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A GOOD LIFE
Stay on your own playing eld. Decide before you get decided. Forget the nish line, enjoy the race, and other…
Dr. Jack Elliott
SECRETS FOR A GOOD LIFE
Stay on your own playing field. Decide before you get decided. Forget the finish line, enjoy the race, and other . . .
SECRETS FOR A GOOD LIFE
Dr. Jack Elliott
AuthorHouse™ 1663 Liberty Drive Bloomington, IN 47403 www.authorhouse.com Phone: 1-800-839-8640
© 2011 Dr. Jack Elliott. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means without the written permission of the author. First published by AuthorHouse 08/30/2011
ISBN: 978-1-4567-9651-8 (sc) ISBN: 978-1-4567-9652-5 (hc) ISBN: 978-1-4567-9650-1 (ebk) Library of Congress Control Number: 2011916041 Printed in the United States of America Any people depicted in stock imagery provided by Thinkstock are models, and such images are being used for illustrative purposes only. Certain stock imagery © Thinkstock. This book is printed on acid-free paper. Because of the dynamic nature of the Internet, any web addresses or links contained in this book may have changed since publication and may no longer be valid. The views expressed in this work are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, and the publisher hereby disclaims any responsibility for them.
seCRets ABoUt YoURseLF ..............................................1 seCRets ABoUt soLUtIons ..........................................47 seCRets ABoUt otHeRs ................................................53 seCRets ABoUt tRUtH .................................................134 seCRets ABoUt FAILURe ..............................................140 seCRets ABoUt MoneY ................................................149 seCRets ABoUt seCRets .............................................153 seCRets ABoUt WoRK ..................................................162 seCRets ABoUt tHe sPIRItUAL UnIveRse.................170 seCRets ABoUt FAMILY.................................................193 seCRets ABoUt Love & MARRIAGe ............................209 seCRets ABoUt MentAL HeALtH ................................234 seCRets ABoUt PARAdox ............................................243 seCRets ABoUt sYsteMs And tRIAnGLes ...............265 seCRets ABoUt CHAnGe .............................................277 seCRets ABoUt InseCURItY & AnxIetY .....................288 seCRets ABoUt QUestIons ........................................295 dIFFICULt & PRoFoUnd seCRets ................................300
To Ruth Who has made the good life possible For lo these 50 years
There is little in life that we accomplish, for which we can take all the credit. So it is with Secrets for a Good Life, which I have been writing for more than a decade. My gratitude and appreciation for all have helped in so many ways, who have been such a blessing, goes out far and wide, to those, along the way, who gave their help, thoughts, and insight. Thanks to Greenville Community Church. I was privileged to serve this family of God for over 26 years. Many will find themselves, disguised in the book. We shared a lot of the journey of life . . . mountain tops, dark valleys and much in between. Thanks to Peter Read. When we discovered we were both writing books we would get together for coffee every Friday morning before work. Well, we wandered far afield, but always gave each other encouragement, great ideas and honest criticism. He was a good friend, a great encourager and a man of courage and faith, who fought his cancer to the end, and now stands in the nearer presence of God. Thanks to Al Heinze. He is my next door neighbor. He warmly welcomed Ruth and I into our new home when we moved to Tucson. Soon we were walking two miles early each morning and talking about all sorts of things. One morning I told him about this book I was writing . . . well, get it written and I’ll get you a few speaking engagements . . . simple and direct and concrete. It did far more for me than he realized. I was energized again and now have finished the book and will soon take him up on those speaking opportunities. Thanks to Barbara Hennessy. She has been a friend for many years, even though she and her husband, Jim, moved west years before us.We
Dr. JACk ELLIoTT
kept in contact and so when I was finally finishing the book I asked for her comments and critique. She has published some 35 books and so had some seriously valuable help. She told me to reformat the book in order to bring all the secrets into better focus. Again, her encouragement energized and got me working hard again. Thanks to my family who have always been a great support. My wife Ruth, not only gave me the time and space I needed, and was my chief cheerleader, but also my best critic and a very fine editor, even when she would say that she didn’t know what I was talking about and should sharpen the idea or discard it. My daughter, Elizabeth and her husband, Dan, read through the manuscript and came back with all manner of good ideas. My son, John, inspired some of the secrets, and helped to shape and focus the various secrets in practical and clear ways. I am very thankful to all the others along the way, whose goodness and grace and ideas have found their way into this book. I am grateful to so many whose names are not here because of limited space and limited memory. jde
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The purpose of this book is to give you ideas that will help make your life better.They are thoughts that can bring clarity and even add some fun to life. The secrets are meant to empower you to build a good life, even to find a little more peace and happiness along the way. They help get you through some of the storms and dark valleys we all experience. Each secret is in a bold print, one-sentence statement that can easily be remembered. To better grasp the secret there is a story or two, brief explanation, and a few questions to get you going. Pick up a secret and use it in whatever way you want. They are tools for your own life, to use the way you think, feel, live and act. Apply these secrets using your values, morals, faith and relationships. They are not formulas to follow, but tools to help you find and live your own good life. This started out as a humorous book to entertain and enlighten. Perhaps a few secrets might stick a needle in, that one could not quite get out, that is might just get through the epidermis of prejudice, absoluteness, or blindness of many kinds of which we all have a little. What happened along the way is that serious secrets showed up, that could not be dressed in humor but seemed important to include. There are different kinds of secrets in this book . . . and I won’t define secrets any more than stating that a secret is something that provides some insight for the journey of life. Some are so obvious that we wonder how we ever missed them or realize that we have heard them before, but went right on by and didn’t stop to take them to heart or to mind. Still others are counter-intuitive and so we have to stop and read them again . . . and perhaps turn our thinking to a new direction. After you read awhile, you will notice some redundancy. Similar secrets are found in different sections. This is because good secrets
It has been a joy and delight to write this book. Peace . they are like the same or similar notes and chords coming from many instruments to become a symphony. Each of us sees or hears in different ways at different times. Or if you are musically inclined. So at times it reads like a log or journal as I encountered different secrets. JACk ELLIoTT weave together in many places to become part of the tapestry of life. So. . which as you will see.Dr. It is my hope that you will find secrets that will enrich your life and relationships. jde xii . there is value and worth in looking at the same secrets from different points of view using different words and ideas. . after you start reading. and that you will share them with others and life will be just a little better for us all. I wrote over a long period of time.
and for your own actions. If you are not in charge of yourself. One can see this happen with Republicans and Democrats. recovering and resigned mode. You need to realize that you are. Sometimes 1 .You may follow those whom you love. Take the example of the last fight or argument that you had. She began to consider the idea of being in charge of herself. a woman who had just unloaded all the pain and suffering she endured from her self-centered. You are always in charge of your own reaction and response. The same is true in strains of various religions when one’s own thinking is totally given over to the leaders of the moment. . insensitive. you must enjoy it . and with good friends.A good deal of the world operates today by seeking to control. believe in. families. It can even happen in marriages. or have great trust . but you must never ever give up your own self. when they follow the party line no matter what.SECRETS ABOUT YOURSELF You are always in charge! Well. in charge and responsible for what you think and feel. was my response to Judy. The same is true with a teenager who allows others to define her with their “dissing” and other nasty remarks. to a greater or lesser extent. then sooner or later. manipulate. . if not all of yourself. after all you go along with it all. which only worked as long as she let them be in charge. to get everyone to agree with what they want. . forget whatever the rich heritage and inspiration may be. and a good deal. . and most of the time that is enough.You are responsible and in charge of how you will respond and react. you will lose your money. This jarred her loose from always being in a reacting. your morals. It may have been with someone you love or simply someone you encountered at work or out in the cold cruel world. . first and finally. You are always in charge of yourself. Things began to change and they began to have a whole different life. domineering husband . .
JACk ELLIoTT when it seems impossible to win. for many people are trying to be in charge of others as well as themselves and in the process lose track of their own real values in the quest to control or win. the reason is that there is doubt about being in charge. It is not so much about winning as about never losing yourself. or solve the argument or fight. have you let others be in charge of you? Where do you disagree with this and believe you are not in charge at all? 2 . Now stop for a moment and think of those fights or arguments and how this secret just might have made a difference.Dr. Where are you really in charge of your own life and responses? In what places in your life. Back off and be in charge of just yourself. You need to be in charge of yourself. so you can easily listen to the other and a lot of good things can happen.
Why are you waiting? Will there ever be a right time? 3 . to start. that is.The rest realize there is no right time but only a good time to buy and to sell. start the diet.There is no right time. the decision will be made for you or it will be too late. .SECrETS For A GooD LIFE There is no right time. and all because you were waiting for the right time. or deal with the problem. There may not even be a decision to make. If you wait for some external sign or warm feeling to happen. by your own commitment and action. There is no right time. Well. What are you not doing. a college child dropped out of school and the preschoolers went through all manner of acting out. Another example is that in most of our lives we spend an inordinate amount of time waiting for the right moment to start saving. It is said that only liars buy at the bottom and sell at the top. to say. or that you were just a little lost . and even then it is hard to be right all the time. The stock market can be our parable about this. find that exact right time. There were two different families I was counseling in the same time period. If everyone waited until just the right time. your skills were behind the times. family or friends because you were waiting for the right time to catch up or talk about what was bothering you or them? Have you ever suddenly or slowly realized your job was a dead end. then chances are. There is no right time. children. Each had decided to separate. very few weddings would take place and even fewer children would be born. One couple thought it would be the right time since their children were in preschool and the other couple thought it was the right time since their children were grown and away in college. . You make the right time by how you think and feel. Have you ever suddenly realized that you had grown apart from your spouse. A stockbroker friend put it in terms of investing: Very few buy at the lowest price and even less sell at the highest price. that you are waiting for the right time to do? Make a list of what you are waiting to do.
invite me to go into the city with her to philharmonic concerts. stretch your mind . . . waiting to die. . and. until the last few months of her life when her health finally failed. and finally . who is very smart. . his support is shrinking . your heart . but does not really listen to learn. would. We sure do! Where do you learn . . When you open yourself to learn . He does well as long as his superior intellect and people skills serve him. . but you also increase the size and value of the relationship where you are learning. . . . If you do not learn from your children or from others you may be spending your time simply trying to stay in control. . to react. grow . but rarely open to learn. the fast way to early old age. to stay properly connected. and she added. you may just find that a few of them are trying to teach you something. ideas and possibilities. . He listens to others. one ceases to discover new ways.Dr. One is just waiting . support wanes. I can see his world closing in around him and trouble ahead . . . . in learning a little more 4 . . Freya. the dynamic of relationship shifts and all manner of positive changes can happen. perhaps you need to look around the rooms of your life. She delighted in teaching me more about classical music. politely at times. at least with anyone who has a good idea that differs from his. for sure. . waiting to be entertained. There is also the fact that if one stops learning. As people begin to realize this. or find something new for the living of your life? If you do not think you have or need any classroom. I have a friend. The secret within the secret is this: whenever you learn. This is not a very good way to live. you not only grow. he has no classroom. to feel good. . . JACk ELLIoTT Where is your classroom? My grandson Donald asked this question one day as he wandered into my office from his nursery school classroom. a wonderful friend. He went on to say Everyone needs a classroom. president of the company he works for.
She was a very young 101 years old when she died! Where are the classrooms in your life? Can you name at least three classrooms that are in everyone’s life? Do you seek to learn or do you feel you have learned enough? 5 .SECrETS For A GooD LIFE herself each time she heard a master play some piece.
most of it bad. are the rules. too often we are drawn onto someone else’s playing field. where you know how to play the game and know the rules. it is still very easy for her to be drawn onto playing fields that are full of tension. no matter how great the temptation. strife and some really nasty behavior. and even be able to go to work in the morning and come home at night feeling good. It probably is the only place where you stand a good chance of winning. It is where your personal ethics. . You are more apt to win or at the very least. and the reason is simple. she does very well and is a source of counsel and care to her friends at work. It is where your visions and dreams are the goal lines. Your own playing field is where you know and play the game well. doing her job. fighting and competing. . While her seniority makes her job secure. It is very important not to take on a role or activity where you are not skilled or you dislike doing. you are not going to do very well on a field where shouting or yelling is the normal way they act on their playing field. and can invite others to join you if they will respect the rules. I have given this advice to a lot of people. goals way of living. Stay off of that field. JACk ELLIoTT Stay on your own playing field. If your style. A couple of times in life I have made the mistake of talking someone into serving on a board. when I should have listened more carefully to their reluctance to serve. They knew 6 . Her own peace and happiness is only to be found by staying on her own playing field. whose spouse plays on a bad playing field. someone else’s way of acting and reacting. which by the way. anxious and insecure . The company Muriel works for is going through all sorts of upheaval and change. Stay on your own playing field. All kind of good changes seem to happen. Sooner or later we will begin to wonder why we feel unhappy. we are on the wrong playing field.Dr. morals. for you will lose. do well. You can translate this example into all kinds of situations. way you relate to others is gentle and polite.This enables her to enjoy her job through the storm. Do not get on the wrong playing field. However.
It was not his playing field. He had been a shoe salesman for most of his working life and neither liked nor was cut out for being a leader and making decisions. He did for a short time and then resigned. The story that always comes to mind and that I share is about a retired gentleman whom I encouraged to serve. He was clearly recognized for his gifts and much appreciated. ready to help anyone. Describe your favorite playing field? Have you tried going on playing fields you later realized you were not at all comfortable on. He also had a gift for flower arranging and so did a lot of work for the church in this area. much less skilled? 7 . He stayed on his own playing fields and had a good life. He was a saint.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE it was the wrong playing field.
.All in all. clubs. but do not have a foundation in interpersonal relations or people skills. If because of your skills. People join churches. or goal is the foundation. until six months later when the footings (the foundation) settled just an inch in one corner and then . Come the first thing that shakes them a little and they are gone. . The first thing to examine in facing any problem. same thing! What is it built on? That’s the question. That is.Dr. had done a great job and they had saved a lot of money. If you do not have a solid basic agreement (foundation) to build a deal on. the whole room was beautiful. or lack basic social skills such as table manners. . experience and accomplishments. with new wood cabinets. It looked like a poor installation and poor quality material. everything was uneven. Jan’s new kitchen looked wonderful. companies. Bill. but Ellen is in her third year of Latin and getting very good grades without too much struggle. The need for a good foundation is true in every area of life. . . challenge. synagogues. before they are put to the test? Do you know what your faith and spiritual foundation is. a well thought out and believed in foundation. Remember the newscasts with houses falling into the sea or down the side of the mountain . you are put in charge of something . marriages. and causes only to leave because they do not have a solid. then all the negotiating will only hold it together as long as you have enough lawyers present and their self-interest to sustain you. I have told my grandson and my granddaughter that if they study hard at the beginning of a course they may be able to coast a little or even enjoy the course. fine moldings and woodwork. there are going to be some cracks appearing in the foundation of the structure sooner or later. JACk ELLIoTT Foundation is everything. but if they do not build a foundation at the beginning they are in trouble for the year. . Have you ever spent some time reflecting on what your values really are. Her husband. Donald dropped Latin after the first year. even if you can’t bring it into great 8 .
find peace. help yourself. not to mention more successful and satisfying if you know what your foundation is and where it might need to be made stronger. . to be successful. What are the foundations of your life? Who or what built the foundations of your life? Look at some things that have fallen apart in your life. in various situations in your life . .SECrETS For A GooD LIFE sureness and focus? What will you live for? What are you willing to die for? Life will be a lot easier. and do what you really want to do. Now the wonderful positive side of this is to realize how much your foundation has supported and enabled you. Can you find places where the foundation was lacking? 9 . help others.
The same is true in all our family relationships. A business owner. . unexpectedly came upon a group of employees who were clearly taking a long break and hiding from work. . trying to do something every day to make the other happy . . I know. . Maintenance is absolutely essential with cars. . Change the oil every three thousand miles without fail and the engine will last a very long time. . Maintenance isn’t easy or automatic and if one does not pay attention relationships will be lost. . then a cup of coffee and conversation with my good wife or a game of cribbage that includes as much conversation as cards . Think of relationships. All of life requires maintenance. lousy maintenance! Sooner or later. the lack of maintenance is going to hit the bottom line and profit. make some overdue calls to catch up. new or old. I have some dear friends who have been very close through the years and who have made a difference in our family’s life. It is very easy to drift apart and not stay in touch. not serious or heavy or with any agenda or goal . . they live across the country on the west coast. I remember a story of a successful business 10 . Care for the relationship and it will last. . they need service.Dr. Marriages that work for the long haul and are a joy to behold are those that have good maintenance. Now. So time to stop writing now and do some important maintenance .000 mile he had to change a good deal of the engine. I also know they work long and hard most of the time and he says nothing then . Dan is a very intelligent and responsible person. taking care of each other beyond the fair division of labor . it may be as simple and yet as serious as poor maintenance. simply staying connected. If one finds oneself disconnected from one’s children. . . Most all the things we have would last at least twice as long. but did not change the oil because it was a brand new car. which of course cost a good deal more than changing the oil . it’s all about maintenance. He got very upset with them. The same is true at work. that’s good maintenance. JACk ELLIoTT It’s all about maintenance. At 37. . . . if we put a little time and effort into maintenance. This includes time every day to talk about everyday stuff . like cars. . .
of how when starting a new job. and so after a few years had turned over a lot of people and ran the place by power and control rather than real leadership that never forgets the importance of maintenance. and demonstrated he was more than just the boss. I told this story to a new CEO who though highly competent was a little disconnected. as did simply wandering the office now and then. He did not get it. He wanted to know their birthdays.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE executive told. What really needs some maintenance in your life? Where are you practicing good maintenance? What relationships are you behind in maintenance? 11 . a little about their families. and other basic information that kept him connected. he quietly found out a few things about the people who worked for him. Walking up to someone’s desk to wish him or her a happy birthday made an impression.
all these finish lines are also starting lines. JACk ELLIoTT Forget the finish line. The child who enjoys learning will not only enjoy the race. not to mention the fact that a lot of finish lines keep changing. He enjoyed the train. there aren’t any finish lines because as you cross what you think is a finish line there is always another race to run. The same is true for most of our living. has children of their own . in a marriage when we wait for the other to grow up. This happens when we think we will do better as a parent when our child is past the terrible twos. . goes to school. There was a recent headline on the front page of the New York Times about parents who were worried about how well their children would do on a state mandated test for 4th graders. I’ll be finished when I’m out of school. enjoy the race. but in the long run will probably do very well. when we have enough saved for retirement. when the kids are grown. Dave had a two-hour train commute. Dave. be responsible. The same happens at work when the job will be good when we get the promotion or raise. Whether or not they are taking delight in learning certainly will be noticed for a long time to come. . Life is a journey. He absolutely delighted in it. is married. . the views of the mountains along the Hudson River. . truth be known. out of high school or college. 12 . Sometimes we wait for finish lines to happen so that we can begin. gets through puberty.Dr. Who was crazy. has a job. understand. who enjoyed his life or those who grumbled and thought only of the finish line? Life is a journey and all those finish lines we make it across are interconnected . The other commuters endured the two hours and thought he was crazy. Come on now. . . when I have a better job. when the grandchildren are grown . The truth is test scores at this tender age will hardly be noted by anyone within a few months. when I get married. help more. the people he got to know and all the interesting experiences he had and loved to share.
. and so there are too many finish lines of divorce. might have made all the difference.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE listen . . when simply engaging in the journey. good and bad. What finish lines do you see in front of you? What are you postponing because of finish lines? How preoccupied are you with finish lines? Are you enjoying the race or more focused on the finish? 13 .
You no longer have to put up with behavior you don’t like or feel isn’t right. the family. I told him of the idea that he had the most power when he was ready to quit. the neighborhood. . you have the power. . part of yourself 14 . Rudeness. the career. What is this power and where does it come from? When you put yourself in this imaginary place of quitting. So. the climate. Also when you decide to quit. Andrew was ready to resign. There are times when we all want to quit . most of us cannot afford or even really want to quit when we weigh the positive and negative of our own situation. and what they really wanted. The truth is. He became a really good if not great pastor. which is really what he wanted to be to begin with. but before he wrote the letter to his church board resigning as their pastor. it was quite something. you are free and perhaps even at peace. the value of this secret is for the most part as a tool for our imagination to get in touch with feelings. He thought a moment and responded Why not! Well. It is all about gaining insight about ourselves that can empower us to better function and respond to all that is swirling around us. ill manners. can be immediately challenged and held to accountability. he came to talk to me. as one who was secure in the same congregation for many years. and did very well as they responded to his candor. quit the job. cruise ship director. . Worse he felt if he complained about any of this. He was sick and tired of being a combination janitor. they would respond with the attitude that this was his job. and make everyone feel good on Sunday morning preacher. attitudes and thoughts we may have locked up and not be consciously aware. JACk ELLIoTT You have the most power when you are ready to quit. He gently but firmly told the truth and made changes. intimidation. vulgar or sexist language. They picked up the responsibilities he was no longer willing to take care of for them. the marriage. for you have reclaimed. the relatives. the in-laws. . no one can intimidate you. quit working or trying so hard . The people who seem to have power over you for all manner of bad reasons no longer do. for whatever reason. etc.Dr.
15 .SECrETS For A GooD LIFE that may have been compromised or even given up. it is about the insight you can gain about yourself and your relationship with various parts of the world around you. This is not about being childish or rude or burning bridges. What would you say or do if you were going to quit? Can you imagine different situations where if you could eliminate the consequences you would speak and act in a much different way.
sat down and said what she was about to tell me was between the two of us and God and further more she didn’t need either one of us telling her anything. ways. to be born. this is true in small and easy places in life. New neighbors had moved in next door in their lovely and somewhat exclusive area. not to lose part of herself. but so the better more gracious and kind Sally could be born. . We could change the story to make it about not liking the color of a person.Dr. as she said . . . . exciting. no. And it came to pass that that is exactly what happened. Part of me died and a new part was born. finding great new tastes and delight. exploring more and more cheeses. JACk ELLIoTT Born to die. After I married. as well as big important profound places in life. little round vegetables. brought up with fine manners and a warm graciousness that defined her. What interesting. To make this story short here. But what is most remarkable about this story is that she knew it and came to talk about it and figure out how she was going to deal with this and not be. Sally was from the Deep South. Now it was up close and real and wasn’t going to go away. die to be born. closed the door. For whatever reason. . Remember. Sally walked into my office. some dumb southern redneck bigot . The couple was black and Sally’s comfortable. The child in us dies so the adult can be born. vile smelling. They stunt our growth or just plain make growth impossible. As she talked it was clear she had never had to deal with anything more than keeping her racial prejudice. You know what happened. everything in its place world was falling apart. wrapped politely. I grew up with a dislike of cheese as well as those ugly. The self as center has to die for the good lover. This is a process we all go through more than once. or good thing has been born in you? What has died in you. for the good to be born. parent. which ran deep. my wife kept nagging me to try this or that. beliefs. and what is the good? 16 . which restrict. . friend . or nationality or religion. spouse. confine and limit. Most all of us grow up with prejudice. she knew some attitudes and prejudices inside her had to die. They must die for us to be truly alive.
. when he really didn’t. don’t compromise. But when the emergency occurs and you have to go to the store to buy medicine. good manners. . but if I don’t I am really going to hurt someone’s feelings. . Now you already know that often the outside world would have you compromise your values. . Mom told me never to lie. Donald. do it. make the concession to something that is more important on an immediate and particular basis. . . such as a curfew. well and good. but he also really wanted to be honest. Jones forgot she was going to pick us up . Stop and think about that which is important to you. many others. the show ran late . come on dad. your own ego 17 . The person who always pays their bills on time. this was a once in a life time event . If you don’t your kids are going to sense the unfairness . but when there is a good reason to relax it or understand why the kids are late. and no doubt. He went on to explain how if he told the truth when his mom asked him if he liked the meal. but serves in peaceful ways. which you do not want to compromise. make concessions! My grandson. It may be being a pacifist. If you don’t. family and friends. He really didn’t want to make her feel bad. . we had a long talk with many examples where one does not compromise honesty but makes concessions. you have compromised your belief because you have made it into an idol or control issue. makes no compromise. came to me one day with one of the great questions that anyone moving from child to adult faces. make concessions. The pacifist when drafted. politeness. makes the concession and serves in the military. . . . paying bills on time. very good. something positive he could honestly say.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Don’t compromise . If it is important to you to keep your Sabbath. Mrs. he would hurt her feelings. you are not avoiding compromise. If you have children and set important boundaries. Where lack of any concession determines your rule. gets hit financially. rather contacts creditors and works out concessions to pay the bills. but does not compromise his or her position. After telling him to find something good to compliment her about the meal.
What is there that you do not compromise at all? Does it have any flexibility or elasticity in it? 18 . Compromise is when you when you believe in honesty. whatever they want to do. Well. always doing what the other person. Tiny.You have compromised your principles or rules to your personal power or control. yes. but chipping away at what is important. but take some time to examine it in terms of compromise and concessions. it may be true. . home from the office. the boss. . the group. is not compromising. but take pencils and supplies etc. the family.Dr. Now going to a movie you think is dumb or to a restaurant you don’t like. It is making concessions. Do you ever have the feeling that you are always giving in. JACk ELLIoTT is in control. or even spending an evening playing scrabble .
makes no sense. even as the other’s perception is his or her reality. I saw a man suddenly roughly grab an attractive young lady.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Your perception is your reality. . The example I use with children is to paint half a ping pong black and then hold it in my hand so that children on one side see white and on the other side see only black. Would you believe . Our perception was our reality and 180 degrees off that time. standing on a busy street corner in London. Once. both are wrong. For a second it looked like he was assaulting her. I also think that a warm beach in the middle of winter is the ideal place to relax. This is my reality along with the conviction that it is fun to swim with stingrays. . and that standing in line in the cold to go up a mountain and then spend a few minutes going down the mountain at great speed and danger to oneself. then it just may be that your reality could grow a little larger. Have you ever had your reality shift or change radically? Is it easy or difficult for you to get in touch with other’s perceptions? 19 . even if we’re sure they are wrong . The secret is never to forget the other half. Both are right.Your perception is your reality. some of my friends think I’m not in touch with reality? This must be a secret because so many people think their view is universal and should be accepted and believed by everyone. or are they? If your perception is your reality and their perception is their reality. I started to move even as she was about to fight back and scream and then the bus roared by coming along the wrong side of the street. years ago. My perception of Brussels sprouts is that they are something no civilized person could possibly enjoy eating. . . They are absolutely sure the ball is white or know for sure that it is black. She was an American and he had just saved her life for she was looking for traffic to be coming the other way.
rather than insert our thoughts and feelings. people tend to do this when they are setting up a target to shoot down. There is space between you. just look at . how great and true your idea is. . but rarely saw or shared much with. . With children we first need to listen and let them struggle to find and express their own thoughts and feelings. Your thoughts and 20 . all you liberals want to do is tax and spend . you will severely limit if not cause the relationship to wither and die. Better to own your own thoughts and feelings . It’s too bad. Do not tell the other person what he or she thinks . much less promote any chance that the other person will understand what you think or feel. than to tell them theirs. much less. His reply No we don’t. the host and organizer if they got together very often. I was invited to a large annual summer picnic where old friends (and a few new ones) gathered once a year. it makes it easier to listen to others. if you impose yourself too much on the other. . You conservatives are against protecting the environment.When you make the conscious effort to own your own thoughts and feelings. . not to tell others how they should think or feel. To share thoughts and feelings is the lifeblood of any good relationship. He went on to point out two friends he had grown up with. JACk ELLIoTT Own your own thoughts! Own your own feelings! This is not about keeping your own personal views and feelings private or never sharing them. It is all about being careful not to push your thoughts and feelings onto other people. All good relationships thrive on each person “owning” their own thoughts and feelings. A relationship where one person “knows” and discounts the other’s thoughts and feelings cannot grow. As the party went on. at least not with many of them. and that space is where there is mutual respect and value. . but our closeness is from the old days. . when we were young and listened more to each other. Same thing happens when we are a little faster at comprehending something and don’t wait for others to catch up on their own. . The opposite is also true.Dr. since no matter what they talked about the conversation always ended up about them and what they thought. I asked Bill. . will not win the argument. now we just tell each other stuff.
Do you have friends with whom you share all the same thoughts and feelings? Where are places where your thoughts and feelings are discounted? Why? 21 .SECrETS For A GooD LIFE feelings are even more valuable and interesting when they are clearly your own. How wonderful for the child or friend or spouse when their thoughts and feelings are treated as valuable enough for you to listen.
Margot and Fred grew older but did not face the fact that their lives were slowly becoming more limited. . engage in sex. He held his ground and got a very good deal after walking out a few times when the sales people didn’t pay attention to his decision. drive too fast.Dr. Well. you know what happened. Instead they drifted along propelled by inertia. be in a car with a less than sober driver . The long story he told me later was that he had so much to spend and not a nickel more. with the result that because they did not decide they got decided. when we wait until it is too late. They will tell you for just a little more you can get a lot more. If you are an adolescent or young adult. spend more money 22 . Had he not decided beforehand. before you are being pushed to decide or someone wants to decide for you. This is a familiar story. Have you ever bought something that later you realized you did not really want but the salesperson talked you into it? Some states even have laws that give you a certain amount of time to back out of the deal when buying cars or insurance or some other products. you may think those old folks were just plain dumb or stupid for not doing what would seem obvious. Decisions get made for us. as he went out to look at cars. If the couple had thought responsibly about how they would live out their last years. It is better to work out before hand. if there are any. Bill. I jokingly said to my neighbor. Then what happens is a decision is made based on the few options left. he knew he would have spent a lot more. you are going to get seduced. which by that time had to be a nursing home.Well. drink booze. He said there was not a chance that would happen. that is decide as much as you can beforehand. they might have chosen/decided on some nice retirement facility. and that is to make plans and decide how they wanted to live their own lives. there are moments when it would be better to decide beforehand. . He had decided and no one was going to decide something else for him. you better watch out. Their children had little choice but to decide how the parents would live out their last years. This may happen in a situation where you are “invited” to do drugs. JACk ELLIoTT Decide before you get decided. so others are not deciding for you.
Is there anything you are delaying or avoiding making a decision about? What will happen if you do not make a decision? 23 . . . There are always people around willing to decide for you.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE than you can afford . the list goes on and on about events where. or times when control of your own life will be badly compromised if you have not clearly decided beforehand.
She took a lot of time. . . no surgery . I went to a specialist. The physician. They said if it didn’t hurt a lot I might want to wait. My sister-in-law. there are always options! Never assume or even consider letting someone else make all your decisions.This has little to do with one’s faith or trust in doctors or whomever you are dealing. JACk ELLIoTT Know your options. but five different options that might work for them. until finally I was in great pain. work. In fact she is exceptional in my opinion. not just to make a sale that works for everyone. I showed the MRI to a couple of highly regarded rehabilitation doctors. She feels a strong responsibility. she met with them again and laid out not one or two. But more important helped people’s dreams come true and made new friends. who sent me for an MRI. It has everything to do with being responsible for your own life. but then with the basic improvements that had to be made for them to comfortably live there. figured out various options and of course made the sale. because there are always options. Betty. what they always wanted and in their price range. the knee is fine . The following Sunday after church. . But when we move out of our area of strength and knowledge we tend to forget that there are always options. . Ten years later with regular exercise. We all know all about the options we have in the area of our own skills. or particular knowledge. Where in the issues or challenges in your life do you think are there no options? Now try again to list options in these areas? 24 . After they told her this. they would not be able to afford it. So I scheduled the surgery. It was perfect. a surgeon looked at the MRI for less than five seconds and said I absolutely needed knee surgery for my torn lateral meniscus. is an outstanding real estate sales person. One time she was showing a couple houses and they fell in love with one. My knee was getting worse and worse.Dr. but also to really help her clients find what is best for them.
reality a few pages ago. doesn’t mean you know how to do it. understanding. programs.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Just because you do it. just ask me. (You may wish to reread perception vs. just ask your partner . This is true about a lot of things. Every now and then. You may well discover just how much you have to learn. The remark that brought laughter. . I finally went to the doctor and it turned out I have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. . A recent study showed that 80% of drivers think they are above average drivers. What made the biggest difference was simply that I learned how to breathe much better. do it in a careful gentle trusting way so the other may respond in the same manner. but there are ways to do it much better. was the time a brand new mother came for the first time to the Mother’s Group and said . We all know how to breathe. Just because you are a parent. just ask any pulmonary specialist.The people who don’t want any advice or help or are very defensive about bringing up their children have confused ego with competency. Just because you breathe. . Five years later it is only marginal and this with limited meds. videos. I woke up during the night gasping for breath.You probably have the very same thought about this. . and counselors who do very good business enabling moms and dads to become really great parents. . and simply and trustingly talk more to each other. but are actually below average if not downright scary behind the wheel. Interesting note. .There are a lot of helpful books. is that the counseling I have done in this area is always very short. does not mean you know how to breathe. and bonding. does not mean you are a good parent. who think they are above average. mentioned elsewhere in this book. . sympathy. I’m a mother .) 25 . now how can I be a good mother. Just because you enjoy sex does not mean you know how to do it very well. and if you do ask. . I have some close friends who think they are good drivers . It seems what most people need to do is realize they need to learn.
Dr. JACk ELLIoTT
The same is true with political or religious convictions. Just because you hold certain convictions, does not mean that you are a good Republican or Democrat or . . . This is not a challenge to your convictions or faith, it is a challenge to learn and grow! In all kinds of situations I have had people come up to me and tell me what a good time and how much they were learning, reading and studying the Bible. This has been from all manner of Christians and from Jewish friends. They had their faith, but something had happened and now they were on a journey of really knowing and enjoying and valuing their faith.
Do you know how to breathe, that is, to breathe from your diaphragm? When was the last time you learned something new about your work or hobby or faith?
SECrETS For A GooD LIFE
Establish boundaries. Know where your boundaries are.
There is the simple boundary of making no financial commitment over the phone (to charities or to buy anything) . . . send me information and I will consider it. Another important boundary for me is to take off one day a week, Friday. However, I enjoy my work and so frequently violate this and make Friday appointments. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy . . . came to mind after a while, and so I reclaimed my boundaries again and crossed out Fridays on my appointment book. It is all too easy to get so immersed in doing something you enjoy or care about that you start to lose other parts of life. A similar thing happened to a good friend of mine who retired and began a second part time career. Well, when it ran over 40 hours a week, with appointments filling Frank’s days and nights, stress and strain took its toll on his health, physical and mental. We had a long conversation and Frank realized he had let his boundaries be invaded. He re-established them. Now he enjoys both his second career and his retirement and we get together on Fridays for lunch! For most of us, the issue of boundaries is subtle and we are apt to cross our boundaries and to allow our boundaries to be invaded and not even realize that it happened. There was a period in our lives when my wife and I were invited to very elegant embassy parties in New York. After the first few, we knew we had to have some very clear boundaries in terms of drinking and eating . . . for both were provided in overflowing lavish fashion. Your boundaries, in great part, define who you are. If you do not drink, gamble, smoke . . . if those things are outside your boundaries, then those values define you. Someone who always pays cash, who does not believe in being in debt . . . well, those boundaries very clearly define that person. It is very worthwhile to consider your boundaries and what additional boundaries you may want to establish, not to limit life, but to greatly enhance it. Finances are a good example.
Dr. JACk ELLIoTT
There is so much pressure to buy this or that, to live up to certain standards or expectations, to use credit, and live a good life, that there comes the hangover of excessive debt. A real budget can be a very good boundary.
What boundaries have you established in your life? What boundaries have broken down and need to be fixed? What new boundaries would you like to establish?
SECrETS For A GooD LIFE
Being different has little to do with being different.
My grandmother enjoyed telling the story of the time she visited her daughter at Dennison College and her daughter invited her to a college tea at the president’s home. My grandmother, of course, dressed properly with white gloves and lovely dress. Her daughter, my aunt, Cynthia, commented on her mother’s attire and told her she was being very old fashioned and a conformist. Grandmother told how she looked around the room noticing how so many of the students and some of the faculty were dressed in a deliberate very casual manner, and told her daughter that she, her mother was clearly the non conformist at the tea. I suspect that if one day all parents came down to breakfast with piercings in various and sundry body parts, by afternoon all the teenagers would have gotten all theirs removed. I am not sure who said it . . . there is nothing a non-conformist hates more, than another non-conformist who doesn’t conform to the other non-conformists. Very often we think it is important to be different. This is how we will be our own unique self. Be careful! Very often all we are really doing is no more than being reactive to the position of others. Worse, we may just be conforming to a different group that attracts us more. However being different can and often is very good. It has to do with being your own unique individual self, and finding your sense of self worth, value and positive ego strength, rather than measuring yourself against the rest of the folk who inhabit your world. Most of the negative side of being different happens when it has more to do with being reactive. If they wear a coat and tie, I certainly am not going to . . . well, my parents like it, so I sure don’t . . . The positive force in being different is discovery and growing and becoming more of a person. Louie was one of our closest friends during and after our college days. He was a big bear of a man. He didn’t have to work for he had inherited a lot, but taught art in a nearby school district. At first you might look at him and draw your children back, but Louie
Dr. JACk ELLIoTT
could sit down with a child of any age and start drawing and talking with them and it was magic. He got into their world and at the same time was teaching them a little about drawing. He was different but always in solid interesting discovering ways.
How do you think you are different from others? What does being different from others mean to you?
SECrETS For A GooD LIFE
Pain is mandatory. Suffering is optional.
My wife’s Uncle John was a farmer. Uncle John was a big man with a warm infectious smile. He had a faith that guided and sustained him. He loved his grandchildren, spent time with them and was very close. His oldest granddaughter was killed in a senseless auto accident at age 15.The pain was great and everyone knew this, but what could they say. Then one day, at the family Sunday dinner with his children and grandchildren gathered, he talked about the grief he felt, how much he and everyone there missed her so very much, but life would go on. She was with the Lord and would be there to greet him when his time came. We all experience pain, and we have to decide how to respond to the pain. It can break you, make you bitter, make you cynical, hard, mean, or it can strengthen you and make you wise.You cannot protect against, immunize or completely escape from pain, but you do have a choice about how much permanent damage or scars the pain will leave. Betty enjoyed her job immensely and was very good as support staff at a large nationally known research facility. Then the company was sold and everything changed. It was all about politics and doing everything as cheaply as possible. Life at work became painful almost every day and she has three years to go in order to retire comfortably. The pain will probably not go away. She has a choice to make. Suffer with it, dwell on the good old days, complain about the rudeness and meanness, with no recognition or appreciation of all the extra work she does. Or, she can live with the pain of her Camelot lost, do her job in her usual excellent manner, be there on time and leave on time . . . and have the satisfaction of staying true to herself. Combat veterans really know what pain and suffering means, as do parents who have lost a child. There is a pain that never entirely goes away, but it is a bad choice to go through the rest of life suffering over the pain. I don’t know where I heard it, but it has stuck with me, raw and hard as it is . . . what does not kill me, makes me stronger.
Dr. JACk ELLIoTT
Fred was an old man from the old country, Germany, and had worked hard all his life as a finish carpenter with great skills. His hands were bent and twisted with arthritis. He said it as he kept working and doing little projects now and then for friends and neighbors . . . I can’t do much about the pain, but I will not suffer with this. I keep working.
What suffering and pain is in your life? Can you tell the difference between pain and suffering?
SECrETS For A GooD LIFE
If you only swing at perfect pitches You are going to strike out.
This happened long before our present real estate collapse. Ken and Betty owned a nice little condo and were ready to sell it and move into a home of their own. They put it on the market and not much later they got an offer, which quite candidly was good, but did not come up to their price. They turned it down, lost the sale and six months later sold their condo for considerably less than that first offer. The perfect offer never happened. Here is a very interesting fact about baseball. The pitcher never wants to throw a perfect pitch, rather one that is just barely inside the strike zone or better yet, one that seems to be, but isn’t. The good batter is able to hit a home run even, or especially, when the pitch is less than perfect. So it is with life, if you wait for the perfect pitch . . . you are going to miss the chance to hit a home run or for that matter even the chance to get on base. Translate this to job, relationship, investments, and romance, etc; if you are strong and insightful, think of the missed opportunities you have had because you were waiting for that perfect pitch, price, person, or possibility.
