GrasshopperNotes.com - Thoughts for inspired living


February 2, 2017

Ignorance is No Excuse

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 6:06 am

FeatherI don’t usually get pejorative whispers from The Grasshopper, but yesterday was an exception. Here’s what popped in:

“If you choose to remain ignorant, you’ll stay stupid.”

Years ago, I remember hearing this:

People use statistics as a drunk uses a lamppost: for support rather than illumination.

There’s a lot of choosing to not pursue the facts going on. That’s just pure lazy.

How many of your Facebook friends or Twitter people have reposted something on their feed that dovetailed nicely into their point of view, but were empty calories devoid of facts?

If you only get your information from one source, you’ll have a one-track mind, soon to go off the rails because you choose not to check the facts.

When you pass on something “spectacular” without checking, you’re guilty of what I learned from my 6th Grade Nun. She said, “If you spread rumors, it’s like opening up a feather pillow in a windstorm. When you find out they’re not true, you’ll hardly get any of the feathers back.”

And let me just offer my personal opinion: If you pass on something “major” without checking, you’re plain stupid.

Have all the opinions you want and share them with whomever you choose. But when you label your opinion as fact, that’s ignorance of the facts.

My request is to look past the headline and listen past the sound bite before you pass on false feathers that’ll take flight.

All the best,

John

P.S. I saw this Tweet from Neil deGrasse Tyson after I wrote this blog post. He wrote, “A great challenge in life: Knowing enough to think you are right, but not knowing enough to know you are wrong.”



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February 1, 2017

Not Guilty

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 3:37 am

Not GuiltyHere’s a past verdict from The Grasshopper:

“Guilt Isn’t A Thing; It’s A Pattern Of Thinking.”

How guilty can you feel? You didn’t have to be brought up by a Jewish mother or raised Catholic to answer. We all feel guilt. And although it’s a noun, it’s not a thing.

The frame of mind known as guilt is often used as a motivator to get us to do something we think we should, yet don’t want to do. Here’s a little secret: Motivation produced by guilt produces more guilt, not more motivation.

Guilt is also produced by judging a past action by a present level of awareness. You think about something you did that, if you had to do it over again, you would now do it differently. That is something we all do that can act as self-correcting reflection OR it can be a pathway to unproductive guilt.

My favorite example is this one: You come home from work after a “trying” day and you encounter your children at play. They’re just being the kids they normally are, doing the things they normally do, but on this night their behavior is annoying to you.

You shout out, “quiet down!” and the children quietly slink off.

Fifteen minutes later you are much calmer and realize that you overreacted. The kids were just being kids. You start to feel guilty about your behavior and the guilt starts to feed a narrative of how lousy a parent you are, and you are on your way to feeling worse than when you walked through the door – guilt producing more guilt.

We talk about guilt as though it were a solid entity – a thing. It’s only a frame of mind that, if left unchecked, multiplies into a blob of bad feelings.

To stop your guilty feelings in their tracks takes some noticing and some action. Notice the narrative in your head that’s beginning to cause guilty feelings. Just noticing that you’re “thinking guilty” is often enough to stop its progression. But taking action regarding your past actions insures that guilt goes away.

One of the most productive guilt removal actions we rarely use is an apology. In the case of yelling at the kids, you might say, “Hey guys, I’m sorry I yelled at you when I came home. You didn’t do anything to deserve that and I’m sorry.” It’s truly amazing to me how heartfelt, unqualified apologies make guilt disappear.

You can also apologize to yourself. Let’s pretend that you’re beating yourself up for not doing what you think you ‘should’ do. If you play that scenario out to its natural conclusion, you’d be in a constant state of guilt. What if you begin to notice that your guilty thoughts are creeping up on you, and then you apologize to yourself for measuring yourself against a standard that cannot be achieved – perfection – for example, being the perfect husband, wife, father, mother, daughter, son, etc.

When you use the “perfect” measuring stick, guilt will always ensue. When you apologize to yourself for expecting perfection, your guilty feelings begin to melt and fade away.

If you stop treating guilt as a thing and notice it to be a pattern of thinking instead, you’ll make the necessary apologies and clear the guilt out of your head.

All the best,

John



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January 26, 2017

I Hate Fate

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 7:42 am

DestinyHere’s an old Grasshopper quote that will change your fate:

“Destiny Is A Dodge.”

The dodge referred to is not a mid size sedan but an excuse to explain our current lot in life.

Destiny is another word for fate – another fairy tale.

“She was destined for greatness.” “He was destined for failure.” Horse feathers!

A more accurate statement for each would be: “She was conditioned for greatness.” “He was conditioned for failure.”

