Monday, July 31, 2017

Writing Prompt - Day 3: What do People Thank You For?

I have been keeping a journal on a community of fitness minded folks. The things I have posted about are things that I struggled with at one time, still struggle with, or things I have learned during that journey. People thank me for the inspiring posts I put there.

I remember when I was a kid, feeling shy and insecure and terrified if anyone came toward me because I might actually have to talk with them. Yet at the same time, I felt alone. I’ve felt alone in fitness struggles, self-esteem issues, and other areas too. I appreciate the folks who pushed, pulled, and even shoved me out of my comfort zone and encouraged me along the way. Because I know how that felt for me, I strive to encourage others even if all it is is a listening ear or a virtual hug. I am still humbled, and very honored, when someone lets me know that it helped them.

I have a strong sense of empathy. People say I understand them, that I know what they are feeling, and thank me for just being there for them. Sometimes, my words help them figure out how to express what they couldn’t.

Mom thanks me often for opening my home to her. To be honest, it is a mutually beneficial arrangement. She is my inspiration and I hope to “grow up” like her. She helps me around the house, and I know I am there for her as she has been there for me my entire life.

I hate “blowing my own horn”, so a topic such as this makes me a bit uncomfortable. Okay. A LOT uncomfortable. And I’m sure it shows above in the choppy, disconnected writing. But again, I understand the value of it.

First, we should celebrate our victories, both big and small! Achievements motivate us. The popular concept of “fixing our weaknesses” implies that something is broken. Instead, we should take the viewpoint that we are all unique, we each have different strengths, and can use those strengths. We are not “broken” or in need of “fixing” just because we don’t fit someone else’s model. Even your body has different parts that all work together, different senses that provide varied input. SO much more is true of people, and we should focus on how wonderful that is. Celebrate YOU! Celebrate what you have accomplished and what you excel at.

Second, the Live Your Legend site from which these writing prompts come is aimed at people finding the work they love doing, that thing they “can’t NOT do”. If you look at what people already thank you for, it can give insight to what you’re doing already that may be part of that. What people thank you for is something that you do naturally, something you probably do even though you don’t get paid to do it (or would do so if you do get paid for it). It points to things you care about enough to make sure you do well.

It doesn’t matter WHAT that is. You could be the best busboy at a local restaurant, an efficient and pleasant checker at the store, or a genius at programming. What matters is that you find value in it, and do whatever it is with a giving attitude. You provide a valuable “service” and others will find value in it as well. (By the way, if some people thank you for it, chances are there are also others who value this about you even if they don’t say so. You could be doing a lot more good than you know.)

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Writing Challenge: Day 2

It’s been too long since I wrote on a regular basis, so I am doing a 7-day writing challenge.

Yesterday’s prompt was to tell your story. I’ve done that in my introduction page, and as an introvert, don’t feel the need to publish what I wrote for that one.

Today’s prompt: What makes you angry about the world?

That’s a tough one for me because I see “anger” as unproductive. When you speak in anger, you’re more likely to speak hastily and from an adversarial viewpoint. You want to convince the other party you are right and they are wrong, dang it.

But how does that really help anything?

How can you persuade the “other side” if you knock them down and tell them what’s “wrong” with their position? Mostly likely, all you’re going to do is make them push back harder, dig in even deeper.

So I decided to approach it with a different word.

What stirs really strong emotions for me about the world; what am I passionate about?

Intolerance of other opinions.

I am not talking compromising values just to not offend another person. I am NOT politically correct. I have strong opinions (even when I don’t always voice them).

What I am talking about is not acknowledging that people disagree; that other opinions have value, too.

Example: Here in the US, there are too many people, on BOTH “sides of the aisle” who are adamant that their political party is right. What bothers me is not that. What bothers me is when people on BOTH sides get obnoxious, start name-calling, belittling, and assuming everyone in the other party is evil. The “other side” has just as much right to their opinion as you do.

Poaching, animal abuse, and similar topics.

Animal abuse, to me, is a crime that sickens me. How anyone could do some of the things they do to animals? When they up the ante and do something just for profit, like whacking off a rhino’s horn or killing lions just for the bones, that disgusts me. I’m pretty sure if I had audience for it I could get pretty passionate on what should be done with perpetrators of such crimes.

Along the same lines is any kind of abuse of another person.

If you feel so little about yourself that you have to cut others down just to make yourself feel good, then you need help. We should all focus on doing things that improve the people and world around us, not cutting others down.

So that’s a few of my “hot buttons”. There are other topics I could spend ages talking/writing about; other things that stir emotions, but those are a few.

More important, however, is why a writing prompt like this is helpful.

It can help get someone started. People are a lot more likely to start writing/talking about things they believe in and that stir emotions in them than if you gave a generic topic. And if the goal of the challenge is to get people started, this is a good way to do that. This approach could also be used when you want to get to know someone – ask them something similar. IF you dare. (Just remember if you do that they could have some viewpoints that are hot topics for you and you might not agree with them.)

Your turn.

Take some time to think about what you’re passionate about. Then come back and share in the comments how the exercise helped you.