Saturday, September 05, 2009
The unofficial last weekend of summer in the USA is going on right now with Labor Day weekend, and for over 40 years the Beach Boys sang the summer music anthems. This version is different. Enjoy:
Friday, September 04, 2009
Posted: 23 Aug 2009 08:13 PM PDT
“I’m sorry.” Two simple words and yet two of the hardest to say. We easily utter them in response to trivial matters like accidentally jostling a stranger on the subway or giving the cashier the wrong change. Yet in important matters and to those who mean the most to us, we can find ourselves practically choking on the words. But the inability to apologize can critically wound all of our relationships, from home to work. Learning how to properly apologize is a necessary step in moving from boy to man.
Why We Don’t Apologize
Pride. Apologizing can be particularly hard for men because it involves the admittance of fault. It’s hard to say that we messed up. That we were wrong. Our pride gets in the way.
Embarrassment. If we messed up royally, doing something truly boneheaded even though we knew better, it can be difficult to talk about it to the person we hurt or let down. We feel stupid and would rather pretend like it didn’t happen.
Anger. Things that need apologizing for are rarely a one way street (more on this later). We probably did something wrong, but the other person probably did too. And sometimes our anger over how they offended us is so great that we justify what we did and can’t get past it to apologize.
The antidote to all 3 obstacles? Humility. The reason we put up these walls is that we have an overinflated view of our true selves. We’re always right; we always have it together. But it ain’t true. We’re human. We mess up sometimes. You have to accept your imperfection as a part of life. Suppressing it will cut you off from others. Embracing it will allow you to grow as a man.
When to Apologize
Even when it’s not fully your fault. There is a breed of man who will not apologize unless he feels 100% at fault for something. “But it’s not my fault!” is his battle cry. He’s not at fault for throwing away an important document at work because no one specifically told him to hold onto it. He’s not at fault for hurting his girlfriend’s feelings because she shouldn’t have been listening to his conversation with his friends.
But almost no situation is 100% one person’s fault. If your wife flew off the handle and called you some cutting things for seemingly no reason, it’s not because she’s just an ice princess; she’s hurt because you’ve been working 80 hour weeks and not spending enough time with her.
Even if the fault split is something like 1%/99%, you still need to work hard to humble yourself and come to an understanding of what that 1% is rooted in. Don’t live your life as though every day you’re pleading your case before an imaginary court, presenting evidence for why you are not at fault and are innocent as charged. It’s not as important to be right as it is to have healthy relationships with others. Would you rather be right then give up your relationship with someone? Would you rather be right then lift the hurt feelings from another? Being self-satisfied in your justice offers little benefit but the feeling of smugness. And smugness won’t keep you warm at night.
You don’t have to apologize for what truly wasn’t your fault, but you can find the things, no matter how small, that you could have handled better. Once you apologize for those things, that will get the ball rolling for the other person to own up to their mistakes. Don’t let pride stop you from being the bigger person and taking the initiative.
Even when you haven’t been caught. As a boy, did you ever break something and then run away, hoping that no one would notice, and that if they did, they wouldn’t connect the crime back to you? This is how a child handles his mistakes. A man owns up to his mistakes and offenses whether or not he thinks he will be held accountable.
Quickly. Apologize as soon as you can after making a mistake or committing an offense. The longer you wait, the more resentment is going to build up on both sides, the harder it will be to make the first move, and the more awkward the situation will become. Be a man and nip it in the bud.
When Not to Apologize
For your beliefs. If you offend someone by standing up for your beliefs because you failed to debate like a gentleman and ended up being snarky, attacking the person personally, or generally acting like an ass, then you should apologize for your boorish behavior. However, if you’ve made a completely respectful argument in favor of your position and a person is simply offended because of the nature of your beliefs, then you should never apologize for that. Don’t be sorry for what you hold near and dear to your heart.
For not meeting unreasonable expectations. You know this guy. His girlfriend expects him to kowtow to her every wish and treat her like a princess 24/7. When he fails to do this, she expects him to grovel in repentance. This isn’t being sensitive, it’s being a whipped weenie.
