Avoiding Negativity

When we meet a person, we often say “how are you doing” with responses being anything from true to false or sarcastic (“if I was any better, I’d be you).

You don’t start a conversation with “I almost died” or “I’ve been sick for a week” and if someone else does, a word of positivity is better than dragging out the full story.  To avoid negative situations, take the lead with positivity.  “I’m happy to see you”.  “Glad to be here”.  Something sincere and positive.  No one wants to be around people who drag them down even if they don’t know any other way.  Negativity is a disease.  Take precautions against it.  Treat it with a healthy dose of positivity.

Winning Cooperation

The more we practice the ability to find common ground, the more we gain the cooperation of other.

My NYU students want to use their phones during class.  I want them to give me their undivided attention for almost 2 hours.  What to do?  Set the ground rules together so we both win.  Phones off in class.  Students may get up and go into the hall with the professor’s complete understanding if they need to check or send a text message.  The disruptions are minor.  The more we get closer together, the stronger we become.

The Right Choice

The ability to make choices is like muscles – the less we exercise, the more we lose them.

A day doesn’t have to go badly just because something goes wrong, one choice is to turn it around.  Walking away from negative people is a choice whether for the moment or permanently.  Boredom can be avoided – the choice is ours to shake things up.  And the thing is, it’s also fun to give away your ability to freely choose from time to time.  A friend I dined with used to look at the menu and ask the server what would you eat – you know this menu.  Then he would say, I’ll have that.  Choice not chance.  Active choice keeps us from becoming victims of circumstances.

Laughter as Medicine

The author Norman Cousins laughed his way through what was diagnosed as collagen disease and lived a long life to write and lecture about it.

Cousins had a thing for Marx Brothers movies and long before Netflix he had the old movies brought into his hospital room for viewing.  Laughter is often the best medicine and considering being cooped up for the past few months with Zoom I’ll bet you will fall off your chair howling when you view Music Teacher Plays Song in a Pandemic.  Enjoy.

A Thought to Boost Confidence

Imagine if instead of reminding yourself of a confidence deficit, you remembered that virtually everyone else is feeling the same way.

Confidence is perishable.  The day after a promotion and raise, it’s fresh.  After being laid off or furloughed, it’s stale and in need of freshening.  Every day is not a greatest day for others either.  Yet we tend to think of any lack of confidence as exclusive to us.  Once we refocus on the fragile nature of confidence and how almost everyone is impacted by it, we can get on with a solution – be the fine person you are, it is not only good enough but even the reminder makes you better.

Difficult People

You might think about changing the way you deal with difficult people.

Some are never going to be likeable and they would be better to avoid.  Appreciate the agreeable ones – they are gems in life.  But what if you’re stuck with someone who is difficult and disagreeable?  They may not be able to help it and require compassion and forgiveness.  While they aren’t going to change any time soon, by trying compassion and forgiveness, you are.

True Equality

Equality is neither male nor female, it has less to do with gender.

I saw feminist author Betty Friedan speak to a group in Princeton about equality and feminist issues that she cared about very much.  After all, Friedan arguably started the movement with publication of The Feminine Mystique.  Afterwards, she told a small group of us that equality is not about male or female or for that matter any gender at all.  I came away with a new appreciation for everyone’s ability to have equal access to work, education, social and military based on their skills and their desire not their gender.

The Thing About Change

So many people are overwhelmed and can’t keep up but as they struggle to cope, they get more anxious and stressed making the desire to change more elusive.

The secret is to focus on one thing and only one thing.  Then pick one time period (a month, a week, a year, for example) in which to bring it about.  Long lists and constant reprioritizing has proven less effective than focusing on one thing.  There is such value in simplifying goals to get better results, a best-selling book has been written about it.  The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results.

The Meaning of “First”

Seth Godin reported that a study of behavior at buffets showed that the first item seen was chosen by 75% of diners even when the order of the items were reversed.  That 2/3 of all the food taken was from the first 3 items.

Your first idea is more likely to be chosen based on this behavior.  However as former radio owner Jerry Lee once told me, if you have three choices on a list, the respondent is more likely to choose the middle option (#2).  But when it comes to brainstorming new ideas, researchers have discovered that the worst idea is the first idea.  All of this gives new meaning to “first” – what you want people to do is all about understanding human behavior.

4 Steps to Happiness

  1.  Don’t get out of bed before you thank 5 people who are a part of your life and who you care about.
  2. Spend at least 2 minutes with your family or friends at the end of each day.
  3. Send people a “silent message” that says “I wish you well” when you see them in person. When you are wishing people well you’re also wishing yourself well.
  4. Activate the rational side of your brain to eliminate adrenaline and steroids in the brain that causes bad decisions so you can build resiliency.

With thanks to Mayo Clinic Professor Amit Sood