TED Thursday: The investment of action

Forget about having an identity crisis & get some identity capital. Do something that adds value to who you are. Do something that’s an investment in who you might want to be next.” – Amy Cuddy

I posted this quote over the weekend. It spoke to me in the sense of moving forward and all of the steps you take to create the person you are, and the person you will become. Your actions are your investment.

A friend commented on the post that Amy had presented a really good TED talk…and after watching it – I totally agree! Thanks Charlotte!

In the talk, Amy speaks on the inverse of the age-old idea that our thoughts influence our actions. While the old adage “happy thoughts make happy lives” makes me grit my teeth sometimes, I understand that if you only dwell on one thing, it can become overwhelming. She chose, however, to look at the inverse. That your actions, the physical way in which you present or carry yourself, affect your thoughts. 
In a non-experiment scenario, read: the real world, this almost feels like a chicken-egg debate. If you’re slouching in your seat, is it because you subconsciously don’t want to be seen. Or is it because you don’t want to be seen that you slouch. Does the person who is confident think confidence and therefore walk taller, or do they walk taller and therefore feel more confident?
Not the point right now.
The point, to me at least, is that actions count. Everything affects everything. Non-actions have an affect too, but what is the investment in your future when you do nothing? Are you creating any future by sitting still? Probably not.
These actions are also, as she mentioned, really good social cues. Especially when words can be so overused and under-meant nowadays – and yes I say that fully aware that my blog could be considered an overuse of words. The thing is, I try my hardest to back my words with actions.

But when people aren’t good with words, all you’re left with are actions. Your actions, even just the crossing of your arms, the way you sit in a group of people, the nod of a head…they’re all social cues to the people around you. And they all affect how those people perceive your intentions and act towards you. Your actions are your investment in your future. They are the possible transaction of value to a better you…or a worse one.
Every day is a transaction. How are you investing in your future?
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TED Thursday: The world of online dating

I came across this TED talk today. A girl, recently out of a relationship, who loves data and connecting the dots and makes a mean timeline. She’s a planner. Any of that sound familiar?

I found myself laughing out loud at a couple parts, loving how she broke down the system to find what she needed. The talk is hilarious. Give it a listen.

As I’ve talked to friends, most of whom are happily married, about the re-entry to the single world…they are at a loss for advice on how to meet guys. You can’t just stroll across the Quad or go to a new class next semester and hope you find a cutie worth getting to know. And most of these happily married friends? Have friends who are happily married. So they can’t troll their friends for possible dates for me, either. Time and time again, their answers were “what about online dating?”

There are so many thoughts that come to mind with that simple question. Because it doesn’t feel so simple. Which site would I choose? Where do I even begin when it comes to setting up a profile? How much/how little information do I tell? What happens when no one emails/pokes/responds/messages/(insert whatever it is you do to chat on online dating because I’m so clueless here) me?

This lady took those frustrations and her skillset and made it work for her. It’s hilarious…and ingenious. While I don’t plan on engineering a handful of fake profiles, I applaud her for doing the legwork. And the moral of the story is: the legwork paid off. Sometimes, alright – most times, boys are dumb and they need help putting their shoes on, let alone finding someone who could conceivably become a life partner – so the creepy fake profiles seem less creepy when it pays off. Alright, the shoes are probably an overstatement, but I bet every girl reading this is nodding her head.

It all seems laughable to me.

[Find site]

[Create account with boringly literal or strangely funny username to lure boys]

[Insert picture]

[Add stupid quip that continues to attract said boys]

I’m pretty sure “Divorcee with dog and no steady income” is not the product of the algorithm that ends in my favor. That is not the milkshake that brings the boys to the yard.

I’m also pretty sure that my list would have at least 72 data points.

But what I do know FOR A FACT…is that I have awesome friends who will remind me along the way that he is out there and I just have to keep living and working and someday my man of action will show up.

Bring it, dating world. Smileygirl1978 ain’t got nothin’ on this milkshake*.

*In fact, it appears she hasn’t even seen a milkshake in awhile.

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TED Thursday: Vulnerability equals growth

This week’s TED talk is by Brené Brown, about the power of vulnerability. First off…she speaks crazy well. You can’t help but listen. She’s got a good mix of funny and fact.

I also think that it relates to my crazy kid on a roller coaster metaphor. Because if I sit back and think about it, what I’m going crazy over is the unknown. The inability to control the situation. That feeling of vulnerability.

(click to play)

So, if you don’t have time to listen/watch it (20min, totally worth it) – here are some quotes and the main things I took away from it:

“Knock discomfort upside the head and move it over.”

Yup. That’s me. To a “t”. Or at least the me I’m trying to break free of.

“Tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. “We can’t practice compassion with other people if we can’t treat ourselves kindly.””

“They were willing to let go of who they thought they should be to be who they were.”

This kind of gets back to the quote image my cousin sent me from this post. That it’s not about being the person you think people want you to be, that the fake person makes you better in some way…but instead being yourself. And that inherently makes you the best person possible. But people rarely do it because it’s very vulnerable to be the real you. You open yourself up to criticism. To hurt. To the possibility of not being accepted.

“I know that vulnerability is the core of shame, fear, struggle for worthiness…but also the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging, love.”

To which she then said, vulnerability may be awesome but:

“A. that’s not me 

B. I don’t even hang out with people like that.”

Word. She and I? Cut from the same cloth. But as a part of her research, she decided to take on this openness. This feeling of vulnerability.

