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On Life IV



It was in April when I first used this subject. Almost three months have passed since then and it is now the fourth time I am writing under the same headline.
Probably I am more surprised about it myself than you are. That might be because I write my blog entries spontaneously.

You can experience in almost real time what is going on inside me, what moves me, what keeps me busy. Just as spontaneously a topic was created, which I recently wrote in the forum. Everybody who knows me a little bit through my posts has probably felt a little bit of my displeasure when reading this topic. 

Since a few weeks I have been using the so-called social networks a bit more. It is frightening for me to see how rough and rude the way people treat each other is. Do I live in a too perfect world outside these social media? Ben, who actively supports me, said something like this: "Our messages and responses are polite. Why are the answers [we receive] insulting? How do you still manage to be in a good mood and even laugh?

Ben is a sweet and adorable bloke. Since December, one crisis in his life replaces another. The place where he lived was destroyed by the Wildfires, his girlfriend abandoned him and due to the restrictions of the pandemic his chances to meet a girlfriend or old friends are extremely low. All he had left were his personal belongings and his car. When we had a few appointments and tours on the mainland earlier in the year, he said that he has a car when I wanted to rent one. In the last second I stopped myself from turning down his offer. Had I done that, I might have unintentionally offended Ben. 

When it comes to cars in terms of comfort and power, my mind usually goes into standby. Admittedly, a few hundred kilometres in an xx year old (lovingly maintained) Colt are not very comfortable, especially not for the passengers in the back seats. 

You can insult and hurt someone unintentionally. But you can also do it on purpose. The latter happens very often in social media. There are hardly any other places where you can get dozens of new "nicknames" within a few hours. 

Back to Ben's question. How do you deal with it?

I first asked Ben if he knew the people or if they knew him. He answered both questions with no. Then I asked him whether he saw in what and how he wrote it a cause for the reactions. He said that he could not imagine this and gave me several examples to read. I also saw no reason for the offending reactions. 

This was probably one of the longest introductions I've ever written. My conversations with Ben are only a small part of the question of how to maintain or improve mental well-being in unpleasant situations. Deliberately I do not speak of mental health. Although mental health is partly dependent on the surroundings and situations, it can also have genetic and various other reasons. When dealing with the question of mental well-being, one quickly finds out that it is about much more than just the way of thinking. Of course, the way we think has enormous significance. 

1011531047_randomguy.thumb.jpg.7235766cc83684dc248fc6e6dc1b305c.jpgWhen we met Ben in January, he was, as I said, in a not so easy phase of his life. Even though he tried to hide his sadness, you could see and feel it. When he sat at the pool and stared onto the water once again, I just sat down next to him. Ben understood the signal and started talking after a few minutes. I only listened. 

It is important for our mental well-being that we can talk about our feelings, worries and fears with a person we trust. Although we only met personally a few days before, Ben has granted me this trust. I have never got to know someone so intensively in such a short time. Even though I wish Ben hadn't had to make these experiences, we all agree that it has brought us all closer. 

Another aspect for our mental well-being is communication. Conversations stimulate our thinking. You exchange ideas and insights, and at the same time you are encouraged to think about what your conversation partner has said. Especially when it comes to ideas, new ideas and sometimes entire concepts develop within these conversations. Talking about flowers, animals, beautiful women or men,... stimulates our visual imagination, our fantasy.  I am occasionally criticized, quite justifiably, for appearing very convincing in conversations. This is a side effect of having led a company for some years.

Criticism now takes me back to the question of how to deal with unkind words. Here I am referring to personal criticism. While we enjoy a positive feedback like a warm shower, a negative criticism is like a cold shower. We feel unwell, uncomfortable. This is where we need to take action. To become active does not mean to defend against criticism with counter-arguments. Becoming active means that we have to ask ourselves why our counterpart sees us this way. Is the criticism justified? Does the other person even have the right to criticize us?

