Other People Are Good For You


As the dregs of winter drag on, we’re so close to spring, yet it’s still cold and grey outside. I stay inside and just wait for sunny days.

Sometimes I get really down for no particular reason. It’s just part of life. I’m sitting around thinking too hard, and I start to feel bad about things. It’s usually because I need to get out of the house, get out of my own head for a while, cut out the navel gazing, etc. In other words, I am a depressive narcissist, and the cure is other people.

Some people are like lights, and thinking about them can brighten my mood in an instant. My sister is a very bright one. When I think of her, it’s like being back in the bedroom we shared as kids — a perfectly safe place where all the problems are simple ones, and Mom and Dad are just in the next room in case you need them. I had one of these moments the other day, and I called my sister just to hear a friendly voice. I could hear her baby laughing in the background, and everything seemed warm and bright.

There’s something special about a relationship with a sister. I tend to feel that I owe something to everyone on earth, even though I know that’s nonsense. Everyone’s got expectations or something they want from you — even people you love. But with my sister, it’s different. Neither one of us chose the other (as far as I can tell) or is responsible for the other in any way. Our loyalty stems from the pure love of siblings who are simply amazed at the miraculousness of one another. At least that’s how it seems to me, and I feel very thankful for it all.

Is there anyone like this in your life? Someone who’s unconditional love and support you can always count on? Who brightens your day with just a thought? When you get nostalgic for a simpler time, who do you imagine spending it with?

Today is a good day to call that person. Get outside yourself a little bit today. Spring is almost here. Spread the warmth!

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Weekly Assignment: Compliment a Stranger

Stranger No. 19/100 - Song Yu

This one is so easy, and it will make someone’s day. If you’ve ever received a compliment from a stranger (a sincere compliment, not a catcall!) you know the unexpectedness of it can really perk up your spirits and make you feel amazing. As the compliment giver, you’ll feel good about making someone else smile.

What’s this got to do with creativity, you ask? Talking to strangers puts you outside your comfort zone, which is a key component of creativity, and sharing a smile will always lift your spirits. I happen to have it on good authority that being happy is good for you.

Stranger No. 20/100 - Ms. Zhao

I personally believe that a large part of creativity comes from being open — open to new ideas, new people, and new experiences. Giving a compliment to a stranger is a simple way to experience that sense of openness that leads to life’s best adventures.

So, keep an eye out for someone to compliment — maybe the well-dressed lady or gent you pass in your office building every day, the sweet kid who carries your groceries at the store, or the stressed out waiter who is really working hard. Notice that someone is making a great effort or just has a warm smile, and then say so!

Stranger No. 49/100 - Alan

And don’t forget to tell us how it went!

Did you notice that all three photos with this post came from the same guy on Flickr? You should go check out Evan Robinson’s 100 Strangers project, as it is exceptional!

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just stop and listen

Here’s an excerpt from my journal dated Wed. 8/1/07 while at Goucher College.

It’d be nice to yell right now, but I won’t. I am quiet and relatively still. The last two days of talk talk talking about myself and my work has got me wishing someone would cut out my vocal cords and refuse to give them back until I learn/promise to use them correctly. I cannot learn to do anything until I’ve done it wrong several times. My brain is always (almost) at least two words ahead of my hand, my mouth and my ears. Often, it is waiting for someone to shut up so someone else can have a turn to wait for me to shut up. I wish my ears were buckets so I could fish around in them for what they gathered yesterday, what I didn’t really listen to. People are laughing outside. What is so funny? Maybe it’s entertaining that I am in here wishing to be a bucket filled with anything but their voices.

Why am I sharing this with you? At least partly just for fun, which is why I do just about everything. But also because it still rings true.

Do you ever just stop and listen? To yourself or anyone else?

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George Carlin, Ladies and Gentlemen

I love George Carlin SO much, and in this interview, he really shows what a thoughtful person he is. We all know he’s funny and smart, but his responses are also disarmingly sincere, considering that I ‘m used to seeing him as a wonderfully crass comedian.

I especially love that moment at the end when he tells young Jon Stewart, “You’re going to show us a lot,” which has turned out to be very true, don’t you think?

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