Can I, If I Can’t?

"I 'bearly' can and you can't!" :-)

As a young man, my dad used the saying: “Can’t means you don’t want to!”, many times when responding to my statement of: “I can’t …”

"I'm stretched as far as I can be stretched!"

I remember often feeling angry when he would say, “Can’t means …,” to me, while I thought I was, proverbially speaking,“Stretched as far as I could be stretched.” I felt he didn’t understand my lack of strength, desire, will, motivation, or in general, my inability to actually do what he wanted. I now realize he had a point, though I still think he should have given more consideration to my age and immaturity.

Taking into consideration, and in spite of what I just wrote, the words, “I can’t,” aren’t necessarily reflecting what it means to be human. If we look at human history, we immediately see it as one of constant improvement of the human experience. Humans are constantly driven toward progress. A saying that I have often used is, “Learn from the past, live in the present and make the future better.” That saying speaks volumes to valuing progress. We really don’t, as a human race, accept the words, “I can’t.” Just consider how we humans currently interact, as compared to a few thousand years ago.

Yes, WE can!

We are constantly working toward improving the status quo. The words, “I can’t,” will simply get in the way of normal human behavior. Think about it. If humans had allowed “can’t” to get in the way, then the Greeks, with less than 6000 adult male citizens, wouldn’t have had the impact on democracy we now realize. The sea trade by the Phoenicians, the Silk Road from Asia Minor to China and the discovery of America wouldn’t have happened.

If humans would have had the “I can’t attitude,” there would have been no light bulb, no telephone and no automobile. Generally, the acceptance of, “I can’t,” means no written language, no music, and no books. Human history only reflects an “I can” attitude. Of course, there are set-backs, but we still, as a human race, tend to manifest an “I can” kind of history.

Can I OR Can't I learn?

We have a need to grow, to experience achievement, to realize fulfillment and to be better than we were before. As we look at our history, we realize that we are, indeed, unique in having the trait of always expanding our knowledge. There is no group of animals, other than humans, that have planned and completed visits to faraway places like the moon. We are truly unique with this “I can” attitude.

If my dad was alive now and I told him, “I can’t,” I’m sure he would still say, “Can’t means you don’t want to!” Guess what? I now think I agree with him and would say, “Thanks for reminding me that I can!” You see, it’s only human to say, “What if I can?” Yes, I can!

I just realized this is sounding a little bit like President Obama’s campaign slogan. Yes We Can! :-)

Can I, if I can’t? Yes, I think I can!

Can you, or can’t you give a comment? :-)

Why Quote?

Do you ever quote? Why quote?  What is worth quoting and why? These are all good questions and their answers are in the minds of the quoters.:-)

Do I know any quotable quotes worth quoting? Another good question! I know some quotes that I quote a lot and I think have a lot of value. Does that make them worth quoting? From my point of view, yes!

“There is a mysterious connection between language and thinking.”

Here are some quotes that I think are quotable and worth pondering. The quotes are listed in bold Underlined font and each is followed by a related question and answer.

“There is a mysterious connection between language and thinking.”

How can we access our thinking?

Since it is difficult to think without using (one’s own) language, the natural way to access thinking is through language. The tool to use is the language arts. For example, to access and improve our political thinking, this language arts’ tool would have us: READ THE POLITICS, WRITE THE POLITICS, HEAR THE POLITICS, SPEAK THE POLITICS, therefore THINK THE POLITICS. This tool of language arts is useful as an aid to learn any disciplined way of thinking.

“Choose freely, live creatively, and think critically.”

What does this quote mean, in my opinion?

What are you becoming?

Choosing freely means you are choosing and accepting the responsibility of your choice. Living creatively means you are living in a way in which you are creating the meaning of life in your mind. Thinking critically means you are thinking about your thinking and assessing your thinking with good intellectual standards–clarity, relevancy, appropriateness, logicalness, etc.

As a problem-solver, citizen, parent, student, teacher, legislator, professional, or any other label one might have, the focus statement of “choose freely, live creatively, and think critically” can keep us directed toward rationality and becoming a rational person.  By rationality I mean, conforming to principles of good reasoning, showing good judgment, being sensible, logical, and relevant.

“What you are becoming is often more important than what you are accomplishing.”

What are you becoming?

Questions drive thinking?

