Sole Focus

News, Views, Rantings & Ramblings by Carey Parrish

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Location: Georgia, United States

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Way I Live, Part 2: The World Doesn't Care About Your Problems, So Don't Inflict Them on It

We live in a fact paced, hectic society. Everyone is on the go, all the time, ourselves included. The business of daily life is a myriad of obligations that we become accustomed to as we get older. We don’t always like these chores but they have to be done in order for us to maintain the lives we lead.

Problems come to everyone. Be they rich or poor, old or young, black or white, whoever you are you’re going to have to your share of problems which are going to present themselves in every shape, form, fashion, and situation. You aren’t alone in this thing we call life. Everybody is plagued by issues they would rather not have to deal with. If you’re not, you either aren’t living or you’re letting somebody else do your thinking for you.

Because we are members of a world on the move, and because problems are so commonplace, most people often feel the need to vent about the aspects of their lives which aren’t to their liking. This is a healthy and normal thing to do. Everyone needs someone to whom they can talk and who they can ask for advice. For most of our lives our parents fill this role. When the issues are those that aren’t suitable to bring to your mom or your dad, you need a trusted friend to lend you the time you need to talk things over and help you come up with a solution, or at a least coping skill to utilize until you find your solution.

People need each other. We yearn for the attention of someone else. Our parents give this to us when we’re young. Once we’ve reached adulthood we turn to our colleagues and to our friends for the recognition we desire. The people who know you and who care about you are only too happy to give you this validation. These people are few in our lives and we must return the favor when called upon to do so. If not, you’ll find yourself alone and lonely one day.

Surrounded by people, you must realize that you can’t be friends with everyone. You can be friendly to everybody, and in fact you should, but you can’t establish a true friendship with all the people you work with or all the folks you associate with in your “you” time. These are people who have their own friends and their own circle of peers with which they associate, and they also have their own set of problems to deal with, just like you.

I encounter a lot of people who really seem to enjoy telling everybody they meet about their woes. They feed off of it by some means. The negative condition they develop becomes all consuming and they are compelled to share it whenever they can. My grandmother used to say that some people weren’t happy unless they were miserable. It may be a cliché but it is oh so true, and oh so sad. These people must not have parents to take their problems to, or a select few friends to whom to turn. They evidently don’t get that important venting time we all need, or if they do they become embroiled in the feeling of holding someone else’s attention and trying to involve as many people as they can in the black funks that become their lives.

It is a psychological condition. Really, it is. “Misery loves company,” if you will. The drawback in this way of conducting oneself is that these people fail to realize they’re becoming a nuisance to the people they work around. Soon they become a joke as well; an object of ire. They get the reputation of being a complainer, a belly-acher, and a perpetual downer to the people who have to be around them on a regular basis. Worse, if someone comments on their condition, or suggests that they focus on something positive, they get annoyed and offended, which often leads to even more misery on their part because then they complain to anybody who’ll listen about so-and-so who had the nerve to tell them they were being a pain. It’s a vicious cycle, and a poisonous one.

For the real truth of the matter is that the world doesn’t care about your problems. The world has its own. Your constant complaining and negativity makes people not want to be around you. Your insistence on inflicting your unhappiness on the people you have to associate with doesn’t do anything for them and in the end it doesn’t serve you very well either. It just makes you a general gripe with the reputation to go along with it.

Dealing with these types of people is always a challenge. There is a lady where I work who might possibly drive me to distraction if I had to spend a lot of time around her. Her coworkers even have a nickname for her that I won’t share here but which speaks volumes about how she is seen by them. She might likely be mortified if she knew it too. People who incessantly complain are usually unaware of how their peers perceive them. They think they’re presenting one front when they’re actually showing another. It makes me wonder how their behavior would alter if they did become aware of the truth. Would they shape up and act in a better manner or would they just become even bitterer and unhappier, intent on inflicting themselves even more tenaciously? This uncertainty is usually what makes those around them steer away from tipping them off about how they really look. After all, why chance making a bad situation worse?

