Note to reader: “Don’t let all of the ‘buts’ get in the way of your thinking!” :-)
What is the difference between and and but? They are both conjunctions. They’re also known as co-ordinating conjunctions. One is inclusive (and) and the other is “sort of” exclusive (but). I guess that is a difference. On the other hand, I’m the one who declared the two as inclusive and exclusive conjunctions. As far as I know, there’s no formal designation of inclusive and exclusive applied to and and but. OK, so what’s the point?
The point is, I think but forces us to think in such a way that we pay little attention to what comes before the but. I realize that I use many sentences with the word but. And indeed, what I write before the but, isn’t usually as important to the thought being portrayed in the sentence, as that which follows the but. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pay attention to what is before but; it means we should know that without what follows the but, the sentence is an incomplete thought.
Have you heard or seen sentences that begin with: “That’s true, but …?” What follows becomes an explanation about why you shouldn’t pay any attention to what was just declared as true. How about, “This is an interesting idea, but …?” What is really being communicated is that the idea is not good and here is why. Ouch!
It’s important for us to realize that certain things we say are almost designed to create conflict. As mentioned before, the word but can be conflicting. Replace the word but with and and we have a much better chance of smooth and conflict free communication. How about, “That’s true, but …” compared to “That’s true and …?” The second sentence sounds like you are respecting what was previously said and not excluding its merit. Or, consider, “That’s an interesting idea, but you could look at it this way,” compared to, “That’s an interesting idea and you could look at it this way.” The and is friendlier. At least, that’s what I think.
So, why is using and friendlier than using but? I think it has to do with and including what proceeds it, as compared to but, which seems to exclude what precedes it and directs your attention to what follows. I guess we could call this a big “but” problem! :-)
I know I’m guilty of overusing but in my writing. Reading some of my past posts, I’ve noticed some cases where it would have been better to use and instead of but. I hope that my writing didn’t cause conflict, since an overuse of but could cause my readers to be subconsciously hostile. Using the word and more, will subconsciously cause agreement. Agreement instead of hostility by the simple use of “and” instead of “but.” Now that’s an easy solution and “no buts about it!” :-)
And, BUT what do you think? ;-)
I’ve heard that many people who attend church and believe in God, get a feeling of awe and know they are in the presence of God while at church. I don’t doubt they think and/or believe that God is the cause of their awe, but I know I have had such feelings when I’m nowhere near a church. Is this awe about God?
As I have stated in an earlier post, I’m unsure of what to believe regarding God and religion and therefore, assume I’m agnostic. In fact, I wrote that post attempting to explain my beliefs or lack thereof. I have also written two posts where I simulate a dialogue between an Agnostic and a Born-Again Christian. In those two posts, I take the role of the agnostic. If you would like to visit those posts, please click here for part A and/or here for part B. Perhaps, my point of view is the cause of my disbelief. Or maybe, my disbelief is the cause of my point of view. What an aweful dilemma. :-)
Let’s explore this feeling of awe. I’ll admit that when I attend a church service and the congregation is, in unison, chanting and singing, that I get a feeling which is best described as joy, glory, or yes, awe. Now, when I see a majestic mountain, a beautiful rainbow or a painted desert-scene, I also have an awesome experience. Were those awe about God?
Of course, all of my experiences mentioned previously are the “direct products” of Mother Nature and, often times, are directly attributed to God. But, what about the feeling of awe that I have when I see the St. Louis Arch? For example, I had a feeling of awe, last Spring, when I attended a wedding reception at Kemoll’s Restaurant (Top of the Met), in downtown St. Louis and viewed the Arch from the 42nd floor of 1 Metropolitan Square. (Below, is a picture of my view of the Arch) Another, but different example, is the awesome feeling I have when I see a good uplifting movie? My point is that just because a feeling of awe is experienced, there’s no way for that to be “proof” of the presence of God. Of course, it could awe be about God. I don’t know, but God knows! :-)
Before I go any further, allow me to explain my feeling of awe. It isn’t always the same and words seem inadequate. Sometimes, there is a sense of light-headedness. Sometimes, there is an overpowering sense of warmth going through my entire body. Sometimes, it is an uncontrollable urge to smile. A specific example where I had all three of the previous descriptions of awe occur was when I saw the majestic Alps from the small ski village of Filzmoos, Austria. Are awe the Alps about God?
