Facetime Vs. Facebook

Social media sites, chat, online social sites in general have taken the world by storm and have been a wonderful addition to our life and life style.  I for one, having lived abroad for most of my life and distant from loved ones appreciate the possibility to stay in touch and share news, pictures, video, and to have a less expensive alternative to communicate more freely and regularly with my loved ones at home.  But with every great new invention, there are some definite set backs through overuse by spending too much time or having a false balance in your lifestyle, it can cause irreparable damage, so beware!

While it a great tool that we can use to keep in touch with our distant loved ones, make new friends, share ideas, pics and videos, it could be the very thing that is robbing of us of one of the most important things that we have and that is of most valuable to those around us…our time.

I have personally witnessed and heard many a story of how social media has been the cause of break-ups of couples and families due to it coming between the people involved.  Persons who have lost total contact with the real world due to their over-presence in the virtual world.  Some who have thought to have found their soul mate online (some do but not always the case) leaving behind their husband, wife or kids for another whom they think they know. The same goes for computer games that can be perfectly fine and fun, when not taken to the extreme such as in the case that a father or a mother, a wife or a husband are so into the addiction of playing to the neglect of those who need them now.

Then there is the debate as to how a company can not hire you or fire you due to content that you have put out into cyber space.  This may be unfair in some instances where you may post one or two pictures with a can of beer in your hand and all hell breaks loose at you workplace, but when 95% of your pictures share your party time and boozing it up, well it might be a concern to me as well.

Life is way too short to allow it to be fettered away on long distance relationships, and this is true mainly for those who may be depending on you here and now.  The training of a child while it is still in its tender years are the VERY most important as that time is when his/her personality is being developed and his/her sense of security is all important.  If you miss that, unfortunately there is no turning back the clock. Already adolescence is tough, but just wait until that neglected tot grows up! Your mate may not wait around so long for you if most of your time (love) is spent with others.

Any addiction is a prison! I once heard a story of the prison inmate who passed away after having spent the better part of his life behind bars that when they went into his cell to collect the few items left behind, there on the wall written hundreds of times were some of the saddest words in the English language, “If I only had, If I only had, If I only had”.

Use your time wisely, use these wonderful new and great tools of technology, just don’t allow them to use you lest you too may be heard saying… “If I only had.”

The ME Syndrome

Definition of a bore: One who wants to talk about themselves when I want to talk about myself” –Author Unknown

In response to Jackie Paulson (please see her blog by following the link on the comments menu) I will write about the people who want to always talk about themselves, or be the ones to dominate every conversation.

It is human nature to want to be heard, we need attention but some folks can take this to the limits of making it difficult on others to want to be around them.  Sometimes we can forget that a conversation needs to take place between two or more persons, by excluding others it will then become a lecture.

It is a matter of maturity, as first we a children and we need to be taken care of, we love our parents (especially mom) and are just pretty much happy to be on-board, for the most part.  Then comes adolescence when really we are pretty convinced that the universe revolves around us, or at least it should be, and if anyone has any doubt about that, well then we feel the need to set them straight.  It is the time of life that is usually the most self-centered of our lives.  Everything begins to take a different share or form from our perspective, and adults are pretty dumb, but some silly rule tells us that for whatever reasons we should pay attention to what nonsense they might wish to throw our way.

Once we become an adult, well if we learned something along the way, we should realize that there are a lot of other people that we have to share the planet with that just might have some positive input that could benefit us!  It takes real self-discipline to keep our own selves, and particularly our tongues in check.   It takes a certain bit of maturity and wisdom to keep our mouths shut.  In the book of Ecclesiastes of the Bible it says: “a fool’s voice is known by multitude of words.”  And Abraham Lincoln once wisely said: It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.

