Filling in Your Time

One of the more difficult things about sustaining a blog is coming up with topics to go over without becoming repetitive or irrelevant. It is a primary factor in the failure of most creative endeavors such as blog writing or video content creation. What do you do when the ideas start to run dry, but you have a schedule to keep and you risk losing the attention of your audience by skipping a few articles or episodes?

Some people believe in the idea of quality of quantity, and I can get behind that on most things. I’d rather have one of something really good than ten of something cheap and flimsy. Unfortunately, in a world where everything is controlled by algorithms and the whims of a flighty society, you can’t always stick with the way you’d prefer to do things. Compromise is one of those ugly words we all have to get accustomed to.

I’d love to sit down once per week and just write a single, very detailed article on a specific topic, working out all of the details and providing a premium product that most other writers couldn’t produce. Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that if you want to get noticed on the internet at all, you have to try to beat the calculations by publishing as much content as possible as quickly as possible. Thus, writing an article a day for the time being is the pathway I’ve chosen to take in this early stage of building my brand.

Sometimes you just have to learn how to fill in your time. Many times there isn’t anything specific on your agenda and you can either take a break from what you’re doing or find something else to close the gap between one important thing and the next. If you’re lucky, you can find something useful to do that adds meaning to your work, but many times you’re just marking time until you can get back to doing what is important to you.

This article is a prime example of this philosophy. Not having had time the last few days to sit down and either think about what I want to share with my readers, or find something in politics or society to write about, I started to wonder what I could write to span the gap between today and when I get my next idea. That in itself was somewhat inspirational as a topic, because most of the time we find something to fill our down time with activity and don’t really think about it. We just call it relieving boredom when it’s our own personal time.

You can’t really do that in the working world. Rarely are we in a position where the job we’re doing is something we find interesting. Some people are able to live their dream and make money doing what they love, but statistically it just isn’t possible for most of humanity to find this. “The world needs ditch diggers” is a phrase I grew up hearing, the point being that many of us will be forced to do the jobs no one else wants because it’s all we can find. There is an awful lot of boredom in the world.

At any rate, while we typically don’t like the idea of doing things just to do them, and prefer to have a quality product rather than just a place holder, many times it just isn’t feasible to do any better than insert a generic effort in between the things we really care about. Keeping a routine is an important part to maintaining something like writing a blog, or even just doing your day job. As I stated before, sometimes all you can do is just put in the bare minimum.

What do you think about going through the motions? How many things in your life require this kind of effort? Are you able to pull yourself up and get things done when you run into situations like this? Sometimes you just have to do something that isn’t your best work to keep yourself moving. Getting stuck on perfection is very dangerous if it ends up derailing your routine. Sometimes routine is all we have.

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Am I a Good Person?

One of my favorite songs right now is a parody music video by a YouTube content creator by the name of TheOdd1sOut entitled Good Person. In the video, the performer goes through several examples of a completely self absorbed person who does a number of “good” things in an effort to show what a virtuous person they are, but each example is nullified by an equally bad or selfish thing that shows his true colors. The message of the video is funny but clear: the point of doing good things is to be good, not to look good.

This is a perfect satirical statement about our society today. Too many people are far more interested in their own optics rather than actually getting anything done. In a nation where the average person craves fame more than value, it is difficult to find people who you can count on to do the right thing even most of the time. More often than not, what we see in public is vastly different than who the person really is in their private life.

Most of us struggle with this in our own lives from time to time, so it is difficult to become too angry with these people. One of the hardest things for a person to do is to break away from the crowd and stand up for something that isn’t very popular. It doesn’t matter if the thing we believe in is factually correct or morally righteous. Our fear of rejection or even physical harm can sometimes prevent us from doing the right thing. It’s easy to be noble when there aren’t any consequences for it. The task becomes infinitely more difficult when we have to face opposition.

