“Whatever anybody says or does, assume positive intent. You will be amazed at how your whole approach to a person or problem becomes very different.” – Indra Nooyi

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It’s easy to get hooked in our modern world. Meaning many times each day we feel resistance when conversations, outcomes, projects and meetings don’t go the way we hoped they would go or as we had planned. Perhaps someone who works for you delivered an underwhelming performance, or you disagree on strategy with your boss or manager, or a friend/family member holds views that are very different from yours – regardless of the scenario, the feeling we experience is similar.

Some common emotional responses when things don’t go our way are we feel wronged, invalidated, frustrated or at times angry, and likely our responses (conversations and actions) reflect that. This only compounds the feelings we are experiencing and creates a mirror reaction in the person or people with which we are engaged.

At times, we may feel as if the person or people who triggered us did it intentionally or on purpose -which rarely ends up being the case. Most people wake up each day with a desire to do good and be good in this world.

We live in a world composed of 7 plus billion unique people each with his/her own idea of what “do good” and “be good” means – none of which are more right or more wrong than the other – just different. It is true that at times we harm each other with words and actions, disappoint each other, miss expectations or plainly act as a jerk. And it’s also true that most times these choices are not premeditated – the intent of the action is not to harm, disrupt or divide.

There is a different choice each one of us has when we feel hooked or triggered and that choice is to assume positive intent. This doesn’t mean ignore your feelings of displeasure. Rather, address them from a different place – one that starts with assuming the others involved started with a positive intent that just didn’t land. Extend the benefit of the doubt.

Next time you feel hooked or triggered experiment with making a choice to acknowledge that it was positive intent that created the situation and can get you out of it as well. The choice is yours.

Photo credits: Google photos

 

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CONTRARY TO POPULAR NOTIONS: My Personal Views on Widely-accepted Relationship “TRUTHS”

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FOREWORD: This is the second installment of my aim to share my personal views on some areas pertaining to Love. Should you happen to like this post after reading it, you may also would want to read later on about my initial post published here seven days ago entitled, “Love Isn’t Always the Answer”.  Further, the views and opinions expressed here are all personal and non-assertive or indicative in any way. Furthermore, I tried to keep my views simple as possible despite the complexities of the “relationship truths” presented herein. Be that as it may, I wish you good and happy reading!

Let’s begin…

Love conquers all.

To put it simply, love does NOT conquer all. All is a lot. It’s literally everything. To say that love conquers all is hyperbolic and misleading. It’s also a dangerous belief to hold onto because it engenders a kind of hopeful laziness. People who cling to the notion that everything will work out as long as they love their significant other tend to overlook the reality that maintaining a strong, loving relationship takes a lot of hard work. You can’t just count on your love to shield you from all the ups and downs you’ll face as a couple.

To say that love conquers all is hyperbolic and misleading.

All you need is love.

To state the obvious, you definitely need food, shelter, oxygen and water — all requirements of living and breathing that are not love. Beyond that, you also probably need some sense of personal fulfillment outside of your romantic relationship. Maybe your career brings you happiness, or you’re passionate about a certain hobby. Whatever the case, it’s wise not to rely entirely on love to reach inner peace. You’re way too complex to need just one thing.

True love is unconditional.

Nope. Sorry. Some couples fall madly in love and then, unexpectedly, fall out of love. When people separate, it isn’t because the love that once existed between them wasn’t true. A breakup doesn’t render a former love suddenly meaningless, but it does signify that it was conditional on some factors that happened to shift — a phenomenon we’re all susceptible to simply because so many things are beyond our control. True love is definitely conditional — on timing, careers, health, desires, sudden changes and so much more.

When it’s right, you’ll know it.

You actually might have no idea you’ve hit the romantic jackpot on your first, second, third or one-hundredth date. Yes, some couples fall in love at first sight. But others aren’t as quick to figure things out, and that’s okay. Love that grows over time isn’t any less real or worthy of note than the kind that sprouts between two people within seconds of meeting. Don’t expect to know in your gut that something’s right from the start. If you rule out every person you don’t feel a spark with automatically, you’ll end up dismissing some good candidates. Sometimes, you have to give things time. Love can blossom when you least expect it to and you might not know it when you see it.

