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 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 know better do better, marriage, mindset, parenting, socializing, thoughtfulness, tips

And instead of but

When a sentence has two parts—the first part positive and the second part negative—the conjunction makes a big difference in how the complete sentence is received.

“You played that song really well, but this note should be two beats.”

“You played that song really well, and this note should be two beats.”

“You played that song really well. Next time, play this note two beats.”

Those sentences feel different as the receiver.

“But” in the middle negates the first half of the sentence.

“And” in the middle leaves both parts of the sentence intact.

This trick (that is easy to do but and hard to remember) improves message reception in nearly any context: work, spouse, kids, friends, teammates.

Of course—there is a boundary on your responsibility for your message being received as intended. And there’s context. Simply using and instead of but doesn’t change those variables.

Someone who is programmed to reject praise and focus on negative isn’t going to hear the goodness up front, regardless what follows. (That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.)

Someone whose work is never good enough or who has been pounded with criticism perhaps should be offered only the compliment, with the second half saved for just before the next attempt. (“Remember when you do this to include xyz detail.”)

And, because I have a child who is That Age, I can’t write a post with that many “but”s in it without thinking “chicken butt!”

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.