Tag Archives: maturity

Principles of Purpose:  Be Kind

Tentatively titled Principles of Purpose: A Guide To Living Wisely, is an ongoing draft of a concept I might one day publish a book on. It’s essentially 30 Principles that I think are essential to living life wisely. Some are principles that I wished I had learned much earlier in life. Many are principles that I only learned in recovery in 2016-2017. Still other principles were ones I had applied off and on during my 56 years.

PrefaceIntroductionTrusting Your GutUse Good Judgement
ListenRegulate EmotionsSet BoundariesBe Mindful
Practice ModerationManage ExpectationsResolve ConflictPlan Ahead
Have PatienceBe YourselfPractice AcceptanceBe Grateful
Manage MoneyBe Kind

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

Aesop

Kindness is defined as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. Affection, gentleness, warmth, concern, and care are words that are associated with kindness.

While kindness has a connotation of meaning someone is naive or weak, that is not the case. Being kind often requires courage and strength. Kindness is an interpersonal skill.

There is a saying, “One good turn deserves another.” That means if you do someone a favor, chances are you’ll be repaid in kind. The same can be said for random acts of kindness.

They can create a “ripple effect” whereby the person you help may be inspired to do the same for someone else, and so on in a virtual cascade of kindness. In fact, according to psychologist Jonathan Haidt, just witnessing an act of kindness can prompt someone to follow suit.

Kindness At Work
Kindness of Interpretation

In theory, we all love kindness of course, but in practice, a kind person sounds like something we would try to be only once every other more arduous and more rewarding alternative had failed. Learning to be kind means acknowledging how boring kindness can (unfairly) sound.

So much of what we value is in fact preserved by kindness and is compatible with it. We can be kind and successful, kind and exciting, kind and wealthy and kind and potent. Kindness is a virtue awaiting our rediscovery and our renewed, un-conflicted appreciation.

What we tend to be most short of from others is kindness of interpretation: that is, a generous perspective on the weaknesses, eccentricities, anxieties and follies that we present but are unable to win direct sympathy for. The kind person re-tells the story of our lives in a redemptive way.

The kind person works with a picture of us that is sufficiently generous and complex as to make us more than just the ‘fool’ or ‘weirdo’, the ‘failure’ or ‘loser’ that we might otherwise so easily have been dismissed as.

The kind person gives generously from a sense that they too will stand in need of kindness. Not right now, not over this, but in some other area. They know that self-righteousness is merely the result of a faulty memory, an inability to hold in mind – at moments when they are truly good and totally in the right – how often they have been deeply and definitively in the wrong.

Kindness remembers how there might still be virtue amidst a lot of evil. Kindness is aware that when someone shouts an insult, they are not usually revealing the secret truth about their feelings; they are trying to wound the other because they feel they have been hurt – usually by someone else, whom they don’t have the authority to injure back. Kindness is interested in mitigating circumstances; in bits of the truth that can cast a less catastrophic light on folly.

RAK’s

RAK’s stands for Random Acts of Kindness. No matter small or large, a random act of kindness has been shown to create a ripple of positive health & well-being effects to others around us: coworkers, patients, clients, family, and friends.

Random acts of kindness may help to improve mental health. There is some evidence that working to help others can be a way to cope positively with one’s own problems. Some people find that their own problems seem less severe when they help others, and the positive regard many people receive when they do kind things can help improve their mood. While a random act of kindness is not a substitute for mental health treatment, it can help people feel better about themselves and those around them.

Being Kind To Yourself

Self-kindness refers to acting in kind and understanding ways towards ourselves. For example, instead of being critical (I’m so disorganized! I’ll never be successful!), our inner voice is supportive and warm (It’s OK that I missed the deadline. I worked hard and I’ll make it next time).

A sense of common humanity is the recognition that everyone makes mistakes and no one is without their weaknesses.

Accepting that we are not alone in our suffering comforts us with feelings of inclusivity rather than alienation. Finally, mindfulness offers a “meta-perspective” on our hardships, helping us to not exaggerate our distress and become engulfed by it.

