In our first article on Community The Value of Community, we discussed the definition and value of a true community. In the next article Loss of Community, we discussed how the loss of community impacts people. And, in this concluding article on Community, we will discuss how you can contribute to building community.

 

Creating a New Community

 

In the first article, we discussed that a community can have any focus, not just people who live near each other. Thus, a person with a strong interest in a particular area may choose to create a new community related to their topic.

 

CMX, an organization of community builders, states that the four keys to creating a new community are: identity, trust, participation, and reward. Without an identity or focus, a community is simply a group of people. Once an identity has been established, a person can begin to draw in members. Trust with those members can be established by allowing them to contribute and share in ownership of the community. This will also help grow their participation and will encourage others to join the community. Lastly, but just as important, members should feel rewarded for their participation. A reward can simply be friendship or support.

 

Getting Involved In Community

 

Often, however, people aren’t looking to create a new community. Instead, they simply want to be a part of existing communities. To achieve this, a person must seek out a community whose purpose aligns with their own goals and interests. Perhaps the person is new to an area and would like to meet others interested in art. In this case, they might seek a Meetup or see if there are any art clubs in the area.

 

At times, people desire to belong to new communities, but they aren’t consciously aware of their own need. Therefore, it is a good idea for a person to take stock of their communities once in awhile. They may wish to ask themselves, “Are the communities that I am currently a member of serving me well?” “Are there other communities where I would gain value?”

 

The answers to these questions are really an assessment of the reward they are receiving and the community focus that they desire.

 

Join & Participate

 

Once a person identifies a community that they want to join, it is important for them to participate. This means that they need to be interested and active, not only with the community, but also with the members of the community. It is important to build one-on-one relationships with individuals in the community as well as the community as a whole.

 

Be Interested

 

Being a member of a community is a two way street. If a person only takes from a community without giving back anything, they are simply a parasite.

 

This is why it is critical to take an interest in others. A person can do that as they go about their daily life. Instead of being self-involved, take time to notice the sales clerk, waitress, hair stylist, or other person who is encountered. It is possible for a person to build a relationship with a person that they see regularly even if it is a brief encounter. All it takes is noticing, asking, listening, and caring.

 

It takes very little of a person’s time to make someone’s day. Sometimes a simple smile or acknowledgement can go a long way toward helping someone feel rewarded.

 

Although smiling isn’t always obvious behind masks, it is possible to let the other person know you are smiling. One woman did just that in a grocery store one day when she stated, “You can’t tell, but I am smiling.” That might be outside some people’s comfort zone. However, each person can find a way that is comfortable to engage with others.

 

Creative Solutions

 

In Six Ways to Build a Solid Community, Rebecca Fernandez talks about finding the right tools and strategies for a community. This is important for any community and also for each person desiring to have strong relationships. Like each community, each person must find the right tools that work for them.

 

Don’t hold back from creative solutions. Creativity is particularly necessary with the current restrictions. Options to consider are one-on-one video calls to build relationships with member of the community. If a relationship with a particular person is critical, a person might choose an in-person meeting.

 

Likewise, a community or person can look for fun relationship building options that work well via video, email, or other mechanism. People can even go crazy and start a pen-pal campaign to encourage relationship building.

 

It is important for people to go outside the norms of what has been done in the past. And, it is even okay to go beyond people’s comfort zones. It might just be that unique mechanism for relationship building that makes a community flourish!

 

Loss of Community

In our previous Article The Value of Community, we discussed what makes a true community. Additionally, we highlighted some of the value it can bring to a person’s life. In this article, we will discuss how the loss of community impacts people.

 

Cultural Shifts

 

One hundred years ago people depended on each other for survival. Impart this was because  travel was greatly limited. Thus, people who lived near each other were not only neighbors, but their children also attended the same schools and they often attended the same church. Many people lived in a rural environment, which was a great opportunity to create community.

 

Over the last century, however, people have become more independent. Additionally, travel has increased and the population has become more metropolitan centric. Also, in the name of safety, more and more restrictions exist regarding interactions between individuals.  Thus, changing the relationship between people and groups, volunteer activities, and schools.

