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We’re wired…

I was reading an article recently about how our brains are “wired”.  Our brain is an absolute wonder of the world, true?  In this article, the author zeroed in on the topic of negativity.  Here’s a critical fact:

Research shows that most people complain once a minute during a typical conversation. 

Dr. Travis Bradberry

Ishkabibble!  Once per minute?  No wonder we come across so many people that are in that negative, poop-in-the-face mood.

The Doc continues to explain in a medical context how our brains have developed a neuro-path swaying us towards negativity.  He summarized one origin of our continuous, negative attitudes stemming from deep in our brain “wiring” this way:

Neurons that fire together, wire together.

I think this is a fascinating, albeit a bit unnerving read.  Check it out:  http://www.talentsmart.com/articles/How-Complaining-Rewires-Your-Brain-for-Negativity-2147446676-p-1.html

But beware: The facts, realities and impacts of constant complaining get worse.  Dr. Bradberry states:

Complaining shrinks the hippocampus.

I say again, Ishkabibble!  Shrinks our hippocampus?  Is that why we live in a time where there is such an effort to avoid negative outcomes?  I mean, just look at our commercial products world where legal liability avoidance is such a big thing:

In case you needed further proof that the human race is doomed through stupidity, here are some actual label instructions on consumer goods:

On a Sears hairdryer:

“Do not use while sleeping.”

(That’s the only time I have to work on my hair.)

On a bag of Fritos:

“You could be a winner! No purchase necessary.  Details inside.”

(The shoplifter special?)

On a bar of Dial soap: Directions:

“Use like regular soap.”

(And that would be how?)

On some Swanson frozen dinners:

“Serving suggestion: Defrost.

(But, it’s just a suggestion.)

On Tesco’s Tiramisu dessert (printed on the bottom):

“Do not turn upside down.”

(Well…duh, a bit late, huh?)

On Marks & Spencer Bread Pudding:

“Product will be hot after heating.”

(…and you thought?)

On packaging for a Rowenta iron:

“Do not iron clothes on body.”

(But wouldn’t this save me more time?)

On Booth’s Children Cough Medicine:

“Do not drive a car or operate machinery after taking this medication.”

(We could do a lot to reduce the rate of construction accidents if we could just get those 5-year- olds with   head-colds off those forklifts.)

On Nytol Sleep Aid:

“Warning: May cause drowsiness.”

(And… I’m taking this because?)

On most brands of Christmas lights:

“For indoor or outdoor use only.”

(As opposed to…what?)

On a Japanese food processor:

“Not to be used for the other use.”

(Now, somebody out there, help me on this. I’m a bit curious.)

On Sunsbury’s peanuts:

“Warning: contains nuts.”

(Talk about a news flash)

On an American Airlines packet of nuts:

“Instructions: open packet, eat nuts.”

(Step 3: maybe, uh…fly Delta?)

On a child’s Superman costume:

“Wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly.”

(I don’t blame the company. I blame the parents for this one.)

On a Swedish chainsaw:

“Do not attempt to stop chain with your hands.”

(Was there a lot of this happening somewhere?) 

Unknown Sage

Dr. Bradberry does offer solutions to “re-wire” our brains towards a more positive perspective.   One suggestion he emphasizes is remembering to be grateful.  I’m always grateful to receive practical advice.  Like this Facebook example posted by my son – who, coincidentally, is an electrician:

You can’t always control who walks into your life.  But you can control which window you throw them out of.    

Unknown Sage

Thanks Eric!  I think I feel my hippocampus growing.

GAP

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April optimism…

Ahh, April; springtime in the Rockies!  What a wonderfully eventful time of the year; snow last week; 70’s this week.  Never quite sure what Mother Nature has in mind for us.  But April has always been my personal demarcation point for the beginning of spring.  And springtime buds optimism, true?

No Winter lasts forever, no Spring skips its turn. 

