David J. Kearney

March 10, 2015

How to Think, Not What to Think

Filed under: Personal — David J. Kearney @ 1:06 pm

This text is from a Toastmasters speech that I gave on April 9, 2015.


How to Think, Not What to Think

Recently, a light bulb went on and I have been able to connect some dots that weren’t overly obvious to me before.

I am going to start this story by going back to my childhood. Growing up I was a normal kid…got dirty, climbed trees…fell out of trees, played with matchbox cars and legos, struggled through the change of life and those awkward years coming into adulthood. However, throughout my entire childhood through adolescence I was never made to feel like I had to do things to make my parents happy, extended family happy, to follow tradition, to fit in, to make straight A’s, to keep up with the Jones’…to be “normal”. My parents gave me advice, but never told me what to do (within reason of course), who to hang out with, what music to listen to, what college to go to…or that I even had to go to college, my beliefs on religion, my political views, that I had to like football (being born and raised in Pittsburgh, it’s almost a have-to), my thoughts on various lifestyles, the people I dated, the woman I married, to the house I bought, to the jobs I have had. Was this a hands-off approach? Did my parents really not care what I did? Since I have turned out fairly well-adjusted and fiercely independent, I have to believe that my parents did not think that everything they did or all of the beliefs or disbeliefs they had would be a natural fit for me…they saw me as a human…individual…a little person…not just a childlike creature. Did they have some influence? Sure. Did they tell me what to do? No. I always felt loved and cared for, but never smothered and always treated as a human. I do recall hearing the comment, “I can’t make that decision for you”, on many occasions.

I saw a quote a month or so ago that stated “Teach Your Children How to Think, Not What to Think”. It was one of these pictures…meme things, that had a nice picture of an adult and child with a sunset in the background. That resonated with me deeply… It resonated with me more so than it would have than if I didn’t have a child.

This is how I am approaching the way I am raising my son, which I never really thought much about…I was just doing what I did…what I knew how to do…more or less by instinct. I didn’t necessarily do this on purpose. My son gives me his opinion and I don’t immediately react or judge. Caleb tells me what he thinks about school, people, things we do together, his friends, and world events. I do not pre-judge, but only to give him different angles to look at what we are talking about, not the What to Think. This is the How to Think…I don’t push my way or my baggage on my son, because I may not be right…about anything. I can only give him different perspectives and allow him to think, stand, and be his own man.

Having reflected on the quote, how my son and I relate…I now fully see that my parents gave me enough information to know how to make decisions…Real. Life. Decisions. Not to worry about what other people thought…the strength to carry my head high and make the decision that is right For Me, especially during ridicule and uncertainty. 40+ years later, I am the man I am because I am self-reliant due to the ways that I was taught how to think…how to look at things from multiple perspectives, how to be open to anything that is outside of the way I live. I may not always be right…but I am always ME.

Putting this into the bigger picture, we can be creatures of habit and rely on the ways that have contributed to where we are now…so we just keep doing what we’ve always done, acting the way we have always acted, feeling the way we have always felt, and responding the way we have always responded…to situations, circumstances, events. From expectations that have been put upon us as a child to where we find ourselves today. But, chances are that the way you have always thought of the world probably won’t be the Game-Changer that gets you to your next self.

The realization that it is up to you and you alone to use what is in you…not based on what someone else wants you to do, thinks you should do, has told you to do, or wants to persuade you to do. Unfortunately, there is much of that…too much of that. Ways that we become influenced.

As a starting point, allow yourself to just be, to just be you, to just do nothing when your habits tell you to do something. To do the opposite of what you always do. Feel how that feels and that more often than not, there is a better way to think compared to what you have always thought. Do this a couple of times…at first it will be very uncomfortable. When someone says something that gets you emotionally charged, let it go. When someone says “I need you now” (maybe a child, a spouse, a co-worker)…don’t be so quick to jump into gear, jump through hoops, fly off the handle, or be Johnny/Jane-On-The-Spot. We all have these things that we automatically do sometimes that we really need to reflect on and weigh in on whether it is necessary to do. The how to think about this situation…not what to think. For example, my son will talk-back to my wife and I on occasion. I pull back and try to understand why Caleb may have said what he said the way he said it. If the topic warrants, I talk him through what he said so I can understand his perspective. Just because he spoke back…this doesn’t automatically make him wrong. And I have to remember that he is 7 and that he doesn’t mean what he says translated into adult language. This also teaches me how to think…how to think as Caleb. This puts a much different texture on how we are relating to each other.

You know you better than anyone else…not your mom, you dad, your spouse, your doctor, your spiritual advisor, your mentor, your coach, you name them. It is you that you need to learn to be a home with, at peace with, in love with, sometimes at war with, to rely on…to be patient with.

Popular thought does not equal truth…search for how to think…not what to think…what’s right for you.


Don’t Live in the Town of Indifference

Filed under: Personal — David J. Kearney @ 12:19 pm
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This was a Toastmasters speech that I gave on February 19, 2015.

