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Got Big Plans for Halloween Tonight?

Full disclosure – today’s post is just for fun. OK, you’re right – fun is important for team cohesion, stress relief, and for mental wellbeing, so today’s newsletter might be useful, too.

And it’s mainly for fun, and yes, there’s a prize involved!

Do you love Halloween? I love Halloween – always have. Mom made our costumes because she loved Halloween, too. My two brothers and I were all sorts of craziness as we headed off to school on costume day, and as soon as I was old enough, I helped Mom with the make-up and accessories. There was that one year when I was sent home because my I Dream of Jeanie outfit was deemed too risqué for 5th grade, so I put on a pink t-shirt under the top, tucked it into the harem pants, and went right back and won a prize in the costume contest.

Fast-forward to adulthood, when Halloween got even more fun when the candy came with a side of adult beverages and semi-suggestive fun. (Yes, the leopard...

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Were You Bullied or Were You the Bully?

Quick – think back to your early school days – were you bullied or were you the bully? Yes, those are the only two choices I’m giving you.

“But wait,” you might be thinking, “I wasn’t the bully and I wasn’t bullied.” OK, I hear you. Did you know someone who was being bullied? Did you do anything about it? No? Then you assisted the bully, putting you on Team Bully.

This way of thinking about bullying may feel very harsh to you, and you’d be right. It is harsh. It’s unrealistic to expect children to automatically step in to protect someone from a bully, because as humans we have a strong pull toward self-preservation. Plus, children’s brains aren’t fully developed and they don’t have the variety of life experiences, not to mention the confidence level, that would help them spot and report, or stop, a bully.

But we’re all adults here – let’s talk about the bullying that goes on in your...

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Do You Encourage Silliness Sometimes? Should You?

What started as an inside joke has turned into a day of silliness that’s celebrated every year on September 19th. Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day – avast, ye mateys, and I’ll tell the tale of the scurvy lads who created this sorry excuse for revelry!

Two friends were playing racquetball on June 6, 1995. John Bauer, AKA Cap’n Slappy, and Mark Summers, AKA Ol’ Chumbucket, played hard, resulting in an injury to one of them. In pain, he cried out “Arrrrrrrgghhhhh” and the silliness was well begun. It was an inside joke between them for a while, until they sent a letter to humorist and nationally syndicated columnist Dave Barry, who loved it and wrote about it. Boom – a holiday was born! In deference to the lives lost in the Normandy landings on June 6, 1944, the men decided to celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day on September 19th instead of D-Day.

The day took on a life of it’s own as people learned to speak Piratese, and it tickled the...

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Do You Follow or Do You Flaunt?

Are you a rule-follower or a rule-flaunter? Most of us are firmly in the “it depends” category. Most rules we follow, some of them to the letter, and some we think don’t even apply to us or shouldn’t be rules at all.  So why are there rules and why do we follow them?

A pair of researchers, Sven Steinmo and Celine Colombo, set about to understand why people follow rules, why the impulse or need to have and follow rules exists, and how well it’s working for humanity. They found that norms of trust and cooperation need to be an intrinsic part of members of society in order for that society to thrive and prosper. You don’t have to look very far to see where rules came from – religions, races, and governments have been the impetus for complex sets of rules intended to govern and control the behavior of the people in their sphere of influence.

Why do people choose to be part of something that seeks to control their behavior, even to the point...

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Leaning on Your Girlfriends

There’s a holiday today that’s only for women. Sorry guys – you’re left out of this one, and the silver lining is that you don’t have to remember today, buy flowers, a card, or take your lady out to a fancy dinner. Today, National Girlfriends Day, is a day for women to celebrate their women-friends, so guys, if your female significant other expects flowers, gifts, and an extravagant date night from you tonight, tell them they’re barking up the wrong tree. 

 

Historically, women are the care-givers, community-builders, and nurturers. From the time of early civilizations, women typically left their families to be with the new man’s family. The alliances they built with the women in their new circle were often very much like those they had with their biological families, and that deep, family-style bonding continues today. While men’s friendships are more transactional in nature and can be fairly easily disrupted by shifting...

