The Gift of Giving

I am thankful and blessed to be comfortable in this life. Yes, I and my wife have worked hard for what we have and we are not spendthrifts in any sense of the word, but I know there are many people far worse off than we are.

I have been and probably still am to a certain extent “tight with money.” I suppose that comes from my parents always fighting over money when I was young — and I mean fighting — get down, drag out shouting matches. Early on when I was first out in the world on my own — college, then the US Air Force — I kept a fairly tight control of my finances. I guess I could have enjoyed some of that money I saved more like some of my buds, but that was me.

When it comes to giving, charities, and the like, I have my moments. Interestingly, often my wife will ask me — “I want to give something to such and such a charity,” then she asks how much she should give. Often I tell her an amount more than she was thinking, but we both are also often on the same page.

However, I am far more likely to give in other ways because money is still difficult for me to part with. If you haven’t discovered all of these, here are some ideas for giving that don’t involve giving money directly (and I’m always open to new ideas!

  • Your time — I have done this off and on and could do more of this. Think about Habitat for Humanity and other similar organizations (I worked on building houses after Katrina); hospitals always like volunteers, other organizations, or just helping a neighbor out
  • Stuff — I give lots of “stuff”
    • Things I have accumulated — I once gave a ton of musical instruments, parts, accessories, etc. to the local school district when I shut down a repair business I had done for years. Good for them, good for me. I bet you have this kind of “stuff” laying around too.
    • Books, kitchen supplies, videos, dvds, cds, household, even furniture, cars, and so on. Much of that “stuff” is useable and needed. We all accumulate “stuff” in our houses that we don’t use. Go on a rampage and clean out some of that “stuff” and give it to where it will help others: Good Will, Salvation Army, Purple Heart, etc. What’s your favorite charitable organization?
    • Clothing — Good, clean clothing is always welcome.
  • Garage sales, auctions, and so on: I love garage sales, auctions, storage units, and places I can buy tons of “stuff” for almost nothing. I’ll often buy boxes of “stuff” for not much money and after I’ve gone through it I’ll take out a few things I can use, throw out the junk, and clean up the rest to donate. A great adventure, I have fun, and it benefits me and others!!! What’s not to like.
  • More time — have a skill? a talent? I have given speeches for organizations, played my violin, worked — I have handyman skills, and so on. You wouldn’t believe how much this can help out: hospices and what we used to call “old folks homes” (I’m sure there is a better term these days), charitable supporting organizations like Rotary, Lions Club, etc.
  • On-line — There are ways to donate your talents on-line as well. Search the web for opportunities.
  • Give something of yourself — As you know, I write and publish my own books. I almost always carry copies with me and give them to people when I see an opportunity: one of my favorites is giving a book to someone who I see doing something nice for someone else.
What I’m really talking about here is giving the gift of YOU! It really is that simple and it becomes fun when it is “YOUR” gift. If you’re like me, money is still a bit difficult to part with, though my wife and I do have our favorite charities and always try to expand a bit in other directions every year. Giving from yourself and your talents is easier sometimes than parting with that hard-earned cash, and it can be loads of fun. It’s not even too late for this Holiday season (which, “hint, hint” doesn’t end with Christmas). Not to mention the fact that there is a whole New Year ahead — start early!
Best,
Joe Koob
P.S. Happy Holidays
P.P.S. Much of the above is also tax deductible; what’s not to like!

 

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Day of Kindness

Tis the season, so they say. We just had Black Friday, followed hard by Cyber Monday. How about “Kindness Thursday tomorrow?”

This is a gift you can give that doesn’t cost anything except a modest effort, and it has the potential to keep on giving. Nothing to lose here.

I don’t need to tell you how to be kind. I don’t need to give you little suggestions — what I can do is suggest that you be “OPEN TO THE POSSIBILITIES OF KINDNESS.”

Here’s what to do on “Kindness Thursday”:

Right after you wake up, before you get out of bed, think about kindness — what it means, what things you might do, who you might do them for, and so on. Start your day off with this reminder.

Then, keep it up. Keeping this in the forefront of your mind in spite of everything else you have to do is paramount.

Finally, “watch for it.” There will be opportunities — you just need to take them.

Here’s a moment I missed some years ago:

This is many years ago and yet I think of it now and again because it reminds me to take KINDNESS opportunities when they present themselves. It was pouring rain and I was in a hurry to get back to my car for some reason — business related. I had an umbrella and was using it because it was really coming down. [Now this is an unusual circumstance in and of itself, because I rarely carry an umbrella; so maybe providence was setting me up; saying to me “look for an opportunity to be Kind today.”] As I was scurrying past several downtown buildings I passed a woman sitting on a bench. She was soaking wet; had no umbrella, was just sitting there. Yeah, I went right on past and didn’t think about giving her my umbrella until I was in my car racing away to whatever was next most important on my list.

