For as long as humans have existed on this Earth our species has been studying the stars, planets, galaxies, and other astrological bodies, as well as their (and our) home - the universe. It is so immense that no one actually knows where it begins or ends. In fact...there isn't a person alive who can be certain that it has a beginning or an end, or...if there aren't other universes. Perhaps we live in a cosmos of multiverses.
Yet, there is one thing that I am sure of - you, my blog reading friend, are most certainly the center of your universe. Okay, you may not be the center of MY universe, but...I can tell you this - without you, your universe wouldn't exist.
You see, everything is relative. No one knows what another person's view of reality is. Nor can we be able to fully understand what goes on in another human's (or for that matter, any other living thing's) mind. So, without you, your universe wouldn't exist. It would cease to be. Or, as Monty Python might (also) say..."It is no more."
Just as the age old question asks, "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" the same holds true for everything else, including our "universal concepts." In other words...the universe exists for you only because you are in it, can observe or detect it, use your senses to identify it, and call on your (and others') knowledge to "verify" that it is an actual entity.
However, what happens when you're gone? Once YOU'VE ceased to be...does the universe, as you now know it, continue to be "real." A philosophical conundrum? Indeed! But - one that will never be fully answered because of who must answer it.
As we go through life, we are constantly swimming through a sea of concepts and constructs. Many of which are believed by most, some of them believed by many, and a few of them believed by a small number - perhaps just one. So...before you make absolute statements, think about the dilemma each of us faces on a continuous basis, and even then - you may only be right for yourself.
Have fun dissecting things my friends...it certainly is an invigorating exercise - at least it is for one person I know...me!
What is it about a smile that makes us feel so good? Is it the fact that we realize the joy behind it is being transferred to us, or that the person smiling is expressing happiness, love, and/or compassion for themselves and others as well?
Sure...well can all recognize a phony smile. It doesn't take a scientist to tell us when someone's smile is "full of it." In those cases the feelings conveyed are inauthentic. Often, it means someone wants something. Perhaps your approval, your vote, your money, or your compassion. But...we pick up the "pasted on smile" right away.
The other - the "real smile" however...well, that's just pure lightness. A great one exudes love, excitement, and enables us to see "inside" the person's heart. That smile is a snapshot of the authenticity of the person at that moment. No hiding, no pretense, no wanting something in return. It's just the embodiment that something wonderful is going on right then and there. Often...the smile leads to laughter, sometimes uproarious laughter that permeates everything and everyone around it and spreads faster than a cold in a kindergarten classroom.
Smiling is therapeutic. It creates wellness. Try it. It's hard to feel sick during the short period of a smile. In fact, when we are sick and someone brings us an authentic smile, it instantly makes us feel better (even if it's ever so slightly better). And...if we start to laugh, well then - all our ills somehow magically disappear.
So my friends - don't be stingy with your smiles. Give them away constantly. Let them lead to laughter. Bring them with you always. Spread them around freely. And - especially use them when they are often needed the most: during hard times, sad times, tough times, and times when you are all alone. Yes...that means you smile for no one but yourself. Because...your own smile can bring you joy as well.
Remember, during the worst of times a smile can light up the darkness. And - during the best of times, and all times in between, it can light your way even during the brightest of days. Make sure you don't forget them my friends...you'll need them - that's for certain. Because, the journey is a long one and everyone, including you, will need the lightness they contain.
I teach, I write, I coach, train, lecture, and...I'm a businessman who finds himself in the negotiation arena on a periodic basis. Of course...I also have a personal life that incorporates many of the same aspects that this post addresses.
In both my personal and business life (just like in yours), communication is what helps us control things, it stimulates our thoughts, makes and sustains relationships, and can create hardships or a "smooth ride." The phrase, "my word is my bond," is one of those lines that has taught us about trust. The concept was in use long before contracts were enacted. In fact...even before there was paper to write them on. "If you don't mean it...don't say it," is another way of expressing the same idea. Now, don't get me wrong - there are things that are said in the heat of the moment that people really DON'T mean, they are words out of anger, hurt, or confusion. That's not what I'm addressing here.
