140. Sticks and stones …

I learned something rather interesting about myself yesterday.

It seems I am an @$$#*!e.

This may come as a shock to the millions of you who view me as a vessel of perfection and, to be quite honest, I too was somewhat taken aback at this discovery.

As I may have mentioned in the past my wife, Gimalle, and I live in a two tower downtown condo complex and for the past eight years I have served as a member of the condominium Board of Directors.

During that period of time I, along with my fellow Board members have made many decisions and while certainly some have proven to be poor or even outright wrong decisions each was made to the best of our ability with the information, data and knowledge available to us at the time.

Of the many lessons I have learned in this role and, indeed also learned early on is that life is not a popularity contest and no matter what you do and regardless of how many people support and are pleased by your choices, decisions and actions there will always be those who are ticked right off.

Many years ago I heard a quote that states that “cemeteries are filled with people who died young trying to please everybody.”

So, back to the startling discovery of my @$$#*!eness.

One of the residents in our building was clearly displeased with a decision taken by the Board of Directors and had requested a meeting with me to investigate whether this decision, as it applied to him, could be reversed.

Naturally, I agreed to meet with him and listened to his side of the story. When he was finished I explained that this decision had been reviewed at a previous board meeting and unanimously it had been decided not to change the decision.

It was at that moment apparently he had a great dollop of wisdom bestowed upon him for it was then that he realized that truly I was an @$$#*!e and, in no uncertain terms shared this conclusion with me.

One of the many lessons I have learned repeatedly over the years is that whenever you agree with, go along with and capitulate to the thoughts ideas and suggestions of others you will always be a good person, a fair person, a decent person, and on occasion you may even qualify as a wonderful person.

And yet at the moment you do none of the above, disagree and behave other than desired/requested you are instantly an @$$#*!e.

Interestingly, I have been a good person, a fair person, a decent person and even a wonderful person to this resident over the years and have repeatedly helped him with issues pertaining to condo living but it seems all my good deeds were wiped out by my obvious inability to understand and my clear lack of intellect which prevented me from reaching an agreement with yesterday.

I feel this is the perfect time to introduce the habit we will be discussing today and for the following two weeks.

It is The Habit of Developing Thick Skin.

Many years ago I learned that we humans shed our skin and replace it approximately every 27 days. This discovery was exciting to me for along with this newfound knowledge came the seeds of opportunity and I immediately filled out an order form requesting that on my next go around – my next shedding and re-growing – my new skin be substantially thicker. And so it has been in the many years since.

The Habit of Developing Thick Skin is the 46th habit we have discussed since I began this blog several years ago. I do not favour one habit over another however The Habit of Developing Thick Skin has helped me retain my sanity (Gimalle will strongly argue this point) more than any other.

Far too many of us spend our lives in pursuit of pleasing others and writhe in agony when they insult, curse or in any way belittle us. The Habit of Developing Thick Skin insulates us from despair and hurt feelings that come when people turn on us simply because they do not agree with us.

I will have a lot more to say in support of The Habit of Developing Thick Skin over the next two weeks. In the meantime, consider this: The Habit of Developing Thick Skin, once you’ve adopted it and made it part of your life, will forevermore serve to protect you from those inevitable moments that befall each life when someone’s viewpoint does not match yours and the only way they can express their dissatisfaction, is by resorting to insult.

When people do this, in that moment, they are demonstrating their own inabilities to manage their emotions and regardless of whether you are right or wrong, people will come to the conclusions they come to and while there is nothing we can do to change their conclusions The Habit of Developing Thick Skin will allow us to escape unscathed from the vitriol hurled at us by the emotionally immature.

The Habit of Developing Thick Skin will not prevent rudeness and impoliteness but it will, do something far more important; it will immediately remind us that we choose every response to every situation and with this habit firmly embedded in us our response to being called an @$$#*!e will be to simply chuckle to ourselves while we continue to enjoy life.

And a thick skin requires far less maintenance than a thin one.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

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