On the Bright Side, a column I write for the newsletter at work

golden statue

….by Jason D. Goodnight

Have you ever been around someone who was a constant complainer? I’m not talking about you; of course, we are all joyous and perfect ’round here. Truth is, being dissatisfied and complaining can be a contagious and depressing state of being; one which none of us are exempt from. It’s easy for us to see someone do something less that perfectly and immediately point out their mistake. There are some complaining types that love finding faults in situations and in people. It’s become comfortable to them. Everyone around them is sub-par and lesser than. They never have enough, they aren’t happy with themselves, nor are they are happy with their position in life. And it’s always someone else’s fault.

It may shock you, but I have been “that guy”. In fact, I am tempted to be “that guy” most days of the week. I often see all the chores around the house that my wife neglected to do and get agitated with her. Some mornings I clean for an hour or so using my frustration as my motivation. Then when I finally interact with her I act passive aggressive and self righteous. Somehow my hour long cleaning rigor exempts me from recognizing my failures.

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“Being Human”

On the Bright Side, a column I write for the newsletter at work
By Jason Goodnight
I was listening to Raphael Saadiq’s newest album the other day when I decided to look him up online to see what he was all about. Interestingly, I found out that Raphael had a really tough time growing up. Raised in Oakland, California, at a very early age Raphael experienced the loss of three brothers and a sister due to various urban tragedies. As shocking as it was to hear that this was Raphael’s past, it wasn’t so surprising. Somehow I knew he had a hard past, not because of anything specific that he had said, but there was something in the depth of his lyrics and in the way his songs resonated with me. This was the life of a person who knew hard times… a person who had gone through some stuff.

It seems to me that we avoid the difficult times and pretend like everything is always lovely and yet all of us can agree that the hard times have shaped us the most. It was in those times we found out who we really were. However, we avoid the tough times because we are hesitant to endure the stress of the situation. Doubts creep in. How will we cope? Who will be there to help us along? How will we survive it? Being hesitant and avoiding hard times is a logical response. The problem occurs when we deny the reality of the wounds that we’ve already sustained. It’s as if our fear of going through tough times has desensitized us to the present reality of what we have already gone through.

From my experience, I believe the wounds from our past can be at the root of various forms of addiction, social disorders, and even clinical mental disorders. We can be living in depression, sadness, and isolation without even knowing it. Something that happened to us many years ago can be negatively affecting the way we see and experience life right now. The thing is, we have to quit being bullheaded and face the music of what’s really going on inside of us. Raphael Saadiq has 12 Grammy nominations and a highly successful music career and is not living in a homeless shelter off Tryon St. because of the way he dealt with his hard times. It’s why his songs speak to the deep places of other humans. He experienced the toughest tragedies and found a way to not only regain his health but to use them as strength.

Truth be told, the ups and downs of life, the heartaches and celebrations, are not uncommon. It is the story of being human. It’s the story of the seasons changing. It’s the story of the darkest night becoming the brightest sunrise. And whether we pretend or not, it’s the story of each of us. We go through cycles and seasons. We know the people we can trust because we’ve learned who we couldn’t. We know what good days feel like because we’ve know the bad ones.

I guess it would be nice if every day and every year was predictable and consistent. But we can count on them not being so. Life is an ever evolving adventure with twists and turns, awful times and awesome ones.

A dear friend of mine likes to say “Be nice to people, you don’t know what they could be going through.” This is so very true about our peers and the way we should interact with those around us. We should be gentle to one another and forbearing. We have no idea what kind of heartache they may have. Yet, with just as much enthusiasm I say to you that you should be gentle with yourself, for you may be unaware of what you are going through. This thing of being human, being flawed, and yet being great is an experience to embrace, to cling to, and to learn to master. May this New Year bring a new opportunity to embrace the past, becoming strengthened by all of our experiences, while we look forward to the future, come what may.

“Beginners at Heart”

On the Bright Side, a column that I write for our monthy newsletter at work
by Jason Goodnight

We have arrived in the information age. Most of us spend several hours a day staring at computers inside of huge man made buildings. We use our hard earned money to go to gyms so we can exercise our stagnant bodies. Every environment we’re in is air conditioned. If a question is posed, we simply “Google” the answer. If we need to buy something, we can find it online and have it shipped to our homes. If we want to watch our favorite show, we simply click a mouse. As a culture we live in a state of luxury. Truth be told, we’re spoiled.

