Sincerity Q4

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week 7, Q4

Sincerity: “Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.”

Personal notes:

  • Such an important one to practice;
  • Especially with friends & family;
  • Be an open book to the ones you love.

Before this year, Sincerity was sorely lacking; brevity and levity, rather than “innocently and justly.”  The simple “you look beautiful” or “I love you,” was hidden, and shared a quarter of the time it was thought. The words were always there, shouted within, but crushed in their infancy. To clarify, these weren’t childish impulses or outrageous declarations, but mature, reasoned statements I could not say, and I could not understand why. Why keep such innocent thoughts locked away? Why is so much left unsaid?

We guard our true words and noble thoughts. We lock them away out of fear and shame. It takes courage to say these words, courage to let them see air. Paradoxically, we live in a world where it’s easy and expected to share glib, ignoble thoughts — quickly slipped into breath, free from hinderance and depth. Silence is a very big part of Sincerity. The more I was silent, the more my thoughts could settle and mature, the more I could distill what I meant to say, the more I could remember, remember my bearing, and remember to be just.

This past weekend, courage failed me. I saw my grandmother. She is dying. Most of what I wanted to say was left unsaid. Instead, I sat there and held her hand. That was all the Sincerity I could muster.  What was so scary about telling an old lady I love her, and that I am sad to see her go? I don’t know, but the words were trapped — I heard them in my mind, and felt them wither in my chest.

What is scary about telling a child you love them? Or that they make you happy? Nothing. Nothing is scary about it. I know because I say it every day to my children. Why then, is it scary to say these same words to an adult? Even one so close as your wife or grandmother. I don’t know. I certainly don’t have the answer. But I do know that after a year, I am getting better, getting closer. Sincerity is a paradox, it is born from restraint and silence and it takes courage to ensure it is not bound by them.

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Next Week

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week 8, Q4

Justice: “Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.

Personal notes:

  • Be true to others;
  • Act honorably;
  • Avoid expediency.

As we approach the New Year, what could be a better than starting off with a promise to live a more Just life?

Sincerity Q3

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week 7, Q3

Sincerity: “Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.”

Personal notes:

  • Such an important one to practice;
  • Especially with friends & family;
  • Be an open book to the ones you love.

When I think of Sincerity, I think of sharing nice thoughts with loved ones. Easy enough but tougher than it sounds. There are times I want to share something nice, but a hand catches the words before they can escape and the words are buried deep below, never to see the light of day.

My kids help me to practice sincerity. They force me to be kind, innocent and just. They remind me to slow down and explain the world; it is still new. Sometimes they cause a fury and I need to catch myself. They are only children after all, there is no reason to be angry; bury the cynic and mirror the innocence.

There’s spillover from dealing with my children; innocence frees what courage cannot. I came across an old photo of my wife holding our first born. My wife looked beautiful and happy. Many times I’ve thought such things and kept them to myself – what a waste. There are so few times when so few words have such a large effect. Share them. 

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Next Week

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week 8, Q3

Justice: “Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.”

Personal notes:

  • Be true to others;
  • Act honorably;
  • Avoid the simple way out.

Honor. It’s an old and antiquated word. One that seems lost to a bygone era. Practice Honor this week.

Sincerity Q2

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week 7, Q2

Sincerity: “Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.”

Personal notes:

  • Practice on friends & family
  • Be an open book to the girls
  • Sit down with dad for Father’s Day

At times I’d like to share a nice, kind, or pleasant thought with friends or family, but I don’t – I balk at apologies too. Is it weird that I keep these thoughts to myself? Keeping quiet about bad thoughts makes sense, but why does my gut keep silent for good ones? Over the last few years I’ve forced myself to be more open, honest and sincere with my wife – happy wife, happy life, and all that (it’s true) – but not so much others. If I try to think of a reason, I have no answer. Why not be sincere with friends and family? Why not reach out and share? Seems obvious.

This past week, we had a lot going on: visited family, attended a wedding, farewell dinner for an old friend, and a few others. For each I overruled my gut and did my best to be sincere. For my buddy who is moving, I told him earnestly, how much I’ll miss him. The day after dancing all night at the wedding, I thanked the groom and bride for including us in the festivities.

Admittedly, none of this is rocket science, my wife does it all the time (in fact, I think most females do), but maybe it is rocket science for me; the rocket science of sincere emotions – Male 101. Old timers of generations past would pour me a whiskey, nervously look for the door, or punch me in the nose; “sack up” they’d say. But there’s something to this sincerity bit; when thoughts don’t linger I feel better.

People like hearing when you’re grateful, happy, or hurt. Helps put emotion on the compass and give folks a sense of direction. It also helps turn off the mind’s replay settings – or at least lower the volume. Just the other day I sent a snarky email that I initially thought was funny. However, I ruminated for hours how rude it was in retrospect. The only way to quiet my mind was to write an apology; so I did. Success was immediate, as was my friend’s reply calling me a donkey. I had to laugh, it made me feel better, my mind was at ease and I could finally go on with the rest of the day.

Sincerity

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week Seven, Q1

Sincerity: “Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.”

Personal notes:

  • Stop being short;
  • Stop using wise ass comments;
  • Express what you’re thinking rather than hiding it (leads to personal frustration when people don’t “figure out” what I’m thinking; How could they? Aren’t they psychic?);
  • Share your emotions rather than using stupid phrase as cover;
  • Give more to Caryn (my wife); talk like you would to Clara (my daughter).

My goal this week was to be more honest and sincere with my wife. When I had a feeling or thought, I tried my best to share it; without being glib or vague. Sometimes it was a simple text “I love you.” Other times I asked where she thought we were as a family, parent, and couple.

In our talks we agreed that Sincerity is very much tied to Silence. Practicing the two has led to a lot of improvement in our relationship. We’re not really experiencing highs or lows (no epic poetry, no teenage angst), just a steady, pleasant modicum of happiness. When before too many thoughts were blocked by noise or too many virtues atrophied from lack of care, there’s now a sense of mature calm.

For Sincerity I had to learn to drop my guard and share. Being open had the unintended effect of building a sturdier, happier relationship. Even more, by focusing on one person, my quality of interaction changed and that had the unintended effect of including others in my life. It’s been quite interesting these last few weeks; they have decidedly made an impact. All I can say at close is this, my wife went away this weekend for a conference and when I said goodbye, I was genuinely sad to see her go.