A Letter of Encouragement
At first glance, I know this site looks like it's about fluff. If you are reading beyond a quick glance, I am sure that you will agree that it's not. It can get pretty deep in here. This letter adopted from one by Seth Andrews (heck most of it is his writing) is a case in point. I adopted it to fit me, I encourage you to do the same. It's for the misfits and oddballs who have risen above circumstances to enjoy life and make the world better. I hope it is as encouraging to you as it is to me.
Be encouraged. It's OK to be yourself.
I learned a lot about my family when it was discovered that I was not living my life by their rules. I learned well the consequences of doing something so shocking as to be an individual: a singular voice, an often inquisitive voice, with its own tenor, its own style, its own song, its own message.
I was not treated kindly, because I was different. Therefore it has become my passion to treat others with kindness, no matter how different they are. And to share this passion with others. That's a work in progress, always will be.
We live in a world where conformity is comfort, and we all know well how comfortable people can become. So many voices are merely an echo…a hand-me-down from a previous generation, and the generation before, and the generation before. Breaking the cycle is unthinkable, and why would they ever consider it, as the cloak they inherited feels so warm and safe.
Everyone around them looks like them, walks like them, talks like them. Everyone…except for me. An odd ball like me, and it is the odd balls like me, who question and challenge conformity that also work to make the world better.
They nod in agreement. I raise an eyebrow of doubt. They just know the answer. I just know that the answer raises many more questions. They take security in staying on the path. I feel compelled to break out and carve a path of my own.
But this is not what was expected of me. They laid out the guidelines for a proper person to live, and they would make sure that I turned out right, no matter what. So what the hell happened?
Sadly my mother and father carried to the grave, the embarrassment and shame that they failed as a parent, because I left their straight and narrow, because I re-wrote the playbook in a language that they consider to be foreign...confusing…even shameful.
I had two choices. I could keep the peace and line up with the others. Or I could walk at my own pace in my own direction for my own reasons and accept the consequences and rewards that come with being my own person. I tried the first and failed.
The fallout has been significant. These days, my family only sees what they think I should have been, what I could have been, if only I had done it their way. They speak the words of love, but just barely, and by lacing "love" with distance and disdain, they cheapen the word.
Yes, I’m sure they love me. But the full package, the 100 percent, the unfiltered love is kept on reserve until I straighten up, fit in, conform and stop making waves. Not until I start acting…normal.
For just a moment, let’s take a look at normal.
Normal is a husband and wife, married per the bible, in a church and under a mythical God, condemning non-heterosexuals for ignoring and even desecrating the lawful and ordained marital union that they now enjoy…after two divorces.
It’s a mother telling a daughter that sex is dirty. That her body is dirty and shameful. That sexual desire is harmful lust. And that she is cursed by the fall of Eve in the garden, a by-product of sin, designed to gain her worth from a future husband who, according to the book of Genesis and the design of God, will rule over her.
It’s a teacher frightening a 6-year-old child with torture in a fiery Hell and a devil lurking in the dark with designs on its very soul.
It’s refusing to purchase a new car without first test-driving 15 vehicles from six different car lots, checking the vehicle history, payments, insurance, safety record, resale value and consumer ratings…but accepting the bible as fact without even knowing who wrote the book of Genesis.
It’s a church communion ritual where the men, women and children symbolically eat flesh and drink blood.
It’s thanking a mythical God for food grown and prepared by human hands. It’s giving this God the glory for providing the new house that came with a 30 year mortgage. It’s praying for safety after buckling your seatbelt, locking your doors and loading your handgun. It’s praying for healing…after you call 911. It’s praising God for a medical miracle, while ignoring the doctors and staff who performed the surgery.
It’s Sunday school songs, a bible on the nightstand, a check in the offering plate, an evangelist on the television, a Jesus fish on your car and a t-shirt that reads, “Seven days without Jesus makes one weak.”
It’s a prison disguised to look like a mansion. It’s a veneer of kindness reserved for those that fit the mold. And I’m not going to live like that.
