Wednesday, March 29, 2017

6 Traits That Make You Bad Company

There is a statistic that goes something like: "90% of people classify themselves as great drivers."  This is of course, an impossibility.  What that means is that a huge chunk of people who think they are great drivers arent actually good at driving.  This also applies to personality traits and character.  Most of us think we are pretty decent human beings, yet, that cannot possibly be true.  A huge number of people who think they are doing awesome are actually, not so awesome.  Many are even downright toxic.

But, how can you tell if you are one of them?  Or, if someone to whom you are close might be?

First, with stark, bare bones, harsh self honesty.  And second, in reading books and articles about what makes for someone healthy/with good character versus someone who is toxic/unhealthy/not so great, these can help you identify those people (or, those traits in yourself which are in need of change- or you risk a life of stormy, difficult relationships with others). 

Here are 6 chracter traits that make you unhealthy/not so awesome, and in some cases, even toxic, company:

Being very self centered.  Almost all of us can be self centered at times.  Its partially a human thing.  Each of us loves to discuss and think about ourselves, our own experiences and lives.  But, then there are the people that generally dont show much of any interest in others.  You know them.  The topic of their conversations almost always revolving around them.  Their opinions.  Their thoughts.  Their interests.  Their experiences.  What they are feeling and thinking.  Perpetually on their cell phones, often ignoring the real people right in front of them.  Inconsiderate.  Dismissive.  Hardly ever inquiring about others, or if they do, its lacking genuine interest.  These are just a few ways to describe the self absorbed. 

People with this character trait quickly grow loathsome and dull.  They are offputting and irritating.  Rarely will these people have truly deep relationships with anyone (though they probably think they do), until they are able to step outside of their own orbit and learn to not just ask questions to appear as though they care, but to actually and truly be interested.

Bitter people with a chip on their shoulder.  Yes, all of us complain or get angry from time to time.  But then there are the people who are angered at the drop of a hat.  Always complaining.  Constantly pissed off over nothing.  Endlessly defensive to the degree that you walk on eggshells around them.  These people are both miserable on the inside and make those around them equally so.   Ultimately, these people will end up alienating those around them pretty regularly.

The perpetual victim.  Each of us feels hurt and wronged from time to time.  However these are the people that constantly chant things like, "no one likes me" and "people always reject me" and "I can never win or get ahead" and "my life is crappy/empty/lame and I am powerless to change it" and "I have to settle because I will never get anything better."  The list of ways that they are victims persists.  These people are always the one wronged.  Its never anyone else.  People are always mean to them.  It never has anything to do with their own behavior.  Nope.  Everyone else is the bad guy. 

These people lack insight and maturity.  They are often alienate and irritate those close to them, pushing people away with these false mindsets they cling to.  These people are wildly self centered, making every preceived slight all about them.

Backstabbers.  We all get frustrated, even angry with our loved ones from time to time.  This is normal and all good.  But there is a difference between respectful venting and nasty gossiping.  Backstabbers are the latter.  They are the people who act sweet to your face (surprising and sadly, you will even have people you consider friends do this to you) and then talk shockingly hateful behind your back. 

These people lack spine, are insecure, bored and often angry individuals.  They dont have the guts to come to you with their hurt or concerns, so they talk to others instead.  They attempt diminishing you in others eyes as a means to boost themselves inside and feel better. 

The in-your-face aggressive.  We all lose our cool from time to time when something gets really upsetting, but these people are always looking for a fight.  This trait ties in with the "perpetual victim."  With the in-your-face aggressive, everyone else is always the baddie.  The aggressive is always the one offended or wronged.  "How dare they" is their tagline

These people are angry, bitter and insecure.  Often explosive, they lack the maturity to approach communication with people in a calm, considerate way.  They feast on drama and love to watch people cower in their wake.  Its the only way these people feel "big."  

The Negative.  This person more often than not has a downtrodden air to them.  Life is just "meh" for them most of the time.  If something can go wrong for them, it usually will.  They tend to expect the worst.  They are often tired, complaining, and relatively unhappy.  These people are draining to be around.  In spending time with them, one feels a dark cloud settle over them in tandem.  Things feel...grayer in this persons company.   They are not often uplifting or inspiring company. 

Why are articles like this important?  Because sadly, our world is filled with toxic, unhealthy people who will diminish and take away from the quality and joy of our own lives.  And yes, these people come in the form of family members, close friends and romantic partners as well.  Keeping toxic people in your life and close to you only serves to make for a more stressful, less happy life of your own.  Learning to identify these behaviors so you can watch out for them and not get closely involved with these kinds of people is one of the #1 steps towards living your best life.

