Positive thinking is not foolish

I piss people off all the time. I wrestled with it for quite some time trying to change things about me so that others would not be put off in some strange way by me. I explored the “advice” I would give angle. I explore the way I “communicated.” I have done a lot of introspection on why is it that I end up pissing people off in ways that seem mysterious to me. I have started to conclude that it has to do with me being a happy person.

The first thing people do when they encounter my positive attitude is to dismiss it as foolish. People think that someone that is striving to be happy all the time is more than likely faking it. They sometimes also assume that I really have not had any struggles in life to have a positive outlook. My favorite is to call it luck.

I do feel lucky because there is no other word to describe some of the opportunities that have crossed my path. That said I did take plenty leaps of faith and have failed my fair share. Probably more than my fair share… but I don’t like to keep score, my brain does.

The cliche would be to say that I get to be positive because of hard work. It does require a fair share of that, trust me. One of my biggest struggle has been fitness for quite some time, I have tried many things in the past and I am excellent at justifying being lazy when I know I should be active. It is hard to stay positive about those things as well. Over time I have made changes though, little changes, changes that stick. Those make me happy. Those move me forward. Those keep me smiling. And they are not all about staying fit.

So back to pissing people off. Someone last night in one of my social groups said something that makes a lot of sense. Overall I am not the nicest person around, but I do surround myself with nice people. The angry and mischievous me does like to hang out with people that are mellow and happy. That seems to always rub people the wrong way because in their heads I am just lucky to have what I have (friends, career, family, etc).

Public speaking is terrifying to me for example, most people think I am a “natural” at it. In small groups, sure I don’t have a problem starting conversations. A big room though it is still something that gives me pause. I do it, I work at it, I try to get better. I have been part of toast masters and loved my speech class in college. I am better now at it because I just did it. That is just one example of the many things that people think come easy to me, but I got to them through just being stubborn and saying I will do it.

I never thought of pissing people off as a good thing. I never saw it as a measurement of success in any level. It seems that in this competitive society it is just the nature of the beast. The more you accomplish the more people are going to begrudge your success. I do enjoy my accomplishments, they make me happy. I cherish the relationships I have, but it does not mean that I have not had plenty of failed ones. The key is not to be good at anything from the start, the key is to keep trying until you get good at it. So don’t get pissed at someone for enjoying their life and being positive, write your own story.

Journey

Not everyone will understand your journey. That’s fine. It’s not their journey to make sense of. It’s yours.

Zerodean

That quote resonated with me. My journey might not make sense to many, maybe not to anyone besides me; but in the end it really only has to make sense to me. For some time now I have thought about my life in terms of a book, and while I go through it some people that used to seem to be chapters of the book have merely become footnotes. For the longest time I used to think that making others understand me or my journey was important only to realize that those really interested would not care to get what my journey is about, simply just be a part of it.

We are all in some way marked by our pasts, but do they really define us? are we really in control of the outcome? Living in the present is sometimes a lot harder than it seems on paper. A new year gets here and we are faced with evaluating what was and what is to come. Do we dwell, do we move forward, do we refocus?

Initially I wanted to start the year (or end it) with a post about the new year resolutions I had in mind. Health both mind and body are top of the list, but experiences are also sprinkled there for good measure. I had found a list that made a lot of sense, and as I get older it makes even more sense. With age we gain perspective. What used to matter, really does not matter in the long run. What are we left with then? Regret?

I regret little by simple force of will. I am stubborn enough to try to squeeze juice out of every lemon life sends my way. I do hate the word, but it seems to at times always catch my attention. What will I regret when I get old?

Here is the subset from the list of “37 Things You’ll Regret When You Are Old” that I want to keep just to look back on.

Not travelling when you had the chance
I’ve had to turn a couple of trips down simply because of work schedule, but this year it seems that I will actually make it to South America a couple of times in business, maybe even more.

Not learning another language
My goal is still 5 some day, I will revisit French some day but I have started on Portuguese, Rosetta Stone and all.