When a person has time to think, the rational mind makes conclusions. It is then that you should be prepared to voice your thoughts - literally, or on paper. knowing that you've thought things through, researched and dissected, understood your strengths, weaknesses, and capabilities, taken mitigating situations into account, and recognized that what you've told (or will tell) people...is what they will often take as "your word" and repeat (if it's necessary - as in negotiations) to others. If you don't really mean what you say, are just saying it to placate someone, our worse...to deceive them - ultimately the "sticky situations" that will result may, in fact, derail your credibility and make you someone that others will refuse to deal with.
Trust is build on "saying what you mean" and "standing behind your word." There are certain behavioral types who will say things just to be liked. They'll volunteer, take on tasks, and say they'll help out...so that you'll like them. However, these same individuals (although they mean well) will often leave another person "hanging" because, in their desire to be liked, they've taken on so much that nothing can possible get done - at least on time and with the results necessary for success.
So my friends...be careful as to how, what, and when, you communicate. Make sure that you word is indeed "your bond." It is always better to say that you can't do something, don't know how to accomplish a task, that you don't have the proper information, or just don't know - than it is to attempt to bluff your way through. Ultimately...it will catch up to you! And...ruin your relationships, your credibility, and your reputation. Stay honest - it's always (as the saying goes) "the best policy." It will lead you down a much clearer, and cleaner, path.
Smell doesn't get enough press. Yeah - that's right...it doesn't! We write and speak a lot about feeling stuff and touching things (including those we love), talking and listening (both VERY important to any type of relationship). Hearing keeps our love of music, language, and the other interesting stuff that vibrates our eardrums, at the top of our lists of things we enjoy. While seeing, looking, and viewing life as it passes stimulates us as much as, if not more than, the movies, videos, and TV shows we watch.
In fact, our society is fixated on how we look and what we see. That's what style, the fashion industry, marketing, and advertising, are all about. Including - the optical/eyewear industry - where my entrepreneurial background took shape and grew, and a field that combines both fashion and vision (in both the literal and figurative sense)
And...we certainly love the titillation of our taste buds! How else can we explain the popularity of cooking shows, restaurants, wine magazines, "liquor stores," delicatessens, food courts, food trucks, all the various food stores, and the myriad of other wonderful places and stimulating venues for our gastronomic desires!
Ahh - but what about the joys of the nose?! Smells are miraculous things. You can walk by something and its odor can take you into a memory so deeply that you actually feel like you're there. There are certain "Army smells" that transport me right back to my days in fatigues and "dress greens." The smell of a skunk instantly teleports me back to my farm and living the life of a man tilling his garden, wading in his stream, riding his tractor, and checking out his barn. So...that "skunk smell" it just fine by me. In fact, I kinda like it! I guess those memories have negated all the propaganda against the "stink of the skunk" that has been "thrown out there" during my lifetime.
Of course, the fragrance industry recognizes the monetary benefits of smell. It's been with us since recorded history. I'm sure there's an odor that reminds you of someone important in your life. It could come from the perfumeries of a designer or be strictly the work of Mother Nature.
But - some of the greatest smells of all, for me, are the odors I encounter when I walk into a bakery! Mmm...they're really tough to beat! Freshly baked bread, newly made cakes and cookies, scones, pies, bagels...yum! I can smell 'em right now! Can't you?! I always wondered how a baker can resist constantly eating all those luscious things they make. The smells alone cause my mouth to water. It's like walking into mom's kitchen on a cold winter's night when the stove, oven, and counter tops are all doin' their thing at top proficiency with the best ingredients she could buy!
So my friends, take joy in the wonders of the nose. Revel in your olfactory sense. Enjoy what nature and human innovation have provided through those waves of smells that waft up your nostrils and into your brain, to be locked there for the rest of your life and brought back as a reminder of days past and experiences lived!
Now, if only you could smell that picture at the top of this post! Does anyone have any strawberry jam?
