Why I Practice Kindness

Trying to change someone’s mind might just makes things worse.

So I’m really trying to practice pausing during difficult interactions. This way, I can respond instead of react. And more than that, I get to decide HOW I want to respond.

In the moments where I remember this practice, I have greater choice in what I say or do. I also get the opportunity to say or do nothing at all if that’s what I feel is appropriate.

It’s not always easy, especially when I believe that I’m right and the other person is so very, clearly wrong.

It’s 1 million times more difficult when it feels like a person is intentionally disregarding my feelings to pursue their own agenda.

In those situations, it can be helpful to assume ignorance instead of maliciousness. This helps create the space that I’m taking about, the space to respond without losing my temper and acting like a jerk face.

Because some people really are just ignorant, misguided, inexperienced, or uninformed.

And I know what you’re thinking. Some people are malicious, and mean, and interested only in their own gains. But pausing and practicing kindness gives me the opportunity to evaluate the situation and eventually distance myself from a person if that’s what makes sense.

And of course, there have been times when I’ve paused, that I find out that I was wrong and the other person was right.

Imagine that!

Yeah.

Sometimes the best I can do is practice kindness and ride this shit out.

Why It’s Okay To Do Nothing

I woke up today and started planning the most amazing vacation ever.

And then I remembered that I don’t like to do stuff.

I really don’t.

And I think plenty of people plan vacations every year out of habit or routine. We spend money that puts us further into debt and the vacations aren’t that fun anyway. Of course we create some great photos for Facebook or Instagram, but it’s all for show. We vacation because we think we should, or because we always have, or because our parents, or neighbors, or friends do it.

“We are going to have fun! Damn it!”

That’s the sort of vacation thinking that permeates a lot of these trips.

But many of us don’t don’t have fun, not really. We drag along our own anxieties and neurosis that we deal with at home. And we drag along the kids, or significant others, or some other people to bicker with when the inevitable stresses of traffic, airline delays, and sleep deprivation break us.

We also bring along impossibly high expectations that no experience or location could ever live up to.

I don’t know how this got started. Maybe it began in the 1950’s as part of the American Dream, when people had two weeks paid vacation every year and would go to the seashore, or the Grand Canyon, or something.

And I don’t want to poop on everyone’s vacation. If it brings actual joy, then it’s worth it no matter the cost. If it doesn’t, if it’s just habit, then why do it?

And for those of us that love time to just sit, that’s okay too. It really is.

I’ll just be hanging out with this guy.

Having fun. Damn it.

Steal This Wisdom

Life is bigger than me.

It’s true.

And life doesn’t give a damn if I’m happy. It doesn’t give a damn if I’m sad.

It doesn’t care if there’s riots in the streets of my hometown. It doesn’t care if I’m binging Madmen on Netflix.

Life doesn’t care if I’m a success or a failure.

It doesn’t care if I feel alone.

Life just is. And I don’t think it’s here for any reason except to be here.

There’s going to be earthquakes, and blizzards, and California will probably run out of water. There’s going to be beautiful summer days, and hurricanes, and crisp December nights with the twinkling of Christmas lights. (Do be sure to take those lights down by the end of January. Okay? Thanks!)

There’s going to be FREAKING TRAFFIC!

But there’s also going to be straight, open roads where I feel the freedom to roll down the windows, let the breeze and the sunshine touch me, and completely disregard the speed limit. Yeah!

Loved ones will leave. And babies will be born. And I’ll probably continue to be completely blown away by the fact that my brother is now someone’s dad. I’m positive he’ll be great at it. And I’m sure he’ll really dig it.

And I’ll hold close to my heart the time, so very long ago, when he fell asleep on my floor after an evening of carousing and my iguana slept on his face.

That was funny.

And we all get a chance to be young, but most of us waste it. We get old so quickly. I’m telling you, younglings, we do.

If I’d have known that, really known that, I’d have enjoyed my hair more when it was thick and kick ass. I’d have experimented with different hairstyles.

And dyed it blue.

I’d have dated a certain acquaintance’s ex girlfriend. Because twenty years later, none of that means anything anymore.

Maybe, life is about learning.

So I leave you today, dear readers, with some gems of caffeine-induced wisdom.

1.) Praying or well-wishing is a nice gesture. So is buying a homeless guy gloves and preventing frostbite.

2.) The Buddha said, “Existence is unsatisfactoriness.” But he failed to mention that it’s made better by living with a dog.

3.) We all have our own truths and there’s never any good reason to compromise on them. Any time I have, I’ve suffered.

4.) Right and wrong are mostly subjective. But compassion, that’s a real thing.

Until next time, keep your head in the stars and keep reaching for your feet.

*

The Most Valuable Advice Is Sometimes None At All

Asking me for relationship advice is like asking me to command a starship.

Actually, I’d be better with the starship.

As far as relationships go, I could parrot stuff wise people have told me, stuff I’ve read in books, or quote romantic lines from movies.

But I’m no expert on love.

I mean, I’m not in a relationship now, and I’ve never been married.

Seems silly to ask me for advice, eh?

I’ve got some skills and tips to help someone make it through an anxiety attack or a total friggin’ meltdown.

I can teach you some stuff about drumming, or martial arts, or meditation.

