Hidden Connections

 

 

Have you tried finding a connection between yourself and each of the people that cross your path during the day? It is interesting to contemplate. At this point, some people may jump to the concept of six-degrees of separation. However, what I have in mind is a bit different.

 

Zero-Degrees of Separation

 

I contend that there is some type of connection between each person and every other person – no matter how completely different the two people are. These connections are sometimes obvious. For instance, two people might have the same educational background, be from the same town, or have the same religious beliefs. Other times, it is more of a challenge to find the connection.

 

Recently, I was considering my connection to various public political figures. For some of them, I could easily see a connection, since I knew we shared a similar opinion on a particular topic. For others, finding the connection was a bit more challenging. I started thinking about the person’s personality, values, background, interests, and experiences compared to my own.

 

Using this scope, I was able to identify at least one “connection” between the person and myself. I am sure there are many more connections I could make with each person if I got to know them.

 

 

Hidden Connections

 

It is not always easy to find connections between yourself and others, especially if you really don’t want to see it. Most of us don’t have a strong desire to find a connection between ourselves and Jack the Ripper or Al Capone. Still, if we took the time to look, we would find a connection. Similarly, we would find a connection with people who live in different parts of the world, have different religions, or live in very different circumstances.

 

Authenticity

 

Although I would challenge you to find a connection to even the seemingly most different person, I would also caution you to pay attention to the authenticity of the connection. For example, political candidates may state an opinion that aligns well with your own perspective. You should consider that connection carefully.

 

First, look at your own opinion and make sure it is something you truly own. Often the opinions we have are those that we believe we should have rather than our true beliefs. Second, consider the same for the candidate. Is their stated opinion really their opinion and the direction they will take if faced with questions on the topic or is it simply what they believe people want to hear. You may even find that you have a connection with someone who states a different opinion than yours because their underlying viewpoint and resulting actions may actually match your perspective.

 

Limitations

 

It is important not to be drawn in by someone’s outward statements if they are not authentic. The Benders are infamous for inviting people into their home for a nice meal, killing them, and dumping them in a field. I am sure that many of their victims initially felt a connection to them believing they were nice folks that were providing a meal to a weary traveler.  Yet, in their case, it was all a scheme to get the victims’ valuables.

 

Therefore, it is important to remember that connections must be authentic. When you consider public personalities or people that cross your path, make sure to look for the connection. They may be on a different path than you, but challenge yourself to find something you authentically have in common. Just be diligent and pay attention so you don’t become a victim of the person behind the curtain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whether you follow sports or not, most people are aware that some teams have a way of connecting with fans that other teams do not. For instance, the Dallas Cowboys of the NFL, the Kansas (KU) Jayhawks men’s basketball team, and the Boston Red Socks baseball team are well known for having large fan bases. These fans come out to support them through thick and thin.

 

Signs Of A True Connection

 

The reason for the strong fan base transcends their win-loss record. For instance, the Cowboys have been very inconsistent over the years. They have had great years and lousy years. Yet, their fans stick with them. Since their current stadium was completed in 2009, they have averaged approximately 90,000 attendees per game despite having a winning record in only about half the years.

 

In contrast, the Washington Redskins of the NFL, who had mixed results and a bit more on the downside, dropped from an average attendance in 2010 of ~83,000 to ~61,000 in 2018. Clearly, their fans do not have the same kind of allegiance to the team that the Cowboys’ fans have.

 

The Winning Connection

 

So, what is the secret for these teams? Is it that they have had winning seasons? Well, it is true that all three teams have had many winning seasons, The Red Socks have won 9 world championships over ~120 years. The Cowboys have appeared in 8 championship games and won 5 over their 60 years of existence. Likewise, the KU men’s basketball has won their conference championship 61 times in just over 120 years with multiple NCAA championships. They also have the longest current NCAA tournament appearance streak having being selected for 30 years straight.

