Category Archives: Insight

Why Don’t We Complain

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Have we become more stressed or more Zen-like?

Sure, we all tend to complain about ourselves–our day, our health, our work. That’s a real catharsis when we’re able to destress and release our frustrations. Life’s not fair, and that often is expressed with a justified complaint.

When it comes to inconveniences or less than ideal service, however, mostIMG_3285 people are preferring to go with the flow and let it go. Why don’t we complain? Have we become more compassionate towards those workers in front of us, seeing them as co-habitants of stressful living? Cutting them slack is like an invisible nod of I feel the strain of your job. 

An aversion to confrontation can also be a reason why we don’t complain. People would rather adjust to a defect or go without their request rather than object and risk an altercation. Why don’t we complain? It may be related to how stressed we are and a matter of picking our battles.

In 1961, William F. Buckley, Jr. wrote an essay that describes his amusing struggle to assert himself, called “Why Don’t We Complain?” It originally appeared in Esquire in 1960. He wrote:

Every New Year’s Eve I resolve to do something about the Milquetoast in me and vow to speak up, calmly, for my rights and for the betterment of our society, on every appropriate occasion… When our voices are finally mute, when we have finally suppressed the natural instinct to complain, whether vexation is trivial or grave, we shall have become automatons, incapable of feeling. (Read his entire essay here.)

One of Buckley’s reasons, 55 years ago, for why Americans didn’t complain was due to a reluctance to assert ourselves because of an increased sense of helplessness in an age of technology and centralized political power.

10d69f3e-9b69-4700-9155-2f934eb05151-mediumI can see how that conclusion may no longer be why we don’t complain. There may be people who don’t verbalize what they really think because they don’t want to make a fuss and be thought as difficult. The problem with that plan is that the people who really need to be heard, won’t be. If they don’t share what they think, how will they be heard?

As American’s, we must assert ourselves for the cause of equality and the demonstration of human kindness. Any abatement from this basic human right deserves complaint. Otherwise, we fail as a society.

FullSizeRender (5)Think about it.

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay unless otherwise noted

 

It’s a Small World

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Turns out, not so much.

Playing outside every day for me as a kid was great fun. My best friend, Susie, and I would lay on our backs in the grass and stare at the billowed puffs of clouds in the sky. An elephant or a turtle or the head of Quick Draw McGraw were not uncommon IMG_2244creations formed by the moving white plumes.

I had a ten-year-old belief about the world. There was the ground and there was the sky. I played in the sun, and I slept at night. There was home and there were friends. It’s a small world when you’re a child.

Although I’ve aged, I admit my ten-year-old belief about the world hasn’t. That is why I’m completely overwhelmed with this universe thing. There seem to be so many new or additional discoveries about space. I confess I’ve remained naive about complex astrophysical concepts. (You can read about that ( here.)

In a video, I watched Neil deGrasse Tyson explain the universe in eight minutes (watch it here).

I see no other possible reaction to this video than awe and a trance-like state as seen in The Walking Dead.

I don’t think I have an education high enough to understand how every thing in the universe, including humans, for reasons not completely understood came into existence out of randomness, chaos, accident, and good timing.

IMG_0695This revelation left my face in a blank stare, mostly like my Physical Science class did. The analytics in my brain was in a scramble to find at least one brain cell up to the challenge of understanding this. No go. I got nothing. It’s beyond me.

All I can think of is that “randomness, chaos, accident, and good timing,” describes most of my life. Maybe, that’s the point. That’s how we came to be and that’s how our lives are lived. Who knows?

As large as the world is, though, it’s a small world wherever we are. A tiny pinpoint on the globe not visible from space, yet it’s all any of us need. Our homes. It’s where love dwells. It’s here we raise our children, grow our gardens, and have family barbeques on the deck.

At night, we gather around the fire, look up and stare at the stars like it’s a drive-in movie. The vast blackness speckled with flickering lights filled with complex astrophysical concepts. Honey, did I ever tell you that all of us are stardust?

FullSizeRender (5)Think about it.

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay unless otherwise noted

Is That You?

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My Dad loves to drive. Except, he’s dead.

This is why my experience of him driving my car the other day gave me collywobbles.

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Dad, my brother, me, the car

Growing up, all bikes, skateboards, baseball bats, and badminton nets could not cross the two-foot invisible barrier that surrounded the family car in the garage. My Dad was a little obsessed with the safety specifics and monitored the inches between our kid stuff and the paint finish on his car.