My wife and I visited Filzmoos in September of 2001 with relatives who usually visit the village during ski season. Of course, there wasn’t any snow in the village at that time of the year, but the mountains that surrounded it were snow-capped and “awesome.” That visit stands out in my mind as a time when I had this feeling of awe. Was our visit awe about God?
I knew, while I was in Filzmoos, I would most likely never experience anything quite like that “awe” again. (NOTE: The picture at the beginning of this posting is a small example of what I saw, but it definitely doesn’t capture the entire feeling.) Of course, I have had and will have more feelings of awe, but I’m sure they will be considerably different from that one. Was this feeling reflecting the presence of God or the presence of an uplifting sense of self where I felt this was a unique special time in my life? I think the latter. Was our awe-filled experience about God?
I can understand how, due to the lack of being able to explain exactly what causes them, we might attribute these feelings of awe to a higher being. The agnostic in me allows for a response of: “I just don’t know.” On the other hand, it does not allow me to rationalize that such feelings are proof of a God’s presence. I’m in awe of what I don’t know!
Everybody – Christians, Zoroastrians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Mormons, Hindus, Scientologists, atheists, agnostics, etc. – have these feelings of awe. Some believe in one God and others in many gods. Some believe their God is the one true God. What do these feelings of awe mean? I guess only God knows. :-)
Should I have all of these doubts and still have it awe about God?
What do you know about your feelings of awe? Are they “awe” about God?
Are you ever wrong and have a “hard-time” admitting it? If you answered yes to the previous question, then why do you have such a difficult time? Is it normal to not ever be wrong? Of course not. Is it normal to not ever be right? Of course not. Is it normal to be normal? Of course! :-)
Ok, so why do we have such a difficult time admitting we’re wrong? We all make mistakes, no matter what some people would like for us to believe. Is it true that most successful people are more likely to be wrong, now and then, due to their ability of not being afraid to take risks? Great inventors, explorers, scientists, composers, etc. have made many mistakes, or “wrongs,” before they finally experienced success or “a right.” No one, necessarily, enjoys being wrong or making a mistake. Having stated that, since no one is perfect, a mistake is inevitable.
Everyone, no matter what anyone tries to make you believe, is wrong from time to time. Being wrong, if you aren’t careful, can affect how you feel about yourself. It’s important to realize that being “wrong” and “right” are both normal everyday occurrences for humans.
I think if you have a difficult time admitting you’re wrong, there’s a good chance you’re struggling with a self-esteem problem. Perhaps, the problem is you’re uncertain about your self-worth which leads you to low self-esteem. You are lacking in confidence and satisfaction regarding yourself. Ouch! Perhaps, this is why we find children not owning up to their mistakes. Consider the following quote from Richard Paul, a critical thinking expert, regarding self-esteem: “Healthy self-esteem emerges from a justified sense of self-worth, just as self-worth emerges from competence, ability, and genuine success. If one simply feels good about oneself for no good reason, then one is either arrogant (which is surely not desirable) or, alternatively, has a dangerous sense of misplaced confidence.”
The young minds of children feel their self-worth depends upon their self-esteem which, in turn, depends upon being right. They, as young and inexperienced people, don’t have the experience of life to judge what is and isn’t normal. Hummmmm…. I guess that is what Garrison Keillor meant when he proclaimed, as part of his Lake Wobegon effect, that “all the children are above average.” :-)
Perhaps, the main problem with admitting you’re wrong is a lack of humility. When you make a mistake, admitting you’re wrong and not allowing your pride to lower your self-esteem, are the two key factors in dealing with the “wrong” or mistake. This is not as hard as many think it is. Simply admit the mistake by saying something like, “I admit I’m wrong and I thank you for correcting me.” Or. how about, “You’re right, I was wrong. I’m going to learn from this mistake!”
