Why Integrity Matters

As I get older, The idea of living a life of integrity is starting to fade. I miss being “green” and wanting to do the right thing all the time.

But I know that that’s not how the world works. Why is that? Because of greed, selfishness and ego. This is what drives our world.

Integrity, according to Webster Dictionary, means a firm adherence to an exceptional code of moral or artistic values.

As a child I was always concerned about doing the right thing, making sure everyone got their fair share. But even then, I noticed the lack of fairness and integrity in my fellow students, teachers and other adults. I saw the most talented athletes get chosen first for sports teams at gym and given the most floor time. Students that wanted to participate were left to the sidelines. And I’m not even talking about organized school sports. Teachers spent the most time with students who were already very smart, had tutoring and helicopter parents to support their performance. So children who had less were expected to produce more to keep up.

I always thought adulthood would be a lot easier when dealing with moral problems. I thought people are honest. Naively, I wondered why would adults lie? I had thought that my fellow students were opportunistic liars and cheaters because they were immature. But the reality is that these children would grow up to be adults who continued to lack important characteristics like honesty, integrity and virtue. The saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” has a ring of truth.

The childhood version of me imagined that I would grow into an adult that was confident, sure, honest and willing to fight for what’s right but now I’m not sure I’ll ever be those things. Some days I can feel myself shrinking, barraged by the screams of people playing politics and those fighting for themselves.

From the time I was 20-25 years old, I was very optimistic. Truly believing that the world would sort itself out and that what’s right will prevail, but that’s not necessarily the truth. It feels like the older I get, the more “woke” I am about how things work.

I’ve been burned a few times. I’ve written a few posts on that.

The Horror of Dealing With Mold In My Apartment

Dealing with Toxic Work Culture

From friends to work to even my landlord now. They’ve all burned me. When it comes to benefits, money and status, a sense of doing what’s right goes out the window.

I came to realize that there are people who will only interact with you when it benefits them financially, politically or socially. It was a hard pill to swallow, to realize that there were a lot of people who were disingenuous.

But I grew up.

And sometimes when I’m looking at a situation, I now think how can I profit from this, how can I benefit? I hate to admit it but I’m becoming one of those people who are selfish, egoistic and greedy. It’s almost like I can’t help it. Intrusive thoughts enter my mind like, if you don’t take advantage, someone else will or you have to take your share of the pie.

I’m ashamed because deep down I know these thoughts are wrong. I’ve grown to distrust other people to the point that I’m becoming untrustworthy and I hate that.

Am I growing up and becoming less naive? Or am I becoming jaded and callous?

If the young and optimistic version of me met 30 year old me today what would she say? She’d say I’m becoming everything she hates about this world and that I’ve given up. But fighting to keep my integrity and resolve to be an upright, unselfish human being sometimes feels like swimming against an impossible current.

I can count on my one hand the amount of people outside of my family who I respect for their character. Everyone else would easily resort to dishonesty if they knew they could benefit from it.

Maybe that’s why I have no friends… I just can’t accept a friendship that’s false.

So what to do?

I still think that being a good person is important. I want to hold on to that childish hope that as a human being we can care for the good of others without gaining anything for ourselves. Without even a few good people in our society, we’d be living in a literal hell where society is built on bullshit, lies, deception and selfishness.

The truth is I’ve met people with integrity and I hope others can look at me and see that I aim to be a person of good character as well.

So hopefully the child I knew isn’t as disappointed as I feel in myself sometimes. As I aim to be a person who’s better at standing up for what’s good and right for its own sake, I need to learn to not have such high expectations of other people.

Integrity and character matters because at the end of the day that’s all we have.

Check out my other posts

On Gratitude…

The Power of Positivity

The Power Of Change

How To Make A Change in Your Life

I’ve been thinking a lot about change lately. There’s a lot of change I want to bring into my life.

I know so many other people who want to make changes in their life but can’t. I know people who are afraid of change and avoid it at all costs.

But why not just embrace change? I’ve realized that change is inevitable and something we can’t always control. Sometimes I’m sitting in my room thinking about the day my parents get too old to visit me or if me and K ever get sickly and one of us have to stay home full-time. I think about our retirement and whether we’ll have enough. I think about my daughter and that in 13 years she’ll be off to college.

Some of these are good changes and some of them are bad, but the reality is that some or ALL of these changes will happen at some point.

