Reflection Cube

Three-dimensional thoughts

Category: Life Lessons (Page 1 of 3)

Niceness or politeness vs. kindness - you can't be both nice and kind - which one are you? Picture of cozily-dressed nice or kind woman smiling

Nice vs. Kind

It’s Okay to Not Be Nice

It’s taken me most of my life so far to learn this, but:

Being “nice” – or niceness – is not necessarily a virtue.

Making someone uncomfortable is not necessarily synonymous with being unkind (depends on how and why you’re making them uncomfortable).

Just because someone dislikes us, our boundaries, or what we stand for does not mean we should change who we are to be “nice” or to make them comfortable. We should not sacrifice or compromise our souls or our sanity for political correctness or popularity.

It’s okay to disagree with someone.

It’s okay to try to keep your distance – as much as possible – from someone who’s acting inappropriate around you – even if they’re pretending to be gentle/safe and acting like you’re hurting their feelings for staying away. Predators prey upon the goodwill and compassion of others all the time.

This is not to say that everyone in your life who makes you feel guilty for avoiding them is a predator. But if you’re getting a weird vibe from someone, you should not feel obligated to stick around simply to seem “nice”.


Jesus Wasn’t “Nice”…But He Was Kind

Jesus was kind, but he wasn’t polite for the sake of politeness.

He wasn’t nice. He confronted the Pharisees, overturned the money tables in the temple, and rebuked Peter after Peter rebuked him for prophesying his death.

Jesus ate with (*gasp*) the tax collectors and sinners! He ignored the PC rules of the time.

Jesus was kind and compassionate, but he wasn’t concerned with being or appearing “nice”, polite, or politically correct in order to maintain popularity or ensure the comfort of others.

In fact, Jesus made a lot of people uncomfortable. His words of truth pierced many like the blow of a sword.

He taught his disciples to be innocent as doves…but also shrewd as serpents. He told us to turn the other cheek, but also instructed his disciples to flee if persecuted.


Nice vs. Kind

 

“Nice” is politically correct.

“Kind” is more concerned with saying what’s actually correct.

 

“Nice” doesn’t have any enemies or any real friends.

“Kind” has many enemies but also a few true friends.

 

“Nice” protects your ego.

“Kind” protects your soul.

 

“Nice” is concerned with appearance.

“Kind” is concerned with the inner man and the hidden things.

 

“Nice” will stop being nice when it becomes politically or socially inconvenient.

“Kind” will never stop being kind. It is concerned with truth, not with trends. It is concerned with love, not likability.


Much of the time, to be “nice” is to be unkind.

Nice people are flimsy. They don’t sharpen themselves, and they don’t sharpen others. Kind people sharpen both themselves and others, because they are in tune with reality rather than fantasy, a selfish desire for popularity, or wishful thinking. They seek only truth and speak only truth.

It’s okay to express your beliefs, even if others might label you “judgmental”, “intolerant”, “closed-minded”, or “irrational”. It’s okay (and important) to pursue truth, even if that makes others uncomfortable.

It’s okay to ignore the fashion trends and dress comfortably – in a style that works for you. It’s okay to defy the pressure of your peers and dress more modestly or cozily than they dress – or suggest or “demand” that you dress.

It’s okay to close your eyes during a sermon, without worrying that the pastor or others might think you’re asleep. If closing your eyes helps you to listen better, do it. Don’t worry about looking “unrighteous” or offending the pastor or someone else. You’re there to meet God, not to feed the pastor’s ego or perform for the congregation.

It’s okay to follow a diet that suits your health requirements, even if others shame you for not trying their food.

It’s okay to cook the same meal for everyone in your family (provided it’s a meal that works for your most allergic/sensitive peeps. Most of the time, I have to prepare something different from what my family eats, and I don’t think most people would want to subsist only on the foods in my limited diet for very long). But you shouldn’t feel obligated to cook multiple meals for others simply to cater to their tastes because they don’t prefer your healthier food, and want to eat shortbread, biscuits, pork, and trans-fat-laden alfredo noodles made with artificial ingredients instead of your lovingly prepared meal of salmon, soup, and salad.

If they want something else (especially something less healthy), they can make it themselves.

It’s okay to not be nice.

It’s okay not to cater to every last whim and wish of others. You’re only one person, and not everything that other people want is actually good for them, even if they do an excellent job of convincing you that you’re a terrible person for “depriving” them.

And trying to please everyone is not good for you, either.

Nice people don’t change the world – at least for the better. Kind people do.


Please see disclaimer.


© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

a great mistake - doing nothing when you can only do a little - edmund burke quote - quotes

A Great Mistake

Edmund Burke quote

Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little. – Edmund Burke

woman crying - embarrassing moments that don't need to be

Embarrassing Moments That Don’t Need to Be

Acknowledging that someone else taught us something or knew something we didn’t.

It takes wisdom to acknowledge and accept that learning is a lifelong process. So having the courage to admit that you just learned something is nothing to be embarrassed about.


Crying.

Crying is a perfectly natural biological process, and emotional tears are actually therapeutic, as they release stress hormones. The next time someone (including yourself) shames you for crying, educate them. 😉


Having food on our faces.

In such situations, the embarrassment belongs less to the person with a messy face, and more to those who refrained from (discretely, if possible) bringing it to their attention.


Having someone show up unexpectedly while the house is messy.

Guess what? You’re human. You have kids, or you’re overloaded with work, or you’re battling health issues. Or maybe all of the above.

And the person who’s visiting you likely has a messy house too (it just never looks that way when you visit, because of course they feel the same obligation to clean up, especially since they always see a clean house when they visit you! One of you has to break this vicious cycle [or vicious circle – both are acceptable, and it took me the longest time to learn that]).


Having your payment declined or your debit card come up short at the checkout.

Having had the experience of working as a cashier, I’ve been on both sides of these delicate situations. In both cases, I’ve generally tried to appear as chill as possible, even as I’ve been painfully aware of the embarrassment and discomfort on the part of the customer, or the pitying/judgment on the part of the cashier and people behind me.

This…has happened to me personally several times. What hurts more than anything in these moments is that I generally take great care to know what (approximately or exactly) is in my account, and when in doubt, I try to avoid going over the amount which I’m certain I have. So surprises like this are annoying, because I feel like I know better and generally manage things better than that.

It happens to many of us at some point, and perhaps moreso when we find ourselves in financially challenging seasons.