This condition is usually a matter of self esteem to a great extent. People who like to gripe about everything generally have a poor image of themselves. They don’t feel empowered in their lives. They act as if they think life happens to them, and not because of them. I suppose it probably does if this truly is their outlook. They don’t go for their goals or nurture their dreams. Rather they complain about their existences because isn’t it so much easier to find excuses for not doing what you should? Blaming circumstances for where you happen to be in your life is an all too easy thing to do.

Someone else I work with fits this category very well. This is a woman over fifty years old who feels the need to top you on whatever it is you’re talking about. If you mention knowing someone, she knows them too and she knows them better than you do. If you’ve done something, she’s done it too and she done it more often and more successfully than you have. It has been this way as long as I’ve known her and the older she gets the worse she is about it. The only people who want to associate with her are those who are either too young to recognize the pattern or who have a worse self image than she does. Sadly, she will likely continue this pattern unless she can find something to improve her image of herself, and while this would be the best outcome it is doubtful she’ll go in search of it because she’s too installed in the pattern she’s already set for herself. I’ll bet she doesn’t even see it anymore. The balm she salves herself with comes from behavior that is psychologically rooted somewhere far in her past and she’s spent too many years burying it under layers and layers of half truths, and sometimes not even that much. The amount of soul searching and self work it would take for her to change this pattern in her life is probably such a daunting thought that even if she does occasionally have it she doesn’t see it as a symptom of the problem at hand. She’d need intensive therapy with a professional counselor to get to the root of what makes her do the things she does.

Cynicism is another condition which I don’t allow into my life. The reason I don’t is because when you let yourself become cynical, negativity isn’t far behind. Cynicism is not a healthy outlook to have. You’re limiting yourself with the cynical by letting it affect your perceptions of the world around you, your situation, yourself, everything about your life. You don’t see things as they might be; you see them as what you think could result in a negative outcome of a decision. Cynics never see possibilities. They only see the “why nots” about something. These people are everywhere and we have to deal with them along with the complainers and whiners.

The way I choose to deal with people who are constantly negative, or who want to point out only the bad in anything, is to put on a smile and conduct myself in a positive manner. Even if I don’t feel like it, I make myself do it because if I don’t set an example of the kind of attitude I like to deal with from others then how can I expect anybody to know it? People are not mind readers. You’ve got to have open lines of communication to get your points across. A smile is a much more inviting expression than a sour frown. Don’t let the world see your sad face.

Happiness is as much a state of mind as it is a way of life. You are a human being and you have certain obligations to the people you encounter. One of those obligations is to offer them a friendly person when you go out where you are likely to meet them. Why should you want to give everybody you run into a dose of negativity? Smile. Be happy. Let the world be your compass. Don’t let the attitudes of other people dictate how you are going to feel or how you are going to conduct yourself.

When you answer the phone, do it with a smile on your face because that smile will convey itself in your voice. Be cheerful to whoever called you because they’re not calling to find out your problems. They are calling either because they need something, they have something to tell you, or perhaps they just want to talk to you. Don’t ruin a gift like that by making them not to want to call you anymore. Be truly interested in the person who called you and the topic they want to discuss. It will make them feel important to you at that moment and it will give them a sense of confidence in your presence.

Negative people love the telephone. They just can’t resist it. It gives them an outlet for spreading their poison without even having to leave home. The greatest gift I think I’ve ever received where the phone is concerned is caller ID. If I see someone is ringing me who usually has only negative things to share, and I don’t feel like listening to them at that particular time, I let voice mail answer them. Voice mail, there’s another miracle of modern technology.

Happiness is a decision you make but it involves a lot more than just saying “I’m a happy person.” You’ve got be a happy person or you’re just lying to yourself. A lot of people don’t know how to be happy. Until recently I wasn’t fully sure of it myself. It came to me through a lot of meditation and from some very deep inner inventories I was taking of myself. In order to be happy you need to give yourself permission to do it. You can’t stay stuck in the past with guilt or anger over mistakes you made. You can’t remain in a rut of a lifestyle that isn’t spiritually or physically good for you. You have to want to be happy and when you want it you’ll find that you’re willing to work for it.

