Monday, January 14, 2008

Silver and Gold

After a long hiatus of work and living life I have decided to start writing again. I was pleasantly surprised and somewhat amazed at some of the feedback I received from people on the few entries left standing on this site during the past 2 years of inactivity. I just hope that my perspective on life hasn’t changed so much in two years to negatively affect your experience reading this blog. In any case it will be interesting to see what comes out of this. Please read away and enjoy.
Silver and Gold
If you are like me you like to meet new people. It is one of my favorite things to do in this world. However, it is not always easy. I think I am a very personable guy but sometimes I find it hard to build up the courage to say hi to someone new. I think the key is to follow the old Nike slogan and “just do it.” Whether you are trying to pick up a potential new romance or trying to meet a new friend the worst that can happen is that they could say no or snub you in some way. And if this ever happens, well then, it is pretty obvious that that is not the sort of person you would want to be around anyway.
Growing up I always felt that I was a very shy child. I don’t think I made friends very easy and it took me a long time to learn how to make friends. I think I was in my 20’s before I finally got it, but it took a lot of practice. Everywhere I went I worked hard to make new friends. I would introduce myself randomly and once in a while would meet someone who I would eventually build a relationship with. It is amazing how you learn to read people and understand what words work in an introduction and which do not by practicing over and over again.
I also learned that it was important to work at relationships. With friends or lovers I needed to constantly make efforts to stay in touch and initiate conversations or activities. Only after doing this, at least once, would the favor be returned by my new friends. It is like a piece of Silver that is very beautiful but to remain so you must polish it from time to time. Establishing a friendship takes work.
Having finally figured out that being respectful, cheerful and genuinely interested in other people could help me grow new friendships I the set my sights on people who I had known and never connected with in the past. Reaching back all the way to my childhood I reconnected with people I had known as long ago as kindergarten. Upon doing this I realized something. The new relationships I created with these individuals became very strong. It was as if there was something bringing us together that went beyond those bonds I had developed with newer acquaintances. These reconnections ended up being the Gold in my life.
I think there are two reasons why we form stronger bonds with people we meet earlier in life. One is that if we spend time with someone, let’s say for one year at age 5, we are spending one fifth of our life with that person. Even if we don’t see this person for 20 years we still spent a very large percentage of our life with that individual. Now if we meet someone and spend a year with them when we are 25, well that is only 1/25th of our lives. I would venture to say, depending on the depth of each relationship, most often there would be some sort of special bond that you might feel with your kindergarten friend that you can never create with a new acquaintance. That isn’t to say you couldn’t become better friends with your 25 year old colleague, but just that there is a certain bond, let’s call it the gold bond. (not the powder)
The other thing about youthful acquaintances is that more than likely you were exposed to similar environmental factors as them during a developmental period of your life. You can count on this when talking to them. Certain factors in your young life molded you into who you are and those same factors probably formed the people who were around you at that time as well, assuming that your friends at that time were probably your classmates, neighbors, or close relatives of some sort. I guess my point is that you can count on this and use it to help recreate relationships with these people as adults if you choose to. I have found that they ultimately have ended up becoming very close and valuable friends to me that have really helped to enrich my life.
If you would like to do something fun to practice this sign up on a web site like,, or Good luck!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Listen and Learn

Some of the smartest people I know usually do not talk too often. They are commonly seen participating here and there in a group conversation. Usually their contributions consist of questions that keep the real speakers of the group going. They remain silent, attentive, and to some, may seem boring or as if they are not a real participant to the conversation.

These are the people who, I find, typically know the most about things. I mean, think about it. Are you ever learning something while you are speaking? You may figure things out, or possibly reorganize your thoughts so that they make more sense but you are never really learning anything new by speaking. One of the best ways we learn is by listening. Therefore those who are quiet and spend their time listening have an advantage when it comes to learning.

