Like attracts like

Uniformity

“Ugh,” my friend groaned in exasperation as we discussed how society views childless, unmarried women. “Why do people have to judge and label other people?”

“To try to know them,” I replied. “People label others who are different in an attempt to put them in a knowable, safe place.” I mimed putting an object in a shoe box and onto a shelf, “’There. I know you now. You are a spinster with all that entails.”

Sadly this is a common response in the world. We judge and label based on societal norms and our own values and experience. And as a rule, we like to be with people who have made the same life choices we have. It’s affirming and easy. People who are like us are tacitly saying we are okay and making the right life choices.

If you take a new path in life – move away, go to school, start a new career, marry, have children, change your beliefs or lifestyle – you can expect that many people will leave your sphere, either because they walk away or you disconnect from them.

The challenge and reward is embracing people who are different from you. They are the ones who will help you grow and develop a rich, multifaceted life.

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If you lie down with dogs, you will get up with fleas

ImageWe are never done changing and growing as human beings.

Psychologists say that by the age of five our personalities are fixed. That may be true.

But our experiences, perceptions, responses, opportunities and consequences are very much in flux throughout our lives, and the people around us can profoundly influence us.

Remember as a teenager when your parents didn’t want you to hang around So-and-So because he/she was a bad influence? You rolled your eyes in response and thought (or said) “No one is going to make me do anything I don’t want to do.” Maybe So-and-So couldn’t make you do things, but they could introduce you to ideas and activities you didn’t even know you wanted to do – and some of those things could be questionable, stupid or dangerous.

Conversely, people in your life can introduce you to brilliant, stimulating, uplifting ideas and experiences.

Studies show that spending time with the same social group can limit your growth. The reasoning is that your exposure to new information and ideas is limited. Media coverage on abuse and bullying, which happens at home, school and the workplace, reminds us daily of the low self-esteem, anger, depression and despair these situations produce.

People will come and go in your life and they will help shape your understanding of the world and of yourself.

Don’t underestimate the influence of the outside world on your growth and well being. And never forget you have the power to change who and what you keep around you. Choose well.

p.s. I mean no disrespect to dogs; I love them all – even the ones with fleas.

How to be powerful

It seems as if our society is fascinated by, even celebrates, destruction.

We have that awful term “shock and awe” from the second Gulf war. We have ____mageddon (here close to Toronto that would be snowmageddon for example) and ____apocalypse (What isn’t an apolcalypse these days? Zombies, turkeys, weather, shopping).

Popular news favors the unsavory and we’re deluged with images of war, violence, crime and other horrors. Insults, sarcasm, explosions, war games, gladiator sports and brawls pass as entertainment. We’re endlessly wowed with our own ability to destroy and be horrible.

Are we drawn to the power inherent in these destructive images; the power to turn our world upside down, to rip each other or a country apart, or freeze it in its tracks?

Is destruction powerful? No. Creation is the ultimate power.  

Which is more powerful? Hurting a person or animal or using love and patience to restore health and trust? Is it more meaningful to tear down a society or to build one? Which are more enduring? Works of beauty and skill or acts of vandalism and destruction?

Victory Hand BY KANAGRAJ RAJ

Victory Hand
BY KANAGRAJ RAJ

If I can choose my response to any situation – and I can, and so can you – then choosing optimism, hope and kindness is the constructive, powerful choice.

Being morally brave, standing up for what is right, taking the high road, building, growing, creating and being generous are the hallmarks of a powerful person.