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After all, the Mayfield Library is here for you!
If you search the term “Facebook envy,” you will get more than 45,000 hits. There are even articles on how to cope with the envy that accompanies reading the posts of our ‘friends’ who are on vacations, in love, at fancy restaurants, and participating in other wonderful activities while we sit on our sofas in our sweat pants and eat potato chips.
And maybe all the types of social media do play a part in the general feeling of dissatisfaction that I often encounter. The list seems endless:
- We don’t make enough money.
- We’re not appreciated.
- Other people get more time off.
And maybe all of it is true. But we can get too focused on the bad parts of our lives and lose perspective. So keep in mind the following:
- (Spoiler Alert) You haven’t come across a roaming band of cannibals as poor Bob did last night in The Walking Dead.
- You are not an Oakland Raider.
- You are not the publicist for Carnival Cruises.
- You are probably not a customer service rep for Comcast. (If you are, I feel for you. You get all the hate and none of the appreciation.
And more seriously, when you really are down about your financial situation, go to this website and see how you rank in the world.
In his book, Happiness by Design: Change What You Do, Not How You Think, behavioral economist Paul Dolan talks about the problems of surveys. For example, in a survey that asked how much people liked their cars, those with more expensive vehicles tended to rate their cars more highly. Yet, when the same people were asked to rate their driving experiences, there was no significant difference between owners of expensive and cheaper cars. So when folks are thinking about their cars, they like them. But when they focus on their actual driving experience, which includes many things beside the car itself (traffic, weather, road conditions, the company, etc.), the actual car becomes less of a factor.
People are also terribly bad at predicting how happy or sad an experience or purchase will make them. Why? Because when you ask them about such things, all attention is on that one item. So I might say that a new house would make me a hundred times happier because that’s all I’m focusing on at that moment. But in reality, when I’m in the house, it will rapidly become one of a hundred things I have to attend to in any given day, and its significance will fade. Luckily, the same can be true of bad incidents. People might predict that they could never be happy if they became chronically ill or lost a limb, but that’s because they’re underestimating the impact of other parts of their lives if such a thing did happen.
For me, the message is that I need to monitor my attention. If I’m always focusing on the bad things around me, then I’ll miss the good things. If I’m looking at the times that people let me down, I’ll miss the times they were there for me. I’m not saying that we should be Pollyannas. After all, bad things will happen, and we’ll have to deal with them. But let’s not make them worse by attending so intently on the bad that we can’t see the good.
English as Second Language
My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey”
by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D.
It is about a neuroscientist who is very young (in her late 30’s) when she suffers a major stroke, and is a true story. Dr. Taylor has a unique perspective of the stroke and her recovery because she has studied the brain for many years, and she also eloquently describes and embraces the changes in her life after the stroke. I was a neuroscientist for 15 years before beginning to teach at Nashville State, so I related personally to her life pre-stroke and found myself re-evaluating parts of my life and the way I approach the world as I read her descriptions of learning to use the “other” (non-scientist) parts of her brain post-stroke.
Probably one of the most eye-opening moments in my life came one day when I was complaining about something at the junior high school where I taught. (It probably had something to do with my schedule. I hated when I had morning planning periods.) “I don’t know why the principal is picking on me,” I whined. “She wants to ruin my life.”
My friend answered. “She’s not picking on you. She doesn’t want to ruin your life. In fact, you probably didn’t even enter her mind when she putting the schedule together.”
I was not happy to hear that, and I added my friend to the list of people who were trying to ruin my life. But her words kept coming back to me. And finally, I had to agree. Did I really think I was so important that the principal changed an entire schedule around so that I would be miserable? Was I Superman and had mortal enemies who plotted my downfall at every turn?
As the saying goes, I realized most people were not against me. They were simply for themselves. At first, it was humbling, but then I began to feel liberated. After all, spending time looking for evil-doers every time I was unhappy really took up way too much time and energy. It was nice to let some of that go.
Also, once I stopped automatically blaming others for my unhappiness, I was able to spot the few who really did wish me harm. And get far far away from them.
Dean of Student Services
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese.
A fictional family saga. I enjoyed this book because it is elegantly written and showcases both the joyful and difficult aspects of life. Also, the author describes how culture affects the characters, and that is always interesting to me.
I spent most of the past weekend on YouTube. I can almost see you shaking your heads, unhappy that the Jolly Librarian has given up practicing piano for binge watching kitten videos.
But never fear! I have not given up on the keyboard. The videos were all to help me learn how to keep time. After our last class, I realized that I seemed to be the only one who really didn’t understand how fast or slow the notes were supposed to be. Most of the other folks in the class play other instruments or sing, and the one other person who doesn’t seems to have a good sense of rhythm (at least, according to what I hear our teacher say during their one-on-one time behind me.)
I’ve taught long enough to know that not every professor’s teaching style will match up every time with each student’s learning style. When that happens, it’s time to look for a different way to learn the material. So I checked out two books on music theory and read over the chapters on keeping time. Then I looked up every YouTube demonstration I could find. I am still having troubles, but it’s no longer as if the instructor is speaking in tongues.
Sometimes when we run into trouble in a class, we jump too quickly to blame: either the instructor or ourselves. But it just may be that we need to look at the subject in a slightly different way.