Still, a lack of courageous people in our society is exactly why we see the societal rot that we live with today. Career politicians are the most obvious and corrupt example of this. If you look back on the average representative, you will likely find a multitude of positional changes as you move through their history. Sometimes it is a genuine change of heart on an issue, but most of the time it is either political expediency or a necessary evil to save their job. Rarely does a politician truly sacrifice himself on the alter of truth.

On a more basic level, this is a problem not only with the people charged with leading our nation, but also with the general public at large. Most of us want to look like we’ll always do the right thing, but when an opportunity comes along that’s just too tempting to ignore we’ll happily jump into a situation that is harmful to someone else to line our own pockets. The riots over the last year or so are evidence of this. Average people stealing and destroying the livelihoods of their own neighbors, ostensibly because they’re angry about some esoteric problem but the reality is that it’s because they have an excuse to be evil and can get away with it.

There are a lot of places to lay the blame for this kind of behavior. The feckless media we have today certainly doesn’t help. They always cover the things that make us hate each other while ignoring the things we’ve done that make our nation great. The movie and television industry is no better, showing us as much violence and sex and other mind rotting material as they can cram through their production lines. Social media platforms filter out the things we really should be seeing in favor of those that pit us against each other, a divide and conquer strategy as old as time.

The bottom line, however, is that it doesn’t matter if we have corrupt politicians or a hollowed out media industry or even social networking conglomerates actively working against us. No matter what you see in your daily life, the only person responsible for your actions is you. When you set aside the noise of all the excuses laid out in this article and look at yourself in the mirror, all you’re left with is the actions you chose to take. It becomes very difficult to sidestep the guilt when there’s no one to blame but yourself.

The point of this article is not to make anyone feel bad, but to point out that being a good person is an internal thing. Much like being in love, no one else can tell you if you’re virtuous. You just know because you do virtuous things with no thought of reward. This is probably the hardest thing to do, because human beings are naturally selfish and want to get paid for their efforts. But the truth is that the best rewards have nothing to do with anyone else. It is feeling good about ourselves that is the greatest payment we can ever receive.

What do you think about fake goodness? How do you feel when you find out someone you thought was good never really was? Are you able to tell the difference between a truly selfless person and someone who just wants to get something from you? There’s nothing you can really do about the people in life who just want to get what they can for themselves, but you can always do something to make yourself a better person. The better you make yourself, the more you’ll be able to see people for who they truly are.

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Overcoming Your Negative Reactions

One of the themes of this blog is going over the negative things that are going on in the world today, and it’s very easy to get scared to the point where you stop thinking rationally and start having wild fantasies about how bad things might get. I certainly go through this fairly regularly, and given what is going on in the world today I don’t believe these feelings are unwarranted. The world is moving toward a place where things might get extremely chaotic and it is a good thing to become mentally prepared for such times.

However, if you spend too much of your time focused on such things, it starts to consume your life entirely. We watch as politicians do what they’ve always done, just on a grander scale and wonder what we can do about it. We watch as aggressive nations like China push their own boundaries in a bid for control of more of the world, and we wonder what we can do about it. We watch as the government continues to print money and send us further and further down the path of hyper inflation, and we wonder what we can do about it. The country seems to be falling apart, and for much of our time all we can do is wonder what we can do about it.

The trick to all of this is to keep these things in their proper context. It is true that there is a volatile mix of chaotic events that are converging together in this place and time to upset the world we’ve become accustomed to, but that doesn’t mean we have to spend every day living in fear of what might happen tomorrow. Existing in this way not only causes us to waste our present, but also to give up on our future. Regardless of the looming shadow of chaos that seems to be on our horizon, we must continue pushing forward with the hope that we can come through on the other side in one piece.

All of these issues are temporary ones, and will pass with enough time. We might struggle to get through them, and some of our plans might be put on hold or cancelled entirely, but that does not mean that there aren’t things we can be doing in the meantime to push our lives forward. As I’ve stated in the past, sometimes live altering changes can be a good thing. It can open doors we never expected to be made available to us and put us in places we never thought we could reach.

