5 Things You Lose When You Think You’re Right…All of the Time

By Samantha McKenzie

Do you know people who think they’re right all of the time? Those people who reject your ideas, even when you present them with hard evidence, facts, and all of the common sense you can drum up to prove an important point? They sometimes mask their rightness as “stubbornness” and offer the non-verbal signs of disagreement (the slight eye roll, the folded arms, the deep release of breath that indicates they’re ready for you to shut it).

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Do you know people like this? Are you one of them?

Most people are trained to pick a side. We’re also hardwired to feel compassion for topics that best suit our lifestyle, the side that makes us most comfortable, or the side that allows us the freedom to continue on doing whatever it is that we like to do.

But no one is right all of the time. No one. If you’re one of those people who has to be right about everything, you’re also probably the person people hate talking to, because you’re going to dominate the conversation with your “holier-than-thou-rightness” and you’re “I told you so’s.” Being around these know-it-alls is indeed a bummer.

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Here’s a few things we lose out on when we think we’re always right and tips to opening up to what others have to say:

  1. You lose the ability to listen. I know this sounds a bit obvious, but research says most people start forming their response while the other person is still talking, which means they’re not really listening to you. Active listening means clearing your mind, putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, empathizing if you can, and if necessary, offering solutions. Learning to listen is a great building block for improving your relationships and building mutual understanding with others.
  2. You lose out on learning. Yes. When you’re not so busy being right, you may stop and realize you have lots more to learn. You might not agree with all that is being said, but it’s best that you open up your mind to learning other concepts and another person’s perspective. Trust me, there’s nothing for you to lose here. It’s just an opportunity to gain more, maybe even useful, information. And who doesn’t need that.
  3. You limit your experiences. Limiting yourself, in most cases, is not good. You can potentially stunt your growth. You miss out on trying something new because you don’t understand it. Sometimes we choose not to participate in an activity because of fear, or because of what we heard someone else say. Toss away your predetermined mindset and expand your experiences. I promise you, you’ll grow from it.
  4. You forego opportunities. Was it a job you should have taken? A relationship you prematurely abandoned? Sometimes we’re left with the ‘what ifs’ because we thought we were so right about it at the time. Opportunities are fluid. They come and they go. Don’t be so quick to dismiss everything that doesn’t agree with your thinking. You may miss out on THE opportunity that was meant for you. Stop. Think. Ask questions. Then decide.
  5. You lose friends and potential friends. You’re not the expert on all things. Just because you read about it, doesn’t mean it’s the truth. Just because someone told you about it, doesn’t mean you should repeat it. Don’t alienate others in a conversation or hit them over the head with every piece of factual information that you’ve come across. It stifles people. It sucks up all of the air in the room and it’s a sure way to lose friends. Learn how to share what you know in a way that still leaves room for healthy dialogue. Friendships are worth more than the silly topics we tend to debate about. Create the space for everyone to participate in the conversation.

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Today, I’m Thankful for Experiences

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

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By Dawn Onley

Today, I’m thankful for my experiences. I’m thankful for my ability to try out a new city, to experience a new food, to develop a new hobby, to travel to a foreign land, to meet new people. I’m grateful that my experiences have stretched me in the process.

I’m a big fan of experiences. I like to engage, as often as possible, in stuff that involves family and friends and a good time. I will save for lavish vacations and splurge on concert tickets, a new class, or a Broadway play – all for the thrill of the moment and to feel engaged and alive.

I do this because I love connecting with people and I love creating memories that will far outlast the actual experience. I love to delight my senses. It thrills me to create and to discover. There is no question that my dominant brain is right.

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Experiences rule!

Don’t get me wrong, I love nice things. I’m a girly girl. If you see my closet, you would realize that I may just have a purse and shoe addiction, and I possess more than enough other “stuff” – from clothes to accessories and from perfumes to jewelry — to start my own consignment shop.

Still, there is nothing that tops the experience of travel or the invigoration of learning something new. There is nothing like a brisk hike up a new trail or dining at a new restaurant. I will choose taking a walk on the shore and the smell of the ocean over the chance to buy more stuff. In fact, the choice isn’t even close.

Stuff doesn’t last.

Stuff is not fulfilling.

