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Nov
24

Who told you that?

I’m stupid with foreign languages. Flunked French, faked my way through Spanish and really, really tried to learn German. I didn’t. Nothing stuck. Not good. My wife is German…from Germany, along with the rest of her family who visit us all the time, like they are now. My forty-something nephew and his wife are leaving tomorrow and my twenty year-old grand niece arrived two days ago. Consequently, there are five of us sitting around the table and my thoughts drifted away from words I can’t understand.

cat_at_tableListening to German…German, and more German, I now know what our cat hears when people talk. It’s noise with inflections, just basic emotions – happy, sad, angry. And that’s all she needs to know. Everything else is played out with actions – food or no food, petting or no petting, threats or no threats. That’s her world and it works for her.

So I’m wondering, besides school and rules, what words are absolutely necessary for us? Stories can be entertaining but unless they carry warnings about the future, there’s no need to hear them. And even well-meaning lectures may not apply or be true. The only thing that really counts is how reality plays out. Someone telling us about reality is not reality itself. And yet, most of our decisions and attitudes come from information we read or hear. It’s data or opinions coming from someone else.

So as I said, I’m sitting with people making sounds but I’m just feeling their vibes and thinking about how much of my time is sucked up by people telling me stuff I don’t need to hear, and how I give them the impression I’m interested. I’m sure people bluff me too. We all think that what we have to say is so important, people want to hear it.

In some cases, that’s true, which is why we invented accomplished writers and avid readers, storytellers and listeners, movies and theaters, programs and televisions. All that happens because the information is captivating. We become captives because what is watched is interesting. Master storytellers capture our minds which we willingly provide.

This is a good thing. This is a bad thing. This is a bad thing because not all storytellers are good for us.

storyteller_WideB&WWe know people lie, or at least we think we know when they lie. That demands making decisions about what’s true or false, or what we believe is true or false. Some folks we trust, some we don’t. We become quite selective about our information sources and entertainment.

Being selective is a good thing and a bad thing. It’s a bad thing because we’re not always right about what’s good and bad for us. If we’re not open and flexible, we’re susceptible to those who lie and close off to those who tell the truth. Sometimes we just don’t know where those safety zones are. Still, we keep looking.

Smart promoters understand that search. They have tracked our preferences and they speak to those selections. More importantly, they know threats grab our minds more than potential perks. Reward and punishment, carrot and stick, attraction and avoidance, we all live by those push-pull motivations while professional persuaders, appealing to fears and needs, get us to do what they want us to do. All it takes is a concentrated and focused outreach with the repetition of a single, simple message.

What is that message? It’s BEWARE! Or…Be cool, buy Apple.

blue_knightAgain, fearful warnings ring all kinds of alarms. Thoughts about iPads or happier times certainly don’t, nor do promises of hope if we’re not already happy and hopeful. That’s why masters of control make sure we’re not happy and hopeful. They smash our wellbeing and shatter our trust, then ride to our rescue as the Saviors from Doom. And because there is no absolute right or wrong, good or bad, and everything keeps changing, the masses end up scurrying from storyteller to storyteller, from the Blue Knights to the Red Knights, back and forth, back and forth between the Doom and Sanctuaries on the left to the Doom and Sanctuaries on the right. The pattern never changes. Just the details.

 *****red_knight

So what are you doing about exiting the raging rat race? It takes maturity, patience and foresight to wait for delayed payoffs, and still, too many times the wait doesn’t bring improvements. If the system is broken too many times, nothing wide-sweeping can change over night; or over weeks, months or years.

With the long wait, will you lapse into anxiety, frustration and desperation? Do you feel vulnerable and angry? Are you aware you’re being watched by the Control Wizards who want to win your heart and mind as you shiver with worry? Are you stuck in the grip of artificial but effective polarities designed to never meet in the middle? Do you feel lost?

Or do you see the game as it actually is, with its malevolent psychologists making it all play out? Have you found the Safety Zones where truth and honesty kiss and hug? Those sanctuaries do exist. But you’ll never find them if you get angry and give up.

*****

I’m pretty sure those of you who follow my blog don’t give up. You think ahead, look ahead and wait to form conclusions about all the stuff competing for your attention. You spread your attention over the thoughts of others, watching and listening to the clues of deeper motivations, potential threats or gestures of kindness. Like astute attorneys who confidently know the law and use it to reveal the facts and win cases, you too observe the subtleness of life, gather its information, fact-check it, compare and contrast new truths, and then predict real threats while avoiding unsupported fears. In short, you’re happier than most.

That’s nice, because happier people are harder to manipulate.

Notice I didn’t say well informed. People who seek specific validation for what they believe, whether it’s true or not, will always find “proof” to back up their claims. Then they will tell you they’re well informed after a limited search. Like I said, we’re not always right about what’s good and bad for us. Being too selective about where you find your information narrows your window of judgment.

*****

Are happy people more “good” than unhappy people?

Well, I would say that happy people are generally less judgmental. Sure they have opinions, but they are tempered with empathy. Happy souls feel less threatened so they also feel less detached and ARE less detached from other groups and individuals. Consequently, happier people tend to get along with their neighbors, friends and family. They’re less confrontational, and legitimately so. And they trust the future. That’s a big one.

We can’t be happy if we don’t feel secure.

happy_babyAre we all born happy, then get immediately reshaped? I don’t think so. I think we come into this world with our dispositions pre-wired. Some of us are secure and relaxed, some of us aren’t. That’s why we have what’s called “good babies.” Good babies don’t demand our attention with screaming fits of whatever. They calmly lie in their beds quietly contented. They goo-goo and smiling and sleep through the night. Good babies are happy babies. For those of us who weren’t Good Babies, we have to learn to be happy.

Learning to be happy, is learning to live without fear.

And learning to live without fear, is learning what’s really scary out there and what is not. Now we’re back to where we started. If you’re scared, did people tell you to be that way? If you’re scared, are you annoyed about it and tense all the time? Because if you’re feeling unsafe and vulnerable, which expands fear and distrust, which then kills contentment and happiness, you still can get past all that (assuming you don’t live in a war zone, a land of starvation or any place that suppressed human rights).

Okay, you’re basically free. So again, to be happy and secure, you have to know you’re secure. And to know you’re secure, you have to leave the cave and explore as much as you possible can, everywhere. That’s the secret: know where your threats live, what they want and what they do…IF they really do anything. Maybe they don’t. Maybe somebody told you they’re bad-asses and they’re not. Maybe not all TV news is telling the truth. Maybe you should question all information…all of everything…even this blog.

Well…not this blog.

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