Saturday, December 25, 2010
Friday, December 24, 2010
Posted: 19 Nov 2010 04:51 PM PST
Imagine your life without friends, family, or loved-ones. What would life be like? What would you do? Who would you be?
It’s certainly hard to imagine because a major part of peoples’ identity and lifestyle revolves around the people they care about and spend time with. We’re all social creatures, and relationships provide us support, joy, and an opportunity to grow and learn. Relationships also have a large impact on how we develop emotionally, socially, and mentally. Having positive relationships is crucial for long-term well-being and happiness.
When it comes to having enriching and exceptional relationships, there are a few things to consider and keep in mind. Relationships require an understanding of healthy communication, realistic expectations, love and respect, and clear boundaries. If these areas are developed you will find greater harmony and growth exuding from every relationship you have.
Communication is all about building a bridge to make connections and develop a deeper attachment. It’s about seeking first to understand before being understood and making effort to really show we care about another person. By communicating effectively we can show others we care about them while still getting our needs meet.
Three main steps to clear and healthy communication are:
Learning to reflect back the content, idea, and feelings that are being received is essential to gauge clear understanding before continuing with the discussion. This involves listening carefully and paraphrasing or repeating back in your own words what you heard, and paying close attention to subtle signs in non-verbal behavior. This is where two people can really make sure they’re on the same page.
“Let me make sure I heard you correctly.”
“From what I’m hearing you would like to spend more time together.” “Is this right?”
“It sounds like you would want more help around the house. Is this right?”
Once you have shown understanding of the message being sent, you need to understand where the other person is coming from. This means showing respect and support for the other person’s point of view and feelings. Confirm their emotions and feelings with verbal and non-verbal cues showing you understand. Remember, understanding does not always mean agreeing, but let them know their feelings are important.
This is where the listener or bystander actually connects with the emotional experience of the other individual. Empathy is a true skill that requires stepping into someone else’s shoes and taking a non-judgmental approach to their state of mind. By doing so we create an attachment and bond that really makes a relationship meaningful. This is also where compassionate behavior comes from.
When beginning a relationship we tend to notice all the bright and positive aspects about others. Any little quirk is cute and attractive, though; our idealistic expectations tend to change as relationships continue to develop. Those things we thought were most appealing may even become the most irritating. We may begin to evaluate things in a different manner and lose patience more quickly.
Most people don’t really know each other until they have spent a significant amount of time together and it’s crucial to understand we will continually be learning things about others as we get to know them further.
The point is you can’t expect others to be able to fulfill your every need. People will disappoint you at times, and learning to accept people for their “warts” is an integral part of healthy relationships.
Respect and Love
There is the love/respect dynamic in every relationship. People invest in relationships for this reason. We want to feel supported, respected, and loved by those we surround ourselves with. What’s the point otherwise?
By gauging the needs of the other person, we can learn what their needs are and provide them this support and encouragement. If they need to be respected, show them respect. If they want to be treated with loving kindness then this is the approach to take.
If we aren’t being aware of the other person’s needs, relationships can get stuck in a “crazy” cycle where petty grievances tend to control behavior and interactions.
By approaching a relationship and doing all we can do to help and support the other person, it can start a cyclical pattern of mutually showing respect and love. By showing respect, one will receive love and when they receive love, they are more likely to show respect.
The cycle can persist in this positive manner if we are conscious of how we interpret behavior and focus on clear communication.
Autonomy vs. Connectedness
When it comes to relationships, what makes them work depends on how the partners relate. Some people really need to feel connected in relationships in order to build an attachment and know they are cared for, where others need to have more autonomy or they feel smothered and overwhelmed. The balance between connectedness and autonomy is another dynamic that makes up a healthy relationship. Sometimes we need to show others we love and care for them, even if they “know” we do. For these types of individuals it’s important to express that you love them and show affection when you can. Though, other people need more personal space and a chance to reflect and engage in external activities.
People need to maintain a personal identity and understand their roles within the relationship. This involves boundaries and ultimately reaching interdependence. A relationship should be mutually beneficial and provide growth for both parties. We are able to truly gain value from relationships when we reach this level of interdependence.