Sure, you might be saying, but experiences don’t last either. That is true for the actual experience, but for me, it’s so much more than that.  That new gadget is outdated before you can blink your eyes. That car loses its value before you even drive it off the lot. But the memory of that experience — the concert, the play, the sports outing, the dinner date with friends, the party, the vacation, even those trips to the library with your kids — will last forever, growing more valuable over time. When you are sad, you can draw from those memories. Bonds with friends and family are strengthened through our experiences. Kids perform better in school when they have family time. This is life-changing stuff here!

Increasingly, as I watch that show on tiny homes on HGTV, it appears some people are downsizing their lives to make more room for experiences. While I don’t desire to live in a tiny house at this stage in my life, I love the idea and think these people are onto something.

After all, it’s not the size of the house that makes life so beautiful. It’s the memories created with the people inside and outside of it.

Stuff will fade away. I’m finding that it’s the memory of my experiences that I will cherish.

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Let Your Little Light Shine, Shine!

By Samantha McKenzie

I love the sunshine and all the energy it brings to our  daily lives. I love the sun I see up in the sky and I love the shine I see radiating from extraordinary people every day. I gravitate to people who are alive and doing something that betters themselves and others – big or small. This is the energy that makes living all worth it.

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I crave the harmonies of human beings and heartbeats of the unknown. I want to laugh at the things we regard as impossible and marvel at every day miracles. I search for vibes and pulses that connect me to others, even those in faraway lands. The sunshine, that great sunshine, connects us all.

dreamstime_l_19391358It doesn’t matter where your passions lie. I recall a colleague of mine who was a passionate teacher. She loved science and she loved teaching. Everywhere she went, she found new ideas on how to teach the tough topic while also making it fun for her students. She was her own mad scientist and the students loved her for it. She’d turn a casual trip to the supermarket into a lesson plan in five minutes flat. And it worked. Her class outscored all the others in the school and surpassed the state’s requirements that year. She was radiant sunshine!

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We’ve grown up hearing about this little light inside of us. We’ve been warned about hiding it under the bushel basket. Yet, each day, we put our passions off for another day, cling to the mundane and call it life.

When others snub their noses at your joy, you should shine anyway.

Your sunshine is your high-five, fist bump, atta-girl to the world. It’s how you communicate out loud that you are thankful and appreciative and grateful for this life. And you look better when you’re beaming anyway!

Your sunshine is not for show. It’s not tied to fame or glory, popularity or prizes. You don’t have to be a celebrity to shine. It’s personal and unique and will light up the world even without the help of technology.

I see sunshine on the faces of young people who can’t wait to tell you about the new “thing” they are in to. I see it in the park when parents are playing with their children. I see it in the grassroots volunteers who line the sidewalks vigorously reminding us to vote. I see it all around me. I see it every day and it ignites me.

Be the sunshine that’s contagious and use it to light your life on fire. Go ahead, let your little light shine!

Today, I’m Thankful for a Wealthy Spirit

“Don’t measure your wealth by how many things you have. Measure your wealth by how many things you have that you wouldn’t take money for.” Myrlie Evers

Woman Smelling Sunflowers By Dawn Onley

How wealthy are you?

I’m not talking about how much money you make or the value of your stock portfolio or the stuff that you own or any other measure of material wealth. I’m referring to true wealth – the type that doesn’t come with a price tag. I’m talking about the wealth that we often take for granted, in pursuit of material gain, but later learn is the only wealth that matters.

For you can live in a mansion, drive a Porsche and vacation in Bali, but if you are not wealthy in spirit, you probably won’t appreciate it. Sure, it’ll afford you modern conveniences, some people’s respect, better healthcare, and tons of options, but what good is all of that if you haven’t found the true source of joy? If you’re wealthy but unhappy?

Today, I’m grateful and so blessed for all of the things that money can’t buy. I’m grateful for a close-knit family, the loyalty of friends, and a peace that surpasses all understanding. I’m blessed to have attained a modicum of knowledge and wisdom and a hunger for more. I’m thankful for an agile mind and a strong work ethic. I’m thankful for compassion and truth. I’m grateful for love. I’m thankful for the serenity of the ocean and a good night’s sleep. I’m thankful for the changing leaves this time of year. I’m thankful for my optimism, for faith and hope. I’m blessed to be alive.

