The Art of Forgiveness

 

 

It is easy to gripe and complain about everything from work to family stresses to world politics. However, it is much more gratifying to seek out the good in everyone and everything along your path. It is easy to say, “But, so many things really are wrong with the world” or “Nobody gives good service” or “This person isn’t pulling their weight.” All of these things may be true, but seeing all the negative in the world serves no purpose.

 

Implications

 

This does not imply in any way that you do something reckless. You can’t  just assume the other person is a good person. You still need to be aware of your surroundings and follow your intuition about people and situations. However, it does directly imply that you should look for a speck of optimism in the most hopeless situations.  Likewise, your should find something positive to hold onto in everything – even bad experiences.

 

Experimenting

 

Try experimenting with looking for something good, positive, or optimistic. Start with simple easy situations. When a restaurant’s service is slow, don’t grumble and complain. Instead, realize that you are being given time to enjoy your companions. Alternately, if you are alone, you can spend the time relaxing. 

 

If you are in a rush and this happens, realize that you may be getting the message to slow down. You can also consider that perhaps you are learning that this restaurant is not a place to go for a quick meal, which may be useful information in the future.

 

Likewise, try giving a positive word or a smile to people that you encounter. Smiling and saying, “Hello” costs no more than scowling and ignoring people. That word or smile may make the other person’s day and it is guaranteed that acting in a negative way will do nothing to benefit anyone – especially you.

 

Additionally, notice small things (and big things) that people do – mowing the lawn, helping with a problem, cooking dinner, or taking out the trash. These are all positive things in the world. When you really look for the positive, the world changes into a much better place than it seems if you let all the negativity overwhelm you.

 

Transformation

 

As you find more and more positive things in the world, you may find yourself transforming from a critic to a cheerleader. You will find yourself expressing gratitude more often, you will be on the receiving end of more smiles, and will find more and more positive things in the world. Most of all, when you replace a negative thought, action, or word with a positive one, your energy level is raised and your heart is satisfied.

 

who is judging whom

 

In our previous article “Behind the Façade,” we discussed how people often hide their authentic self. This article will further investigate those who changed their façade based on their judgment of other people’s judgment of themselves.

 

When people become focused on how they believe others are judging them, they give away their personal power. Often the other person doesn’t even know that they have been given this power because they aren’t actually judging the person and may not have even noticed them.

 

Questions

 

When someone tells me that someone else is judging them, I typically ask a few questions. My first response generally is, “Why do you care?” In some cases, the answer to this question is obvious. However, in the case of a stranger or acquaintance who is not closely connected to the person, the answer is less clear.

 

Another question I ask is, “What made you jump to the conclusion that they are judging you?” The answer to this question is rarely satisfactory to me. It is something they perceive, but is often not tangible.

 

Who Is Doing The Judging?

 

In reality, if the other person has not directly stated a judgment, these people are judging the other person. However, I don’t believe most are aware of their own judgment.   It is in some ways a self-judgment and in other ways a judgment of the other person. It is possible that they believe they should look or act a certain way, but instead of owning it, they project it onto someone else. Alternately, they are judging the other person as someone who believes others should look and act a certain way.

 

For these people that see themselves through the eyes of others, I have to wonder how their life would change if they stopped projecting their judgment onto others.  It would clearly change. We must stay somewhat within cultural norms. Yet, at some point we need to be our true selves and not define our value on how we believe others perceive us.

 

So, when you start to believe that others are judging you then question yourself, “Are they really judging me, or am I judging them?”

 

behind the facade

 

 

As a child, my mother insisted that we keep the drapes closed at all times. I assume she was worried about protecting the family since she was a single working mother. My dad had died just after my sixth birthday. Therefore, I don’t really remember if she had a similar concern when he was alive.

 

All I know is that she never wanted anyone to see into the house. This became readily apparent one beautiful day when I dared to open the living room drapes. I was severely reprimanded as soon as my mom arrived home.

 

Of course, she also never wanted to be seen by anyone when she wasn’t looking her best. I assumed it was partially because she wanted to be attractive to men. Thus, she was always looking her best when she went anywhere.