Hopefully, a life-long learner? Yes, but what are you learning? It’s important to “become” the learner that has good intellectual traits, such as intellectual empathy, intellectual courage, intellectual humility, intellectual perseverance, and fair-mindedness. With good intellectual traits the thinker can be a life-long learner who is productive in a positive manner in a democratic society. The “becoming” is acquiring good intellectual traits and the “accomplishing” is life-long learning.

“Questions drive thinking.”

Why focus on questions instead of answers?

Asking questions is a sign of thinking. Questioning is necessary in order to keep your thinking active. Questions do not need to be asked to anyone but yourself. In fact, the goal, though not attainable in most situations, would be to answer all of your own questions.

Know yourself! Be true to yourself!

For every question you ask, ideally your mind will generate two more. Therefore, if you start with one question and pursue your line of thinking, you end with many questions. Questions are a sign of an active mind and not a sign of ignorance. Use questions to drive thinking.

Know yourself.  Be true to yourself.

Who should assess our thinking?

Ultimately, each person must assess him/herself. As you know, you don’t always have another person to assess your thinking. We must constantly work toward the time in which we will assess our own thinking and decide for ourselves its clarity, accuracy, relevancy, appropriateness, etc. Self-assessment should be done on everything that represents one’s own thinking.

When are we learning?

“Metaphorically speaking for all education, the journey is more important than the destination.”

When are we learning?

We are always learning. The question is, what are we learning? We must view our journey of life as the important time for learning and not just the end of our formal schooling as the time we are learned. Education is never-ending. It is like life, in the sense that as long as you are alive, you are also learning. The only destination is to be a life-long learner. When are you learning politics, mathematics, consumer science, language arts, science, history, current events, etc. ? ALWAYS!

H. L. Menken: "I believe in liberty. And when I say liberty, I mean the thing in its widest imaginable sense — liberty up to the extreme limits of the feasible and tolerable."


Lastly, the following quote was recently delivered to my e-mail box by the Foundation For Critical Thinking. It is a quote from H. L. Menken about liberty. For this quote, I offer no questions or comments, but I am interested in what you think. Are you a libertarian? Are you a liberal? Are you a conservative? Do you have any thoughts regarding this quote?

Quotable Critical Thinking Quotes…
“I  believe in liberty. And when I say liberty, I mean the thing in its widest imaginable sense — liberty up to the extreme limits of the feasible and tolerable.  I am against forbidding anybody to do anything, or say anything, or think anything so long as it is at all possible to imagine a habitable world in which he would be free to do, say, and think it. The burden of proof, as I see it, is always upon the policeman, which is to say, upon the lawmaker, the theologian, the right-thinker. He must prove his case doubly, triply, quadruply, and then he must start all over and prove it again. The eye through which I view him is watery and jaundiced. He is the enemy of everything I admire and respect in this world — of everything that makes it various and amusing and charming. He impedes every honest search for the truth. He stands against every sort of good-will and common decency. I am against him until the last galoot’s ashore.”
H.L Menken, 1923


So, why quote? To improve our quality of thought by bringing into our thinking other thoughtful points of view! OR, why not? :-)

How Can We Escape The World Of Entropy?

A "beautiful" example of entropy near Sedona, AZ.

Is there one thing we, as humans, can never overcome? My dad would often say: “It’s impossible to stop rust; we can only slow it down.” As a farm boy, I found evidence of his saying’s truthfulness all around me. It seemed to me, that no matter what we did, eventually all metal would “rust away.” This same idea also seemed to apply to non-metal objects. On the farm, I observed, on a regular basis, that all things would eventually rot, deteriorate, and/or “break-down.”

You're right doc! "Nothing remains that's not maintained." When I eat my carrot, I'm not maintaining AND nothing remains

All things will pass.The only thing that doesn’t change is change itself.” “Nothing remains that’s not maintained.” The preceding quotes are all statements that I have used in the past. They, in a way, are similar to my dad’s statement about rust. All of these statements, in one form or another, have to do with entropy. Entropy is a law of physics which asserts that all systems left unattended will eventually decay or “run-down.”

I think the concept of entropy applies to individuals and relationships. If I don’t maintain my body, it will breakdown. If I don’t maintain my marriage, it will breakdown. In fact, I’m finding it extremely difficult to find anything in my reality that entropy isn’t an integral part. What won’t breakdown if we don’t maintain it?

It appears, on the surface, that we can’t defeat entropy. At least, we can’t defeat it as a physical force. Having stated that, we should be able to rise to an expectation and realization that is untouched by entropy. You see, unless new energy is supplied, entropy will “win.” So, if we want to continue to enjoy good lives, we must maintain them and pump new energy into them.

