Social Responsibility In the Age of Coronavirus

social responsibility coronavirus

The coronavirus pandemic has brought up many questions concerning social responsibility versus individual freedom, but there is a clear answer to this dilemma.

Life as we know it has been turned upside down in a manner of weeks. Everything seems uncertain: jobs, retirement funds, everyday supplies – but all of that comes after our most important asset, which is our health.

On this subject there seems to be two opposing camps: those who who believe we should all quarantine and those who don’t.

Of course, there are some exceptions, but for the most part it seems that most people who choose not to do so are in the younger generation. Now, before you think I am over generalizing all young people, believe me, I am not. I realize there are many conscious minded younger people out there doing their part to help the cause.

This article is about the other people, no matter what their age.

There are many people who are watching their financial security go right down the drain, but those don’t seem to be the ones who are out in public, living it up. It is difficult to see how partying and socializing could be more important than people dying, but that is how some people are prioritizing things.

This is especially important when health care workers and other community workers are putting their lives at risk every single day while others flippantly dismiss everything that is going on.

For some reason those of the younger generation seem to feel they have no civic or social responsibility for their family, their community, their country, or the world. America is definitely a society that has been built on the chops of the individual, but we all hold a certain obligation to the people around us.

We should all remember that not so far down the line, we will be the older generation and will also be dependent on those around us to do the right thing during any future epidemics. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is a philosophy to live by, whether we are religious or not.

But some of the same people who volunteer at homeless shelters and give money for those suffering around the world are also refusing to quarantine during this time of stress and fear.

Not so long ago, younger people were expected to be full contributors to the fabric of our communities in every way. Even children were expected to contribute (think Victory Gardens during World War II), but as the decades have passed the age that individuals are expected to be socially responsible has risen. First, it was children, then teenagers, then twenty-somethings, and now it has risen to those in their thirties.

If we do not stop the slippage, soon no one will be expected to be accountable for their actions in the world at large. Where would that leave us when searching for the next generation of leaders?

Blame it on helicopter parenting, the rise of social media, the decline of organized religion, or anything you like, but the end result is the same. These young people have become victims themselves because they have not learned basic good will toward others. We must get back to love and compassion for our fellow man. If we all sacrifice a just a little for the greater good, then this world will be better for us all.

Remember, there are no bad people, just bad decisions. And those can always be changed.

Wishing everyone health and happiness!

 

Control Freaks Beware: It Is Time To Let Go

control freaks

Here is a fact that all of us control freaks already know: control can actually be a slippery thing. For a while you control everything in your world. You are definitely in the driver’s seat. But after some time passes, it starts to control you.

How do you know if this has happened to you? There are some really good, reliable clues such as tension, anxiety, headaches, stomach issues, feelings of overwhelm and helplessness, etc. And depression can often be the dark enemy of those who feel their lives are out of their control.

As an A-Type personality, I know all about this. You see, I learned from the master, my mother, at a very young age. I already had her genes, and I soon also developed her habits. (She loved to clean things with toothbrushes.) But then I took it a little further. By the age of five, I had learned to take toys OUT of my room and INTO the living room to play with them. That kept my room clean, just the way I liked it. (Although it drove my parents a little crazy.)

Fast forward to my teenage years and I would often sleep on the floor in a sleeping bag with my head between my stereo speakers. This both kept my bed made at all times AND lulled me to sleep at night. (I had to have just the right environment to sleep. This included music and a fan blowing in my face.)

All of this worked fine – for a few years. But then I became an adult.

When I moved out of my parents’ house I discovered something incredible. No one cared what I wanted or how I wanted it. Period.

As life carried on and I developed more responsibilities, it became exhausting trying to control everything in my environment. Husbands, kids and dogs don’t always cooperate with house tidiness, bosses don’t necessarily care if you want the holidays off, and people on the street are sometimes jerks – and no one will make them apologize to you, either.

And there is nothing you can do about it.

SO WHY KEEP TRYING?

This is SUCH a simple concept, but I am embarrassed to say that even with a degree in psychology, it took me years to get it.

My husband, on the other hand, was born with this concept pre-stamped on his brain. He categorizes everything as “something I can do something about” and “something I can’t”. Can you even imagine how simple this makes his life?

For the first few years of our marriage, I would sometimes get upset because he was NOT upset. How could he not care enough about this to get fired up about it? Looking back now, I realize he was on the right path all along.

I have finally learned to stop being a control freak and let life happen. This could only occur after I gave up the need for everything to be perfect in my life. But when I finally did that – It felt as if I took this massive weight off my head and set it on the ground beside me, then just walked away.

Here is how I did it:

First, I learned to categorize things like my husband. It takes only seconds to categorize something as important or not, then act on it (or don’t) accordingly.

Second, I write down several things each day that I am grateful for. This really stifled my urge to control everything because I could see how many things were already going great.

Third, I engage in daily meditation. I know you have probably heard or read about this, but I will reiterate it: meditation will change your life. It calms your mind and body, releases stress, and pushes your mellow button. It is very difficult to feel like a control freak in that condition.