Both of the questions cannot be considered completely independently of each other. But to answer the first question, we need to know ourselves. Something I wrote in an earlier entry. We need to know who we are, what our strengths and weaknesses are. By knowing this, we can also evaluate criticism. Is it a friend, or another person we trust, then we should listen very carefully. It is quite possible that we have not seen this side of ourselves before. It is important to be open and to ask detailed questions.
If we can answer the first question in the negative and the person is someone who does not know us well, it should be clear that we reject this criticism. It is a waste of energy to communicate this disagreement to the other person.

It is also a waste of energy to respond to such comments, answers, ... it's like an altercation. One argument leads to another. In the end there is no winner. This is something I learned from my husband (and later in coaching sessions). At the very beginning of our relationship, I said some things to him in rage (I rarely had my Italian tumblr_l7szuo53wv1qaawc5o1_500.thumb.jpg.d592d8c6449260ecdb531791b2a24378.jpgtemper under control). But it didn't turn into an argument because he sat there like a rock. His silence had made me angry, but at the same time it disarmed me. After I had calmed down he came up to me and confirmed one point or another, and in other points he told me his viewpoint. Well, he had listened.

Even if my 25 percent Italian genes try to get the upper hand every now and then, I have learned that communication, conversations, debates, ... are much better suited. When you are served by a waiter, cashier, ... unfriendly, it is better to just take a deep breath and ask yourself if there is a possibility that this person is just going through something. We cannot know that. It doesn't cost us anything to give him or her an honest smile and wish him or her a nice day.
We interact with our fellow human beings consciously and unconsciously. There is a very distinctive experience for me at a market checkout. It was such a memorable moment that even after years I still know that I bought tomatoes. Since I only had this one item, an elderly lady told me to go first. I thanked her politely with a smile. She took note of this. After I had paid, I turned around  myself to her again and thanked her a second time. Her facial expression changed from amazement to a radiant smile.

I'm just wondering if I've gotten off topic. Never mind.

While negative influences cause discomfort in us, positive influences increase our well-being. But how can we avoid these negative factors and increase the amount of positive ones?
First you have to learn how our brain basically works. Everything we perceive with our senses ( visual, auditory, sensory ) is processed by our brain. Most of it is unconscious to us, because only a small part of it reaches our consciousness. Our feelings, decisions and actions are influenced to a greater extent by our subconscious. I have said before that we do not have to accept unjustified criticism etc. However, our consciousness has already obtained this negative information. It is up to us to mitigate and transform them. In doing so, we have to take care that our brain basically cannot deal with negations. "Please do not think of a pink elephant now" - usually leads to our mental imagination projecting a pink elephant. 
We have to find the equivalent and make use of it. Have we been told we were uneducated. We repeatedly say "I am educated." We can reinforce this by writing it down. 

Easy? No. It takes a lot of practice. 

Laughing-Buddha.thumb.jpg.40e339c4d9dba7b1985d0b7ae88e7349.jpg.f5dc095cc2535e80ffb6ecd6f225e7c7.jpgSeveral years ago I started to greet myself with a smile in the mirror in the morning. At first it was a silly grin. It became much easier after I had stuck a big Smiley next to the mirror. My husband had recently written in @JoelR 's topic that we have laughing Buddhas in our houses. Even if there is a deeper meaning behind it, these laughing Buddhas immediately lift the mood when you look at them. 

We also increase our mental well-being by focusing more on positive impressions. There is an essential difference between drinking coffee (or tea) and enjoying (celebrating) it. It is important to take the time to do things that give you pleasure. Enjoying these moments will make you feel good about yourself.

Time-outs are also important. Hours that we only have for ourselves. Turn off the computer, TV, smartphone, tablet for a while and enjoy the silence. 

Our physical well-being strongly influences our mental well-being - and vice versa. Physical activity ( from walking to gymnastics, ...), healthy food and sufficient sleep are also very important factors.

It wasn't necessary to tell Ben any of this. I had only asked him a few questions and focused his attention on the positive reactions that were predominant in numbers.

Apart from the sadness Ben had in him at the beginning of the year, he and his brother Pat are bubbling over with positive energy. Ben also has the enviable gift of transforming his experiences and emotions into music. When he grabs his guitar and lets his voice sound, it is a wonderful moment. If Pat then joins in the singing (yes, both can sing excellently), it becomes a magical moment. 

