Blocks

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There are always going to be those in our lives that tell us that we cannot do something. We will never get it right, we should just give up, and then they will try to impress upon us their will by any means necessary. It is a horrible reality, but some people try to mold us into a shape they want, but it might not be the shape we want. Yes there are going to be some things that we want to do, that we might not succeed, but with failure comes learning and with learning comes growing. They might be right in the end, but it is your road that you need to travel – they can come along if they would like, but they shouldn’t tell you how to drive.

I have written about my family life when I was a child, and how not only did it shape me, but it gave me ideas of what not to do.  Sometimes I feel that I am following in my father’s footsteps, and that quite frankly scares the hell out of me. Don’t get me wrong, he had some redeeming qualities, but I will not speak ill of the dead.

When I was a kid, I was a dreamer – that still has not changed. But not all my dreams were acted upon. I did things that my parents deemed necessary, and when I had dreams of things that I wanted to do, and it did not fit into their parameters, it was discouraged and then dismissed. 

I found out later in life, that those things are still not only dreams, but some of the things that I wanted to do are things I started doing, and I enjoy.

An example of two things in my life that I wanted to do, and I was discouraged, are singing and drawing. Now I am not the best artist in the world, but I can pick up a pencil and sketch something. However, my older brother was the “artist” in the family. I was told that I could not draw because that was his gift not mine. When I was in my 30’s, my wife bought me my first drawing set and I started to learn to draw. I got pretty good at it, and that blossomed into my love of painting watercolor.

The other thing that I really loved was singing. I was told by my parents that I could not hold a note in a bucket if it had handles. Yet I have been in a few choirs starting in the Navy, where I was in a choir during boot camp, and then I have gone on to a few other choirs and even sang Handles Massiah as a baritone.

The point I am making is this: If you are telling someone they can’t do something, then you are crushing their creativity – as long as it is not illegal or harmful – and stifling their growth. If someone is telling you that you can’t do something, you need to put it upon yourself to prove it to them that you can do it. To hell with labels, to hell with the limitations that they are putting on you – once again as long as it is not illegal or harmful. You need to say to them, “I can do this, watch.”

Irons

When I was in my early 20’s, I was in the Navy. I was also newly married and I had one child and one on the way. One morning a career counselor for the Navy came by and gave me a questionnaire; one of the questions stumped me. It asked, “Name your Hobbies.” I didn’t have any hobbies. I felt as if I was missing something – maybe I was incomplete somehow.

However, work, school and my family kept me busy, so I stopped thinking about it, and went on with my life. Even some of my buddies in the Navy had hobbies like: fishing, hunting, biking and hiking. I just went home and went to work.

Japanese Maple Bonsai

It wasn’t until I was out of the Navy and living back in Arizona, my wife decided to get me a book on bonsai. Our third child – our daughter – was about a year old when my wife purchased for me my first bonsai. I was so excited – after a month it was dead. I tried again, and killed another tree. After about five trees, my wife asked me when I was going to stop killing trees. Finally, after about five years of killing trees, I had one successful. We moved back up to Washington and my oldest brother – due to carelessness, broke my one successful tree.

I still do bonsai, and I have picked it back up with vigor, since COVID. However Bonsai is not my only hobby.

 As I have written before, I am a musician. I love playing music, listening to music and I miss performing. My oldest son bought me a mandolin for my birthday several years ago. I have stopped and started several times. However, my main instrument is my bass, and I was able to get that last father’s day. It is one of my greatest joys to sit down with my son and gig with him.

I love to fish, or as my wife likes to tease, I love going to a lake and feeding the fish. I have only caught one fish in my time as an angler, but I still love getting out into nature and casting a line. My wife and I did a lot of “feeding fish” last year. I don’t know if we are going to go fishing this year, but it was a lot of fun spending time with my wife last year camping and fishing.