"The world is a stage..."

We are surrounded by creation and destruction. They constantly perform before us. I suppose this is one interpretation of Shakespeare’s statement of, “the world is a stage….” In a way, I believe our thinking is immune to decay (entropy). Even though we are constantly making cells and losing cells, the intelligence our bodies use to make cells is always there. In other words, the knowledge of how to make a cell is passed on from one generation of cell to another. Wow, we have just left the world of entropy! :-)

I'm exercising to overcome entropy!

It’s encouraging to think that we have, at least, some control over entropy. Of course, I’m talking about having control at the level of thinking. In fact, it’s there that we are able to change the things that are affected by entropy. Take, for example, trying to keep a healthy body. When we use our minds to rationalize how exercise and good eating habits help us keep healthy bodies, we find it much easier to overcome laziness and taste cravings that encourage entropy (an out-of-shape body).

Perhaps, this ability to rise above creation and destruction, gives us a way to break this “duality.”

"I'm thinking about it!"

We don’t need to think in an either/or manner. We have more choices for life than creation or destruction. At least, we have one more choice – thinking! With our minds helping us maintain the elements in our lives which are affected by entropy, we have a way out of the world of entropy. Creation is the beginning of destruction (entropy), and thinking can help slow, or even reverse, the destruction.

How can we escape the world of entropy? The same way the knowledge of how to make a cell is passed on from one generation of cell to another – intelligence. And, how do we increase our intelligence? I’m thinking about it! ;-)

So, if you have entered the world through the door of entropy, feel free to leave through the door of your mind.

When Is Celebrating Violence And Death Appropriate?

When we celebrate bin Laden's death, aren't we acting like bin Laden?

When our Navy seals attacked the compound where Osama bin Laden was living and killed him, along with three others, was it appropriate that some of us celebrated his death? Observing the celebration through the media, for some reason, resulted in me feeling uncomfortable. It didn’t seem right that we were celebrating as though we had just won World War 2. The killing of bin Laden, as our government has informed us, doesn’t mean we have won the war on terrorism. What does the killing of bin Laden, along with three others in the compound, really mean?

Osama bin Laden in 1995. Should we celebrate his death and the violence?

Should we celebrate death? Should we celebrate violence? For some reason, as I wrote the previous two questions, I felt uneasy putting the word celebrate next to death and violence. Why? I don’t know, other than it just doesn’t seem right. There is something coming from my subconscious or in my conscience that causes me discomfort when I think about celebrating violence and death.

There are other similar instances that I see no reason for, and find no pleasure in celebrating. One such instance is the execution of a human by lethal injection, hanging, guillotine, firing squad, or any other means. As you can imagine, I’m not in favor of the death penalty.

You're hurt and they're cheering! Why?

There are many demonstrations of violence where celebration seems inappropriate to me. For example, consider the case of a crowd cheering for an exceptionally violent encounter in an American football game that results in a serious injury to a player. The player who caused the injury celebrates and the crowd cheers, while the hurt player lies there with a possible life-threatening injury. Once, while attending a professional football game in St. Louis, I saw a player take a “hard-hit,” resulting in him having to be carried-off of the playing field on a stretcher. When they showed the replay of the hard-hit on the 20′ x 26′ color Sony Jumbotron screen, the crowd cheered. Why?

The guillotine - during the French Revolution many were decapitated while onlookers celebrated.

In my previous example, it seemed to me that the crowd was cheering violence. I’ll have to admit that I felt, somewhere in me, the same need to cheer the violent act. But, I didn’t. Why? Because, somewhere in my conscience, it just didn’t seem like something I wanted to, or should, do. Was the crowd cheering the “violent hit” as nothing more than an innocuous release of emotion? I don’t know, but when I observe such events, I can’t help but wonder if this is what it was like when Jesus Christ was dying. Or, were the crowds reacting the same way the French did while watching people being decapitated during the French Revolution. Why do (some) humans cheer violence?

Please don’t misunderstand me – I am not equating Osama bin Laden, Jesus Christ and football players that receive “violent hits.” It’s just very confusing for me to understand the celebration of violence and/or death. In the case of bin Laden, he preached hatred and celebrated the deaths he was responsible for on 9/11. And, of course, most of the criminals we have put to death were convicted of evil crimes and many of us feel it’s an appropriate punishment. Though, perhaps an appropriate punishment, I personally believe that under no circumstances and no matter how terrible the crime is, should we ever celebrate when a criminal is put to death. That includes Osama bin Laden.