Self-Kindness Exercise

1.      Think about the kindest, most compassionate person you have known—someone who has been kind, understanding and supportive of you. It may have been a teacher, a friend, or perhaps a friend’s parent. If you can’t think of someone in your life who has been kind toward you, think of a kind and compassionate public figure or even a fictional character from a book, film or television.

2.      See if you can single out the key factors involved in helping you to feel so cared about: the words, gestures, looks, or touch of this person. Now use these factors to help you become your own “nice person”—meaning that you can now provide for yourself the things this person provided for you.

3.      Try talking to yourself in the same way, using the same loving words or soothing tones. If the person physically comforted you, repeat this gesture toward yourself.

4.      Take a deep breath and take in the good feelings of loving kindness. 

List of 100 Acts of Kindness

101 Of The Best Random Acts of Kindness Ideas
Click to Enlarge

Principles of Purpose:  Manage Money

Tentatively titled Principles of Purpose: A Guide To Living Wisely, is an ongoing draft of a concept I might one day publish a book on. It’s essentially 30 Principles that I think are essential to living life wisely. Some are principles that I wished I had learned much earlier in life. Many are principles that I only learned in recovery in 2016-2017. Still other principles were ones I had applied off and on during my 56 years.

PrefaceIntroductionTrusting Your GutUse Good Judgement
ListenRegulate EmotionsSet BoundariesBe Mindful
Practice ModerationManage ExpectationsResolve ConflictPlan Ahead
Have PatienceBe YourselfPractice AcceptanceBe Grateful
Manage Money

“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned to buy things they don’t want to impress people they don’t like.”

Will Rogers
Poor Money Management

Because of my impulsive nature and poor self-discipline, I have never managed money well. Growing up nobody taught me the value and importance of fiscal responsibility. When I had money I spent it. Immediately. I burned through money with no regard to the consequences. “A fool and his money…”

Three times I have had to rebuild my shoddy credit history because of this. I even claimed bankruptcy in 1997, only to crash and burn a decade later. Throughout my life I managed to fail financially. Time and time again my impulsivity and lack of fiscal responsibility caused me major problems. I just couldn’t save money, or manage the money that I earned.

Believe it or not, it has only been the last few years that I have paid strict attention to the money coming in and the money going out. Although I still struggle sometimes with impulsive purchases, I have limited the scope of damage by paying attention to my bank statements; something I really never did much of. As a result of my new-found responsibility, I have been able to stay out of credit card debt, settle old debts, and even purchase a home. However, if I do not remain vigilant, I know that I could easily slip back into financial immaturity.

Saving Money

Part of managing money is being about to save it! Saving money is nearly impossible for those of us living from paycheck to paycheck. With all the deductions and taxes, most of us struggle to maintain our livelihoods let alone save money. There’s an old adage when it comes to saving money that you should always “Pay yourself first.” That’s easier said than done with all the expenses most of us have.

The best way to save money is to make sure you take a percentage of your paycheck (that you can sustain and maintain) and put it towards savings. A percentage versus an actual amount works especially well for folks with different paycheck amounts each week. In order to successfully build a decent savings account it takes a realistic amount you can afford to put away each paycheck.

As I said earlier, it has only been the last few years that I have actually concentrated on managing my money; and today I am proud to say that I have a decent savings account. I’ve bought a few CD’s as well. For some of you all this might seem elementary; however, for me it’s always been a struggle. Even today I have to pay particular attention to what goes into the savings account. It is enough to live off of for 4 months. I’d like to get it up to 12 months. Then I would really feel as though I have accomplished something.

Credit and Debt

I got my first credit card when I was in college. It was a Sears charge card. I promptly maxed it out and then failed to make the payments on it. I have not historically done well with managing my credit. No surprise there.

Because I misused credit, I had to file bankruptcy in 1997. I recovered from that bankruptcy, bringing my score back over 700. I didn’t learn from my earlier mistakes, and my credit hit rock bottom twice more. Last year I negotiated many settlements with old creditors. My score is finally approaching 700 once again.

I now have just one credit card. If I can’t afford something, I usually don’t buy it. I have managed the one credit card wisely; using it for larger purchases in order to rebuild my credit. I then pay it off at the end of the month to avoid surcharges and interest charges.