I love to paint as well, and for my last birthday, my oldest daughter bought a painting kit. I started to learn to draw about the same time that I was learning bonsai (killing trees). I have enjoyed my painting, and I think I have gotten better over the years.

Mead

How can I forget my brewing? My second son got me started into that, he brews Kombucha, but my wife and I like the taste of Jun better. I try to keep plenty on hand, but sometimes it isn’t that easy. I have killed one of my Scobies, but other than that I have been pretty successful with my Jun. I also have started brewing some Mead. We shall see what that is like. However, it does take patience.

Lastly is my writing. Which, because of this blog, I do almost every day. I caught the writing blog when I was studying for my Master’s in Psychology. I was doing a lot of writing, and when I could not complete my Master’s Degree, I kept writing. I decided to write a novel. I got up and wrote at 2:30 in the morning, and had a goal of writing 2000 words a day. 

My novel was a terrible disappointment, but I made it through. I don’t know if I will ever write another novel again, but I will say that I do still love writing – or as one of the blogs I follow says – I like punching those damn keys.

I have a lot of interests these days. It is kind of funny – looking through the pins I have pinned in Pinterest, you can see what interests me at which time. There are things I would still like to do, but with taking care of my granddaughters, cleaning, cooking and writing. I do not dare take on something new. What are some of your hobbies? Leave a comment below.

Vulnerability

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I was actually going to write on something else, then I found an article in Psychology Today that really struck a chord. The article was written by Dr. James V. Cordova called Exchanging Ows. It is about how, in an intimate relationship with someone, we will do something or say something that causes our partner pain, and we feel that pain as well. This is because when we enter into this type of relationship, we must be kind, gentle and show care for the other person. But what does this look like? 

Dr. Cordova did a fine job of explaining this idea of the exchange of “Ows,” He goes on to show how to go about keeping vulnerability and intimacy alive in a relationship. However, I know what he is talking about.

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My wife and I have been married for 34 years. Do we have it all dialed in – no, however, a relationship is more about the journey then the destination. I will admit that the road I have led my wife down has not been the smoothest. There have been potholes the size of the Grand Canyon, It has had some sharp uphill climbs, some death defying downhill slides, twists and turns, and sometimes covered in briars. Still my wife has traveled that road. 

I am not the easiest person to be with. To further illustrate my point. A pastor we had, when we were living in Arizona, said to my wife, “You are a blessed woman, you are storing up your treasures in heaven.” and he gave her a hug. Then he looked at me, “You’ll be penniless.”

Have I exchanged “Ows” with my wife – yes on many occasions, and to be perfectly fair, I have received “Ows” from her as well. According to Dr. Cordova, the “Ows” we give, we should feel wounded ourselves – this is part of the vulnerability that we need to have in an intimate relationship. We need to realize that we have hurt the ones we love, and at that point we should stop, recognize that we did wrong and humbly apologize – ergo, the kindness and gentleness. 

What if we don’t realize what we did hurt. Maybe it was a joke, it might have been funny to me, but my wife might have taken offence to it. When she tells me about it, and how that joke made her feel, I need to go to her and apologize for the hurt feelings. Then I need to ask her to explain how it hurt, so I don’t make that mistake in the future.

There are two important skills that any successful marriage needs to have – as a matter of fact – any successful intimate relationship. The skills are communication and humility – if you don’t have those two skills, no amount of flowers, candy or jewelry will make your relationship successful . 

Let’s face it, we are all human, and as humans we are fallible. I think I fail more than any person alive, it is by the grace of God and the mercy of my wife that I don’t find myself sleeping on the streets. So be kind to your partner, you have chosen each other and you need to make sure that you treat each other right. After reading Dr. Cordova, I will be working harder too.

Reference:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/living-intimately/201901/exchanging-ows

One Race

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“We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protests to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy, which has engulfed the Negro community, must not lead us to a distrust of all white people. For many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

Supremacism: A belief that one group of people are superior – The supposed superior people are defined by the following: age, race, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, language, social class, ideology, nation or culture, belonging to a particular population. 