There were some who celebrated M. L. King's assassination. Was that appropriate?

So, what should we do when someone like Osama bin Laden is killed? Celebrate his death? No! Pray? Perhaps! Have a “death” party? No! Quiet reflection? Yes! Shed tears that express relief? Yes! Brag? No! Remember those killed by bin Laden? Yes! . . .

Ok, I imagine you can see what I think we should do. This isn’t an argument for what YOU should think we should do. I am unsure what should be done by US. I’m only expressing a point of view that comes from my heart. Like many, I have a part of me that wants to celebrate the death of this man who was responsible for so many deaths. And, I also have the desire to celebrate the justice rendered by our Navy seals, along with the likelihood of less violence from bin Laden’s followers. Still, celebration just doesn’t seem right!

Emotionally, I’m sincerely mixed-up regarding the whole issue of the death of bin Laden. I, like most Americans, believe the entire world is better off without the likes of Osama bin Laden. Like most Americans, I felt a euphoric rush when I heard the news that he had been found and killed. That rush was genuine, but brief. In a few minutes it change to one big sigh of relief. After watching about ten minutes of television, on which I observed different celebrations throughout the United States, my feeling of relief changed to uneasiness.

Mary McCarthy: “In violence, we forget who we are.”

So, when is celebrating violence and death appropriate? For me, I can’t think of an appropriate event. For you, I just don’t know. I do think we all should seriously consider that maybe violence and death are not something to celebrate. Perhaps, with the realistic television shows, movies and virtual reality games we now have, our perception of violence and death has become desensitized. And, maybe our view of the specialness and preciousness of life is no longer realistic. No matter who experiences violence or death, it is always a calamity for someone.

“In violence, we forget who we are.”Mary McCarthy

Please, think about it!

When You Commit, Are You Giving Or Receiving?

What do you do when you commit (pledge or obligate yourself) to something? Do you give only “lip service” when you commit? Do you “talk the talk, but not ‘walk the walk’?” What does making a commitment mean? From your point of view, does making a commitment really matter? The previous questions are all focused on commitment. If you choose to honestly answer the questions, then they can provide some insight into your point of view regarding the act of committing.

Drawings in the Cave of Altamira. "We've gone from posting pictures on cave walls to now, posting pictures on the internet."

I think we all have a deep need to be involved with others — indeed, a need to be involved in the world. The proof of this fundamental human need is constantly demonstrated by history. Consider how we humans have populated the earth, or how we explore/investigate every aspect of life. Or, consider how we continually invent ways to be connected, from beating a drum to beating the virtual keyboard on our iPhones. Another example is how we went from posting pictures on cave walls to now, posting pictures on the internet. The point is we, as a human race, want to be involved in our world.

Social media/networking helps with our need to be connected.

We also show our need to be involved by our desire for social and/or close relationships. We want “what we do,” to count for something. We want to feel valuable in life. We want to feel connected in a way that we are important to the connection. An outstanding example of this is today’s use of social media and networking.

So, what do all of these wants and/or needs have to do with commitment? Well, the commitments we make are often the results of wants and needs. In fact, I think we usually commit ourself to something that starts in our mind as a want/need. I know you might be saying to yourself that you commit to many things that you do not desire or want.

Because of my commitment, I want AND desire what is good for my family.

Perhaps, when you commit, desire or want may not seem to you, “on the surface,” to be the reason. Having stated that, I really believe when you look deeper into your thinking, the reason is, indeed, a desire or want. For example, consider a father who is committed to taking his children to an amusement park. He may take them, not because, on the surface, he wants to, but because he thinks that such a family outing would be a desirable thing for the family. Since he thinks it is good for the family, then he wants and/or desires it.

Commitment is a need or desire that we must enter into a relationship with! When we make a commitment, we should never count on gaining anymore than we are willing to put into it. Actually, we should make a commitment without hoping to gain anything.

Deep commitments, like marriage, allow us to discover who we are as individuals.

Commitments are actions of giving and not necessarily, receiving. What we gain from commitments is often less than or equal to what we are willing to put into them.

Deep commitments, like marriage, allow us to discover who we are as individuals. From our deep commitments, we grow to our fullest. It’s our deep commitments where we give freely to others. For example, consider how freely a committed teacher gives to her/his students. Commitment is not just a matter of thinking and speaking. Commitment is something you must do in the present. When you are truly committed, you are forced to be “present in the present!” It is something of which you must not only, “talk the talk,” but also, “walk the walk!”

