Jan 172011
 

You may know that I am writing a book about virtues. I added the Buddhist “Noble Eightfold Path” to my listing of virtues after an unproductive search for a virtue that fully embodied “delicacy of speech.” That is, the deliberate choice of words that carefully avoids damaging the fragile stem of newly-sprouted expression in others. It was gentler than tack. It was more specific than thoughtfulness. It was more loving than kindness or even loving-kindness. It was a gentler movement of a whispered expression than love. I could think of nothing more apt then the first Eightfold path virtue of “Right Speech.”

The Buddhist concept of Right Speech, of course, covers the courser commissions of lying, malicious slander, harsh anger, and idle gossip. To me, in this moment, it also needed to go past “do no harm,” and past pure and absolute gentleness–all the way to nurturing delicacy without hint of harm; speech that was fully, aptly, right.

I have been in the practice of completing a fully-formed suite of ideas, usually about a single-spaced page of writing, and taking it downstairs to read aloud to my wife. She is usually quite tolerant and will pause in whatever she is doing to receive it. She rarely responds with anything but mild acceptance or a simple , thoughtful word of approval. Sometimes she notices one of my characteristic shifts in verb tense and I am grateful to her for noticing that. She knows that that is all I am seeking.

Last night, she called up the stairs to say that I she had sent me an e-mail and asked if I had read it. No, I wasn’t aware of it yet, but I would check it out. I paused what I was doing and discovered that she had written the first chapter of a children’s book, based on her childhood experiences. At the end, she had written, “What do you think?” Being the nurturing sort of fellow that I like to think I am, I went downstairs, found her busy cooking, said, “Ah, I just read your e-mail. You’ve been busy. Of course, you’ll need to rewrite it in the third-person voice. She allowed as how I was probably right but that it was difficult for her to write in the third person. Having promptly done exactly what she had asked for, I laid a little kiss on her check and returned to my office.

Something wasn’t right. It’s like when the underpants in your drawer are folded differently on one side than on the other. I sat there for a while re-reading her work and trying to figure out my sense of unease. In a bolt of Inspiration, I knew what it was. Rushing downstairs, I beamed at her and said, “It just occurred to me that, instead of rewriting for third-person you could just drop the introductory comment ,”My first memory of being different was when I was about seven.” and write directly as that seven-year old girl. Beaming in triumph of reason, I returned to my office.

Something wasn’t right. This was really starting to bother me. It’s like when you stepped in the new bed of petunias. You got down on your hands and knees, bent low and tried to adjust the tiny plants to stand upright again so that nobody will notice. I had screwed up. Stepping hesitantly down the stairs, I discovered her watching her favorite comfort program on television, Home and Garden TV. I could see that the candle flame that usually flickers vigorously in her heart was reduced to a steady, quiet flame.

“I did it wrong, didn’t I?” She looked at me steadily, but without anger. “You could have said it like a tomato sandwich.” She teaches children that, if you put buttered slices of bread around a slice of tomato, it makes it easier to eat. I should have been more attuned to “right speech” and, if it was necessary to make even a well-intentioned constructive criticism, I should have started and ended it with positive statements. I had stepped in her fresh bed of petunias.

We had recently finished viewing How to Cook Your Life, a wonderful show featuring Edward Espe Brown teaching about Zen and cooking as a path of meditation. He described his initial judgment of waste and futility at the kitchen’s practice of preparing food to be placed reverently before a nearby Buddha shrine. Later, it occurred to him that this was the perfect metaphor for a cook. Knowing that even the best meal will not please everyone, the cook makes his best effort, places the food in front of his customer like an offering, and then quietly walks away. He should not be anxious about having it criticized; it was his best effort and worthy of being offered to the Buddha.

I had been caught crushing petunias and she had been caught being dependent on the judgment of others. Springing to self-defense with the first handy offense I could find, I reminded her that she had asked me what I thought and that I had provided exactly that with clear and precise masculine rationality. Further, that she had suckered me into an inappropriate response when what she had evidently wanted instead was for a girlfriend to tell her how she felt. I waited for someone to acknowledge my triumph of logic. A contemplative, but cold, hesitation told me that I was now madly dancing in the petunias. Not good.

Retreating to my best profound apology, I sat, held her hand, and offered several over-careful positive comments. She let me off the hook. We sat quietly for a while. I gave her a weak smile and a weak kiss on the cheek before retreating to lick my wounds. I couldn’t do much more at the moment about her wounds.

