Posted in differences, know better do better, mental health, mindset, podcasts, socializing

Perhaps a bronze lining would be better

I recently discovered a new podcast: The Happiness Lab. It’s fairly new—there are only eight episodes so far—and I learned about it through a plug on Revisionist History.

This coincided perfectly with a personal goal of adjusting my mindset in certain areas so I can be happier.

Episode 3: A Silver Lining.

They talked about how of the three medalists on the podium at the Olympics, the silver medalist is typically the least happy, sometimes not happy at all. And how this lasts well beyond the end of the winner’s national anthem.

They talked about making less money but double the people around you, versus making twice as much money but half the people around you … and how when asked which they’d prefer, people responded overall in a roughly 50/50 split.

The whole episode was fascinating to listen to. And had some moments of familiarity.

Whether you compare yourself physically, financially, socially, emotionally, or some other way, we all do it sometimes. The more we do, the less happy we are, because Top Dog is a difficult status to achieve and harder to maintain.

Where are you only happy if you’re better than the people around you? And where are you happy regardless of the state of the people around you?

Posted in audience participation, differences, hope, know better do better, mindset, socializing, thoughtfulness, vulnerability

Generational differences

So many people discrediting each other based on their age. “You are [young/old] so you don’t know anything” attitude.

Take age out of it. Is the person informed? Experienced in this? Depending on who/what the conversation is about, are they articulate? Do they look at things from multiple vantage points?

People at any age can have a legitimate point. Life isn’t as simple as the media (or your crotchety neighbor/coworker, or your kid) makes it out to be, and the good ol’ days weren’t necessarily better. (Nor were they necessarily worse—depends on who you are and where you’re from.)

Everyone has experiences we can learn from, and I want to hear your tales and your advice… and maybe some of it will resonate and maybe none of it will and it will have been an interesting conversation and that’s all.

In spite of having aged, you might actually know less than someone younger and you might want to also listen and consider their advice. Age is not greater than knowledge. There are 15-year-olds who know more than I do. And they might know more than you, too, depending on what you’re talking about.

Making this a little bit broader…

In several classes and trainings I’ve been to in the last handful of years, I’ve had to take a questionnaire titled, “Can you survive in a different social class?” Someone put it on Survey Monkey; you can see it here. (I don’t know who gets the answers—I share it just so you can look at the questions.)

Unless your experience has been broader than most, there’s plenty you could learn just about societal basics of classes that aren’t yours. Or you could learn about what it’s like to be the opposite sex. Or a different sexual orientation. Or a different race. Or religion. Or mental health status. This list could go on and on because we have such a wide variety of ways we pigeonhole people.

So. Listen and think. Be thoughtful—don’t take something in or reject it without processing it first. There’s so much to learn.

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.

Posted in differences, mindset, thoughtfulness

Welcoming newbies

Several times in the past year, we’ve been at a place or in a group where we’re new. We walk in, looking kind of lost.

While someone usually will help us to get to where we need to be to get started, it seems that that’s the end of it.

As I’ve talked to other people about this, I’ve heard, “Oh, club soccer was like that.” “That’s what happened to us at dance.” “We were lost the first year we did track.”

OK, that last one was us.

The point is: why wouldn’t organizations that regularly bring in new people have a procedure for bringing in new people?

There are things that you know that you’ve known for so long that maybe you don’t even remember that other people don’t know them. (Much like I talked about in teaching beginners.)

Surely, new people have asked the same questions enough times that you could compile them, even if you’re not aware enough to create a list on your own? Yes, working out of your head, you’re going to miss some things, but at least get a list started? Show it to other people and see what they can add. Check in with people who are almost new—they’ve been around long enough to know the basic things but not so long that they forget what being new is like.

Then make a checklist for people who are giving tours or checking in newbies. Or draft a document to give people. Or both.

This is how our organization works. This is what you can expect. This is how you do these basic things that are necessary. This is what we do here. This is what we don’t do here.

Outline the culture.

Homes, neighborhoods, cities, states, countries, organizations all have their own culture. Within that are things that you pick up on as you go along but they’re not typically talked about.

Talk about them. With the new people. Let them know what to expect so they will be more comfortable. Because you want new people to stick, right? Help them stick.

Posted in differences, mindset, parenting

Everything is getting scarier

The Kid doesn’t like movies with scary parts. He’s a sensitive kid and scary things linger. (I relate to that.) We can occasionally do movies in the park, maybe because the sound is less intense, but even those are a crap shoot.

So we don’t watch many movies.

Now, I’m not a movie person, but the last G-rated movie I’m aware of was the Peanuts Movie a few years ago. We went to see it, and he was happy.

What happened to just nice, fun, sweet movies for kids?

Maybe I’m just more aware of this now than I have been, but it seems like Halloween is getting scarier, too. Stuff that used to be reserved for slasher movies and maybe haunted houses is out on people’s lawns. Halloween was fun and had an element of spooky to it, but not so much gruesome. Or at least, that’s my recollection of it.

We need more nice things. Clean things. Funny things (not at the expense of marginalized people). Beautiful things.

Scary things have their place, no doubt, but … can we leave space for nice, too?