Did you ever stop and wonder why the least educated people are the poorest? They weren’t destined to be poor. They may have been born into poverty but they are conditioned to remain poor.

The minute you start to believe in destiny, you have given up the reins on your future and that horse will lead you back to where you came from.

“It was God’s plan” is another dodge. Blaming God for your lot in life is the height of abdicating personal responsibility for your life.

Life is a series of moments and each moment contains the raw material to blow the myth of destiny to smithereens. The key is to use that moment to fashion a way forward rather than wasting it on the folly of fate.

The more you entrench yourself in destiny, the less your chances of avoiding a self-fulfilling prophecy.

You can instantly tell if you’re a fan of fate if your vocabulary is filled with derivatives of the phrase “woe is me” or the ancient word “alas.”

Wondering, “Why do these things always happen to me?” is a sign that you are locked into the myth of destiny.

Here’s the key to the lock: There is no lock. It’s a figment of your conditioning.

Recognizing that destiny doesn’t exist is the first step towards changing your “destiny.” Noticing your conditioning allows you to begin the process of reconditioning. It is a process. The key is to notice every time when you start to give credence to fate. Interrupt that thought on the spot and watch the myth unravel.

With destiny out of the way, you’ll have a new lease on life every day.

I’ll leave you with the words of a famous donkey breeder: “If you believe in destiny, you can kismet my ass.”

All the best,

John



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January 24, 2017

Respect

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 7:18 am

RespectThe Grasshopper was on his soapbox this morning when he said, “People deserve our respect until they become disrespectful.”

“Respect your elders,” “Always be respectful,” “Show a sign of respect” are some of the lessons we’ve been taught in life and it’s hard to argue with their logic . . . until people become disrespectful.

This is not a directive to fight fire with fire but more of a notice to change tactics when encountering disrespect.

I believe it’s productive to begin with respect when interacting with another. It’s when your respect is not returned that you may have to resort to disrespect. Disrespect in this context means that your respect for their actions is no longer a viable strategy to move forward and you have to shift gears.

Reminds me of a story I may have told before . . . I was attending a workshop some 30 years ago when the workshop leader was having a back and forth with a less than respectful attendee (think heckler at a comedy show). The attendee had taken issue with something the teacher had offered to the class. The teacher patiently attempted to explain what was meant by the teaching but kept getting interrupted by this person with obtuse logic that had no relevance to what the teacher was saying. Finally the teacher said, “Either you don’t understand what I’m saying or you’re too stupid to get it. Which one is it?”

On the surface, the teacher’s response was disrespectful, and it worked. The attendee calmed down and listened to the explanation without further interruption.

There are many steps that can be taken before resorting to disrespect but there does come a time when disrespect becomes a tool of change. I don’t think it’s the first tool you want to pull out of the toolbox, but know it’s there if you need it.

The objective of disrespect is not to match the disrespectfulness of another. That never works. That’s just name calling one-upmanship. The objective is to get their attention, not to find out who has the bigger vocabulary.

Once you have someone’s attention, it’s much easier to make your point.

Respect is an admirable quality and also a great song by Aretha Franklin. Just know if the CD starts skipping, you may have to resort to disrespect.

All the best,

John



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January 17, 2017

Sure Manure

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 4:07 am

ManureHere’s a musing The Grasshopper dropped on my doorstep a few years back:

“The One Thing To Know For Sure Is That Nothing Is A Sure Thing.”

We all get into “set and forget” mode with many things. It’s useful that we don’t have to figure out how to turn a doorknob each time we encounter one; it’s less than useful to be certain about something that can’t be known for sure.

You’ve heard of an “elevator” speech – a succinct presentation of the main point you want to make, but you may be unaware that your “soapbox” speech is fraught with uncertainty. That means what you fervently believe and espouse is too often covered over by “pies” made by cows.

What you are sure about, too often, has you discount information that points in an opposite direction. That means an opposing view is met with confrontation rather than invitation.

Your enemies will teach you more about your faux surety than your friends. Birds of a feather will circle the wagons in the darkness of night and reassure each other that they are “right,” causing you to stand your ground and fight. Opposing viewpoints will let in some light, if you let them in.

That doesn’t mean you have to adopt them; just consider them without your current viewpoint being clad in armor.

Surety is a defensive position. Think of the energy wasted by constantly being on the defensive. There is nothing productive that comes from defending that which we can’t know for certain, only smugness that prevents us from finding a cure for sure.

You won’t find this on a bumper sticker but being less sure presents you with more options, which increase your flexibility. “Bend but don’t break” gives you more options than “let them eat cake.”

