What do you do when you don’t like someone you love?

Hilary Clinton quote: You don't walk away from someone you love

This week’s post isn’t really a post. It’s a question, and I’m hoping all of you reading this will leave a comment to share your insights on this question.

Many of us may have someone in our lives who we love, but we don’t like all the time or approve of their behaviour. What do you do in these cases?

A few weeks ago, I read a Dear Amy column. It was called, “Mother seeks cure for daughter’s affluenza”. It was about a mother who found her daughter’s lack of reciprocity, insensitivity and self-centred attitude appalling.

Amy quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson: “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived, and lived well.”

I’m not sure I agree with Emerson’s statement that our purpose in life is not to be happy, but I think there’s some truth in his belief that if you do the things he says should be our purpose, you will have a better chance of being happy.

Amy had some great advice for her reader. She said always make sure the person knows that you love them, even if you don’t like them right now or their behaviour. Loving without expectation, and through disappointment will liberate you from your harsh judgement and should lead to acceptance.

I’ll add one insight. Try to find common ground. In the world of behavioural psychology, there’s even a term for it, “pairing”. Focus on their strengths and what you do like about them.

And finally, never ever give up on them.

So dear readers, it’s your turn. What do you do when you don’t like someone you love?

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Take a leap of faith and start a new tradition

Picture of woman trying to lasso a manEvery four years, we get a unique and wonderful opportunity–an entire extra day in the finite cycle of time to do whatever we want.

Leap year traditions date back hundreds of years, the most famous of which is the Irish tradition of young women proposing to their often reluctant-to-wed sweethearts on February 29th. Many other Leap year traditions follow along this same theme of women taking matters in their own hands to find wedded bliss. Here are some modern twists to Leap Year traditions for you to consider starting:

  • Say a little prayer—this tradition dates back to ecclesiastical times where a member of the clergy would say a prayer for couples contemplating marriage in case the person being proposed to said “no”
  • Throw a Leap Year party—this was a chance for women to ask a man to dance, but you can just make it an excuse to throw a once-in-every-four years blow-out bash
  • Send a card—this tradition stems back to the days when women would send postcards to men as invitations to a Leap Year party—why not send a thank you note or note of appreciation to someone you know to make their day, or have a little fun and send a note from a secret admirer
  • Buy a new pair of gloves: Queen Margaret of Scotland in 1288 required that fines be levied if a marriage proposal was refused by the man. The fine was a pair of leather gloves, a single rose and a kiss (the gloves were meant to mask the ring finger of the woman)
  • Of course, if you’re single, and there’s someone in your sights, this is your chance to go for it!

I thought I would add a few of my own Leap Year traditions to the list:

  • Brew a special batch of Leap Year beer or if you’re a winemaker, Leap Year wine to imbibe throughout the year
  • Declare Feb 29th Reverse Roles day. If you have kids, make them the parents—tell them they can make all the decisions about what you eat and do that day. If you’re in a relationship, switch roles—whatever household duties you’d normally do, switch with your partner
  • And my personal favourite: lobby the government to declare Feb 29 a National Holiday so we can truly gain an extra day in the year to do whatever we want (who’s in?)This week’s #HappyAct is to adopt one of these Leap Year traditions or start your own. How will you celebrate Leap Year? I’m off to buy new leather gloves. Leave a comment.

Love in the workplace

Tomorrow, most of us will go back to work after some much deserved time off. Not a single person I asked this year had a new year’s resolution about work and yet global employee engagement is at an all time low.

A 2015 Gallup study showed just 13% of employees are engaged in their workforce. Gallup defines employee engagement as employees being involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace. The remaining 87% of employees are either not engaged or indifferent–or even worse, actively disengaged and potentially hostile to their organizations.

What if we had more love in the workplace? Not romantic love, but the supreme emotion of love that affects how we feel, think and motivates us to act.

One leadership expert, Mark Crowley thinks love is the answer. In his Fast Company post, “Why engagement happens in employees hearts, not minds, Crowley says while traditionally using the word “love” in the context of the workplace has been taboo, when people feel cared for, nurtured and growing they will serve the organization well.

Another fascinating thing Crowley discovered in his research is “while people used to derive their greatest sense of happiness from time spent with family and hobbies, how satisfied workers feel in their jobs now determines their overall happiness with life. This monumental shift means that job fulfillment has become essential to people everywhere.”

