Twenty things to say.

It’s been a while- I have a couple posts in the pipeline but I find it hard to regularly sit down and write. I set a calendar reminder for every two weeks to write something up but constantly find myself with more to do. Putting more content up here needs to be a higher priority.

I hope you were able to enjoy Thanksgiving in some way or form. It’s been a good time to reflect on people in my life who are often taken for granted. There have been chances to reflect on my shortcomings with people and time to remember people who are no longer in my life, but made a significant impact on it.

A family member sent me a link to a video by Soul Pancake that I think is a little more poignant today, but is still worth viewing every day. One of their recurring characters is Kid President, a third grader that dons a suit and offers some encouraging views through his charismatic demeanor. Kid President’s most recent video is below- and I know there are a few things in there I need to remember to say more often to people daily. I’ll let the video speak for itself.

Some of my favorites are #14, #12, #10, #5 (!), and #2. Thinking about the last few posts- it takes a certain amount of awareness and vulnerability to say some of these things and truly mean them. It takes vulnerability to offer someone a corndog!

Building off of Kid President, I’ve learned a lesson lately with the difference between “I’m sorry” and “excuse me”. For a while “I’m sorry” became my default apology- whether I was in the way of someone’s path in the hallway; trying to acknowledge a cough, sneeze, or other bodily function; or trying to form a genuine apology. A friend called me out on my ┬ábad habit and told me that “excuse me” is for things that you’ve done that you will inevitably do again- we’re going to bump into people, sneeze, and interrupt. “I’m sorry” should be reserved for actions you truly regret- hurting someone emotionally or physically, saying something out of character, or making a genuine mistake. Lately I have been working on forming the habit of using “excuse me” for my little miscues, and it’s made “I’m sorry” take on more weight and meaning. It’s a little thing, but I think it makes a difference. That’s something I’ll continue to work on.

The holiday season is upon us- hopefully remembering these 20 things might make it go little smoother, especially in our interactions with strangers.

Tom

Connecting to vulnerability and perfect moments.

The two pieces of media from the last post say a lot about the connections to reality, life, and each other that we need in order to feel happy and fulfilled. In a previous post, I mentioned that a personal ideal of mine is to stay connected to those within my inner circles, so these pieces of media struck a chord with me.

Maybe you didn’t have a chance to view them. A quick synopsis:

Brian Finkelstein’s Moth story describes two events relating to suicide. The first details the abrupt ending to his own personal struggle with the issue. The second event explains an experience in where he tried to help end a complete stranger’s similar struggle and his desire to communicate the value of “perfect life moments” with the stranger.

Brene Brown is a researcher whose TED talk on vulnerability also connects her personal experience with a desire to communicate her revelations to others. Through her research, she has found that at the core of shame is a resistance to being vulerable to others, which impacts our desire for connection to other human beings. She called shame the ‘fear of disconnection’.

In other words, Brown explains, when we experience shame, we fear that whatever is causing us shame is an imperfection no one can know about. She found that her research subjects who had a strong sense of love and belonging believed that they were worthy of that love. Brown compared that to those who did not have the same sense of connection. She found the difference was that the connected and loved had the courage to tell stories with their whole heart. They embraced imperfection and the willingness to put themselves in a vulnerable position, to say “I love you” first, to do something when there are no guarantees.

It’s important to be perceptive to “perfect life moments” as Finkelstein has, instead of caught up in the chaos and entropy that spiraled him into a suicide attempt. He found out his girlfriend was cheating on him, got a bottle of tequila and his dad’s gun, and drove and drank. He pulled over to a beach, put the barrel of the gun in his mouth…and threw up from too much tequila. The calm that followed- a quiet moment alone in the midnight ocean- was enough for him to realize that those moments were all he needed to live. Nothing else mattered-he had enough.

These two talks come together at the intersection of heightened awareness and knowing that we are “enough” and that we have “enough”. Suicide is one of the most extreme attempts to assert control over someone or a situation- it screams a person’s conclusion that they will never have enough, so it’s better that they have nothing at all. Finkelstein’s experiences are amplified compared to ones Brown talks about: people cope with the stress, fear, and anxiety of wondering if they are ‘enough’ by over-doing it: over-spending, over-medicating, over-eating, over-drinking, over-indulging in potentially addictive behaviors.

But instead of spiralling into self-destruction, either slowly or instantaneously, we can wake up. We can be aware of the perfect life moments that occur daily. We can feel fortunate to be connected to extraordinary people and be able to share struggles and imperfections with them. We can look around and realize that what we are and what we have is enough.

Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a rather extreme event for us to change our perception and begin thinking that way. Maybe it’s a loss of a loved one, or job, a change in health, hurting someone, or being a new environment. The silver lining is that those moments, those times when we feel helpless, are perfect moments to be aware and to embrace the vulnerability surrounding us. Only then can we realize how connected we are to life and those around us.

Once again, the talks, posted below:

Brian Finkelstein: Perfect Moments

Brene Brown: The power of vulnerability