Failing to make physical fitness a priority
Gym membership is still active, but this year will see me not only using my bike more but getting back into P90X.

Refusing to let friendships run its course
I’m really bad at this one, but I think this year I will be able to just let things go and not try so hard with friendships that are just not what they used to be.

Worrying too much
Not sure what changed this exactly but I have become better and better at it. This is truly a skill that comes in handy.

Not spending enough time with loved ones
This one is challenged by geography but I want to see my best friend this year as well as visit Chicago more often.

Never performing in front of others
A while back I was all into doing an amateur stand up show, I think this year I might actually start working towards that again.

So there you have it. Those are the ones that I will be concentrating on this year. While this is more for me, I hope that maybe this makes you think about something positive to accomplish this year. To a very prosperous 2014 my friends.

Somewhat Personal

Everyone feels pain in a different way, and I think part of the human condition is to think that your pain is greater than what others are feeling. Then you see someone in a worse position that you are mentally, physically or financially and you are grateful for what you have. At least I am… at least I try to be that way. I used to try to entice some conversation by bringing up a topic that I thought needed exploring and further understanding. I even at times resorted to “trollin” a bit for fun, then a good friend called me out on it and made me realize that truly you don’t gain anything (not even entertainment value) from the practice. True and honest communication is more important.

I lost my dog Friday night. I have been separated from a beloved pet before by someone else taking it, or having to move to another country or just the proverbial toilet flush of a dead fish that you had for years… but this week for the first time I lost my dog. Lucy had been the first animal to give me this level of unconditional love, ever. Sure my cat Shayla is still around and it will be hard to deal with when she is not since she has been with me for now 13 years… but she is a cat. She does give a crap sometimes but most of the time she is just, well, a cat. Lucy was not like that. We lost our other dog earlier this year and he liked me… well he kind of tolerated me and was not at all cool with me being the new alpha. He accepted it but did not have to like it. Lucy even though she was the biggest dog and capable of probably ripping anything to shreds in her path was gentle. She was always happy to see me, she was always looking for a chance to lick my elbow (I think she knew I hated that) and was content with simply just laying down close to me by the couch or in the office.

We don’t know what took her away from us… the vet has theories, but no real answers. She did not whimper, she did not cry out, she just went to sleep forever very peacefully right next to my side of the bed.

There is a post that I drafted years ago and never posted. It has to do with pets and pet ownership. I probably will never post it because it is in a way a form of trying to entice people to a conversation on pet ownership.

I hate having pets. Mostly because they are a huge responsibility in a world already full of those. I am also highly allergic to them (touch a cat, then touch my eye and yea watch them puff up.) I hate getting close to them and the fact that in American life we (see I said we) value more the life of an animal right next to us than other human beings. I hate the fact that there are so many irresponsible pet owners out there. I hate the fact that we create connections with these animals and at times those are stronger bonds we have with other humans.

In the end I love Lucy because of the unconditional love she provided to me during at times some very difficult moments. Life changes, I have a lot to be happy about right now… but it truly sucks that I lost my dog.

Before the month ends!

It has been difficult to create content lately, not because there is a lack of stuff I want to talk about but because the blog format is simply not lending itself to me right now. I do have some good news though, a group of friends and I have started to work on a podcast. Episode one should be coming soon, but I think we might wait until we are in about the third one to actually start really spreading the word. Call it proof of concept for now.

Surprisingly enough I think that doing the podcast might make it so I blog more. I think being able to explore topics that I talk about in a podcast format might make me want to expand on them… maybe even blog before the podcast so that I get my ideas in order. Not sure if I am just hanging on to a dead medium or not… but hey sentimentalism is not a horrible thing now is it?

Horrible segue coming,

Not truly a dead blog, but a dead person talking to us from beyond. “A local sportswriter blogs about committing suicide.” I had heard about this story the day that it happened from a local radio station that basically figured it might be a hoax… it was not. The website he left is truly haunting in many respects. Not the least haunting is that I know people that think like the guy does. As some of you might know I have had to deal with death quite a bit lately… loss sucks… it is hard to get over, but it also gives us an opportunity to appreciate life.

