Calculated Ignorance

Do you know the difference between “ignorance” and “stupidity?” I speak about this in my new book, “From the Trailer Park to the Pulpit:  How a wise grandmother shaped my life and ministry,” which is based on the outrageous sayings of my Grandma Esther. She had quite an explanation for these two words.

According to Grandma Esther, “An ignorant person you can learn. The stupid ones you just have to shoot.” She was a pretty black or white, true or false, yes or no, kinda gal. She could also be rather adamant and severe, as you can see!

While we always assumed she was kidding (though according to my mother she was a pretty good shot when there was a moving target), Grandma Esther’s quote speaks to how willing we are to hear the truth.

In a world of so-called alternative facts and conflicting news reports it can be a challenge to know what to think. Some of us choose to completely avoid all the media hype and avalanche of info coming into our mobile devices.

You may be surprised to discover there’s a name for this:  Calculated ignorance.

Karen Larson, editor of BottomLine Personal magazine recently wrote about this. She says that this common phenomenon, “according to James Shepperd, PhD, professor of psychology at University of Florida, … isn't always harmful, but when it concerns our health ... our finances ... or our relationships, it can create problems that are difficult or impossible to fix.”

So how do we know when to overcome or relax into calculated ignorance? Here are three tips from Dr. Shepperd:

  1. Consider ways in which you have some control over the situation. This will make you more willing to confront unwanted information. One recent study found that women were more likely to learn about their overall breast cancer risk if they first read about risks they could control.
  2. Consider what you value most deeply. This might be your family, your work ethic, your sense of fair play or anything else at the core of your value system. Recount things that you’ve done recently that reflect these values. Studies suggest that focusing on core values may make the information we are avoiding seem trivial in comparison.
  3. Consider why you are avoiding the information. Perhaps your fears are simply operating on autopilot and just realizing this can put you back in control.

Calculated ignorance isn’t about avoiding understanding information that we need to know, or acting on that information for our highest good. It’s about deciding just how much information we need about any given subject, or if we need that knowledge at all.

Information technology has exploded over the past two decades in ways that we never expected. With the exception of transporter technology and interstellar space travel, most of what we see on any of the starship Enterprise in any given Star Trek series or movie is already at our fingertips.

What we must recognize is that our brains have not yet evolved to keep up with technology. To attempt to absorb all that’s out there is physically impossible. We must be selective in what we seek to understand. Be mindful of that in the coming week. Is what you’re reading on your mobile device or watching on TV really necessary for you to have a life worth living?-

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

#DrTerryMakingSense
#IAN1
@TerryDKaranen

Copyright © 2017 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.

What Not to Say

I was trained as a hospital support person early in my ministerial career. One of the things I was taught, and eventually shared with nearly 100 volunteers over the years, is that to support a person we must determine how we are to do that. There’s really only one sure-fire way to do that:  Ask the person we desire to help.

When we support a friend or a stranger our purpose is to act in such a way that fully encourages and serves that person. As a minister and counselor I’ve seen so many people try their best to make a horrible situation better by saying the most outrageous things. People don’t try to be unkind or uncaring. It is, in fact, this very reason that causes us to say the things we do:  We’re genuinely trying to help.

In the April 15, 2017, issue of BottomLine Personal magazine, Editor Karen Astrid Larson give a list of four things NOT to say to someone with cancer. However, her advice is applicable to almost any given scenario when tragedy or hard times hit. Here’s what she wrote, as suggested by Nikhil Joshi, MD, author of The End of Suffering, and a Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer survivor:

  • “You’re going to be fine.” This could be taken as dismissive of a very serious situation.
  • “You’re strong, so you’re going to beat this.” Surviving cancer is not about the strength of the patient. It’s about the type of cancer … how advanced it is … and the effectiveness of the treatments.
  • “Have you tried praying/the latest alternative treatment/organic foods/quitting smoking?” This is not the time for lectures or proselytizing.
  • “How are you feeling?” Asking a cancer patient this forces [the person] to think about how bad [s/he] feels.

One of the reasons we grasp at straws when faced with serious issues like a friend or colleague diagnosed with cancer is that we want to help. More than that, we just want to do something. We want to fix it. The fact is, however, it’s not our job to do any of that.

The way we can support a person with cancer or anyone going through difficult times is to listen. Be there and listen. Someone going through chemotherapy and radiation treatments feels like crap warmed over and often looks worse. That’s not being unkind; it’s the experience most cancer survivors have gone through. It’s also not the way one wants to present oneself to even their closest friends, let alone the world.