With the right person, everything will be easy.

It’s never easy. Actually, it’s pretty easy in the way beginning, when you’re so love drunk that you let things slide and all you want to do is stare at each other with your googly eyes and make passionate love. But let’s get real. That lustful stage doesn’t last for anyone. There are many wonderful things to look forward to once the passion-blindness fades — comfort, for instance, and a bottomless reserve of inside jokes and treasured memories — but staying together isn’t easy. The right relationship will be worth the effort you have to put into it. Just don’t expect it to be a breeze, no matter how obsessed with each other you are.

The right relationship will be worth the effort you have to put into it.

Never settle for anyone other than “the one.”

Especially for the ladies, please, I beg of you: settle! Fate isn’t a matchmaker, so don’t count on it to guide you towards that one special person. There are a lot of people you’re capable of building a life with. You just have to find one of those people. But don’t expect any of them to be perfectly suited to you. Plan to settle in some ways — for someone slightly less wealthy or handsome or flexible or handy around the house than you’d hoped for. There’s nothing shameful about adjusting your expectations to align with reality, but there is something kind of sad about a person who waits around for a fairytale ending that isn’t scripted.

Timing is everything.

Timing is definitely something, but it isn’t everything. Because when it comes to love, nothing is everything. The path each couple takes is informed by countless competing factors. Every togetherness is a complex narrative and while some might be marked by a major theme, such as timing, there are always critical subplots and unprecedented twists to consider too.

People don’t change.

They do! They definitely do! This can work out for the better of your relationship, or it can be your relationship’s undoing. Regardless, people definitely change over the years, and if you can’t find a way to evolve together, it’s probably advisable to go your separate ways.

True love is all that matters.

Let’s not be ridiculous. There is so much else in life that matters. So many world issues have absolutely nothing to do with love. However much you hate politics or sports or mathematics, those things matter. The drudgery of day-to-day domestic life matters, too. Basically, everything matters, including love.

P.S.: That would be all for now. If you have any thoughts about the notions presented, please feel free to express them in the comments below.

Photo credits: Google photos/teamsquatchinusa.com

 

Love Isn’t Always the Answer

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FOREWORD: Today begins the month of love again. In view of the occasion, I shall be writing about the said subject  matter this month of February. Here’s the first installment from (hopefully) the few areas/topics about Love which I’m planning to write about. If you liked/loved this article, or have  some related opinions to express, please feel free to leave your comments below.

LOVE ISN’T ALWAYS THE ANSWER.

I get why everyone wants love. Why we all expend so much time, energy, effort and money on dating and attracting a mate. Why we all dream of Happily Ever After. Why girls shriek upon news of a friend’s engagement, and cry at almost every wedding. Why people gossip about breakups and in places where its legal, stigmatize divorce, as if splitting up were the most tragic thing that could happen to two people. Why we shun relationship realities and hide behind hashtag proclamations about how proud we are of our significant others.

Love is a wonderful drug. It can be truly amazing to find it, and give in to it — to soak in its enigmatic powers and revel in the feeling that this. Is. It. To feel as if you’ve finally unlocked the secret to happiness. That you’ve discovered purpose in a potential life partner.

We all want a partner. Someone to lean on for support. Someone to count on as a permanent plus-one. Someone to vent to. Someone to celebrate achievements with, big and small. Someone to make love with.

But love isn’t the answer to all things. And it can’t fix your life.

It can’t. It might make things better, especially in the beginning, when you first find that person you’re pretty sure you can do forever with. Early love really does have a way of making the whole world look a hell of a lot brighter. When you’re smitten, annoying tasks suddenly don’t seem like such a pain in the ass. Pleasant activities somehow become yet more rewarding.

