The Widdershins

Posts Tagged ‘Happiness

There’s a line in Steel Magnolias, one of my favorite movies, where Olympia Dukakis (Clairee) is imparting some fashion Dipper and Bucketwisdom to Daryl Hannah (Annelle) during the Christmas Party scene. Clairee tells Annelle, “The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize.” There is one other thing I would add to Clairee’s wisdom — the ability of humans to say thank you.

Giving recognition and expressing appreciation is vitally important to happiness and success — there is even a positive correlation to overall health and well-being from receiving recognition. Over 65% of workers report they have had no expression of recognition or appreciation in their workplace within the last year. According to the Department of Labor, the number-one reason people leave their jobs is because they don’t feel appreciated.

A few years ago I was working with a national group of leaders. There were about 35 people in the room. During the first 30 minutes I would lay out the framework for the next three days. This particular session was based around Positive Psychology — concentrating on what is right with people in terms of their natural talents instead of traditionally trying to “fix” what’s wrong.

The room was set up in a large horseshoe configuration where I could walk and be able to look directly into the eyes of the participants as we talked. As I was telling these folks each of them had unique talents and strengths, a professionally dressed lady of a certain age just started bawling — I’m not talking whimpering here, she was loudly sobbing. I was taken aback. What had I done? Someone crying after just thirty short minutes with me was a new land speed record.

As any good teacher should, I went directly to her, bent down to look at her face to face, and said, “What can I do right now to make this better?“ And what she said to me in that instant will remain with me the rest of my life.

She said, “You don’t understand — these are not tears of sorrow, these are tears of joy — no one — in my life — has ever told me — there was anything good about me.”

No one in her abusive early family structure, no one in her adult family structure, no one at work, no one in her community — no one had ever told this wonderfully successful lady, this human being, that she mattered. Tragic — just utterly tragic!

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What do you do...pic...

Once I was doing some leadership consulting with an international heavy equipment manufacturer. As with most things, there is a process to leadership consulting. Suffice it to say the process is long and exhaustive — usually culminating in a meeting with the C-level management team. After having studied the psychological profiles of the participants, it is important to watch and listen to the interpersonal dynamic.

On the way from the airport for this particular meeting I happened to see this company’s heavy equipment working on a huge transportation project. This project was a multi-year commitment and ultimately worth several billions of dollars.

After pleasantries and the obligatory “happy talk,” I asked this group of tremendously successful and obscenely wealthy individuals, “So what does X corporation do?” After a pregnant pause and looking around at one another, the CEO said, “We move dirt.”

At that moment I knew it was going to be a very, very long day and most likely at some point in the day I’d find myself wishing for spontaneous hair combustion so that I might be excused.

“Hmmm, moving dirt” I replied, “I thought you might say that you were saving people’s lives by giving them a safer interstate upon which to travel, or you were giving people the gift of time since they wouldn’t be caught in gridlock on their commute home, or you were ensuring the economic viability of this region for the next one-hundred years. Moving dirt isn’t much of a reason to get up in the morning. Why do you sell yourselves so short?”

At that moment I wondered if I would need to be on an earlier flight out of town before they moved some dirt for my grave.

These folks weren’t unique. When asked, about eighty-three percent of people don’t have a good sense of why they do what they do for a living. In today’s culture, where what we do is inextricably intertwined with who we are, this miasma of purpose is stultifying and a despondency inducing trap.

Too often people believe that leadership is bound up in something bigger than themselves. We believe a leader must be someone who is elected and stands apart. That is wrong. Everyone is a leader — whether in one’s community, in their church, in the PTA, in the home — all it takes is one follower and you, my friends, are a leader.

Take the fun out of life...Appreciating what you do and your purpose is central to leadership. If you are a teacher you are imparting life skills and knowledge to your students, if you are a nurse you are the most important factor in the wellness of your patients, if you are an optometrist you are giving the gift of sight, if you are a farmer you are feeding the hungry, if you are a parent or grandparent you are preparing those whom you love for a lifetime of success — the list is infinite.

It isn’t uncommon for you to be thinking, “Yeah, Prolix, that’s all well and good, but no one else thinks of me like that — my boss sees me as a functionary cog.” My response to that is a big fat “so-what-burger“?

The only person who is integral to personal fulfillment is you — not your boss, not your partner, not the surly ring-nosed barista. I’ve too often said, “You are not paid by the hour, but for what you bring to that hour.” Allowing yourself to revel in what you bring to the one-third of your life that is work is central to greater satisfaction and overall happiness. When you allow your personal fulfillment to shine there’s going to be lots of people using the line from When Harry Met Sally, “I’ll have what she’s having.”

Allowing your purpose to shine is contagious, people will notice, and that is a central tenet of leadership. As moths to a flame, people are drawn to leaders who have purpose.

