Happiness , Anger, Culture , Points of View and Politics , oh my !!

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It’s been a while since I’ve written anything here, writing a blog is deeply personal and unapologetically connected to the authors life. Writing about happiness in an unhappy world is challenging on it’s best day, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine that given the current world environment that writing about happiness would feel a lot like shouting in a soundproof room.  I’ve thought a lot about what I would write when I returned to writing this blog , a new direction, something different, a new approach, an expanded less narrow format, honestly these are all thoughts that I have no definitive final answers for.

Today I’m going to write about current challenges to happiness both personally and more globally, I will use the format that seems to attract the most interest , at least according to the analytics, a numbered list. Let me stop here and make a confession, the blog entries I write here are as much for me as they are for anybody that might happen to read them. Clearly I hope somebody, anybody might stumble across my blog and find something of value or comfort in what has become a world where happiness is increasingly difficult to find.

Current Challenges to Happiness 

These are in no specific order, many would think the current Pandemic would be number 1 on the list and admittedly a lot of the challenges on this list are related or exacerbated by the pandemic but I would like to address what in my opinion are the 2 overarching issues that seem to umbrella the current major challenges to Happiness

1. Anger

I have noticed for years that in general everyday people seem increasingly angry, I did some research and poked around the internet to help me understand why anger seems increasingly prevalent.  One of the resources I ran across was this very well done video that explains anger in a way that really makes sense to me, understanding the internal anger process is beneficial to having the tools we need to both manage our own anger and deal with others that may be angry..   Here is the video by Six Seconds, The Emotional Intelligence Network

I almost felt like I found gold when I found this video, understanding the foundations of anger was very enlightening to me.  Some of the highlights for me were that when we understand anger that it can be a very powerful tool that is intended to give us the energy to move beyond obstacles ! Anger is brought on by stress, the fight or flight when we perceive “the threat is bigger than our resources” .  I enjoyed the discussion of why we take anger out on those closest to us even when the anger has nothing to do with them. The Aristotle quote ” To be angry with the right person, to the right degree and at the right time. 

So it would seem that anger while seemingly the opposite of happiness is actually a tool that if we better understand ourselves and the people around us and have a better understanding of what anger really is has a real potential to bring about positive change. Just remember we are not all Aristotle and his quote is as accurate today as ever ! 

Assuming we can modify at least the way we cope and think about our own anger and even understanding why others are anger, even knowing the anger likely has nothing to do with us , what are some ways we can shield ourselves from other peoples anger ? Psychology today offers this article

5 Ways to Deal with Angry People  Stay calm, stay safe, and don’t make it worse. By Ryan Martin Ph.D.  

I encourage you to read the entire article , the 5 main points discussed are 

1. Ask Yourself if the Anger Is Justified
2. Stay Calm (at Least on the Outside)
3. Avoid Character Assaults
4. Know When to Disengage
5. Stay Safe

I’m certainly no Dr , but I do have some experience with angry people and what I would add to this list, especially if the anger is directed at you is to do a quick assessment of the situation, is there any real reason for a person to be angry with you ? If you are dealing with somebody who seems angry all the time then it is very likely the anger while directed at you has nothing to do with you..  So I would add a # 6 to the list 

My Add 6. Don’t get sucked into other peoples anger !  Once again re-read the Aristotle quote 🙂

 

2. Culture , Points of View , Politics 

 

 I lumped these together because when it comes to the challenges to Happiness it is pretty much the same issue with different faces..  I don’t know at what point in time different ways of life , different points of view became so divisive and such an impediment to happiness, maybe I naively thought this is something new. Is it that we have such access to all voices and all views that we now feel threatened because not everybody shares our views, our perceptions, the way things “should” be ?

We all have built in biases, I used to believe I was largely without bias and was largely open to cultures and ways of life. Upon the introduction of Sergio into my life and 2 years and 4 months later that notion has been shattered and honestly for the better, my world, my views, my perceptions all are constantly challenged the day I chose a man of a different culture to spend my life with. Things I know to be true, just because well that’s my reality are not the truths or reality of  a man from a different country.  We are all a product of our life experiences, expectations and upbringing.  Perhaps needless to say the culture, points of view and politics of an El Salvadorian and an American are never going to match and frankly I feel like being exposed to and respecting each others views has made us both better people ! Learning to listen and see things from other points of view can be really challenging , especially when it doesn’t fit the narrative we have all created for ourselves, learning to say that “I have never thought about it that way” and it being true helps us grow and open our eyes to the notion that our views are simply that “our views”. It would logically follow that other people’s Culture, Points of View and Politics is not and shouldn’t be a challenge to our Happiness ! 