Right now I’m not so happy with how things are going. I have enough money now but not enough TIME. I’m always clawing for more time, with my husband, my daughter, our family, and for myself. I’m working or doing chores at home. Working a 40hr week plus commuting 12-15 hours a week plus a child plus a husband is a LOT. I’m trying to move away from that and maybe use this blog as an outlet to make that happen.

I’m ready to make a CHANGE.

I could be unhappy and take it out on the people around me. Kind of play the blame game. So many people do that when they feel helpless in their situation but that’s not the type of change you really want to make in your life. See, blaming others for changes that are or aren’t happening in your life makes you lose your sense of responsibility over yourself. It puts you in the hands of someone else to fix your problems. Almost all problems can be fixed by taking ownership of your problems, making a long-term plan to fix the problem, and then following through with action.

“If you always do what you did, you’ll always get what you’ve got.”

I heard this quote somewhere and it struck a cord with me.

Sometimes you have to do something different to get the result you want.

I have a handful of friend that are still doing to same things they used to do in their early 20s but are bemoaning that they can’t find a good guy. I’m sorry, if you sleep with a guy on the 1st or 2nd date and that hasn’t really worked for you in 5 years, shouldn’t it be time to, I don’t know, change things up? Maybe you can go with a different persona than fun, carefree and sexy girl, since that’s not getting the strong, serious and responsible guy you’re looking for.

Or the friend that complains that they don’t have the career they deserve yet, and no opportunities. Meanwhile, they spent their younger years high as hell, partying and having fun.

We all reap what we sow. We shouldn’t rely on chance or luck to get us what we want in life. The life we want can only come through conscious change.

My sister S loves to live in the past. She’s all about growth and finding herself so she looks to the past to understand herself and see what could be in her future. She said her biggest issues stem from her childhood, she doesn’t feel she got the right support from our parents.

I was like, “how does that help you change your life, by knowing that?”

She replied, it helps her to make good choices now and when she acts out, she can understand where it’s coming from.

I don’t know…it didn’t seem like she could really make a change in her life with that way of thinking. Yes, she understood what was holding her back but she wasn’t able to move past it.

Looking at the past is only half the story. You also have to look to the future too to make real change in your life.

People hate thinking about the future, it gives them so many bad thoughts about failure, shortcomings, mortality. But the future is HOPE, a part of your life that has not been written. It’s a part of your life that you can still alter and make right. So to make a real change in your life you need to look at the future too.

You need to envision the future you want and then stitch together how that’s going to happen.

Example: P wants to be able to move out of her parents house, they don’t have money to assist her, and she doesn’t have enough savings yet to make the move. P does have a job, summer is around the corner and she’s about to get more hours at the restaurant she waits at. P wants to move closer to the city so she can start a new career in fashion and meet the love of her life.

Scenario 1) P spends her whole summer hanging out with friends, going to the beach and enjoying herself. She could have picked up a few more shifts but decided she’d rather just take it easy this summer and have fun. She’s been talking to her parents about helping her move but together they still don’t have enough to make it happen.

Scenario 2) P sits down and thinks it over. She thinks about what she needs to do to make what she wants to happen.  First she’ll need money.  She’ll need to go out less and maybe take on a few extra shifts at work.  She also needs to find a roommate.  Sharing housing costs will make it easier to financially afford the move..  She thinks about all her friends who would need a roommate.  So she puts up a post on FB and finds an old friend that lives in the area that she wants to live in.  There’s going to be a spare room opening up in 2 months.  The deadline is tight but this gives P a goal.  After 2 months of grinding and saving, she’s able to put 95% of what she needs away.  Her parents, seeing her work so hard to meet her goal, decide to help her make the 5% difference so she can move.

Planning ahead and putting together steps to make positive change takes discipline.  And there will always be that voice in your head that says, “What if I can’t do this?”  A small seed of doubt.  My advice is to trust your gut on what steps you’ll need in your future.  You’ll never be able to predict the outcome of your choices or the changes you’ll make, but an educated guess is better than no change or action at all.

There are people who wait in life for luck to happen to them and there are those who take a stab in the dark, make things happen, and make their own luck.  It’s through change we’re able to do that.  Which person are you?

Feel free to like, comment, share and follow if you thought this post was useful.

Check Out My Other Posts:

The Power Of Change

The Power Of Positivity

On Gratitude…

Be Charismatic By Mastering Small Talk

 

 

What is Love?

It’s the question I’ve been trying to answer since I can remember. I’m kinda drawn to these kind thoughts, to explore a concept as complex as love and understand it at its core.

Merriam-Webster defines love as: strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties.

