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Perspective by the Numbers

Four people that I trusted and cared about really let me down in the last few months by being greedy, selfish, ungrateful, unkind, gossipy, victimy, a bit crazy, etc. You know how not-fun that is, because it happens to everyone at some point.

But yesterday, I caught myself telling a dear friend that I was having a hard time trusting people. Which is weird, because I'm a trusting person. We're talking Pollyanna status. So I thought about it, and I realized that my perspective may have become inappropriately skewed.

So I gave it some hard thought. How many people hurt me in that way last year? Zero. The year before? Zero again. The year before that? Same story. OK, so the numbers were in my favor. You see, in my experience, people are good - really good. Now, how many people have been good to me, have I had fun working with? How many people regularly and genuinely reinforce my faith in humankind?

I actually did a head-count. Here's what I came up with: 54 family members, 57 friends (not Facebook friends - the other kind), 97 clients, 43 people with whom I sit on boards & committees, 39 people with whom I come in regular contact in my community (it's a small town!), and I tried counting my industry friends that I communicate with daily and enjoy the heck out of, and stopped counting after I topped 350. That is more than 640 people who have NOT let me down - more than 640 people with whom I have regular contact who are fun, generous, creative, thoughtful, hard-working, and increase the joy of my life in large and small ways every day.

It took me about 40 minutes to do this head-count, and it was worth every minute. Now I know that the number of people who actually sent a little hurt my way are less than one half of one percent of the people in my life. I can highly recommend this exercise to you. Spend 40 minutes - heck, spend an hour! - meditating on the people in your life who bring you joy. It doesn't erase the fact that there are a few hurts here and there, but by putting those hurts in perspective, you see them for the boo-boos they really are. 

Oh, and Pollyanna? She's back.

PS: There are people who are suffering, whom the world has let down in harrowing and heart-breaking ways.  My heart goes out to them, because no head-count in the world is going to fix their perspective for them.  But maybe those of us with no real problems to speak of could focus the energy we might otherwise give to our slights and misfortunes on helping in some way. What a terrfic place for that misdirected energy to go.

31 January 2014
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