 

These cultural shifts have led to a general loss of community. When people don’t know their neighbors, it is hard to have true community with them. The same is true of schools and churches, which may draw people from a wide area. People no longer have the same ties with those people that they once did.

 

Add to this that church membership has dwindled during the last century. Thus, the church community is no longer present in many people’s lives.

 

2020’s Contribution to The Loss of Community

 

The year 2020 has challenged community in ways never experienced before. The lockdown shuttered office doors, churches, and schools. Additionally, regulations prohibited groups from meeting in person.

 

Restrictions

 

People were shut-off from any groups or communities that they had been participants in. Even with online school or work, people were distanced from the relationships that they had only days before the lockdown. Working or learning remotely removes the strength of the relationship from the situation. You miss the personal interactions and the side conversations. Even the shared experience of going through the current situation is very impersonal.

 

Almost every group or organization had to figure out how to do things differently or stop meeting altogether. Many activities were completely closed down (e.g. gyms, yoga). For others, such as church, they became very one-way. Video services were possible for many churches, but they can’t capture the relationship aspect that church provides – no meet and greet, no breaking bread together, and no building of personal relationships.

 

Even situations that allow in-person attendance have less community than in the past. Two children, for instance, can’t share a private side joke because they are likely required to be six feet apart at all times. This may seem like a small thing, but it is these little moments that build trust, which is a key building block of community.

 

Impacts

 

The regulations and varying opinions on them impact trust and relationships.  Even wearing a face mask can dampen trust. This is through no fault of anyone. It is simply human nature to trust less what you can’t see.

 

Similarly, it is more challenging to know when a member of the community needs help if you can’t see their facial expressions or are viewing it over video conferencing. Although there isn’t strong agreement on how much communication is nonverbal, it is safe to say that the more nonverbal communication that is lost, the more difficult it can be to communicate even simple things. For instance, in a class, a teacher can take a quick look at her classroom and know if the students understand the material. This is much more challenging with masks and even more challenging over video.

 

Impact of Loss of Community on Individuals

 

As the sense of community is lessened either through cultural shifts or through the more extreme limitations that 2020 has brought, individuals can be greatly impacted. Unfortunately, the impacts are often the greatest to the most vulnerable.

 

The elderly and people that live alone without someone close to call for help need community relationships to survive. When those are lost, they struggle. Some of the struggles are to care for themselves and their home, but often the greatest struggles are with loneliness. Since humans are social beings, the loneliness and lack of human interaction can be devastating.

 

If the person is hearing impaired, as many older adults are, distancing and mask wearing take an additional toll. In this situation, the person may not understand what is being said to them. Thus, they become very frustrated trying to communicate. This may result in withdrawal from interactions with other people.

 

Another vulnerable community are those people with PTSD. When a person leaves the military, it is critical that they keep in touch with their military family as that is a very important community. If they don’t keep strong connections, the effects of PTSD can intensify.

 

Similarly, each time a person moves, changes jobs, graduates, etc., they should take special care to maintain their connections to those communities while building new relationships. Otherwise, they become vulnerable to loneliness and depression. It is important for people to recognize that if they don’t have a strong connection to people (a strong sense of community), it is much easier to simply not participate.

 

Up Next

 

In the next article, we will discuss steps each person can take to build community for themselves and others.

 

The Value of Community

The Value of Community is the first in three-part series on Community. This article explores the true meaning of community and the value it brings.

 

What is Community?

 

The word “Community” may bring to mind a town, apartment complex, a subdivision, or a general neighborhood. However, community, generally stated, is not a place, but more of a feeling and a belonging.

 

A community can be any “group of people with a common characteristic.” Merriam-Webster lists several other related descriptions, but they all come down to multiple people that share something in common. In some cases, it might be a location or a specific profession. It could also be a specific interest or a common history.

 

One might simply view community as a group of people. Yet, community is more than that. True community requires relationships with others without those relationships it is simply a group of people. In other words, you can group people by any characteristic, but that alone does not make them a community.

