GrasshopperNotes.com - Thoughts for inspired living


November 13, 2017

Action Verbs

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 6:10 am

Here’s a blast from my radio past.

DiagramVerbs are the action words of the English language. They often communicate movement. Verbs also have tenses – too many to mention, so let’s focus on the three that are used most – past present and future. Reminds me of a story . . .

Back in 1974 I was offered a radio job in St. Louis by a man I came to like less and less. I was, however, impressed by a piece of information he shared with me on the phone. He told me that my performance would improve by making one slight adjustment – using action verbs. For example, if you are the morning DJ on a station, you may say something like, “WXYZ the home of the hits and you may be having trouble popping out of bed this morning so here is my way of helping you with a song by Stark Naked & the Car Thieves on WXYZ.”

His suggestion would be to say, “WXYZ – the home of the hits pops you out of bed and gets you on your way. Here’s Stark Naked & The Car Thieves on WXYZ.” It was more succinct and communicated more action. Little did I know that was the only helpful piece of information he would ever offer.

Have you noticed that action can only take place now?

“I raked the leaves last fall” has no impact on the pile sitting on your lawn right now. Action may have taken place in the past but that is only a memory now. Raking is not happening now. It happened then.

“I’m going to begin an exercise program” has no current action attached to it. It’s deferred to the future, yet our mind thinks we have taken action by making this declaration.

How many of your verbs are past and future related? Action can only take place in the present tense.

One of my most unfavorite phrases is, “I tried that.” Forget for a moment that the word “try” connotes no action. When I investigate the person’s use of this phrase with follow-up questions, I usually discover there was a lack of necessary effort on their part to achieve their goal.

Goals require sustained action. The athlete who only turns it on for the big game will have a shorter career than most. When his physical prowess begins to diminish, he has nothing to fall back on. The athlete who takes sustained action elongates his professional window of opportunity.

How much hit and miss is present in your life? It boils down to a noun that needs the moving energy of a verb – Action.

After formulating a goal, here is a suggestion: Ask yourself, “What action can I take right now to move towards this desire?” The answer may be “nothing at this time” but there is action embedded in the question.

Develop the practice of asking yourself, “What action can I take right now?” You will surprise yourself how much more action you take by asking this one simple present moment question.

Go ahead, give it a spin right now and see what happens.

WHAT ACTION CAN I TAKE RIGHT NOW?

All the best,

John



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November 9, 2017

Solution Pollution

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 4:45 am

ExcusesThe Grasshopper came up with this definition the other day: “Justifications: Telltale signs that you’re not working on a solution.”

I recently wrote something called Explaining Why Until You Die and this post is an addendum to that observation.

Justifications either move you backwards or keep you in place. They rarely lead to forward progress.

When we’re busy justifying, we take all our time looking for a scapegoat or a support group to agree with us instead of taking that opportunity to seek a solution.

Solutions can’t occupy the same space as justifications. Justifications and solutions mix even less than oil and water.

I just saw a football player’s apology online. It started with an explanation (justification) of why he did what he did. There is no room in an apology for a justification. It keeps the bad blood in place and the solution you purport to want at arm’s length.

An effective and heartfelt apology is completely falling on your sword. Anything else will come off as half-baked. You may as well have said, “Let them eat cake.”

Here’s a suggestion: If you need to apologize for something, write it out first and then read it over. If it contains any reasons (justifications) why you acted the way you did, it simply won’t work. Take away the justification and clear the way toward a solution.

If you really want a solution, edit out the justification and remove the pollution.

All the best,

John



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November 3, 2017

As I’ve Always Said . . .

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 6:13 am

PompousHow often have you heard the phrase, “As I’ve always said” from people who said no such thing?

“As I’ve always said” is a red flag that you’re about to hear some form of a backtrack phrase designed to cover what they emphatically once said to the contrary.

It’s amazing to me the lengths we will go to avoid saying, “I was wrong.”

