Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Why Birthdays are Bad for Your Health

Today is my birthday. Yep, I’m writing this at 32,000 feet heading to San Francisco and I celebrated with a glass of tonic water and a tapas box. But driving to the airport this morning I was startled when my husband called, sang happy birthday and then asked, “so, how does it feel to be 58?” Really? Am I that old? Well, technically the answer is yes. My carbon form has traversed this planet for 58 years along with millions of others; eating, sleeping, playing, working. If we count the days, I’ve probably been here longer than most people. But why count the days? Seriously, paying too close attention to your age is bad for your health.

Okay this is a little tongue-in-cheek but the studies of Ellen Langer on aging and mindset are amazing. She believes that some of our physical limitations of age are as much or more a part of the mind as they are of the body. Her studies place participants in situations that replicate what life was like 20-30 years prior. For a week they talk and live as though it was 1984. The results are lower blood pressure, better circulation and flexibility and even improved vision. All because the participants stopped living their age.

We all have concepts of age. That is why so many of us hate approaching milestone birthdays because all we can think about is aging. When we are continuously reminded of our age, we begin to act and feel that way, becoming more cautious because we fear getting hurt. Eventually our beliefs become our reality.

Aging is for the young, let’s face it. When you want to drive you can’t wait to be 17. Others can’t wait to vote at 18 or drink at 21 (okay, legally). Then all the rush to get older stops or at least it should, unless you really want an AARP card or Medicare.

Let’s face it, our bodies will remind us that we are aging, they don’t need any help. So what if we only celebrated birthdays but didn’t count them? How old would you be? How old would you feel? Counting birthdays doesn’t mean anything. Meaning is not found in the amount of days in your life, but the amount of life in your days.

So for me, today is a reason to have fun. I’m glad I’m here. But I’m not going to spoil it by counting the years. Nope I’m just going to enjoy today.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Live Life on the Peaks

Happiness is not a subject near and dear to my heart. It's not that I'm against happiness, I tend to be a very happy guy. But happiness is not something I pursue. Anyone who consistently reads my writing know that I believe happiness  is a positive effect of pursuing individual greatness, but not the goal in itself.

However, though I don’t focus on happiness many people think I’m the ultimately happy guy who never looks at the dark side of life. Last week I was talking with a friend and she was opining that “on the journey of life you have to experience both the peaks and the valleys.” I agreed, but countered that “just because I experience the valleys on the journey of life doesn’t mean I have to stop and build my house there.”

This past weekend I had the privilege of attending a positive psychology summit at the University of Pennsylvania. It was attended by some of the smartest and most accomplished people I know. Dr. Ed Deiner spoke about happiness and revealed some studies that if you are super happy, you might not achieve as much as someone else who might be moderately happy. (Of course if you are depressed you might not accomplish much either.) Afterword I tried to pursue the point, but he deftly dodged it. However, his point was made. Some of the most prominent people in history struggled with their dark side and used it as a spring-board to creativity and success. It’s important to note that most of them didn’t wallow in their dark side, but acknowledged it and used it.

In the journey of life all of us experience peaks and valleys. However by living in the valleys we close ourselves off from the good side of life. Yes, it is important to experience the highs and lows, but since we all have a choice, why not build our homes on the highs? We can do that by enjoying the peak moments more, exploring them and learning how we can repeat them and treasuring them each time they occur. Then, with confidence we can experience and even explore the valleys, but in time move out and back up to the peaks. So the question remains, where do you want to build your house?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Don't Fight Busyness, Elevate It.


Recently whenever I ask someone how they are doing I hear variations of “crazy busy,” “so busy I can’t think,” or “I’m slammed.” Frankly I’m tired of hearing it. I just read an HBR blog on this busyness syndrome and how to fight it. Honestly, I don’t want to fight busyness because that’s a losing battle, but I want to change the focus.

Think about it. All of us are busy; busy creating a life, loving others, doing our job, or we are busy living. So what? The first definition of busy I found is “actively or fully engaged or occupied.” Hey wait? That’s the way I want to live my life! I hope I can describe every day that way. But most of us mean the 2nd and 4th definitions “overcrowded or cluttered with detail,” “crowded with or characterized by much activity.” But honestly even those don’t sound too bad.

The real challenge is that saying “I’m crazy busy” has become a badge of honor. We brag about how much work we have to do and how there is no time for our lives. Perhaps it makes us feel important. Really? We want to live like this? I don’t.

