The honest truth…

I was recently offered a job that I thought I really wanted.  Right up until the day of the offer, in fact.  But the deal breaker for me ended up being dishonesty.

The organization was needlessly dishonest about a few relatively straightforward things.  Then, to make matters worse, when I asked for an explanation, they just shrugged it off.  It was no big deal to them.  But, for me, honesty is everything, because without honesty, there’s no trust.  So, no trust, no job.

They were shocked.  So was I.

Anyway, it got me to thinking about truth and lies and honesty, and how they’re generally communicated.  Many of the expressions we often say without ever really stopping to think about what they mean, myself included.

One of the more common expressions is “the honest truth”.  Since truth is honest by definition, I guess putting the two words together is meant to communicate the sincerest form of truth???  Then there’s “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”.  Truth x 3.  To me, that expression is a reminder of how difficult it is for us to stay on the “truth and narrow”, so we need to have the importance of honesty triple emphasized whenever it’s especially important that we stick to the truth.

A few of the other expressions about truth sound quite pure… “ring true”, “true blue”, “gospel truth”, “honest to goodness” and “come clean”.  But then there’s “cross my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye”.  It doesn’t get more theatrical than that.  That was one of my favorite sayings when I was a kid, and I never once stopped to really absorb the literal interpretation until now.

Just thinking about it, I think I’m developing a twitch in my eye.

Then there’s “Pete”.  Have you ever stopped to consider how many expressions mention “Pete”?  “Honest to Pete”, “for Pete’s sake” and “for the love of Pete” are just a few that readily come to mind.  I know I’ve veered slightly off the topic of honesty and lies but this “Pete” guy really has me intrigued.

Ok, back to it.

You can’t talk about honesty and lies without acknowledging the gray area many people operate in.  The gray area of half truth.  Sometimes referred to as “beating around the bush”.  Someone once said, “Beware of the half truth as you may have gotten hold of the wrong half”.  Pretty sound advice.  A fellow named Georg Christop Lichtenberg went one step further by saying, “The most dangerous untruths are truths moderately distorted.”  Makes you think.

So then we come to the infamous lie.  Recognize any of these sayings?  “Pulling your leg”, “smoke and mirrors”, “monkey business”, or “leading you up the garden path”?  They sound relatively harmless.  They make lying not sound so bad.  But then we move on to a few of the more the painful sayings… “a bitter pill”, “lie through your teeth”,  or “liar, liar, pants on fire” (my personal favorite).

“Honesty doesn’t always pay but dishonesty always costs.”  Michael Josephson

“A lie has speed but truth has endurance.”  Edgar J. Mohn

Judge Judy often says that “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to have a good memory”.   That’s not the only benefit.

A commitment to honesty and truth makes you a person of character.  People know they can trust you.  Plus it’s the right thing to do.  These are all reasons that I try to be honest and truthful as possible.  I want to be known as someone who can be absolutely trusted.  Someone who is a person of character.

But, is there ever too much of a good thing?

Absolutely.

I think we’ve all encountered “brutally honest” people, which is just as violent to the psyche as the phrase would suggest.  Richard J. Needham describes them best… “People who are brutally honest get more satisfaction out of the brutality than out of the honesty.”  Wow… perspective…

The moral of that quote?

Motivation matters.

Honesty really is the best policy.  Just don’t go overboard.

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Just imagine…

I received an e-mail yesterday from someone I haven’t seen or spoken to in months, and who knows virtually nothing about my marital break-up except for what my husband has told him over the past 4 1/2 months.  However, out of the blue, this person decided to take it upon himself to send me an e-mail to say that my version of events is not supported by ‘truth’ or ‘reality’, and that my leaving was ‘a bit overdone’.  He ended the e-mail by saying he ‘cares’.  To make matters worse, he’s a pastor (and not even mine).

I’m not sure how this person could possibly know the truth or reality of my marriage since nobody really know what goes on behind closed doors except for the people themselves.  Or how he could construe my leaving after more than 11 years of marriage to be overdone.  Or what he even hoped to achieve by sending me the e-mail in the first place except to pass judgement since he never offered any proof of his accusations.

Judgement.

The word even sounds harsh.

It’s not my place to judge other people.  Everybody has the freedom to make their own choices and to live their own life.  I might not always agree with their decisions or opinions or their actions but my only responsibility is how I live my own life.