 

Others Are Judging

 

Later, I realized that these behaviors were tied, in part, to her belief that she knew how others were judging her. Thus, she felt compelled to show people what she thought they wanted to see so that they would think highly of her. She was concerned with what others thought of her and made sure to show them what she believed they wanted to see. When she wasn’t prepared to show that image, she wanted to remain hidden.

 

I believe everyone does this to some extent.  Most of us put on our best business look for job interviews, are just a bit sweeter than normal when talking to a new love interest, and act a bit different at church than at home. However, there are those that rarely show their authentic self. Instead, they hide behind a façade of what they think people want to see. Those are the ones that are perpetually disconnected.

 

Some of those people end up feeling as if they have lost their identity. They may go through life without ever acknowledging their own value. These types of people constantly put others first and are often everyone’s go to person when they need something. Yet, these people often do not feel valued.

 

Hiding The True Self

 

Other people hide behind the façade as an escape from reality. For instance, a woman may not feel beautiful, thus, she will over-beautify herself. Similarly, a man may feel that he isn’t as good a provider as he believes he should be. In that situation, he may exaggerate his job responsibilities and income.

 

Others have, for one reason or another, come to believe that others’ views of them is critically important to their success and worth to society. These people often create judgments of themselves and attribute them to others. If they actually bothered to have a conversation and learn about other people’s perspectives, they might learn that the people that they are trying so hard to impress, don’t actually have the judgments that they believe they do.

 

Being Authentic

 

A person needs to show their authentic self in order to connect. Hiding behind facades prevents true connections.

 

In our next article “To Judge and Be Judged,” we will discuss the phenomena of people that judge they are being judged.

 

synchronous thoughts

 

Synchronous Thoughts

 

Have you ever noticed multiple people or companies having the same idea at approximately the same time? A famous example of synchronous thoughts is the development of the telephone. Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray developed a telephone independent of each other.  However, they submitted patent applications for the telephone to the U.S. Patent Office on the same day.

 

The same or similar ideas arriving at the patent office close together is not uncommon. This is why the patent office added a requirement that inventors document when they initially conceive of an idea. Otherwise, it was simply a race to arrive at the patent office first.

 

My Experience

 

Having the same ideas as others is a normal experience for me. I’ve had numerous ideas that popped into my head that became commercial products or were patented by others within a few years. Ring (home security system) is such an example. Several years ago, I had the idea of using web cams, which could alert your cell phone, to monitor your home security. Today, the Ring system has a solution that is very much aligned with my idea.

 

Having seen similar ideas show up at approximately the same time many times, makes me wonder why this occurs. Some of these coincidences can be explained by a market need. In this case, multiple people expand the use of known concepts and technologies to create products and solutions.

 

How Do You Explain That?

 

There are other concepts, however, that seem to pop-up around the world seemingly without an explanation. Pyramids, for example, exist in different parts of the world. They vary in structure, but are overall very similar. Yet, there is no explanation as to how these massive structures were conceived by several independent civilizations that are believed to have had no means to communicate with each other.

 

Clearly there is something more at work here than people sharing ideas or evolving existing ideas into something new. Whatever is the source of this phenomenon, one of the purposes it serves or side effects of it appears to be injecting ideas into society.

 

Bringing Thoughts To Life

 

Once a thought originates somewhere in the Universe, the ideas take on a life of its own wandering through the consciousness until people act upon it. Even people that simply think about the idea are unknowingly assisting in making it a reality as their thoughts are blowing life into it. Eventually, the energy is overpowering and someone takes a risk and acts upon the idea to make it a reality.

 

Just think, if we all shared our ideas with the world immediately and openly and the world was willing to listen and act, so much more would be able to be achieved. Inevitably the world would become a better place.

 

Defining Success

 

 

I recently read Time Magazine’s article, “I Raised Two CEOs and a Doctor. These Are My Secrets to Parenting Successful Children.” It was an excerpt from Esther Wojcicki’s new book How to Raise Successful People: Simple Lessons for Radical Results.

