Archive for November, 2016

Who, Or What, Motivates You To Be A Good Person? Or Not?

Friday, November 25th, 2016

Of the many articles I have shared one that gets a lot of feedback from readers is the topic of enculturation. Enculturation, as defined by Wikipedia, is “the process by which people learn the requirements of their surrounding culture and acquire values and behaviors appropriate or necessary in that culture.” So, what a person is taught or what one assimilates from his or her environment determines who that person is and how s/he acts. Thus, where you are born, who your family, teachers, religion, philosophy, etc… are determine the person you become. I would like to break this down and more specifically ask you, Respected Reader, to determine who or what has motivated you to become a good (or “bad”) person that you are. A few enculturating perspective are offered.

  1. PARENTS: Were your parents a positive model for you? Did they teach and model a belief and life style that has served you well and helped you to become the good person that you are? Or not?
  2. SCHOOL: Did the schools that you attended teach you valuable lessons on how to become the best you could be? Were there particular persons or mentors that were impactful?
  3. RELIGION: (“An organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or group of gods” –Merriam-Webster). Notable religions include Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism. Were you brought up in a particular religion that was persuasive in presenting beliefs and conduct that has served you well? Or not? Was it one based on the positive motivator of love or one of fear? (Do you believe there is a Hell?)
  4. HUMANISM: (“A philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence over acceptance of dogma and superstition” – Wikipedia). Does religion no longer make sense to you and you find Humanism more fitting for your motivation to be a good person.
  5. RELATIONSHIPS: Perhaps a lover, friend, co-worker of your past or present brings forth some beliefs or practices that assist and motivate you to be the best person possible. Some credible research states that you are a composite of the five persons closest to you.
  6. MEDITATION: (“To engage in mental exercise for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness” – partial definition, Merriam-Webster). Meditation can foster a transcendent experience that elicits feelings of caring and connection. Perhaps you have found this meditation experience offering you this impetus.
  7. EXERCISE: Exercise changes your brain chemistry to a slower rhythm that brings forth a calmer and more peaceful state. It can enhance your sense of self worth thus bringing out a better you.

These seven factors all have impact on your enculturation – how you actively form yourself and/or are formed by them. An inquisitive person of heightened consciousness looks at these factors to see how they can be positive enculturating elements in your quest to be the best person you can be. Choose wisely!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”    Socrates

Thanksgiving Presents An Opportunity For Reflection And Gratitude

Sunday, November 20th, 2016

We are a country of rituals and holidays.  It is inherent in human beings to reflect on certain basic realities and celebrate their existence.  As each duly designated holiday passes, I sometimes wonder whether we truly benefit from the holiday beyond the fact that we have a day off from our usual routine.  Has the day added anything to our consciousness?  Are we any better for having participated in the day?

This week we have the holiday of Thanksgiving (or is it Thankstaking?).  As you think of it, do you consider it as a day of obligation or opportunity?  Obligation might include having to go to someone’s house, stressfully be with family, endure insipid relatives, and overdo the consumption of plentiful food and drink.

Opportunity offers something different.  It invites us to ponder our lives from a positive grateful perspective. Who are the people, what are the circumstances, of our life for which we might give thanks?May I invite you to use this opportunity to reflect on possible sources of gratitude.  See if you can come up with seven answers to the following questions:

  1. Who have been the people of your past for whom you are grateful?
  2. Who are the people currently in your life for whom it is appropriate to give thanks?
  3. What are the events and circumstances in your life today that elicit thanksgiving?

After you have finished, share your list and the reasons for choosing them with a significant person in your life.  A pleasant conversation will result, guaranteed!

If you take some time and seriously reflect on these questions you may well be surprised at what you find.  Some of the negative or hurtful people and events of your life may actually have had, or do have, a positive influence on your personal and professional life.  That difficult teacher, challenging supervisor, idiotic boyfriend, outrageous first wife, being fired, car accident, etc… may in the long run have benefited you greatly.  Oftentimes we learn some basic lessons of life from some tough circumstances and seemingly negative people.

If your focus this Thanksgiving is on gratitude instead of grudge, seeing what is right in your life instead of wrong, it can be an opportunity to truly celebrate the day.  Perhaps the day could include actually expressing your thankfulness to these special people.  After all, they have been the instruments in making you the incredible person that you are!




Feelings: “26 Feelings You Should Experience At Some Point In Your Life!