Where in life are you still waiting to take a swing? What in life has to be perfect for you?
Dr. JACk ELLIoTT
You never stop growing larger or smaller.
I used to take walks with an older friend through a local nature center. He and his wife, Alice, were both “graduates” from a nursing home. They had had a combination of problems that landed them there, but they did all the therapy, grew stronger in their late seventies . . . and came home. I would see them taking walks around the neighborhood, across the school field, through the church gardens, stopping to talk to people or look at something, and holding hands as sight and balance diminished in their old age. They never stopped growing. The truth is we are all growing . . . no matter our age or self perceived level of intelligence. We are growing, if only just to learn how to live without growing smaller . . .You can grow smaller, meaner, more prejudiced, more angry, unhappy, weary, worn, wasted or you can grow wiser, more patient, kinder . . . but, you never stay the same, you’re growing smaller or larger. Ok, so some people stop growing for a while, even you and me.We get stuck. But realize that nothing in the universe is static. Everything is moving, changing, growing bigger or becoming smaller.Yes, as we get older it seems that we are not growing but diminishing. Talk to the 75 year old man I see jogging almost every day. He is alert, alive, and enjoying life, and for his age he is growing in stamina while others wonder when they will die. Now this is not just or especially about older people. It is about all of us. I teased my grandson the other day, after he had finished his guitar lesson, at which he is very good and growing even better in playing and understanding the theory of music. I asked him if he knew any classical guitar music and he made a face and dismissed it . . . grandpa, nobody does that stuff . . . ok, but be careful you don’t start growing smaller and smaller. I am not
SECrETS For A GooD LIFE
sure I got this secret entirely across to him, but I made a start, hopefully. How have you grown in the last week or month or year? Where, secretly, would you like to grow? Are you growing larger or smaller?
Dr. JACk ELLIoTT
Nobody changes more than 10%?!
When I heard this in a postgraduate seminar I was attending, no one changes more than 10%, my immediate reaction was not to believe it at all. After all, if one was motivated one could surely change more than 10%. However, after listening some more and arguing a little, I accepted the fact that no one changes more than 10%. I then realized that often people don’t try to change because they think any change will have to be so great as to be impossible, myself included. 10% just does not seem to be very much. Then I began to think about how 10% is a great change. Change your course by 5 degrees when you leave New York for London and you will end up in Africa. Small changes can produce big results. Lose 5 % of your weight and you will look and feel wonderful. Save 10% of what you earn every year and you can retire in your fifties instead of your sixties. In fact, when you think of it in those terms 5% starts to look very good. There is good news and bad news here.The bad news is a normal adult can’t change more than 10%. The good news is 10% is quite a lot and makes quite a difference. On very good days I am 80% or even 90% less reactive to the knaves and fools of life who drive cars poorly, play radios loudly, behave rudely in restaurants and even populate my circle of friends now and then. On bad days I am grateful if I can hang on to the 10% or even 5% change . . . for then I am much less the knave and fool.
Are there any changes would you like to make in yourself? Would trying to change 10% or less make it a possible goal?
SECrETS For A GooD LIFE
Never follow a garbage truck.
It smells. It goes slow. It stops too often. All it does is gather more garbage. Stop and consider the garbage trucks there are in life. A great deal of TV is garbage. Consider all the superficial and contrived reality shows. Someone said it well,TV has become chewing gum for the brain. Remember also that a lot of the food at the supermarket is, as they say, junk. If you write down a summary of what a lot of politicians and commentators have said . . . after you take away the clichés . . . it is often garbage of the worst sort. It is negative, sarcastic, self-serving, egocentric, and often so mean spirited that it makes one wonder if they have any sense of value beyond looking in the mirror. Worst and most devious of all, sometimes the garbage mouth commentators are saying things we do believe in, but they have turned everything into such polarizing absolutes that there is no room for any compromise or consensus, or even conversation . . . the very thing that enabled the founding fathers to come together. You either have absolute agreement and allegiance or you are the enemy. There are other garbage trucks in life. There are people who have a garbage truck sense of humor. They make vulgar and cheap jokes about women, different races, ethnic groups, or sex, which tells us more about their own insensitivity, insecurity, and ignorance than anything else. If you laugh, be careful the stink doesn’t get on you. The trap or temptation for us is in the fact that the garbage truck may not smell bad at first, may even be shiny and big . . . but it is leading us down some really bad paths. Be careful what you follow, and consider carefully where it is going to lead. Some of the worst garbage today is found in sarcasm, in talking mainly about the negative and how bad the other is, in having little positive to build upon, in dealing in fear, fast and incomplete judgment. A few minutes ago I listened to someone saying with great conviction that they could not
this is garbage when all one can do is trash the other person. JACk ELLIoTT support a single thing the opposing candidate and a sitting senator in the U. Where are you close enough to see or smell the garbage? How do you separate the garbage from the good stuff? 38 .S. congress had ever done.Dr. Come on.
It has to do with that old saying .SECrETS For A GooD LIFE What’s in your toolbox? What’s missing from your toolbox? Joe came to me in a nervous state. . Bert was an accountant and that was what he did and what he was. you can do it? He was ready to panic and run. Well. Bert. he could speak with an expressive style and tone that was easy to listen to. He has added public speaking to his toolbox. you may have some of the tools you thought you were missing. . He volunteered time to update and check the church books. had a number of patents to his credit . He would go out of his way to avoid speaking to more than a few people sitting around a table. but being a good guy said he’d try. What’s missing from our toolbox most often is versatility or flexibility. but he just could not speak in front of people. He explained that he had to give a talk before a lot of people. For most of us there is one common tool missing. if all you have is a hammer then everything looks life a nail. you have to help tutor some kids in math. highly regarded in his area of science. One day he was there when we really needed some help. Have you ever thought of your skills and talents as tools to use? Do you have tools in your closet or garage you haven’t used? Are there tools you need. he found he had real talent in making math understandable to some young teens at risk of failing and dropping out. We all have some good tools that we are unaware or unsure of. . he speaks more often and enjoys his job much more. missing from your toolbox? 39 . and there was no way he could get out of it. Kids were coming in for tutoring and two volunteers couldn’t make it. . . . We practiced.We all have more than one or two tools that we handle well. He was bright. He was sure that tool was missing from his toolbox! I told him that anyone could learn to speak. and sure enough. Go back and inventory more carefully. Fast forward a couple years .
positive or negative remarks? 40 . the purpose being to catch your attention and to help you remember it. they’re right! Like some of the secrets in this book. She sees not just what is there. So when criticized. Do you pay more attention to negative or positive comments about you? In the long run. but what can be there . Today he is a professional singer doing both Broadway and classical. and perhaps someday as his mother told him. Your mother (or at least the best part of mom) sees mostly the good in you. some of the time. but his mother could hear something more. She encouraged and supported him and he trusted her. When Alberto tells the story. JACk ELLIoTT Trust your mother. he will be world famous. Almost every critic is right. she’s wrong. She is the one who sees the glass half full. the critics are often the ones who tell you the glass is half empty. this is written in a bit of a smart aleck way. to some extent. and was teased by everyone in his family. The critics were probably correct. his eyes well up with tears. . often to an embarrassing extent.Dr. Don’t believe your critics. unfortunately he did not have much of a voice. which are more helpful. remember they are right to some extent. But remember also. everyone but his mother. .When he was growing up he loved to sing. and so she is a lot more valuable to you than the negative critics.
and could you be their warrior? 41 . He must protect and care for Ellen.What’s that you say this doesn’t apply to you?You are not strong? Wrong! Everyone is strong in some area! Where you are strong. you must be a Jedi knight. Where are you strong and can protect the weak? Who is weak in your world. his younger sister and others who are put down. The first rule of the warriors’ code is that the strong protect the weak.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Live by the Warriors’ Code! Donald. not just watching them in movies or video games. I tell my grandson that he must live by the warriors’ code. Life is for living ideals. use your strength to care for those who are weak. or hurt in other ways. mocked. “dissed”.
I also like the idea of doing concrete specific things that can be noticed and measured. He is also a thoughtful and caring person. based probably on his own hard scrabble growing up. . I like it first of all. Where in your life are you able to turn ideals into reality? What specific concrete thing have you done to make the world better? 42 . care for the environment. walking to buy his morning paper . Al. I think it will. I can do something I can make a small difference. and helps run a program with his Kiwanis club that raises money to take poor kids from an elementary school shopping twice a year. There he was. and because if everyone used their turn signal. now and then in the early morning when I dropped someone off at the train for the commute. a retired executive. . JACk ELLIoTT Everything is nothing! One of my favorite signs is Forget world peace. but also for the folks who individually take a child shopping and feel deep inside . you have little to actually do that has any accountability? It is only when we do concrete and specific things about our goals. loves. because I thought it up. visions. Is this going to change the world? Yes. . faith. he picked up litter and put it in the trashcan. improve your community. or ambition . then a haircut if they want and breakfast at the restaurant next door. . but also take the kids shopping early on a Saturday morning at a local department store before they are open. my next-door neighbor.Dr. . just use your turn signal. he is doing something. make this a better world. is a conservative self-help Republican. dreams. at least on the roads if not the world. that anything begins to happen for the better. and along the way. I would see Bruce. he is taking care of the environment! Work for peace. Now. Do you begin to see how if you are asked to be responsible in a great and global way. not only for those kids to have a new dress or pants or shirt or underwear. . He gets a bunch of people not only to give money. there would be more peace.
commitment can be identified as that which you are able to sustain. But he wanted that kind of commitment. and be and do it. The problem is that we often. 43 . A couple of his entrepreneurial ventures had failed. It quickly became a phrase used to put down or compliment someone based on his or her real commitment. he told me why his marriage was in real trouble. Always. By the way. This was all about those who were in favor of equal rights for all. as well as his relationship with his two daughters. Commitment is about how we actually spend our lives. It originally came out of the civil rights movement. Martin was not a selfish person or at least never came across that way. or even spiritually vote for is not necessarily the same as what our real commitments are. when what we are really talking about has to do with what we ascribe to.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Our biggest problem is always commitment. It has been a popular phrase for some time. but he certainly is a born again human being with a new found sense of what commitment really is. Only time will tell. mentally. use the word commitment. but sitting in my office. with little response from anyone but his family. but who were not there when the pressure was on to do something concrete or stand up when it wasn’t popular to stand up much less walk in the march. My parents were divorced and their relationship with me was all about them. and then he had suffered a mild heart attack. or simply like. He realized that for all his talk and even effort. Real commitment is incredibly powerful. hope for. not sometimes! If you are really committed to something you will live. The truth is that which we verbally. I guess I have never really seen or experienced real commitment up close and personal. with real insight. believe in. mistakenly. It happened because he was feeling just a little lost. there was not the self-sacrificing commitment required for a marriage and family to be successful. for finally after many years he realized how much his wife loved him and would not give up on him or on trying to make their marriage work. identifying people who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.
we are simply in favor of whatever .Dr. while we stay right in our seat and offer little more than applause and approval. . and so think we can talk about being committed. . that you will not walk away from no matter what? What commitments have you failed to keep? What did you learn or need to learn from these failures for the future? 44 . Often we are not really and truly committed. If you cannot maintain the discipline. you have yet to make a real commitment. JACk ELLIoTT My daughter says the key is sustainable commitment. All we’re really doing is acknowledging where we should go and what we should do. What are your real commitments.
she got a bag of M&Ms. . What is on your list of instant gratification? What instant gratifications get in the way of your commitments? 45 . . coffee. or really need to buy something. anxious. and of course how strong your will is.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Instant gratification our 2nd biggest problem. . getting in shape. Elizabeth put the candy on the table and as she settled into the meeting regained her commitment and did not eat them. Of course you are committed to losing weight. learning how to . Want to have some fun? Make a short list of your instant gratifications . My list includes chocolate. except for the instant you are hungry. The biggest enemy of commitment is instant gratification. bookstores. Instant gratification tempts almost everyone. However by the end of the meeting. as she went into a meeting. insecure. . spending more time with family. but one day being very hungry. saving money. garden nurseries . My daughter tells the story of a time when she was trying to eat only healthy foods. others in the room were all looking at the M&Ms. to name but a few I am willing to admit to. tired. . .
Both cause heavy interference with commitment if not total loss of commitment. Impulsiveness is complicated in that its source is often hidden in good places. I find I still need to exercise. Impulsiveness is joined at the hip to instant gratification. JACk ELLIoTT Impulsiveness Is our 3rd biggest problem. Elizabeth would say she wasn’t sure if the M&Ms were for instant gratification of her hunger or just walking past the candy machine that sends out impulsiveness signals to her brain. in spite of the various machines and gadgets that I have impulsively bought that are hidden under the bed. Hunger needs to be satisfied in some way.Dr. It is only a little later we realize we have confused impulse with commitment. in the garage or basement. What are you impulsive about and what are you never impulsive about? How do the real commitments in your life control impulses? 46 .
families. The secret here is to exert more effort to figure out all the possibilities and not just the one. . You would become the most valuable person in their lives. usually they are simply saying what they want. but are working. . .SECRETS ABOUT SOLUTIONS There is never one solution. 47 . On the other hand maybe they will work better. family. they are using multiple solutions. There is the real possibility of greatness for anyone who really takes this secret to heart. . often comes to us as individuals. There is another oil spill. The more choices there are. communities or nations is when there are a number of “solutions” put together. if you were always finding a number of solutions and not just your own. If you only find one solution. some of which seem rather novel. This is true about divorce or surgery. Consider how much better you could deal with friends. . Please realize that when each side says they have the solution . Usually when we see only one solution. without much consideration to whoever else may have a solution from their perspective. at the very least. the more apt you are to really solve the problem or challenge before you. If you look further. Examples range from young marrieds to the Palestine-Israel conflict.The only way that peace and prosperity. look further. . lover or business partners . The chances are 99% that there are always more solutions. we have only looked at our idea and our own ego investment. Of course all the other solutions may not favor you as much or be as easy or as inexpensive or as obvious. or getting along with . not to mention success. you will be able to add some more value to your own ideas. and the solution did not work and finally after a month.
JACk ELLIoTT Have you ever found yourself thinking there must be only one solution? Can you find more than one solution to a problem you are now facing? Has your solution or way to do it.Dr. ever gone wrong and you realized you should have looked at other ways to use or combine with your own? 48 .
started exercising and walking every day. The legend tells that only a silver bullet can kill a werewolf. as least that’s what they say the odds are. sometimes sinus. lose the weight. After you’ve been hit by lightning three times. you probably will win the lotto. vampire or whatever. . . red wine. Now go and find another 5% to 10% solution . overcome the difficulty. or ensure the victory. sometimes migraines. that magic solution that will solve the problem. no miraculous cure. My wife gets headaches. There are very few silver bullets in life. . or sometimes just plain nasty headaches. Consider 10% solutions. chances are there will be a “good” solution well before you get to 100%. The idea is to find the magic bullet. avoided combinations of foods thought to trigger migraines. . chocolate. got a humidifier for our bedroom. At first we thought that if we could just figure out what triggered them . you are doing well. We fixed the furnace so there were no bad fumes in the house. we would solve the problem. put in electronic dust precipitators. cheese . win the day. So far we have not found the silver bullet that would eliminate the headaches. Well. Where are you hoping for a silver bullet solution? What 10% solutions might help? 49 . If you solve 10% of the problem. but far fewer headaches.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE There is no silver bullet. . We have done a number of 10% things. .
That is. Fact is. Finally he checked the cables from the battery and put in new ones. He tested the battery and put in a new one. My old car would not start. win the contest. JACk ELLIoTT Everything is over-determined. but stopped examining the problem as soon as you found a solution? Where can you apply this concept in your life? 50 . there is often more than one thing causing the problem and the poor repairperson trying to do a professional job is viewed with great suspicion. . . if you are trying to figure out why your spouse is upset with you or you are not getting along with someone. or debate . put a plan in place. you better know that the outcome is determined by more than is necessary or seems to add up to 100%. There are always multiple reasons. the same is true. argument.Dr.Then he tested the alternator and put in a new one. Have you ever solved a problem or fixed what was broken. If he had not been a friend and someone I completely trust. By the way. make the sale. even when one or two are obvious. I took it to the mechanic. when he was finished the car ran better than ever and for a long time. because the more you look the better the solutions will be. Keep looking. find the best way. If you are trying to solve a problem. this often does happen. I charged the battery and it worked for a day.Then he looked at some wiring (the harness for those who know cars) and put in a new one. thinking I only needed a battery and he was running up the bill. only to have it break down again in a very short time? Did you then realize that you did not examine everything. Think further. I might have misjudged him.
There is also the whole area of establishing boundaries. let alone any sensitivity in asking people to do something for them or for what they are involved in. but not quite so much. One tries to be nice and polite and even helpful whenever one can. There are places where it might give you a greater sense of energy. This concept has become a little clichéd in the self-help and self-serving world. and you know what they may well leave behind. They find power and value whenever they can get others to do their work. you saw them everywhere. but is still worth thinking about and adding to one’s tools for dealing with a world that is always making demands and trying to sell us something. his health and hers improved. There are lots of other places to say no. Then after his annual physical. well defined boundaries about when and where and why you say no. There is also a small but ever present minority of people who have no shame or any sense of propriety. . . they are still involved. freedom and responsibility for your self if you put some limits in place. They did. We have not even mentioned relatives and in-laws and good friends or the boss. Give yourself permission to say no to the consciously or unconsciously manipulative folk. you have permission to say no. Jose and his wife Maria (yes. the little league . Step back and reconsider . There are all sorts of people out there who are self-absorbed. They helped at the library. . or focused only on their problems and goals. They loved it all but eventually they were worn down. especially at Christmas time) were good folk in a small community. 51 . but beware. .You don’t have to support every worthy cause that asks for your time or money. their church. and gave him the prescription that turned their lives around . If you don’t have clear. insensitive. the cattle of life are going to run rough shod right through your life on a regular basis. . Often we feel we have no choice but to say yes. his doctor told him he had some possible heart problems. . the life and family you save may be your own.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Give yourself permission to say no. they did get kidded a lot.
or all manner of circumstances that come before you.There are times when you want to say yes but also times when you have the right to say no. declining to ride with an impaired driver. On a practical basis you will do better if you think about these things beforehand.Dr. values. sex.This has to do with areas like drinking.You need to give yourself permission to say no in advance of actually saying no. JACk ELLIoTT There is also the whole area of one’s own set of morals. drugs. and social behavior. gamble the rent. that you really would like to get out of? What do you need to do. “yes” to. in order to say “no”? Can you remember times when saying “no” was the good decision? 52 . What do you say.
It happened to me with the surgeon who recommended surgery for my knee. relative. . or if you are the clerk. and racist. ensure the peace . This secret is valuable in all sorts and kinds of relationships: parents and their children . . Republicans and Democrats . . it means do not forget the purpose of the transaction. If you only diagnose. . both are wrong. for Jews and Palestinians . Further. We all do the same thing at times. . Don’t diagnose! Stay with the transaction. . Transaction is a simple code word to use. It means to stay with the moment. Stay with the transaction. . friend. . 53 . spouses . . . . to name but a few. . rude. . . . or your own or the other person’s history and problems. . or the person you have just met. all those foregone conclusions they have been conditioned to make.SECRETS ABOUT OThERS Don’t diagnose . Studies have shown that a physician makes a diagnosis in the first 30 seconds with a patient and then goes on to confirm it. but they would have to move away from all the filters. . We look at the clerk and diagnose the clerk as a surly minority with an attitude. you will never find out if there is more to your spouse. . colored glasses they wear . etc . and not overload it with the history of the world and all its problems. Both diagnoses are dumb and most often. . It is exactly the same with parents and spouses and bosses and even docs. . what a chance for progress it would be! There will still be problems and struggles . the customer is arrogant. how to divide up the land . the process of one person relating to another. rich. neighbor . . If they put down all the diagnoses they have made about each other and just stuck to the issues at hand. .
Dr. JACk ELLIoTT Do you think it is good to have the other person figured out? How many people do you have figured out? Does anyone have you all figured out? How many times have you been surprised after you thought you had someone all figured out? 54 .
By myself. . I got this advice from a doctor.You may have objected. . Who do they talk to when they aren’t quite sure? To be fair. Never go to a medical doctor who practices alone. Who are your buddies? Where do you operate alone and would a buddy help? Who could use you as a buddy? 55 . but when we are counting on each other and supporting each other. whether they are trying to find a job. The buddy system is good! You learned the buddy system when you were told you could not swim alone. .SECrETS For A GooD LIFE The buddy system works better. and neither does Al. I count on the buddy system with my next-door neighbor. but most often it turned out that life was better and safer using the buddy system. I just don’t do it. where people talk all the time about networking . it works. . Many students learn more as they use the buddy system than they would if they studied alone. a lot of solo practitioners of various kinds do belong to groups where they consult with each other. She puts them in small groups to work on something together.We walk two miles every morning and go to the gym together three times a week. My wife uses this with her fifth graders. This secret is common knowledge and a way of survival in the business world. get information about something or gain access to where the power they need is. Fifth graders know the buddy system works well. and so form their own kind of buddy system. you had to have someone with you. go into the woods or most anywhere by yourself .
well they live with the loneliness of not being touched any more. JACk ELLIoTT Touch! Many years ago in the midst of the communist rule in Russia. the mortality rate dropped dramatically. pats on the back. is the first thing that makes us feel safe. backrubs. maybe they are in great need. but well. for when they had women holding them rather than leaving them in the cribs. . They finally realized that the babies lacked touch. secure and loved. embraces. don’t you need a hug? Go hug someone! 56 . Are you comfortable or uncomfortable touching others? Any idea why? Look deep inside. It begins before birth. Nobody outgrows his or her need for it! Old folks.Dr. Touch is the basic sense. So more hugs. ok. too many infants were dying in hospitals and commune nurseries. at least way past my comfort level . . holding hands and . there are those who overdo this. . . kisses.
Then the very fact of your being present and calm in time of crisis or need will suffice. . . It happened at the very first church I served. you simply listened without taking any side? You were there and that was enough. We all feel compelled sometimes to offer some kind of solutions.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Don’t press. Bob didn’t offer any suggestions or solutions. people come to me with some crisis or problem of those they cared about. just be there. he simply was there and that made all the difference. who when all falls apart. . that will help. A good friend. . Sometimes the most important thing you can do for someone is simply to be there. just by being there? 57 . My wife was home alone feeling very anxious and upset. You do not have to say the right thing or even know what to do next . resist the temptation! Often what is most needed is simple presence. some kind of something . This is also true if you are the one. Ever walk into a family fight where there are at least four or five different sides . is peaceful and non-anxious. . who knew what was happening. Through the years. . but find your presence does help? Where can you be. There was a special meeting called where I was told all the wrong things I was doing. and with luck or wisdom. Ever try to solve someone else’s problem and have both sides attack you? Ever try not to fix the problem or crisis. much less offer solutions that no one is ready for. what should I do? Often I tell them they can help greatly by just being there. asking the question. came over to be with her.
fertilize . . what happened? Have others waited for you to grow in your own time and way? 58 . This is good advice from the hills of Tennessee. So it is. . . Can you remember a time when you had to wait patiently for growth? Can you remember when you didn’t wait . Do not yank on them. with children. Do all the right stuff .Dr. weed. family and friends. convert. . or you may destroy what you try to help grow. plant the seed. water. . . right away! Stay with the metaphor. . . Do not try to win. and then let it be. JACk ELLIoTT Beans won’t grow quicker yanking on them. or get your own way .
Very often what it is all about. Don’t be too helpful. . . To put it another way. and so have a chance to grow or mature. Most often the kind of help that you are giving. both for him and for myself. it is only as they struggle with themselves that they have ownership of what they did. there is that distance that has not been bridged. it’s all right. when you did not want help? 59 . you Do you try to put band-aids on other’s hurts too quickly? Have you had people try to help you. too much. In other words. A good friend once made some rather cruel. If you help too soon. is the person’s need to grow up.We met a couple days later and he apologized and I made it too easy for him. don’t worry about it. it dis-empowers the other person .SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Too helpful is not too helpful. is help that enables and supports their bad behavior. I should have let him struggle and work through what he had done. when others behave poorly. do not be anxious to relieve a person of their anxiety or struggle.Worse yet. Trouble was it stayed with me and while we are still friends. mean remarks to me after too much to drink. brushing it quickly aside. to become more of an adult human being. they may never grow up.
it is a fact that often what we joke about is often what we are the most serious about. and the other had a six month old. hurtful. JACk ELLIoTT Just kidding . Have you ever been hurt by joking/kidding remarks by others? Have you ever kidded someone to get something serious across lightly? 60 . This mother gave it all away. and have just enough manners not to be totally rude or obviously hurtful. or no offense is offensive. no offense. The couple with the new baby knew everything and wanted no help.Dr. At the worst they think they are clever and sharp with their critical remarks. At all times they are operating out of their own ego-centered world. Beware when anyone tells you they are just kidding or use the remark no offense. as if either gives license to say whatever rude. she quickly said. She made the remark that she never wanted to join any mother’s group. mean or inappropriate remark they want to. The two couples were spending an evening together with their children. Worse. Realizing that the other mom was active in a mother’s group. is not just kidding. or ever become that kind of mother. At the very best they are trying to be gentle about what they seriously want to hit you with. . One couple had a five year old and three year old. just kidding. . In truth she had just done both.
Never try to win the last dollar on the table. but it seems a lot of folk do not.You will sound like a redneck conservative or a limousine liberal (those being two very similar groups.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Always leave a little money on the table. because I knew the buyer might run into problems and I wanted their first reaction to be that it was a bargain and not be upset when they had to spend more. Apply this to debates or arguments about most anything and it will also be true. until we run out of space to park them. I have a love for old cars that my good wife is most patient about. I have sold cars at less than I could have gotten. Also. even if you are 100% on the mark. you may create more animosity than just the loss of a card game. do be thoughtful and consider all the places where you can leave a little money on the table. As quickly as the other person can. I have used this philosophy when buying or selling a car. they will go elsewhere where they can have a real discussion. Where can you ‘leave a little money on the table’? How have you felt when no one left anything on the table (you were at)? Have you ever been in a situation when no money was left on the table? How did you feel? 61 . No one will want to play unless they think they have a chance to get even or more. If you do win the last dollar. Grandpa explained it to me in terms of playing poker. I thought everyone knew my grandfather’s sage advice. in that they each are sure they have all the truth in the world). Now. Don’t try to wipe out your opponent with your absolute complete and total truth and rightness. you will surely end the game.
JACk ELLIoTT Always listen to combat experience. simply because their own experience might be helpful. the teacher who has lived and worked and done what he or she is teaching is often the best and most interesting teacher. Conversely. Do you have combat experience to give advice in certain areas? When do you turn to others who have a lot more experience in an area that is important in your life? 62 . Interestingly enough. It was a close and caring and accepting group. The world is full of technocrats and bureaucrats who make rules and regulations. much less follow it. You don’t necessarily want to take it as gospel. but whose greatest knowledge and skill is their own continued employment. they did share their “combat” experience. while they did not always agree. some pregnant and some with their babies.Dr. Eight women had become pregnant within a year of each other and so they formed a mother’s group at the church and met each week for a couple hours. The operative word here is listen.The other side of this is beware of the views of people who have never had to act on or live through what they are talking about. but it is always worthwhile to listen to someone who has been through “it” whatever it is. The moms would share their various experiences with the moms to be.
or even someone you hardly know. always has some encouragement for him when he sometimes finds it a struggle to keep to a strict diet that is critical to his health. She is positive. You watch them on the sidelines and think they are all fluff and lightweights. His sweetheart is his cheerleader and makes all the difference. Greg told me how he has diabetes and has struggled with it. but it did help. your mom or dad. was a cheerleader in his college days at Yale. 43rd president of the United States. Bush. but now is doing very well. said you were doing all right. George W. You may or may not have agreed with him. Think again to when you were in a struggle and someone encouraged you. through some serious debilitating times. but what did he learn and take with him from his cheerleading days? Who is your cheerleader and how has it helped/changed your life? Who are you a cheerleader for and what has been the value? Who needs you to be their cheerleader? 63 .SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Never underestimate cheerleaders. It could have been a friend. think he is very smart or whatever. I just had a wonderful conversation with a new friend. In case you forgot.
. However. trust no one over thirty. for if you ask real questions they may help you learn from their mistakes. consider this secret. and so we are stuck. have fewer lines or more vitality. . or confuse the shallow idealism of youth as wisdom or even vision. vim and vigor .We know the older generation. . and the younger generations are but children . As you are reading these very lines. . and I don’t need to go into all the examples commonly given. There is some basic human psychology that says we all tend to trust our own age or generation group. JACk ELLIoTT Trust no one under sixty. You will indeed profit. . In the sixties the cry was . it is too easy for your mind to wander to the thought that it sure would be nice to be a little younger. So. . about things that are important in life to you and listened to their view? Do you trust someone who is older or younger or are they out of touch? 64 . please do not confuse youth with energy. . . is of little help . virility. We worship youth. older than us. When was the last time you talked to someone seriously older or younger. Check out the old folks for fun and for profit.Dr. so would I. The greatest waste in America is our lack of respect and regard for that very same group who are now the “older generation”.
In fact he saved me from myself a couple times. look for someone who has had some real experience.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Whenever you ask for advice. ask someone older.This does not necessarily apply when going to a professional who has special skills and training. So when you look for advice. but his thoughts and perspective was always wise and of real value.You may have to sift through the experience to find what is valuable and useful. though I confess a hesitation when I see doctors who look like they are just out of high school. Al did not often solve my problems or tell me what to do. So always reach upward in the age scale when you seek advice. gives a person experience and some small degree of wisdom. but there will be some that can be found in no other way or place. What is the practical value of seeking advice from someone older? Who do you seek out in the older generation for their advice and wisdom? 65 . who for 40 years has been a source of wisdom and advice. Age. if it has no other value. I have an older friend in my life. and as time has gone by has became a very good friend.
well you get the idea. It was the first of many such dinners. sex . Remember the line from the poem . We didn’t have to make the same meal a dozen times before we got it right. is? It is: Yea. . However it is referring to your own experience as well as listening to other’s experience. if the only way you learn is by experience. Life is much better if it does not always require a lot of experience to learn something. We discovered we could fix a good meal if we read and planned carefully. retirement. Learn form other people’s experiences. There are a lot of good books these days about money. rarely quoted. but learned in some other way? What were those ways? 66 . Realize that what was true last year is not necessarily true today. better and live life more fully at a younger age than would be possible if you could only trust and operate out of your own experience. . children. . JACk ELLIoTT Experience has limited value. the teacher of fools. it is going to take a very long time to learn and probably have a lot of pain and suffering to it.Dr. What great things have you learned and have helped you that were not gained by experience. I also check out other’s experience. experience is the greatest teacher. . This may seem to contradict the previous secret. whenever I can to save as much time as possible on the learning curve. careers. Rod and I read the cookbook carefully as we prepared our first midweek gourmet dining experience for our wives who were teachers and supporting us while we were in school. Furthermore. home repair. travel. Well guess what the very the next line. This will enable you to become wiser.
even after you’ve read this book! Do you recognize some of the scripts that you followed because that is the way and world in which you were brought up? What scripts are you writing and rewriting when you throw old ones out? 67 . This pushes us to follow the script we’ve been handed by the world in which we have been born and grown up in. All kinds of books. That is. in our lives feel like pressure to follow a certain way or conditioning that we don’t even realize. The person will follow the script.You will have to write your very own script . So you will have to use your own head and heart and wisdom. . . friends.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE There is no script to follow. good and not so good. . . ethnic/racial heritage . never been tried before things going on in the world. . The cell phone has changed to a great extent the relationship between parent and child. we’re just following a script. All the influences.They renegotiate how long they can stay out or be picked up early or bring friends home. tell you about scripts we follow. how predictable human behavior is. psychologists. and one will be able to tell what the person will be like or likely to do. But there is no script to follow. education. etc.This is so different from my days of bringing up teenagers. counselors. Sometimes. for there are a whole bunch of brand new. we feel that way . religion. . All one has to do is look at a person’s parents.There is no script to follow and I barely understand all the ramifications of the family cell phone world. My teenage grandson and granddaughter each have their own cell phone that enables them to talk or text their parents at any time. especially a teenage child.
Sometimes it is an MD. The friend most often wants to hear positive supportive words of a friend much more than insightful words of a professional. clergy. whatever. She knows then. do you really think you can be objective if something goes wrong. . distort. is a non-professional relationship that can interfere with objectivity. . diminish. the whole conversation changes. The hard truth is that friendship. The secret here has to do with how personal relationships often blur. sometimes a financial expert. We all like to turn to a professional who is also a friend. and she begins to ask probing questions . if a mistake is made? 68 . Have you broken this rule anywhere and do your realize the danger? If you think the professional can be objective. but when friends ask questions about their children or grandchildren . don’t go to a friend. Docs already know this. social worker. a counselor. . . If she were a stranger she could be clear. to move very carefully to the most general of comments so as not to hurt feelings or disrupt friendships. My wife is an outstanding elementary school teacher. JACk ELLIoTT When you need a doctor. by definition.Dr. Also it is very hard to “fire” a friend. candid and helpful with her response. or destroy objectivity.
and always wanted to know when they got back. You just can’t always see the limp that people walk along with through life . . he was involved in a terrible multi-vehicle accident where his truck struck a car. One day while driving a semi. Bob worked for the family business. Every one of us has a few things that cripple us a little in certain areas. that’s the danger and the power of a lot of secrets.Years later when he was running the family business. he never forgot it. What parts of life do you walk with a limp? Who do you know that walks with a limp no one can see? 69 . While the accident was clearly not Bob’s fault. he never sent a truck out without being their personally to send them off.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Everyone walks with a limp. But. dear reader. no matter how early the hour. You can either be a little more patient and understanding.The mother was killed instantly and the teenage passenger had to go through excruciating surgeries. When he was young. but it is there. . do not forget your own limp. or you can see it as finding weakness in order to take advantage. You can view and use this secret in a positive or negative way. Well.
can reject by refusing to eat it or spit it out. JACk ELLIoTT You have to outflank the demons of resistance. the more the demons tend to develop. not with a teenager. If we understand that this is true of ourselves. and this phrase does seem to capture it. we resist when we think our very self is in danger. . whatever the goal may be. . good or bad. I made a suggestion at the board meeting that required money be spent. Everyone wants to be in control of self. Never get in a will contest . but there is a force inside all of us of self-preservation that goes beyond all reasonableness . and so it is heavily defended. hurt. . confront. . for you will destroy or be destroyed. and how well they did. . harm. smart or stupid.Dr. but for some maintenance that was needed. . The more a normal healthy ego develops . but the will resists. success. or call into question . and. failure was frequent and success so labor intensive and tearful as to barely be worth the effort. . The reason was because you were in a will conflict. not with your very best friend . . . It may be unkind to call this resistance “demons”. Repeat: Never get into a will conflict! You cannot win without great cost. consensus. appropriate or misplaced. the more complicated it is. . The first real act of will is found in a small child’s discovery that he or she can control what goes into their mouth. but the same basic transaction is going on. not a lot of money. . challenge. Do not directly attack. not with a small child. because where a person’s will is heavily invested there is where you find the person’s very self. . in order to promote cooperation. The treasurer responded with such negative vehemence. Outflank them. and the new young human being was just having their first go at using their own will . The older one gets. you are really dumb if you are still getting into will conflicts with members of your family. that 70 . . and even better. Adults try all kinds of things to get kids to eat . move quietly around the obvious and try more creative and less challenging ways . we can better understand the demons that others have guarding their egos. . . and so has all kinds of automatic reactions. .
I dropped it as quickly as I could. the guardian and protector of the treasury. Two months later. What kinds of will conflicts have you won/lost? What were the costs? What demons have you managed to go around? Do you ever find that you are the source of the will conflict? 71 . It doesn’t always work that simply. but you get the idea. as many treasurers. he had the work done. He did not have to spend time defending.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE I simply responded that it would be good to do sometime. because he was. He was ready to make it a will conflict. That was where his ego was. so he was free to spend a little time thinking about the idea.
but also calls the other person to focus on what they really want and what the real issues are. asked for forgiveness. I stepped on the toes of a friend. he really wanted to talk about a few things that he had kept bottled up for too long. . did not defend myself. They may be simply caught in the magnetic poles of a will conflict by their own reactivity. is in some sense to call their bluff. He got mad and escalated the whole thing until it could have been a total falling out. Truth be known. argue. Well. etc . The secret is about getting out of will conflicts. better than before. that is gave him more than he wanted. JACk ELLIoTT Always give them more than they want. which as you now know.Dr. To give someone more than what they want. I assumed all responsibility. Do you ever fall into the trap of responding in the same way as your adversary? What happened when you did not respond in kind. but sought to “de-escalate” or lower the adversarial situation? 72 . and would do whatever it took to make things right. you can never win. This will not only make life much better for you. . they would like to get out of the conflict but don’t know how. They may discover that you are not their adversary at all. I “de-escalated”. Our friendship goes on. Rich didn’t really want a fight. make excuses. said I was sorry. Look at this is as “de-escalation”.
In great part it didn’t happen because the will conflict was so immense that it destroyed anything that did not feed it. . and many thought this was the moment for peace in the Middle East . More divorces take place than need to because of will conflicts. It follows then that the really bad fights in a marriage are the same. and so on goes the will conflict. this has been true on the other side. is will conflict. your world and you will find that the very large engine that maintains and probably built the problems to begin with. Look at the really difficult problems in your family. which neither side recognizes as such. it may be an educational moment) 73 . your community. They might have been avoided if will conflict could have been avoided. when offered the real possibility of cease-fire.To be fair. then you have some helpful insight and perhaps even a direction to take in seeking to solve the problem. How often have the severest problems in your life been will conflicts? How can you help decrease will conflicts you get caught in? (Hint . The biggest problems parents have with teenagers begin with will conflicts. Israel. it didn’t happen. . chose simply to raise the ante and be tougher . . . . If you can identify the severity of the problem in terms of will conflict involved. In the spring of 2001 when the Arabs were offered 90% of what they wanted.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE The severest problems are the will conflicts. .
for we know this is the only way they can become functioning adults. The time apart gave us perspective and freshened our value and appreciation for each other. . . will lead to being too far? 74 . JACk ELLIoTT There are more problems when you are too close. Three days was the perfect amount of time. could be husband.This did not fade after a few trips.We know this is not only ok. than too far away. parent. the person may become dependent in an unhealthy way. . . and perspective to the other person. willingly or unwillingly. The danger is that one becomes an extension or the appendage of other . and can’t quite do it. They are the ones who complain about the other but remain locked tightly in the static relationship. Are there places in your life where the balance of close and distance needs adjusting? Can you see the paradox where being too close. My wife and I have discovered that being apart is good for us.Dr. You know these people. but also good. nor change when it was Ruth who was away. They are struggling and can’t find the balance of intimacy and independence. As they grow and mature we know they will separate themselves from us. personality. It’s all about the need each of us has for space as well as the need for intimacy. less merely interrupted our schedules and more made us lonely (which wasn’t always bad). child . If a person is too close too much of the time. Another interesting example is the person who is struggling to get unstuck from another person .There was a period when I had board meetings in other cities and would be gone every now and then. . wife. Give the other person enough space to be a complete functioning unique person. . We all know this is true with our children. One loses one’s own identity.