But infatuation doesn’t last, not even for the most love drunk people on the planet. We know this. And yet, we forget it again and again. Lust eventually dissipates. When it does, it’s replaced by comfort, shared experiences and more and more treasured memories. Also, fighting, jealousy, temptation, doubts and relationship fatigue.

Lasting love is certainly possible, but not if you expect love to do all the work for you. And not if you refuse to understand love’s limits.

Love doesn’t transform your entire reality. It doesn’t make you a different person, solve all your problems, or erase your past mistakes. If anything, it creates additional struggles. Love isn’t always pretty. It can be downright ugly. It isn’t a Band-Aid for emotional despair. In fact, it wreaks havoc on people’s psyches in a lot of cases. It isn’t a reason to live. Actually, it can drive people to kill. Crimes of passion are a real thing. Love breeds kindness and passion and beauty. But it also breeds nastiness, darkness and even hate.

We all want love, and we all deserve it. But you shouldn’t expect your entire world to change magically as soon as you find it.

We want love to be greater than it is. We want it to be this transcendent force that unites us as human beings, even as it tears us apart. We want it to make life worth living. We want it to heal our pain. We want it to imbue our existence with meaning. But the truth is, you have to do all of that for yourself.

We all want love, and we all deserve it. But you shouldn’t expect your entire world to change magically as soon as you find it. Yes, certain aspects of life are immediately “awesomer” once you find a perpetual partner in crime. But love isn’t always the answer. Often, the answer is simply hard work. Or introspection and personal growth. Sometimes, the answer is good-bye. Sometimes, it’s just plain no.

The life you lead is determined by the sum of the choices you make. Some of those choices relate to the people you decide to love. But so many others have nothing to do with love at all.

Don’t live for love. If you expect it to fulfill you, or pressure the people you love to make you feel whole, you’ll end up gravely disappointed, and, most likely, alone. Love is wonderful, but it isn’t everything. Fiction’s greatest love stories are literally unbelievable. The greatest love songs are inspired, but reductive.

Love is not all you need. You have other needs, and only you can see to it that all of those needs are met. So look inside yourself and figure out what you want out of life. Then commit as much time, energy, effort and financial resources to making that other stuff happen as well.

By all means, find someone to love. Just don’t forget to find yourself at some point, too.

Continue to Live and Love in BIG WAYS in your current world.

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With age comes the choice of moral responsibility.

How do you want to live your life? What will make you happy? How do you want to be treated? What do you want to leave behind? These were the questions I grew up with. They are phrased and asked in such a simplistic way that simple answers like “I want to take walks after dinner with my wife” or “I want everyone to have equal rights and opportunities” feel pretty logical. The fact that it’s not that easy is my reminder that it’s okay not to have answers to questions that don’t quite fit.

The main question I have been asking myself lately is, what choice do you want to make? Each day, each hour, we have choices to make. What to wear, what to say, where to go, who to meet, and what to dedicate our time to. It’s a constant puzzle of making a choice, finding out if it feels good or bad, then choosing again. Sometimes it really comes together, and other times nothing quite fits correctly. The reminder to take a step back, re-examine the puzzle, and try again is all we can do.

Whether you’re figuring out the best method to get every member of the family work harmoniously together, the next strategy in enjoining camaraderie in the workplace, how to pay for dinner tonight, or what your city/local council really does, etc., they are all choices. It can feel overwhelming to digest them all at once. Much like the brain hole that is social media, we are constantly scrolling through a list of self-reflections while literally scrolling through snippets of horrific news, filtered photos, and a constant stream of culture, history and events. And with every choice comes a million more choices.

That’s not the scary part. This is: The part where I have to make choices, for myself. Do I allow myself to turn my brain off and watch a movie whose sole purpose is to entertain me? Do I take a different commute to work without a book or headphones and engage with strangers? What social justice organization do I want to learn more about and donate to? Can I really afford that? Is it normal to not want to talk to anyone all day? What should I wear to the party? How much news can I absorb and still get up and fight whatever powers there’d be that are deemed responsible?