So this weekend take a few minutes in preparing for next week and ask yourself: What do I do?

This is an open thread.

Nine Eleven (9/11) is always a time of dread for me — it is a depressing time of year.  I don’t claim any special connection and I can’t imagine the plight of those who lost loved ones, but the savagery of the event hit me so hard that within thirty-six hours, I had a massive, full-blown, outrageously disgusting case of shingles over my face, forehead, and scalp.  Simply nasty and a slow six weeks of painful recovery.

This year for some reason it has seemed worse.  Perhaps because of all that has happened in my life this year, but for whatever reason, negativity just seems to permeate the world when you turn on the news or go rambling around the internet on the googling machine.

Truthfully, I’m jonesing for a little positivity and optimism.  If you are along for the ride, the only fare is continuing to read.

My appalachian hometown was struck by a vicious F-3 tornado in March.  People were killed, all the businesses and every government building along a picturesque small town Main Street were destroyed.  It was like a tragedy you see on teevee about places you have never been — not a place where you grew up.  Sadness gripped just about everyone — churches were demolished, homes where scattered to the wind, families ravaged by loss, hope seemed sucked from the souls of just about everyone.

Okay, Prolix, just about now would be a good place to start the happy, positive, optimistic stuff!

People picked themselves up.  The federal and state government helped.  Charities helped.  Anonymous donors helped.  The hugs of strangers helped.  School children from hundreds of miles away collected pennies and dimes to show they cared.  The innate goodness of people was on display amid the rubble of devastation.

People are slowly building back.  One such rebuilding is the Freezer Fresh — it is a small, as in maybe 900 square feet, fast food drive-in.  It has been a fixture in this little mountain hamlet since the 1960’s — long before any golden arches were even a hint in these hills.  With the rebuilding, it will probably outlast the clown’s super-sized robo-food.

Unlike the oxymoronic name — Freezer Fresh — the Freezer Fresh was THE hangout.  It was where all the newly licensed drivers went on the first night of having the family Gran Torino out for the first of hundreds of “go-around the Freezer Fresh” trips.  It was a right of passage to be seen behind the wheel circling the Freezer Fresh looking way too kool.

The Freezer Fresh was the place where all the little league teams got their ice cream rewards for a job well done instead of today’s ribbons and medals.  In the back parking lot was where many clumsy boys learned how to slyly inch their arms around equally clumsy girls.  There are no accurate census figures on how many future ice cream consumers were spawned courtesy of two-strawed chocolaty peanut butter milkshakes.

Quite literally, the Freezer Fresh was where you could get a banana split.  It came in a little robin-egg blue canoe-like plastic boat.  The banana was split down the middle and in between there were three dollops of perfectly swirled soft serve vanilla ice cream topped with pineapple, chocolate, strawberries, and liberally sprinkled with salty crushed peanuts.

You could get a hamburger all dressed up or a hot dog slathered with chili, cole slaw, onions, relish, and cheese.  There was also high-end dining — a tenderloin sandwich carefully thawed from the jaws of the freezer and ever so precisely poised on a steam rejuvenated white bread bun.

The Freezer Fresh reopened today (I’m writing this Thursday).  It looks essentially as it did in the picture taken prior to the ravages of the tornado.  Let me tell you, people are positively giddy with anticipation.  I’m imagining a traffic jam of heretofore unheard of consequence for this little burg.

Where’s the optimism, the hope, the positivity?  It’s right here — no matter how bad the economy, how luridly vicious the politics, how sad the events in the Middle East, how maddening and confusing the world is today — there’s always the goodness of people, the unyielding spirit of stick-to-itiveness, the uncompromising polite friendliness, and the eternal optimism of knowing the future is mercifully doled out one day at a time.

Happiness would lose its meaning if we had not sadness by which to judge it.  In this week of annual 9/11 sadness I am heartened to know my personal definition of happiness just got a little richer along with those dollops of perfectly swirled vanilla ice cream.

This is an “all skate” open thread.

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Blog Archive

April 2019
« Mar    

Kellyanne Conway’s new job

Take the kids to work? NO!

That moment when *your* pussy gets grabbed

You go gurl! h/t Adam Joseph

“The” Book

Nice picture of our gal

Time till the Grifter in Chief is Gone

Hopefully soonerJanuary 21st, 2021
21 months to go.

Mueller Time!

Wise Words from Paul Ryan


Only the *best* politicans bought by the NRA

Marching for their lives

Perfect Picture

Rudy: oh shit the pee tape IS real!

Need Reminders?

Never too early to shop for Christmas

“Look this way”

Manafort’s Jail Photo

Indeed who?

Trump spam

IOW Dumb = Happy?

Simply Put


Awrite! Here’s your damned wall

Dems are coming for ya