I remember this lady clearly and this incident because it is something I should have noticed sooner. I certainly didn’t NEED to have that umbrella, and that lady really could have used mine. I doubt she even noticed me. She was probably in her own world at that little moment in time too. But that little moment taught me one thing — keep your eyes open for such moments because they can happen quickly and be gone before you know it. I kick myself now-and-again for missing that one. Wish I had noticed sooner, thought it through more quickly, done something right then. Well, now I have that moment to remind me to WATCH.

Kindness Thursday, following Cyber Monday, which followed Black Friday is “that moment.” It’s a day we can make “that moment,” It’s a day to especially watch out for those little moments when you can make a difference to someone. Heck, you could even go out of your way to make a difference. Let’s start something good this holiday season.

Best,

Joe Koob

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YOU are not good enough!

You’re not Good Enough!

I am Good Enough and You’re not.

You aren’t as smart as George……………………………….because YOU are not good enough!

You never get anything done…………………………………. You’re not Good Enough!

Steve always does that better than you………………………. You’re not Good Enough!

Why can’t you get it right……………………………………… You’re not Good Enough!

You left your coat on the couch…………………………… You’re not Good Enough!

You always got picked last for sports…………………….. because You’re not Good Enough!

Why can’t you be like Barb?………………………………… because You’re not Good Enough!

See how smart she is; why can’t you be like her?…………………………………………………..

I guess I’m not Good Enough.

What’s that book doing there? Put it away where it belongs………………………… I’m not Good enough.

Why don’t you get better grades………………………….. I guess I’m not Good enough.

Joe won’t understand; ask Kathy, she’ll know……………………….. I’m not Good enough.

Look how great your brother is…………………………………… Yeah, I know, I’m not Good enough.

Stay in the closet all afternoon………….. because you aren’t Good enough.

You’re not worthy of my love………… because you aren’t Good enough.

Shape up and fly right!……………… You aren’t good enough.

BAM! Take that! …………………………….. You are not good enough.

Stop crying and take it like a man………………………. You are not good enough.

He doesn’t love me……………………………….because I’m not good enough.

She hurts me………… because I’m not Good enough.

God is punishing me…………….. because I’m not Good enough.

You’re not Good Enough! You’re not Good Enough! You are NOT good enough! You are not GOOD enough! You ARE not good enough. You’re not Good Enough! YOU ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH!!!!!!!

THIS is NOT your truth!

YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH! In fact, you are better than good enough – you are a divine manifestation of this universe and you have as much right to be here as any other being on earth. You are eons better than good enough because you have survived a thousand-thousand people who don’t know anything telling you that you weren’t good enough. You have done the unthinkable – you have stepped above your upbringing and done a million things that prove your worth: YOU have chosen KINDNESS, instead of one-up-manship; COMPASSION, instead of rightness; KNOWLEDGE, instead of being better than; TRUTH, instead of falseness and lies; SELF-GROWTH, instead of braggadocio; HELPING OTHERS, instead of putting them down or stepping on them… and so much more.

You understand the path of POSITIVITY as a foundation, instead of negativity.

You have already lived through horror and come out the other side – to YOUR truth. The truth that TODAY, THIS DAY, this MOMENT in time is another moment and day when you will bring your gloriousness to the world by being the loving, caring person you are to the fore.

This is who we are – the NOT GOOD ENOUGHS. We are the truth going forward. We are the kindness that so many others forgot. We are the choices that make life worth living. We are the fight that was never worth fighting about, because there are better ways, there are always better choices than putting others down. We raise ourselves up by our deeds, by how we treat others, by what we focus on, and most importantly by what we do.

Be the WHO you want to be and you will manifest what needs to be manifested to get past that past above. NO, you will never forget. You WILL remember the pain – the deep pain that grinds at you some days because of how you were treated. BUT! You will use that remembrance to bring something better into the world.

Yes, it would be nice if the memories and pain of how we were treated would go away. They won’t; they are part of who we are. YOU, however, can still CHOOSE who you are and how you continue.

Choose LIFE – not darkness.

Choose kindness – not hate; not what perpetuates what you went through.

Choose caring/Choose love – because they are the opposite of the pain and fear that motivated what happened to you in the past.

Choose YOU – anything else is the path to more pain and darkness.

Choose the LIGHT that radiates from every kindness you bring into the world.

