About Conversation Kindling

The purpose of this blog is to share stories, metaphors, quotes, songs, humor, etc. in hopes they'll be used to spark authentic and rewarding conversations about working and living fruitfully. There are at least three things you can gain by getting involved in these conversations. First, you'll discover new and important things about yourself through the process of thinking out loud. Second, you'll deepen your relationships with others who participate by swapping thoughts, feelings, and stories with them. Finally, you'll learn that robust dialogue centered on stories and experiences is the best way to build new knowledge and generate innovative answers to the questions that both life and work ask.

I write another blog called My Spare Brain. This is where I am "storing" ideas for use in future books, articles, blog posts, speeches, and workshops. There is little rhyme or reason for what I post there. I do this to encourage visitors to come as treasure hunters looking for new ways of seeing and thinking vs. researchers looking for new or better answers to questions they already know how to ask.

25 October 2009

Life Is Short. Wear Your Party Pants.

This is Loretta LaRoche. She is an author, PBS TV personality, humorist, and stress management consultant. She appeared in our 2004 Masters Forum series. She talked about how to reduce stress in our lives by changing the way we look at things and learning to laugh, especially at ourselves. She was a stitch! We laughed until we hurt. We learned many lessons in the process. Here are some of them in Loretta's own words.
"We define ourselves by how much we have to do and how stressed we are. We are now a nation of human doings, not human beings. People would rather tell you how much they’re doing. The person who’s listening doesn’t care, because they’re practicing in their head how they’re going to counter how much you’ve done. So they’ll say, 'You think you have a lot to do? You should see what I have been doing!' Now, you haven’t won yet, so you have to add physical problems. You might say, 'I’ve been having headaches, backaches, frontaches.' What a sad commentary on life! We’re only here to distract ourselves until we die. That’s what this lecture is really about: Get a grip. You’re going to die. Don’t you want to live before you die? Don’t you want to be juicy? Don’t you want to thrive? Don’t you want to throb with delight every day? We’re all going to suffer - why practice?"
"The media wants to constantly remind you that you’re not enough, that something’s wrong, that there’s terror amongst us, that your lips should be fuller. Nothing is right, nothing. There are so many products on the market today that you can’t even get in your shower sometimes."
"So much is about structure: we have to have rules: 'I can’t have pineapple until 4:00; I can only eat meat at 11:00.' Who cares? Be quiet. Why don’t you tell me about something else? Wouldn’t it be fun to hear somebody say, 'I'm learning how to speak Chinese'? How much time are you taking doing these things and then complaining about it?"
"How many moments of our lives do we spend complaining and talking about what is not instead of what is? You know, we should go up to somebody and say, 'May god, my hair looks damn amazing today!' The pleasure concept of life is very important. This does not give pleasure - to always feel like I’m on the edge of not being okay. We spend so much time being careful about what we eat, but inside we’re dried up because we aren’t getting any pleasure. Put it on your tombstone - 'Was thin, died anyway'."
"People impose the tyranny of the should and the must on themselves. So at night you might be lying there shoulding on yourself, 'I shoulda done this, I shoulda done that'; or you might be going over what you must do in the morning, 'This is what I must do, this is what I must do' - that’s called musturbating. And we should on other people, too, because the nature of the mind is to be a saboteur. The Buddhists talk about the monkey mind. The monkey always wants a banana. The insistence is to keep talking to yourself in terms of not having what you need, or what you didn’t do, or what you should be doing. Isn’t that the way a lot of us are living - we’re waiting to finally get the accolades from 'they,' so we can feel okay. Perfectionism is a lot about shoulds and musts."
"The brain is not capable of multitasking. We are trying to teach ourselves something that’s impossible to achieve, because somebody came up with that word and now we think it should be part of the culture. No wonder people have lower productivity in workplaces: there’s all this baloney going on, all this fake stuff, and you believe it. What is the mission statement? It should be, 'We're here to have fun, first, and to create community.' Community and fun would be the mission statement, and then everything else would follow."
"How would an optimist behave? First of all, optimists see the world as a way to foster resiliency. Consider savoring all that you do. Have abundant pleasure in your life every day. Yesterday’s history; tomorrow’s a mystery; and today’s a gift - that’s why they call it the present. The other things optimists do is laugh a lot. They laugh at themselves in particular, because they know they’re the joke. Everybody in this room’s a joke; some people don’t get it. Don’t you hear this a lot: 'Do you know who I am?'? When I hear that I say, 'No, do you? You must be an idiot'."
"The most important thing an optimist can do is allow themselves to be playful with everyone they come into contact with. As you lighten up, so will the world. This is because your energy goes out into the world. Everything you do is felt by others. Even your thoughts manifest an energy that is picked up by everyone."
"Get a funky hat. Become as bizarre as possible. They’ve found that eccentric people live twenty years longer and go to the doctor rarely, because they’re living their bliss."
"If you think the worst and get the worst, you suffer twice. If you think the best and get the worst, you only suffer once."

My suggestion is to kick some of Loretta's ideas around and see what insights come your way. A couple of questions you can start with are:
  • Do you have a monkey mind?
  • If so, what is it you always want?
"The future masters of technology will have to be light-hearted and intelligent. The machine easily masters the grim and the dumb." - Marshall McLuhan
"The distrust of wit is the beginning of tyranny." - Edward Abbey, A Voice Crying in the Wilderness
"The entire object of true education is to make people not merely do the right things, but enjoy the right things - not merely industrious, but to love industry - not merely learned, but to love knowledge - not merely pure, but to love purity - not merely just, but to hunger and thirst after justice." - John Ruskin

A short clip of Loretta LaRoche


Hollee said...

I like the "should" and "must" comment the best. Why do we say we should be doing this or must be doing that? I think it leads us away from our passion; it almost forbids us from (God forbid) taking a break. For moms, this can be a real downer. I try to think about what I want to be doing, and weigh that against what I truly need to get done. Makes for a better day.

Marla Schulman said...

Thank you for marvelous post with loads of food for thought.

I am striving to be a human "being" not a human "doing" - it is a struggle but I think the "be" is winning.

Thanks to Liz Strauss for exposing me to your work and Thank YOU for your great work.


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