My Eary Dilemma

There I was, in all of my glory arguing over a topic I have long forgotten. But what I took away from that confrontation will remain with me for life. Set in my ways and hell bent to prove my point I found myself plotting my next remark. With one ear poised to the conversation I formulated a defensive rebuttal. After several minutes of raised voices, belittling looks, and arrogant words my opponent seen they could not prove me wrong. Victory was mine as they submitted and walked away.

For one reason or another, the next day I could not stop thinking about my tactics. My uncouth actions began to eat at me. I wasn’t listening. All I was interested in was “winning” the argument. It wasn’t even an argument. Someone had a different opinion than I did, and I felt the need to show them how wrong their opinion was. This, by any standards, was low. I had no right to chastise their views. I do believe the term nerf hurder correctly described my character.

Can two people with different views be right? Absolutely. If I asked, “Is 68F or 20C too cold for a room?”, I would receive a lot of opinions on this. There are no wrong answers to this question, since it requires an opinionated answer. And that’s the point. No one is wrong in an opinionated conversation. We may disagree with them, but that does not make them wrong.

We should never take the right to have an opinion away from others. How sad this world would be if everyone had to think and believe like Donald Trump. Not saying he’s good or bad. Just stating we need different view points.

If you ever find yourself in an argument, stop and ask yourself, “Am I defending a fact or expressing an opinion. Fact: Apples are red. Unless they are Granny smiths. Those are green. Black Oxfords have a purple tint. And, Golden delicious apples are yellow. So there goes that fun fact of the day about apples being red and all. But, they can be red… ish… right?

Anywho, If is vital that we understand we don’t have to win every argument. This “I’m right and your’re wrong” attitude clashes with our quest for happiness. What’s happy about proving someone’s opinion is wrong. Nothing, that’s what. Our views are like a spice rack. Salt and pepper aren’t the only flavoring agent in this world. THANKFUL! Take the time to listen to others. Stop planning a rebuttal while others are talking.

Stop planning a rebuttal while others are talking.

Listening is important; right? Of course it is. We want others to listen to us, so it’s only fair to lend an ear back to them. Place value in the thoughts and opinions of others. We have so much to offer each other, if we take the time to absorb it in like summer sun rays. Mmm, radiation. Soon we will see the common ground between their view and ours. Believe it or not, we are not as different as some may believe. We are all human. And we all are searching for life’s happiness. So it would be safe to say we have the ability to pass along some of that happiness we learnt.

A conversation is a two way street, not a battle of right of ways.

Until the next blog, live life and be happy.

Steve  Curtis


When Not To Help

We’ve all been there. A family member needs help and we really don’t have the means to help. Nonetheless, we sacrifice in an effort to alleviate their pain. Why? What would possess us to bring their suffering upon ourselves? There is one simple reason; love. Love, in that manner, will convince us that they are worth suffering for. Not everyone will understand this type of love, and there is nothing wrong with not understanding, But for those that do, it can be a blessing or is can be a curse. How so you asked? The blessing comes in the form a gratitude. We are grateful that we were able to help. The curse comes when that member realizes that we will help them whenever they need it and begins to take advantage of our love.

Somewhere out there I can hear someone stating perhaps we shouldn’t love as much. After all, it’s our love that enabled them to take advantage of us, right? No. A wrong doing on their part does not constitute a wrong doing on ours. One should never feel guilty for wanting to help. The sad truth is, there are people out there looking for those willing to help for free. They prey on the kindness of others. These are the people who have lost their humanity. For taking advantage of someone willing to help is not humane. Never capitalize on the kindness of others. It’s alright to refuse help that we do not need. Refusing help when we need it is a different story for a different blog.

There a people who make millions off of the donations of others. People are just willing to give stuff away, and I’m just here trying to make a buck. This type of thinking is wrong. As stated before, it is wrong to capitalize on the kindness of others. A good example is Mark Curran. He is the CEO and owner of Goodwill. Now, I now Goodwill had helped a lot of people. However, when a person makes $2.3 million a year I begin to question how nonprofit is their business. I’m sure his team of lawyers could explain it to me. But, the root subject here is one person makes millions off of the charity of others. If people are willing to do that, is there any doubt that family and friends will take advantage of us? Sad truth is, it happens every day.