And more to the point, this busyness syndrome can get in the way of achieving anything. Many people point to their calendars and inboxes to justify how they can’t get another thing done. But I wonder what they are doing. I meet plenty of busy people. A few of them actually accomplish something.

Recently I worked with a multinational corporation that wanted to change the dialogue around performance reviews for their employees. They realized that most employees arrived for their year-end reviews armed with all of the projects they worked on during the year and how hard they worked. This company decided to look at “business impact” instead of activity. Instead of only talking about how many projects, tasks, or meeting occurred, the question became “what was the impact of this work on the business?”  It radically changed the conversation and it changed the mindset.

Think about how we would reset our lives if we looked at impact. If you schedule time with your kids, ask yourself what impact it had on them, or you? It might make you put your smart phone down to have a greater impact. Or that writing project you are working on? Did you spend a couple of hours at your desk, or did you accomplish something, actually get some pages written? What was the impact of the time spent working? We can even use this gauge in a more dramatic fashion and ask the question, what impact has my life made?

We are all busy. It’s called living. But being busy can be a smoke screen full of sound and fury and signifying nothing (with apologies to the Bard). By changing the litmus test of our lives we can move from crowded calendars to meaningful calendars. If we concern ourselves with impact our meetings, dates, even playtimes take on more significance. And finally if we live our lives focused on our impact on others and the impact we leave, we will dramatically change our world. Isn’t that better than just being busy? 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Room of Genius

Have you ever been in a place where you are overwhelmed by how smart and dedicated all the other people in the room seem? Have you had the joy of being so much in awe of what others are doing for the world that you can’t help asking more and more questions? Have you ever thought at the end of a day that you can’t believe how lucky you are to be among such amazing people? If you have had this experience, you have been in a room of genius.

This summer I attended the Canadian Positive Psychology Association Conference in Ottawa, Canada. Approximately 400 people arrived from across the globe to learn about positive psychology and consider the difference it could make in the world. From education to politics to workplace we learned and debated how happiness, well-being, and even greatness could transform lives. And there was no shortage of amazing people.

To a person the participants engaged in critical dialogue to understand how this science could make the world better for everyone. They were nurses, psychologists, life coaches, consultants and interested individuals. Each of them spoke about how they were trying to bring new messages of positive psychology into their domains. It was powerful and it was intimidating.

A little while after the conference an op ed piece in the NY Times opined about the necessity of having two of more individuals to create genius. Historically, “genius” was believed to be in each of us; it is the god within us as we are born. But the op ed proposed that we need others to challenge our thinking and bring our best to light. After this summer’s conference, I agree. My mind is still whirling with the ideas and suggestions from those few days.

Alone we have our thoughts, but together we have ideas, action and change. We lean on each other and learn from each other. We challenge, cajole, debate, edit, and refine ideas and then we dream, plan and achieve our dreams together.
I was astounded how my thinking was lifted and my ideas were challenges… and it felt good. Who is in your room of genius?

Monday, June 2, 2014

Let's Get Rid of Work/Life Balance

Have you ever tried to balance water in one hand and a fish in the other and make it work? Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? That’s the same craziness as saying we need work/life balance. One really can’t exist without the other and they are intimately connected. I’ve written about work/life balance before, but we need a different way to think about our lives; one that makes sense for an integrated life.

What’s wrong with the whole concept of work/life balance? It is an incorrect dichotomy. Work is an integral part of life and cannot be separated from it. Work, when seen as a vocation, gives purpose to life and provides meaning. We don’t get meaning from lounging in a beach chair sipping a margarita (as nice as that sounds). But we do get meaning from adding to the greater measure of humanity by providing service, information, art or material goods.   

At the same time we also need moments of pleasure, when we revel in the work we’ve done, meet friends, celebrate our accomplishments and free our mind of work. We take time to enjoy physical pursuits, outlets which allow us to stretch our limbs and allow the sweat to cleanse and renew us.

Yet both the work and the play have their limits. If we over indulge in either of them, we know it. If we continue over-indulging too long, we burnout or crash. This is why we need a new concept of balance to understand how we get the most out of life.

The ultimate balance is between intensity and rest. Whether pursuing work or play, we know that balancing the intensity of focused attention to a goal necessitates we provide ourselves with rest to continue later with the same intensity. This is the balance many of us lack.