God forbid a baseball, or any object for that matter, bounce off the car. I swear he had some hidden CIA radar for such occurrences. He could be two houses over in someone’s backyard, and he would hear the thump when a foreign body hit the metal on the car. There would be scoldings and lectures from him every time this happened.

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Dad, Mom, and the car

No matter the terrain or weather, he was your man on the street. My Dad took pride in his skillful art of maneuvering through the snow on any road, even no road. The rest of us in the family weren’t so unafraid of that skill. There could be a blizzard warning, and my Dad thought nothing of throwing all of us into the car and driving 70 miles to Wisconsin to visit family in Clinton or Beloit. “We can make it,” my Dad would say with confidence. My Mom would think about it, all of one minute, and call him crazy.

As he got older, he still made car care a priority. He was a State Farm man, after all. Every couple of years there would be a new car to pamper with pride. I’m sure his military experience of managing the care of the equipment he was entrusted with contributed to his viewpoint about other possessions. In WWII, it was a rifle he pampered. Home from the war, it was a car.

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My dad at 88

My Dad drove his car until a fracture in his foot sidelined him at age 90. Before that happened, dad gave anyone who rode with him something comparable to a cardio workout. He would drive: s-l-o-w. I chuckle now just remembering a few of those adventures. Every driver knows that when you’re clear to proceed across two lanes of traffic that you don’t dilly dally. My Dad would pull out quick enough, but then he would just peter out and linger while oncoming traffic was getting closer and closer. Inevitably, my brother or I would yell “Dad!!”

When he died in 2006, there were a handful of noticeable dents and dings on my Dad’s car. Something he would have never tolerated some 50 years earlier. All the dents were signs that his driving ability was reaching its limit.

So on that day, I was driving on the road my Dad would always take to get home. I was looking at the sidewalk where I used to ride my bike as a kid. I drifted off in thought. I was riding in the car with my Dad. He was driving us home. There was a warm and comforting light that filled the car, the way sunlight does but brighter. There was a stream of energy that rippled. There was no sound.

Then suddenly, it was gone. The radio returned to its bellow. I was driving again and realized I had just felt the presence of my father–driving my car. Wow! Tears filled my eyes. I couldn’t recall driving the last mile. Did that just really happen? I looked down to see how fast I was going and realize it had to be my dad; I was driving 10 miles under the speed limit!

Thanks for the visit dad. Glad you’re still driving, and you were not here to pick me up!

FullSizeRender (5)Think about it.

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay unless otherwise noted

What The Muppets Taught Me

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Is it odd to love The Muppets more than the average bear?

While it’s true, my family thinks there’s something seriously wrong with memuppet when I express overt enthusiasm for this peculiar gang of characters, I can’t help the goofiness they bring out in me. And I’m flat out gaga over the return of The Muppet Show this fall on TV. But more than their whimsical antics that string along my amusement, The Muppets have meted out some good horse sense.

Here’s what The Muppets taught me:

 

1. Stay playful

The Muppets peddle humor. Stress has no audience when I allow the child in me to be her goofy self. Any weight on my shoulders disappears at the arrival of laughter and silliness.

Laughter is the best medicine. In addition to helping the mind to stay positive, laughing triggers the release of endorphins in your body–the feel good chemicals and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies. Stay merry my friends. Engage in laughter is what the muppets taught me!

 

2. Use encouraging words

kermit-54237_640Kermit, the philosophical frog and ringleader, isn’t your typical skipper. He cares so deeply for his buddies that he thinks of ways to be helpful and encouraging, especially if any one of them is in a jam.

He’s the wise guru for a gang of seriously off-beat oddballs. He believes in the genuine goodness of the world. And that reminds me that I do, too. His consistent quest keeps me more aware that people need encouragement and compassion. And, being different is a rare and good thing.

 

3. Rock outmuppet3

Music makes my soul want to dance. It’s a power that lifts my spirit. It moves me. And who can go wrong with Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem? A band stuck in the 60’s. Me, too!

muppet2When it comes to tickling the ivories, Rowlf the Dog plays piano like my good friend David Longo. He also has a pretty good singing voice. Rowlf, not David.