 

For example, you may have experienced a situation in your life where you lived in an area, but didn’t feel as if you were a part of the community. Perhaps you were an outsider or the people just didn’t build relationships with each other.

 

Having a sense of belonging requires some level of caring about other members of the group. That caring brings with it the knowledge that member of your community will be there for you when you need them. Likewise, you will drop everything to help a member of your community.

 

In rural areas where families have lived near each other for multiple generations, the sense of community runs deep. They know who does and doesn’t belong. You can be treated like family simply because they knew your granddad.

 

Types of Communities

 

Groups that can form a community include many types beyond people that live near each other. Churches are one of the most common examples. They have common beliefs, some sense of shared history, and common experiences. They build strong relationships with each other and often consider other members of their church family.

 

Schools, particularly small ones or ones with a particular mission, can become a community. It can also apply to a subset of a school. For instance, the school band or the basketball team may create very strong bonds with each other.

 

The same can be true in work environments, for groups with the same interest, for clubs, or Meetups. Each of these can simply be a group of people. However, with the right environment, they can become a community.

 

The Value of Community

 

The question is, “Why is community so important?” Well, you can think of a community as an extended family. It provides you support when you need it, opens the door to new possibilities, and can help celebrate the joys in your life. They can even be there for you when you don’t ask and sometimes even when you don’t know that you need someone.

 

A great example occurred twenty plus years ago. On that day, one neighbor called to another, who lived about a quarter of a mile away, to ask what was wrong.   The reason for the call was simply that the second neighbor’s husband had taken the corner by the first neighbor’s house faster than normal. They simply knew each other’s habits and cared enough to check up on the other family. As it turned out, the man had gotten a call about a fire at his brother’s house about a mile away and he was on his way to help save his brother’s home.

 

Because the neighbor checked to see what was wrong, they learned what was happening to another member of their community. They were also able to go assist. The home was saved and the community became stronger.

 

Up Next

 

In the next article, we will explore the loss of community and its impact on people.

 

 

Love vs Hate

Love and hate are two competing strong emotions that can take complete control of your life. They are very different. Yet, they are very much the same. Some might say that love and hate are two manifestations of the same emotion.

 

Defining Love and Hate

 

For the purposes of this article, when we are talking about love  and hate, we are talking about strong overwhelming positive or negative emotion toward something or someone. When we use love and hate, we mean intense and powerful emotion that impacts a person’s judgment and leads to irrational action.

 

There are other less emotionally powerful definitions for the words, but those usages are excluded from this discussion. For example, we are not talking about cases where people off-handedly state, “I love pizza.” Generally, this usage  really means that pizza is one of their favorite foods. Now, if they love pizza so much that it drives controls their life, that would be love.

 

Similarly, we are not talking about situations where someone mentions something and the other person says, “I hate it when that happens.” In that case, they really mean dislike. The response has much less emotion than the word “hate” would indicate. Instead, we are focused on cases of true hostility.

 

Manifestation of Love And Hate

 

Some people find it very easy to use the word “love” and to express strong emotions. These people find it easy to love and often just as easy to hate. Meanwhile, others are very reluctant to use such strong expressions of emotions. This is believed to be a difference in the insula in the person’s brain. It isn’t that it controls the emotions a person feels, but that it controls the intensity of that emotion.

 

The stronger the intensity of these emotions, the more likely they are to flip from one to another. For instance, it becomes very easy for a person to love someone and then end up hating them for the very same characteristics that drew the person to them.

 

Likewise, a person can have an initial dislike to someone. They may even tell their friends how much they dislike the person. Then, something flips and they end up in each other’s arms. It happens in the movies and in real life. Their initial strong dislike was really an attraction.

 

The connection between these emotions can lead to love-hate relationships where a person both loves and hates another person simultaneously. Alternately, the person may toggle between 100 percent loving the person one minute and completely hating the same person the next minute. These relationships are made possible because of the thin line between love and hate.