 

So, winning likely helps. However, there are other teams with a tradition of winning that don’t have the same following. Consider the recent Super Bowl featuring the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers. Kansas City was the #1 TV viewing market for the game with 97% of televisions that were on tuned into the game. San Francisco was not among the top 10 markets for the game. San Francisco had won more Super Bowls than Kansas City, but neither team had won in recent years. Yet, Kansas City had a stronger fan base.

 

But, There Is More

 

For two teams to have such a disparity in viewership when playing in the big game indicates that Kansas City has a stronger following than San Francisco. Thus, a connection to fans must be based on more than a winning tradition.

 

Let’s consider other traditions and ways that teams connect with their fans. If you look at the Kansas Jayhawks, they have a huge number of basketball traditions and other characteristics that make them appealing. The person who originated the game of basketball coached at KU. They also have a unique mascot and chant. Both are memorable and rated among the best in college sports. They also teach new students the college traditions, which help maintain those traditions over time. In addition, they are known for their amazing atmosphere at Allen Field House, which holds the record for the loudest indoor sports arena at 130.4 decibels.

 

The Red Sox and the Cowboys also have their traditions. The Red Sox have the Fenway Frank, music traditions and more. Likewise, the Cowboys are known for their Cheerleaders and playing on Thanksgiving every year. Additionally, most teams with a strong following have a major rival and a really good marketing team that creates a very distinct brand. The Cowboys, for example, became known as “America’s Team” expanding their presence outside the Dallas area. Similarly, KU often refers to alumni with the phrase “Once a Jayhawk, always a Jayhawk,” continuing to reinforce the connection to the university.

 

Application

 

These concepts of connecting apply elsewhere. Think of the places you eat, the politicians you want to elect, the products you buy (or dream of buying), etc. In each case, consider how they are building their connection to you. Does it feel authentic? How strong would you rate your loyalty? Are you a strong fan through thick and thin or are you a fair weather fan?

 

By considering these questions, you can learn a lot about both yourself and the things that attract you.

 

 

 

By now, probably half of the New Year’s resolutions made have been broken. The reason is simple. People make resolutions in the moment often without a lot of thought. However, they don’t truly commit to change.

 

Setting Intention

 

Failed New Year’s resolutions don’t have to be the next chapter in your story. By making a strong intention around a resolution, you can change it from something that has a very low chance of success into something that can transform your life.

 

Start by creating a strong intention statement. A good intention statement is simple, easy to remember, is strongly connected to you, contains your emotions, is in your words, and contains positive action words.

 

For example, a common resolution is to exercise more in the coming year. That is a nice statement, but is not very powerful and a high percentage of the time people will fail to meet the goal. However, transforming that statement into an intention, such as “Exercising daily invigorates me and gives me amazing energy,” tells a different story. First, it is specific. Exercising daily is very different than a resolution to exercise more than last year. Secondly, it contains action and emotional energy.

 

Connecting

 

As important as it is to make the intention strong and full of emotion, you will only succeed if the words, your goals, your actions, and your rewards are strongly connected with who you are. For instance, if your reward is that it will make someone else happy or it is because the doctor says that it is good for you, you will struggle to keep your resolution.

 

Resolutions and intentions only work if they are for you. Thus, the connection to your words, your goals, etc. are of upmost importance. Once you decide to make a change for yourself, it becomes much more doable. You can set rewards for reaching goals that relate to who you are and what you hope to achieve. If you love to read, you can reward yourself with a new e-book for reaching a goal. However, if you love to cook, you might reward yourself with a cooking class or by making a favorite recipe.

 

Expectations

 

The expectation for most resolutions is that they will fail. If you are like most people, even a statement of “It will be different this time,” will likely be accompanied, at least internally, by doubt. The reason is simple. The word resolution has become synonymous with temporary attempt to change that will end in failure. The dictionary might not define it that way, but that is how people think of resolutions.

 

Therefore, even if you are committed to a change, just the word resolution will get eye rolls from the people around you. The word intention sets a very different expectation in your mind and the minds of the people around you. Even the word “intend” or “intention” sounds stronger than “resolution.”

 

You can intend a wonderful life into existence. Amazing things can happen, you just need to be open to them and expect that they will occur!

