hello.

Before she left, she said she had something for me.

She said that “be happy” was her motto and that she liked to give these out, and she handed me a glass stone with a smiley face sticker on it.

As quirky and lovely as she was.

So today, I electronically pass it on to you.

I hope you’re having a good day, and if not, you can find a little something good in it anyway.

Posted in connections, just a quote, mental health, socializing, vulnerability

Congruity

A quote crossed my path. It ties into my thoughts a few weeks ago about hidden sides of people, though that train of thought was more about context.

This one is more personal. Intimate.

“There’s the you that you present to the world, and then there’s, you know, of course the real one and, if you’re lucky, there’s not a huge difference between those two people.”
-David Sedaris

I’m not sure how much is luck and how much is by design. (I have thoughts about that, but they’re not coherent so I’ll keep them to myself for now.) But I agree that congruity makes for a generally happier existence … unless you’re a jerk.

Posted in cancer, connections, differences, ebb & flow, mindset, socializing, thoughtfulness, tips, vulnerability

Talking to people going through hard things

A friend’s father-in-law is in his final hours. I would not text her right now to complain about … anything.

Thinking about that led me to realize that perhaps people get situations confused. Or just aren’t able to find out what direction to go in other difficult situations.

When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I was inpatient at the hospital, had a seemingly endless string of tests and procedures, one of which landed me in ICU overnight, and was somewhat overwhelmed. But within two weeks, I was home.

Despite being home, cancer treatment often lasts a long time. I was admitted to the hospital in mid-May and finished treatments in mid-January. I’ve known too many people who tally up years of treatment.

Once the initial storm settled, socializing was really important, because I couldn’t do most of the other things I was accustomed to doing.

A relative had gotten a flat tire, and started a conversation with, “Well, I know this is nothing compared to what you’re going through, but …”

And no, it’s not, but in real life, that doesn’t matter. I mean, I wouldn’t complain about what my spouse made for dinner last night to someone who was food insecure, but the people in my social circle are, for the most part, all secure in food, housing, and other basic needs. (Except healthcare. Welcome to America.)

OK, I got off on a tangent there, but what I’m saying is—the majority of my people share similar annoyances, with the occasional life-shaking event.

Is the life-shaking event finite? A death, the onset of serious illness or injury, loss of a job, for example?

If yes, they’re not in a good place for you to bug them with minutiae. (“I was just diagnosed with cancer.” “OMG really? Can you believe I got a flat on my way to work today?”) Choose another friend for that.

If their life-shaking event is chronic (whether permanent or temporary) and the initial blow has passed, then you need to know, in response to a story about the flat you got on the way to work, would they say:

Must be nice to be able to go to work/have a car to get a flat/etc.

or

Oh man! That sucks! Why did it take AAA so long to get there?

And base your decision on that.

If you don’t know, ask.

“Hey, I know you’re going through xyz shitty thing right now, and I wasn’t sure if you wanted to talk about that, if you were looking for conversation just to be kind of light, or if you were looking for just normal conversation.”

Or something like that.

Then people who really need you just to be there and hang out have you there and hanging out (um, maybe not literally), and people who really don’t want to hear about your shit won’t be offended by your insensitivity.