 

Two CEOs and a Doctor

 

Esther’s daughter Susan is the CEO of YouTube while Anne is the CEO of 23andMe. Meanwhile Janet is a professor and researcher. Esther and her husband are both educators, having met at UC Berkley. Clearly, the entire family is quite accomplished.

 

Although I haven’t read her book, the article mentions teaching children trust, respect, independence, collaboration, and kindness. I agree that all of these attributes lead to well-adjusted adults and I am sure played a significant part in her daughters’ lives.

 

School Connections

 

The article, however, does not mention other key factors in raising children to become CEOs. It helps greatly when you have the means and connections to attend schools like Stanford, Harvard, and Yale. The education is not the most valuable attribute of these schools; it is the connections. The connections you gain at these schools and the image associated with these schools are what helps you leap to the top of the business world.

 

Opportunity and connection play a huge part in success as described in this article. Personally, I would rather Esther had written a book about how to raise your children to be healthy, well-adjusted adults. To me, that is being successful as a parent.

 

Success?

 

Being a CEO isn’t necessarily being successful. Yes, it is making lots of money and if that is your definition of success, then it is equivalent to success. However, the person isn’t always happy or well-adjusted. On the flip side, thousands of people are very successful in their lives without ever seeing the inside of a corner office.

 

Defining success as being well-adjusted, working hard, and doing your best includes so many more people that CEOs. Stay-at-home moms who raise amazing kids are absolutely as successful as a CEO. The same can be said of millions of men and women in a variety of other jobs.

 

You can be successful no matter your life circumstances. It is all about the person you choose to be, not your occupation.

 

 

 

 

 

The other day, my wife and I were in a Mexican restaurant and I was searching their extensive menu for something different to eat. Not remembering what a chili relleno was, I asked my wife to describe it. She told me the primary ingredients and suggested that I pick something else, which I did.

 

A few days later, Pioneer Woman was on during my lunch break. Ree was making her version of a chili relleno. My wife said, “See that’s a chili relleno” with the caveat that it was being made differently than what you’d get in a Mexican restaurant. It was sufficient, however, to confirm that I made the right choice the other day in choosing something different from the menu.

 

The Center Lane

 

Throughout the years my family members and I have received answers to questions seemingly through synchronicity. One of my earliest memories of this phenomenon occurred when I was young and riding in the backseat of my uncle’s car.

 

My uncle was driving in the center lane of the interstate through Omaha, Nebraska. My brother asked, “What happens if a car in the right lane changes into the center lane at the same time as a car in the left lane changes into the center lane?” As if on cue, two cars ahead of us tried to change into the center lane at the same time. Fortunately, one or both realized this and retreated to their original lanes. My uncle commented, “Well, I guess that answers your question!”

 

Questions And Answers

 

Many of my questions are relatively insignificant, such as the chili relleno example. However, synchronistic answers can come for meaningful questions as well. These answers are often obvious, but can be overlooked if I am not paying attention.

 

The timing of the answers is not predictable. Sometimes the answers come only moments after asking the question, as was the case when my brother asked about the cars changing into the same lane. However, other answers are delayed until later that day or several days later, like the chili relleno question. In other cases, the answer may not come for some time, but it usually sticks out like a sore thumb when it does arrive. Still, it is amazing the frequency the answer appears relatively soon after asking the question.

 

The Chicken Or The Egg

 

I don’t know if the question surfaces in my mind in anticipation of something happening in the future or if the answer comes because the question was asked. Understanding what is at work in the universe in this situation is a great dilemma. Perhaps I am picking up on future events. Thus, I noticed the chili relleno on the menu when I had never thought to ask about it before. Alternatively, it could be that the universe steered me to turn on the TV at just the right time so that I could get the answer to my question.

 

Dare To Ask

 

Regardless, there definitely seems to be a connection to the question being asked and the answer being received. It seems particularly true when those questions are spoken out loud. It is like the universe is listening and waiting to answer questions for anyone who dares to ask.

