Positively Podcasting

Are you into podcasts? I know a lot of people are.

I worked on an article this week that I was assigned by the editor at the auto trade magazine I’ve been writing for since 2015. She wanted me to gather some podcasts for their end-of-the-year “best of” issue.

Mark was a big fan of podcasts. When he’d email me from the road last fall and winter, he regularly shared something he learned from one of the rotating podcasts he was listening to. Sometimes he’d tell me about a topic covered by Rich Roll, one of his favorites. Do you remember on Day 009 how excited he was when Roll tweeted about him? He also liked Malcolm Gladwell’s  Revisionist History. Because of his enthusiasm for these podcasts, I started listening.

Over the past year, I’ve gotten out of the habit of listening to Roll and Gladwell. The past few days, I immersed myself in the world filled with innumerable people broadcasting and streaming outstanding and maybe more important to me—uplifting content. I don’t want to let the “cat out of the bag” in terms of my future article, but I will share a few things I learned by simply taking time to fill-up with something more positive than the latest angry tweets from our president.

I’ve been a fan of Gladwell’s for a long time. He’s such an outstanding writer. I fell in love with his writing after reading several of his long-form pieces he wrote for The New Yorker. He had a talent for taking a topic that you thought you knew something about and turning it on its head. I then read The Tipping Point, How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. I still can’t believe that book is more than 15-years-old. Continue reading

A Different Approach

It’s always easy to focus on yourself. I know, I know—your situation is important and you don’t have time to think of anyone but yourself, or to ask about how I’m doing.

I’m re-evaluating most of my relationships. I remember a friend of mine from years ago mentioning that the “masses are asses.” My recent experience would validate his assessment. However, I’m trying to give people the benefit of the doubt and maintain a positive view of my fellow humans. Continue reading

Life is like publishing a book (part I)

Book publishing teaches many life lessons.

Book publishing teaches many life lessons.

What motivates people to make changes in their lives? Why is it that some people embrace self-improvement and personal growth, while others stay stuck in the same old rut?

As mentioned before, I was stuck in self-defeating patterns of behavior for a good chunk of my young adult life. Even in my early 30s, when I began looking for answers not bound by spiritual precepts, I had a hard time accepting the power our minds hold over us. Often, how we think, and what we choose to fill our heads with sabotages the best laid plans. Continue reading

Pick your battles, but choose your friends

I know several people that are always amped up about some major public issue. It might be guns, Obamacare, tax policy, the governor’s latest stupid statement…pick the poison.

Here’s the thing I’ve learned. None of these people can affect a damn bit of difference about their issue of the day. I like most of these people, but their sense of doom wears me out. Continue reading

What I can do

One day last week, after wrapping up some end-of-the day work tasks, I sat down, put my feet up and flicked on MSNBC while waiting for Mary to come home. I’m comfortable saying that I lean leftward, so MSNBC is often a mainstream news choice. If you tilt rightward, you most likely prefer your talking heads, Fox-flavored.

Left or right, much of what now passes as “news” is nothing more than a bunch of people screaming back and forth, or engaging in some form of fear-fogging. During this particular dinner hour, the topic was gun control. On another day, or week, it could have been the fiscal cliff, why Republicans (or Democrats) are such idiots, or some other item from a list of meaningless topic fodder that runs like a tape loop on all the networks, lacking intellectual girth, and not much variation, depth, or nuance. Continue reading

Wisdom for my day

I think I mentioned that my mom, now dubbed St. Helen of Immaculata by my sister, often offered tidbits of wisdom in the form of sayings and even poems to the young JBE.

One in particular has stayed with me all these years. It’s authorship is unknown and I might argue that it’s loosely based on a poem by Rudyard Kipling. The wisdom expressed is something I can really understand now, 40+ years later.

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow–
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor’s cup,
And he learned too late when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out–
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit–
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

This second passage comes from none other than Confucius, arguably one of the greatest thinkers of all time.

The illustrious ancients, when they wished to make clear and to propagate the highest virtues to the world, put their states in proper order. Before putting their states in proper order, they regulated their families. Before regulating their families, they cultivated their own selves. Before cultivating their own selves, they perfected their souls. Before perfecting their souls, they tried to be sincere in their thoughts. Before trying to be sincere in their thoughts, they extended to the utmost their knowledge. Such investigation of knowledge lay in the investigation of things, and in seeing them as they really are. When things were thus investigated, knowledge became complete. When knowledge was complete, their thoughts became sincere. When their thoughts were sincere, their souls became perfect. When their souls were perfect, their own selves became cultivated. When their selves were cultivated, their families became regulated. When their families were regulated, their states came to be put into proper order. When their states were in proper order, then the whole world became peaceful and happy.

When all else fails us, I say look to the past to find your way forward.


Happy thoughts

Happiness is very important to Americans. At the very least, appearing to be positive, happy, and avoid challenging accepted conventions of everyday existence is required to be liked and even popular.

I’ve learned a lot the past 10 years about not letting my thoughts and cynicism sidetrack me and I’ve decided that I’m not going to be tossed to and fro on a sea of negativity or despair. Continue reading

Zig zag

Zig Ziglar passed away nearly two weeks ago at the age of 86. I’ve been meaning to get up a post about Ziglar because I first encountered his personal brand of positive thinking at a time of my life when I wasn’t positive about much. In fact, being positive used to be something I never put much stock in. I had no truck with optimism, instead finding it easier traveling the paths of cynicism and negativity. When appraising any situation, I always saw a glass that was half empty.

Ziglar was part of a pantheon of 20th century positive-thinking gurus that included Dale Carnegie, Norman Vincent Peale, Napoleon Hill, Og Mandino, and W. Clement Stone, to name just a few. All of these men believed that people had the ability to change their circumstances as a result of the power of the mind and their attitudes. Continue reading