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Money is great and it makes aspects of life easier. I’m not one of those people who is against material wealth. However, you can be bank rich and spirit poor. You can also be poor by bank standards and abundantly wealthy – in talent, in joy, in generosity of heart. That’s what I’m most thankful for – my priceless blessings.

If you have people who love you and whom you love, you are outrageously rich. If you have been blessed with sight, sound, mobility, a roof over your head, clothes to wear and food to eat, you are wealthier than you realize. In fact, there are people all over the world who would give anything to have your blessings.

When we truly realize this, there is no room to take anything for granted. There is only room to be eternally grateful.

Many of us spend precious time lamenting what we don’t have and what we haven’t accomplished, always comparing ourselves to others. We brood on our financial difficulties or focus on what we lack. We fail to appreciate the blessings that are smack dead in front of us. Sadly, sometimes it takes us losing our blessings for us to finally start appreciating what we had.

When we embrace a spirit of poverty – and we embrace this spirit by perpetuating scarcity and lack in our talk and actions – we are not much different than the wealthy person who may embrace a spirit of greed. Both spirits damage who we are and who we were born to be and leave us in a place of ungratefulness.

When we give thanks for our blessings, our eyes become opened and we start to see that we are overflowing with wealth that no amount of money can buy.

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You Don’t Have to be Perfect, Just Better than Yesterday

By Samantha McKenzie

There’s an unspoken message that’s always been looping in my head. “You’ve got to be perfect, Samantha.”

I don’t recall ever actually hearing anyone say it, but I’ve felt it all of my life.

I’ve felt it as I sat in church every Sunday morning listening to the pastor speak so highly of Jesus during a sermon.

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I’ve felt it from my mother when she’d scold me for not keeping my room clean like my sister did. Or when she reminded me that my hair was too untidy, my shoes too scuffed up to wear to church or that my ash-like skin required more of that good petroleum – because enough was never enough.

I felt it too from my father who, ever so kindly, demanded perfect grades. We were never rewarded for our A’s and honor roll awards, it was an expected feat. When I got a 97 on a test, my dad, in his own ‘higher expectations’ voice would ask me how I missed the 3 additional points. He always waited to hear my explanation. Thank God I got the bonus question right.

The notion that I had to be perfect continued into young adulthood. I learned quickly that I should act a certain way as a young woman. This, I understood, led to attaining other perfect things, like acceptance into a good college, the choice of a good man and all the trimmings of perfection that came along with that like perfect little children, a perfect high-paying job, and perfect family vacations.

But this quest for perfection went way beyond my home life. When I took my first steps into adulting, I learned that my peers had been taught the same thing. There was a culture of everybody, everywhere, chasing that illusive life of perfection. Some, by any means necessary.

I was surrounded by it. My professors spoke the same message. My co-workers learned that cut throat game they taught in the workplace so they could get ahead and get the perfect promotion. Every boyfriend I had played the perfect role too.

My apartment neighbors wondered how perfect I was when they noticed that every Wednesday night I’d come home at 2 a.m. It didn’t matter that I worked at a weekly newspaper and this was press night, the time we spent meticulously proofing for errors, cutting and pasting pieces of news stories in order for it to fit neatly around advertisement copy. It didn’t matter that I was in a field that demanded perfection, accuracy, and how not having this ruined your credibility. It didn’t matter that losing the trust of a reader had the same damning effect as not being perfect. None of this mattered, because 2 a.m. was an inappropriate time for a lady to come home.

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If you’re a person of color or an immigrant, you probably have been taught that you had to be better than everyone else around you or else.

If you’re a person from a strict or religious family, you were probably taught that you’d be punished for any and all transgressions.

If you’re a self-proclaimed over achiever, you probably put an inordinate amount of pressure on yourself to get it right the first time. (You compete with competition. Even when there are no competitors. You create them in your head so you can beat them.)

If you were born into a family who wanted to keep up with the Joneses, well yeh, you’ve been drinking the perfect Kool-aid too.

Perfection is an illusive notion that leads us to the water and then shoves our head down to drink all of it.  It’s not even a worthwhile goal. I think what our parents were trying to teach us was we should strive to do our best, and make each day better than yesterday.

What we really want to teach are the principles of purpose. You were born with one. Find out what it is and do it.

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Pick and choose the things that you engage in. Some things aren’t going to be a good fit.