There are a couple of reasons why some people talk a lot about themselves: there are those who are truly full of themselves and proud and over bearing, and there are others who have a low self-esteem and so they tend to over compensate in an attempt to be accepted.  So the only advice that I might give on how to have them “stop” as Jackie has asked would be: 1) if the person is someone who you are close to, try being honest with them and explaining how their conversation has made it difficult to be around them, or 2) if you are not particularly close to them, avoid being around them when it is possible.  Should they then sense that you are being distant you can offer an explanation.  Either way, should you decide to talk with the person about how you feel, do so in a moment when you are not emotionally and visibly bothered about it so that you can offer it packaged as friendly advice, not as a harsh criticism, it makes the pill go down much easier.  In Proverbs it says, “faithful are the wounds of a friend”.  And remember, they are most likely talking because they need to be heard, and they too, need a friend…be a true friend.

The Art Of Listening

“The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.”
— Ralph Nichols

Communication is important!  In order to make friends, build a relationship, work, lead, follow, have peace of mind etc.. we need to communicate.  I would say that approximately 90% of the problems that do exist with personal relationships is due to misunderstandings that are borne due to a lack of proper communication.  There could be a number of reasons for this and some of these are: fear of what others might think of you if you say what you think, a difficulty in expressing yourself, or being overly abrasive that you make it hard for anyone else to share their opinion.

In this post I wanted to cover more the importance of being a good listener.  I am sure that when you are full of your subject or you feel strongly about a topic that your emotions are running high to the point that whilst the other person you are “communicating” with is attempting to share their view on a matter you are already formulating your rebuttal to what they are trying to say.  This might be OK if you are participating in a debate, but if you are trying to resolve something, it can tend to lead to nowhere.  By doing so, you are totally unable to know what the other person is saying thus blocking out any chance of finding common ground (if there be any). You are also communicating through doing so that you simply are not interested in what the other person has to say, which leads to total communication breakdown and relationship problems.

I am from Houston but live a good part of my life in Italy and Italians are very expressive and emotional people.  I love Italy, the people are fun, the food is fantastic, the country is filled with history and beauty, but if there is one thing that I find very difficult to get used to, it is that to be heard you have to talk louder than the other guy! I loath talking over someone, and find it rude and irritating when others do it to me. So I know what it is like to feel as though others are not interested in what I might have to say.  It can be very discouraging as we all think that our idea is the very best!  Ha!

The art of listening is a very important one in order to make any relationship work, whether it be marriage, friendship, or work related, you simply cannot pretend that your partners have to hear only what you have to say.  Then, once they are granted a platform to speak, make sure that you genuinely listen, otherwise you just might miss out on some very important information!  No one person is the all-in-all!  Whether you like it or not, you need others and well yes, others do need you!  So be there for them and give a listening ear!

Why Work Hard?

“Hard work spotlights the character of people:  some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.”  ~Sam Ewing

Today more than ever is it important to be dedicated at the work place.  We are on hard times and jobs are coming difficult to come by so companies are studying ways to do more with less.  Sad to say, but that is the reality of things when times are tough… jobs get cut.  And who do you suppose might get the cut?

I am a firm believer in the philosophy of the  dear late Jim Rohn who has said over and over after being passed on down by his father who said: “always do more than what you are paid to do”!  This is an amazing concept that is hard for many to get their heads around but if you follow it, great things can happen!

Most people’s attitude is, man, not as soon as the clock strikes 5 I am gonna get out of this place”.  And they carry that thought from about 9:15am.  What you might not realize is, everyone else around you can feel the vibes, the customers, your co-workers, and your boss.  “Why should I care about that” you might be thinking.  I’ll tell you why, 1) attitude is contagious, and unfortunately negative attitudes are more contagious than the flu.  Therefore your attitude will transmit to your co-worker’s as he will then say to himself, well if John feels this way then I shouldn’t bust my back either. 2) The customers begin to feel it, 3) when the customers feel your negative attitude or “who cares” vibes they begin to feel neglected and think that maybe they should go elsewhere. 4) when the consumer begins to go elsewhere your company suffers, your job load is reduced, and guess who is considered for a cut.  Yep, I think you may be getting the picture, and when you start looking around for another place to work…. it ain’t easy!