So, when we commit, are we giving or receiving? If we are serious about our commitment(s), then we are giving and doing so, freely and presently. I hope you are committed, freely and presently, to giving a comment. :-)


How Should We Receive AND/OR Accept Compliments?

Cheers, With Our COMPLIMENTS!

What is your usual response when you receive a compliment? Is it the same response you have when you receive criticism? I know people often have trouble receiving, or should I say, accepting criticism.

I'll accept AND receive all compliments!

I did a post in March of 2009 and discussed whether or not criticism is good. At the end of the post I made this statement, “So, is criticism good? Yes, provided it is given and accepted (received) in a positive manner.” In a sense, I think that we could replace criticism with “a compliment” and also have a meaningful statement.

So, how well do you receive (accept) compliments? Do you receive them in a gracious and thankful manner? If you want to empower yourself and raise your self-esteem, then how you accept a compliment is important.

I have given compliments to many people who have responded with a statement that was, more or less, a put-down to them. They often make me feel like it was foolish for me to compliment them. They make me feel like the compliment wasn’t deserved and that it was foolish of me to make such a positive statement. Really, in my opinion, they put themselves down. Why?

Specifically, what am I really writing about? Well, suppose I compliment someone on how nice their hair looks and s/he says, “It’s so humid today and my hair looks frightful.”

I don't look nice - "It's so humid today and my hair looks frightful."

How about when I tell someone s/he did a great job on “whatever,” and s/he says, “Oh, I was just lucky, it was nothing.” Or, if I say, “Your house looks nice,” and s/he responds with, “I really haven’t had time to do anything to it.” What do these statements tell me? I think they reflect someone who is confused with the concept of humility and denigration. Denigration, of oneself, that is!

We should be able to accept a compliment in a way that doesn’t make the person who is giving it feel insulted or foolish. Of course, there are times when someone gives a compliment and doesn’t know all of the extenuating circumstances. I think, generally speaking, these undeserved compliments are not worth making a fuss over.

You see, when we reject compliments that people have given to us, we are really rejecting them. At least, we are rejecting their support. We are rejecting their expressions of kindness. We are rejecting their opinions. In those ways, we are rejecting them. Ouch!

When we accept the compliment, we enhance the self-image of the giver and ourself.

When we accept the compliment, we show respect and love for ourself. When we accept the compliment, we show belief in the person who gave it. When we accept the compliment, we enhance the self-image of the giver and ourself. So how should we accept a compliment? There is no set way, but if you’re unsure, then a, “Thank-you,” with a smile and sincere look, would never be the incorrect way.

Accept your compliments the same way you accept something you desire, with thankfulness and gratefulness.

I graciously accept, in advance, any compliments you send my way. :-)

Is Worry An Unnecessary Emotion?

In 1980, I read the book, “Your Erroneous Zones,” by Wayne Dyer. In it, if my memory is correct, Dyer stated: “The two most unnecessary emotions in life are guilt and worry.” In a recent post entitled, “Can Feeling Guilty Be Good?“, I took up the topic of guilt and whether it’s necessary. Please click on the title, if you wish to read more about my thoughts about guilt. In this post, let’s consider the necessity of worry.

Wayne Dyer: "The two most unnecessary emotions in life are guilt and worry."

So, what is worry about? When I worry, I’m usually concerned about what might happen in the future AND how I can avoid the negative aspect of the occurrence. For example, I might worry about whether or not I will have enough money to meet my financial obligations. Or, I’ll worry about a future health problem. As I think about my past worries and attempt to group them into a single category, it appears I’m really worrying about how to avoid these possible future occurrences. And, of course, another related part of the worrying is how I will contend if they occur.

Even though I have often professed that, “Worry is an unnecessary emotion,” I still worryI know worrying decreases my quality of life by causing me to be less happy. I also realize that worrying adds stress in my life. The stress that results from worrying can weaken my immune system, resulting in illness. It can also affect my self-esteem and even cause depression. So, why worry? That’s not the question I need answered. What I really want to know is: “How do I stop worrying?”

Buddha teaches us that, "What we think, we become."

