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”.
I am often amused by the need for companies, organizations and even individuals to try to snow us with what they perceive to be better ways to serve the public.
The other day I called a company that I bought a lamp from online to try to get a missing piece. The number on the bill stated that it was customer service. From the get go the voice mail system was a nightmare. I pressed so many numbers that I began to think I was in Las Vegas playing with a slot machine. When I finally got to the right place, a voice announced that a “relationship manager” would be right with me. As I waited a faux human continually told me that someone would be right with me and that there were now two other people ahead of me. I can see this working in a doctors’ office, but all that did for me was make me wonder how long it was going to take the other two people to get what they needed. In between the announcements another clone described some other products I might want to buy, and if that wasn’t enough chaos, hellacious music blared in the background. I desperately waited hoping I wouldn’t have to be medicated after I hung up.
Finally, a real person began talking and told me they would get the part to me ASAP! This took at least a half an hour and it is not the first time I have experienced this kind of craziness. What insane group of people came up with “relationship manager”? When I called about the lamp I was not looking for anyone to help me through a relationship crisis. What’s wrong with customer service? I am a customer and I need service. Simple and to the point. But simple is no longer available. I remember a time when you called a number and a “REAL” person answered. If they were busy they called you back. Now companies have rid themselves of a lot of people in lieu of puppets that have some resemblance to the human voice but can’t think beyond their programming. They also have to come up with lots of ‘doublespeak” to confuse and stress you so that you begin to think you might be the crazy one. I remember hearing this craziness years ago when I was told by a company executive that I had been hired to boost morale because they were downsizing. I thought he was talking about putting everyone on a diet. But they had substituted “downsizing” for firing, as if that would make everyone who was getting the boot feel better. Let’s bring back real people giving real service. Now wouldn’t that help reduce stress?