But nothing beats Kermit sitting on a log in a swamp, playingkermit1 the banjo and singing The Rainbow Connection, for lovers, and dreamers, and me. La da da di da da dum da duh da da dum di da ohhh

 

4. It’s okay to suck as a cook

I’ve pored over most of the gibberish cooking advice from the Swedish Chef. I’m relieved that food and utensils flying through the air is not as bad as I muppet1previously thought.

Thank goodness jogging back and forth along the kitchen counter is perfectly normal.

And to make a word salad, you simply talk to yourself or hum a nonsensical song. At last, a chef I can relate to! Bork! Bork! Bork!

 

5. Spread love. Pass it on.

It’s impossible to look at a Muppet and not feel some goodness in life.muppet5

Jim Henson created The Muppets in 1955 with a visionary passion. When he died in 1990, Disney eventually bought the rights to The Muppets in 2004. I’m thankful for the vision of love, morals, humor, and hope Henson played out with all his created characters. All the qualities of a well-played life, human and otherwise.

In 2006, Kermit the Frog was credited as the author of the self-help guide “Before You Leap: A Frog’s Eye View of Life’s Greatest Lessons” — an “autobiography” written from the perspective of the Muppet himself.

Life’s greatest lessons. That’s what The Muppets taught me.

 

FullSizeRender (5)Think about it.

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay unless otherwise noted

Choose Yourself First

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Sounds selfish, doesn’t it?

Choose yourself first. Reminds me of a kid in school when growing up, he would always run to be the first in line, or to grab the best seat or the favorite swing. Encompassed by his own amusement at beating everyone else, he was oblivious to our chagrin.IMG_3289

Choose yourself first.

That instruction makes sense in other areas of life.

Brian Tracy says If you wish to achieve worthwhile things in your personal and career life, you must become a worthwhile person in your own self-development.

Self-development. Don’t people gravitate away from such topics, or dare I say, nonsense?

But consider this. I don’t know any happy and successful people with a self-contempt attitude toward themselves. I don’t know any happy and successful people with bruises from beating themselves up over mistakes and setbacks. The happy and successful people I know hold a humble confidence in themselves. A determination. That’s self-development.

belief28They’ve spent time in their own backyard and faced any personal obstacles in their thought process that could block their goals. They’ve examined any feelings of inadequacy and shortcomings that would prevent their confidence. They learned their weaknesses and manage them rather than excuse them or blame someone else for their existence. That’s self-velopment. Taking care of business with yourself ahead of any pursuits.

Choose yourself first.

Could you prosper from self-development? Would you benefit from looking for any flaws in your attitude? Can you see areas where being stubborn is holding you back? Do you notice any control tendencies in yourself? Or are you experiencing negative self-talk–those conversations in your head where you degrade yourself? Are there areas in your thought process that could be changed so happiness and success can arrive?

It’s not what’s happening to you now or what has happened in your past that 218e76ad-5533-45f5-9a64-b28209648cef-mediumdetermines who you become. Rather, it’s your decisions about what to focus on, what things mean to you, and what you’re going to do about them that will determine your ultimate destiny.Anthony Robbins

Choose yourself first.

Where are you today in your self-development? Don’t allow regrets of yesterday to undermine the success you can obtain and the happiness you can have today. You deserve every joy in life. If you struggle to believe that, then the regrets and failures of yesterday are imprisoning you today in a confinement of self-contempt.

Choose today to banish from your mind any self-degrading thoughts and feelings of inadequacy. Then your energy and attention are free to focus on a happy and successful destiny. Choose yourself first.

FullSizeRender (5)Think about it.

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay unless otherwise noted

What Do You Deserve?

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Do you pause with this question?

What do you deserve? Do you even know? Do you feel guilty for craving more in life?

First, let’s get that guilt out of the way. God, through Jesus, has liberated you self-confidence2from your own guilt and has provided your freedom.

God does not want you living in guilt, self-condemnation, despair, or sabotaging His blessings for you. That is not what He desires for your life. He wants you to have joy, affection, and achievement with your endeavors. God has given each of us talents, skills, gifts, and abilities for use to better our lives and help the lives of other people.

What do you deserve? You deserve happiness, love, and success. You deserve shelter and sunlight and shade and warmth. Done. You deserve to determine your destiny. Fini. You deserve the moon! And you have it. You deserve a universe! It’s all yours.

