Posted in food, gifts, know better do better, marriage, mindset, thoughtfulness

Sweets for your sweetheart

Valentine’s Day is coming up (if January ever ends)…

A gift that provokes anxiety or guilt (or both!) is not a good gift.

If your partner is reducing or eliminating junk food, buying chocolate, cookies, candies, etc. is not a thoughtful thing to do.

Likewise, if you’re reducing or eliminating junk food, don’t ask for or expect junk food. Unless this is a special occasion.

In any of these cases, perhaps have a conversation ahead of time about it so everyone is on the same page.

“I know that you’ve always gotten me this fabulous box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day, but I don’t want to have that much chocolate on hand any more. How about [a smaller portion/ something else/ we just go out] instead?”

Surely there are ways to show and receive love that aren’t filled with sugar? Maybe even aren’t edible at all?

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 mental health, mindset, motivation, parenting, thoughtfulness, vulnerability

Video: You are enough

I shared with you a snippet from a podcast regarding emotional contagions and the effect of negative people in your orbit.

If you got to thinking and realized that might be you, this clip might help.

Or if you move through the world feeling you’re less than other people, for any of a variety of reasons, this 13 minutes might change your life. (Feeling “less than” manifests as passive, as defensive, as angry, as perfectionist, as many things…)

While you could watch the whole clip if you have 45 minutes, the piece I’m recommending here starts at 2:10 and goes until 15:00. She starts this clip by talking about weight loss, but that’s not what the clip is about—stick with it.

 

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

Podcast quote: negative people

I started listening to the Work Life podcast, by Adam Grant. I love it! Super-interesting.

Since they’re relatively close to the beginning of the podcast, I started at the beginning.

Season 1, Episode 3 was “The Problem with All Stars,” and while it was interesting to listen to, the piece that was most striking to me was not about the main topic at all.

From the transcript:

“Emotional contagion is something that I became interested in many, many years ago when I was working with a colleague, ‘Meg’ as a pseudonym, and I wasn’t even reporting to her, she was just working in my environment. I knew she was negative but I didn’t think much of it. And then one week Meg went on vacation. And it was amazing. Like suddenly the team, me, everybody — our shoulders lowered, we were more relaxed and happy. And then she came back and everything went back to the way it was and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, how amazing that this person, who I didn’t even report to could have such a tremendous influence on not only my mood, but the mood of everybody else.”

This isn’t surprising, but it brought to mind a lot of scenarios from the past few years. Times when I’ve been frustrated to be consistently in the presence of constant negativity. Times when I’m sure I was the one bringing the group dynamic down. Scenarios from longer ago, also from both sides of the fence. Which brings me to…

The concept applies to family dynamics, of course. When one person in the house is always (or even just often) miserable or angry or high-strung, it takes a toll on everyone in the house. And because this typically develops over time, it follows the boiling-a-frog fable. (In that case, the person who points it out is more likely to be ostracized than the person causing the problem … but that’s a tangent I’m not going to ride out today.)

And socializing.

Really, it applies to anywhere with people you’re in proximity to. At the grocery store and someone ahead of you is chewing out the cashier? Changes your environment. Someone unpleasant on the train? Next table over at dinner is full of crankiness or anger or vitriol? These change your experience, even if they’re not chronic, like a coworker or housemate would be.

Obviously we don’t have control over all of these situations, but it’s worth the time and effort to see where we can eliminate or reduce contact with negative people … and also to be introspective enough to know when it is us. (Not self-deprecating and assuming it’s always us … introspective and having a solid guess as to when it’s us.)

Posted in mindset, socializing

Be diligent or be a victim

I’m tired of needing to “be vigilant or be a victim” (who will subsequently be blamed for not knowing better).

What triggered this?

The advice that’s going around to sign documents using a four-digit date instead of a two-digit date, so that two additional digits can’t be added to backdate or postdate the document.

I understand the advice. I’m not putting down the advice.

But I’m tired of it all.

How I dress, what time of day I go out alone, whether or not everything I own is locked up, where I leave my purse or backpack or phone — these all need to be on the radar all the time, because if I get attacked or someone breaks into my car or someone steals my wallet out of my purse and I haven’t taken all of the recommended precautions: What did you expect?

I expect that people can be decent and not attack each other or steal each other’s shit.

(There are so many social, political, and economic layers to all that, and I’m not unpacking it right now. But on a tangent, I heard someone years ago blame people in a low-income neighborhood for letting drug dealers and gang members live and work there. As if it’s somehow residents’ fault? I can’t think of a single thing I’ve done in any neighborhood I’ve lived in that has prevented unsavory people from also living there.)

I’m tired of blaming the victim for everything. We have enough research to know how to fix a lot of the underlying problems, but we’re too selfish (collectively) to do it. Can we make everything utopian and hearts and rainbows and butterflies and unicorns? No, of course not. But it can be substantially better.

There are places I go regularly where I can leave my phone in a bag on the floor and not worry about it. And it’s lovely. Everyone manages to just go to The Place to do The Thing and on we go.

Can we have more of that, please?