Fourth, I made the conscious decision to let things be not perfect. All that need for control and perfectionism was not making my life better, so I decided it was time to change the way I was handling things.

So now there are days that my bed doesn’t get made, the kitchen sink stays stacked with dirty dishes, and our Yorkies make friends with the dust bunnies living under the furniture. And sometimes I’m late for an appointment, an inconsiderate person cuts me off in traffic, and our gutters are overflowing with leaves.

These sort of things will probably continue to happen in the future.

But everyone at our house is happy and healthy. What else could I possibly want or need?

Angela Christian PopeAngela Christian Pope is a teacher, author and creator of Happiosity.org. Check out more on Twitter and Facebook.

How To Not Be a Snowflake In a Snowflake Generation

snowflake

We are all special. And……we are all EQUALLY special – none more, none less.

I think most of us can agree on that. What we do not agree on, however, is just how we should be treated as individuals. Thus, the term “snowflake” was coined to mean a person who has a heightened view of their own importance.

According to Dictionary.com, the word “snowflake” has existed as a derogatory term for some time but changed in meaning and became more mainstream after its use in Fight Club when one character states: “You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake.”

Dictionary.com goes further to state: “Fight Club, nevertheless, did help to spread snowflake as a contemporary insult online in the 2000s to tease sheltered, helicopter-parented, everyone-gets-a-trophy young adults. The core metaphor is that such people are delicate like snowflakes, easily hurt by the hard realities of life, and think of themselves as special without realizing they are entitled and privileged— because every snowflake is different, as they say.”

That sounds like a VERY self-centered person, wouldn’t you say? But the problem with people who are snowflakes is (bet you guessed it) they don’t know they are snowflakes. They see traits such as selfishness, being easily offended, and living in a bubble in other people, but usually don’t see these in themselves.

Here is a little advice I gave myself to help maneuver through life in this hyper critical world and make sure I don’t become one of these self-indulged people. (It will also help to NOT become the butt of someone’s else’s joke.)

  1. Not everyone will like me.
  2. No one owes me anything.
  3. People are allowed to have opinions I don’t agree with.
  4. I am a wonderful person, but so is everyone else.
  5. No one is perfect, not even me.

While I’m at it, let’s discuss this: Everyone deserves their victories and celebrations in life, there’s no doubt about that.

However, some people (including me) think we have now gone too far. For example, when I was growing up most people had a bridal shower when they got married. Sometimes there was also an engagement party. Two parties to attend. No biggie for the friends and family. (Well, three actually. The wedding ceremony itself is a huge party as well.) So three commitments.

Fast forward to today. There is an engagement party, a bridal shower or tea (sometimes multiple ones), a lingerie party, bachelor and bachelorette parties, and the wedding. To make things worse, weddings are often destination affairs with the happy couple often becoming irate if loved ones cannot afford or choose not to attend the big bash.

Newsflash: Not everyone can, or wants to, spend $10,000 to fly half way around the world and stay in an expensive villa for a week just to watch your 10 minute wedding ceremony. THEY shouldn’t be paying off a credit card for a year because YOU got married.

And they shouldn’t have to. They don’t owe you anything.

The viral stories circulating online about bridezillas throwing temper tantrums because someone “insulted” them for the slightest little thing have become legendary. These reflect badly on the person as an individual and our society in general. We have now crossed the line from “come celebrate with me” to “come pay tribute to me”.

Here are some other things that have become excessive:

  • Throwing separate baby showers/teas and gender reveal parties. Most people don’t want to hurt your feelings, so they keep quiet. After all, it’s your child we are talking about.

 

  • Handing out school awards for EVERYTHING in EVERY GRADE. This makes awards so monotonous that when someone earns a real award it no longer feels special. In fact, I’m sure some of those categories are made up just so everyone can get an award. (Who really earns an award for best pencil sharpener in Ms. Smith’s 2nd grade class?)

 

  • Having graduation ceremonies for pre-school, kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, high school, and college. Again, it no longer feels special because you graduate and get gifts all the time, so nothing feels like much of a milestone.

 

  • Giving trophies to every child who plays a sport or participates in an activity. This sets kids up to feel like a failure when they do not get rewarded for every little thing they do as an adult. Also, taking away the competitive spirit will make many kids do less than their best. Why bother, everyone gets the same trophy, right?

Over the past few years I have pondered these points and I have learned two things that have truly impacted my life:

1. I need to earn my way through life in order to feel good about myself. Maybe that is not always fair, but it’s real. Fake accomplishments don’t give me any character or sense of self. I need to look inside myself and stop asking others to make me feel special. (Also see: Yes, You Can Be Taught How To Be Happy.)

2. Also, my whole life doesn’t need to be displayed on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. It’s nice to keep some things for myself and my closest loved ones. Having some privacy feels good when I embrace it.

These new insights have given me freedom, rather than holding me back. Imagine that!

If I have stepped on anyone’s toes or hurt their feelings, I’m not sorry. That means you need to stop being a snowflake.

Now toughen up, and have a nice day!

