“I think people are most themselves when they are pushed. It’s easy to be a decent human being when things are going your way. But what happens when it’s not. That’s when we see true character come out.”  – Louise Penny

A few weeks ago my boyfriend and I were talking about politeness.  I told him the story of a woman I knew, from the South, who was polite and smiled at everyone.  She later told me that she didn’t really like one or two of them.  At first I thought this was disingenuous.  But as I watched her interact with these people, I realized that she wasn’t misleading them with ill intent.  She just realized that meanness or rudeness was both pointless and fruitless so she was choosing politeness.

Often I think we jump to the quick “clap back”.  Social media rewards such posts with likes and other equally “pity” comments.  We crave that stimulation.  And when we are loudly voicing our opinion to a group, we crave that validation.  Pack mentality is a well documented psychological phenomenon.  We somehow feel less culpable when perpetrating bad acts if we act in a group.  It’s like wading into a fast moving stream.  It’s easier to just go with the flow.  It takes a magnified amount of effort to move against the current of popular opinion and choose something different.

We see so much more with our access to social media and 24 hour news casts.  And let’s face it, violence and meanness, capture our attention.  It’s sensational, exciting, gets us all worked up, even if it’s just to condemn those perpetuating the violence.

I think often we use the excuse “it wasn’t my choice” to mitigate poor behavior, or poor life choices.  It takes fortitude and honesty to realize that it’s always your choice.  When the going gets difficult that’s when your true character surfaces.  When the pull of “evening the score” becomes much greater.  When meanness is justified or even warranted.  What do you do then?

There are times politeness is not the answer.  There are those who would manipulate the kindness of others for their own gain.  In those situations a stronger reaction is needed.  For me the answer is mindfulness.  Well thought-out reactions. Proportional responses.  However, for that to happen you need time.  Breathing into the moment helps create that space.

You are the culmination of the choices you make, both large and small.  Make sure you are making those choices deliberately.

Fathers and families

FathersDayThis past Sunday was Father’s Day.  For me, it’s a time of joy and celebration of a man who was quietly there during lots of good times and a few very, very bad times.  However, this weekend also highlighted that there are many who, for a variety of reasons, do not have a father to celebrate, or who choose not to celebrate their father for very good reasons.

This day must be difficult for them. To go on social media and see all the well-wishes and stores of men who were good fathers.  While they drew the short straw in the father lottery.  My heart goes out to them.  I understand the kind of hole that is left in a person’s soul when that very important person is lacking either in character or in involvement.

You cannot change that person, or those circumstances, but you can acknowledge the loss and then look forward.  There are so many people who want to love and cherish you.  Who want to share your pain so you can endure life easier.  Families come in so many different shapes and sizes.  Fill your life with a family of your choosing.  So that it’s overflowing with support, and love and laughter.

I cannot promise that this will make things less sad on this day.  But I can promise that those who share this day with you will ease that ache just a little because you will be reminded that you matter to so many people.