When you readily admit your mistakes, you are proclaiming to the world you are a normal and imperfect person. When you do this, you give others the opportunity and permission to do the same. In fact, this so-called weakness of “imperfection of being wrong” can actually become enduring qualities of humility, dignity and lovableness.
Since I’m mortal, I most likely won’t always have good health. There’s an excellent chance that I’ll face some bad health before expiring. So what’s most important for maintaining good health, knowing there’s no way I’ll always have it?
Before I go any further with this, please understand that I’m not a doctor, nor am I an expert on healthcare. Having stated that, I have lived over sixty years and most of them have been very healthy years. I also have studied my own health and how to maintain it. And, I have an open-mind for learning new and better ways to keep my health at its best and highest quality level.
I think most of us know, deep in our hearts and minds, what it takes to stay healthy. We know our bad health habits, but we don’t do what’s needed to break the habits. For example, if we don’t exercise enough to maintain our good health, then perhaps, we have a bad habit of being lazy and sedimentary. Or, maybe we have a bad habit of drinking too much soda pop, knowing that soda is very high in bone-dissolving phosphorus and can lead to diseases of the bones, such as osteoporosis. The point is that in today’s world, it’s very easy for us to know what, most likely, we should do in order to maintain good health.
With the medical knowledge, technology and medicine we now have, people are living longer than ever before. As we live longer, we also have more chronic illnesses, like osteoporosis, to deal with. These chronic illnesses cause us pain and the inability to live a quality life. Fortunately, many of these illnesses are preventable. Most of us know what to do – eliminate bad habits, have a high-fiber and low-fat diet, exercise and stay mentally active – which results in a higher quality of life as we get older. We know, but we don’t do!
Why don’t we do what we should do in order to have a better quality of life as we get older? I think it’s like the joke about the farmer who doesn’t fix his roof. He says: “I can’t fix it when it’s raining because it’s too dangerous to get on the roof and when it’s not raining the roof doesn’t leak.” We don’t do what we should do for a better quality of life when we’re feeling bad, because it’s too late. We don’t do what we should do when we’re younger and feeling good, because nothing needs fixing.:-)
Isn’t how we handle change the main problem of not working toward maintaining good health? Do you embrace change? Do you try to change what you don’t think you will be able to change? Probably not! You see, often times, people will justify their bad habits by proclaiming they’ve always been that way and “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” In other words, they don’t think they can change – it’s just too difficult.
I think our ability to change our life is directly related to how strongly we believe we can. Self-efficacy, our belief in our own ability to perform in a certain manner in order to attain our goal(s), certainly plays a role here. If we think the change necessary to improve and/or maintain our health is too difficult, then perhaps, our problem centers around self-efficacy. If you are interested in learning more of my thoughts regarding self-efficacy, please check out one of my older posts entitled, “What Is Addictionial?” by clicking here. In that post, I wrote about self-efficacy and it’s role in overcoming addictions.
So, what’s most important for maintaining good health? Find out what you need to do, focus on your self-efficacy and, if change is needed, CHANGE!
When you want recognition, what do you do? When you want attention, what do you do? You DO want recognition and/or, perhaps, attention, at least once in a while, don’t you? In case you are one of the few who don’t, then please use your best empathetic thinking to think about recognition/attention and those who want it.:-)
As I think about recognition and attention, the first thing that comes to mind is the strong desire children have for it. Is it recognition or attention, that children have a strong desire for? What’s the difference? Of course, you the reader, can direct your browser to the two hyperlinks in the previous sentence in order to read a Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary definition of each. But, what are the differences to those of us who do not always refer directly to a dictionary for the meaning of words?