When we start putting one race, one group of people in the forefront and start blaming another race or group of people for the downfall of society, we run the risk of supremacism.  

Supremacism throughout history. 

Unfortunately Supremacism goes back thousands of years, The Greeks thought that anyone who wasn’t a Greek was a barbarian. It simply wasn’t the case, but, that was their assertion. They believed only Greek Lives Mattered. The height of the Greek civilization ended when it fell to Rome in 146 BC.

Then Rome became the superpower, However if you weren’t a Roman if you did not speak Latin you were a barbarian and consequently, you were looked down upon. There were five barbarian tribes – The Goths or the Visigoths, the Franks, The Huns, The Vandals and the Saxons. By 64 AD, there were so many people that were in the Roman Empire that a friend of the Emperor Nero and a poet said that Rome was populated by its own citizens and the scum of the earth (mostly Asians, Greeks and Jews). 

 “The Yi should never covet (the territory of) the Xia and disturb (the culture of) the Hua. (Huaxia culture was so superior that) even a Yi-Di society with a king was lesser than a Xia society without a king.”

Confucius
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Europe was not the only place where supremacism was prevalent: China also had the same issue.  There were five regions in China, the central region or Zhonyuan this is where the economic and cultural center of China was; the people called themselves Huaxia – meaning big and beautiful. People to the east were Yi, the people to the west were Rong, northern people were Di, and southern people were called Man. According to Huaxia, anyone that was not Huaxia was a lesser person.

It was thought that if a person moved from any of the other areas to Huaxia, they would be Huaxia – so for instance if a person moved from Yi to Huaxia, and they followed the customs, rituals and education they would be Huaxia. Conversely, if a person moved from Huaxia to Yi, they would be Yi and would be looked down upon, even though they were from Huaxia.

Nazi Germany under the leadership of Adulf Hitler was the most vocal and the most damaging. His idea of supremacism was that there was a superior race. The Aryan race was based on Nortic traits: Tall, blond, and blue eyes. If you did not have these attributes, you could not be part of the Aryan race; this meant that Jews and Moslems, Blacks, Asians were despised. However, Adulf Hitler blamed the economic problems on the Jewish people, stating that they keep getting fatter, while the rest of Germany starved. 

Once he was in power, the Jewish people were rounded up and put into concentration camps and made to work with little food and little clothing – some were murdered in the camps, and many of the Jewish prisoners were killed immediately upon arriving at the camps. If you want to read a heart wrenching account of Auschwitz, read Viktor Frankl’s book: Man’s Search for Meaning. 

Hatred has been the ruling force in America for hundreds of years, creating ill will and harsh treatments for those who don’t fit into the mold that this society has created. In America we have, for too long, had one ruling class, and even though that class has been primarily white: White is not the class I am speaking about, it is the class of the rich. 

This class of the wealthy are not of a specific color, not of a specific gender, not of a specific ideology. Yes they worked hard – some of them. Some of them had humble beginnings, but when they reached the top of the hill, they forgot from whence they came. The rich run the country, the rich control the media, the rich influence public safety. So when there are riots – when there is violence in the street, the only people that are truly affected are the working class individuals – men and women trying to put food on the table. The ones in control are not affected at all.

There isn’t white privilege – at least I have never felt privileged: my children – who are white – were harrassed by police. I have been passed over for jobs and promotions because I was the wrong color and the wrong sex. If you aren’t of the upper class, you have nothing in this society.

One group of people that were persecuted harsher than any other race in American history were Indigenous People of North America.  We have invaded their country, taken their land from them, killed them indiscriminately, their language and traditions were stripped away and in some cases – lost forever. We tried to make them conform to the “White” way of thinking; we took away their names and gave them “White” names. 