Authenticity is one of those things you can feel. I'm not talking about an authentic piece of jewelry, pottery, or a painting. Nope...I'm taking about people. Us. What makes someone an authentic person, as opposed to a phony?
Lots of times it may be hard to detect the difference initially, but eventually either the "cream rises to the top" or the "face of phoniness flies open." It usually doesn't take long. Quite often body language gives it away. Or you get that..."I gotta go wash this off my hands" revelation. Phoniness is wrought with slickness, greed, false hope, a need for power and control (usually at the expense of you or someone else - but certainly not them), and - of course there's the bad makeup, clothes, hairdo/haircut, and/or jewelry (okay...maybe not the last four!).
Sometimes I gotta laugh at the incessant desire for some folks to overcompensate for their insecurities. After all, that's where the lack of authenticity usually comes from...doesn't it? After laughter comes the realization of sadness. Why aren't people just real. Who really cares what car you drive, how much money you have, or what your title is...really - who cares?! Those things may make you happy, and that's great - but when it's flaunted or used to pull one person into the web of someone else, that's another story. When the lack of authenticity is spotted early it can save you lots of angst, time and probably money as well. When it's not...it can create years of frustration.
The marketing and advertising industries within our society thrive on making people feel dispirited and not worthy and consequently, they need to compensate for low self-esteem by creating a false self. And...because of that, many people live as non-authentic beings - when they could just as easily realize that they're okay just the way they are! And...be much happier - both outwardly and, more importantly...inwardly.
Our culture loves to divide - whether it's religion, nationalism, race, or position. I can get into a diatribe about each of those mental constructs, but that's for another post. However, that's why I'm not big on titles. They seem to create an air of subjugation and separation. Often putting one group (or individual) below that of the titled. Therefore, I request that my students call me Dan, because Professor doesn't appear on my Birth Certificate, nor do the initials behind my name, or the word Doctor (which I'm not - but many insist on calling me) in front of it. I realize that some students have trouble with that from a cultural perspective. Consequently, I understand their discomfort and don't force the issue. But...you can bet they know I'm their professor. The title isn't necessary. The grades, unfortunately, are.
Years ago I wrote a book in which I spoke about the fact that leaders don't need titles. True leaders lead because of their actions not because of their titles. I don't address people by their titles. I know that might fly in the face of what most people believe...that calling someone by their title is a sign of respect to that person. However, I see it in the opposite light. What respect does it give to the person addressing? Respect comes from how one treats people, not what their title is. In other words, I don't believe ANYONE should be superficially made to seem greater or lesser than anyone else (including me). Titles seem to want to belie that fact. They are only descriptors and nothing more.
I appreciate the fact the someone (again - including me) went on to get additional degrees or performed certain functions that got them a "higher" position, certification, or rank, but...that goes after their name and/or on their resume. Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying that all people who put titles in front of their names aren't authentic and/or secure, and I'm sure most of them deserve those titles. I'm not judging them, just stating what I deem to be a societal norm. However...it certainly isn't necessary - and still creates a type of class structure.
Love, happiness, contentment, security, compassion, honesty, and empathy come from within. Someone who isn't "real" (regardless of their position) has a hard time displaying those important emotions in a way that reflects those things in their truest sense - and somehow people know that. Inauthentic behavior won't stand the test of time. It may be able to fool, as the saying goes..."Some of the people some of the time." But eventually it gets revealed. Your job is to not be the fool.
We must ALWAYS remember that no one is (or should be made to feel) greater or lesser than anyone else. Sure, some of us have greater or lesser knowledge in some areas than others, however...the reverse is ALWAYS true as well. That only means that the teacher is also the student, the doctor...the patient, the master...the apprentice. Happiness is here now. Do not let someone tell you, or make you feel, otherwise. They may guide you and help you, but they will be you in some other capacity. Of that you can be certain. So my friends, be authentic - ALWAYS. Your spirit is too important to live any other way.
I leave you with two quotes. Both of which I share with my students:
"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society." Jiddu Krishnamurti
"Everything is meaningless except for love." Ralph Goldberg (my father)