Wear this smile on your shirt! You will soon see people smiling back at you! it’s an affordable way to raise people’s spirits from 6 feet away!
It did not start with the current, constant social media bantering. Discrediting other people has existed in our culture for as long as I have lived. Here are three insights as to why.
LOGIC REQUIRES CATEGORIZATION
From our earliest years we have played games where we sort out what’s different, what’s the same, what belongs, what does not belong, find the things that match. These were (and continue to be) little puzzle books, pre-readers, and children’s magazines. It was and is thought to be the foundational activity for preparing youngsters to read.
But have we thought about the behavioral impact these activities instill into our little child’s psyche? What is on the paper, can also be played in real life. Have you ever heard kids play question games, like who’s your favorite teacher so far? Who do you like best, your brother or me? Who runs the fastest, Tommy or Susie? Who do you like in our classroom? Who do you think is smart? Who do you think is stupid? …and so it begins.
It is obvious why categories play an intrinsic part in the structure and order to our lives: to sort, pick and choose, move forward with new entries into categories. If we are not conscious of the impact of our choices, however, we can stagnate into an imploding rather than expanding lifestyle.
Have you ever started a new job and given a tour of the office? As you are introduced to your future co-workers, are you somewhat surprised to be taken aside to hear negative tidbits about the person you are going to meet? It usually goes something like this, “Betty is our accountant, She is a real rule keeper, so be careful of her. She takes no prisoners!” (…And then a knowing laugh). Betty’s reputation begins before every meeting her in person. Or, “Now let’s meet Tom, he’s just broke up with his girlfriend. I think it was because she thought he was cheating on her.” Tom will be categorized by you with this information.
It just seems we have a tolerance for putting things, places and, yes, people in categories, even items to discredit another. Why would we do this? Well, this leads to my next observation..
WE CARRY AN URGE TO BE IN THE KNOW.
We like to feel important. In first grade, the teacher would say to the class, “Look how Barbara is sitting up straight with her hands folded on her desk. This is the perfect way to be attentive in our class.” I would feel so important … and smart. It only took sitting up straight and putting my hands together to get her attention. School is going to be easy! My second grade teacher seemed to be on the same track, because from time to time she liked to point out the fact that I was a great student who knew how to sit up straight. But by the third grade, I was totally ignored and the students who knew answers were pointed out as the perfect ones! I lost the spotlight, but I did not lose my graving for the spotlight!
I changed my direction because I liked being the center of praise. I liked being in the know. And, sometimes being in the know is demonstrated by talking about other people. We talk about people like we are the ones who have a special inside track. We feel more importance when we can talk about people. As we speak, though, we begin to notice speaking in with negative connotations receives a bigger audience.
NEGATIVE TALK GETS THE MOST ATTENTION
There used to be a thing called newspapers. (…they still quietly thrive but you might not be aware of them.) And, within our San Francisco Chronicle or Berkeley Gazette, (or both) was found Ann Landers. She answered and offered solutions for her readers. In high school I wrote to her and asked why news articles were always focused on death, murder, robberies, all bad things that happened to people If we teens weren’t allowed to see them in movies, why did we have news stories on television. I asked her to please write about this and offer suggestions for writing more uplifting and inspiring news that I was sure was being actuated on the same day as current news horror stories. She sent a letter back to me. It was so many years ago, but I remember being delighted to receive a letter from Ann Landers. In a nutshell, I interpreted the letter as an explanation: unfortunately people like to read about what surprises them.
So, negative talk is what gets our attention, isn’t it. I may be thought of as a more powerful person if I can talk definitively in negative terms. I really know this person and I can protect you from them. I am the patriarch! I am the matriarch!
It may be the old stand on the heads of others to get ahead syndrome. Yet, when I tell you that this person is an idiot, or psychopath, or lazy, or ugly, or a number of other senseless things, I project my disavowed traits and actually am talking about myself.
It will take some time to change the culture of discrediting people, if in fact, we even wish to change. It’s something to consider. The only real power we have is to locate and accept ourselves. …all that is within. It may be time for a change..
I am reminded of early writings by Gary Zukav:
Authentic power requires that we choose:
* Harmony over Discord
* Cooperation over Competition
* Sharing over Hoarding
* Reverence for life over Exploitation
Addendum: There is lots to say about this topic. I’ll save my thoughts for another day, but I’d love to hear what you think. Smile whenever you think of it!
One of the interwoven themes in the book, Getting To Happy: Learning to Read Emotional Messages, is the recommendation to STOP in your tracks the moment you recognize uncomfortable emotions.