I’m reminded of the character Fonzie from the 70s TV series “Happy Days” and his inability to say certain words (see clip HERE).

The failure to apologize without justification is just another form of the fear of being wrong.

The smell of elephant dung leaves the room when you make room for being wrong.

The odds for being right all the time are never in our favor. Being able to acknowledge being wrong about something gets you a seat at the adult table.

For you sports fans, I remember saying that quarterback Jameis Winston was going to be the next Vince Young (a college standout who was a flash in the pan as a pro). Boy was I wrong. This kid is flourishing.

How hard is it to acknowledge that your opinion didn’t pan out or that something you did was wrong? You’ll garner more respect and, frankly, feel better when you do.

As I’ve always said, “when I’m right, I’m right.” Too bad for me I can’t say it that often.

All the best,

John



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October 26, 2017

Have You Ever Noticed?

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 12:59 am

NoticingHad a phone conversation with my friend Hali yesterday and she told me about something she noticed. She, being a thrift store shopper, noticed that the thrift stores that have higher end merchandise have more books on inventory than the thrift stores with lower end goods.

It got me to wondering about noticing.

Have you ever noticed that the person who speaks incredibly loud has the least to say?

Have you ever noticed that the people with the most rules are the first to complain?

Have you ever noticed that TV ads for medicines you never heard of contain the words “your doctor” at least 3 times in the ad?

Have you ever noticed that someone who says, “that’s a good question” is stalling?

Have you ever noticed that the most oppositional people you know are also the most immature?

Just a few more . . .

Have you ever noticed that people who say, “I’m sorry, but . . . ” are not sorry?

Have you ever noticed that people who speak in hyperbole always under-deliver?

Have you ever noticed the most angry people you know are also the most sad?

This may sound like a rant and it is, but the larger point is to start noticing the bothersome things we do that cause others to say, “Have you ever noticed?” about you.

All the best,

John



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October 24, 2017

Knowledge & Wisdom

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 4:50 am

WisdomKnowledge and Wisdom are associated but not interchangeable. Here’s a little nip of nectar The Grasshopper gave me 10 years ago:

Expanding your life horizontally gains you knowledge; expanding vertically gains you wisdom.”

Knowledge is a collection of facts and figures and logic is the assembling agent for them. Wisdom comes from somewhere other than reasoning and guides you as to what to do with your personal collection of data.

When you walk horizontally from birth to death, you will collect your share of information and you will become more knowledgeable. Some people wear their knowledge as a badge of honor and will regale you with their storehouse of information. I’ve heard it said that “Knowledge is power.” The evidence does not bear out that old axiom. A more accurate adage would be “Wisdom is power.”

How many people have more knowledge than you could ever hope to amass and do nothing with it? They lack wisdom. It doesn’t take education to be wise. Sometimes it takes experience to produce wisdom, and sometimes wisdom just shows up for an unannounced, inspirational visit.

I have no quarrel with education. I think life should be a constant class of continuing education. Just recognize that knowledge alone is like one hand clapping or one Smothers Brother.

The well of wisdom sits in everyone’s back yard. You just have to drink from it from time to time gain the heights and depths this deep knowing can deliver.

A day without quiet contemplation is a day without wisdom. Make the time for yourself everyday and take a mini vacation from the world of facts and figures and notice how your moments become infused with wisdom.

Find a spiritual practice that works for you. There are so many that take you to the same place – peacefulness, solitude, oneness. Make today the starting point for a daily dip into the depths of discovery and start drinking from your well of wisdom.

All the best,

John



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October 20, 2017

Keeping up Appearances

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 6:44 am

EnvyThe Grasshopper had this to say yesterday: “My life is more important to me than my lifestyle.”

What a revelation!

Do you remember the mindset known as “Keeping up with the Joneses?” That meant you had to match your neighbor’s lifestyle to be considered worthy. Judging your worth by what you have is an American mainstay that needs to go away.

