My friends have recently supplied me with more tips for living … you know, how to get along with those around you and to make the world a better place. Don’t we all want to do that every once in a while? Of course, I thought it necessary to add my thoughts, too.
We’ll start with this: When you’ve made your point, stop talking.
Where do I begin? I know so many people who don’t do this. They say something and then they say it again and you think that part of the conversation is over and then they repeat it a third time. I remember a pastor from way back who had very long sermons – 30 to 35 minutes. That’s way too long for me, as I think I’ve said before. I’m only good for 10 minutes or so. After that, my mind starts to wander. The congregation would think he was done. He had made his point and we all got it and then he started all over to say it again in another way. When you’ve made your point, stop talking. It will be better for all those around you.
Now we have this: Stand up to bullies – you’ll only have to do it once.
Here is a story I heard recently, but it took place many years ago, way before caller ID was available. This doesn’t happen anymore, I suspect, because now we usually know who’s calling us before we answer … that is unless it’s one of those telemarketers who has disguised the phone number to look like someone in your area.
Here’s the story. Every day, just a few minutes after the woman walked in from work, the phone would ring and a man would start in with some obscene comments. I suspect that happened more than we know in those days. Who knows why people did that, but back then they remained anonymous.
I consider this a form of early bullying, not the kind we are seeing in schools now, of course. I think it qualifies here though. The victim sought advice on how to get rid of this person. Most told her not to talk to them, just hang up. That didn’t work.
One day she had just had enough and turned on him with her best words, telling him what a shame it was he didn’t have something else to do with his time and why was he bothering her with this. I might be cleaning that up a little bit, but that was the last time he ever called. So in this case of a crazy kind of bullying, the confrontation worked.
How about this one: Forgive yourself for your mistakes.
Wow, this is a hard thing to do for many of us. I don’t think I know anyone who hasn’t made mistakes. Some have made bigger ones than others and some may be harder to forget, but the important thing is, it does us no good to continue to dwell on them. OK, here is something to work on.
Then there is this: Be a good listener … don’t just take your turn to talk.
This is good advice. Some of us are busy planning our response thinking the person wants to hear what I have to say about this discussion? People appreciate being looked at when you talk to them and feeling like they are heard.
Remember this: Never gloat.
Now seriously, there are certain times when gloating is really fun – like when you’re playing tennis and someone has smashed the ball at you. You missed it but now you get a chance to smash it back at them and get your point. I’ll admit there’s a certain amount of satisfaction there.
There might be times when you’re correct. You’ve made the statement and you know you’re right. The other person is continuing to argue an incorrect position or answer. At this time I just drop it. But when if I find out I was right, I’m secretly gloating inside. Who doesn’t like to be right? But the advice is to never gloat out loud. Do it secretly … to yourself.
Now this: Keep your word.
Be someone people can count on. This is really an important one to me. I want to be someone people can count on to be there on time and to do what I say I will do. My friends are all like that and I appreciate it. I find it hard to deal with people you can’t trust.
Here’s a good one everyone will agree with: Don’t litter.
Who can forget the commercial about littering that ran for many years on television. It started with an American Indian in native dress watching people throw trash out the window on the highway. He and his ancestors had cared for the country for hundreds of years before we were ever here. Now he was watching people literally trash it. At the end he would turn around and there was a big tear coming from his eye. It’s something from quite a few years ago that has stayed with me. I think about it when I see trash along the highway.
And finally, don’t be surprised that you are never too old to need your mom.
Remember when you were sick, how your mom took care of you? It didn’t matter whether it was the flu, chicken pox or some other ailment. How many times I would like to have a conversation with my mom about something. I suspect many of us who do not have our mothers around anymore feel the same way. She and I were great friends, and I miss her much.
(Melanie Behrens – firstname.lastname@example.org)
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