I know. I was NOT GOOD ENOUGH either – but in looking back, and looking forward, I know I AM BETTER THAN GOOD ENOUGH! I SURVIVED and as a survivor I am here to make better choices for myself and others.

TODAY, this moment, I AM GOOD ENOUGH! and I can choose that for myself forever.

Best,

Joe Koob

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Love is not a Commodity

This is a great quote:

“Love is not a Commodity — it doesn’t run out.”

Which I picked up at an LRT (Loving Relationships Training) this past week.

Think about this one alot, because it can set the tone for a lifetime. It seems to me that far too often people act as if love is a commodity:

  • We parcel it out.
  • We “reserve” it for the right people.
  • We only give it to someone who “deserves” it; whatever that means.
  • We often hold ourselves back.
  • and so forth

Remember love comes in many forms. It’s not just about sex; or “The One.”

Maybe “Caring” is a better word to use for some of us to handle this concept. “Love” seems a bit extreme,.. BUT! Again, think about it. Is it really even a little bit extreme? Isn’t love what it is all about; in the final analysis which would you rather have as a legacy: love or hate? love or fear? love or blah?

There are many ways to share love with yourself and with the world, and most of them don’t cost anything either — maybe a tiny bit of effort, a shift in how you view this day, a stretch of your imagination, and above all a willingness to take a chance.

  • Love can be a warm puppy.
  • A stroll in the park.
  • A joyous hug
  • A friendly hug
  • A hug “just because” [I once hugged a lady in a wheel chair in the hospital — she had had so many blood tests done they couldn’t find any “fresh” veins. She needed a hug; so did I.]
  • Holding hands
  • Just touching someone in some way (and that doesn’t necessarily mean physically).
  • A small gift
  • A BIG smile
  • A sunny day.
  • A rainy day after too many sunny ones.
  • Just about anything you can add a bit of love and caring to.

Dream BIG; Love BIG:

Love ALOT.

Best,

Joe Koob

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You learn something every day.

You learn something every day.

Well, you do if you pay attention.

I learned something important yesterday. Something very worthwhile that I should have seen myself, but, well my eyesight is sometimes clouded by all that crap I went through early in life. As much as I like to be kind and compassionate, some things still leap out of that darkness and bite me in the butt. Here is one thing I missed.

If you are at all familiar with any of my books, I have written about “Intent,” in reference to succeeding with difficult people. Here is the centerpiece of what I have talked about:

First, that it is important to understand the intent of a difficult person’s approach to you. Brinkman and Kirshner, in their book Dealing with People You Can’t Stand talk about four basic ‘intents’ (slightly paraphrased):

Behavior becomes more…

Controlling when the intent is to get it done

Perfectionistic when the intent is to get it right

Approval-seeking when the intent is to get along

Attention-getting when the intent is to get appreciated

I added: Difficult when people don’t care; when the intent is to be cared for.

As an example: I am a “get-er-done” person. I like to get things right, but what drives me is getting it done and I tend to have to spend a good bit of time and effort reworking things because I charge ahead getting ideas out on paper as fast as my fingers fly over the keyboard (if you can call my two-finger typing “flying.” Generally, “get-er-done” people can get on the nerves of “get-it-right” people, and vice-versa.

The above is all very practical, and it does help to think about such things when you are in difficult situations with difficult people. Intent matters.

It matters so much because it has to do with perspective. If I perceive something different from the way you do, then our only real hope at understanding is open communications – where we are each willing to listen to and understand the other. With difficult people you may have to take the high road and make the effort to understand their perspective, because they likely will not make an effort to understand yours.

All this is well and good, but what I learned yesterday is even more important: my wife said we should give people the benefit of the doubt and make an effort to see that their intent could be coming from somewhere positive, rather than just practical or negative.

That sounds pretty reasonable, but it isn’t necessarily easy. It isn’t easy because we often have learned responses to behaviors and those responses leap out of us – I talk about “reacting” in my books – because of negative things that have happened to us in the past.

Consider this what if the person who you think is attacking you in some way, putting you down in some way, trying to get you to see something in a different way, is doing so because they want to help you?

WOW! Right?

Yes, you may be right in that they could go about it in a better way than they are, too. But isn’t intent better than anything else. It’s the real root, and unless we pay attention, we won’t see that. I need to start paying more attention.

“I’m not good enough.” That’s what I was told and shown throughout my young life. It’s a tough thing to get past and one reason I emphasize building self-worth so much in my books. Unfortunately, life has a way of reminding us of the past, and it is hard not to feel “not good enough” when someone is “telling me things,” “trying to get me to see things in another way,” and so on.