Situations like these don’t inherently have the power to define your character or worth. They may speak about your wealth – or potentially lack thereof – which by itself has the power to define neither your character nor your worth. These situations may speak about your present health struggles, a byproduct of which is brain fog. Or such circumstances may suggest that your mind is preoccupied with other thoughts, or that you’re fighting to survive a stressful season.

Ask yourself: “What’s the worst that happened (or could happen) because my payment was declined, and I had to cancel a few items on the transaction, or pay the rest in cash?”

Usually, the most painful part for me (the worst that’s happened) has been sensing that the people in line behind me – along with the cashier – are pitying and/or judging me and/or annoyed – if they’re paying attention at all.

I don’t even feel that sorry for myself. Just sorry that others might be feeling sorry for me (or irritated with me for taking a few seconds longer in the transaction).

So essentially, my appearance to others – my ego – is at stake.

My wounded ego is nothing to be upset about, and my declined payment is nothing for which I should be embarrassed. I have food to eat. I have clothes to wear. I am blessed to live in a (mostly) free nation, and to have a roof over my head.

And ultimately, the appearance of my economic status means nothing. I’m alive, and I am rich in things that matter. And if I die of starvation or true financial poverty, I’ll only become richer.


Most of us have probably experienced embarrassment from one or more of these situations. Can you relate?

What other “embarrassing” situations needn’t be causes for embarrassment or shame?


Please see disclaimer.


© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

picture of memo

Memo

I wish my back would learn
That it's okay not to hurt.
It feels as though a little child
Stuffed my muscles tight with dirt.

I wish my legs would understand
It's a fine thing not to wobble.
My productivity and time
Vanish quickly as I hobble.

It's difficult to be a mind
Whose subjects miss the memo.
It's a journey, learning to resign
And live inside my soul.

Yet in these prison bars that bind - 
In my soul - at last I find
I've never felt more whole.

© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

picture of girl behind prison bars and wall of glass

Prison Bars and Walls of Glass

For most of my life, I’ve felt alone.

Separated.

Isolated.

I could see everything going on around me. Life. People. Progress. Accomplishment.

But I was stuck behind bars.

Bars of anxiety, fear, and apprehension.

Bars of depression.

The bars of rejection and failure.

And the bars of chronic illness, and the cognitive and physical struggles stemming from that.

Throughout my life, I’ve felt much like a lioness, walking back and forth in my cage. A creature with restless energy, but no idea where to put it or how to apply it within such limited scope.


Peering Into the Past

I am too malnourished to break through these bars, and the glass wall beyond them.

I silently watch as life – my friends, opportunities, my dreams – go by, wondering if I’ll ever be freed from this cage, yet slowly coming to accept my fate – that I may die here, forgotten, with no contribution or legacy or meaning to leave behind me.

I gradually lose my creativity, coming to instead see these walls as my limitations and boundaries.

Until, at some point or other, I stop looking at the walls.

When I stop focusing on my limitations, I find that there is more within the space that confines me than my eyes could previously see.

I’ve spent so long looking out. Out at a life, a world, relationships, ideas, events, materials, opportunities that I would never touch. Things that would never be available to me – at my disposal to work with or use in my creative process.

I’ve spent so long looking outside the boundaries of this prison and wishing to have or be something I could not – coveting what would always for me be a fantasy – that I’ve lost time I could have spent trying to be resourceful with the air available to me, the nitrogen, the oxygen, the sunlight within my domain.

When I at last stop looking at my boundaries, and instead look within them, I begin to see past them. I see a new dimension that was not evident to me before.

Not a dimension of height, or depth, or breadth. Another dimension, another energy. Something I’m still trying to describe and explain and understand. Perhaps it’s a form of music.

I begin to sing.

I start with a quiet song. One that is only audible to me, and the walls and waves of energy that blanket me.

But as I practice, my voice becomes stronger.

And eventually, it begins to carry.

It carries through the glass.

The vibrations of my voice begin to mildly, subtly disrupt the field of energy around me.

I soon sense the presence of another soul.

At last!

I am not alone.

But…why? Why would anyone in the free world come to visit a captive? A nobody, locked away in prison? How would they find my small offering even mildly relatable or interesting?

At last though, it starts to make sense. I begin to realize that they, too, are in a prison. But just as mine had formerly been invisible to them, so was theirs to me.

Perhaps their prison is one of societal pressures.

Financial instability.

Relationship pain or heartbreak.

A persona they wear, which conceals their true essence from everyone.

A career that they hate.

A different form of chronic illness.

Mental illness.

As they visit me in my prison cell, I begin to feel free, and no longer isolated.

I watch as they, too, begin to sing from the confines of their prison.

I watch as their formerly invisible chains begin to unravel.


© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

picture of peacock, something to prove

Something to Prove

Motivations Behind Our Decisions and Life Choices

I used to want to be a doctor.

And a soldier.

And a scientist.

To some degree or other, I wanted to pursue all of these paths because they would make me seem smart (intellectually strong) and/or physically strong and brave. And growing up, I often felt that I was perceived by others as weak and dumb.

I wanted to be cool and tough and courageous and respected.

On top of that, I wanted to become a scientist not only because I was in love with science, but also because I was deeply interested in an avid and gifted scientist at the time. Indeed, even my doctor goals were related to this (though perhaps not entirely motivated by this attraction). I wanted to be his equal. I wanted to have meaningful conversations with him. And the only way to do that, I thought, would be to become a scientific person too.

Other people, situations, and extrinsically-sourced desires were dictating my choices in what to study and pursue.

I even learned the violin (and played flute and cello for a while) because I had a crush on a musician.

So some good things came out of many of my goals, even if they were motivated by external sources:

I took a lot of science in high school (although you might not know it now, as I’ve lost a lot of the info I picked up then, since I’ve had little opportunity to consciously apply my knowledge).

I learned musical instruments. The motivation, however misguided (potentially), actually did land me on a path that meshed well with my interests and abilities.

If I’d enlisted in a branch of the military, I’d likely have encountered the crest of my health issues much sooner, at a time when I perhaps wouldn’t have understood how to deal with them or effectively search for the answers.

If I’d earned a PhD in chemistry or become a physician, I might be in significant debt right now, and would be stuck with a path that requires stamina I don’t even have.