Being overextended seems to be the American way. Foolishly we use credit to buy things we can’t afford. Then we are stuck making payments with the money we can’t afford to make the payments with. I suspect more than some of you are stuck on the credit hamster wheel: making minimum payments on credit cards and barely having money left over to have any kind of savings.

Attitude Shift

It takes a serious attitude shift about finances to manage money successfully. Spending money when you don’t have it. Using credit cards to manage daily life. Ignoring the need to save some kind of percentage of your paycheck. In today’s world, for most of us any way, eeking out a living is becoming more and more difficult. Making ends meet an almost daily challenge.

5 Ways to Empower Children with Financial Responsibility — April Rinne

At 57, it’s a bit late for me to be thinking about retirement plans and such. I no longer have that luxury. However, I do have the luxury of paying attention to my bottom line and ensuring there is money for emergencies. I also have a responsibility to my wife and daughter. I have savings accounts for them as well. The last thing that’s going to happen to my daughter is for her not to understand the importance of managing her money.

I am still a ways away from ensuring I have at least 6 month’s worth of living expenses securely tucked away in my savings account. But I am on top of my finances like never before.

Maybe I can avoid the calamities a future of money woes by being smart this time. It’s never too late to right the ship.

Principles of Purpose:  Be Grateful

Tentatively titled Principles of Purpose: A Guide To Living Wisely, is an ongoing draft of a concept I might one day publish a book on. It’s essentially 30 Principles that I think are essential to living life wisely. Some are principles that I wished I had learned much earlier in life. Many are principles that I only learned in recovery in 2016-2017. Still other principles were ones I had applied off and on during my 56 years.

PrefaceIntroductionTrusting Your GutUse Good Judgement
ListenRegulate EmotionsSet BoundariesBe Mindful
Practice ModerationManage ExpectationsResolve ConflictPlan Ahead
Have PatienceBe YourselfPractice AcceptanceBe Grateful
Manage Money

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

Melody Beattie

On the Skillsyouneed website is an excellent definition of gratitude: “Gratitude is a warm feeling of thankfulness towards the world, or towards specific individuals. The person who feels gratitude is thankful for what they have, and does not constantly seek more.

Practice Gratitude
Click to enlarge

But gratitude is much more than that. To practice gratitude is to empower yourself to overcome negative and unpleasant situations in life. Having an attitude of gratitude stems the tide of negative reactions to situations out of your control.

By practicing gratitude we can better assimilate ourselves to living in the now and what we have presently. It eliminates negative emotion by negation. It is through gratitude where we can gain a sense of peace and tranquility in our everyday lives.

On a practical level, your gratitude practice can consist of many things, from writing a handwritten ‘thank you’-letter, to creating an appreciation calendar, saying “I’m grateful” for everything you touch on a given day, calling your parents or children and expressing your appreciation, sharing a positive post of gratitude on social media, or giving your time or money to a cause or charity.

The Benefits of Gratitude

Increasing your gratitude is useful because:

  • it’s an instant mood booster and feels great in the moment
  • you’re likely to feel closer to friends and family
  • you’re likely to enjoy your life more
  • it’s good for your physical health
  • it’s easier to cope with tough times
  • good things in life don’t stick in our heads as easily as bad events.

This last point is really important. We tend to remember when bad things happen, and the time we spend thinking about them makes us unhappy. But, if we make an effort to increase how often we experience gratitude, it can balance out some of the negative stuff.

That doesn’t mean that you should ignore/forget your problems, or that the things wrong with your life are unimportant. It just means that good memories will also stick in your mind, so you get to enjoy them for longer.

How To Practice Gratitude
gratitude

Experiencing more gratitude is easy and doesn’t take much time. Try these ideas and see what works best for you:

  • Keep a gratitude journal.  Take five minutes each day or once a week to think of and write down three things that have happened to you since the previous day or week that you’re glad you experienced.
  • Take pictures.  Set yourself a mission to photograph little things in your everyday life that make you smile.
  • Tell someone you’re grateful to have them in your life.  Whether it’s someone you look up to, or someone who just makes you happy, take the time to tell them you’re glad they’re around.

