Advice about Life: A Final Facebook Post

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” John F. Kennedy

Why is it that we don’t appreciate what we have until we don’t have it anymore?  Why can’t we see the value in what we already have?  We are always thinking of the next best thing and wanting more.  In fact, what we had in the past and what we want in the future get so blurred and distorted that we can’t focus on what’s right there in front of us until it’s gone. 

On January 4, 2018, Holly Butcher, a 27-year old from Grafton, Australia, passed away from a rare bone cancer known as Ewing’s sarcoma.  Just before her death, she wrote a sad but inspiring message to her friends and family.  Below are her wise words taken from her final Facebook post.

So why is it so hard to appreciate what we already have?  I think Holly said it best:

hollybutcherphoto

Holly Butcher (Facebook photo)

It’s a strange thing to realise and accept your mortality at 26 years young. It’s just one of those things you ignore. The days tick by and you just expect they will keep on coming; until the unexpected happens. I always imagined myself growing old, wrinkled and grey—most likely caused by the beautiful family (lots of kiddies) I planned on building with the love of my life. I want that so bad it hurts.

That’s the thing about life; it is fragile, precious and unpredictable and each day is a gift, not a given right.

I’m 27 now. I don’t want to go. I love my life. I am happy. I owe that to my loved ones. But the control is out of my hands.

I haven’t started this ‘note before I die’ so that death is feared—I like the fact that we are mostly ignorant to its inevitability. Except when I want to talk about it and it is treated like a ‘taboo’ topic that will never happen to any of us. That’s been a bit tough. I just want people to stop worrying so much about the small, meaningless stresses in life and try to remember that we all have the same fate after it all so do what you can to make your time feel worthy and great, minus the bullshit.

I have dropped lots of my thoughts below as I have had a lot of time to ponder life these last few months. Of course it’s the middle of the night when these random things pop in my head most!

Those times you are whining about ridiculous things (something I have noticed so much these past few months), just think about someone who is really facing a problem. Be grateful for your minor issue and get over it. It’s okay to acknowledge that something is annoying but try not to carry on about it and negatively affect other people’s days.

Once you do that, get out there and take a freaking big breath of that fresh Aussie air deep in your lungs, look at how blue the sky is and how green the trees are; it is so beautiful. Think how lucky you are to be able to do just that—breathe.

You might have got caught in bad traffic today, or had a bad sleep because your beautiful babies kept you awake, or your hairdresser cut your hair too short. Your new fake nails might have got a chip, your boobs are too small, or you have cellulite on your arse and your belly is wobbling.

Let all that shit go. I swear you will not be thinking of those things when it is your turn to go. It is all SO insignificant when you look at life as a whole. I’m watching my body waste away right before my eyes with nothing I can do about it and all I wish for now is that I could have just one more Birthday or Christmas with my family, or just one more day with my partner and dog. Just one more.

I hear people complaining about how terrible work is or about how hard it is to exercise. Be grateful you are physically able to. Work and exercise may seem like such trivial things … until your body doesn’t allow you to do either of them.

I tried to live a healthy life, in fact, that was probably my major passion. Appreciate your good health and functioning body even if it isn’t your ideal size. Look after it and embrace how amazing it is. Move it and nourish it with fresh food. Don’t obsess over it.

Remember there are more aspects to good health than the physical body. Work just as hard on finding your mental, emotional and spiritual happiness, too. That way you might realise just how insignificant and unimportant having this stupidly portrayed perfect social media body really is. While on this topic, delete any account that pops up on your news feeds that gives you any sense of feeling shit about yourself. Friend or not. Be ruthless for your own well-being.

Be grateful for each day you don’t have pain and even the days where you are unwell with man flu, a sore back or a sprained ankle, accept it is shit but be thankful it isn’t life threatening and will go away.

Whine less, people!  And help each other more.

Give, give, give. It is true that you gain more happiness doing things for others than doing them for yourself. I wish I did this more. Since I have been sick, I have met the most incredibly giving and kind people and been the receiver of the most thoughtful and loving words and support from my family, friends and strangers; more than I could ever give in return. I will never forget this and will be forever grateful to all of these people.

It is a weird thing having money to spend at the end when you’re dying. It’s not a time you go out and buy material things that you usually would, like a new dress. It makes you think how silly it is that we think it is worth spending so much money on new clothes and ‘things’ in our lives.

Buy your friend something kind instead of another dress, beauty product or jewelry for that next wedding. 1. No-one cares if you wear the same thing twice 2. It feels good. Take them out for a meal, or better yet, cook them a meal. Shout their coffee. Give/buy them a plant, a massage or a candle and tell them you love them when you give it to them.