Hal Borland

According to Wikipedia, the start of the spring season occurs at different times, based on different reasons depending on our different perspectives:

Meteorological reckoning

Spring, when defined in this manner, can start on different dates in different regions. In terms of complete months, in most North Temperate Zone locations, spring months are March, April and May…

Ecological reckoning

The beginning of spring is not always determined by fixed calendar dates. The phenological or ecological definition of spring relates to biological indicators; the blossoming of a range of plant species, and the activities of animals, or the special smell of soil…

Of course, April 15th is the deadline day for filing our income tax returns – now there’s an annual “Taxpayer reckoning” American could do without!

April is a time of reckoning in the sports world, too.  The NBA is winding down their regular season and gearing up for the playoffs; the NHL too.  Winter sports you say?  Well, those winter sports haven’t ended in the winter season since last century.

April also holds optimism and opening days for Major League Baseball teams.  The Colorado Rockies’ home opener is this afternoon.

People sometimes ask me if I am a Rockies fan.  Sadly – no.  You see, I only have a place in my heart for one, bad franchise at a time.  You guessed it – I’m a die-hard Cubs fan!

Now to be a Cubs fan is saying something about optimism.  The Cubs last won the National League pennant in 1945 (71 years ago); they last won the World Series in 1908 (108 years ago).  No wonder we are referred to as “die-hard”!

But mostly, April weather and the spring season remind me of my Chicago roots; warming weather; and optimism:

Life in Chicago

60° above –   Floridians wear coats, gloves and wooly hats.                              Chicago people sunbathe.

50° above –   New Yorkers try to turn on the heat.  Chicago people                    plant gardens.

40° above –   Italian cars won’t start.  Chicago people drive with                        their windows down.

32° above –   Distilled water freezes.  Lake Michigan’s water gets                        thicker.

20° above –   Californians shiver uncontrollably.  Chicago people                      have their last cook-out before it gets cold.

15° above –   New York landlords finally turn up the heat.  Chicago                    people throw on a sweatshirt.

Zero –          Californians fly away to Mexico.  Chicago people                          lick the flagpole.

20° below –   People in Miami cease to exist.  Chicago people get                      out their winter coats.

40° below –   Hollywood disintegrates.  Chicago’s Girl Scouts begin                    selling cookies door-to-door.

60° below –   Polar bears begin to evacuate Antarctica.                                   Chicago’s Boy Scouts postpone “Winter Survival”                         classes until it gets cold enough.

80° below –   Mt. St. Helen’s freezes.  Chicago people rent some                        videos.

100° below – Santa Claus abandons the North Pole.  Chicago                           people get frustrated when they can’t thaw the keg.

297° below – Microbial life survives on dairy products. Illinois cows                   complain of farmers with cold hands.

460° below – ALL atomic motion stops. Chicago people start                           saying, “Cold ’nuff for ya?”

500° below – Hell freezes over. The Cubs win the World Series!

Hang tough, fellow Die-Hard Cubs Fans.  2016 is our year!

GAP

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Critical Thinking…

Diving into the deep end today – way over my head!  Commenting (critically) about Professors from my college.  What do I know?  Growing up, my parents taught me to always respect my teachers.  It’s good to venture out from our parents’ basements occasionally, true?

Last fall, I attended a panel interview at my Alma Mater titled, “The Value of a Liberal Arts Education in Today’s Global Market Place”.  I was looking forward to the debate – especially one posed by an Interviewer interviewing Educators about today’s “real world”.  Turns out the Interviewer was one of them.  Not much of a debate.

College Professors are stellar at persuasive presentations when they’re on campus, aren’t they?  There we were; on campus; Professors gathered conducting a debate-less, debate with fellow Professors about the “value” of a Liberal Arts degree; in a room full of alumni, all of whom having earned Liberal Arts degrees.  Not exactly the real world setting for critical thinking on the “value in the global market place” I was expecting.

