Becoming a Better Listener

Go to the fountain and drink of the knowledge.

Are we listening when others speak?  This does not mean agreeing all the time, it means hearing what they have to offer.

Are we doing all the talking?   Social media and texting encourages a lot of self-centered focus that eventually makes the narrative about us and not others.

Some people are outstanding listeners but most of the rest of us are distracted listeners.

We can learn to be better listeners.

Train yourself to recap what another person has said and repeat the essence of it to them.

“If I’m hearing you right, you’re saying that …” 

If they confirm, congratulations – you’re becoming a better listener.

If they add to it, you are skillfully drawing them out.

If they correct you, then you have saved yourself from getting it wrong and miscommunicating.

Everyone wants to be a better listener because people are attracted to those who can listen.

Being heard is one of the great human needs.

We have learned over time not to be good listeners and we can train ourselves to be better with very little effort.

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Staying Positive to Live Longer

It’s hard to be surrounded by people who are eternally positive in our increasingly negative world.

But those who can generate their own positivity can benefit by avoiding heart disease, reducing blood pressure and impacting in a good way on blood sugar.

Gratitude is one way, but we often think we have tons of that.

You can’t be negative when you are being grateful. 

Recognize others and sharing it with them. 

Keeping a list of positive things that are happening to you on your phone so you can scroll through and remain inspired. 

Become more aware of stress and put a stop/loss on it as soon as you feel it developing.

Staying positive is not about Pollyanna.

Positive can mean something relatively unsexy like catching yourself from putting down an accomplishment that even others acknowledge.

Staying positive to benefit health is not about rah-rah things, it’s about keeping control of your narrative and protecting it from the negativity of others.

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Changing Negative Thinking into Positive

With as few as only two weeks training in the areas of kindness and compassion, positive changes occur in the brain.

Focusing on these two things help us become physically and emotionally healthier by in essence retraining the brain.

Focus on positive emotions and they magically occur.

Doing good things for others – Even small things that you would think as inconsequential count.

Become more aware of the world around you – Just trying to notice the sand on the beach or the flower in the garden helps re-train the brain.

Live in the now – Ruminating on the past is actually proven to physically adversely alter parts of the brain so living in the present and giving up control can help us.

Accomplish something every day – Attainable goals checked off as “accomplished” are friendly to the brain and our wellbeing.

Be proud of who you are – Perfection has never been achieved by any one person in all of time but the pursuit of perfection bodes negatively on our compassion and caring of others.

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The Real Stephen Colbert

Stephen Colbert’s switch from Comedy Central to David Letterman’s replacement on CBS Television had not been going well.

He was out of character in more ways than one.

Was he the pundit character of his old show or a Letterman-like substitute for the retiring late night host?

Everything changed for the positive when a new producer was appointed and he told Colbert “Stop being funny and go and just be real”.

Why is it so easy to forget to be our natural selves?

It didn’t hurt that Colbert’s sweet spot was politics and last year was a bonanza.

Now Colbert is beating Jimmy Fallon who had been dominant in the ratings.

He seems self-assured.

Colbert is an admitted “control freak” and everyone knows that won’t work except perhaps the actual control freak.

Sometimes everything we’re looking to be is already there within us – just lost trying to be someone else who is not as good.

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I’m Sorry

Why is it so hard to say I made a mistake?

Making a mistake is not a sign of weakness, just humanity.

It is a sign that we are not perfect and sometimes we stand up on a pedestal that we don’t deserve to be on because no person can achieve perfection whether in the public eye, at work or in marriage.

United Airlines took at least 3 attempts at saying they were sorry for basically beating up a passenger and dragging him off one of their planes recently in what turned out to be a YouTube success and a corporate failure.

Politicians who make mistakes virtually never admit mistakes until they are caught red handed.

Dale Carnegie encourages people to admit their mistakes quickly and emphatically.  Translated that means fast and clearly.

If you haven’t apologized lately, watch what happens when you say you’re sorry and sincerely mean it.

Almost always, you wind up feeling as good as the person you apologized to.

One way not to apologize is to say “If I did anything wrong, I’m sorry”.

If?

Every good apology contains sincerity, a bit of your own humanity and simple language.

Apologizing is another human relations tool that is misunderstood, underutilized and a great alternative to hard feelings.

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