Value other people’s time. Don’t keep them waiting because you are shit at being on time. Get ready earlier if you are one of those people and appreciate that your friends want to share their time with you, not sit by themselves, waiting on a mate. You will gain respect too! Amen sister.

This year, our family agreed to do no presents and despite the tree looking rather sad and empty (I nearly cracked Christmas Eve!), it was so nice because people didn’t have the pressure of shopping and the effort went into writing a nice card for each other. Plus imagine my family trying to buy me a present knowing they would probably end up with it themselves . . . strange! It might seem lame but those cards mean more to me than any impulse purchase could. Mind you, it was also easier to do in our house because we had no little kiddies there. Anyway, moral of the story—presents are not needed for a meaningful Christmas. Moving on.

Use your money on experiences. Or at least don’t miss out on experiences because you spent all your money on material shit.

Put in the effort to do that day trip to the beach you keep putting off. Dip your feet in the water and dig your toes in the sand. Wet your face with salt water.

Get amongst nature.

Try just enjoying and being in moments rather than capturing them through the screen of your phone. Life isn’t meant to be lived through a screen nor is it about getting the perfect photo . . . enjoy the bloody moment, people! Stop trying to capture it for everyone else.

Random rhetorical question. Are those several hours you spend doing your hair and makeup each day or to go out for one night really worth it? I’ve never understood this about females.

Get up early sometimes and listen to the birds while you watch the beautiful colours the sun makes as it rises.

Listen to music… really listen. Music is therapy. Old is best.

Cuddle your dog. Far out, I will miss that.

Talk to your friends. Put down your phone. Are they doing okay?

Travel if it’s your desire, don’t if it’s not.

Work to live, don’t live to work.

Seriously, do what makes your heart feel happy.

Eat the cake. Zero guilt.

Say no to things you really don’t want to do.

Don’t feel pressured to do what other people might think is a fulfilling life… you might want a mediocre life and that is so okay.

Tell your loved ones you love them every time you get the chance and love them with everything you have.

Also, remember if something is making you miserable, you do have the power to change it – in work or love or whatever it may be. Have the guts to change. You don’t know how much time you’ve got on this earth so don’t waste it being miserable. I know that is said all the time but it couldn’t be more true.

Anyway, that’s just this one young gal’s life advice. Take it or leave it, I don’t mind!

Oh and one last thing, if you can, do a good deed for humanity (and myself) and start regularly donating blood. It will make you feel good with the added bonus of saving lives. I feel like it is something that is so overlooked considering every donation can save 3 lives! That is a massive impact each person can have and the process really is so simple.

Blood donation (more bags than I could keep up with counting) helped keep me alive for an extra year—a year I will be forever grateful that I got to spend it here on Earth with my family, friends and dog. A year I had some of the greatest times of my life.

..’Til we meet again.

Hol

Xoxo

 I share Holly’s inspiring, beautiful words and dedicate this blog in her memory.  As Holly said life is unpredictable and “each day is a gift, not a given right.”  Appreciate what you already have before you don’t have it anymore. Go out and enjoy the breathtaking sunset and if you can, watch the sun rise again and again.

God Works in Mysterious Ways

“You have no idea the numbers of people that God may want to influence through you.” Andy Stanley

One of my favorite Bible verses is, “Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.”  (Matthew 7:7 NRSV)   But what does it mean exactly?  Does it mean God will give us whatever we ask for no matter what?  No, of course not.

In Matthew, Jesus goes on to explain that God will only answer to what is good.  Our requests and prayers must also not interfere with the lessons we came here to learn. I once had a deep conversation with a Catholic priest about this verse.  Why is it that some prayers are answered and others aren’t?  Why are some cured while others aren’t?  Why do bad things happen?  His response was, “God doesn’t cause bad things to happen, He only allows them to happen.”

Growing up, I was raised Roman Catholic and always believed in the power of prayer.  My Godmother Lucy was extremely religious and I loved going to Sunday mass with her.  Despite so many hardships in her own life, her faith never wavered.  Lucy was one of the first to teach me how to pray but as I grew older my prayers have become more conversational than formal.

birdEach night before I go to sleep, I always ask God to help me do what I am meant to be doing.  I ask that He guide me in everything that I do.  As an author and motivational speaker, things are sometimes so overwhelming.  I feel a tremendous obligation to my readers and to the members of my Facebook groups, etc. but I also need to put my family first.