But love, especially true romantic love is hard to grasp or even conceptualize. Is it like Jesus, a belief that comes from faith? How do we know love is real? How can we show our loved ones that we really DO love them?

I’m not just talking about romantic love, love can be experienced in a multitude of relationships including friendship and family relations.

So to help me understand this “emotion” and feeling, I’ve grouped love into 3 distinct categories that I’ve noticed in my life and in the lives of friends and family of how we experience the idea of “Love.”

False love

I had a friend that had a boyfriend every three months. Her relationships tended to be intense, full of hand holding, kissing, snuggling, and gifts.  I admit, younger me was very jealous. If only someone can love me like that.

But the thing was, that the love never lasted. Eventually there would be some irreconcilable flaw that caused her to break up with her boyfriends. Infatuation tends to look like this, that’s why it’s a false love. You’re kind of chasing an ideal. The person you’re dating initially seems to fit the ideal, they seem to fit what your ego says is a good partner. But people rarely are so two-dimensional. Eventually a persons flaws and shortcomings come together and cause the infatuation to end. And that’s when this type tends to “fall out of love.”

Then there are the people who are missing something desperately in their lives. Sometimes, they just didn’t get the kind of love they wanted from their parents or went through a breakup that broke them. There’s a lot of self-love that’s still needed for these people. As a result, their relationships are kind of on autopilot, without much thought.

We all know that one person that dates people to fill up their time. One date leads to another, then another. Suddenly, they are boyfriend and girlfriend. Months pass, even years but this couple has fallen into a routine of just filling each-others voids without really knowing or loving each other. Brunch on Sundays, Friday dinner dates with their phones, and silence in between.  Love is almost assumed and expected to be part of these relationships but whether love is truly felt is a different story.

You’d be surprised at how long these types of relationships can last. Relationships that are, in essence, toxic and mediocre. Comfort can be a strong substitute for love.

Conditional love, flawed love, broken love

Sometimes two people really love each other. It’s not just infatuation. They get to know each other and appreciate each other. They sacrifice and give for each other and appreciate the time they spend together. This is love! But how is this not perfect pure love?

The issue is, despite all that, there are strings attached to that love, there are roadblocks and obstacles, and there are indiscretions.

So it can’t be perfect.

A LOT of relationships fall in this category. Over time, life tends to bang us up, we get hurt and we start to put up walls that keep us from truly loving our partners.

I would describe my marriage as one of those conditional relationships. I absolutely adore K, for everything that he does for us and for his strengths. But would I still love him the same if for whatever reason, he couldn’t provide for our family? If he wasn’t able to be the person he’s always been?

If I had to be honest with myself, probably not. It would be a challenge.

At least I recognize this in myself and I’m working on trying to be more understanding, giving and flexible.

Sometimes two people get together and they are SO different from each other. It’s amazing at first but it also causes misunderstandings and difficulties. Maybe they love spending time together and love each other for who they are and their background but its hard to communicate. The constant fighting in between due to differences can take its toll. This love is flawed because the communication isn’t there. These types of relationships need constant work.

Imagine two people. Aaron and Kim. Aaron’s love language is physical touch. He likes to cuddle, kiss and all that. That’s how he expresses his love and how he expects love in return. Kim, likes acts of love. She thinks it’s amazing when Aaron gets her soup when she’s sick, or when he helps her around the house when she’s overwhelmed. They might love each other but if they can’t express that love in a way that works for the other partner, there will always be discord and difficulty in the relationship.

Your relationship can be perfect. You can be happy and truly appreciate your partner and what they bring to the table. You can communicate perfectly and understand each other. Life is good. But then someone makes a mistake. They cheat either emotionally or physically. Skeletons might reveal themselves from the closets. Financial indiscretions. What do you do? You love this person, their perfect for you and you can’t imagine life without them. But these problems are breaking the love you have for them and it’s becoming clear that these hurdles and trust issues will ALWAYS need to be worked on.

Broken love is the hardest, because it really requires you to look beyond the obstacle and forgive/accept your partner.  Not everyone can do that.  Not everyone can forgive their partner if they cheat or reveal they have a shopping addiction they’ve hid for 3 years that’s causing debt.  It’s hard.

All of these types of relationships aren’t 100% bad but they’re not 100% good either. I do believe that these problems can be fixed with time, honesty, and commitment towards a better relationship.

It takes so much personal growth to be able to accomplish a relationship based on pure true love. So in a way, these relationships are good since they can help us grow in that direction by forcing us to overcome difficulty.