Supper was beyond wonderful. She had gone out of her way to accommodate my delicate sensibilities about larger pieces of meat. I gave voice to appropriate, sincere, and unhesitating appreciations. But, here I am now, in the middle of the night, hacking away desperately on my keyboard, dreading that, like the petunias, her new story may never recover and grow.

So, there you have “Right Speech.”

Copyright 2011, David Satterlee

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License, which essentially says that you are free to share the work under the conditions that you attribute it fully, do not use it for commercial purposes, and do not alter it.

Sep 252010
 

Self Improvement – Coping with Fear, Risk, and Crisis

The people keep you going

Most of us are in this business because we respect natural health. Mental health is a key part of our overall (natural) health. A well-recognized sign of strong mental health is creative service to others and freedom from selfishness. Such selfless service supplies a sense of calm satisfaction which further reinforces health. This positive cycle just keeps on going.

“It was never pushing this business that got us where we are today – it was helping others,” says Marge. “We don’t set goals; we help people. It’s the people, including our wonderful Managers, that make you successful. You couldn’t be in this business if you didn’t give from the heart. The only thing that keeps you going is the people.”

“The power of man’s virtue should not be measured by his special efforts, but by his ordinary doings.”
-Blaise Pascal

Handling rejection

“You are a quack and a crook. You are unworthy of my attention. I’m not interested and I want you to go away.” Yikes! What a nasty thing to read! Are you OK? Take a moment, if you need, to put yourself back together. The rest of this page will help.

When you take your emotions and convictions public, you face some pretty personal assaults. Be prepared for this by having full faith in the value of your message. Then if (no, when) someone disrespects that message, you can bounce back. You can “shake the dust off your sandals” and move on.

Actually, rejection is no big deal. We expect a certain percentage of people to be so locked into their own ruts that they just can’t see out. Your message may represent a threat to their precious, comfortable rut. They would have to change if they took you seriously. On the bright side, maybe you gave them something to think about and their attitude will soften. It has happened. Then, when they come back seeking you out, your joy is doubled. Rejection is simply the way you know that it’s time to move on. You will find so many kind and appreciative people that you will not even worry about those who are ignorant or rude. As you keep on, your pleasure and satisfaction keeps on growing and growing.

“Every great movement must experience three stages: ridicule, discussion, adoption.”
-John Stuart Mill

Overcoming fear

What frightens you? Disapproval? Failure? Fear is death. You can take your death by fear all at once or in little bits. You have heard of people who have been so afraid of a shadow that they brought on a heart attack. Could they have had more mental control?

Fear leads to both inaction and indecisive action and both can kill. Texas roads are littered with dead armadillos and squirrels. Armadillos will stop still in the road. Squirrels will dash madly back and forth, unable to decide which way to run. I have known people who give in to their fear, bit by bit, until they are unwilling to leave their houses. I have known others who dash from one get-rich idea to another without pursuing one long enough to benefit from their efforts. Could they have had more mental control?

A key to overcoming fear is to want something strong enough that you are finally willing to plunge ahead despite your fears. Once you decide to act, you can redirect the energy of your fear into unexpectedly decisive action.

“Has fear ever held a man back from anything he really wanted, or a woman either?”
-George Bernard Shaw

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.”
-Ambrose Redmoon

“Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless in facing them. Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain but for the heart to conquer it.”
-Tagore

“His flight was madness: when our actions do not, Our fears do make us traitors.”
-Shakespeare, Macbeth

“I believe that anyone can conquer fear by doing the things he fears to do …”
-Eleanor Roosevelt

“Fear always springs from ignorance.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Nothing is terrible except fear itself.”
-Francis Bacon

“We have nothing to fear except fear itself.”
-Winston Churchill

If your friends and family don’t understand

It can be discouraging if your friends don’t understand why you are “doing this strange herb thing.” You have a choice. You can fearfully give in to their ignorance or you can boldly persist in educating them.

For many years, I just deep down solid didn’t get it. My wife would try to tell me about herbs but it didn’t make sense so it irritated me. I wouldn’t eat anything that was “good for you” and I certainly wouldn’t take any capsules! Eventually it began to make sense and I changed. Give it some time.

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”
-Mark Twain

“Don’t listen to friends when the Friend inside you says ‘Do this.’”
-Gandhi

Risk = Commitment (Burning your bridges)

Have you heard the story of the explorer who burned his boats upon reaching the far land? His troops then had no option but to stay. They were irrevocably committed.

I operated my network business part-time for years and never grew much beyond the minimum sales required to stay a manager. When I gave notice to my employer, however, there was no turning back and I REALLY paid attention to product sales and recruiting. When I put more at risk, I generated commitment.