Question:  Can critical thinking thrive in absence of diversity, disagreement, and dissent (aka a debate)?  Well, what do I know?  (Ut Oh – I think I hear my Mom, “Gary, listen to your teachers now.”)  Let’s refer to today’s storage locker of critical thinking, aka Wikipedia:

The National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking defines critical thinking as the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.

Now we’re getting somewhere – especially the last two words, “… and action.”  Count me in on the “and action part.

Our panel of Professors placed particular prominence on learning how to think critically.  OK – we can all agree that thinking in the business world is… well… critical.  However, I’m thinking that many companies place more value on the results of the thinking (aka the action part) when competing in today’s global market place.

I wonder whether things get over-thought on college campuses today.  I confuse easily about undergrads and their exotic, double-majors.    When faced with assigned tasks in today’s global economy, will they take action?  Or, think about taking action – critically, of course?  Did their parents prepare them for today’s boss that says, “You or your successor will get this job done!”?

The Professors’ positioned economic value in the context only academia seems comfortable with – that piece of global economy fiction known as “the long run”.  “In the long run” they stated, a person with a Liberal Arts degree out-earns their peer group.   What about today’s over-emphasis on quarterly-results and the “What have you done for me lately” mentality?

I wonder if many of our Liberal Arts students “qualify” for tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of dollars of student loan debt to pursue a path of critical thinking to set themselves up for the long run.  But will they qualify for a car loan upon graduation in today’s “real world”?  Not to mention paying rent – which, of course may be why so many of our adult children are living at home with their parents?

“Critical Thinking” or “And Action”; “Results Today” or “In The Long Run”; what carries more value in today’s global market place?  What do I know?

And if you find adult children living in your basement, not thinking critically about paying back their huge student loan debt, are they’re simply waiting for the “long run” to come along?

GAP

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I apologize…

Recently, I wrote a little ditty titled, “You’re Fired” (http://thequoteguys.com/2014/02/youre-fired/ ).  That headline seemed to inadvertently impact several of my readers.  Were you wondering if I was referring you?

I like titling my weekly pieces of peace with a headline that is both a sound bite as well as a summary of the main point.  No easy task for me – if you look up the word verbose, you’ll likely see my picture!

We live today in a sound bite world.  Our audience constantly has us on the clock, don’t they?  (OK, OK – keep reading, please.)  “What’s the point?” they ask.  And a preference for a 144 character tweet is their hoped-for response.

“I don’t have time to talk to you Gary; text me – I’m in the middle.”  And that was from my wife!  It’s no wonder our business relationships are challenging to communicate with.  In a sales situation where we’re trying to gain access to a prospect, the setting is even more intense.

Is my style of writing these short essays (aka “little ditties”) doomed in our technocratic era?

I just finished reading Idea Guy©, Paul Allen’s autobiography; a fascinating, behind the scenes view of Microsoft’s co-founder.  The sound bite, “idea guy”, merely scratches the surface of Paul’s magnificent accomplishments.  And his magnificent accomplishments, merely scratch the surface of his amazing ability to wonder.

However, even Paul wonders about wondering:

The Complexity Brake 

Faster, “smarter” computers and the accretion of more data don’t automatically spark fireworks of breakthroughs… A good analogy… can be found in cosmology… With more data and better tools, the universe keeps getting bigger than we thought it was.  Our rate of breakthroughs gets “braked” by our growing knowledge.

It’s our wonder I suppose, that ultimately pushes us past these periodic complexity brakes.  Wondering is powerful; fun too – here are a few examples from our favorite, Unknown Sage:

EVER WONDER…

Why the sun lightens our hair, but darkens our skin?

Why women can’t put on mascara with their mouth closed?

Why don’t you ever see the headline, “Psychic Wins Lottery”?

Why is “abbreviated” such a long word?

Why is it that doctors call what they do practice?

Why is it that to stop Windows, you click on Start?

Why is lemon juice made with artificial flavor, and dishwashing liquid is made with real lemons?

Why is the man who invests all your money called a broker?