True pure love

Is the hardest to attain and maintain. The best way to describe it is Love without boundaries. Like the paternal or maternal love for a child. You accept the person 100% for who they are and care for them without expectation.

Very few relationships, be it friendships, partners or even family, can reach this level of love.

It requires that you put your ego aside, at times get less than you give, and be selfless, honest and genuine.

I think it’s the type of love I feel for my daughter, and my parents for me. Unconditional, unwavering and free.

The truth is, not all relationships can maintain this type of love nor should they.

We should aspire for it though, as hard as it is to attain, because this kind of love makes us better.

I wish I had more to say about true pure love other than it’s special and work pursuing.  Unfortunately, the world doesn’t make that easy for anyone to pursue or achieve.  I’ve seen false love ad broken love break people’s trust so that their no longer open to a REAL relationship.

I wish you all the best in love.  In love we want to win but only when we’re willing to lose can we truly attain the type of love we desire.

Other Posts:

Why Dating Culture Doesn’t Work Towards Marriage

My Favorite Dating Book: Why Men Love Bitches

Dating in Your 30s vs Dating In Your 20s

On Anthony Bourdain & Kate Spade: The Face Of The Suicide Epidemic

Anthony Bourdain Kate Spade Suicide Epidemic
Anthony Bourdain Kate Spade Suicide Epidemic

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When I heard about Anthony Bourdain, the famous chef and entrepreneur’s death, I felt my heart sink. My husband and I would watch “No Reservations” and now “Parts Unknown” religiously. My husband really found a part of himself in Anthony Bourdain. He loved how he would go to these remote places, get to know the locals and focus on the meaning that the food had on the community. I think that’s what made Anthony so special and why he was so loved by the public, it was his way of connecting people from around the world. Kate Spade was a surprise too.

I didn’t really follow her celebrity but I’m very aware of her brand. It’s hard to go anywhere in the city without seeing one of her bags or her jewelry. She has a very clean cut and innocent vibe to her brand, so when I heard about Kate Spade and her suicide, it was just as much of a surprised.

The news of the two suicides came less than 24 hours of each other and, somehow, it felt like a pop culture loss.

It had me thinking a lot about happiness and what that means for us as humans. It begs the question, how do you find true happiness?   I mean Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain were the epitome of success and yet now they’re the face of the suicide epidemic. There are very few people who can top their success in their industry. They had strangers that looked up to them and they inspired so much in others. Yet…in a moment they could not find the will to live nor find any happiness to be found. What hope is there for the rest of us?

One thing we can be sure of is that happiness is not found at the bottom of a well funded bank account. Money is not the formula for happiness and yet so many of us chase it as way to get us to the next place. “If only I got a better job…,” “if only we could get ahead of these bills,” and “if only we could get our debt down,” but what happens after you meet those kind of goals? What happens after we reach for the next step and the next step, only to realize there no prize for reaching the top? The suicide epidemic spares no one.

I read an article about people’s different responses, it surprised everyone. Neither family could suspect this as a possibility for their loved ones. Val Kilmer, gave his perspective that he thought it was a selfish decision to leave family behind. I can respect that point of view since he had battled throat cancer and literally had to fight off death. My parents always told me that suicide was a selfish and cowardly choice to make. It only caused pain and stigma to their loved ones.

But still, it’s hard for me to say that people who commit suicide are terrible people who are throwing their lives away. We can never truly know someone’s pain and suffering.

The CDC says it’s an epidemic now for mental health since, overall, suicide deaths are up 30% in the country. And that depression and anxiety are not necessarily an underlying cause for the increase. Many people who attempted or committed suicide have not been diagnosed for any mental illnesses nor were they suspected of any issues from their family. This statistic might be caused by the stigma surrounding mental illness and the fact that many people still don’t get the help they need from therapists and psychologists. This point is something to consider. However, CDC says that majority suicide attempts are correlated to a sudden negative change in life, like a family death, end of a relationship, or a financial hardship. They also say that guns are the most frequent and most successful means to commit suicide and suggest that some gun control would make it harder for people to make life ending decisions in a moment of desperation or sadness.

I wish I knew all the answers to what is a complicated and complex issue. My only advice to those battling suicidal thoughts is to focus on being happy with the life you have now and tell somebody about your struggles and get help.  Talk to a therapist about your symptoms for anxiety and depression before it gets out of control. Seek help.

My husband had a cousin that came out of the closet. He told his friend and then his friend told everyone else at school and said to his cousin that he wouldn’t have been his friend if he knew he was gay. This kid battled depression and suicidal thoughts because of that but he told someone about them. And that someone got him help.