You have to be realistic about it as well. Every day you live isn’t going to be filled with sunshine and blue skies. That’s not reality. You’re going to have problems. You’re going to suffer. You’re going to feel hopeless sometimes. You’re not human if you aren’t experiencing these things as you go through life. You’re going to be depressed sometimes too. It is perfectly normal to be so now and then. The pitfall you must avoid is allowing yourself to stay in this state. When you have a bad day, remind yourself that it’s only one day in your life, not the rest of your life.

I don’t remember where but I once read that when your troubles are at their worst, let your laughter be the happiest. And it is such a simple thing to do. You just have to realize one thing: In the end no one can make you happy, I mean really happy, but you. Give yourself that. Explore yourself and find the things that make you feel good about yourself, and then expound on them. Indulge yourself in them. Get involved with activities and people who share the things that you also love. Soon you’re going to find that your life has brightened up because your attitude has brightened up. Your attitude is going to have improved because you’ve improved. And you’ve improved because you wanted to improve.

When you let yourself be a happy person, you’ll share this with the people in your life by simply being around them. Your expression, your tone of voice, your excitement, will all convey it and you’ll quite possibly be showing someone else how to achieve the same thing.

So realize that it’s the truth when I say that the world doesn’t care about your problems, so don’t inflict them on it. Share yourself with the people who love you. Turn to them when you need a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen. The rest of the world is only going to kick your guts out if you try to fill this need by venting it to anybody who’ll listen. You know why? Because after a few minutes they won’t want to listen to you anymore. The world will hem you up in a corner that is of your own making and from this spot you will become a venomous, negative, unhappy person.

And who needs that?

The Way I Live, Part 1: Never Quit A Job Until You Finish It

I live by four simple rules:

1. Never quit a job until you finish it.
2. The world doesn’t care about your problems, so don’t inflict them on it.
3. If there are relationships or circumstances in your life that are not working, get rid of them. Have the courage to be happy.
4. Never stop reaching for your goals. Once you’ve accomplished something, you’re above it. Move on to the next one, further on and higher up.

These are the foundations upon which I build my way of life. They may not work for everybody; after all, we’re each individuals, human beings with our own strengths and weaknesses. The trick, I’ve learned, is to discover what makes you content with yourself and then use these tenants as the building blocks for your life. If you take the time to find out what gives you that superb sense of inner peace you can tailor the rest of the details in your daily life around this gem of common sense.

Never Quit a Job Until You Finish It

My first rule is something I learned at a young age from some of the most important people in my life during my formative years. It took me quite a while to understand the importance of this ideal because when you’re young you don’t put a lot of thought into what you’re doing most of the time. It’s when you get older, when you’re faced with life’s daily challenges – not just the big ones – that you begin to reflect on what you learned through both observation and deliberate instruction from the people you came up around.

My maternal grandmother was one of the strongest people I have ever known. This was a woman who was born to parents who had a home but not much else. They made their living mostly through farming. Every day there were things that had to be done to keep their way of life going. Work was the foundation of that life. My grandmother learned the importance of a hard day’s work at an early age and this was a lesson that served her well throughout her life.

She got married very young and raised a family during the depression. She and my grandfather also farmed during those lean years, and Granny made chenille bedspreads for extra money. Here in northern Georgia, back in those years, Highway 41 was the only route to Florida. There wasn’t an interstate then. So many women made spreads, pillows, cushions, doilies, etcetera, and they put them out along Highway 41 where travelers going south from up north could see them. And these travelers bought them too. Even during the depression. It certainly didn’t make any of them rich but it added to the coffers their families needed to survive.

These were some very hearty people. They had to scrape out a living during a time in our nation’s history when multitudes were starving, without homes, without hope. My grandparents dug in and did what they had to do to provide for their children. The jobs they chose for themselves were all practical and they had to devote themselves to the completion of these tasks. Whether they were farming or raising livestock or taking care of the kids, each job was equally important toward sustaining their lives. So they didn’t quit anything until the job was done.

These were the kind of people my mother came from and they taught her how to get along in life. Through their examples, and through the assignation of chores, my mother and her siblings also learned to work, and more importantly they learned the importance of a job well done, a job completed to the best of their abilities, and the satisfaction of knowing that what they saw at the end was their achievement.

