Erma Bombeck was an American humorist, syndicated columnist, and best-selling author. Her bi-weekly column was read by 30 million readers. She wrote more than fifteen books with titles like, Family – The Ties That Bind….and Gag, and, If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits?
Her humor chronicled the ordinary life of a Midwestern suburban housewife.
Here are quotes from her column and books that made me laugh out loud. I hope they do the same for you.
When my kids become wild and unruly, I use a nice, safe playpen. When they’re finished, I climb out.
Cats invented self-esteem.
When mothers talk about the depression of the empty nest, they’re not mourning the passing of all those wet towels on the floor, or the music that numbs your teeth, or even the bottle of capless shampoo dribbling down the shower drain. They’re upset because they’ve gone from supervisor of a child’s life to a spectator. It’s like being the vice president of the United States.
All of us have moments in our lives that test our courage. Taking children into a house with a white carpet is one of them.
My idea of housework is to sweep the room with a glance.
Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the ‘Titanic’ who waved off the dessert cart.
My kids always perceived the bathroom as a place where you wait it out until all the groceries are unloaded from the car.
It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.
When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me’.
Paola is a successful attorney. She knows that her health is a key component to her success and working out has immediate benefits. She committed to going to the gym on Friday morning. Her work was light and the kids were at school.
Her amygdala said, “You should keep working on this brief.”
Her prefrontal cortex spoke up. “Go. You promised yourself you would go. Your thinking is clearer and you have more stamina after a workout.” She pushed through the amygdala’s discomfort. “Ugh. OK.”
Your brain is wired to resist change. The amygdala is the portion of the brain that reacts negatively to uncertainty and risk. It’s great in times of crisis, but lousy at supporting you taking new, positive actions. “If I do this behavior – take time to eat healthfully, exercise, go to the movies – I risk missing out on a business opportunity (safety and security). I may lose my job and end up on the streets.”
The prefrontal cortex is the executive part of the brain. It counterbalances the amygdala. “Your clarity and confidence increases after a workout. You get great ideas walking on the treadmill. Successful leaders take the time to exercise regularly and you’re a successful leader.”
Paola drove to the gym while her amygdala kept grumbling at her. “Are you sure you can afford this time away from work? You can go to the gym tomorrow. It seems a bit self-indulgent to go on a Friday morning. What if you see someone you know there?” She walked into a spin class and within two minutes was too busy trying to keep up that she forgot all about work and wasting time.
At the end of the class she thought about her experience. “I guess my amygdala will always be uncomfortable doing this activity. Thank goodness for my prefrontal cortex.”
It’s time for family gatherings that are ripe for ‘opportunities for growth’.
Tensions at work and at home are challenging. Choose how you want to respond. Take action to change the way conflict affects you and possibly those around you.
Identify what you can control: yourself and your response.
When you have a disagreement with someone try the following steps.
Find common ground.
Show that you heard the other person’s point of view.
Listen for the emotion being expressed
Empathize with them, even if you don’t agree with them
“It sounds like you are angry with ____________ (me, politicians, causes) because ________ (I wasn’t very attentive during our last discussion, politicians are all crooks, global warming is hurting your business.)
Look for similarities.
“We are both human beings.”
“We drive blue cars.”
“We like gravy.”
“We are both watching football.”
Identify points you both agree on.
Having a profitable business supports the family and community.
Getting a good night’s sleep is beneficial.
Dogs are wonderful.
“Isn’t that interesting.”
“You may be right.”
“I hear you.”
“That doesn’t work for me.”
Set a goal and intention.
Goal: “I’m going to find 10 similarities with this person
Intention: “My intention is to be open minded, curious, and happy.”
Assume ‘good person in bad circumstances’.
We have lots of conscious and unconscious assumptions about others. These influence our interactions with them.
Instead of thinking, “There they go again” try,
“I wonder what could be going on with them?”
“What might they be feeling or fearing?”
Come up with two possible reasons for the behavior you’ve observed. Maybe they didn’t sleep last night, or their boss gave them a written warning, or they received an unexpected bill they can’t pay.
Follow these steps and make it easier to be in control of yourself and your emotions.
The need to know exactly how to proceed in all areas of your life causes worry and anxiety. It negatively impacts your health, self-esteem and relationships. “I should know this,” is a belief that needs to be changed.
Kristen recently joined a writer’s group. She dreamed of getting her historical fiction novel written and published. At the first meeting, she listened to the others share their successes, critique pieces of work, and commit to actions to take. As the meeting went along, she felt heavy, like she had molasses in her veins. Her faced reddened and she nibbled her nails to the point of pain. Her belief that she should know how to write a novel was stopping her from writing.
No belief is neutral. They dictate each decision you make and drive behavior.
Change your belief about what you think you should know. Try the following belief statements for one day:
“Wonderful surprises happen when I ask for and accept help.”
“I’m really good at sales, connecting with people, and learning new skills. Successful people embrace the discomfort that goes along with learning new skills, such as spending time learning how to write a storyline, and I’m a successful person.”
“Lifelong learners are open to new ideas, learning new and different ways of making their lives easier, and I’m a lifelong learner.”
Act as if you believe it’s not only OK to not know how to do something, it’s beneficial that you don’t.