. children run from parents to be their own person . . with his dad even acquiring a small company for him to run. he would have been closer to his father and been able to take over from him. then you will start to lose yourself. Bob worked very hard and went through a number of difficult times. it is positive when together. .SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Help the other separate so you won’t be separate. for they form a symphony. of sharing thoughts and feelings whether they agree or not . If you are not separate. Sad to say they probably waited too long. dad had to fire the son. . shape or form. . . It happens all the time and not just in marriages that fall apart .. Closeness is a form of intimacy. other than in the eyes of his dad and those who depended on him for their jobs. Closeness is a lot more things of course . But when the notes are all the same . They will fight in some way. All these qualities of closeness are built on space between people that creates the vantage and perspective and value to reach out. Finally.. not so much of bodies. . Now it is important to define closeness here.The son needed to separate in order to not be separated. they will lose their perspective and finally the one will hardly be able to see the other for the closeness! Do you see people in your own family who need to separate just a little? If they did. He eventually became highly successful and a well-known national figure. . to separate for their own survival as an individual. accepting and finding value rather than competing and criticizing .giving and receiving easily. unique and have value all by yourself. The truth is that there can be no real closeness without separateness. You will drown or sink into the other. friendships fade. His son started in the family business. but of minds. would they we closer or further apart in their relationship? 75 .The son did not do well. one needs to move away to hear oneself. then self-worth becomes dependent on another person. . If a person leans too much into another. When a person loses self-identity. Had the son gone out in the cold cruel world and worked and struggled and found success on his own. .
You decided that it would be better to put up with it . turned into the beginning meeting and not too many of those. . .They had a lot of good and bad reasons. We both want to get a divorce. The more you share the more there is to the relationship and the less you share the less there is to the relationship. even care and goodness. but you didn’t and so things went on in a different way that is now much harder if not impossible to change. learning to play the piano or fly a plane. or even say what you really thought. give up . . but that didn’t really matter. Think of how things might be different if 20 years ago you had said how you felt or what you thought . as they learned to talk and share and find closeness they never knew existed. .Dr. Share what you think and what you feel. . what you are happy about and sad about . join the army. . . Someone famous said it . JACk ELLIoTT There are more problems because of what is not said than what is said. . adjust . and lots more. . . Years from now you will regret more the things you have not done. . Much to my amazement the meeting with each of them was the same. as a last try without much hope. but no real sharing of anything. . They had been married for only two years. not try . . What mattered was the loneliness and lack of sharing. The final meeting together. . rather than things you have done. I met with each of them separately and once together. We’re only here because we promised our parents we would talk to you. . make love. tolerate . . we could be talking about choice of vegetables. much the same. The lifeblood of relationship is sharing. There was no communication. politeness yes. take a hike. With whom do you need to share more? What would happen if you do share more? 76 .
or at the very least. go through security with ease . . .This should help you be a little more patient and kind. What baggage do you carry that you might put down? What baggage does your friend/spouse/parent/co-worker carry? 77 . . . understand a little better how to deal with them . . I had a series of one-day meetings in Chicago for about a year.You don’t have to like them. . The truth is most of the time we all have a lot of baggage we travel through life with . . get on the plane with only a briefcase. I have never forgotten the luxurious delight it was to travel light .SECrETS For A GooD LIFE No one travels light. . and deal with your own reactions and responses. but do remember they are probably carrying a lot of baggage and may not have much ability left to look up or around or reach out to carry any more. . and everyone else has as much or more! Remember the same is true for the person who seems such a jerk or so insensitive or so mean. I would get up early and get on the plane in New York and later that day fly back from Chicago. and it doesn’t go through security that easily . .
and notice how much the person needed others in order to be a success. appreciate and value all those who help us along the way. Rockefeller. come to believe they are self made. J. They may take all the credit. we know that . . Horatio Alger wrote rags to riches novels in the 1800s and so his name became synonymous with starting with nothing. Charles Lindbergh. Morgan. and making it to the top by one’s own efforts. Elton John . No one makes it alone. The lesson is not that we need to realize that we are not self-made. .Thomas Edison. the list is long and varied. Read any biography about a so-called “self made” man or woman. Who gets some credit for your successes and achievements? Have you acknowledged and thanked those who have helped you? When have you made it all on your own with no help? 78 . . but realize. JACk ELLIoTT Horatio Alger is a lie! In case you don’t know. We are all dependent and interdependent on each other. they may even. working hard. but what is true about all of them is no one made it to the top on their own! What nonsense to think you can make it all on your own. sadly. . but their mother knows better.P. they may be greedy and get all the treasure. and so do a lot of people along the way. Who do you think of that has done this? Henry Ford.Dr.
. only to find out their personal lives are racked with pain and suffering. and looking back was it a good idea? Do you still put on a good show at times? Are there people you know who are putting on a good show in some area? 79 . etc. To be sure the story is more complicated. . Heath was popular. smart. The truth is. We often think other cultures place too much attention on keeping or losing face. Can you think of times when you put on a good show? What were your reasons. Frank and Heath put on a great show. or think certain people are mature and in control. position . individual you. Their marriage appeared warm and happy. Everyone has a solid self and a pseudo or pretend self. restoration. We all want to look good rather than bad . smarter or dumber. Solid self is the real unique. he told her he was filing for divorce. Frank was highly successful. but he did put on a good show. well organized and involved. like your political positions. Once you realize the truth of this secret about yourself and about others. .SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Everybody can put on a good show. On their 25th wedding anniversary they put on a grand party. what kind of impression we make. Come that Monday. if only to whatever group is important to us. it is going to help you relate to others a whole lot better and perhaps be even wiser and kinder. though on a superficial level. . Pseudo self is that which is negotiable. rebuilding. favorite food. Now the secret and the hard work here is to recognize and understand your own real absolute self and your pseudo or negotiable self. nationally known and at the top in his world. that is subject to remodeling. you will realize that this is not about real and phony. People pretend to be or act stronger or weaker. You can be fooled by intellect. all of us are concerned with how we appear. and even re-creation. Even your exterior self is real. more important or less important. power. happier or sadder. or drink. than they really are. As you do.
much less want any unsolicited help. and then at least the person has come to realize the need for help. JACk ELLIoTT If you run to people’s needs you may crash. and did not need any help. Sad to say Aunt Martha came across as being pushy and interfering.Dr. Depending on when you ask them . . . when her favorite niece had an emergency appendectomy that ruptured and left her seriously sick in the hospital. that he had taken the time off. Aunt Martha meant well. It is questionable as to how much good you can do when you rush to help. but a need to help is not so great. even with the best of intentions. If the person has not yet realized the need for help and you rush in . Most everyone in the helping professions has worked through this or is struggling with it. well. She came right over prepared to stay and care for her niece’s two children and husband. It is far better to wait to be asked to help. You need to examine carefully what is driving your need to help those in need. how would you feel if some one tried to help you and you do not think you need any. but had the good sense to wait until asked? 80 . they will tell war stories of rushing into help where they were sure they could make a difference and do something good for someone. The husband was polite but firm and said they were fine. . She was crushed or one might say crashed as she ran into their needs without knowing that his mom was coming.Willingness to help is great. . only to crash into a wall of rejection and worse. Have you ever been rejected when you tried too soon to help too much? Have you ever rejected others who wanted to help you when you felt you had everything under control and were doing ok? When have you wanted to help.
We are. and the real joy of parents and adult children will be lost. in some cases we would give a lot of our own lives for them. . . but must not. it’s their turn. It will be there consciously or unconsciously tucked in somewhere. . . not to mention our wisdom in so many areas . . . . . It is not that we don’t care . It is all too easy to end up keeping them hostage or be hostage to them. my wife and I say to each other. sure our ways and ideas on how to bring up our grandchildren are superior . but we want their lives to be their lives. . and now and again . Is there a balance in your greater family in everyone letting their lives be their lives? Do you push into other’s lives too much or do others push into yours? What can you do about it? 81 . of course. . If this happens there will be a prisoner-warden relationship. My wife and I have two grown children and three grandchildren .SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Let their lives be their lives.
promiscuous. . . Joe’s not even married. he’s not even a real Italian. is a drunk. not to mention he is from Sicily. but facts that did not count? 82 . but on past faults or frailties that are irrelevant to the present issues. What judgments have you made of the basis of less than relevant facts? Has anyone judged you on the basis of facts. If done really well (ad homonym) the person is convicted because he is not a nice person . a gambler. This is a lawyers’ term. and it means to attack the person when a good case can’t be built around the issues. he drinks too much. accent. so they are guilty or their word cannot be trusted. ad homonym. These other issues are irrelevant to the judgment of the case at hand. JACk ELLIoTT Don’t ad hominem You can’t believe what Joe said about them not getting along.Dr. is a libertarian and went to Brown. . well. moral code. . it is so much easier to judge someone as bad or wrong because of a different skin color. or something in their personality is wrong . It happens all the time when a person is considered or judged not on what is at hand. . It is very easy to ad homonym. but when the issue at hand requires real focused clean straight dispassionate thought . . political or religious view.
. There is a positive side to the past. living. . . all those years of behaving. thinking. to struggle with and to celebrate. The past is always present . that we build our lives on memories and that they come back into our minds and influence the present. is my dad’s love of classical music that is with me and a great source of joy and peace. and you know where she learned it. the past . . and it didn’t happen . such as the gentleness of a parent. Or you wanted to lose weight. but knowing this helps focus my determination to keep my temper. . doing. Can you see what in the past is driving you today? How does being aware of this help you to gain control today? 83 . control your temper . are still with you. Remember the struggle to quit smoking and how much more difficult it was than you thought it would be? All those years of smoking were still present with you. feeling . . . I am not talking about the obvious. positively or negatively. . . Let’s go deeper. exercise more. The truth is that a good part of what we are and do today is driven by the past! It is with us right now and to some extent influences us. On the positive side. you have more power and focus to push back. whose patience is with you today as you are able to be a patient parent or friend. I tease my wife that her mother is still with her .The past is always present! The point here is that with conscious present awareness of what is pushing at you. .SECrETS For A GooD LIFE The past is always present. drink less. and at the same time automatically wiping the kitchen counters whether they need it or not . for there she is talking to me. The past of my dad’s temper is still present with me. . . . which I did not realize for a long time. . acting.
it comes from politeness. or change clothes. which may be of some small help as you move through various stages of life.Dr. . sometimes to retire . how everyone seems to wait for someone else to go first . sometimes to relax or laugh. People need permission . or even be happy or silly or just to take off their jacket. but also it may come from the fact we started out as children who needed permission before we could go play. . Ever notice when you are out to dinner with a group. . . meaning either to go to bed or to stop working. The usefulness of this secret is to give yourself permission and not be stuck or waiting for something to happen that will give you permission. . . eat. People need someone to say it is all right. order a drink or decide what to order? Perhaps. Are there places in life where you wait for “permission”? Are there places in life where you “give permission”? How do you do it? 84 . JACk ELLIoTT People need permission. It is also to recognize this dynamic in human interaction.
. Conversation is what leads to everything else . catching their thoughts and feelings so you can respond accurately and well. I’ll tell mom the next time we talk . . You talk and you listen. hear what is said. The teen needed some prime time conversation about feeling insecure and unsure and needed to give voice to these brand new issues in her young life about friends and drugs and sex and being just fifteen. Without good conversation there is no real relationship .The scary part is when would be the next time they would have a real relational conversation? Days might go by with merely exchanging a few remarks that happen living in the same house and making the busy family system work.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE The most important relationship is the conversation relationship. whether the other has understood what you have said. make love or make the hurt go away. . She was unsure and afraid. which could leave them far apart. for listening is part of talking. It could be handled with some conversations that would build their relationship or without the conversations. It is about the basic ability to express yourself with accuracy in a way that communicates the thoughts and feelings you want to share. This is not about oratorical skills. whether you are trying to make a sale. . and often most neglected conversation skill. mom was busy getting the meal on the table and answering the phone at the same time. merely a superficial incomplete exchange of some kind. Again. make a friend. . and so no time for real conversation with her daughter who had just been invited to hang out with some friends she knew were doing drugs and her boyfriend who was pushing for more physical intimacy. Do you have a conversation with each member of your family each day? Do you have conversations with the people you encounter or work with on a regular basis? 85 . half of talking is listening. and listening is the most important. .
Dr. maybe especially your spouse not to mention your parents and even yourself. This is very simple to prove. JACk ELLIoTT You never know everything about the other person. So go a little easier or at least go a little more patiently and kindly. This is really good if your spouse or family is present or it is done in a family gathering. What don’t your family or friends know about you? (Make a list now so you will be ready when they ask after reading this. If you don’t know this already. By the way.) 86 . not even your spouse. no one is ever at a loss to say something. they would have treated you differently? Now if this is true for you. You never know everything about others. Who knows everything about you? And more than that. it is equally true about the other person. here is a great group question: Tell us something about yourself that no one here knows. how many times have you realized that if they knew more about you.
then. as you really know the other. In one were fantastic pictures of deep space taken by the Hubble telescope. sub atomic particles to things that make those things large. and we look inward and discover there may be no limits to how small we can go . you realize that there is much more to know about them. which made one stop and think. Where do you think you are fairly knowledgeable and what do you really know and what do you really need to learn? Have you had that humbling experience of realizing that for all you know. It boggles the mind. more to the reasons they are able to do or not do certain things. It is all about learning and understanding. When you discover there is more to others. from atoms. the more you realize the complexity of the person. the more you know about someone. and yet at the same time learning how little we know. express or not express thoughts and feelings. We are discovering and learning more and more. We reach out farther and farther in the universe and realize how vast it is and how little we know . There were two sets of pictures in the science magazine. you still have much to learn? 87 . Stop and think about it. . . . The other set of pictures also had never been seen before.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE The more you know the more you know. the less you know. They were pictures of particles. . things so small you can’t see them with the naked eye.
for nothing was destabilized. How many times and places have you challenged without enough thought and accomplished nothing because you destabilized the relationship? What did you learn? 88 . I had challenged the time-honored starting time of the meeting. I wanted to change the meeting time. which all relationships are. If you want to put an opening in a wall to let light in. Imagine life as a building.Dr.There was a relaxed thoughtful and friendly discussion and the meetings were changed to 7:30 pm with no resentment. or you may run the risk of destabilizing the building or worse. I handed out the schedule with the time set at 8 pm for all the upcoming meetings and then asked if we might consider other times. fight or blood on the floor. find yourself in a defensive mode. what is behind the wall. and everyone was happy. you better be aware of what kind of a wall it is. . and what it supports. If you destabilize. .The same is true in any other kind of structure . But no one had to rush to defend. JACk ELLIoTT Challenge without destabilizing. then you may bring down the whole structure or at the very least. Learn this and you will have a much better chance to achieve a positive outcome when you challenge. which had always been at 8 pm.
The check out clerk mouthed to her. Have you ever really tried to put yourself in another person’s place? once you try it. You need to understand what they need. threw her car keys at her brother when told she could no longer drive. Then my wife said gently to the clerk it’s so hard to give up your independence. what makes them nervous or anxious. Every successful salesperson and many successful business people know the importance of stepping outside of oneself. In a business deal if you can sit where the other person sits then you can make the sale or close the deal. . both using walkers. My wife was in the check out line. You will never really understand another person until you consider things from their point of view.Then Ruth told her the story how her mother. . and one could see she was getting herself into an almost irritable frame of mind. If you set your ego aside for the moment and figure out what the other person needs. Behind her was an elderly couple. what they see. or is looking for . who were barely able to get the stuff out of the cart. I just hope they don’t fall over . a sweet lady. The clerk’s whole demeanor changed and she could not have been nicer to the couple. . in your relationship with them? 89 . happy or satisfied. wants. .SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Step outside yourself. She got outside herself. ask yourself what you need to do or change now. you are in for some exciting and successful times.
. It may not be our responsibility to support others in finding their dream. officious. Sometimes a person does not realize their dream .Dr. stop and think. What is your dream? Come on now. Who do you need to ask this question? Who do you want to ask you? 90 . . . We talked about our various train adventures for quite a while. and I don’t mean a dream of getting a new pickup or winning the lotto. . I still did not like him. arrogant and ego centered. It was a total surprise when Phil started talking in an animated way about railroads and his dreams of traveling on some of the famous ones. Here is a great conversation starter: What is your dream? I asked that question one evening at a dinner where I was stuck next to someone I did not like at all . . don’t skip this. but remember that a dream or two is buried somewhere in the other. . It may help you be open to your own . JACk ELLIoTT Everyone has a dream. expecting only a dismissive answer. I don’t know why I asked the question. and what fun to see someone open their eyes to their own dream. but I sure did think of him in a different way. and worse he enjoyed complaining at every budget hearing of every kind. insensitive.
SECrETS For A GooD LIFE There is no such thing as equality. . . and that is that there is very little equality in life. argue. .You will also have a much wiser understanding of what is really at stake when people talk about. The home show is frustrating at times with their choice of what deserving family they are going to help. vote and even die for equality. We all believe in equality . American Idol and Extreme Makeover. Home Edition. gifts. Have there been times you have been frustrated by lack of equality? Can this secret help you resolve some of the frustration? 91 . . varying in levels of talent. The singers who audition and finally make it to the top are absolutely unequal. However there are unique people with unique stories and struggles . No equality there either. then you can stop worrying and focus on the unique combination of skills. . march. not matter where . that you and everyone else brings to the game. fair and unfair. uniqueness and chance of success. The truth is. No matter what. But neither is on the playing field of equality for in their worlds there is no such thing. talents. . There are two shows on TV I really enjoy. . not really. than others.What we believe in is equal opportunity. If you can recognize this. none of us are equal. . . there are always so many factors. which makes life unequal. intelligence. . a fair chance. There is also the dark side or harsh reality to this secret . and justice. good and bad. we are all unique and some have more or less of whatever . etc. so I keep watching.
As complex as the whole teen-parent relationship is. but asking different questions will certainly help more to find the answers. JACk ELLIoTT If you can’t find the answer. Stop and think about it. solving problems.Dr. I just don’t know why my teenagers are so distant and negative all the time. what do you think? How do you feel? What would you really like to do? Can you help us? OK. there may be an easier way here. what’s wrong. . etc. Now there is a remark that a lot parents have made or for that matter teens have made about their parents. What different questions can you ask where you are not finding answers. Case in point. ask a different question. Also realize good questions open and expand thinking. whereas too often answers set boundaries and limits. Ask different questions . Stop asking the wrong questions about why so distant. improving relationships. it may not always work. very often to ask the right question is more important than to find the answer. getting ahead? 92 . . watch a news conference where everything is well scripted and controlled and boring until a really good reporter asks different question than expected and all of sudden there are some real answers and real news. negative.
Where will your chances of success improve greatly with shared ownership? How can you share ownership of things that are important to you? 93 . . . civic organization. . It may be a church. club.To insure the maximum attendance have the maximum number of committees working on it . However. they will be a lot more willing to go the same way you are going. but you get the idea. one to decorate the tables. well. ok. that’s part of the thinking about sharing ownership. one to set the tables. When I share ideas with committees and groups and let them work on them. school.You know the old saying about being able to get a lot done if you don’t need to get the credit. . they are my ideas and dealt with in a fair but critical way. . where getting good attendance is really important. a lot more happens. even adjust and change them. and another to arrange the tables themselves . If you let others have a piece of whatever they are working on. share ownership. there are a lot of places where it is better to share ownership. There is the old advice about planning a dinner. whatever . right down to having three table committees . . . Sole ownership is a good thing in some places. .When I make proposals to the board. a bit silly (especially if you have a fork committee. a knife committee and a spoon committee).SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Share Ownership.
Now. The first was immediately obvious as a poor body part and rejected. As part of the process I was given a factory tour by one of the managers. rather is has to do with identifying where the more subtle temptations and problems will come from. Many years ago when I was looking for employment. I went to a car manufacturer for a job interview. . then skip this secret. but if there are times and places in your life where you strive for the best. and you end up with silver or brass. The enemy of the best is not the worst. . Seeking the best is not about perfectionism. I did not take the job nor buy their cars. perhaps. He passed it. However the second was a painted part whose imperfections would not be noticed immediately. Twice someone came up to him and asked if a part should be rejected. it’s the 90% truth and the rest a lie. but settling for the second best. JACk ELLIoTT The enemy of the best is the second best.Dr. if you don’t care about the best. then you best know that the enemy is lowering your standard or goal just a little . Where have you settled for second best and got burned? Where have you compromised or are compromising and not quite happy? 94 . The enemy of the truth is not the outright lie.
. depending on the intensity. When very good. calmly. These were usually short 5 to 10 minute conversations. clearly. A long time ago in one of the practical parts of my education. I was lucky if I could remember 70%. and skill we can muster. focus. . I had to write down “verbatims” of conversations with patients.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE If you have not said it out loud. That is why things are so often repeated in important conversations. relatives because they did not hear or remember what was said? How often have you not heard what the other said? 95 . 4 or 5 times. carefully. that is recount the whole conversation. family. you have not said it. For the most part we take in 30% to 60% of what it being said. Is it any wonder we often misunderstand each other? How often are there fights with your spouse. How often when you are supposed to be listening are you waiting for your turn to speak and thinking about what you are going to say? Guess what? The person you are talking to and you hope is listening to you . may be doing the very same thing.
but then with a little help she realized she had let her friend work harder on her problem. . as you are helping make the person with the problem dependent on you. To be sure at times this is not all that obvious or clear. Lydia struggled some more and did find a job. on his or her problem? 96 . to become independent and self-sufficient. but as time went on her friend realized she was working hard. Her good friend gave her a lot of moral and financial support. consider limiting your help . Unless you intend to make the problem your very own and return to help each and every time. as any parent who has helped their children knows. Lydia was upset and there were a few tears. Lydia lost her job through of no fault of her own and was struggling to survive. so she backed off. when real help would be to do less? Have you ever confronted. We often help children too much. you are not helping to solve the problem anywhere near as much. to being a helper. If you work too hard solving another’s problem. rather than let them struggle to learn and grow. and Lydia was just drifting and not trying that hard to find a job.Dr. Have you helped too much. someone who needs to make more effort than you are. You make it even harder for the person to solve the problem in a solid and lasting way. JACk ELLIoTT Never work harder on the other’s problem than the person who has the problem does. . or do you need to.
or would it make it much harder? The fact is each of us needs. but they will never grow up if you bail them out of every problem. or need to help. feel good. deserves to be an independent functioning human being. just a little too much? 97 .SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Don’t over function. Do you have relationships where you do too much? Why? Do you think they might eventually do as well or better if you stepped back a little? Do you enjoy. It is the story of doing something to help the baby birds in the nest. This is stating the same thing as above in a slightly different way. . There is a handicapped bagger at our local grocery store. You will drive mother away and babies will die. and there are times when a customer could “help” and it would make it easier for him . Even your spouse will start to wither if you over function in your care and even in your love. Your children may not die. .
. Anyone who tries to deny this and act as if they didn’t really need anyone else in order to live is a fool . . . . without which you would not survive for long. We are all interdependent and dependent on each other. survival on? Who around you. . JACk ELLIoTT We don’t own our own life. We owe our lives to those around us.Dr. is the list long enough for you to get the point? Even with the toughest. the traffic crossing guard . and gas stations and moves on to the offices of doctors. meanest. lawyers (yes. . . then sit back and think about your growing up and teachers. . success. newspapers. indeed you probably would not survive for long without them. It starts with grocery stores. there is in a web of connections past. . . There is no such thing as being independent. what nonsense! Who do you owe part of your well being. . pharmacies. present and future . . family and relatives. whatever . don’t forget the police and firefighters . Here is a short list of those you are somewhat dependent on . . that has made your very survival possible. richest.TV . . neighbors . do you help do well or just keep afloat? What motivates you here? 98 . . . even lawyers).
or by giving them some ownership? Has it happened to you. Have you been able to bring opponents or adversaries around by making them part of the team. once you see it in print. where you have reversed your position because of positive involvement? 99 . I was the young rebel asking embarrassing questions. The first time elected to a board. However. Give people something to do and a little authority/responsibility and watch what happens. because that’s what is easy to do on the sidelines or bleachers of life. It should also be noted that not until much later did I realize what had happened which tells you how seductive and insidious this is. People are often critical. They went and put me in charge of something. until put in charge of something.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE People are often against it. This seems obvious. Much more efficient is to first consider how you might harness their energy to work for your cause. Before long I went from being one of the rebels to part of the establishment. consider how often your first reaction is to consider people who are against something you are in favor of as the opposition. I had been co-opted and didn’t even realize it.
that is try to change them. JACk ELLIoTT Never try to separate people from their neurosis. She went on to fly a lot. I on the other hand. as the two of us talked quietly over dinner. agreed with Ceil and told her she was right and that planes were dangerous and even though a lot people flew it was still scary. had a fear of flying and was quite neurotic about it. Later. others offered various good ideas on how to get over it .Dr. . For when you try to argue the other person out of position . which is their negative quirk. and so set her energy to the other non-defensive non-neurotic direction. their resistance hardens and you get caught up in their own quirky logic. . this just helped her to more clearly and firmly define and explain her neurosis. The more I tried to push her into her anxiety or neurosis the more than she realized she wanted to fly . Have you found yourself totally failing to help a person to get over an attitude or neurosis with your good words and logic? Who would be fun to push further into their neurotic ways? 100 . some of the group tried to reason with her. . but felt very fragile about the whole thing. . . Push them into it. Well. I was at a dinner party sitting next to a friend who I discovered. I did not try to deny her feelings or immediately try to get her unstuck from them. she told me how she realized the handicap of her attitude and was trying to change. . It is more fun and produces more positive results when you push the person into their neurosis.
usually this is some kind of mental one. As we talked about this. though it can be physical . no better and no worse. The aunt became much more polite. on their terms . no broken relationship. The person is functioning very well . . . who everybody catered to whenever the family gathered. many physical complaints. and you find yourself tip toeing around it because you don’t want to make it worse. but also does not want to get any worse. she got no response. There was no collapse. Stop and think about any person you know who has some chronic problem. After some huffing and puffing. Stop and think again. etc. Who do you need to push back at a little more rather than putting up with a little more? How are you helping to maintain the status quo of certain “problem” people? 101 . the way they are and so does not want to get any better. He told her in no uncertain terms that the rude remarks had to stop immediately or she was no longer welcome. . and weeping. The aunt also had a bad mouth about certain minorities.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE People have a vested interest in not getting any worse or any better. The conclusion here is that you can push back just a little harder than you think you can. one of which was seriously dating my friend’s daughter.You put up with it. the standard issue elderly widow aunt with the bad heart. if anything things improved a little. . They are in what is for them a comfort zone. . I told him his aunt had a vested interest in keeping things just the way they were. George has a relative. . and certainly do not have to put up with as much as you think you do. even though you and I and most of the world see them as sick or ill or having a problem of some kind that is a pain and heavy maintenance for everyone else. He decided to act.
It is easier to focus on the negative. their thoughts and feelings. no good. Two people talk about their lives.Dr. does not last long .What unites a lot of people is what they are against. country. Observe conversations. but it is very good and leads to all manner of growing. . the unresolved and the irritating in each other or in ourselves by changing the focus and energy to a third person. religion. all their energy on each other rather than turn and put it on a third party. This will give us something easier to agree and bond. . . the light. The negative truth here is that we can avoid the difficult and uncomfortable. for that requires no intimacy. rotten other . is what real intimacy is all about. People who focus on the other race. than it is to build positively among one’s own. JACk ELLIoTT Intimacy is how long you talk to each other without talking about a third person. It is not easy . Stop and think about it and you will realize that this is true individually and in larger groups of most every size right up to nations. . They keep the focus. political party never solve anything! What do you think intimacy really is? How much do your relationships stand free and how much are they tied to third parties? 102 . This is a secret to play with. See how the focus is on each other or does the conservation move to talking about someone else. See how long you can talk without bringing a third person into the conversation and you will discover what level of intimacy you have. This folks. . .
. yea. He told me other stories. . Have you ever lost control of a situation because you didn’t know what to do next? Have you ever kept control of a situation because you quickly changed approaches? 103 . The same is true for you living your life. The teacher who has a lot of different ways of teaching the lesson always has more control over the students.What impressed me the most was his great variety of approaches. .The one with the most variations in behavior is the one with the most control. .This is true for the surgeon. He tried to get them to put down their weapons and calm them down. some humorous but some had real danger and risk in them. the manager. Put another way you are going to be playing one tune on one instrument. the sales person. agree or disagree . the police. . A veteran police officer once told me that the scariest calls were domestic disputes. the list goes on and on . . the factory manager. . . He would be the older brother or younger brother. with mace. One time there was a couple. emotional. . . it went on and on. life is going to be black and white and rather flat with walls you run into now and then. because he was never out of variations to deal with whatever came up. Sometimes he was the stereotypical tough cop. . I shot them . . the more variations they have in their bag of skills the more control they have in doing their job. detached. the firefighters . . the musician. If all you can say is yes or no. right or wrong. . . . other times the good cop and other variations .SECrETS For A GooD LIFE The more variations the more control. . He always maintained control. No?! . What did you do? . kind. moms and dads. . Then all of sudden they turned on him for interfering. one holding a baseball bat and the other a very big knife. the parent or grandparent . caring. .
The major difference between adults and young people is the amount of combat experiences. and thought when I’m out of school . . JACk ELLIoTT There are no grownups! When I was very young. need for love and praise. . At the age of silver hair and the ability to look very wise and grown up .Dr. . no matter how much others seem to be so mature. . but very rare. you know what happened. I find there still aren’t any grown ups. they are still children playing at being grown ups. and a few other basic things that we received or lacked as children. . When was the last time. competition. and education they have. . I’ll be able to do whatever I want . in control and grown up . Then I was a teenager. The truth is we all struggle with the insecurity. All of which affords them the opportunity to think they are adults. . . complexity. I will be a grownup. But relax! It is ok . you felt like you were still a child? How many others in your life seem really grown up. everything will be great. all the time? 104 . well maybe a few. deep inside. Well. I’ll be free. . I thought when I’m big. . vocabulary.
at least that is what happened to ancient Greeks bringing messages of defeat back to their home cities.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE The envelope is often more important than the message. the dress. . . the envelope in which the core message is delivered. the building. rabbis and imams know the truth of this. etc . It was famous some years ago . If the message were really and truly more important than the envelope then there would be far fewer divisions in any religion. priests. A challenge or put down or a friendly expression of concern often depends on the emotional envelope that it is delivered in. . . all that stuff is only the wrapping. Are you aware that “your message” is often judged by “your envelope”? When you have to criticize do you begin with something positive? When going somewhere important are you careful to dress appropriately? 105 . . then you may very carefully deliver a message that is less than positive. the style of ritual. the medium is the message. Deliver the message in the wrong envelope and you may get killed. If you are warm and friendly and have first established a positive relationship. . the brand. Pastors. What is done is not as important as the way something is done. People are always paying more attention and putting more value on the envelope .
once or twice I tried to point out to him that he obviously did not know. .You may be trying to rescue the person from any number of things . receptive. but that Grandpa would like to help him. they will not hear your message. . . This is a very important secret to learn and make a basic tool in life and all relationships. when he asked. friends. . your very best friend from something disastrous. You know what happened. Quickly I learned to wait until he was moving toward me . a spouse from destructive behavior . It doesn’t matter . . a diabetic from eating too much . The same goes on with husbands and wives. Well. the person is not going to hear you very well. As long as you are pursuing the other person. So don’t “say” anything important until you are sure they are “coming toward you”. .Dr. when he showed interest. because you were focused in a different direction or mind set? 106 . The phrase that often came out of his mouth in response to almost anything was I know. trusting frame of mind and emotion. and everyone else. . My grandson at the advanced age of seven worked hard to be independent. . unless and until they are coming toward you. a parent from losing self control with their children . if at all. .They must be in an open. . . JACk ELLIoTT People only hear you when they are moving toward you. . no matter how well you state it. it got nowhere. then he could hear me. drinking too much . non-defensive. for whatever reason. . Have you ever told someone something important only to realize later you were not heard at all? Have you ever not heard what was being told to you. .
or anyone zealous about most any cause? I have a brother-in-law.The next secret is essentially the same. or even sports. .You are not going to win and since they know this.The thought that I might convert him to some small part of the truth that lies between the extremes is pure foolishness on my part. never try to baptize a cat. only to realize the person was not going to hear anything you had to say? Have you ever come away from a “discussion” feeling irritated.D. earned a Ph. or to teenagers about anything. they love wrestling in the mud. Have you ever spent time trying to get someone to at least see your point of view.Worse than that we end up in an argument that is irritating and offensive .SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Never try to baptize a cat. you see . we think is very good . politics. . . only to be rejected and with a vehemence.. It wastes your time and annoys the pig. all in all a smart erudite fellow who has experience and knows a lot and is a delight to talk to and debate various issues. How often do we try to tell someone something. . There are two reasons: one. He is more conservative than Charlemagne. 107 . Art doesn’t hear a thing. you will get dirty and two. Ever try to give good advice to young parents about their children. It is very hard to argue with someone who is really prejudiced . because you had wasted time talking to someone who could not hear? Never try to teach a pig to sing. . But get to politics and it is just not worth talking at all. be it about race. the pig loves it. . . . born and reared in New York City. Never get in a mud wrestling contest with a pig. enjoyed a good career in a major corporation . it just depends which image will come to mind when this is about to happen. but I had to put it in because so many have not heard it and the image is so very good. . . I know this is an old one. that catches us by surprise. There are two reasons: you are going to get scratched and the cat is not going to get baptized. gender.
JACk ELLIoTT You don’t have to be right. and energy is not wasted in covering up or excuse making . Look at the history of various corporations from the standpoint of their tolerance for mistakes and further of encouraging or discouraging mistakes. and 108 . I’ve just found 10. This is true about my wife. until he finally reached success. . and a lot of other people who somehow have learned that I am not always right. Either you are taking no risks or you are really missing something. On a personal level. it has not limited our relationship but rather made it like fine wine. even when you are wrong. Time. . if you don’t you’ll never hit a run. because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward . Wonder of wonders. job loss. I have not failed. and you will discover that many of the companies that have lasted the longest are those that have a culture and climate wherein you don’t have to be right all the time. wars. somehow you have been programmed wrong. Go ahead make a mistake. let alone a home run. Another way to see the truth and value of this secret is to consider how often relationships become severely limited because one or the other had to be right. Worse. still a good person. . . . money. He said: I am not discouraged. if you really feel you have to be right .You are still ok. . You are missing something. In fact if you are right too much.You do not have to be right. . Loss of friendship. something is wrong.000 ways that won’t work.Dr. take a swing even if you might miss . I have learned the same about them. my daughter. divorces. my parents. my son. not to mention the complex political maneuvering that goes on where everyone must appear to be right or at the very least not to be wrong. true acceptance and value of another human being in any kind of relationship only happens when you and the other person in the relationship does not have to be right all the time. and many were stories of failure after failure. Thomas Edison made this remark about his many inventions. because you will never really taste anything if you are waiting until it is neither too hot nor too cold. .
only to realize later that you were missing opportunities? 109 . . Have you ever missed an opportunity because it didn’t look like success? Have you ever felt satisfied with how things were. so perhaps being right is not quite as important as we tend to think. .SECrETS For A GooD LIFE who knows what else happen because one or the other has to be right .
but articulate in word and deed the ideals that they would have their children to follow. Have you ever found yourself micro-managing instead of being the leader? Have you ever had bosses that were not leaders. but he was truly a great leader.Dr. but only managers? 110 . nor did he have the kind of charisma often associated with leaders. Leadership is not about control any more than a leader is the one who makes all the decisions or has his or her own way in everything. He brought together a wide array of leaders of nations and armies and led them successfully in WWII by making as few decisions as possible. They make as few decisions as possible. They don’t make all the decisions for their children. and then to carry the flag out in front in order to provide direction as well as the courage to be the target. Good parents do the same with their children. The inherent nature of making a lot of decisions is that people are being controlled and told what to do rather than led. JACk ELLIoTT A good leader makes as few decisions as possible. Leadership has to do with the ability to articulate the vision. General Dwight Eisenhower was not a brilliant strategist.
We raised the threshold of pain by adding a few more hours of math each week. . . as opposed to trying to avoid. Instead of making excuses or letting them limp through. We would like to protect our children and those we care about from all pain. we got them tutors. Have you found yourself sugar coating some things to “help” make it easier? Have you ever increased the pressure to help someone grow through the pain? Which has helped you more in life. until they got it. We will help them more if we help them deal with pain. It you want to mature or help someone else mature .SECrETS For A GooD LIFE The way to deal with pain: increase the threshold not the comfort level. Today our son is a professional engineer with no small amount of math skills. rather than run from it or sugar coat it. increase the threshold for pain . not escape from pain. Everyone encounters pain. Both of our children struggled with math in high school. going right through the pain or escaping it? 111 . . we do better to teach them how to handle pain. escape or put some kind of sugar on whatever is causing the pain. and our daughter is in the corporate world with an analytical foundation in planning. . But if we really love them.
. if you will: if you only have enough data. you will often be successful and certainly move forward in life . I told him to buy it instantly. . What the repair costs would be? What was the history of the car? He is sorry to this day that he didn’t just grab it. until we have vast data junkyards. low mileage. You have enough facts! What you must work on is decision-making skills more than data accumulation skills.Dr. Data is perhaps the most insidious and pernicious form of substance abuse. if you focus on using the skills and experience that you do have. and so goes the endless effort for more data. knowledge and thinking? 112 . you can make the right decision. be effective. JACk ELLIoTT You don’t need any more data. how much do you rely on accumulating data and how much on your own experience. know the truth. It needed mechanical work. He found an absolutely gorgeous 1966 Mustang convertible in great shape. you will always be inadequate. but he needed more data. . However. more facts . If you focus on having more data as the way to make decisions. and full of factory options. and out of the safe harbors of inaction. then you will not only be adequate. He lost to someone who could make a decision without needing more and more data. Have you missed any great chances because you needed more data? When you make decisions. . Here is the trap or addiction. but that was reflected in a price that bordered on stealing.
. . One of men stood up. for when you put up with it. . gambling. and to stop or get out. . . Suddenly. will do little if anything to help. physical. . I found myself on my feet. you support the abuse. They were quiet and sullen and left soon after . booze. mental . . The staff was intimidated and did nothing. all the complex sad excuse stories. . but it is . . This should not be a secret. The only way to stop it is to stop putting up with it. we feel the same way! He sat down. You make it successful. . . even after several requests from various patrons. Is there some place in your life where you need to stop putting up with abuse or help someone else stop putting up with abuse? 113 . . very large and menacing and said oh yeah? I was in trouble. but sometimes in life only slamming on the brakes . unless and until one simply and absolutely stops putting up with it. There are no exceptions! Sorry. . my chair knocked over and telling them in a firm voice that they were an offense to America. drugs.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE The only way to stop abuse: is to stop putting up with it! You need to stop talking that way or get out now! Two young couples at a nearby table in a lovely Caribbean resort were drunk and talking in a loud and very vulgar manner. and I was a hero and had my 15 minutes of fame for not putting up with abuse. . no . if not death. . It doesn’t matter what the abuse is . If you are not at zero tolerance then you are supporting it! All the rationalizing. the screeching and burning of the emergency brakes will save a life from a bad accident. to the families dining . within the next few seconds a dozen other men in the room stood up and said . . . . maybe I should have put up with it .
that a story or picture might help? 114 . . In the beginning of Alice in Wonderland the author. . especially if it has a critical edge. It is a lot more fun and playful . . People are open to and remember stories a lot better than they remember sermons or advice. Give examples. . JACk ELLIoTT Tell stories. This reduces defensiveness and avoids conflicts. A very interesting thought . we all do much better with the conversations and pictures that stories create. and Lord knows . .Dr. we all need more of that! Have you ever tried to teach someone something by using stories? What are you having a difficult time teaching or learning. . Lewis Carroll says what good is a book without conversations and pictures.
