July 15, 2024

Surviving the Season

In this season where we all try to get along, we all try to love each other, we all try to tolerate our visiting relatives, I offer this survival technique: Work On Wondering, or WOW.



Knowledge –n:

1. the facts, feelings, or experiences known by a person or group of people

2. the state of knowing

Wonder –n:

1. the feeling excited by something strange; a mixture of surprise, curiosity, and sometimes awe

2. something that causes such a feeling, such as a miracle

If knowledge is the currency of the Knower/Judger, then wonder is the currency of the Learner/Researcher.

The Christmas season (Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Black Friday, whatever) is a season of wonder. Children wonder if there is a Santa Claus. We wonder what the next year holds for us.

How often do you “know”? My observation is that anytime we make an opinion or statement we consider fact, we are judging that we know. There’s no wonder involved.

And when we know and choose to voice our knowledge (for example at a family gathering over wine on Christmas Eve) we risk crashing head-on into someone else’s knowledge, don’t we? What normally ensues is a K/J vs. K/J discussion…and no winners.

Here are some examples of things we might “know” over the holidays:

The best candidate for the White House is…

  • The other driver has no rights to that piece of road in front of me.
  • My brother’s 10-year-old son is heading for trouble with that earring.
  • Mom’s turkey is tough and doesn’t taste very good.
  • I’m just having a bad day.
  • I’ve never been able to compete with my sister.
  • The holidays are so stressful.

And the list goes on.

I have a prescribed K/J reaction to things that go awry or knowledge that is just dead wrong. I judge things as personal offenses and utter a very defensive “Goddamn!” My father taught me that at an early age. Stub my toe? “Goddamn!” Get cut off in traffic? “Goddamn!” Mom complains about my daughter’s dress code? “Goddamn!” You understand. You’ve probably got your own K/J response. A kinder, gentler version is “Poor me.” But it’s the same thing. A programmed K/J reaction.

I’m not happy about this personal trait. Of late I’ve been working on wondering. I’m doing everything in my power to replace “Goddamn!” with “I wonder why that happened?” And I’ve found it takes me in a totally different direction when I can be present enough to do it.

“Goddamn!” is clearly a judgmental, defensive, “poor me” response to something. What we’ve learned from our studies of the HDClarity tools is that K/J conversation is almost always met with competitive K/J conversation. So engaging with someone, even someone we love and respect, from this position has a high probability of going somewhere unproductive. Argument. Storming out. Cut out of the will.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” –Viktor Frankl

This is not a new quote for my readers. But over this holiday season I’m choosing wonder over knowledge. So what if I think my brother-in-law is dead wrong about the next U.S. administration? Do I really think I’m going to change his mind over the Christmas goose? Perhaps I can set my knowledge aside and wonder how he arrived at that conclusion. I might even learn something.

Experiment with the WOW technique. Take that “space” between stimulus and response and wonder in it. Consider it a gift of the holidays. Who knows? It might even last through the new year.

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