And yes, often times people we love end up being some of them.  It isnt an easy thing, but the more you can keep unhealthy people at a distance, the less complicated and happy your life will be.  Their unhealthiness, issues and/or misery shouldnt also become yours.  Whether you love them or not.

On the flip side, its also important to be truthful about what you are bringing to the table.  Many of us are decent people and yet still posses some traits that can be offputting or toxic to others.  In being honest with yourself and open to growth, you can identify these traits within, then address and work on them, moving towards being your best self.

This will make for a much happier life of successful, harmonious, deep relationships with others.  You will get along better with colleagues, connect easily with others, enjoy close relationships with the family members you like, have better quality friendships, and have healthier, happier romantic relationships.

A short and sweet list on of other traits that make a person generally someone to keep your distance from.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Want to Change Your Life? Do This One Thing.

Happy Monday, all!

I heard this line a lot, and each time it both stuns and saddenes me. 

"I dont read," someone will say. 

What!?  Its as though they have told me, "I dont eat, yet somehow I manage to survive." 

I cannot grasp it.  You miss out on SO MUCH when you dont read, in a life altering way.  The list is a huge one.  Reading is life changing.  Want the fastest way to changing your life, in numerous ways?  Start reading.  Really, its that simple. 

Don't believe me?  Think I am being dramatic?  Continue reading below to find out all the ways your life will change if you read.

Here is what reading gives you:

  1. Cheap, portable entertainment. 
  2. Knowledge. People who read perform better on standardized tests.  Reading expands your vocabulary.  In books, you inadvertently (as well as intentionally) earn about new topics, cultures, skills, places and ideas. 
  3. Empathy and understanding.  Fiction is based on real human dilemma, challenge and emotion.  In reading, this broadens your mind and opens your heart to all manner of human experience, both the darkness and the light.  Reading will help you to be less judgmental, more flexible in the ways you view others, as well as in the possibilities for how you consider you yourself might live. 
  4. To piggyback on the last point, reading teaches you how to be human.  In reading, you are offered insights for how to navigate relationships (things you might not have considered previously). You learn how it feels to go through different experiences (which you yourself might not have experienced firsthand).  You will read about different approaches to love, experiences and life in general which will unquestionably influence your own. 
  5. Without reading, you live the singular trajectory of your own life.  This is all well and good, but it makes for a rather flat, one dimensional life experience.  When one is an avid reader, you are dropped into the shoes and experiences of so many other people, cultures, relationships and ways of thinking.  When reading a book and immersed in that particular story, you are occupying two emotional lives/experiences at once.  This is such fun!  Reading adds color and interest to your everyday life. 
  6. Specifically in reading memoir, this gives you direct insight and feeling into other peoples life experiences.  This ties in with teaching you what it means to be human.  What it feels like to live a different kind of life.
  7. Reading gives you something to anticipate and look forward to.  There is no better feeling than having an exciting story you cannot wait to dive back into as soon as you are able.
  8. Television, while visually awesome, offers a less detailed and layered experience of a story.  Books offer one a multi-tiered, far more in depth experience.  Not only are you offered the visuals but you are privy to characters thoughts, feelings and far more nuanced detail than one finds in a movie or TV show. 
  9. Reading is daring.  It offers an adventure in your pocket.  Reading offers you a free vacation, right from your living room, seat on the train or bedroom.  In reading, you can travel anywhere in the world, immerse yourself in any other culture. 
  10. Reading has proven to be better for you overall than watching TV.  It stimulates your mind, while watching TV does nothing for your brain.  Think a slack jawed, drooling dude staring at a flickering screen.  Thats your brain on TV.  As you read though, your brain is lighting up, forming connections and sparking all the while. 
  11. Bookcases are gorgeous eye catching decorations.  They add character, interest and class to your home.  They also, like ones closet, give people an idea of who you are.  Someone can lean in and upon seeing the types of books you keep (and thus, like to read), glean a sense of your personality, interests and who you are. 

  12. Reading is sexy.  Ever heard of "Hot Guys Reading" on Instagram?  I for one always do a double take when I see a man reading.  It ratchets him up several notches of attractiveness right away.  So, what is sexier?  Someone with surface-level, simple intelligence who thinks they know all there is to know and doesn't read.  Or, a person who has depth, complexity and interest to them?  Someone who knows a lot about a variety of things?  A person who is articulate, well read and intelligent?  Someone who is always involved in a new, exciting read or topic.  I would venture to guess the majority of people would say the latter descriptions are far sexier than my initial one. 

13. Books made you a super sleuth with people, something akin to Sherlock Holmes.  Ok, ok, maybe not quite to that degree.  A shame haha.  But my point being, the more you read, the better you grow at understanding all different types of people.  Fiction or non, the more you read, the more you learn about different personality types, alternative relationships, varying cultures, how people talk to one another, move, act and more.