They were moved to lands that were inhospitable – far away from their homes. They have been called savages and we killed them savagely. The Indigenous People are still looked down upon in many areas in the United States today, we look at their rituals as foriegn and antiquated. They are still shut away, because it seems that their lives don’t matter.

Lately the Black Lives Matter movement has taken hold. This movement asserts that only Black lives matter, but once again that is supremacism. This was born out of violence towards Black people, and it became a battle cry. Black people were not feeling that they were being listened to, and in some cases I believe they are correct. However, It is insinuated that if a person says that all lives matter – that they are in fact taking away the voices of black people. I am not opposed to what black people say, I am not opposed to black people at all. However, to elevate one race above another still is supremacism. 

I do believe that black people – all over the world and not just in the United States – have been discriminated against for hundreds of years. Black people have been looked down upon as inferior and not intelligent; this is an overgeneralization and a despicable assertion. You can make the same declaration about any race: however, it doesn’t make it so. 

But just because black people have been misjudged and mistreated for hundreds of years it doesn’t mean they don’t matter – I believe black people do matter very much, but not at the expense of other races.

One hundred and fifty eight years ago the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, and we still have an issue between Black and White citizens in this country. Whites have been the major contributors of supremacism in this country. I, as a white male, am horrified by how whites have treated every segment of society in this country. If someone has a different skin color, a different accent, a different ideology, they are discriminated against. 

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Martin Luther King Jr

When it all comes down to what is needed in this life, what we all should aspire to a life of peace – no matter your race, no matter your sex, no matter your sexual orientation, no matter your religeous preferance. We should not look at the color of the skin, we should not look to the congregation that someone belongs to. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, our destinies are tied together. We need to look at every person White, Black, Asian, Latino, Native American as equals: We need to look at Men and Women as equals. I want my grandchildren to live and love in the dream of Dr. King.

Reference:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supremacism#:~:text=Supremacism%20is%20the%20belief%20that,part%20of%20a%20particular%20population.

The Race Problem of the Roman Empire/Martin P Nilsson/ Cambridge University Press/July 9, 2010

https://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/racism-china

Affection and Love for Healing.

“To heal is to touch with love that which was previously touched by fear.”

Stephen Levine

With all of the physical and mental illness that is rampant in our society today, we need something that will ease the pain and give relief. I am talking about love and affection. I wrote on the subject of love once before in the post All You Need. However, the subject of love is important, and there are more things we can do with love and affection, then we can do with hate.

There has been a lot of hate in the world – especially in the past few years: Hate is on the rise. Hate is fed by fear and ignorance – and it grows like a cancer, until it has overtaken us and darkened our day. However, the radiating effect of love can kill that cancer – and eradicate it from our existence. 

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Hate and fear are spread by the media like a little child spreads seeds of the dandelion when they blow on it to make a wish. Those seeds from the media land in our minds and our thought processes and incite us to take action against our neighbor. We grasp on to our weapons of war, we gird ourselves with ignorance, hatred, distrust and racism. We take to the streets with a lynch mob mentality – only to come back home beaten bruised and sick.

The Power of Love

Love has a special power and it can grow inside of each person, but we have to want to love, and if we love then we have to put away our fear and hatred. Sometimes that is more than just one person can handle – why? We feel comfortable in our ignorance. We don’t like someone that is different then we are. 

But love can conquer fear, and our ignorance is based in fear.  The fear of someone being different is what fuels the fire of racism. This fear causes anxiety which releases cortisol into the bloodstream. “But Thom, isn’t cortisol a stress hormone?” Yes it is, but cortisol is released by fear. Fear causes stress, stress releases cortisol – ergo fear causes the release of cortisol.

