How Comfort Has Made Us Petty

How Comfort Has Made Us Petty

For most of history, mankind has filled the majority of all waking hours dedicated to survival. There was food to find, shelter to build and predators to outrun. Then they went to sleep, got up the next morning, and repeated the same tasks as the day before.

This left very little time for pondering a person’s appearance or gossiping about what the neighbors were up to.

Even a few decades ago most people’s lives still revolved vocations such as farming, which is a lifestyle more than a job. This was true for many, many families circling the globe.  Much of the rest of the world worked within the confines of the industrial revolution with its notoriously grueling work schedule. Both situations usually entailed rising before sun up and working until after sun down. Again, this left little time to worry about insignificant things –  but people were beginning to have more of what they needed  for survival and at least some of what they wanted.

Fast forward to today, and it’s a totally different situation. Now, I know many will read this and immediately say we have homelessness and joblessness to a huge degree today, and I will not argue against this. However, the overall standard of living (especially in the United States) is the highest it has ever been. And many of the people considered to be living under the poverty level in the U.S. would be considered to be doing quite well in other countries around the world.

But here is the kicker: now that we have all of our needs taken care of (and probably way too many of our wants), we have time to think about things other than survival. This leads to us spending time on social media and other things that we never would have been able to do in the past. And being on social media apparently leads to people being mean, rude, nosy, and way too opinionated about other people’s lives.

Basically, this has the propensity to make us petty, spoiled brats.

I simply can’t believe that is the best thing we can do with our extra time. If every person on social media would refrain from posting anything negative for just one day, can you imagine how different things could be?

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are some wonderful things about social media. And there are also other ways that people spread pettiness and ugliness in this world besides the internet. However, people seem more judgmental than ever since the advent of cutting someone down from the comfort of their own home while not having the physically face the target of their attacks.

Qualities such as kindness and respect have been derailed in our current social climate. In fact, these have been replaced by mean-spirited qualities that get more attention. Think about many reality shows that exhibit selfishness and other bad behaviors. There is a reason so many of those shows get such high ratings. Apparently, most of society not only condones bad behavior, but finds it entertaining. What ever happened to manners?

And maybe the worst part is that many people maintain their status and income just from being petty and mean. That is their only “talent”.  Celebrities, politicians, and influencers have rubbed off on much of society, and most of the time it is not a positive thing. They are called “influencers” for a reason, right?

So how do we stop being so petty?

First, we start by evaluating our own behaviors and see where we can do better.  Can could all be nicer, kinder, more genuine. If that means we have to abandon our social media profiles for a while, it certainly wouldn’t kill us.

Second, we try to influence others by our actions and words. Encourage others to spread positivity, good manners, and kindness wherever and whenever possible. If you have children (or have influence over any children around you), that is a wonderful place to start.

Third, and I think this is probably the most important – we stop comparing ourselves with everyone else. Be happy when other people do well and earn something new. Their lives are not perfect. No one’s life is. So everyone should count their own blessings and be happy with their own lives.

Lastly, I have to recommend the cure that I suggest for almost everything: gratitude. When any individual takes the time to stop and give thanks for the many blessings in their lives each and every day, something amazing ALWAYS happens. They become very happy and cease to be petty about insignificant things.

If you don’t believe me, then try it for just one week and see the difference in your life.

Have a happy, wonderful day!

Every Minute Counts

Every Minute Counts

A couple days ago I was standing in front of the microwave heating some leftovers when it suddenly had an epiphany: that was 60 seconds of my life that I would never get back again. This made me reflect on all of the time we spend doing mundane or even negative things. In fact, I thought about that for the rest of the day.

Obviously we all have to do repetitive tasks in our lives such as brush our teeth, sleep, take out the trash, or even reheat food in the microwave. There is a certain level of comfort in these tasks because they breed familiarity and structure to our days. So, when you think about it, even these things are positive.

However, it is amazing how easily negativity can slip into our lives without our overt permission.

Like most people I can think of many times in my life that were wasted with negative thoughts and negative actions. Of course, I would like to have that wasted time back, but all I can do is work toward doing today and in the future.

Every evening I find it helpful to reflect on my day and make some plans for the following day. With this I have added a new component: I list all the positive and negative things I have done (or thought)that day. It is amazing how much this has helped me curtail the negative in my life, even though it has only been a couple of days.

If everyone would strive to be positive (and spread as much positivity as possible), then the world would be a better place. By implementing this one small thing into my life I feel like I am helping to do my part.

Every minute counts!

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.)