How many times can we kick a dog before it no longer returns. The answer is once too many times. We are no different. Once we realize that a person is using us, we have a choice; stop or continue to help. We tell ourselves that they’ll change. This time will be different. They learnt their lesson last time. With blinders on we ignore logic and follow our heart. After all, we are good people and we just want to help.

We naturally want to help. Have you ever watched children help each other. They pat each other on their backs and say everything is going to be alright. But, from our childhood to adulthood, something changed. People changed. We changed. All of a sudden things aren’t as simple as they use to be. It hurts when others begin to take our love for granted. …When they show no value in our love for them… How many times have we taken someone for granted?

Family is the biggest culprit for this. Why? In a simple answer, family knows that we will always be around. We aren’t going anywhere, we’re family after all, and family sticks together. Right? Stop being so sensitive. Buck up. Life is hard and we all need to stick together. Family takes care of family. But who takes care of us? Who is there when we need help? Seems family is strapped for cash too, and they don’t have the time to help. But good luck and they’re praying for us. Now, I know I’m hitting the family side hard on this subject. But, it needs to be said. No longer should we tip toe around the fact that it’s easier for us to go to our mom, dad, brother, or sister. We know them. They know us. Friends don’t know us like that. Friends know friendships can end. They don’t have the luxury of being family. Family will always be family. … They have nothing to lose. Win the lottery and we’ll see cousins, nieces and nephews that we never knew we had. With family comes entitlement. We owe them. After all, family takes care of family

What do we do when we see someone is taking advantage of us? Stop. Stop giving them time, Stop hoping for change, Stop giving them a reason. It’s hard. And yes it will hurt. Stop accepting the pain. It’s easier for us to accept the pain rather than watch others suffer. If we are suffering then we are in control of that pain. If others hurt and we cannot or do not help, we feel less in control. We do not need to control everything around us. Everything is not our responsibility. This is why we need to stop. Yes, they will fall, cry, beg, and say they hate us. But that’s a part of growing up. Sometimes we need to stop holding their hands. Once they are done sulking, they will stand up and do just fine. We owe it to ourselves to stop helping those that take advantage of us. Its not fair to us. We deserve happiness too. We deserve to have quality people in our lives. Quality people are worth helping. They don’t take advantage of us, and they make us feel appreciated. Wholesome people have a way of warming the heart and make us feel valued.Never settle for less. This is one way we can find life’s happiness. Filtering the people we deal with will help us decide who is worth our time. Time with you is precious. Your time has value. Never settle for less.

Until next blog, live life and be happy.

Steven Curtis

Damn you Mr. Smiley

Mr. Smiley, why must you be so happy every fricking morning. I mean, like, give it a break. You woke up, you feel good, and you feel the need to share how great your life is. Ugh!

I’m pretty sure that’s how my coworkers feel about me. When I say “wake up in a good mood”, let’s just say I’ve been known to sing to my wife in the morning. I wasn’t always like this. I use to listen to my Onyx album Bacdafucup every morning before work, curse at other drivers, and dreaded working. Mind you, this was during the time I didn’t have a home. I literally bounced from house to house sleeping where I could. Some nights I slept in my car. Life was crap. Or so I thought. I was going down a slippery slope and I knew I needed to change or I was going to crash.

Looking back, I was an angry person. But this was my own demise. From the moment I woke up I had hate and discontent blaring in my ears. Fact: morning is the foundation for the whole day. How it starts effects our quality of day. My living conditions were less than adequate. Yes, I fell under the “homeless” category. Life was against me.

All of my life I was told “we’re poor we can’t afford that.” Naturally I adopted that mindset. Society frowns at the poor. So with the world giving me a cold shoulder, I gave one back. I hurt people verbally. Not just the casual insults. No, I lured people in with a kind smile and tender attitude only to drop them from cloud nine with unadulterated hate. I wanted others to hurt as I hurt. Why should they be so happy when I’m out here struggling? I use to say “Karma’s a bitch.” Truth is, I was being one. Times got rough. And then it happened. I had a friend that wanted to commit suicide. So, being the “sensitive” person I was, I decided to tell my life story to someone for the first time ever. Yup, I was opening up and letting the whole truth out. I left no details out. Poverty, abuse, neglect, molestation. It all came out. My friend set there with tears in his eyes. “I thought my life sucked.” he paused with searching eyes that yearned for a validation for his situation. “You should be the one committing suicide; not me.” he proclaimed. Perhaps it was a case of the simples brought on by staying up until the wee hours of the morning, but we began to laugh uncontrollably. Perhaps he was right.