Don’t Live in the Town of Indifference

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” Indifference signifies a lack of emotion, caring, and interest. You can examine to Love, Hate and the opposite emotion of indifference and realize that to live in Indifference, you have no way to change, no road to get you moving to the next town, to the next state, to a higher place.

Let’s talk about living elsewhere, the place of hate or the place of love.

If we are to speak of love, we must also consider hate. Love is easy, digestible, and something everyone romanticizes about. Hate is dark, disturbing, and misunderstood…and something that folks generally steer away from.

Some things have happened over the past few months…I have traveled by running, cycling, with a little bit of walking over 600 miles. I have lost some weight, and brought my blood pressure and cholesterol down a bit. I still have a way to go, but I will get there. My typical time to wake in the morning is 4:30 AM. Don’t get me wrong, I love to feel rested, but going to bed at 10 and getting up at 4:30 doesn’t give me that rested feeling. Most folks feel awful getting up more or less in the middle of the night. It just isn’t natural.

I was on the treadmill one morning around 5:30 and on an intense run. I thought what got me here…every day for the past couple of months…to run like there was no tomorrow. Was I insane? What was I running from? To? Was I motivated by my health issues? The BMI chart has my categorized as obese. Was I inspired by an upheaval to my home life? What inspired me, motivated me, and made me intensely run on a treadmill for up-to 95 minutes? Running on a treadmill, although physical, is a mental game too, especially for that duration. I gotta say…it really boiled down to hate. I want to discuss the passion and emotion I believe I felt…and it certainly wasn’t love. The hate for how I felt physically, mentally, and emotionally. I hated certain situations, circumstances. I will circle back to love momentarily…so bear with me.

I have been examining, specifically hate, for the last 6 months or so and I have come to find that it has been one of the visceral fires that has burned to keep me moving forward…not only recently, but for a good part of my life when I was jumping very high hurdles or attempting to. Is it that I have a Type-A personality? Is it that I am a workaholic? Is it that I am an obsessive compulsive? I have analyzed it and I know that when moving forward is something that I need to do I can do it with this emotion.

Hate in this context isn’t about a feeling toward other human beings; it is about having such strong feelings about moving yourself to get beyond where you are right now. Hate as found in the dictionary or even generally on the Internet is really a strong dislike of something…with more intense definitions here and there, but the definition I like the most is the one by Aristotle. Aristotle viewed hate as a desire for the annihilation of an object that is incurable by time. Time in and of itself was not going to get me in shape. Time in and of itself will not give anyone an education, professional accolades, and better home life, more money, a better job, etc. It would be nice if positive thinking, personal coaching, and self-improvement programs would fix everyone’s feeling of insecurity, desperation, and a deep desire to change, but sometimes for some people there needs to be a complete disgust for where they are at in order to change.

I was actually so intrigued by my feelings that I did a little bit of studying on the Neuroscience of Hatred. Yes…I actually did read some papers on the Neuroscience of Hatred and they, in fact, do exist and it is a thing. Love, passionate love, is so closely related to hate that there is a very small difference between how our brain reacts to either passion. One difference that was discovered by Neurobiologist Semir Zeki, of University College London’s Laboratory of Neurobiology…he states that judgment and reasoning are de-activated in large areas of the brain during love…so we become less than intelligent and rational, whereas only small areas are de-activated in hate. This tells me that there might be a more reasoned approach to moving forward if a situation is hated.

This information about hate is not to push aside love, but meant to convey that there is a place and time for both love and hate. Love for your friends, family, and significant other, love for your audience…the love of life, the green grass, the blue sky. And, although love can decrease our judgment and reasoning, love is patient and kind…even for the lack of and maybe due to this lack of judgment and reasoning.

With love or hate we can accomplish many things; we can begin to love the idea of changing our current state or hate the idea of staying where we are, but having either strong emotion focused on the same end result can move anyone to a better place. The line between Love and Hate is a fine one.

I was talking about this concept to some other folks. One couple, I believe, was a little shocked or offended that I would even utter the word hate as a positive tool. “Oh My…He Said the Word Hate” and mentioned to my wife that I have a hate problem. My wife wasn’t a big fan of the discussion either…to say the least. I was recently accused of coming across to others as too passionate. I think I am passionate at both…love and hate. Is that wrong? Co-workers mentioned I just might be on to something. My doctor, after seeing my exercise log and me talking with him said that I was able to constructively use my frustration, which not many people are able to do, and that I was more in-touch with my feelings than most people. Perhaps to the wrong people I might be taken out of context, but taking advantage of strong emotion to propel yourself forward and out of what you are in is the solution that can sustain you.

Living in the town of indifference is where no man should spend his day… that is unless you are indifferent to what’s for dinner; spaghetti or angel hair, soda or seltzer, bread or rolls.

What’s in you, can move you.

lhhs lh2

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