Of course, there is always risk in such situations, but to dwell on this is pointless. Even in our modern society with so many rules and structures, we have only created the illusion of safety. We enter into much more risk than we ever realize simply by being employed by a company or getting into our cars or walking down the street. None of us can ever really know what is going to happen to us, and any feeling of security is only an illusion.

Knowing this, it becomes important for us to stop viewing the potentially chaotic future we see before us as something to fear and start looking for ways to take advantage of what might be coming our way. Like any venture, there will be risk, and some of that might include life and limb, but no one ever makes it big without putting something valuable on the line. If you lose, then at least you tried and don’t have to live the rest of your life wondering what might have been.

So as we watch the world we grew up in starting to slowly crumble away, it is imperative that we see all of these negative things for what they are: things that are happening that we can’t control and all we can do is control ourselves. Keep your eyes open for the things coming your way that you can do something about and stand ready to do what is necessary. Don’t let the media or even some of the things I share here in this blog get you down. In the end, human beings have shown that we have the capacity to pull through the worst possible situations. You can too.

What do you think about the chaos in the world today? How many times have you felt discouraged after watching or reading about something bad happening? Are you prepared for some of the things we might have to face in the near future? Many times, all it takes is a slight adjustment in our attitudes to make all the difference in our lives. Being prepared for the worst, but hoping for the best, can steel us for the trying times ahead. Be prepared.

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The Mass of Men Lead Lives of Quiet Desperation

Sometimes you hear something that just makes you stop what you’re doing and reflect on things for a while. No matter how long you think about various things in your life, there are certain words that just hit you really hard and cause you to either think about something in a completely new way, or crystalize a feeling you’ve always had deep down inside you. These aren’t usually life changing words, but that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you have a moment of clarity.

Henry David Thoreau is one of the most well known writers in American history. Most of us don’t know any of his works, but his legacy is so strong that even most uneducated people at least know his name. People like this leave us with pearls of wisdom just like the title of this article. There is something powerful in such a simple phrase that speaks to us on another level. You hear it and it calls to your soul.

Of course, this wasn’t the first time I’ve heard this quote. There have been many times in the past that I’ve come across it, either through reading or in media in one form or another. It is a well known quote and is used to describe something that many people deal with every day: lost dreams. These kinds of phrases resonate with us so powerfully because they speak to something very real in our lives that affects the very core of our being. Those are the things that simply can’t be denied.

What really sparks these feelings is when we look at ourselves and realize that we aren’t living the kind of life we wish we could. It doesn’t matter if you have fame or fortune, or if you are popular or powerful or any of the things that society has claimed we should want. None of these are the things that make us feel like we’ve truly made it in the world. There is nothing so shallow that can save us from the desperation of the unfulfilled life.

The only escape from this desperation is finding something in our life that gives it meaning. Money is great, and can certainly help us try out many different things in the hope of finding something that does it, but money by itself is useless. The same is true of power, at least when that power results in relationships based on fear of consequence rather than true respect. Fame is the worst way to try and fill the hole inside, as there is no intimacy with the people who fawn over you. It is empty.

Mostly, though, it is those of us who struggle at the bottom of society who quietly despair through our lives, unfulfilled with the grind of life absent some sort of meaningful purpose. Being proficient at a thing simply isn’t enough. We need to feel as if we are leaving a legacy, and that can only happen if we are doing something that resonates with the people around us. It is in the thoughts of others that we ultimately escape the despair.

Like most men, I struggle with the despair of my wasted life. I am attempting to break the chains of that horrible feeling and step out into the light to make something meaningful, but decades of playing it safe out of fear makes it really hard to do. What I do know is that I’m tired of that feeling and it’s past time to shove off the despair and start living the life I’ve always wanted. The trick is just figuring out how to do it.

What do you think about living in despair? Do you think the people in your life quietly suffer with how their lives turned out? How can you support your friends and help them to seize the kind of life they really want? What would you need to do the same? We live our lives in quiet despair because we are too afraid to make a move, and no one around us is brave enough to encourage us to act. How much better could our lives be if we all carried each other forward?

