Celebrate today

It is important to live your life. Every single day is important. It doesn’t matter if the day is bad or good. You are still alive. At some time in everyone’s life we realize that there are more days behind us than ahead. Sometimes this realization is hard to take but life is still out there.

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If I sit in my chair and sink into sadness or depression because I have acknowledged this fact then I miss today and the days that are ahead of me. What a waste that would be. Many people in my life are gone. To not live each day and wring every bit of joy out of it would be a disservice to them. They don’t have more days but I do.

Most of them lived full lives and showed me, by example, how to live with all the passion you can muster…..no matter the circumstances.

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Today is the day that I have in front of me. It may be good, it may not. That doesn’t matter. What matters is that I experience it…that I live it fully, consciously, and lovingly. That is the only thing to do. If I do that the rest of my days, however many, will have meaning.

Apologize?

“It is a good rule to never apologize. The right kind of people never want apologies and the wrong kind take advantage of them.” From the TV show “The Orville”

On one level I agree with this quote. The wrong people can take advantage but the right people deserve an apology. Sometimes you don’t know which you are dealing with. When thinking about this I came to the conclusion that if in the wrong I would rather apologize. In some ways the apology is for me and the other person.

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Being able to ask forgiveness makes me feel better. It also shows respect to the other person.  It takes away some of the guilt I am feeling. However, I don’t like to apologize for something I did not do. This is where I draw the line. In my life I have been accused of wronging someone when it wasn’t me. In spite of the fact of my insistence that I was innocent I was never believed. That is hard to live with.

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I just couldn’t resist this one

The other interesting idea is the non-apology apology. Have you ever used this ploy? For example, I might say I am sorry you feel that way. It sounds like an apology but really I am just stating how I feel at the moment. It is however, the truth. This can work if you are in a sticky situation. Most of the time it is taken as an apology. It is one way to end any dispute and restore good feelings.

 

What are your feelings about apologies?

 

Decisions, decisions!

The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward. Amelia Earhart

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One of my husbands favorite things to say is “no decision is a decision.” He believes that we should gather all the information we can at the time and then move forward. To just do nothing is actually a decision. This thinking makes complete sense when it comes from one who spent two years in combat. No decision could kill you.

Sometimes our decision is right sometimes not. It doesn’t really matter. As they say “hindsight is 20/20”. Most of the time we must just gather as much knowledge as is available and move on. We often blame ourselves later when the choices become clear but remember there were things you didn’t know at the beginning.

The thing we don’t always do is to gather information. Yesterday I wrote about irrational decisions. We are so easily swayed by a bias from our life history. Not considering all the options is heading toward a mistake. To see clearly we must know our own sets of bias and be able to push them into the background. It is so easy to jump to a conclusion and not take the time to see the whole picture.

I often have to stop myself from an “assumption” and you know where that gets us. The word “assume” tells it all.

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Decisions are not just about major things but can also be snap judgements.  It is so easy to make up our minds about other people without all the information. We can lose out on some great connections this way.

Decisions may not always be easy and we will make mistakes just don’t beat  yourself up about it. We have to accept our messes and move one. To feel guilty and dwell on them does no good.

Why that decision?

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I have been listening to a most interesting book called  “Sway: the Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior.”

 

 

While talking about the many reasons why people make these kind of decisions he talks about the diagnosing of children with Bipolar Disorder. There was a tremendous rise in the diagnosis from 1993 to 2003. In 1993 there were 20,000 diagnosed with the problem and in 2003 there were 800,000. What happened?

To diagnose it before 1980 most doctors were expected to see someone admitted to the hospital with a manic episode .  The DMS III guide updated in 1980 added less severe symptoms for a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.  The new criteria includes feeling sad, tearful, fatigued, having insomnia, indecision, more talkative, distratibility, and inflated self esteem. Symptoms that are not uncommon in teens.

DSM

At the same time pharmaceutical companies were developing medications they wanted to sell that could be used for this diagnosis.

(He talks about the other reasons we might have seen a rise such as more people seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist and several other reasons that he is able to discard.)

