Friday, June 27, 2014

Confidence and Humility

Confidence and humility are good neighbors.  I believe confidence is a good trait to have, but confidence must be present in equal measure to humility or it quickly explodes into arrogance, however subtle.  Confidence is about not trying to be different or better, feeling 100% honest about and secure in who you are and knowing you are "enough."  Humility is the trait that reminds us we are all in the same boat, that we don't need to be in the limelight and can even help others shine because it brings us genuine pleasure.  It's our reminder to reel it in, take a deep breath, wait before you speak, especially about your own accomplishments, experiences or abilities.

I've been confident most of life, at least since I emerged from my cocoon of adolescent "dork-hood."  But humility?  I'm not sure. Certainly I've been humble at times, but the ever-present trait was confidence, sometimes bordering on arrogance.  As I grew up and entered my chosen career, I think I bowed down to the pressures of competition in the workplace, and I became more rigid and stressed, always showing my best side, straining to prove myself so I got the job, the promotion, the pay raise, etc. 

Since I left the "rat race" and began to work from home (although currently on a hiatus from work due to a back and hip injury), there is much less pressure.  There are fewer reasons to try and impress and fewer people in my day-to-day life that I perceive are in need of impressing.  But it's still challenging to let the impressions of others develop organically.  Even now in my much simpler lifestyle, I find myself trying to show off my good side, although in the most subtle ways.  And being more mindful these days, I see this and laugh at myself.  I ask myself, "Why am I doing (this or) that?"

Humility is a character trait that I would like to foster within myself. It's a character trait which I admire most in others, far more than any other.  One of the reasons I married my husband is because he is humble. He had a refreshing light around his heart that attracted me. That light was humility in its purest form.  And though he is confident, he is willing to wait for people to discover his value, rather than foist it upon them.  It's really a beautiful thing.

I look around me and see so many frustrated, stressed out people trying to prove themselves in any given moment with any given person. Trying to be more than what they are, trying to prove themselves, be better, seem better. Trying to prove themselves to their parents, their children, their siblings, their nieces and nephews, their aunts and uncles, their friends, their coworkers, their employers, their neighbors… why is it so important to us to be thought of as competent? Smart? Interesting? Talented? Funny? Brave? Capable? Generous?  Friendly?  Practical?  And the list goes on and on.

We may be smart in one moment and completely stupid in the next. We may possess talents toward one endeavor and lack them completely in another. We may be interesting or funny in one instance and completely boring in the next. Or interesting or funny to one person and make another person fall asleep from disinterest. And that is okay. We are not perfect. We are flawed because we are alive.

It seems to me that we are all so exhausted from trying so hard to be someone that we are not. Why can't we all let our guards down, feel like we are finally enough?  Let people see us for who we are, flaws and idiosyncrasies and all?  I think the world would be more joyous if this were the way we lived.

From this day forward, I am dropping my pretend mantle of perfection.  And the next time someone asks me a question that I don't know the answer to, I will without hesitation say, "I have no clue!"  I may even laugh at my own ignorance.  I may let someone come into my dirty house and not apologize for the mess.  I may listen without interruption to the friend who rambles on and on, simply because she needs to be heard.  I may even let someone arrogant and controlling have the final word, knowing they need that triumph more than me.  I may smile and nod at the next person who cuts in front of me at the grocery store.  I may apologize and assume I miscommunicated the next time someone misunderstands me, rather than get angry that they weren't listening or don't care or all the other silly conclusions we immediately jump to when people don't "get us."  I may keep my mouth shut the next time someone compliments my husband on something I did myself.  I may remain peacefully silent the next time  someone writes Carrie Gunn on an envelope (thinking I changed my name when we married). In retrospect, it's all so self-important, isn't it?  In the grand scheme of things, does any of this really matter?   Will these more positive, humble reactions to things change the course of my life or affect my livelihood?  NO!  In fact, they may add years of bliss to my life.