I’ve even got some badass recipes for easy vegan soups.

But I received an email just the other day from a reader who was asking my advice, or if I’d written any posts that could pertain to his current situation. It seems he’s been in a 15 month relationship with someone he loves, but has found someone new, younger, and sexier.

He mentioned that his current girlfriend is too “tame” in the bedroom and that when he tries to talk to her about it, she gets defensive. He feels really despondent about his needs not being met. His relationship with his girlfriend is otherwise good, but he’s in total lust with the new, much younger woman.

I really wanted to give this guy some mind-blowing advice. I wanted to sit down and create a post about communication, or something about the grass is always greener, or the challenges of dating someone 17 years younger.

Or, I could’ve reminded him that women aren’t mere sexual objects for his gratification.

I could’ve gotten on my soapbox about how he ought to be thankful that someone wants to be in a relationship with him and how everyone’s eyes wander occasionally. That’s part of being human. It’s perfectly natural and okay. But it doesn’t have to be acted on.

And in many, many cases, it shouldn’t be.

But I didn’t write any of those things. Instead, I pulled a Dr Drew and responded to his email suggesting that he talk to a professional therapist or counselor. Maybe together they could work out what he should do. Or, maybe they could look at his thoughts and feelings towards women or relationships in general.

Because that guy was suffering. And Life is full of it. Judging or criticizing each other isn’t helpful, even if they are doing things or living a life that I don’t agree with or understand. And I think one of the worst things we can do, besides judging, is giving unqualified advice.

Now, if I only had a starship.

How To Feel Less Anxiety

What the hell is dancing?

Really? What is it?

Now, I’m not talking about ballet or one of the more choreographed styles of dance. I totally get that. As a matter of fact, I’m a kind of a ballerina fanboy.

I know how much training and discipline it takes to reach the level of professional ballerina.

I’m in awe of the power they wield over their environment, and the physical strength and endurance it takes to make it through a performance while executing flawless technique.

I’m talking about what happens at wedding receptions.

That stuff.

That stuff that your date might try to make you do. That stuff that makes me decline the offer of being someone’s date to a wedding. I wouldn’t want to ruin her time by being the guy that won’t dance, or worse, the guy that dances awfully.

And all of her friends would be like, “Who is that derp that Jen brought with her?”

Because most women my age are named “Jen.” I think I know 15 of them. Which is okay, because I’ve always liked that name.

Anyway, I wouldn’t want to put Jen through that. Or myself, for that matter.

Ugh.

If I ever get married, I would take dance lessons with my fiancé. That way, we could look really awesome.

And instead of everyone thinking about how uncomfortable I look, which is exactly what people are thinking at that time in most men’s lives, they could instead think about what a beautiful moment it is. And everyone could really enjoy it.

Even me.

Because If something scares us or makes us uncomfortable, sometimes learning more about it takes the edge off.

If someone is afraid of snakes, maybe learning more about them could help. Learn which ones are venomous and which ones are not. Learn which ones you’re likely to encounter where you live.

If a person is afraid of public speaking, perhaps taking an acting class at the local college could help one become more comfortable in front of an audience and also give them tools to help them seem more relaxed onstage.

Or maybe someone who is afraid of getting mugged could take a self defense class from a reputable instructor and feel more comfortable going out in the evening to spend time with friends.

There are lots of options and work-arounds.

Think about what you’d like to change and what skills or information you’d need to do it. Then think about who might possess that skill or a similar one and go and get it. It might be a person. It might be a book. Check it out.

As far as me, I’m not engaged so I don’t really have to worry about dancing anytime soon.

Sorry, Jens.

The most important thing to remember, ever.

Today I woke up with Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler”stuck in my head. I’m not sure why. Last week I mostly woke up to Whitesnake.

Whitesnake.

Where the hell did that come from?

Not that there’s anything wrong with Whitesnake, it’s just been ages since I’ve listened to them. I can’t imagine why they’d be stuck in my head.

And for those of you wondering which song, it was “Slide It in”.

I’ll just go ahead and leave that there.

Anyway, back to Kenny Rogers. My mom used to play one of his greatest hits albums every weekend when I was a kid. It was sort of her soundtrack while doing housework.

The nice thing about Kenny is most of his songs tell a story. That’s a good way to engage a kid. And, it would seem, to making dusting shelves less painful.

I decided to give “The Gambler” a listen while eating breakfast. And you know what? I think it’s a great song that stands the test of time. It also occurred to me that Kenny Rogers could be considered one of my first spiritual teachers.

Just think about it. The first four lines of the chorus pretty much give a workable formula for living.

“You’ve got to know when to hold ’em.
Know when to fold ’em.
Know when to walk away.
And know when to run.”

And with a new year fast approaching, I’m taking an inventory of my life to see what’s working and what’s not.

When should I hold’ em and when should I fold’ em?

Is it time to walk away from some things in order to make room for new opportunities?

Are there people I need to run the hell away from?

What about you?

No one gets out of life alive.

What are you going to do with the time you have left?

I’ll be pondering that question too.

Like Kenny said:

“Every hand’s a winner and every hand’s a loser.
And the best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep.”

That might be the most important thing to remember, ever.