Books are AWESOME.  They add to your intelligent (literally).  They offer guidance, a lighthouse-like beacon for navigating through life.  They are cheap, easy, portable entertainment.  In reading, one can live hundreds of different lives and experiences.  Books offer far more depth than a TV show or movie does.  Reading is sexy and intriguing.  Reading is daring, an adventure in your pocket.  Reading teaches you how to live.  It shows you how to be human.

Another article from ABC News that lays out several proven benefits of reading

And another article offering points such as reading being a superpower and a profoundly nostalgic activity.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Best of Berlin

Hi all,

While I havent spent an especially signifigant amount of time in Berlin, I have been three times and feel I have experienced a fair enough sampling to offer up a report on some sweet spots.  I love the energy of Berlin.  There is an undercurrent and electric buzz that runs throughout this edgy city.  Berlin is artsy and hip.  Its the punk rock, grunge, too cool sister to a city like Frankfurt.

Berlin offers it all on a silver platter.  Grungy back alleyways for wandering.  Romantic cobbled streets.  Monsterous buildings done up in ornate, stunning architecture.  A trendy food and cafe scene.  Speaking of cafes, the offerings are endless in Berlin.  One can find any possible type of atmosphere for coffee and tea that one is able to dream up.

There are warm, cozy alcoves.  Bright, organic and simple spots.  Dark, romantic cafes.  Hipster vibing eateries.  The list goes on.  There are countless streets chock full of cafes, their perimeters lined near to bursting with a variety of charming, intriguing offerings.

And though my experience with this part of Berlin is very limited, the nightlife is said to be unparalleled.  To read more about the insanity of Berlin night life (think sex parties), here is an article from the New Yorker which describes the Scene in arresting detail.  Sounds pretty nuts. 

Berlin offers endless interest to both inhabitants and visitors alike.  Food, nightlife, eyecatching architecture and way cool graffiti, history, awesome atmosphere, it would be impossible to feel bored here.

Some of my own personal favorites in the city:

East Side Gallery aka the Berlin Wall.  Obviously.

RoamersGet ready for your brunching life to be altered forever.  This place is the spot of which brunch fantasies are made.

For more photos and a full review of this fabulous brunching locale, check out my article here.  Major food porn abound.

Fat Bike Tours in Berlin.

If you only have a couple of days in Berlin, this is without a doubt the easiest way to see a vast amount of the city in a short time.  Think of it as offering a sampler platter of Berlin sights.  I highly recommend the daytime tour.  For just 30 euro, you cycle to all the signifigant historical spots around Berlin meanwhile, making a pitstop in a beer garden for snacks and drinks.  Great fun.  Worth every penny!

Nikiovartel, a charming, beautiful nook of Berlin.  These cobbled streets and pastel shaded buildings are tucked into their own little corner of the city.  Romantic, whimsical, making for peaceful and dreamy wanderings.

A shop that offers all manner of tiny cupcakes, cake pops and other fun palm sized sweet treats.  The cupcakes arent just sweet and charming in size.  They are moist and delicious as well.  Cupcakes seem to be a relatively new idea catching on in Europe.  America almost always does them better, at least in my taste testing experience.  However these are among the top of which Ive sampled.

For more details, here is their website.

St. Marienkirche is lovely.  The exact date of building is unknown but its said to date back to the 13th century making it an oldie but a goodie.  In fact, its one of the oldest churches in Berlin.  The square its housed in it happening and bustling with loads of people watching potential and fun activity.

The Tiergarden.  Having read several books from the WW2 period, the tiergarden holds special interest for me.  All manner of dark happenings have occured in this wide expanse of forested park/garden.  Nazi dealings, murders, affairs, escapes and hidings, as well as of course the mundane and everyday (strolls, children playing and picnics).  The tiergarden holds a lot of history and intrigue.  Its also just a peaceful and pretty place to walk, picnic, cycle or hang out. 


Museum Allee and the Berlin cathedral church.  First off, this church is awe inspiring, massive and just such fun to gaze up upon.  It requires major craning of the neck.  Looming, gigantic, awesome.  The area surrounding is a plethora of intruiging musems worth checking out.

An einem Sonntag im August.  This cafe with its SoCo, trendy atmosphere is a memorable one to be sure, based on the seating alone.  One can choose from either sitting outside on a swing seat while dining, or sitting indoors on the tetris block like seats piled high against the wall.  This makes for a way cool and memorable eating experience.

For loads more photos, recommendations and top spots in Berlin, check out this photo laden entry, as well as this one.