Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking for the Good - The Road Less Traveled

In Robert Frost’s poignant poem “The Road Not Taken” he ends with the famous lines:
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

There are many interpretations of what the road less traveled is. It can be a career choice, a romantic choice or a series of choices that lead to a positive result. However, as we approach the new year and are thinking about resolutions and goals, I would like to suggest that we look at the road less traveled as a whole mind-set or attitude of looking for the good.

In every relationship and in every person, we can choose to notice and focus on faults and short-comings. We all have them. Every relationship has them. They are easy to find and plenty to go around. We certainly can choose to take this “road”. However, we need to realize that by choosing this “road” of focusing on faults, it will make “all the difference” in the quality of our relationships.

Now, of course, there are some “faults”, such as blatant abuse of any kind, that certainly need to be addressed and should not be ignored. However, there are also a multitude of other “faults” that may not only be deteriorating to our relationships if we allow ourselves to dwell on them, but may also block our view from seeing the good that is also in every person and every relationship.

The reality is none of us, or our relationships, are completely perfect or completely awful. We are a mixture of good and bad, strengths and weaknesses.

Just as we can choose the “road” of focusing on faults, we can also choose the “road less traveled”, the “road” of looking for the good, of accentuating the positive, of strengthening our relationships. That road, though less traveled, is just as real and just as possible for us to take. And choosing to take it will make “all the difference” in the quality of our relationships.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Simplify and Live More Fully - The True Meaning of Christmas

As I was visiting with Jim and Linda (not their real names), the discussion evolved into one where each began articulating what was really important to them. It turned out it wasn’t having a nicer home, an expensive vacation or even more income – all concerns they had voiced previously.

What was really important to them, it turned out, was just spending time together – talking about ideas and enjoying each other’s company. In fact, as they reminisced, it turned out they had been happiest when they had less because they were focused less on things and more on enjoying each other and valuing their relationship.

At Christmas-time, it seems that we often get caught up in the business of the season – putting up grand displays of lights and decorations, letting ourselves be enticed by all the advertisements, believing we need the newest tool, gadget, or appliance. And yet, what is the meaning of Christmas? What is the true purpose of the occasion we celebrate on December 25th?

Isn’t it a story of a very humble birth, a very simple occasion? Yes, there were angels singing and wise men bringing gifts, but with reverence and focused attention on the divine birth. Shepherds and their sheep were also there. Isn’t Christmas a time to remember the message of the babe that was born? We are not here just to accumulate things but rather to learn to love and value each other. Indeed, as Jim and Linda realized – to simplify and live more fully.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Male and Female Brains

Couples will often comment “We just don’t think the same way.” And they’re right. Men and women’s brains are different. They literally do not function the same way.

For example, from infancy girl brains are more interested in people and communicating while boy brains are more interested in objects and actions. The fact that these differences show up early in infancy
means they are not learned but are “hard-wired”.

Women also have more “connectors” between the left and right hemispheres of the brain so it is easier for them to access both parts of their brain. It has been said that navigating between the right and left brains in women is like a four-lane freeway, whereas in men it is like a winding country road or even a pathway in the woods.

These brain differences explain why men have a harder time accessing their feelings and why women are more concerned about relationships. Both feelings and relationships are a function of the right brain. Because men have a harder time accessing both hemispheres, they generally operate from their left brain which is more task-oriented and logical.

It is good for husbands to understand these differences - that their wives are not just being “over-emotional”, for example, they simply have more access to their emotions. It is also good for wives to understand that their husbands are not “uncaring”, it is simply harder for them to access their emotions. Both husbands and wives need to be patient and willing to learn from each other. Our brains really are different.