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Cheer Up the Lonely - Maybe You, Too!

Do you know a lonely person? Especially since the pandemic isolation has ended, you might be surprised to learn that there are more people who say they’re lonely now than before the pandemic.

Just what is loneliness, anyway? Noted researcher Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad has been studying loneliness for over two decades and says it’s “often defined as being based on the discrepancy between our desired level of connection and actual level of connection.” Before the pandemic, levels of social isolation were rising, and post-pandemic that trend has continued. The worst thing is that social isolation is as bad for our physical and mental health as stress, increasing the risk for heart attack and stroke, and according to some research, increasing the chance of premature death by 15%.

Today is Cheer Up the Lonely Day, started in Detroit Michigan by Francis Pesek, a man who wanted to brighten the days of shut-ins, those who lived alone, and people in nursing homes....

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Are You Living Up to America's Dream?

In the US, today is the day we celebrate the birth of our nation. It was 247 years ago that the Revolutionary War ended and the Declaration of Independence was signed. The ideals put forth were revolutionary at the time, especially the idea that people should be the architect of their own lives, free to pursue faith, family, and fortune without undue government interference.

Fast-forward a couple of centuries and American life looks very different than it did back then. We’ve moved from subsistence farming and small businesses in small towns to a nation full of mega-businesses, mega-banks, mega-mergers, and a mega-government complex sporting a mega-military and mega-tax collection complex. The pressure to live up to the American dream of success and even excess is high, and sadly, the reality of rising stress and depression is keeping pace. As the world becomes more electronically connected, people are often feeling more disconnected.

This Independence Day, think about your...

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Does Resilience Really Matter?

Today is the anniversary of the birth of Helen Keller, a woman whose life was a portrait of resilience. Even today, 143 years after her birth in a northern Alabama hamlet named after a Chickasaw tribal rainmaker, people share her ideas about happiness and leading a useful, productive life. Schoolchildren learn about how she overcame her disabilities and graduated from Radcliffe College, which is now Harvard University. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, her statue stands in the US Capitol building, and a movie about her young life and the teacher who was able to find a way to reach her, The Miracle Worker, won two Academy Awards.

Illness – probably meningitis – when she was less than two years old left Helen Keller deaf, blind, and without language. Since she couldn’t hear, she didn’t have a way to even know words existed. Since she was blind, she didn’t have a way to grasp the abstract concept of objects and their descriptors. The fact...

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What do Dads and Great Leaders Have in Common?

This week let’s talk about leaders. Sunday is Father’s Day and it’s a good time to look back over your life and reflect on the first leadership style that influenced you. Whether your father was great, good, bad, abysmal, or absent, you learned lessons from him that can serve you now.

There’s an old adage that you may be familiar with: “There are no business problems, only leadership problems.” That’s how important leadership skills are. Businesses rise and fall based on the strength of their leader and that person’s team. Would Apple have been as successful without Steve Jobs? Would Microsoft have been a behemoth without Bill Gates? Would Harpo have become a multi-billion-dollar enterprise without Oprah Winfrey?

Great leaders have some traits in common:

  • Visionary
  • Great communication skills
  • Courage and ability to blaze trails in their industry

Poor leaders have some traits in common, too:

  • Focus more on themselves than the business
  • ...
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Are You Afraid of Pride?

One word. Five letters. Many meanings. Some angst. Some anger. Some pride. Here are some definitions, according to Oxford Languages:

  • A feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.
  • A group of lions forming a social unit.
  • Confidence and self-respect as expressed by members of a group, typically one that has been socially marginalized, on the basis of their shared identity, culture, and experience.

“Pride” is a word with a lot of conflicted history behind it. Pride was first on the list of the seven deadly sins, yet “pride of place” speaks to giving the very best location to a person or object that is revered. Then there’s the sense of national pride, which is celebrated the world over. Pride can be very confusing!

C.S. Lewis, writing in “Mere Christianity,” said: “A proud man is...

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