Angela Christian PopeAngela Christian Pope is a teacher, author and creator of Happiosity.org. Check out more on Twitter and Facebook.

 

 

 

Yes, You Can Be Taught How To Be Happy

you can be taught how to be happy

We all know there are several things we can do to help us be happier in life such as think positively and smile as often as possible. However, evidence now shows you can literally be TAUGHT how to be happy.

For the Spring semester at Yale University, a professor named Laurie Santos taught a class called Psychology and the Good Life for the first time. She felt that students on campus needed a way to deal with everyday stress that comes with being a student and also just living life in general.  Little did she know this class would end up being the most popular class ever offered at Yale.

I came across this class while reading an article about happiness (my favorite topic) and saw that a version of it was available for free (yes, free) on Coursera, so I decided to take it myself. I have not yet completed it, but I can already see that it contains valuable information that will make my life better. Hence, I am sharing it with you. (For more about how to be happy, see How To Write Precise Affirmations For Success.)

So far this class has really appealed to the learner in me as I have a background in both Psychology and Education. The science behind it cannot be disputed and the behavior changes needed to make the change are free – just like the class. There is literally nothing to lose by trying it.

In fact, it would be irresponsible of us to pass up a free resource that will enhance our lives, so please join me in the new journey of (even more) happiness!

Click here to access Psychology and the Good Life for free.

Note: When you finish each module, it will pop up a screen asking if you want to purchase the paid version of the class. Simply, swipe to the right to return to the next module. (Or you can purchase the class if you choose to do so.)

The Paradox of Choice – Why More Can Be Too Much (Too Many Choices)

The Paradox of Choice

Have you ever decided to buy an item on Amazon but then became frozen by the total number of choices out there – and left the site without buying anything?

Me too. In fact, I have done this countless times. Who can pick from 150 different white curtains? Or 300 different red toothbrushes?

Life is full of choices – good and bad, big and small.

Scientists say we literally make thousands of decisions every day, even though many of them are unconscious. I know that if I had to consciously think through each and every one of those decisions, I would be exhausted all the time.

I am happy my brain automatically makes lots of decisions for me. It saves brain energy and keeps me from being overwhelmed every minute of every day.

And while having choices in life is a good thing, I would make the argument that too many choices can be a bad thing – just as having NO choices can also be bad.

You see, the key to almost everything is life is moderation. See The Key To (Almost) Everything in Life: Practicing Moderation here. But moderation is no longer celebrated in American culture.

Things were not always this way. In the book The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz makes the point that my grandparents’ generation was not faced with quite the barrage of choices that I face. For example, if their washing machine stopped working and they needed a new one, they simply went down to their local store and picked from the two or three models available. Then they took it home and didn’t give that choice another thought.

It is common today for shoppers to do hours, days, even weeks of research before purchasing a new appliance (me included). And even that does not guarantee that buyer’s remorse will not follow the purchase. The fear of missing out, or FOBO, is often joked about, but is also a real thing.

What if I had bought the model that was self-cleaning? And what if the third review was right and this model has plastic gears that will wear out?

Regret is a powerful thing, and in this world of perpetual data and reviews, I might never figure out which model is truly the best. That sets me up for the uncertainty that leads to the regret.

However, I recently bought the audio version of The Paradox of Choice and listened to it all the way through in my car while traveling. Then I started at the beginning and listened to the whole thing again.

After this, I came to understand many of the reasons why I was so stressed and impatient. My brain was simply working too hard to sort out the choices in my life.

We are all fairly smart when it comes to self care these days. Like everyone else, I read and research the latest information on how to be aware and happy. I know to cut off the electronics.  I only engage social media in the pursuit of passing on useful information. I get quiet time and meditation into my schedule almost daily.

I but I never knew I needed to put a wall between myself and so many decisions.

Before you ask, yes, this can be done.

First, just being aware that so many choices are out there (and stressing me) helps me get a handle on the situation.

Second, I put as many things on autopilot as possible. For example, I have created a rotating dinner menu. I simply repeat the same recipes in the same order, and occasionally add in a new one for variety.  Also, like many others out there, I have created a sort of “uniform” for work by purchasing multiples of the same shirt and pants and wearing the same outfit every day. I have a warm weather outfit and a cool weather outfit. (Sometimes I shake that up a bit, but I can always revert to the uniform on days I prefer to be on autopilot.)

Third, I limit the amount of time I search for an item I want to buy. At the end of that time, I make a decision based on the information I have at that point. This is completely liberating! I recommend this method to everyone!

Fourth, I made a commitment not to expend energy on making unimportant decisions. Does it really matter what flavor of ice cream I buy?

Fifth, I dedicate a few minutes each day to meditation. I started slow with two or three minutes per day and worked up to 10. My goal is 30 minutes per day. Some people manage to incorporate even more.

Life is much simpler than most people make it. This was a great place to start for me. Maybe it will be for you too.

Angela Christian PopeAngela Christian Pope is a teacher, author and creator of Happiosity.org. Check out more on Twitter and Facebook.