Last month, I was having a tough week and asked God if my work was really making a difference.  I felt like I wasn’t giving my work the attention it deserved and asked for a sign that I needed continue writing my books.

That same day I had to make an appointment with my daughter’s pediatrician in order for her to get her required immunizations for college admission.  When I called I was told that my doctor could not see me but since my daughter was only getting two vaccinations they would give me the nurse practitioner.   I did not recognize the name of the nurse practitioner and had never taken either of my daughters to her before.

When we arrived for my daughter’s appointment we waited in the office for the nurse practitioner to join us.  After about 10 minutes, she walked into the room and introduced herself and I told her why we were there.  I noticed her looking at me but didn’t think much of it until she said, “Varga?  Are you the author, the one who writes about near-death experiences?”

You have to understand that this doesn’t happen often and when it does I am always thrown off.  Yes, I am an author but it is always odd when people recognize me.  I looked over at her and said, “Yes.  How did you know that?”

“Because I read your book,” she responded.  Remembering my request for a sign, I looked at her dumbfounded.  She told me how much she believed in the afterlife and how much she admired my work.  I thanked her for her kind words.  But she gave me much more than kind words, she gave me the encouragement I so desperately needed.

Recently, I asked for another sign.  In September, I will have two daughters in college and have been worried about how we are going to make ends meet. One night I was again feeling very conflicted.  I know if I take another full-time job it will take away from my afterlife research.  It will certainly impact my work as an author and motivational speaker.  So on this night I asked for another sign.  “Tell me Lord if I am meant to stay on this path.”

The next morning I sat at the kitchen table drinking my coffee when a bird suddenly appeared.  I watched it as it sat on my patio chair for several minutes.  (Actual photo is above.) I was amazed by how long it remained in front of my window seemingly staring straight at me.  I wondered if this could possibly be a sign and grabbed my phone to capture a picture just as it took off.

Our loved ones in heaven are in spirit form and are pure energy.  This means that they can direct their energy into animals when they want to bring us a sign.  When this happens the bird or animal will act in a way it typically would not act.

Later that day I went on to my computer and found a private Facebook message from a woman named Anabel.  Her message read, “I recently bought your book and I was listening to your podcast and I just wanted to thank you.  You opened a part of my heart and I am so grateful.  I recently lost both of my parents and I have felt so lost without them but your books have helped me.  You gave me the biggest gift.”

Unbeknownst to Anabel, she had given me the biggest gift.  She went on to tell me how she had followed my advice in one of my podcasts and started talking to her mother asking for a sign.  That night she had a dream visit from her mother.  Her dream proved to her that her mother did, in fact, hear her.

At one point in the dream she asked her mother if it was really her.  In response, her mother replied, “Of course, it is.  Who else would it be?”  Anabel’s letter truly warmed my heart and literally brought happy tears to my eyes.

Anabel, thank you for allowing me to share part of your story.  You wrote, “You have opened a part of my heart that was so lost.”  Thank you sincerely for your immensely kind words.  But I hope you can now see that you opened my heart as well.  God works in mysterious ways.  It is up to us to listen.

CHANGE IS NOT EASY, BUT NECESSARY

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” Barack Obama

A Greek philosopher named Heraclitus wisely said, “Change is the only constant in life.” Just look around you—nothing stays the same; even the human body is in a constant state of flux as it replaces dying cells in the body.

ross-findon-303091-unsplash (1)We all know change is inevitable but that doesn’t make it easy.  In fact some of us down right hate change and do everything possible to resist it and keep the status quo.  It’s much easier to do things out of habit anyway.  It’s much easier to do what’s familiar. Change means uncertainty and treading in unfamiliar territory.  Doing things the same or out of habit means control.  Daily routines make things easier. We do these routines without even having to think about them.  Changing the way we do anything requires effort, time and the willingness to overcome the fear of the unknown.

That is huge hurdle for some to get past but it’s also the only way to continued growth and learning.  The late Dr. Leo Buscaglia, a well-known author, teacher and lecturer, said that change was the end result of true learning.  He believed only through change could we learn and experience real growth. “As experienced human beings we must certainly believe in one more thing than anything else—we believe in change,” he wrote.  He went on to explain that if we don’t like where we are, we can always create a new scene.

Stepping into this new scene may no doubt be scary but it’s sometimes the only pathway to realizing new relationships, taking advantage of wonderful opportunities and truly feeling self-fulfilled and happy.

