Archive for ‘Quotes’

January 31, 2013

Live in the present

by Dave P.

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

January 29, 2013

Respect yourself (Part 1)

by Dave P.

“If you don’t respect yourself ain’t nobody gonna give a good cahoot.”
~ The Staple Singers (written by Luther Ingram and Mack Rice)

Often, when we feel sad, depressed, angry, or anxious, we do things we would not ordinarily do. Rather than show appreciation for the people in our lives, we take out our frustrations on them. A factory worker who was chewed out at work might go home and abuse his wife. A sales person who didn’t make his or her quota might go out to the bar and drink too much, and then drive home drunk. When we should be relying on our social support network to help us manage life’s stressors, we often do things to hurt them. We don’t want pity. When people feel sorry for you, they lose respect for you. No, we want to be strong, and strong people deal with stress by being aggressive towards others or by drinking. Or so goes the common attitude.

Our self-respect can be damaged in a number of ways. The most common is promising to do something and not following through. Obviously, if you do that at work, there will be repercussions. But people do that all the time outside of work. I’ve had many people sign up for my workshops and then just not show up. I could usually get a pretty good estimate of the number of people who would show up by dividing the number who signed up in half.

Many of my workshops were for people who suffered from anxiety. Anxiety depletes the dopamine levels in the brain, and dopamine is the neurotransmitter responsible for motivation. That explains why people didn’t show up. If I could have offered a pill to help them with their social anxiety or fear of public speaking, those numbers would have been a lot higher. But overcoming those issues requires work, self-discipline, and confronting your fears head-on. You have to really want to overcome your problems in order to put yourself through that, and sometimes we’d rather just play it safe. Sometimes our desire to avoid pain is stronger than one of experiencing joy.

People often mean well but don’t follow through. They might volunteer to help out at the local home owners association with the best intentions and then realize they don’t want to be inconvenienced. Or they volunteered because they thought others would respect them or like them more because of their offer. By not adhering to their promises and obligations, they’ve lost the respect of others, but more importantly, they’ve lost self-respect.

I was out for an evening walk with our dog last summer when I heard muffled screams. I looked ahead and saw a car moving slowly down the street. People were having a fight inside. I walked quickly towards the commotion and they sped up and turned the corner. Some ten minutes later, the car re-appeared — the screams more intense. The car pulled over to the curb and the passenger side door flew open. A woman fell out of the car, screaming and crying. I ran towards her and could see a large man pushing her away. I yelled, “Hey! What the hell’s going on there!” as I ran towards them. He saw me, gunned the engine, and drove away, leaving the woman laying in the road, sobbing.

She was okay, but shoe-less, without a phone, and without anywhere to go. Her face was battered from the fight. I told her I was going to call the police, but she pleaded with me not to. Instead, she asked to use my phone to call a friend. I walked her down to a corner store where she could wait safely until her friend arrived. I told the clerk to keep an eye on her and to call the police if her assailant came looking for her. She hugged me after I told her to give me a call if she needed anything.

I could have easily just ignored the woman’s cries and gone home, but I would have had to live with that. I would have lost faith in my own eyes of the man I aspire to be. Sure, we all screw up once in a while and don’t do what’s right. The only way to restore our self-respect is by acting in ways that reinforce it. The question we should ask ourselves is, “What would you want others to do if you were in that situation?” The cost for not acting is far greater than any inconvenience you may experience.

In Buddhism, the forth element of the Noble Eightfold Path is Right Action, which is to act ethically in all situations. Our actions have consequences or karma. Not helping those in need has negative karma. Helping those, or at least trying to help, has positive karma. The Buddha called that Right Intention. Sometimes we try to do what’s right but fail and sometimes even cause the situation to become worse. When we have Right View, which involves an accurate understanding of the situation, the risk that we will cause harm is minimized.

Most of you have probably heard of the Golden Rule. In Christianity and many other religions, the golden rule states that one should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself. The problem with that is, people sometimes feel that if they do some good things, the bad things they do don’t matter. The negative form of the Golden Rule is that one should not treat others in ways that one would not like to be treated, which is the Jewish form. If we combine the two, we get self-respect.

Self-respect also involves our dignity. It’s about not allowing people to take advantage of us. Have you ever gotten a call from an acquaintance who all of a sudden became friendly because he or she wanted you to help them move? Or maybe someone decided your home would be a good place for a party, even though you’re not close to anyone who will be attending. Or maybe someone just is using you to get a ride somewhere. We have a right to say no when someone is trying to use us. Those kinds of friendships are toxic. We don’t need them in our lives.

But what about if you’re lonely and don’t have any close relationships? Fear of being alone is sometimes greater than the strength needed to keep toxic people at a distance. If that’s the situation you’re in, only self-improvement can get you out of that rut. Self-improvement is important for everyone, whether you’re a dishwasher at the corner diner or the CEO of a major corporation. Successful people continually work to improve themselves. Happy people generally do the same. Self-improvement gives our lives meaning, and meaning is one of the five elements of happiness as defined by positive psychologist Martin Seligman.

You shouldn’t Have Took More Than You Gave
~Dave Mason

Self-respect involves working to make the world a better place. That doesn’t have to involve something like saving the whales or eliminating hunger in Africa. We make the world a better place by smiling at someone who looks like she might be having a bad day. It might be helping the clumsy kid at school pick up his books. It could be letting someone into your lane in rush-hour traffic. It’s also about offering something of value when speaking to people. Offer a little humor, an interesting story, or just an interest in what the other person has to say.

Depression is believed to be learned helplessness. It’s about not having a feeling of control over your life. It’s about feeling like you’re a victim. When you have that victim mentality, you lose your self-respect.

Many social scientists believe that welfare and affirmative action generate a victim mentality. The entitlements were originally designed to provide a safety-net for, when, though no fault of your own, you run on hard times. It became a way of life for too many people and created a continuous cycle of dependency on government rather than personal responsibility. The reform of the 1990s eliminated many of the problems.

End of part 1

January 18, 2012

Today’s a New Day

by Dave P.

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

January 6, 2012

Goals

by Dave P.

“Our goals lead us forward, they call for the exercise of our facilities and energize our existence.”
~ Nathaniel Branden

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