Thank God it’s Monday, TGIM! This is what you woke up thinking, right? Fresh off a restful Sunday, you are excited about the prospects of the upcoming week and ready to rock and roll. Or alternatively, roll over and hit the snooze…again…
I used to dread Monday’s. I hope you don’t. But if you happen to suffer from “Chronic Case of the Monday’s Syndrome,” I have a suggested prescription for you. And no, it’s not “more cowbell.”
A number of folks have told me they really enjoyed the “Old Man Rant” chapter of the “sAint Me?!” book. I always laugh and let them know I could have written an entire book on that topic alone. Yeah, I’m a cranky old guy.
So at their urging I’m going to rant further on Monday mornings until I run out of material. Is ranting consistent with our striving to be saints? I’m thinking “yes” if it concludes with recommendations for a better way. I’ll be sure to do that…always ending on a high note. Hopefully this will add to your enjoyment of Monday’s. Give it a try.
I’ll be writing about things that annoy me. They likely irritate you too. Keeping our frustrations bottled up is not good. Remember the “serenity now, insanity later” Seinfeld episode? Check it out for a guaranteed Monday morning laugh.
Ranting is good therapy. Eliminating the source of frustration is even better. I’ll be making recommendations about how we can do that. They will be simple solutions. Things we can all do immediately. Ways we can “be the change we wish to see in the world” as Gandhi put it. I’m hoping to get my grumpy old man out of my mirror soon!
Let’s start with the original “Old Man Rant” from the book. Future rants will be shorter since I realize you already have too much to do. So let the ranting begin…
Chapter 2 – Old Man Rant
In case you are on the fence about whether to devote yourself to striving for sainthood, allow me to give you a little more background. It will help to clarify where I was at in my thinking prior to accepting this mission. It may help you do the same for yourself.
My retirement goal was to find something significant to do in the world, guided by the Holy Spirit. I read many books, did some volunteering, and am participating in the religious education of teenagers. I’ve always enjoyed writing and have written many short articles on topics of interest as they come to mind. In reviewing those articles, I noticed that most of them are about things that annoy me. I’m going to summarize those things, as I believe they are part of what motivated me to embark on this saint-building challenge. Please indulge my old-man rant. Or don’t, and feel free to move on.
It goes something like this. I’m annoyed and fed up with this world! If only I could be a kid again; everything made so much sense then. The rules were simple: Be nice and respectful to everyone, work hard to be your best at whatever you chose to do, and play by the rules of right and wrong that are self-evident. You will then be rewarded commensurate with what you do and how you do it. And the good guys always win!
Now, it seems that nearly the opposite is viewed as the better route to worldly success. It’s goes something like this: Respect those you agree with and ridicule the rest, work less but expect more, and the end justifies the means, so go ahead and break the rules that don’t help you get what you want. Right and wrong are relative, perception is at least as important as reality, what you say and what you do can be vastly different and that’s okay.
Everyone is an expert at everything; just ask them. I thought I knew a lot coming into the workforce out of college but was promptly informed otherwise. I accepted that assessment; observed and listened to my bosses, coworkers, and clients; and worked long hours to gain valuable experience. Now, you can’t convince most of the newcomers that they don’t already know everything. They certainly don’t have a confidence problem. Of course, they don’t know what they don’t know. I’ve heard this condition referred to as unconscious incompetence or the arrogance of ignorance. It makes me sad, like watching someone who can’t sing try out for that television singing competition. They are stunned when finally given an honest appraisal of their ability. But with honesty comes the opportunity and motivation to improve.
Obviously there are exceptions (many I hope). Maybe I’ve just become the grumpy old man in the neighborhood yelling at kids to “get off my lawn!” Or maybe I should just give up on the old ideal and go along with the more “advanced” culture. I mean, why should we have to be nice to everyone, work hard, and be on our best behavior all the time when we can get what we want with much less effort?
We have become content with letting people tell us what to believe, since it’s so much easier than actually reviewing the facts and coming to our own conclusions. Who has time to do the research required to form our own opinions in these fast-paced times? Plus, we’d have to consider alternative points of view to get to the truth. I already know I’m right because someone told me so when they told me what to believe. Remember when we were taught how to think, not what to think? In fact, that was the main purpose of education, challenging us to think and come to our own conclusions based on facts, to question everything and search for truth.
Good and evil used to be easy to spot. Now it’s hard to tell. Bad guys win way too often. They are experts at making you believe they are the good guys. Or many times I don’t think they even know they are the bad guys. We certainly don’t. Confusion reigns. Everything bad is good, and everything good is bad. Cats and dogs living together! “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” Come and be bad, have a good time…What?!
Anyhow, I’ve come to the conclusion that I should either (a) stop letting so many things irritate me and just go along to get along, or (b) do something about it. I choose b. I think the only way out of the mess is getting back to the basics that I hope we all still learn as children. How about if we were all nice to each other, worked hard, and played by the rules . . . simple! If we can replicate this in enough people, what a pleasant world it would be.
Here’s our first assignment. Just for fun, try to be nice to everyone you interact with today and every day. Smile and greet everyone. Use the person’s name. Expect the best. You will be amazed at the results. People may wonder what the deal is with you, but they will appreciate your kindness. Just spread your happiness and joy, even if you have to fake it in the beginning. What’s the saying, fake it until you make it? Of course you will encounter some who will make this difficult. Remember, patience is a virtue. Give yourself a niceness score at the end of every day. I use a 1-10 scale, 10 being the nicest you can be. I am currently averaging a 7. Interestingly, my annoyance level actually went up initially. I got annoyed that people weren’t always nice back, but that’s my problem. Don’t expect the world to change too quickly. Just feel good that you are doing your part.
Okay, rant done. Thanks for listening.
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Thank you all for your support and have a saintly week! Scott