Looking back over my own life, I’ve made countless changes.  I’ve realized over the years that although some were not the right decisions to be made, all were purposeful.  In other words, I’ve learned from my decisions; I’ve learned from those changes.  Whether or not it was the right decision for me did not matter.  None were without lessons to be learned.

I was once working for a nonprofit association as Director of Communication and Editor.  My job afforded me the opportunity to travel and meet wonderful people.  I also loved the people that I worked with.  It was my safety net away from home.  Although I felt safe and secure, I felt like I needed to make a very difficult change.

This change allowed me to work independently as a communications consultant and eventually gave me the chance to realize a dream and publish my first book.  I went on to have two beautiful daughters and today I’m working on my seventh title.

I’ve sometimes wondered what my life would be like today had I not taken the leap of faith and stepped out of my comfort zone.  Sure, it would have been easy to stay in a job I loved and was comfortable doing.  But I also know that I would have missed out on so many priceless opportunities; I would have missed out on so many beautiful memories. None would have been possible without my embracing change.

You can’t get where you want to go, however, unless you have a clear view of where you are going.

Our habits and everything we do on a daily basis literally change the very makeup of our brains.  The brain is very habit driven and truthfully doesn’t care whether something is good or bad for you.  It only wants to make the neural networks we use all the time stronger so that the brain can function more efficiently.  But you do know what’s good for you.  You do know what’s bad for you.  Only you can know what changes are necessary in your life and only you can put those changes in motion.

WHAT DOES “HAPPY” MEAN TO YOU?

“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” Denis Waitley

Over the past few weeks, I’ve wished many of my family and friends a Happy New Year!  Who wouldn’t want happiness in 2019, right?  The question is, however, what does “happy” mean to you?happywoman

My daughter Erica is a student at the University of Maryland.  Last semester she took a course in Positive Psychology which involved weekly exercises.  She would text me questions like, “Mom, what would make you happy today or what are you most grateful for?  She would ask me to meditate on a positive thought and report back on how I felt afterwards.

My husband and younger daughter also took part in these happiness exercises.  While I did find them helpful, I was also reminded that the definition of happiness is not exactly universal.  Sure, if you look the word happiness up in the dictionary, you’ll find things like a state of well-being and good fortune or a pleasurable experience.  However, my definition of a state of well-being may not align with your own.

So, I ask again, what does being happy mean to you?  Asking yourself this question forces you to take the time to focus on what’s important to you.  And your answers will change depending on what’s going on in your life.  As an example, my oldest hasn’t been feeling well over the past few months.  She recently had several tests done and will now be visiting with a specialist.

If you ask me what happiness means to me right now as I sit here typing this blog, it’s knowing that my daughter is going to be OK.  Of course, I’ve always wanted my children to be healthy and well but it is of even more importance to me now.  Knowing that my children are happy and well provided for gives me immeasurable  inner peace.  So, again, the definition of happiness is not exactly universal.  What makes me happy may not have any effect on your happiness level whatsoever and that’s perfectly alright.  The key is to know what you want and what’s most important to you.  What is it that will bring out positive feelings and emotions?

But as you do some soul searching in 2019, keep in mind that being happy does not mean the absence of negative emotions.  We all go through periods of fear, stress or sadness, for example.  And if we allow it, those negatives will eventually take over.  Using myself as an example, of course, I’ve been concerned about my daughter.  However, at the same time, I know I have so much to be grateful for in my life.  The love that I feel for my family and friends fosters feelings of joy and gratitude. No matter what the circumstances in our lives, there is always something to be grateful for.  You need only to take the time to look for it.  And when you look, you’ll find it within.

Why?  Here are a few tips to remember:

  1. Happiness is A CHOICE. Be mindful of your choices.
  2. Happiness is about GRATITUDE. Focus on what you do have and not what you don’t have.
  3. Happiness CAN’T BE BOUGHT. Material things bring us pleasure, not happiness.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Someone once asked me what I regarded as the three most important requirements for happiness. My answer was: A feeling that you have been honest with yourself and those around you; a feeling that you have done the best you could both in your personal life and in your work; and the ability to love others.”  The key to her wise response is that she describes happiness as a feeling, not a thing.  A feeling that can only come from taking a deep look within.

Wishing you a very Happy 2019!

Stop and Notice

“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” Meister Eckhart

Gratitude is the state of thankfulness.  It means counting your blessings and appreciating the simple things.  Appreciating the good in life, however, can’t happen without first allowing yourself the time to stop and notice them.

thank-you-362164_1280 (2)On Thanksgiving Day, I gathered with my family at my brother’s house.  At the start of the meal, my sister in-law suggested that we try a gratitude exercise.  Each person at the table was asked to reflect and mention something they were thankful for.  The various responses around the table generated both laughs and happy tears.