 

Releasing: A Key to Healing

 

 

Most people have an event from their past that clings to them like a baby clings to their pacifier. Like a parent who thinks their baby is ready to give up their pacifier, the person may think they are ready to give up the memory. And, no matter how hard the parent tries, the baby resists giving up their pacifier. Similarly no matter how hard the person tries to forget, the memory won’t leave. It seems to be permanently etched into their brain.

 

Even when someone is not consciously recalling the memory, that instance of memory can consume some of the person’s energy like a dripping faucet leaks water. Although one instance of memory may not be a significant drain on a person, if there are lots of memories connected to the person, the person may experience a significant drain. In some cases, one single instance can be enough to be a continual drain on a person.

 

Staying Connected

 

Energetically speaking, people may hold onto events, places, and people. Think of the old time switch boards where there was a person making a voice connection by plugging a line into a socket. This created a physical connection that allowed a person on one end to speak to the person on the other end. Energy works in a very similar manner. In the switchboard era, you could hang up and come back an hour later and begin talking if the switchboard operator had left the connection in place.

 

The same is true if the universe has not severed the energetic connection. When that connection remains, the other person, company, or event continues to be connected to the person.  This is true even if they are no longer a part of that person’s life. Unfortunately, trauma is often the cord that binds the two together. The more trauma someone has experienced, the more likely there will be a strong energetic connection they will have to the place, event, or person.

 

What stays connected to someone may seem completely random and insignificant to other people. In fact, others that witnessed an event that someone found traumatic may not even be able to recall the event. To the traumatized person, however, the reason they can recall these events, places, and people so vividly is because of the trauma they experienced.

 

No Longer Needed

 

These events, places, and people created an energetic connection. When these connections no longer serve the person in a positive manner, the person needs to decide if they are ready to release the connection. This doesn’t mean that they will forget the people or events. However, it does mean that these people and events of the past will no longer have influence over their lives.

 

The connection can be released in a variety of ways. Some people opt for counseling while others do journaling, meditation, or energy work. The act of releasing heals old wounds and allows you to thrive.

 

Once released, the person may feel more energized. They may physically feel like a weight is lifted from them. New opportunities may also arise once they are no longer being held back by these connections.

 

What are you waiting for? Release! It is the key to healing.

 

Making A Difference: The little thing

 

 

You may be familiar with the book “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff . . . and it is all small stuff” by Richard Carlson. In that book, the author describes one hundred techniques (or thought processes) to get through your day with less anxiety and stress. These techniques vary broadly covering everything from choosing your battles to imagining your own funeral.

 

Focus On The Important

 

The ideas behind these techniques are to get you to focus on the important things instead of letting little things take over your life.

 

In his book he talks about smiling at strangers and performing random acts of kindness. Each of these things could be classified as “small stuff.” However, these aren’t things to sweat, but things to do to bring joy into someone else’s life and ultimately your own.

 

Small Things Make A Difference

 

It is these very small acts that can make a difference in the world. Consider, if every person on the planet replaced even one snippy remark, aggressive action, or unkind word with a positive loving action each day. It would totally change the world!

We can’t likely get everyone around the globe to participate, but we can lead by example. Smiling and showing interest in other people is one of my favorites. It doesn’t cost even one second to smile.

 

And, it takes very little time to inquire as to how someone is doing. It is important, however, that when you inquire you should actually care about the other person’s answer. Do not be like many cashiers at grocery and big box stores who inquire as to if you found everything, but who have no course of action if you did not. You need to be prepared to provide kind supporting words or assistance if necessary.

 

Other simple ideas are to hold a door for someone, carry something for them, help them with their child, or offer to let someone go ahead of you in line. None of these cost money and most of them cost very little time.

 

Other relatively low cost ways to make someone’s day include: making or buying someone a card, taking treats or a meal to a neighbor, buying a box of Girl Scout cookies, or paying for someone’s meal.

 

Doing Something Bigger

 

Occasionally, you will have an opportunity to do something a bit bigger directly for someone. This may be someone in trouble or someone that has fallen on hard times.