Why is the time of day with the slowest traffic called rush hour?

Why isn’t there mouse-flavored cat food?

When dog food is new and improved tasting, who tests it?

Why didn’t Noah swat those two mosquitoes?

Why do they sterilize the needle for lethal injections?

You know that indestructible black box that is used on airplanes? Why don’t they make the whole plane out of that stuff?

Why don’t sheep shrink when it rains?

Why are they called apartments when they are all stuck together?

If con is the opposite of pro, is Congress the opposite of progress?

If flying is so safe, why do they call the airport the terminal?

Headlines and sound bites might make us wonder these days; even if they’re from the “Department of Unintended Consequences”, like my recent “You’re Fired” headline.

But the power of wonder continues to drive people like Paul Allen; who continue to drive the advancement of our way of life.  I wonder how I could say that in a two word sound bite?

GAP

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my website too:  The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective© Please check it out.

 

 

 

I Wonder (I hope)…

Went to the Broncos’ pre-season game Saturday night.  I’m a football fan.  Well actually, my wife would tell you that I’m a fan of anything involving a ball.  Not true, however – hockey; NASCAR; track & field; I like lots of activities that don’t require a ball.  Do you think that’s what she meant?  Little wonder.

Ever wonder how the sports media and sports radio talk show callers all have “the answer” to every team’s situation?  They have already determined how the Broncos will fare this season.  I guess I can just turn in my season tickets.  Don’t need to play the games.  Lots of “experts”; no wonder.

I was watching President Obama’s town hall gathering last week held on a college campus.  Ever notice that no matter what the question and how complex the topic, our career politicians have the ability to provide a 3-5 minute answer?  Ever wonder if they could ever be asked a question where their answer would be, “I don’t know”?  Lot’s of “answers”; any wonder?

I was playing with my 2 year old grandson Friday night.  He’s at that terrific age where everything, especially the simple things, are wonderful.  Do you remember your first memories?  I remember my family; my front yard; playing with blocks; and being afraid of the dark.  Lots of joy; lots of wonderment.

I often wonder if wondering vs. having “the answer” is some sign of weakness today.   I mean, how many times do we find ourselves “telling” vs. “asking”?  Ever notice people who put their statements in the form of questions?  Too much Jeopardy growing up?  Or, just their clever attempt at “telling” vs. truly asking.  I wonder.

Cynics and critics can be worse than know-it-alls, don’t you think?  (Yep – a statement not a question – my bad!)  But really, how many times do we find ourselves speaking with someone who simply wants to doubt everything?

Wonder, rather than doubt, is the root of knowledge. 

Abraham Heschel

Sometimes just observing; just accepting the possibilities; just wondering is so much more refreshing than the pressure of trying so hard to be right all the time (or justifying ourselves when we’re wrong), true?  Let’s practice:

EVER WONDER… 

Why the sun lightens our hair, but darkens our skin? 

Why women can’t put on mascara with their mouth closed? 

Why don’t you ever see the headline, “Psychic Wins Lottery”? 

Why is “abbreviated” such a long word? 

Why is it that doctors call what they do practice

Why is it that to stop Windows, you click on Start

Why is lemon juice made with artificial flavor, and dishwashing liquid is made with real lemons? 

Why is the man who invests all your money called a broker? 

Why is the time of day with the slowest traffic called rush hour? 

Why isn’t there mouse-flavored cat food? 

When dog food is new and improved tasting, who tests it? 

Why didn’t Noah swat those two mosquitoes? 

Why do they sterilize the needle for lethal injections? 

You know that indestructible black box that is used on airplanes? Why don’t they make the whole plane out of that stuff? 

Why don’t sheep shrink when it rains? 

Why are they called apartments when they are all stuck together? 

If con is the opposite of pro, is Congress the opposite of progress? 

If flying is so safe, why do they call the airport the terminal? 

Unknown Sage

Here’s to a wonderful day!

GAP

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my website and book, too:  The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective© Please check it out.