Saturday, November 25, 2023

Today's Challenge: Looking for Goodness

Friends have described insights they have received from journaling or developing an Attitude of Gratitude(I've fallen in and out of my own journal writing -- and am currently taking a breather!). Other friends have described their supervisory goal of "catching employees doing good."  (I tried this as a supervisor and enjoyed seeing the surprise and smiles on employees' faces when they were recognized for their ideas and accomplishments.)

Just recently I read about a group of friends who committed themselves -- as a group -- to a Goodness Challenge.  That is, at the end of each day they individually documented the goodness they saw or experienced that day.  Then, they met at a restaurant each weekend and shared what they had encountered and written.

How often does "Goodness Begin with You"?
(Photo credit: Accident Fee Workplace Sign - Cousign)

There are so many ways that we can focus on goodness and gratitude:  what is working versus what is not; what people are doing right versus when something goes amiss; and what is sacred and holy about the people around us versus what is wrong.

In this season of Giving Thanks, we are challenged to:

  • Appreciate people for who they are.
  • Recognize their efforts and accomplishments.
  • Inspire goodness and great things from one another.

Do you reach out in a spirit of welcoming and trust?
(Photo credit: 5 Characteristics to Identify the
Goodness in People
- Inc.)

Our actions may start with a smile, a warm greeting, a handshake, or a hug.  Then, the challenge is to let our critical minds relax for a few hours,
focus on the goodness of that person, and enjoy their presence in our lives.

Goodness also comes in a Make-a-Wish mindset: that is, listening to the wants, needs, and dreams of another person... and surprising that person with an unexpected gift of friendship and generosity.

When do you smile and with whom?
(Photo credit:  Mother Teresa - Picture Disc & Books)

If you need a few examples -- or need an uplifting moment at the end of a rough day, search YouTube for "Secret Santa East Idaho News" or Ellen Degeneres' "Military Surprise" and "Teacher Surprise" for ways that people are recognized.  We may not have millions to give away, but any way that we can gift people with our presence (time), recognition (focus), and kindness (attitude of goodness) will help us reframe how we see and experience this world.

Our challenge this holiday and holy season is to See Goodness!  Are you ready?!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, November 18, 2023

What Did You Say?

It's so easy these days to be on autopilot: whether it is driving on the freeway using our car's cruise control; walking across the street as we read our texts and emails; or half-listening to what a Loved One is saying.  Unfortunately, our magnificent brains go largely unused when we don't engage with what is happening around us... like noticing a smile, tear, or the beauty of a sunset -- or -- when we use our smart devices to remind us of what is important and not think of what we may be missing -- or -- when we don't actively analyze the sensory details we take in every moment.

I wonder if that is why we are having so many problems in our world today:  are we on autopilot too often?

What did you say?
(Photo credit:  Hearing and Understanding are
Two Different Things
, Chatsworth Consulting Group)

Combined with our auto-natures, maybe we have a tendency to believe (incorrectly!) that Assumptions = Facts.  Maybe we need to be reminded that assumptions are merely times when we are filling in the gaps, answering questions without all the information, or jumping to conclusions.  None of these are wrong... but they are not facts!  For instance, when we are on autopilot, maybe we assume we know what really happened.

Think of recent conversations you have had:  when on autopilot...

  • Did you read into... or add meaning... to what was said?
  • How much did you already know... or thought you knew?
  • How many questions did you ask... out of curiosity... to understand more fully what was being said?

How much did you add to what was said?
(Photo credit:  Andy Babitz)

I am fascinated at the origins of some words and how we use them.  For example, people sometimes use conversation and dialogue interchangeably.  Looking at the etymology (the birth and development) of these two words, we see a subtle shift in meaning:

  • Conversation:  Latin origins of the verb "conversari" -- "con" meaning "with" or "together" and "versare" meaning "to turn."  In essence, conversation literally means "turning together."
  • Dialogue:  comes from the Greek words "dia" (through) and "logos" (word or meaning).  Thus, a dialogue is a flow or exchange of meaning.

What percentage do you actually understand?
(Photo credit:  What You Say vs. What They Hear, Annette Segal)

The subtleness of these two words might be in the results of the interaction:  Is the objective to turn together to understand the same conclusion or viewpoint?  Or, is the objective the simplicity of exchanging information?  Underlying both of these modes of communication is the importance of disengaging my auto-tendencies, listening deeply for understanding, and asking questions for clarity and out of curiosity?
For me, dialogue is not about convincing you of my value system.  Rather, can we stay in relationship in order to hear what is being said and to try to understand the thinking behind the words being said.
What are your thoughts?


Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, November 11, 2023

What I Know Now

Meeting with a friend who will be retiring soon, we were reflecting on our respective careers: what we have learned from our work experiences and how these lessons might inform the next stages of our lives.  This friend reflected a common theme I have heard from others:  "I wish what I know now was available to me earlier in my career."

But I wonder how valuable these lessons would have been to us in our younger years?  What do we really know now, and would this wisdom have made a difference then?

What do you know?
~~ Click on image to enlarge ~~
(Photo credit:  Peanuts, Charles Schulz, June 6, 1967)

Our discussion reminded me of a book I read several years ago, What I Know for Sure by Oprah Winfrey.  In this book, Oprah summarized her life's lessons.  I am sure that each of us could list 5-10 important things that we have learned along the way.

Can you imagine, though, of being in a room full of people and listening to their combined wisdom?  Do you think we would absorb these lessons and apply them successfully?