. It sounds positive. a nice outfit. . like efficiency experts . well. The first few times in my life when I was chairing a meeting I was very efficient. . The secret inside the secret is that a great deal of delight. .Yes. we all want to be energy efficient. smallest? Consider the idea that efficiency .SECrETS For A GooD LIFE There is no such thing as efficiency. It took me a couple meetings to learn that while “efficiency” was important. . Or perhaps efficiency has to do with success. Do you view being efficient as the best way to do some things? Now reconsider these things and ask yourself . Efficiency is usually all about time and cost. . Most of life should be lived outside those parameters. efficiency. is found in doing things with more time and more cost. got all the business done and adjourned 40 minutes early. . which everyone approved. I kept learning and ran much better meetings. . are most always about cutting costs and time. I’m not so sure. . if not happiness and peace. stuck to it. Isn’t it a great word. something to be proud of . whatever that means. . I had a good agenda. The most successful way to do something is what? Is it the cheapest. is being efficient the way I want to do things? 115 . What makes something efficient? Is it usually taking less time or costing less. Farmers and factories seek efficient production. powerful. a date with the spouse you have been married to for so many years . least time. . it was equally important to waste some time in general talking and a little wandering off the subject. . Examples abound: a good meal. I picked up my papers and walked out of the meeting room to find almost everyone standing around talking. fastest. and I am seeking an efficient way to paint a wall .
rather savor it. At last. I’m not pregnant. wherein you have to get through the work. . It continues well past the time when the children grow up and get married and have children of their own. It’s just a turn in the road . How often are you going through the day simply trying to get through the list of things to do? How often is a conversation or meeting driven by an agenda rather than by what is really important? 116 . What about slowing down and enjoying wherever you are in life a little more and not worrying about how long whatever it is takes or what is happening next . JACk ELLIoTT There is no finish line. the journey continues. . There is no finish line. even if it is at a distance. You still care and fret and worry.To think in terms of finish lines is a form of agenda anxiety. .Dr. . It’s like the woman thinking she had reached the finish line when she finally had a baby. The secret is that there are very few finish lines in life.
peace . was compressing my spine and started walking instead and have lived happily ever after . if not fun? 117 . guilt or obligation only but not having any fun or even much satisfaction? What are you enduring in life. happiness. superficial. which are not fun. Another more recent example . or lazy. a good friend walked into my office for a moment. or even painful. I’m talking about how very important it is to do the things in life that bring joy. . which it turned out. We all have to do things. What things are you doing out of duty. indulgent. I got up the fourth day and my back didn’t hurt and I had slept well. Don’t miss the point here. Then it got harder and harder and there were more aches and pains . Why am I doing this? I gave up jogging. more or less. which are sometimes difficult. I would have liked to have gone with him to lunch and an interesting chore he had to do in a nearby town. . . if any value. indeed. Instead I went to a monthly meeting that is always boring and of marginal. . Life is too short and happiness too precious to be considered not worthy of being a priority.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE If you are not having fun why are you still doing it? I used to drag my body out of bed early each morning to go jogging with a friend (younger!) and it was great. . you choose the word. I am not talking about being selfish. as I write these words. Now. . until one week when it rained so hard we couldn’t go jogging for three days. . . I realize I am going to miss more of those meetings. that you might consider making some kind of adjustment to make more pleasant.
. dying and grief. tension. death. . it is also very helpful in coping with pain. with the big winnings I would have to take care of some things for him. stop and think about why you don’t. they need to take the pressure off and humor does that. Playfulness is the best antidote to anxiety. Have you ever been jolted out of your too seriousness by humor? When and where do you use humor to take the edge off things? (If you don’t . suffering. The reason is simple. he hasn’t sent me any numbers. No matter how serious you think life and your situation is . . Confronted often with what is overwhelmingly serious or sad . it gave us some smiles. With a smile promised to send me the winning lotto numbers after he died. . The humor and playfulness helped. . It was asbestos cancer and he knew all about it and kept in good humor. there is still a need for lightening up in order to be able to move on in life.Dr. What is more. The other reason for asking the question why so serious is to re-establish some balance in life. nurses.) 118 . JACk ELLIoTT Why so serious? Bob was dying and he knew it. yet. . and even after he died there was some joking about it . . and depression. and in fact it really is . are known to have a rather strange macabre sense of humor that they share only with their own. However. . even clergy sometimes. . You may or may not know that police. make some humorous “bring a smile and lightness” in the midst of the dark situation. . physicians. I am no longer surprised when I hear someone who is dying or suffering from something ugly and without much hope instead of weeping and wailing. even through the tears. Oh.
if it is all in a few stocks you may understand this already. . How diverse is your circle of friends? Do you know and interact with different parts of the political spectrum? or does your understanding only grow by what you are already sure of? 119 . Listen to just one or two people in life. the dynamic can become even worse. . There often is a history of tension and civil war. The ecosystem that contains 100 different species has more stability than one with only three or four species. Consider countries where there are only two or three ethnic groups. Or. three different kinds and a triangle. This is a very profound secret for it is true in so many places. The more the mix. Where one ethnic or racial group is clearly a minority. consider your investment portfolio . Eat a variety of foods and your chances of health are better. If there are only two different kinds there will be polarization. the more stable. four and stability begins. and you may have a very narrow view that is out of touch with a lot of people and so end up lacking in social stability. As soon as one predominates it tries to take over and there is no stability.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Stability is found in diversity.
visit. He told his dad how lonely he was.When he told me the story. Bill took his father’s advice and made many friends. If you move through life unaware. Thus. The hard part of this secret is that you have to have your radar working all the time. a life long salesman. 500 miles from home and everyone he knew. easy to dismiss as marginal at best. . We all know that a lot of contacts. Do you go right by or stop to acknowledge those you pass by in life? Have you experienced people moving past or ignoring you. . he told this story to her and their five children many years later. Interestingly enough. for the person who knows the value and truth of this secret. He told him to walk the mile and half to work whenever he could. JACk ELLIoTT There is no such thing as an irrelevant contact. . His dad. not to mention the gentle happiness and peace it produces. . at times you will bump into or move past people and events that may be much more interesting and valuable than you first think . and calls are social and superficial . relationships are established. The woman he married was because of his father’s advice.Dr. visits. more enjoyable and even at times surprisingly successful. a bridge is built. turned his son around. to smile and say hello to everyone along the way. After awhile they all piece together. when they could have been friendly or polite in some simple greeting? 120 . or call. life is fuller. It was Harry’s first job out of school. This is not just a secret that good sales people know. information shared. I told him it was a great story to be shared often. to connect with the world around him.
while still others hide it with a superiority complex. Enough other people will. Look at the reviews of a movie you have just seen and enjoyed. This is true even with the blockbusters that everyone likes. . . Some people let it leak out to the surface where others can see it . careful. Deep inside.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Don’t beat yourself up. Are you your own best critic? Do you have a good degree of honest self-understanding? Do you have a good sense of your own positive value? 121 . Most important is to be your own gentle critic and rely on the judgment of others in a limited. Take note how some critics will agree with you and others who are so picky and negative one is unsure they really watched the same movie. Don’t let other people beat you up. I suspect we all are a little insecure. controlled way. you will beat yourself up enough.
Dr. we must define empathy. Empathy is a counterfeit emotion. So there I was. . It first showed up as a human relationship concept in the 1970s version. trying to keep the peace and be the intermediary. The previous encounter had left her physically sick. Empathy was not in the original Oxford English Dictionary published in 1932. . now failed. . Her ex-husband was outside with a u-haul ready to take the last of the furniture on the list they had agreed upon was his. It had been a nasty time and Vivien admitted she didn’t think this was going to upset her so much. to truly encourage them. To challenge a person is to call for his or her very best . logical. It is more helpful to focus on responsibility than empathy. rather than empathize with their terrible plight and how unfair it is. . If you use empathy instead of encouragement. She stood in the kitchen weeping quietly. you jump in with them and wallow there with them. It supports codependency and has the danger of making the other’s anxiety one’s own. you do not help the person climb out of the pit. I responded that no it would happen again and she needed to be strong and deal with it. where it is defined as the capacity for participating in the feelings or ideas of others. Then I told her I was looking for an example to put in my book about challenge being better than empathy and she was the story. Challenge worked . which she already realized was nonsense. . . It is a terrible thing that there is so much prejudice because of skin color . but positive challenge I knew about. and 122 . . First. well at least this is the last time this will happen. She was a research scientist with a lot of degrees. She did not need any empathy. Few of her friends had a clue what she had been through and neither did I. and even with two great supportive kids. I also suspect that those who challenge are more in touch with what real help and support will be . very smart. encouraging her to be the best is better than telling her you feel for how hurt she is. . referring to being so distraught. She said to me. but one does a lot more when one challenges a person of color to be all they can be. which is like trying to nail Jell-O to a wall. but feeling very insecure and hurt after years of marriage. JACk ELLIoTT Challenge is better than empathy.
SECrETS For A GooD LIFE further. that they are more apt to be clean of any latent paternalism or prejudice. since to challenge is to call the person to be equal or better than oneself. Do you try to experience what they are experiencing? or do you try to express concern for the person in terms of challenge? Have you ever challenged a person to rise up and overcome and do better. when it would have been easier just to express a little “empathy”? 123 .
Dr. JACk ELLIoTT
Don’t give advice. Ask questions.
I’ve done it when I just wasn’t sure there was any right advice to give or when the person was so reactionary or sure of everything that only questions would help or at least have a possibility of helping. I would spend the whole conversation asking questions, checking about what I had heard, and asking more questions. The amazing thing was that every time the person was very appreciative for the help I had given and did not realize that all I did was ask questions. Try very hard not to give advice . . . not to your children, your spouse, parents, clients . . . they’re going to hate you and do the opposite. It is much better to ask questions; and, by the way, ask real questions, not cleverly disguised editorials. It is not so easy. If you absolutely have to give some answers, then assume the role of coach. After all, they are playing the game not you.
Do you realize that almost everyone likes to answer questions about themselves? (This is not so much ego as it is basic sense of being valuable) Pick a situation and ask yourself, which will have more power, giving advice or asking question?
SECrETS For A GooD LIFE
Healing always starts within the person.
Years ago in the early seventies, two elderly women in much the same health broke their hips. This happened in the early days of hip replacement. I watched one struggle through the pain and rehab and a year later was totally healed. The other woman spent the rest of her life using a walker and wheelchair. She expected healing to come from some place other than herself. No matter what kind of medicine, surgery, therapy, pain, suffering, or injury you undergo . . . your healing starts from within yourself. At best, the outside efforts can only “jump start” or encourage and facilitate healing.
Have you ever just waited for things to get better with no effort of your own? Have you ever done the opposite, not waited but did something to start healing? Are there ways you might apply this now?
Dr. JACk ELLIoTT
Try harder? No! Try softer.
The story goes something like this. The person asked the master how long it would take to learn. The master replied, “ten years.” The person responded, “If I try harder?” The master was quiet for a moment and then said, “Twenty years, for when one eye is fixed on finish line, only one eye left to find the way.” You do not have to try harder nearly as often as you need to try softer.There is a balance in life between speaking loudly and speaking softly, between getting attention and being unnoticed, between competing and cooperating, and hurrying and slowing down . . . and clearly in our world . . . trying softer is a secret.
Have you ever stopped right in the middle of something realizing that you needed to stop trying so hard? Can you think of a time when you realized you needed to try softer?
SECrETS For A GooD LIFE
Life is a symphony, not a solo.
This secret can be illustrated simply and without explanation to: the basketball team, your wonderful teenage children, the choir, your soul mate or best friend, the gathered family at the holidays or holy days. My wife’s recent family reunion is a good example. She is part of a family of six children, whose ages now range from 78 to 66.They shared all manner of stories, bringing laughter and tears about how very much they are connected. They hear the symphony. Life at its very best is when the music in our soul blends with others. The metaphor which will hold up best is that of a symphony, though at times in life the similar metaphors that may work better could be a jazz band, rock group or even a marching band . . . but rarely if ever, just one instrument for very long. To be sure there are times when most all of us need to be alone . . . a quiet flute playing by the stream or a guitar strumming gently deep in the woods or high on a mountain side, but finally the most beautiful music comes when the solo is combined with other instruments. So it is with most all of life.
Can you remember times when you came face to face with the fact that you could not make in all on your own? Can you remembers times when you did make it all on your own, but knew something was missing by not sharing or including others?
Dr. JACk ELLIoTT
If you don’t like yourself, you can’t like anyone else.
He was the class bully. No one liked him, but he had his circle of followers. Then a new kid, sort of skinny, joined the class. The first time the bully started pushing Johnny around, the new kid fought back and held his own. The fight was stopped and the teachers made them apologize to each other and talk to each other. They lived close to each other, the new kid asked questions, the bully was amazed someone was asking him normal questions . . . long story short, the bully made a friend, and not too much later he was no longer the class bully. If you don’t love yourself, you can’t really love anyone else. Why is this an important secret? It will help you unlock the key to dealing with some of the grumps, professional critics, and negative fools, not to mention perhaps a few relatives. What all the books say is that you can only love others to the extent you love yourself, which is why it says in a number of sacred writings in a number of ways . . . you shall love your neighbor as yourself. Now we could get into a long paragraph about positive thinking, a good self-image etc . . . but let’s keep it simple and practical. If you don’t like yourself then the most you can feel about others is envy or admiration.To like a person is very simply to identify and value some of their characteristics and values. If you don’t value anything about yourself you are going to have a hard time with others. If you are well adjusted and don’t need this for yourself use it to better understand those around you who are struggling.
What do you like about yourself? What don’t you like? How does all this determine and affect your friendships?
SECrETS For A GooD LIFE
You don’t have to conquer to win, just outlast them.
Years ago as I started a new job, there was a flurry of negative reactions as I made some long needed changes. It was a stormy and difficult time, and there were those who wanted me out. I kept doing my job, worked hard, tried not to be defensive. On one occasion I was taken out to lunch by a couple of the old guard and told I was unhappy and probably wanted to move on. My reply was actually I am very happy and have no intention of leaving. Sad to say, lo, these many years later . . . one of the old guard left and the other stayed and became a good friend and counsel. More than that, few remember the names of those who were clinging to their own power, prestige, or purposes. Sometimes we would do well by just trying to do well and not directly engage the opposition. The opposition may be the enemy, the administration, the competition, the neighbors, or even some of our relations. Life always seems to be about victory through battles or who wins and who loses. Sometimes to win is to do what you believe in, what you think is right, to be good and fair . . . you will come to realize that a lot of the behavior of others can be outlasted. Now anyone who knows about seniority or tenure understands this.We do well to remember that those who have the immediate and obvious power are not always going to be the ones that stay or bring about any kind of lasting change or value. I have heard the remark from teachers of elementary schools and professors in colleges, who say the same thing . . . teachers will be here long after the administration has changed and parents and students have moved on.
Have you ever had this experience of outlasting the bad guys? Are you in this situation now, where victory and vindication will only come by patiently working and doing what is right rather than engaging in combat?
Dr. JACk ELLIoTT
Remember King Pyrrhus!
King Pyrrhus almost beat Rome in 280 BC except for the fact that after winning two battles in a row his army was almost completely destroyed and so he lost the war. So now we have the term a pyrrhic victory that has been used to describe those times when one wins, but the victory is so costly that all is lost. Friends, marriages, families, companies experience this as well as generals. Every now and then, the other army wins, or the politicians change the rules and you aren’t allowed to win. So, when you are done playing with this imagery . . . consider in your own life how much you really want to play win-lose . . . especially when there are grand alternatives, such as win-win. We all know there is a place for win-lose, but it is vastly over-rated and over-extended in life. For even in private enterprise and our somewhat free market economy, cooperation, there is often a greater driving force for profit than win-lose.
Have you ever been frustrated when you found yourself in a win-lose situation, knowing that there were better ways to find solutions? Have you ever won with such force that you knew you had lost as well?
SECrETS For A GooD LIFE
Defect in place.
If I had the time, I’d have a nervous breakdown . . . But you don’t have the time, I responded to the very successful businesswoman, mother, and wife, not to mention community activist. Too many people were making too many demands on her: to solve their problems, take care of their “urgent” needs or just hold their hand to calm them down. So I told her to defect in place. She got it, did so, and not too much later had her life and relationships back in balance, or close to balance. When you defect in place, you pull your self out emotionally.You die without dying.You stop over functioning, that is you stop taking responsibility for everyone and everything. Instead, you become hopeless, and others have to reassure you. Slowly but surely others start to function and be responsible themselves rather than turn to you. Then come changes you never thought could happen without your own major effort and energy. This is much more powerful than quitting. It is better to err in this direction . . . that is, do not quit church, marriage, job, friendship, whatever . . . simply defect in place.You do not have to fight, control, react, bleed, cry . . . whatever you are doing. Strive for the calm that comes from quitting, but without telling anyone you quit, and without walking away. You will be more able to open your mind, heart, spirit to whatever has been going on that has been such a struggle. Once you decide you don’t have to win or lose . . . you can live with some internal peace . . . and you will be amazed at how wise you feel. The wisdom is that of putting down your sword and shield to use your energy to better perceive and understand. As the storm swirls around you the sense of peace is what you will feel. You will still be standing when much else has worn out and fallen by the way.
Have you ever wanted to get hurt or sick, not too much, but just enough so that others would have to take care of you instead of you taking care of them? What do you do when you are overloaded with work and responsibility and those around you are letting you do part of their work as well?
Dr. JACk ELLIoTT
Everyone is bigger than you think. Everyone is smaller than you think.
He was a long time drinking buddy, interesting, funny, helped when needed, but quite prejudiced about almost anyone different. A lesbian couple moved into the apartment below his, and he made any number of crude off color remarks about them. Gary got to know them a little and was polite and neighborly. Then it happened, one of them was diagnosed with life threatening cancer. He helped them however he could, drove her to chemo treatments, did shopping for them when needed, and his tears welled up at her funeral. One never ceases to be amazed or delighted when experiencing the truth of this. We read an embarrassing detail about some famous person being all too human, even dumb; then, talk to the janitor or car mechanic and hear something profoundly wise. So for a while afterwards, we look at everyone a little differently. This would be the place to put in some story about a great leader being petty or an unskilled laborer being so wise . . . the truth is you will encounter this all the time if you open your eyes and ears to equal opportunity smallness and greatness.
Have you experienced someone acting small And found yourself being judgmental about them? Have you experienced someone behaving bigger and better and re-judged him or her?
SECrETS For A GooD LIFE
Cut off people don’t heal.
I walked into the semi-private hospital room to visit my long time friend Bill. He wasn’t there but the other person, about the same age and with the same problem said Bill would be back in just awhile. So I sat in the chair and talked to the stranger. Mike had been there for a while and wasn’t doing well. No one visited him, for his family was full of soap opera stuff and totally dysfunctional and disconnected. He really didn’t care much about getting better for there were no positive pulls on his life. He was cut off. We became friends. I told him to come to church when he got out because we had really good coffee hours and the service never ran late! He did heal, came to church, made more friends, and reminded me every time I saw him of the importance and blessing of friendship. A person can be cut off, that is disconnected, from others in a lot of ways. There is a theory that says anyone with cancer has some cut off, some disconnection in his or her life. I don’t know if this is so much true as it is a contributing factor. It is worth pondering, especially as it relates to healing, both from an internal and external basis. Relationship is necessary to healing. If you promote real relationship you are a bona-fide, honest to God healer!
Have you ever had a problem that you had all alone, and so found it more difficult to solve? Have you ever observed others, cut off from others, for whatever reason, having a hard time because of this? Have you ever been cut off from others and lost the sense of health, healing and peace that others bring?
SECRETS ABOUT TRUTh
Truth is what is true every time, every where, all the time!
The truth is that anyone who drinks alcohol and then drives knows with all the education today that they are driving what can be a lethal weapon, and may well injure or kill someone. If you drink and drive and kill someone, morally it is murder, not involuntary manslaughter. This is true always, everywhere, for everyone. Please don’t start making up or trying to find outrageous bizarre examples that will be the exception. We are talking about what is true, not a collection of marginally mitigating facts. Don’t like that example. How about politicians who get caught in a lie or tax evasion or accepting some kind of illegal gift and make all kinds of excuses, but never confess the truth: they lied, they cheated, they are crooked! Truth is not what is true for just male or female, rich or poor, educated or ignorant, this or that ethnic or racial group.Truth is what goes back to Adam and Eve and is still so anywhere at any time in the world. Today too often we are always qualifying the truth, which is most often more of making excuses than discovering truth. We are so overrun with studies and data, all of which give us not truth, but rather more facts, which may or may not contain truth. Also, we are so accustomed to things being made so palatable . . . like sugarcoated medicine for children . . . that we are offended, and think someone is rude or radical or rotten when they speak the truth simply and honestly.
Do you understand the important difference between facts and truth? What is the difference between telling the truth and telling the facts?
SECrETS For A GooD LIFE
Nothing said is more than 75% true!
The adult who had never had a child reacted to the behavior of a small tired child . . . what’s the matter with that child, and why are the parents putting up with it? In a whole different way, the mother of four responded, poor Billy, his cold and lack of sleep is catching up with him. Who is describing the truth? Both! This is also why any good leader, be it of the nation or corporation, knows how important it is to be surrounded by people who bring different perspectives. Everyone looks at reality and truth from their own position with their own eyes . . . and no one has 20-20 vision. We all see through different lenses that are tinted or tainted and may be near sighted or far sighted by the way we were brought up . . . the values we now hold . . . and even our own sense of understanding and faith in what the universe is all about.
Have you every suddenly or slowly realized you didn’t know the whole truth about something?? Have you every realized that someone else had only 75% of what was true because you knew some important part the other had missed?
. I suggested that if he didn’t think he could figure it all out by himself. Though when I asked if she really knew him.Dr. not as content or accepting as before. or ask questions that are not loaded with expectations . both close to retirement. what did you do this time? This is not really a question.You must ask new questions or ask from a different standpoint. Parents should also know this.Very often we are stuck because we are locked in an old and narrow path. the person at the podium may just say something that will make news. editorials. . Sometimes there aren’t any more new answers to old questions. and slowly getting back into good condition . . for if they do. and I certainly couldn’t do it for him. he thought for a moment and then said he wasn’t sure and thought for another moment and then said the truth is maybe I don’t know Alice completely or know myself or does anyone know really anyone. . New questions must be asked. Reporters know this and they also know how much hard work it is to find new questions. or adult propaganda. sort of a bucket list for living. He did and the conclusion of the story is that he got to know his wife again and discovered that with the children grown up and gone. to know rather than be ignorant. . he might try asking some questions. Every true explorer or discoverer of something new knows to do this. . We then talked about what real honest questions were. for asking a really good question without any angles. Bill had been married to Alice for over forty years and so thought he knew her. can sometimes bring all kinds of real communication and relationship. They kept asking questions and finding more about each other. finances secure. JACk ELLIoTT The truth is often found in the questions not the answers. Well. and to have things and people figured out. is it? Really 136 . as opposed to interrogating or cross-examining or some other thinly disguising accusatory questions. This is also a secret to getting unstuck from highly charged emotional issues. He had come in to talk because he said his wife was acting different. We all like to have answers. she had all sorts of things she wanted to do .
Sometimes you have to realize that you are not really asking questions but plowing old ground. clean open questions take some work and mental exercise to get good at. So ask a new question: I know we disagree on this. but what do you think would be the best plan? What do you think is the truth about smoking pot? What do you think about drinking and driving? What should be done? Is it possible that both sides have lost their way? How can we find the way back? 137 .SECrETS For A GooD LIFE good.
but if you will stop for a moment and think upon this. and the Almighty granted you absolute clear understanding of the truth . Imagine if you prayed to know the truth.Dr. or do you quit when you get to a good place for you in the truth? 138 . A lot of pages. For sure it would radically change your universe. of course. godlike understanding if you will. It might crush you with guilt or remorse or lift you up with angels. Do you think that you seek the full and complete truth very often. JACk ELLIoTT The most dangerous prayer is to ask for the truth.Worse. and that is that most of us think that what we know and believe is the truth. right after it changed the way you thought about yourself. if not books. it may take you places you have not been and give you insight you had not thought possible. It would change the way you looked at others. There is the other problem. could be written about this secret. . we do not stop to consider what hubris or arrogance it is to believe that we hold the truth. .
This is all about telling the truth. . Happy ending? You bet. naming the demon was what had to be done. But. awkward. but never naming the demon of eating too much too often and never exercising. There is a reason why alcohol at times has been called demon rum. not without a lot of tension. . but everyone walked around the issue either saying nothing or making excuses. . but a much closer. or do not realize the consequences or have been badly fooled. Often we would rather avoid disagreement or defensiveness or distancing that happens when we tell someone they are at risk. and this has to do with more than bad breath. or embarrassing to simply go along and say nothing. Know the truth. or are being abused in some way by others or themselves. body odor. being direct and honest when it is often much easier and less painful. . and trauma . when it became a demon in a person’s life and finally had to be named. this time . then the life threatening heart attack occurred and suddenly politeness and putting up with it was no longer the basis of relationship. Are there any large or small demons in others around you that haven’t been named? Do you have any demons that you have not been able to name? What demons have you named in others or in yourself? How? 139 .SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Name the demon! Alberta was overweight and it affected her health. There are demons of all sorts and it is only when they are named that they can be dealt with. Telling the truth. Tell the truth. tears. more caring family.
You’ve seen those lists of famous people that failed a lot such as Lincoln who lost most of his elections. or great writers who went through countless rejections. Thomas Edison’s teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything. Here is list of a few just to remind you. When a reporter asked. average people.” He was fired from his first two jobs for being “non-productive.” Beethoven handled the violin awkwardly and preferred playing his own compositions instead of improving his technique. It is also true for us normal. unsociable. “I didn’t fail 1. and adrift forever in foolish dreams. Jordan once observed.SECRETS ABOUT FAILURE You only fail when you have no failures.000 times?” Edison replied.000 steps. The light bulb was an invention with 1. His parents thought he was “sub-normal. “I’ve failed over and over again in my life.” Henry Ford failed and went broke five times before he succeeded. you know that he wrote some of his greatest symphonies while deaf.” As an inventor. “How did it feel to fail 1.000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. 140 . That is why I succeed.” And. His teacher called him “hopeless as a composer.” and one of his teachers described him as “mentally slow. of course.000 times. Our own greatness will only become possible when we are willing to take risks with the very real possibility and probability of failure. Michael Jordan and Bob Cousy were each cut from their high school basketball teams. Edison made 1.” Albert Einstein did not speak until he was 4-years-old and did not read until he was 7.
and fail to accomplish all that you might.To live is to take risks. to swing at the ball. to try the untried. then chances are that you will fail to be all that you have the potential to be. never take any risks . .SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Life is not meant to be risk free. . If you play life so carefully that you never fail. Are there places in life where you have failed where you might try again? Are there places in life where you have not tried for fear of failure that you might reconsider trying? 141 .
ultimately outstanding at his job. not who you are. you can apply that logic to any kind of failing . are not so much the lucky or the easily gifted. sports. both victories and failures. never mind the poor economy and the workforce being “downsized” everywhere. that is of very little importance. etc. JACk ELLIoTT Stop worrying about failure. Are there some failures in your life that you still worry about? Have you done anything about. worry about recovery. Sam is out of work and feels that he is a total failure. be it in business. but when all is said and done. some of us more often and some of us in bigger ways than others. if he were more politically astute. Well. does have value. The real difference between success and failure is found in recovery. It is recovering that will make the difference. because now he was in a recovery mode and with determination and the self-confidence needed. clever. Reflection on the past. Sure. but those who know how to recover. He then widened his search for work and found a lower entry job than he had before. He worries more about failure than about recovery. It took a few conversations to turn Sam around from looking at the past and the difference between what he did and who he was. We learn from our mistakes and from our successes. relationships. However. when in a failing mode.Dr. it is important to have your energy and focus more on how you are going to get up and work on recovery and future success. . he wouldn’t have “failed”. This did not bother him very much. or can you do something about recovery? 142 . Failing is about what you do. etc. Everybody fails now and then. Those who are successful in life. .
SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Failure isn’t final. . we went broke. You are the only one who can finally give up and be defeated. which has served me well through the years. but it never occurred to me that we were failures. failed on an immediate temporary basis. but you find that others have an entirely different view? 143 . . but the game isn’t over? Have you ever caught yourself here. Rather. When I got out of college I started a business with a friend and the help of a government loan. where you feel you are failure. . We did not survive very long. Have you ever told someone that they were not a failure. unless you ratify it. but it is only failure if you decide you are a failure. Yes. but it was such a learning experience that I never thought of it as failure. even a strikeout. it was something I tried. which unfortunately did not make me a millionaire at a young age. realized later the mistakes we had made. a swing and a miss. that they were viewing the whole thing wrong? A setback maybe . This doesn’t mean there aren’t times when you have been defeated . . It did give me some real combat experience in life.
as they tell the story. composer . . Mike worked hard at his job. The fastest way to turn around the feeling and fact of failure is to get help. The runner. Well. At first they could find no solution. not even the lonely long distance runner. Can you think of anything of substance in your life that you did all alone? Have you seen others fail because. get help! No one ever wins all alone. they didn’t get help . and a good reality check. do their job. . studied and learned from others . they have all had some kind of coaching . . Often failure is self-inflicted. JACk ELLIoTT Nobody makes it alone. . Marsha took care of their three children. soloist. long before any kind of proficiency or success. They each felt privately that they had to make it on their own. When you falter or fail. in whatever small way. coaching. or see it coming. look at it the same way. perspective. brought on in no small measure because we thought we could make it on our own and had 100% correct perspective on life. for whatever reason. and then it came to them: they would help each other however they could. so too speak. They share their story when they think it might help and I suspect have saved more than a few relationships. We all need help. Get help. kept a spotless house and all the other unnoticed stuff a wife and stay at home mom does. one day they were both weary and worn out with no light at the end of the tunnel. . Wrong! Getting help is not a sign of weakness. They both thought they had to make it alone . . When you fail. They shared this with each other in the midst of a minor fight and the floodgates opened. . . . taking extra hours whenever he had the opportunity. if only to share thoughts and feelings. swimmer.Dr. and would never ever again let either one think they had to make it on their own. or has this happened to you? 144 . . painter. fed everyone.
It was almost all his fault. but about her character and growing. but you still need to deal with your responsibility. Have you ever tried to blame others. This secret is valuable in a divorce or any other broken or frayed relationship. you will probably have to deal with that same small percentage of responsibility for pain and suffering again and again. had kids and sad to say after 20 years got a divorce. They married.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Character is not built on blame. . Your “ex” may really have been at fault and everyone agrees. it was not about weighing guilt or justice. Face what you did or didn’t do and what you can learn and what you can change and what you can do next. No bull. is how much belongs to you. even if it is a small percentage. I was surprised at first. would it be helpful to you personally and your character to do a little review? 145 . No excuses. but Jan came to me to talk about what mistakes she had made. The only person you can change in the world is yourself. If you do not. only later to realize that you needed to deal with your side instead of the other side? If you blame others for things in your life that have not gone well. No blame. I have two very dear friends who go back to college days. More important than how much of the responsibility for your failure belongs to someone else. . but then realized .
it most often is not a bullet but a flare lighting the darkness. . . I talked to each of them separately and discovered that their sexual relationship was poor and they were afraid to talk about it. . All of these and more can sooner or later destroy or make a relationship! The easiest and most successful counseling I do. and all they really need is permission or instruction to talk about the problem or issues at hand. They walked into my office the next week holding hands and saying they followed my instructions . manners. desire. The truth is you don’t have a bullet big enough! The truth is that when you have the courage to shoot your bullet . .You will be rejected and all will be lost. the problem/issue/concern/trouble. religion. afraid of rejection or failure. children. They loved each other. they needed to talk to each other. is when a couple or family comes in about whatever problem. . . How often are you afraid to bring up . . for the most part. or a myriad of quirky little annoying habits. but spend a half hour talking about it every evening. I told them they didn’t need to talk to me. . A long time ago a young couple came in with marriage problems. relatives. personal hygiene. How many other issues are there. speak about . . and come back next week. After very little further conversation. you do nothing. . . tell the person . . . . .Dr. Each of them thought it would destroy their relationship. attitude. Or you are afraid to express some need. idea or feeling of your own because it is too different from the other person. . . . 146 . that you do not bring up because you think you may fail. So. but things weren’t going well. . . . My instructions were they should not try sex for the next week. etc . they are on their way to becoming an alcoholic . . or their devotion to X Files is driving you crazy . deal with . . JACk ELLIoTT You don’t have a bullet big enough. If you are afraid that if you fire your bullet . their driving is dangerous . money. . tell the truth about . because you are afraid there will be a massive fire fight in which the relationship will be destroyed and you will end with complete failure. or think it might ruin the relationship: sex.
Can you think of things. . is there a possibility that it would really improve the person and your relationship? 147 . . drinking. or . table manners. knows you really care.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE There is a greater chance of helping the relationship grow rather than killing it. there will be tension. be it eating. for you are no longer supporting a bad habit with your silence and the other person. The most obvious is about confronting someone you care about with their excessive behavior. Yes. that you are holding back telling the person. large or small. . but there is also relief. bad language. underneath all the defense mechanisms. because you are afraid it will hurt the relationship? After hurting the person by telling. . denial and strife .
When the votes are in and you are on the losing side. Once. Knowing when to stop fighting or arguing in the face of that which will not be changed or overwhelmed. but the times you are willing to die or fail for a cause are very rare and should be carefully considered before hand. Where are you wasting your time and energy fighting a battle you cannot win or have lost long ago? Does it really feel that good to carry on so? Could you better argue somewhere else where you might have a chance of winning or of making a difference? 148 . I was tempted to stay and proclaim the truth but realized I would only be heard as ranting and raving and be ridiculed. and so the best I could do was remove myself as completely as possible. I quietly walked away from a group when I realized that it was bigoted and there was no chance that I could change it. No.Dr. we haven’t forgotten idealism or your own code of ethics and morals.. etc. will help you to avoid a lot of failure. They go out in snowstorms when they don’t need to. or drive through flooded roads that have clear warning signs not to drive through. even if you don’t like it. On a literal basis people do this all the time. JACk ELLIoTT Never argue with the weather. it is time to stop arguing and accept reality.There is something in human nature that sometimes is just plain contrary and dumb.
I can let economics make me feel good or bad . . realize that we are surrounded and enmeshed in the vast power grid of economics. The exception. is when you are poor. Now. secure or insecure .Then and only then can you steer and direct them rather than be manipulated by them. deep in debt. especially when I consider those who struggle just to put food on the table. My salary along with my wife’s as a teacher gives us a comfortable living. . It will go much better if you are conscious and clearly aware of the economic factors and their power and influence in your own life. of course. There is no question but that you will respond. What would your life be like if you had much more or much less money? How would your life really change? 149 . . . successful or a failure. Or I can look in the other direction of the wealthy upper class whose homes alone are worth far more than we will ever be worth. If you can see the power and influence of economics then you can better determine the power and influence of economics in your own life. Few us would say that we live absolutely for money and that it determines everything in our lives. for you have to respond. The secret here is to grasp the objective and neutral truth of this statement in order to gain some wisdom and power instead of being the victim of economics. or some other economic indicator has hammered your life.SECRETS ABOUT MONEY Economics determine everything.
JACk ELLIoTT Money is sacred. money was secular and public. How much does money shape and determine your energy and goals? How much do you give up in order to make more money? 150 .You can go up to someone at a party and ask how their sex life is going and you may get a laugh or a smart aleck answer. In Victorian times marriage and sex were sacred and personal and not talked about in polite company.Dr. or at least your welcome. that is people knew who had wealth and who didn’t and it was publicly displayed by the way people lived. you have just stopped the conversation and maybe the party. In that same era. If you go up to someone and ask how much he or she makes a year or how much he or she is worth.Today it is the opposite.
Wall Street. made first by Ben Franklin types. make a large fortune. . . It will be interesting to see how successful Warren Buffet is in calling for the super rich to will half of their vast wealth to charity. Those rules often have a thin veneer of morality. but don’t let that fool you. but it can also cut you or be used to cut or even kill . Often to have a lot of money makes people think you are smart. .The other fact is that only a very small minority of those who by luck or hard work or a combination. It is said that there is more temptation that has to do with money than anything else. . it can serve you well. big business and other hidden gnomes. Dealing with money is like dealing with a sharp knife. so be careful.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Money has no morals. Do you think this is true? Have you ever started to re-adjust your ethics when money was involved? 151 . Here are a couple of unrelated facts . . feel any moral imperative to give back to society in some way for their own good fortune. to be respected. Money comes closer to being that which people worship. do a lot of things to make life better and easier . but now by bankers. Money has it’s own set of rules. 80% of the people who end up in prison are unable to deal with money. . admired and envied.
I know exactly how much more money you need to be happy. games. secure or successful? It takes a great deal of maturity to hold on to your own values. how much do you really need to be happy and at peace? For that matter. JACk ELLIoTT There is never enough. keep you hooked on what they say brings happiness. . . about 10% more than you have now. . Remember. I wait for the silence and expectation that follows and then give the answer . . it is not true that there is never enough. . how much does money really contribute to your happiness and peace? Heaps!? or just 10% more? 152 . content. Now seriously. toys. etc. but how often do you think that if you just had a little more you would be happy. values at their core are what makes you happy and brings peace and goodness to your life . One of my very favorite smart remarks to make when the conversation turns in just the right direction is . . Of course. Only once I was interrupted with the right answer and it was by a retired banker who had been responsible for management of over twenty billion dollars back when it was a lot of money. as opposed to letting the world with all its advertising.Dr. competing.
Someone who has been raped. but do know there is always a cost. . large or small. when you say something you are also carefully holding something back . but it had all been kept secret. Communication is the flow of thoughts. undeserved baggage that one thinks one has to keep and carry forever. . However. They had grown up and so now it was a completely different family reunion with the new generation taking their place. . . . My wife’s family had a reunion where for the first time. feelings. In the course of the weekend a few secrets about deceased grandparents came out . ideas. . more understanding and kind. both to those who have gone before and to those who carry on now. it is sharing a part of life .SECRETS ABOUT SECRETS Secrets are the plaque on the arteries of communication. This issue is difficult and complex and one would not be so foolish as to give a one answer fits all. or any other bad thing. If. . molested. there is no question that “the secret” does limit communication on different levels at different times. keeping part of it secret . Wrong! They should not have to 153 . . . . simply normal human foibles . As this younger generation is communicated more honestly with. . . values . it limits the communication. nothing very bad. they become more a part of the family and.There are times and places where some secrets should never be told. all the “kids” were there with their kids. Another metaphor is that secrets are like heavy unwanted. interestingly enough. thinks they have to keep it a secret. Advice columns struggle and get a lot of reaction when dealing with the very difficult issue of telling or not telling someone that they are adopted.
Have you ever shared a secret you no longer wanted to keep a secret. but wash it out or it will clog their whole life.Dr. and found communication and care and even peace increased dramatically? Have you ever had this experience with someone else who needed to build communication and trust more than carrying the secret. JACk ELLIoTT carry that kind of “dirty” secret. however large or small? 154 .
Finally there is the illusion that since we know all the facts we are the wise ones who certainly will make the best decisions for everyone. true information that can be added. nothing more can be added. They had little confidence in the members to whom they were responsible. Have you ever been frustrated because you were on the outside and knew they were holding back information and that you had some good ideas? Have you ever been frustrated because you were on the inside. and so they needed to keep a lot of things quiet or “secret”. nothing new. there is more relevant. conclusions or great ideas. . The great temptation on the board was always to keep things secret. I served on a board of directors during a tumultuous time of change. The other dynamic going on here is a little paranoia .The Soviet Union was very good at keeping the secret and so able to maintain the illusion of great power. they will “attack” us in some way. Almost always. They did not feel that the constituents could handle the problems. were critical? 155 . much less be part of finding solutions. and others on the outside. One more example . not to mention other’s responses. When secrets are kept secret. This happens everywhere as does the feeling of the general population that they are not being told everything. if we don’t keep some things secret.This was part illusion based on the idea that they knew so much more than those on the outside. . . if we tell them too much.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Secrets maintain illusions There was a time at the height of the Cold War in the nineteen sixties when the Soviet Union had only three working missiles. plans. America had hundreds and was building more. . who didn’t know everything you knew. thus maintaining the illusion that all was well.