“It was a year-long street fight. It was a slugfest. Vulnerability pushed, I pushed back. I lost the fight, but I probably won my life back…”

“You cannot selectively numb emotion. You can’t say: Here’s the bad stuff. Here’s vulnerability. Here’s grief. Here’s shame. Here’s disappointment. I don’t want to feel these. I’m gonna have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin…You can’t numb those hard feelings without numbing the other affects or emotions. You cannot selectively numb. When we numb those, we numb joy. We numb gratitude. We numb happiness. And then we are miserable and we are looking for purpose and meaning. And then we feel vulnerable so we have a couple beers and a banana nut muffin. And it becomes this dangerous cycle.”

“You are imperfect and you are wired for struggle. But you are worthy of love and belonging.”

“To let ourselves be seen, deeply seen. Vulnerably seen. To love with our whole hearts, even though there’s no guarantee. To practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror, when we’re wondering “can I love you this much? can I believe in this as passionately? can I be this fierce about this?” Just to be able to stop and instead of catastrophizing what might happen, to say “I’m just so grateful because to feel this vulnerable means I’m alive”. “

“To believe that we’re enough. When we work from a place that says “I’m enough” we stop screaming and start listening. We’re kinder and gentler to the people around us.”

I think this is part of my journey. To continue to grow into the person who freely shows their emotions. Who is okay with living in the moment. I think people saw our “perfect” marriage and so I began to emulate that. I began to hide away the real emotions, the real struggle. I think I didn’t let many people know about it because I didn’t want to release that vulnerability. To acknowledge that try as I might, my effort to create happiness for two was going nowhere. That I wasn’t in control. I finally became okay with that because I realized the issue was bigger than me. It was bigger of a problem than I could solve. Than we could solve.

And now? I still struggle with that vulnerability, but it’s on a different level. It’s a different type. I don’t necessarily know where my life is taking me; what lies after the upward ka-chunk, ka-chunk of the roller coaster. But I’m learning that this unknown is okay. That opening myself up to it, to the passion or grief, is letting me be the real me.

Most people know I do everything passionately. I love hard. I work hard. I play hard. But that also means that when it happens, I hurt just as hard. Because I invest all of me in everything I do. And I have to realize that the hurt is okay. Not necessarily the reason for the hurt, but the act of hurting. Of grieving or feeling pain. Of pushing. Because that also means I’m open to the joy. The wonder and happiness that this world, this life has in store for me.

I don’t like to hurt. I don’t like the unknown. But as I sit here, strapped into this roller coaster, I’m going to try each day to thrash a little less. To sit back, relax, and stare at the sky in wonderment. Because the ka-chunk will be over soon. And then the ride will begin.

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TED Thursday

Most days at work, I listen to music. But in the mornings, or in the dead of the afternoon while I’m willing my body to stay awake, I turn to TED. Hopefully all of you know of TED talks. If not, you need to remedy this quickly. With an array of topics, I can listen and learn about an intensely specific topic in the span of 6-25min (the varied length of the videos). The presenters, and presentation locations, are from all over the world. You can learn about things that are culture-specific, or things that are pervasive of every culture. Today’s first talk that I’ll share has to do with happiness. I’m sure this doesn’t surprise you ;)

I thought it interesting how she touched upon the idea of happiness pursuit vs. ordinary misery. And moreover the fact that happiness isn’t just a lack of ordinary misery. That there are things that must also occur to create happiness. That happiness, to most people at least, isn’t just a sense of complacency. That being content with life is important, but there must also be things that invigorate you, that inspire you to live and love and continue to better yourself.

I think in a lot of ways I was stuck in a place of contentment. Except that I wasn’t content with that. I had given so much of myself towards creating the happiness in another that I lost myself. I lost myself in effort, but also because that effort didn’t feel as if it was being returned. And no matter how much I gave, it didn’t make the situation any better. Instead of working to climb a wall, I was digging a well. (Funny, the drastic difference a letter makes)

Unfortunately, this idea of “ordinary misery” and happiness being a lack of that is a common thought in society. It seems stupid, but it is. I know that for a fact because I ran up against it in my conversations with friends and family. And my inability to make them understand that lack of misery in my situation was not enough…especially when I was so quickly digging myself into misery in trying to help nourish a relationship that was not nourishing me.

And now? That happiness is on me. It’s daunting but relieving at the same time. I’m no longer killing myself to provide the happiness for two and making myself less happy in the process. I am focusing on the adage “you cannot help others if you do not first help yourself”….something like that. This is my “me” time, because I need to be happy in me before I can ever take that on again. And I can already see the effect of this; I’m smiling, laughing, and enjoying more…of life.

I don’t know what that has done to, or says about, my ability to receive action that creates happiness from others. Or my optimism/pessimism that that is even a possible outcome. I would like to think it is. I think I believed it at one time. I think love makes a person believe that until experience proves otherwise.

This has actually been a topic of conversation with a friend more than once recently. The idea of trusting another person to take action toward your happiness. Knowing they will fulfill and nourish you as you do the same for them. Not having to worry about providing for yourself and thereby safeguarding your heart. I think true, giving love from the right person can accomplish that effortlessly. I think love and happiness is an effort but should never feel like work. I think when two people connect on that level, the act of providing happiness for each other is done without even knowing it is occurring.

Is that outlandish? Is that an unattainable goal? I don’t think so. I see that type of happiness in some of my family members and friends when they interact with their spouses. The optimist in me says it has to be out there, otherwise – what’s the point?

Until then, you can find me out there creating my own sunshine.

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