In terms of the knowledge learned, I would likely have deeply enjoyed chemistry (especially biochemistry), molecular biology, or medicine. But the practice and lifestyle thereafter, perhaps not so much. I would have run out of energy way too soon in my career, and as a doctor, I would have wanted to steer my medical practice in the direction of more long-lasting, preventative, and holistic approaches (which may have been feasible, but likely wouldn’t come without some measure of a fight to which I was unmatched with my own low energy).


Where to Look for Honest Insights Into What You Were “Born to Do”

Your Childhood

When I was probably about six or so (IIRC from family videos), I said that someday, I was going to play violin and guitar.

I forgot all about those words in the years that followed.

And yet, lo and behold, I learned both. In my childhood, it appears I knew myself better than I’ve known myself in most or all of my life since.

Only in recent years did I watch that video in amazement.

Also in my childhood, I used to write books. They weren’t very long or sophisticated, but I created a ton of them. All sorts of non-bestselling fictional works, complete with colorful construction paper covers. 😉 I would also voraciously devour mystery books.

What were you like as a child?

Were you compassionate and tenderhearted?

Inquisitive?

Did you dissect dead bugs?

Did you gravitate toward math or logic games?

Often, our childhood personalities and interests can be keys to discovering our culturally/self-suppressed abilities or passions.

And yet at the same time, sometimes we can struggle with a topic as a child, only to discover in subsequent years that we love and excel at that very thing.

When I was about eight, I didn’t want to play the piano at all, and declared through my tears that I’d never learn.

Today, I enjoy playing the piano, and even teach a bit (which is not exactly my favorite thing to do, unless the student is motivated to learn and not simply being required to do so).

As a child, I struggled with math. Up through the sixth grade, I largely hated it.

However, in seventh grade, I switched to a different curriculum, and a switch flipped on in my head.

I loved math.

I almost couldn’t get enough of it.

So many problems to solve. So many puzzles.

In conclusion, then, we should each look to our childhood for clues as to what we might excel at or enjoy now, but we should not necessarily look at our childhood struggles or failures as signs of what not to pursue, because our brains change a lot from that point to adulthood, and we gain function and fluidity in our faculties that was not present in our more formative years.


People Pleasing

Many of us (myself included) have pursued fields to which we are ill-suited, in an effort to prove that we are fearless, brainy, capable, or respectable. Or in an effort to be like someone else or please someone else.

And in our efforts to cater to others – or their opinions of us – we often end up displaying an opposite image – as we are swimming in the wrong waters. We struggle to breathe. We flounder and flail our arms wildly in the ocean. Our souls are slowly and painfully crushed by the weight of foreign waters under which we sink in solitude, unsure how to swim or how to ask for help.

In these moments, we are rarely pictures which speak “fearless, intelligent, capable, or respectable”. We instead appear more pitiable.

Conversely, there are few things more beautiful than watching someone enjoy and excel at what they were made to do.

Do you see a man skilled in his work?
He will stand before kings;
He will not stand before obscure men.

– Proverbs

Sometimes, it takes time to discover what that thing is, and it’s okay to get scraped and beat up along the way. It’s okay to try things and find out that they’re just not for you. It’s okay to “fail”.

But it’s good to be aware of our motives for choosing a path.

Because often, we’re hoping to prove to others and ourselves that we’re something we’ve never been (or never thought ourselves to be). Perhaps something we think others want us to be.

For example, if we’re not naturally extroverts, and we choose a profession which requires us to be “on” all the time – with little opportunity for recharging – we’re going to get burned out.

Extroversion is not about being talkative, and introversion is not about being quiet. It’s about how you recharge your batteries.

Introverts can “act extroverted”, but only for so long. After a certain period of time, they begin to wear down.

This happened to me. I was working in retail for two and a half years, and customer service for a total of three. I became burned out and lost touch with my emotions, heart, soul, and almost my mind.

I lost myself, as I felt I had to work really hard at creating a false persona just in order to keep my job.

It’s good to stretch yourself, and I learned a lot from my experiences. But there’s a difference between stretching yourself and sacrificing who you are. And I did not only the former, but the latter.

I lost my passion for living. I lost my sanity. I lost my faith in humanity. I lost my sense of life purpose and meaning.

And all (or largely) because I was significantly out of my element, trying to breathe in an environment that, for me, was suffocating (though there were several reasons for that).


Other People’s Advice

A lot of people used to tell me that I would be a good nurse, or that that profession would be a smart choice for me.

I do care about helping people in their journey to healing – in every way. I feel deep concern and compassion for people.

And it’s not uncommon for people to associate these characteristics – especially in females – with the profession of nursing.

If you care about people, enjoy math and science, and are female, then obviously you should choose a high-paying profession such as nursing. 🙂

And I’m not in any way intending to disparage those who suggested I should consider pursuing this field.

But the reality is, I’d be poorly suited to nursing, because:

  1. I’m a germophobe.
  2. I can’t get immunizations.
  3. I’m somewhat wary of certain aspects of our modern healthcare practices and system, and would have a hard time (in terms of conscience) administering some types of medicine or supporting/ensuring the execution of certain medical practices.
  4. My body is extremely susceptible to infection and disease, not so much because I neglect to eat well or take vitamins, but because of certain genetic mutations and chronic conditions I have (things which are difficult to change).
  5. If I had to be interacting with lots of people nonstop and on my feet for twelve hours straight, I’d generally lose my mind and become both mentally and physically unwell.

Volunteering for one semester at a hospital, taking a CNA class for a day, and working for over six months at a medical imaging facility adjoined to a hospital was enough to convince me that nursing is definitely not for me.

But had I listened only to others’ opinions of what path I should pursue, I might have felt compelled to choose nursing, because it’s “practical” and what every compassionate female should consider doing. 😀

I’m still learning to separate what others want, expect, or hope I’ll do from what I actually think I should do. I guess I’m still learning what it is to have opinions about things, or personal desires (although that might be difficult to infer from reading my blog?), 🙂 and to recognize those opinions and desires as normal or okay or “valid” (in terms of my “right” to them).

Having interacted with many nurses throughout the years, I’m truly grateful for those men and women who are brave enough for – and well-suited to – the profession of nursing. It really does require a unique skill set. You’ve gotta have tough guts – both literally and figuratively.


Conclusion

Don’t pick something because you have to prove to someone else that you’re something or someone.

Don’t pick something just because it might make you look or sound cool.

Don’t pick something because others think you’d be great at it (although, if you want to pursue a certain path, it’s wise to ask others if they think you’re well-suited to that. Just realize that their answers may or may not be correct.).