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Love can decrease fear and anxiety, it also can inhibit the release of cortisol. Think about it, if you loved the person next door, no matter their ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion and political affiliation. It would be hard to hate them – right? You see love releases serotonin, which makes you feel happy and can act as a calming agent

“But I don’t know my neighbor, I just can’t walk up to someone and say ‘I love you.’ what’s wrong with you Thom.” I am not saying that you have to walk up to your neighbor and say I love you; in fact, I am not saying you have to say that at all. Remember, actions speak louder words. The way you can show your neighbor that you love them is through acts of kindness – once again, if you are kind to your neighbor, then you cannot hate them; plus an added benefit, they will show kindness to you.

Now if everyone took that attitude, we would have peace.

Affection

Let’s get some sciencey stuff out of the way. Cytokineˈ(sīdəˌkīn) is a large group of substances and proteins that  regulate immunity, inflammation and hematopoiesis (hēmədōpoiˈēsis) (the manufacture of blood cells). Now just to make sure I have all the information to you, it can also play a negative role with inflammatory diseases such as tumor necrosis factor a in rheumatoid arthritis or asthma and Crohn’s disease.

We are not talking about “bad” Cytokine, and I don’t want anyone saying that I said love can cause Crohn’s disease, because that just ain’t so! 

Now both love and affection in conjunction with each other have the ability to heal physical wounds. Now this has been studied by psychologists: It seems that when people are in a relationship and they love each other, Cytokine levels are high, so if there is an injury, that injury heals faster. However, when people are in a toxic or contentious relationship, the Cytokine levels drop – which means that injuries don’t heal as fast.

Affection between two people – whether it is between a parent to child, child to parent, adult to adult or even human to animal. Cytokine levels increase to fight infections and oxytocin is released to combat mental issues like depression.  That is why therapy animals are widely used, because that relationship releases oxytocin which can lower our stress levels and offer companionship.

You see, love can heal all wounds, if you are in the right relationship. You can love your neighbor and show them kindness and heal our world. It might sound really mushy, but in reality – love is a strength. Don’t you just love our brains!

Rest

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Taking a break is necessary, sometimes it is worth it to take a step back and get some rest. You need to be good to yourself, and going full bore – no matter what your occupation is – it is never any good. I don’t care if you are an airline pilot or a stay at home parent; taking a break can be the best thing for your mental and physical health. Taking a break can help you regain perspective, however not taking a break can lead to stress, burnout and a host of other complications.

When I was in my early twenties, I thought I was 10 foot tall and bulletproof. I went to work for an actor, turned art curator. He had a gallery in Hollywood California, in Key West Florida and his distribution hub was in Cottonwood Arizona – where I lived. He needed someone to ferry his art from Hollywood to Key West and back again. I did my first trip and told myself that I would drive till I got tired. I didn’t get tired and after about three days, I was in Key West: I drove straight through.

I did this several more times, and on my last trip through, I was going through Van Horn Texas – and if you know anything about that area in the early 90s, there is nothing in Van Horn. All of a sudden I saw a highway stack rising above me. I was confused. I had a few more hallucinations after that and I decided to pull over and sleep in the truck. I slept for twelve hours. The point is that I was killing myself because I thought I was indestructible.

Powering Through

We have all had those times when we just needed to get something done. Our minds and our responsibilities will not let us rest, until the project is complete. So there we are, doing whatever it is that we are devoting our attention to, grinding away at the issue.

Our bodies need rest, we need rest from the task at hand, and this rest is important. Your body will start to give you clues when you have pushed too far, you will start to get nauseous, you will develop a headache. But powering through can actually lead to being burned out. 

We all need rest from what we are doing;  to take a step back. If we don’t, and we are pushing until we get the job done, we can become irritable, we can become apathetic, or you might become easily distracted.

Road Signs to Burnout from Stress.

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So your body has been telling you that you are starting to push it a little hard, but you ignore your body, you take an antacid and some ibuprofen and you continue on. Then you get a little snappy with the people at work, and people don’t want to be around you. Someone comes up to you for advice and you dismiss them, because you don’t really care. You start to feel like you don’t really care about anything. 