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You Can’t Let Others Think for You

One of the goals for this blog is to encourage critical thinking. It would be easy to look at a blog like this and expect to find answers to your problems, and perhaps that will be the case with some of the posts as we continue moving forward. However, the point is not for me to provide anyone with answers, but to spark new questions you may not have considered. This blog is not about solving problems, but about creating new ones.

It would be easy for me to stand up on a virtual stage and tell everyone what I think they should do. We all have ideas about what we think is right and what makes sense and how we think the people around us should behave. My posts include some level of this, and I don’t really try to hide it. I have judgements about the world and people around me, and many times this is an outlet to put those thoughts out into the world. But my goal is to be better than that.

Too many of us are looking to others for answers. This is partly because there are so many people out there who claim to have those answers, and our desire for truth is so strong that we blindly follow whatever is out there that we can find. If it resonates, it sticks, regardless of any validity in logical thought. We are hungry for more, and sometimes we give up our own identity to find it.

This is not the way to live your life. Consumption of information is a means to an end, not the process itself. Knowledge adds to our ability to analyze our own lives and figure out for ourselves what is meaningful and what is superficial nonsense. It is only when we take that knowledge and filter it many times through our own way of thinking that we can start to build a framework for our minds.

The solution to the things in our lives simply can’t be found in other people. We are each unique individuals which means that no one cookie-cutter solution will work. The thing that works even for your spouse is very unlikely the thing that works for you because you simply work differently than they do. Looking to others for solutions rather than just a piece of the puzzle will always result in disappointment.

Understanding this, I started this blog to put out my own perspective on issues and some of the variables I consider when going over them. I have no solutions, and neither does anyone else. All we have is information that we can impart to those around us to use in their own deliberations. No one can promise you an answer because answers are unique to each person. You collect as much information as you can and use that to come up with the answer that works for you.

This is hard work and requires quite a bit of time to make happen. You might have to spend an hour or more a day working through the many thoughts you need to deal with to figure out what you think. Many people are unwilling to do this and end up just following what someone else says. This is lazy and very dangerous. Our society is where it is today because of this way of thinking. Critical thought is no longer of primary concern to a large number of people today.

If you can find the desire, however, you will start to find that you will grow exponentially as you train your brain to stop accepting the “facts” of others and start looking at the world through your own lens. The rewards of looking at a thought from all angles and deciding for yourself what you think are far greater than anything you could get from someone simply handing you an “answer”. Much like cookies, those feel great but offer little in the way of sustenance. It is only when you go after the real food that you find the best for yourself.

What do you think about thinking? Do you spend enough time really analyzing what you believe? How many of your viewpoints are simply copying what other people have said? Human beings have an amazing capacity for logical thought, and no matter your background or education you have the ability to think intelligently about an issue. Start taking the time and putting in the effort to decide for yourself what you think.

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When Should You Fight?

It can be a difficult thing living in a world with so many other people around you. We all have different ideas of how things should be, what we want, the kind of acceptable behavior, and myriad other variables that make social interactions extremely complex and difficult. Most of us just want to live our lives in peace and do the best we can, but sometimes we aren’t given that option.

There will be times in every person’s life when they are forced to make a choice between accepting what is and standing up to fight against something wrong. In our modern society, we are highly encouraged to refrain from any sort of conflict based behavior, and in some ways this is a very good thing. An orderly society, when that order is just and focused on liberty, can be an extremely safe and peaceful place to live.

On the other hand, when a society places order above the rights and will of the people, then we start running into some serious issues, especially when some people in that society decide to start breaking away from the group to serve their own interests, many times in whatever manner they see fit. This is when we start seeing significant levels of criminal activities. The worst of this is when people decide that they no longer care about the law and are willing to do what they want through force.

Where it gets very difficult is knowing when to push back against such behavior. Obviously, if a person has violent intentions and you have no realistic means of self defense, your options are quite limited. If you are mugged on the street by a thug carrying a knife or gun and you have nothing but your phone and wallet, there is virtually no chance that any resistance will result in a positive outcome. Despite the heroic fantasies we get from the movies, the likelihood is that you will be seriously injured or killed. It’s best to just let them have what they want, assuming all they want is your belongings.