Don’t pick something because others are pressuring you to.

Pick something because your childhood self always knew you should.

Pick something because you become energized, not enervated when you do it. (Passion, Ability)

Pick something because you know you’re good at it. (Skill, Talent, Ability)

Pick something that will benefit and brighten up the world around you. (Need)

Seriously, following that path is one of the coolest, bravest, strongest, smartest things you’ll do.


© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

black hole, void, perfection, busyness

Black Holes – Busyness and Perfection

Perfection

For most – if not all – of my life, I’ve been a perfectionist.

And there have been times when that’s come in handy.

Like in coding, learning (but not performing on) the piano, and working at a medical imaging facility.

However, my perfectionism has also led me to waste much of my time on needless meticulousness, and to be unduly critical of some of my work/undertakings in various settings and stages of life.

Busyness

In addition to my ravenous internal drive for perfection, I’ve also at times struggled with a sense of guilt for not feeling or seeming busier.

Which reminds me of an interesting video I once watched of a presentation by Adam Grant, on the creators of Warby Parker:

They delayed. They “dawdled”. They deliberated. They dreamed.

Then, after all of that, they finally decided and did. After extensive incubation, they executed their plans.

But those plans required a season of awkward appearances and seeming slothfulness to formulate.

To a potential investor such as Adam Grant, these young creators probably seemed, at best, a bit flighty, immature, or disorganized. At worst, they appeared lazy and unmotivated.

A gestational period was required for their ideas and business plan to solidify and transform into the truly intelligent, well-considered, executable strategy that made Warby Parker successful.

Yet to Grant, in the time prior to the launching of their business, these creators didn’t exactly seem “busy” or conscientious enough for entrepreneurs.

However, their minds were busy thinking, gathering data, processing, innovating.

Impressions and Incompletion – Tying Busyness and Perfectionism Together

“The greatest originals are the ones who fail the most, because they’re the ones who try the most. You need a lot of bad ideas in order to get a few good ones.” – Adam Grant

Perfectionism causes us to be critical of our failures and lose the motivation to keep trying, because we’re focusing on what isn’t and what “should” be, rather than leaving the doors of our minds open to what could be.

Busyness prevents us from even allowing ourselves the time to fail or succeed. We don’t have time to come up with rotten ideas or golden ones. We don’t have time to think, because we’re too busy doing what we – and seemingly everyone else – believe we ought to be doing.

Demands upon ourselves or others – for perfection or perpetual busyness – are black holes which can never be satiated. The sense of accomplishment from such efforts will nearly always be missing, and there will always be something more to “perfect” or “do”.

Only when we come to terms with “good enough” – with the concepts of “finished”,  “acceptable”, and “adequate” – can we eventually lose our compulsion to strive, and our feelings of restlessness, apprehension, and resentment when everyone else is too weary or overburdened to contribute any more to the “completion” of our never-ending list of objectives and expectations.

Without this acceptance, it is incredibly challenging to live peacefully within or with others. We may frequently default to tearing ourselves and others apart for not contributing more, achieving perfection, or “staying busy”.

Staying busy can give us the feeling that we are accomplishing something. And of course, true productivity does require a certain measure and form of busyness – even if that busyness transpires primarily in one’s mind.

However, to simply be “busy” is not necessarily to be productive, or to be making optimal use of time.

We can be busy cleaning and recleaning every inch and corner of the bathroom sink and counter – terrified that we might have missed a millimeter. We’re staying busy, but not exactly being productive with our time.

We can stay “busy” with lots of activities and events we don’t even care about – engagements that feel like a waste of time but look good or seem socially acceptable. However, if these activities are not serving to hone or engage our abilities, skills, and interests, then they are generally a waste of time. And such engagements can be doubly unproductive – or potentially counterproductive – if you’re an introvert like I am. As introverts, it is imperative that we carve out ample time for reflection and recharging. Without the allowance of sufficient “lazy”, “quiet”, nonsocial/”inactive” (i.e. thinking, rejuvenating) time, it is difficult to be productive at all.

Sometimes, the most productive thing we can do is say “no” to an engagement or activity, and instead use that time to sit back and reflect (and/or read, research, write down our thoughts). It is this activity which allows us to realign ourselves with our values, goals, passion, and creativity. It allows us to make intelligent plans and ensure that our physical busyness and efforts are worthwhile, and not wasted due to insufficient forethought.

Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing. – Thomas A. Edison

Plan, prepare, ponder. Then perspire.

And be willing to do it all imperfectly. <3


© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

mountain climbing - perseverance, diligence, motivation, keep trying

Feeling Dizzy?

Why is it that I always learn more poorly when preoccupied with the awareness of overarching, long-term, daunting, seemingly unreachable goals? Why does this awareness impair my ability to retain information and learn efficiently in the short term?

It’s as if I’m climbing a mountain or a steep cliff. Looking up at the top – so far away – weakens my knees and makes it impossible to take the next step. I get dizzy, and stop moving.

When I’m pursuing an interest as a hobby – with no intention of necessarily turning it into a career – I actually pick it up faster and eventually become more skilled and comfortable with that “hobby” than I typically do with a trade or skill I’m attempting to master for a living.

Perhaps the awareness that there’s more “at stake” if I “fail” in my career-focused pursuits actually causes me to behave more timidly in my experiments, practice, and projects? Perhaps I’m more afraid to “break things” when there’s potential future livelihood at stake?

Perhaps I’m concerned about sullying my Github account with unusual or potentially “junky” coding projects, so I refrain from trying anything new or interesting or different (i.e. breaking things), in case a future potential employer will notice that I’m a ruthless coder who has no qualms about employing haphazard coding practices?

Yet this fear and timidity keeps me from acquiring new skills, deepening my reserves of knowledge and experience, and from sharing with others the things I’ve tried and learned – and failed.

The cure is creating an inner environment that fosters creativity. Creativity is related to exploration and learning. As long as we are being critical, we are not creating.

The great thing about “hobbies” is that they free us up from the perceived need to be critical of our work. Hobbies allow us to break free from those chains and truly explore.

You can’t make things unless you break things.

How is a cake baked?

By breaking the cleanliness and pristine appearance of your kitchen and clothes – covering them in flour and dirty dishes. Yes, you just broke something. Congratulations. It was a necessary sacrifice for the end result, the finished work of art.

How is a house built?