I’ve questioned, I’ve read books (not just one) and even that one. Yes, I’ve read the Bible (unlike most believers) I have read it word for word, cover to cover, more than once. I have seen some history and learned some science and realized that the world is much, much grander that most people ever imagine. I finally found my own voice, and I’m going to speak in it. I’ve had the epiphany that I don’t owe it to the rest of the world or even my family to keep them happy. I owe it to myself to create happiness for myself. I have realized that an effective way to do that, as hard as it sometimes is, is with kindness towards others. And even though, wherever and whenever I can, I am kind, and I say the words and take the actions that build bridges and soften the sharp edges and demonstrate a love for people and a desire for a better world, I’m not a sheep to be led, an echo to be repeated, I am not a cautionary tale, a bad example, a freak, a pervert…shameful…broken…ugly.
I figured out what so many billions of others have missed. That this life is too precious to spend in someone else’s shadow. That when others judge everyone and everything that is different, they only indict their own shallow heart and cheat themselves out of amazing depth, breadth, color, culture and humanity out there that’s so much more wonderful than the tiny rooms people lock themselves into, and the narrow tunnels they walk. That believing in things without evidence isn’t a virtue, but something to be pitied. That sexuality and the human body isn’t shameful, but something to be celebrated. That the condemnation of what is wrong, even when it’s called sacred, is the obligation of any moral creature. That kindness to others, no matter what they believe, or what beat they march to, creates happiness. That my hopes, dreams, desires, loves, pursuits and passions belong to me and me alone. That I have stepped out of the crowd. To stand forward. To stand out. To stand my ground.
To know that, even though I occupy a tiny speck upon a tiny speck inside this vast universe, and even though I don’t believe my father is a divine king and my mission is written in a magic book and I have an eternal mansion in the heavens, my life is wonderful and amazing and precious and so much more satisfying.
Is that kind of life easy? Nah. Is it popular? Maybe not. But inside this 13.7 billion year old universe, there has never been anyone exactly like me, and there never will again. And I like me. I’m simply living a life that honestly reflects that fact. And while others laugh at me because I’m different, I can laugh at them…because they’re all the same.
And I can be kind to all and create happiness when others reject, bully, and harass those who do not fit into their world view.
- David blood
Click here to see the original version by Seth Andrews
The importance of human connection
I really did not expect to ever post anything about Drug Addiction on my blog about kindness and happiness, but I saw this article that caught my eye. The title is The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered and it's Not What You Think.
I'd say that title is an understatement to put it simply (because I want you to read the article), it underscores the importance of kindness and human connection. It can make A HUGE difference in peoples lives, so be kind and pass it on!
Be your True Self
This web site is about how kindness creates happiness, and that is clearly very important. But other things are as well.
One of those is the freedom to openly be your true self.
Thanks to a friend of mine I found a powerful video on the cost of people hiding themselves in the closet. It can even cut more than a decade off of peoples lives. I would suggest that it also costs people any chance of true happiness. I know this from personal experience, which is of course why the subject of kindness and happiness is such a passion of mine.
This video is about a gay hiding and that is a well known situation, all too well known. But it applies to many other people as well. Virtually anything where a person feels that who they are is in conflict with and will not be accepted by most of the people around them.
It could be in the area of sexuality, religion (someone who is not religious in a very religious culture, or of a different religion than the predominate one in the culture), politics, social, economics (someone who loves someone from a different social status for example), etc.
As the movie Dead Poets Society pointed out very dramatically it can simply be a child having desires for his or her life that are different from their parents expectations.
On my About Page I share that I was a target of an extremely traumatic family intervention, that intervention happened because I was hiding my true self, and I got outed. For me it was because I had come to view body shame as stupid and unhealthy from an early age, but my family was wrapped up in shame, they saw the human body as fallen, sinful, and shameful.
In my closet, I had a web site promoting healthy body acceptance, it got discovered and I got outed.
But let me tell you as hard and traumatic as that was, it was probably one of the best things to ever happen to me. There is no happiness when you are hiding your true self in a closet.
But this also gets to the kindness side of this coin. As long as someones true self is not hurting others, no one should ever have to hide who they are at all. In kindness and gratitude for the differences that make life interesting and worth living everyone should be accepted for their true selves. It should make no difference who they love or what they believe.
Some would say that it's religion that causes people to hide their true selves, and I would say no, it's rigidity. Religion is just a symptom or expression of this larger human challenge. I have seen rigidity expressed in non-religious communities as well.