 

Costs & Benefits

 

Love is healing. It also breeds more good things. So, people might ask, “What is the downside of that?” When it comes to love, the thing people struggle with most is vulnerability. One cannot love without being vulnerable. For people who like to be in control at all times, their fear of being vulnerable can keep them from being open to love.

 

On the other hand, hate is damaging. It also requires that you are vulnerable, but it opens you up to all kinds of negativity. When it occurs from time to time, it is perfectly normal. However, if a person holds onto hate for long periods of time, hateful emotions can impact them not only emotionally and mentally, but also physically. Various factors come into play, but simply put, it changes the chemistry of the body, which can trigger illness, anxiety, depression, and a host of other issues. Furthermore, it changes a person’s thinking and drives negative behaviors.

 

What many people neglect to realize is that hating someone or something creates an intense bond between the person and the object of their hatred. Hating only hurts the person doing the hating. It does no harm to the hated although it does give them power over the hater. Joanna Kleovoulou, a clinical psychologist, summarizes it this way, “Holding onto Hate is like letting someone live rent-free in your mind.”

 

Creating Love and Eliminating Hate

 

Since hate is harmful, the obvious solution for good mental and physical heath is to convert hate to a more positive emotion. Change begins by the person acknowledging their feelings of hatred. Then the person must explore the source of those feelings and honestly questioning whether such strong feelings are warranted.

 

It may simply be that feelings of dislike have been blown out of proportion. Perhaps discussions with friends or family have led to stronger outward emotion than what is appropriate for the situation. In this case, awareness may be all that is needed to shift to a more neutral perspective of the situation. If that is not enough, a person can focus their intent on letting go of the strong emotions and allowing objectivity back in.  With understanding and focus, love can actually replace hate.

 

Sometimes, however, a person has real fire burning inside them about someone, something, or a situation. Generally, this is when someone has personally harmed the person or their loved one. Letting go of hate in these situations is often more challenging, but even more important because the emotion is often so strong.

 

In these situations, the person can begin as previously mentioned by acknowledging the hate and understanding the source of those feelings. As, they move forward, the focus should initially be on refraining from statements or actions that add fuel to the fire. The next step is to work toward releasing the emotion associated with the hatred. To do this, the person can focus on what is truly important. With this focus, objectivity becomes a possibility.

 

Make a Choice

 

Remember both hatred and love draw things to you. Wouldn’t you rather draw into your life good things that bring you benefit?

 

Believing is healing

Do you believe you can heal? You probably do if you have a paper cut. But, what about when you encounter a more serious wound or disease? Do you still believe you can heal? If you don’t believe, you likely can’t heal. But, if you believe, you just may heal. Believing is healing.

 

Why Believing Is Key

 

Believing is one of the four pillars required for healing . When you believe that you cannot heal, your energy is infused with pessimism and negative thoughts. In this state, you consciously and subconsciously stop trying to heal. Your energy dims and it is very difficult to be motivated toward healing.

 

In contrast, the belief that you can heal sparks your energy, brightening it and energizing it. Then, your energy goes to work healing you even when you are focused on other things. Your healing is amplified and it becomes easier and easier to heal. Even when full healing is not in the cards, believing makes your life much better than when you do not believe.

 

The Power Of Believing

 

We know someone personally who was fighting multiple debilitating medical conditions. Her situation got so bad that she could barely leave the house. Then one day something changed. Despite questioning herself, she started taking actions toward healing. She did yoga, changed her diet, and made other adjustments. Slowly, she began to improve. Although her conditions are deemed incurable, today she is healthy, active, and free of medicines.

 

Staying Positive Even When The Odds Are Against You

 

Even when full healing is not in the cards, believing makes your life much better than when you do not believe. Michael J. Fox is a good example. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease when he was only 29 years old. Initially, he did not take the news well. He was in denial and fell into depression and alcoholism. However, he too hit a point where his life changed.

 

He stopped drinking, acknowledged his disease and he started the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. He had a new focus on helping people. Since then, he has shared his message of hope, encouragement, and gratitude with patients and supporters. His optimism and belief in a cure hasn’t healed his disease, but it has healed him as a person. Today, he continues his work with the foundation and his work as an actor.

