The Golden Rule – doesn’t really work for adults

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Sure when you are a kid, it makes sense that you want people to be nice to you, and so you should be nice to them.  But as we become adults and have specific preferences and desires, this is really bad advice.

For example, I’m not big on celebrating my Birthday.  To me it just like any other day.  I do have friends who care a lot about people making their birthday special.  So I should treat them as they want to be treated, not as I would prefer.  There are so many other examples.  When I’m angry or upset, I first go through a phase of wanting to be left alone.  Then after a bit, I just want to do something positive and get over whatever was bothering me.  That routine does not seem to match with the routine of many people around me.

So we have to learn to accommodate what other people want.  But many times people do not communicate what they need/want.  We can all improve our communication skills, and try to ask for what we want.  While at the same time, we should be mindful of what people ask.  If someone says they need space, or they don’t want to talk about it right then, respect their wishes.  Which came first, people not talking about what they need, or requests being ignored so that we decided it’s not worth asking?

Is there anyone we can trust?

One of the benefits of my boyfriend is I’m pretty sure that I know what I’m getting.  I may not like everything about the way he behaves, but I am confident there is nothing hidden behind the scenes.  But in general, I don’t think that’s true with most people.  I concede that one can never be 100% certain, and it’s awful to hear about the situations where people are caught off guard about their friends, spouses, or children.

Last week, an admin manager at my company plead guilty to two counts of embezzlement with previous employers.  We are all very surprised that such a person could be hired by our firm to begin with.  I have also heard the stories of a former employer who was fired after downloading or printing inappropriate photos at the office.  This was before my time and I never met this person, so I have no idea what their personality was or how they interacted with people.

I just finished the book Between Good and Evil, which is a memoir of sorts by Roger L. Depue who was leading developer of criminal profiling with the FBI.  What they learned in the early years of the program, is how the sophisticated serial killers hide among us as normal and regular  people.  They also discovered the pattern of genetic characteristics in people subject to terrible abuse at a young age, common in these people who became unremorseful killers.

We all have been surprised by the character of people we thought we knew well.  And we all have been in vulnerable situations where the character of the people around us are critical to our safety.  Especially as young people, we often do not think to maintain a safety system in case of emergency, or avoid putting ourselves in vulnerable situations.

the Secret to Happiness?

I happen to catch this speech on the radio and a few phrases resonate with some ideas in my head lately:

“The fact that we’re all connected now is a blessing, not a curse.  We can solve many, many problems in the world as a result.  Not only is it an advantage that you all have, but it’s a responsibility.

All of these connections that you forge … are also not possible without you, without a heart.  …  But you cannot let technology rule you. … Take 1 hour a day and turn that thing off.

Take your eyes off that screen and look into the eyes of the person that you love. Alright.  Have a conversation, a real conversation with the friends that make you think, with the family who makes you laugh.  … Engage in the world around you, and feel, taste, and smell and hug what’s right there, right in front of you.

Friends

Friends (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Life is not about a friend count but about the friends who actually you can count on.  … Life is about who you love, how you live, it’s about who you travel with through the world, your family, you collaborators, your friends.  Life is a social experience first.  And the best aspects of that experience are not lonely ones, they’re spent in the company of others.

Now our modern landscape has changed, yes, but our humanity will always remain.  And that above all else makes us who we are.”

excerpted from Eric Schmidt, Commencement Speech for the 2012 Boston University Graduation

I have been thinking about how we treat each other and how we want to be treated by others.  Essentially, I think we’re all searching for acceptance.  We want to know that what we do matters to someone, has an impact on their lives, and makes them happy.  The best thing we can do for people is accept them for who they are (while helping them improve upon faults) and make them feel like they matter to us.

Another point of view on this topic is thinking about how we bring joy to others: TED Talk by Shawn Achor: The happy secret to better work  (related book How Full is Your Bucket?)

My friend Laura is such a nice person, and so great at paying attention to people and making them feel important.  She always remembers things I say, when I give a gift, the next time I see her she talks about using the gift or shows me how she has displayed the item.  Her ability to make everyone feel important amazes and inspires me.

I think the people who need this the most are often the ones least likely to receive it.  Or maybe the ones that receive it the least are the ones who really suffer from this missing element.  I guess we all need this treatment, in a sincere and constructive way.