I’m using this post as a writing for learning exercise. After re-reading the previous paragraphs, I can see that I need to get a little deeper into what worrying is. So, really, where does worrying originate. In our thinking! Worrying is thought! Buddha teaches us that, “What we think, we become.” Socrates teaches us that, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is habit.” If we constantly worry, then we become a worrying person. At least that’s how I apply Buddha’s lesson. A spin-off, of Socrates lesson, allows me to conclude that, if I repeatedly worry, then worrying becomes a habit. OUCH!

Worry is, as Dyer stated, also an emotion. In other words, it’s a mental feeling. For me, it is manifested as concern and/or anxiety. In my case, I often have to mentally fight with myself in order to accept the personal responsibility for my worrying. You see, I often want to blame other people or “things” for the worrying I do. For example, if I’m worrying (anxious) about paying my taxes, I want to blame the government for causing me to worry. But, the government didn’t make me worry, I made me worry! :-)

Socrates teaches us that, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is habit."

Ok, so I can see that worry is thinking (and/or) an emotion. Is worry an unnecessary emotion and/or way of thinking? Well, it might have some necessity. For me, worrying does cause me to often act in a safe manner. It causes me to take precautions, such as buying insurance. Worrying about getting a speeding ticket might cause me to slow down to a safer speed. I suppose a “little bit of worrying” isn’t bad, but that kind of worrying doesn’t seem to cause the before-mentioned stress and unhappiness. Other than this “little bit of worrying,” I think Dyer is correct in stating that, “worry is an unnecessary emotion,” and/or, also, an unnecessary way of thinking.

Since worry is unnecessary, what should we do to stop? Well, what do we do to stop anger, sadness, inappropriate thinking, …? Some of us seek help from counselors, therapists, family, friends, religion, etc. Some use self-help groups, books, …

W. R. Inge: "Worry is interest paid on trouble before it comes due."

Others will simply do nothing and hope it will go away. Perhaps, the first step necessary to stop worrying is to recognize that it is a problem. Once we recognize it as a problem, the second step, though not necessarily easy, is to stop the unnecessary thinking/emotion of worrying. After all, it is UNNECESSARY! :-)

W. R. Inge once stated: “Worry is interest paid on trouble before it comes due.” If worry was money borrowed, would you pay interest before it’s due? Isn’t there something better we can do with our thinking than worrying? Isn’t worrying taking time away from the quality time in our lives? Don’t we all have better ways to spend our time than worrying? Let’s not pay interest on trouble before we have to. WORRY


I have always wanted to be able to motivate myself and others.  As a friend, family member, team member, coach, teacher, mentor, etc., there have been many times where I wanted to be able to motivate people. During college and most of my career as a teacher, I read, questioned and consistently thought about how to be a better motivator. Eventually, I discovered a strong connection between motivation, values and ideas. Here’s my humble attempt of explaining what I mean.

I wonder, what ideas and values helped motivate Beethoven?

I remember coaching my son’s little league baseball team and wishing I could somehow motivate him and his teammates so they would work together as one cohesive unit. I wasn’t able to. I remember student-teaching and wishing that I could motivate the students I was responsible for, to pay attention to what I was teaching and follow my instructions. To be honest, I wasn’t successful. Oh, the students were fine, because my cooperating teacher (the true professional and experienced teacher) was able to “clean-up” after me. Of course, I was student-teaching and was learning how to teach. Part of what I was learning, while student-teaching, was how to motivate. What did I learn?

Well, the first thing I learned was that I can’t motivate someone else. I know, you’re probably saying to yourself: “That doesn’t make sense.” Really, trying to motivate someone is similar to didactic teaching (teaching by telling). When a teacher teaches by telling, s/he usually ends up helping her/himself understand better what was already known. In other words, it was good for the teacher and not, necessarily, good for the student.

"Blessed are..." What ideas and values were illustrated by Christ in his "Sermon On The Mount?"

Now, I know you are, most likely, aware of people who are very good motivators. So, what is it that they do? Let’s consider what good salespeople do. They don’t sell products, but instead, they sell ideas. They will find out what really matters to the people they are trying to sell something to and then build that into an idea. The idea is what they really sell. Take, for example, a salesperson trying to sell you a car. The good salesperson works at finding out what you value and then “sells” you on how the car fits your values. The salesperson isn’t selling the car, but instead the idea of how the car is what you value.

If you want to motivate someone, you must present the person with ideas that stimulate her/him into action. Be as clear as possible. Show a picture, a video, an article, and/or any other “thing” that helps clarify the idea and how it connects with what you are trying to motivate the person to do.

Motivating by putting someone under a magnifying glass. Good motivation???