Begin putting a question mark next to the things you know for sure and you’ll open yourself up to useful options that used to be buried by your manure.

All the best,

John



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January 12, 2017

Waiting is Tiring

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 1:33 am

WaitingHere’s a “Throwback Thursday” question from the archives:

Calendar: Timer Or Planner?

How do you use a calendar? It makes all the difference in your quality of life.

The calendar is a metaphor for how you use the concept of time in your life. If you are on death row, you may be counting the days until your final breath. If you’re planning a wedding, you may be scheduling the events that have to take place between now and then to make it a memorable day.

Reminds me of a story . . . when I was in the military, I had about 2 ½ years left on my tour of duty when I made a short timer’s calendar. It was a series of days and weeks left until my discharge. Each day, I would scratch off another day. Most service personnel only make these types of calendars when they have a much shorter time until discharge – like 90 to 120 days. Not me.

My calendar served as a reminder of how many days I had until my deeply desired discharge date. It got me focused on time more so than planning, and had me constantly miss the moment I was in. Do you know the expression, “time flies when you’re having fun”? Well, time wasn’t flying.

The pattern continued even after discharge where I would start counting the days until vacation or the holidays. That should have signaled to me that I wasn’t very happy in the moment, but was looking to future moments to be happy.

Waiting for a moment negates the moment you are in. The moment you are in is the building block for your next moment. If you are ignoring it, you are not building a future, only recreating a past.

If you are living for the day when you can finally (fill in the blank), you are not living, only existing. And when the waited for moment actually does arrive, it’s anticlimactic because your “look to the future for solace” mindset is still in place, preventing you from enjoying even your desired moment.

Here’s a suggestion: If you’re a “waiter,” start using the moments you are waiting to plan and execute something in the future, now. This will give you something to do in the moments between now and then, rather than waiting for the “magic” day. Your moments will become more purposeful and more enjoyable.

Rather than counting the moments between now and then, build towards something that will fill your in-between moments with life, rather than waiting for life to happen.

Put away your stopwatch and you’ll stop watching time pass you by. Immerse yourself in the moment and you’ll be too busy to notice the passage of time, which makes waiting a thing of the past.

All the best,

John



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January 9, 2017

Dead Resolutions

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 5:03 am

ResolutionsHere’s a blog post I wrote a couple of years ago that seems just as relevant today. It’s titled “I’m Gonna.”

If there are two bigger resolution killing words than “I’m gonna,” I haven’t heard them yet.

The boulevard of broken promises begins with “I’m gonna.”

Reflect for a moment on past failures that began with these two words.

“I’m gonna be a millionaire by the time I’m 40.”

“I’m gonna go to the gym 5 times a week.”

“I’m gonna lose 30 pounds by Christmas.”

Don’t tell yourself or anyone else what you’re “gonna” do; tell them what you’re doing.

“Doing” is active and in the present; “gonna” is future based and promised to no one.

Any list of resolutions are wishes until actions take place. Action can only take place in the moment you are in.

Just a subtle shift in language from “gonna” to “doing” gives you a much better chance of fulfilling your wish.

Side Note: If you’ve added a start date to your “I’m gonna,” it’s doubly insured to fail.

“I’m going to start my diet on Monday” is a red flag that predicts a lot of bull will follow. Here’s a clue: If it’s not important enough to start now, it’s not important.

Please don’t tell yourself or anyone else what you’re going to do. Demonstrate what you’re doing. It’s a much more accurate predictor of success.

I was gonna write this blog post on New Years day but I didn’t.

All the best,

John



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January 6, 2017

Being Loose Gets You Goosed

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 1:18 am

Loose EndsThis is a “Flashback Friday” musing from The Grasshopper.

“Loose Ends Are The Weakest Links.”

The old axiom is: “You are only as strong as your weakest link.” If you are having trouble finding that link, look no further than something you’ve neglected to tie up.

I’ve been told on more than one occasion that I’m “negative.” I used to quibble about that characterization until I discovered that it was, for the most part, accurate. The discovery was finding out what I was negative about – loose ends.

Before I made that discovery, I made this one. I am not the person you want in on a brainstorming session. Brainstorming is a free exchange of ideas without judgement. It’s basically “Improv.” You probably wouldn’t get to the funny punch line or the workable idea if I were in the room poking holes in your musings.

I found that my skill set was more useful in taking the “finished idea” and finding and helping to fix the flaws.