Although that wasn’t the darkest hour of my life, it was a huge pivot point. I began to look at myself in the same manner I looked at others. Like a conman looking for a sucker, I was good at reading people. It was time I did a little soul searching. I wasn’t proud of who I was. At first I blamed my environment. Treat a man like a dog and he’ll act like a dog; right? No, treat a man like a dog and he’ll leave. People did leave me alone. I was always the third person in a group, the drifter at a party that was there but never interacted enough to have fun. I was lonely.

I was poor. Not because of my financial standings, but because of the quality of person I was. Over the course of twenty years I changed. One may say that’s a long time to change. They’re correct. But once change is started, it never stops. We continue to grow. Whether for the good or for the bad, we grow. I learnt to be courteous and polite. My environment changed as well. Not because the Navy moved me around, but because I saw the world in a different view. I still listen to the Onyx album from time to time to remind myself how far I’ve came.

What’s the next evolution? Being cordial. What does that entail? Glad you asked. I’m learning to be warm and friendly. Everything that I learnt with being courteous, now I do it from the heart. It’s the difference between taking a step and taking a step with purpose. I find myself calmer in stressful situations. Yes, I still have my moments. But, don’t we all… I implore you not to just be nice or kind. Rather, be genuine. Karma works both ways. You’ll find that kindness done without an expectation of reward has a way of being multiplied back. That’s why I’m Mr. Smiley in the morning. Life is good. I’m not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination. But, I am happy. For once in my life I have found life’s happiness. And, it started with a sobering self evaluation. So please excuse my joyful morning exuberance. Thanks 🙂

Take care and have a beautiful Friday.

Steve Curtis

The Wanting Well

The Wanting Well

Money, we all want it. We all need it. Am I right? There is no better feeling than seeing money in the bank on payday. Then, we pay bills, and now we are broke again. Oh the vicious cycle of working and spending. Will it ever end? Will we ever get ahead?

Well, let’s step back and take a look. Suppose I wanted twenty dollars, and you were gracious enough to supplement my want. Will I hang onto those twenty dollars and cherish your generosity? Nope, it’s a good chance I will run out and spend it on some nic-nac that I’ll lose interest in. Turns out I didn’t want $20. What I wanted was a way to buy what I wanted. To complicate things even more, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted. What I did know is it meant a lot to me having the means to purchase my spur-of-the-moment, “oh-my-goodness I need this in my life”, “can’t live without it”, one of a kind gizmo.

Did “want” drive my impulse to buy? In a sense, yes. That is a huge part of sales. Companies pay big bucks to make you want their product. Hey, everyone else is doing it, why not you? Sound familiar? Like a fish on the line, they reel us in. It’s almost as though we can’t help ourselves. We are slaves to the cycle of working and spending. But, how much of this reality do we bring onto ourselves? When will we have enough and stop wanting? If the sales industries have their way, then the answer is never. We will always want. However, there are steps we can take to alleviate our urge to want.

The first step is to realize, although it is not wrong to want, wanting is a bottomless pit. We will never have enough to satisfy our want. There will always be new products and gadgets to drool over. So, let’s face the truth. We cannot buy everything. People are not going to flock to us because we chose one product over another. No, people aren’t going to respect you for the house mortgage truck your driving. Now that that bubble is popped, let’s move onto the next. It takes discipline to be content. We work towards being satisfied with what we have. It sounds odd, but it’s true. Our obsession with gaining more has us neglecting our current status. Right this very second, there is someone wishing their situation was as good as our’s. And, while they are looking at us, someone else is looking at them with the same respect. We never comprehend our blessings until they are gone. Then, it’s too late. Being content means that we are happy with what we have. We don’t want any more. We don’t need any more. Is that a bad thing? It can be. We do need to grow. Growth requires change and change can mean we need new products. This points towards moderation. “Wanting” isn’t bad. However, wanting everything we see and touch is.