As a general rule, in order to motivate, you must show those you are motivating the personal “pay” for them. First, find out what they value. Second, tie in what they value to what you are motivating them to do. Third, illustrate the end result. Maybe the end-result is only, they will feel good. If that is it, then be sure to illustrate that end-result as clearly as you can. Describe the feeling and explain to them how they are going to absolutely love it. :-)

As an example of using this “general rule,” let’s consider trying to motivate someone to learn a particular subject in school. First, we need to take what they value and connect it to the subject they are learning. Specifically, let’s consider the subject of history. Suppose, the person we are motivating to learn history values baseball. Perhaps, we could connect the long and storied history of baseball to the study of history and show how using historical thinking allows us a greater appreciation for baseball. Finally, paint a vivid picture in the learners’ mind how history will give a deeper appreciation of many other interests, both current and in the future.

Could we use baseball to help learn history?

This, of course, is only a short explanation of how motivation is tied to values and ideas. Hopefully, if you value the power of motivation, then you have an idea of how to start motivating. I wish I could switch motivation and idea in the previous sentence. They didn’t come out in the correct order. :-)

I value your idea(s) and comments about motivation.

Value  → Idea → Motivation

Can Depression Be A Positive Learning Experience?

Scranton Depression Fight, Date taken: June 06, 1950, Photographer: Walter Sanders

A decade ago, I went through a bout of depressionDuring the experience, I wondered whether or not it was an opportunity for a positive learning experience. At the time, my brain felt like it was overloaded and generally, I constantly felt overwhelmed. So, is it possible for something, that makes me feel so overloaded and overwhelmed, to ever be a positive learning experience?

I've heard that everything in life can be a learning and/or growth experience.

I’ve heard that everything in life can be a learning and/or growth experience. Many times, no matter how positive or negative the experience is, I have not, consciously, tried to make it a learning/growth experience. For example, I recently came to the realization, after having a negative experience with a person for the “umpteenth” time, that I should learn from my experiences with the person and CHANGE. The question is, “Why didn’t I think of doing that a long time ago?” The answer – ???? I think, now, that I have decided to change, the negative experiences with the person will cease.

It’s a nicer experience to learn from a positive experience, but for this post I will focus on the negative. Why? Well, I believe depression is negative and how can I address the question in the title without dealing with the negative? I’m not going to search for painful experiences just to have a learning experience, but if I have such an experience, why not learn from it? If I can, then I will be turning a past negative experience into a future benefit. So, let’s press on with depression! :-)

When depressed, the heart feels like it is yearning for something that is impossible to have.

When I was depressed, I felt like my heart was yearning for something that was impossible to have. This yearning was like having a bad nightmare and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t wake myself up and end it. As you read this, I can imagine that you would like to know more specifics. Due to the sensitive nature of subject and the feelings of some of my friends, I have chosen not to be specific regarding the details of my depression. Besides, in my opinion, the question I’m addressing doesn’t require me to be specific regarding my personal bout with depression.

A popular psychiatrist in the 80s, Dr. David Viscott, suggested that depression can be used as a sign that a person has reached the point where the “yearnings of the heart” should no longer be ignored. Depression is a sign that something very important is going on in your mind. Usually, depression involves loss. In my personal case, loss played a big role. My life had changed and the loss of my “previous life” left me with what Dr. Viscott calls, a yearning of the heart.

Depression was like being stuck in a "deep dreary winter scene."

So, how can depression be a positive learning experience? Well, after I realized what I lost and how I was blaming myself, over and over and over again…, I realized I was just wasting my time AND health. After reaching that realization, I knew I wasn’t going to be happy with my new life and I immediately started working toward changing it. This meant I had to get rid of the thinking that kept me locked up in my depressing life. I had to “clean-out my mind” and change my thinking. You see, the depression was like being stuck in a “deep dreary winter scene.” Later, after realizing that blaming myself was getting me nowhere, the depression became a “mental spring clean-up.” In other words, I went from depression adding clutter to my mind, to depression cleaning-up my mind. Now, how’s that for spring cleaning? :-)

Helplessness is a feeling and NOT a lifestyle.

Depression, though it’s a very negative experience, can also be a positive learning experience. In my case, I discovered some strengths I never knew I had. Actually, the word strength doesn’t necessarily describe what I discovered. You see, it was the weakness I felt that really became a strength. The “weakness” feeling of helplessness, which was overwhelming during the major part of my depression, became a strength later. I now realize helplessness is a feeling and NOT a lifestyle. Helplessness is temporary and is generally in the mind. Instead of being helpless to myself, I focused on being helpful. Help with less less and more ful! :-)

Can depression be a positive learning experience? Yes!