You don’t have to think up a whole bunch of really significant things in order to be grateful. You can be grateful for the smallest things, such as the sunshine, your morning coffee, or the fact that you made it to your train on time.

Gratitude For Life

The important thing is to establish the daily habit of paying attention to gratitude-inspiring events. The place to start is with a reality check because we all begin life dependent on others, and most of us will end life dependent on others.

practicing gratitude

If we are lucky, in between, we have roughly 60 years or so of unacknowledged dependency. The human condition is such that, throughout life, not just at the beginning and end, we are profoundly dependent on other people.

Gratitude takes us outside ourselves where we see ourselves as part of a larger, intricate network of sustaining relationships that are mutually reciprocal. Gratitude is the truest approach to life. We did not create or fashion ourselves. We did not birth ourselves. Life is about giving, receiving, and repaying.

We are receptive beings, dependent on the help of others, on their gifts and their kindness. As such, we are called to gratitude. If we choose to ignore this basic truth, we steer ourselves off course. Just knowing this is usually enough to inspire a more grateful outlook on life.

In short, developing and maintaining gratitude practices radically transforms your outlook and experience of life. Practice gratitude on a regular basis, and start reaping these benefits for yourself! 

Click to download Gratitude Journal

Principles of Purpose:  Practice Acceptance

Tentatively titled Principles of Purpose: A Guide To Living Wisely, is an ongoing draft of a concept I might one day publish a book on. It’s essentially 30 Principles that I think are essential to living life wisely. Some are principles that I wished I had learned much earlier in life. Many are principles that I only learned in recovery in 2016-2017. Still other principles were ones I had applied off and on during my 56 years.

PrefaceIntroductionTrusting Your GutUse Good Judgement
ListenRegulate EmotionsSet BoundariesBe Mindful
Practice ModerationManage ExpectationsResolve ConflictPlan Ahead
Have PatienceBe YourselfPractice AcceptanceBe Grateful
Manage Money

“Anything in life that we don’t accept will simply make trouble for us until we make peace with it.”

Shakti Gawain
Unconditional Acceptance
practicing acceptance

To practice acceptance means accepting ourselves, other people, and life as they actually are – and completely, meaning not only with our mind (i.e., intellectually), but also with our heart, soul, and body – the whole deal. No “if only”. No “except for”. No “but”. The whole shebang.

No judgment, either. No holding your breath until you, another person, or this situation is “fixed”. Completely, unconditionally, unequivocally accepting (and actually embracing) reality.

The pain which we feel when something doesn’t work out our way can be bad enough. Add to this a resistant attitude, and the result can be intense suffering, which can at times rival the initial pain in its severity. However, if we opt for radical acceptance, while we still cannot alter the situation that caused the pain, we can reduce (or even eliminate) the self-imposed suffering.

Radical Acceptance

Radical Acceptance, one of the principles of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a choice that we consciously make, and doing so can actually maximize our ability to make necessary changes, if need be. To quote William James, “Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune”.

With radical acceptance, we say “yes, and…” to life, rather than “no”. This approach increases our options, as we are open and able to see new possibilities.

Acceptance can also be viewed as acknowledgement.  With acceptance, you’re not agreeing with or endorsing the situation, but you’re admitting that it exists. At the same time, you don’t stand for abusive or manipulative behavior. Once you recognize the current reality, as opposed to living in denial, you’re in a better position to be proactive in changing the situation. For instance, you might leave an abusive relationship. Rather than wasting valuable time and energy telling yourself that this can’t be the case or shouldn’t be the case, you acknowledge that, okay, this is indeed the case, although you may not like it, and then you consider your possible choices and move forward.

Acceptance involves letting go of judgment and opting to practice perceiving things as they actually are.  Negative judgment, whether of ourselves or others, drains us and blocks us from being mindful and present. Judgment often contains a lot of resentment, which, as had been said, is like “swallowing poison and expecting the other person to die”. Of course, if the object of our resentment is ourselves, this is a double whammy. Even without resentment, judgment tends to lead to increased emotional upset. Imagine how much more effective you’d be if you directed that energy elsewhere, such as towards what is within your power to control, namely your present attitudes and actions. Note that the past nor other people’s behavior or attitudes fall under your control.