If you have relationships in your life, you must realize the interconnectedness of every interaction. You always have an impact on other people and they also have an impact on you. Learning that we have a mutual impact on each other is a powerful realization that helps us to take a more conscious role in how we behave and relate to others.
We have the opportunity to improve other peoples experience and be a valuable part of their life. Make the effort to conscious relationships where there is clear understanding or roles, expectations and values.
|Written on 11/19/2010 by Joe Wilner. Joe is an entrepreneur and career coach who runs the personal and professional development website Shake off the Grind. Subscribe to his blog via RSS and receive a copy of the free eBook, Think Big Act Now.||Photo Credit: Candida.Performa|
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
There were a couple of us from Fort Wayne that were nominated and we attended the Social Media Meet Up at Scotty's Brewhouse in Indianapolis.
I met a few folks that I had only known via Twitter and ran into a former co-worker of mine, Paul Poteet. Paul and I worked a lifetime ago on the air at WMEE.
Anyway, now it's nearly the end of 2010, and Indiana's 2nd Annual Social Media Summit is coming up next week. And instead of asking everyone to head to Indy, there are several "satellite locations" including Fort Wayne.
Right now we need your help with the voting. If you are on Facebook then, go here and place your votes:
Someone nominated me again this year in the 2nd category listed: Most INfluential Social Media Dude. Thanks to whom ever submitted my name.
I'm listed under my given name: Scott Howard
Please take a look, vote for those you feel deserve to win.
After you vote, click on the tab #IN SM to get details on the gatherings that are being held simultaneously in Indiana on Thursday, December 30th, 2010.
I'll be at the Fort Wayne location, come out and join us!
When: Dec. 30, 2010, noon-2 pm or later
Where: Baker Street Restaurant
4820 N. Clinton Street, Fort Wayne
Scan this QR code for a map
Use the hashtag #IN_SM10 on Twitter!
Contact Kevin Mullett for info about the Fort Wayne event.
@kmullett on twitter
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
This week I have a shopping tip for you.
If you are considering buying someone an ebook reader, you have a multitude of options.
On the expensive side are iPads which are much more than an ebook reader, but will not likely replace most peoples laptops.
At the other end of the spectrum are the Nook and Kindle.
Now, I never gave much thought to ebook readers until 10 days ago when my kids surprised me with a Kindle for my birthday. You can compare them here.
I now have over 100 books stored in my Kindle. But here's why I really prefer it over some of the other options.
Amazon's Kindle is a nice stand alone reader. It will remember what page I was on and I can add notes, and a variety of other features just like if it was a paper version. But then there's another cool feature that I've been using.
There is a free Kindle app for my smartphone. So last Saturday when I was waiting for 20 minutes for a haircut, I could pick up my phone and continue reading where I left off the day before on my Kindle!
I'm not planning on taking my Kindle out of the house except perhaps on vacation. My cellphone is with me everywhere, my laptop is with me during business hours, but when I take out my Kindle, it's for uninterrupted reading time.
Yep, its a pretty cool gift for those of us who are impossible to buy for, but love to read.
Monday, December 20, 2010
Here's some tips on how to avoid this from the DLM Blog:
Posted: 11 Dec 2010 09:16 AM PST
Did you have great plans to stick to a healthy diet – until the holidays came along?
As Christmas draws near, it's harder and harder to stick to sensible eating habits. Your boss brings in a box of donuts. Your friend invites you round for drinks and nibbles. Every store has boxes of cookies and chocolates on offer.
But if you don't want to end up with a belly to rival Santa's, read on...
- Don't Try to Be Perfect
First, ditch the idea that you need to be perfect in order to eat healthily or to lose weight. An occasional candy bar, glass of wine or piece of cheese won't ruin your whole diet – unless you use it as an excuse to give up.
Instead of aiming to be perfect, focus on being good 80% of the time. That might mean, for instance, having a healthy breakfast and lunch, ordering a sensible entree for dinner, then enjoying an indulgent dessert.