My oldest daughter Erica is a first-year student at the University of Maryland.  Missing her over the past three months made me truly appreciate her presence at the table.  When it was her turn, Erica, too, mentioned how much she missed us and how happy she was to be back home with her family.   When it was my daughter Lia’s turn to speak, she made many of us cry with her wise, touching words.  Lia will be graduating from high school in June and will join her sister as a college student next year.

“I just want to say thank you,” she said.  “So many of my friends keep saying they want to go far away to college.  Many of them want to go as far as California.  But I don’t want to go too far away.  I want to be able to come home and it’s because of all the people in this room.  Thank you for making me not want to go far away.”

It was certainly a proud moment for me.  Many beautiful things were said as we made our way around the table that day.  Doing this exercise forced us to stop and be mindful of the present moment while expressing our thanks for something in our life.  This is not to say that we didn’t have bad things going on.  We all do.

On average, people experience more positive than negative.  Yet, unfortunately, it’s the negative that gets more attention.  Why?  Simply put our brains are developed to react more strongly to negative stimuli rather than positive ones.  Scientists report that this is the brain’s automatic response in order to keep us out of harm’s way. The brain’s heightened sensitivity to focus on the bad is automatic and therefore concentrating on the positive requires more conscious effort.

Fortunately, it’s an effort well worth making. There are, of course, countless benefits to positive thinking.  Just to name a few, positivity strengthens the body’s immune system, reduces stress, improves relationships, and increases our overall well-being and happiness.

As we made our way around the table on Thanksgiving, we were all dealing with ups and downs, good and bad.  But for that single moment we took the time to stop and savor the positive.  In that instant, we made a conscious choice to appreciate life’s many blessings.

Thanksgiving traditionally marks the start of the holiday season.  For some “Tis the season to be jolly” but for others it’s the start of stressful times and financial worries. While some things are beyond are control, we are always in total control of our thoughts. It’s a choice that we make in any given moment.

As Roy T. Bennett once said, “Life becomes easier and more beautiful when we can see the good in other people.”

Thank you.

You Can’t Change People, You Can Only Change Your Reaction

Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” Arnold Schwarzenegger

One of life’s hardest lessons is that you can’t change others, you can only change yourself. This is one that I’ve needed to remember many times over the years. Luckily and maybe not so luckily, there is always someone out there reminding me.

courage-be-yourself

Recently, I appeared on a radio show. Prior to airtime, the host called me to talk about our interview. After several minutes, he said, “I hope you don’t mind but I’m going to tell my listeners about your disability.” He then went on to explain, “I think it’s important that they understand why you talk the way that you do.”   To be honest, I was taken back by his words.

Yes, I was born with a disability known as cerebral palsy and, as a result, I also suffer from bilateral hearing loss. I don’t have an issue with talking about my disability at all. In fact, I am proud of everything that I’ve been able to achieve in my life. I’m not by any means perfect but I am certainly perfectly imperfect. This is the first time, however, anyone has ever approached the issue with his choice of words.

Had he said that he felt his listeners should be made aware of my disability that would have been perfectly fine. I wrote a book about my life called, “Footprints in the Sand: A Disabled Woman’s Inspiring Journey to Happiness,” and I’ve also written and spoke of my disability countless times. My disability, as I’ve said many times, is my strength, not my weakness.

To be perfectly honest, I have no idea what he means by “….understand why you talk the way that you do.” How do I talk? How do I sound? Since I am hearing impaired, I do suffer from a speech impediment but most people don’t recognize it as such. When I first met my husband John, for instance, he thought I had a Boston accent. He was actually surprised when I told him that I was hearing impaired. I think, though, the reason John was surprised to hear about my disability is because I didn’t and still don’t focus on it in my life. To me, it’s not an issue.

Trust me, if I choose to make it an issue, it will be. Likewise, if I choose to focus on my disability then this is, in fact, what others will see. I’ve learned long ago that although my cerebral palsy is part of who I am, it doesn’t define me.

A few weeks after my college graduation, I went for a job interview with an ad agency. It was late on a Friday afternoon and everyone had gone home for the day. It was, therefore, very quiet and it was just me and the project manager (we’ll call her Kate). Kate and I enjoyed a very productive interview and she seemed to like me. So much so that she told me if I wanted the job it was mine. She gave me literature about company benefits and told me to come back the following Monday to meet with the president of the ad agency. When I arrived for my scheduled appointment, Kate bought me over to the president who was sitting at a table in the middle of a crowded, noisy room. Because of this, I had a hard time hearing him and asked him to repeat himself a couple of times.