I can’t change my past, I can’t change the things that have happened to me, I can’t change the things I’ve done, I can’t change the things I regret, I can’t change anything but today, tomorrow and the future.  I want to be loved and accepted for who I am and not for who people think I should be.  I want people to take the time to get to know ME, and to see that I’m a person of value and worth who has been shaped into the person I am today BECAUSE of everything I’ve experienced, both good and bad.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a time and place to speak the truth in love.  I have a very close circle of people who I can trust to be honest with me about anything and everything because I know they truly love me and want the very best for me.  They always speak the truth in love.  They’ve made a positive difference in my life.

Just imagine a world where people took the finger they are so quick to point at others and turned it to point at themselves.

Just imagine a world where people regularly examined their own lives instead of the lives of others.

Just imagine a world where only the people without sin, fault, and failings were the ones to cast the first stone.

Just imagine a world where people were quick to extend a hand to help others up instead of extending a hand to push them down.

Just imagine a world where people realized that there but for the grace of God go they.

Just imagine…

Just imagine a world where people judged a whole lot less and loved a whole lot more.

Just imagine a world where people put themselves in other people’s shoes and realized that the people they’re so quick to lash out at are probably really hurting.

Just imagine a world where people realized that they don’t really know as much as they think they know.

Just imagine a world where people showed grace, love, and mercy instead of contempt, hatred, and judgement.

Just imagine…

Some of you will agree with me and some of you won’t.  But, that’s ok.

You’re free to judge for yourselves.

A word to the wise…

Thought for the day… Common sense is not common.

Need convincing?

Consider the woman in North Dakota who recently called a radio station to give her opinion that deer crossing signs should be moved so that deer will cross somewhere else.

Or the man in Indiana who submitted a letter to a local newspaper last year suggesting that signs be moved because a lot of deer get hit by cars in that area.  His suggestion was, “If they don’t want to move that sign, maybe they could post another sign, kind of a warning to deer to look both ways before crossing the street.”

Hmmm…

Or what about the Royal Canadian Yacht Club in Toronto, where you can find a nine square-metre patch of grass with a sign reading “No geese allowed” – as if that would be self-explanatory to the geese.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-buzz/woman-wants-deer-crossing-signs-moved-deer-cross-133853876.html

I’d like to think I’m a person who demonstrates good common sense.  But, more importantly, I’d like to be a person who demonstrates wisdom.  Common sense is desirable but wisdom is the ultimate.

Wisdom trumps common sense.

The Free Dictionary defines wisdom as being knowledge, judgement, and insight.  But, an even more comprehensive definition can be found in the Bible.

“… the wisdom that comes from Heaven is first of all pure, then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” – James 3: 17 (NIV)

Wow.  That’s a tall order.

I think I have wisdom that’s come from a lot of difficult life’s experiences and personal failures but I want more.  I want the wisdom that comes from Heaven.

The awesome thing is that it’s available for the asking.  “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” – James 1: 5 (NIV)  So wisdom is not only my hope but my prayer.

If I can be that kind of person, I believe I can make a difference in the world, even if it’s just a difference in my world.  I want the world to be a better place because of me.

My opinion?  The world needs way more wisdom and a lot less information.

Just a word to the wise.

Don’t make me “3’P’eat” myself…

Have you ever stopped to consider what’s behind any success you’ve had in your life?

I’ve thought it over for all of us, and come to the conclusion that the key to success is threefold:  Purpose… Pain… and Perseverance (and probably in that order).

Purpose is important because it’s the launch pad of success.  If you don’t have a purpose, you’ll be like a ship without a rudder… directionless.  Having a purpose means deciding what you want, figuring out how to get it, and then taking daily action toward achieving it.

Do you want to be a great parent?  Find a new job or career?  Go to university?  Get a promotion?  Become financially secure?  Make a difference?

You can do whatever you set out to do.

But anything worth achieving will almost certainly involve pain.  If you haven’t learned that yet, you will.  Kids may rebel, a new job may elude you, university may be too expensive or too hard, someone else may get your promotion, you may be more adept at acquiring debt than assets, or you may be frustrated in your attempts to make a difference.

Anything worth having comes at a price.

No pain, no gain.

Oh, we all know people who seem to acquire success easily and without difficulty.  It happens.  Maybe it’s dumb luck.  Or they know people of influence.  Or they’re born into privilege.  Whatever the reason, one thing I guarantee is that the people who appreciate success the most are the ones who experienced pain in the process.  Success came at a cost, and so it’s far sweeter than if it had been handed to them on a platter.

But pain is often where people get derailed, frustrated or delusioned.  They decide their purpose is too difficult or that it’s impossible.  They let the pain defeat them.