Now I am not saying that everyone should just shut up so that we all become better learners. I suggest that, as with anything else, there needs to be a balance. Be sure to measure how much you speak to others and how much time you spend listening. Every conversation is a transaction, a transaction of information. If one side over does it many times both sides leave the conversation feeling awkward. So watch for the balance and be sure to do your share of listening. It can help your relationships and expand your knowledge of this world.

On that note I would like to remind everyone that you comments are very welcomed. Unless they are derogatory or completely unfitting I will publish them with the posting you associate them too unless you request I don’t.

Thanks and good luck in the New Year.


Friday, December 30, 2005

A Paradox: Reading People

I would like to start this entry off with a little bit of positive energy. I don't know about you but right now I am sitting in front of a window and it is a beautiful day outside. So no matter what the weather I recommend that before reading this take a moment to go outside or look outside and realize how small and insignificant any problems you have are compared to the enormity of the world surrounding you. That being done, what a perfect day to blow your mind with this everyday paradox we all face whenever we communicate. Honestly, I want you to think about this for a little while after reading it and then just stop. Because, while it is very important stuff, it isn't worth spending too much time thinking about because it might drive you crazy. Use this knowledge where it can help you in life but don't obsess on it. This is a very good way to start to understand how to read people.

If you read December 22nd's post, It All Stems From You, you will get an idea of how important your reality is to your life and what you perceive. This is true of everyone around you as well. When other people speak they are speaking from the context of their own world. Since that it the case people can only speak about what they know and what they speak about is a glimpse for others into their world.

How often have you heard someone talk about someone else? Good or bad it is quite common. For someone to talk about certain traits or observations of others they need to have some level of intimacy with those traits or observations. What I am saying is that often people speak about what they see of themselves in others when they are talking about others. I am not sure this is a rule people always follow but it might be. It is very hard for me to step outside myself far enough to make that determination. But think about it, people who talk negatively about others are typically very negative people. A liar will notice liars, A thief will suspect everyone of being a thief, and if someone is talking ill about someone else to you chances are they are talking ill of you as well and really don't have a very high opinion of themselves.

On the flip side there are very positive people out there in which the same holds true. People who talk highly of others typically hold themselves in high regard. People who trust others typically can be trusted and those who give people the benefit of the doubt in difficult situations are those that have trouble believing in the alternative because it is not a regular part of their world. They are simply not like that and find it hard to understand how people can be. This is a testament to their own character.

I have a manager that I have never heard talk badly of anyone else. He has never criticized anyone for their mistakes or deficiencies to me. I know that I make mistakes but regardless of them he has never given me a bad review and has never not trusted me to participate in the most important parts of our company's business. It is this trust and confidence in me and others that identifies the trust and confidence that this man has in himself. Look for these people in your life and keep them near because people tend to rub off on each other. On the same note stay away from those that you recognize as having negative traits.

So, why is this a paradox. The paradox comes when we try to read people. That is, we try to identify what makes that other person different from ourselves. If I only have the ability to see what I know of myself in others how can I ever really see who they are. If I am a negative person then I will typically only see in others what is negative. Where it becomes really confusing is when you try to get someone to see your point of view on a subject. Obviously it is best to put your argument in the context of their world, or rather what you believe to be their world. The problem is that since your perception of their world is really only the parts of your world you see in their world it is very difficult to accomplish this.

How does one break out of the paradox? How do I gain the ability to truly communicate with others? How do I learn to be positive? How do we break out of these roles?

I believe that there is an unconscious communication that occurs between people. The "rubbing off" I described earlier. I am not sure how it happens but the more I surround myself with negative people the more negative I become. Luckily the more I am with positive people the more positive I become. I don't know how it happens, perhaps because as I said earlier, I may not be able to step outside myself far enough to see it. I just know that while someone of strong character may be able to tolerate better the unwanted influence of others, they still will be changed over time by the environment they surround themselves with. Once your environment changes you enough or you change your environment (others) enough you will be able to communicate on the same level with your environment. For some this can happen in a minute and others it may take forever to fully happen. What is important to realize is how important a factor your environment can be on you and your relationships with others. Pay attention to this and make it your number one priority to control this environment to your liking. It is the only way to break out of the paradox.