For everything. This man apologizes for his appearance, for things that aren’t his fault that no one is saying are his fault, and for perceived shortcomings that no one notices until he brings them up. And he keeps on apologizing. Over and over again when everyone else has moved on. Being a compulsive apologizer is highly emasculating and instead of getting you into people’s good graces as you might assume, will simply erode their respect for you.
How to Apologize
Write it if you can’t say it. Sometimes our embarrassment or pride prevents us from going in person to apologize to someone. While a face to face apology is always ideal, if you absolutely can’t do it, then it’s better to get it out then not do it at all. And sometimes a letter or note is actually a superior medium to talking because it allows you to express all of your feelings without forgetting what you want to say or running the risk of setting off another argument.
Use humor when appropriate. Some self-deprecating humor can break the tension and cause you both to laugh. I’ve found that drawing little cartoons of me and my mishap can instantly dissipate my wife’s anger. Note that I said, when appropriate. If you cheated on your girlfriend, don’t crack jokes or make cartoons about it. “And see in this panel, that’s me making out with your best friend.”
Be sincere. This is the cardinal rule of apologies. An insincere apology is in some ways worse than no apology at all. The person’s hurt over your offense will merely be compounded by their anger at your hypocrisy. An insincere apology may take the form of saying you’re sorry but saying it in such a way that your lack of contrition is patently manifest. Another form is the famous “I’m sorry you’re sorry” apology. This apology admits no fault but pretends like saying you’re sorry that the person was hurt or is angry is still pretty big of you. Don’t bother; it will make the person want to stab with you a trident.
Take complete responsibility. Never, ever make any excuses while you’re apologizing. They instantly ruin the weight and sincerity of your confession. Don’t use any “buts.” As in “I’m really sorry that happened, but….” A man takes full responsibility for his mistakes.
Express your understanding of why you were wrong and the weight of your mistake. A person wants to know that you fully understand the seriousness of the situation, that you have thought through exactly why what you did was wrong and the full consequences of your actions. Nobody wants to hear an apology from someone who clearly doesn’t know why they’re in the wrong but feels like apologizing is what they’re “supposed” to do.
Offer to make restitution. This is a key part of the apology process. You should almost always offer to try in any way you can to make up for your misdeed. This obviously isn’t always possible. If you break your wife’s 5th generation family heirloom vase, you can’t go to Target and buy a replacement. But if a situation can be fixed and rectified, that you should pledge to do whatever it takes to do so.
Pledge better behavior in the future. Notice that I said pledge and not promise. While some would argue that if you’re really sorry, you’ll never make the same mistake again, our failings as human beings dictates otherwise. I might be truly sorry for losing my temper on someone, but I’m pretty sure that no matter how hard I try, it’s probably going to happen again somewhere down the line. When you promise someone that something is never going to happen again, you’re setting yourself up for a huge rift to develop if it does. The person will be justifiably doubly hurt, because after all, “You promised!” There are of course some things that you can be almost 100% sure you’ll never do again, and if you feel absolutely confident in that, then make a promise. But generally you should simply pledge that you’re going to be working hard on fixing whatever personality or behavioral faults led to your current offense. You can promise that you’re going to be making an effort to change and turn things around.
Prove your contrition with your actions. In the end, words will matter very little if your actions don’t match them. After you’ve apologized, stop dwelling on it. Simply start acting in a way that demonstrates the sincerity of your apology.