I am going to make an effort to be a model of humility for others to follow. But even if no one notices, that is okay. Because their praise or acknowledgment is not why I choose to live this way from this day forward. My reason for practicing more humility is this:  FREEDOM.  I am flawed, world!  See me for who I am. I have nothing to prove to you, nothing to prove to anyone or even to myself. I am enough. I am exactly as I should be. And letting go of all my fears, and all my desires to control and grasp and make a good impression on others will give me an absolute freedom and with that, absolute JOY.  

Joy!!

Monday, June 2, 2014

MORE HUMAN CONNECTIONS NEEDED!

My heart is breaking.  Seriously, my chest is physically aching.

Two Preteen Girls Stab 12-year-old 19 times in Planned Murder Plot

There it is.  Another terrible news story about violence, this time committed by two twelve-year-old girls in Waukesha, WI, a city David and I once called home.  Their schoolmate, another twelve-year-old girl, was lured into a wooded area and brutally stabbed multiple times in an attempt to KILL HER.  The victim very nearly died but is now recovering in the hospital.  Why did this happen?  Why did these young girls do this?  Oh, apparently it was in response to a challenge made by a fictitious character on a website.

What is happening in our society?  Every week I hear another gruesome story like this, sometimes multiple deaths, and so often very young people are holding the murder weapons.  It's bad enough when I hear an adult doing something so atrocious, but when it's someone young I have to wonder -- what happened to the innocent youths of yesterday?  Childhood is supposed to be carefree and fun  and even a little bit gullible, isn't it?  Our parents were there to watch out for us; they could worry about the bad guys while we played in the sandbox.

I truly believe that our disconnected and self-centered society is at least partly to blame.  It seems our young children are footing the bill for the wonderful convenience of modern communication.  Facebook and Twitter and email and internet are all excellent, sometimes convenient communication tools (I'm using it now), but I hear far too many stories of young people AND adults abusing technology, being "plugged in" 24/7, okay, maybe 16/7 to allow for sleep, but that's still too many hours to be plugged in!  And "selfies," obsessively posted every three seconds, are only one example of how superficial and self-centered our society is becoming.

What are we losing by building this kind of society, its heart frozen under voluminous layers and layers of pixels and high-speed data?  Everything!  Indeed, the very characteristics which make us human!  Compassion, patience, love, loyalty, effort, sincerity... those traits have virtually disappeared from our conversations because they cannot be fully exhibited in a few typed out words on a monitor.  They have to be FELT in an embrace, HEARD in a friend's heartbeat, TASTED in someone's tears.

We need more REAL human connections every day, real face-to-face meetings, real hugs, real smiles (vs. smiley icons flashing on our screens).  Please... everyone think about this.

Why not pick a day this week and make it your unplugged day?

Even if it's just this one week.  Do it.  If you are a parent, take your kids' phones and computers for one day, and give them plenty of love and heart-to-heart chats in place of those gadgets.  If you are an employer, set up Email-Free Fridays or have an "Unplugged Employee Picnic" and/or let your employees go home an hour early one day this week and tell them it's for REAL face-to-face family bonding time.  Everyone can do their part!  We can all lead by example.  We can all be unplugged more of the time.  It's a change, but we will discover something far more valuable in its place, real human connection.  The next time you have the urge to "message," "text" or "email" someone, can't you go see them instead or at the very least - make the effort and pick up the phone so you can hear their voice, share their life, breath by breath?

We can do this!!  We all have the power to change our world for the better.  Please, please, please WAKE UP WORLD!

If you agree, I beg you to share this, print it out and hand it to someone you love or better yet, a stranger.  Or if you're still plugged in, repost it with or without your own comments on your FB page and then do something even more meaningful by actually LIVING it from this day forward.   Go talk to someone face-to-face.  Give them a hug.  Give them part of yourself in a real human connection.

I love this video, "Look Up, posted on YouTube.  Really sums things up nicely for me...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7dLU6fk9QY