Wednesday, December 28, 2005

You Just Don't Know

I heard a really terrific quote today. It was:

"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men, as a whole, experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."

What makes this quote even more profound is who its author is. This is a quote from Helen Keller. No one could be more qualified to speak on such a topic. When you really think about it this quote is a very true and, to some, a very scary thing. It actually scares me a little because I believe very strongly that it is true even beyond my understanding. Try as we might we really have no control of what is going to happen next in our lives. Anything can happen... Anything! The future will always be a huge unknown.

Everyone has little tricks that they use to psyche themselves up in certain situations or to help control their emotions and perceptions. My trick to handle fear of the unknown is something I learned to help deal with a recurring feeling that I would experience when riding a motorcycle. I would often get scared when riding my bike. This could potentially be a very dangerous thing for a motorcyclist. It would cause me to stiffen up and my riding skills to dwindle as I would start over thinking about how I would handle a particular turn coming up in the road or the traffic ahead. This over thinking would have me watching for a number of scenarios that I thought could occur in the next few yards that would surely throw me if I didn’t plan for them. But the truth of the matter was no matter how much I thought of what could happen I never really would know. And the only way to prepare for something was to keep my mind and eyes open and take it as it comes. As I would start thinking of the gravel that might be in my line or the high wind that might hinder my control I would stop himself and say, “Michelangelo, you just don’t know what is coming, no matter what it looks like you will never know what will happen until it does. So just take that next mile and we’ll see… we will just have to see.”

I found that by stepping outside myself and paying attention to my life I could identify many other times when I had felt this way. It included making decisions at my job, my feelings during airplane landings, doctor visits and yes talking to women. “Just let it flow,” had always made me feel better and prepared me the best way possible for any situation.

On top of that life is so much more enjoyable when you are out there looking forward to seeing what is coming next instead of guessing about what problems you may have. So keep you eyes up and your ears open and ride on to new adventures. It is really only way to live.


Thursday, December 22, 2005

It All Stems From You

Never underestimate the power of self. Everything around you is what you perceive it to be. My green may not be your green. For all I know what my brain thinks strawberries taste like might be what yours thinks is liver. The point is that your perception of reality is not only what you see, hear, feel, smell and taste, but also how your brain interprets these senses. And how your brain puts together the culmination of these senses to identify what is going on in your present environment.

You have the opportunity to control your environment by really just controlling yourself. Since your reality, your environment as you see it, is controlled by you, you should feel free to change it for the better. That is if you want to. For those who choose not to for whatever reason I sincerely feel very sorry for you and hopefully that perspective will someday be something you choose to change.

There are definitely people who take this premise of cognitive therapy to extremes. We may call them crazy. They are people who we feel have totally lost touch with reality. We all know people out there we would label this way. It could be the "crazy" person on the bus next to you talking to himself or it could be your boss and his unreasonable expectations. No matter how he or she is defined by you it is because they have surpassed a threshold you personally have set for identifying someone as living in the same world as you. Which is totally correct because they are living in a different world. They in theirs and you in yours. The fact that they are so different is what causes you to label them the way you might.

As for your own world you may want to make some changes to it. There are plenty of well known tricks that many people use. An example is the old Indian proverb, "Don't judge a person until you have walked a mile in their moccasins." Sometimes if I think of this saying it immediately changed my perspective about someone, and my attitude, and ultimately my reality of the situation. You always have the opportunity to do this.

Changing your own reality does take practice. It sometimes has to be forced but with practice it becomes easier. And if you continually practice it it will continue to work for you. I promise. So learn to enjoy the rain, conquer obstacles, and love your enemies. It will bring more happiness to you days and enrich your life.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Draw the Line

Change. I have a love hate relationship with change. I love change for the excitement it brings and the spice it adds to life. But at the same time it directly relates to stress. Maybe I am just high strung but, now that I really think about it, no change also causes me stress. The fact that my circumstances seem to have no bearing on whether I feel stressed or not leads me to believe that I am just doomed to be a stressed out person. It could be how I was trained to exist as a child... Maybe.

