“Put on your own mask first” is flawed

“You must put on your own mask first before assisting others.”

This makes sense in an emergency flight situation, because if you try to help someone put on their oxygen mask before you have yours on, it is likely you will pass out very quickly before you can finish helping them, leading to a dire situation for you, and them.

We have imported this pre-flight safety element into a life philosophy. It gets used when talking about our mental health. Another one is ‘you can’t give from an empty cup’. Basically, look after yourself before you try to look after others.

It seems to fit, but it’s wrong.

These ideas assume that your mental health is not connected to the people around you, and if you are struggling with areas of life, all you need to do is to take a break from the world or isolate yourself from everyone else, recharge, feel better and then come back into the world to care for people.

There may be times when that is necessary, but the wellbeing of an individual is deeply linked to being in contact with and even caring for other people.

If you can spend time helping someone else and you can see the difference you are making, it will energise you. It is not a case of putting on your own mask first or filling your own cup up and then giving of yourself, but as you help someone else “put their mask on”, or “fill their cup”, your mask will be put on and cup will be filled up. As you care for others you will care for yourself. (Unless you don’t have generous boundaries).

The Only True “Two Types of People” Statement

“There are two types of people, those that believe there are two types of people and those that don’t.”

People are complex and cannot be sorted into two types of anything, let’s not oversimplify, except for the statement above.

Take vaccinations for example. There are those who are pro-vax and those that are anti-vax, right? Wrong.

It’s more like this:

100% Passionate Support                                                                 100% Passionate Against

Forget vaccination, let’s talk cheese. There are those people that like cheese and those people that don’t, right? Wrong.

It’s more like this:

100% Passionate Support                                                                 100% Passionate Against

And that’s just one small part of the person.

The world is a spectrum of beliefs, experiences, thoughts, and traditions. How I ended up having the same opinion as you is most likely a very different journey to how you ended up with that opinion. We think the same on that issue, we both like cheese, but we are not the same person. We don’t have an equal amount of commitment to it. We don’t have an equal amount of experience with it. We don’t have an equal amount of care for it. We are at different points on the spectrum of our love of cheese.

It is generous to see people as complex and more than a cheese lover or not.

Fade

I am amazed by the sheer amount of people that are alive in this moment. Over 7.9 billion people is impossible to imagine. It is extraordinary, and overwhelming and humbling.

Out of that 7.9 billion, how many people will know me? Dunbar’s number suggests that we don’t really have the capacity to have more than 150 meaningful relationships.

Out of that 150, how many will really do life with me? Jim Rohn said that you are the average of the 5 people that you spend the most time with.

So, not many.

How many will remember me?

Of the people who lived 100 years ago, (about 2 billion of them), I have heard of, maybe, a handful. A dozen at most, and probably the same names that you may know. The rest of them, well they might have influenced how I live but I don’t know their names or their story.

So, logic would suggest that in 100 years no one will remember me, and no one will remember you. (Sorry).

I will fade.

That’s okay.

However, what I do will have a lasting effect. Every act will create an impact.

Specifically, generous acts multiply. They grow over time as they encourage others to be generous and create ripple effects to people that you will never know in places that you will never travel to. Generosity will not fade. It will last forever.

Leave a legacy. Be generous.

How to Deal with Stupid People

I come across them regularly, on the road, in the supermarket, walking on the footpath. People who behave in such a way that I can only assume that they are stupid. Sometimes I call them ‘jokers’, other times I have more colourful names for them, but in my mind they are categorised as ‘stupid people’.

I am sure you would know some people like this. People who don’t seem to understand your priorities or seem to care about your sense of urgency. They could be just about anyone, and as it turns out they are usually anyone who is not me.

I think my eldest son was about 7 or 8 when I first heard him call someone a ‘joker’ from the back seat of the car. I am so glad that he didn’t use something more colourful. This was a rude shock – when you hear your own judgement parroted back to you it can be startling. And how long until that word gets used to describe me? Are other people using that word to describe me? Am I someone else’s ‘stupid person’?

It is the easiest thing in the world to judge people, to create a story in our mind about how they are just stupid for not seeing the world as I see it and behave in a way that I would behave. It is the easiest thing in the world to be completely self-centred.

What I have discovered is that everything that everyone does makes sense to them, even if it is just at a subconscious level. They may not even be able to articulate why they do something but at some level their behaviour aligns with their values, or their world view.

If you don’t understand why someone does something then your path to understanding is through curiosity, asking more questions and making less judgements. That is generosity in relationships.

If you have stupid people in your life, then perhaps you’re not asking the right questions.

What do you want to be?

What do you want to be when you grow up? Remember that question? I feel like it was a constant companion when I was little. This question of future possibilities. It was usually answered with ‘a policeman’, or ‘an astronaut’ or ‘a fire engine’. You know, the standard things kids want to be.

I don’t ever remember being asked, what do you want to do when you grow up? It was always what do you want to be? It’s a little thing, but it speaks volumes about how our thinking changes as we grow.

‘Be’ elicits thoughts of a calling, of becoming something and creating something.

‘Do’ is just about doing things and actions.

I believe that we all have a desire to be something, to fulfil our calling, the reason why we are here on this planet. More often than not, I have discovered that peoples calling is about other people. Caring for them, helping them, finding fulfilment in watching others grow and develop and reach their full potential.

There is no doubt that we ‘do’ things in the process, but the doing serves the calling, not the other way around.

So what do you want to be when you grow up? There is something within each and every one of us which cries out to help other people – but whether we listen to that is up to us.

World’s Greatest Resource

What do you consider to be the worlds greatest resource. There is much debate about the value of certain items – would it be oil, gold, iron ore, lithium perhaps, what about water, air and sunshine? Ice cream? All seem to be pretty important, some more than others but which is the greatest resource available to us?

I don’t think it’s any of these. For me, it has to be people. We are told that there are now nearly 8 billion people on the planet. That is almost 8 billion resources, but more than that, individuals that carry with them such great value and incredible capacity. With 10% of the global population still living in extreme poverty then that is at least 10% that are not being able to reach their full, God given potential. When that happens, not only do the individuals miss out, but the rest of the world misses out on their creativity, ideas and ingenuity.

There is a question that haunts me.

“What if the cure to cancer was trapped in the mind of a child who hasn’t received an education yet?”

To me that talks about potential, of what is possible yet not accessible because not everyone is able to make their contribution. The sad thing is that there is so much that we can do to facilitate that and it starts with small actions. Little things that will go a long way to empowering those living in poverty.

We have some difficult issues as a world, but if we could get the most out of every person, I have no doubt we could overcome all of them.