Friday, November 11th, 2016

I saw an article recently and was intrigued. It was entitled “26 Feelings You Should Experience At Some Point In Your Life” by Lindsey Holmes. Feelings are at the very core of our existence. As part of my brain management I try to maximize positive feelings and eliminate negative ones. The same with thoughts. Feelings and thoughts are the driving forces of behavior. I will list Ms. Holmes feelings and add my commentary for your perusal.

  1. THE FEELING WHEN YOU TRAVEL TO A NEW PLACE. Research shows that people are happier when they spend money on experiences over material possessions. Exploring a new place has a certain excitement of positive expectations.
  2. THE FEELING AFTER LAUGHING SO HARD YOUR STOMACH HURTS. Laughter certainly is healthy for you as it boosts your immune system, lowers blood pressure, and overall happiness. Try to be sad when you are laughing!
  3. THE FEELING WHEN SOMEONE SAYS “I LOVE YOU”. Love is a biologically wired mind-body experience. Such an intimate affirmation feels so good!
  4. THE FEELING WHEN YOU PERFORM A RANDON ACT OF KINDNESS. Kindness is an act of love. Love always feels wonderful being given or received.
  5. THE FEELING WHEN SOMEONE IS KIND TO YOU. Again, affirmation from another brings forth the good stuff.
  6. THE FEELING AFTER SPEAKING YOUR MIND. By stating your thought to another with conviction you are self validating. It is additive when you “vote for yourself” this way.
  7. THE FEELING WHEN SOMEONE JUST GETS YOU. Being understood and validated as a person of worth feels good.
  8. THE FEELING WHEN YOU FULLY APPRECIATE YOURSELF. Self acceptance, self esteem, is one of the main ingredients to a happier life. Self care is not selfish, rather it is self enhancing.
  9. THE FEELING OF HEARTBREAK. Though this appears to be a negative and to be avoided, you usually experience it somewhere along the line. Lessons learned from this can enable personal and relational growth.
  10. THE FEELING OF TOTAL RELAXATION. Stress and burn out are debilitative. Relaxation re-engergizes mind and body.
  11. THE FEELING WHEN YOU WALK INTO YOUR OWN SURPRISE PARTY. Being honored and celebrated elicits feelings of worth.
  12. THE FEELING WHEN YOU’RE CUDDLING A CUTE PET. I’ll pass on this one, but others tell me this is a positive. I prefer human cuddling.
  13. THE FEELING AFTER WAKING UP FROM A REALLY GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP. Sleep is essential for energized well being. Exhaustion does not feel good!
  14. THE FEELING OF BEING WRAPPED UP IN THE MOMENT. Being present, mindfully, in the moment is existentially rewarding.
  15. THE FEELING AFTER SAYING GOODBYE. I’ll pass on this one too. Seeing my adult children leave our home to go back to their own does not generate a feeling I want to repeat.
  16. THE FEELING WHEN YOU MAKE A HOME OUT OF A NEW PLACE. Home is associated with love, security, and comfort. Who doesn’t want that?
  17. THE FEELING OF FAILURE. Yes, most of us experience this along life’s path. The only good I sense out of this is my motto of “I don’t fail, I learn”.
  18. THE FEELING AFTER A REALLY GOOD WORKOUT. Jacked up endorphins from exercise do feel great.
  19. THE FEELING OF ANGER. Anger can be your ally if utilized well to protect, protest, and move forward. Adrenaline energizes.
  20. THE FEELING WHEN YOU MAKE A NEW FRIEND. Social connection lights up the reward center in your brain.
  21. THE FEELING OF SUCCESS. Accomplishment of a goal adds to self esteem and further motivates.
  22. THE FEELING OF ACCEPTANCE. This seems redundant from a few of the above stated feelings. Beats the hell out of rejection!
  23. THE FEELING OF LANDING YOUR DREAM JOB. Again, redundant. See number 21.
  24. THE FEELING OF VALIDATION. Again redundant.
  25. THE FEELING OF BEING ALONE. This is not to be confused with lonely. Being your own best friend and spending time with yourself is a healthy self love which reinvigorates.
  26. THE FEELING OF COMPLETE HAPPINESS. Whatever “floats your boat”, may it lead to this wonderful feeling.
  27. Personally speaking I think there are many more “should” feelings that are a part of an enriched life, especially those of a more intimate nature. I know I have had and currently have many more than are on this list.

Respected Reader, how many of these feelings have you had? Currently have? Ones, not on this list? The reason for presenting Ms. Holmes list, limited as it is, is to invite you to be aware of your feelings. And, secondly, to help you maximize feelings that are positive and motivating while leading you toward a life of fulfilling happiness to the extent possible.

“The unexamined life is not worthwhile”   Socrates