By sawing wood. Breaking.

How is an argument won?

One of two ways.

By fearlessly and ruthlessly dissecting the opponent’s viewpoint and arguments so that an appropriate counterargument can be created. Or, by breaking your own pride and choosing not to press the matter. In different situations, different actions are called for, but they always involve breaking, whether inward or outward.

Creators are breakers. They aren’t afraid to get messy.

As long as that critical inner voice is examining, challenging, and questioning all your thoughts and work, you’ll be poring over old pieces of information and old ways of thinking, trying to fix things from the past. Edit, revise, delete.

But when you’re caught up in the flow of creativity and unfettered learning, you’re not thinking about the past or what went wrong or should have been. You’re in the present. You’re going along for the ride, wherever it may take you. And you don’t care where it takes you or if you’ll get messy, because anywhere you go, you’ll learn something.

We learn things the most effectively when we get messy doing them. When we have tangible results and reminders of our adventure. When we make a mistake, or take home a “souvenir” from our “field trip”.

But the only way to get messy is to stop trying with every mite of ourselves to prevent that from happening.


I picked up the piano somewhere around ages 10-11 – with no particular intent (IIRC) of turning it into a career. I fell in love with it and for years, often dedicated hours a day or week to practice.

But it didn’t really feel like practice. I was just having fun.

No goals in mind, beyond discovering and understanding more deeply a subject with which I was smitten.

And the more I’ve learned in recent years not to beat myself up for mistakes I make on the piano, the more creative I’ve become when I play.

Last year, when I was trying to learn coding quickly enough to become “employable” within a few months, I completely burned myself out. I was so preoccupied with a daunting goal – and so aware of how far away I was from reaching that goal – that I became more stressed and struggled to think clearly. (I was also still eating foods to which I’m sensitive, which was making me sick and hampering my processing/memorization ability.)

I am surrounded by friends and family who are highly skilled and gifted as engineers. It is easy, when surrounded by such kickass prowess, to unfairly compare yourself to that level of accomplishment and skill, and to expect yourself to reach a level of competence and knowledge within months that has taken them years or even a lifetime to acquire.

When making such a juxtaposition, you begin to view yourself as a pebble surrounded by boulders, and wonder how you will ever “measure up” or succeed like that. (Comparison is a nasty game to play, for all parties involved.)

I have a tendency to idealize other people and their qualities (and/or to disparage my own abilities and level of accomplishment while comparing myself with them). Sometimes, I only see the positive in other people’s lives and stories, forgetting that it likely took them a lot of crying, falling, and bleeding to get where they are.

And for sure, some people – including most undoubtedly many among my friends/family – seem to just have a knack for engineering. In addition to that, many of them had an earlier start in this field than I did (Not only chronologically, or in terms of years, but also in terms of age). This does not, however, mean that it’s impossible to learn engineering or programming later in life (if 24, almost 25 can be considered “later”).

It is helpful to remember that it took them time to get where they are now, even if they were always talented, and excelled in their craft at an early age. If they started learning at five, or ten, or fifteen, and are where they’re at now professionally (and are all older than I am) – then I have a lot of years to make it where they are. That is actually encouraging.

In this light, my overwhelming feelings of inadequacy and futility begin to look a little stupid and myopic.

Frustration is normal. Feeling frustrated does not mean that you will be unsuccessful, or that accomplishment is impossible. Frustration is something that we all experience. It is what we do with it – or in spite of it – that predicts our future.

Many who hear me play the piano today do not know that when I was about eight, my mom was trying to teach me the piano, and I was extremely frustrated. Frustrated to the point that I ran away to my bedroom, crying. Declaring that I would never learn the piano.

Two or three years later, I picked it up like a long-lost friend. Or a novel stranger.

And my romance with the piano has never died. (Though I haven’t given it enough love lately.)

In fact, today, I consider piano to actually be one of my stronger skills.

“Success” doesn’t happen overnight. And the road to it isn’t as seamless as most of us think.

What we see – when comparing ourselves to others – are the certificates, the diplomas, the credentials, the titles, the job offers, the promotions, eloquence, flow, smooth execution, sales, growth, profit.

What we don’t see are the 10-20 years sprinkled and stained with long nights, setbacks, “failures”, moments of feeling like a failure, moments of slacking, brain “deadness”, confusion, “dumb” questions, tears, sweat, inward or outward cursing, “dumb” search engine queries to solve problems, and the aid or burden of people – friends, family, professors, mentors – who pushed them in the right or wrong direction. The people who supported and encouraged or sabotaged and encumbered them. We don’t see what they struggled through, in order to become who they are today.

Instead, we see the finished, polished, sharp product that emerged from the flames.

And we assume that that’s how they always were.

That they were never rugged, rough, unpolished, raw, “purposeless”, like us.

We assume that they started out polished, and that consequently, there is no hope for us, because we cannot start out like that.

It’s normal to stumble. To “fail”.

It’s normal to have off-days where you’re just in a funk and don’t feel like you’re getting much done, even though you try to put in the effort. You’re not always going to feel the things you want to feel (a “sense” of progress, accomplishment, smartness, or excellence). But that doesn’t mean action and change aren’t taking place.

In fact, if you’re always feeling “smart” or “competent” in your work or studies, then you’re in the wrong place.

As long as you feel inadequate and lost (but not quite hopelessly so), you’ll keep trying to become qualified for the job. You’ll keep searching and studying and desiring to learn. You’ll stay far away from complacency.

And yet, at the same time, if you feel too inadequate and lost – and beat yourself up for being so – you’ll also get stuck in the swamp of complacency that way.

In the end, then, it’s important to be aware that there is much we don’t know. It is important to feel inadequate, but also to realize that everyone is inadequate in some fashion – in different areas at different times of their life. It’s important to realize that this is normal.

Once we can reach this realization, we can stop expecting the unrealistic of ourselves. We can stop being critical of ourselves and our work, afraid to fail, break things, or get messy. And that’s when we actually start making things and learning.

This is why, when pursuing “hobbies”, I’m actually free to learn and create more effectively. I view failure in this arena as acceptable, because there’s no career or future at stake. Failure is “normal” or “okay”. Or maybe more accurately, there is no such thing as “failure” in this arena. Failure does not exist, because there is no one and nothing to fail. There is only ground to be discovered.

On the other hand, when there is the perception of someone or something to fail…

…It’s like the problem you encounter when you’re around other people and trying to read fast, or type quickly. You can barely read at all, or you make more errors while typing.