- Do Eat Plenty of Fruits and Veggies
Wherever you are in the world, you can make the most of seasonal fruits and veggies. If you're in the southern hemisphere, that might mean big fresh salads and juicy summer fruits. If you're in the northern hemisphere, you might want hearty vegetable soups and cooked fruit.
Almost all fruits and veggies are low calorie and packed with vitamins and minerals which you need in order to stay healthy. (Go easy on avocados, which are high in fat, and on potatoes and other starchy vegetables.)
- Don't Stock Up Too Soon
Sure, it's tempting to grab a pile of candy while it's cheap – but remember that the stores will have plenty of seasonal foods on sale right until Christmas. If you stock up too soon, you'll probably find that you've eaten lots of those goodies well before the big day.
(I'm speaking from experience here – my husband and I have already managed to scoff some of the chocolates we supposedly bought for presents!)
Keep indulgent treats out of the house and you're much less likely to be tempted.
- Do Make Something Healthy for the Potluck
Going to a potluck meal and taking a dish? Rather than making that fat-and-sugar-laden chocolate cream pie, how about something different this year? If you take along a salad or a bowl of roasted vegetables, you'll be doing yourself a favor – and other guests may well appreciate having a few healthier dishes on the table.
For dessert, fruit salad or baked fruits are great options. If those aren't going to be popular with others, look for a lower-fat cake or muffin recipe.
- Don't Go Partying on an Empty Stomach
When you're heading out for an evening of drinks and food, have a healthy snack or a light meal beforehand – a wholewheat sandwich, for instance, or a baked potato. Turning up to a party hungry means getting drunk quickly, and diving into fatty, salty or sugary snacks.
If you're going to be out and about running holiday errands, take a couple of pieces of fruit or a granola bar with you, so that you've got a quick snack to hand.
|Written on 12/11/2010 by Ali Luke. Ali writes a blog, Aliventures, about leading a productive and purposeful life (get the RSS feed here). As well as blogging, she writes fiction, and is studying for an MA in Creative Writing.||Photo Credit: gromgull|
Sunday, December 19, 2010
A Generation of Men Raised by Women
“We’re a generation of men raised by women. I’m wondering if another woman is really the answer we need.”
This comment, made by the Tyler Durden character in the movie Fight Club, is one of the most memorable lines of that film and has oft been repeated and discussed. It’s sticking power is surely due to the way it resonated with many men–how it so succinctly summed up their life’s experience. Products of divorced parents, single mothers, or fathers who spent more time at work than at home, these men lacked a vital example of manhood growing up. Oftentimes, not only was their dad not around, male mentors in other areas of their life were few and far between as well. They understand well Nathaniel Hawthorne’s lament in The Marble Faun:
“Between man and man there is always an insuperable gulf. They can never quite grasp each other’s hands; and therefore man never derives any intimate help, any heart sustenance, from his brother man, but from women-his mother, his sister, his wife.”
Without male mentors, many men of this generation have felt adrift, unsure of how to deal with an indescribable but acute lack in their lives.
How did we get to the point where it is possible, as Edward Abbey put it, “to proceed from infancy into senility without ever knowing manhood?”
There are three primary social institutions that have historically served to mold young boys into men: family, religion, and education. Yet the masculine influence of these institutions diminished over the last century. Let’s take a closer look at each.
During the pre-industrial period, a man’s home was also his workplace. For the farmer and the artisan, “bring your kid to work day” was every day. Father and son worked side by side from sunrise to sunset. Fathers taught by example, not only apprenticing their sons into the trade, but subtly imparting lessons on hard work and virtue.
This relationship was disrupted by the Industrial Revolution, as fathers were forced to abandon the land and the workshop for a place on the assembly line. A clear line was drawn between the home and the workplace. Dad left the tenement in the morning and did not return for 10-12 hours at a time. As we’ve discussed previously, the result of this economic shift was that the home became thought of as the women’s sphere, a feminine refuge from the rough and dirty professional and political realm, the “man’s world.” Children spent all their time with mom, who, as the repository of virtue and morality, was expected to turn her boys into little gentlemen.
