A Powerful Message About Work

I just watched this really good 20 minute video by Mike Rowe (he’s the Dirty Jobs guy). I warn you, it is a bit PG-13 for some farm animal stuff, but it is really well worth it. I love what he has to say, and he is far more intelligent than I ever gave him credit. Actually, guys like him are often far more intelligent than most of us give them credit.

Mike Rowe and Lamb Castration on Fora TV

In case you are wondering, I didn’t embed it, because it only embeds the first half to try and drive you to the Fora site–kinda annoying, if you ask me.  It is better to watch it all in one place.

The Gratitutde Project

The Gratitude Project

Day 22

My monthly project is progressing, although slower than I expected.  I think I need to babysit it more in order for it to happen.

I have taken to writing thank you cards once a week to a few people.  I think it is funny that people almost always contact me back and thank me for sending them a “thank you.”  I have flirted with the idea of sending out a thank you card for thanking them for thanking me.  OK, I would never do that.  When they call I think “Hey, you can thank me for sending you a ‘thank you.’  That erases the thank you.”

In reality, I am happy that they are calling.  My mind just jumps around to funny semi-sarcastic thoughts all the time.  I don’t do it because I am cynical or mean.  My mind is always just entertaining itself in the background.

I have realized through this that thankfulness begets thankfulness.  People read the card and their response is to say “thank you” for me thanking them.  Mother Theresa once said “We don’t have to reach the whole world.  If half the world was loving the other half, then everyone would be being loved.”  I like that.  If I can be the most thankful person I possibly can, then the people around me will be more thankful.  If they are thankful, then the people around them are affected, and on down the line.  Like a pebble in a pond, the ripples could reach the whole pool.

I want to reach the whole pond, but I really need to pay more attention to me being more thankful.  After all, I am doing this because I get frustrated at how much we (me and most people around me) pay attention to the failures around them.  Psychology calls it the Fundamental Accountability Error.  Every schoolboy knows how it works.  When a fly ball goes into right field and the fielder has to dive to catch it.  He gets up and says “I am an awesome fielder.”  If he misses the catch, it is “The sun was in my eyes.”

That kind of thinking is what causes us to have an entitlement mentality.  This error makes us focus on others failures and what we deserve.  It is the opposite of thankfulness.  It is sin.  Although I fall prey to this law of psychological tendency just as much as anyone else, I am trying to burn it out of me.  That is part of my prayer.  Please pray for me in this regard.  –Ryan

The Gratitude Project

The Gratitude Project

The Gratitude Project is an attempt to shake loose the bonds of a consumer-driven, entitled life, and become a more thankful and centered person.  During the next 365 days I will be intentionally transforming myself (with lots of help) by finding new ways each day to be less self-centered and thankful.  Each month I am going to take on a bigger project to challenge myself.  I’ll be blogging about it the whole way.

Day 10

One thing about thankfulness: One might think that it would make you more aware of yourself than ever, and in a way it does.  But even more than that, it makes you more aware of others.  One quickly tires of thinking about the stuff there is to be thankful for, and then it isn’t a short hop until you’re thinking about the people in your life who matter a lot more than the “stuff.”  Once you are focused on being thankful for people, you start finding yourself trying on a whole lot of proverbial moccasins.  Sometimes, that gets sticky.  Some peoples moccasins are filled with stuff that hurts your feet.

I wrote a thank you card today to my manager at the store.  I feel really badly for her with the upcoming changes that are happening at our little business (I can’t say much more now).  It is pretty sad that for many of my co-workers there, that store is a gigantic part of their life, and now all of that is about to change.  In some ways I empathize with them.  But it is also sometimes a kick in the butt that we need in order to make changes that might be good for us in the long run.

I have found that one side effect of trying to be more thankful toward people is that I have more natural empathy toward them.  I am not really naturally that empathetic a person.  Although, I really debate back and forth on that.  On the one hand, I tend to be more of a “lift yourself up by your bootstraps” thinker.  I try not to be too much like that, but it is always in the background.  But on the other hand, if someone tells me that I have hurt them, or that they are upset about something (even if it has nothing to do with me) I will think about it continually in the back of my mind.