I worked in Taiwan for a company that produces computer components as an Account Manager.  I was used to clocking in at a certain hours and clocking out at 5pm, to me this was normal.  I began to feel a bit funny when 5 o’clock rolled around and I was the only person who was getting out of my little cubicle to start heading for the door when everyone else just stayed put! So I asked my colleague who I worked with why it was that no one else was going since it was “time to go”.  He explained to me that in their culture (Chinese) that you are considered lazy if you leave before the boss left his office!” (The guy never seemed to leave his office!) I do believe that a balance is necessary between the east and west, but boy was I given a wake up call as this was definitely not how I had been taught from where I came from! I touched on the difference between east and west in another blog post that you can read here.

I am not saying that this should be the case, but what I would like to share here is that, anything worth doing is worth doing with all of your heart.  Since the better part of your day is spent at work rather than with your family, it would be in your highest interest to put your whole heart body and soul into it, especially since most likely your job will also benefit your family. You have to find a joy in the things you do!  If this simply is not possible because you hate your job, consider looking for another job where you can, if your able to even find one.  Than again, it really doesn’t matter what job you do, anything can get boring after you do it for a long while so be careful not to be led by the nose by your fickle emotions!

Then, once you have finished your work, done what you can to raise the spirit in your work environment through your positive input, put your whole heart into your relaxation, time with your loved one or ones!  What ever you do, do it with all of your heart! That is also the secret to your own happiness and well-being!

Where Is The Glue?

Isn’t it great to have a voice and a say!?  It is sad for those who perhaps do not have one, or live in a politically oppressed society where they are not allowed to share their thoughts or ideas on a topic!  I feel privileged to have lived for the most part as a free citizen that can speak my mind, believe as I wish and live as a want.  It is a great relief to have this freedom, but as I mentioned in a previous post, it comes with great responsibility.

I like being an American with the possibilities that you have to start your own business, follow your own religious convictions, and dream your dreams with the hope to also fulfill them!  In much of the West we are blessed in that sense.

I am concerned however that thanks to this blessing many individuals are seeking the areas politically, religiously, socially, morally where the DON’T agree (which really takes no effort) instead of seeking out where we do agree!  I am not politically inclined either way, I only personally have a conviction that where there is unity, there is strength.  There are far too many people who tend to get too dogmatic about their position in a political party, a denomination in a gender or racial orientation that they lose sight of how important it is to remain united.  It really is only by remaining united that we as a people, nation, world will ever be able to solve the multitude of problems that exist in our troubled globe!

So the question that begs to be asked is…where is the glue? What sticks us together, what do we agree on, what has made us strong all throughout history?  You have to have some common denominator, something that you can claim as a united goal, then we all need to focus on that.  You cannot just claim that you cannot get along with someone because they are: Republican, Democrat, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jew, Buddhist, black, white, red yellow, these excuses have no bearings, hold no truths and will continue to get you absolutely nowhere!  By hanging on to differences it will make you: sick, poor, unhappy, depressed, lonely, insecure, stressed out, and as a nation or a people your destined to fall.

By getting way too focused on what we do not agree on, we are totally distracted to the point that we will no longer be able to obtain what we all are searching for, peace, prosperity, love, cleanliness, happiness, good health and well being!



Life is a School!

“The difference between school and life? In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.” –Tom Bodett

Isn’t life just the most amazing thing! It isn’t easy to go through many of the things that are thrown at us during the course of our lives, but I believe it is all for a reason! Some of the most valuable lessons that we will learn in this school of life come from experiences that, had we the choice, we would have avoided all together.  Whilst in the middle of a problematic situation it is hard to see the reason for it all.  But how many times have you survived some ordeal, some situation or uncomfortable happening, and with time you look back at it and say…”thank God that I went through all that as it has helped me to make the changes that I needed in my life!”?

Mistakes are hard to live with!  However, it is really through the many mistakes that me make throughout life that help us to remember the lesson all the more clearly!  When you were a kid and you rode a bike for the first time, how many times did you fall before you caught on.  Those scuffed knees gave you a great incentive (and reminder)  to keep on trying until you succeeded. We all make mistakes along the way, whether we would like to admit it or not, and those who might think they are exempt are making a failing grade in the school of life.  They are the most difficult people to live around!

I am a stumble bum and have made my share of mistakes, and I am happy to say that I have benefited by them.  Difficult situations are there to help us along the way, it is left up to us to use them as stepping-stones rather than stumbling blocks!  So if you have pulled off some real boo boos in recent times, just give it some  time and you will be able one day to look back and be thankful for how it has helped you become an even better person.

