To Engage, or Not to Engage: That is The Question


The worldAre you happy with things the way they are? Do you believe that things could be better?

Are you satisfied with the state of the nation? Are you pleased with how things go at work? Are you happy with today’s world? Are young people too brazen? Are old people too stubborn? Are politics BS? Is hell “other people”?

In this week’s blog post we examine some of our frustrations and sources of stress. As we’ll discuss, we have more power over the dysfunctional elements in our environment than we think.

To believe there is nothing that we can do to stave off the negative influences of the things that displease us is not only a fallacy, it also contributes to the issues we wish to dissolve.

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DeploreFrom noisy neighbors and aggressive drivers to global politics, each day we are exposed to a plethora of issues or circumstances that conjure feelings of disbelief and lead to outright frustration. Furthermore, things we find troublesome awaken our fears, discouragement or anger, contributing to our stress.

Some things bother us, plain and simple. And when they do, they cause emotional reactions. Those reactions, in turn, affect our ability to focus and operate at our best.

The question is: to what degree do we let things bother us, and how do we react when we become aware of it?

RUMITo whine; to deplore…

Our natural reaction is to disengage or dissociate from the things bothering us. When we see or hear about something with which we are displeased or are radically against, we keenly distance ourselves from the position that is contrary to our beliefs. We do that mostly to assert our individuality; we align ourselves with things and positions that we relate to. Much of this is controlled by our ego.

Sometimes we feel we can’t weigh in on the issues; that our opinions have no impact and we are unable to affect the outcome. We can then keep our discontentment bottled up and remain silent.

At other times, we voice our displeasure and are eager to point out the perceived errors in logic, efficiency, morality or justice. However, by speaking up to assert ourselves, we also fuel the debate, which never helps in the resolution of the problem. We judge and criticize, and by expressing our animosity, we accentuate the chasm separating one viewpoint over the other. It’s like a form of child’s play: how feverishly can we argue to have the last word.

Whether we voice our displeasure or remain silent, our disengagement and dissociation don’t move the issue toward a positive and constructive resolution. By whining too much and giving these issues more attention, we may actually cause them to propagate and escalate.

NegativeThe more negative energy we feed into something, the more it has energy to survive and perpetuate.

Even when we are silent about our displeasure or frustration, we feed that which we perceive to be wrong with more oxygen to live on. The issues get to us and preoccupy our minds, alter our attitudes, our belief systems, our decisions and our actions. This depletes our potential by way of the attitudes and thoughts we foster toward the things with which we are displeased or in disagreement.

Firstly, our potential is affected because of the time we squander thinking, listening or talking about these issues, and our attention is no longer allocated to engaging with the things we’d rather be doing, that can bring us satisfaction, or that could help in addressing the issues with which we have a problem.

Secondly, the negativity and resistance that we harbor toward that which we loathe also affect our disposition pertaining to other things. Sometimes directly: we get worked up and our ability to focus diminishes; sometimes indirectly: we become more cynical, feel that our thoughts or initiatives are inconsequential, and our sense of purpose spirals downward, all of which resulting in a diminished focus or effort to succeed at what we would really want to accomplish. It’s the cost of our passive-aggressiveness.

So, what is the alternative?

To engage; to thrive…

Positive MindChange begins within us, in our beliefs and attitudes.

  1. We can begin by not letting anything of which we disapprove interfere with our dispositions or thought processes, including the thought of disapproval itself; start by eliminating expressions like “I hate this…” or “I don’t like it when…” from your discourse (and your thoughts).
  2. We can view the things bothering us as not worthy of our consideration and time, even when others love to fuss over them.
  3. We can consider why an issue is really bothering us. Sometimes, the answer we find reveals more about ourselves (insecurities) and our biases (upbringing and prejudice) than about the issues.
  4. We can educate ourselves on the issues to understand how something that seems so wrong can actually come to be; start imagining how we’d rather have it be and how to get there.
  5. We can accept that there should be room for other views, choices and preferences than only ours. Our disinclination to embrace such things shouldn’t be a reason to be bothered by them and reject them. Learn to accept and co-exist.