So back on the topic of change. There are a couple of facts that need to be realized about this. First, change relates to fear. Change in and of itself isn't a bad thing but the fear of the unknown that it brings with it can cause us problems. Now, when I say fear I don't mean that someone will necessarily be hiding in the corner of their room because they get a new manager at work or because the cereal aisle was moved in their favorite grocery store. However, both of these examples bring up certain unknowns that may affect ones life. And on some level people typically have some sort of fear of the unknown. It can be the seen in the apprehension one may have because one's job may change. Or it can be identified by a simple frustrated sigh when entering the reorganized grocery because it may take you a little longer to find what you need and therefore throw your day off just enough to cause you seemingly unneeded annoyance. In either case the underlying feeling, no matter how minute, is fear.

The next linkage to make is that fear equals stress. I believe that the word stress used in this context is a fairly new practice. It was simply a nice way of saying, "life is scaring you right now." You see, stress, and therefore fear are cumulative. It adds up. And as it adds up natural responses to fear kick in to try to keep the body safe. Similar to how reflexes will typically try to pull you quickly away from a scary situation or something that hurts. Also, the way people will scream when under extreme duress. Aren't these both actions that you at least feel like performing when under stress?

So what do we do? How do we overcome this difficulty. Surely the human race has been able to discover solutions to just about anything that stands in their way. There must be a balance. And I believe there is. It all goes back to tolerance levels. everyone must find their own balance. The fact that I have identified that I am always stressed doesn't necessarily mean that it is an unchangeable trait about myself. It only means I haven't identified where my tolerance level is. Or if I have I haven't been able to control the level of change in my life to meet that tolerance level.

So, at least half the battle is understanding yourself. Finding that line, or rather, tolerance level and working to control your lifestyle to hit that line as close as possible. The rest is perception. But we can get into that another day.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Crooked Road

No matter what I do my road never seems to travel straight. But do I really want it to? It might be nice sometimes, to know exactly where you are headed. It would help with planning, it would definitely make things more comfortable. There might be less stress. However, it would definitely detract from my sense of being.

What defines a person is how they take the turns. To follow a straight road one really doesn't have to do much. But to follow the twists and turns of a crooked road there are many actions have to happen. And everyone will perform these actions in their own way. And if they don't know how they will figure out a way to do so. Therefore, the path to self discovery is to take the crooked road and to pay attention how you take the turns.


Tolerance Levels

The grey area. I believe there is always grey area. There is really no such thing as a definitive right or wrong but rather a point in the grey area that each person decides means something to them. That is why every decision, every definitive is actually just a tolerance level that has been met.

The clearest yes's and no's or on's and off's are really just measurements that have surpassed tolerance levels set by someone or something to determine a status. For example, if you turn on a light switch the light comes on and if you turn it off the light turns off. It seems pretty clear cut. However, if we take a closer look it is really that the level of energy passing through the wire, and finally the light bulb's filament, has reached a level that produces light. There is always a measure of energy going through that wire but only when a certain tolerance level is reached will it illuminate and be considered on.

So I suggest we keep this in mind for everything that comes our way in life. The constant conundrum of always needing to make the right decision and avoiding the wrong decision can easily be replaced by understanding that there is no right or wrong but rather a tolerance level that needs to be met for us to decide one way or the other. Also, that it is important to understand that for each person that tolerance level will probably be very different and may even change from one moment to another. It shows just how dynamic our existence is and that staying flexible and open may help us to be at ease with our path.



This blog will be a journey. While the subject matter may change and the tone of the messages may vary wildly it will always be a journey to discover truth. I will attempt keep a good mix of deep messages with light and fluffy humor but most importantly hope to have the opportunity to interact with my audience by responding to any suggestions or comments that you submit. So, sit back and enjoy following some of my footsteps down the crooked road of life that we all follow and the joys and adventures that it may bring.