We’re so saturated with information that many tradesmen lose work, because former clientele became “experts” by watching YouTube do-it-yourself videos. Everybody and their brother are writing blogs stating their opinions about life, while professional magazines and newspapers lose work. The former reverence for higher education and historic paternal hierarchy is all but dissolved. Kids start Internet businesses and make millions. Many people work from home for decades on end. What an amazing world we live in. We’re inundated with conveniences, entertainment, and almost all the information from history past.

We’ve got it all figured out… or do we?
Although our culture encourages us to believe that we’re experts at everything, the fact that we think we’re experts proves that we’re not. The last hundred years have proven that there is always progress to be made. In many ways we have allowed our great progress to make us proverbially obese, lazy and sluggish, instead of using our great progress as a platform to make greater progress. We’re realizing that progress does not always equate to satisfaction. Look at the global economy, for instance. If we’re so smart why are we in such a bind? Look at our children and the overuse of video games. Our fast food industry.

Although this idea is applicable to the broader world, on several levels, consider science and it’s future. We know firsthand that science and curiosity is needed in today’s world. But what I want to address is the personal application for us.

When we allow ourselves to be conclusion-ists, pessimistic, and prideful, we can have a tendency to begin to criticize the people around us. We let our current situations become boring to us. We can even be the primary cause of depression in our own lives, because we allow ourselves to see things dismally, as if there is nothing left to be explored and tried.

Or, we can let ourselves be captivated by life again; we can expect the best out of our peers, we can continue to research topics that we love. We can stop being critical of others. We can stop talking behind others’ backs. We can make goals again. We can allow ourselves to play again. We can explore, we can learn, we can grow. We can humble ourselves, believing that there will always be a need for growth in our understanding. After all, it is our false assumptions of the world around us that hinders us from being able to see a lot of the great beauty and mystery that swarms around us.
We have to believe there is always hope this day can hold joy, excitement, and satisfaction. Believe there is the possibility for newness. We may have advanced in many ways and we may be “way awesome”, but without hope that today will hold something beautiful and new, our pride stifles wonder. And wonder is what allows us to see beyond ourselves.

Join me this holiday season in laying down our conclusions? And let’s allow wonder to live and breathe again in our lives. Let us become beginners… at heart.

“All that glitters ain’t gold.”

On the Bright Side, a column that I write for our monthy newsletter at work
by Jason D. Goodnight

I love this phrase. I find myself reflecting on it often. Mostly because it gives a bit of insight into a mysterious principal of doing what’s right even when no one is looking. It’s the idea that what happens behind the scenes is most important. It also implies that no one’s extraordinary gifts matter all that much if the principal of hidden effort is not in place.

In action it can be seen in professional basketball players. Some of the hardest working players have become the greats. Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, for example. They are notorious for having the most rigorous and faithful workout routines. What is lacking in their natural abilities is compensated by their hidden work ethic. As a result they are heralded as two of the best ever with numerous championship rings to prove it. And yet year after year players with great potential and natural talent come into the NBA and fizzle out because they choose to slack off when no one else is looking.

“All that glitters ain’t gold.” A good friend of mine recently quoted a similar phrase to me saying “All Gold doesn’t glitter.” It took me a little bit to get it, but now that I think about it I love it. My interpretation is that even though flashy is often rewarded in the short term and often seen as “better than” it’s the faithful, the proven, the consistent, it’s those who never give up and those that keep getting better after their failures that become successful.

There’s a purpose for each of us that’s tied into our desires and will not get accomplished without our willing cooperation and even our great effort. It may seem like a good idea to just cruise through life, avoid the promotion, and take it easy. But will that really make your heart happy? Will that satisfy your desires? Or is the adventure of accomplishing crazy goals the best part?

What are you living for? What kind of legacy do you want to leave? What do you want to accomplish in life? The only thing that may be keeping you back from accomplishing every dream in your heart may be your willingness to set your sail in that direction and never give up at it. Don’t let apathy be your biggest enemy, start efforting towards your goals. You first have to be bad at something before you can be good at it. That’s just the way things go.

People who don’t accomplish anything significant in their lives are people who have chosen not to. So you’ve had a circumstance that has held you back. Take the proper measure and work through it. You’re not good at one facet of life. Find someone who is good at it and learn from them. Take a class related to your dreams.

I’ve seen young people die early and old people bloom late. Don’t let you be the only one holding you back from success. Invest your time and energy to achieve your goals. Success doesn’t come by luck it comes by the hidden effort of the determined. What are your goals? Are your actions correlating to your desired result? What happens in the hidden places matters. All that glitters ain’t gold.