10433864_10153254889623908_6471637140694356733_nBut, any negative thoughts you have about yourself can cause you to sabotage your relationships, success, and happiness. If you do not treat yourself with love and respect, you can not experience the love and respect of other people.

What do you deserve? If you do not believe you deserve success, you will not experience it. If you do not think you should be happy, you will not find happiness.

What words do you use every day? Critical words? Ones used to complain? Judgmental phrases? Sarcastic tones? Encouraging expressions? Caring speech? Words of gratitude?

Your words reflect your character. Your words reflect what you believe about yourself. Where you are today can be attributed to the words you tell yourself.

Stay aware of the words you choose to verbalize. Do they match the character IMG_0862you want to role model to others? Are they in agreement with the integrity you want to be associated with?

Jump on any negative thoughts about yourself. Refuse to criticize your mistakes or degrade your limitations.

Pay attention to your inner critical voice that degrades you. Realize it represents voices of those who criticized you in the past. Those voices don’t represent the truth today.

What do you deserve?

FullSizeRender (5)Think about it.

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay unless otherwise noted

As Time Goes By

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Time.

timeThe patron and adversary of life: time. It controls us, one, and all, as time goes by. It determines events—births, games, classes, weddings, flights, celebrations, deaths.

It changes the seasons. It ages all life and sparks the new.

It’s a priority—be on time. We give it honor and respect, we thank you for this time. We curse it, what’s taking so long? Waiting lines and wait lists. All as time goes by.

Time. A commodity that cannot be ruled or bought or threatened. It cannot be stolen, bribed, or tortured. It shares itself equally.

It’s a mentor and master for the zealous. A lifetime teacher.

I’ve learned as time goes by—
I’m happier with myself.
The more I say, “I don’t know the answer.
The greater my gratitude.
The more I realize I’ve been wrong about some things.
The less I give advice.
The more I see God in everything.time2
The lighter life’s burdens.
The less I complain.
The more I know my limitations.
The less I want to impress.
The better I am at admitting mistakes.
The more accepting I am of others.
The less I criticize and judge others.
The greater my faith in God.
The sillier and playful I am.
The more I give freely.
The better my life.

If only I had more time.  As time goes by.

FullSizeRender (8)Think about it.

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay unless otherwise noted

What Social Etiquette Reveals About You

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How do you treat other people?

Every day, it seems, I become upset by someone’s mistreatment of another human being. There’s always cruel words involved and a lack of compassion or mercy. It’s on the radio or in the newspaper or on the news–it’s everywhere.

It’s not difficult to show kindness. No expertise is required. It doesn’t listen1necessitate a lot of reading, or a college degree. It doesn’t even cost money–it’s free. It’s a social grace. One of the few humanity decorum’s becoming snuffed out, I fear, with the air of superiority from an increasing amount of people.

I understand how individuals can lose patience with social etiquette. They’re hurried with managing many aspects of their lives. Their busy seems to always be more important than another person’s busy. Plus, it appears they must save their polite and courteous actions and conversations for their friends or bosses, because they sure aren’t showing any social grace with strangers or who they consider nobodies.

10d69f3e-9b69-4700-9155-2f934eb05151-mediumAnd that speaks volumes. People who are unfriendly, or exclude others from their circle are usually conceited and preoccupied with their image. So they tend to be unkind to anyone they perceive as less successful. These are people who don’t tip waiters or bartenders or taxi drivers or hair stylists. They can be rude and demanding to those same people.

If you come across one of them, you might mention that every human being is entitled to the same treatment that he or she demands. Every person is entitled to respect, dignity, and kindness.

So says Mary Killen, author and columnist at The Spectator, “Having good manners boils down to treating others as you would like to be treated yourself,” she says. “You throw your civility and kindness on the water, and it comes back to you.”

Treating others with respect is an act of benevolence that comes back to you. That’s good karma.

I think that’s how it should stay. Social etiquette is good manners. And good manners know no social status. It belongs everywhere.

FullSizeRender (5)Think about it.

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay unless otherwise noted

The Problem With Religion

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It was shocking. And for most Americans, I think it was unexpected. And then the problem with religion was on stage.