How can you turn depression into a positive learning experience? By being Helpless Helpful to yourself. You might start by not blaming yourself, changing the thinking you had while depressed, and using depression as an incentive to clean-up your mind.

Simple? Absolutely not! Reasonable? I hope so!

Since depression is part of life, “Let’s Keep Improving With Life!” :-)

Have You Ever Studied The Relationship Between Quality And Quantity?

This waddle of penguins picture was taken on 12/30/2010, by my cousin, while he was on a trip to Antarctica. Do you think mathematical thinking helped him appreciate and enjoy this scene? Consider how your mind uses quantity and quality while viewing the picture.

Have you ever studied the relationship between quality and quantity? I’ll bet you have. In fact, there is hardly an American over six years old who hasn’t. And, if you have a high school education, no matter how well you did in school, you have formally studied the relationship.

Am I thinking mathematically?

Before I go any further with this, consider the following question. “What do we call the mental act of quantifying quality and qualifying quantity?” A confusing mess! :-) Yes, it might be confusing, but I believe it’s something you do everyday. What?? Let me explain.

Once, I asked a critical thinking expert (Richard Paul):What is mathematics?” He responded by asking me what I thought it was? I responded by saying: “Mathematics is the logical study of shape, arrangement and quantity.” That was the definition of mathematics I had memorized and used since I was in college. He then said: “Well, your definition is fine, but is it what you think, or is it what someone else thinks and you are just using it?” I told him that I wasn’t really sure, since I had been using the definition for such a long time that it seemed to be a part of me. He then said: “I think mathematics involves both quantity and quality – put those two together and you have mathematics!” I said: “How about quantifying quality and qualifying quantity?” He said: “Sounds reasonable.”

Are you thinking about quality and quantity as you look at me?

That conversation has been in my mind for the past fourteen years. I think the, “quantifying quality and qualifying quantity,” description is a short and to-the-point way of viewing this thing we call math. Having stated that, I must admit that when I share this description of math with others, I often get a confused look for a response. I think it is such a different way of viewing mathematics that most find it lacking any concrete meaning. That doesn’t make it bad – it just makes it interesting.:-)

Ok, so where am I going with this? Well, recently, I was looking at some fun and interesting statistics. As I was reading through a list of statistical facts, the above description of math came to mind. You see, statistics is where I think we can see the “quantifying quality and qualifying quantity” vividly illustrated in our minds.

Let’s explore this view of mathematical thinking using the following statistical statement:Although everyone knows how many divorces there are, only 12% of married people thought they would get divorced.” If we leave out the quantity words of “many” and “12%,” then we have the unquantified qualities of divorces and married people. If we leave out the quality words of “divorces” and “married,” we have the unqualified quantities of “many” and “12%.” When mathematical thinking is being used in real life situations, it’s difficult to separate the quantity and quality and still have a meaningful thought.

Look where I found quantifying quality and qualifying quantity!

Have you ever studied the relationship between quality and quantity? Answer yes, if you’ve ever studied mathematics. :-)

I will end this post with some fun and interesting statistics and let you mentally watch your mathematical thinking.

**The number of mobile phones eaten by dogs in the U.K. every year: 1 million

**Percentage of those who leave their spouses and then go on to marry the person they were having an affair with: 10

**Did you know that 3 billion people worldwide live on less than $2 a day?

**Percentage of divorced or separated Americans who believe marriage should be for life: 80

Five Americans are injured by shopping carts every hour!

**Number of calories you burn by kissing for one minute: 26

**Did you know that 3.7 million Americans claim to have been abducted by aliens?

**Five Americans are injured by shopping carts every hour.

**Percentage of third marriages that end in divorce: 90

**Number of people who could be provided with sources of clean drinking water per year for the cost of a submarine: 60 million

Did you know that women own only one percent of the world assets?

**Percentage of children born to cohabiting couples who will live with both parents until the age of at least 16: 36 (compares with 70 for the children of married couples)

**Number of miles driven by the average American car before it emits its own weight in carbon dioxide: 10,000

**U.S. still spends $96 million every day on nuclear weapons.

**Percentage by which you are more likely to get ill if you are in an unhappy marriage: 35

**Women own only one percent of the world assets.

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