. it was corny. They didn’t mean to make him paranoid. but would keep him warm with their love and care. Have you ever in some way played that game “I know something you don’t know”? Think back now and examine the reasons or “fun” of playing it. and blamed every bad thing that happened on them and their secrets. they are trying to get me. . they would never let him be cold again. and ask yourself what was really going on? 156 . Come on now.Dr. you know the power of this secret. The older brother and sister enjoyed playing the game of keeping secrets from the little brother. but they certainly did. . . but they got it and to this day are very sensitive and caring. They found him. . for it was the older brother who told me the story many years later. and if a person has more than a little bit then it is a short step to . After it all came out the older siblings made a very moving vow . He ran away at the age of nine. You know that feeling you get when you find that you are on the outside of the secret. . After awhile he began to feel that they were against him. . . . JACk ELLIoTT The way to promote paranoia: promote secrets. didn’t love him. they don’t like me .Yes. half frozen to death. no matter how well they hide it . . Everyone has some small sense of insecurity inside. they are talking about me .
. If secrets don’t close the bridge. and you can’t do anything because it is a secret? Can you think of any ways to reverse the negative power of these secrets? 157 . no healing. and very little hope. and destructive . they certainly slow down the traffic to a crawl. If something is held as a secret there can be no help. People were not able to cross the bridge to help. They only learned the secret after she committed suicide on her twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. Secrets close the bridge. kept it a secret. distancing. Secrets are dark. Secrets inhibit community. Here is a sad but true example. but only dark. The few in the family who knew. and destructive. In many ways secrets close the bridge that we move back and forth on in various relationships. Do you know any secrets that are no fun. distancing. . Mary was manic-depressive and so a lot of her relationships were limited.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Secrets build walls and prisons.
They commiserated with him and told their own funny stories. . so he told his family. but in fact are quite small when shared. so it is hard to say how big it really is . so it will always tend to feel much bigger and heavier than it really is. Children often have secrets that are huge to them. but now he was married and had three children. . and it’s going to get pretty heavy. The secret in the dark had been much larger than reality in the light.Dr. Not only that. He couldn’t keep the secret. part of your response was that it was much smaller than the person was making it? Have you ever experienced the child in you. but the fact is that a secret is usually hidden in the dark. The secret was that Dan was afraid of the dark and the sounds in the dark. Carry it all alone. or just you and whoever else was party to the secret. JACk ELLIoTT Secrets are bigger than reality. Has someone ever told you a secret. carrying some large heavy secret that when shared with another became much smaller? 158 . Surprise. no one laughed or teased or anything. that once you heard it. That was all right when he was a child.
they may damage some good and honest relationships. but when the dust settled it came out all right. Never blindly promise to keep a secret . The boss came to him and said he had to keep this secret. you may either have to break your word or be stuck in a very difficult relationship. Have you ever been trapped. Inform them simply and gently. or would you consider refusing be caught in a relationship held together by a “secret”? How would you get out? 159 . . . Agree to keep a secret and you may be agreeing to go to bed . The problem was there were a number of gross inequalities in the pay structure. An email containing the salaries of all the people in the department had been mistakenly sent to him. The boss took his silence for consent. . . Now he was really caught in an illicit relationship with an unethical boss. healthy or hopeful. Worse. Watch out for a familiar ambush when someone tells you a secret. knowing something you didn’t want to know or have to keep silent about? Did you consider.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Secrets create illicit relationships. with someone whom you really do not want to have such an intimate illicit relationship. but very clearly that you did not agree to keep it a secret or to be held captive to it. . he resolved it by telling his boss he could not keep the information secret. and then adds that you must keep it a secret. Big explosion. With some degree of courage. Relationships that are built on something about another relationship are not going to be very positive. . so to speak .
he says to everyone that this is his college buddy. One of the worst viruses that secrets enable is manipulation. Sandy was an accountant and without going into all the sad but no excuse details. The real problem here is how to eliminate the deliberate or unintentional manipulation that is possible when a secret exists. some things Tom was not very proud of from college days. Have you ever experienced being manipulated by someone who held some secret about you? Deliberately or without meaning to? 160 . The buddy knew some secrets. When someone found out about her past and mentioned it to her. Well that took care of it all. Sandy immediately asked the person to talk to her boss. who knows how much I used to drink in college and how I lost my license for a year. The next best solution is to at least have an honest understanding among those who are aware of the secret. JACk ELLIoTT Secrets empower manipulation. had stolen money from the company where she worked. An old college buddy was back in Tom’s life. no secret.You know something about someone or they know something about you that would be better kept secret. A little kinder way to put it is one has some leverage that can be used without even realizing it. hired and working in the same department he was. no possible manipulation. during the first coffee break at a meeting of the department. got out and started over in a different town. The obvious and best solution of disclosing the secret is not always possible for any number of particular reasons. The secret was contained and at the same time diffused. She got a job. where the owners and her boss knew her past. She went to jail. Often there are no easy ways to deal with secrets and the only absolute way to eliminate any kind of manipulation or problem is to eliminate the secret. but no one else did. The secret can promote raw crude power and provide the ability to manipulate. In a burst of pure inspiration. This can happen deliberately with malice of forethought or it can be quite accidental.Dr.
knowing that he or she would be aware of the power you had with his or her secret? Have you eve not manipulated or used a secret to your advantage.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Have you ever manipulated or leveraged someone just a little. even though you could have? 161 .
should be doing this . Burnout often comes from a sense of futility. you may become weary and tired at times. When you feel successful or a sense of accomplishment. Also. Sure. You do something the same way for so long with nothing new and you lose the sense of accomplishment . . and insight was invaluable. but his humor. One of the most favorite persons in my life was Clarence Carruth. they are not always externally acknowledged beyond a paycheck or marginal appreciation. However. there was a need for smart young assistants and others to deal with the complex work. So one has to have internal positive recognition here. When asked why he did not retire from taking the train every day into the city and all the work it entailed. . you are much less likely to experience burnout. a lawyer in his eighties who was attorney of record for one of the largest retail corporations in the country. anyone else could be. . but the large corporation loved him. someone else . wisdom. It is only when feel you are accomplishing nothing that it is hard to go on. . as he got older.When there is real satisfaction and enjoyment in what you are doing. but she 162 . The related reason is tedium. but you will not burn out. sometimes both success and accomplishment are not easy or obvious to measure.The partners in his law firm would have liked him to retire but not only did he predate them all. his response was that if he didn’t have some hard work to do every day he would wither and blow away. I wonder how many great meals my good wife put on the table for our children and myself with little or no appreciation. .SECRETS ABOUT WORK Burnout does not come from hard work. People can work very hard and keep going as long as they know their work is accomplishing something. .
Have you ever worked really long and hard at something and only felt invigorated and stronger? Has the opposite happened? What was going on? 163 . She knew how good and important those family meals were.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE didn’t burn out or quit.
many seem to miss it. for the six months? If you are missing a plan. a plan. Another secret hidden here is that a lot of people who do the interviewing and hiring do not have much of a plan or vision. have some ideas about how you will work and what you will uniquely contribute in the job you want. but then again. do you need a plan and vision there? 164 . I was on the search committee that was charged with recommending the next head of our denomination. this may be obvious for many. you must have some kind of vision. Also. We interviewed a dozen applicants and it quickly came down to one who came across completely superior to the rest. Do your homework! Does it work all the time? No. what and who will it take to put one together? How about your family. JACk ELLIoTT The way to get the job: have a plan. know the company. just in case they don’t. and even uncomfortable doing it. for your job. so it is included. Do you have a plan or vision for your life. but it helps open the minds of others to you and it helps you to focus your skills. He overwhelmed the group and got a unanimous vote. If you really want the job. This is simply starting the job before you get it. Again. for next year.Dr.Why? Wes was totally prepared with a precise and complete knowledge of the denomination in all areas. and so you will stand out if you are the person with one. a lot of people who do the interviewing and hiring are not professional at it. He also had a sense of vision for the denomination. Here is a story that has stuck in my mind. if any at all. so have a plan for the interview.
sometimes because she has done her homework. questions. . He had not prepared for the meeting or even read the workbook. Parents can do a little homework . She sees a little cheering up or dose of happiness would be good. stupid. dumb. . . 165 .You want to really enjoy the play. symphony. . The meeting immediately got up to speed and accomplished a great deal. even the horse race . too late. How is it that so few people come to the meeting. The chair of the meeting and president of the company in a patient and kindly way that was his hallmark. not just to censor or critique. . the task. because you realized. . sat down. had not prepared. unprepared? How many meetings waste time going over what should have been gone over before the meeting . but to understand the reality of the world in which their children live and so be able to relate and able to respond in ways that build bridges of understanding. . people become reactive . whatever it is . because he is doing his homework. . told Henry he was excused and should go read the material and come back when he was prepared.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Do your homework. learn more about the music their kids listen to . because few actually did their homework. . . that became a legend told and retold. . Henry walked into the meeting a few minutes early. . Then came the wonderful moment. So again the meeting would take forever as he kept asking for information that was in the book. and ask inane. The husband brings home flowers for no good reason or for every good reason. Everyone knew what was going to happen. opera. and Henry always came well prepared after that. you weren’t prepared. had not done all your homework. uncomfortable . . ballet. Doing your homework is important in a lot of places in life. .The wife fixes the husband or family a favorite meal. Not convinced this is a secret? How often have you been nervous or anxious. do a little homework! The same is true in a marriage and family. opened the workbook and started reading. So what happens.
because you did your homework? or not enjoying or getting much out of something because you did not do your homework? 166 . JACk ELLIoTT Have you ever really done your homework so well before the meeting that it made a difference and was noticed? Do you realize now and then when you do need to do more “homework”? Have you had the experience of really enjoying something.Dr.
intelligence and power. and how it might have helped him. even if it was not very important. was talking and realized you had not been present and perhaps they knew too? Have you ever locked in and been very present and realized you were getting a lot more out of it than at other times? 167 . You will also find that to be present. Who knows what John might have picked up. especially a child. Realize also. so your being fully present will work well for you. The chair asked him a question. what is said. If you have to be there. that others are often multi-tasking at that very moment and not getting much accomplished. or writing notes for their next meeting. reading email. Have you ever lost focus when a family member. My friend sat in the back row of the meeting completely focused on a computer game instead of the meeting. as he didn’t understand it after the laughter died down. John asked to repeat the question. Most people can quickly tell who is fully engaged in the meeting and who are texting. that is to focus on what is going on. who you are with. which he considered boring but had to attend because it was at his location. be present. he was asked again what time the break was.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Always be present. the opinions and ideas that are expressed. will help focus your energy. He would have done better to have kept his focus on the meeting.
The secret is more about the direction you want to go and packing for the journey. sexy. what is the person saying with their clothing? When you dress in a particular way for a particular reason. . If you dress totally different from the place and people you want to get to. right? I don’t think so as I look at a lot of people at work. JACk ELLIoTT Dress for your next job. Now. everyone knows this already. Look around and ask yourself. this isn’t some superficial manipulative idea. their structure. what is guiding your decisions? 168 . What does it say about them . too sexy. conservative. you make it harder for them to see you as part of their level. mod. nerd.Dr. their sense of values and relationships. costumed rebellion? What people wear says something about themselves. not to mention where they are going and what their ambitions are. and notice how people are dressed. No. . Look around you.
He did just that. Bob was from the Midwest and this was an East Coast school. I told him to wear a dark conservative suit when he met with the board. yourself or the place in which you are. jeans and a sweater. Joe is a landscape architect and went to the interview in work boots. How a person dresses always says something. Is your reaction to this that it is foolish and superficial or do you notice what people wear? How much of a difference does it make. about how the person looks. with elitism or reverse elitism . positive or negative. but the truth is we are always looking at how people dress and making judgments. This may not be fair. at times the judgment is made . . a tweed jacket with the faculty. and kaki trousers and sweater with the students. Even further. large or small.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE How you dress is always important. . . He found the owner of the company dressed exactly the same . . . about your taste and how good it is or how it fits in. . One of my favorite stories is about a friend who was going to interview for the position of president of a seminary. he got the job. Would he have gotten the job if his clothes said he was from somewhere else and not one of them? Maybe. A friend of mine had a job interview a couple days ago. . and he got the job. How you dress often also tells others what you think of them. . then again may be not. or how much real help is it in your particular field? 169 . . . he is smart and a good leader . This does not always or especially mean dressing up. fairly or unfairly . I made a throw away remark that the way he dressed was not going to help.
not to mention his marriage. brought up with a conservative faith. . Then he got it. As he talked about it.SECRETS ABOUT ThE SPIRITUAL UNIvERSE There are no sins. this is sin. ethics. Can you come up with sinful things that do not break relationship? How is this possible? And maybe it is?!? 170 . but in any event they are missing the whole point. play the game of making up scenarios. you have made God about your own size and shape. especially his spiritual life. unless of course. Sin is hurting others when you don’t have to. . large and small. He thought about it for days. Are they a subset of sin that is breaking relationship? Now. I should not have yelled at her. and it was a sin that I did not tell Anne I was going to buy the new car . No. and on he went about what he considered “sins”. he said it was a sin . . bad because they got along well and did not fight. Be careful of folks with long lists of sins. . you didn’t really think that something you could do could possibly hurt God. there is only sin. there was only sin. missing the mark and the mark is one’s ideals. He had a bad fight with his wife. that produce one’s relationship with others and with God. Is it time to review your list of what you think are sins. talked to me for more days. Break relationship with God or others. He was part of the older generation. you have just hurt yourself. morals. and by the way. and life changed and grew. After a while I interrupted Henry and said there were no sins. Sin is breaking relationship. they may or may not be correct.
The answer came as quickly as the question: faith is for strength along the journey. God. . getting you through some really bad times? 171 . family. . It is about as foolish as believing that money or a high wall will keep you safe. were in church every Sunday. Rushed to the hospital. you are in for some serious disillusionment and pain. have you had the combat experience of the presence of the Almighty. . creator and sustainer of the universe plays such small human get even games? on the other hand . Why. When they fail. have you ever thought that if you were good you would be rewarded and protected or if you were bad you would be punished some way? Now stop and think . . has this happened to us? Asked the parents. for this was some years ago when there weren’t all the great miracle drugs. or you can realize that this secret is about the fact that all these things are not meant to protect you along the journey of life . or others . . honesty. He was just two years old. . . then. Tell the truth now . attending worship and voting regularly. . being and doing good. . . . They had a solid faith. he screamed and had a convulsion. never forgetting birthdays . a happy little baby. not escape from the trials and tribulations found along the way. faith in God and country. to guide us along the way. Our son recovered completely and has grown tall and strong in so many ways. John had spinal meningitis. you can either blame yourself. as forms of protections for you. . they are part of the journey itself . supported good causes. . do you really think or believe that the Lord God Almighty. If you believe in love. of not being alone. . as they will in some way or another . his parents stayed with him around the clock. and tried to live good lives.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE The protection you believe in may not work when you need it most. terrified. . .
This is the true beginning of faith that has the power and vitality to sustain and enable you to find your way through life. but for her it was a revelation from God.The way she tells it. Revelation from God did not end years ago. Nell couldn’t seem to get over the loss of her husband. going through various struggles. JACk ELLIoTT Revelation is not past tense. my dear psychology type friends. Haven’t you ever wondered about that? Isn’t it basic to any faith that is alive and sustains us today. . She saw her husband walking along. . Even more radical is the idea that divine revelation may come to you! It will happen in your own mountain top experience or dark valley. but now it didn’t seem to help. . easy and difficult. . she wasn’t sure if it was a vision or she simply fell asleep in the chair at her daughter’s home. Has the Almighty ever spoken to you .The Lord came and took him up that mountain . that it is not ancient history. . and really need to be in touch with the divine. Now. do realize that the Almighty was the first to use dreams and for that matter psychology. etc. but something deep inside that you knew was not just you? Have you ever found direction in your life you needed. before you even get started. when you have seas to part or storms to still . . saints. She had a strong faith and church guided and defined her life in great part. holy ones. that is. She could barely function and relate to her family and friends. Eventually she told her story to them and there were no doubters. that has the lock on the truth or the way to the divine? The power and presence of the divine is here today! It is our responsibility and our struggle to open ourselves to the revelation of the divine today. Yet most religions have had their revelation from God to their prophets. took him home. not in a deep bass voice from above. with a sureness and peace that wasn’t your own? Could it have been the Divine? 172 . It was a revelation from God. Then he came to a mountain that he could not climb.Dr. years and years ago. She woke up a changed woman and everyone soon saw it.
face the congregation and sing the hymn. needs people to stand. dance and wave their hands in the air? God is the audience when you worship. is to think we can sway the Almighty by our acts of worship or whatever . let alone drums. this is a little foolish and a lot arrogant on our part. The idea that they come to worship and are responsible for making the worship a good experience is beyond their comprehension. They judge the sermon. The truth is a lot of people attend worship for everything but worship. by which what they really mean is entertained and stimulated in some good way. to find the divine within us. I stopped and asked how many knew the hymn.They say they come to be inspired. It’s purpose is to bring us into relationship with the divine. and not a little irritation with the pastor. sit. guitars. the prayers. fear. recognizing that worship is very uneven.Then I said. or whatever else composes the service. . I was wrong. in worship or are you pure of heart and experiencing the power and peace it brings to your life? 173 . . One time on Sunday morning I had picked a hymn. the choir. Worship is for us. . I asked them to come forward. few knew. . creator and sustainer of the universe. embarrassment. Before then end of the first verse the entire congregation was singing as best they could and for that moment they knew worship was for them. have you ever noticed that it is much more inspiring and helpful when you came because you needed to worship? Do you try to influence the Almighty. which it seemed. Do you believe the Lord God Almighty. needs incense. Only 10 people raised their hand. trumpets. The look on their faces said it all . to open our ears or heart or mind or whatever to something much more powerful than just ourselves. Worse yet. anger.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Worship is for us. even just a little bit. turn around and sing the hymn and worship God as you do so. organ music. or however you think of or call God. It is we who need to worship. choirs. kneel. not God who needs to receive our worship.
they were delightful. You can’t give your children your faith just because it is your faith and of such great value. No one is separated from God by a generation. Have you inherited part of your faith from your family and tradition? How have you made it your own? or. friendly people whom you would like to have as friends. and they were truly committed to that movement. is it more tradition and social conditioning than faith? 174 .We asked them about their six children. that you want to pass it on. . They cannot inherit yours. By the way. but the only help you give is to help them find their own direct personal faith. if they were missionaries. My wife and I were having dinner in South Africa with a famous missionary couple. found and experienced first hand. easy going. They must have their own direct relationship with the Almighty and cannot inherit one from us. JACk ELLIoTT God has no grandchildren.Dr. That’s when he said. . It must be a gift. you can do a whole bunch of good things that will help your children and grandchildren . We are all God’s children. Faith cannot be inherited or passed on. There is no one between God and us. They were white Afrikaners who served the black emerging reformed church. warm. God has no grandchildren.Yes.
. . the Divine.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE God is not your buddy or the man upstairs. How are you? So begins a phone conversation with someone I don’t even know. pray or ponder. Even children in some families are brought up to call their parent’s friends by the first name. Others do not speak the name of God at all. to grasp. In the mystery of all this. beyond us. Good morning. To be ecumenical here. creator and sustainer of the universe. . John. Some religions have a lot of names for the Almighty. and the person who calls you by your first name before you even know who they are. but respect and honoring the station in life comes before friendly first names. each name trying to capture a little of how they conceive of God. we all best take care not to profane the Almighty by making the divine into a glorified reflection of ourselves. without really meaning to. to have a great sense of wonder in the mysterious that is beyond our comprehension. When you think of God. it is my suspicion that all organized religions. transcendent. but who feels it is perfectly proper. even with the inspiration of the divine. So it is with God. Not to argue the different sides to this. the Almighty is somehow in touch with us. . the secret is to be open to that which is so much more than you were ever led to believe. God is different. put a semi-human personality or human traits onto the Almighty. do you encounter this issue of the Almighty being both so far beyond us and yet at times so close and personal? 175 . So without throwing out any of your childhood images or early years of training. has not found a shortcut to friendship. different than anyone has ever been able. No beginning and no end . So. even friendly to call me by my first name. The great step of faith is to become open . and still others have very vague words.
do you seek to lift yourself up or bring the Almighty down to your level? Does calling God the “guy in the sky” or “the man upstairs” give you a feeling of closeness or accessibility . if not profane? 176 . . JACk ELLIoTT When seeking to be close to the Almighty. .Dr. or is it not just a little bit patronizing.
SECrETS For A GooD LIFE All names of God are misleading. Now. see how quickly and easily it is to put God into our limiting human terms. there we go again . What names would you like to use to describe God from your own personal faith? Do the names you use give you a sense of bringing God to your level or lifting you up towards God? What name for God would be good to use to keep a spiritually healthy balance of awe and reverence and at the same time seek closeness and relationship? 177 . lover or fighter. . tall. . . Do you have a name that totally describes you? Son or daughter. . For instance a basic image of God is that of king and ruler. Well. God is much more than a mere king. neighbor. . and so be careful and thoughtful . consider your own thinking about God when you use a particular name or ascription. Oops. in shape or . In writing this section I have used the words “God” “Divine” “The Almighty” as open inclusive words. The popularity and real value of meditation is to take your heart and mind and move beyond our religious corporate experience and limits. ruler. . God may or may not delegate anything . .This kind of work God can easily delegate. . beyond our comprehension .You will come away ever so slightly changed. sweetheart or best friend. mom or dad. All our names and descriptions limit the size of God. One of the ways of beginning to describe God is that God is that which is totally beyond us. .There is always more to God than we know or has been revealed to us. . . emperor. short. none of them describe you completely. for most of our names for God have the tendency to bring God into our world and to our level of understanding. If you want a very interesting and perhaps spiritual exercise go online and look for the names of God in different religions. most of our words are limiting not expanding. or master.
it is just a little egocentric and perhaps even blasphemous to assume that what you say and do is the will of the Lord. but something good is missing and something wrong is present. . not exactly. She was a good woman and loved her family. Grandma had a lot of power. the will of God and she was going to carry it out as best she could. certainly no alcohol of any kind anytime. . close to the Almighty. or any of that sinful pop music. JACk ELLIoTT Spend more time being with God less time doing for God. . They talk the talk. Worse. is not nearly as important as simply connecting with God . but her God did. It’s never deliberate. is your faith found in day-to-day time? Which powers your faith: your formal religious moments or your life in general? 178 . is that tacking the sign “in the name of God” or “the will of God” on what you do . however you understand God.Dr. . but it happens a lot and one can see it clearly in some “religious” folk. in fact. It was the law. . but the value and proof of her faith was often based on what she did for God. done overtly or quietly. She would not allow any playing outside on Sunday. . What you sense is just a little too much of themselves at the center of their lives no matter what their language and style. The secret here. What’s missing is the dynamic power that a relationship with God should bring. rather than a sense of presence of the divine being with her. no consorting with pagans. God Almighty. Well. Where is your faith found? Is it mostly worship/religious times? or. dancing. A little humility is always good and most always found in those who are. even walk the walk to some extent .
. Come on now. and re-image your image of God. Where do you find God or a powerful reflection of the Almighty? Do you see any limiting factors of God in the way you image the Divine? 179 . Most of us have an interpretation of God that we have been taught is correct . of the creator and sustainer of the universe. We come from a farming area with a little clapboard church in the country where we were sure God went to church on Sunday. Here are his own words. But I’ve got to tell you. what touched and changed them most was their visit to churches. . that has been taught or handed down to us. or whatever you have learned to call or image God. . is the keeper of all the light and the rest of the world is in the darkness? The old narrow exclusivity. . Well. after a little self-depreciating humor. that one group knows all the truth . I need to work on my image of God.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Re-image your image of God. For all the great things to see in Europe.This is all well and good. simply is not big enough any more to hold the concept of God . . he would go on further and more seriously about how it enlarged his faith. It was one of the best sermons ever given and it was not even in church. . Most all of us have an image of God. absolutely certain understanding. a few synagogues and even a mosque. however we all need to do our own spiritual work. do you really think that one group has the sole franchise . . It was part of a couple’s experience on their first vacation to Europe. . He’s got some really great places. either exclusively correct or at least much more correct than those others down the street or across the sea. . . Read your own sacred scriptures for yourself not through the filters of centuries of interpretation .
when you open yourself to the power and presence. God does not seem to be to be too involved. . their hallelujah. I call it grace. Hey! There is a gap somewhere. yes or no. the goodness or love of God. unmerited. . . you can open yourself to God. no matter what. . . somehow something very good and very powerful happens. JACk ELLIoTT God’s grace . yes or no? James and his good wife made the decision. or you can stay absolutely closed and God will stay outside your wall. The simple working definition of grace is that it is love that is unearned. It was their battle cry. . If you have faith you connect this to the power of the Almighty. who kept a journal. much less on the side of right. the peace of God. is no more than one’s own creation of a god made in the image and likeness of humans who do just that. but were happy to be with their grandparents. undeserved love. self-pity and bitterness coming right up against his faith wrote . God’s grace. their amen . . or who might use you as a means to an end. They loved each other harder. then hopefully you learned about grace from your family growing up. However. God’s power may be vast and however else you may describe it. If you do not. just stay with the secret .You have to say yes or no to the power of God. Life seemed dark in every direction they looked. and I do believe they will make it. to the “whatever” of God. but if you have a different set of words. who or whatever that may be. . God’s grace. They lost their jobs and then their house and just about every material thing they had. and with gratitude to their parents whom were all helping out.Dr. or discovered it in valued relationships that lasted through the storms because of grace. . . They moved in with his parents because that was all they could do. God intervenes by invitation only. . Put another way. his guilt. Then the husband. Their kids were just old enough to understand things were not going well. the love of God. Look at the world or just today’s paper . great . The concept of a God in whose way you might get and be knocked down. . you can seek to be 180 . was writing about all they were going through and found his pain and hurt. their kids more.
up close and personal.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE part of the will of God. or go off on your own and never experience the power or peace of being in tune with the almighty. is it still live or is it just a memory? 181 . experienced grace for yourself? Is it still live or is it just a memory? Have you ever been part of giving grace to another? Again. earn and merit? Have you ever. Is grace part of the way you live or do you tough it alone on the basis of what you deserve.
Good religion does not condemn anywhere near as much as it sheds light on the way out of the darkness. really is a cop or judge or executioner and is going to beat the hell out of you whenever you step out of line. etc. their religion was worn on their sleeve and coming out of their mouth all the time. had rules for everything. but thirty or forty or more? I learned to tell by their dress and demeanor. Some were serious. There were 27 different denominations cooperating on the board. but rather to set us free from the bondage of our sin. Others were full of delight and goodness. however you believe or conceive or have been taught . ask yourself if God. inadequacy. JACk ELLIoTT Good religion liberates. what kind of religion they practiced. The fundamental message of all good religion is not so much that we are sinners or bad. judgmental. and another dozen or more who didn’t participate in operating the school but who sent their missionary children there for an American education. drab.Dr. depending on the exclusiveness or narrowness of the particular group. Does your faith and religion set you free or restrict your life? Do you get the feeling from the rules and ways of your religion. . and show us the way to a good relationship with God. Come on now. sort looked down on. etc. guilt. . or at least questioned if not rejected. Bad religion restricts and punishes. that they are meant to control you or are the meant to enlarge your life? 182 . I attended and was graduated from a missionary school in South India. and helped me to grow and feel accepted in a difficult situation far from home or anything familiar. As a teenager I was amazed for I thought there might be a dozen different Christian denominations. It is not really worth trying to explain that bad religion makes life and God smaller with rules and regulations and punishments that sounds much more human than divine. As a teenager. They were liberated and loving and had very good faith and religion. I was a business kid.
not God. Hey. Well. with a smile on his face. He jogs. that he told me that morning. And paradoxically it is something we all need inside ourselves. in fact it’s not an example. and encourages others whenever the subject comes up. Our lives are so crowded with so many demands. He was right I missed something very important. it’s only fifteen minutes and like my physical exercise. reading sacred scriptures. His story is that he is committed to physical fitness. ambitions. selfishness and other junk stuff . mail or phone for another 5 minutes. It is part of spiritual disciple. The purpose is so that we might pay attention to where we are going and how we are going to get there before we are ambushed by a world that has little or no discipline at all. . even corporate worship are ways to get your attention focused on something beyond yourself. after a sermon that I had thought was good. that spiritual disciplines are needed to refocus and recalibrate the quality and direction of our lives. hopes . dreams. spiritual disciplines such as meditation. Well.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Spiritual discipline is for you. . So. Bill teased me. He told me that physical discipline and spiritual discipline work together and compliment each other. Jack. You missed the best example in the world. is that he also reads his bible for 5 minutes every morning. He said he had so much to do that if he didn’t spend at least three hours in prayer he couldn’t get it all done. Spiritual and physical discipline 183 . There is the famous oft-quoted remark of Martin Luther. . there you have it.When he has the time he does the same in the evening. If one centers oneself in order to be focused for the day. but the point it well taken. Spiritual disciplines may sound rather outdated and outmoded. . not to mention sin. prayer. especially if one’s spiritual being is in focus. desires. eats right. keeps me really healthy and alive. works out. that may have been a little exaggeration for effect. What I didn’t know. I can’t believe the poor job you did this morning. it will be a better day. prays and meditates for another 5 minutes and then connects with others via email. However. priorities.
better. JACk ELLIoTT do indeed go together. What spiritual discipline(s) do you practice? Do they help you to live a fuller. do you find spiritual disciplines outdated. and are necessary for the good life. boring and of little help? What new spiritual disciplines would be good in your life? 184 . support each other. happier life? or.Dr. smarter.
. .The deal was we were to be incognito. However. It was a good round of golf followed by a barbecue. I am not much interested in being religious or being a “holy person”. mental. a life long resident of the town. It was held by a group of good friends who had grown up together. They were amazed and had a hard time believing we were “real” and yet spiritual. . they ran after us and brought Lloyd and myself back for what ended up being a very late evening of interesting conversations. the truth is there will be more to us. After some colorful words to him about the deception. not to mention inhibitions of others. Have you ever thought about the spiritual part of yourself and the power it has or doesn’t have in your life? Do you keep different parts of yourself carefully separated? Do you ever experience your spirituality pulling your life together or at least pushing you a little in that direction? Would you be less or more real with more spirituality? 185 . and with your own spirit or personal sense of being. “salesmen”. Joe. could hardly wait till we were out the door before telling his friends whom we really were. to a long standing annual golf outing. physical. Being spiritual is being aware and in touch with that which is beyond and yet pulls everything else together and helps to give a complete sense of being in all areas of life. We left early . but my neighbor. emotional. when we are aware and in touch with the spiritual side of life. who also had a solid spiritual foundation. and embarrassment about jokes and remarks made . The spiritual is often said to be the part that holds us all together. to be free of stereotyping. We think of those people as disconnected from the real world. . To be spiritual is to be in touch with one’s whole self. a pastor. My friend.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE To be spiritual is to be real. a clinical psychologist. and I. had been invited by my neighbor.
Perhaps. let me explain. which just in case you don’t get it. One is a Roman Catholic. just perhaps. they will often disagree on some points. the other is a pure protestant Calvinist. . . or pieties piled up around it.Dr. Don’t you wonder a little bit about all the books written through all the centuries about God and faith and your own beliefs? Wouldn’t you think at some point it would all be figured out . JACk ELLIoTT Faith is really good if you don’t really believe it. when we try to draw blueprints and exact formulas about faith (called dogma and theology) we begin to miss the point of it all. . Beliefs are part of your more organized religious heritage. They do not look so much at all to the peculiar. does it decrease your own personal faith or not? Do you need to find a religion that in your mind has everything right? 186 . This is a playful paradox. Faith is what you live and carry with you in all the dark and difficult places. I have two close friends who in my estimation are true saints. at least all the important stuff? Do you believe everything your religion says or stands for? If you don’t believe everything “your faith” says.They get along very well even when they talk about religion and their faith. . at least to them. parochial. If you get just two or three good people of the same religion/ faith/denomination together . for they look to the light at the center of their faith and find it is much the same. some trivial and some important . . political. .
make a list of the places where you “worship” and ask yourself if they add to your life and spirituality or are simply momentary escape? Now that you are thinking about this. For others it is a sports arena. ok. . No matter where. or the golf course . do you need to think even more and share your reflections about this with those you live with? 187 . . the list goes on and on. we all have places and activities we hold as being at the center of who and what we are and what drives our life. or a walk in the park or a hike through the woods and hills.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Everyone worships somewhere. For most people. . Other places include the symphony. the mistake is to think that they only worship in a clearly defined “worship” place. talks about the new sports stadium like he is talking about some great cathedral. . A friend whose denomination is the Yankees. still others find it at family dinners . For some it is a church or synagogue or mosque or temple. . . opera or ballet hall . the corner pub or tavern.
. She got through it all with prayer. life has purpose and value . She was doing remarkably well. her faith is strong. She called to tell me she had been brutally assaulted by three men armed with machine guns and automatics as she came home in the evening with a friend. I’m moving through moments of hate. . . . Twenty some years later my sister is fine. . . . She said she could hear the birds sing and see the children’s smile. for she remembered Jesus suffered. that God’s love be with her and her attackers. . . she said as she told me the story. God is with me . JACk ELLIoTT Prayer only works when your life depends on it. just what does prayer do for you? Do you depend on prayer? Do you find prayer dependable? If prayer is just a marginal exercise that becomes real in crisis. and I will find it. She could suffer. but simply say that whatever and however you conceive of prayer . . .Dr. This happened some years ago in Mexico. anxiety . or whatever. it won’t do a thing . fervor. just in case? Do you pray only at religious moments or as you move through life? So. spiritual language. . they took her to her bank to get money. and then stole her car. But for real value. . unless your life really does depend upon it. The words tumbled out. . She prayed for strength. and her prayers work! I won’t even try to define prayer. fear. You may win friends and influence people with your piety. How much of a chance do you think you have if prayer is simply exercising one of your options . After it was all over. you have to get in touch with the Almighty. just how well do you think it can help your life? 188 . at least in terms of interacting with the divine or changing your life in any way . whenever it comes I pray. enthusiasm. that God be with her through it all.
he made every effort to make sure everyone got to play. I was in a very dark place . I was sitting on a bench beside the track at small school near my parent’s home that didn’t seem to get much use when a ragtag group of kids who it turned out were the track team came out to run. but they can be taken from you in an instant. that made him such a good all round coach. No amount of surgery or exercise could bring him back to Olympic level of running. Then early one morning out for his first run of the day. in great shape. it will bring you to the near side of heaven 189 . Well that’s all well and good . . . Whatever you have to have may well turn to ashes. Running was everything to him as a young man . it was my whole life. out everyday jogging along different paths. my universe. almost like it was special gift. . I started giving them a few pointers and my healing began on the inside . . loved by parents and players. If you will begin to understand this. . . They had that attitude that there wasn’t much to learn . He was good. he slipped. and best of all and my personal thing.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Whatever you have to have. Paul was a runner. is your god. More than that he was a great coach. . won games. . My life was over. His coaching had more in it than you could learn in school or even through experience. there was nothing for me to live for.You do not have them and never can. . . but even if you are reading this and saying to yourself that you only want your family. this is a difficult but profound truth and secret of the universe. fell down an embankment and ruined his knee. if you knew how to run you ran. Well. And I am sorry dear reader . then the good accident happened. . Most all religions have tucked into them in subtle or obvious ways that you can only reach spiritual maturity when you are able to let go of everything and seek God first. he was going to the Olympics and was favored to bring home some medals. He told me his story. holy folk and fanatics. As I said this is a difficult and mysterious secret. One day I asked him what the secret was. this is not just the pious quest of saints. . and he coached a number of different sports as well as teaching math at a nearby college.
what do you absolutely have to have and is your spirituality strong enough to handle losing it? 190 . . ok.Dr. just one question . JACk ELLIoTT and the divine . . . . and make all the wonderful people and things in your life all the more precious.
the better you treat others. it had spiritual content and purpose and people looked forward to hearing her voice. This does not seem like much of a secret. Mary Ann was the receptionist at the national headquarters of the denomination. if at all? 191 . but it doesn’t seem to affect their behavior very much. you know what happened. I got to know her and one day asked if she realized that she was the voice of the denomination and sometimes perhaps even the voice of the Lord. especially when we are not treating others as well as we might. It was in the days.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE The closer to God you feel. For the rest of us. it is something to consider. Well. when a human voice answered your phone call. busy and brusque. Being on various boards I had occasion to call and to visit the offices. but if true it sure is a good way to gauge the true spirituality of “holy” folk and others who profess a strong spirituality. She was not very friendly. her job was no longer just a job. and realized that you weren’t feeling very nice about yourself or your situation or spirituality at that moment? Have you ever wondered about others. very rare now. Have you ever noticed the effect of your interaction with others when you are in a good place in your spirituality or faith? Have you ever caught yourself treating others not so nicely. who profess their faith. or at the very least. his ambassador.
especially when things look bad or there is an overabundance of sin. don’t talk to me . For it is God whom you think is limited. If you wish to consider even a little bit. for you have assumed God’s position as judge. . and no hope . judgment. condemnation. .You really think God cannot bring salvation or redemption to whoever you have judged as being past God’s power . disputing this secret . . watch out you are on the thin ice of blasphemy. It is one of my favorite remarks.Dr. if not past all hope of redemption and so the Good News (as Christians call it) really is good news. salvation is always possible. How else could they stay in business? So many people think they are at the edge. . . This is basic to all religions. . when the Almighty may still be working on salvation. agrees as well? Is it remotely possible the Divine could have a plan beyond your own? 192 . talk to your God. Who do you think is beyond salvation? Why? Is this your judgment or are you sure you the Almighty. . . JACk ELLIoTT Salvation is always possible.
SECRETS ABOUT FAMILY If you do nothing else. The Olympic games have become the Olympic competitions with no sense of playing games . A playful relationship with another human being provides healthy measures of peace. especially on dark days when there was too much pain or sadness or whatever . or just watch their own interactions. was now and then walk down the hallway to the nursery school or out on the playground . . . perspective. male and female. . 193 . . and they always had the light and warmth and laughter . . I found it in my notes. different races. and watch the kids. For 25 years I was the president of the nursery school board. trust. the giggles of little children. I am not sure who said this. . . . Oh my. It nourished my soul. other than support some very fine teachers and now and then talk to some parent about some concern that usually could be easily solved. all of which children of all ages need. healing and a lot more . solving of the great sharing and whose turn is it and how to help each other. It is also a relational phenomenon. acceptance. even you and me. and it seems too important to leave out. try to ask interesting questions. even animals. Listen to them. Humor and playfulness is the natural antidote to a lot of problems in our world. . . The whole world is too anxious and too serious . . how sad. cultures. They and you will turn out OK.There was not much to do. . The most important thing I did. work on being playful with children. the giggles of little children. Play may well be the only thing in the universe that can unite adults and children.