 

Choosing To Believe

 

When you choose to believe that you can heal, it changes your energy, which can change you mentally, emotionally, and even physically. In The Biology of Belief, Bruce Lipton discusses scientific research into the impact of thoughts and beliefs on the cells in a person’s body. This is an indicator of how important thoughts and beliefs are to the physical aspect of your being.

 

With the belief in healing, comes optimism and determination. Thus, you are much more likely to take actions toward healing. This concept is quite simple. If you think something isn’t going to work, you aren’t likely to do it or at least not do it regularly. On the other hand, if you believe that medicine, exercise, rest, or whatever is prescribed will heal you, you are much more likely to follow the doctors orders.   Thus, your actions also help drive healing.

 

You Have A Choice

 

Thus, when faced with an illness or injury, you have a choice. You can believe that you can heal or simply succumb to it. Belief in healing doesn’t guarantee that you will heal as there are other factors involved. However, believing that you won’t heal nearly guarantees that you won’t.

 

Creating Reality

We are all born into a set of circumstances. Some may be good and some less so. As we mature, we become more and more able to control our future destiny. Still, sometimes it doesn’t feel like we have choices. However, although not in control of out initial circumstances, we really are in charge of creating our own reality.

 

Transforming Reality

 

Any person’s reality can be transformed into a different life. It isn’t always easy and it may be more challenging for some than others. However, with hard work, changes to one’s reality can come to fruition, creating a new reality for the person.

 

Alice Johnson is a great example of someone who transformed her reality. After falling on hard times, she became involved in a drug deal. Subsequently, she was arrested and sentenced to life in prison without parole despite having no prior criminal record.

 

Despite the dire sentence, Alice made the most of her time in prison. She was a model prisoner who became a certified hospice worker and an ordained minister. She did so well that the ACLU and other groups started helping her fight to get clemency. Her initial application, one of thousands, was rejected. Then in June 2018, she was finally given clemency.

 

Since her release from prison, Alice has co-authored a book After Life: My Journey From Incarceration To Freedom,” which is described as very inspirational. She has also become an advocate for criminal justice reform. As a result, she recently received a full pardon.

 

Elements of Reality

 

So, what creates a person’s reality? Many things go into a person’s reality. As mentioned earlier, a person must start with their circumstances. They cannot jump from working in the fields to running a technology company overnight or without a lot of work.

 

However, they can change their situation by steady hard work that combines their talents and experiences.

 

Choices

 

When a person adds good choices to those elements, their reality begins to evolve. Each setback or sign of adversity must be taken as a gift. If like Alice, the person takes the opportunity to identify lessons and blessings of the situation, they will be propelled forward toward a new reality.

 

Thus, choices become critical in driving a person’s reality. If the person chooses or believes that they can do no better than where they are today, they will still be in the same position tomorrow and the day after. However, if a person chooses to thrive, there is no holding them back.

 

Speak Your Truth

 

The other key element to creating an amazing reality is for a person to speak their truth. It is very important for people to speak up stating their story. They can acknowledge their earlier situation. However, even more important, is to acknowledge where they are and where they are going. It must be their truth and only their truth. No one else’s story matters unless it is a story of inspiration to the person.

 

Speaking one’s truth is critically important for overcoming the naysayers and people that desire, for some reason, to hold the person back. A person’s truth, when presented in a caring, logical way is always powerful.

 

Paint Your Reality

 

The reality people paint is their choice. Just like a painting, your life is a canvas. It can be transformed by choices, tools, and talents. A person can choose to leave it as is or can create something very sloppy or unimaginative. Another person with the same talents and similar experiences might create a painting that is very dark and bleak. Meanwhile, yet another person might use the very same paints to create something strong and optimistic.

 

The choice is yours. What reality will you paint?

 

Gifts of Adversity

In our recent article “The Lessons of 2020,” we discussed the various lessons that 2020 is currently presenting to people. In this article we take that idea a step further and discuss the idea that the challenges presented to us in life are actually gifts. Looking at life this way will transform your perspective on everything that happens.

