Tag Archives: Advice

When Was the Last Time You Took the Long View?

I really like psychology. I like it so much that even though I’ve already got a couple of degrees in it, I continue to learn/read about psychology. I also really like magic and illusions. There’s something about the mystique of believing that what you’re seeing is actually happening — even though you’re sure that it’s probably some sleight of hand. While some may think that magic and psychology aren’t related, they most certainly are. Just for fun, here’s an article from Psychology Today of 5 Amazing Psychology Magic Tricks.

Naturally, my interest in these subjects led to my desire to go see Now You See Me. As Jon Stewart said a couple of weeks ago, “Morgan Freeman’s in it, so it’s gotta be good.” I thought it was pretty good, but that’s probably more a result of the “life lesson” that I culled. Now, what I’m about to talk about may be perceived as a spoiler, but I’m not talking directly about the plot. I won’t mention any characters or anything specific about the movie (even though it would help with analogizing), but as I said, some may consider even what I’m going to talk about as a spoiler.

Can you think of one moment in your life where something changed? A moment to which, had you chose differently, your life would be completely altered? Maybe you think that if you’d gone to a different university your life would be very different. Or maybe you think that if you’d chose to take the job offer from company X instead of company Y. What about those smaller moments, the ones that don’t “seem” as powerful, can you think of any of those that might have had that same impact?

Watching this movie reminded me to take the “long view” on life. Not only when thinking about the ‘bigger’ life decisions, but also the smaller, day-to-day decisions. It’s truly impossible to know how what you’re deciding today will impact your life in 10 years. Impossible! One can speculate, yes, but that’s all — speculation. Even the best forecasters are terrible.

Of course, it’s probably not a good idea to always be taking the long view, but every once and awhile (monthly? weekly? daily?) it’s probably a good idea to check-in with that long view and see if you might be taking something too seriously. It’s really hard to know whether what’s happening to you in your life — right now — is a good thing. Maybe this time of hardship will make you appreciate  something that’s going to happen later. Maybe this time of hardship is teaching you about what it’s like to have hardship, so that when you no longer have this hardship, you’ll have more empathy for those that do. As I’ve said before in regards to thinking about whether something is good or bad — we’ll see…

10 Things That I Can Do to Help Someone Else

It’s no secret that humans need each other to survive. With the way that our society is designed, we depend on each other for sustenance, love, friendship, and a whole host of other things. It’s not just in the big ways, though, too. Sometimes, we need someone to hold the door open for us because we have our hands full. Sometimes, we need someone to bail us out of a sticky situation. Maybe a nice stranger gives up the aisle seat on a transatlantic flight, so that it’ll be easier for you to walk around the plane with your newborn. There are lots of ways we can help each other out on this journey through life. As a result, I thought I’d list a few ideas about how I [you] can help someone else.

1. Ask, “What can I do to help you today?” Sometimes the simplest ways of helping [asking], can have the biggest impact.

2. Help someone find a job. If you have an unemployed friend, think about the people you know and if you might be able to connect your friend with a new opportunity.

3. Smile at a stranger. It’s contagious.

4. Do a chore that isn’t yours. It can be something small like washing the dishes or sweeping the kitchen. It could also be something big like doing the research for that trip to Tahiti or cutting the lawn.

5. Teach someone only something you know. The gifts you have in this world might not be realized until you share them with the world.

6. Let someone teaching you something. It’s also a great gift to let someone teach you something. Remember to keep an open mind

7. Be passionate about something. Maybe more than smiling, passion is contagious. Watching someone be really excited about something reminds us that we, too, have something that excites us in a similar way.

8. Listen — REALLY listen. It might come as no surprise to you how often conversations are really just about “waiting for your time to speak.” The next time someone is talking to you, really listen to what they have to say. It might shock you how the conversational dynamic changes.

9. Forgive him/her. Is holding that grudge really worth it?

10. Write a letter, send an email, and/or make a phone call to someone who has made a difference in your life. These little drops of gratitude can go a long way. I can guarantee you that hearing they made in a difference in your life will greatly brighten that person’s day.