 

One example of an opportunity that came my way was a man and his school-age son who stopped at our house one day. They told us that they needed some additional money to pay for school supplies and other school expenses. They didn’t ask for a handout, but simply asked if there was any work they could do to earn some money. We were happy to oblige. We had some yard work that we could have done ourselves, but instead we gave them the opportunity to earn some cash. Even better, the son had the opportunity to learn about the value of work. It was a huge win for everyone!

 

You Can Always Make An Impact

 

You may not have an opportunity like that every day or you may not be able to assist someone in that way due to your own finances. However, there are always small ways to make a positive impact in other people’s lives. Try to do something positive every day – even if it is simply posting something positive on Facebook. You never know how one simple act might change someone’s life!

 

Acting from the heart

 

 

It is so easy to get wrapped up in the daily grind. Get up. Go to work. Come home. Go to bed. In this mode, we are simply doing; not living.

 

We get in this mode because life is hectic. It is easy to do what our parents, culture, and influential people have taught us to do without really thinking. We even convince ourselves that we are making our own decisions and truly living. All the while, our actions indicate we have been programmed and are running on autopilot.

 

Simply Existing

 

When in this mode, we simply exist. Our actions have little power and it is often all we can do to care for our family and ourselves. Even though we love our family and friends, we may have trouble putting our energy into our relationship with them. The same is true when trying to help others. Often we are doing only what we believe we are supposed to do.

 

Acting From The Heart

 

In contrast, when we get out of the rut and allow ourselves to act from our heart, our energy is boundless. We begin to truly consider what is important and to base our decisions on our own beliefs instead of someone else’s. Our actions become authentic rather than automatic. In turn, our relationships blossom and become more authentic.

 

When we spend time with people, it is because we truly want to spent time with them. Likewise, when we help someone or invest our time or money in a cause, it is because we truly feel strongly about helping that organization. Simply helping because we believe that we are supposed to help people or organizations of that nature will not be as rewarding.

 

When we act from our heart, we are far more satisfied with our life than if we took the very same actions while on autopilot. Being heart-centered opens us up to both joy and healing. It allows us to grow as a person and provides a pathway to healing. Any traumas of the past – emotional, mental, physical, or spiritual – are more likely to heal when we act from out heart.

 

What Is Driving Your Actions?

 

So, ask yourself, “Are you are truly acting from your heart or are you on autopilot?” Consider your actions at all times including when you are doing good and caring for others. If you find that you are on autopilot more often than not, consider a change. Take some time to consider who you really are. Then ask yourself, “What is most important to me?” Once you’ve identified your priorities, act from the heart to honor those things that are most important. You just might find that you love yourself for doing it.

 

Losing focus on intent

 

I watched a Facts of Life episode the other day where Jo, a college student representing students at a school board meeting, was upset that the college didn’t have the funds to support new scholarships. At the same meeting, the chairperson of the board was thrilled to announce that an alumnus had just offered funds to build an expensive new scoreboard for the football stadium. All the attendees, except Jo, were excited to have the opportunity to purchase a new scoreboard. Meanwhile, most of them seemed quite indifferent to the lack of funds for new scholarship.

 

Scholarships First

 

Jo believed scholarships should be funded before a scoreboard, which she viewed as unnecessary. She could have requested that the school approach the alumus to request that the funds be directed to scholarships. However, she became focused on rejecting the scoreboard leading a campus-wide campaign to against it.

 

Under great political pressure and with the approval of the contributing alumnus, the school board chair proposed a compromise where the funds for the scoreboard would be split between a less expensive scoreboard and scholarships. Neither side would receive 100% of what they wanted, but they both would benefit. Jo, however, refused to compromise.

 

No Compromise

 

Jo had lost focus on the intention of getting scholarship funding. Instead, she was focused on refusing any new scoreboard at all. Her refusal to compromise forced the board to reject the donation entirely in order to retain other donations that had been threatened due to the controversy. As a result, the school would receive no new scoreboard and no additional scholarship money.