…Or like when you’re trying to sleep. You’re so busy overthinking sleep, and analyzing how you’re going to fall asleep, that you hamper the natural flow of actually falling asleep.

Why do our thoughts interfere with our ability to act, learn, read, type, or fall asleep? One would expect that “thinking harder” would tend to yield the desired results more than “not thinking”.

We think that by just thinking harder, we can more effectively control our situation. Learn more quickly, fall asleep sooner, play the piano faster.

I’m currently teaching my neighbor piano. One thing she’s shared with me is that when she stops “thinking” about how to play and just “does” it, she plays better (and I would agree – this seems to be the case).

I’ve found the same thing myself.

It is only when we stop thinking about the sheet music, the finger placement, the duration of the notes, that we actually play them correctly.

It is only when we stop thinking about typing – and controlling others’ opinions of our typing – that we type at our normal level of speed and accuracy.

Only when we stop thinking about sleeping – and about controlling our sleep patterns – do we fall asleep naturally.

In essence, it is only when we let go our sense of (or desire for) control that we actually regain it.

When we compare our situation to what isn’t – to someone else, or a place at which we haven’t yet arrived, or a quality to which our work doesn’t measure up – we’re looking at the top of the mountain. But seeing how far we have to go just disorients us, and we lose our footing. We lose control.

If you’ve climbed a mountain before, you’re probably familiar with how the “top” seems perpetually elusive.

And our future and goals are that way. There’s always more to add. More to learn. More to achieve. If we keep our eyes on what “should be” or what currently “is not”, we will become discouraged, disoriented, and dizzy.

If we fail to focus on the present, we prepare ourselves to fail.

We must redefine success as learning, living, loving, and laughing in the moment. Success is not somewhere in the future. Ultimately, it is not found in a paycheck, a career, or a title. Success is enjoying the journey, and learning in every moment.

The future will take care of itself, if we embrace the journey in front of us, break things, and let go.


Note: I’m not saying don’t work hard, have plans, or care about doing anything with your life. If you don’t do any of these things, life will throw some extra challenges your way. But I think you already know that’s not what I’m saying in this post. 😉 This is just a disclaimer.

Thanks for reading. <3

Please see full disclaimer.


© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

Control, blame, and domains of influence. #Stoic #philosophy #blame #perception #emotion #opinion #judgment #perspective #reflections #popularity #approval

Control and Blame

Recently, a friend of mine was very good to remind me that several matters about which I was concerned were/are beyond my control, an observation for which I am grateful. I’ve been realizing lately just how many of my fears center around matters I can’t control.

If this is the case, then why do I waste energy worrying about them?

For most or all of my life, I’ve felt responsible for the emotions and comfort of others, for others’ perceptions of me, and for my inability to accomplish or learn more in one sitting than my body or brain will permit.

As a result, I’ve assigned myself a ton of blame, shed truckloads of tears, and resorted to other self-destructive actions, in the hope that I could somehow correct or “atone” for my lack of omnipotence, forgetting – or perhaps never actually quite realizing/acknowledging – that I’m human, and it is not normal for humans to expect themselves or others to have the capabilities and power of God.

Over the years, I’ve many times allowed my soul to be pulverized over friends’/family’s/crushes’ perceptions of me. Unrequited love (or the perception of it) has left me shattered and an emotional wreck more than once. (And don’t get me wrong, I think it’s healthier to release our emotions [through constructive, safe outlets] than to bottle them up or stuff them, and it can be very therapeutic to express our pain through tears. Emotional crying (vs. lubricating or reflex tears) actually releases stress hormones from the body. Near the beginning of this month, I was having a rough time, and cried quite a bit for a couple days. But at the end of it all, I actually felt more peaceful, energetic, and refreshed.)

epictetus-quote-performanceOnly in recent years have I been waking up and essentially telling myself, “Kate, some people are just going to hate your guts, no matter how much energy and effort you invest in preventing this. Some people are going to feel uncomfortable around you – or simply uncomfortable in general – no matter how hard you try to accommodate their needs or care for them. And all you can do in life is give things your best. And leave the outcomes to be what they may.”

As children, we often catch the message/belief that it is our fault if someone is mad at us. This mentality may even be learned from our parents. Sometimes, we see them get hurt if others disapprove of them or of the way they raise their children, or of their children’s shortcomings and “problems”. And so we quickly learn to live for the approval of others – for the sake of our own image and our parents’ image – inviting others to be the judge of the beauty, worth, effectiveness, or meaning of our lives. We feel we must prove to be excellent students and obedient children (and not just obedient, but having the appearance of being so to onlookers). We learn that it is shameful to be quiet because we will seem “shy”. We learn that we must modify our behavior in an effort to control the perceptions others have of us.

And if we grow up in a “religious” community, often additional expectations come with that. We must appear to be righteous, and to be fitting in with whatever additional practically cultic dogma is added on to the original heart/message/core of that “religion” or belief system. We work extra hard to keep our noses clean – and not only that – but make sure that others know we’re doing this, in the hopes that doing so will allow us to earn and control their acceptance of us.

And sadly, these efforts often work. In some cultures, if we just check off all the appropriate boxes, then we are rewarded with acceptance and “respect”. This experience then reinforces in our heads the message that if we simply try hard enough and bend far enough, we can control others’ perceptions of us. And so we continue to devote all our energy to seeking the Holy Grail of human approval and acceptance. But sooner or later, we get frustrated when our efforts don’t seem to be consistently working, because they’ve “worked before”.

To make matters worse, when in such communities we ever dare to deviate from expectations, norms, or rules, we are punished harshly, whether with ostracization, “sanctions” of sorts, or correction/scolding (perhaps even publicly).

If this happens in a religious community, the psychological effects can be doubly painful and disorienting. If you desire to please God, and you consider others to be wiser than you, then you may assign the blame to yourself for being “rebellious” or unknowledgeable about the “ways of God”, if and when you are “corrected” or shunned by them, even if this treatment is utterly undeserved. You trust others’ judgment more than your own, and assume you deserved this harsh scolding/reprimand/shunning.

In such situations, we learn to associate discomfort and the disapproval of others with disobedience and sin. If we are accepted by others, then we must not be “sinning”, and if we upset them, then we deserve blame.