The natural assumption after this is that if you have the mans to resist, then you should do so. However, the variables are a bit more complex than this very black and white statement. The assumption that you should protect yourself by any means necessary in all situations can be a very dangerous way to conduct yourself. Many times we can make deadly mistakes when we decide that we will use force in situations that don’t necessarily warrant it.

For example, if someone is trespassing on your property in the middle of the night, and you believe they are trying to steal from you, depending on where you live you may be justified in protecting your property with deadly force. In many circumstances, most people wouldn’t judge you too harshly for your actions, but in some situations you may be criminally liable. Assuming there are no legal consequences, however, you still have to live with the fact that you seriously injured or killed someone. Is that really worth taking a life?

This article isn’t meant to be a judgement on the actions of people or their behavior. The point is to raise the issue of starting to think critically about how you approach conflict in your life. You may feel totally justified in using force in certain situation, and you could certainly be justified in doing so, but have you thought through why you feel this way? If you can defend that thinking with logical though, then you can feel confident in your actions. If you can’t, you should step back and seriously consider why you think the way you do. Thoughtful violence can be effective and justified; angry response will almost always get you into trouble, whether that be with the law or just some person you misjudged.

What do you think about fighting back? Have you been in a situation where you were under threat and had to make a choice? How did it turn out? Could it have been different if you had a better philosophy? Many times we react out of fear or anger, and it ends up being random chance that determines the outcome. Taking the time to work through who you are and what you are about can make the all the difference in a dangerous encounter.

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You Don’t Need a New…..

It is interesting to look at consumerism in America. Most of us don’t think twice about buying something new, even when the thing we are replacing is still perfectly serviceable. For most of human history, our decision making when it comes to buying things was almost totally based on need, unless you happened to be in the privileged position of being wealthy. Nowadays, the average person lives far better than kings used to just a hundred or so years ago.

This of course started only in the last century as we increased our ability to make more and more things at cheaper and cheaper prices. The industrial revolution and the technological advances that followed it created a world where it was about the same price or effort to just buy something new rather than fixing what you had. Throwing things away in favor of the shiny new bauble was far preferable when the cost was the same.

Unfortunately, this attitude ignores one of the most logical tenets that should be a part of our decision making process: just because you can do a thing doesn’t mean that you should. In a previous post, I described how making decisions from a place of emotion rarely results in the best result. While that post was centered more around having the courage to face our fears, the same logic applies when it comes to the way we use things in our daily lives.

One of the best examples of the negative consequences of emotional spending is the purchase of vehicles. The average car has a reasonable useful lifespan of at least ten years, while the average loan today is only six years. Typically, the person owns the car for a few years and then gets bored with it, attracted by the shiny new model they see in an advertisement. Rather than paying off the car and using the extra four years the car should last to save up for their next car, they trade in now at a net loss and place the negative equity on top of the new car. Each new loan adds more and more debt for less value.

It doesn’t have to be this way, if you can learn to control your desires. I have historically struggled with this myself, and am saddled with a fair amount of debt because of it. However, I have learned to suppress this desire in certain areas of my life and I am now finally making headway. For example, I was accustomed to getting a new phone every couple of years, but rather than add another phone payment to my plan, I simply paid off my current phone and I’m holding onto it until it fails. It still works fine, despite a cracked screen and body, and there is no reason other than aesthetics to replace it. Why spend more for something I don’t need?

This is counter to what the market wants us to believe. It is not in the best interest of the economy in general for consumers to start spending less and holding onto things longer. It relies on people spending what they make to increase productivity and grow the GDP. You will rarely be told that you shouldn’t buy a new car or a new phone or a new house or whatever else you’re considering. Businesses rely on your dollar to keep running, and will do anything they can to acquire your patronage.