Our lives are consumed by the siren song of technology that calls us to continuously check our messages long past the time when anyone should be reasonably sending us any. But we create our own vicious circle by replying and causing the other to continue the communication. There is no rest, there is no downtime.

Somehow believing we are getting away by pursuing pleasure or physical activity, we push ourselves at the gym, or meeting others without a moments rest and then we check back in whenever we can. What is wrong with us?

Balancing intensity with rest is of tantamount importance to great individuals from professional athletes to CEOs of major companies, but it also applies to all of us. How long can we pursue this intensity? Our abilities peak for about 90 minutes. Then we need to step away and give ourselves an opportunity to regroup.  Studies show that when individuals or companies create a “90 minute intensity – 10 minute resting activity” throughout a day productivity climbs and more is accomplished in less time. Try it. You will find yourself more productive.

Yet, even without using the 90/10 equation we need to think about our intensity vs rest ratio whether we are working or playing. We will find ourselves focused more when doing whatever task we choose and enjoying the rest more.
So, let’s get the concept of work/life balance out of our heads. That’s over-used, incorrect and even dangerous thinking. We need to balance intensity, whether it’s at work or at play, with time for rest. Disciplining ourselves to focus intently and then step away allows us to both recover and pursue our passions whatever they may be. So, how is your intensity/rest balance?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Living a Life of S(s)ignificance

Over the weekend I heard of two college commencements both of which exhorted students to "live a life of significance." How that was expounded on I really don't know, but the phrase stuck in my head. So since we are exhorting our young people to live this way, the question rebounds in our direction, are you and I living a life of significance?

If you are like me, the first question that arises is what is meant by a life of significance? Though there is a book by this title, I didn't find it really enlightened me. A life of significance could be a life of fame, or notoriety, or stature, but I was pretty sure that's not how they meant it in the commencement addresses. So, I thought I'd look it up.

The definition of significance is about "having meaning, importance." Initially I thought about the majority of people who attend my workshops on personal greatness who have not specifically thought about meaning. But the more I think about it, I've realized (once again) that I am wrong. All of us have significance in one another's lives. Since we live in a world where we interact with each other (a "hive") we impact each other every day and foster or degrade individuals along the way.

I have encountered many people in my journeys about the globe who in a smile, a gesture, a comment, or an action assure me that I am a fellow human being deserving of respect and care. I've also encountered other people who treat me as refuse and toss aside me and anyone else who gets in their way to achieve or own something. Both examples have significance in our lives, just by the way that they live. This is significance with a small "s." I happens everyday whether we think about it or not.

Additionally I believe there is significance with a capital "S." There are individuals who think carefully about their footprint on this planet and how they want to touch the lives of their fellow human beings. Some choose to live significantly though parenting, some though their work, others through their attitude. But they are conscious about their Significance. I find these people to be powerful examples of lives lived fully with passion and vigor.

So, either way we live, mindfully or on autopilot, we have meaning in the lives of others. However the choice is ours as to what our S(s)ignificance is. What will yours be?

Monday, May 5, 2014

Greatess Is Not a Zero Sum Game


Many years ago I walked into my cousin's bedroom and saw a new trophy on his bookcase. "What did you win?" I inquired. "Nothing," he said. "That was just for being a part of the team." I never forgot that moment and ranted for years against this way of rewarding kids and adults, but now, I think I'm wrong.