Perseverance is the ultimate key to success.

Webster’s Dictionary defines perseverance as the continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition.

Continued effort.  So easy to say, so difficult to do.  But it pays off eventually.  For some, sooner than later, but it always pays off.

Winners never quit and quitters never win.

Purpose… pain… perseverance.

I hope you’ve gotten the point.  I’d hate to have to “3’P’eat” myself.

From N.O.J. to N.O.P. to NOW…

I have a confession to make.

I’m a closet procrastinator.

That’s not to be confused with chronic procrastinator.  My procrastination is confined to just one area of my life, albeit an important one to me.

For a very long time now, I’ve believed I’m supposed to write my autobiography.  I’ve had a tough life that’s taught me some valuable lessons that I think are worthwhile sharing with others.

So I immediately took action and thought about it for several years.

Ten years ago, I came up with the title, “No Ordinary Joy”.

So, I thought a lot more, wrote a few chapters, got discouraged, deleted the whole thing, scrapped the idea, resurrected the idea, and then wrote quite a few chapters that I’m pretty satisfied with.

Sounds positive, eh?

It would be, except I moved from writing NOJ (No Ordinary Joy) to NOP (No Ordinary Procrastination).

Oh, I’ve been busy.  I’ve just been busy doing everything but working on my book.  And it’s been driving me crazy.

I’ve had my excuses but, in reality, I have no excuse.  Let’s consider the facts.  I started writing my blog on July 2nd.  In just under 4 months, I’ve written 26 blogs.  It’s not going to take anywhere near 26 chapters to finish my book.  I could have been done already!!

So, what’s my problem???

It’s ‘curtain’ number 2.

If I don’t finish, I can’t fail.

I’ve written lots of things over the years but I’ve never been invested in anything even remotely as much as my book.  And it scares me to death.  Once my book is published, it’s permanent.  The end is in sight and it paralyzed me.  I don’t want to fail.  But, it’s a double edged sword.  If I don’t finish my book, I will fail.

The only real failure is in not finishing.

I am not a quitter!  A practiced procrastinator perhaps, but not a quitter.

I’ve considered the best way to change this, and I’ve decided to start by confessing in this blog.

After all, I can’t change what I don’t acknowledge.  No one can.

No more excuses.

I was phoned by a publisher this week, and he made a suggestion that I think has real merit.  He suggested I lower my expectations and just write.  Not when I want to, not when I feel like it, not when I feel inspired but just write something, anything every single day for at least five minutes.

Everyone has five spare minutes in a day.

Some days, five minutes will feel like an eternity and other days it’ll feel like five seconds.  Some days I’ll struggle with what to write, and other days I’ll get carried away and write endlessly.  But, step by step, word by word, chapter by chapter, day by day, I’m going to get that much closer to finishing.

And, if I finish, I haven’t failed.

That doesn’t mean everyone will like my book.  In fact, if I’ve been true to myself, I can guarantee not everyone will like it.  Critics are everywhere.  But, if my book makes a difference in even one life, it’s going to be worth it.  And, truth be told, it will have already made a difference in one life… mine.  It’s already been worth it.  So, I’ve got nothing to lose.

From N.O.J. to N.O.P. to NOW starts now!

My theory of positivity…

I didn’t have the best of days yesterday.  But, even though it was a bad day, it had some pretty good moments.  Some pretty great moments, truth be told.  It would have been optimal if it could have just been a great day overall but unfortunately life doesn’t always work that way.

It would be so easy to throw in the towel every time I have a truly bad day but it seems to me that I’d be giving negative circumstances far too much power in my life.  So hence, my theory of positivity.

First of all, I’m not one of those people who’s chirpy happy all the time or who never admits that anything’s wrong or who acts like my life is perfect.  Rather, I try to be someone who sees gold in the garbage.

A positivist is an optimistic realist.

If you don’t agree with that definition, that’s ok.  I made it up.

When things go wrong, I tell myself things like “this day only has 24 hours and, in 7 more hours, it’ll be a brand new day/new slate”, “I can’t laugh about this right now but I know I’ll be able to laugh about it eventually”, “it’s just a bad day, not a bad life”, “things will work out in the right way at the right time no matter what it feels like today”, “my feelings aren’t facts” and/or “I didn’t choose these circumstances but I can definitely choose my attitude”.

The amazing thing is that it’s a real force of will to tell myself positive things and/or to be positive in the middle of a bad day but, when I persevere, I find that I always feel way better than I would have otherwise, and that I’m actually even able to bring some joy into someone else’s life in the process.