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Posted (edited)

Let me share a few personal remarks, that might have only a passing connection with your interesting and thoughtful entry.

Please do not insult Colts :t1827: . They are surprisingly tough little cars. When I first went to the UK on a scholarship, a few of us Hungarians at he the U. of Sussex pooled our meagre resources and bought an old and battered Colt for 125 quid, as we figured it would be cheaper to get around and share the costs (as a comparison: at that time a day pass on the London underground was about 8 quid, the 30 min train ride from Brighton to London was around 7 quid, with a student discount) . And it was totally worth it. The little Colt took us from Brighton to Scotland twice, from Whitby to Cardiff, and all around England.  And at the end we could still sell it for 50 quid. We were all heartbroken when we had to say farewell to our car :m1507:.

Social media manners:

I had kept away from Facebook for years, but eventually my friends convinced me to join. I had a brief honeymoon period when I thought "oh, how marvellous, I can comment, I can share my thoughts on all sorts of topics from politics to culture or religion". Then I had to face the rude or outright insulting comments aimed at me. Now I have been brought up to be polite to everybody. I still believe that courtesy and civility are important cohesive factors in a normal society. Anyway. I think I've mentioned a couple of (hundred) times that I am no friend of our current government. I posted a critical (but reasonable and polite, albeit somewhat sarcastic) comment on something our PM said. Then I was attacked by a pro-govt. troll. It is hard to explain this to an English speaker, as English does not have this form of  "informal address" that Hungarian (and German, Russian, or latin languages) has. The dictionary says "tuism" but it sounds stupid. The German word is "duzen". And while it is not exactly rude, this form of address presumes a certain familiarity with the person. And a nameless troll is not somebody I'd want to be familiar with. I replied to this person in a polite and rational manner, to which their reaction was "you're so formal, I am sure you have no friends".  Then my malicious side surfaced and I kept being coldly  polite, as I noticed that it makes the troll more and more furious. And this went on for a couple of turns, me being icily formal, them getting worked up. The interesting bit in this whole affair was that the troll did not even try to counter my argument, just spouted increasingly rude personal attacks. I finally got fed up and blocked them. And the moral of the story is: do not feed the trolls.

Laughing Buddhas:

I've found that it is quite beneficial to create a spiritual center in one's house or flat. If you're religious, you can have a small altar or shrine. If not, you can have your own version of the Japanese Tokonoma. It is technically neither a shrine or an altar although it might look like one. Simply put, the Tokonoma is a raised alcove providing a very special space, in which important items are displayed, such as ikebana, bonsai, a favored piece of pottery, or an artistic or calligraphic scroll. You don't have to think big - a nice plant, a couple of interesting rocks or chrystals, a few objects that have personal meaning for you (eg. I have a dried rose from my mum's funeral wreath, a  small statue of the Virgin  I got from my granny, a couple of rocks I collected on various beaches and a raven feather that fell on my head years ago that  I took as a gift from my feathered brothers). In its simplest form it is a small a space you separate (not necessarily physically) from the rest of the flat and use it for quiet contemplation.


Edited by majikthis
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Posted (edited)

I don't know what more I could really add to this except... social networks... I'm really not too involved any more for precisely the reasons you outlined...it's one of those life is too short things for me at this point. I don't want to waste one more minute of my life trying to debate with an ill informed uneducated  (usually) stranger on any subject. I used to be a moderator/administrator on another site and the experience has left me completely cold on investing any real  precious time on social media. That being said... I do have a Facebook account and use it primarily  to keep up with some of my friends in far flung areas of the world... and for the news feeds from some of my favorite and trusted news sources (Honolulu Star Advertiser for example) and I enjoy my time and activities  here at Adonis Male and most all of the people I encounter here regularly.