I certainly don’t have the right answers, because there may not be just one. I can confidently say I want to choose to do more, learn more, love more, lead more, inspire more and engage more. I want to stand up to and break down inequality and injustice. I want to woo the love of my life and fall in love with her all over again. I want to adore my job and feel pride in what I create. I want to go camping and dive from a cliff and ride in a helicopter and go to rallies and get a cat and learn guitar and do something that made someone’s day a little better, so on and so forth. I want to do it all. Yet I want to feel comfortable knowing the fact that I CAN’T DO IT ALL.

Learning that I can’t fix everything feels like life’s cruelest lesson. I CAN’T single-handedly end the culture of abuse and injustice. I CAN, however, make choices that educate others on consent and upholding pride and dignity in every individual. I CAN’T fix a friend’s broken heart. But I CAN bring them a bottle of wine and listen. I CAN’T expect others to help me with my choices. Yet, I CAN surround myself with people who respect my choices and learn with me.

Maybe, despite my age, I haven’t figured out how to truly be an adult, but I am slowly getting better at feeling ok with not knowing. And while I have been told I should be better at asking for help, I don’t think it is help I am looking for. How do you even begin to ask for help when people are struggling to sustain their daily lives? How do you complain about debt when you live in a world full of violence and injustice? The “help” is reading about a scholarship a student just received. Or seeing my family or friends huddled in a room sharing funny stories. It’s getting daily emails of positive ways to lift up an organization, or organizing a local fundraiser. What helps me make good choices is seeing the good choices of those around me and those who inspire the hell out of me. It’s seeing how choices affect others and learning how to make better ones in the future.

What helps is stepping back from the puzzle and taking it one piece at a time.

So maybe that’s it. Maybe it took me nearly 1,000 words to say that life has thus far taught me one critical lesson: In every turn, make better choices.

Photo credits: Google photos

There is no such thing as a “Blank Page”

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Sometimes a blank page is so welcoming… a gift! You get to create the story fresh, the way you want it!

As a blogger or a person fond of writing, I know that there is no such thing as a blank page. You start, crumble, delete, erase and start over again until you get it right… sometimes it isn’t even right but it is the way you want it. Often, at least in my case, it goes against the grain of other people’s views and opinions. At that point you have a choice… cave in or write your article! I’ve always chosen to write about my views and opinions.

So much like life… no blank pages, just taking the pages you already have and creating the story of your life out of the story of your life. You can cave in and live a life less than you want or go against the grain and really live with no regrets.

Let us not forget that every day is chapter one. The incredible thing is we can change the story and even the table of contents any time we want. It is simply a decision, which isn’t so simple sometimes. But absolutely necessary if you want the book of your life to be yours and not something someone else wrote!

Are you living your book, or are you allowing someone else to be the author of your life?

I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below 🙂

 Photo credits: Google photos

“YOU” Version 2.0 (A New Year’s Message)

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Each and every one of us has questions to consider with the start of this new year: How do we move past the difficulties we experienced during the year behind us? What do we hope to accomplish moving forward? How do we admit that we are not perfect, that we have made mistakes and (here’s the hard part) ― forget them and move on!

Every person has an inner struggle and battle to be the best version of themselves that they believe is possible, challenging themselves to exceed beyond expectations and satisfy others. However, is it possible to be perfect? Perfection rests on the individual; challenging yourself to such a high bar puts immense pressure on us, rather than just focusing on being the best version of ourselves.

Being perfect assumes we have infinite time on our hands, when in fact our time is limited. We spend so much time every day trying to be perfect; we brush our hair and teeth to make sure we’re well-groomed, pick our best outfits to impress both young and old people, and we spend time worrying about everything we did or said that day, hoping people didn’t perceive it the wrong way. We focus on the little things rather than the bigger picture, but the truth of the matter is that time controls us, so rather than waste our precious time, we should make use of our time being the best we can be and seeing the bigger picture. This is where Salvador Dali, a surrealist artist who is renown for his perception of time in his paintings of clocks, emphasizes this issue when he states, “Have no fear of perfection ― you’ll never reach it.”