After answering several questions, Kate asked me to follow her into her office. I assumed she was going to ask me when I could start since she did say the job was mine. Instead, she closed the door, looked at me and point blank asked me, “Josephine, do you have a hearing problem?” I looked at her stunned. “Yes, I do,” I replied.

Kate then looked at me and without any reservation said, “Josephine, let me give you some advice. Get out of the field. You’re never going to make it.” This didn’t sound like advice to me; it was more like a death sentence.

No matter how hard I try I can’t remember how I got from her office back to my car. I guess I have blocked it from my memory. I do remember sitting in my car and crying tears of anger and frustration. My young mind could not understand how this woman could say something like this to me.

When I arrived home that day, I went to my room, closed the door and tried to hide the continuing flow of tears from my mother. There was no fooling her, however. She was soon in my room asking me what had happened. As she held me in comfort, I relayed what Kate had said to me. My mother then said something that I have never forgotten through the years. “Josie,” she told me, “you listen to me. These people are ignorant. You are not the one with the problem; they are!”

My mother was, of course, right but it did little to erase the pain at that point in my life. It did, however, unleash a fire in me to prove people like Kate wrong. But this fire also comes with the innate knowledge that I cannot change what others think about me, I can only change my reaction to their behavior.

Arrogance and ignorance are two different things, however, they can often be interrelated. Arrogance implies a heightened sense of importance and pompous, egotistical behavior while ignorance signifies a lack of awareness, understanding or knowledge. The problem arises when dealing with both qualities in another person.

How then can we deal with ignorance and arrogance?

*Don’t Stoop to Their Level:

Although there is no excuse for egotistical, hurtful behavior, it is important to always remember where this behavior is coming from. Often times, this stems from their need to feel bigger than they are due to the insecurities they may be dealing with.

*Stand Up for Yourself:

Standing up for yourself can be done in one of two ways. You can either voice your opinion in a non-combative way or you can say absolutely nothing. The correct response depends on the personality of the person you are dealing with. Sometimes saying nothing at all speaks the loudest!

*Move on and Let Go:

This one is often the hardest. When dealing with people like this, it’s important to be honest with yourself and know when enough is enough. Sometimes it’s not possible to cut these people out of our lives totally. If it’s a family member or friend, for example, try to disengage and limit the amount of time you spend with them.

I’ve met many people like Kate in my lifetime and I’m sure I will meet many more. I can’t change people like her but I can control my response. I am not perfect and I don’t pretend to be. As I mentioned earlier, I have no idea how my voice really sounds but I do know the sound of my heart. To that, I will always be true.

 You Have to Earn the Title

“Treat people the way you want to be treated. Talk to people the way you want to be talked to. Respect is earned, not given.”

Hussein Nishah

Recently, I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine.  We were discussing whether respect should be given or earned.  For example, if you’ve been friends with someone for 20 years, does that mean you have to automatically respect them?  Does the fact that someone is a family member mean you have to automatically respect them? Should we just give out respect even though they might not deserve it?  What happens when that same friend or family member treats you rudely?

respectWhen I did a quick google search for the definition of respect, the following came up: a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements. This definition brings up a good point.  Respect is something you feel for someone based on their qualities among other things.

My friend said something that stopped me in my tracks.  “Josie, you have to earn the title.”  Truthfully, I hadn’t thought of it like that.  There are many people out there who feel like they are entitled to respect but unfortunately don’t give respect.  There are people who expect the world from others but are willing to give so little themselves. So her point was respect is not a sense of entitlement you have to earn the title. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best when he wrote, “Men are respectable only as they respect.”

Being in a position of authority does garner a level of respect. But how many times have you worked for a boss you didn’t respect?  Was that because he or she demanded respect without portraying the character to deserve it?

Children, of course, should respect their parents.  Growing up in a large Italian family I was raised to respect my elders and know that family comes first.  But what happens when a family member is abusive?

We should always treat people with kindness.  But if you want people to respect you, you have to be the kind of person and do the kind of things that maintain respect.  Likewise, if people want you to admire or respect them, they need to be deserving of that admiration.   As the Bible states, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31)

Simply put we have to feel admiration and respect for someone before we can truly give it.  And as my friend wisely said you have to earn the title.