Actually I think it is evolutionary, it is natural to favor those like us and shun those not like us. But because we are conscious and we can see the big picture of the importance of diversity, I think this is an area where we need to rise above instincts.
We can change this, we can learn to see that everyone is valuable as their true selves, to let go of our rigidity and accept others as they are in kindness. And that my friend will lead to much more happiness for everyone.
I hope you get as much out of this video as I did.
This will likely be one of my longer blog posts, I almost didn't include it here because it's not so much about kindness. But the fact is if it wasn't for this I most likely wouldn't be doing what I am today, creating this web site and promoting kindness.
For over thirty years I have been in MLM otherwise known as Multi-Level Marketing, or Network Marketing, I in fact have made more money in Multi-Level Marketing than I have doing anything else.
Over that time I have been frustrated with the direction I have seen the industry go and I have long had a love hate relationship with it. That ended with me writing an article on why MLM fails, and my dropping out thinking I would never return.
While I still agree with what I wrote about MLM's failure, I have also remembered why MLM succeeds, and why in fact it does something very important that no other method of marketing can.
So here I will present two sides of MLM from my perspective, why it fails AND why it succeeds. I will point out first that why it fails is the same reason a lot of other things fail too (such as, for example; our government), people get greedy so they pervert and abuse it.
Why MLM Fails
The attraction of Network Marketing is very understandable, life is changing all around us. The industrial revolution is over, the middle class is shrinking, the disparity between the rich and poor we see now is absolutely obscene, jobs are being outsourced overseas or replaced by new technology. People need hope and options and the promise of building lasting, long term residual income through relationship marketing is extremely attractive and appealing.
But simply put MLM does not work and can not ever work for most people. Now that can actually be said of everything, there is nothing out there that can or will work for everyone because we are all different. But the problem is that MLM is often presented as something that can make anybody and everybody rich. And actually it does have to potential to make anybody rich, but it can never make everybody rich. The math just doesn't add up.
If you have been in MLM I bet your thinking “Don't tell me it's because it's shaped like a pyramid, corporations are shaped like pyramids, churches are shaped like pyramids, the military is shaped like a pyramid. A pyramid is the most solid structure known.”
And you are right, it's NOT because it's shaped like a pyramid, corporations, churches, the military, etc. are in fact shaped like pyramids, and yes pyramids are very solid structures. They work very well when they have one thing the internal consumption model of MLM does NOT have.
An external foundation to be built on.
Now what the heck do I mean by that?
Notice here the contrast between external and internal here, that is extremely important! The basic premise of internal consumption model of MLM is that everyone can make money simply from the self consumption of products and services, even if you never sell anything to a retail customer, who is not in the opportunity.
To that I have to say, NO - that is impossible, and federal regulators are rightly shutting MLM programs that are built on an internal consumption model down.
Corporations succeed because they have customers buying their products and services that are not on the staff of the corporation, if they did not, if they relied solely on internal consumption they would fail. Churches succeed because they have congregations giving them money to pay their staff and other expenses, if they did not have that they would fail. The military succeeds because it is supported by the government and tax payer money, if it did not, it would fail.
Come on think about it, if you had a doodad business and never sold to anyone but yourself how long could you stay in business? You simply couldn't you need retail customers. For MLM companies and their top sales leaders the mass of distributors hoping to also get a piece of the action are in reality the customers, but the problem is they don't realize they are customers, they are buying products not just because they want the products but because they where told that's the way they could make money too.
This can never work.
Let me give an example, lets say we have a product that we make a $10 a month commission on and our goal is to make $60,000 a year. And lets also say this is a basic, needed, repeat service like electricity, or food, or something, so we make a sale once and keep making money month after month. The math is pretty simple we would need 500 customers. That actually works very well and effectively in a regular business.
Ah, but this isn't a regular business, it's the internal consumption of MLM and those 500 customers aren't retail customers, they are “business partners” and they ALL have been sold the dream and want to make $60,000 (or MUCH more) a year too!
So lets say they all get 500 each that comes to 250,000. OK that's doable. But those 250,000 have ALL been told they can make money too and they all want at least $60,000 a year 500 “customers” for each of them comes to 125 million. Lets even say that's still possible but everyone is still being told that they can make money too, not by getting retail customers, but simply by getting business partners in this wonderful opportunity.