His conclusion for the rise comes under the idea of diagnosis bias. First off the symptoms could be found in most teens and secondly the pharma companies were pushing for drug use.

Whether Ori and Rom Brafman (the authors) are right or not it is an interesting idea. It does make you wonder how many individuals were and are receiving diagnoses because of diagnosis bias. I am not as familiar with the idea in mental health care but I have certainly seen it work with physical symptoms.

There is no easy way to know if a mental illness diagnosis is correct. We certainly understand that once the person is labeled it would be difficult to erase it. As I have said before my physician was hesitant to use the diagnosis of anxiety for me due to the stigma attached. We want no stigma attached to a mental health diagnosis. Doctors also need to be careful about coming up with the right diagnosis.

We all need to rid ourselves of our own bias regarding labeling of any kind and work to reduce labeling due to mental health issues.

Here are some reasons why irrational decisions are made. Not just regarding bipolar disorder but any decision.

irrational-behaviour-list

I am enjoying this book which goes into many different ways that  irrational decisions are made in a wide spectrum of places. A good read.

Make life better

Today I was at the Mediation Center and ran across this list. It is the most comprehensive I have ever seen. Anyone should be able to find something on here that they can do to make their day better. I am appending it to my bulletin board.

We often think there is nothing we can do. Usually because we really don’t want to do anything except feel bad. Sometimes we have to force ourselves to do something to improve things. It may take strength to get going. There is always something that will help. See if you can find some things on this list.

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A letter to my grandchildren #3

There will be many people in your lives. Every person you interact with is unique.

Family

family-sayingsFrom your first breath you have been part of a family. It is a good family. This is a wonderful blessing. There are so many different kinds of families and you have been blessed with one that is loving and caring. That is not true for everyone. Does this mean that your family is perfect? Absolutely not! We have our quirks and failings. You will like some members of the family more than others and it’s ok. We can’t find agreement  with everyone and that is true of family too. I have always believed that family is important. When the chips are down you should be able to count on your family. From what I know about our family this is true.  You may have done something you are not proud of. You may have hurt someone. You may think no one will understand and accept you. This is not true. Members of our family may be upset but we will never turn our backs on you. You are loved more than words can say and always will be. NO MATTER WHAT.

Friends

good friendsFriends are one of the most important things in life. A true friend will stick with you through thick and thin. Take the time to make friends and keep the communication lines open between you. Friendship can last a lifetime if you nurture it. Don’t let grass grow up on the path between you.

Acquaintances

True friends are few but acquaintances are many. You will meet many, many people in your lifetime. Some will be a positive influence and some will not. Don’t let the negative ones stay. They will drag you down with them. Life is too short to suffer negative people. Sometimes you will not recognize them right away but when you feel that drag pulling you down let them go. They are not worth the trouble.

Work and People

inspiring happy workplace quotesWherever you work there will be a variety of people. Some will make your work easier and your days better….some will not. It may be harder to shake off the problem people in that environment.. You may have a bad boss or a co-worker who tries to stab you in the back. Work is necessary in this life and some environments are difficult to live through. Remember to keep your eye on the big picture. If things are bad…Can you change jobs? Can you move departments? If not function in the best way you can. Kindness with others is always the best policy even if they don’t reciprocate. Meanwhile keep your eyes open for a better place to work.  Your relative, Jenny, says you need two out of three things (at least) in a job. 1. A great salary 2. A wonderful work environment 3. A job you love. If you don’t have at least two it is time to move on.

Are there still good people?

People are always interesting. You never know what you may find. I have learned that getting to know what is inside a person can make an amazing difference. Sometimes we think that someone is a terrible person only to find out that they are living with some really difficult things that have caused them much pain. Their behavior may be a reflection of that and not what you see on the surface. Don’t judge until you know the truth.

Good-people

We hear so many bad things today and it makes us think there is no good any more but this is not true. So many people are loving and giving. You just don’t hear about them. It is our love for our fellow humans that makes the world a livable place. Continue to reach out with caring and goodness will follow.