Some “blame” and reproof may be merited, and it is good to be sensitive to this and to learn from our mistakes. But the disapproval or opposition of others is not necessarily a good indicator of whether we have messed up and need to change or not.

Often, I’ve fallen into the trap of blaming myself for the appearance of things. Having yucky skin, despite my efforts to care for it (it looks – and used to more – like I don’t/didn’t care). Being late (even if I had a truly “legitimate” reason, and gave friends/employers notice if possible), which not only inconveniences others (which is bad enough), but also looks bad.

I also worry about (and feel responsible for) accidentally violating others’ boundaries. This is likely because I’m so used to allowing my own boundaries to be violated, and assume that others must often do the same. As a young child, I would often do things I was told (by practically anyone but a total stranger), and would allow others to do things to me that I disliked. I basically assumed that I was an idiot and they (even other peers) were sages. The most idiotic part of it all was me believing that. 😛 Yet, they seemed so confident and certain, and I lacked confidence and certainty. I was still learning so much, and felt sort of “behind” in terms of social and general knowledge, and consequently trusted others’ commands/judgment more than my own. I suppressed the voices of discomfort, hesitance, and questioning inside my head, believing that others must know best, because I knew nothing.

And so now, I worry about being the one offending, hurting, using, or scaring others by stepping all over them. Because I used to let people walk over me all the time.

But I must remember that it is their choice to be stepped on or pushed into something that makes them uncomfortable, and must also remember that it is never my intent to do so, and therefore, it’s unlikely that anyone would feel particularly strongly that they were being coerced by me into a particular action or choice. However, if they do, it is their responsibility to think for themselves, honor their boundaries, and say “no”. I should not accept or assign myself responsibility for their boundaries.

epictetus quote #prison #confinement #control #mind #power #domain #influence

And then, I’ve blamed myself for my chronic illness. Why do I have to seem (and sometimes be) so unproductive? I’m just reinforcing millennial stereotypes. Why, when I have so many goals and desires and matters which concern me, do I have to be bound up in this prison?

It must be my fault, I reason.

Yet once again, my body lies outside my control. I make considerable efforts to care for it and protect it, and yet, I cannot control the outcome of those efforts, or the maladies that may befall my frame despite my most earnest efforts to prevent them.

My body may be thrown into a prison, but my mind will with less ease and greater resistance suffer the same fate. (Granted, I have many times fallen into the grip of some pretty crippling depression or anxiety, and haven’t always known how to get out of it. Perhaps sometimes, things just have to run their course.)

But generally speaking, my mind is a place that lies within my domain of influence and control.

Others may insult me, but taking offense is my choice.

My body may be a wreck at times, but blaming myself for this is my decision.

Man is disturbed not by things, but by the views he takes of them. –  Epictetus

And even if your past decisions made you who you are today – less fit, more sick, less “desirable” or “attractive” or “respectable” – those past decisions also now lie outside of your control, and therefore, there is no use blaming yourself for them. Only in learning from those choices and moving forward with the resolve to make wiser choices in these areas in the future.

Could I have made some healthier dietary choices earlier in my life? Sure. (Honestly, I’d probably still be about as sick as I am now, as even “healthy” foods can make me unwell, and there were many other non-food factors which contributed to my illness, but maybe it would have taken me a bit longer to reach the point that I did.)

There is no use blaming myself for my carelessness (or ignorance – I knew a lot less about my body’s dietary needs then).

Therefore, whenever we are hindered or troubled or distressed, let us not blame others, but ourselves, that is, our own judgments. The uneducated person blames others for their failures; those who have just begun to be instructed blame themselves; those whose learning is complete blame neither others nor themselves. – Epictetus


Lies We Must Stop Believing

If someone’s angry at me, it’s my problem.

It’s quite possible that you did something that could incite anger in others. However, that does not necessarily mean that the thing you said or did was “bad”. People respond with anger to truth and lies alike, to justice and injustice, to kindness and cruelty. It is good to examine our actions and words for anything we must change or could improve. However, regardless of the nature (good, bad, neutral) of our actions and words, others’ reactions are their choice.

If someone is uncomfortable, it’s my responsibility to change that.

For sanity’s sake, let them grow up a little. They can handle it.

It is good to be mindful of others’ needs for space, and of the boundaries they have indicated or expressed to us. But we are not responsible for the suffering (or lack thereof) of humanity. And it is not our job to baby others.

This doesn’t mean we should never attempt to ameliorate others’ conditions, problems, or suffering. But we must realize that ultimately, we cannot control whether or not they suffer.

If somebody thinks I’m stupid/unlikable, then I must be.

They are entitled to their own opinion, certainly. But remember, they’ll never see you from the angle from which you see yourself, or the angles from which others see you.

“I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinions of himself than on the opinions of others.”  – Marcus Aurelius

epictetus quote #approval #affirmation #lunatics #craziness #insanity #admiration #life #humanity #people #impressions #observations #opinions #respect

In a season where many of us are painfully sensitive to rejection or aware of our “undesirability”, it’s vital to remember that others’ perceptions of us lie outside of our control (and are not necessarily accurate). Therefore, they do not merit our attention, our worry, or our energy. Easier said than done, for sure. This is definitely something I struggle with.

Hugs <3

Kate


© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

more than meets the eye - lens, filter, distortion, objectivity, bias, clarity, perception

More Than Meets the Eye

There’s more to each of us than others see.

More layers. More systems and subsystems. More untold stories.

Often, we are quick to assume that we understand why a person is acting the way that they are. I am guilty of this.

Although at times our perceptions and inferences may hit the bullseye – accurately nailing the reasons for a person’s behavior – at other times, we err in our assumptions, perhaps because our brains are so eager to assign some explanation to a confusing phenomenon.

Our brains hate to not know or not understand. So they will continually try to make reason out of (seeming) insanity, or label as insane that which seems, on the surface, to be without reason.


Scenario #1

You’re a cashier at a retail store. One customer comes through with “tons” (like, hundreds of pieces) of makeup – cheap and expensive brands, and practically every possible color of every possible product – lipstick, eyeliner, foundation, etc.

You carefully scan and bag every piece of makeup.

And then….

“I’m sorry…actually, I’ll have to cancel everything except these twenty-five items.”

You feel your heart sink into your stomach. You’re not sure what hurts more: seeing someone attempt to spend so much money on makeup, or seeing them practically cancel the transaction after you’ve both wasted a lot of time at the checkout.

