Friday, May 27, 2011

THE GRACE OF AFFIRMATION



“Correction does much, but encouragement does more.~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I remember hearing about a behavioral study by a class on their professor without his knowledge. They decided that when he walked toward the right side of the room they would pay attention. But as he walked to the left side they would not look at him, doodle, slouch in their chairs and look out the window.
It didn’t take long before the professor taught solely from the right side of the room that day and he didn’t realize it.  Why did he do this? Because the student’s attention affirmed that his teaching was interesting and needed, and that only happened on the right side of the room.

All of us need encouragement.

You know, most of us hear all the wrong things we do. Sometimes these wrong doings are assumptions on expectations of others; sometimes they are correct and helpful criticisms. But even correct and helpful criticisms need to be liberally sprinkled with encouragement. We all need to hear what we do right, otherwise, we feel like gum under the shoes of the world. Some think that negative encouragement motivates. For most it doesn’t. It depresses. And those whom it does motivate, it does so in a way as to promote an antagonistic spirit.

Children need correction, but they also need affirmation. Not necessarily over-the-top empty praise, but they need to hear what they have done right.

Adults need encouragement as well. I can’t tell you how much the affirmations from the members of this group have meant to me. Family members, co-workers, friends, those in community service need to hear about the things they have done right.

This week, affirm others.  

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

WHAT JR. BIRD SEES





Last spring I wrote about the male and female cardinal couple that fought the birds who dared enter their territory, only it was their reflection that they fought. Their enemies were themselves.

This year the battle had once again begun. My peaceful home reverberated with Tommy gun rat-a-tat-tats from determined beaks. I sighed and rolled my eyes.  Will they ever learn?

I watched them through the window and noticed that the birds attacking my house were much younger than the bird  pair last year. Hmmmm, could it be the offspring of last year’s pair.

Okay, I’m a writer. So my imagination took over. I could just imagine Jr. peering over the sticks, strings, and grass woven into his nest. Dad is perched over him grumbling, “Who do those birds think they are? Well, I’ll show them if it wears my beak to a nub!” With that he makes a little hop to give him lift and swoops to the window, beating the window, feathers flying all over the place, then returning to the branch that supports the nest. Jr thinks, when I grow up, I’m going to be just like Dad!

Poor Jr. bird. He looks up to Dad. Dad is his hero. But what is Dad doing? What is he passing on to his little bird son?

I read a quote by Saint Francis of Assisi that said, “Preach the Gospel at all times and if necessary use words.” This is an accurate portrayal of how our actions speak louder than words. Do we want to teach others in our folly or in our wisdom?

We all have good and sincere advice, but it is our example that people hear. Are you fighting the reflection in the window? Do you have issues that you need to work out? That’s okay, we all do. What is important is that we deal with our demons and not procrastinate because others are hearing our example.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

DIGGING THROUGH GARBAGE TO FIND THE GOLD



 “Don’t mind criticism. If it is untrue, disregard it; if unfair, keep from irritation; if it is ignorant, smile; if it is justified it is not criticism, learn from it.” ~ Anonymous

I’ve been writing professionally for thirteen years. Criticism and rejection are the weights that strengthen the writer’s muscle. In order to survive, we must develop a thick skin. New York Times best-selling author, Steve Berry, addressed this while speaking to the Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc. conference. He advised us to be teachable and listen to the critiques on our prose. Seventy percent may be garbage but thirty percent will be pure gold.

That is good wisdom, not only for writers, but also for life. Oftentimes we mistake honest criticism as personal value statements. I remember when my husband suggested a budget for me to follow. What I interpreted him as saying was, “You are too wasteful with our money.” Anger and offense flew all over me, much to his surprise. What actually precipitated his suggestion was the desire to find more money for me to have for personal use! Oops . . .

In the Bible, James advises, “Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” Good advice. By doing this we might find gold that will help us to do a better job, choose a better way, be a better person.

Elbert Hubbard says, “To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.” We don’t want to be that person, do we? I’d rather be the kind of person Benjamin Franklin describes, “A word to the wise is enough.”

This week, seek gold.




Tuesday, May 03, 2011

FLAVORED WITH LIES


“Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it” ~ Adolf Hitler

I chose the above quote because of how this man effectively used this philosophy to create one of the greatest and cruelest crimes in history. People doing things to others, who before Hitler, would never have thought of doing. This is the danger of lies. And while most lies are not of this magnitude, our lives are still affected by them.

Recently I read this statement, “The most successful lies are the ones that are closest to the truth.” Why? Because we don’t catch them. We focus on the three-quarters of truth while the lie slips quietly by and does its damage.

This will mean different things to different people. The reason I’m writing about it is my hope that you will meditate on it to see if you are accepting a lie into your life.

Commercials are notorious for feeding us partial truths. Have you seen the one where a can of soda and a pitcher of Koolaid are sitting at a bus stop? The pregnant lady and her daughter come and the soda can hides behind a newspaper it is reading, but the pitcher jumps up to offer its seat to her. The message is Koolaid is friendlier, healthier, because it has one-third less sugar.

Big deal.

Neither is healthy. Water is healthy. That is the truth. In fact, water is the base of both soft drinks and sugary, fruit-flavored drinks. But because of our desire for a sweet taste we ignore the lie and focus on how friendly that pitcher of red stuff is.

The emotional word pictures that are produced on television through commercials and shows, as well as movies, appeal to our right brains causing us to embrace a lie. Lies about our physical appearance, the way we live our life, what we need to be happy, our very self worth.

The truth, like water, isn’t as appealing . . . but it is where life truly begins. This week ask yourself, has a lie slipped in and created discontent? A false sense of happiness that never quite quenches my thirst? Created insecurities?

Don’t believe the lies.