Burnout can resemble depression. You start feeling like you hate what you are doing, you don’t like getting up in the morning. Everything is wrong and nothing goes right. Unfortunately what you used to love, now becomes the object of your hatred.

One of the biggest contributors to burnout is stress. You have a deadline you have to meet, reports that need to be done, clients you need to call; it really doesn’t matter how your stress comes about – it still is stress.. You don’t have to only have stress at your job, that is just one place it can happen: you can have stress at home, on your way to and from work; stress seems unavoidable and for most of us, that happens everyday.   

You can’t get away from the stress. However, Stress in this fashion can cause serious problems with your health. High Blood pressure spikes, that means that chronic stress spikes your blood pressure quite frequently. There is also heart disease, liver damage, it has been linked to cancer and then mental disease – such as depression and suicide.

How to overcome stress 

All is not lost, but the first thing to do is recognize you are stressed. Even Though that is a great start, it is only the start: Now do something about it.

The first thing is to relax, you need to take care of yourself. Get a pedicure, nothing feels better than sitting in that massage chair, sipping red wine, while someone is making your feet feel fantastic. There are other stress relieving techniques; such as, sitting and listening to soft music – eyes closed and just concentrating on your breathing is a great stress relieving technique.

Get some good sleep. I don’t mean just go to bed, but go to bed ready for sleep. If all you do in your bedroom is sleep, then it will be easier to fall asleep there. Sometimes we mix our bedroom with our living room and even our office. If you have the space, try to separate your work and entertainment space from your sleep space.

Exercise. It has been spoken about for years, that exercise relieves stress. Exercise releases endorphins, which makes our moods better. When we get that runner’s high – it is because endorphins are released into our brain, which is like morphine. You cannot get addicted to endorphins, but you can get addicted to exercise.

We all get stressed, I don’t care who you are. However, stress doesn’t have to ruin our lives or run our lives. Stress needs to be put back in its place. We need to recognize the issue and then take steps to relieve our stress. So take a break – relax – breathe and go for a walk.

Reference:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/exercise-and-stress/art-20044469

https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/7-ways-to-reduce-stress-and-keep-blood-pressure-down

https://www.verywellmind.com/stress-and-burnout-symptoms-and-causes-3144516

https://blog.taylorstudymethod.com/power-through-or-take-a-break-what-to-do-when-youre-burned-out-from-eppp-test-prep/

Transcendence – Self Actualization

When I saw this was a virtue of strength, I was a little pessimistic. I was wondering how transcendence could be a strength, muchless a virtue, but since this blog is “How to be the person that people want to be around.” I have stated this before, I am not there yet, so this is a learning experience for me as well. But how does transcendence work?

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Like I said I was a little pessimistic, because of what I have experienced in my past. I remember working in Sedona Arizona – at the height of the “New Age Movement.” There were self proclaimed yogis and shamen, I met people that believed crystals could do everything from balance themselves to fixing their car. I have met “Angels,” mystics and even a couple who claimed they were from another planet and piloted the “mothership.” 

They all talked about transcending to a higher astral plane. They didn’t seem all that, and I felt they were all humbug. However, is there something to this state of transcendence? Can transcendence really be a virtue of strength, or is this whole thing just hogwash? I’ll let you be the judge.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

To understand the idea of Transcendence, we need to go over Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow mapped out the needs that people have. He described them as deficiency needs and growth needs. Deficiency needs are Physical  or physiological needs, security and safety, social needs, and esteem needs. Then there are growth needs: Cognitive needs, aesthetic needs, self actualization needs, transcendence needs. We will look at these separately.

Basic needs

Physical needs: These are basic survival needs – in other words, these are basic to life. If these are not satisfied, then the human body cannot function correctly. These are: food, drink, clothing, shelter, warmth, sex and sleep.

Security and Safety needs: When this need is met, the people experience order, predictability and control. This can be fulfilled with family and society, such as with medical care, police, and schools.