For a better world

In some of my recent reading I came across an interesting fact. As a Christian I have learned about original sin….the sin that came from the mistakes of Adam and Eve. However, the history of this idea was not originally connected to Jesus. It was not know in the very early church. It was not a doctrine accepted by either the Jewish faith or Islam. It is another doctrine that was hammered out when the early church was struggling to keep some cohesiveness of ideas.

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Several communities of Christians developed ideas that others saw as heading the wrong way and tried to wipe out what they considered heresy. The struggles led to the Council of Nicea where many church fathers sat down to come to some agreement. Many doctrines of Christianity came from this meeting.

The interesting thing to me is that things we have been taught as “truth” may have a different beginning than we realized. It shows how what we learn from those around us can be colored by their viewpoint.

Reaching back into time to find the history of concepts we have learned may bring a different perspective entirely.

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Not too long ago I saw a program that had people tell about their backgrounds and explore some of the prejudices they had about those from different cultures. countries, and races. They then had their DNA tested and it was interesting to discover that many of them had DNA in common with those they thought were different from them. It was, for them, a wake-up call to re-examine what they had been taught.

Never be afraid to explore the birth of customs and ideas. We may find that their beginnings are not what we thought. If, by doing so, we could discard some of our learned prejudices we may create a better world.

 

Religious Literacy

Religious illiteracy is a luxury (we) they can no longer afford. Barbara Brown Taylor in “Holy Envy.”

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I am loving the book “Holy Envy” which is Taylor’s  reflections on teaching a course in World Religions. This really jumped out at me. In today’s world we cannot be ignorant of the tenets of other faiths. No matter what our job other’s beliefs will touch us in some way.

Years ago, when I worked in the hospital, we had to be aware of the needs of the Gullah people who live off the coast of Georgia and South Carolina on small islands. Much of their culture has now been lost due to encroachment on their islands but they had ideas that impacted their healing. Blue is a very auspicious color for them and selecting a blue hospital room, when possible, could enhance their recovery.

The world has grown so small that we can’t afford to discard other beliefs just because we don’t agree with them. At some time we will be interacting with those of another faith and would do well to understand backgrounds and customs.

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Placing other faith’s tenets beside our own can expand our understanding of our own…..that is if we are not afraid of really exploring with an open mind. Being fearful or unwilling to step outside of our comfort zone exposes how little we have tested and explored our own faith.

Don’t be afraid to talk with others openly about their beliefs and be willing to accept where they are.

It is us!

I wrote this some time ago but was thinking about it today. We are responsible!

 It is us!

we see
Hurt, anger, pain
everywhere
 
Do the flowers
Feel pain
As their petals fall?
 
Are the trees sad
When they are gray
In winter?
 
Is the river
Angry with
the sea?
 
No
No
No
 
More often it is us
Who give
The pain
 
It is us
Who cause
The anger
 
It is us
Who bring
The hurt
 
 
We pluck
The flower
From its stem
 
We cut down
The tree
While it lives
 
We spill oil
Into
The river
 
It is us
 
We bring
Pain
Anger
Hurt
 
It is us
 

Life has meaning

I read a blog today that was an interesting discussion. There was much back and forth about life and death. It was quite technical. At some point a meaningful life was mentioned and it seemed to me to most participants completely let that drop for more esoteric thoughts.

life meaning

I am totally concerned about life having meaning. At this time in my life I have no doubts that mine does. This may be hubris on my part but over the years I can see where something that I did or said changed something or someone. I have had people that I don’t even remember who they are come up and say that I changed their life. I can’t remember what I said or did but that doesn’t matter. Somehow, at the time, I was blessed with the right thing to say. Does this mean that I am special? No way. I was just a catalyst…a stop on the road.

For me, these are the things that make life meaningful. Was I able to help someone? Was I in the right place at the right time? Did the right things come to me out of the blue? Yes! It was not me. It was God, or a higher power, or coincidence. Whatever works for you. But this is what helps me to understand how our lives are meaningful.

sharing love

Loving, giving and sharing our stories and our pains helps others along the path. Because of this I can know that even when I messed up my life has had meaning. I plan to keep on loving and giving until the day I die.