30 May 2011


  1. How do you be patient, kind, generous, and nonjudgmental when the world doesn't always reciprocate? How do you be this kind of person without being pushed over or manipulated?
  2. What do you do when you see someone you care about making major mistakes and living their life in a self-harming way? Can you tell them? Is it possible to do something tactful, without making the situation worse?
  3. What do you do when your will isn't good enough? What do you do when you can't help yourself?

26 May 2011

Ending it all

It is difficult to understand when someone, who seems perfectly fine on the outside and has so much to live for, takes their own life. The news blurb says, "X was depressed."

Severe depression doesn't have much to do with the much more common feeling of being down, which we also call depression. The symptoms bear similarities, but the underlying causes are completely different. It's a little like thinking that a person with a terrible cough has the flu when they really have lung cancer.

Feeling down is caused by real things happening in the real world. Severe depression is an inescapable, suffocating state of mind where it seems like the simple act of living is a trigger for feeling down. Maybe something bad happened a long time, but it's long past.

Severe depression is a heavy, invisible burden. You can't tell that someone is severely depressed. It's lung cancer that looks like a bad flu. And the sufferer can't tell anyone. It's extremely difficult to understand what's it's like unless you've been through it yourself. Few people understand it. They don't want to hang around with some moody, troubled person who drags them down. But even if a person has supportive, sympathetic friends and family, it doesn't change the hard reality -- the sufferer has to live with painful feelings every hour of every day. Friends help a lot, but they can only carry a little of the burden. The sufferer is mostly alone.

For those people in the news blurbs, maybe there came a time when the burden became too heavy to bear. Unfortunately, it makes all too much sense that any sane person would want to end it all.

25 May 2011

Feeling sorry for someone

Most of the time, when we feel sorry for someone, these feelings are not as charitable as they might seem. Feeling sorry for someone is really a subtle form of condescension and defensiveness: "I'm glad I'm not you." You view the person from your own perspective.

Instead of feeling sorry for people, we should empathize with them. Draw from our experiences and our imaginations and try hard to see things from that person's point-of-view. Empathy means understanding the person, not necessarily agreeing with their opinions.

24 May 2011

Communicating well

Communicating well requires great quantities of self-confidence and empathy. Self-confidence gives you the courage and drive to find your personal vision -- a story you believe in. Empathy gives you the ability to understand how your story, how your words appear to the audience. Self-confidence means knowing what you believe in, without being overly concerned with the opinions of others. Empathy means caring about the abstract feelings of abstract people. Self-confidence and empathy -- two qualities that seem to be at odds with one another, yet they combine to form a potent combination in the great writer or speaker.

23 May 2011


The one thing I cannot afford to lose is faith. Faith in myself and faith in the future. Without faith, there is no way to live.

People can encourage me, but in the end, I must believe in myself. Because no one else can do that for me. I must have faith in myself because there is no other choice.

14 May 2011

It's the finish that matters

This year's NHL playoffs were remarkable in that two teams went up 3-0 in a seven game series, lost the next 3 games, and then came back to win the last game and the series. The Vancouver Canucks narrowly escaped with victory over the Chicago Blackhawks in Round 1 and the San Jose Sharks finally managed to close out the Detroit Red Wings in Round 2.

Here's what the Canucks had to say before Game 7 against the Blackhawks:
We've got to win one game, and if you do that, everything else is forgotten. Everyone else is going to forget about losing three games in a row. They're going to forget about taking this to Game 7. They're going to forget everything. We see it as a one-game series.
- Henrik Sedin, captain of the Vancouver Canucks
Here's what the Sharks coaching staff and players had to say after losing Game 6 against the Red Wings:
Doesn't matter how we got here, it really doesn't. What matters is how it ends, and that's how we'll approach it.
- Todd McLellan, head coach of the San Jose Sharks

Everybody was counting Vancouver out. I kinda predicted Vancouver would beat them in seven. It was a close one, but they found a way to win – and that’s all we’re looking for.
- Dan Boyle, alternate captain for San Jose Sharks

I was following these stories in the news and it seemed like after the Sharks and Canucks dropped Game 6, some of the media talked as if it was all over for those teams, as if the world was going to end (particularly for the Canucks). But now no one really cares; everyone has moved on to discussing the Canucks-Sharks Western Conference final.

In the end, it's the finish that people remember. Regardless of other people, it's the finish that you will remember.