Archives for August 2015


The Ideal of Beauty

Our culture has decided that youth = beauty. We have ourselves to blame as we have idealized the concept of youth for many years. We attach all kinds of concepts to youth, including sexuality and all forms of success.
We have made these associations from our own volition. It is us who make youth the star of every show and every movie of life. It is us who decide to worship youth.

I think that we forget this. We forget that we made the decision to worship youth. We forget that this is a construct, not reality. We have to be careful about thinking that our construct is reality. Youth does not equal beauty. Youth is NOT equal to sexuality and it certainly has no relationship to success. Youth is a lot of things, but has no perpetual meaning. Youth is simply a time of life like any other, it has no magic other than the magic that we may individually choose to imbue it with.

Don’t forget these simple realities. Don’t think that because you are thirty, you are no longer young, don’t think that if you are forty you have lost your youth. Don’t imagine that being fifty – with all of the changes that the age brings to the body – is a bad thing. We are still wholly the person that we are, made all the better with age and experience. Youth is not what makes us beautiful, sexy or successful. The width, breadth and depth of our lives is what makes us beautiful, sexy and successful.


Specificity can be a virtue: Vague generalities are the antithesis of clear communication

To understand the virtues of specificity it’s important to understand the constructs of thinking. Thinking is often a product of belief systems. Belief systems live in our minds and like all living creatures want terribly to survive. Unfortunately, the survival of a belief system means the death of all contrary evidence to the belief system. For example, if I am a long-time supervisor who believes that workers are lazy, I will not open my eyes nor acknowledge energetic and motivated individuals on my staff. I will discount their efforts and emphasize every 15 minute break that they take, even during a 12 hour shift. I will be unreasonable in my blind belief that I am correct and workers – are in fact – lazy.
As I communicate from my belief structure, instead of communicating based on what happens right now, I must cover up the contrary evidence that disputes my belief and this I do by being general and vague about the evidence supporting my beliefs. I will say “look at those lazy people, trying to nap during break time!” I will not comprehend that Tom is napping because he has a newborn at home, I will not comprehend that Debbie is napping because she was up all night with an upset stomach. The point of vague generalities is to cover up the truth of what is happening right now. Only evidence to support my belief will be allowed into my comprehension and conversation.
The other issue of generalities is that they lead to great misunderstandings and generate a need for clarification. If you send a memo to all staff that says “your work is incomplete, please complete ASAP.” You are generalizing because perhaps you are unable to specifically confront those who do not complete their work. The staff that has completed their work will wonder if they have forgotten something, the staff that has not completed their work, will know that you are uncomfortable with confrontation and therefore will not be motivated by these generalities. So, in addition to the issue of incomplete work, everyone knows that work completion is negotiable. After all, if you won’t confront the non-performers, only the self-motivated will ever get the work done. Those staff members who motivate themselves will continue to do so. Those staff that cannot finish the work will eventually cause a loss in morality for others and will eventually have to go. There is no productive outcome here, it is one and the same, generalities do not provide clear communication.
Another way to love your belief system is to ignore two way communications completely. Why have a conversation with another person, when you can make it all up in your head rather than reaching out and talking with the other person? Your vague generalities go unnoticed and unchallenged, and isn’t that the best way to be right – about everything?


Our Effort Dictates the Level of Pain of Failure

I noticed in a new way that the more I tried (in other words: the more work and effort that I put into it) to reach a goal, the more upsetting it was to experience failure.
Recently, I experienced a heart problem. It’s very scary to have something going on with your body that you have no control over!
Additionally, because of popular culture I had come to believe that heart attacks are brought on by the person who suffers it. Heart attacks are suffered by those who eat poorly, by those who do not exercise, those who do not care for their own body. I thought that my heart troubles were my own failure.
As is obvious from my healthy living page, I have been working for years on my health. My diet has always been a good one. In my family, eating at a fast food restaurant is akin to talking to Satan. We never drank sodas and potato chips were never a staple. This healthy stuff has been a lifelong commitment. It’s not something new.
So I was doubly disappointed by my heart condition…I felt I did not “deserve” it. Then I found out that my heart condition had nothing to do with my diet, I didn’t need stents and my veins are mostly clear.
Here is my lesson – try as I might – I am a human being, my physical body lives in a physical world that I do not control, therefor I cannot predict my future, nor can I predict the outcome of my health efforts. It is possible that I work hard and receive no reward for my hard work. I can get a reward i.e. Health and lose my health in a different way, from other circumstances such as an accident. This is not an excuse to quit trying and working hard to be healthy – it just means that I cannot guarantee an outcome. For this lesson I am grateful.
My other lesson is this – bad things happen to each and every one of us. Blaming the recipient of disease and / or failure is not a good way to treat each other. Ignorance may not be an excuse for poor health behavior, but it is not up to me judge and blame others for their hardships.