Dr. and time in the park? 194 . do you play very much . JACk ELLIoTT How much time do you spend playing with your child and how much time do you spend doing the parenting work? Do you notice any difference in relations when there is play? In fact. . games. . sports.
your spouse. So. This could be in other sections. . I survived. It is a very simple story and I almost missed the lesson.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Dependence always breeds ambivalence. My grandchildren were in elementary school. . . our relationship is good as long as I give them space to move a little from feeling dependent to a growing sense of independence When your child pulls back from you. in fact. friends. and children. which was about a mile away. until I figured it out. lawyer. spouse. . Then one day I was rejected. but simply needs some space. . but simply be a function of reacting to their feeling of dependence as they reach for some independence. share the day. in a very nice way. This is not a secret but a basic truth found in any good psychological study or self-help book. . I loved taking them to school and picking them up . consider the fact that it may have nothing to do with loving you or holding you in high esteem and value. doctor. it is included here. time to talk. For dependence has to do with your own feelings about those you are to some greater or lesser extent dependent on . However they wanted to walk to school with the other kids. listen. Do you see the competing forces of independence and dependence operating in your children. boss.This small initial bit of independence was important to them and for their personal growth. parent. but still there was the feeling of rejection. your little boy loves you. and yourself? How can you keep them in balance so that there is harmony rather than tension and too many arguments? Do you promote dependence or independence in your family relationships? 195 . But somehow it is either glossed over or never gets through the filters into the minds of parents as a very important factor. Many mornings I would come over for breakfast and then drive them to school. Mom. stockbroker .
now a teen felt he was in prison. often taken from old movies that both he and his parents loved. when they finally do what you tell them to. to how they will dress. They became more sensitive and aware. When parents told him to do this or that. Billy found a good counselor to talk to at school. the currency of your relationship with your children must be other than the fact that you can control them and tell them what to do. from eating their vegetables. then amused. Put still another way. JACk ELLIoTT Stop telling your children what to do. Their oldest. As you already know. . .Well. they just never got past the early style of parenting that required a good deal of telling their children what to do. . ordered around . . . totally treated like a little child. children as they get older. .Think about it. They weren’t bad parents. . So Billy tried it. and worse. what does this say about your relationship with them? What will your relationship be with your children when they grow up enough to leave the nest? 196 . . like good little children. Do your children respond better to your direct strong orders rather than simply asking them to do something? Why? Ask them. . put down. most often they resent it. the parents were mad. and finally got it. Fortunately. . he had a number of responses that grew with time . . all the way to what kind of booze and drugs they will do or not do. How many people like to be told what to do? Yes. Whatever your answer is to the above question. but they don’t need demeaning and dominance. Build relationship on something more substantial . The counselor recognized Billy’s sense of humor and suggested this might help. do not do what they are told immediately. Sooner or later you cannot tell them what to do . . and more. it shall be so . . build your relationship on the basis of your love and all the care and wisdom that is generated by that love. as your majesty commands . your wish is my command . . and got into their son’s humorous style which made for some hilarious dinner party stories.Dr. misunderstood. children need direction and discipline.
then the fenced in yard . How do you change boundaries. . for as you already know. drinking laws. as your children grow older? Is it a negative hassle or can you get the idea of their positive value across as well a willingness to consider change when appropriate? How do you feel about the boundaries in your own life? What are the positive ones and what are the negative ones? 197 . . . Interestingly enough. or whatever is done. It’s not about not trusting. or simply fences to keep one in or out . speed limits. yard. because that is where life is safe. it is about family and love.You could write a very long list of boundaries in your life and your children’s. your mother and I check in with each other when our plans change. boundaries should be positive.They are meant to keep one safe and secure and interact with others in a positive civilized way. are to make life work right as a family. stay in the house. no TV until chores. . it’s good to know where life is safe and secure and acceptable. eat the veggies before the sweets. . in order to change or widen the boundaries. a community. children of all ages are always pushing against them. . . . there were no complaints after this. Now stop and think . My children were always irritated that they had to check in with us if they deviated from whatever their plan was.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Children need boundaries. But boundaries are constantly changing. Boundaries are positive.e. If you stop and notice. . and complained all the time . gun laws. Even as they push the boundaries. Often the first boundary children notice is a gate protecting them from falling down or climbing up the stairs . homework. self imposed and sometimes imposed by others. or park . . You remember the secret that there are no adults. Children need to know where the limits are. Then one day the perfect response came to me . . even as a nation and a world. It is part of our love and family relationship and a positive boundary in our lives. it means we all need boundaries and limits. . you don’t trust us. . i. .
he kept the money for a while to think about it . Children need to work and struggle to do well for it is the only way one grows up. and not teaching them the discipline they need to be successful at whatever they want to do in life. Yes. thinking they are being loving and caring. Let me add that this secret may apply in other relationships. protected and made life easy for our children at times. in the long run. in our modern society. Al could easily have bought his son any guitar in the world. ah. . the value of a dollar. he was not so sure he wanted to part with it for another guitar even though it was much better. well. which took a long time. However. even to do better than you did .Dr. one time too often. afraid and self-centered. He had bought his son a good basic guitar. . Husbands protect wives from various things. Sometimes. JACk ELLIoTT Don’t make life too difficult by making life too easy. . because he lost his first job for showing up late.When he did accumulate the princely sum of $800. I have also had to be tough at times and do not really like this role or the disruption of relationship that it causes. It took the son longer to earn what he needed. though less and less. 198 . So be careful in all manner of relationships not to make things too easy. but come the unexpected heart attack or stroke or death and their partner is in a really difficult place. . but that was not the issue. to really grow up . Rather. we spoiled. don’t make life too difficult by making life too easy. This is all about spoiling children. much worse is the idea of their growing up soft and childish. making things too difficult. when in fact you may be. with no real maturity muscles or ability to clean up their own mess. . His son learned a number of lessons. Dad told him he would have to earn the money and pay for it himself. . and now do so for our wonderful grandchildren.You want your children to do well. protecting them from pain and suffering. Soon his son wanted a better one.
SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Can you make a list of the times you haven’t made life too easy for your children. and a list when you made life a little more difficult? Which list is longer? How was your own growing up when it came to easy and difficult? 199 .
Dr. JACk ELLIoTT
Children do best where parents are the most incompetent. (read as non-invasive)
We stopped cleaning up after her. We stopped the endless . . . Elizabeth, clean your room! The same was true for our son, John. We shut the door to our children’s rooms and it became their mess, until after a couple of times when what they wanted to wear was wadded up on the floor and unwearable . . . too bad. Today she is almost obsessively neat . . . and we didn’t teach her to be . . . or did we? The same is true with our son. When we visited him in college, where he was sharing a house with four other students. He was called “Mr. Mom” at times because he was so neat. And can you believe, one year he wanted a vacuum cleaner for his birthday? You want your children to grow up and take care of themselves someday. If you invade their space, do for them, wipe away their every tear, and protect them even from themselves . . . well, what do you think will happen? There will come rebellion or a wide variety of neurotic reactive behavior. Children only grow up if they are allowed to be responsible and competent human beings dealing with the world, and allowed to deal with their own mistakes and consequences. At some point in growing up the parent-child relationship must move from the take care of everything, which slowly but surely will come across as interfering . . . to quietly standing there in a mode of incompetency that enables the child to grow more and more competent. They are allowed to have their own space and the parent is allowed to become non-invasive.
Have you ever had the experience of being an “incompetent” parent and found that your child did become more competent? If you have not had this joy, where could you become a little “incompetent”?
SECrETS For A GooD LIFE
If you need your teenager’s friendship, you are in serious trouble.
In the upscale suburban area we live, part of the local culture is the toleration of under age drinking . . . if not the actual complicity of the parents. Every now and then there is an article in the paper where the police raid a large noisy underage drinking party with the parents not home or upstairs and “they didn’t hear anything”.They are trying to be their children’s buddies. Every now and then someone gets hurt in a car accident or overdoses or does stuff that never gets mentioned. This is a very high and rather stupid price for parents to pay to enjoy the fleeting friendship of their children, who need parents a lot more than they need more friends. Children have to need you more than you need your children; otherwise you are in a hostage situation and your children will become terrorists who get their demands met with alarming regularity and frightening ease. This is not to say that you and your children cannot be friends, but you will always first be their mom or dad and they will never outgrow that need and value in their lives.
In simple terms what does being a good parent mean? Where can the good parent model be found . . . on some old TV series or movie, or your parents or grandparents? How much is your parental style a model of or reaction to your parents? How can parents and teenagers be friends and still maintain the proper family positions of parent and son or daughter?
Dr. JACk ELLIoTT
Your children need parents more than friends.
Bill was unhappy and struggling with some issues, financial and family, when his son came to him for advice. Son talked, and dad listened to his teenager’s feeling of being pulled and pushed by friends and not sure of the choices to make. Bill didn’t tell his son what to do, but tried to understand and tell his son the choices there seemed to be by what his son had told him. His son was really appreciative, and repeated his appreciation later a couple times. He hadn’t been told what to do, better he had been helped with some insight. Now this story would not be here except for what Bill told me next. After talking with his son, he immediately called his own dad and had a long talk, got some advice on his own issues and so shared with me how good it is that children need their parents at any age. Yes, this secret as with others, is elsewhere in slightly different words, but here with a slightly different angle. Beware of all these self-help/how to books on bringing up children that are full of ideas and lists on how to be a friend to your child. It is all very well and good, and we all need friends, but more than friends we need a mom and a dad. By the way, when parenting is done halfway right, the child never outgrows their need for their mom and dad. The relationship changes . . . but it is always unique and special and can’t be duplicated. At every age and most situations in life . . . the parent-child relationship is a unique valuable part of life that should never be discounted, diminished, or dismissed.
What makes the relationship between parents and their children so special and what can you do to maintain and nurture it? Have you made the effort to keep this relationship special? How has this relationship made your life better?
SECrETS For A GooD LIFE
Never discount grandparents.
They were a good family, busy, affluent, kids a little spoiled but not selfish or insensitive to the world around them by any means. They gave to food drives, collected their old clothing to give away, and wrote checks when appeals came. Grandpa and Grandma came to visit for a week at Thanksgiving time and grandpa noticed the corner of the garage full of bags of clothing as well as some cans of food that never got dropped off at church. He got his grandchildren to load their van with all the clothing and food as well as look for old coats and sweaters that didn’t fit anymore. He had the kids go with him so they could carry all the stuff into the family shelter.Well, it was a bit of an eye opener for the grandchildren as they saw the poor conditions at the shelter and all the various people including kids their own age.There were a couple of good conversations and as reality was adjusted just a bit, not to mention grandpa admiring their nice warm coats whenever they went out. The kids had never really connected to what the food and clothing drive really meant or how painfully real the need was. Grandpa had the time to teach them on a different level. The truth is grandparents can provide wonderful depth, balance and perspective in the great struggling journey of rearing children. [You do know that in the English language, that you rear children and raise cattle . . . try not to confuse the two.] Of course, this requires that grandparents enjoy their unique, once removed, position and not fall into the trap of being an extra set of parents. Grandparents can change the world. Just stop and think of all your memories of grandparents, then think of the greater effect they could have had or how good it was or could have been. If the memories aren’t so good, then just think of how better you are going to do!
What was the value of your grandparents in your family and growing up? What is the best influence and value of grandparents for your children?
Dr. JACk ELLIoTT
One generation is one dimension, not much of a picture.
It was one of those three-generation conversations. Mom was lecturing son about driving, son was listening but not quite connecting as he thought about how many days until he got his learner’s permit and how long after that until he got his license and reached true freedom and manhood. Grandpa looked at his grandson, Donald, and said, it’s a lot of fun to drive fast, really fast . . . Mom rolled her eyes. How fast have you driven Grandpa? 120 once, scared the hell out of me when I realized how fast I was going. But I’ll tell you, Donald, it’s not so much fun when you lose control and hear the screams around you and the terrifying sound of metal crunching. Besides that girls are only impressed by fast driving until you just barely avoid an accident, then they don’t want to be in your car. Grandson pays only slightly more attention until grandpa adds, I have a deal for you. No accidents for two years and I pay for a racetrack-training course. The point here isn’t so much about great teaching or guiding lessons, but the value of three generations talking to each other and interacting. We need to be around and interact with those who are younger and with those who are older than ourselves. Walk through a retirement or nursing home with a small child and everyone wakes up, is alive, and has some friendly remark to make hoping that the child will respond and connect them to life. Or, walk through a nursery school or children’s hospital with a grandparent and see what it does for the children.
What’s the place of grandparents and their advice in your family structure? Are they just for fun and babysitting and generosity or is their experience and vantage point part of your family’s life?
SECrETS For A GooD LIFE
Don’t make your children your salvation.
She was a good and loving mom, an outgoing exuberant person, always willing to help. Her daughter was very similar to her mom, a delightful teenager who related well to people of all ages.The problem was her mom had not had much of a young life, and so was now trying to relive her youth though her daughter. This came to a head when the prom was coming up and daughter, for whatever reason, decided she did not want to go. Mom was crushed, hurt, upset . . . and worse did not understand her own feelings and reactions, much less her daughter’s. It took some time to unravel it all, and more time for mom not to make her daughter her salvation, but they did and are living happily ever after and very independently. Children grow up with the least amount of difficulty and carry the least amount of junk from their growing up when their parents do not make them the basis of their own salvation.This is the growing up that the parents need to do. Truth be known, we often would like our children to stay close and be just a little dependent on us, if for no other reason, to keep that feeling of being loved and needed, not to mention being important in our children’s lives. Often we would like our children to be able to do what we were not able to do, or wish we had done. There are various unfulfilled parts of our lives that are very easy to project onto our children.To be sure some of this may be very good . . . but be careful.
How much of your peace of mind and happiness is tied to how your children are doing in life? How much responsibility and/or guilt do you feel when things do not go well for your children, albeit, through their own choices and behavior? Since we all know we will always be tied to our parents and our children, how can do we avoid making our children part of our salvation?
Dr. JACk ELLIoTT
There’s a difference between making decisions and making choices.
This is a famous and often retold story in our family. The decision, the mother told her very young daughter was that it was time for her nap, and the choice was given to daughter Elizabeth that she could take her teddy bear or her lion to bed with her. This worked very well for a while with the choices varied each day.Then came the response from our daughter that has made this a legendary family story repeated through the years . . . mom it’s time for me to go out and play. Do you want me to go out the front door or the back door? Decisions and choices are very important, more important is to know the difference. This is one of the very first abstract concepts a child learns.While they may not be able to decide never to eat vegetables, they do have some choices and may choose peas rather than broccoli. Total rebellion occurs when there are no choices left in life and so the only course is to rise up against tyranny. If you confuse decisions and choices, you will be going to war too often, for you will be living at the extremes. Put in simple terms, you are going to wake up tomorrow and will decide to go to work or go to school or stay home.This is a decision! Now you have a number of choices about work or school or staying home that can make your day good or bad, happy or sad, valuable or a waste . . . get the idea? Marriages go bad, families fall apart, and children stay childish too often because they confuse decisions and choices. You make the decision to be married, you now have a lot of choices ahead of you, but you no longer have any decision to make about where your love and loyalty and primary energy will be spent.You make the decision to buy a house, and you make choices in how to spend your income, but they are limited by the major decision you have made to buy the house. You make the decision
SECrETS For A GooD LIFE
to work the third shift and you have choices to make about how to spend your time, but they are limited now by the decision to work at night.
How do you teach your children the difference between decisions and choices and help them to make both? Do you allow or have you allowed your children to make their own choices within the decisions that you make?
Dr. JACk ELLIoTT
All parents need forgiveness.
The girls’ father had turned into an ogre. Jacques was worse than terrible and the family went through a couple of nightmare years. His kidney was failing and on top of that he had rare complications.The only way they could keep him alive was with massive doses of steroids, and he had all the horrible side effects. Well, they hung in there, when saints might have thrown him out or walked away. After the long dark night the dawn slowly came with a new kidney and no more steroids or other medicines with terrible side effects. He was a new man and a new dad. It brought tears to my eyes sometimes to see how hard he tried to do everything he could to make up for the bad days, much of which he didn’t even remember.The mom told me of a tearful and yet joyful dinner when they told him they forgave all the bad stuff that had happened and were so grateful that he was with them. He lived only a decade more, but it was good and he was healed where it counted the most, in all of their hearts. This is written first of all for children, of all ages, to read and realize about their parents. Until you forgive your parents, you will not be able to love and appreciate them for what they have been able to do for you. It is, of course, also written for parents, so they might stop trying so very hard, or feel so very guilty when not able to achieve that ideal parent model that they picked up somewhere, probably on TV from the 60s or from a Disney movie . . . but certainly not from the real world. The powerful secret inside the secret here is that with forgiveness comes healing and with healing comes a deep new level of relationship. Parent and child may both grow up and find their family and love much richer.
What is the place, value or importance of forgiveness in your life and in the way you relate to your family members? Always being right is a hard position to maintain for very long. Do you allow your children to see you as human and do you admit your mistakes to them? Have you forgiven your parents?
SECRETS ABOUT LOvE & MARRIAGE
First: Love yourself.
She was head over heels in love with him. Who knows why, love is mysterious. The problem was it seemed he was not quite there. He loved her, but was always drawing back, withholding himself, being careful and doing more trading than giving. He professed to love her, but? She, being so in love, was not going to give up on him. Finally she figured it out, as she got to know his family. They were rather negative and critical, good people, but they saw life in negative terms, even themselves and others. They did not love themselves and their love for each other was a little distant and difficult. She was not subtle or tricky about the whole thing, she simply laid it all out and told him he ought to love himself more so he could love her more. With the patience that only one who is deeply in love has, she slowly helped him to gain the insight needed and indeed love himself. You have to love yourself before you can love anyone else . . . or at least get a good start on it. For how much you love, like or care for another person will be limited or enlarged to the extent you are able to love, like, care for yourself. You begin with self, because yourself is what you first bring to relationship, your own value and your worth, your very being. Life and love, of course, becomes much more complex . . . but like checking the oil in the car, because it is absolutely basic and necessary for the car to run, and lack of oil with destroy the engine . . . so you have to have some healthy self love in order to love others. To ask the question, “Do you love yourself?” is to ask about a person’s well being. It is to ask about their mental and spiritual health. If the person answers the question with any degree of honesty you will learn a great deal about them. By the way, a great test of the difference between healthy self-love and selfish love is how you deal
Dr. JACk ELLIoTT
with yourself when you have done something you know is wrong. You still love yourself, but your very self-love drives you to make things right, so you can continue to love yourself!
Tell the truth! Do you get it? We’re not talking narcissism, egotism, or childish self-centeredness . . . we’re talking about the core sense of value each person needs to have for any kind of relationship of any kind of value. Deep down inside, where its only you . . . do you love yourself? If not, why not? others love you, don’t they?
SECrETS For A GooD LIFE
Men are weaker than women.
The car hit a patch of black ice coming around a curve, not driving very fast, but control was lost and off the road they went, rolled over sideways one full revolution, ending right side up. Their two kids in the back seat were both bleeding from small lacerations on their heads and in a total state of panic, but their seat belts worked great and held them in place. It was the same in the front seat, a few cuts and bruises and a lot of fear and adrenaline. Joan became supermom, checked the bleeding which looked much worse than it was, and asked the right questions about pain and possible serious injuries. Bill looked at his two children whose faces had a lot of blood on them and with tears streaming down his face asked his wife what to do. Fast forward in the story and it was mom who talked to the kids and then took them for a drive on the same road and spot to help them get over their reactive fear whenever they got in a car. Dad looked at his wife in a whole new light, and I suspect with new respect and love and best of all was more than ready to tell the story of being married to superwoman. In a fair physical fight the average man will beat the average woman, but there’s no such thing as a fair fight, and most fights are not fought with fists and brawn. Actually the fact is that men have more upper body strength and women more lower body strength . . . after that watch out! Men are weaker emotionally because they usually do not handle emotions well, whereas women are aware of and enjoy a wider range of feelings, and so most often develop more maturity and self-control. Men tend to keep a lot of emotions locked up, so that when they break out, men tend to have a harder time keeping them in a good and comfortable balance. Women on the other hand are informed by their emotions and are usually able to maintain a better balance of feeling and thinking. There are other ways that women might be said to be stronger than men. However one must first have a definition what weak and strong are. For example the drive to hold a family together, to
male or female. is a great strength.Dr. One might also observe that cooperating takes more real strength than competing. JACk ELLIoTT sacrifice self for this . female? Is one stronger than the other or is it different kinds of strength or is it different in different people and not very much about gender? Where are you strong? Where are you weak? How does this balance or compliment with your significant other? 212 . . How do you. see the strengths of male vs. .
for their team had lost. A man on the other hand going through something similar is thrown off track and sometimes even disoriented. on the other hand. sitting there looking like their best friend died. in fact. His wife comes into the room and asks her him why he has never gotten that excited about her .SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Men are more sentimental than women He was standing there. Most men keep a tight lid on their sentimental or emotional feelings. recognizes her sentimental or emotional feelings immediately and accurately and with no sense of awkwardness. Do you think you could sit down with your spouse or sweetheart and talk about feelings and emotions and being sentimental now and then? In the age of liberation do you think both genders are having a harder or easier time with the balance of thinking and feeling and balancing the expression of both without feeling childish or too vulnerable? 213 . Men are definitely more sentimental or emotional than women. shame or sense of weakness. or at least easier to take advantage of if you know the secret. . For certain generations it is certain kinds of rock concerts. embarrassment. silence.When these feelings get loose they do not handle them well or sometimes even enjoy them. jumping up and down in front of the TV. tough. . neither he nor his buddies knew what to say. probably didn’t understand the question. and the same thing can happen in front of the TV or even at Little League. it is just that it sometimes comes out in odd places. A woman will have a “good cry” and then wipe the tears away and go right on with whatever the difficult. Consider these: at the stadium with thousands of others yelling and screaming in joy or frustration. And that surely makes men weaker. painful or hard thing is that must be done. his buddies. A woman.
. . wake up! Stop and think about the best moments you have had with those you love. but don’t get too serious. .They were married. is that we carry so much baggage about others. . . too serious. he picks a bunch of dandelions. they get serious and they start to lose something of those early wonderful carefree romantic days. His wife comes downstairs. they are happy. more than they ever did. . takes them in the house and fills little vases with them. . Get happy. the other was there with an easy and wonderful forgiveness. Well. the weed killer he forgot to buy. . like children . After Sam gives us this background. to laughter that keeps going . . What you need to know is the very first “flowers” he gave her.Dr. in whatever way . It works. get silly. a circle of other successful couples. quite frankly. and were settling into the community. Life was serious now. JACk ELLIoTT Don’t get serious about the one you love. . were a bunch of dandelions found on the hill where he proposed. then as commitment and marriage come up on the radar . had good jobs with long hours. However they found they were fighting about big and little things far too much. . . Dandelions is now their code word when either of them gets too. romantic or family or friend. as he approaches their house he sees all the dandelions in their yard and remembers his wife’s complaining that he didn’t put the weed killer on the lawn. . to tears. and good futures. If you have been married for so long that you think this is just for young folk . don’t get so serious. . owned their first home. . light. he tells our dinner party his favorite story: He is walking up the hill from the commuter train. The problem. Before that there was a joyful acceptance . weary and worn out after a particularly hard day. . Ever notice when people fall in love . lighthearted moments. and when one-stepped on the toes of the other . . joyful . sees them and goes from an angry look. In a sudden moment of being less than so serious. so many unresolved or semi-resolved issues where the relationship has had serious competing moments that have 214 . . It is often a code word for the subtle negotiation that’s taking place about how much each person feels they are going to give up of themselves. My guess is that those moments were not serious but relaxed.
SECrETS For A GooD LIFE left bruises. Put all that “stuff ” down and simply have some fun together. laughing and even being a little childlike? What do you think makes you so serious and proper and adult at times? What can you do to help those you love. When is the last time you can remember putting down seriousness and being lighthearted. We have had a hard time simply enjoying in a happy relaxed open vulnerable way. lighten up from their seriousness? 215 .
We would rather just wait for spontaneous to happen than talk of commitment. Often when we talk or think about how we wish there was more spontaneity in our lives or relationship. agreed. that was planned right down to having them say they just had a cancellation. On the other hand anticipation. with his high level of organizing and plan ahead skills and a mother-in-law that loved them both and took great delight in his devious planning. You might say that to plan to make love every Thursday night lacks spontaneity. and foreplay that begins in the morning . Lets go out to dinner tonight. ! She equated spontaneity with romance. . However George. They got in. and her mother. sending them off. even though one usually needed a reservation. he said. preparation.What followed was a long discussion and a gradual commitment to deliberate.This meant that going out for a nice dinner or getting away for a weekend had to be like their courting days when almost all of life seemed to be full of spontaneity. made it all “spontaneous”. or the investment and commitment of ourselves in one another. . we are using it as a means of avoidance or masking our comfortable ruts. Now. they didn’t go out very often because they didn’t have reservations or a baby sitter and a spontaneous lets get away for the weekend could never happen. . . He suggested they stop by their favorite romantic place. and ask yourself how much was it the spontaneity and how much was “event” itself? Which is more fun a surprise (read that as spontaneous) or the fun of looking forward to something? How would you or your spouse define “spontaneous” for your own selves? 216 . may just be worth a lot more. . had a great time and it wasn’t until the weekend that he told her it all required planning from mom to the restaurant reservation. Waiting for something to just happen often has more to do with avoidance or laziness than spontaneity. planning. well organized spontaneity.Dr. Stop and recall some spontaneous times and moments. JACk ELLIoTT Spontaneity isn’t . who just happened to be there for the night.
The problem was the holidays and a few other times when the pressure was on them to be at a certain family gathering. They found there were two sets of relative “baggage” they had. never making any commitment without talking to each other. and seeking to share the mix of all sorts of feelings. They had no idea how complex it would be or how much each carried all manner of feelings and pressures. and in doing so they will either draw blood. If there are a half dozen different “messes” if you will. and they are still working on it. that did not always mix or match. They must decide how they will process the problem. always being gentle with each other. I told them that the problem was not the problem. there are many more ways of dealing or not dealing with them that will either insure that the mess is cleaned up . . They have put in place a process that nurtures their marriage and yet deals positively with all the relatives. They called it the relative minefield and were wise enough to know they had to deal with it before they hurt each other or their marriage any more than they already had. it is the discipline that must be put in place so punishment is rarely required. it is how it is going to be cleaned up that is important. So the secret is.They were enjoying each other and growing closer. just moved around . Fast forward a few years. . or heal wounds and go on to build their own relationship. but they work very consciously together as their own family. 217 . It is not the mess on the floor that is the problem . . It is not the kids’ punishment again. as they got to know each other’s family and more about their spouse. I told them I did not need to know all the issues or content. except for one area. . The young couple had a good marriage. . It is not all the bills. and that was both sets of their relatives. it is not the problem. it is how the finances are organized and budgeted. Short visits were fine. . further I was not interested or willing to try to solve their problem since it was going to reoccur in many ways through the years. The total number of different kinds of problems in a marriage rarely exceeds four or five.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE The problem is not the problem. or made worse.
.Dr. . which may really be the real problem. JACk ELLIoTT rather. you already have some. It might be very interesting for you to make your own list and compare it with your significant other’s list. before they come up? Have you ever worked on your mutual communication skills? Do you understand the difference between “content” and “process”? 218 . have cleaned some up. You will come to realize fairly quickly that what is really important is how you deal with the problems. No. However. and will face some more. You will discover that you probably have less than a half dozen. more than the problems themselves. it is how you deal with the problems. I am not going to tell you what the problems of marriage or relationship are . Have you ever discussed a process to use with various issues.
. then who do you know who lives this way? Instead of a story here. Nothing puts more strain on a marriage or dampens every other joy and happiness than being too much in debt. that is no debts other than the long term contractual ones such as mortgage or car payment? And how long would it take you to get ahead so that the next big purchase was paid for before you bought it not a year or so after? 219 . The single biggest cause of divorce is money and not about not having enough but about how you will deal with it. You don’t think this is a secret much less makes sense in our age of credit? Well. So. count the number of credit cards that you have . but we all seem to go right past without paying any attention. For what is still a secret is the power and value of what happens when one is actually paying attention to those things which are seemingly obvious. And nothing helps a starting family more than shared goals and dreams and saving and sacrificing for them.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Pay cash or do without. saved and paid cash or went without? Perhaps there should be a whole category of “well known secrets”. and when was the last time you waited. have you ever put together a budget or lived by one for any length of time? How long would it take you to be in a cash position. .
but expect that you will be courted. . . you simply start courting to discover and learn . is gender neutral. and just wait till your spouse starts to court you. . try it . . Try a little courting and you will quickly understand. So much so that you do not take the person for granted but always treat him or her as very valuable and wonderful to you. Get it? Even if you don’t . . but may just get him in touch with the whole idea of courting. . or into a “parent” to take care of you. and so not only do you want to court. . which. of course. about sex. The power at the core of romantic love is not as one may think.Your spouse surely is as good and wonderful as you. . rather it is about courting! Courting is making and reminding the other person how unique and special he or she is in your life. . giving a man flowers is not only great courting. This has to do with respect and value. and by the way this is gender neutral advice . She looked at them and said how very nice and special that was. . My wife and I have been married for forty-two years as I write these lines. Never stop expecting to be courted. trust me here .Dr. When was the last time you courted your spouse and what did you do? Why haven’t you done it more often? And what about doing something new and unexpected? 220 . Last week for no special reason I bought her flowers. JACk ELLIoTT Never stop courting. . . Courting is far more complicated but is inductive not deductive . Otherwise you are making your spouse into a “child” for you to take care of.
easy superficial intimacy can be physical nakedness. He got into it on his own. . having affairs with others or with work . Adam and Lisa were middle aged. always supportive of each other. . . and then figuring you can run these up on the credit card of “you will forgive me if your really love me” is not what either intimacy or forgiveness are all about. True intimacy is letting another see the real you as you go through life. but special because they seemed to have a family relationship that was very good. and have ruined your “credit rating”. . just as you are seen. The secret is that intimacy is found in vulnerability. in his words. received it. and accept and value them where possible. forgiveness is not a platinum credit card with a high limit so that you can abuse the other . and had two teen children who got into normal teenage mischief. The power of forgiveness is that it 221 . and one day he realized how bad life was becoming for himself and his family and he quit. . and that made all the difference. . . . enjoyed talking to each other. . It is about being naked to each other . . . When I asked him about this he told me this story. forgive and accept where needed. as a constant stream between the two of you. It will be built and maintained with forgiveness . Intimacy is letting one other person see more and more of your flaws and foibles as well as your strengths and beauty . .SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Intimacy is built on forgiveness. at least not for long until you go over your debt limit . all in all there was something special about their family. They were polite and kind to each other. was losing his way. and carry on. . He had gone through a period in his life when he drank too much. romance overlooks and real love moves right through the imperfections! By the way. involved.You see the sinner and the saint . . So being rude or abusive. More than that he asked for forgiveness from his wife and each of his children.
Where do you need to be forgiven? Where do you need to forgive? Why is forgiveness being withheld or locked up. . finding worth and value even when it is tarnished and dented. now and then. either by you or from you? What’s so hard about this whole forgiveness thing? Everyone needs forgiveness.Dr. unless of course you are perfect. even then you still need to give it. 222 . . JACk ELLIoTT is wrapped in acceptance and understanding .
ballet might be interesting. . to the extent that the other person is a contradiction and even judgment to the way the other is. . after the romance of the moment fades into daily living. Romance begins with each bending toward the other’s ways as only love can do. . if they know that each has a need for the other to bring balance into their lives. . he likes hockey . he is slovenly . . The romantic notion that opposites attract each other is nonsense. . she likes ballet . clean the car and the garage and he could have become a real pig who needed her calling him to task. balances and helps to meet needs. Otherwise. each will view the other with growing irritation and even distain for being different. Needs certainly do attract. She could be constantly nagging at him to pick up after himself. for needs do attract. It went on . It all began as Julie and Steve looked at each other. she is compulsively neat . . On the other hand. . . and each grows. . . romance flowers. . Opposites do not attract. then they both might draw closer to the other and their place would be neat and clean. Needs attract. Or. . .We won’t even go into reconciling football and ballet. . if it was needs that attracted them.We could fast forward in our story and it might go either way. . . and said to themselves . is your spouse needs? Can you think of the times and places where your needs and your spouse’s needs came together and made for a better if not wonderful relationship? 223 . if one is in touch with how the other completes. But sooner or later. except to say it can happen . . The other person is different. the reeds straighten back up. . . so deeply and newly in love. but not surgically so. . I really want to relax and be more casual . Do you realize that you really need that your spouse has? Does your spouse realize what you have to give.The messy person and the neat person falling in love with each other is wonderful . like reeds in wind. . .SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Opposites do not attract. I need to watch some sports . then the journey really begins. What attracts are mutual needs. I really need to be a little neater .
overweight. George. Their marriage began with 100-100% and then started to give more. He took action. this is small gift that I can give her. This often is the difference between success and failure. being both mom and dad. is for business deals and being good neighbors and whatever else. out of shape. Simply put. going through menopause. probably applies in a number of other areas in life. Needless to say. at first bewildered and simply a bystander. not very well. because sometimes it is not about any kind of fair balance or equation. how did you feel when you were the recipient? 224 . perhaps because their love had grown so much through giving and sacrifice and just plain hard work. Where have you given 100% plus? Where have others given you the same? How did you feel when you looked back on giving all you could and more? or. JACk ELLIoTT Marriage is a 50-50 deal?! Nonsense!! Howard worked long hard hours. . . and. they are more in love than ever and doing very well. and struggling. Her husband. Sally was home with their three kids. even if they could not identify it. . Dorothy was 49 years old. or halves. They made it through the tough times and their marriage was stronger than ever and their kids knew all was well. much less walk away. but he figured it out after awhile. and do not keep tabs on who gave more. with the serious onset of middle age. she was wallowing in it all and not moving forward at all. Marriages and life long friendships start at going 100% and then give more when it is needed. she has given to me for 25 years of love and marriage . Another story is needed here. for it was that or his business would go under. They knew it and were proud of it. Going 50-50. He gave over 100% in every area of their lives . choosing not to back off or simply keep his distance. for that is just what 100% effort produces. .Dr.
whether or not others can see the limp. . life was always competition. We won’t even go into some of the other things he grew up with that made him a bit of a cripple. or even if we cannot acknowledge to others or ourselves . Fortunately. The background is that he grew up as one of eight boys.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE You know you married a cripple? He was a good husband. and so that was how he related and communicated. always willing to help with any chore. attitudes. Worse. we walk with a limp. great sense of family. but it was there. and with most of his years without a mom who died too early from cancer. but do not forget that your beloved walks with a limp.We all have been through less than perfect childhoods and growing up. Do you know some of the things that cause you to walk with a limp? Do you know some of things that cause your spouse to walk with a limp? How do you handle these limps? How could you handle them better? Do you ever talk about them? or. that they soon talked about different issues now and then in a slow and gentle way and worked through it all. very few of us will ever completely grow up. It was not mean or gigantic. The not so good side was that with eight brothers. . The good side was that having a woman in Dave’s life was wonderful.You may be the only person who knows that you walk with a limp. is it too difficult and you don’t want to? 225 . it was so obvious that his upbringing with all males was different. too. and ways of thinking and relating to others. Every one of us has things in our past that have crippled us. and so we will always have a limp. loved and appreciated and treated her wonderfully. and learned less than perfect views.
and stayed in their newly bought cottage most of the time. You know you wonder the same at times about your sweetheart. the beach. to being her gentle prince charming. Do you know the childhood hurts you still carry with you or your spouse’s? How do they affect the way you live and act? Do you think you can get over them? Do you think you can help your spouse get over some of theirs? 226 . . but never forget there are also hurts . Her father took her to the end of the dock. the dock. you wouldn’t have bought this book if you didn’t have some insight about yourself. Well. it was not because she was a poor swimmer.Dr.We all carry with us the hurts and disappointments of childhood as well as the wonders and joys.We don’t always know all the other’s childhood hurts. . Ever wonder why you act a certain way or why you react in a certain way? Come on now. even as there are within ourselves. tossed her in the water and said swim. who slowly and carefully enabled her to enjoy the water. but they are there. her sweetheart went from teasing her about her swimming. but because of the way her dad taught her to swim. JACk ELLIoTT You also know you married your sweetheart’s childhood hurts? When Anne finally told Ralph the reason she did not like the boat. We get to know the joy and wonders of the other person’s growing up.
creating balance or imbalance. entertainment.The telling words were when they each realized and admitted to the other . reading. The secret here is to be aware of what else is there. children. This is a neutral statement. clubs. just each other. hobbies. we’re suffocating each other! They also admitted to me their insecurity about the possibility of losing each other. Well. stability 227 . . they realized and admitted to each other that they missed the friends they no longer hung out with. So stop for a moment now and think about any of your relationships. All these can be good. but the secret is to be aware and consciously decide what will be the support structures that holds your relationship together and gives it some of its definition and growth and vitality through the years. If you want to go further in this insight journey think back to relationships that did not last to see if you can find where that third part was removed for whatever reason. Couples center. I explained to them that two is not quite stable and it was good to find other persons and things to create balance. There is always something more present. only time will tell. or what passes for love at a young age. and volunteering. This is a very worthwhile concept or secret to understand as it helps you to understand where the energy or focus of a relationship is. Then one day. They were young and in love. but they did arrive at some very adult insights and do share more with each other of both their worlds. acquisition. You will find that that was when the relationship began to fail. They didn’t need anyone. . stabilize or sustain their relationship with sex. finances. and each missed the sports and other activities that they had let go.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE There is no such thing as a two person system. Try to think of a relationship of only you and someone else. Then think further about what makes it work and you will find the first of many triangles that bring some stability to the relationship. vacations. There is never just the two of you. careers. watching movies. Two legs will not hold the stool up. you need at least three for any kind of stability.
and the point here is to know what is on the menu and what is getting chosen. etc.? 228 .Dr. excitement or boredom. excitement or peace to your marriage? What could you eliminate that would help stabilize. There is a very long list of things. What are the things that help stabilize your relationship? Destabilize it? What things could you add to bring more stability. JACk ELLIoTT or instability.
SECrETS For A GooD LIFE If you want closeness keep your distance. . He knew he had to support Jean. The problem in many marriages and families is not so much maintaining relationship as much as maintaining individuality. comes about is when one encourages the other to go and be their own unique person. . This means having his or her own space. You encourage this in your beloved. because you know that closeness and intimacy is built on what each brings to the relationship and not what each loses in the relationship. but he was afraid he might lose her in a whole different world than his own. boring . and time separate and distinct from the other. Their love grew. Their marriage and family is a model and they always seem to be doing things. They now could afford what she had given up for his education. interests. together and separately. they really enjoy each other’s company. Carole’s statement is much more profound and important. At first. . Carole has made the humorous remark often in an offhand but slightly serious note . Meet one. for that is what I am talking about in keeping your distance. . dreaming and planning in many ways. agenda. . which has some good space in it. To all who know them. . I married Norm for life. they are close and caring and not a little envied for their wonderful devoted relationship.They knew they each needed some space of their own. If two people are too close. they become extensions of each other. Best of all. for others and for each other! The interesting paradox here is that often the best way that individuality. not to mention her surpassing his income and status. not for lunch . you have met the other . I thought it was just a smart remark. . so they would not suffocate. completing each other. . They were both now retired and she probably did not want to be waiting on him. working together. for they each grew 229 . Love and romance has to do with two unique people touching each other. Joe was seriously afraid when his wife wanted to go back to school to get her doctorate in a field that she was passionate about. One cannot tell where one begins and the other ends. Nothing could be further from the truth.
They would joke in a slightly embarrassed way that with all the sacrifices as well as accomplishments. Have you ever asked your spouse or yourself about the need for space for yourself or for your spouse? Do you claim space for yourself? How do you that? How do you make sure your spouse has space for self? 230 . JACk ELLIoTT in wisdom and maturity and wealth of mind and spirit. they had become soul mates.Dr.
SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Never criticize your partner. and compete is not nearly as important as to help. It is not just 231 . but nevertheless all marriages should try this if they want to build a better. They were a good couple to get to know. find a better way of correcting the problem. Your criticism may be true or just might be a projection of your own defects. . Gordon and Lois never ever criticized each other . happier and more at peace relationship. we are careful and gentle. So this may be an ideal that is rarely found in practice. but that was all. This is a radical concept.Also they never used sarcasm. they were not Pollyanna or naïve. We grew close to them in our small bridge group. Sharing a breath mint is a lot better than saying you have bad breath. gentle. .You may surprise yourself when you realize that to win. maybe there was a little gentle humorous teasing. with a delightful sense of humor. If it is a projection of your own defects. The same was true about sarcasm. be right. friendly. Then one day I realized what it was. but now and then even one’s beloved needs a little negative feedback. No matter how clever or witty. they abstained from any kind of negative. when we do it. for we often project our junk as well as our good stuff onto the world and people around us. If your criticism is true and your partner is the one person you count on most and you want to keep it that way. Hopefully.When asked outright about this. It should also be mentioned that one should not criticize your partner’s family or their country or ethnic background. closer. there is a lot of criticism going around in life. Let’s face it. Now. They have gone through some great times and some very hard times but always their relationship is strong and loving. then all the more reason not to criticize. You will quickly and without much difficulty find a different approach. they responded simply that they would not like to be dealt with critically and so would not deal critically with each other. Stop and figure out what you really want to accomplish.
