For the past few days here at Vanaprastha, we’ve had poor air quality, a result of smoke from forest fires due to dangerously dry conditions. A wind shift and cooler temperatures yesterday morning brought gloriously clear skies. Cause and effect, an outcome, a consequence, a result measured, positive or negative.
A result as a positive effect
Keith and I came down with colds last week. As with the cold I had last spring, headache, congestion, drainage, sore throat, and coughs didn’t change my schedule much. Cooking, cleaning, practicing, writing, editing, and dog walking and training. I did take things slower, however, which reminded me of what our dog trainer advised, the woman who fostered both Cato and Mac.
“It’s about slowing down,” she said, controlling doors—entrances and exits—breaking the pattern of amped up hackles. If that happens, say “Leave it” and “Quiet” while walking the dog away on leash. Then return to the door and try again. “Back Up,” if the dog is too close to the door. “Sit. Wait.” This kind of break leads to a solution and relief.
The result? Less jumping, less barking. Calm. And from my slowing down? More rest and time to recover.
A result as a negative outcome
Remember the self-esteem programs hyped during 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s? According to Jean M. Twenge, Ph.D. author of Generation Me, the result of all these self-esteem programs was zero, no impact, nothing. Except Gen Me’s have a harder time with criticism, and as young adults suffer higher rates of anxiety, loneliness and depression. A negative outcome.
Children who grew up in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, were independent, confident, tolerant, assertive, special, entitled – and miserable. By the 70’s, perhaps due to societal shifts such as divorce, that misery exhibited itself in measurable declines in children’s self-esteem. And thus, the call went out for all schools to teach self-esteem, that is, self-esteem for self-esteem’s sake.
Twenge did not discuss the curriculum specifically, but if my daughter’s experience was representative, it’s no wonder the personal responsibility message got flipped. To Me’s, self-esteem is who you are innately, not what you do, and it’s not your fault when things don’t work out. Unsurprisingly, the desired “feel good about yourself” result didn’t pan out either.
But there is a solution.
An immeasurable result in following
We all have purposes in life, even in the third or fourth stages of life, and we’re all given gifts to accomplish them. Some are given many gifts, some only one.
Recently, our church asked the membership to fill out a Spiritual Gifts inventory. I’ve taken surveys like this previously, and the result is always the same: generosity, service, helping, and both kinds of leadership. Quite honestly, my gifts aren’t off-the-charts extraordinary. Many people are far more gifted in each of these areas. My gifts function more like a skill set that I can draw upon in combination.
The result of following God’s path and using our gifts for the benefit of others is being better people, more grateful. An immeasurable result.
Requesting prayers for rain and wishing you all a blessed Thanks-giving.
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