So can they? Let's see.
For 125 million people to get 500 business partners each would come to well over 62 billion people.
Houston, I think we have a problem there aren't nearly that many people in existence!
I'm sure you're objecting “but wait, it doesn't work that way”, “You don't need to personally recruit 500 people, just a few to get 500 and more on your team through the magic of duplication.
And you're right the illustration is simplistic, but still valid. And your objection is part of the slight of hand illusion that keep so many believing in the internal consumption model of MLM.
The problem with internal consumption model of MLM, the major reason why it fails and why it is in fact unethical is that EVERYONE recruited in to it is sold a dream that THEY TOO can make money, that's why you buy the products and services here instead of where you normally would. No one (or very few) are buying the products and/or services as a retail customer just because they like the products/services better than what they can get elsewhere. They are buying them because they are told that's how you make money or maybe some do to support friends/family who are in the “opportunity”. Very few people buy these MLM products and services strictly as retail customers, and THAT is a MAJOR problem.
Why MLM Succeeds!
OK, now that I have trashed MLM let me go on to explain not only why it succeeds, but why in fact it is important, why it does something no other form of marketing can. Why most corporations that make most of the products that you buy in retail stores are threatened by it, and hopefully you will see why that alone is a good reason to support it as a customer or even as an MLM distributor.
First let me explain that the internal consumption model of MLM that I attacked above is NOT all MLM. It is again a perversion of the power of MLM, driven by greed that has been corrupting the industry for several decades.
A good model of MLM recognizes that retail customers are a vital and essential part of the success of the company and it's distributors. Furthermore a good MLM opportunity is driven unique and/or high quality products or services NOT by compensation plans. Most compensation plans will pay out roughly the same, so that is not what drives a good opportunity, it's all about the products and services.
So what is this important thing that MLM can do? I have already given a clue above, now lets get into it.
First, I have to explain something that you very likely already know. That is most corporations that sell products in most retail stores do not make products that are the highest quality or that are best for consumers or the planet. They make and sell products that maximize profits for themselves and their shareholders.
This often means that the products are often bad for you and the planet, or even worse (often in the case of food products) they are addicting AND bad for you and the planet.
And a huge problem is that better quality products are not going to succeed on store shelves next to products designed to maximize profits.
This is where MLM really shines.
Let me give an illustration, back in the 1960's the box's of laundry detergent you could buy in retail stores where much larger than today and you put a cup of it into every load of laundry. Not a small scoop like you do today, but an actual 8 oz or larger cup. This cup was largely fillers such as detergent covered wood shavings, that weren't very good on your clothes.
Several MLM companies started coming out with "concentrated" detergents where you could do a whole load with just a small scoop.
Now imagine a small more expensive box of detergent sitting on store shelves next to these cheaper and bigger box's. How well would they sell? They wouldn't!
But through MLM and people telling other people about it directly, explaining the benefits and value they did sell. They took so much market share in fact that the major brand names had to start selling concentrated detergents themselves or keep seeing their market share continue to decrease.
This has happened in many areas not just concentrated laundry powder. Non-toxic cleaning products of any kind would not likely be on any store shelves today (and they are still a small portion) if not for MLM. Nutritional supplements would not be as readily available today, apart from the influence of MLM, the same goes for super food products like Acai Berry, and many others.
But this also gets to matter of why MLM is still needed even after products like these hit the broader retail market. The big corporations still do not have producing quality products and services as their top priority. Maximizing profits is still at the top of their list. So most products that exist in retail stores because of the influence of MLM products, are still cheap knock off's of MLM products.
NOTE: Many in MLM are out to maximize profits too, so something being MLM doesn't always mean it's of better quality. That's where you need to do some research and not just get drawn in by a great sounding opportunity.
Plus, some types of products simply would not sell sitting on store shelves without someone to explain their value, even if they where of the same quality.
Concentrated household cleaning products come to mind.
Several MLM companies have concentrated, non-toxic cleaning products that are more effective, cheaper, and better for the environment that anything you can buy in a retail store. This isn't laundry soap like I mentioned above, but taking that idea to the next level.