What about the breadwinners who slaved extra hours to be able to provide what the Joneses had, only to impair their health and well-being in the process? Where’s the win there – an earlier grave with a fancier coffin?

There is sacrifice and there is madness. Keeping your nose to the grindstone for the sake of lifestyle is lunacy.

Working hard to attain worthwhile goals is fulfilling. Doing so to increase your perceived worth is worthless.

I’m not sure how many years or minutes any of us have left but I know this: Living my life without having to superficially manufacture worth is purposeful and priceless.

This is not a rant on what money can’t buy. It’s more to shine a spotlight on our purpose in life. I don’t think anyone’s purpose is to be a showboat. If it is, they’ll surely sink with the sun.

I don’t often ask “Why” questions but here’s one that works for me: Why are you here? What’s your purpose?

Let your purpose flow into everything you do and let the Joneses keep up with you.

All the best,

John



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October 19, 2017

Tired of Being Angry?

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 3:40 am

AngerHow do you stop being angry? For that to happen, I believe you have to be tired of being angry.

For some people, anger fuels them; for most, it depletes us. Those fueled by anger eventually burn out earlier than the rest. That means they die sooner.

Becoming tired of being angry takes some recognition – the recognition that anger isn’t working for you. You begin to recognize that it’s taking its toll and it’s wearing you out.

Recognizing your anger doesn’t mean you won’t get angry again. It just means that you’ll let it go sooner.

Reminds me of something Jerry Stocking said some years ago: “Judge quickly.” I took that to mean that we all judge in some form or another. The key is to have your judgement, then let it go. Because if you let the judgment continue, it turns into drama and if the drama wears on, your judgement becomes a fact of life rather than an opinion. The same applies to anger.

Let your angry moment have its moment. Then let it go.

Are you tired of being worn out? Try giving anger a sleeping pill. Justifying your anger just keeps it awake.

To stop being angry, you have to recognize that you are. Then you can give anger its say and then send it on its way.

Let me close with one of my favorite quotes from The Buddha: “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

All the best,

John



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October 12, 2017

Frustration/Dissatisfaction

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 1:58 am

FrustrationHere’s one of the longest blog posts I’ve ever written from a long time ago. Don’t pay too careful attention to it unless you’re a man or woman.

There is one major difference that separates men from women – the way they display fear.

I’m not referencing the fear that comes upon you when you are under deadly assault. This is more about the fear that permeates your life in general.

By and large, men lead their lives frustrated and women go through life dissatisfied. I’m sure there are elegant examples to the contrary but if you just said “this doesn’t apply to me,” you are most likely in denial.

Dr. Dave Dobson, whom I cite often, says that we come out of the birthing canal with one sensation – fear. The way we display it and the degree to which we act it out takes on a vocabulary of its own – apprehension, cautiousness, anger, nervousness, annoyed, hurt, fight or flight, paranoia, etc. These words are all subsets of the thing we first learn – fear.

Frustration and Dissatisfaction are forms of fears that have been culturally conditioned within men and women. Think of little boys being admonished for crying, while there is a level of expectation for crying in little girls. It’s all part of the early conditioning that affects most men and women their entire lives.

Did you ever see a group of 5 year old girls playing King of the Mountain? “Young ladies don’t engage in that behavior” is a conditioning phrase as is, “Little boys don’t play with dolls” – (unless, of course, they have weapons and are called “action figures”).

Men have been conditioned since a very early age that they “must know and know right now.” It’s an expectation. Frankly, it’s the reason there are more stuttering boys than girls. The speed with which they are to answer pressures them to say something before the response is formed. The impatient parent causes them to have a halting response which becomes a pattern. Stutterers aren’t born but formed.

When the boss asks a man for an answer, there is no time for quiet reflection. An instant answer is expected and given – often the wrong answer. Women are puzzled when they tell their man their problems as to why he goes into solution mode. It’s his conditioning. She may just want a sounding board but men are conditioned to have to know. It’s also why many men won’t stop and ask for directions.