“I have learned this at least by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
-Henry David Thoreau

“There are costs and risks to a program of action, but they are far less than the long range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.”
-John F. Kennedy

“Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
-T. S. Eliot

Crisis time: excuse or challenge?

The Chinese pictogram for “crisis” is composed of the symbols for “danger” and “opportunity.” People tend to resist change but when a crisis strikes, change forces itself on you. Your only choice is how to react.

A crisis can be your excuse for feeling sorry for yourself and quitting. Maybe a natural disaster wiped out your home and business. Now what do you do? You could lose heart and quit. The other option is to simply start over and rebuild with what you have left. You may not have much but you still have your experience. You can be determined to do an even better job this time. When the universe hands you an opportunity, take it.

“Prosperity doth best discover vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue.”

“A man must make his opportunity, as oft as find it.”

“A wise man will make more opportunity than he finds.”

“Chiefly the mould of a man’s fortune is in his own hands.”
-Francis Bacon

Failure

You shouldn’t agonize over your failures but you should dwell on them. Think about what happened and why it went wrong. When you understand why you failed, you free yourself to try again.

History is full of inspiring stories of those who failed repeatedly but kept on trying again until they were successful beyond any expectation. I always think of Thomas Edison trying thousands of materials for the filament for his new electric light bulb. Although people seem altogether too happy to remind you of your failures, I really believe that some failures are evidence that you are out there doing something. Just don’t keep making the same mistakes.

“You only fail when you fail to try,” according to Dr. Daniel Litchford, who was the motivational speaker at a New Managers’ Convention. He taught: “I’m not judged by the number of times I fail, but by the number of times I succeed. And the number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I fail and keep trying.”

“There is nothing left to you at this moment but to have a good laugh.”
-Anonymous Zen master

When you do wrong

Does it seem today that business ethics favors the sharp operator and that no one notices or punishes all the little dishonesties that people commit all the time? Don’t believe it. When we act from bad motives, it catches up to us. When we are greedy, selfish and covetous, the stream of good that was refreshing us seems to dry up.

A manager from California, urges others: “Don’t do anything you know is wrong or later you will feel sorry and it will affect your energy, your business. If you make mistakes, don’t let them get you down; keep trying and you will do very well!”

When you do wrong, the best course is to turn it around as quickly as you can. Admit the wrong, ask forgiveness, repay or repair the damage that you have done, forgive yourself and move on.

“How pleasant it is, at the end of the day, No follies to have to repent; But reflect on the past, and be able to say, That my time has been properly spent.”
-Jane Taylor, Rhymes for the Nursery. The Way to be Happy.

If you say it, you have to do it

Isn’t it funny? You can convince yourself that you want to do something but still put it off indefinitely. As long as you keep the goal private, it’s just too easy to procrastinate.

The cure is to make your goal public; then you have to follow through or else “lose face.” Once you have made a public commitment, you feel a real obligation to begin and then keep on keeping your promise.

You might use this technique to strengthen your commitment to lose 15 pounds or to send out a monthly newsletter. When people ask you how much weight you’ve lost or want to know when they’ll receive your next newsletter, you will be more likely to get back to work in order to meet their expectations.

The hardest part of any task is getting off to a good start. Once you actually get started, it’s easier to keep going.

“The beginning is the most important part of the work.”
-Plato

Copyright 1996, 2010, David Satterlee

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License, which essentially says that you are free to share the work under the conditions that you attribute it fully, do not use it for commercial purposes, and do not alter it.

Sep 242010
 

Benjamin Franklin’s Goals of Virtue

Temperance

– Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.

Silence

– Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.

Order

– Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.

Resolution

– Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.

Frugality

– Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; that is, waste nothing.

Industry

– Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.

Sincerity

– Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly; speak accordingly.

Justice

– Wrong none by doing injuries; or omitting the benefits that are your duty.

Moderation

– Avoid extremes; forebear resenting injuries so much as you think deserve.

Cleanliness

– Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.

Tranquility

– Be not disturbed at trifles or at accidents common or unavoidable.

Chastity

– Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.

Humility

- Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

Sep 242010
 

Self Improvement – Coping with Fear, Risk, and Crisis

The people keep you going

Most of us are in this business because we respect natural health. Mental health is a key part of our overall (natural) health. A well-recognized sign of strong mental health is creative service to others and freedom from selfishness. Such selfless service supplies a sense of calm satisfaction which further reinforces health. This positive cycle just keeps on going.