Yesterday I read an article in the New York Times where Alfie Kohn opined against my old way of thinking. He noted that many adults believe that giving kids trophies for showing up would make them soft, deprive them of grit and make them lazy. Our mindset was that in order to teach kids resilience, you have to make life tough. Some of us think that kids who receive praise for everything will never make it in the “real” world. Why not? Because we want them to go through the same suffering we had to?
Life is suffering. That’s not just a Buddhist concept, but a simple awareness that in order for life to be lived, we have to struggle and work. Kids realize this as well as we do. They know very well that they did not come in first place in a race even if we give them a medal. But what the medal does communicate is that they are valuable just for trying.
Of course I’m not saying to just give people everything. But to deprive both adults and children of praise just because we believe it will make them soft is stupid. 60 percent of American workers would like to have some recognition of the work they’ve done. It won’t make them soft, but it might make them realize how valuable they are and that they can have pride in their work. But when I speak to managers about why they won’t give more praise, they say “then they’d expect it.” Yes, imagine that. Expecting thanks for a job well done. (And this applies just as much at home as it does in the workplace.)
This notion of rewarding only the very best has made its way into corporations in very insidious ways. Most corporations have ranking systems and bell curves so that some employees are on top, some in the middle and others at the bottom regardless of how they performed. Managers are forced to fill all three buckets. This is ridiculous. If the hiring managers do their job, they are bringing on people who are talented and motivated to do their best. So why can’t everybody be great?
Currently I’m working with a major international firm that has done away with ranking and calibration. Employees are only evaluated on the work they do and how it helps the business and each other. In this scenario you could have a large number of employees receiving top rewards. Why not? Greatness is not a zero sum game. I am not diminished if you are great.
What finally clicked and turned my thinking around was imagining the environment created by never telling adults or children what they’ve done right or by ranking them against each other so there is only one winner. Any student who has taken Psychology 101 knows that the human response to a threat is fight, flight, or freeze. You don’t learn that way. But by creating an environment where everyone can win, in their own way, you create an environment where, as researcher Barbara Fredrickson describes it, individuals can broaden their capacity to learn and build on their skills. It’s an environment where everyone can be great, and that is not a zero sum game.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Time for the "Slow Connection" Movement

Recently I purchased a new phone. Well, I really didn’t buy it. With the upgrade I had coming, the discounts at the store and a special sale I got it free for a renewed contract. Weird huh? Then, since I switched my brand of phone, I spent the better part of a week uploading apps and syncing my new phone to all the devices in my house, car and office. After that I continued focusing on the phone tweaking the ringtones (James Bond), culling the contacts and finding more apps. And when I finally looked up from the phone I realized I lost more than a week of connecting with friends and family. Sad to say that I’m not the only one caught up in the digital world. That has to stop. The challenge is we live in a world that loves their phones and computers and that hurts all of us.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a Luddite by any stretch of the imagination. I have a Mac Book Pro, VAIO PC, Microsoft Surface and Nokia smart phone. I run my business digitally from any where at any time. And now I’m realizing the problem that can be. My research and life work is about bringing out the best in people. But when I am so focused on my phone or gadgets I forget the people around me and think that the world resides in my hands or at my finger tips. It doesn’t. There is nothing like a real connection to another human being.

Sadly we are a society moving in the direction of disconnection. Though we have a greater ability to reach out and touch someone, we do it more and more electronically with short messages and emoticons. These don’t create real human connection. Studies indicate that the more time we spend on electronic devices, no matter our age, the more our ability to read non-verbal communication weakens. We gradually lose the capability to discern facial expressions and body language. That’s scary.

A few years ago in Italy the “slow food” movement was begun. It was an attempt to regain the art and magic of dining by actually preparing food and taking time to enjoy it with others. It was begun in direct opposition to the “fast food” mentality. So I propose that we start a “slow connection” movement. This movement would emphasize taking time to be with our children, talk to our spouses, have dinner conversations that lingered, listen to the stories of our wise seniors and to linger over the nuances in our loved one’s reply, or watch the wonder on our child’s face as they experience something for the first time.

We live in a generation that could be the first to be utterly disconnected from those around us even though we share the same space. There is a place for electronics and digital connectivity, but its importance pales in comparison with face to face time with other people. Take time for a “slow connection.” Call up the person you’ve been meaning to speak with and arrange a lunch, a walk or a date. And remember when you are with them… turn off your phone.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Here Comes the Judge

Can you hear it? Does it get louder every time you try doing something creative and new? You know what I mean, the thought that says "you're not good enough," or "this work is crap, no one will ever read it or want to see it." That's the Judge. Many people I've spoken with struggle with these thoughts that hinder or stop any kind of creativity or new actions. They agree that when they try something they can hear this voice inside their head condemning their attempts or worse yet, laughing at them. It's time to bring the Judge out of hiding and deal with him.

I've dealt with the Judge all my life, in every new endeavor, every new creative effort. There is this thought that my work is never good enough, people don't want to see it and that I'm wasting my time. Sadly I've noticed that the Judge has not grown quieter over the years even after three books and other successes. It seems that he is now emboldened and he has taken on a new tack: "nothing you create will live up to what you've already done so you might as well quit while you are ahead." Sound familiar?