Each of us goes through challenges differently. The important factor to remember in supporting others is that if we are truly desirous of supporting them it must be on their terms, not ours. We also have to be willing to admit that we might not be the perfect person to help at any given time.

As long as we are coming from unconditional love – and not judgment or trying to take charge – we have a pretty good chance of the other person understanding our good intentions. In the case of going through cancer treatments, people are poked and prodded with unending zeal by technicians and physicians alike. It can appear everything is being done to them, not for them. Because of this it’s important to emphasize that they are in charge of everything, including how they are served by those of us who seek to help.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

#DrTerryMakingSense
#IAN1
@TerryDKaranen

Copyright © 2017 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.

Stop, Step Back and Breathe

Throughout the year we are presented with a slices of time, about three weeks give or take, in which we may find our lives going awry for no apparent reason. There are very good explanations for what is happening around us, as with most situations which cause us to be perplexed and confused. But for the purpose of brevity, I ask you to just go with me on this, because one of those slices of time starts tomorrow.

Whether it’s bad karma, some stars in or out of alignment, a Universal Law we are fighting or a devil doing his work (depending on your take on life), we all have these moments where no matter how hard we try to make things go right everything seems to be going wrong.

Psychotherapist and coach Lynn Grodzki, LCSW, calls this as an “AFGO,” or “Another Friggin’ Growth Opportunity.” People often say they want to grow spiritually or improve in their lives, but then complain that they don’t want to try something new.

But doing the same thing over and over and expecting difference results is a great definition for insanity; it’s also counterproductive and frustrating. At such times in our lives it does us good to stop, step back, take one heck of a deep breath, and see if the AFGO before us requires a change in the perspective we have on life.

Ernest Holmes wisely taught us that changing our thinking changes our life. He was not explaining a one-time experience. It’s not like you “change your oil, change your car” and the vehicle works perfectly for the rest of the time we own it. Changing our thinking only changes our life when we are practicing this principle by examining our sacrosanct paradigms on a daily basis. It means we must challenge our own ideas with the same intention that others dare to do.

If we have built our life on a firm foundation as expressed in our personal vision and mission, then the changes, frustrations, obstacles and other AFGOs that present themselves allow us to move forward instead of stopping progress and/or staying stuck.

Over the next three weeks or so be more acutely aware of those AFGOs, of frustration on the part of others, or perhaps yourself. When these golden opportunities present themselves, stop, step back, take one heck of a deep breath, smile to yourself as you recognize the AFGO for what it is and go with the flow of the Universe.

Just remember this when you go with the flow:  YOU get to pick the stream.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

#DrTerryMakingSense
#IAN1
@TerryDKaranen

Copyright © 2011, 2017 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.

Are You Your Labels?

Do you like to be labeled? Try asking that question to five people and you’ll find that most if not all will assume the term label to which you may be alluding will be derogatory. I’m not sure why, but it’s a fun experiment.

While we may not like to be labeled we are often guilty of labeling others. Have you noticed that when we meet someone new it’s not uncommon to find the questions steered in very basic directions:  Are you married? What do you do for a living? What kind of a car do you drive? Where did you go to school? And on it goes. We get that information, pigpen-hole the person through classifications (labels) and create our judgment of the person.

(I apologize to my foreign readers – you’re probably saying to yourself, “That’s SO typically American!” And though I have just as much evidence as you that it is so, it’s also another form of labeling. This is another example of how labeling is critical, not complimentary.)

On the other side of this discussion are the labels we stick on ourselves and then refuse with tenacity to peel off when they are old and tired. The unhappily married couple must face the truth of their relationship once the kids leave home. The corporate executive or factory worker is forced to reassess her place in life when she is laid off. Who are we without our spouse, our careers, or our homes?

James Baldwin is quoted as saying, “I have become afflicted with so many labels that I have become invisible unto myself.” Would you be willing today to make a list of the labels you have for yourself? Do they serve you? Is this the way you want to be known or remembered?

The other Baldwin quote in the graphic above is our guide. Perhaps today is the day we can ask ourselves, Am I my labels? Once we answer that question we will discover whether or not our labels enhance who we are, or obscure us to the point of being invisible unto ourselves.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

#DrTerryMakingSense
#IAN1
@TerryDKaranen

Copyright © 2017 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.