It's a basic cleaning product that you can make several other cleaning products, like degreasers, normal household cleaners, and window cleaners from by mixing with different concentrations of water in reusable bottles. These type of products are hands down, no contest, better for you, your family, your pets, the planet, and your pocketbook! BUT the concentrate will always be more expensive by the bottle than diluted products are. So it would never sell well on store shelves. Such products simply need people to explain the benefits with others one to one.
My point is that due to the retail consumers products industry's purpose of maximizing profits, it will always require another avenue for products that are of higher quality and that are better for you and the planet to reach consumers.
Multi-Level Marketing with it's person to person approach does that better than anything else that I know of. Just be careful and research what you find in the industry because the desire to take shortcuts and maximize profits, is a very common human temptation.
Myself, well I got out of MLM for completely for more than a couple years I am now back in with because of a service that I love and missed, I liked who I was better when I was using it. It's a company that is turning the greeting card and gifting industry on it's head in several ways, it's creating a revolution of kindness and I wanted to be a part of that again. If that sounds interesting to you you can find out more about that by clicking here.
FYI: The company above was not the only source of inspiration for this site, but it was certainly a large one, the service and culture they provide make it far easier to be kind and promote kindness. I love it!
My journey in MLM has been a long and I'll admit rocky one. It started with my parents seeking out cleaning products that where safe to use around me, as I am rather chemically sensitive. They could ONLY find those products through an MLM company. I got into it and will admit to getting sidetracked by the "opportunity" now I have gotten refocused on the cause of sharing products that are better and make a difference, which happen to have a nice opportunity attached.
I hope that you will look at both the failure and success of MLM and decide like me that what it does is important and worth being a part of. I also hope that you will remember that NO business can be built exclusively on an internal consumption model. Even if it is not a large number ALL business must have a foundation of retail consumers to support it's success.
David M. Blood
Giving to Give
Wow, has this ever been true in my life! I bet it has been in your's too if you stop and think about it. When I have sought things that just please me, oh I might be happier for a bit, but it is very fleeting.
And lets face it happiness is never a permanent state, nor should it be.
But I have found that when I am not seeking happiness for myself, the feeling not only lingers longer in me, it spreads to others. And that is a most wonderful feeling.
Let's spread some happiness!
Take action to be happy
Yesterday I saw a meme on Facebook that said: "Happiness does not start with the things you do but with the things you think." The person who posted it asked if people agreed. Most people said yes, I the Happiness Coach, said no! I said in fact: "No, very often doing something kind, whether you feel like it or not, can help change the way you are thinking. I think it often starts with doing. The doing can effect others around you too." Actually just thinking happy thoughts can backfire on you and make you wonder why you aren't happier when you are trying so hard.
Happiness can be very illusive when it is what you are seeking. However, when you are acting kindly towards others, or getting lost in a cause larger than yourself, it can sneak right up on you.
Also yesterday one of my friends posted a video that exemplifies this very well. He was bullied and measurable. He turned his life around by practicing a very simple act of kindness consistently everyday, I am sure even when he didn't feel like it, especially when he first started and others just thought he was strange.
Please watch this video to see the power of simple acts of kindness changing lives in action.
I did not intend to post twice today, but after what I just read, I had to.
I just launched this web site yesterday, what didn’t know was that yesterday was also Kindness Matters Day, a day dedicated to the memory of a young man named Peyton, a boy who tragically took his own life because of bullying.
My emotions are all in knots because my experience of being bullied in school is so similar to his, except that I survived. As you can see on my About page, I had more that I survived too.
My goal now is to leave a legacy of kindness. It is for myself, Payton, and millions of others.
ALL people want to be happy, let’s teach them that kindness creates happiness!
I hope that you will join in this cause and help spread kindness.
More information on Payton and the importance of kindness can be found at: Kindness Matters
Today's post is short, because I hope you will take some time to not only watch the video that I have posted with it but to do a lot more followup on what Micheal Dowd and others teach on Religious Naturalism. That is a reverent awe inspiring view of life based on evidence, what is real, rather than on ancient texts and myths.
The fact is Happiness AND Kindness will always be illusive if our understanding of why we struggle is that a woman ate an apple thousands of years ago, rather than we have mismatched instincts from millions of years of evolution.
So here is a great introductory video on Why We Suffer be Micheal Dowd followed by a couple links for further information below.
David Blood Kindness and Relationship Marketing Coach