Move on. Once you’ve given your sincere apology, don’t apologize again. Having you continually apologize may be what the offended party thinks they want from you and it may make them feel better in the short term. But in the long term, it’s going to ruin the relationship. If you continue to grovel then you’ll always be in the inferior position instead of having the person treat you like an equal. Deep down they won’t be respecting you as a man. Either the person accepts your apology or they don’t. If they do, then there’s no need to keep groveling. If they don’t, then the person doesn’t trust you and the relationship has other problems that need to be fixed.DownloadThe Art of Manliness Free Man Cookbook
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Thursday, September 03, 2009
Here are some ways to improve the "Happyness" in your life from the DLM Blog:
Posted: 26 Aug 2009 08:23 AM PDTIn recent years there has been an explosion of research on happiness, optimism, positive emotions and healthy character traits. While psychology has traditionally concerned itself with what ails the human mind--such as anxiety, depression, neurosis, obsessions, paranoia, and delusions--, a new branch of psychology, aptly named “positive psychology”, asks the question: "What are the enabling conditions that make human beings flourish?" That is, the goal of positive psychology is to study what actively makes people feel fulfilled, engaged, and happy.
In addition, neuroscientists are studying how the brain can be rewired in such a way that makes happiness more likely. Below you’ll find six strategies from the fields of positive psychology and neuroscience that will help you increase your current level of happiness.
- Set the Intent to be Happier
Robert Holden, Ph.D., Director of the Happiness Project in the United Kingdom, argues in his book, “Happiness Now! Timeless Wisdom for Feeling Good Fast” that having the intent and making a commitment to be happier is key. He explains that “intention” is another word for “focus”, and whatever we focus on will become more apparent and will grow. If we focus on happiness, instead of focusing on all the things that are going wrong, then that's what we will become more aware of.
- Count Your Blessings
Robert Emmons, Ph.D., is a pioneer in the scientific study of how gratitude affects people’s health and happiness levels. He has scientific proof—which he discusses in his book “Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier”--that shows that when people regularly engage in the systematic cultivation of gratitude, they experience a variety of measurable psychological, physical, and interpersonal benefits. In fact, he explains that people who regularly practice grateful thinking can increase their set point of happiness by as much as twenty five percent. He adds that keeping a gratitude journal for as little as three weeks can result in better sleep and more energy. (Highlights from Research Project).
- Practice Happiness Boosters
Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar taught Harvard University's most popular course in the Spring of 2006: “PSY 1504 – Positive Psychology”. In his book “Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment”, he explains that we need to incorporate happiness boosters into our everyday life.
Happiness boosters are simple things which we enjoy doing, and can include things such as: having lunch with a good friend, reading a gripping novel, savoring a cup of freshly roasted coffee out on the balcony, filling out the newspaper’s crossword puzzle, taking a warm bath, and so on. Dr. Ben-Shahar explains that we should each have a list of happiness boosters that we personally enjoy, and we need to make sure that we practice at least one item on our list every day.
- Be Kind to Others
Stephen G. Post, Ph.D., has the following to say about helping others:“All the great spiritual traditions and the field of positive psychology are emphatic on this point — that the best way to get rid of bitterness, anger, rage, jealousy [and so on] is to do unto others in a positive way.” He adds that there are studies that show that when people act with generosity and compassion, there’s a positive effect on their health and well-being. Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of “The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want”, recommends that we choose one day of the week during which we perform five acts of kindness for others. (Kindness and the Case for Altruism).
Richard Davidson, a prominent neuroscience professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has studied the brains of Buddhist monks who have meditated for many years. When tested against a group of non-meditators, larger areas of the meditators' brains were active, particularly in the left prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for positive emotions. Dr. Davidson’s data claims that if people sit quietly for just half an hour a day thinking about kindness and compassion, their brains will show noticeable changes in just two weeks. (Source).
- Focus on Your Strengths
Dr. William Kent Larkin is a Yale and Harvard educated researcher specializing in applied neuroscience integrating positive psychology and quantum physics. In his book “Growing the Positive Mind”, he argues that instead of focusing on fixing our weaknesses, as our society often encourages us to do, we can sustain an up spiral of positivity by concentrating on growing our unique personal strengths. He adds that personal strengths have infinite malleability, they can grow enormously, and when they do, they undo and heal weaknesses. We can create an up spiral of positive emotions by setting goals based on our strengths.
