No Whining Wednesday – There is Movement in Stillness

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Welcome back to another episode of No Whining Wednesday! Today, you cannot whine, criticize, or complain.

If you are new to this blog or new to this segment please visit the NWW page here for past episodes.

Today’s inspiring word came to me earlier this week:

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Often when we are seeking clarity on something, we are looking for something we need to do. Rarely does it occur to us that maybe not moving is the “move” we need to make. I know it’s hard to realize from a social media point of view, but you don’t always have to be “doing” something.

Have you ever truly sat in silence? No TV, no music, no talking, just quiet. Do you know what your own heartbeat sounds like? Have you ever took the time to listen to your own breath?

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Every year my husband and I grow tomatoes, lettuce, bell peppers, and several herbs in our garden, including basil, oregano, and rosemary. There is a time between sowing and reaping where you don’t have to do anything. It is not time to sow, and it is not time to reap. It is time to be still and allow what was planted to flourish. And yes, there is such a thing as overwatering your plants.

The story of the Chinese Bamboo tree is my favorite.

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It takes this tree five years to grow, and it doesn’t break through the ground until the fifth year. What happens is it looks like you are wasting your time watering the ground because nothing materializes. But once it does break through, it grows ninety feet tall.

“Like any plant, growth of the Chinese Bamboo Tree requires nurturing – water, fertile soil, sunshine. In its first year, we see no visible signs of activity. In the second year, again, no growth above the soil. The third, the fourth, still nothing. Our patience is tested, and we begin to wonder if our efforts (caring, water, etc.) will ever be rewarded. And finally, in the fifth year – behold, a miracle! We experience growth. And what growth it is! The Chinese Bamboo Tree grows 80 feet in just six weeks!”

-Matt Morris

The deep thing about this is not that it grows so tall. The deep thing is although it does not seem like anything is happening, there is movement the whole time. The tree did not grow tall overnight. It was growing all along:

“Did the Chinese Bamboo Tree lie dormant for four years only to grow exponentially in the fifth? Or, was the little tree growing underground, developing a root system strong enough to support its potential for outward growth in the fifth year and beyond?”

Stop trying to force things to happen by looking for stuff to do. It is wise to know when to move, but it is also wise to know when not to move. Ya’ll know the word. There’s a time to gather and a time not to gather. The consequence of acting when you should have been still (like talking when you should be silent) is stunting your own growth:

“Had the Chinese Bamboo Tree farmer dug up his little seed every year to see if it was growing, he would have stunted the Chinese Bamboo tree’s growth as surely as a caterpillar is doomed to a life on the ground if it is freed from its struggle inside a cocoon prematurely. The struggle in the cocoon is what gives the future butterfly the wing power to fly.”

There is movement in stillness.

No Whining Wednesday – Live Not for the Praise of Men

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Welcome back to another episode of No Whining Wednesday! Today, you cannot whine, criticize, or complain.

If you are new to this blog or new to this segment please visit the NWW page here for past episodes.

Today’s inspiring word is about praise and criticism. There are many variations of this quote, and challenging to track down the first person who said it. The one I found most fitting for this feature is this one:

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Another variation is this one:

“If you live off a man’s compliments, you’ll die from his criticism.”—Cornelius Lindsey.”

There are many reasons we whine and complain. One of them is because we are not getting enough attention. Some of us have no real issues in our lives except we want to be seen, acknowledged, and praised. This is not entirely a bad thing, but it could be if we are dependent on it.

Sometimes when we are frustrated, we want to vent to others. This can be a good thing and feel like a warm hug from that one trustworthy friend, much like a child who falls and hurts themselves and gets a kiss on the boo-boo from mom. But, too many kisses from mom will have the child purposely hurting themselves to get that validation.

I am no psychologist, and I am certainly not your therapist, but in my thirty-four years on this earth, I’ve learned we do this as adults too. We might not run to our mothers for hugs and kisses, but we run to other people for validation when we do not recognize our own potential or when we want to be coddled. The danger in this is we end up living off the praises of men and dying from their criticisms.

And how do we die?

We cannot function without praise, and we do not understand how to discern negative feedback.

We have invested so much of ourselves into what other people think and how other people feel, and what other people think we should do with our lives that we become like little children who cannot be told no. If you don’t have the support of the group, you are out here throwing temper tantrums. You’ve become an ‘energy vampire’ who desperately needs to feed.

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No matter how good of a person you are, you are still the villain in someone’s story because you simply cannot please everyone. Once you stop caring what people think of your decisions and whether or not they like you, you step into your most authentic self.

Problems need solutions, and complaining to others can be good when we need to be heard or are looking for answers. After all, it is wise to listen to advice, especially when coming from people who have been where we want to go or experienced the troubles we are currently experiencing.