I think employee engagement boils down to this. Your pay cheque is what makes you show up for work every day. What you do with your time when you’re there depends on four things:

  1. the degree to which the work you do is aligned to your passion and strengths
  2. the relationships you have at work and the “love” factor Crowley talks about
  3. how much you believe and are committed to the purpose of the organization,
  4. and what I call the “negative quotient”: the degree to which negative factors at work affect your ability to succeed. This can be anything from office politics to feelings of anxiety around change or direction to not having access to tools or resources to help you do your job (what experts call being “enabled” when defining sustainable engagement)

Employee rewards are important for attracting and keeping good talent, but not necessarily motivating people. Only people and love can motivate people.

If you have five minutes, read his full post. There are some great basic nuggets in the article: companies only focused on profits without a compelling mission will inherently neuter employee engagement and the importance of recognizing people.

This week’s #HappyAct is to love your co-workers and the people at work. And if I don’t say it enough to my team: thank you for everything you do. I think it’s a miracle you show up at work every day and do the amazing work you do. I love you all.

Fifty shades of happy

This weekend is Valentine’s Day. It’s also the opening of Fifty Shades of Grey, the much anticipated screen version of E. L. James novel.

Some of my daughter’s friends read my blog, so bear with me as I indulge in a little wordplay to keep today’s blog G-rated. Today, we’re going to talk about developing your musical talents.

My journey into Fifty Shades of Grey started with disdain. I had heard the book was poorly written and just one musical scene after another, so I had no interest in reading it.

Then one cottage weekend I got curious. I watched as all my friends, even the guys were seduced under its covers. One by one they picked it up, ran their fingers over the pages, and became breathless as they read it in earnest. Hmmm, time to see what all the fuss was about.

I have to admit, I was surprised. I fell in love with all three books and not for the reasons you are probably thinking.

Sure the musical scenes were fun, a bit repetitive maybe, but what I found really interesting about the books were they tapped into a fundamental conflict of women in today’s society. As young women we are taught Victorian values of chasteness and purity. As human beings, we are creatures of desire, passion, and love. To me, the brilliance of James’ novel is her portrayal of the struggle of the main character as she disputes Victorian values and embraces her musical talents while seeking to understand her own limits and desires.

I’d also like to say a few words in James’ defence on the writing. Personally, I think the books are well written. Any writer that is able to lure you into their world and keep you hostage there so you are compelled to keep reading the next chapter or page in my mind is a good writer. The characters are also interesting and if you had kept reading, there’s intrigue and action with helicopter crashes, car chases, and more. I also think it’s brilliant how James finished her third novel.

Say what you might, it’s hard to argue with success. More than $100 million in book sales and the 56 million YouTube views and counting for the movie trailer.

Love or hate it, this week’s #HappyAct is to tie a few shades on: read the book, go see the movie (although I hear some of the initial reviews panned it) or create your own fifty shades of happy this Valentine’s Day weekend by spicing it up with your partner. May you make beautiful music together.

Love the one you’re with

 

Husband and wife
Valentine’s selfie

I was watching Modern Family the other night, still one of the best sitcoms on TV, and there was a great line. “You fall in love with this extraordinary person, and then after twenty years of marriage, find yourself married to an ordinary person.” I think this is so true.

I have some friends who aren’t particularly happy in their marriages. Actually, the funny thing is I’m not sure they’re unhappy, they’re just not enthralled with their partner any more. Chock it up to boredom, or just 20 years of living with the same person, but somewhere along the way, they’ve stopped seeing the things that attracted them to their partner and have forgotten why they love them.

Part of the problem is we’re sold a bill of goods when we get married.  According to movies and magazines, the fairy tale romance is followed by a storybook wedding and the happy ever after ending. It’s no coincidence that romantic comedies end when the couple kiss, instead of on their tenth or twentieth wedding anniversary.

Other cultures don’t subscribe to this fantasy view of marriage. Last year we visited Tanzania and had some interesting discussions about true love and marriage. Our guide told us he didn’t believe in true love and that in Tanzania, marriage is seen as a partnership. Other cultures believe in arranged marriages.

Crosby Stills Nash sang, “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.” This week’s Happy Act on Valentine’s Day weekend is to love the one you’re with. Look at your partner and make a mental list of what made you fall in love with them.  Kiss them like it was the first time you kissed them.  Tell them all the reasons you love them. Love the one you’re with.