Men live under a double bind where an impossible demand is put upon them that they are expected to fulfill. Philosopher, Alan Watts said it this way:

“Anybody who lives under the dominance of a double bind is living in a state of chronic frustration. He is devoting his life to solving a problem that is meaningless and nonsensical precisely because it has no solution.”

This cultural expectation of men has them constantly seeking control, which doesn’t exist, that just adds to the frustration and often leads to anger. Who attends more anger management classes, men or women? You now have an appreciation how it got to be that way.

Women live in a stew of dissatisfaction. They can never seem to get where they want to go because something always seems to be standing in their way or holding them back. Conditioning is the culprit. Think of the attitudes that have been displayed in the past towards women. “Why does she want to go to college? We’ll just spend all that money and she’ll wind up married and pregnant.” There is not a lot of expectation for girls in many cultures and that attitude gets passed on. Women as a result do a lot of settling. They settle for this and they settle for that until it blossoms into full blown dissatisfaction.

There comes a point in most women’s lives where they ask some form of the question, “Is this all there is?” it’s when women begin to fall apart. It means their patterns are coming unglued and things that had meaning for them in the past no longer contain the same meaning. Any superficiality they have begins to come unraveled.

Warning: It gets tricky here.

When the old patterns begin to fall apart, they dig their heels in for one last stand (like Tom Hanks in Saving Private Ryan). Women actually become more superficial during this time. They do so many things out of character. They’ll get into therapy, take dangerous prescription drugs like Prozac and the like, they’ll get a tattoo on their butt, get a wild new hairdo, or institute a major wardrobe change, have an affair, get a divorce, start smoking pot, yadda, yadda.

The good news is most women figure it out, well before men, that nothing on the outside is going to change their life. That’s when the superficiality ends and they put their lives back together and find satisfaction in discovering themselves vs. their role. They had been searching for satisfaction in a cultural role that was denied them. That’s the sad irony. The satisfaction isn’t in the role; it’s in discovering that who you really are is much deeper than anything that culture has to offer.

Sorry to report that most men stay superficial until about 10 minutes before they die. It’s conditioning. The illusion of control has them hang on, for almost their entire life, to the idea that the answer is out there.

I can tell you from experience that one of the most peaceful experiences you’ll witness is a dying man giving up control. The peacefulness that they enjoy in those fleeting moments could have been with them 50 years sooner by discovering, as Eckhart Tolle calls it, “the life beneath your life’s situation.”

If you find yourself in a perpetual state of frustration or dissatisfaction, you need to fall apart. I can tell you from personal experience it’s not a pleasant, yet a necessary step to find the deeper you. Trust that there is a more fulfilling answer than the one you’re looking for by chasing the horizon. You’re going to find that satisfying answer. The only question is: How soon can you let go of the façade that you call you?

All the best,

John



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October 9, 2017

Assessments

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 11:53 pm

Screenshot 2017 10 10 00 41 45Look what I found on “Too Lazy to Write Something New Tuesday.” This is from a decade ago.

When we assess something, we evaluate its worth. It could be an item on eBay, what a political candidate has to say, a business venture, or a potential dancing partner.

We make assessments every day of our life. It’s part of the human software package.

Assessments are interpretations of reality. Sometimes we do a terrific job and oftentimes we don’t.

The real difficulty begins when we label our assessments as the truth. It may true for us but it may not pass the sniff test of truth for others. That’s when the wicket becomes like a cinnamon bun. Life gums up and we begin debating the truth.

The only real truth is reality. It’s true every time. Reality doesn’t debate and it never gets stuck. Reality is life. Look out your window. What do you see? Reality! Look at your financial situation. What do you see? Reality! Look at your personal relationships. Reality! Reality is like dog poop – it’s everywhere and everyone eventually steps in it.