Taking care of our necessities will help us stay on course. Food, housing, and clothing are necessities. As foolish as we are, we often use these as excuses to get what we want. We need clothing, but do we need that $200 designer pants. Yes! I mean no; no we don’t. It’s nice to indulge in some things; as long as we moderate within our means. What is meant by “within our means”? Glad you asked. If I have $25 and all of my bills are paid. Can I afford to splurge on coffee? The simple answer is yes. However, sticking to a budget will allow us to know for sure. “OMG not the B word!” I hated the word budget in my youth. Now, I live by it. A budget will let us know exactly where our money is going and why we can’t afford what we want. It takes discipline to stick to a budget. It’s not easy to say no, but with work we can organize and distribute our finances efficiently. Who knows, after trimming some of our wasteful spending, we may have enough to splurge with.

I’m not going to tell you how to spend your money. Finances are a touchy subject. There’s nothing more annoying than someone declaring how wasteful you are with your money. “Dude! It’s my money.” Right? Sure, but we all know it’s easier to find fault in others plans. If we look at our budget and find no fat to trim, let a trusted friend look at it. Or better yet, let your grandparents give you advice. The key here is to balance necessities and pleasure. After all, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy… or something on those lines.

In closing, I want to reiterate the importance of being financially happy. This does not mean being Mr. Moneybags. No, this means living without financial worries. It does take time to climb out of a hole. However, with patience one can gain ground and overcome any situation. A simple rule I learnt as a youngster, “If I don’t know, I ask.” This holds true with any situation. If we do not know how to get out of a financial hole, we should ask someone who knows.The quality of advice will depend on the quality of people we ask. Finding that happiness is crucial. Never listen to people who say you’ll never afford this or that.

Until next the next blog remember money can help us find life’s happiness.

Steve Curtis

My Focus in Life

Let’s pretend, shall we? It’s a glorious morning. Coffee is fresh, breakfast fills the air as the children quietly scurry to get ready for school. As stated, we’re pretending. The children leave for school, allowing us to go to work. We walk to our vehicle and find a flat tire. Yup, it’s one of those mornings. In the spirit of pretending, we snap our fingers and the tire is changed. Thirty minutes has past and we’re now behind schedule. Traffic is crowded as we make our way. “We’re all running late.”, we exclaim.  An idea illuminates. We’ll inform our boss. After all, we’ll get there when we get there, and not a minute before. With the blessings of our hands free device, we call ahead to let them know we’re running behind. They aren’t happy, but at least they know, and can plan accordingly. We just got our thirty minutes back and are actually on schedule again. Upon getting to work, we are quickly reminded why we don’t wait for the last minute to find a parking spot. Yup! It’s the back 40 acre parking lot for us. Scurrying in with a slight shuffle-trot we find the elevator is out of order. Oh great, we have four flights of stairs to climb. Stressed and breathing heavy from the parking lot excursion, we make our way up the winding, echoing passage. At our desk we are met with a pile of work and a coworker who has the biggest “OMG you’re LATE!” attitude.

This is where we’ll take a breather. A lot has happened to us in the scenario. Let’s start with the children being quiet as they got ready for school. Tell me that not a blessing. Then we had the flat tire. This is where our attitude matters. If we approach it with a tempertamtrum then, yeah, it’s a big deal. However, if we approach it with a “meh, life happens” attitude, then we are more apt to be in a better mood. Moving on to the traffic that wasn’t moving. Driving can be irritating. We all know the best driver is us. Am I right? These idiots don’t know what they are doing. (Might I throw in a slight interjection? Putting others down in order to justify our attitude is not couth in any manner. Yes, some drivers are better than others. That doesn’t make our judgemental statement any less wrong.) What did we do to combat this irritating atmosphere? That’s right we called ahead. Not only did this buy us time, but it alleviated the stress of being late. I even think we smiled a little. At this point we should be stressed, angry, frustrated, and down right nuclear. Nonetheless, we are not. Mostly, due in part to the manner in which we kept composed. A positive outlook on life produces a positive attitude. That attitude in turns affects how we act and react to situation and people around us. It is impossible to be happy all of the time. That would be delirium. What we can be, is professional.

I once found myself in an inspection that completely failed. I tried to fix the program as best as I could but I knew that I was going to take hits. Let’s just say it was worse than that. The Senior Chief pointed out error after error and my blood started boiling as I was embarrassed and aggravated. Then she said the magic words that put me at my breaking point.