I have made it a rule  to try whenever possible to never to discuss politics or religions with anyone outside of my most intimate circle. (that being my partner and I) There are discussions sometimes I want to jump into but why feed the trolls... they are never going to listen to facts or reason. I have had to train myself to practice restraint and not give many of my opinions unless specifically asked for them and then they are only given; like my friendship to a trusted and precious few. If people are rude and/or toxic in person or on line I bid them farewell and walk away. (sometimes forever)

In life I always try to put my best foot forward (and I take note of others who do and also those who can't be bothered) I say please, thank you and you are welcome more than almost anyone I know and I am happy with the knowledge of feeling lucky that I was raised and educated well and have had favors bestowed on me as a result... but at the end of the day I know that the world is becoming increasingly more difficult to navigate at times and with that I am grateful and happy that we have created a home behind closed doors that brings us peace and tranquility that no one can touch.

Finally I know that coarseness is not a substitution for wit... and being mean is not a sign of strength. I'm sorry that more people don't know this... and one more thing... I learned something when I was about five years old and it's stayed with me since...

When I was little my mother knew a very wealthy and generous and lavish woman and my brother and I used to love to go to her house with my mother and look at all her beautiful things and eat her delicious treats and I asked my mother why we did not live like this at home and she said...

"She is a very fancy, fancy person and I don't think you would like the restrictions living like this would entail" and I asked "what type of people are we?" and my mother replied... "We are simple, fancy people and I hope you will learn as you go through life how lucky we are  and that it's so much  better in the long run than being fancy simple people!"

Edited by Kawika
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Thank you for your experiences and thoughts @majikthis and @Kawika . 

There is something you both expressed. It is the values and wisdom that were given to us in our childhood that we respect and keep alive.

Most conversations or debates are not about undeniable facts. Those who know me better know that what I say or write is always only my personal point of view. It is an offer to reflect on what is said, to accept or reject it as valid - in whole or in part. The same applies vice versa. In the end, I decide whether I share a point of view, consider some of it valid, or based on my own experience,... reject it. Tell me that I have to drive on the right side of the road and I will tell you that this may be right for you, but wrong for me, as I live in a country with left-hand traffic. Although this is not a particularly good example, there is pretty often more than one right answer in most aspects of our lives.

On this understanding conversations about politics and religions can be quite refreshing - outside social media. 

On 7/14/2020 at 12:40 AM, Kawika said:

I am grateful and happy that we have created a home behind closed doors that brings us peace and tranquility that no one can touch.

So am I. "If people are rude and/or toxic in person or on line I bid them farewell and walk away. (sometimes forever)" - I do the same. I probably have a more drastic view on this. We probably agree that there are several phases in life. From each of these chapters we take only a very limited number of persons to the next chapter. We let people behind. That's nothing bad, it's healthy and important to travel light (trough life). We lose contact to some as life changes. In other cases it is not worth the effort to maintain the contact or to reconnect. What I try to say is: You meet someone again after years, spend a nice evening but realize that there's not much in common anymore. My husband refuses school reunions. He thinks two reunions were enough. "Why should I spend a long evening listening to people, most of whom live only a few kilometres [16,000 km now :tiny-smileys-yesemoticons-080:] away, talking about their successes every ten years? It's a tense. Past. Perfect.". What we keep are the good memories.

As we create our home behind closed doors, we also create our life. As we chose whom we invite in our home, ... I don't need anyone accusing me of not being the same person I was 10 years ago. I do not bend myself to suit other people. If someone thinks he has to bend himself to fit my expectations, has little chances. Does this sound arrogant? It might sound less arrogant when I say: Just be yourself. Give me the chance to see the real person. That's all that matters. 

Someone once told me that our life changes every 7 years - like a sine wave. Minor changes, bigger changes. There might actually be some truth in it. 

On 7/13/2020 at 11:23 PM, majikthis said:

Japanese Tokonoma

I love the idea. We tend towards a certain minimalism. Fewer, but carefully selected objects for decoration is more suitable than minimalism. Every single item is tied to a memory. When we had to remove a tree a few years ago, I kept a significant piece of it. This piece of wood became a table decoration, completed with three small candles. What others only see as a piece of wood, for us it has character and history. 

Kawika, I love what your mother told you. 

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