On June 26, 2015, the SCOTUS, in a landmark decision ruled that same-sex marriages were IMG_1904legal. The hashtag “Love Wins,” flooded the internet, as did “Equality For All.” People were shown hugging with tears of joy. Now, for the first time ever, same-sex couples are protected under the Constitution from any bans that would deny them the same rights as heterosexual couples. That’s how love won.

A paragraph, of the majority opinion, authored by Justice Kennedy prompted comments from people on what they believed to be a beautiful, compassionate and romantic definition of marriage. An hour later, the quote had gone viral:

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. —Justice Anthony Kennedy

Then the love won hit the wall.

The problem with religion was ablaze. Conservative Christians, some GOP leaders and Presidential candidates disagreed, intensely, with the ruling. Probably the most wigged-out reaction came from Bryan Fischer of American Family Radio. In just one paragraph, Fischer compared the ruling to slavery, 9/11, the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Sodom and Gomorrah. A frenzied Fischer announced:

From a moral standpoint, 6/26 is the new 9/11, because it was on this day that five justices of the United States Supreme Court became moral jihadists, They became rainbow jihadists and they blasted the twin pillars of truth and righteousness into rubble. And they did this by imposing sodomy-based marriage on the United States through an act of judicial tyranny. Today, June 26, 2015, is a date which will live in infamy. On this day, the United States became Sodom and Gomorrah.

Yikes! God, that’s a horrible thing to say. That’s the problem with religion.

But Fisher was not the only conservative Christian who reacted with agony and sorrow at the prospect of gay marriage across the land. Indeed, there was a great deal of weeping and gnashing of teeth. All of the nay-sayers seem to believe the institution of marriage is at stake. Their priority is to uphold this sacred union. This is God’s will. The Bible states marriage is between a man and a woman.

Now here is where this battle loses credibility.

Divorce is against God’s will and against the teachings in Scripture. Having sex outside of marriage is also a big no-no according to Bible teachings. And living together in sin? A huge taboo.

What’s the difference between these sins and the implied sin of same-sex marriage?

Can someone explain that to me?

I asked that question in a Facebook group that was declaring that America was on the verge of collapse and going to hell because the ruling is against the inerrant word of the Bible. The group could not answer my question, but they did send me a short video of why Obama is bad for America.

I moved on and had a three hour back and forth conversation on a Facebook group belonging to Fr. James Martin. Even with over 11,000 comments, no one could answer the question. That’s the problem with religion.

My point is there is no difference.

Divorce is against God’s will, and Christians get divorced all the time. There’s no hoopla. Christians have premarital sex and cohabitate outside of marriage. Where’s the protest about that to the Supreme Court? Why is that seemingly okay, but same-sex marriage qualifies for continued flogging and imprisonment? That’s such hypocrisy and that’s the problem with religion!

God is love. We are to love one another. Why is that so difficult?

FullSizeRender (5)Think about it.

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net

Racial Murders in America

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Racial Murders in America

I am not a politician.

I don’t understand all the finite workings of government in our Congress and Senate.

But I AM AN AMERICAN.

I am an American who is burdened by the racial murders and hate that grows more rampant in our city streets, and our neighborhoods.

I feel deeply moved and impelled to apologize to the African American people of this country.

I realize in the big picture, my apology won’t really matter and it won’t heal the many emotional wounds, but I am so sorry for the hater’s, and the ignorant, and the arrogant individuals of my race. Like the shooter, I am white. And because I’m white I feel disgraced today, and a sense of responsibility to speak up about the hate in our country.

Prejudice and hate are taught. No child is born with prejudice. It starts in the home. Kids, little kids, are learning that people are bad who don’t look like them. They hear adults make spiteful remarks. Kids listening and watching and mimicking. Shame on you parents who raise your children to hate other people of the HUMAN race. Shame on you! There is no superior race. There is only a human race.

How can the American people not realize this pattern of shootings and murders and terrorism must stop, NOW. Or I fear for all of us living in America.

It’s WE THE PEOPLE. I am THE PEOPLE. You are THE PEOPLE. WE THE PEOPLE decide who to place in Washington. WE, as a country, need to face the stark reality that these shootings will not end unless we end the hate. Why hate? What’s the purpose, the goal? I already know what the outcome will be–more dying sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, wives and husbands.

Death. That’s the outcome. That’s the stark reality. Needless death.

My heart is grieving for the community and church members of the African-American Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

God help us all.

Think about it.

drsandy@e-couch.net  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, E-Couch.net