It’s Supposed to be Easy

Are you struggling with life? Do current events, political changes, social injustice issues or family dynamics cause you grief? If so, you’re not alone.

Life is supposed to be easy. Does that immediately bring up all the examples you can think about to prove that statement wrong? Great! That means you have a starting point. Even if you only slighted raised an eyebrow you’ve reacted in a typical – and what most people would consider normal – way.

Society has taught us that life is hard, that choices are difficult. You may have been raised as I was to believe that you’d always have more bills than money, that your family would never get ahead, and that people with privilege just knew something you didn’t.

Having money or nice things doesn’t mean life is easy for those who are there. In fact, there is frequently more stress and anxiety about holding onto possessions than being in a situation where we live in lack. It’s really not about what we have or don’t have. It’s how we choose to live in general.

The universe supports us by acting upon our thoughts, feelings and words. If we constantly think things are going to fail, feel like a victim and verbalize those ideas then we can expect our lives to reflect our consciousness. The opposite is also true.

Does this mean everything’s going to be just hunky-dory all the time? No. But when challenges do occur we will be better equipped to handle them. We won’t see minor or even major issues that arise as formidable beasts. In other words, we’re going to get down to business and solve the problem, as opposed to rehearsing the dramatic account of our woes, victimization and hopelessness so as to garner sympathy from others when we tell our story.

There’s a lot of talk about what will happen in the future. That’s all it is:  Talk. No one knows what the future will hold. Our happiness in life does not come from pining for a past that never existed or worrying about a future we dread. Our happiness comes from making the most out of each moment now. In our current global, national and local circumstances it’s more important than ever to stay in the present moment.

Learn from the past, plan for the future, but live in the present. It really is that easy.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

#DrTerryMakingSense
#IAN1
@TerryDKaranen

Copyright © Terry Drew Karanen 2017

Big Girl Panties

Have you got anything bugging you this week? I mean something, or someone, that has just gotten under your skin? This time of year can bring out and up all sorts of “stuff,” for lack of a better word.

Our challenges are unique and often very personal. What may appear to be a huge obstacle in my mind may be a mere trifle for you. However, having said that, I am brought to the reason for the title of this blog, “Big Girl Panties,” as in “Bitch, put on your big girl panties and deal with it!”big-girl-panties

I was looking for sympathy from a friend who believes in tough love. That’s the response I got. Word … for … word. His bedside manner leaves a lot to be desired. But the truth is I was whining and he wasn’t having any of it. At all. Nada. No way. The blessing is he was right. He’s wise enough to know when to stop me from pretending I’m useless, weak or powerless.

Challenges can be opportunities for growth or they can be just the reason we are looking for to stop us from moving forward. Most people are far more afraid of succeeding than they are of failing. Most of us know really well how to fail at something. But how will we deal with success? What will change? Will we lose our friends? Staying stuck can actually be comfortable.

At times like this – and understand that you are the only one that can determine if the time is right – we have to grow out of Pampers® and put on our big girl or big boy panties. How will you know? My answer to that is that when I’ve had to ask it turned out I wasn’t ready. I’ve you’re not ready then stay where you are for now – when you’re ready you’ll know it, so don’t force the issue.

For me, I usually know when I have to go for the “Suck it up, Buttercup!” method. It’s when I start to lament to people about my latest challenge and halfway through the story I start getting bored! There’s that still, small voice inside my head going, “Really? Seriously?”

Take a moment today to ask yourself what “little” irritation has been going on long enough in your life. Determine if it has outlived its usefulness and make the necessary changes to move forward if that’s indicated. Reach out for help if needed, but decide today to blast through one problem child this week. Let me know how that turns out for you!

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

#DrTerryMakingSense
#TerryDrewKaranen
@TerryDKaranen
#IAN1

Terry Drew Karanen © 2011, 2016

 

Frying Bacon in the Nude

Do you beat yourself up when you make mistakes? It’s not uncommon, so don’t begin beating yourself up now for previously beating yourself up!

We are taught to put ourselves down. “You shouldn’t have done that,” “little girls should be quiet,” “little boys don’t cry,” and the list goes on. While traveling around the country I hear parents constantly – and often in raised voices – chastising their children for what they’ve done. In airports, hotels and on board airliners too many adults continue to stop children from living, instead of encouraging them to live.

Were you one of those children? If you were precocious as a child – I certainly was – then adults probably tried to silence you quite often. One of my teachers wrote my parents to say I should stop correcting her in front of the other children, even though I was right. Thankfully, I’ve mellowed over the past few decades.