I'm use to the Judge, the nagging voice telling me to "get it right." I even would say to people "I am my toughest critic." Midway through last year I let the Judge win. Telling myself and others I had writer's block, I stopped writing anything. I stopped being creative in my work and bascially just went with the status quo. But I'm also aware that when we engage in negative behaviors we do so because we gain something from them. So I had to ask myself the question, what do I get out of listening to the Judge? And the answer came back loud and clear, safety. When there is nothing new or creative no one can critize or challenge me. I can't underperform precisely because I'm not in the arena. And so for about six months, the Judge succeeded.

So, for those of us who have the Judge in our lives how do we eliminate or at least control him? Create an advocate.

For me, there was tremendous clarity about what I gained by not writing or creating. I gained safety. But what did I lose? I lost the joy and spontaneity of creativity, the exhilaration of the process of creating. I love the feel and sound of new thoughts and the possiblity of the worlds they hold. And I lost the moment when even one person resonated with something I wrote or said.

That's too much to lose.

And so I began thinking of how I feel when I create. I remembered what it is like to let loose. I savored even picking up my fountain pen and filling it with ink before writing (yes, I still use a fountain pen). And I starting hearing the voice of the "Advocate." The Advocate is the voice that encouages me to let go and trust my instinct. The Advocate laughs, as I do, at the sheer joy in creativity. The Advocate comforts me when the fear of something new creeps up by reminding me how often I've been there and have chartered the rough waters successfully. Now I'm starting to realize how loud the Advocate's voice can be.

So I don't know if I'll ever banish the Judge. The old curmudgeon does make me aware of my work and pushes me to be better. But I want to allow the Advocate to speak and speak loudly on my behalf. Because there is nothing like being creative. It unleashes the best of us. What we have to do is overpower the Judge.

Monday, January 20, 2014

New Year's Resolutions Are Not Dead Yet

The day has passed. Yes the world-wide day when most of us have abandoned our New Year's resolutions. At this point, we don't even look longingly back on what "might have been" but hope for better things next year. But wait! There is hope for us yet. Those longed for dreams of weight loss, exercise, writing, new work etc. still have a heart beat and can be resurrected. And all it takes is a little rethinking.

New Year's gives me hope of all the things I can accomplish. An unblemished canvas, it stretches languidly off into the 365 day distance with promises of a new start. Yet a mere 20 days later and the canvas seems grittier, dirtier and the few brush strokes on it lack the importance of impending brilliance. So what can we do?
1. Stop looking at the entire year (or the next five)

For many of us the daunting task of remaking our lives or at least some part of them shuts us down. Looking at the height we wish to achieve or the goal to accomplish just seems to much. So, the first thing some of us need to do is stop looking at the entire goal. Of course it's important to identify where we are going and why, but once that's done many of us have to get the larger goal out of our mind because it will paralyze us.

2. Choose the one thing that makes the biggest difference.

Dr. David Cooperrider asks the question "what's the smallest thing you can do to make the biggest difference?" That's a powerful question because I know I normally go for the biggest thing I can do. But Cooperrider is right. If we focus on something small, we can accomplish big things. We must break our goal down and down and down until we understand some of the behaviors that lead to that goal. For example it might mean getting up 30 minutes earlier to walk or write. Rerouting our trek to work so we don't walk by the Dunkin Donuts shop. Or just taking 10 minutes to look at the sky and think. What's the one behavior, the one thing we want to focus on?

3. Only work on the "one thing"

The greatest athletes in the world only focus on improving 1% at a time. According to Dr. Greg Wells they concentrate on one movement, one muscle, one action until they get it just right and then they move on. For us, it's about focusing on our "one thing" and getting it right. Focusing on our "one thing" can change behavior long term and help us achieve larger goals.

So, it's not over yet. The canvas of the year is yet to be painted. We just need to remember, it's just one brush stroke at a time.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

There is No Such Thing as Free Choice

For years I've defended the notion that we have free choice at every moment in all of the decisions that we make. Just this past week, I facilitated a workshop on "Achieving Personal Greatness" and I convinced the 30 professionals in the room of the free choice they always have. Now I realize I'm wrong. However, knowing that we have no free choice makes a huge difference if we are to succeed at almost anything.

For example, a minute after I started writing this blog I realized that today is recycling day. So, let me ask you, do I have a free choice as to whether I take out the recycling or not? The answer is no, my choice is not free. Every choice comes at a cost and when we understand the cost and the benefits that is when we truly have full control of our lives.

