Archive for October 2008

Become Harder to Offend

October 30, 2008

Many of us are really easy to offend. We get offended by what people say, things on TV, opposing political opinions (especially these days), noise, music, traffic, weather, our family, different view points, and so much more. Most of us are convinced that we are right and that people who don’t see it our way are wrong, or at least “misguided.

While I often aspire to be as open minded, accepting, and easy-going as possible, the truth is that I can get as easily offended as anyone I know. Many of my opinions about life, others, and “the way things should be” are incredibly self-righteous. Can you relate?

However, what if we became really hard to offend. This is not to say that we abandon our values or opinions, it’s more about choosing to allow other people and things be as they are. We take so many things personally that have nothing to do with us. The more we react to something, the less freedom and peace we have. When I get really “triggered” by someone or something, if I make it all about the other person or the thing I’m focusing on, I usually miss the real gift, the lesson, and the point (i.e. the shadow or mirror that this negative thing is showing me about myself and life).

Here are a few things we can do to become harder to offend:

  • Remember that it’s not all about you. Even though it may seem like someone is being rude to us or something is happening directly to us, most of the time the things we take personally or get offended by have little or nothing to do with us.
  • Have compassion for others. While we don’t have to simply allow people treat us poorly or let them walk all over us, if we can have compassion for them instead of assuming they’re out to get us, it makes life more peaceful all the way around. Often when other people act in a way we find “offensive,” they are having a difficult time themselves.
  • Right or happy, you choose? As my friend and mentor Richard Carlson used to say, “In life, you have a choice – you can be right or you can be happy, not both.” What a great reminder. When we’re obsessed, as many of us are (myself included), about being right all the time – we are easily offended. When we let go of our need to be right, we have the space to be happy, peaceful, and joyful.

Today and the rest of this week – I challenge you to be really hard to offend. See what happens, how it feels, and the impact it has on you and those around you. While it can be challenging at first, it will make a big difference in the quality of your life.

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Stay Positive in the Midst of Adversity

October 15, 2008

Recently I’ve noticed that it has been challenging for me and many people I talk to and work with to stay positive. With the volatility of the economy, the negativity of the upcoming election, and fear of the unknown, it seems easy to get stuck in the “doom and gloom” of the world around us.

At this moment, even though it may be difficult, it’s important that we stay positive for the well being of our families, companies, relationships, communities, and especially for our own peace of mind. But, given all that has been going on recently, how can we stay positive genuine way?

While there’s no “quick fix” and we want to make sure we’re not avoiding what’s going on around us and within us, there are three things I believe we can do to help us stay positive in the mist of this current adversity, and adversity in general.

  • Be Honest – Whenever we’re facing challenges, obstacles, or “difficult” circumstances, it’s important for us to be honest about how we truly feel. The most common feelings that we experience at these times are anger, fear, and shame. We get angry that something “bad” has happened or because we feel powerless. We get scared that it may get worse or that other people or circumstances may continue to perpetuate the issue in a way we can’t control. And, we feel shame that maybe we did something “wrong” or could have done something to avoid the situation all together. These three emotions are ones we often don’t like to admit or express. However, like all emotions, when we acknowledge them, own them, and express them – they have a way of dissipating and in the process we can free ourselves from their negative impact.
  • Be Conscious – Pay attention to what you’re feeling, how you’re thinking, what you’re saying, and the actions you’re taking. Without judgment, see if you can be very aware of everything that is going on within you and how you’re reacting to what’s happening. In the midst of stress and adversity we have a tendency to think, say, and do things that don’t actually make things better and in many cases we make things worse. We complain, we worry, we speak negatively about life, others, and ourselves, we watch too much TV, we over eat, we drink too much, or we do various other things in an unconscious way that don’t serve us. The more conscious we can be about our feelings, thoughts, words, and actions – the more likely we are to stay positive and to move through the adversity in a way that we can actually learn and grow from, not just survive.
  • Be Grateful – Although it’s often counter-intuitive to be grateful in the face of adversity, it’s often the most important time for us to focus on what we appreciate – about ourselves, others, and life in general. Even and especially when things go “bad,” we’re often given an opportunity to take inventory of the good stuff in our life that we may not have been paying attention to as we were rushing our way through things. Take some time right now to think about some of the things you’re grateful for. Adversity can remind us that while things may be tough, we have so many blessings – health, a job, a place to live, people who love us, and much more. And, there are also many things we can appreciate about the difficulty itself – we may realize we’re stronger than we thought we were, we have more support around us than we knew, or we’re able to learn some important lessons about ourselves and life. There is always a lot for us to be grateful for, if we choose to pay attention. We can’t feel grateful and victimized at the same time!

Without trivializing the impact of current state of the economy or other things going on around you, it is possible for each of us to remain open, optimistic, and positive in the face of any and all adversity or uncertainty. This doesn’t mean we’re somehow super human or always happy. It does mean, however, that we choose to be honest, conscious, and grateful in the midst of what’s going on. And, if we choose to do so, we can have this be a time of reflection, rejuvenation, and transformation for us and those around us.

Be kind to yourself and see if you can be present in as many moments as possible. And, it’s important that we always remember, “this too, shall pass.

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