We’re going to screw up. We’re going to do things that make people mad. That’s just how we move through life, but we don’t have to be that way ourselves. We can open up to a completely new way of gentle kindness in dealing with our own foibles, you know, the ones only we know about in our minds.

And we can be mindful every day to take the time we need to care for ourselves. It’s like frying bacon in the nude. As a life-long nudist I remember asking my mother – I must have been about three years old – why the lady cooking at the nudist camp was the only nakedone wearing anything. “Because, Terry,” she explained, “You don’t fry bacon in the nude.”

Getting ready for services one Sunday in my first year of ministry, behind in my schedule as I often was at that time, I found out quite acutely just how right mother was. There are certain things in life we shouldn’t go without. When hot, splattering bacon is involved, an apron is more than a good idea.

So where do you need an apron in your life? Could you imagine spiritually wiping your hands on your imaginary apron the next time you bitch-slapped yourself for something you could have avoided? It’s not about making ourselves wrong. It’s about lovingly deciding, wiping away the guilt – with authority and empowerment – and acknowledging that we can choose again.

We always do the best we can with what we have to work with. If we can do better next time we will. We can always choose again. The trick in our practice is to more often make the better (not right, better for the current moment) choice in the first place. What will you choose today?

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

#DrTerryMakingSense
#TerryDrewKaranen
@TerryDKaranen
#IAN1

Terry Drew Karanen © 2016

Who Controls Your Happiness?

This week's blog is a reprint of my column, “Making Sense of Life,” from the November/December issue of "Central Voice" newspaper. I hope it will provide you some peace of mind now and in the coming year.

*******************************************

How are you feeling about your future? Your answer may be greatly influenced by whether you are reading this article before or after the Presidential Election! As I write my column for this issue we are still several weeks away from that event. What will the future bring?

What the coming decades hold for us are partially tied to this country’s selection of its new Commander in Chief. More important than that, however, is how we will choose to act or react to the possibilities for us in the next four years. We exist as victims if we live our lives in reactive mode, allowing events and circumstances outside our control to determine our mood, our attitude or our future.

It was Eleanor Roosevelt who admonished us that no one has the power to makes us feel inferior unless we give them that right. The active, empowered person reviews the situation and takes action to the best of her or his ability given the circumstances.

For some people in the U.S., particularly the LGBTQ communities among so many others, that could mean drastic change. Depending on the outcome of the Presidential Election, some might find Canada, Costa Rica, New Zealand or other countries to be safer for the near future. Those are certainly options, should one feel so inclined. However, would a new president be enough reason to make such a drastic change?

For a moment, step back from any political changes in government that will or have occurred, and think instead about your everyday life. What constitutes a “good” day from a “bad” day? It is good because you got your way, everyone agreed with you and all the lights were green? Does a bad day happen your plans imploded, someone challenged you or you hit every red light [on the way to work]?

This is not about whether or not we have a positive attitude or are constantly “looking on the bright side” of life. It’s about our priorities. Road rage is apparently on the uptick in recent years. Some driver cuts us off and we take it personally, not knowing that they are rushing to the hospital because their child was just admitted to surgery.

Even if something that dramatic isn’t the case and the guy’s just a total jerk, well, SO WHAT?!? Do we really want to give away our power to be happy to some inconsiderate, nincompoop who we’ll probably never see again? The same is true for those of us who have been attacked – physically or emotionally. By staying in the trauma of a mugging, rape or passive-aggressive behavior and refusing to get help to move beyond the pain to the healing, we are victimizing ourselves all over again, while the perpetrator fails to receive any of our angst.

Would you be willing to stop and take at least three very deep breaths the next time you feel totally annoyed? I’ve been literally run over by another shopper [at the grocery store], who then apologized most profusely. I might have liked to have let loose a slew of superlatives she’d not ever heard in public, but there’s a standard response I prefer to use:  “No worries, but thank you for saying so. I mean, compared to world peace, how important is this?”

This is not to minimize horrible situations in our lives or deride people for scars we all carry from the past. It is, however, a call-to-action for us to get our priorities straight (relatively speaking for some of us…ahem) with how happy we want to be. If we live our lives seeking to prove how victimized, sorrowful or inept we are (and people do … you know who they are!), then we need professional help. Life is too long to be lived in sadness, depression, anxiety and want, particularly when we believe that it’s all because of forces outside ourselves we can’t control.