 

Jo was excited that she had been able to stop the scoreboard until Blair, Jo’s friend, pointed out to Jo that her perceived win was actually a loss. At that point, Jo realized her mistake. She also recognized that she had to apologize to the students who had put their faith in her to do the right thing for them. And, she had to grovel to the chairperson in hopes it wasn’t too late to accept the proposed compromise.

 

Lost Focus

 

Jo had become obsessed with the scoreboard, which really had nothing to do with her original intent. Such obsessions can happen to all of us. Our minds make associations between two things, but sometimes the associations don’t really exist or don’t exist in the manner that we perceive them.

 

The more obsessed we are with a particular outcome, the less likely we will be receptive to compromise. Sometimes we lose our ability to see clearly. This may lead to conflict that has no possible resolution. Therefore, becoming obsessed with something not really connected to your intent often results in nothing but stress and frustration.

 

Be Open To Alternatives

 

The next time you feel like there is one and only one solution take a break and rejuvenate yourself before coming back to the topic. Make sure you are open to hearing alternatives. One or more of these alternatives may result in a win-win for everyone, even if it means some compromise.

 

Civil War Era

 

 

In this series of posts, we are exploring what would happen if the world suddenly stopped and you were transported to another time in history. The previous article explored the WWII era. We will now transport to a time over 150 years ago to the days of civil unrest in what was a not-so-united country.

 

In recent years it has become clear that war is likely on the horizon. The situation, as you understand it, depends a lot on where you live. The North and the South each have their own perspective.

 

Perspective From The North

 

On March 21, 1861, just days before the Civil War would start, the Quad-City Times in Davenport, Iowa stated, “The grand object to be attained is the preservation of the Union of these States. United in one common family, and bound together by strong fraternal feelings these States present a noble front to the world . . . We are threatened with destruction. Is it peace or war?”*

 

Perspective From The South

 

The South, however, didn’t have the same perspective. Days after the war started, the Montgomery Weekly Post wrote, “Seven sovereign States asserted their right to be free and independent – a right which no man or set of men dare to question; they erected for themselves a government adapted to their own interests and purposes. They interfered with no right of other countries or other sections. They respectfully solicited a peaceable settlement of all disputed questions with the Government of the United States; they have made every honorable effort that could be made to prevent the shedding of blood and the desolation that must ensue, and finally, after failing in all our efforts at negotiation, and all our endeavors to effect a peaceable solution of the difficulties, our authorities have courteously demanded the giving up of those positions upon our borders, held by the armed forces of the United States.”**

 

Choices

 

You have volunteered to fight for your state. However, it wasn’t really a choice that you made on the issues of slavery or states rights as much as it was standing for your land, your neighbor, and your state. Your connection and commitment starts at home and radiates out from there. The further away, the less connected you are to the people, beliefs, and land. You like your life and don’t have a desire to change.

 

The Border States

 

Like you, most people support the region where they live. Thus, although there are exceptions, most men in the North support the Union while most men in the South support the Confederacy. Only the Border States are in flux with people actually picking sides. It is here that they hear more about the views of both sides. And, it is here that the two sides collide.

 

For these men and their families, the choice is difficult. Their personal beliefs are a consideration. However, they are strongly connected to their neighbors and their families, who may have different perspectives. They are also connected to their town and state. However, their state has not picked sides. It remains with the Union, but also supports slavery. Thus, they know that they may end up fighting against their friends, family, and neighbors.

 

In Your World

 

Coming back to the present, the questions for you are: Are you strongly connected to your friends, family, city, state, and country? Do you get information on issues from multiple perspectives? Could you fight (even without taking up arms) against your friends and family?

 

In the next article “The Day The World Stopped – The Revolutionary War Era,” we will dive into life nearly 250 years ago.

*Quad-City Times, Davenport, Iowa, Mar 21, 1861, p.2, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/33965391/peace_or_war/

 

**Montgomery Weekly Post, Montgomery, Alabama, Apr 16, 1861, p. 7.
https://www.newspapers.com/clip/33966351/who_is_responsible_for_the_civil_war/