Don’t follow people blindly. Instead chart your own path. You’ll know because it will feel right. Lord knows every wrong path I’ve ended up on, I heard a voice in my head that I ignored or got a pang in my stomach that was urging me to leave. So did you.

Be a better person than you were yesterday.

Use the day productively and have fun doing it.

Embrace being a better you.

Stop lying. To yourself first, then to others.

Speak kindly to people. It goes a long way and improves the success of your day.

Learn to cook a healthy meal. Then another. And another.

Breathe. Sit still. And then move towards your progress.

Remember, you don’t have to be perfect, just be better than yesterday.

Today, I’m Thankful for My Mistakes

“Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another steppingstone to greatness.” – Oprah Winfrey

“You have to be able to accept failure to get better.” – LeBron James

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By Dawn Onley

Today, I am thankful for my failures. That may sound self-defeating, but it is not. I have come to appreciate my many missteps in life (not at the time, mind you, but eventually) because I have learned the costly lessons that those failures have taught and I have gained tremendous insight on who I am as a person and how I can be true to the best parts of me while working on the flaws.

Here’s an example of what I mean:

Fresh out of college with “fool” apparently stamped on my forehead, I once rented a car for a “friend” who had bad credit. He was in the process of moving and he asked if I could rent him a car that he would use to move his stuff over the weekend. He said he would return the car first thing Monday morning.

I didn’t think any more of it. Although I had only known this person for about five months, I bought his hard luck story and trusted him at his word.

I’m sure you can imagine my surprise when the rental car company called me a few hours after the agreed upon return time on Monday, inquiring about when I would be bringing the car back.

“You mean the car wasn’t returned?” I asked, suddenly angst-ridden.

“No,” the attendant replied. “Wouldn’t you know whether you returned it?” he asked, incredulously.

“Uh, well, I let a friend use it and he said he would return it and …”

I called this guy and left messages on his home phone and his work phone but suddenly he wasn’t picking up. I felt sick. How could I have been so stupid? I was mad at myself because I knew better. How could I have not seen that his intent was to take advantage of my kindness?

I already knew the answer. My heart tends to believe the best in people until they give me a reason not to. Then the full magnitude of what’s transpiring hits my mind – and let me just tell you that when that happens, HELL HATH NO FURY.

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I picked up that phone one last time, and this time, I left a message that he wouldn’t soon forget. I told him that he better bring that *bleeping* car back to the *bleeping* car rental place and that I had called the “bleeping” police and how dare he do this to me when I was just trying to help his “bleepedly bleep bleep bleep.”

The next morning when I called the car rental place, the attendant put me on hold. When he came back, he told me that the car had been returned over night.

That bama did end up calling me back, and of course he claimed that he always intended on bringing the car back but that the move took longer than he anticipated. He said he didn’t get the messages at work because he took off to move and he didn’t get the home messages because something was wrong with his phone, blah, blah, blah.

Funny how he got that last message.

Today, I’m grateful for that experience, as crazy as that sounds. I’m grateful that this lesson came early, at 22, instead of later. It taught me to never use my name or my credit to help get something for someone else again. It helped me to set limits with my friends. It helped me to stop calling people “friend” that weren’t tried and true. It helped me to pay closer attention to people and their motives.

I’m thankful that this failure in judgment didn’t end up a lot worse. I’m thankful for the lessons that mistakes have taught me.

Over and over again in life, I’ve failed. And this is why I succeed.

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Today is Yours. Use it Up.

By Samantha McKenzie

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Today is Friday. It is the last day of the work week and another chance to move your plans forward. You can start, stop or just keep going on any and everything you put your mind to.

Related imageDon’t look back to Thursday and don’t count on seeing Saturday. Neither exist at this moment. Today requires your commitment. It doesn’t want you reliving the past or using all of your waking hours planning for the future.

Today wants you to live in it: the present.

It knows that this is the only time available to start something new, improve on something existing or come to terms with something that is ending. Do it. Use it to make amends or use it to get one step closer to your truth. This day literally requires your personal attention.

Instead of complaining, decide to show up ready to work. Make a commitment to work cheerfully too. Don’t let obstacles take away from the richness of the day’s opportunities. Don’t let someone else’s poor attitude affect you in a negative way. There’s way too  much to get accomplished.

Today is Friday and the only day you have.

Today is yours. Use it up.