The point of this post isn’t so much to criticize people who buy things before they need to, but to encourage you to stop and think about your purchase before you commit to it. If you have the disposable income to arbitrarily purchase things with cash without endangering your finances, then I absolutely support your decision to inject money into the economy via your spending. However, far too many of us can’t really afford that shiny new thing and end up going into debt for it. This is where we really need to take a hard look at what we’re doing.

Being smart with money is something the average person just isn’t taught. It isn’t in the best interest of those who manipulate the rest of us to have a public that is informed on how things really work, and especially not to have someone like me advocating for people to not spend money they don’t have to. At the end of the day, only you can decide how to budget your finances, and it is your priorities that set your spending. Just keep in mind that the new thing you buy usually ends up costing you more than you first think.

What do you think about upgrading to new things? Are you good with your decision making, or do you tend to be wasteful? How much of your existing debt is a result of buying something new that you didn’t really need? At some point, we all need to learn how to be better with our money. If we don’t, we will continue to make the same mistakes over and over again, wasting money that we could have applied to something more valuable.

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Cowardice Hurts You, So Why Not Be Brave?

We are all afraid of something. It doesn’t matter if you are just a regular person on the street or a special forces operative or the President of the United States. There are things in our lives that get our hearts pounding and cause us to act in ways we wouldn’t normally behave because the consequences of whatever it is we’re dealing with are so comparatively high to us. Every person on the planet struggles with overcoming their fear of whatever it is they want to avoid.

Where we run into issues is that fear can sometimes cause us to do things we regret later in life. Being overcome by emotion almost invariably causes us to act irrationally, and not thinking rationally typically ends in a less than optimal result. When we make decisions with our hearts rather than our heads, we give ourselves up to random chance because feelings don’t consider all the variables. It just yearns for what it wants, and if it just wants to avoid feeling afraid it capitulates to whatever it has to in order to get rid of that feeling.

Most people don’t really think about fear these days. We have our comfortable lives full of routine and convenience. The news headlines tells us about the terrible things happing in our country and around the world, and for a moment we feel a bit of anxiety, but once we scroll past the article or close out of the video that feeling passes like a menacing cloud back into the sunshine of our lives and we feel fine again. The average American feels no reason to be afraid.

Unfortunately, the world isn’t as safe as it appears to be. There are always forces acting against you, even if you’re just an average person living an average life. We like to think that we’re not involved in politics, but that viewpoint is sorely mistaken. The people who struggle to get into power in this country are mostly interested in manipulating the average American into going along with whatever they want to get done, even if it isn’t in our best interest. The more the politicians group together, the more of a threat they are to you because the group becomes more important than the people.

It is natural for many of us to want to bury our heads in the sand and just not look at the problem. We have enough issues to deal with just putting food on the table and paying the bills, and all those political issues just seem so far away and not relevant to our daily lives. Unfortunately, these people are making decisions that directly affect you and me and we ignore their actions at our own peril.

The world doesn’t stand still, even if we wish that it would. There are always things going on, be it in our government or in other countries or even just in our own neighborhoods and cities. Some of these things are good and some bad, and the bad ones can only be addressed properly when the community as a whole is informed and makes a firm decision. America is known for being a beacon of light in the darkness of the world, mostly because we’ve historically acted when others wouldn’t.

When we look back on recent history, we can see how being afraid ended up hurting more people than standing up for what was right. The biggest example I can think of was Neville Chamberlain, who was so afraid of Nazi Germany that he refused to push back against Hilter’s push into other areas of Europe. This emboldened the already aggressive German military and encouraged them to keep pushing more and more until finally the Allies were forced to respond. Had Chamberlain had the courage to stand up to Hitler, it is entirely possible that World War II could have been avoided, or at least drastically limited.

As we move through our daily lives, we rarely have the opportunity to consider the consequences of our inaction. Many times we can look at a choice to do something and imagine what might happen if we act, but typically it is fear that forces us into inaction. As stated earlier, this state of fear causes us to make bad decisions that usually end up hurting us anyway. We know something is wrong, but our fear forces us to sit by and let it happen. The issue has to be dealt with one way or another, and we’re going to feel the consequences whether we want to or not.