Long before I had a career in people helping, I noticed that I was proficient in finding flaws. I’m sure it’s a trait I was conditioned into. My dad was a builder and he would often comment on what wasn’t working as we would pass a construction site. “They don’t see that, John?” he would incredulously ask. My mother was a waitress since she was 14 and had this uncanny skill of spotting “spots” on peoples’ personalities. One day I went to work with her and remember her saying, “See that guy over there, he’s bad news.” She said that after seeing him for the first time and never interacting with him. He was arrested for arson months later.

So, I am cursed/blessed with finding flaws. I see them everywhere and in everyone, but not usually in myself. I’m not as quick on the uptake when it comes to me. I don’t think I’m alone amongst fellow flaw finders in lacking that insight.

But enough about my flaws; let’s talk about my discovery – Loose ends being the weakest link.

Spotting the flaw is easy for me; finding the loose end that leads to the flaw takes a bit more work. Again, I will quote my old neighbor Ed who was a pilot and air traffic controller. He said that 99% of aircraft accidents were due to pilot error. “No need to check the reserve tank, I filled that up last week.” But when you are 1500 feet in the air and switch to the reserve tank and it’s empty, that’s when you learn the deadly lesson of not having a checklist.

It’s amazing to me the things that go awry when we don’t check. Years ago the Grasshopper said, “People spend more time planning their vacation than they do planning their life.” Yes, most plans change due to unforeseen circumstances, but more would go according to Hoyle if we tied up loose ends.

“Oh, I’m a free spirit, I take life as it comes.” That’s a noble declaration until you find yourself buried neck deep in your own bullshit. Find out what you willfully leave unchecked and you will find your loose end.

Tying up loose ends makes life less flawed. Leaving them out there insures that they will trip you up.

Let me tie up my observation with this: You don’t need to focus on your flaws; that will just indicate how imperfect you are. Instead, look to tie up the loose ends that will prevent flaws from happening. They are easy to spot, especially if you make a checklist.

All the best,

John



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January 2, 2017

Pie Slices

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 4:51 am

DeadlinesThe Grasshopper had a New Year’s Nugget:

“A goal without a deadline is pie in the sky.”

Aside from resolutions, the new year is the setting where many set goals – ones that are rarely reached.

The missing piece is often the lack of a deadline.

My experience is there is nothing like a deadline to light a fire under a cold derrière.

Think of the person who has a hard time waking up and getting out of bed every morning. They oversleep more often than a hibernating bear and they put the grog in groggy.

Observe that same person the morning they have to catch an early plane taking them to their favorite vacation location. Bright eyed and bushy tailed they spring out of bed without having to be cajoled or hit over the head.

The plane is leaving whether you’re on time or not. That’s a deadline.

The difficulty with not having a deadline is that you get lulled into a false sense of having “plenty of time.” You’re not likely to notice the time frittering away until you smack into that last minute wall.

Here’s a resolution worth making: If you set a goal, set a deadline. You’re more likely to get there without having to set fire to your hair.

All the best,

John



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December 30, 2016

The Prison of Change

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 1:33 am

PrisonerAre you a prisoner of change? If so, carefully read the words of The Grasshopper from just a couple of years ago.

“People Are Who They Are, Not Who We Want Them to Be.”

How much time have you wasted wanting someone to be who they aren’t?

In the spirit of full disclosure, one expression that I bristle to almost every time is: “That’s just the way I am.” That’s just not accurate. That’s just the way you have been conditioned.

So the way people are is a result of their conditioning and wanting them to be different will take a whole lot of time and effort. It’s worth that investment if the people you’d like to recondition are your growing children, but once they become, as my mother used to say, “big and ugly,” the odds for success are diminished greatly.

In the case of changing adults, I’m reminded of an old joke. “You can lead a horse to water but keep in mind what a wet horse smells like.”

If you want to smell like barn animals all the time, keep trying to change people, especially the ones who don’t want to change.

How many heartfelt conversations have you had with the family drunk? Do you think the next one is going to work any better?

“I just can’t accept their behavior.” That’s fine, but you’ll have to accept this: You will not change them. The desire to change will have to come from them.

No one is going to change you but you. Someone or something may open your eyes to a new way but it’s you that has to do the work. I believe that every therapy session would work better if they all began like this: “After we do all our work together, it’s still your problem to solve.”

Prison doesn’t change a criminal; otherwise we wouldn’t have such a high recidivism rate. The changed prisoner is one who discovered that his way wasn’t working and decided to change his ways.

The underlying, crumbling foundation of our penchant to change others is this: “If they were more like me, they would be better off.” No, they’d just be more like you. To be more of who they can be will have to be something they decide on their own.

If you’re looking for a hobby that takes up all your free time and doesn’t deliver any rewards, try changing people. If, on the other hand, you’d like to have a lot more success, work on changing yourself.

All the best,

John



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