I once heard a saying that goes something like this..“A wise man learns from his own mistakes, yet and even wiser man learns from the mistakes of others”  I am afraid that the world is simply much more populated with wise men!  Were this different, there would be far less problems on the planet!

Freedom–where are the boundaries?

Freedom is a big word, it is important, it something that we all seek in our lifetime it is paramount!  We all seek to live our dream, to have the ability to make decisions in our lives to arrive to the point that we are independent individuals, free thinking and autonomous.

What a great gift we have as people to have this ability, this blessing of freedom, and yet it also comes with great responsibility!  While growing up, we depend on our parents a great deal as there is so much we have to learn in order to be trusted with the responsibility of freedom.  Freedom is something that we have to earn through a demonstration of our own maturity. Most of us learn the importance of working on earning the blessing of freedom through the education that is given to use by our guardians and parents through life.  If parents are doing their job, they will teach this to their children while they are young, otherwise as they grow older, they will miss out on this important concept, that freedom is something that is earned, not something just to be handed to them on a silver platter.

God has made it so that when  a child grows into adolescence, it will begin seeking his or her independence.  It is all a part of life, but often misunderstood by parents who find it hard to make the switch to accepting that this is when they have to learn things through their own experience.  The period of “rebellion” that a child goes through are only a natural time for them to begin fending for themselves in a sense.  Eventually, the “wisdom” that we attempt to teach are children will finally begin to take on a totally new form once they have passed through the difficult years of adolescence.  Just like one of my favorite quotes from Mark Twain when he said  “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”  Ha!

But when does freedom lose it’s real meaning and where is the border between freedom and abuse?  We throw that word around so easily when we would like to get something that we want.  Governments use it when they say “we are fighting to preserve our freedom” ,  Young people use it when they want to dress like they want or act like they act or do what they do.  And people in general misuse freedom to  carry on like they want online in public and wherever they fancy.

However freedom ends once it invades the privacy, individuality and the freedom of others.  If you use or rather misuse your freedom infringing on the  freedom of another, then it is no longer freedom, it then becomes abuse.  If our freedom robs the freedom of another, it is no longer freedom but rather it becomes abuse.

I believe it important to be careful with our freedoms, using them responsibility so as to preserve the freedom of those around us.  It is great to have the freedom to think and have our on opinion on matters, but it does not always mean that others who think differently than us are wrong…unless of course they want to make us think differently at the point of a gun!

Fear of Failure-The Greatest Inhibitor

There is so much in life that we miss out on simply for the fact that we are hindered by our fears.  To start something new and venture into unknown territories can be a very scary thing indeed.  But on the other hand, if you never try your hand at something you will go on for the rest of your life potentially missing out on something that could have improved your life forever!

Fear can be caused by a number of factors, and one of those factors  when it comes to breaking out and trying something different, is the fear of what others might think about us!  Take learning a language for example.  I have lived in a number of countries where it has become necessary in order to communicate with the locals to learn the local language instead of depending on my mother language English.  I have tried my hand at teaching English (not my fortè) and one thing I have been convinced of is the fact that many people are not able to learn a language due to their fear of making a mistake and having people make fun of them or laugh at them.  (I have entertained many a person with some of the silly things that I said in other languages) I have found through personal experience that the very fact that others might laugh at me helped me to learn even faster.  It is no fun having others laugh at you for a silly mistake in accent or pronunciation, but you can take it one of two ways.  1) stop trying out of pride for fear of getting laughed at or 2) let it be a reminder for how NOT to say it.

Mistakes happen, but instead of having a fear of making a mistake stop you from possibly embarking on something that might become your greatest achievement in life, try going for it mistakes and all, as mistakes can often become a fall upwards!  Thomas Edison, one of the greatest inventors ever once said: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Thomas Edison never gave up, was ridiculed for some of the crazy ideas that he had, and went on to achieve great success after many more failures.

So, don’t let fear stop you from being or becoming all that you can be!  Others might laugh at you today, but they will then be admiring you tomorrow!

