I will confess that I was born and raised in NJ and I have the East Coast Type A personality that 20 years in CA has not been able to beat down. But I want to be that relaxed person you read about; the person I am not sure I have ever totally met but have heard about so often. So after a recent vacation in Hawaii, a wonderful place where people are just calm and unhurried, I tried to bring that Aloha spirit home with me.
Yesterday when I was driving to work I ended up trapped in a situation where only one car could go through each change of the traffic light. I could write another blog post about how the people that design traffic intersections in the Bay Area apparently only ride public transit, but that would only really be therapeutic for me and not very Aloha. So as I sat there watching the lights turn green and then back to red again while being unable to move forward I worked hard on finding my Aloha spirit. I took deep breathes, I reviewed a gratitude list in my mind, I sang along loudly to music and I thought I had it. But then as I crept closer to getting through the intersection the person a few cars up totally stopped. And it was still a green light! Before I could take a deep and cleansing breathe my hand slammed down on that horn. Mr. Construction Guy to my left looked at me sadly as I hung my head in shame. Mr. Construction Guy to the right tried to get the next person to go through the light, but they couldn't understand the complicated set up so they sat there. And there we went through another round of lights.
I tried not to berate myself as I drove on to work. I worked on trying to understand what happened. I was only really held up about 10 minutes and it was on a day that I had left early for work so I had plenty of time. I just think it came down to the core NJ girl popping out. I strongly believe in being your authentic self and apparently right now my authentic self is an impatient driver. So I will look today for another way to move slower and more peacefully through my day, knowing that for a Type A former NJ resident that may look a little different that my CA friends expect. And I am okay with that.
I was recently told about a communication model that starts with the words “assume best intentions”. I began to wonder what the world might be like if we all acted upon that premise. Many times we make assumptions about the reasons behind another person’s behaviors. When we make those assumptions they are often negative. We decide that a person did something because they didn’t like us or didn’t care about our feelings. However, if we pursue the true intent of people’s actions they are often coming from a positive place, regardless of how it was received.
How different would the world be if we just assumed good intentions behind what people say and do? If someone says something that hurts our feelings we simply say to ourselves they had good intentions and they just didn’t express things well. Responding to a hurt from the place that the hurt was made unintentionally makes a difference in how we receive and thusly respond to things.
Try it and see if it changes your perspective.
In Minnesota there is a new project to offer FREE EMDR to as many as 100 war veterans. A local reporter tells the story of two people who received EMDR, a veteran and a woman who witnessed a shooting at her job. They filmed part of an EMDR session with the veteran. It is a very accurate protrayal of how EMDR works.
To see the video and more on the story click here
Author Dan Buettner says people can have a longer, healthier life if they follow some of the habits and values observed among populations where the residents have long lives. He is the author of Blue Zones, which talks about ways to live longer, based on Buettner’s extensive research.
The nine things Buettner recommends are:
- Move naturally. This means exercise in an natural manner such as gardening or walking outside rather than in a gym.
- Know your purpose. What gets you out of bed in the morning
- Kick back. Have some fun however that looks for you.
- Eat less.
- Eat less meat.
- Drink in moderation. This means 1-2 glasses of wine a day.
- Have faith. Attending weekly services makes a difference.
- Power of love. Be close and involved with your family
- Stay social.
To me this breaks down into living a life with strong connections and doing the things most of know are healthy habits but don’t always do regularly.
Feel free to comment if you think there should be anything else on the list.
In the aftermath of Sandy I wrote about how people dealt with adversity. Now as a country we are dealing with another tragedy, not one brought on by Mother Nature, but instead brought on by a person or persons who deliberately set out to do evil. It is a very different experience. It brings up issues of our own vulnerability. In many ways life is random and in times like this we realize how arbitrary it can be. In an instant your life can totally change. It is terrifying to think about which, is why most of us don't think about it.
However, it is important to remember that clichéd as it is that there are no guarantees in life. It is important to try most days to live accordingly. Live at your best and behave as if what is most important to really does matter. That means not giving lip service to gratitude but living it-telling your children, your friends, your spouses, that you love them often and doing things that show that love even more often. It means behaving with kindness to those who slow you down in the store or on the highway because you don't know what their experience has been. It means taking the time to enjoy now and not just planning for tomorrow.
And it means assuming the best of people not the worst when you are challenged with adversity or conflict. The below quote from Mr. Rogers was widely shown on Facebook this week. We should look for the helpers because, while there are some among us that will do evil things the majority of people are good and caring. So take from this tragedy an attitude of kindness and gratitude and do your best to live a life that shows that attitude.