You Are Exactly Where You’re Supposed To Be

By being a good listener, people often come to me for advice. Maybe this is why I decided to get into (or maybe I got into psychology because I’m such a good listener?) One of the common themes I recall has to do with people asking about some iteration of “.” I’d be lying if, I, myself, never considered that I took “the wrong road.”

The advice that stems from this title is simple: you are exactly where you are supposed to be.

In short: if “here” weren’t where you were supposed to be, you’d be somewhere else.

After I continually repeat some iteration of these two phrases (the title and the one in the previous sentence), the advice-seeker’s demeanor begins to soften in a way that lets me know that they’ve taken ‘it’ in. It’s one of my favorite pieces of advice (along with ““) Why? Because it gives the advice-seeker the permission to stop second-guessing themselves, something that our culture is rife with. It lets the person be okay with where they are and in another way, gives them permission to stop wishing they were somewhere else.

Of course, someone may choose to continue to wish they were somewhere else, but this philosophy can be — at least a little bit — liberating.

~

An extension of this phrase can be used when someone is still in the ‘before’ stage of their decision. That is, I just described how it can be used ‘after’ someone’s made a decision, but it can also be offered before a decision is made. When someone is trying to decide between two paths, again, it can be kind of freeing when you realize that no matter which way you choose, it will be the ‘right’ way.

I also want to make it clear that I’m not offering this phrase/post as a “tweet-worthy” canned piece of advice. There’s a whole philosophy (see either or ) behind this way of thinking and some folks subscribe to it. I’m not advocating one subscribe to it in some or all instances, but I would suggest one take the time to consider it.

The Best Piece of Advice: We’ll See…

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever come across is one with regard to . I’ve written about perspective and having a in posts before, but I think that this particular post, or more accurately, the content of this post, is the best summary of my “perspective” when it comes to perspective.

The I’m quoting this from says the story is Taoist, but I’ve heard other people say it’s from different traditions:

[There was] an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit.

“Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.

“We’ll see,” the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses.

“How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.

“We’ll see,” replied the old man.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.

“We’ll see,” answered the farmer.

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.

“We’ll see” said the farmer.

This kind of story could keep going on and on and on — and it has relevance to every subject (you’ll notice that I’ve placed it in every category that I currently have for the posts I write). While there are some things that I categorically disagree with (the death penalty being one), I could see this story or as the answer to many hardships in people’s lives. Having lived through *some* hardships so far, I can understand how hearing these words are not necessarily comforting with regard to certain instances, but well after the fact (in my experience), the perspective created by these words can illuminate some unexpected insights.

~

I thought I’d present some examples from the news where we could apply this wisdom:

– Many Toronto Blue Jays’ fans are pleased (myself included) that they acquired Colby Rasmus (via trade). He may turn out to be a great player for the Jays, or he may not. We’ll see.

– Most economists (and people) following the “” will tell you that the US needs to raise its debt ceiling or there will be ramifications of epic proportions. Most of what I’ve heard/read on the issue seems to be a whole lot of politicking. If the US defaults on its loans will that be the worst thing in the world? If the US averts this “disaster,” will that be a good thing? We’ll see. (This particular We’ll See might not have a concrete answer for another 30 years).

– As Borders’ stores continue to close their doors for the final time, many speculate on what this may mean for other businesses similar to Borders. The outlook isn’t usually positive, but maybe this will free up time for other endeavors. We’ll see.

– (An odd bit of news, to say the least). This particular example is quite similar to the farmer’s son falling off the horse and breaking his leg. While I don’t expect Alex Trebek to be drafted to the military, who knows what this injury will do for his “perspective” on life. And the answer is: We’ll see.

As you can see, these “three” words can apply to pretty much anything you can come up with. I’d like to invite you to share with us in the comments some situations that you initially thought were poor (or great) that turned out to be great (or not so great) with us in the comments section.

For the folks who are visual learners: