Couching

Couching: (v) to express something in a language that is indirect or less than honest.

I have spent half my life trying to find nice ways to say things and the other half apologizing for failed experiments.

We are obsessed with the need to be coddled, even when it’s obvious that we are transgressors. We would prefer that God not refer to us as funny wisdom on words that begin with a C
sinners, but rather, “winners in training.”

We do not want our lovers to tell us that we fumble but sympathize that maybe it was a bad night and we were just tired.

When donning a new outfit of clothing, we expect praise even if the duds make us look ridiculous or over-balloon our appearance.

We are sensitive, but not to spiritual things or each other, but instead to any form of criticism.

So the entire Earth tries to couch what it says and does until it doesn’t want to do couch anymore—and then the bombs begin to fly.

We live in a world that travels from discontent to bombings, never considering that there can be conversation free of lies, deception and exaggeration, which might keep the death toll down at Ground Zero.


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Corollary

Corollary: (n) an immediate consequence or easily drawn conclusion.

Although it is not simple to explain to a six-year-old, nevertheless it still needs to be taught.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

I had to instruct all of my children in a simple principle:

If you lie to me, we’ve got nothing—no relationship, no interaction, no possibility, no way of drawing close to each other.

Because lying comes with a corollary.

If my children lied to me, they were telling me they did not believe that truth would give them standing—even though I told them that no matter how bad they may think the truth might be, it was never as evil as the tiniest lie. And if they lied to me, they were saying they did not believe the truth could be heard and that they would still be able to continue being loved and appreciated.

Once they showed me they didn’t care about the truth, I knew they didn’t care about my feelings. Without the truth, I have no way to measure the depth and breadth of my relationship with anyone.

Once they created the corollary that they didn’t care about my feelings, they were making it obvious that their pride was more important than our relationship. You can see—it’s difficult to continue a friendship at that point.

Since their pride was more important, the only thing left for me was to leave them to their pride without my respect, trust and affection.

We create corollaries every day.

We make exchanges.

We explain through our actions not just what we think of a certain situation, but what we think about one another.

And even though we all would like to live in a vacuum, inside a bubble where we would be free of commitment, criticism and responsibility, no such world exists.

We have this world—where the truth does make us free—because suddenly we are liberated from all condemnation, incrimination, scrutiny and most importantly, no longer in fear of being doubted.


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Constructive

Constructive: (adj) serving a useful purpose; tending to build up

Unfortunately, the word “criticism” seems to have been welded onto “constructive.”

Matter of fact, people frequently talk to me about constructive criticism–how powerful it was for them in honing up their project or beefing up their efforts.

I am not convinced.

So let me be the first one to say that these two words need to be disconnected from each other once and for all.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

There are things that are constructive and there are things that are critical. There is no such thing as constructive criticism.

If you’re trying to be constructive, there is no need to be critical.

And if the intention is to establish your value to another person by criticizing, be prepared: it is unlikely that this will have a constructive result.

You can feel free to have constructive remarks, constructive questions, constructive concerns–but once you enter the cave of criticism, you’ve already darkened yourself as an authority to whom others need to bow.

If you really want to be constructive, here are the three questions you should ask someone if you think what he or she is pursuing needs another point of view:

  1. What is it you are trying to achieve?
  2. This is what I got off of it. Is that all right?
  3. Is this what you were looking for?

You can ask these three questions any time, and unless someone is dealing with severe anger management issues, they will be responsive and listen.

But if you change this to “constructive criticism,” which, by the way, is merely altering the questions into statements–(for instance, “I don’t know what you’re trying to achieve,” “I didn’t get it” and “I don’t think other people will comprehend your message either”)–these statements are bruising.

You do not need to agree with me on this, but I contend that merely switching the statements to questions does not take away your power of input.

It merely removes your position of superiority.

 

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Collapse

Collapse: (v) to fall down or in; give way.

Some folks think it’s hilarious when a big man like me sits down in a chair and it collapses. It’s why I have to judge furniture much too harshly–“spaciously” profiling it.

Yet it has taught me a lesson–to pay careful attention to ideas that keep popping up, which certainly will not withstand the weight of
human involvement. After all, human interaction comes in three forms:

  • Support
  • Criticism
  • Attack

Every idea has to be able to survive all three things, or it will collapse.

I often feel that way about politics. It collapses under the pressure of being questioned and challenged–dare I say, attacked?

Entertainment and entertainers are certainly way too fragile, and hide behind their make-up.

And religion collapses like a cheap lawn chair the minute real human conflict comes sitting.

What makes me collapse?

What makes me give in?

Where are my weaknesses?

What warning should you receive about my possibility for folding up?

All things human have to survive support, criticism and attack.

And truthfully, whenever I can’t, I need to get the hell out of the way and make room for better ideas.

If we were raising a generation of young souls prepared to withstand such scrutiny, maybe our future would be brighter. Perhaps it’s where we should begin.

If we could take every child born on Earth under the age of twelve, and teach him or her how to support, withstand an attack, and keep perspective during criticism, we might secure another hundred generations of human beings.

 

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Cold-call

Cold-call: (n) an unsolicited visit or telephone call made by someone trying to sell goods or services.

“Good morning! My name is…”

I immediately could tell that the person on the other end of the line was not convinced of the goodness of the morning, and did not give one flying Frito pie as to what my name was.

In baseball that’s called Strike Two.

What I did next would determine whether I would immediately go to Strike Three in the first twenty seconds, or survive, crossing thirty seconds–or the amazing possibility of a minute.

Cold-calling.

So referred to because it is calling that is made to human icebergs.

Usually when I realized that the person I was speaking to was not convinced of the beauty of the day, and was not impressed with my name, I would unfortunately have that two-second gulp in my throat.

This was always the length of time it took the individual who had already expressed indifference, to come in and close the deal on me.

“Listen, I don’t need anything. Bye.”

My supervisor in the company pointed out to me that when I was doing the cold-calling–the phone solicitation–I had deprived this individual of the benefit–dare he say, blessing?–of hearing about the terrific product.

All of this done through a misplaced gulp.

I got better. Sometimes I survived past the first gulp and got all the way to this phrase:

“What I’m calling you about today…”

Then a second wall, needing to hurdled, standing tall, wide and thick, suddenly rose before my nose–and once again, was terminated with the party on the other line (who, by the way, was not having a party) excusing him or herself and hanging up.

If I could get to the one-minute mark, where I explained how the product I was offering was not only beneficial but terribly inexpensive, I found that one out of four times I actually made a sale.

Let’s analyze the numbers:

Ninety percent of the people cut me off at my first gulp.

Five percent of the people stopped me with “the great wall.”

This means that five out of every one hundred people became my potential market of sales. I would have to ask you (and myself) what I would do in life if the potential for it only rallied five out of every one hundred times?

Honest to God, I think I would give up sex over that.

Cold-calling is something that many adults in the past experienced in an attempt to escape being criticized for not having a job.

And by itself–with its trials, its rejection and its nastiness–it nearly turned all of us into vagrants.

 

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Chosen

Chosen: (adj) having been selected as the best or most appropriate.

Without spraying dark, sticky thoughts into the air, I must admit that if I knew what I know now, I might not have chosen to be born.

I don’t think I would have chosen Mary and Russell as my parents. Considering my youthful antics, they might not have chosen me.

I certainly would not have chosen to be raised in the Midwest of the United States during a season when prejudice, bigotry and self-righteousness were considered to be “American values.”

I wouldn’t have chosen to be fat. Even though some people try to gain their self-esteem while encased in blubber, the excess poundage does take its toll.

I don’t know exactly what I would have chosen–I mean, I could continue this list and probably offend everyone I know.

But I certainly would have chosen Jesus.

This is not because I’m a religious person. Matter of fact, I have been known to doze off immediately at the mention of prayer.

It’s the practicality.

It’s the humanity.

It’s the responsibility that Jesus of Nazareth placed on himself and his followers that lets me understand that he “gets it.”

He gets what it means to be a human being on this planet called Earth. I don’t know if his manifesto would work on other planets. I don’t know anything about habitation in other galaxies.

But Earth requires a certain payload to launch your rocket.

I’ve chosen that.

I fail at it, and as long as I realize it’s a failure on my part and not a master plot against my happiness, I’m usually just fine.

I don’t know what else specifically I would have chosen.

I would not have chosen a career as a writer, because criticism and obscurity are your only friends.

Would I have chosen to pen this essay? Probably not.

I got up in a rather relaxed, lazy mood, and your interest just didn’t interest me that much.

So I’ve chosen, at times, to persevere–even though the immediate benefit does not scream its worth.

 

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Chamber

Chamber: (n) a private room, typically a bedroom.

I remember the first time I heard the Beach Boys sing the song, I cried.

“There’s a room that I can go to tell my secrets to,

In my room…”

Or my chamber.

It was always very important to have a space with a door that would close, so I could separate myself from my fears, insecurities and those beyond the room who
wanted to hurt me.

I thought they wanted to hurt me.

It was many years before I realized they were equally as frightened–just using their criticism of me to boost their false bravado.

That’s the source of all meanness.

After all, the Germans were defeated in World War I, humiliated in the peace treaty that followed, and set out to find a “chamber” for their cause–where they could prove they were better than those around them. It became a chamber of horrors.

Having a room is a good thing.

Using it to get your head on straight is even better.

Leaving it is wise.

 

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