Notice when you’re negatively judging or criticizing something.  Keep a record (on a notepad or your phone) of your judgmental thoughts. If the phrases “should”, “ought to”, need to”, or “must” crop up, chances are that you’re being judgmental.  If possible, record your judgment soon after it occurs, so it’s fresh in your mind. Where were you when the judgment occurred? When?

Were you exceptionally hungry, angry, lonely, or tired (HALT)? After awhile, you’re likely to notice some patterns. For example, you may notice that you’re judgmental more often at work than at home, or vice versa, or after spending time with a particular person. As you review your notes, try to take the perspective of “beginner’s mind”, in that you look at things as if for the first time, and as an observer rather than a judge. Be curious rather than furious.

Practice willingness.  Willingness means that you do whatever it takes to be effective in a given situation, and you do this without waffling. Willfulness can look like throwing up your hands in despair, sitting on your hands when action is needed, refusing to make what seems like the best choice or a necessary change, refusing to make any decision at all (when time is of the essence), pouting, acting impulsively, attempting to fix what isn’t within your control, refusing to accept reality, or focusing exclusively on your needs and desires (rather than considering other people and the bigger picture).

Click To Enlarge

Notice when you’re resistant to reality.  This can manifest as resentment, crankiness, condemnation, giving up, trying to control other people’s behavior, or thinking that all would be well if only “X” would happen.

Act as if.  What actions would you take and how would you talk if you accepted the facts? Play the game of pretend and act as if this were so. A change in your actions can often pave the way for a change in your attitudes. This approach is known in DBT as “opposite action.”

Relax your body.  This will promote an attitude of acceptance. Practice “willing hands” by placing your open hands palms-up in your lap. You can also try a gentle half-smile.  Studies have shown that the simple act of smiling can lighten our mood and decrease our anxiety.

Take into account all of the decisions and events that occurred up until now.  All of these factors contributed to the current situation being what it is. You influenced some of these events, and others were entirely out of your control. You were not in charge, but you played a part. At any rate, what’s the point in assigning blame? The question is, what now?

Learn (and remember) what you can and cannot control.  As human beings, we wish to be in control. The idea makes us feel safe. To accept our situation means acknowledging that we’re not always in control. And this can be a bitter pill to swallow. However, warring with reality does not change reality. Think Serenity Prayer here.

Examine your expectations.  Were (or are) they realistic? Or did they set you up for disappointment, anger, or anxiety? How can you adjust your expectations and wishes so that they’re more realistic and appropriate?

Practice watching your breath.  This will help to ground you to the present moment and help you to detach from the thoughts that will inevitably occur. The goal is not to eradicate thoughts, but simply to notice them, without getting carried away by them. With radical acceptance, you choose to direct your attention to making decisions that will improve your well-being as well as those around you, rather than assigning blame. The better you get at seeing your thoughts without being hijacked by them (which a breathing meditation can teach you), the better you’ll get at radical acceptance.

Acceptance is a decision you make again and again.  This is not a one-and-for-all choice. Acceptance is a conscious stance you take many times a day. You’re likely to fall back into resistance on occasion – and that’s natural. Just notice when you do so and see if you can mindfully choose acceptance at this moment.

Live in the present moment.  We expend so much needless energy when we agonize about the past, worry about the future, or retreat into fantasy land. Best to stay with here and now.

Recognize the difference between urges and behaviors.  If you are tempted to give in to a temptation to act destructively, accept that you feel a certain way, but don’t succumb to the urge. Sure, giving in to the desire to eat a pint of ice cream, drink a bottle of wine, or yell at your boss might give you some short-term satisfaction, but in the longer run you’ll probably just have added to your list of problems.

Appropriate action has everything to do with your own attitudes and actions, rather than other people.  For instance, if you notice that you’re the one who initiates plans with a friend, while they rarely if ever do so with you, you can ask them to suggest plans from time to time. What they do with this request is up to them. All you can control is the degree to which you set and maintain boundaries and your attitude. You can give your friend some space if they don’t contact you. You can develop friendships with people who meet you halfway. You can accept that your friendship with this person is not all you hoped it would be, while mentally wishing them well.