I had a very informal conversation with someone after a business trip. I was not a fan of the place I had just visited for many reasons, I did not feel safe, I did not like the food, etc. The person responded with the ‘MURRICA is the greatest. I really hate that point of view, even more so when it comes from a person that has never traveled outside of ‘MURRICA. That coupled with death got me thinking more and more about retirement and getting old in this country.

I really don’t want to spend my “golden years” here. I think there are plenty of better places to retire at and I lean towards Colombia being a possible destination just because of familiarity. Trust me it is not the violence ridden nation it used to be back in the 90s, and while it is not a perfect place, no place in the world is. Getting old here in the US sucks because this society sees everything as disposable, including people.

It might sound like I am depressed but I am really not. I am not saddened by the thought of getting old, in fact I look forward to be able to do some things in my later years. Who knows I might even be in the kid making business still. I do want to be realistic about the future and about retiring. Maybe it is just wishful thinking about making it to old age.

* If you are thinking about suicide, there is help!

D.R.A.M.A.

xkcd
(If you don’t already have xkcd on your daily feed, you are missing out.)

I have talked to a shrink before, more than once. I am one of those people that very early on understood that all you can control in life is yourself… and even then it is an uphill battle because well, that croissant is just so dam tasty, even though I should not eat it. When I encounter a situation filled with drama, the first thing I try to determine, is this something I am in some way causing?

Avoiding drama is an art. The thing is that any time that you have strong views about anything drama is waiting just around the corner waiting to pounce.

I remember after a couple of failed relationships I decided to see a shrink again. One failed relationship might be bad luck, two its you for sure. I explained to the shrink what my shortcomings were, how I grew up, what I expected out of a relationship. I also explained the relationship issues I had, what I saw as not working and her prognosis was simple. “Stop dating crazy people.” A shrink said that… and it was a she.

We are all a little crazy and I can safely say that I know where my crazy comes from. I am a very logical thinker for almost everything in life, but when it comes to relationships I am extremely emotional. I can turn the emotions off completely and make compassion something that other people feel for puppies. I was that person for a long time, and it helped me deal with life as a teenager in a very dysfunctional home.

I never wanted that as an adult, and I have done everything in my power to avoid being the source of drama. I do fail miserably from time to time, because in the effort to avoid it, I seem to spin it into high gear.

Funny enough, this is probably one of my most drama free times of my life. While I had no shortage of it in the beginning of the year with my uncle passing, recently I am pretty drama free. I do have plenty of drama close to me, but I am now more of an observer than a direct participant.

The top water mark came some months ago when a bully feared by many tried to start something in a setting was bad. No, not the multicolored troll showing naked pictured of the conquest in a church in front of children, that one is a story for another time and another day. I engaged the bully, held my one and realized something. By standing up to said bully, even though I did it for the “right” reasons, I was simply perpetuating the drama.

In a conversation over lunch with coworkers recently the talk of leadership came around. The person making the statements is someone that has been around the world actually getting paid to give leadership seminars. I asked the question I always ask when people talk about leadership, is innate ability or learned skills better. He answered both, but the best are the ones that come with the innate ability, the ones that want to learn the skills are the ones that kept him employed. He also added that one of the things to learn is that you should never try to guess motivation, that it is always easier to just ask the person.

It brought me to a new understanding on a lot of things. Drama, for the most part can be just a lack of communication. I think a lot of drama start when one person tries to guess what motivates another to do something, and then people formulate things in their heads from that thought. Sometimes a person just wants to be listened to, and drama seems to be the only way to get someone’s attention.

Trying to ignore drama is not the answer. Trying to avoid it can create more of it. So at this point in my life I think that trying to just listen more is probably the best way to avoid it. I have been very good at removing people that cause drama to get attention out of my life, however it never really made me drama free. Now, it seems that trying to just understand people’s motivation by gathering information rather than guessing seems to be the best antidote to drama.

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