"It was never pushing this business that got us where we are today – it was helping others," says Marge. "We don’t set goals; we help people. It’s the people, including our wonderful Managers, that make you successful. You couldn’t be in this business if you didn’t give from the heart. The only thing that keeps you going is the people."

"The power of man’s virtue should not be measured by his special efforts, but by his ordinary doings."
-Blaise Pascal 

Handling rejection

"You are a quack and a crook. You are unworthy of my attention. I’m not interested and I want you to go away." Yikes! What a nasty thing to read! Are you OK? Take a moment, if you need, to put yourself back together. The rest of this page will help.

When you take your emotions and convictions public, you face some pretty personal assaults. Be prepared for this by having full faith in the value of your message. Then if (no, when) someone disrespects that message, you can bounce back. You can "shake the dust off your sandals" and move on.

Actually, rejection is no big deal. We expect a certain percentage of people to be so locked into their own ruts that they just can’t see out. Your message may represent a threat to their precious, comfortable rut. They would have to change if they took you seriously. On the bright side, maybe you gave them something to think about and their attitude will soften. It has happened. Then, when they come back seeking you out, your joy is doubled. Rejection is simply the way you know that it’s time to move on. You will find so many kind and appreciative people that you will not even worry about those who are ignorant or rude. As you keep on, your pleasure and satisfaction keeps on growing and growing.

"Every great movement must experience three stages: ridicule, discussion, adoption."
-John Stuart Mill 

Overcoming fear

What frightens you? Disapproval? Failure? Fear is death. You can take your death by fear all at once or in little bits. You have heard of people who have been so afraid of a shadow that they brought on a heart attack. Could they have had more mental control?

Fear leads to both inaction and indecisive action and both can kill. Texas roads are littered with dead armadillos and squirrels. Armadillos will stop still in the road. Squirrels will dash madly back and forth, unable to decide which way to run. I have known people who give in to their fear, bit by bit, until they are unwilling to leave their houses. I have known others who dash from one get-rich idea to another without pursuing one long enough to benefit from their efforts. Could they have had more mental control?

A key to overcoming fear is to want something strong enough that you are finally willing to plunge ahead despite your fears. Once you decide to act, you can redirect the energy of your fear into unexpectedly decisive action.

"Has fear ever held a man back from anything he really wanted, or a woman either?"
-George Bernard Shaw

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear."
-Ambrose Redmoon

"Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless in facing them. Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain but for the heart to conquer it."
-Tagore

"His flight was madness: when our actions do not, Our fears do make us traitors."
-Shakespeare, Macbeth

"I believe that anyone can conquer fear by doing the things he fears to do …"
-Eleanor Roosevelt

"Fear always springs from ignorance."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Nothing is terrible except fear itself."
-Francis Bacon

"We have nothing to fear except fear itself."
-Winston Churchill

If your friends and family don’t understand

It can be discouraging if your friends don’t understand why you are "doing this strange herb thing." You have a choice. You can fearfully give in to their ignorance or you can boldly persist in educating them.

For many years, I just deep down solid didn’t get it. My wife would try to tell me about herbs but it didn’t make sense so it irritated me. I wouldn’t eat anything that was "good for you" and I certainly wouldn’t take any capsules! Eventually it began to make sense and I changed. Give it some time.

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great."
-Mark Twain

"Don’t listen to friends when the Friend inside you says ‘Do this.’"
-Gandhi

Risk = Commitment (Burning your bridges)

Have you heard the story of the explorer who burned his boats upon reaching the far land? His troops then had no option but to stay. They were irrevocably committed.

I operated my network business part-time for years and never grew much beyond the minimum sales required to stay a manager. When I gave notice to my employer, however, there was no turning back and I REALLY paid attention to product sales and recruiting. When I put more at risk, I generated commitment.

"I have learned this at least by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."
-Henry David Thoreau

"There are costs and risks to a program of action, but they are far less than the long range risks and costs of comfortable inaction."
-John F. Kennedy

"Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."
-T. S. Eliot

Crisis time: excuse or challenge?

The Chinese pictogram for "crisis" is composed of the symbols for "danger" and "opportunity." People tend to resist change but when a crisis strikes, change forces itself on you. Your only choice is how to react.

A crisis can be your excuse for feeling sorry for yourself and quitting. Maybe a natural disaster wiped out your home and business. Now what do you do? You could lose heart and quit. The other option is to simply start over and rebuild with what you have left. You may not have much but you still have your experience. You can be determined to do an even better job this time. When the universe hands you an opportunity, take it.