The boomerang of being intentional about doing something nice or thoughtful, or sharing a laugh with someone else, or focusing on the good and not the bad, is that you will not only bring a bright moment to someone else’s day (who may have needed it more than you’ll ever know) but it will also have a brightening effect on your own bad day.

The Bible says “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Phil. 4:8).  It doesn’t say to do it when it’s convenient or when it feels right or when life is going great, it just says to do it.

Just do it.

If it works for Nike, how can you go wrong?

Positivity has a snowball effect… the more we practice it, the more it gains momentum in our lives.  I could happily live the rest of my life and never see another real snowball but I sincerely hope that positivity gains enough momentum in my life that it causes an avalanche of good things.  I want to make a difference by being an optimistic realist.

The truth is that, no matter how bad my day has been or no matter how rough my life has been, I am blessed.  I never want to lose that perspective.  Life may be hard sometimes but it could always be worse.  It has been worse.  But, the best is yet to come.

I’m positive.

Stress test…

Stress.

Doesn’t it seem like it should be a four letter word?

What if I suggested it doesn’t have to be?

Most of us have fallen under the illusion that stress is an inevitable part of life but the reality is that it’s possible for us to manage stress rather than having stress manage us.  Like everything else that we’re successful with, it’s a matter of implementing little changes here and there which will slowly but surely reduce the negative impact of stress in our lives.

Wouldn’t you like to be more relaxed, healthier, happier, more content?

Me too.

That’s why I recently made a conscious effort to start incorporating things on this list into my life, just to see what would happen.  To be honest, at first it seemed like just another ‘to do’ list – and that felt like stress in and of itself.  But, as time went by, doing some of these things began to feel like second nature, and I started to notice a positive difference in my stress levels.  Dare I say that more days than not now, I feel refreshed, not stressed.

It’s a great feeling.

Being less stressed has freed me to be more creative, to pay more attention to the things I want to pay attention to, and to make more progress at working toward some of the goals I’ve set for myself.

When stress manages us, it’s like a ball and chain around our ankle.  When we manage stress, it’s like we find our wings.

Has anyone else noticed that life is a four letter word, and stress and death aren’t?  Who knows, maybe four letter words will start to get a better rap.  After all, there’s a first time for everything.

When it comes to stress, let’s resolve to pass the test!

– Wake up 15 minutes earlier
– Prepare for the morning, the night before
– Don’t rely on your memory…write things down
– Repair things that don’t work properly
– Make duplicate keys
– Say ‘”no” more often
– Set priorities in your life
– Avoid negative people
– Always make copies of important papers
– Ask for help with jobs you dislike
– Break large tasks into bit sized portions
– Look at problems as challenges
– Smile more
– Be prepared for rain
– Schedule  play time into every day
– Avoid tight fitting clothes
– Take a bubble bath
– Believe in you
– Visualise yourself winning
– Develop a sense of humour
– Have goals for yourself
– Say hello to a stranger
– Look up at the stars
– Practise breathing slowly
– Do brand new things
– Stop a bad habit
– Take stock of your achievements
– Do it today
– Strive for excellence, not perfection
– Maintain your weight
– Plant a tree
– Learn to meet your own needs
– Become a better listener
– Know your limitations and let others know them too
– Throw a paper airplane
– Exercise every day
– Get to work early
– Clean out one closet or drawer
– Take a different route to work
– Leave work early (with permission)
– Remember you always have options
– Quit trying to fix other people
– Get enough sleep
– Praise other people
– Take each day at a time…you have your whole life to live
– Take time out to just ‘be’ everyday
– Do one thing at a time
– Stop thinking tomorrow will be a better today

I’d say it’s about 50/50…

I came across this today, and it was titled, “50 Life Lessons Everyone Should Know by The Age of 50”.  I found it incredibly inspiring and uplifting.  Words to live by.  If I had to choose, I would say that #15 rates #1 with me but I can honestly say I wouldn’t remove one life lesson from the list.  Here’s to another 50!!!

50 Life Lessons

1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.

8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.

12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don’t worry; God never blinks.

16. Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.

17. You can get through anything if you stay put in today.

18. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.

19. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Overprepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: “In five years, will this matter?”

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.

35. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.

36. Growing old beats the alternative – dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.

38. Read the Psalms. They cover every human emotion.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.

41. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

42. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.

43. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

44. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

45. The best is yet to come.

46. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

47. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

48. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

49. Yield.

50. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.

By:  Regina Brett, Cleveland Ohio