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Kings Mountain, North Carolina, United States
"A mind lively and at ease" is a blog by a first-generation Russian-Ukrainian immigrant Maria K. (Maria Igorevna Kuroshchepova). An engineer by education, an analyst by trade, as well as a writer, photographer, artist and amateur model, Maria brings her talent for weaving an engaging narrative to stories of life, fashion and style advice, book and movie reviews, and common-sense and to-the-point essays on politics and economy.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Big Little Change digest - March 2017

Weekly small change challenges

Week 1 - Say good bye to “but”.

Studies of language and how it impacts our ability to process information indicate: when you put a "but" in the middle of your statement, the brain just ditches everything said before the "but", retaining only the part after the "but". So, if someone says "You are smart but not very good -looking", the only thing the recipient's brain will end up retaining is "you are not very good-looking". (I know it's a meh example, but you see the point.)

It works the same in reverse. When someone showers you with compliments, and, instead of saying "thank you", you reply with, "Yes, but..." and then list all the things you perceive to be wrong with you - your own brain retains only that. Not the compliments so generously bestowed upon you, but the part where you ripped yourself to pieces. So, when someone says, "You have a beautiful house!" and you reply, "Yes, but the basement is a mess," the "beautiful house" but leaves no positive trace in your mind. All it zeroes in on is the messy basement.

Let's say "no" to buts. Get rid of them when sharing information, trying to empower someone or receiving positive feedback yourself. When, say, beta reading a friend's manuscript, instead of "Chapter 10 is brilliant, but chapter 11 needs to be revamped," say, "Chapter 10 is brilliant and chapter 11 needs some work." That way, the recipient of the statement shall retain both parts of it and won't feel as if you had just bashed them and nothing else. When someone says, "You have a beautiful house," say, "Thank you - I am very glad you enjoy being here. We are working all the time to make it even better - just wait till we finish up that basement!" Boom - positive. Yes, the basement needs work, but your brain is left with the feeling of progress instead of a neverending challenge that yields few results.

Off with the buts!

Week 2 - A week of learning.

Pick a week - any week. Use this week to learn one new thing every day. It can be anything - a new piece of information, a scientific fact, a new recipe, a knitting pattern, a better way to grow begonias, anything at all. By the end of the week you will have learned seven brand new things you didn't know before.

Who knows? You might find it so addictive - you'll decide to do it every week.

Week 3 - Celebrate your wholiness.

I dislike the expression "my other half". Almost as much as I dislike it when someone successful gets on stage at a training or celebratory event, points at his or her spouse, and says something like, "And this is the brains of the operation - I definitely married up."

First of all, we none of us are halves. We are all whole people. Just because something is missing in our lives by way of a relationship, does not make us half-a-person. And if we are in a relationship - then we have two whole persons together, trying to make it work. And that ought to be celebrated.

Second, by saying that your spouse or significant other is the "brains of the operation" - even as a joke - not only are you implying you are stupid, but you are also insulting your spouse. Because what you are essentially saying is your spouse is so bad at picking partners, that he or she married a total idiot without even looking. That has to stop. There are things you love your spouse for, and there are things your spouse loves you for. You both contribute something equally important to the relationship. It's not the competition, it's not the idiotic stereotype of "I am the smart one - she is the pretty one" or some such.

You are whole, the love of your life is whole, your friends are whole - off with all of you to get together, sort out your differences, revel in your shared passions and celebrate your wholiness!

Week 4 - Remember you are someone’s ideal.

I don't mean "ideal" in a sense that someone wants to write an ode in your name or make a sculpture of you (although, what the heck - you never know!). I mean that some aspect of your life today, where you are at this very moment, is where someone else is trying to get. It could be anything - income, job, fitness, fashion sense, your talent for gardening or for making things, your parenting ability, or your organization skills.

This occurred to me when I was jogging at the park and realized some people bigger and slower than I was were looking me with the same mix of admiration and envy, with which I looked at slimmer more athletic men and women passing me on a second lap in a row. I am not the most athletic person by any stretch - I know I still have a long way to go. And yet, apparently, where I am NOW is someone's goal - possibly even a BIG long-term goal.

When you struggle, remind yourself of that. You HAVE achieved something. You HAVE completed things. You HAVE gotten to some point that is still far in the distance for other people. You are someone's inspiration. You are someone's ideal.

Big little stories

- What a great way to say - you are not a faceless mass to me. I know you. You are all individuals, and I care.

- Want to help bring young people into your industry and make sure they love it forever? THIS is how it's done!

- These logs are helping protect women and children in refugee camps as well as combating deforestation that occurs around camps.

- Teaching kids about who is keeping them healthy and how.

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