Wednesday, September 8, 2010


            Once in awhile, you wear designer knockoffs, Chanel sunglasses you bought from a sidewalk vendor for ten bucks.
            And that Louis bag? Bought at a street market in Rome.
            You didn't steal them. You weren't going to buy the real ones, and you're not stopping anyone who is. You don't hide the fact that you wear them from your friends.
            It's about as little as a little white lie gets. It's no big deal.
           Women who thought they were wearing fake designer shades, even though they might be wearing the real thing, were more than TWICE as likely to cheat and lie when observed by researchers at Duke, Harvard, and the University of North Carolina.
           These same women were much more likely to judge people as dishonest, untruthful, and unethical.        
           That's just from wearing or thinking they were wearing a pair of fake sunglasses that were randomly handed to them. These women didn't even go out and buy them.
           How much damage are we doing to ourselves and the people we love when we 'lie' in some way, or misrepresent ourselves? What toll is it taking on us and our relationships? How likely are we to find the life and love we want in a world that we see as more dishonest, untruthful, and unethical.
           I'm not knocking people who wear knockoffs. And who tells the truth and nothing but the truth all the time? But it of utmost importance to be aware of who we really are and what is most true for us.
           The great teachers have always said, "The truth will set you free."
           Try the sunglasses. If they don't work, maybe the truth will.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Who Says You Want What You Say You Want?

         We all want to be happy, and so we do our best to make choices that will make us happier.
         Or do we?
         Research out of Columbia University and MIT suggests that often we do no such thing.
         Well, if we're not making choices to make ourselves happy, then what are we doing?
         We're making choices we think will make others 'happy'. Specifically, we're making choices based on how we think others will perceive the choices we've made.
         This may make others happy--if they actually even gave a damn--but often leaves us less than thrilled with the choices we've made.
          Professors at MIT and Columbia found that subjects would choose to drink beers that weren't their favorites when they made the choice in the presence of others. When they made the choices in private they choose different beers and were more satisfied with their choices.
          Challenging thing is, we often fail to realize this is going on. We think we are making choices based on what we like and want most. We are unconscious of our true motives.
          "We're talkin` beer, here, Dude. How much more basic can you get than beer? I mean, if you can't even choose your own beer correctly, what hope is there? What can a person do?"
           Be mindful. Pay attention to what is going on between your ears and in your body as you make choices. You'll catch glimpses of the struggle between what you want and what you think others will think of what you want.
           Once you're clear on who you want to make happy, give it your best shot. If you need help talk to a friend, a therapist, or a coach--but watch out for their influence on the choices you make!
           And good luck.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Men Don't Cry--They Die Instead

Manuel died day before yesterday. He was 39 years old. Stopped eating and started drinking a few months ago and didn't stop till his liver shut down. He was a decent man who could pick up rocks as big and heavy as a medium-sized safe, but he had a soft heart, and maybe no place to share it.

About a year and a half ago his relationship fell apart after twenty years. His step-son of twenty years wouldn't talk to him. His daughter was angry with him. He worked for me doing the gardening on two rental properties I own. I'd see him once a month when he came by to get paid. When I would ask him about how it was going, he would say, "It hurts, but I'll get through it." A few months ago his father died of cancer. He said that was really tough. He had worked with his dad since his dad had started the gardening business when Manuel was a kid.

Manuel told me that when he separated and moved to his new place, a young neighbor, a woman in her mid-twenties saw that he had been crying. "What's up with you? Men don't cry." He told her they did but they didn't show it, and walked away. I tried to get Manuel to come in to see me. I could have tried harder. Two months after his father's death, Manuel was dead.

There's a lot of pain out there--always has been. Do what you can to help. Of course, in the end we can only save ourselves, but we can make it easier for one another to get help, to find the right medication and people who can listen and support us and help us find our way back to life.

I wish that young woman had said something else, something that might have pushed Manuel to get some help rather than go deeper into the darkness inside. I wish I had reached out sooner and done more. I wish Manuel were still alive.