Monthly Archives: December 2013

# 30 Surprise Someone With Praise

pink-dotimagesCAQDJLN1     Over twenty years ago I was in a video store with my husband and young children checking out films, a very ordinary event.  A man in a straw hat walked by me with a big smile and said, “What a handsome family!”

The man, a stranger to me, surely forgot about the remark by the time he drove out of the parking lot.  Yet the compliment meant so much to me that I still recall it.  It costs so little to make an enthusiastically positive statement to another person–a few seconds.  Yet the comment may make that person’s day, even be remem-bered by the person years later.

I have tried to continue his surprising act of praise.  When a sales clerk has done a good job I  have asked for the manager and praised the clerk to her manager.  When I  have been helped with a difficult insurance claim by a claims processor, I have asked for the person’s supervisor’s address and sent a letter of praise.  Recently I read a report that had been written by a professional in another city eight years previously and was so impressed by it I tracked her down through a Google of her place of employment. I sent her an email commenting on what an excellent job she did.  She was shocked with gratitude.

Look for an opportunity today to make a positive remark to a complete stranger–the bus driver, the store clerk, the worker who makes your deli sandwich.  Record in a notebook  what you did.  Note the person’s reaction.  How did you feel?

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# 29 Find Your Invincible Summer

Albert Camus

Albert Camus (Photo credit: Mitmensch0812)

Albert Camus graffiti

purple-dot Albert Camus was one of the great existentialist thinkers of the twentieth century.  I read about him in high school French class when we translated his play, No Exit.  Camus was part of the French resistance movement during the Nazi occupation.  His philosophy, in one statement, was that there were no absolutes in life;  we bring meaning to our lives by how we live them.  I saw this quote when I was in my 20’s and have always remembered it.  It is from a book titled Actuelles, written in 1960.

We tend to equate existentialism with despair, yet this passage is about hope.  What does it mean?  What was the darkest time in your life?  What sustained you during that dark time?  What was it inside of you?  What was it outside of you?

Think about a difficult situation in your life right now.  How can you use those same inner strengths to deal with it?  How can you use some of the same resources outside of you?   Jot these down in a notebook so that you remember them.

# 28 Forgiveness Is a Phone Call Away

gold-dot???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Is it such a bad thing to want revenge? If you have been wronged, betrayed, denied justice, don’t you think about how you would like to get revenge on the one who has made you miserable? We tend to demonize revenge and treat it as something out of our prehistoric, caveman past. We like to think that in the 21st century we are too modern, too enlightened for such a base emotion. Not so fast, says psychologist and researcher Michael McCullough at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. He states that the motive for revenge is hard wired into us and has evolved with us. We can see revenge at work even in animal societies such as the chimpanzee and the Japanese Macaque monkey. He argues that for most all of human history, it is the fear of retaliation that has kept violence and deception in check. Thus, this fear of revenge has contributed to the stability of society and to the safety of social groups.

On the other hand, McCullough argues that the desire to forgive is also hard-wired into us; it too is a basic instinct. Forgiveness has had evolutionary advantages. The act of tolerance toward one’s fellow citizens, and the tolerance for each other’s mistakes has kept societies harmonious and stable. If we never forgave each other, society would fall apart because we would be constantly at each other’s throats.

When are people most likely to forgive someone? McCullough states that it is when the person who has been wronged is reassured that they are safe from any future harm. It is also when the relationship between the two has “value”—they have a personal history together and anticipate being beneficial to each other in the future. This may help us explain why it is often easier to forgive someone known to us than someone who is a stranger.   When asked what a person can do when he or she is having trouble with forgiving someone, McCullough answered, “Forgiveness is often a phone call away.” He stated that he learned through his research that most of those who held long-standing grudges against another had never actually spoken to that person. McCullough found that, in most cases, a single conversation cleared up the problem.

McCullough was interviewed by Krista Tippett on the radio program On Being on May 2, 2012. You can listen to the entire program at this web link.

You may also want to listen to some of the personal stories recorded there and read the remarks of listeners who sent in their personal responses to the program.

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#27 Accept Your Limitations

Take Pride Spokesman Clint Eastwood

Take Pride Spokesman Clint Eastwood (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

yellow-dot          Clint Eastwood said, “A man has got to know his limitations.”

Dirty Harry

Many of us struggle with our faults and shortcomings.  Even worse, we may live in an environment in which we are confronted constantly with our lapses.  Those among us who live full, rich lives are able to embrace our strengths and accept our limitations.

In an earlier post, we took the VIA test and derived a sense of what our strengths are.  In this post, we move toward embracing our limitations.  Repeat this phrase, “I must accept my own limitations.  I can only be as smart as I am, as good as I am, as strong as I am, etc.  I cannot be anything more than what I am.  These are my own personal limitations I must come to terms with.”

List several personal limitations below.  Try using the sentence completions listed.

“I must come to accept my lack of ….  _____________________________________________________________

“I can only …  _____________________________________________________________________________


“I must accept my inability to … _________________________________________________________________


“The truth is I am simply not very good at… _________________________________________________________


Let it be so

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#26 Practice a Random Act of Kindness

pink-dotkindness coin.

Have you continued to engage in random acts of kindness (#7)?

Two men in a small town in Georgia, Steve Hasenfus and Scott Strength, were so imbued with the idea of passing on a favor that they decided to have a large number of coins minted out of brass which would be sold for a small price and passed on from person to person as favors are paid forward.  The coins are stamped Act of Kindness, and each is registered with a serial number.  The two men also created a web site to track the progress of each coin as it makes its way, hopefully, around the world.   The person who receives the coin, and performs a favor for someone, can go to the site and list the act of kindness for others to read.

After the web site was launched in April, 2002, 700 coins with about 140 sub-scribers were listed on the site.  Hundreds of acts of kindness were recorded.  The original site is no longer on the web.  However, you may go to a new and very similar site,

Go to the web site today.  Read some accounts.  If you can afford it, spend the 415.00 to order 10 coins.   Pass them out among a few friends.  Ask them to do a favor for someone and pass the coin on.

If you feel you just don’t have time to do a random act of kindness, click on the tab that says “e card.”  Send one to a friend along with a personal message.  Record their response.





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