To use my example, the recycling has piled up in my basement since Christmas and is impeding clear access to the basement door. The recycling truck sometimes comes very early in my neighborhood. However it is raining right now and I'm comfortable in my room. Other factors include the societal imperative to recycle to save the environment. Also I have my personal standards of efficiency and order. On the other hand, I'm not dressed yet and I'm comfortable at my desk. However, you might still be thinking I'm free to make a choice. No, I'm not. I have to pay a price for that choice and therein lies my power.

If I choose to stay at my desk, I pay the cost of an impassable basement for at least another week. If I choose to take out the recycling I pay the cost of an uninterrupted morning at my writing desk. On the other side of the decision if I take out the recycling I gain peace of mind and my basement back again. If I stay at my desk I gain a finished blog and some personal journal time. Hence, there are costs to every decision and benefits to every decision, they are not free.

Why does this matter? When we make any decision, but especially life decisions we can often feel we are not "free" to make the decision because of society, family, previous commitments or peer pressure. Many times people say to me "I can't pursue my goal because of ..."  Essentially we end up blaming someone or something else as to why we can't or won't do something. That's where we err.

When we blame someone or something for why we can't do something we give up the most powerful ability we have as rational human beings: our power of choice. The choice might not be fair, or balanced; the pressure on us might be extreme to choose one way or another, but we always have a choice in everything we do. It is just that the choice will not be free. We have to decide if it is worth the cost.

But that is what is so freeing and so frightening. Once we realize the cost of choice and that we have ultimate control then we are totally responsible for our life. That is immensely empowering.

So, the next time you have to make a decision, think carefully about it. What is the cost you pay for your choice? What are you letting go, or putting aside; what value are you upholding against another? And, of course, what is the benefit you are gaining and how does it stack up against the cost? Knowing that your life is directed by you is an amazing and scary thing.  But at least you know your life is yours because of your choices.

As for the recycling, I took it out.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Anatomy of a Selfie

2013 brought us the height of the "selfie," a self-shot photo of oneself in a specific place, doing something interesting, or just making a face. The ultimate online scream "LOOK AT ME." Selfie even placed among the most popular words of 2013 and also one of the most argued about. Yet if we look beneath the surface of this simple act of self-portraiture, lies a culture heading in the wrong direction.

The main focus of the selfie is ME. There is no doubt about that. I am the center, I am the subject, verb, adjective, adverb in this photographic sentence. All that remains around me is commentary. Look how well I am doing. Look how much fun I'm having (and you're not). Look how good I look. Even, look how stupid I look. But the main point is ME. If this were only an assignment for a single class in self-confidence, self-awareness or self-photography it might lie passively online consumed by friends and family and quickly forgotten. Yet I believe there is a stronger tie to where our culture is going and this is only a symptom of a larger sickness.

Western societies right now are in the grip of a weltanschauung (or world view) of ME. Walking through a bookstore yesterday (yes, there are a few left) I noted that the self-help section was prominently displayed and very extensive. Yet there is not a "world-help" or "community-help" section. We scream about individual rights and that is important, but what about the rights of the society? We walk down the street in our own selfie way expecting others to move or acknowledge us, yet there is not that same respect in return.

Small breakdowns begin to occur when ME is the focus. Why should I wait for a red light when I have to be somewhere? Why should I turn off my cell phone on the plane because I'm important and I might receive an important call (or even a not important call)? Why should I obey the law when it's not convenient for me?

A weltanschauung of ME means that society is present for my benefit and those within it are meant to assist me (translate this to "serve me") when I need them to. It means that I will not give up or weaken on anything I believe even for a greater good to the community (note our lack of congress). Laws become guidelines but mostly for others if I can skirt them and not get caught (the spike in drivers running red lights). And mostly life becomes a striving for my success even at the detriment of others (Enron and Madoff).

We live in a world where we have to move together, live together and survive together. Of course, history presents us with plenty of evidence of the danger of only focusing on the welfare of the community to the detriment of the individual. The key is a balance of focus on the interest of society and the interest of the individual. When we work toward balance everyone benefits, not just the few.

So the next time you want to take a selfie, ask someone to take it for you. Someone is always willing to take a few seconds and snap the shot. It only takes a moment to be vulnerable enough to ask for help. And you will have made a connection and possibly a friend.