Giving and receiving genuine praise and compliments is a good thing, and we all need it, but balance is necessary. Without balance, we depend on the feedback from others more than on our own souls. We open ourselves up to everyone else’s input and everyone else’s solutions despite our own intuition, and we seek to be validated because we do not recognize our own value.

Not only do we want to cut down on complaining, but we also want to cut down on letting other people’s complaints negatively influence us.

You matter, and your presence is necessary to the world—the end.

3 Life Lessons from the Story of Creation

#1: Celebrate Along the Way

After everything Yah created, he stopped to praise the work he had done. When he created the lights, it was good. When he created the expanse, it was good. When he created the land and the waters and the sun and the stars and so on, Yah stopped to acknowledge that what he had just created was good. In our own lives, we must learn to celebrate our success along the way and not just what we consider great successes but small ones too. And when I say small I am talking about being able to get out of the bed in the morning. When I say small I mean getting your children ready for school. When I say small I mean cooking for your family. When I say small I mean being able to have a warm cup of coffee in the morning or a cool glass of wine in the evenings. This is surplus. Anytime we can have more than the bare minimum, it’s surplus. Its extra. So when I say small I mean being successful at just getting through the day without going insane.

Miserable people will try to criticize your joy. They will say things like, “ain’t nobody happy all the time.” While you certainly won’t be happy all the time, you don’t have to be happy to be thankful. We must learn not to just promote praise among those finished projects but to also see the good in the unfinished. We must learn to be grateful during the bad times, the tired times, the frustrating times, and the sad times because these are the most important times. In fact, these hard times are probably even more important than the good times because the hard times are cultivating something in you. You are being prepared for something. You are being strengthened for a work. Additionally, being grateful for what you have and celebrating on the way to where you are going builds healthy self-esteem. When you stop and give praise for everything that you have, even if you don’t have what you want, you begin to feel better about yourself, about your life and about who you are.

#2: It’s a Process

Certainly, the Almighty Power could have created everything in one day. Certainly, he is powerful enough and more than capable of doing it but instead, Yah took six days. He took his time making sure that the world was perfect for those who would inhabit it. In our own lives, we must understand that everything is a process. You cannot expect to have everything figured out at one time and you can’t expect to have everything you need at one time. You may find one piece of the puzzle today and the next piece may not come until next month or next year. The next piece may not come until you are mature enough to receive that piece. It may not come until you are in a place mentally to receive it.

Greatness doesn’t just happen. It is a result of years of work, of trial, of failure, and of learning. It is a culmination of experiences and setbacks. It is a process. We must learn to allow ourselves to be nurtured and to be prepared for our destiny and our purpose.

#3: Rest

The creator of everything certainly does not need to rest in the way that we do and as previously stated, certainly he could have created everything in one day and be done with it. But he didn’t and I believe it was to show us something. After six days Yah rested on the seventh day and set this day apart. In our own lives, we must understand that there’s no such thing as this 24-hour working life we see on social media and television. You cannot expect to work until you are exhausted and still expect to have enough energy to be productive. Rest and vacation have become a privilege in this world and that’s a shame. Rest is not some privilege. Rest is a necessity. We cannot expect to be 100 every single day. That’s not realistic. Rest is just as important as work is.

Sleep plays an important role in your physical health and is involved in healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels. Going without sleep or rest is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. This is because our bodies are designed to refuel during rest. This is when we get our wind back. You can run non-stop until you are out of breath and falling over or you can walk and pace yourself so that you have enough endurance to make it to the end. We can try and mimic the “hustle” and “grind” of everyone else and run our health into the ground. Or we can take some time to rest our bodies, our hearts, and our minds.

Beware of Flattery

Everyone wants to be appreciated at some point in their lives. At some point, everyone wants to be loved and encouraged every now and again. Flattery however is not the same as genuine praise. Not only is it counterproductive but its borderline insulting especially for the person being flattered upon. It is almost like lying or pretending to care.

Before I go on, I have to mention that not all flattery is bad. It is easy for introverts or those of us who are really shy, to be flattered by compliments. This form of flattery is likened to that of humility.

But how do you know if you’re flattering someone in a negative way or if someone is flattering you?

Ultra-Orthodox Praise

flatteryFlattery is known by what I like to call the Ultra-Orthodox Praise. This tends to really creep into my skin and tug at my nerve strings. The reason it’s so irritating is because it’s so fake. I’m sure I’m not the best thing since sliced bread. The Ultra-Orthodox Praiser however will lead you to believe otherwise. Likewise, you are not the best thing that has ever happened to me.

 

When someone has done something well tell them. Let them know they really touched you, how it made you feel and ways it has helped you to improve. Give credit where credit is due.