When you watch a court room drama on TV or in the movies, typically you will see a set of facts laid out by the prosecution and then the defense will refute, ignore or complicate those facts. There is an old lawyer axiom with a new twist that comes from former Vice-President, Al Gore:

“When you have the facts on your side, argue the facts. When you have the law on your side, argue the law. When you have neither, holler.”

There is a lot of unnecessary hollering going on. The loud noises come from those resisting reality.

The Grasshopper had this to say about assessments:

“Life flows when reality and your assessment of reality are the same.”

Byron Katie gives us an amazing appreciation for reality in her book, “Loving What Is.” I recommend it to anyone who is raging against reality. Reminds me of a story . . .

When my boys were younger and living at home, we would rent a cottage at the Jersey shore for a couple of weeks each summer. We went to the beach everyday and a good portion of that time was spent in the water riding the surf. I remember starting a ritual with them that we did at least once a vacation. We would stand almost waist deep in the water facing the oncoming waves. We formed a human chain by holding hands and puffed up our chests and resisted the approaching wave. We all got knocked back or under by the sheer force of the ocean and when we collected ourselves we said the following in unison:

“Man versus ocean; ocean wins again.”

Then we would all laugh. When you oppose the flow of reality, you get knocked on your tushie every time.

There is reality and an assessment of reality. When there is a disconnect between the two, we suffer.

Here’s my assessment: You can shorten the hold that suffering has on you when you get in the practice of accepting reality.

All the best,

John



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October 4, 2017

Dancing

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 4:57 am

DancingLook what I found in the archives from just about 10 years ago. It made me tap my toe again.

I have never been considered a great dancer. I’ve had my moments but, by and large, a majority of the population does it better than me. But before you try and rescue me, let me tell the truth. I don’t like to dance – never have.

I’ve had instruction. I have made the effort. I have had world class dancing partners – all to no avail. Before you send me your secret method or a Dance Fever video, let me come clean. This ain’t the kind of dancing I’m referring to.

The purposeful avoidance of the facts is the dance that I choose to observe from afar. For example, I had the opportunity to watch some of the presidential debates on Saturday night and got to see an amazing array of dance steps. It’s entertaining and uncomfortable at the same time to see human beings knowingly dance around questions.

What is the biggest fear of answering a specific question with a specific answer? Is it being found out? You bet!

The truth is everyone already knows at some level what you are hiding. We are too polite as a society to probe past the dodge and we pay the price for our avoidance of the uncomfortable. The price for not asking is lifelong discomfort for not being willing to be temporarily prickly. This avoidance has us walk around with a wound that never heals.

I also got to see baseball great, Roger Clemens interviewed on 60 Minutes last night. Roger gave a fairly direct interview and then came a question about taking a lie detector test that revealed his discomfort. His answers then became less direct and you witnessed his two-step. On the same show, they interviewed a man who had murdered 20 people. You may have been discomforted by his acts or his rationale for committing them, but your BS radar didn’t activate when you heard his answers.

So hiding the obvious is like putting a cork in a leaking dam or wearing a bad toupee. Everyone knows what’s happening but we pretend that we don’t.

This is not a directive to challenge every dance step you encounter. In many cases, you may have probed in an area that’s none of your business. This is more of a suggestion to get curious about what you are hiding. In most cases, whatever it is, the evasive actions you employ are to protect your ego.

Who you think you are is someone you made up and got comfortable with. When people question this make believe you, you go into protective mode. You cover up a myth with a fairy tale. No one is fooled.

You can start your striptease slowly. Begin with a little lie that you have you been telling that you can stop telling today. Once you remove the veil of secrecy from that one, you can progressively move up the food chain until you get to the Double Whopper.

The benefit is you become more comfortable with who you really are and are not afraid to show it to the world.

If you need a little logic to jumpstart your convincer strategy, ask yourself this: How come one can be more trusting and comfortable with the answers of a confessed, multiple, murderer than with the answers provided by the next President of the United States?

All the best,

John



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