Truthfully, there’s a lot in our lives that is out of our control:  the weather, my husband’s smoking, people who don’t R.S.V.P to a party and the woman with the Hummer who takes up three spaces [in the parking lot]. So will we choose to concentrate our focus on that over which we have no control?

Or, will we decide to take empowered action to live each day to the fullest, being responsible for our own happiness, success, prosperity and fulfillment. Either way the choice is ours. We have freedom of choice – but not of consequence – so choose wisely!

Stop Trying To Be Yourself

Are you still trying to find your “purpose?” The problem is not finding it. The real challenge is what to do after you figure it out!

I starting teaching a workshop over twenty years ago called, “Discovering Your Bliss.” I was in my Joseph Campbell period, a ministerial student and wild about realizing in my own life what a difference having a vision and mission in life can make.

That afternoon seminar morphed itself into a manual and eventually my most recent book. I still strongly believe that having a vision and mission gives us a firm foundation for happiness and, therefore, success.

But it’s not enough.

As I’m beginning to find out in my own life, it may not even be necessary for everyone. Vision and mission statements are tools; that’s all they are. They aren’t the end-all to all end-alls. What we really need to be happy and succeed in life is already within us.

What’s that you ask? I’m so glad you did!21-blog

We must stop trying to be who we are and start being who we are.

Thanks, a lot, Terry. Fine. What’s THAT supposed to mean, oh great guru of knowledge and wisdom?

(In spite of that sarcasm there, I will respond!)

It means we frequently try too hard to:

  • Be something we’re not;
  • Always strive to please others;
  • Not pleasing ourselves;
  • Sanitize our approach;
  • Worry that we won’t appeal to everyone – NEW FLASH! WE WON’T!
  • Compare our happiness and satisfaction to others;
  • Base our worth on the number of people following our social media accounts; or,
  • Are terrified we’re “not ready.”

Well, pumpkin’ we’re NOT ready for that next big leap to magnificence. Of course we’re not “ready!” If we were we’d have already done what we’re thinking about doing. But right now we are as ready as we ever could be to be ourselves.

Think about it. No one knows you the way you do. If you don’t like something about yourself, change it or figure out why you are being so critical with yourself. If you need help doing that find that professional help.

The key point is to stop trying to be yourself and just start accepting that you can be yourself. You can do so without reservation, approval, permission or apology.

Isn’t it time for us to see who you are? Isn’t it time to move to that next level of expression? It’s inside you, perhaps desperately seeking the manifestation only you can provide. Let it out! Be YOU! WOO-HOO!

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

#DrTerryMakingSense
#TheGlobalVision
#AWorldThatWorksForEveryone
#IAN1
@TerryDKaranen

Terry Drew Karanen © 2016

Who Are You Listening To?

What is really important in your life? I mean, with all that’s going on in the world, what do we really need to know?

Apparently several papers and the Internet media feel the impending divorce of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt is front page news. No, seriously. A local news radio station reported recently this was actually on the front page of several newspapers.

This is not about all the other events that could have taken precedent. We can all name several, but this media feeding frenzy speaks to just how much our news sources concentrate on the negative.

So after 12 years of being together, Bradgelina is about to be a thing of the past. One reporter said, “Another Hollywood marriage has broken up, not that we’re ever surprised about that.” Really? Statistically Pitt and Jolie have been together longer than the average marriage, which ends in divorce within eight years (McKinley Irvin, 2012). The media is not interested in the 50-year marriage Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward enjoyed, or that Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell have been together over 30 years.

Similarly, the media is quick to tell you that half of all American marriages end in divorce, but fail to mention that ALSO means half of all American marriages survive! You get the point.

In New Thought we teach that our thoughts create. We can say all the affirmations we want and create beautiful affirmative prayers, but if we are constantly listening to every piece of gossip and tragedy from the media then it’s like shopping for organic groceries, and then going home to drink drain cleaner.blog22

Stop the madness! Let’s fill our minds with uplifting information. That doesn’t mean we ignore what’s going on in the world. Ernest Holmes, the founder of the Science of Mind philosophy never taught us to ignore our problems or the plight of others. He did, however, write that we deny the necessity that they should continue.

We have a responsibility to feed our minds with productive thoughts and an obligation to act on those ideas to the best of our abilities for the benefit of our planet. Not preachin’, jus’ sayin’.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

#DrTerryMakingSense
#IAN1
@TerryDKaranen