There are many things that we are all dealing with in the world today. Pandemics, aggressive countries seeking to expand, politicians who are more concerned with their own bank accounts than the interests of the public, and a society that was rapidly shifting toward insanity and is now starting to swing back. All of these things directly affect us, and whether we act or not there will be consequences for each of us. We can have an effect on what those consequences will be, and we will usually be hurt far worse by just sitting by and letting it happen, so why not have a little courage and stand up for what we believe in?

What do you think about courage? Is it just for the powerful people, or are you obligated to overcome your fears as well? How can you act in your own life to bolster your courage and affect change in the world around you? All of us struggle with putting ourselves out there and becoming exposed to risk, but that risk is there whether we do anything or not. There is a much better chance of getting a more positive result if we act rather than hiding in the shadows.

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100+ Posts!!

I am excited that I have been able to stick with this through more than 100 posts! Thank you all for continuing to read. It’s really motivating to know my effort is getting noticed!

I’m really looking forward to post number 365. Here’s hoping we get there!

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Learning to Keep Your Mouth Shut

One of the hardest things for a man to do is to sit back and let things happen, especially when they are things that he disagrees with. I have mentioned in the past that we can learn to live with humiliating situations, but what about those times when things are happening that strike at the core of your life and are being caused by people you used to trust? What do you do when you feel the anger welling up inside you and all you want to do is scream at someone?

I’ve learned over the years that many times speaking out just makes things worse, not only for you, but for the people you care about. I’ve said a lot on this blog about standing up to what is wrong and finding the courage to do what needs to be done, and in many situations this is absolutely the right thing to do. Unfortunately, there are also situations where sometimes you just have to sit down and shut up and let things happen, even if you hate every minute of it.

Among the myriad situations to which this applies is child custody. I haven’t gotten too personal about this particular area of my life, mostly because I prefer to keep my children out of anything public like this. The sad thing is that they are no longer close by, and everyone hates it except for the person who decided it in the first place. It was a decision made by one person that affects nearly everyone who matters, but none of us got a say in any of it.

What can you do in a situation like this? I could have fought the decision, but would that really have helped? There is a tenuous congeniality involved in this particular situation, a delicate balance which can be upset with a single wrong word. A step in the wrong direction could bring misery down not only on myself, but also on my kids. Even though my principles tell me to fight for what I think is best for them, the reality is that all I can really do is make things worse.

The movies give us situations like this all the time. A man might be walking down the street with his wife and they are accosted by a man with a knife wanting her purse. Our natural instinct is to defend the one we love, but in reality the odds are that resisting someone with more power than us is only going to result in someone getting hurt. Is it worth it to protect a few dollars or trinkets?

Where we get a difference is in the same situation when the man wants to rape his wife. Then it crosses a threshold where there is no longer any choice but to fight as hard as he can to stop a person with evil intent from causing irreparable harm to the person he loves most. This is a clear line that most of us naturally understand. There is very little ambiguity when it comes to a black and white situation like this.

The problem is that many of our problems don’t have black and white solutions. When things come up that cause us pain, the first thought that enters our mind is usually the nuclear option. Just blow everything up and let the chips fall where they may. This is almost never the correct response, and as we get older it becomes much easier to understand why. We start out making decisions impulsively with little wisdom. Experience teaches us the folly of acting that way.

In the end, sometimes we have to learn to just shut our mouths and accept what we can’t change. Only you can decide where this applies in your life. I can write on this blog and encourage you to stand up for your rights and fight the system, or do any number of other things, but at the same time we all have to realize that there are certain costs that we aren’t willing to pay. And sometimes we have to be aware of the costs we don’t even know about yet. Is it worth blowing everything up to get our way?

What do you think about using discretion? Have you learned to filter out what is important and what you need to just let slip by? How do you handle it when you have to just accept what is? Part of growing up is learning to differentiate between what you should fight against and what you should learn to live with. There are things that are non-negotiable, but sometimes it’s more important to sacrifice your pride for the benefit of others.

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