Positive interactionsChange begins with us, in our interactions.

  1. We can choose not to participate in gossip and voice negative opinions.
  2. We can resist other people engaging us in discussions about frivolous things, especially things we feel negatively impact society or contain some sort of bias or prejudice.
  3. We can steer our dialogs and interactions toward subjects where positive and constructive energy can be added.
  4. We can encourage others to take a positive attitude toward things they seem displeased with, and challenge them to think of resolution rather than criticism or abolition.
  5. We can support others’ initiatives, even when they’re not “our thing”.

Way to goChange begins with us, in our choices.

  1. We can discipline ourselves in not spending time watching or discussing things we disapprove of, even when we think it’s only to make fun of it or to see how stupid it can really get.
  2. We can change our environment (including who we hang out with) to contain more of the issues and topics that we believe are of significance and have positive effects on our environment and the world.
  3. We can choose how we vote with our ballots and our wallets. How we express our principles and how we entertain ourselves is an opportunity to support the things we value.
  4. We can choose to be original (ourselves) and guide our choices from the heart, rather than by popular opinion or by fear of how others would perceive us because of our choices.

EngagementChange begins with us, in our actions and engagement.

No matter what our charter is or what we do in life, our actions can be directed toward effecting the change we desire in the world. Be it what we make or do, the opinions we cast, what we buy, or the philanthropic and charitable initiatives we support or start on our own, everything we do bears an influence and has consequences.

grand canyonCertainly, our engagement in doing and behaving in ways that we deem are right will tilt the scales of society only slightly. But think of it as the making of the Grand Canyon. Every single drop that passed through the brook, the river, then the gorge, contributed to creating one of the largest geological wonders of the world. Our actions are those drops. In addition, each drop that erodes further compels other drops to fall within the path that is previously carved. By our actions, we influence and lead others to adopt the attitudes and behaviors of which we wish there were more.

Positive ChoicesPassive-aggressive behavior isn’t the way to go. It poisons our souls, erodes our passion and turns us into hypocrites. Why choose this route for our lives, when we only have one life, and when we secretly wished we could become heroes? Choosing the right course doesn’t mean we’ll get the hero of the year award; it means that we can sensibly contribute in crafting the world in ways that we want it to be. Without getting the hero-award, we can still enjoy extraordinary lives.

sarcasmBut most importantly, we should never fall for sarcasm or cynicism because this prevents us from adopting the right behaviors and reacting positively. Doing the right thing is the only way to instill in us a greater sense of purpose and direction. It helps us build character, set the course for a brighter destiny and forge a legacy we can be proud of. When things seem desolate or pathetic, this is the way to brighten our path in achieving our personal success and happiness, and to contribute in making the world a better place for us and future generations.

better world

Thank you puppyThank you for reading and leaving your observations on the issue in the comment section below. Different points of view will help others get clarity on the question. Feel free to drop a question or suggest a topic that I may use for a future blog post in discussing the achievement of success and happiness and inspiring you to add “A Dash of Greatness” to your lives?

I wish you and yours much Success and Happiness, ahead. For more ideas and strategies on awareness, our potential, our success and happiness, please consult Our X Factor, available everywhere in paperback and e-format and at http://www.OurXFactor.com.

Xavier Van de Lanotte

Our X Factor Banner

We all have an X factor…

 

Bookmark every day with Success and Happiness.

About Our X Factor

Our X Factor features a unique three-pronged approach to achieve success and happiness every day—Awareness, Making it Happen, Making it Count.

The text is rich with quotations, references, stories, examples and anecdotes that highlight throughout the book the behavioral, psychological and philosophical aspects of our quest for success and happiness.

An X factor is the quality that bestows unique characteristics leading to the achievement of extraordinary successes and spectacular accomplishments, among other amazing things.

