For most of us, the most powerful sense of meaning comes from doing something that makes us feel as if we’re making a contribution to the world. Making a contribution connects us to our community and our society as a whole, in a way that makes us feel better when we know that there’s something we’ve done to help someone else, particularly when that person is in need. There’s a reason that charity is an integral part of every world religion and most decent societies help other people because it is very clearly, a vital component of life. There are so many ways to make a difference. Last week I was privileged to witness firsthand individuals who give their time and loving kindness to those who have served our country and have returned wounded. The facility for wounded warriors is staffed by extraordinary people who seem to have limitless energy and copious amounts of compassion. So often we get caught up in our own physical or mental pains that our world become incredibly insular. I have been struggling with joint pain that will necessitate two knee replacements. There are times when I rail against the universe as to “why me”? When I heard the stories of men and women, some of whom have suffered incredible trauma, it gave me new perspective on my own issues. My mother’s favorite quote was “ I cried when I had no shoes, till I saw the man with no feet”. Unfortunately, it is easy to forget how lucky we our since it is quite human to be involved with our own pain. One of the ways to sustain feeling fortunate about what life hands us is to find meaning and purpose. When we attach meaning to whatever we do or whatever fate befalls us, life seems to become more spiritual. Many of us become aggravated at the slightest inconveniences, taking time and energy to try to find whose fault it was or why we are always the one the proverbial bird finds to eliminate on. Perhaps taking a moment to stop your internal patter to think about one thing you appreciate about your life will help you reframe the situation. I leave you with one of my favorite quotes by Barbara WInter“ When you are on the edge of all the light you know, and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing one of two things will happen: There will be something solid to stand on, or you will be taught to fly”.
In the last several years there has been a plethora of information discussing the differences in how men and women differ. The field of neuroscience has corroborated what most of us already know intuitively. I have had several relationships and can testify to the fact that there are major gender differences. I’m sure when men and women hang out in their separate groups they often point out behaviors that have become the foundation for a lot of sitcoms. When I was younger and uniformed about how differently we see the world, I would often find myself getting crazed and humorless. I can’t say I’m completely cured, but I do find myself laughing more often at both genders behaviors. Here’s some examples of situations I have learned to laugh at. A man will open the refrigerator door and swear up and down that he can’t find whatever he’s looking for, but he has no trouble finding his favorite sports show on the tube. Women will discuss a topic over and over and add every subtle nuance as if they were trying to create an academy award winning film. Men simply look bewildered and wonder “why can’t she simply get to the point”? We will get in the car and immediately think of where we might stop to wander around some shops, or make sure we know where the nearest restroom is. Men seem to resemble camels when it comes to their bathroom habits, until they get older. Our goal is to gather information, no matter where we are so we can share it with our women friends and bring home some little treasure to remind us of our journey. Our partners can never figure out why we need what we’ve purchased, because their sojourns to stores comes from a more practical place. If they go to a hardware store for a hammer they don’t call their friends to go with them so they can try it out before they buy it, or come back with more than they set out to buy. They also don’t get overly concerned over making beds, making sure the house is clean when companies coming over, or putting toilet seats down. Of course not every man or female fits into the above categories, but I can bet that a great majority do. What we all need to discover is that what annoys us about each other can become a great way to connect, if we can both admit that we are often a joke.