Saturday, August 8, 2009

Are Tech Savvy People More Prone to Thoughtlessness?

The idea that people are very thoughtless these days shouldn't be a shock. I believe technology allows us to avoid general intimacies. By general intimacies, I mean the social interaction between humans in the service industry. For example: Many of the grocery stores in my area have added 'automated' teller checkout stations to the front of their stores. This ensures that you don't need to 'deal' with a live human to ring up your things, thus eliminating the possibility of the smallest amount of human interaction. The only reason a human needs to interact with you, is if you need to authorize your age OR something went wrong with your transaction.

Some appeal for me with the machines is that: 1) The machine doesn't ask you how your day was, 2) the machine doesn't chat it up with the customer ahead of you, 3) the machine doesn't verbally kidnap you and tell you about their day even if you appear to be in a hurry, and 4) the machine doesn't give you 'attitude' for using a check. The machine generally ends your transaction with a "Thank you for shopping at (insert store name)"

I enjoy these machines! Not because I am antisocial to the extent that I don't need human interaction. I prefer this method of check out, because I don't need to deal with the above noted comments on what these machines DON'T do. And just to clarify, I don't mind people asking me about my day or on the other way around. Sometimes, I actually care and want to know how a person's day went . It is very polite to ask, but it should be viewed as a nicety. In other words, it shouldn't be my chance (or someone elses chance) to unload my (their) emotional baggage of the day on someone who was being polite. Also, I don't mind people chatting up other people. But don't do it if I'm the one behind you and we're in a service, customer situation!

Automated machines are just one example of how society is inadvertently cutting out interactions between humans. Because of this, people don't know how to communicate with each other. We don't know how to 'read' or track other people's attitudes.

There was a time when great customer service was something you simply expected. There wasn't ever a question about how your call would be handled, how your complaint would be addressed. Even getting gas used to be full service. Someone would come out, ask you what kind of gas you wanted and you'd tell them. (There are still a few east coast states that still do things that way.) Now, you have to have something physically wrong with you to get an attendant to pump your gas.

And what about the days where you'd walk into a store and if you seemed confused, someone would ask you if you need help. Try that at Best Buy or Staples these days. You WILL wait till the sky turns red and still be waiting to be 'helped'. And what about food service? Remember the days where if you didn't eat ALL the food on your plate, wait staff would take the time to ask why? What was once common, is now something we think never really was....

The advancement of the cell phone has allowed us as humans to cut off that part of ourselves that used to like writing letters. It's cut off that part of us that used to be in tuned to how a customer, how each of us is thinking. It's cut off part of our humanity.

Remember you have a voice and a heart. Remember that intuition inside of you that recognizes other people's pain. You were born of a human, of this earth. We are all linked. Once you lose that part of you that senses outside itself, it is almost impossible to regain.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Be a good friend to yourself before you expect others to be a good friend to you

It's not easy being green.

It was of course Kermit The Frog who sang those sad little lyrics lamenting the unfortunate ways being green can make you feel invisible. He sang of how ordinary you are being green by blending in with things that are common, like leaves. Most telling of all, he sang of how people tend to pass you by as ordinary. He sings of how maybe it would be better being red, yellow or gold, flashy, stand out colors that pop! He sang of being twinkly like a star or flashy sparks in the water.

Just like Kermit, most of us tend to believe we have an image not worthy of facing the world. Most of us tend to think that adequate is our limit. The ones who are motivated tend to be that way because they are surrounded by family or friends that root them on. After all, it's much easier to storm the castle if you have a squadron of guys with bows and arrows behind you. You can attempt it alone, but your chances of survival are seriously reduced!

But what if you don't have a tribe backing you up? What if you grew up in a house where your parents found you to be 'green' and didn't offer the kind of cushion and support it takes to be red, yellow or gold?

I want to mention Dr. Phil for a moment... I watched Dr. Phil once. (Okay, maybe twice!) The thing about Dr. Phil is that you have to sort of take what he says and put it through a strainer. For example. I hate celery. Celery is one of those foods people don't notice in their salads. I notice. I just don't like the taste. When I got to Souper Salad or Sweet Tomatoes and I want one of their potato or pasta salads, I eventually end up picking out the celery with my fork when I get back to the table. I mean, I love their potato and pasta salads, but I can do without the celery. Some of what Dr. Phil says is like the celery. The dish is good, but parts of it have to be filtered out.

Anyway, Dr. Phil said that it takes a bunch of 'Atta Girls!' to fix one negative comment. In other words, the positive stuff we hear about ourselves has to be pretty much tripled, quadrupled to fix the one negative comment someone tosses at us. I believe the reason behind this is because when you are happy, you don't notice how good it feels. Well, you may notice, but you take it for granted. When something negative happens, you remember it, because you notice how it feels. We also 'feel' like the happy stuff ends too fast, whereas the negative drags on. (A good example is when you are waiting for the weekend to come. Then BOOM it's Sunday! Time really didn't actually fly. It's just that if you enjoyed yourself it 'felt' shortened. The same goes for Monday mornings. You look up at the wall clock to find that it's only 10 AM, yet you could have sworn it was 12.)

Positive affirmations are like happy 'moments'. If you don't remember them or if you put them way in the back of your mind, the negative will come charging forward. Negative is very assertive.

The way you begin or retain the process of feeling good about you, is to make sure you are surrounded by people who give you reason to LOVE yourself. Of course, be realistic about your abilities! If I didn't go to school to be a brain surgeon, then chances are no matter how much I psyche myself up into believing I can be a brilliant surgeon, I will kill someone attempting to operate!