This idea of taking a step back and thinking of another person’s intent from a more positive perspective has me thinking, I can tell you that. I will need to work on it. It ain’t going to be easy. But it is a great new way to help “take that step back” and observe rather than react.

Think about this a bit. Maybe you’ll learn something too.

Your thoughts and ideas are always welcome.

Best,

Joe Koob

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Bravery against all odds

This is for those of you out there who were bullied or teased when you were young. And if you are like me, it wasn’t fun.

I was small for my age – which came from my Dad’s side of the family. I was actually 5’ 2” my Junior year in high school, but when I graduated I was 6” 1”. So I spent much of my young life behind the growth curve, and thus, I put up with a fair amount of bullying.

So take a look at this:

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A mouse stealing a leopard’s Lunch…. Are you serious?

Seemingly unaware of the beast towering over it, the tiny rodent grabbed at scraps of meat thrown into the African Leopard’s enclosure. But instead of pouncing on the tiny intruder, the 12-year-old leopard Sheena kept her distance.  After a few minutes she tried to nudge the mouse away with her nose, but the determined little guy kept chewing away until he was full.

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Sheena batted the mouse a couple of times to try to get it away from her food. But the determined little thing took no notice and just carried on.

The mouse continued to eat the leopard’s lunch and showed the leopard who was boss.

Bravery comes in all forms. I wonder if this mouse even knew how much danger he/she was in. Or perhaps he weighed his odds in whatever way a mouse does such things and said, “What the heck,” that’s a good looking free meal out there.”

When I look back over my life, I realize that I have been extraordinarily brave throughout. No, I didn’t beat up people who treated me badly, or strike back at them in underhanded ways, or get into major confrontations because of their boorish behavior (even though there were many times I wished I had) I did other brave things:

I stood up for what I believed in.

I went against rules and regulations that were beyond stupid.

I challenged the powers that be to do things that were right.

  • I was always willing to stick my neck out in outrageous ways to get a point across to my students.

I can think of many ways that I was brave in life – willing to dare to take a better road for myself and for others.

Bullying is a hard thing to take when it happens, and a hard thing to live with thereafter because there is typically a good bit of anger as a result. It’s hard to get past such deep feelings of anger, hurt, guilt, and shame too. However, perhaps it has taught us to be brave in better ways.

I’ll be willing to bet that there are a good many people like me out there – those who had to put up with alot in life, but who have fought the good fight instead of fighting in general. I imagine you have been far braver in your life than those bullies you faced.

LIFE is what we make of it, and it is very much about the choices we make. I think I’m going to continue to be brave my way. I don’t need to stoop to the methods of egoists and bullies. Neither do you.

Best,

Joe Koob

P.S. Yeah, they’re still out there. We just call them by different names, some of which I can’t print here. But you can tell – they’re the ones who act just the way they did as kids.

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The real competition is LIFE!

“The real competition is LIFE: Ask yourself how you are measuring up!”

This is a quote from my book “Difficult Men: a Book for Women.” However, I think it is a good quote for all of us to ponder.

Certainly one does not have to look at life as a competition, though often we do. This quote is found in the section of my book entitled, “Difficult Men at Work.” It is fairly common for women to feel like they are in a constant competition with men in this country when it comes to big business, succeeding at work in a male-dominating work-force.

I think that in one sense, looking at work/life/raising children/keeping up your yard/keeping up with the Joneses, etc. is a negative thing. One would hope that we could relax into life and enjoy it for what it is, rather than fight for every inch of territory we can from the moment we wake up until, exhausted, we hit the pillow at the end of the day.

I know, personally, that I have been far to competitive with this life; especially self-competitive. It wears on me. However, I, like millions of other Americans, was taught to be competitive. It seems like whatever I did as a child I was thrown into the fray by being compared to my brothers and sister, my classmates, idols and other great people, perfection, and so on.

Something still screams inside of me that “I am not good enough.” I imagine there are many of you out there who feel the same way.

In this sense, life shouldn’t be a competition.

On a more positive note, or from a better perspective, challenging ourselves to grow, learn, to be more kind, more compassionate, more understanding, and so on, is probably a good thing.

What I think I’m getting at here, and I am winging this, is that we need to pick the battles and wars we are fighting in life — for us — to be the best us we can be. Not to be the highest ranked, to have the most money, be the most well-known, and so forth, but to measure ourselves against the best standards we know.

So how are you doing today? Have you been kind? Have you offered someone some help? Have you learned something? Have you grown in some positive way for yourself? For someone else?

Try this: make a list of the battles and wars you really do think are worthwhile. Make your life about measuring up to these — today, tomorrow, and … hopefully many morrows to come.

Best,

Joe Koob

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