Powerful emotions overwhelm us at the moment. When we do not understand their message, when we fight against an emotion, the emotion gets louder, stronger, more intense. We can work ourselves up into a tantrum. Tantrums affect the well-being of ourselves and those who suffer our outburst.
There is power in stopping. Getting To Happy recommends that we STOP, LOOK, and FIND SOMETHING THAT FEELS BETTER. Why does this work so well?
1. STOPPING. The brain can think of only one thought at a time. If you stop the thought of annoyance, you can replace the thought with something that feels better. Feeling good always brings about better outcomes!
2. STOPPING allows time for a new thought. Think of the brain as a computer. We can exit one window and enter another; we can open an additional app to help us with the task at hand.
3. STOPPING gives us a moment to reset our brain, if needed. Restarting a computer reorganizes data back to a workable playing field. When we stop in our tracks, we take ourselves back to first gear. Sometimes our ignored emotions are unconsciously embraced and become so loud that we need to put our gear in neutral.
4. The louder the emotion, the farther you are away from your goals. Achieving your personal goals feels good. You can think uncomfortable feelings of frustrations, jealousy, loss of control of as STOP SIGNS. Stay loyal to these emotions and watch them turn into a storm. But you can learn to read the intensity of a negative emotion as a navigational sign. These signs show how far away you are from your goals. Change your direction toward something that feels happier and the uncomfortable feeling will subside. Every time!
There is another trick that will help the STOPPING process. This is the 5-Minute STOP Rule.
For 5 minutes you do not move forward within the negative feeling. Put the thought triggered and now sustaining the negative emotion on-hold. Tell it to wait for 5 minutes until you can decide what to do. Tell your brain to wait while you load data. In the meantime, search for more pleasant ways to think about the situation. If this search brings more unpleasant emotions, STOP. Put yourself in time out. No thinking. No talking. Quiet.
Tell yourself: In five minutes I will know how to proceed in a way that allows me to feel happier. I always can come up with a new solution if I am quiet for five minutes. I am stopped.
If you find it hard to sit still here are some additional tricks:
- Read a book.
- Play an instrument.
- Catch up on a favorite episode.
- Look at your photos.
- Walk around your yard or your neighborhood.
- Wash your car.
- Wash your face.
- Call and cheer up a friend or family member.
- Change the furniture in your living room.
- Look in the mirror and renew your friendship!,
- Read Getting To Happy: Learning to Read Emotional Messages
“Stop the words now. Open the window in the center of your chest, and let the spirits fly in and out.” ― Rumi, The Essential Rumi
I hope you will take time to read my book, Getting To Happy — Learning To Read Emotional Messages. You can pre-order it now for a Thanksgiving digital delivery. A paperback edition will also be available. I am working on an audio book. It is an amazing adventure. Thank you for your participation and support up to this point. I am grateful and, yes, happy!
Here is the promotion page description:
Getting To Happy is meant to be read and reread to keep you on track. Happy days can be in your life permanently. In this world of storms, we gravely need a way to navigate through our daily lives with clarity, fun and kindness. Author Barbara Dean Aliaga provides a set of 19 tools to get us back on track as we meet the challenge of the 21st century. Her organizational method brings fresh enthusiasm for tried and true solutions.
In today’s world, it is imperative we find ways to thrive in an atmosphere of well-being. We all have concerns from time to time. We’re brought up to think this is the normal way of living. Many of us focus on health issues, family issues, lonely issues, work issues, dissatisfaction issues, money issues, fix-it syndrome, political issues. These issues come to us as thoughts. A set of action tools help navigate us out of negative situations and into the happy life we strive for. We have opinions about our particular situations and our opinions affect our lives. Learning to read the messages of negative emotions improves our proximity to a blissful life! We are here to enjoy life.
“Practice fun!” — Barbara Aliaga
A happier way of living is possible! See what will happen when you place a moratorium on negative thinking. Notice how you feel when you hear negative thoughts. How will you feel when you turn them into alternative positive viewpoints? Ease into an awareness of your surroundings. Our goal is to let your positive attitudes lead the way for the sake of happiness. We will focus on our peace, our abundance and quality of life.
” I have never regretted time spent looking at the brighter side of life!” — Barbara Aliaga
Complaints will keep you right where you are, in a situation you want to get out of. You will not solve your complaint by complaining (one negative plus one negative equals two negatives. But one negative plus two positives is heading in the right direction). When you learn your emotional navigation system, you can cruise to a solution which almost seems magical. Not only will those you lead benefit, you will notice a more successful family and work life.
“My world situation will always be what my heart can inspire.” — Barbara Aliaga