Dr. because the other probably knows a lot more about the truth of your criticism. but it is still their family. recognizing your spouse may have some stuff too that you need to deal with? 232 . love or even friendship on the negative. Can you identify areas where you are critical? Can you identify places where your spouse’s criticism is a negative or limiting factor in your relationship? What can you do about this. part of their heritage or part of their very identity. Let the other person do the criticizing. it is all about creating bridges or walls. JACk ELLIoTT that blood is thicker than water. Besides you will never build any kind or real lasting intimacy.
relatives and friends. actually comes after forgiveness. because when it gets too far out of balance. that others may be in need of? Are there places in your life where you need the healing of forgiveness? Have you experienced the power of forgiveness and the love it nurtures? 233 .SECrETS For A GooD LIFE The first great power of human beings is the power to forgive. . no matter what happened. Do you have stuff you need to forgive. the power to love. it is over! This is why we have such a great number of divorces and dysfunctional families and lonely people. and though he had said it before. to love and care for parents. with lots of name-calling and John was caught in the middle. It is only through a continual stream of forgiveness that you are able to bring up your children. This time he simply told her to stop all the excuses. alcohol and Valium. not as one might think. Otherwise all you are doing is trading. it is simply being a real human being. . Forgiveness is not being weak or for that matter being strong . . . with little time left after being addicted to nicotine. whether we were together or not. and so I forgive all the rest . I love you and always have. John went on to say that he only remembers the good days they have shared and the positive influence she has had in his life. Many years later. when his mother was dying. guilt. . She struggled with it again. She carried a lot of guilt. There were years of acrimony between the parents. even trading forgiveness. John’s parents were divorced when he was only eight. The first great power of ours is. and other negative junk talk and listen. it seemed her guilt was too great for him to get through. but this time seemed to accept it and enjoy some peace in her last days. Love. I was shaped and sustained so much by your love. It was an ugly divorce and he was pulled back an forth and finally ended up in boarding schools from age nine through high school and on to college.
by 11 pm we would be tired and talked out. I confess I wondered how we could possibly last until midnight. allow yourself to relax and take your time. arranged by the concierge.We have never forgotten the wonder of that evening and try to find it anew in various ways. mental and even spiritual shortness of breath. It sounded romantic. You discover the quality of life. relationships. It gave us gentle leisurely time to share with each other. no doubt. We live in an age of chronic urgency. One year we flew to Budapest. maybe this is so. with piano and violins and old world elegance.We think the faster we go the more we will get done. you discover quality and depth. What do you do when you realize that life is moving too fast with too much pressure and not enough pleasure? Have you found ways to control your time rather than let it control you? What’s the best slow down time you have had? 234 . Superficially and on a short-term basis. and now had a moment to slow down. at 1 am we were finally ready to go back to the hotel and we were still talking and listening! Perhaps it was the romantic place or simply the fact that we both had our own busy lives and worlds. But when you slow down. the emotional.The highlight was a New Year’s Eve dinner at a small elegant restaurant on a hill overlooking Budapest. weariness and exhaustion will begin to dissipate.Well. Our reservation was for 7 pm and. even the quality of work. The planes and hotels were half empty and so it was a delightful bargain.SECRETS ABOUT MENTAL hEALTh The fastest relief: SLOW DOWN! My wife and I used to fly to Europe a day or two after Christmas before it was discovered. whenever we are moving too fast with too long a list.
restrictive. . . I really don’t want to go through this again . she had accepted this. even in dying. . came home from the hospital and lived another two years. . Final plans were made. club. spent serious time and money 235 . . she went into remission. then to everyone’s amazement. . and what always stands out is that they still find some laughter and humor in life. When she went back to the hospital and knew this really was the end. least expensive medicine for anxiety and tension is playfulness. we’ve practiced all the hard parts . but also helped her entire family. In truth she did not have any easy time those last two weeks. . or community is to determine their capacity for playfulness and laughter. . They could laugh and smile at each other . especially when it looked like her strong and devoted husband was going to fall apart. A quick accurate way to decide whether or not to be part of a group. The opposite is a highly anxious. There is always some humor in everything.Think about this just a moment and tell yourself where mental health is going to be found.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE The least expensive medicine: Play! Laugh! Bertha was dying of cancer. . well. and was at peace. company. and share peace and healing powers of the soul one cannot begin to describe. and goodbyes said . of the famous Marx Brothers of early motion picture days. There is always something to laugh about. I have talked to dying people who were totally alive and connected to their families to the very end. be it a family. The quickest. If you are to be part of it you will either have to give up part of yourself or work very hard at defining yourself in the midst of a very tight herd. . Bertha and her family had all kinds of humorous remarks to make . The most important aspect of mental health is not to take yourself too seriously. this better be it. A good deal of her strength came through her sense of humor and playfulness about the whole dark presence of cancer and death. judgmental group. but her spirit was never broken. This not only helped her. . you changed your mind the last time . diminished or lost. It is worth mentioning that Harpo Marx. are you sure you’re ready to go. .
Dr. and. Have you ever been beaten down so far that you could find nothing to make you smile. If you search the web for articles about the value of laughter. so did Will Rogers. much less laugh? Can you remember when you finally could laugh again and how it felt? Have you used humor to help someone else who needed a little “healing”? 236 . you will find a lot of valuable reading. JACk ELLIoTT studying the actual therapeutic and healing power of laughter.
. but with humor and a little laughter. Anita had suffered a freak accident with her face badly burned. I know this sounds nice. whatever to laugh about and relieve the tension.Two years later. It will set free that part of the human spirit that is necessary for human healing to happen. She was lying there. eyes swollen almost closed. . We laughed and commiserated with each other and pledged each other to secrecy . head wrapped up. . She went on to explain how they were always telling her what to do and how to do it. who were both elementary school teachers. but rather trite and simplistic. facing surgery and possible disfigurement. it was like it never happened and you would have to look very closely at her face to see the smallest of scars. some silliness. and you could see the change in her voice and even look . laughter works! Her healing was long and arduous and not without pain. We talked about pain and fear and the future. after all when a person has cancer and may die. or loses part of their bodily function or may be deformed it’s not really a laughing matter.Wrong! Find some humor.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Laughter begins more healing than all the stuff in the doctor’s bag. Can you find some small humor in the darkest of places? Has laughter and humor ever saved you in really bad moments? Have you ever been lifted by the lightness of humor and laughter? 237 . I reminded her that I was married to just such a teacher for 38 years. She said the hardest part would be her two sisters. she kept her perspective and she kept her life in balance. .
I think physically moving your head forces your focus to change and your mind to shift a little. Have you found your mind and focus wandering? Move your head.Dr. Amazingly enough. is putting you to sleep Now I am not sure this fits into a section about mental health. move your focus. it worked and continues to work when needed. Do you ever have a hard time keeping your focus? If this really works are you going to share it with your friends? 238 . move your head all the way from one side to the other. JACk ELLIoTT Move your head. this can become a metaphor about keeping good mental health by moving our focus rather than getting stuck on just one thing or one way that makes it hard to keep our eyes open to anything else. Even more. It will wake you up when at the boring meeting you have been in for too long. Andrea told me to move my head from one side to the other as far as I could. but then again. We were taking the afternoon coffee break when someone teased me about the hard time I was having trying to keep my eyes open.
otherwise you have to carry all the bad stuff that has been done to you. felt the wonderful feeling of liberation that brought a sense of climbing the mountain of life and seeing life from a better place. until whenever she 239 . Years later. said he was sorry that he had hurt my feelings. family and marriage section. Worse it can become like an acid that slowly eats away at you until you do not see or live in a very healthy mental state. Afterward. Life went on. . not to mention all the bad stuff you have done. It slowly ate away at their whole relationship. but in all honesty he did not remember it at all. The only way to be a free functioning human being is to forgive. a small unhappy. My mother never completely forgave her own mother for a number of things. More than that. I served on a board that the very same professor came before to make a presentation. they like I. unresolved memory. Whenever I tell this story.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE To forgive is to set yourself free. there is a reason. but I carried it with me . After a while it will become a prison that enslaves you. Just in case you were wondering why a secret about forgiveness is in the mental health section and not with the other secrets about forgiveness in the love. over coffee I recounted the story to Jim. if not out of any saintliness of my own. not the guilty person. I had learned again that to forgive is to set oneself free. I had wasted all those years with negative draining discoloring thoughts and feelings about him that I should have forgiven. were imprisoned. surely out of a practical sense of how to live one’s life with peace. We talked more and there were good and kind feelings between us. people tell me then or later how much it helped them deal with some unforgiven issue that was blocking or limiting some relationship and suddenly they realized they. freedom and positive values. Years ago a professor made a very hurtful remark to me. He looked at me. .
Dr. you or the guilty party? Where would you like to be free where only the lack of forgiveness is holding you in bondage? 240 . Are you carrying “stuff” you have not forgiven? Who do you think is in the prison of the unforgiven. JACk ELLIoTT thought too much about her mother she got in a very depressed or angry state of mind.
it is a cover for other more vulnerable feelings of being hurt in some way. So when you feel angry.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Anger is not what you’re feeling. spouse. . you’re not angry. boss. If you stay with this. The time you fumed over your birthday or anniversary being forgotten. family member. relative. and add you’re hurt. I repeat. carefully check your feelings to see what is really going on. even though it may be a primary reaction. Was it really anger or was it more hurt you felt? How often do you ever let feelings of hurt be known? 241 . then. or a friend. you’re not angry. worker. and what you were really feeling was raw fear. then interrupt and tell them . Very often. Think back to the last time or two you remember feeling angry. . Think of the family and marriage fights that you have witnessed or been part of and how they would have radically changed. people have come into my office “angry” with someone . The time you yelled at the driver who almost hit you. you will surely grow more sensitive and aware and accurate about your feelings and the mask that anger can be. but then realized that it was your fault too. but the hurt feelings are much deeper and much more important than any anger. . the true feelings of hurt had been expressed. Sometimes there may be some anger mixed in with the hurt. Think back to a few times when you were angry. and then realized you were so hurt and lonely. This is serious good mental health! Often when we feel or express anger. What is most interesting is that rarely does anyone disagree. to see if it isn’t hurt. if instead of talking and acting in angry terms. I wait a moment. Examine what you are feeling deep down inside. I listen for a moment to their ranting. It is a lot safer to get mad than to admit we are hurt or afraid. Anger is a secondary feeling. if they don’t respond. neighbor. .
On the other hand. if you have no dream.You may discover what has got you down is not just all the negative things in your life. He held on to their dream and that gave them the light to get through the dark places. but also the lack of anything positive to lift you up. but a hope. . His wife couldn’t do much to help. then do get professional help. He ended up with a much better position at a significant pay raise. So. If your depression is more serious. they would talk about their dream. a vision. with two children in school. or hope you have good reason to be depressed: the present is difficult and the future holds nothing. .Dr. even though it was far away. a vision. that and my wonderful sweetheart. If you have a dream. even if the credit was stolen. Bill was depressed and his wife wasn’t far behind him. . it will help push back depression. but also along the way try to dream. The follow up on this story is that he would endure the boss for another three years and then it all came out. all you have to do is remember to try it the next time you feel down. What do you do when you realize you are running a low-grade depression? Do you have a dream or two that you go to once in awhile? If you don’t have a dream. . In recounting this he would say . a driving positive force you have for your life. . vision. Focus your thoughts on a dream of yours. what do you have as you look to the future? 242 . JACk ELLIoTT Dreams dispel depression. no. not daydreaming. a positive possibility however small . They shared a dream of owning their own home instead of just making rent payments. . when down. a hope. So Bill felt he was in a dead end situation in terms of his career and income. This is one of those deceptively simple secrets. This dispelled his depression enough for him to realize and to gain some perspective and energy to work hard again. Sara worked part time and was encountering more demands. we hung on to our dream no matter what and that got us out of our pit and moving forward . His boss was one of those self-serving ambitious types that took everyone’s credit for himself.
.Years ago. or have little or no importance or relevance in our lives. For example. or ethnic jokes often reveal not only their ignorance and 243 . or growing older. Joe. Rather. at the very least some unresolved anxiety. They are joking about what is serious in their lives. We sort of know this or at least recognize it when it is so obvious we could hardly miss it. and be aware that there may well be a serious component of their lives in it somewhere . spouses who are so busy they have to make an appointment to see each other. strenuous struggles of life. but I’m not talking about jokes with punch lines. and his drinking and how lazy he was. the kids who never call. sexist. . We don’t make jokes about things that do not interest us. Bill could joke about his younger brother. people who make racist. there was a very awkward moment as Bill reversed himself and started to defend his brother. Sure we have jokes about everything. but when someone else made a humorous remark about Joe. Stop and think about it. Often we say something in a light humorous vein that actually bothers us and we don’t know how else to let it out. I was at a party in Mexico City where Mexicans were joking about their army.SECRETS ABOUT PARADOx We often joke about what we’re serious about. . I’m talking about the ‘going through life’ things we joke about or make humorous remarks about in order to make them all more tolerable Watch what people joke about . There are also things a person jokes about. When you hear someone joking about his or her weight. but you better not. . we try to lighten the serious. and the Mexicans suddenly had nothing but good to say about their army. and an American friend of mine made some derogatory remarks.
. . pay attention. but also their own insecurities and fear . but when the theme repeats itself. better to put them down than struggle with the fact they may be equal to us. JACk ELLIoTT prejudice. Try a bit of self-psychology by asking yourself what you tend to joke about and what are the recurring themes? Do you notice tendencies in others to joke too often about things you think may be too close to home? 244 .Dr. Not every joke is more than a joke.
. This is true whether you believe in God or just in yourself and a few others. deepen. . . now and then.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Giving is receiving! Sometimes you give. For some time afterwards.You never give without getting something in return . I thought about them and how very good my life was. What is the greatest pure. Some years ago. you still have a sense of receiving something. if you think about it. and sustain the relationship and the other person. no notice . you are the first to know the story. There will be no return. no return giving that you can remember that you have done? What giving could you get up right now and do. . you have a great new power in your life. if you think about it for a while. . that you know you would be receiving as well? Do you find yourself falling into the trap. you will begin to realize that the greatest and most satisfying part of anything is what you give and what others really give you. except between you and God. But. I walked up to a very poor and hungry looking family in Haiti. if only the sense that you build. In either case. The power at the center of the universe is giving. It changed my value structure just a little. It readjusted the dials in my life a bit. Now that you know that giving is receiving . maintain. I told no one. in the very purist of terms. no appreciation. every time I took out a twenty. . just like that. of thinking about what the return will be if you give? 245 . handed the father twenty dollars American. and disappeared before they could say a word. I am sure you have good stories.
but he was also good in the area of human psychology. It is about love and friendship. This is true for all of us. with the adjustments and outright changes that were needed. With time and integrity he did turn the team back into being a team. Relationships will wither or become brittle when there is no sense of freedom to be able to say yes or no. care. but 246 . you will find that you can get a lot more done and build a better relationship.Dr. This is the paradox buried in freedom. You will only believe if you are free not to believe. though he needed to be reminded now and then to slow down and use those skills. . We need to be free. work. supporting his plan . If you respect and treat with value a person’s freedom. here may be your answer. JACk ELLIoTT Given permission to say no. It is buried in all manner of great things. play. . Children. from the sweeper to the highly skilled technician. a person is more apt to say yes. He was a very strong willed manager. His reply was an uncomfortable silence. It took awhile to turn it around. As we sat talking about it. If you are wondering why the other has become negative or reactive . either in raw crude terms or in very subtle complex ones. love. who are given a free choice. It is about faith and trust. followed by ouch! He had been so focused on his plan that he forgot to give them permission to be at all critical. I asked him if he was the only one with ideas and were they there to carry out his. Andrew’s team was fighting him more and more. much less say no to anything. and he was responding by pushing back harder. Now take the word believe and substitute some other words. need to be able to veto the work. This is something management keeps learning and forgetting through the years as they deal with labor. The power of this secret is in the positive side of this paradoxical equation. to have some control over our own lives. often stop pushing so hard in the opposite direction. . at least enough to have a sense of choice. support. help. . Not that labor. as the team was not too trustful nor believed that he really was giving them permission to say no.
to really disagree with you? At work? At home? In your marriage? Did someone else get their way.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE they do need some space in which to live and breathe. to think and feel as a free human being. this is not about anarchy. Have you ever had a hard time giving someone permission to say no. It is about the way one must deal with people in order to hold them together and keep them going in the same direction. The same is true in a marriage or family. Again. Give them some room to move freely on their own. or was a new way found? 247 . Forget this and the future is not going to be very good. where everyone does whatever they want whenever they want.
What is intelligence? Well. sustain and nurture a marriage and family. Joe has a great brain. is outside his world.Q. This requires no small intelligence. however. Look at a lot of very “successful” people. Interesting to note. However. the ability to relate to the real world on a day to day basis. In certain areas of computer and artificial intelligence he is very intelligent and has the patents to prove it. JACk ELLIoTT Intelligence isn’t intelligence. .Dr. The secret here is to be a little more thoughtful on how you measure intelligence. it is very easy to be a little jealous of those who stand out in some way. Want to have some fun? Ask the question: what is intelligence? What examples and stories can you think of that illustrate this secret? 248 . They may be very good in their chosen field. Dave remarked to me later about the scientist. he’s a nice guy. . but in other areas not so intelligent or successful. Yes. not knowing his background . make and keep friends. There are also a lot of successful entrepreneurs who do not have a super high I. Joe should be with all his degrees and study. Dave. for sure it is not simply the measure of a test score. who drove a truck at a local quarry. but not too smart. he is not so smart or at least not too practical or handy. One time he was working on a project at church with a friend. We have all read stories on famous successful people who have lost a lot of their money because they thought if they were very good in one area it would carry over to other parts of life. Well.
This is a male secret. which brought tears as I collapsed into the kitchen chair by the phone.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Only the strong cry. and that was probably a mistake. they don’t have the strength to. all that I had been holding inside through the last few years of his decline came out. since most women have no problem crying. or put better. you can let out your tears.Without trying to sort out any of the psychological parts to this. as they see it as a natural part of their being. and my family surrounded and comforted me. When is the last time you cried? About what? Feel better afterwards? 249 . Weak people don’t cry. You have to have strength to be weak. I guess my kids had never seen me cry. sure it is a sign of male weakness to show too much emotion. I fell apart. for they would fall apart or break into a million pieces. Men hide it. if you can stay in touch with your core strength and value. guys. to know your strengths well enough to not have to hide your weaknesses. Here is the paradox.When I got the phone message that my dad had died. I released all those feelings.
The push for early maturity is like having women deliver their babies in eight months vs. JACk ELLIoTT Don’t be immature about maturity. Use the ‘objective’ scales and judgments very carefully. The whole world has all kinds of expectations and measurements about how grown up physically. Moving from immaturity to maturity as a parent might just involve having a little more faith in one’s child and a child’s natural capacity to grow. in a military college and later a jet pilot. What is more important is that you do not find yourself on the playing field of these indicators. mentally. even sexually a child should be at every stage. but then again it probably would cause more problems.Dr. A few years later. handsome young man. I knew a young boy about twelve or thirteen who was pudgy and babyish and somewhat immature for his age. . How is your own maturity doing? Does your immaturity get in the way sometimes? Does your maturity sustain and guide you at times? 250 . This is marginally helpful. socially and psychologically determined expectation.This is immature and worse. nine. His mother was anxious. but the secret is to know that the process of maturity in each person has its own time frame. to enjoy her child. soon enough it would be a memory. Somehow it might work. and begin to pull and prod your child.Your own maturity is based on spending your time and energy defining yourself instead of trying to define your children for them . socially. Your maturity will help develop their maturity. the pudgy little boy was a tall. destabilizes the child’s own maturing process. not on the basis of your child’s time frame but competing with some scientific. . I told Joan not to worry.
. But if you want real power then consider giving up control. I do what I want. . some important things were not getting done. . One is able to give more. Do you understand the difference between control and power? Where do you need to give up some control . I had gained a lot more power. power increases. . where I was the director. and one finds more power. You were worshipping the false god . needs. not days. If that is all you want. more independence . there is a wonderful paradox. With control no longer the issue. . I am in charge. With less control. Most of us think about surrender mostly in battle and war terms. . They believe you have to turn your life over to a power greater than yourself. .Within hours. and no one is going to tell me . . more freedom . I walked into the regular Monday noon board meeting of a Community Action House. . I control. receive more . I then gave them a list of problems. but go a little deeper and what we’re really thinking about is losing control. I told the board that while things were under control and we were doing well in helping people in our community. . calls were coming in to me and to the staff and things were happening. and not in the way. in order to find some power? 251 .SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Surrender control. then hold on very tight and never surrender any control. gain power. I let go of my control of what was going on. and concerns I had not been able to solve. It certainly does not mean rolling over and playing dead or any other kind of complete passivity. It means that if you let go of total control. you set free all manner of power in your life that you had been denying yourself. Now. gave it all to them. . . Here is a lesson I learned years ago. The Alcoholics Anonymous twelve-step program understands this.
If you suddenly are afraid. Well. if anything. instead there is a positive or open response . my heart pounding as I left my secure comfortable place. However there should be a warning here. move around. There are times when it is a good warning as well as the many times when it has more to do with insecurities and reluctance to move out of our comfort zones and safe ruts. the first thing to do is to stop and figure out why you are feeling afraid.Very often there is very little down side risk and a lot of upside potential. How often have you been afraid to bring something up to your spouse or friend or even neighbor? Then. and use very few notes as I preached. What do you avoid in life because you don’t want to be afraid? Be honest now. One of the interesting dynamics here is that when a person is afraid to bring something up or afraid to do something. Real learning and real growing is always going to bring about fear at some point because one moves out from what is known and relatively safe and comfortable.Dr. like all the ones about most any medicine these days. be on the same level as the people. I did it. Fear is also to protect you. what do you think you just might be missing? 252 . I ask them to consider what is the worst thing that can happen. I decided I needed to get out of my comfortable and safe rut and grow. it took some time for the fear to diminish. I wanted to stand in the center aisle. Instead of preaching from the pulpit. Do not let fear stop you. but not without a great deal of fear . you do bring it up and the response is not what you expected at all. JACk ELLIoTT Don’t be afraid to be afraid. I’m glad you brought that up. . . . After twenty years of preaching. In fact. . I was growing and the fear. was providing a sharp edge or focus to the process.
SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Everyone is afraid. Jack was terrified. . You may not want to admit it . Once 253 . Like many other things in life. . maybe only fifty feet. Being afraid is not a difficult secret to accept. A small business owner gave me a good example about this. . What one must remember is that there is more to life.They were doing a rope climbing exercise and now the last test. even the fear that they will find out you are afraid. . which was long heavy rope with a little seat on the end of it . all you had to do was let yourself off the limb and down you would go on this gigantic rope swing. ok. and you may act tough or casual or pretend not to be afraid . than just fear. that they won’t make any sales. . rather than let it be a great fog that envelopes or paralyzes us. . If we realize we are not the only one who is afraid. One of the most common fears most all people share to some extent is the fear of rejection. Sales people must work hard to deal with the fear of rejection. at the top of the tree. He was the last one and he froze. The others shouted up their encouragement. Couples must overcome the fear of rejection with each other or they won’t be sharing very much of anything. . we need to bring our fear into real size and shape. She could not get her managers to make any progress on reorganizing their management structure. but it was only when they said they were all afraid that he took some heart and jumped. The problem was that it looked like you would fall straight down to your death and you were a million feet up in the tree . . our reality will shift and we will likely handle our fears much better. fear of new ideas and fear when remembering old ideas . each person had to ride down on the swing. . until she realized each one was afraid of losing his or her job. There is fear of growing up and fear of growing old. . it is true and you know it. but you know. and to whatever is bringing on the fear. He was too old to be on this middle-aged Outward Bound wilderness course.
Dr. they were able to make progress and reorganize. look around and ask yourself: Who else is feeling just a little afraid? Can you get past letting your fear control you? To the point where you can say to yourself. 254 . but so are a lot of people. “So what I’m afraid. Next time you are feeling just a little afraid. JACk ELLIoTT assured this would not happened.”.
than we want to know about what is right. Another story worth telling. Why do we always seem to want to know more about what is wrong with the other person.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Fix the problem not the blame. Since there were different groups using the building. than who owns the “blame”. . They said they were working towards being able to understand how each contributed to the problem. idea. Sure enough. for it didn’t take long to realize they had gotten stuck. Once you focus on fixing the problem. it was just too easy to stay focused on blame. Look how often recalls could have been avoided since it would have been far cheaper to fix the problem immediately rather than fixing the blame. Establishing whose fault something was. but they felt things were progressively falling apart. 255 . good ideas were soon put out and the problem was quickly and easily solved. They only needed two sessions. had become much more important than solving the problem.C. I told them I was not interested in being a judge for them. about what we believe. A couple came to me recently for marriage counseling. If this isn’t a secret then why is it that Washington D. cause. political party. it is a much easier and smaller issue to deal with. group. that would help. They each had a long list of things for which they blamed the other. and furthermore what was more important . religion. about what we want to do. works on blame all the time. or can do. . etc. blaming or healing? Later they came back to tell me of a secret they had discovered. is about a board meeting where blame was being thrown everywhere about who left the building unlocked and the heat turned up. They told me they loved each other and life was good. no matter who is running it? The same is true with big business. but if anyone was smart enough to solve the problem.Then an older member of the board gently reminded everyone that this was not helping much. rather then blame the other.
What would happen if you admitted you were to blame right away? Would there be a shift to fixing the problem? What would happen to those who wanted to spend more time fixing the blame? 256 . JACk ELLIoTT In our political world today. and the liberals seem to be able to show all the mistakes of the conservatives. Few look at what might work or how it could be fixed.Dr. conservatives point out everything wrong that the liberals have done.
was failing math. Life is much more complex. they are in charge . Alice had given up even trying to understand seventh grade algebra and geometry. but notice how often the pilot gets blamed or fired. they wanted this teacher out. How much is scapegoating a cover to help avoid finding real responsibility? Have you found yourself trying to find one person to blame when there is some kind of “crash”? 257 . . But finally the truth came out. This is similar to the secret above and one would think this is obvious. The parents were really upset. lower taxes. Companies fire the boss when things crash. they are flying this thing. After all. or end waste. I am not talking about flying machines. stop crime. for suddenly she had encountered something which did not come easily but was a real challenge. how could a good school. Alice was not doing her homework. they wanted her in a different class. governor. but now in the seventh was failing. but we will then because we’re sure it’s their fault. make you happy. It is so obvious and clear to blame the person at the top. It happens everywhere. The mayor. Their daughter. After all. and of course. They didn’t even want to talk to the teacher. As if one person could change the economy. like theirs. or president can’t be fired until the next election. Alice.You have only to look at your own life and crashes to realize that rarely was it solely just you who was the reason for the crash. have such a bad teacher. . Alice had done very well for six grades.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE All crashes are not due to pilot error. It had to be the teacher’s fault.
exceptions. Yes. .Dr. but they are just that. Now here is the ultimate victim. Put the responsibility on American food. don’t climb on it. But no one else is a victim? Yes. not even what they put in their mouth. The rule stands. . but the reason for his problems was himself and things he needed to work on. of course. The counselor said nothing. there are exceptions to this rule. Douglas said between his two parents there had been eight divorces and he had spent a good deal of his growing up in boarding schools. but in the normal course of events. because he had vowed never to divorce. responsible for nothing. . By the way. People have actually sued McDonald’s for being fat. your unique body chemistry or whatever . or stop being a victim and lose weight. your parents. The rest of the evening was spent on ownership rather than being a victim. not many. The two basic victims in society are children and young mothers. One memorable evening the questions was asked: Tell us a little bit about what you think is the cause of your problems? Some couples came from broken homes and so that was their reason. . Each meeting they would talk about different issues that had an effect on their marriages. others blamed it on absent parents who were working all the time. Then it was the last couples’ turn. read what it says on the top of your new household ladder . If you are fat or getting fat and want to stay that way. It was a couples group that had been brought together by the counselor they were all seeing to work on their marriages together. The truth is that finally justice and right only happen where you are willing to stand up and fight and 258 . there are exceptions to there not being any victims. then be a victim. JACk ELLIoTT There are no victims. It is also true that someone sued a fast food chain for burning themselves on hot coffee and so now every coffee cup has a warning that the hot coffee is hot. you may fall. and maybe old folks. They cannot very well defend or take care of themselves and so they are dependent on society to protect them.
Otherwise.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE sacrifice. but where is the line between being a victim and having responsibility? 259 . but truth nevertheless. Do you have strong reactions against this secret? ok. you get what you deserve. It is a hard truth.
the teachers. . I think it is fun and satisfying and makes my life great! Someone then asked him what kind of parents did you have to give you such a great outlook? What he said next cured a few people’s victim mentality. nothing we can do but try so hard. . no spin in his remark. You can claim to be a victim or you can claim responsibility for your life and do something. the quality of the schools we attended. for this is easy to do and requires absolutely no responsibility for one’s own world. creed. I didn’t have any parents. as when it is the ladder company’s fault that you fell off the ladder. a kind of “victim” attitude. Or it may be major when it is the parent’s/teacher’s/spouse’s/boss’s fault for the way you turned out or how life is going. was strong and yet a very gentle guy.This may be small. . It is also true in a great deal of the world. It is often expressed as anti-Americanism. into which we were born. I was brought up in an orphanage. etc. I guess it must have been easier. race.Dr. a sincere tone. The victim mentality removes responsibility for whatever.We are all victims of how our parents reared us. Everyone being a victim may also be true and may well make a lot of folk feel better about this than the secret above. The victim mentality is a very active and toxic virus in America today. JACk ELLIoTT Everyone is a victim . There was no self-pity. mixed with a little self-pity. The mood was sort of a fatalistic. so what! Dave was one of those rare easygoing guys. what economic and social level. The conversation tended to follow the pattern that their parents had not done all that much for them and now there were so many demands and pressures put on parents. Then Dave piped up I really enjoy being a parent and having two teenagers and two grade school kids is great. was always ready to help. and no judgment or put down of the others. One time we were at a party and people were talking about parents and parenting. He said it in a gentle voice with a soft smile. textbooks and politicians who approved the curriculum. He had a smile on his face.The secret here is not to get caught up in that 260 .
not to support it by catering to the victims. and moved on to make the best you could of your situation . . Why did it happen to me? Have you ever finally said. or gone on far beyond it? 261 . or being their caretaker. “so what”. Have you ever felt sorry for yourself and the bad stuff in your life? It just isn’t fair or right. . This leads us to the next secret.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE kind of thinking.
until you began to realize you were becoming the victim more than them? 262 .Dr. His parents realized. and eventually got married. that they had to help him find possibilities in life. Ron was no longer a victim but in charge of his own success and his parents were no longer the victims of the victim. In time his mom and dad became the victims of the victim as they lived their lives totally focused around his needs. Fast forward another couple years. Ron learned serious computer skills. even those who are victims. Have you ever helped someone financially more than once. Everyone was free. Ron had been in a swimming accident when he was fifteen years old that left him a quadriplegic in a wheel chair for the rest of his life. The simple truth is that everyone one of us has more power over our lives than we think. he had a van. When you become the victim of the victim. With his dad’s encouragement and help. JACk ELLIoTT Don’t be the victim of a victim. only to finally realize you were supporting his or her dependency and needed to close the bank? Have you ever made excuses for someone and helped yet one more time. Then it changed. more than just care for a crippled son or they would live their lives as victims as well. being in a wheel chair was no longer the center of his life. you are not only supporting the bad habits of the victim. you are also taking away any hope there may be of the victim taking responsibility for her or his own life.
.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Being dumb can be pretty smart. If you are a little dumb. Donald asked his grandpa for help with his math. they will often become a little smart. . knowing they need to grow? 263 . What can begin to happen then is real healing or growth. etc . How well do you resist the temptation to jump in and help when it might be better to just live with the struggle for awhile? Can you hold back and let the other person go first even if you know you have a better grasp. . you are most often being the most helpful. and this starts within a person. There are times to be dumb with a child or someone you are trying to teach. You resist the temptation to be a crutch or put on a Band-Aid. By the time they were through. relieve the pain . . but then kept asking questions about this new math. Grandpa said sure. grandson had done his homework and helped his poor dumb grandpa learn a little about new math. There is a paradox operating in a lot of these secrets whose basic premise is that when you do not help or rush in to reassure. .
but always with continued problems and poor reactions. dumped her doctors. she was on the road to good health as long as she was responsible. The power may seem to be in the other person. Margaret had medical problems all her life. and took all her records to a famous clinic. and with all the relationships of life. Instead. This is true physically. The kids got their mom back and the marriage came alive again. She rose up. the system. We all know that healing takes some kind of power that gets to the place that needs the healing. After a grueling two months. Real healing never blames. the pain. whatever . but simply takes on all the responsibility necessary. Healing can never take place unless there is responsibility. complex allergies and reactions to all sorts of food. they were caregivers when they couldn’t escape. Can you remember times when you finally had had it and grabbed hold of responsibility and made the changes and did the work you needed to do? or. This is true in fighting a disease or fighting to save a relationship. She was dependent on all sorts of doctors.Dr. . spiritually. . Then she realized that her patient husband and even her son and daughter were no longer very close to her. Healing your life involves taking responsibility rather than laying back and being a victim or blaming someone else. and very little if any power of your own. JACk ELLIoTT Your healing is your responsibility. Whenever you see yourself as a victim you see the power somewhere else. the cancer. the fever. remember helping others do so? What healing of physical or in relationships would you like in your life? Can you find the places where you need to take responsibility to make it happen? 264 .
and can deal with the cranky. . candid. listening relationship. At the risk of stating the obvious. the sensitive and insensitive without going to full alert every time. are doomed to fail. You can overcome or correct most all defects in any system if you have built a good relationship system. clever. It was a merger of two companies with very different cultures. youthful. Wrong! One needs to consciously work and build systems that foster honest. easy going. . simply will not work well for very long if the relationship system is poor or inadequate. and the other was casual. . one of whom was a friend of mine who told me this story. efficient and logical. if they do not have a good relationship system built into them. even war etc . For my wife and I it is a little time over coffee in the 265 . spent their time and energy first building relationship systems that would bridge all the other systems.SECRETS ABOUT SYSTEMS AND TRIANGLES The most important system is the relationship system. efficient. . cause tension. Neither had much regard or respect for the systems of the other. What’s that? You think they are automatic and just happen because there is love and whatever . . The most perfect system. well thought out and designed systems . and all other good parts of relationship. . They are doing no more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. They built in times and places to talk and relate and explain and listen. It may be as simple as making sure there is some time every single day to be in active communicating. and informal.The merger is working because the consultants who worked on it. All the complex. relationship systems are very important for the wellbeing and long term success of marriages and families. gentle communication systems that can deal with crisis. One was very tight and professionally organized. sharing.
Dr. Can you recognize or identify relationship systems at work or for that matter in your own family system? What relationship systems have you “built” and how have they worked? What relationship systems do you need to build at work or at home? 266 . JACk ELLIoTT morning and a game of cribbage or backgammon with a glass of wine at the end of the day.
However they lived close to her mother. that is one’s identity. it is difficult to maintain stability. Once there is a third added to the relationship system. I take a very open view. in love. or most anything else. a trip. and joined a new church with no historical entanglements. they formed a triangle with mom that had the good side of family and caring. Their marriage suffered. a problem. James and Ronnie were young. an issue. as this seems to be more practical as a tool in understanding relationships. Self-differentiation. there are some triangle models that hold that only people are parts of triangles. The third leg can be another person. They either draw closer and closer until they become so into each other that they lose self and so become unstable and reactive. and moreover. a couple may begin their marriage 267 . Fortunately. a dream . . newly married and thought with their love they could handle anything. unique and yet in relationship with the other. they back away from each other until the relationship is lost. but as a very simple guide to help gain some understanding and self-awareness. got involved in a tennis club. but who was trying to live or relive her own lost youth. a goal. or. The core of triangles is that a two-person relationship is inherently unstable. now has something or someone to hold it in place. When just two are in a relationship. a good person. The young couple made friends who were their own age. . be it a person or issue. Triangles can be negative or positive! Now. there is the possibility of stability. Without realizing it.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE A triangle is the smallest stable unit of relationship in any system. but also the bad side of living their lives around what mom wanted. They did not use triangles in a great complicated psychological way. They built a number of positive stabilizing triangles. slowly moved mom back into a positive relationship.This may be restrictive or may be supportive. and some who use triangles only as a negative model. they sought help and this triangle was pointed out to them with the suggestion that they form other triangles in their marriage to balance out the one with mom and to lower its negative effects. and so needs a third point to become stable.
Dr. money. . . building their nest. JACk ELLIoTT with the third stabilizing part of the triangle being sex. Life gets complicated and triangles can be a map or way to decode and clarify some of this complexity. . Are they positive or negative or both? Are the sides equal in length (distance) or are two closer? (example: husband and wife close and third part of the triangle. .) 268 . . . . One quickly sees that there are interlocking triangles . and time for each . job-spouse-sex . Can you identify some basic triangles in your life? Take a pad of paper and draw some using actual triangles. spouse-spouse-job . . a way to focus and find ways to balance the relationship in positive and stable ways. playing house and then the new baby. the neighbors further away. jobs.
If you stop now.Triangles are always there. dad. The most valuable triangle story is your story. This is not necessarily negative. then it became parents (now a single unit). good and bad. on and on. If you know your triangles stabilize relationship. mom and dad and child. all you have to do is to learn to recognize them. you and your sweetheart . you can go back and see where triangles were out of balance or lost. . Keep it in balance with the other two parts of the triangle rather than letting it become so large or dominant that it overwhelms the other two in the triangle. but simply a fact of life. . At the same time it helps clarify and understand the various dynamics of the family growing up. From the days when it was a nice and balanced triangle of mom. Does it begin to help when you see triangles and the balance they provide or the need to get out of the triangle or rebalance it? 269 . all the triangles were in balance. How many triangles are there in your life? You may wish to stop when your reach ten or twenty or thirty. When things were bad. Then it may have gotten more complex if you had brothers or sisters for all manner of triangles formed and they interlocked. but especially in families. Triangles are everywhere. you and the car .You can draw all sorts of triangles that reflect your growing up.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Triangles are everywhere. . or even draw some out. then try to pick the third leg carefully. . . you can think back and remember how when things were really good. It does get complicated for there are so many overlapping and interconnected triangles. It started out with you and your mom and dad. or not realizing why the family wasn’t so close because a triangle had formed with two siblings and just one parent. and you . . my guess is that you will gain some insight about your growing up that you had not realized before. . They even outlive the individual participants. to parents. A basic example is the family . . If you stop now and play with this in your mind. Siblings fighting to be the one in a triangle with mom and dad. when something or someone leaves and is replaced by another. because you ignore them at your own peril.