The ideal (which was always more ideal than reality) of mom at home and dad at work would persist into the 1950s. This is still a romantic standard many would like to return to, ignoring the fact that such a set-up kept dad away from his children for the bulk of the day, depriving them of his mentoring and creating a culture where his parenting role was deemed subordinate to mom’s.
But at least in that situation dad was around. The divorce rate began to climb at the turn of the century and peaked around 1980 when many states legalized no-fault divorces. And the courts, as they still do today, typically favored the mother when issuing custody rights. Whereas boys once didn’t see their fathers while they were away at work, now they only saw dad on weekends or holidays. And of course, many dads voluntarily fled from the responsibility of their children; the percentage of single parent households (84% of which are headed by single mothers) has doubled since 1970.
Until the mid-nineteenth century, the vast majority of teachers were men. Teaching was not considered a lifelong career but was rather undertaken by young men during the slow periods on the farm or while studying to become a lawyer or minister. Children were thought to be inherently sinful and therefore prone to unruly behavior; they thus needed a strong male presence to keep them in line. As some Christian denominations became more liberal, the emphasis on children’s sinfulness was replaced by a focus on their need to be gently nurtured into morality, a task believed to be better suited to the fairer sex. At the same time, women were marrying and having children at a later age, allowing them more time to teach before settling down. The result was a complete reversal in the gender make-up of the education profession.
In 1870, women made up 2/3 of teachers, 3/4 in 1900, 4/5 in 1910. As a result, boys were spending a significant portion of their day at school but passing the time without the influence and example of an adult male mentor.
The third institution that has historically socialized boys into men is religion. And during the past century, that religion for a majority of Americans was Christianity. But if the home had become a thoroughly feminized place, the church was hardly a refuge of masculinity.
Women are more likely to be religious than men-and this holds true across time, place, and faith. This means they have historically been more likely to attend religious services and be active in a congregation. And Christian ministers, whether consciously or not, naturally catered their style and programs to their core audience. The Jesus men encountered in the pews became a wan, gentle soul who glided through Jerusalem patting children’s heads, talking about flowers, and crying.
A push back against the perceived feminization of Christianity began around the turn of the 20th century. Referred to as “Muscular Christianity,” its proponents linked a strong body with a strong faith and sought to inject the gospel with a vigorous virility.
The most visible and popular leader of this movement was the evangelical preacher, Billy Sunday. Sunday had been a professional baseball player before undergoing a conversion to Christianity and deciding to devote himself to spreading the faith. Sundays’ preaching style was charismatic and physical; peppering his sermons with baseball and sports references, he would run back and forth, dive to the stage like he was sliding into a base, and smash chairs to make his point.
Obviously struck by the difference in Sunday’s preaching versus the typical “effeminate” style of the day, a journalist described Sunday in action:
“He stands up like a man in the pulpit and out of it. He speaks like a man. He works like a man…He is manly with God and with everyone who comes to hear him. No matter how much you disagree with him, he treats you after a manly fashion. He is not an imitation, but a manly man giving all a square deal.”
Sunday presented Jesus as a virile, masculine Savior; he was “the greatest scrapper who ever lived.” Here was a strong Messiah, an artisan with the rough worn hands of a carpenter, a man who angrily chased money changers out of the temple and courageously endured a painful execution. Faith was not for the meek and sedentary. Sunday believed that a Christian man should not be “some sort of dishrag proposition, a wishy-washy, sissified sort of galoot, that lets everybody make a doormat out of him. Let me tell you, the manliest man is the man who will acknowledge Jesus Christ.” “Lord save us from the off-handed, flabby cheeked, brittle boned, weak-kneed, thin-skinned, pliable, plastic, spineless, effeminate, ossified, three karat Christianity,” he prayed.
Operating on the principle that “The manly gospel of Christ should be presented to men by men,” in 1911 Sunday started “The Men and Religion Forward Movement.” Week long revivals just for men were held to great success; male church attendance increased a whopping 800%.
Yet Sunday didn’t solve the problem of getting men into the church-going habit. With the advent of new sources of entertainment, Sunday’s popularity, and that of revivals generally, died out and the gender imbalance in religion remained thoroughly entrenched.