My dad grew up in different circumstances. When he was just a baby, my paternal grandfather went off to fight the Nazis in World War 2. When the war was over, Grandpa came home to find his wife living with another man, and his children, my dad and his sister Shirley, farmed out to Grandma’s sister Nell. I never really got to find out my paternal grandmother’s side of the story. I’m sure she had one and now I wish I’d talked to her about it, but topics such as these simply weren’t discussed when I was growing up. In fact, I remember my mother telling me not to mention Grandma Tanner around Grandpa Parrish, and vice versa. So I didn’t. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I talked it over with Grandpa and he told me his side of it. It made me understand better why he made the choices he made. I’ll never know that about Grandma Tanner because we weren’t close and didn’t visit often. We never had the chance to build a relationship where I would have felt comfortable asking her questions like that, or where she would have felt alright in explaining it to me. It’s sad, I know, but it is what it is.

My dad bounced back and forth between his parents. Everyone had to struggle in those years, even with the economic boom that followed the war, and Daddy grew up doing things for himself. He learned about survival when he was a child. His work ethic came as much from sustaining himself as from what he learned from his parents. He lived more with Grandpa than he did with his mother. Grandpa believed in hard work and he kept a roof over their heads and food on the table. Daddy got a part time job when he was only ten or twelve to have lunch money for school and to buy extra clothes he wanted. He learned work and its importance from a position of having to do it, and the completion of whatever the job was had to be the outcome of it.

I came along in later years, when people weren’t farming or raising livestock for a living that much anymore. If we needed something to eat we got it from the refrigerator, which was filled from regular trips to the grocery store. Both of my parents worked and so I didn’t have to worry about a home or clothes or eating. Times had changed but the importance of working had not. I had chores to do around the house. From the time I was old enough I was expected to keep my room clean and to make my bed when I got up in the mornings. I kept the grass cut too. I got an allowance for doing these things (which I usually spent on records) and through this experience I also learned about working and what it brings you.

Finishing a job you’ve started is tantamount to receiving any reward from the task as a whole. If you leave something undone, it isn’t much use to you or anybody else. It also becomes a source of irritation to you as time passes. A healthy work ethic must include seeing things through to the end. If you give up, you’re a quitter.

Whatever it is you decide to do you must have the knowledge and the skills to do it. So don’t take off on a lark for which you’re unprepared. You wouldn’t expect to jump into the cockpit of an airplane and take off into the wild blue yonder without first learning how to fly, would you? This same principle applies to anything in life. I see so many people fail at things they’re trying to accomplish because they just don’t have the skills they need to finish the job. Worse, most of them just abandon whatever it is they were doing when they see they can’t do it.

People seem to have a big problem with going back over their failures and seeing where they went wrong. They have an even bigger problem with admitting that they couldn’t do it because they didn’t know how. Don’t fall into these traps. They’re just psychological in the first place. Approach anything you want to do like a child who is learning something for the first time. Remember when you learned to tell time? You first had to know your numbers, didn’t you? And then you had to know in which direction they went. Then you had the basics for understanding how to tell time. The mechanics are the same for anything you want to do.

Don’t try to undertake a task that you don’t care for or which doesn’t interest you, and this is especially important in your choice of career, because if you do what you’ll get out of that is a lot of frustration; the feeling that you’re wasting your time. If you’ve been doing the same thing for twenty years and you begin to stagnate in your role, then don’t be afraid to find something new that challenges you again, that makes you feel excited about doing it, that makes want to learn it. The job(s) you pick for yourself should be things that will give you a feeling of self confidence, a sense of pride in your work, and they should add something meaningful to your life. I’m not saying to just quit what you’re currently doing either; we all have to have a means to live. Take the time to learn whatever new thing you choose before you embark on it. In doing this, you will appreciate it more and enjoy it more when at last you have the opportunity to hang up the old and take up the new.

Above all else, finish what you start. Don’t be a quitter. Don’t be a failure. Don’t be afraid to admit your mistakes. You should learn from them! You should add these experiences to your base of knowledge so that you won’t do the same thing wrong twice. Get it right. Finish it. Admire what you’ve achieved. Admire yourself for achieving it. Then you’re ready to try something new.