Yet we all have an X factor, without exceptions! Our X Factor guides us through an exciting, informative and enlightening journey, and shows us how to be GREAT!

We were all born ordinary people. Yet we can lead extraordinary lives!

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Our Modern Day Paradoxes


Does it serve our purposeIs what we do, individually or as a society, conducive to fostering better lives for ourselves—finding happiness, productivity and sustainability? Or could the things we do unwittingly lead us to create the circumstances responsible for our stresses, our frustrations, our inequities, our shortcomings, our mistakes and, possibly, our downfall?

A “paradox” is a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that, when investigated or explained, may prove to be well-founded or true.

Georges CarlinPhilosopher and comedian, George Carlin, is known for his incisive satire and sarcasm. In a recording, he cleverly points to the contradictions between that which we do versus the outcomes that we desire, or the virtues with which we would like to ascribe ourselves.

This week’s blog post is about our reflection and our engagement. Please, enjoy the following transcript of the insightful comments by Carlin and provide your reactions in the comment section. Share how you feel about specific statements, or comment about how we, humans, fare in creating environments in which we hope to thrive, and in fostering a civilization in which we believe.

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The paradox, these days, is that…

♦We have more knowledge, but less patience and tolerance.Highway

♦Our highways are wider, but our perspectives are narrower.

♦We spend more, but have less.

♦We purchase more, but enjoy less.

♦We have bigger houses, but smaller families; more amenities, but less time.

♦We have more degrees, but less common sense; more education, but less good judgment; more pundits, but also more problems; more medication, but less wellness.

Drink smoke♦We drink too much, smoke too much and spend too recklessly, but hardly laugh enough.

♦We drive too fast, and are too angry, but ignore wasted time and kinder ways.

♦We turn in too late and wake up too tired.

♦We don’t read enough, watch too much TV… and rarely meditate.

♦We have accrued more valuable possessions, but lost our values.

♦We talk too much, yet seldom love, and we hate too often.

Moon♦We are taught to earn a living, but not to lead meaningful lives.

♦We have prolonged life expectance, but not increased life quality.

♦We landed on the moon, but won’t cross the street to meet a new neighbor.

♦We seek to conquer the universe beyond our world, but not our inner-workings.

Big Buildings♦We produce bigger things, but not better ones.

♦We have better hygiene, but pollute our minds with nonsense.

Atom♦We’ve dismantled the atom, but not our prejudices.

♦We send more messages, but receive less meaningful ones.

♦We plan and work more, but accomplish less.

♦We’ve grown accustomed to stress, but not to waiting.

♦We build computers to store more information, to produce more copies than ever before, but lost our touch in our personal communications.

♦We live in an era of fast-food, but slow digestion; of great men, but low integrity; of record profits, but superficial purpose and relationships.

Big House♦Our generation produces two incomes, but more divorces; fancy houses, but broken homes.

♦We live in times of short trips, disposable diapers, low moral values, one-night-stands, obesity and pills for just about anything—uppers, downers, for sleeping or killing—which oppose the balance and meaning we seek in life and for our world.

Fast Paced

Hug♥ Remember to say I love you to your partner and to your beloved ones, but, above all, believe it. A kiss and a hug will relieve pain, when they are sincere.

Hold Hands♥ Remember to hold hands and cherish that moment, because, one day, this person will be gone from your life, forever….

 

Love♥ Make time to love, to talk to and share your thoughts and emotions with others.

 

♥ And never forget that life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by those precious occasions that take your breath away.Breath

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Carlin CloseIf this resonates with you, please share your opinions in the comment section.

Only by speaking up about how we feel can we determine a consensus about acceptable norms for society.

I wish you and yours much Success and Happiness, ahead. For more ideas and strategies on awareness, our potential, our success and happiness, please follow this Blog and consult Our X Factor, available everywhere in paperback and e-format and at http://www.ourxfactor.com/.

Xavier Van de Lanotte

Our X Factor Banner

We all have an X factor…

 

Bookmark every day with Success and Happiness.