Staying Positive in a Negative World

It takes a great effort to stay positive when all around you, for miles in the distance, just about all you can see are endless gutters! Unfortunately the  media has discovered that bad news sells, and so in order to make a buck the media spends a large amount of time finding all the bad news that they can publish!  We are greatly affected by what we see, hear, read and come in contact with and this can, by and large, dictate our general state of mind.

We can overcome this, and you may be surprised to know that getting a prescription for anti-depressant drugs is not the actual solution.  (I know that this is what you have seen on TV is sure to be the solution!)

The brain

The mind, just like your body, is affected either positively or negatively in accordance to what it is fed.  If what you spend your time doing is reading or watching negative news taking in story after story and scene after scene of economical gloom and doom, kidnappings, murders, rapes, robberies, and how your favorite actor or actress has never been able to establish a meaningful relationship, you may be setting yourself up for disaster.  If you constantly eat foods that lack in nutritional value and are high in fats or sugars, you will find out within the short of term that your body will grow weaker and weaker and will not be able to fight off bacteria and diseases as it was created to do.  The same is true with your mind, what you take in will sooner or later have a direct effect on your outlook on life and your state of mind.  This in turn will have a negative affect on your relationship with others, and making it difficult to find friends, concentrate at work, thus rendering less effective your value as a person to those who count on you.

Sad to say, there are people who are not ‘happy’ unless they are miserable, and oh…how misery loves company!  Some folks thrive on bad news and negativity, and they usually gravitate towards others of like mind.  I can remember as a young teen how it came so natural to hang around with my friends and chew over our discontentment with how terrible things were.  It is a normal part of growing up, and at that age as you enter adolescence you are just beginning to notice things as they really are from a completely different perspective.  But then it is up to each individual to decide to remain on the negative side, or lean more to the positive.  Unfortunately it has become quite a struggle to stay positive, while all around you there are the sirens of gloom and doom.

Here are some tips to stay mentally positive and healthy:

1) While reading the news, skim the headlines good and bad, make a concerted effort to NOT read the articles that go into great detail of how a murder was conducted, or any such bad news.  It is important to stay informed, you can look for the mud puddles, you don’t have to waddle in them.

2) Seek out the more positive news, look for things that others have been doing to better the world around them, and seek out how you might be able to do more for your immediate world.

3) My sister shared a tip with me to eat more healthy (she is an MD and works with patients on how to get them OFF drugs and into a more healthy lifestyle) while in the supermarket, avoid the inner isles as that is where all of the junk food is.  The more natural food is always on the outer walls, fresh produce, foods, vegetables and natural foods.  All of the junk food, processed and elaborated foods are on the shelves in the inner isles.  Same goes with your mind, guard it from the negative input.

4) Learn where the OFF button is on your remote control, when you cannot find anything worth watching, turn the boob tube off and if you really need to be entertained, find an inspiring film, get a good book to read, or just take some extra time with your spouse, best friend, children or others that may be equally in need of some company or even a listening ear.

Your mind is where it all begins, it is the greatest God-given gift, it is like your garden.  You wouldn’t think of planting weeds rather than beautiful flowers in your garden would you?  Likewise use this as an example of what you should avoid doing to your mind. And, yes some weeds look pretty, but you have to see what the end result is in harvesting such pretty weeds.  They could destroy your entire garden!  Beware!

So guard you mind!  Keep it under subjection and in discipline.  Of course it seems easier to go down hill than up, but descending from the mountain is even more dangerous than to climb up the mountain! There is even greater risk to fall.

What is Faith?

I am now reading and re-reading an amazing and very well-known book by Napoleon Hill called “Think and Grow Rich” (which I highly recommend) in which he shares the success stories of many a great and successful person who have acquired wealth by initially have a great desire to accomplish what they wanted in life.  I am a firm believer in the power of faith, desire or will power or whatever you might wish to call it.  It is also the power of positive thinking, reminding yourself that you are going to make it, that you can make it will certainly help you to eventually “make it”.  In essence, this is a natural law of nature itself, implanted here by God Himself.  It is my personal belief that we weren’t just randomly thrown here on planet earth to simply exist but rather to learn all that we can and apply certain natural laws laid out there ever since the beginning of time. By following these laws of nature we open the door to great success as if possessing a key.  Throughout his book, Napoleon repeats the word desire  sharing the power that it has.  The numerous examples that he wrote about of having a desire to achieve or obtain something, the person in question was able to receive it.  Desire is what moves us emotionally to do something about obtaining, to be able to obtain we have to believe that somehow we are going to be able to receive.  It is having faith, or believing beyond a shadow of a doubt.