I know several of my teens are having sexual identity issues.  I hate that.  I hate that they are in a world that has made sexuality such an in-your-face issue, and yet more confusing than ever.  I also hate the fact that God has somehow been invited out of the dialogue.  It must seem like I am digressing, but after a conversation tonight with one of them, that is all I can think about.  I don’t know if “The Gratitude Project” has made me more empathetic this way, or just made me more aware of being this way.  I am confusing even myself now.

In other news, I’m really mulling over what to do about my monthly project for September.  I have an idea, but I don’t know if it will work, and I don’t want to jinx myself.

The Gratitude Project

The Gratitude Project

The Gratitude Project is an attempt to shake loose the bonds of a consumer-driven, entitled life, and become a more thankful and centered person.  During the next 365 days I will be intentionally transforming myself (with lots of help) by finding new ways each day to be less self-centered and thankful.  Each month I am going to take on a bigger project to challenge myself.  I’ll be blogging about it the whole way.

Day 6

I’ve been working hard at this most of the week, although I must admit I didn’t stay with the program really well most of Friday.  There have been a couple accomplishments that I’ve been pretty proud of.

First, I realized that I do a really bad job of writing letters and encouraging people.  I don’t want to be that way.  I’ve decided that I am going to write more thank-you cards and letters of encouragement.  I did one this week, and it made me feel really good, but that wasn’t the point.  I have also made a point to be extra thankful and appreciative to Peichi.  I think I do a really poor job of that.  It seems to me that sometimes the hardest people to be nice to are the people to whom I should be the nicest.

Second, I’ve tried to take What About Bob style baby steps.  Thanking every customer at work, and being extra nice to people has been a good start.  It is even kind of fun sometimes.  I play a little game lately when someone is being kind of rude.  I just try to be even more nice than usual.  I don’t know that it accomplishes much, but I get to have fun and be nice at the same time.

But I’ve also realized some things that are going to be challenges.  The biggest one is the matter of introspection.  In C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, the main character (a demon) urges his nephew to influence his charge in dealing with the issue of humility.  He instructs that if the man becomes very humble, make his humility a source of pride to him.  If he then tries to work on his pride in his own humility, get him so wrapped up in dealing with this that all he can think about is himself.

I find this could easily be a temptation in this whole project.  As I am trying to be less self-obsessed, am I becoming more so by dwelling on it?  This is even further complicated because I am writing the whole thing down in a blog for the world to see (or just the handful of people who ever read this).  I do worry about this, but at this point I don’t think it is too much of an issue.

I am sure that from the outside it seems like I am either bragging about my successes to the world, or airing my weaknesses as a catharsis.  Neither is actually my heart.  This is more a diary for myself.  But if someone else somehow benefits from what I’m dealing with, then great!  The same thing goes with my successes.

I think this will be more difficult when I do some bigger projects.  If I tell about it here, then someone could question my altruism.  Heck, I will question my altruism.  I’ll just have to console myself by knowing that no one actually reads this 😛

What God is Doing

I have been reading through the gospels in the last few days.  I am ending Luke tomorrow.

What stikes me lately is God’s call on us through Christ to not strive to be number 1.  That is a big relief on one hand, because I am usually not numero uno of anything.  I am not “the steller at______ guy.”  I am the “middle of the pack guy.”  On the other hand, it is disturbing.  I have this great ambition to do great things.  I want to be number one.  I want to be the guy that everyone looks up to.  I want to be the one whom people put on the pedastal and say “be like him.”  But over and over again in the gospels Jesus is telling us not to try to be that.  I don’t think that this ambition is always evil.  Most of my ambitions are God kind of stuff.  I know that Jesus doesn’t decry excellence.  When you get right down to it, Jesus is not telling us we can’t be number one, or even that it isn’t good to try to be the best.  It is how we use that status that counts.  But at the same time, he knows that it seldom plays itself out that way.  Number one usually becomes an idol.  We love to make idols.  That has got to be part of why Jesus said the whole rich man/camel through the needle comment. We are rich.  I am rich.  God is working this out in me.