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helping harvey

In lieu of a post about creative resistance, here instead is a small list of ways to help people in Texas if you feel as helpless as I do. I’m on the west coast and can’t physically lend a hand or give food or shelter, but I know giving money is the fastest and most reliable way to make sure resources get where they need to go. Here are a few ways to help.

Other places to give:

  • Americares and Direct Relief provide emergency response, first aid, emergency kits, and more to people affected by poverty and disaster.
  • If you are in Texas, you can give to your local food bank.

 

 

There are many places and ways to give. The above are charities are verified and rated highly with the BBB for their efficiency and efficacy.

There may not be much we can do against a natural disaster such as this, but if we all do a little, the relief will be great.

 

*Update: Pantsuit Politics has increased the cap on their matching to $1000.

Slow to Anger: How to Keep Offensive People from Derailing You

Do you ever have days that you feel completely derailed by someone’s words, actions, and/or attitude? Maybe they have a point of view you vehemently disagree with. Or they refuse to hear you.  Or (one that upsets me more than anything) they assign bad intentions where there are none. How do you keep cool? How do you step back and not let it ruin your day? How do you rid yourself of the negative feelings that are keeping you from being able to focus on more important things?

Some hard medicine to swallow is that in their eyes, you are the asshole.

Yes, you. Always, always consider the possibility that you are wrong.

But I’m not! They’re the one who…

It doesn’t matter. Blameless and well-intentioned as you may be, they are coming at the world from a different angle. Maybe the best thing was to not engage in the first place. You may never see eye to eye with this person. You may never understand how they can see the world from their perspective. But it’s prudent to try. It’s prudent to take a stance of humility and realize that they may be just as angry at you as you are at them, even if it seems totally irrational to you.

You do not grant them the power to ruin your day. No one can make you feel something. It’s your choice to either internalize the situation or let it roll off of you like water off a duck’s back.

Don’t be a hypocrite.

Avoid fault-finding. Even to yourself, never assign intentions to what they’ve done or said. Only they know their intentions, so take their behavior at face value. Making assumptions about their motives could only result in making you more upset, and really isn’t fair to the other person. Always keep the Golden Rule in mind.

And do your best not to take it personally. Chances are, a person in the habit of creating conflict is someone who takes only their own feelings into account. Don’t be that guy.

They only have so much energy to get through their day, too. They’re most likely not looking for ways to upset you. They probably aren’t thinking about you at all. Just be as kind as you can be as you float through your day, and let them float through theirs in their own way.

Boundaries

If they are the type of person that can’t avoid creating conflict, remind yourself that it’s not worth your energy to be around that person. This may sound callous, but if the only way to avoid conflict with them is to disengage entirely, then avoidance is an act of civility.

You have to also love yourself enough to not let them upset you. As a human being, they have a right to their point of view just as much as you do. But it doesn’t have to be at the expense of your well-being.

Sometimes they won’t hear you or respect your boundaries. This is tiresome and anger-inducing, but take a deep breath and tell yourself that they don’t have the power to make you feel a certain way. You have a choice in how you respond emotionally, even when you’re seeing red and emotion seems like something utterly out of your control. You do not grant them the power to ruin your day. No one can make you feel something. You can either internalize the situation or let it roll off of you like water off a duck’s back.

Fake it ’til you make it

Grit your teeth if you have to, but at the very least stay calm on the outside while you defuse your insides. Fake calm until you are calm. Don’t mirror them, and don’t feel like you have to respond in any way. Silence never killed anyone. (Though someone with a short fuse may be confounded–likely even pissed off–at your total serenity in the midst of their anger. And sometimes that is reward enough.)

If you know you don’t share many viewpoints with this person, absolutely abstain from voicing your opinion. Whether or not you agree with what they’re saying or doing is irrelevant to the situation, especially if they’ve given you their unsolicited opinion.

You don’t have to convince them of anything. You don’t have to shame them, you don’t have to change their heart, you don’t really even have to respond at all. Silence is an option if they have proven incapable of respecting your boundaries.

But you will never regret being the bigger person. You may secretly hope that they’re embarrassed and that karma bites them in the ass one day, but you are mature enough not to express or act upon those thoughts. “Man, I wish I hadn’t taken the high road,” SAID NO ONE EVER.

Validation

Is there anything else contributing to your anger toward this person? Did other little things start forming a bad day and this person was just an unfortunate tipping point? Are you projecting? Sometimes without realizing it, it feels safe to make a person that we don’t care for a vessel for all of the characteristics we dislike in ourselves.

Think about why that person upset you so much. Did they strike a nerve? Are there deeper roots to what made you upset?

To be clear, this should all be happening internally. You’re not looking to be right, and you’re not looking for other things they’ve done that made you mad. You just want to put your reaction into perspective. You might as well learn from what you’re feeling.