 

Just think of the wonderful things we could accomplish if everyone started asking questions about how humans could bring peace and unity throughout the world. The universe just might deliver remarkable answers!

 

 

 

 

There is a local restaurant where my wife and I occasionally dine. A nice feature of this restaurant is that they allow you to create custom salads and entrees from a list of ingredients. We often create salads, choosing the greens, toppings, and dressing.

 

Creating custom salads and entrees is a bit more challenging for kitchen staff because they don’t know what is right because they have made it a thousand times. Instead, each time is unique. This requires having a process to ensure that the food items are created per their customers’ requests.

 

Some of their locations seem to do this well. Unfortunately, at the location closest to our home, they seem to have a difficult time making my salad according to my specifications. And, if mine is correct, it seems someone else’s meal has an error.

 

Expectations

 

I have come to expect that they will make mistakes when making my salad. Even when it appears that they’ve made it correctly, I usually spend the entire time looking for the mistake. If there isn’t one, I will still find a flaw. I might say something like, “Well, it has all the right ingredients but they put too much salad dressing on the salad.” I try to mold reality into meeting my expectations..

 

The restaurant is usually good about fixing the mistakes. However, the errors are annoying because the rhythm of the dining experience is thrown off. My entrée sometimes ends up arriving before I get the correct salad. Other times, one person is eating while the other is waiting.

 

Connecting

 

After this happened several times, I wondered if there was a connection between my expectations and the errors occurring in the kitchen. As such, I tried setting expectations beforehand that the kitchen staff would correctly make my salad. This seemed to help improve, but not completely eliminate, the issues with my meal.

 

Positive Expectations

 

It does make me question, however, how much my expectations result in self-fulfilling prophecies. Thus, I started working on setting positive expectations to see if I could observe results from my expectations. Recently, I have focused on positive expectations regarding close parking spaces and avoiding traffic congestion. So far, having these positive expectations seem to help me be successful in achieving my intent.

 

It doesn’t really matter if I am actually experiencing these positive results or it’s just my perception. By connecting these positive expectations with my results, I am creating a healthy self-fulfilling prophecy. As I expand these positive expectations to the rest of my life, I can experience a major life shift.

 

 

 

 

This week I had the pleasure to meet a very nice younger woman. She was having some rare time on her own, as she is the mother of a four year-old and a six year-old. Still, the conversation focused mostly on our children. We talked about the inability to do anything – even go to the bathroom – alone when the kids are really young. She said that she was enjoying this age and she appeared a bit apprehensive about the teenage years.

 

Sensing her concern, I decided to share my perspective about the Terrible Twos, the Rebellious Teens, etc. I believe that although a particular child can be challenging, a lot of the behavior of children is connected to the expectations and words of their parents. If the parents expect the children will be brats or will be well behaved, they are most likely going to be correct.

 

Our expectations for our children and other things in our life drive both what we notice and how others behave towards us. We cannot disconnect our expectations from our words and our actions, which in turn affect the people around us. Thus, it is important to have the best possible expectations while maintaining a healthy balance of reality.

 

It is critical to expect our children to behave, our boss to treat us fairly, and our neighbors to be friendly. However, those objectives may not always be achieved. If we are in a situation where our objectives are repeatedly not met, we need to adjust our expectations.  For instance, if our children continually get into trouble despite our expectations, it would be unreasonable for us to continue to think they were perfect angels. We should continue to love them. However, consequences are important. Otherwise, the message is that they can get away with anything.

 

Reality based on our expectations is not limited to interactions with family and close associates. Our expectations can affect every aspect of our day-to-day experience. For instance, if you believe you are better than others, they will perceive that and treat you with disdain. If you believe people in certain jobs are incompetent, you are likely to find those that are incompetent. Alternately, you will perceive people you encounter in that job as incompetent. Similarly, if you view people at the small café in town as friendly and outgoing, people will pick up on that expectation. Therefore, the people that you notice and who notice you will match your expectations.

 

Things do happen that you have no control over, but a majority of your reality is created by each of us every day. So, make it a good one!