Thankfully, your customer hasn’t paid yet. Your best option, at this point, is to simply void the entire transaction, put all the unwanted makeup in a bin to be returned to the floor by some poor sales floor employee (assuming your customer doesn’t want to hold the cart and come back to purchase everything later), and again ring up the twenty-five items.

But why? Seriously, how could a person not think ahead? And why are they wasting so much money on makeup?

Here are some possible answers or explanations – things which wouldn’t necessarily be readily apparent from your vantage point:

  • Your customer is starting a business as a makeup artist, but forgot that she wanted to set-up a separate business bank account first. The twenty-five items are personal or for gifts.
  • Your customer lives with a chronic illness which causes severe brain fog, and therefore struggles to think ahead very well or remember things.
  • Your customer wanted to give away all the makeup to a charity, so that women in underserved communities could still have access to products that would help them feel “put-together”. Sadly, her heart is bigger than her pocketbook.
  • Your customer is accustomed to buying anything and everything with credit cards and has been racking up debt, but is trying to establish a different spending pattern, and only at the checkout – while witnessing the snowballing total – mustered the resolve to say “no”. Although the whole scene may seem pitiful to onlookers, this is, in fact, quite a red-letter day for her.

Scenario #2

Your friend hardly speaks when with you. But you’ve seen him talk to other people. Ouch.

It’s possible that:

  • He finds you smart, cool, and attractive in many ways. He wants to impress you, and feels nervous in your presence.
  • He’s got a crush on you, and his brain chemistry changes when you’re around, so he loses many of his mental faculties. He gets fluttery inside and his brain goes out the window.
  • You’re both just not sure of the best questions to ask each other yet. You’re still building that foundation of familiarity with each other. It usually takes your friend a while to warm up, especially with those he particularly admires or respects, and your relationship just needs time to spread its wings. Maybe you see him talking with other people, but that doesn’t mean that their conversations are as deep as you’re desiring yours to be. Perhaps you have imagined that they are enjoying the type of conversation you want to enjoy with your friend, but you don’t actually know the degree of intimacy and depth of their communication. And if you walk over and listen to find out, your friend, of course, gets quiet, because of the aforementioned or other reasons. 😉

Scenario #3

Your coworker just said something that totally shocked you. You never expected those words to come out of his mouth, and you take it personally. You feel completely disrespected and crushed.

Perhaps your coworker:

  • Isn’t naturally very agreeable (diplomacy and politeness simply don’t come to him very naturally, or he doesn’t see the value in them). But he has no intentions or awareness of being disagreeable.
  • Has a brain wiring that is less conducive to understanding the nuances and subtleties of communication and social graces, but totally didn’t mean to offend, or intend the statement to sound the way it did.
  • Grew up in a rather cloistered community and is now working extra hard to hone some fundamental social skills.
  • Just lost a loved one or got diagnosed with a fatal illness, but hasn’t told anyone and isn’t ready to talk about it.
  • Just got chewed out by your mutual boss.

Scenario #4

You reach out to hug your niece, and you can feel her body stiffen. You conclude that she must either hate touch or strongly dislike you – or both. Could be, but some other possibilities are:

  • You happen to be hugging her right by the door where there’s a draft.
  • Your niece generally feels pretty cold anyway.
  • In the community in which your niece grew up, most or all forms of touch have been demonized, and it’s sometimes a challenge for your niece to switch gears now and convince her brain that it’s okay to embrace someone.
  • She grew up in a familial environment where touch and physical affection were scarce, and so she doesn’t quite know how to handle it, even if she likes it.
  • She associates hugs with punishment (it was something that only came after discipline). Or her primary memory of touch as a child is of being corporally punished, and she rarely, if ever, received physical affection.
  • You remind your niece (perhaps not even in character or appearance, but simply by your gender) of someone else who once violated her (or currently does).
  • Your niece craves touch but doesn’t believe she deserves it. And/or, she expects anything good – such as touch – to be taken away suddenly and forever – and that fear is manifesting in her body. She doesn’t allow herself to fully enjoy anything, due to this fear.
  • She’s trying to keep her head from getting smushed into your shirt, because she has makeup on, so she stiffens in a caring attempt to prevent you from smushing her face into your shoulder to the detriment of your clothing.

The issue may not be at all that she doesn’t like or love you, even though it totally looks that way.

If you grew up in a family where physical affection was on par with verbal communication in terms of importance or prevalence – sort of like drinking water or breathing air – this reaction by your niece is, no doubt, very puzzling to you. It feels as though you’re trying to speak to a person with aphasia. Perhaps they sort of comprehend or want to understand your language, but they struggle to “speak” it back to you.

Or she may totally understand your language and want to reciprocate by speaking it in-kind, but environmental factors (makeup, temperature) are getting in the way.


Our Filters

We don’t always know why people act the way they do. I have certainly made my share of assumptions about people’s motives or stories. And I also frequently get misread by others. 🙂 I think misreading others and being misconstrued happens between all of us a lot more than we realize.

If we could somehow remove the distortions, biases, and personal filters through which we interpret others’ lives, might we gain more compassion, understanding, and respect for them? If we saw all that they’d endured, and how that plays out in their current behavior, would we have more patience? Would we make friends with someone we’d previously shunned, after hearing their story?

If our conclusions about others’ actions and the reasons for them were derived from observation through crystal clear lenses – completely separated from the tainting influence of our personal experiences and feelings – what would we discover? If we were able to take ourselvesour egos and personal experiences – out of the equation, what would be left in our perceptions of others?

Unfortunately, I’m not sure that a complete separation between our thoughts and our personal filters is possible.

We don’t see things as they are. We see them as we are. – Anonymous*

Yet if it were possible to make this separation – even partially – would the “insane” and “idiotic” and “unintelligent” and “heartless” and “cold” and “thoughtless” and “brash” and “shy” and “fearful” suddenly seem more “reasonable” or “normal”? Would we find they’re just like us, but with different backgrounds and in different bodies? Would we see in them the person that we ourselves could have been, in different circumstances?

If we were in the practice of asking ourselves – upon observation of a “strange” behavior or person – the question, “I wonder how they got there?”, how might that change our view and treatment of others whose behavior we don’t understand? And might we gain new friendships? Business connections? Hire different employees? Establish other long-lasting relationships?

All that is gold does not glitter – J.R.R. Tolkien

We are all more than meets the eye.


* There is uncertainty as to where this quote originated.


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© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

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