 

Adversity Shapes Your Journey

 

In Matt Kahn’s book “Everything is Here to Help You: Finding the Gift in Life’s Greatest Challenges,” he argues that although people may not prefer adversity and challenges, they can actually be gifts. These situations can greatly shape our journey going forward.

 

Great examples are The Great Depression and WWII. Not a single American escaped the touch of either. People dealt with some aspect of each nearly every day. Families feared for the safety of their loved ones. Meanwhile, many were angry and frustrated with their personal situation. There was plenty of sadness and judgment to go around.

 

Out of these experiences came “The Greatest Generation,” which refers to those who lived through the Great Depression and fought or supported the war. In his book “The Greatest Generation,” Tom Brokow talks about how “personal responsibility, duty, honor, and faith” were important values of the greatest generation. These values were built on the back of adversity.

 

Thus, these people were shaped by these events. One could argue that we don’t know what the values of these men and women would have been if neither the Great Depression nor WWII had occurred. Although this is true, it is guaranteed that these events shaped the remainder of these people’s lives.

 

The Gifts of Adversity

 

Kahn points out the gifts of loss, fear, anger, judgment, sadness, disappointment, and jealousy among others. Although he talks about many of these from the perspective of your ego or soul, these “gifts” can impact many aspects of a person.

 

Fear, when justified, can literally save your life. Other times it can help you make better choices than you would otherwise.

 

Sadness, loss, and disappointment are a bit different, but still very powerful gifts. These gifts are ones that can give you appreciation for what you had in the past and what you again will have in the future. Without them, you would not appreciate the blessings nearly as much.

 

When Gifts Become Burdens

 

The key to these gifts giving you value is to not let them become a burden. For example, fear is useful to human beings. However, if you become parallelized with fear about everything, it is no longer valuable. Instead, it hinders living your life.

 

The same is true of loss or disappointment. If you allow that loss to consume you, moving forward is not an option.

 

Embracing The Gifts

 

If you embrace the gifts with the perspective of looking for the lessons or the blessings in the adversity, your life will change. Instead of getting caught up in adversity and risk becoming obsessed by it, you will more easily be able to see a way forward.

 

The simple act of looking for a lesson or blessing in something, no matter how bad it is, immediately changes your life for the better. Why? Because you are no longer focused on the adversity. Instead, you are focused on finding something positive. So, next time you are faced with adversity, ask yourself, “What is the lesson or blessing in this?” It will transform your perspective.

 

Lessons From 2020

Most people agree that 2020 has been the strangest year of their lifetime. Even my 90+ year-old father says that it is the weirdest time he has experienced. Some people have described it as the “Perfect Storm” with COVID-19, George Floyd’s death, and Cancel Culture surfacing in an election year. But, what lessons have we learned from all of this?

 

Let the Grumbling Begin

 

Listening to all the grumbling going on in America, one might surmise that the biggest lesson that we have learned is that we, as a people, are very accustomed to doing what we want. We do not like rules. Additionally, people are definitely not patient.

 

Well, these are all truths about the American people. However, none of these “lessons” are hardly a revelation. For years, the behavior of people has demonstrated impatience and a dislike for rules. 2020 has simply brought these issues to the surface.

 

Fear and Frustration

 

For many people, the grumbling comes out of fear or frustration.  People were and still are afraid of COVID-19. The virus can result in serious issues or death. Thus, it is something to take seriously. However, the fear in many cases is so deep that people assume it is even more dangerous than the facts show.

 

Similarly, the frustration that people feel over the rules, trying to work at home and manage children in the house, being away from friends and family, etc. overwhelms many people. Each of these things is a frustration in its own right, but together they create a frustration that many people have never experienced before.

 

Therefore, perhaps the lessons of 2020 are that fear and frustration can truly take over your life.

 

Human Interaction

 

Being away from friends and family is more than a simple frustration. It makes life difficult. Humans by nature are social beings. They need interactions with others, including hugs and touch. The need for interaction is the reason why many people consider solitary confinement cruel. So, although people today aren’t completely isolated from all human interaction, it has been greatly curtailed.