The Bible gives us a comprehensive definition of what faith is in Hebrews 1 the first verse: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  Isn’t that amazing, it depicts faith as something that is there, a substance, a tangible goal or a reality and then it goes on to explain that this substance that is evidence of our desired possession that is not yet seen.  It takes an awful lot of courage to reach out and grab something that is not visibly there to grab a hold of.  However, many people tend to stumble on this point by casting doubt on things that they cannot see, saying “I don’t believe in anything that I cannot see”.  This is a bit silly though as there are an awful lot of things that are not visible but they do exist!  Who has seen electricity? Yet it is a power that obviously works and we use it all of the time every day of our lives.  Who can see the wind? Likewise just as electricity, it cannot be seen, however it’s effect we can see in it’s mighty power.

One aspect that I would like to point out though about faith and I will share here another scripture from the Bible that tends to get ignored and that is just as important to this whole achievement and desire and obtaining methodology.  It is in the book James chapter 2 verse 26: “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.In yet another letter in the book of James chapter 2 verse 18  it says “ yea a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works; shoe thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works” There are a lot of Christians and people of other faiths that tend to believe that faith on it’s own is sufficient and that if they just believe that they will receive something that it will just happen.  Well, while it is great and all important to have “faith” it is equally as important to have works as well by putting your faith into action.  A desire, as Napoleon repeats is a wonderful emotion that can motivate us to get up and do something about this desire.  We want something so bad that we will make the necessary sacrifices in order to obtain it.  By taking action towards achieving something, we demonstrating that we indeed believe that we are capable of obtaining it.

Even Jesus Himself in each miracle that he performed asked his disciples to take action, and then He took over to help do what thy were unable to do. When He raised Lazarus from the dead he ordered his disciples “take ye away the stone” from his grave.  Of course they thought this to be a silly thing to do since he had been dead for a while at that point and were concerned for the stench that such a labor would have rewarded them with, and yet through their faith by their works they went ahead to remove the stone. Now if He is omnipotent and capable of raising him from the dead, why did he ask his disciples to move the stone, he could have easily just told it to move Himself?  In John chapter 9 He healed the blind man, and this took great faith on this man’s behalf, he bends over gets dirt off the ground and spits on it, then after this rather distasteful ceremony he asks the man to go wash his eyes of in the pool of Siloam, one of the dirtiest pools around! Again it took action on behalf of this man, and an incredible belief to even listen to Jesus and do what he asked of him.

All throughout the scriptures in the Bible there are conditions that were in place, and if you would like to make an interesting study on this, check out the many references that exist with the words if and then. Here are a couple: Exodus 19:5 If you will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people. for all the earthe is Mine”.   Deuteronomy 19:9 “If thou shalt keep all these commandments to do them, which I command thee this day, to love the Lord they God, and to walk ever in His ways; then shalt thous add three cities, more for thee, besides these three.”

It is my personal conviction that, in order to get reap, you have to sow, in order the earn you have to give, in order to gain you have spend.  You have to take action, that in itself is an action of faith.  How many great business men have taken great risk in investing their money in what ever they have invested in, they had to believe that there was going to be a return.  The farmer, sows the seed, then he has to wait a season to then reap the benefits of his labor. So then, to only sit around praying waiting for the great harvest without sowing first the seed, without making the effort, without “rolling the stone away”, may not be the best course of action!

So, faith is a very important, as without faith we would probably not bother getting out of bed in the morning, it should move you to get moving… to take action, the then you know that through your action you will reap the results of your labor! It is one of the natural laws of science, somewhat as the theory of relativity which Einstein explains.  It is natural, it God created, it is totally functional it is reality, it is the truth, abide by it and you will see that it works!