About Our X Factor

Our X Factor is a book featuring a unique three-pronged approach to achieve success and happiness every day—Awareness, Making it Happen, Making it Count—and inspires positive outlooks on life in dealing with our situations, interactions and relationships, our purpose, potential, dreams and goals, and our choices, actions and determination, to give our lives each day our very best.

The book is rich with quotations, references, stories, examples and anecdotes that highlight throughout the book the behavioral, psychological and philosophical aspects of our quest for success and happiness.

An X factor is the quality that bestows unique characteristics leading to the achievement of extraordinary successes and spectacular accomplishments, among other amazing things.

Yet we all have an X factor, without exceptions! Our X Factor guides us through an exciting, informative and enlightening journey, and shows us how to BE GREAT!

We were all born ordinary people. Yet we can lead extraordinary lives!

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VICTORY! Do this, get that, and be HAPPY…


money cant buy“Money can’t buy happiness.” We’ve heard it before, and at this dawn of “mindfulness” era (yes, the world and our perspectives are changing), people are less and less inclined to argue this statement.

It remains, nonetheless, that we would like to believe that there are certain things that make us happy. Is it a fallacy to think so, or is it more commonly our figures of speech leading us to confusion about our true state of happiness?

Happy PharrelHello everyone, and welcome to my blog. My name is Xavier Van de Lanotte, strategy consultant, writer and speaker. My interest resides in “strategy” and “success and happiness”, which isn’t coincidental.

From my perspective, both subjects spawn from a same logical approach, which is about making sense out of what we, humans, do, whether it is to sustain our existence through our professions, or to manage other aspects of our lives. If a corporation creates customer value to rationalize its existence, then we, individually, rationalize our lives through our purpose. My focus is to help optimize the processes that lead to the achievement of the best possible outcomes for both, people and companies.

PurposeToday I’d like to examine what the “act” of “being happy” may, or may not entail, as it doesn’t always add up to what we believe it is, or, at least, the way we talk about it. Why should this matter to us? It matters if we care to have a greater awareness about ourselves and our environment and put what we do with our lives into proper perspective; i.e.: to have a deep understanding of our purpose and our process.

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Yard workPeople say the darnedest things sometimes. What they say may sound great or quaint and innocuous, sometimes even uplifting. Yet at a deeper level, does it make sense?

I’m retired, Xavier. I take care of my home and garden, and I visit with my grandchildren, and that makes me happy,” my always-jovial neighbor told me, recently.

At the end of a day at the office, I’m happy to get home and pour a glass of wine for me and my husband, and I cook a meal we enjoy at the table with our kids ,” I overheard a woman say at a cocktail party, two weeks ago.

MarriageGetting married! Soooo Happy…♥♥♥☺” a friend posted on Facebook, just this weekend, to share the news about her engagement.

Don’t get me wrong, my kids are my source of happiness…, I’d do anything for them. But this is my ‘me’ time I get to enjoy three times a week,” a member at my gym told me last month.

Man, I’m so happy! I’ve finally fixed up my boat and I’m taking it out to go fish on the bay with some friends, this weekend. You should come sometime,” an acquaintance told me, earlier this summer.

Money can't buy happinessMoney can’t buy happiness… but it helps,” is more often what we really hear people say.

All of these quotes sound marvelously exciting. They bring us joy. They help us get through the day. They illustrate all the wonderful things for which we are grateful. They testify to the fact that life offers more than the daily grind at the workplace and the headaches we put up with, day after day, year after year. And they remind us that we have others in our lives to love, to connect with, and to share things with, the good and the bad. It’s great! We could have been much worse off…

Fishing boatSadly enough, they are also indicative that something may be missing. There isn’t enough money (ever—LOL). We can’t spend all of our time with the grandchildren or the children—they have lives too. How much time of our year are we actually fishing in the bay with our friends, floating on our prized possession? Will the change in marital status really fill our lives with bliss? And aren’t we a bit too old to have moved into a fixer-upper, if our homes and gardens take up this much of our time in retirement?