Finding supportive, realistic friends isn't easy! You have to know who you are and what you want so that you don't draw people who are subconsciously non supportive. (All of us have had a friend who we thought was supportive when it turns out that they really weren't that impressed with us...) To do that you first have to LOVE yourself. It's confusing how it works, because the process is almost simultaneous.

The simplest way to figure out if someone finds you a joy and a privilege to know, is they seriously listen to what they say. If every comment you make seems to be backed up with a negative comment, then you know that maybe this person isn't the best person to go to when you need support. You have to use your intuition. Tune into how you 'feel' when you are talking to your friends. Friends make time for you and you make time for them. If you find yourself dragging and dreading whenever you need to see someone, maybe it's time to seek out new companions. You don't need to befriend everyone you meet! Believe me, tha can do more harm than good!

Now, back to Kermit... He doesn't just leave us thinking that being green sucks! Half way through the song he let's us know that green is the color of spring, which happens to be most people's favorite season. He compares green to a mountain (big) and to a river (important). He reminds us that trees are green and tall.

He ends the song letting us know that he isn't going to wonder why he is green. He realized long ago that green may be ordinary, but it's also beautiful and versatile. Find that versatility inside yourself and choose friends who seem to have that same internal signature.

It's a lot easier being green when you stop wondering why and just accept it as beautiful.

(Reference: IT'S NOT EASY BEING GREEN - Sung by Kermit from the MUPPETS)

Monday, August 3, 2009

By the Way, Life on Auto Pilot Isn't Living...

So, I'm sitting at the light on 19th Ave and Glendale. There are two cars in front of me. The light has turned green and the first guy is waiting traffic from the other direction to die down, before he finds his opening to make the left turn. The car in front of me pulls forward. The way is clear for him to go. There are no cars coming from the other direction. I'm waiting...he's waiting... cars behind us are waiting... I honk my horn and he pulls forward, slowly. Angered by this lack of initiative, I pull into the lane next to him and pull over into his lane some 30 feet in front of him. I make my right perfectly, no squealing tires or brake slamming. He is behind me, because he apparently is needing to visit the grocery store too.

This is just one example of what I call Auto Piloting through life!

My anger cooled minutes later. But, I am aware I could have handled it all better. I could have been in better control of the way I reacted to this situation, instead of letting it 'get' me. But this is the thing... this is not the first of one incident where I've noticed people just kind of emotionally surfing through life! It's not the first time I've noticed people paying so little attention to what they are doing. When the lane is clear, you go. You go because you are wasting other people's time by sitting there waiting at the light. If your heads not in the game, then you need to stay home!

People who don't find situations (Life) to be a priority are a problem for me. These types of people should be a problem for everyone! Another example: You and your friend are meeting for dinner. You have arrived at the place of meeting, 10 minutes early. You don't mind the ten minute wait. As a matter of fact, you don't mind the cushion of and extra ten minutes waiting for you friend. Traffic lights take a while sometimes, getting home late from another event can make a person late, etc.

Now, suppose it's 45 minutes after the time you are supposed to meet and your friend comes bounding in, happy to see you. Is there cause to be upset here? You arrived on time... a little early even! The 45 minutes you waited for that friend could have been spent doing something else, like eating. Making someone wait is rude and unaware. Making someone wait, sends the signal that that person is not priority! You can address this with your friend who may say, "Oh, I didn't notice. I'm sorry!"

Everyday, we look at situations like this as just fluff. We see them that way, because no one got 'hurt'. But what if someone did get hurt?

For example: Suppose your child is premature and needs a medication that is very specific. This medications name is very similar to another rare medication's name. As a matter of fact, the medications are different only by one letter in their name, but they do drastically different things.

Suppose a nurse, who is assigned to your baby, gives your child the wrong medication. They give the child the other medication, that is a letter off. Your child nearly dies because of this oversight! This is a true story. And it happens in hospitals, not on a regular basis, but it happens.

Something as delicate as a life deserves top priority when it comes to detail. In this instance, we wouldn't question that this nurse wasn't paying the strictest attention. But, shouldn't the strictest attention be paid across the board? Obviously, someone waiting in traffic for someone asleep at the wheel or arriving late to dinner, in no way compares to a child being wrongly medicated and nearly dying, but the premise is the same.

Would you want the air traffic controller of an airport to be text messaging his wife, while your plane is trying to land? Would you feel comfort knowing that the men who constructed your house were in fact daydreaming and discussing lunch time or other personal matters while they were putting your house together? Would you want the head of security for your building to be reading a book at work while a steady traffic of people enter the building unnoticed?

But, is paying attention to life, taking life too seriously? Should paying attention be relegated to only the dangerous parts of life? I say no! All of a life is important. From the first time you stub your toe, to the last traffic accident you had. Every incident in life leads to the next. Don't just pay attention to the dangerous parts of life! Pay attention to all of it. The only time you should feel comfortable letting your guard down and paying no attention is when you are asleep. Be awake for the other part of the day and night.

Stay safe!


Sunday, August 2, 2009

What To Expect

Understand that I am not a person who is going to tell you about how to achieve peace. As a spiritualist, it is hard for me to believe that people reach peace while living as humans. Human living is blood, guts, love, compassion, passion, hate, rage, fear....etc. I think peace is achieved in death. I believe you will always have some kind of adversity to expeierence. See me as the mentor and guide through the stuff I've lived though, you can relate to.