Thursday, September 17, 2015

Bids and Responses and Scanning

This morning I woke up thinking of three things.  
1. The challenge of talking about thought processes in order to facilitate coordination between people who are working together.  For example, two people work on a project together, a change in timing or resources occurs, both think of responses to those changes and act on them, but fail to actually talk about or discuss the responses they have to those changes or the changes they are planning to implement, resulting in mild confusion and/or jumping to unverified conclusions. 
2. The principle of "the purpose of the task is to strengthen the relationship", ie. no matter what task you are involved in, a primary and essential element of that task is the strengthening of the relationships of those involved in it. For example, washing the dishes with your daughter:  The purpose is not so much getting the dishes perfectly clean, but rather to strengthen your relationship as you work together.
3. The practice of responding to "bids".  It goes like this.  Throughout the day, partners make requests for connection, what John Gottman calls “bids.” and which he explains as follows in an article here:
For example, say that the husband is a bird enthusiast and notices a goldfinch fly across the yard. He might say to his wife, “Look at that beautiful bird outside!” He’s not just commenting on the bird here: he’s requesting a response from his wife — a sign of interest or support — hoping they’ll connect, however momentarily, over the bird.
The wife now has a choice. She can respond by either “turning toward” or “turning away” from her husband, as Gottman puts it. Though the bird-bid might seem minor and silly, it can actually reveal a lot about the health of the relationship. The husband thought the bird was important enough to bring it up in conversation and the question is whether his wife recognizes and respects that.
People who turned toward their partners in the study responded by engaging the bidder, showing interest and support in the bid. Those who didn’t — those who turned away — would not respond or respond minimally and continue doing whatever they were doing, like watching TV or reading the paper. Sometimes they would respond with overt hostility, saying something like, “Stop interrupting me, I’m reading.”
These bidding interactions had profound effects on marital well-being. Couples who had divorced after a six-year follow up had “turn-toward bids” 33 percent of the time. Only three in ten of their bids for emotional connection were met with intimacy. The couples who were still together after six years had “turn-toward bids” 87 percent of the time. Nine times out of ten, they were meeting their partner’s emotional needs.
“There’s a habit of mind that the masters have,” Gottman explained in an interview, “which is this: they are scanning social environment for things they can appreciate and say thank you for. They are building this culture of respect and appreciation very purposefully. ...
“It’s not just scanning environment,” chimed in Julie Gottman. “It’s scanning the partner for what the partner is doing right..." 
My decision this morning: work on those three.
And, in light of number 1, talk to L. about that decision.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Fortitude, Humility, Kindness, Gratitude and Love Unfeigned...and Yoga

Kindness in words creates confidence. 
Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. 
Kindness in giving creates love. 

~~Lao Tsu

Never assume you have figured anyone or anything out. 
Never boil someone down to a cliché and certainly not to an epithet. 
Never assume that because you discover a hard question, the answer is an exit rather than renewed perspective. 
Even if the answer IS an exit, be sure it is done with respect and gratitude, not with anger and insults. 
Anger serves no one well and hurts many. If anger [or insults, be they sarcastic, snide or epithetic, voiced or unspoken] is your default response to discomfort in any relationship (including your relationship to faith or to the sacred), take up yoga. At least for starters.

~~Margaret Young
Interview with Stephen Marsh, September 4, 2015

Tuesday, August 18, 2015 shall have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of.....

I have decided that there is a difference between "choosing to be happy" and being of good cheer. One cannot nor should not always choose to be happy. If so, we would never mourn with those who mourn, we would never experience the sobering, tutoring process of loss, and we would not experience empathy for those who struggle or who suffer pain or injustice or abuse.
On the other hand, to me being of good cheer as found in the 16th chapter of the book of John means possessing a grounded, calm sense of peace, laced with hope, that is pretty constant in both times of celebration as well as times of deep sorrow, fear, confusion, anger or suffering. It enables us to act positively and calmly and effectively to navigate those struggles in our own lives and to assist others with more open eyes and hearts.
Good cheer dwells comfortably with and deals peaceably and carefully with the reality of a far from perfect existence and the loss of dreams. Choosing to be happy too often tries to pretend that those imperfections and losses should be ignored or glossed over, which, I believe, can actually prevent our spiritual growth.
So, with the grace of God, I will not "choose to be happy" but I do hope to be "of good cheer".

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Just because it seems like a good idea here doesn't mean it makes sense there.

For Americans in particular, life in a global Church means realizing that just because something seems a no-brainer here doesn’t mean it plays out that way everywhere.”

~John J. Allen, Jr., associate editor of the Catholic journal "Crux", at the end of his interesting article about current catholic debates in India.

True about my church too.

The sentence above is towards the end of the second part of the interesting article that you can find HERE.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Taking a Nap

Luke 8:
"Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples...
But as they sailed he fell asleep..."

Drawing by Ali Wright, shared with permission.  Thanks, Ali.

Good for me to remember at times when a nap is needful but my North American culturalized brain objects to my taking one.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

On writing fiction. From William Faulkner's 1950 Nobel Speech in Stockholm

...the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.

He must learn them again. He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid; and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed - love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice. Until he does so, he labors under a curse. He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, of victories without hope and, worst of all, without pity or compassion. His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars. He writes not of the heart but of the glands.

Until he relearns these things, he will write as though he stood among and watched the end of man. I decline to accept the end of man. It is easy enough to say that man is immortal simply because he will endure: that when the last dingdong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking.

I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet's, the writer's, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet's voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.

Saturday, July 11, 2015