STRENGTH & FOCUS: Pride, prejudice, butter, and acceptance in life
Greetings, friends! My apologies for the recent absence; as I’m sure you can relate, it’s been an eventful couple of weeks. If you know me personally or follow me on social media, then you know that my book, “The Change: Insights into Self-Empowerment,” was just released, and I’ve been busy scheduling speaking engagements, book signings, and other public events.
“The Change” is one of the fastest growing book series in the world, focusing on self-empowerment, personal development, and life transformation. The series is co-founded by Jim Britt and Jim Lutes and features leaders and experts from around the globe offering thought-provoking insights to help the reader create positive changes in his/her life.
Now that you’re caught up on the life and times of Rich Perry, let’s discuss some changes that have been happening in the world around us. For one, unless you’ve been trapped under a rock these last few weeks, you may have noticed that social media became a little more colorful in support of the Supreme Court legalizing gay marriage. People around the nation, especially those in the gay and lesbian community, proudly displayed rainbow flags, apps, and images supporting the idea that maybe we are one step closer to equality for all people.
Although this decision ushered in a change of times and provided a positive opportunity for many to celebrate, in our modern society of soapbox heroes and victims with such soft skin that they are offended by everything under (and including) the sun, it unfortunately allows just another excuse for social media vigilantes and bored activist groups to discriminate and fight over something that doesn’t have to do with them. As a student of human nature, yes, my degree is in psychology, but I’m still puzzled by those people who make it their business to tell others how they should live their life. More than that, I’m amazed to the degree that some people cry offense by another person’s behavior. Honestly, how does someone choose to let another person’s beliefs, preferences, and tastes bother them?
When I hear these stories of those people so easily offended by someone else’s lifestyle, I’m reminded of “The Butter Battle Book” by Dr. Seuss. This is a great book, by the way, and it was one of our go-to stories when I worked in children’s mental and behavioral health, especially during the agency’s summer camp program. While the book itself is written as an anti-war story and often viewed as a parable about the arms race (it was written during the Cold War era), it has a very simple storyline that can be transferred to multiple scenarios. In summary, the book focuses on two cultures that are separated by a wall, the Yooks (wearing blue clothes) and the Zooks (in orange), who wage war on each other due to a dispute on the correct way to eat buttered bread. You see, the Yooks prefer to eat their bread with the butter-side up, while the Zooks prefer to eat their bread with the butter-side down.
This is a fantastic story. If you’ve never read it, or if it’s been a few years, then I highly recommend checking it out. You can also watch the animated film below. If by some chance you think that this is just a kid’s story, you’re mistaken. In my professional coaching and training, I have referenced this story many times with clients because it provides a simple and clear picture of how we should and shouldn’t choose to be influenced by another person’s behavior and views on life.
As this column deals with topics relating to mind and body, I would like to assume that my regular readership consists of some fairly level-minded individuals who may not necessarily jump to full-scale wars or engage in petty Internet drama, so let’s bring it down from the overly dramatic side of the spectrum for a moment. How can we take this story and apply it to our daily living? Well, have you ever allowed the beliefs, preferences, or personal tastes of someone else have a (negative) influence on your life? If yes, do you still allow this to happen?
* Please note that I’m NOT talking about anything that could pose as a threat or harm another person. I think we can agree that any rational person would and should intervene in a behavior or act that threatens the safety and well-being of someone else.
The beliefs, preferences, and personal tastes I’m talking about here include, but are not limited to, a person’s religious and spiritual practices, sexual preference, political affiliation, as well as lifestyle choices, such as music, dress and appearance, tattoos and piercings, etc.
Here are a few simple questions to consider:
- Do you allow a person’s difference in opinion to influence or affect you in any way?
- Are you offended by the opinions/preferences of others? If so, do you feel the need to push your views upon them and prove that your viewpoint is the right way of thinking?
- Do you have the ability to accept all people you meet equally?
- Do you judge others based on affiliations or lifestyle choices?
To tie together this theme of acceptance and understanding of others, check out this cool social experiment conducted by Coca-Cola:
I really liked this video, and I think it speaks volumes about how we should view and treat other people. How peaceful could life be if ideals like respect, appreciation, and acceptance of others were practiced? How many arguments could be avoided if we encouraged discussion and understanding? And if you allow the behaviors, preferences, and personal tastes of someone else to affect your life, how much more relaxing would your day be if you could just let it go and focus your attention on the things that were truly important to you and your personal fulfillment?
I hope you enjoyed this week’s article. If you have any comments or questions, please message me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always, thanks for reading, and be excellent!
by Rich Perry
Rich is a Master Coach of NLP, consultant, speaker, musician, trainer, student of life, and an all-around great guy. He also claims to make the most amazing hummus in the universe.