I feel like most people erroneously look at differences of  Culture, Points of View, Politics as an argument to be won , like there is a right and a wrong universal truth, this approach only serves to recirculate your own beliefs which isn’t going to be a universal truth for everybody and doesn’t leave much room for growth.  

I found an article that articulates this idea much better than I could and it is titled

Respecting Other People’s Opinions: Encourage Dialogue, Not Hostility

by Matthew Buckley

Give it a read , I feel like he nailed it !   Within the article is some do’s and dont’s  that I really feel are too valuable to not share, these are directly from the article 

” Do’s

  • Ask the person probing questions, such as: ‘That’s interesting. Why do you feel that way?’
  • Encourage a civil and respectful conversation. Be willing to explain why you feel how you feel, but also be willing to listen to the other party explain their perspective.
  • Aim to use objective facts, not emotions or subjective opinions, when having a collaborative conversation.
  • Calmly explain your point of view.
  • Remember that you’re disagreeing with the person about a certain topic, you’re not trying to go to battle against this particular individual.
  • Find a middle ground. Although you disagree with the other party, most likely there are parts of the topic where you agree. Specify these in order to build rapport with the other party, but then calmly explain why you disagree with other aspects.
  • Use ‘I’ statements, such as: ‘I understand…’ instead of saying ‘You…’ Don’t make the other party feel as though you’re attacking them, and make it clear to them that you want to understand their side of things even if you disagree with them.
  • Listen to the other party. It’s annoying when people just read a headline and don’t read the actual article. Make sure to listen to the actual substance of what the other party is saying, not just a snippet of what they’re saying or a summary of something that someone else said that they said.
  • Eventually, just peacefully disagree. Generally, being in full agreement on something isn’t always a prerequisite to being friends or co-workers.
  • Be willing to walk away if the other person is being hostile or you find that you’re about to get hostile. Being aggressive isn’t going to force the other person to submit to your opinion, it’s just going to escalate the situation because they’ll meet your hostile tone with one of their own.

Don’ts

  • Don’t just arbitrarily tell someone that they’re wrong because their opinion differs from yours. There’s a chance that you’re actually the one who’s ‘wrong’, and more accurately, there’s a good chance the ‘truth’ is probably somewhere in between yours and the other person’s opinion.
  • Don’t get aggressive with the other person, because this accomplishes nothing but increasing the hostilities between the two of you.
  • Don’t be closed-minded, because you’re selling yourself short by not entering a conversation with the idea that you have something that you can learn. Everyone, including those you think you disagree with, can teach you something, so be willing to listen to their opinion even if you’re going to filter out some parts of it later.
  • Don’t feel the need to ‘win’ the argument. Keep an open mind because you probably can learn something from the other person, but if you start to feel that it’s not the best use of your time then respectfully exit the conversation before it gets hostile.
  • Don’t fear conflict or disagreement, because honest conflict has more value than dishonest harmony does.
  • Don’t only see and look for what supports your view. You won’t grow if you don’t open up your mind to other perspectives and opinions that you’ve previously been ignoring. Understanding other sides doesn’t mean you have to agree with the other side.
  • Don’t try to make everyone you encounter agree with you and see things from your perspective because it’s a waste of energy. Simply encourage a dialogue, and if that can’t manifest itself then move on.

Disagreements are a great opportunity to collaborate and evolve yourself as a person, and there are plenty of productive ways to make conflict work for you. Find areas where you agree in order to build some common ground, and then gain a further understanding of the areas where you and the other party disagree. Encourage a conversation, because the fact that you initially disagree doesn’t mean that you have to react to it with hostility and aggression. “

Seriously I feel like Matthew Buckley  got into my head and said exactly what my thoughts were !  Would thinking about  and approaching Culture , Points of View and Politics make us happier ? I believe it would ! 

So , what do you think ? What are your current Happiness challenges ? Do they fit within these 2 areas or is it something else , I would love to hear all about it ! 

Find your Happiness , Share your Happiness 

Until next time … 

Greg 

 

 

 

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