"Prosperity doth best discover vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue."

"A man must make his opportunity, as oft as find it."

"A wise man will make more opportunity than he finds."

"Chiefly the mould of a man’s fortune is in his own hands."
-Francis Bacon

Failure

You shouldn’t agonize over your failures but you should dwell on them. Think about what happened and why it went wrong. When you understand why you failed, you free yourself to try again.

History is full of inspiring stories of those who failed repeatedly but kept on trying again until they were successful beyond any expectation. I always think of Thomas Edison trying thousands of materials for the filament for his new electric light bulb. Although people seem altogether too happy to remind you of your failures, I really believe that some failures are evidence that you are out there doing something. Just don’t keep making the same mistakes.

"You only fail when you fail to try," according to Dr. Daniel Litchford, who was the motivational speaker at a New Managers’ Convention. He taught: "I’m not judged by the number of times I fail, but by the number of times I succeed. And the number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I fail and keep trying."

"There is nothing left to you at this moment but to have a good laugh."
-Anonymous Zen master

When you do wrong

Does it seem today that business ethics favors the sharp operator and that no one notices or punishes all the little dishonesties that people commit all the time? Don’t believe it. When we act from bad motives, it catches up to us. When we are greedy, selfish and covetous, the stream of good that was refreshing us seems to dry up.

A manager from California, urges others: "Don’t do anything you know is wrong or later you will feel sorry and it will affect your energy, your business. If you make mistakes, don’t let them get you down; keep trying and you will do very well!"

When you do wrong, the best course is to turn it around as quickly as you can. Admit the wrong, ask forgiveness, repay or repair the damage that you have done, forgive yourself and move on.

"How pleasant it is, at the end of the day, No follies to have to repent; But reflect on the past, and be able to say, That my time has been properly spent."
-Jane Taylor, Rhymes for the Nursery. The Way to be Happy.

If you say it, you have to do it

Isn’t it funny? You can convince yourself that you want to do something but still put it off indefinitely. As long as you keep the goal private, it’s just too easy to procrastinate.

The cure is to make your goal public; then you have to follow through or else "lose face." Once you have made a public commitment, you feel a real obligation to begin and then keep on keeping your promise.

You might use this technique to strengthen your commitment to lose 15 pounds or to send out a monthly newsletter. When people ask you how much weight you’ve lost or want to know when they’ll receive your next newsletter, you will be more likely to get back to work in order to meet their expectations.

The hardest part of any task is getting off to a good start. Once you actually get started, it’s easier to keep going.

"The beginning is the most important part of the work."
-Plato

Copyright 1996, 2010, David Satterlee

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License, which essentially says that you are free to share the work under the conditions that you attribute it fully, do not use it for commercial purposes, and do not alter it.

Nov 182009
 

Source: Liberty Mutual – All Films

[The site at the above link also includes five NBC one-minute films about responsibility.]

“How It Began

“In 2006, Liberty Mutual created a TV commercial about people doing things for strangers. The response was overwhelming. We received thousands of positive emails and letters from people all over the country commenting on the ads.

“We thought, if one TV spot can get people thinking and talking about responsibility, imagine what could happen if we went a step further? So we created a series of short films, and this website, as an exploration of what it means to do the right thing.”

Good VibrationsThe story of how a jackhammer can trigger moral repercussions.
The Sound I SawTwo boys racing bikes. One boy taking responsibility.
The Home RunA true story that proves winning has nothing to do with the scoreboard.
Party GuestA blind date starts off promising, but a difficult decision must be made. Can a great smile and sense of humor cover up one bad flaw?
ProdigyA gifted young man must choose between fulfilling the dreams of his father, or pursuing the passion in his heart.
Be GoodOne man’s mission to do the right thing.
Somehow or other.
Tony1 little boy.
1 lost teddy bear.
15 minutes to find it.
Hot SeatWars have been fought over many things.
Seldom over an office chair.
Growing UpIt’s remarkable what children can learn from us.
It’s even more remarkable what we can learn from them.
LighthouseA lighthouse keeper’s darkest hour turns out to be anything but.

Directed by Charlie Short & Ming Hsiung.

Father’s DayThey say time heals all wounds. But what if all you have are weeks?
Original music score (available for complimentary download) by Human
Mandy & LesterCookies will fall. A hero will rise.
Table GuardiansAn ordinary morning. An ordinary coffee shop. An extraordinary group of strangers.
TransitA man is just another passenger on a bus until he comes face to face with a thief. And a choice.

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