Catharsis

Go ahead and feel your anger. Don’t deny yourself that and salve it with fake positivity. Acknowledge it first, then ask yourself if your feelings are valid. Then after all is said and done, treat yourself to whatever form of stress relief usually works for you. Write about your experience. Do some meditative yoga. Go for a run or walk. Spend some time with your pet or loved ones. Play some games. Commit a random act of kindness.

(Or scour the internet for pictures of ducks. It’s pretty hard to be mad at anything when you look at cute animals.)

Give your mind and body a break from dwelling on negative feelings. Get outside of yourself and get some endorphins in you.

 

If you’ve been mature enough to get this far, take comfort that even if you are still an asshole in the other person’s view, it’s out of your hands. It’s up to them to deal with how they feel about it.

on creating good humans

I’d like to talk about the importance of critical thinking.

Attention spans get shorter with each advancing generation. It’s the age of instant gratification and approval addiction. Digital natives run the risk of being digital dependents. We are more connected globally than ever, yet never have we been more ill-equipped and unwilling to engage with people face-to-face.

Of course, that cultural immersion in technology can certainly be an asset. Research, if filtered through a critically thinking mind, can be done anywhere at any time. The world is at our fingertips. Creativity has more possibilities than ever before. Coding has become part of the cultural language as early as preschool. There is so much good that can be done in this age that we find ourselves in.

But to do good, the tools need to be in the hands of good people.

Frankly, we live in a divisive time, with the internet serving as an incubator. We can express opposing views behind the protection of a screen. I think there’s a danger of an empathy disconnect when you can’t physically be in the presence of the person with whom you are communicating. If there’s no face on the receiving end of your words, it becomes easier to speak to them like they are not a human being worthy of love and respect.

Respect and empathy must be taught and nurtured. It is everyone’s responsibility to raise up the next generation. It takes a village, as they say. I feel very passionately that we need to foster strong critical thinking skills in our young people well before high school, and certainly before they are old enough to vote, especially when there is so much bad rhetoric being thrown around; especially in an age where there is so much uncredentialed information readily available, an age in which anything can be counterfeited.

Training virtuous people with discerning minds is the key to a better world.

We need kids who are too smart to be duped by bad rhetoric and propaganda, and who have a willingness to work hard in the pursuit of truth. It is my dream that we raise up generations who are so wholeheartedly pursuant of goodness, truth, and beauty that it doesn’t occur to them to be selfish or litigious or lazy.

I want to see a generation rise up who have learned skills with their hands, who are scrappy and don’t feel naked without their electronics and the internet; a generation both content with solitude and silence and delighted by intimate in-person fellowship.

who live for the good of others;

who humbly seek truth and are open to all viewpoints;

who know why they believe what they believe;

who aren’t combative about their beliefs or their identity, and whose identities are not wrapped up in socioeconomics or gender labels or race or social media presence;

who see others for their spirit and character rather than societal labels;

who seek responsibility and shun excuses;

who wish to improve their character every day;

and who are motivated by love and commonality rather than our differences.

It’s never too early to teach kids how to be good citizens of the world, and you don’t have to be a parent or educator to be an influence. Children notice and absorb everything. They see how people treat one another, and will love or hate in the way that they consistently see those around them loving or hating.  They will pick up habits that they are rewarded for.

So read a lot, in front of and with your kids (or your friends’ kids). Encourage them to ask questions. Praise them for being polite. Let them play in a whole lot of different ways to explore what their gifts and interests are. Take an active interest in their individual learning style.

We need people in the world who can think for themselves and love others. Don’t think any idea is too big for them; give them the chance and they will rise to the occasion and become good people.

education as resistance

Knowledge is power. But power is only potential energy. It has to be put into action in order to be of any real value in the world.

I’m as guilty as anyone of reading too many books and articles, watching way too many videos, and taking too many online courses/webinars without actually getting anything done. I research the hell out of things. I always did this with term papers in college, too. I’d spend the majority of my time compiling information, with all of the real work happening at the eleventh hour. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty good at spinning my wheels.

You can be constantly acquiring information and knowledge, but you’ll never be an expert in your field unless you implement that knowledge. You have to DO your craft in order to hone your craft. You can be an expert at learning, but you’ll never be an expert at what you do unless you physically do it. Book learning and head knowledge alone can’t do what loads of practice can.

Learning without application is like watching a workout video from the couch. Don’t expect to see results if you’re only learning the moves instead of moving.

What sets apart the experts in any given field is that they’ve put in hundreds–if not thousands–of hours of practice. They are constantly honing their craft. If you want to be on the same playing field as the best of the best, it’s not enough to watch what they do and hear what they say. And comparison will only cripple you. You have to do what they do every single day. Implement your craft in your own unique style, and do it constantly. That is the one foolproof way to get great at anything.

Bottom line: be a perennial student, but don’t forget to do the work. Consistent practice is the key to mastering your craft.

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