How do you talk to others?  Yourself?
(Photo credit:  Positive Self Talk, Dhruvi Dharia)

True... other people's wisdom might help us along the way or direct our thinking or decision-making, but our self-discovery and deciding What is True seems to stick with us longer.

Maybe the importance of life are the lessons we have learned by making mistakes, saying the wrong words, and misunderstanding others.  As we navigate the Potholes of Life, we learn what is important to others.. and to ourselves.  The Lessons Learned are the celebrations of Lives Lived... the intersection of your truths and mine!

Have you learned to be a flexible thinker?
(Photo credit:  Are you a Flexible Thinker?, Pearson Forward)

The actions of reminiscing and reflection provides time to consider:

  • What we used to think or do;
  • How we have changed; and,
  • Where the journey has taken us.

This pause to learn and wonder What Could Have Been creates a choice point to apply lessons to What Could Be.  I believe that reflection and sharing is an important step forward... if we but listen to ourselves and others!

What have you learned in your life?  Are you willing to share?

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, November 4, 2023

Back to Standard

Yes, it's that time of year again:  we fall back in the Fall and spring forward in the Spring to accommodate the sunlight at key times in our calendar year.

From what I have read, the concept in America was first proposed by Benjamin Franklin as a way to align waking hours to daylight hours and thus conserve on candles during the summer months.  It wasn't institutionalized, though, until 1918 during World War I -- and again in World War II -- to conserve on energy during summer months.  This helped the war effort.  Finally, in 1966, the Uniform Time Act standardized DST in America.

Are you ready to standardize?
(Photo credit:  Daylight Savings Time End, Getty Images)

Every Fall and Spring a discussion -- or argument -- arises about continuing this practice.  People talk about the disruption it causes in sleep patterns, confusion with work schedules, and the fact that we are no longer an agrarian society.

A few side notes to consider:

  • A common myth is that Daylight Savings Time was created to help farmers.  In truth the farmers have been against this practice from the beginning.
  • Ancient civilizations adjusted to daylight hours more flexibly that we do now.

Like most traditions and practices there may be misunderstandings on their origins or their value in our current world.

Which raises a few questions:  What have we been taught?  What do we know for certain?  What do we assume or believe as fact?

What standards or guidelines are important to you?
(Photo credit:  World Standards Day 2019, Aristotle Metadata)

As we adjust our clocks and check our smoke detectors, maybe we could also step back and notice our reactions -- positive and negative -- to rules, regulations, guidelines, and standards.

  • Do we consider each of these restrictive or limiting?  Why?
  • Have we had bad experiences with boundaries?  When?  What happened?
  • Are we selective in which ones we follow (e.g., we use our seat belts but drive above the speed limit)?

When I was young, I heard my parents' and teachers' admonitions as unbending truths.  As I grew older and encountered situations that no longer fit these exact rules, I needed to develop critical judgment -- maybe even wisdom? -- to read a situation and decide what was best.

What creates safety for you and others?
(Photo credit:  Backyard Sandbox, This Is Why I Am Broke)

Now I see standards as starting points for our society to function and understand one another:  that is, rules and regulations serve as boundaries to keep us safe as
we play in the Sandbox of Possibilities.
If we decide to go beyond socially accepted norms:
  • Can we remain safe enough to stay alive?
  • Will we hurt anyone else?
  • How do we explain our decisions?

In essence, rules, regulations, and guidelines create predictability... in a world that sometimes is not.  Understanding the standard (how it came about; why it is in place) is as important as our need to change it.
As we fall back and spring forward, let's consider this movement of resetting ourselves... to fall back and listen before we spring forward into action.


Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, October 28, 2023

All Hallows Within

Autumn is a time of change: moving from a season of growth and activity to a season of harvest and slowing down.  In many places, you can feel and see the change... in the crispness of the air, the colors of nature, fall sports, and the clothes people wear.  

Change... a time for reflection.

What have you harvested this season?
(Photo: Autumn Scene, Old Town San Diego
- Larry Gardepie)

In ancient Celtic times, people would dress up in costumes and dance around bonfires to ward off ghosts and evil spirits.  As the Christian faith spread, these pagan rituals were adapted into holy days of remembrance -- remembering those who have gone before us, the Saints and Souls of our Holy Ones. 

It was a reminder of "all hallows": seeing and celebrating goodness; a reminder that all people have Sacred Worth and Value.

How do you celebrate your goodness?
(Photo: Halloween Decorations, Encinitas, California - Larry Gardepie)

But I have to admit, it is sometimes difficult to see the goodness in others!  Our news, movies, TV programs, and stories are built around those ghosts and evil spirits that also inhabit us -- the Good-and-Evil, Win-or-Lose struggle that we encounter every day.  It's as if we have to point to someone else for creating the mess we find ourselves experiencing:  "The Other" who hurt us and continues to cause us pain.

I wonder:  could we use this seasonal transition to reflect on the Sacred-that-We-Encounter -- even in those people who may have wronged us?

Can you build an Altar of Hope?
(Photo: Día de los Muertos altar, Old Town San Diego - Larry Gardepie)

One way of celebrating All Hallows is through
Día de los Muertos altars.  Watching people build their family's altar, I have noticed the reverence and respect accorded deceased members.  Yes, death is present, but the focus is on the goodness of the ancestors who gave life and hope to current family members.  It's a celebration of life and the sacrifices made for one another.

Who would you honor in your altar?  What stories of goodness would you share?  How would you experience the Sacred in your midst?

I wonder:  is it time to build an Altar of Hope?

All Hallows to you!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)