 

In many cases, workers are working remotely from others in the same company or seeing clients via video or telephone. Having personally worked remote, had remote workers working for me, and having seen clients remote, I can tell you that the reports of something being lost in an electronic-connection are very real. It is much more difficult to build a personal connection and to understand the other person’s perspective when not in person.

 

Thus, perhaps the lesson of 2020 is that human connection is an essential element of life.

 

Anger and Violence

 

There are several sources of the anger and violence that is being demonstrated in the streets of American cities. Some people are truly upset about equality and justice. At the opposite end of the spectrum are people that simply want destruction. No matter the reason for the anger and violence, we have seen that standing back and allowing them to act out does not work. Anger and violence just beget more of the same.

 

Therefore, perhaps the lesson of 2020 is that you need to take action if you want to stop a behavior. It might also be that if we want love and acceptance, we need to visibly demonstrate the same. Alternately, it may be that life is short or at least too short to be consumed with negative emotions.

 

Our choices Do Make a Difference

 

People’s perspective on life in 2020 is very much based on the decisions they have made when faced with the 2020 challenges. Some have chosen to listen to the drama and hype while others have listened to the facts. Similarly, some have decided to do what is right for themselves and their families without judgment of others. Meanwhile, some have decided that what is right for them is the answer for everybody.

 

Choices during this time also include deciding to be happy and find creative solutions to a person’s business and/or personal pursuits. Others choose not to look beyond what 2019 offered, leaving them feeling stuck and frustrated.

 

Thus, the lesson of 2020 may be that each of us is in charge of our own happiness.

Other Lessons

 

2020 has presented the opportunity to learn many other lessons as well. The lessons each person can learn from this situation are as unique as the people themselves. Some may learn that they need to spend more time with their family or may come to consider time with loved ones precious.

 

Others may focus inward and see that they need to put themselves first more often. Perhaps they learned the value of down time or having a hobby. They may even come to really appreciate many things that they previously took for granted.

 

Whatever your story, make sure that you learn as much from 2020 as you can. If you don’t learn, you are likely to repeat the lesson. Something most of us don’t want to do.

 

Conversation Makes Change

When you were three years old, you may have thrown a tantrum to get what you wanted. If you are like most kids, however, it probably didn’t work most of the time. Otherwise, you would be kicking and screaming on the floor at age 40 every time you had to do something that you didn’t want to do.  Instead, most of us learn that conversation makes change much more effectively than tantrums.

 

Making Change

 

 Teenagers, who simply fight with their parents about going to a party on Saturday night, are likely to be spending the evening at home. However, those that explain to their parents why they want to go to the party and what they plan to do to ensure their own safety are more likely to convince their parents to let them attend the party.

 

The reason is that the latter group shows both maturity and an understanding, at least subconsciously, of how a person goes about making change.

 

Rioting Does Not Create Change

 

Fighting, resisting, destroying, and creating chaos are sometimes viewed as people seeking change. It is possible for people to lash out in this manner when people are greatly oppressed and restricted from using or unaware of other means to express themselves. However, generally speaking, chaos and destruction are indicators that the person does not have a goal of change for the betterment of all.

 

The Portland riots and the organized mass looting in Chicago and New York City are examples of situations that are not born out of the desire for positive change. Instead, the leaders of these actions clearly have different goals. If they wanted positive change, they would have a conversation. They would attempt to engage with people instead of sucker-punching individuals who wonder too close to their activities. Likewise, they wouldn’t be trying to burn down buildings or steal things that they don’t need. Those actions are clearly designed to create chaos, fear, or to have some other negative result.

 

Limiting Conversation, Limiting The Opportunity For Change

 

Rioters don’t have conversation. They scream at people and try to intimidate them, but they don’t have positive interactions with people. Rioting, however, is not the only way to shut down conversations and change.