|Written on 8/26/2009 by Marelisa Fábrega. Marelisa blogs about creativity, productivity, and simplifying your life over at Abundance Blog at Marelisa Online. Marelisa is the author of the ebook "How to Be More Creative - A Handbook for Alchemists".||Photo Credit: Sweet&Sadistic|
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
Last night I was cleaning out emails and found this gem from Harvey Mackay:
The Second Ten Commandments
We all know about the original Ten Commandments, but have you ever heard of "The Second Ten Commandments"? These pearls of wisdom, sent to me by a friend, have been often attributed to Elodie Armstrong. I have taken the liberty of putting my spin on them:
I. Thou shall not worry, for worry is the most unproductive of all human activities. You can't saw sawdust. A day of worry is more exhausting than a day of work. People get so busy worrying about yesterday or tomorrow, they forget about today. And today is what you have to work with.
II. Thou shall not be fearful, for most of the things we fear never come to pass. Every crisis we face is multiplied when we act out of fear. Fear is a self-fulfilling emotion. When we fear something, we empower it. If we refuse to concede to our fear, there is nothing to fear.
III. Thou shall not cross bridges before you come to them, for no one yet has succeeded in accomplishing this. Solve the issues before you right now. Tomorrow's problems may not even be problems when tomorrow comes!
IV. Thou shall face each problem as it comes. You can only handle one at a time anyway. In one of my favorite "Peanuts" comic strips, Linus says to Charlie Brown, "There's no problem too big we can't run away from it." I chuckle every time I think about it because it sounds like such a simple solution to a problem. Problem solving is not easy, so don't make it harder than it is.
V. Thou shall not take problems to bed with you, for they make very poor bedfellows. Just remember that all your problems seem much worse in the middle of the night. If I wake up thinking of a problem, I tell myself that it will seem lighter in the morning and it always is.
VI. Thou shall not borrow other people's problems. They can better care for them than you can. I must confess that I have broken this commandment because I wanted to help someone out, without being asked, or I thought I was more equipped to handle a situation. But I wouldn't have to deal with the consequences, either.
VII. Thou shall not try to relive yesterday. For good or ill, it is forever gone. Concentrate on what is happening in your life and be happy now! We convince ourselves that life will be better after we get a better job, make more money, get married, have a baby, buy a bigger house and so on. Yet the accomplishment of any of those events may not make any difference at all. The Declaration of Independence says we are endowed "with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." You are responsible for your own happiness.
VIII. Thou shall be a good listener, for only when you listen do you hear ideas different from your own. You can win more friends with your ears than with your mouth. Hearing is one of the body's five senses, but listening is an art. Your success could hinge on whether you have mastered the skill of listening. Most people won't listen to what you're saying unless they already feel that you have listened to them. When we feel we are being listened to, it makes us feel like we are being taken seriously and what we say really matters.
IX. Thou shall not become "bogged down" by frustration, for 90 percent of it is rooted in self-pity and will only interfere with positive action. Seriously, has frustration ever improved a situation? Better to take a break, collect your thoughts and redirect your attention to a positive first step. Then go on from there.
X. Thou shall count thy blessings, never overlooking the small ones, for a lot of small blessings add up to a big one. We all have something to be grateful for, even on the worst days. Hey, you're still on the green side of the grass, aren't you?
Mackay's Moral: These may not be chiseled in stone, but try them—they'll make your life less rocky.
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
Monday, August 31, 2009
One of the daily emails I receive is from the Art of Manliness Blog. A few times a month, I will repost something that they wrote here for you to read too.
Such is the case with what you are about to read.
Posted: 29 Aug 2009 11:55 AM PDT
I’d like to devote this edition of the round-up to one of the features of the Art of Manliness Community: Groups. The Community allows you to create and join groups that revolve around a certain specific interest. Within the group you can join like-minded men to discuss a common interest or theme, pose questions, and offer advice. There are over 200 groups in the Community currently. Below you’ll find a list of some of them; be sure to check out the Groups page to find many more!
Arts and Culture
Food and Drink
Dress and Grooming
Family and Relationships
Religion and Philosophy
Sports and Fitness
Join a group from your home state (there are also groups for specific cities) and plan a meet-up to get together in the flesh……
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