“This is no longer an inspection but a training evolution.”

Calmly I replied, “Do you mind if we take a break so I can cool off and collect myself.”

The look on her face was priceless. “I didn’t know you were upset.”

My coworker took one look, “His ears are red as a stop light. Yup he’s pissed.”

The Senior Chief asked about my composure? After all, most people rant, rave, and argue when they get upset. This was quite the opposite to my listening and taking notes. No wonder she thought everything was fine.

“As angry as I am right now,” I stated, “I have a program that needs to be fixed. You have the knowledge to fix it. At the end of the day I’m a professional. Taking notes and staying calm is what I do.”

Without skipping a beat my coworker interjected, “You got that right.” She’d witnessed this action several times in the past

If I had ranted and thrown a fit, would I have learnt how to fix my program? More than likely not. It is vital for us to maintain a positive outlook. Positive outlook does not equate to happiness. However, it does keep us in the right mindset that sets us up for happiness. And that, sets us up for success.

Going back to our first scenario, The coworker with the OMG attitude most likely did not have the right frame of mind to handle our late arrival regardless of the chaos we encountered. In fact we have no idea what chaos others went through to get to work. We aren’t the only ones having a bad day. How wonderful this world would be if we took the time to empathize with each other instead of bulldozing our way through the day.

In closing, I would like to say, inhale the good air and exhale the bad. Breathe from the abdomen. I do this daily for ten minutes or more. Slow abdominal breathing calms the heart rate and lowers blood pressure. Do this while setting at work, in traffic, or while walking through a crowded store. Breathe. Everything will be alright. In the first blog of 2019 I mentioned that we should identify our stressors. Click here to learn more.. This is important if we are to reduce stress. We need to know what those key factors are.  We should always work at being professional. There will come a time when we reach our limits. A quick walk or a bathroom break can make all the difference. While on that break focus on the positive and look for a solution. Fact is,there are answers to every question. What we are focused on is what we will find. Is it good or bad? Positive answers will produce positive results. This is why it is important to stay positive my friends. We are professionals at living. Thus, a professional attitude is needed.

Until the next blog, live life and be happy..

Steven Curtis

I Should Be Upset.

I am here on pay day looking at my bank account. What a glorious feeling it is to see hard work converted into hard cash. Except, there is no cash. I have the exact amount that I did before. “Where’s my money?” Oh well, it’s time to activate Plan B.

What’s Plan B, you asked? This is the kibbles and bits I have thrown to the side. This is not just a savings. This is a saving my buttocks savings. A time will come when unexpected hiccups will occurs. Take today for example. Money was not deposited. If I didn’t throw back a little here and there, I would have a different outlook on today. One simply cannot relax when faced with financial blunders. That is why it is important to plan ahead.

How much should we save? oh good question! The quick answer is three times our monthly pay. If we make $1000 dollars a month, we should save $3000. Do we stop there? No! In the event that you save $3000, continue to put back money. When it rains it pours. The more we put back the better we will be. How much per pay check should we deduct? Another great question! Personally I shoot for 10%. However, if 10% is too steep then try 5%. The key is to put back something or anything. With that in mind, $1 per pay check is not going to save us. We need to use logic.

Money can make us emotional. When we get it we’re happy. When we don’t have it we get worried, depressed, angry, and sometimes desperate. With that in mind, a saving my buttocks savings account is actually a “saving me from an emotional break down” account. Say that three times fast. When we save money we afford ourselves a chance to relax during those “Oh snap! My boss didn’t pay me.” moments.

In closing, money can buy us happiness; not in material things, but in peace of mind that bills will be paid. We need to plan ahead. Prepare for bad times. They will come, trust me. Now here is an important tip. When that day comes. Be happy you saved. Don’t throw your head back and trod off complaining you have to dip into savings. This is not healthy. Being happy is healthy and wholesome for the soul. And, that is what this blog is about. Finding Life’s Happiness.

Until the next blog Live life and Be Happy,

Steve Curtis

Who Am I?

The very essence of our existence comes into question the moment we are self aware. Searching within the depth of our souls, we tear every fiber hoping to find a solid revelation. We compare ourselves to others around to see how we measure up. But, this futile effort leaves us torn and no answers. Who am I?