 

Facebook and Twitter stop conversation by marking information that differs from their opinion as false. At times, this escalates to the suspension of accounts. In some cases, they ban users completely. You might ask what does this have to do with change and the answer is, “Everything.”

 

Since true positive change comes about through conversation, change cannot occur when conversation is limited and opinions stifled. They would argue that they are eliminating false information. Yet, they are quite selective in the information that they remove. If false information wasn’t allowed, probably at least 50% or more of the information (based on my experience), would be removed.

 

One could argue that their selective methods of censoring are really an attempt to manipulate, silence, and destroy. Thus, the psychological and sociological impact of this behavior is very similar to that of riots. In the end, it divides people further and reinforces their existing opinions, making change impossible.

 

Individuals Stop Change, Too

 

It is not just businesses and rioting people that stop change from happening. Often in the name of change or fairness, individuals will take actions that stop the very change or fairness that they claim they seek.

 

The use of masks is a great example. Some people are constantly in people’s faces yelling about masks and social distancing. Some of them have gone as far as entering another person’s personal space to fight with them over the issue. Even if they are simply constantly posting about it on social media, the problem is that the people who don’t wear masks have tuned them out. They aren’t going to listen to someone who is seemingly yelling and belittling them.

 

The same can be said about those who are strongly opposed to masks. Those people may make fun of people in masks and who social distance. Again, they are not going to reach anyone that way.

 

The Solution

 

So, if you want to open the door to change, be open to dialog about the issue at hand. If you want people to wear masks, don’t demand it or try to intimidate people into wearing one. Instead, talk about your personal experience. Tell why you believe it will be helpful for people to wear one. Likewise, do the same if you believe masks are useless.

 

Similarly, if you want changes in how police interact with the community. Get the police and the community together to have a conversation. Be open. Listen to all opinions. Try to understand someone else’s perspective. And, be willing to work together for a solution that a majority of people can support.

 

The same is true if you want people to understand that information is true, false, or misleading. Don’t call them names or shut down the conversation completely. Instead, calmly discuss the information and why you believe the information is true, false, or misleading. Be prepared to provide sources and know you may be challenged.

 

In summary, the proverb “you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar” can be applied to change. Because “you can create more positive change with conversation than with tantrums.”

 

To Be Present Or Not To Be Present

To be present or not to be present is a question people consider when going to an event or activity. However, they don’t often consider if they are truly present once they have arrived.

 

Somewhere Else

 

People are experts at not paying attention to what is going on around them. How often have you seen someone walking down the street with their earbuds in talking away and clearly not noticing other pedestrians or motor vehicles? Or, perhaps you have seen the same kind of person texting during a meeting or a family dinner.

 

Matter of fact, at times you may have found yourself paying less than full attention. It may be that you are multi-tasking, focusing on worries or thinking about what could have been.

 

Being Present

The concept of being present is simple. You simply need to pay attention to what is going on around you and brush aside thoughts of other things. This focus, however, is very challenging for people today. Technology and the fast pace of the world contribute to this problem.

 

Yet, without focus on what is happening around you, you cannot be mindful. Likewise, if you are not present, it is very difficult to listen to others and understand the information that they are trying to convey. Additionally, it is impossible to tune into your body to understand the messages that it has for you. Therefore, by not being present, you are basically flying blind.

 

Value of Being Present

If you limit multi-tasking and focus your attention on being present, your eyes will open and you will have the opportunity for a more fulfilling life. You will have better and more meaningful conversations and relationships with people in your life. Furthermore, you will be more in touch with your true feelings and will be more attuned to your body.

 

Moreover, being present opens the door to truly experiencing life instead of simply existing. Every hour you spend being present is an hour that you spend being connected. Although you may be touching a hundred things when you are multi-tasking, you often aren’t connecting with any of them.

 

Taking Action

Therefore, the next time the telephone rings stop what you are doing and really connect to the person on the other end of the call. Likewise, put down all your electronic devices and set aside your thoughts of other things when you are meeting with other people. Whether the meeting is for business or personal reasons, you will gain so much more by actually being there.

 

Choose to be present; choose to be connected!