Tag Archives: Joy Brown

Rose-Colored Contacts

I’m more the type to yell at someone to get me another glass of water.

You do know the question to that answer, yeah, dudes. For those of you a bit slow on the uptake (no, not you. The other dude. Yeah, him. Right.) is “Are you a glass-half-full dude or a glass-half-empty dude?”

It’s a question that gets to the bottom of the nature of perception, how we see the world. Are we inherently optimistic, in seeing the glass as half full, or are we inherently pessimistic, in that we see the glass as half empty?

It’s the same glass, with the same amount of water. The way we perceive it, however, tells us a lot about ourselves. I made a little joke up there in the lead, but that’s not really the type of dude I am.

When I see a glass that’s not full, I see a half-empty glass and begin wondering who drank the other half and if the half that remains is poisoned. More pessimistic than I wish that I was.

Events bring out the pessimist in me. However, that’s not all I am.

When I face a question about a person, it’s a completely different person. It seems like I’m always thinking the best about people. If someone’s never done something before, I still believe they can do it. I’m an optimist about a person, a pessimist about people as a group. I feel like I sort of fall into the camp as outlined by the great sage and philosopher Agent K.

Had he ever existed, which he most assuredly did not, Agent K might have said, “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.”

So I’m not alone in this.

But, and here’s the big point here, I didn’t like being that way. I didn’t like always assuming the worst was about to happen.

So I decided to change. I decided that, instead of always looking for the hammer to drop, I’m going to compliment the person holding the hammer on her lovely nail polish. Instead of ranting about the litter on the side of the road, I’m going to think about how it’s less than it’s been in years past, then I’m going to pick up all I can carry and feel better about having made the world a (slightly) better place.

My mom had a number of favorite sayings she would repeat as often as possible. One of those was something she cribbed from a radio psychologist, Dr. Joy Brown: “You can’t change other people. The only person you can change is yourself.”

And, you know, they were right. I know that there are people who bug me just by breathing. I feel my blood pounding in my ears, my fists clenching all that. But that person’s not going to change. It’s who they are.

I have to decide that it won’t bother me. And it’s more than possible. It’s actually easy. It really is, dudes.

You can decide to be more positive and you’ll be more positive. You can decide to let the little things just slide off your back and they will.

Since I’ve decided to be more positive, to see a glass someone filled up halfway just for me, I find that I’m seeing more positive things happen. Not only that, but I’m feeling like I should be doing more little things to make the world a (slightly) better place.

Instead of getting irritated that someone left their grocery cart in the middle of a space instead of putting it away just two spaces over, I’m glad I came along so I can move that one and another that’s nearby because it will make some anonymous Harris Teeter worker’s day a little easier.

It’s all in how we choose to perceive the world and the people around us.

So what’s it going to be, dudes? Are you going to be positive or negative? It’s up to you.

I know you’re going to make the right decision.

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Will You Do It For A Dollar?

My last post about generational changes in discipline got me thinking about how to motivate your little dudes. Do little dudes perform better with threats or encouragement, the carrot or the stick? Or even a bribe. Yes, that’s right, I said bribe.

There’s a radio talk show psychologist named Joy Brown, who talks often that she believes there’s absolutely nothing wrong with bribing a child to do something. Which is good for me as it gives me some sort of flimsy validation for something I’ve been doing for years.

I see the look of pity in your eyes. Really I do. I’m special that way.

Yes, both my wife, known to three as She Who Is A Softer Touch So Let’s Ask Her, and I have been known to offer monetary encouragement to the little dudes for them to do things we want, but they don’t. For instance, the little dudes have been begging for a home game system since they were old enough to covet stuff they saw on commercials. We’ve always said no. Then Nintendo came out with the Wii, a system in which you had to move around instead of sit around. So we told the little dudes that if they signed up for swim team and dive team at the local swimming pool for the summer and worked hard and didn’t complain (too much [we are somewhat realistic and knew they were going to gripe some]) we would buy the Wii.

See, we believe that the little dudes need to do something athletic most seasons. We might let them take a couple of seasons off, but they need to be doing something other than going to P.E. Swim and dive is hard work, even though it can also be fun. They took the bait and the Wii. They did work hard. They did have fun and they did get the Wii. They then proceeded to use birthday money to buy games in which they didn’t have to actually move anything but thumbs. We got slightly outfoxed, but the point remains valid.

Sometimes I think it is more rewarding to offer a carrot instead of a stick. Let them see that they can earn things by working hard. Sounds a little like adult life that way. Although I’m not sure anyone is lining up to give me money to join a swim team or dive team. Unfortunately.

— Richard

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