May I suggest an alternative. Ask yourself “Who do I want to become?”. Do not look towards celebrities, businessmen, or heroes. Look within. Find that special person and work to let it out. Do you want to be kind, gentle, strong, or outspoken? For me, it was happy. I just wanted to be able to genuinely smile and say “Life is good.” In other blogs I will reference this dream a lot. It was my largest milestone. How does one change who they are and become who they want to be? There are steps and processes that are necessary. Bare in mind we are individuals and being different means one size doesn’t fit all. Our dreams are as unique as we are. They are worth chasing so long as they are within reason.

It is good to have dreams, but we must understand their differences. There are constructive dreams as well as destructive dreams. A constructive dream is achievable while a destructive dream sets us up for failure. Imagine I just turned 50 and I planned on retiring at the age of 62. My dream is to retire with $1,000,000 in my 401K. Presently I have $150,000. Logic states that this dream will not come to pass unless I win the lottery. A sense of failure may come over me. No one like to fail. Yes, there are reports of people rushing out to Vegas and losing every bit of their retirement. Sadly, it happens. Now, a positive dream is more productive. Let’s say my dream was to retire with $250.000 in my 401K. By reducing debts and increasing my contributions, I am stepping in the right direction. Both dreams are steep, no doubt. But, the second one is more achievable and will present a sense of accomplishment when achieved.

Our dreams are not our only definition. The manner in which we speak has a huge role in defining who we are. In my late twenties and early thirties I was not so gentle with my words. If I had a point to make I used harshness to send it. This negativity kept people at a distance, and with good reason. Looking back, there are a lot of things I could have changed. Stress controlled my actions. What actions define you? Do others see the person you want to be? I once met a woman who had a habit of manipulating those around her. Her peers took her as controlling and deceitful. However, when asked about her actions, she merely stated she was being helpful. She never saw her actions as defined by her peers. This is why it is important to live by the adage “Let your yeses be yes, and let your no’s be no’s.” Living a life of “maybe’s” leaves room for misinterpretation.

“Actions speak louder than words.” Most of us have heard this before. So with that in mind, the best way to change who we are, or how we appear, is to change our actions. This is easier said than done. Our habits become who we are. Even our bad habits define us. So, how do we change? It starts with a direction. We need to define who we want to be. There is nothing wrong with starting vague. Nonetheless, specifics need to be defined and put into practice. Never underestimate the specifics. My dream of being happy was very vague. I knew that being happy was what I wanted. But how do I get there? How do I maintain that happiness? After all, what good is a dream if I can’t maintain it? Grabbing a paper and pencil, I jotted down my thoughts. I also made a list of things that prevented me from being happy. Standing back, I easily identified that stress was a major inhibitor. This is also how I identified a condition I call stress induced anger. Most people get frustrated, I got angry, loud, and sometimes hostel. This was the complete antithesis of who I wanted to be. Once stress was identified as my inhibitor, efforts were set into motion to reduce my stress levels. I breathed from my lower abdomen. I abstained from activities that raised stress levels. Time management became a huge factor. I didn’t want to feel rushed or under pressure. Some people work great under these conditions; I do not. I had a boss that put pressure on me. He stated stress makes people work their best. I tried to explain that stress hinders my work performance. But, he knew best and continued with the pressure. I stopped and walked away. He threw someone else in my place. In his eyes I failed. At first I felt bad, but staying true to my goal of being happy meant more to me than pleasing others. Yes, others will get disappointed in our changes. But, it’s not about them. It’s about us reaching our goals and living our lives. After all, we can’t please everyone.

It’s clear that asking “Who do I want to be?” can have more positive effects than asking “Who am I?”. And that’s the key; stay positive. It’s not always easy and moments of depression will rear its ugly head. But by staying focused on our dreams we afford ourselves an opportunity to stay on track. We should never over criticize ourselves. There are plenty of people around already doing that for us. It’s not wrong for us to criticize ourselves. It’s not constructive ot over criticize our actions. Live life with a positive outlook. Even a rainy day can have its feel good moments. So soak them up while we can. Better yet, find others who share and support your dreams. By coming together in a like-mind spirit we help each other grow. Stay focused and stay positive my friends. .

Until next time

Live life, and be happy.

Steven Curtis