Develop some personal coping statements (and keep them handy) for use during difficult moments. Examples include:

This is difficult, but it’s temporary.I can feel anxious and still deal with this situation effectively. Resisting reality only blocks me from seeing my options. 
It is what it is.I can get through this. This feels painful, but the feeling will pass.
Fighting with the past is futile. I can’t change what’s happened, and that’s okay..I can accept this situation and still be happy. 
I can feel bad and still opt for new and healthy choices. I can only control my present responses.What do I need to do right now?

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Principles of Purpose:  Be Yourself

Tentatively titled Principles of Purpose: A Guide To Living Wisely, is an ongoing draft of a concept I might one day publish a book on. It’s essentially 30 Principles that I think are essential to living life wisely. Some are principles that I wished I had learned much earlier in life. Many are principles that I only learned in recovery in 2016-2017. Still other principles were ones I had applied off and on during my 56 years.

PrefaceIntroductionTrusting Your GutUse Good Judgement
ListenRegulate EmotionsSet BoundariesBe Mindful
Practice ModerationManage ExpectationsResolve ConflictPlan Ahead
Have PatienceBe YourselfPractice AcceptanceBe Grateful
Manage Money

“Be yourself- not your idea of what you think somebody else’s idea of yourself should be.”

Henry David Thoreau
be yoruself

Who hasn’t been told to just “Be Yourself” at least once in their lifetime? What does that mean exactly? Certainly there are situations in life that it would not be appropriate to be yourself. I mean your true self. The one you truly ought to be. The person you are most comfortable being.

That is not to suggest that you be disingenuous. I mean it more to suggest being yourself with reservations. For example, at work. You can be yourself to the degree that you fit into the milieu. You certainly don’t want to unleash the hounds and be yourself completely. No.

You can, however, be yourself to the degree that you do not compromise who you are essentially. Who you are without compromising your morals, scruples, beliefs. You certainly would not reveal the deepest and darkest secrets about yourself in the form of self-disclosure at work as you would, say, around your intimate family and friends.

What Does It Mean To Be Yourself?

Well it’s who you are at the core. What you believe in. Without labels. Without peer pressure or familial prejudice. It’s how you dress. How you conduct yourself without fear or apprehension. You can be your authentic self in most circumstances though. Just how brave do you want to be?

living authentically

There is inherent value in being able to live authentically and express oneself, and such self-actualization can make our lives feel truly worth living. As the late philosopher Lawrence Becker proclaimed, “autonomous human lives have a dignity that is immeasurable, incommensurable, infinite, beyond price.”

In order to live a meaningful life, then, make sure you are in touch with yourself—that you are living a life endorsed by yourself, not a life aiming at pleasing others. If you don’t follow your own values and dreams, you are most probably following values set by others—in the worst case the shallow, materialistic values promoted by mass culture and advertisements.

And there is nothing more disappointing in life than living someone else’s dream. As some wisecracker has put it, it is better to be yourself, as everyone else is already taken.

How To Be Yourself

Rather than drivel on about the myriad ways you can be yourself, I decided to compile a list from various sources on the internet. The following list are what I think represent the best ways to be yourself. So, go out and be the best you that you can be!

don’t aim to please otherslearn more about yourself
don’t worry about how others view youappreciate who you are
be confident with who you areforgive yourself
stop being negative about yourselffind a hobby you love
learn from your mistakesstrive for what you want to accomplish
become more aware of your inner thoughtsfollow your intuition
identify your strengths and weaknessesdon’t compare yourself to others
don’t succumb to peer pressuresurround yourself with positive people
don’t judge yourselfdon’t be too hard on yourself
treat yourself as your own best frienddevelop and express your individuality
advocate for yourselffollow your own sense of style
admit when you are wrongstand up for others
accept who you arelove yourself
express yourself in a variety of waysshow your vulnerability
be self-awaredon’t worry about what other people think
build a foundation of self-knowledgeidentify your beliefs
stick to your moralsspeak your truth
be respectful of yourselfforgive yourself
never be what others think you should bebe comfortable in your own skin
take riskstrust in who you are
open your mindopen your heart
free your spiritlive courageously
accept yourselfpractice gratitude

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