The Current State of Affairs
With fathers missing in action, schools staffed by female teachers, and churches struggling to connect with their male members, many of the current generation might rightly feel they were “raised by women.” Where does that leave them and the future of masculinity?
It’s truly a mixed bag. Many things remain less than ideal, but there is also room for justified optimism.
The gender imbalance for Christian churches has continued to increase. In 1952, the ratio of female to male active church goers was 53/47; now it is 61/39, and the complaint that the culture of Christianity is overly feminized remains. But churches continue to try to attract men into the fold, with attempts that range from the sincere and thoughtful (Men’s Fraternity), to the patently ridiculous (Football Sunday-wear your favorite team’s NFL jersey and do the wave!).
The numbers aren’t too rosy when it comes to education either. In the last 30 years the percentage of male teachers in elementary schools has fallen slightly, from 17% to 14-9% (depending on the source). The number is even lower for pre-k and kindergarten teachers; only 2% are male. While more male teachers can be found in secondary schools, there has been a decline there as well, from 50% in 1980 to around 40% today. With boys falling behind girls in academic performance, some education experts are actively trying to recruit men into the profession.
Despite continuing problems in the familial sphere and its attendant hand-wringing (1 in 3 American kids will grow up in a home where the parents are either divorced, separated, or never married), there are reasons to be optimistic about this vital institution and the man’s role in it as well.
While it is popularly thought that the divorce rate is increasing, it has in fact been falling for the last three decades and is currently at its lowest level in 30 years. Among those couples who are college-educated, the divorce rate is only 11%.
I’m also hopeful about the future because of the marvelous wonders of technology. I think our modern advancements will allow a greater and greater number of men to work, at least part of the time, from their homes. And I think this will usher in a new archetype of manliness: the Heroic Artisan 2.0.
While it’s easy to feel nostalgic for a time period like the 1950s, I’m happy to be a dad in the modern age. I don’t work 10 hours a day at a job I hate, come home, play with my kids for a few minutes and then crack open a beer in front of the tv. My father traveled a lot and never changed a diaper. He was a great dad, but I’m loving having a much more hands-on role with our new arrival. Say what you will about the feminism movement, but I’m happy to have been “liberated” from the Industrial Revolution ideal of being the absentee bread winner. If there’s one generational difference I notice between my parents’ generation and mine, is that my generation values time over money. And not because we’re lazy either, but because we’re not willing to trade time with the people we love most for a gold watch at retirement.
Me and the Gus
According to a recent survey, 76% of adults said their family was the most important element of their life, and 40% say their current family is closer than the family in which they grew up.
These statistics bear out the real reason for my optimism about manhood and the family, which is truthfully simply based on the gut feeling I get from engaging and talking with other men in my life. The guys I know who grew up feeling like they were “raised by women” are earnestly dedicated to doing better by their kids than their dads did by them. They want to be as much a part of their kids’ lives as possible. Although it’s not a very scientific sample, in the situations I know of where a family has broken up, it was the guy who wanted to keep the marriage together and wanted more custody of the children. Even when divorce couldn’t be avoided, these men do all they can to remain part of their children’s lives.
Perhaps the biggest reason for my optimism about the future of manliness is, well, the popularity of this website. I’ve been rather astounded and quite humbled by how quickly it has grown over the last 3 years. Some people say that it’s “sad” that men need to learn how to be men from a website. Such criticism seems to be born of an assumption that boys pop out of the womb with an innate sense of everything there is to know about being a man. Of course that’s not the case—we learn how to be a man from the mentors in our lives. And for many men, those men simply weren’t around growing up. Or even if they were–and in what is yet another reason I am optimistic about the future-they still desire to improve themselves, to learn as much as they can and utilize their potential to the utmost. Yes, ideally you should learn manliness from your father and other mentors, and the art of manliness should be passed down from generation to generation. But where there’s a link missing in that chain, we’re happy to stand in the gap–imparting information that you can pass down to your kids, a generation that will hopefully be raised by women and men.
There’s a lot to chew on here, and I’m really looking forward to a great discussion of the topic and hearing what you have to say. Share your thoughts in the comments!
Manhood in America by Michael Kimmel