Love vs. Happy

I think a lot about love…  About how we think of it, how we feel it.  What gives us the feeling of love and what we are missing when we don’t feel love.

Watching a movie yesterday, The Beginners, there is a scene where the Oliver talks to his gay father’s younger lover and comments that he was jealous of the lover because his dad Loved Him, as if he felt more love for the boyfriend than for his own son.  But the movie subtly portrays the acts of love that Oliver is not wise enough to interpret from his father.  Just as the book the 5 Languages of Love points that that people give and receive love in one or more of 5 ways, we don’t always realize the ways someone expresses their love for us.  My response to that particular scene was a reminder of how we confuse the emotions of Love and Happiness.

The movie itself is a realistic view of the process of love.  How we meet someone and that elated feeling of happiness makes us think we are in love.  And over time love can develop in a relationship, a deep authentic love, where we do what we think is best for the relationship even if we cannot get or give what we want.  Well maybe I also confuse commitment in there too, in the conscience choice of dealing with the circumstances and making the most of the situation.

Love is a combination of so many things.  But I feel very little about love relates to being happy.  They are different emotions, sometimes experienced together.  In our material society we like to give up and throw out the things that no longer make us happy, quickly moving on to the next best thing.  But how can we do that with friends, loved ones, significant others, relationships?

People like to say that Ignorance is Bliss, and Love is Blind.  But I don’t want to be so blind that I don’t understand love and therefor might accidentally throw love away, just because I don’t fully conceptualize all the components of love.

Holiday Cookie Weekend

My favorite holiday tradition is cookie weekend.  I used to spend Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday with my aunt and younger cousin makings a variety of cookies.  We would make 6 or 7 different kids of cookies, bars, candy, and brownies, over 100 dozen in all.  My aunt would give them away as holiday gifts to close friends.  And they were a treasured gift because it’s not easy or inexpensive to make such a mass of treats.

Rolling out and Cutting the Gingerbread cookies

I  make frosted Gingerbread cutout cookies every year because they are my favorite.   Most of the ingredients I do not enjoy individually (molasses, vinegar, ginger), but mix them all together and bake it up, yum yum.  I decorate these cookies with a cream cheese frosting.  They freeze very well to enjoy throughout the season.

Both cookies baked and ready for Frosting

This year I also made wreath and tree sugar cookies with mint frosting and cinnamon candy decorations.  I have not yet made this one myself, because it took a while for me to find an appropriate cookie cutter for the wreath shaped.   I love the multiple sized fluted biscuit cutters for this.

Then invite a few friends over to decorate, serve some hot chocolate, and sing along to holiday music.

I love the way they decorated the Snowmen and the Star of David.  And tomorrow I’ll take them into the office to share.

Frosting Art Therapy

Is Facebook interaction with our friends enough?

The use of Facebook goes against my nature.  I hate being the center of attention, and with the security issues that go along with posting personal information online I have avoided using Facebook for anything other than locating friends I have lost touch with.

But I have a couple friends here who are rigorous Facebook users.  Two of these friends post on Facebook up to several times a day.  Another friend doesn’t post as much, but she will check the information regularly to get updates on her list of friends.  These people spend a significant amount of time on Facebook.  It makes me wonder if the time we spend having online friendships will be regretted in the future.  Will we look back on that time wishing we could have it back to use for real life interaction?

The fundamental question, are the relationships we have online real?  For the people I am highlighting as avid Facebook users, they are keeping in touch with real life friends and family who are long distance.  They are maintaining real relationships.  I believe the ultimate desire in all relationships is to share experiences and an emotional connection, this can occur through any form of communication just as effectively as if interacting with people face to face.  Whether writing letters, calling on the phone, or posting back and forth on a Facebook Wall, it accomplishes the same interaction as meeting up over coffee; for people who are very expressive.

So maybe my real challenge is not the use of Facebook, but rather the ability to express myself without a person there to prompt me.

This time of year is for remembering those who do the LITTLE things for us

Last night I overheard of a young gentleman’s story of gift shopping.  This person picked out a gift for a female coworker of his.  At first, when he described having lunch every day with this coworker I thought maybe it was a girl he would be interested in dating, and that he was hoping this sweater would impress her.  But then he said this person was an older woman and he wanted to do something nice in return for her daily company, but he wasn’t sure if she would appreciate his taste in the sweater.

I appreciate the reminder to acknowledge those who contribute to my life each day.