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It can be hard to understand why others feel the way they do. Unfortunately, this can sometimes lead us to respond in a counterproductive manner. If they are angry or sad, we may react defensively or negatively. We may assume, incorrectly, that we are to blame or they are wrong. We may try to make them see things differently, without fully understanding what is actually going on.

But if we stand back and look at things with an open-minded perspective, it is not hard to see that such responses likely won’t get us anywhere. …


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As children, most of us were probably inquisitive. We were trying to learn about the world around us and asked lots of questions. In fact, one study found that youngsters do this as much as 300 times a day. They wonder about such toughies as “Why is water wet?” Where does the sky end?” and “What are shadows made of?”

But as we grow older, things change. In school, we are expected to tell, not ask. We learn that students who give answers get praised and rewarded. Those who ask too many questions, meanwhile, are often met with frustration or resistance. …


The Little Things Matter: The Power of a Smile
The Little Things Matter: The Power of a Smile

Did you smile at someone today? Did you ask a colleague how he or she was doing? Did you pay anyone a complement (no matter how small)?

If so, perhaps you made their day — and maybe your own as well.

Most of us crave recognition and a connection to those around us. We like it when others are interested in who we are or what we’re doing. Whether they give us their undivided attention or do something nice, we feel good when they treat us as individuals rather than as faces in a crowd.

Getting attention from others can also make us feel we’re not alone when things are getting us down. Whether we’re concerned about our health, family, work or anything else, it can be overwhelming — until, perhaps, we feel the warmth of another person’s smile. …


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It’s been said that to be truly happy, you must be true to yourself. But who are you, really?

Are you the person who makes others laugh, or someone who wrestles with the demons of a difficult childhood behind closed doors? Do you look in the mirror and see only flaws, or are you the individual who friends and strangers alike tend to look up to? Does your outward success reflect inner satisfaction, or does your mind wallow in a darkness that nobody else knows?

In reality, any or all of the above might apply — some on a regular basis, others for a fleeting moment. While we might consider ourselves singular beings, we are, in fact, a bundle of contradictions, a melting pot comprised of our genetic makeup, upbringing, personal and indirect experiences, affiliations and relationships, and socioeconomic status. …


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It’s a frequent point of contention: Whose version of reality is “right”? In truth, the answer is either no one’s or everyone’s. For each of us, the world is essentially a personal belief system defined by our perceptions, experiences and values.

We’ve noted that it can be hard for people to agree on something as seemingly straightforward as the color of a dress. We’ve also pointed out that the meaning of our words, and even the words themselves, may be transformed into something altogether different once they’ve been communicated to somebody else. …


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A wise old owl lived in an oak
The more he saw the less he spoke
The less he spoke the more he heard.
Why can’t we all be like that wise old bird?

When it comes to communicating with others, the focus is usually on the person doing the talking. But it’s often the listeners who facilitate a common understanding and a meaningful exchange of ideas.

And yet, from the moment we are born, we soon learn that what comes out of our mouths makes us the center of attention. When we cry or coo, our parents and others respond in a positive way. As we grow up, this pattern is frequently reinforced in our quest for recognition and independence. But once we reach the age of maturity, some of us fail to realize that the world-and those around us-doesn’t exist solely for our benefit. …


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In theory, communicating with others using spoken words shouldn’t be all that hard, especially where a shared language and culture are involved. And yet, there is often a big disconnect between what we say and what others actually hear.

The “telephone game” serves as a good example of how even simple ideas can be lost in translation when passed from lips to ears. In this popular children’s activity, one individual secretly chooses a word or phrase and whispers it to somebody else. That person does the same, and so on until everyone has taken part. At that point, they compare what was said at the beginning to what was heard at the end. …


We All See the World Differently
We All See the World Differently

Everybody knows that a cloudless sky is blue, a well-watered lawn is green, the midday sun looks like a bright yellow ball, and a Red Delicious apple is a shiny, er, red–right?

But what does this really mean? Unless someone is color blind–which is, according to Wikipedia, the “inability or decreased ability to see color, or perceive color differences, under normal lighting conditions”–the implication is that your version of green–or any other color for that matter–is roughly the same as mine.

And yet, how do we explain the infamous February 2015 meme about a particular item of clothing. As countless media outlets reported at the time, “the internet almost broke” after a heated debate over the colors of a striped dress. To some, the garment in question was gold and white; to others, it was black and blue. Many of those who voiced an opinion were passionate about their decision; in the end, it seemed like few changed their minds. …

About

Wisdom for a Better Life

The guide to getting on…and getting it together. We write about relationships, communication and personal growth. Find us at https://wisdomforabetterlife.com.

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