At some point, we could admit that these wonderful things in our lives provide necessary breaks in the lives we live the rest of the time. And when we consider it this way, can we still say that we are truly happy? Can we be happy just part of the time; certain times of the day, certain periods of the year, or from the time we get engaged until sometime after our honeymoon is but a distant memory? Can our happiness really be contingent on our affections for other people, key events or achievements, or our possessions?

Pursuit of happinessI came across a thought-provoking post from a friend and coach this weekend that reads: “The real measure of your wealth is how much you’d be worth if you lost all your money.”

Well, if we removed all those wonderful actions or possessions from our lives, would we still be happy?

Why can’t we be happy without those things?

We should be Happy all of the Time, with or without those Things.

In a survey, the following question was asked: Which one of these brings you the most happiness?

  1. Helping others
  2. Following your dreams
  3. Making the world a better place
  4. Caring for loved ones

The answers to choose from are suggestive of the nature of the things we believe are embedded in our purpose. Each entails wonderful things to embrace, but none are sources of happiness, per se. However, the pursuit of our purpose can in fact be a source of happiness.

Actions, people or things cannot be sources of happiness, nor can their absence be sources of unhappiness. Happiness resides in our satisfaction with what we do with our lives; the fulfillment of a purpose, elaborate, humble, noble or commonplace it may be. If we do what is required to achieve that level of satisfaction, in effect, we choose to embrace our happiness.

Grand kidsWhile it is conceivable that owning a boat, fishing, raising kids and grandkids, getting married or caring for our homes is the single most important thing in our lives right now, it is unlikely that our purpose and principal reason for our entire existence can be reduced to that and that alone.

The concept—and feeling—of Happiness is profoundly rooted within our capacity to love and our ability to be at peace. But love and peace do not procure happiness; they are necessary ingredients of it. Only with the added fulfillment of our purpose can we embrace true happiness, through the knowledge that what we spend our time doing effectively satisfies the achievement of what we are supposed to do with our lives.

In reply to the survey question above, the answer choices are indivisible, from my perspective. No matter how I cut it, what I do in the fulfillment of my purpose, transpires in my achievement of all four objectives.

Four objectives

We can all think of our purpose in such fashion, as all things done, rooted in love and with the aspiration to be at peace, will result in the betterment of the world, will be of use and service to others, and will support our desire to care for our loved ones, materially, emotionally and spiritually.

To choose only one reply to the question of happiness, I must say: “2. Follow your Dream—Final answer.”

Follow your dreams

Thank you for sharing your answer to the survey question and providing your perspective about what makes you happy in a comment, below. Different suggestions will help others develop their view points. Also, please, think of this blog as my advertisement of what I do (my purpose) and let me know whether my marketing efforts (this being my Vth entry) are of value to you. How can I improve my posts to be of greater value and use to you, and inspire you to add “A Dash of Greatness” to your lives?

I wish you and yours much Success and Happiness, ahead. For more ideas and strategies on awareness, our potential, our success and happiness, please consult Our X Factor, available everywhere in paperback and e-format and at http://www.ourxfactor.com/.

cropped-xavier.jpg

Xavier Van de Lanotte, Author

Our X Factor Banner

We all have an X factor…

 

Bookmark every day with Success and Happiness.

About Our X Factor

Our X Factor features a unique three-pronged approach to achieve success and happiness every day—Awareness, Making it Happen, Making it Count.

It is rich with quotations, references, stories, examples and anecdotes that highlight throughout the book the behavioral, psychological and philosophical aspects of our quest for success and happiness.

An X factor is the quality that bestows unique characteristics leading to the achievement of extraordinary successes and spectacular accomplishments, among other amazing things.

Yet we all have an X factor, without exceptions! Our X Factor guides us through an exciting, informative and enlightening journey, and shows us how to be GREAT!

We were all born ordinary people. Yet we can lead extraordinary lives!

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