One thing we do need to do is end mental illness stigma and discrimination.  This will make communication about problems and illness easier. Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade are just the start of the conversation. The suicide epidemic is unfortunately not going anywhere.

[If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources.]

Check Out My Other Posts On Mental Health
What It’s Like To Disassociate

How To Deal With Crushing Disappointment & Other Negative Emotions

Signs Of Social Anxiety And How To Get Over It

How To Be Charismatic & How To Be More Likable

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Ever Wanted To Learn How To Be Charismatic Or How To Be More Likable?

I had a request about how to be more confident and I thought why not, let’s talk confidence, charisma and magnetism. And it’s honestly a hard topic to write about or even grasp. Confidence is such an intangible quality that is so allusive to most people. But we are all drawn to it. You might even ask yourself, “Am I Charismatic?,”How to be more likable” and “How to be Charismatic?”

I’m a natural introvert. In high school I was like a wallflower; I was quiet, soft spoken, trying to fall under the wings of my more extroverted friends and did not possess ANY natural charisma. I always associated confidence with being outgoing, popular, attractive, friendly and extroverted.

I painfully tried to fit in with my friends by displaying these characteristics. And at the end of it all, I still wasn’t confident. I was negative and jealous with a victim mentality. I had social anxiety; I would scroll through my newsfeed with a feeling of missing out… I was unhappy during high school and college because I was constantly comparing myself to everyone around me.

Fast forward to 2018 I’m now the most confident version of myself. I’m magnetic, and charismatic. I learned how to be more likable. I can talk to pretty much anybody and have accomplished most of my life goals. Last year I went to my 10 year high school reunion. I was hoping to see some friends I fell out of touch with. I wasn’t afraid to go up to people and mingle, I also wasn’t second guessing myself when I felt like sitting on my own and observing. I was happy and content to just be there, unapologetically.

I’m going on a tangent about my own self growth but the point of the topic is that self growth and confidence doesn’t come to everyone overnight. For some people it comes easier, but everyone is capable of being confident, charismatic and magnetic.

Work on the life you want for yourself.

I want you to close your eyes and envision the confident image you’ve always had for yourself. I want you to really think about that person. What they look like and what they are doing with their life. Are they with a career and family? Is that person traveling? Are they living in the big city? Are they the rock for their immediate family? Then I want you to think about why you came up with that image. What are your values that are creating that image? These are your core desires and not fulfilling them are what is causing that feeling of dissatisfaction/ lack of confidence.

Core desires are things you want for yourself that are integral to you self image. For some people a core desire is to be truly loved, to make a lot of money, or to look beautiful. There are a million different things that we can desire from the core of our being.

On a side note: these values might change over time. You might get to where you were going and realize, “hey, this isn’t really where I wanted to be. Let me tweak this a little.” That’s ok too.

Once you realize what your core values are and what you want from your life, you’ll be able to set real goals or accomplish them. I’m not talking about “oh, I want to be a entrepreneur and be my own boss in a few years or I’m going to be dating the love of my life soon” type goals.

I’m talking concrete goals with a tentative completion date. Actual steps to make that a reality.

Confidence, Charisma and Magnetism is hard work. People who know how to be more likable and who display these kind of characteristics tend to invest A LOT into themselves. They get these qualities from genuinely loving and appreciating the life they worked hard to achieve. There’s no shortcut for building a great self-esteem and sense of self.

I know for the past 10 years I’ve been pushing this image of myself. Little ole’ 19 year old me wanted to be a career woman, a reliable outgoing personable personality and be with my man of my dreams who truly loved and cared for me. For the past 10 years every choice and decision I made has been to grow in those areas. And now I’m finally comfortable in my own skin knowing that the person I always knew I was capable of being is truly who I am now. I have a great career that pays the bills, I have family that loves me and who I can be 100% myself around and with the love of my life who (surprise!) was there from the start!

Confidence also comes from changing perspectives and looking at things from a brighter perspective. Sometimes we can’t always change our situations right away but a good perspective can help us gain the confidence and charisma to change them.

I’m still a work in progress, but I’ve definitely come a long way in terms of being more likable and attracting what I want out of life. That includes love, friendship, and money.

This post is just an introduction on what changes you’ll need to take to get there but feel free to read my other post on personal growth, The Power Of Positivity and The Power Of Change.

Also check out these posts on CHARISMA

Be Charismatic By Mastering Small Talk

What Does Your Body Language Say About You?

How To Interview Well: Tips & Tricks For The Perfect Interview