Here’s one way of discerning the difference between recognition and attention. Consider little children who seem to want attention more than recognition. They will misbehave, whine, throw a tantrum, etc. When they act inappropriately in that manner, do they want attention or recognition? Well, I guess they want you to give them recognition so they have attention. :-) When you recognize them, they feel they have your attention.
How about adults? Do they have the same needs children do? Yes, I think so. On the other hand, they usually don’t act out in the same way. Instead of misbehaving, whining, and throwing a tantrum, they will become withdrawn and apathetic. This is what happens in a lot of relationships. Little recognition and/or attention results in one or more members of the relationship becoming withdrawn. Then, of course, there is less relating and less attention and less relating and less attention, and ….
So what’s an easy way to solve the problem of too little attention or recognition in a relationship? One small and simple way to help with the problem is to adopt the “lesson” behind a very simple statement. Following the message of this statement, assures that you are giving attention and recognition. What is the simple statement, you ask? It is: “Be Present In The Present!” How do you do this? Well, when you are with the people you are relating with, actively look at and listen to them. Simple? Perhaps, it depends upon your attitude. “To change everything, simply change your attitude.”
Focusing on recognition, is it considered to be an important thing to give in today’s world? I think so and in order to verify its importance, consider the number of different “recognitions” that are given. For example, we recognize people for almost all aspects of life. We give recognition based on: birthdays, scholarship, acting, service, marriage, accomplishment, status, diplomacy, appearance, performing, membership, motivation, wealth, and employment, just to name a few. I think we, as social animals, have an innate need to receive recognition.
William James, an American psychologist and philosopher, once wrote: “What every genuine philosopher (every genuine man, in fact) craves most is praise – although the philosophers generally call it ‘recognition’!” I suppose we could add the word praise as another basic or innate need. But, perhaps Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, explained the need for attention best when she said, “There are two things people want more than sex and money… recognition and praise.” If we adopt the habit of being present in the present, each of us, individually, will be giving others something that they naturally want and need – recognition.
Is recognition a present in the present? YES!
Be present in the present!
***Worthwhile for a healthy relationship with our fellow humans? Absolutely!
Please consider giving me a present by presenting me with a comment in the present. :-)
Have you ever seriously thought about the two words, “if only?” They are two words I used a lot when I was younger. Oh, of course, I still use them, but not in the serious manner I did as a young person. Consider the following dreamt-up examples of if-only statements.
If only I would win the lottery, then I couldn’t help but be happy.
If only I had gone into a different profession, then I would be rich.
If only my friends would help me, then I could solve my problems.
If only my parents had been different, then I wouldn’t have this low self-esteem.
If only I had some good luck, then I would be successful.
If only I had studied harder in school, then I would have a better job.
If only I would exercise, then I would have a great body.
If only I would stop smoking, then I could ride the bus.
If only I had known how good I had it, then I would have enjoyed the past.
If only …
Doesn’t it seem like, when “if only” is used in a statement, there’s often a transfer of blame? In a way, people who use it often seem to have what might be called an “if-only disorder.” They are usually blaming someone or something for their own problems, failures and/or unhappiness.
I remember, as a young person, often thinking and sometimes saying: “If only my Dad hadn’t died, I would be happy.” You see, my Dad was killed in a car accident when I was five years old. My Mother was badly hurt by the accident, but she survived, remarried and provided me with home. Looking back on my life as a young person after the accident, I now realize the many times I manifested the “if-only disorder.” Actually, it was more of an excuse than a disorder. Of course, I didn’t realize it at the time. I only thought: “Oh, poor me, if only my Dad …” and continued to blame my current problems on a past disaster.