Physiological needs

Social needs: This need is for love and for feelings that you belong. This is the need for friendship, intimacy, trust and acceptance, the ability to give and receive affection and being part of a social group (girls night out).

Esteem needs: Maslow separated this need into two classifications: Esteem for oneself such as dignity, achievement, mastery and independence. The second is for reputation or respect from others.

Growth needs

The growth needs require uncommon qualities. These qualities are independence, awareness creativity, originality and courage.

Cognitive needs: knowledge, understanding, curiosity and exploration. Because we as humans need to increase our intelligence; with this quality, we gain a better understanding of the world and those around us.

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Aesthetic needs: Beauty is all around us, this quality helps us not only see the beauty, balance and form, but to find it and appreciate it.

Self Actualization needs: The realization of potential, self fulfillment, personal growth and peak experiences. This is the desire to accomplish everything that a person can do.

Transcendence needs: A person is motivated by values which transcend beyond personal self. This is where they stop thinking about themselves and start valuing others, helping others and being others centric. Transcendent people are also intune with nature and they are closer to God through communion with him.

However the grown needs can be difficult for some people, because it can lead them to thinking that life is meaningless or even the extent of their lives and even the end of their own life. Because they cannot handle this psychologically, they never progress past the basic and physiological needs.

“I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”

Ecclesiates 1:14

Transcendence and Self Actualization is difficult, the road is long and difficult. The journey will definitely tell you something about yourself. Some people cannot make it that far, and that is alright for them. Some people will go all the way and it might take them an entire lifetime to get there. Because it is a difficult path, it is a true sign of strength and a virtue.

Reference:

https://positivepsychology.com/self-transcendence/

https://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hide-and-seek/201205/our-hierarchy-needs

Temperance

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This is far less sexy than all of the other virtues, because temperance gets right down to the marrow. What I mean is that if you practice temperance – you cannot do it part way: It is the hard path – the narrow way. Temperance helps you avoid overconsumption by monitoring moderation and self restraint. But what is temperance all about? How can it help us to get to “the good life.”

“But Thom, you have already done posts on Self Control, Delayed Gratification and Pleasure and Pain aren’t you beating a dead horse?” It might seem that way, but Temperance is more than self control. Temperance is defined as having the control over taking things to excess. Temperance also has such theological importance that all of the major religions have it as a virtue.

Temperance is not just one single idea, and like the other virtues of strength it has virtues of its own. The virtues that we will be covering today are: Forgiveness and mercy, humility and modesty, self control and abstinence, and hospitality.

Forgiveness and Mercy

Forgiveness and mercy are close relatives, but they are definitely not the same. Forgiveness deals with letting someone off the hook for an injustice that they have caused you, and mercy is not punishing someone that needs punished. 

“Forgiveness is for you – not the other person. It’s something you do inside yourself that you feel in your body and heart that releases you from your past and frees you to live life fully.”

Barbara J Hunt

When you are hurt or offended, when you are wronged, when you have been taken advantage of, it is your right to forgive. However, when you hold onto that anger, that hurt or that pain, all you are doing is hurting yourself. When you really forgive someone, that anger, hurt and pain start to subside. 

I have known people that cannot let anything go. When my family moved up to Washington the second time, we ended up staying with my parents. One day my older three kids were playing in the backyard, and my dad came running out of the house, claiming my oldest son kicked over a plastic yard decoration – a duck. My son said that he didn’t kick the duck, but he apologized anyway. My dad brought up that duck for many years to come. It became a saying in my house, whenever someone was holding onto a grudge: “That damn duck.”

Grudges are stupid, and I have held onto many grudges myself. but they don’t do anything to the other person, it only robs you of your joy. You need to see that your reaction is hurting you more than the person that did you wrong.

“I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.”

Abraham Lincoln

Humility and Modesty

This virtue is the most difficult to self judge, it does require mastery but to say that you are humble and modest – is to exhibit pride and your house of cards will crumble. So how do we know when we are humble and modest, and what is the purpose?