As Dali rightly points out, there is no such thing as perfection, and searching for that form of perfection can haunt us and prevent us from moving forward. We spend precious time trying to be this ideal and perfect version of ourselves, rather than taking the time and being “us.” Thus, if perfection is nothing more than an illusion, something that is unattainable, then why do we continue to beat ourselves up for it when we fall short? This is where we need to stop and draw the lines.

 

Thus, would it not be better instead to take the time to funnel our energy into just being a better version of ourselves? Isn’t THAT what the new year is about?

So, the question remains, if we’re not perfect, then who are we? The answer is simple. You are YOU. We are each unique and different in our own way. By putting the pressure of perfection aside and focusing on who we are and who we want to be we become the best versions of ourselves and the sooner we can realize that, the sooner we can change our perception.

The good news is that every one of us is capable of this, and with the new year, every one of us is entitled to change the way we think about ourselves.

My wish in this new year is that we can begin this year with a clean slate, in which each of us forgives ourselves and our past mistakes, so that we each can become a better (not perfect) version of ourselves.

Happy New Year!!!

Photo credits: Google photos (Salvador Dali painting)

C’est la vie (Such is life).

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“What is promise if not something that’s impossible to live up to? Promise is inchoate and promise is what binds us. Some of us died, some got sick, some got rich, some had bad luck, some of us were fortunate, more than others. But failed promise only truly fails when it leads to lowered expectation.”

– C.J. Cregg, The West Wing, #413, “The Long Goodbye.”

Another year is drawing to a close. 2017 has been a year of dizzying highs and terrible lows in varying degrees for each one of us.

Like the script above says, “Some of us died, some got sick, some got rich, some had bad luck, some of us were fortunate, more than others.”

– I remember those who were in my life who are not this year, having passed on to that realm beyond time.

– I think of my dad who is courageously and inspiringly thriving through life despite partial physical paralysis due to stroke since 2012.

– I think of my colleague who just landed her dream job with the kind of salary she’s been dreaming of enjoying ever since she started building up her career.

– I think of a friend whose partner and he are facing challenges in their marital relationship because one of them suddenly developed anxiety issues.

– I think about my wife (a lot) and how she is a much better partner than I will ever be.

All of these memories, feelings, hopes, and fears culminate in my mind and heart as another year draws to a close to the point where they just kind of “cancel each other out,” and I end the year (spiritually and emotionally speaking) not in deficit, nor in surplus, but at a “realistic zero.”

C’est la vie (such is life).

For many years when I was a much younger man, (well, not that I’m already that old though) driven by ambition and striving to be great at my craft, I remember always ending the year disappointed, as if I hadn’t done enough, been enough, or accomplished enough.

However, as I age I see that spirituality, faith (whatever you choose to call it) is not about “making things happen.” It’s all about “letting things happen,” and allowing ourselves to be shaped in the process.

We can buck it, sure. We can push back on it, sure — but that’s the easy way. It takes much more courage to embrace whatever good or bad we see enveloping us without being swayed by it.

We learn to become (as the Vedic tradition so beautifully puts it) “a candle that doth not flicker in the wind.”

My hope for you and yours in these final days of 2017 is that you would see life for what it really is — that you would equally accept and embrace all that is wonderful and all that is terrible about it.

There’s something in that for each of us.

We can spend ourselves silly trying to experience pleasure and/or avoid pain, but the main point is simply choosing to “be” in whatever triumph or circumstance we find ourselves in. Letting life “soak.” Letting things have their appropriate time, but not clinging to them as they pass us by.

Wherever you are in your life in this season — rich, poor, sick, struggling, winning, losing, remember that all that your life is can change in an instant, and all that we have to experience, (and have to) experience, is the now.

Until 2018.