Here is a basic example that occurs in most of our lives.Well. tattered and torn. other triangles that are forming. If the new person cannot figure out where all the interlocking triangles are. only to finally find and understand other interlocking triangles . nothing much really happens or changes. that’s what we too often do in our attempts to solve problems. . Triangles untie some of the knots of life. become involved in some sport or recreation in which we have no interest. understand others. Have you ever struggled with a relationship that had been doing so well. as we move on. . We look for other friends or interests that have replaced us or pushed us further away . in the process we often cut off and leave much on the floor of life. you would find some other triangles at play that you could gently and even honestly deal with so that you could stabilize the friendship. We have a good solid long-term friendship. despite all kinds of reorganization. Perhaps we discover the friend has fallen in love.They explain why systems do not change. and then the relationship seems to be fading and we can’t figure out why.Dr. . or the friend has fallen on hard times financially and so can’t handle their share when going out. work toward our goals . be it a family or a corporation or a government system. Do you remember the Gordian knot? Alexander the Great came upon this great knot that no one could untie and did what any young person conquering the world would do . . If you kept at it and didn’t just give up on the friendship. . . They also explain why there is no change when a new person enters a system. drew out his sword and cut right through it. JACk ELLIoTT Triangles untie Gordian knots. However. . . because the key triangles are not changed. though at the time you might not have used the model of a triangle? Do you have some sense of the importance and practical value of “mapping” the triangles to figure out the “Gordian knots” of life? 270 . we simply cut through.
She was one smart and intuitive person. . rather than what you really want to do and be? (example: you love your folks. But finding this does more. her husband was good and worked hard and deserved all the support she tried to give him. and how she needed to create some new triangles to restore balance in her life. It made no sense. as she went through the triangles that were unintentionally causing her pain. involved in everything it seemed. her good friend and not volunteering but something else. at ten years old. After talking about it for awhile. your own or other’s. Her daughter was a pure joy. So find the triangle you are in. I explained triangles to her and suggested she take a notebook and draw various triangles she found herself in and write down some thoughts about them. The triangles only took but did not give. except for their demands on your limited time) Can you identify the triangles in your life that provide power or energy? Can you find the triangles that you need to cut off or distance yourself? 271 . half of the ‘cure’ was simply being able to see the triangles. for that gave her power to gently readjust her life and relationships.We had only one more session. etc. but as soon as one carries another’s stress. Karen was in a couple of triangles where she had been drawn into volunteering to do work she was not really interested in. it also can be a map to find power to change things without major surgery or harsh drugs. . and who or what is pulling or pushing. In fact. but her good friend was. where she taught me. Interestingly enough. one is apt to get the ulcer . which in this case was the sports team that both their children were on.To give you a specific example here. Are you caught in triangles of what you “should” and “ought” to do and be. A person can handle a great deal of stress when it is for their own self. Karen was feeling more and more weary and worn and worse feeling depressed. and you will find the source of the pain or angst.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Triangles are where you find the power and the pain. it will give you some real positive power that you may use without drawing blood. So Karen had to adjust the triangle of herself.
. Your imagination is very limited if you think in polar terms and your ability to connect with others even limited or marginal. good things get sacrificed or delayed because they don’t want to take any chance to let the other party get ahead.Worse. autocratic-democratic. Polarization paralyses. People become so certain that their way is right and the only way. . But we do not pay enough attention to the continuum of male-female that lives in us all day to day. is right!? 272 . Look at Congress and the Republicans and Democrats. interests. male-female. Where do you view things in a polarized way? Give some time to thinking about this question. religion and sex are forbidden subjects at various gatherings. both genders need to get in touch with their other side. How sad! Think of the most basic polarizations: mind-body. females have a masculine side.Whereas the truth is that there are many sides. “Wrong!” for you knew that it is foolish to see important parts of life in polarized terms. but true. Put in a more popular way.There is a reason that often politics. much less accept. that they cannot hear or find any truth anywhere else. and values much more important and complex than either being too liberal or too conservative. nurture-nature. Do you really think that it is possible for one party to have all the right answers and the other party to be all wrong. a great deal of their time is spent polarized. however polarized. even though you know that your position. It would seem that they were elected to serve their party. and males have a feminine side . . understanding. growth. Life and all the above are continuous and there is always much that connects and binds together and therein are found solutions. not their country. hard to believe. conservative-liberal. JACk ELLIoTT Polarization paralyses. Polarization is an insidious cancer that can ruin our thinking. all the time? You do if your thinking is polarized. well. . . The “battle of the sexes” is a false polarization that survives only because we can easily see the differences. somewhere in the list hopefully you found yourself saying. They are all areas where there is a strong tendency to become very polarized. when polarized. young-old.Dr.
SECrETS For A GooD LIFE What would happen if you stopped defending your position for awhile and visited. looked for the value. in the opposite’s position? Where are you not polarized. but see both extremes as missing a good deal because they are at one edge or another? 273 .
274 . By the way. it is true to a much greater extent than we realize. A middle aged friend. but sooner or later will come the accident. stay with the process. perhaps.Dr. Think of traffic and driving rules as the process for navigating your vehicle. Process is more important than content. If you stick with the process you will be fine. JACk ELLIoTT The power is in the process. they both took this to work in their jobs. Trust the process.is back in school and feeling overwhelmed with having to do a term paper. They stopped disagreeing or arguing or bickering about a lot of things and would sit and talk with a process of each giving their side without interruptions. where it works very well. I suggested she first put the process in place. major or minor. Other secrets will come out of this way of thinking. This cannot possibly be true. and would be able to write the paper in short order. Needless to say. and it is loaded with emotional and historical baggage. Think of the particular roads. and then try to deal with the content. which were in management.You just may find new trust and intimacy and positively resolve the argument. but fortunately caught on to the power of the process.Jan. In doing so. in this case called an outline. If you ignore it. Her response: What are you talking about? I sat down with her for less than half an hour. they enjoyed making the process work for them and not divide them. highways and even parking lots as the content.We then put it into a simple process. discover the process. had a lot of their own ideas. and organized all the content she had studied and put on note cards. the fact is. she discovered that she really had worked very hard. make all your decisions based on particular content. had some very good ideas.When you are in an argument with someone close. The power is in the process. build the process. but. you will do fine most of the time. build a good process first. and then the other would repeat what the first had said. The example here is a couple who were both strong.
or with the wonderful web of family and relatives and ask the question . or possibilities are? (example: argument with spouse about buying new TV may be more about not having process of a budget or not having processed mutual values) Look at the difficult places you encounter in life. . work. do these places have any kind of good process or is this why they are difficult? 275 . problems. be it at home.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Can you distinguish between content and process. so you can better find where the power. .
This may seem very tough or insensitive. but the system could not handle this unusual arrangement. It did not fit into their system. either way. without any reasonableness. it is totally selfish or totally selfless. . in and of itself. She was recovering very slowly from the dizzy spells and lack of balance that resulted. but only if you have a childlike idealism that says that goodness and the right will always prevail and there will only be happy endings. People care and so it is only when you use the system rather than let it use you that good will prevail and evil fail. it just isn’t there. This went fine for a short time. . Over the summer. Ceil taught in the school system for over 20 years. This necessarily must be the last secret in this section about systems. It has no sense of self. she fell and suffered a concussion. In either case. that is it does not care for anybody. volunteered for a lot of committees.Dr. is selfless. Have you had the experience of a system being totally unfair. . . . or whatever? How did you feel when you realized you could do nothing about it? Can systems be overcome? How? 276 . JACk ELLIoTT Systems are selflessly selfish. the system didn’t know how to handle it. etc and had loyalty and love for the school system. . Systems don’t care . stupid. do not expect personal responses or sensitivity . projects. The system itself just chugs along carrying both. Any system. so depending on how you want to spin it.The specialist told her to go in half days to work. She was hurt that the school didn’t care about all she had done and was asking her to take a leave or retire .
Most everything else promotes competition. defensiveness and even poor manners and embarrassing behavior. Objectivity promotes quick change. Her first words were angry and accusative . took responsibility and apologized. The older woman simply was not paying attention. My daughter said she was ready to be angry. safe and clear. and needed calming. My daughter called me. . when finally all is calm and gentle. . whatever promotes objectivity can promote change. when the smoke has cleared. I got there. self-serving. Stop and think for a moment . An older woman ran into the side of my daughter’s car. the tempers back in control. . reactivity. exchanged information and then I drove the elderly woman to deliver her papers. but looked at what had happened objectively: the woman was elderly. having made a turn to come up a hill. Fortunately. realized what had actually happened.SECRETS ABOUT ChANGE Objectivity is what promotes change. but within a few minutes she calmed down. the mess cleaned up. we moved the cars. then and only then do most of us move out of our fortresses and make progress in the journey of life. coming out of a side street and my daughter was driving slowly. Here is a secret within a secret. anxious. . Are you aware of those moments when you need to overcome your reactivity and get back to objectivity? Can you recall times when your being very objective has helped others to see things in a clearer way and thus move forward towards a positive resolution? 277 . It turned out she was worried about getting some papers to someone and was late. judgment. the woman was going at a slow speed.
and every Tuesday afternoon for an hour I took a voice lesson. Yes. and I sang a solo in church with just enough quality to teach myself and the entire congregation that change is always possible and you are never too old to learn. I took him up on it. told me he could teach me to sing. or are you still stuck in ‘its too late to change’ or ‘I can’t change’ thinking? 278 . but only sing alone in the car or very softly with others. After some joking. JACk ELLIoTT Change is always possible. can you actually try to change. Fast forward (two years) to my final Sundays before retiring. what would you really like to change about yourself or your world? Now that you know what you would like to change. One day my friend Giuseppe.Dr. learn something you always wanted to learn even rebuild the broken relationship. All my life I have not been able to sing. What nonsense to say one is too old to change! The people who are the most alive. The nine year old learns and the ninety year old learns too. who was giving private voice lessons. whether they are 9 or 90. I love music of all kinds. get back in shape. Ask someone in any twelve-step program about change in their lives or in others lives that they have seen at any age. I’m one of those off-key folk. are the people who are able to deal with change and to change themselves. Tell the truth now. at least to yourself. you can lose the weight.
but encouraged each other to change in ways that would work for each individual. however. If you change one tiny number or piece of an equation. very slowly things began to improve at home and defensive and reactive barriers came down. This is true no matter how well intended and no matter how pure and good your intentions are. Trying to change others is mostly perceived as competing. They all had come to realize that each one of them needed to change herself in order to go on living with some peace and sense of value in life. They changed the name of their group from The Widows Group to The New Identity Group. so some part of it must still be a secret. you are going to miss England 279 . When I put it in the form of a question. If you change your course leaving New York by one degree. that life wasn’t over for them. they spent time sharing their grief and initial struggles. Keep this thought or image in your head about change. seem to listen to their own answer. criticism or judgment.When they started. violating others space. It was a very diverse group and they didn’t try to make one mold for everyone. a lot of people have the right answer. When Douglas made the conscious effort to be calm and relaxed when he came home rather than continuing to manage everyone as he did at work. What happened next proved how remarkable they were. the fact is when you change yourself it will have an effect on those around you. They were a very special group. or at the very least it will change your own world and how you perceive and act in it. That you can only really change yourself. interference. Few. but has slipped out a little. Each one had lost her husband too soon in life.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE The only person you can change is yourself. everything else changes. much less get this simple but powerful secret. used to be a secret. It is somewhere else in the book.The hidden power is that if you change yourself you change the world. The secret inside the secret is that when you change yourself you will change others. While this seems to contradict this secret.
Everything may seem to be the same for quite a while. JACk ELLIoTT entirely. So again. but come landfall. and England isn’t there. change yourself just the smallest amount and a lot is going to change. What changes have you made in yourself in the last three years or so? What do you want to change next? How will it change your life and your world? 280 .Dr.
I moved into a radical change mode as I worked out with weights three times a week and do aerobic another two days and lost serious weight. . I change eating habits. it was like walking on eggs. I have wanted to lose about fifteen pounds for too many years. They would make positive and encouraging remarks. . did nothing. of course.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE If you want change. then act boldly. Change rarely happens. even exercise a little. which. and gave me the gift of a membership at an exercise gym and sessions with a personal trainer. They did and it was horrible . . . The way the children had been dealing with it was to tip toe around this whenever the family was together . go for walks. it is not going to happen 281 . drinking too much. . unless you do something. . and dealing more and more with each other in sarcastic terms. . They would not have if their children had not had the courage to grab and shake them so they would face the situation and the changes needed. . except at a very slow evolutionary pace. . Don’t you walk on eggs . but rarely have lost more than five pounds which has the habit of coming back. Stop right now and consider just one important change that you would like to see happen. did change and grow and may well live happily ever after. . Now think for a moment . You also have to be willing to live with broken eggs. but be firm. They would have to be willing to take some hard hits. the parents after some serious struggle. Then my daughter very directly said I really needed to lose some weight. stomp on them! An adult brother and sister came to me worried about their parents. otherwise you are the one holding back change. . try diets. They could see their parents growing apart. I told them if they wanted real change they would have to do something that would actually promote change. I do a little here and there. If they really believed that their parents love each other .
Dr. . and confront? Has someone ever stopped putting up with something in you. . . . and confronted you for your own good? How did it feel? What difference did it make? 282 . will it? What changes might happen if you stopped walking around it (walking on eggs) and boldly go where no one else will. . JACk ELLIoTT unless you do something! Waiting for someone else . . just won’t do it . for something else to happen .
positive and negative . all of life is interdependent if not dependent. not to go on and on . a skilled construction carpenter. sickness and health. Finally. I don’t need anyone types. Well. . To see life in terms of dichotomies is a mistake. Who do you really need in your life that you are interdependent on if not dependent sometimes for your own well being? Who depends on you for your help. Even the opposite poles need each other to exist. Both had broken bones and recovery was slow even when they finally got home. Body and soul . There is no south pole without a north pole. support. . if not dependent some times. offered to help. Al and his wife. Then came the accident. Her parents were there for a few days before they came home.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Life is integrated and we are always interdependent. One time a big tree came down in his yard. Sally. . win and lose. and everyone came together to build a ramp so they could get in and out. Al was a quiet neighbor. He and his wife both worked and were only seen on the weekends when he was working on the yard. Like it or not. . The first law of ecology states this. Meanwhile the neighbors took care of their yard. male and female. . that all forms of life are interdependent. the construction carpenter redid the butchered repair on the garage. the couple learned the truth and great value of being interdependent. and spent three weeks in the hospital and a month in the rehabilitation center. encouragement? Where in life are you totally and completely independent? 283 . but were clearly too old to do very much. friendship. the same with magnetic fields. were broadsided by a drunk driver. Like the poet said No man is an island. Another time he “fixed” a broken section of his garage even though one of the neighbors. races and ages. . he refused offers of help and cut it up all by himself. everyone realized he was one of those very independent.
5. especially when digging out from under the collapsed excuses. This is true not just when things are picking up speed. For those of us who forget or never learned: linear is when things move along 1. but also when life slows down and there are other kinds of opportunities. . The value of this secret is to be aware and ready when life. is moving at a different pace and you do not want to miss it. 3. crops. Getting into debt seems to be quantum whereas getting out seems linear. like 1. but now and then. and so on. Stop and think about your own growing up or that of your siblings or your children. and there are other times when it may be of great importance to spend more prime time with family. got her Masters degree and became part of the establishment. 16 doubling each time or it could be some other more complicated formula. How often did growing up moved along slowly. Remember that at the beginning linear and quantum changes are hard to tell apart. so it may be with our society. so to speak. 8. Quantum is when it moves along to a different multiple or formula. A lot of life is quantum in nature. JACk ELLIoTT Life is often quantum not linear. .Dr. 2. 9. This is to say we may be on the verge of great progress in medicine. 2. All this happened after drifting from one thing to another with no 284 . 4. . There are times to work 12-14 hours a day at work and it is the right thing to do. the relationship. 6. is very definitely linear. 7. etc . if we don’t kill ourselves first with war or foul our own nest with pollution. 4. A few negative examples before the good news will help reveal the secret. Lies or excuses seem to be quantum. the job. whatever . energy. whereas honesty and truth. learning. 8. . sped up mentally or physically or socially? Walter jokes about his little sister finally growing up at age 30 when she went back to school. Now here is a very interesting idea to think about: What if progress is quantum and not linear? Ponder history and the remarkable advancements in the last 100 years and we seem to be picking up speed. the opportunity. not linear.
do you recognize when life changes. and for good or bad. Do you expect life to move along in a regular even basis? Do you think this is the normal way that life usually goes? or. not everyone grows up at 18 or 21 or even 30. life picks up speed and going along at a normal pace just won’t work? 285 . Well.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE motivation or commitment in anything.
maintain or establish control. or the new mother. Jim fit in well. even a newly promoted executive or manager. you do not try to immediately effect a change. Rather. You do know by now. He asked more questions and gave fewer answers. or long time best friend. Ask more questions. relate to the difficult people. What could you learn about different members of your family if you asked more questions and had fewer answers? Have you ever tried asking more questions. Six months later he was vice-president of sales. Give fewer answers. got to know everyone and was well liked.Dr. and be the most relaxed. child. We all get caught up in various agendas and realities. be that your own spouse. you are always learning and growing and finding new and valuable aspects in all your relationships. if not your ego. You will do your best work. asked a lot of questions. JACk ELLIoTT Life is a research project. Just ask the combat soldier who has just come home about this. The company had brought in a new manager in the sales area with a vague title and vague responsibility. or the first thing to do always is to learn. don’t you. If you have too many answers you may soon give away your limitations. He had been brought in to learn what was going well and what needed change. even when you knew the answers? What happened? How do you feel when someone else is interested in you and your thoughts and feelings enough to ask questions? 286 . that you never know everything about the other person. manipulate. When you see what is before you in life as research and something to learn. Another way you might want to think of this is to always maintain the mind of a student. parent.
SECrETS For A GooD LIFE
Life is anecdotal, never statistical.
I have tried in most all the secrets in this book to begin with a real story about real people. This is because for all the value of statistics, life is anecdotal; life is about the stories we have to tell and the stories that have inspired us. Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was shot through the brain, did not have much of a statistical chance of living, but she did. Statistically she did not have much of a chance of being much more than living a life in a marginally cognitive state, but as I write these words she is getting better day by day. Go with the story more than the statistics. Statistics do inform us about a great deal of what has happened and is happening, but they are never the whole story. I don’t care what the statistics say, no one has 2.4 children; and no one was ever inspired to fight their cancer because 30% survived. But, a lot of people are inspired by a real life story of courage in the face of pain and suffering. Interestingly enough, a number of very well respected and successful investors give this kind of advice when they talk about investing in companies you know and have some experience with, and out of the experience think that they are good companies. This is not to ignore the reality of numbers or statistics, but there is always more to life than just numbers.
Do you have great stories in your life that have inspired you, even been a part of setting your direction and values? Have you ever just relied on the statistics or cold facts, without learning the story behind them? How much of your own life story would be lost if it only had the statistics and cold facts?
SECRETS ABOUT INSECURITY & ANxIETY
The antidote to insecurity is self-differentiation.
I am the moderator of a think tank composed of pastors and elders, some of whom are outstanding theologians. Some teach in seminaries, some are writers, some are known on a national and international basis. They are smart, well read and able to articulate all manner of things. There are also a number of pastors who are there because they share the interests and values of the group. Now, I am somewhat insecure and intimidated by them. However, I have the skills to do a good job at moderating, which at times can be like herding a bunch of cats. I look forward to the meetings, both to learn and grow, and also because of what I have to give to help the group move forward. In working to be self-differentiated, I find my worth and value. By the way, they are all good friends and might say this is a stupid example, that they are not all that smart . . . but then, you see, they are self-differentiated, too. The problem is that we are often unsure where we end and the other person begins. Being a grandparent is different than being a parent. If one does not pay attention to this differentiation, one may intrude into the parenting, intrude upon many things that do not rightfully belong to the grandparent.Worse, one now ends up doing a poor job of being a parent and grandparent, lose the real joy and value of being a grandparent in the process . . . and, finds oneself feeling very insecure. Self-differentiation is deceptively simple. It is to know where you end and the other person begins. That means that I must be sensitive and aware that my wife is her own self. It means knowing where we are very close, even touching each other’s thoughts, feelings, attitudes,
SECrETS For A GooD LIFE
and yet still know where we are different and that that is good and healthy. This is also the antidote to anxiety, as well as a vast array of mental and physical problems and issues. What you think is your problem, your concern, your responsibility, your job . . . may in fact be someone else’s . . . or at the very least, you do not have to own the whole problem or issue or be the savior of whatever. Sorry to tell you, but the opposite is also true, where it may really be your own issue or problem and not the other person’s at all.
Can you see yourself as an individual, not the same as those around you? What exactly makes you feel insecure? Comparing yourself to others? Your talents? Looks? Success? Intelligence?
Dr. JACk ELLIoTT
Everyone is insecure.
Sharon, a good caring wonderful person, who is highly successful and is well thought of in her profession, sometime ago, was let go by her well-known company. I suspect because of politics and some gender bias that is present in her industry. She was hired within 24 hours by a competitor. In spite of this Sharon went through bouts of insecurity that she would lose her job and never find another. She has very good insight and calls this “the bag lady complex”. Not rational, but very real. Everyone is insecure. It is just that some hide it behind a superiority complex, and still others are just good actors. It is not a nice secret but it is true, and you know it, though you may not want to admit it. You may act tough or casual or highly competent . . . but you know. There is fear and insecurity about growing up and growing old.We are insecure about our looks . . . and this is more so for the beautiful folk. Some people even learn never to go near things they are insecure about . . . but they miss out on a lot of exciting possibilities and probably don’t have any children or only one.
Can you see the insecurity in others coming out now and then? or, do others seem to hide it completely? Are you sure?
SECrETS For A GooD LIFE
Be secure in your insecurities!
How can I ever invite that man to dinner! My wife and I were walking home from dinner with our new friends. That man was a gourmet cook, who had grown up on the French-Swiss border. The family had owned restaurants, and he had prepared us a meal that we still talk about. I told my wife, who by the way, is well known in our social circles as very good cook . . . relax, be secure in your insecurities! Fix him meatloaf. Well, she didn’t fix Jacques meatloaf, but did prepare a wonderful meal as she tried to relax and be secure in her insecurities. This is one of the best and most practical secrets I have ever learned and share often with others . . . be secure in your insecurities. Time and time again this proves to be the most practical advice to get people out of the places where they are stuck or behaving in a negative or defensive manner.To be sure, we all want to be driven by our strengths and not our weaknesses. However, our insecurities are also part of who we are and where we have come from. If we know and understand them . . . we can manage them and so be secure in our insecurities. Remember also: The people you are the closest to, or with whom you have the most intimate relationship are those who share their insecurities with you, who let you in . . . just as you let them into the places where you are insecure . . . and so build strong secure relationships. (Now, isn’t that a very interesting, if not delightful paradox!)
So, you are insecure. How good are you even with your insecurities? How do you deal with the fact of being human is less than being superman or superwoman, and so will always have a few insecurities? How do you deal with your insecurities? Do they limit you and make you hang back or retreat? Do your insecurities make you a little defensive or a little dependent? Can you get to the place where you are secure, that is comfortable and at peace, with your insecurities?
Dr. JACk ELLIoTT
Gossip is someone trying to give you their anxiety and insecurity.
The trick is to realize when you are not being given facts but gossip, with all the other person’s editorializing or just plain twisting with their own anxiety and insecurity. Zoe came to me with great concern about how badly things were going in the choir, and I just had to do something about it. She then proceeded with a list of complaints, all sounding very real and reasonable, but also just a little bit like gossip. Fortunately the gentle choir director came in later the same morning. We had a long chat about it all and I discovered there was far more to the story. I learned a great lesson that day about this very secret and how anxiety and insecurity can promote gossip. When someone gossips/judges/criticizes, often what the person is really trying to do is give you their anxiety and insecurity. They usually pass on negative, unsubstantiated or questionable information. Gossip is a lot like the rabid remarks of some politicians. Often you just know you are going to have to check it out more to find the whole truth and not the manipulated half-truth. Do pay attention to the fact that what the person is gossiping about says something about the person gossiping. Furthermore, this usually has to do with their own anxiety and insecurity. It is far easier to look at the problems of others rather than your own, or their shortcomings or pratfalls in life. If one focuses on one’s own “stuff” either greater insecurity and anxiety happen, or growth and maturity begin . . . but you do have to give up gossip and other childish ways. It should also be noted that there is a kind of gossip that is positive. We do gossip about the good things about others, and in a positive way about cares and concerns we have for others. This often falls under the I have some good news to share with you . . .
Do you gossip? About what? Mean and malicious or friendly and safe? Do you listen to gossip or turn if off? How do you feel when you hear gossip?
SECrETS For A GooD LIFE
Everybody has anxiety. Try not to catch it or pass it on.
A lot of people are anxious about catching some disease in a public restroom. They don’t touch anything, not even touching handles and the like which makes it difficult to open the door.The same or similar groups are sure they will catch a cold or flu or worse whenever they fly. Well, people are still flying and using public bathrooms and there aren’t any reports of outbreaks starting there. Now having said this, some reading this know I’m wrong and should be more concerned. I would suggest that they really study the whole thing on the Internet, not just one or two articles, but lots. It should lower some anxiety, but then maybe not. Anxiety is like dandruff . . . everybody has it now and then . . . more or less at times, but its there . . . sort of like your heart beat . . . faster or slower . . . healthy or not so healthy. Try not to catch anxiety from another or to pass it on . . . something we all also do, once in awhile. The value of this secret is to realize you are not the only person in the world, or in the room, or at the gathering, or making a presentation, or leading the parade . . . who is anxious.
If you are not sure this is true ask the question: do you ever have anxiety? Now, if it is true, can this help you view and deal with people just a little bit differently? With more patience? More encouragement? kindness?
Dr. JACk ELLIoTT
Recently our good friends’ daughter, Lisa, was getting married. The wedding had to be just right, for both parents had certain things that were very important to them. The bride, Lisa, was almost as strong as her mom and had her list of what had to be. The mother made a very wise decision. She hired a wedding coordinator. This person, for a modest fee, was delegated responsibility and relieved the mother’s mind of all anxiety to make sure everything went as planned. It worked. The parents relaxed and enjoyed everything. By the way, the coordinator checked in with them now and then . . . I think mostly to remove any residual anxiety. When you delegate responsibility, remember also to stop over functioning and give away the anxiety. Then, and only then, will you know that you have really delegated the responsibility and authority. Delegating anxiety can be a very deliberate action, by which you give responsibility to someone and truly empower the person by making sure that you really let go. It happens when parents realize their children are adults and able to live their own lives . . . for good and for bad . . . and it is ok.You may need to repeat after me, several times: it’s their turn, now.
Make a list of things that make you anxious. How many things can you delegate? That is really give them to someone else? Now be really honest and ask yourself how many do you enjoy being anxious about? Why? Do you over function or under function? Either can cause anxiety. If you are not sure consider asking someone you trust to answer the question
SECRETS ABOUT QUESTIONS
You can’t get into trouble asking questions.
Joe knew something was going on, but not exactly what was going to happen. Some bad company politics were going on and he could sense a trap was being set for him. He was a research scientist but also the manager of his group and politics and power games had infected the system. He walked into the meeting and immediately the opposition went after him. Instead of defending himself and his group, he took their remarks very seriously and started asking questions. Each time they went after him he asked more questions, until their shallowness and bias became all too apparent and collapsed. He told me he learned this in college, where instead of returning the attack of the opposing political group, he would ask questions, good questions, that did not have any arrogant or obvious bias, but called for real thought and response. He told me you don’t have to have the answers all the time, but you sure do have to have some good questions to ask. This is not just a better way to manipulate or to get ahead or win. This is the way to learn, to connect with others and to be really helpful. It is hard work. You must ask real questions, not attack, confront, or act like a trial lawyer. This is not asking questions, this is playing the inquisitioner, which by the way is what so many people fall into and so fall out of relationship.You do know that why is not a question but an accusation?! Asking real questions keeps you connected to the other person without becoming responsible for them or their problems! You just have to remember not to give the answers. This is rarely helpful and, believe it or not, you probably don’t have the right answer for the person . . . that can only come out of his or her own work. Avoid
Dr. JACk ELLIoTT
temptation to point things out to people.They will get it if and when they are motivated.
What questions (real, not editorial) do you need to ask your partner, friend, child, co-worker, pastor/rabbi/imam, or yourself? Ask the question about your last or next gathering: How many questions are being asked? How many answers given?
SECrETS For A GooD LIFE
It’s harder to ask questions than to give answers.
The very best counseling session I ever had was with a woman who wanted to talk to me about an important decision. Mary had to decide what kind of mastectomy to have. I spent the entire hour asking only questions. I gave no statements, no opinions, and no wisdom. Never once did I give an opinion, not even in the form of a disguised question. Later she told me how very helpful and wise I was. She did not realize that I only asked questions. I try to remember that hour when I am tempted to give answers. Her decision was different than the one I privately held . . . she was totally happy and at peace with what she did. To ask a real question and not simply using questions as a device to manipulate or control or lead the other person is hard work. It requires both thinking and feeling and totally focused listening. It is hard work to stay focused on asking questions. It requires both thinking and being aware of one’s feeling, not only about oneself, but also about the other, in order not to fall into an editorial or disguised answer mode.
Can you help someone with questions, even though the conclusion might be one you disagree with? Can you still help and stay connected? Can you hold back your outstanding correct answers in order to allow the other to do the growing and discovering only possible by their own effort?
Dr. JACk ELLIoTT
Asking the right question is more important than giving the right answer.
Bill came to talk to me because he was having too many fights with his wife. They loved each other, but lately everything turned into a fight and he hoped I could help him figure out how to get rid of the fights and get everything back to normal. I asked him who is winning most of the fights. His answer gave a lot of it away. Well, I don’t know, but I’m not losing any and I want you to know I am not losing my temper.” A few more questions and I realized he was a “solve the problem and make everything right” kind of person. He was too quick to find a good answer and inflict it on his wife.When I said this, it stopped our whole conversation. We spent some time exploring the relative value of his providing answers and solving problems as he perceived them, versus asking questions to find answers beyond his own.The delightful conclusion was that Bill really got into it. He was smart, successful, and knew he had grown a little and was excited and ready to try it, rather than wasting time defending himself. Asking questions he discovered his wife had a lot of her own thoughts and feelings and he was suffocating her. He also ruefully confessed that she was smarter than he was in a lot of areas and he needed to ask and learn more. With their new style, “arguing” with lots of good questions, they found lots of good answers. If you ask the right question, you may turn on a light or start the power for whoever is listening. They may start to think and to join you on whatever path you are. Questions expand our thinking, make us look at our world, our lives, our beliefs, our prejudice, even our pain. And a really good question is a lot of fun . . . if for no other reason than it is food for the brain, even the soul . . . and it wakes one up. Here are some questions . . . serious and not so serious (or are they).
Whose shoes do you shine? What playing field are you on? Do you only want to be right?
.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE What are you hungry for? What is the agenda? What’s your compass? What was it like for you growing up? you seen your finest hour? (if yes . . formula for despair & depression) Whose job is it to make you happy? Who trapped whom? Where are we? On Mars or Venus? What drawers haven’t you cleaned yet? Where is your sanctuary? How are you compensating? 299 .
she says the very same thing about me. that there are fewer things that are really important. becomes more and more valuable and precious. for the insight and understanding it may bring others. than ever. I love more and more. So. Fortunately. It is true with faith. as you grow older. for I have become intimately acquainted with all her faults. believe it or not. and I am talking about fifty years of getting to know her. by the very same logic. random kisses and hugs. What are the things in your life that are more and more valuable. There is also the delight that one finds in sharing it. . deeper and deeper. However. As one grows older one tends to believe less and less. simple. It is also true with lasting friendships. and forty-seven of being married. but what you do believe. by the way. but that which is important. This is truly profound and yet once you grasp it. enlightening and valuable. and failings. there is much more romance. and like all good secrets. holding hands. you believe more and more. even though there may be less and less of them than there once were? Is this one of the reasons that old friends become so very important? As you have grown older how has your faith and values changed? 300 . You can apply this in a number of places. Examine important pillars in your life and notice.DIFFICULT & PROFOUND SECRETS Less and less . that which I do love in her. more and more The more I get to know my wife. . foibles. I would be carrying a great deal more tension and baggage in many places in life. and good scotch. patriotism. I suspect that if I had never learned this great secret. I love her less and less.
In struggling with this secret one regains some perspective and understanding of all that is left is of great value and worth and life can go on. because it is not at all cynical or hard. He slowly moved from the feeling of having lost everything. When I told him about this secret in my book we talked for quite awhile about it. She was the most important thing in his life. Frank and I would have lunch often. A person who has lost someone they love.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Nothing is that important. to slowly rebuilding his life in a new and different way. you would see all of life as having little or no value? 301 . Here is more to ponder. This is a very difficult and profound secret. be it a parent or child or grandchild. there will be an empty place in their heart for the rest of their life. but he. Ceil taught in the same school as my wife. often went out to events together. She got cancer and died too soon and there was a big hole in our lives and Frank was devastated. Even so there is still value and love and goodness in life. that if you lost it.Yes. being a very articulate person with great insight. even though that is how it sounds when one first hears it. Nothing is that important that one cannot forgive when one truly loves. It was hard to find the words or even say out loud. the loss is terrible beyond words. to go on living they must finally realize that nothing is so important that its loss ruins everything else in life. To put this whole concept in another way. We were very good friends. what would be so important to you. People who have been maimed or crippled must learn this also. and yes. for there is always much left to love. The loss is not so important that it destroys the value of all that is left. shared with me this realization in many words. We traveled together.Those who do are the ones who inspire us so much because they have learned this and gone on with their lives. must finally face this truth. I suspect the real practical combat value of this secret is found in the reflections and thoughts and sharing that it promotes. It is only when you are looking for a reason not to love that you cannot forgive. even the love of their life. Even though a part of their life has been torn from them.
JACk ELLIoTT I said this was very difficult and it is only when you have worked through it all that it will help you when you face the loss of anything that is very important in your life.Dr. has nothing to do with the incredible great and wonderful value of what has been lost. What is so important in your life that you cannot imagine going on if you lost it? Now. And. stay with the above and imagine how life would be if that was lost? 302 . remember this. it has to do with a whole life perspective and going on with life. rather than making the rest of life into a funeral pyre.
It robs you of truth. Seeking perfection will not be good enough. or design the perfect garden. what unexplored creativity and uniqueness might be lost to the world. . . for that requires the pitcher to actually strike out all the batters. . know what will happen? You will stifle the natural uniqueness of the other person as you try to mold the person into your model of “perfection”. bride. . now and then. If you are trying to build the perfect relationship . God is beyond perfection. not compromise. in the perfect category? (By the way there are very few truly perfect baseball games. Seeking perfection is a terrible thing. when you try to rear the perfect child . not to mention that perfection role-playing will tire you out and make you very lonely. So.You can only be good enough when you get off the perfection playing field and onto the human playing field where two of the key plays in the game are forgiveness and finding value.) 303 . . or even with your hobbies or sports. but also not let perfection spoil what you do have and do? Have you ever seen anyone else. son. there is no perfect. There is a very old joke that has stayed with me through the years. By the way. with family and friends. I found her . . but she was looking for the perfect man. you never found her? oh yes. The same will happen to your child . If you think I am wrong. he said he was looking for the perfect woman. etc? Well. just think of what damage you could do to yourself. Have you ever done anything that was perfect? In your efforts to be and do the best you can at work or home. but being human will be good enough. or anything else. husband. You want to be the perfect mom. It is the story of the man who never married and when asked why.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Perfect isn’t good enough. do you have room to seek the best. Oh. And. . Everyone has the feeling. . of not being good enough. you will lose yourself. by the way. please let me know who or what is perfect.
Their children need their love but it will be some years. always remember that the only absolutely sure reward is your own sense of well being and value. usually when they become parents. . the world . or feel a need to tell someone to share it somehow? 304 . . your country. for others. How do you feel when you do something good and no one will know about it? Do you have a good feeling just for the joy of doing something good. JACk ELLIoTT The only sure reward is your own good feeling. It provides both reward and a good definition of your own unique identity and sense of value. . or feel anxious or insecure about lack of positive appreciative response. If you do good for yourself.You realize that your own internal good feeling is good enough. you are free! You do not play to any one or any audience. Mothers don’t need any example to understand this secret.Dr. or wait for the accolades or applause. that they come to realize how much their own mothers did for them with no expectation of any reward beyond that of simply being a good mom. Once you realize the truth of this secret. your family. This is not as cynical as it may sound. . or even for God . They learn it very quickly. your community.You have done what you know and believe and feel is right.
most of the time we are to some extent vulnerable. you will function much better in most relationships.SECrETS For A GooD LIFE Always feel vulnerable. If for no other reason. and so. . This is not about feeling neurotic or paranoid or insecure. which includes being less than complete and totally self-sufficient . He talked about his military combat experience and if one didn’t feel vulnerable all the time. not to mention divorce courts and counseling offices. we may react at the very thought of admitting being vulnerable. He comes across as a gentle but strong sort of person.We let few know where we are vulnerable.. sought after and even considered wise. appreciated. if you know you are vulnerable and all that goes with being vulnerable . in charge. On the other hand. since most of us guard our vulnerability carefully. .so are bankrupt corporations and busy employment offices. is there anything that might change it? Do you think of life in two polarizations. and thus stronger. Indeed. do get shot down . vulnerable or invulnerable? How is life this simple at times. . who seem to operate with little or no sense of vulnerability. History is full of dictators who seemed invulnerable . it is more about being sensitive and aware of the world and those around you. . . precisely because they were blind to the possibility of being vulnerable.The fact is. first in a negative way as his combat mode clicked in too much. and how is it more complex other times? 305 .The super strong. But then. No. Are there places in your life where you feel fairly invulnerable? What gives you this feeling or attitude? Do list the reasons. . Looking at the list. sensitive and aware of those around him. He said he brought that attitude home. he turned it into a positive part of his approach to life and whatever he faces. . one would not survive.. in control of themselves folk . It is a bit of a paradox. They thought they were bullet proof. very adult. You may find yourself well liked. we should always feel a little vulnerable. be vulnerable in order to be aware. This is somewhat counter intuitive. competent. . Bill went on to explain.
The way you think is more important than the techniques you use. it’s the way you think. . but rather a way of thinking and even being which you mold and shape into your very own. and so it was. . . They do well for a while . There are lots of people who learn successful techniques in order to sell. Have you ever considered thinking more about the way you think. than about the technique? How would this change you? Your relationship with your family? Your job? Yes. or simply to get along with others. . put the book down for a moment and think upon the ways this secret may be applied equally as well to you . it the way you think . Under pressure the techniques may falter and may not work. Had Ted lived long enough he might have written a good book about this. But there is always a lack of depth and it is apparent. They got to know each other. . who in his retirement read and studied all manner of different “psychologies” from what was popular here and there.Thus the great value of this book is not in giving you formulas or techniques . it’s not the technique. . Now here is a good place to stop . teach . dance. . and Ted told him one time when he was complaining about his game . . He put them all together when a golfer came to him (it was by word of mouth) to improve his game. . ways to do whatever . lawyer. .Dr. . Ted was a psychologist. JACk ELLIoTT It’s not the technique. whether you are a golfer. . . . . even your golf game or whatever game you play? 306 . . . to ancient forms of meditation and healing. will continue to drive you. teacher. . . but the way you think . parent or lover. sometimes for a long while. It all started with a modestly proficient pro who had came for some counseling in a different area. . the way you really are .
. . . The purpose of this book is not to give you clever formulas or techniques or programs that will lead you to success and happiness. .net 307 . Write me at the address below and it may well get into volume II and better yet you will get credit for it . . because the real value in this book is in finding and putting into use just one or two secrets that you did not know. Email your ideas to: jack@goodlifesecrets. your way of acting. Please consider sharing it. . thus making you a published author . reacting and responding. Now that you read or wandered through these secrets. Hopefully the other thing that has happened as you have read this book is that you realized that you hold a secret or two not found in this book. sorry. . . Rather here are ideas that you can make your own. Think about them. and you will have the satisfaction that you have helped others . . you’re not going to get your money back . . however limited . or in rediscovering what you might have forgotten. that you have made the world a little better. you have discovered that you knew some of the secrets already . mold and shape them until they fit comfortably with your way of thinking and feeling. .POSTSCRIPT Allow me to repeat what I wrote at the beginning. There are a lot of those books out there and some are very good. .
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