HOWEVER

Don’t overdo it. Making something out to be above what it’s worth is flattery and it does not help the giver or the receiver. When you discern this kind of flattery in your midst, don’t let it go to your head. Let’s look at some examples:

“You are very pretty and I love that new hair cut!”

Even though the word “very” was used this is a genuine compliment. The person stated what they saw in the person and showed also that they noticed something new about them. It shows that they are interested and truthful in regard to their praise.

“You are very pretty and I love the new haircut! Where’d you get it done?”

This compliment is also a good one. In fact it is better than the last one. Not only did this person notice the new hair cut but they made it a point to also ask questions. This engages the other person and shows genuine interest.

“You are by far the most beautiful person in the world! I wish I could marry you today.”

This is flattery. Is this person really the most beautiful person in the world? This is extra and is not helpful. Suppose the woman did think she was the most beautiful person ever, this will help her to do nothing but think too highly of herself. She will be filled with pride and no one will be able to tell her anything. So you see flattery is really unnecessary.

Now this next example is kinda tricky:

“I think your poetry is better than Maya Angelou’s.”

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Is this a genuine compliment or is it flattery?

This is a genuine compliment. It’s genuine because it’s one person’s opinion about someone else. Remember that flattery is characterized by over-exaggeration, not necessarily the mention of famous individuals. It is also important to note that this is someone’s opinion and it is addressed as such. “I think” informs us of the nature of the statement and lets us know it is an opinion and everyone is entitled to their opinion.  Chances are the person really did think this poet’s work superseded Maya Angelou’s. It is their opinion. However, it is easy for this statement to have been one of flattery if the person went over the top with it:

“I think you should change your name to Maya Angelou since you’re such a great poet.

Though this is an opinion, it is also flattery. If the person really is a good poet, tell them but leave the extra stuff out. It only makes you look insincere and phony about what you’re saying unless it was understood that you were joking.

Why People Flatter

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If you are in a situation where someone is flattering you, there are three possible reasons:

1). Envy

Believe it or not most people who are overtly zealous concerning certain individuals do not actually care for them, and their flattery is a cover. These people tend to over compensate to make it look like these people are their “besties,” but in reality they hope for their down fall. There is no reason to pretend or make someone out to be other than they are except if there are hidden motives.

2). Pity

Another result of flattery is pity. People are most likely to become victims of flattery by those who feel sorry for them in some way. If you’re attempting to build encouragement this is not the way to do it. People need to know the truth so that they can improve. You don’t have to be mean about it, but flattery is just as counterproductive.

3). They Want Something in Return

If someone is throwing unnecessary overtly zealous statements your way that are really over the top, another reason for this is that they want something from you. What they want can vary. Some people are so bad that they’ll do it just to get your attention.

How to React to Flattery

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If you believe you are being flattered in negative ways just brush it off. Don’t be rude and try to jump down people’s throats for flattering you. However, don’t take it seriously. Flattery tends to be an over exaggerated form of an observation for the purpose of exacting pity, or trying to get your attention. It is sometimes based not off logic or genuine interest, but of hidden envy. Acknowledge it for what it is and keep it moving. Like the quote says, enjoy it. It may even be funny, may uplift you even but don’t swallow it. Remain humble. Mistaking flattery for truth can have its consequences. You can put yourself in the vulnerable position of being really hurt that someone was not honest with you. You will feel used and under appreciated. There is nothing like the real thing so never trade the truth for a moment of flattery. It hinders, it does not help.

If You’re a Flatterer

Sometimes we are just trying to be nice. But if you find yourself flattering a lot just keep it real with yourself always. You don’t have to over acknowledge someone, either their presence or talent, to make them feel special. If you are truly genuine they will know it and if they have good hearts they will appreciate it.

*Remember that genuine praise or excitement over someone or their work is not flattery.*

As seen in our examples, flattery tends to be over the top in unrealistic ways:

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Flattering Comments

Finally, I have to bring up an important observation as it pertains to the blog world. Sometimes I get the feeling that there are certain instances where it appears differing perspectives are not welcomed in the blogosphere. Not from the comments I get since I have been fortunate to have genuine people leave their thoughts on the table and we have engaged in excellent conversations. However,  while browsing the blogging world period (which doesn’t limit itself to WordPress), I do detect flattery in the comments area. Sometimes, not all the time. I know how important it is to be kind and I would never promote a debate (because its fruitless) but being nice and courteous doesn’t mean everyone will think the same or that everyone will be in agreement. That is not how it is in the real world. In fact, sometimes people may even get upset or agitated by a blog post. We need to understand that that’s OK as long as they maintain a level of self-control (no usage of profanity and angry outburst) because that’s real.

When giving commentary on someone’s blog make sure that you’re being real about it. Respect their blog as if walking into their home, but don’t make your comments so overlaid with flattery that it becomes fake.