Some people think that humility is good, while modesty is bad. I don’t agree with them. You can be humble and modest at the same time. Humility is where you don’t think of yourself more than you actually are. You are kind and appreciative to those that are around you, because you realize that you cannot live this life in isolation; humility is “others” focused – you lift up those around you.

Where modesty comes in to play is, when you give someone a helping hand, you don’t stand around waiting for applause. They can say thank you, and in humility you can accept it. There is a difference in getting appreciation and seeking appreciation. Seeking appreciation is like wanting to get paid, getting appreciation – without asking for it – is like getting a gift. We need to stop looking for payment for everything we do. On the other hand, we need to be free with our gifts – accept appreciation, otherwise it seems like false modesty.

Self Control and Abstinence

“Here he goes again preaching about self control.” Yes, self control is very important. You see temperance is a virtue, because it makes a person be good, because it implies moderation. What we are talking about is the self regulation of your five senses, that being: taste, touch, sight, hearing and smell.

What everyone should be looking for in their life, to be a better person is moderation and in some cases total abstinence. I know total abstinence is difficult, but it can be the best thing for us. So a couple of years ago,I was listening to a nutritionist online and he said that if I was putting garbage in my body, my body would show it on the outside, so I decided to go off of sugar – to totally abstain from sugar all together. Now before this, I drank my coffee with sweetened creamer, I ate ice cream, desserts were a thing and the occasional donut was not out of the question. Then I looked at myself in the mirror. I looked horrible. I started feeling better and my weight was starting to go down, once sugar was out of my diet.

I jumped off that wagon when I changed jobs, I went from an office job to driving for a rideshare company full time. I thought that I could not keep up the diet while I was on the road. My physique suffered. The point is – abstinence is wonderful, but you need to keep it up. You see abstinence needs to be a lifestyle; if you are going to change your diet, you need to make it a lifestyle change. If you don’t, your body and your self esteem will suffer.

“The glutton is much more than an animal and much less than a man.”

Honore de Balzac

Hospitality

Photo by Amina Filkins on Pexels.com

This also is a difficult one, because this means that we need to open our homes to other people. Our sanctuary will be disturbed and they might judge us on our ability to keep a clean house. However, nothing could be farther from the truth. 

The fact is, if someone wants to come over, it is not to visit your house. It is to visit you in your house. Now if you don’t want someone to know where you live, then it is perfectly reasonable to have your visit off site as it were. However, if you are doing that, just so you don’t have someone in your house, you aren’t being hospitable, and that is judgemental appropriate.

I understand having someone in my house can be daunting sometimes, especially if they drop by unexpectedly. When I was in my late 20’s two guys came by my house, they wanted to get me into a marketing scheme. I was all for it, until they came by. My house was a mess and I was embarrassed. One of the guys asked if he could use my restroom, and I lied and told him it was broken. They left and I never sold for them. However, I was not hospitable either. Since then, I do attempt to keep the house picked up, it isn’t always perfect, but you don’t have to move laundry off of the couch to sit.

Some helpful hints about keeping a house clean. It is easier to keep clean then to clean. In other words, if your house is clean, just pick up after yourself and put things away. You might have to do some deep cleaning on the weekends, but during the week, your house is presentable.

Temperance is about keeping a balanced lifestyle, it is about controlling your urges  and having mastery over instincts and keeping your desires within limits. Temperance is about showing forgiveness, about evaluating your emotions and knowing that sometimes the person you are hurting with your anger and resentment is yourself. It is about offering a hand without expecting anything – even a thank you – in return, but if you get a thank you, take it as a gift. Temperance is about opening oneself and exposing even where you live. To take someone in and share with them. If I was to sum up Temperance in just one sentence; temperance is becoming the best friend that a friend would like to have.

Reference:

https://www.sharecare.com/health/personality/what-strengths-temperance-positive-psychology