What I didn’t realize, until I was eighteen years old, was how I was using my Dad’s death as a reason for not taking responsibility for my present life. In a twisted way, I used his death as an excuse for not taking responsibility of my current life. Between high school and college, I worked one year at McDonnell-Douglas (it’s now Boeing) and while working there, I had an “Ah-ha experience” regarding the “if-only disorder” and my Dad. I came to the realization that I was stumbling through my life and assuming others were more responsible for my life than I was. The main part of the realization was that I should and could no longer blame my unhappiness on the death of my Father. After that, I enrolled in college and literally divorce myself from the “if-only disorder” regarding my Dad.
A few years ago, I saw the movie, “If Only.” The movie, though confusing for me in the beginning, provided me with an interesting perspective of death and “if only.” The movie plays-out different scenarios based on “what-iffing.” For me, because of the movie’s name and how it portrays those that are left after death, it brought back memories of my “if-only disorder” and helped me realize how it caused me to be anxious and often unable to celebrate anyone else’s successes. Under the “if-only disorder,” I would see someone else’s success and say to myself, “If only my Dad hadn’t died, …” — Ouch!
So, what is the lesson I learned from my “if-only disorder?” After much thought, here’s my humble attempt at putting it into words.
The lesson is summarized into four principle statements.
1. Replace blame with hope.
2. Stop looking for fault and start setting goals.
3. Give up “if only” and adopt “Be present in the present.”
4. Take responsibility for successes AND failures.
What do you think about “if only?” Is “if only” a disorder? If only you would comment, then I would know! :-)
Is guilt something I was taught? Can feeling guilty be good?
The word guilt means having committed an offense, crime, violation, wrong OR having a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined. To me it seems unrealistic that guilt can be considered a good thing.
Guilt can have different implications. For example, guilt can imply a sense of shame, a state of having done wrong, a feeling of remorse and regret, a state of being a criminal, a sense of responsibility for an offense, and/or self-reproach for doing wrong. But, are any of these a reason for saying that feeling guilty is a good thing?
Where does the feeling of guilt come from? I cannot remember a time in which I didn’t have guilt feelings. As a small child, I felt guilty when I disappointed my parents. As a student in elementary, middle and high school, I felt guilty when I didn’t complete all assignments. As a friend, I felt guilty when not helping out my friends in need. As a father, I felt guilty when I didn’t show as much love as desired by my children. As a husband, I felt guilty when I had an argument with my wife. As a …., – the list goes on! :-(
Referring back to my first question, “Is guilt something I was taught?” — I don’t think so. On the other hand, I don’t know where it comes from. Why is it that, as a small child, I had guilt feelings?
I once heard the statement: “A person without guilt is a person without a mother.” The statement seems to imply that mothers are somehow responsible for guilt feelings. I don’t necessarily believe my mother is the cause of the guilt I have felt, but I will readily admit that I felt guilty when she was displeased with me. MMMmmmm…! Perhaps, I was “taught” to feel guilt as a child.
If we are taught guilt feelings as a child, then we need to be careful that the feelings don’t grow into adult feelings. Guilt feelings lead into feelings of unworthiness. The feeling of unworthiness can become feelings that become “who we are” and a part of our self-image. I think if my mother was trying to guide me by imparting guilt feelings, then she was misguided. Guilt is a feeling that needs to be brought-out and disposed of.
If guilt can be learned, then surely, it can be unlearned. We should all refuse and unlearn unearned guilt. As an example of trying to unlearn guilt, consider personal guilt feelings about “sleeping-in.” I have had these feelings since I was a young boy living on a farm. You see, as a farm boy, I had chores in which the lives of animals depended upon someone taking care of them. My parents, I guess, somehow instilled in me a feeling of guilt anytime I didn’t wake-up AND get-up early in the morning to do my chores. By the way, I don’t remember ever having neglected the animals in my care, but I still somehow acquired long-lasting guilt feelings.
This feeling of guilt, when sleeping-in, remains to this day. Oh, it’s not a strong as it used to be, but I think that has a lot to do with me trying to unlearn it. The problem is that the guilt feelings creep-up through my subconscious and linger there long enough for me to consciously feel unworthy. Ouch!
I believe that guilt can be somewhat useful for having a healthy conscience, but “un-earned” guilt, as described in my example, needs to be stopped. It’s like trying to pedal my bicycle while holding down the brakes – a lot of work that gets me nowhere!
So what should we do with guilt feelings? Well, if they’re unearned, then make them unlearned. If they’re earned then learn what you need to do in order to not be able to earn more AND move on. How? Here’s help from “Tips From People Like You.” The point is, guilt is usually an unnecessary emotion and therefore, you should do all that you can to make it not your emotion.
Can feeling guilty be good? MMMmmmmmm….. :-)
Before I discuss your life strategy, let’s take a look at an example of mine from an earlier time. First, it is fuzzy! More, on why, later. Second, it isn’t my current life strategy. When I graduated from high school, my strategy was to get a “good” job, marry, and live happily ever-after. Not much of a strategy and frankly, it didn’t come close to working-out. Looking back on it, I think it failed because it was based entirely upon what I thought other people thought I should do AND it was, in a certain way, too specific. Ouch!
After my failed life strategy, I developed one that worked very well for me. I realized that “getting a job” was too specific in that I thought the job was to make money.:-( The job, at that time in my life, should’ve been working toward a future profession that I respected. I should have been working toward acquiring a profession that would be fulfilling. Just “getting a good job” was more about acquiring a way to earn a living and not, necessarily, preparing for fulfilling profession. As soon as I realized that – after I acquired the “good job” – I quit the job and went to college.
Upon entering college, my life strategy was to “become educated” and to search for a joyous and fulfilling way of life. Does that seem a bit vague? Yep! And, I think that’s the way it should be – somewhat fuzzy. :-)
As mentioned earlier, my life strategy has changed a few times during my life. The previous example does not reflect the only time it has changed, but does represent a major strategic change that served me well. Let’s now address your life strategy.
Do you have a life strategy?
Having a life strategy will help you not go through life like a pinball in a pinball machine.
Do you have a picture of your life strategy?
The “picture” should be your vision for your life.
Can you demonstrate a process for your life?
Not a plan for your life but a process for your life. More than goals. Goals are like small steps on the marathon walking journey of life.
So, what is your life strategy?
Your life strategy is the process you use to continue your journey of life.
Do you know what your life strategy is?
Not your life plan. A plan gives you the route for your journey of life and that is valuable, but not flexible enough. Often, due to unforseen future variables, the route will change.
Perhaps your strategy uses your religion, politics, education, friends, family and/or the past in various proportions as its guiding principles. In fact, it would be difficult to not use them to some degree. But, how do you use them? I think you should use them like you would various objects in a picture. Without the objects, your picture wouldn’t be complete. On the other hand, none, individually are absolutely essential to the overall picture. Continuing with the picture metaphor, your life strategy needs to be a picture that contains you, along with some, if not all, of the important values (objects) in your life.
The picture of your life strategy, most likely, will be more like an impressionist picture than a clear photograph. It will always contain a certain amount of “fuzziness.” This is because your life strategy picture is static due to the nature of life itself.
Our values, our desires, our strengths, our weaknesses – ourselves should be part of our picture of life strategy. The strategy should not only use, but also help shape our values, strengths, etc.
Life depends on change. Learning depends on change. The nature of life and learning forces us to have a fuzzy picture of our life strategy. But, we still need a good picture, in order to have a fulfilling life.
A good picture, but a fuzzy one? Yes, a good impressionistic picture that when looking at an individual spot, all you see is a “point of color” that refuses to reflect the whole. Upon looking at the whole, you will see the picture for what it is and, at the same time, you must accept its “fuzziness.” Though fuzzy, it still can be a work of art that displays a strategy for a good life.