New Castle News

Tim Kolodziej

April 3, 2014

Tim Kolodziej: Feeling down lately? There’s an explanation

NEW CASTLE — Are you good at explaining things?

I mean, can you give clear directions to the motorist who pulls up to ask for help?

Can you teach a group of children to play a game correctly?

The art of communication is now a must for any parent, teacher or coach.

“Because I said so” is no longer a valid reason for young people to follow our lead.

The same goes for me. I’m a lot like a kid in that area.

Don’t just tell me WHAT to do. That won’t make a lasting impact.

I need to know HOW and WHY. That’s when learning becomes concrete for me.

In other words, I crave a clear and concise explanation.

Insanely simple is even better.

And I don’t think I’m alone. That’s why there are so many books and products “for dummies.” That’s why “quick and easy” are two of the most inviting words in the English language. That’s why Twitter has become so popular. If you can’t get your point across in 140 characters, it’s probably too complicated.

If you’re in business, you better be able to clearly explain to your customers what you do.

If you’re a coach, you better be able to clearly explain to your players what their roles are.

If you’re a pastor, you better be able to clearly explain the gospel to those curious about God.

But for you and me, those of us somewhere in the middle, there is one place we need to focus on more than any other when it comes to life-changing explanations.

Our minds.

“Half of learning is learning. The other half of learning is unlearning.” — Mark Batterson

The truth is, our explanations are far more important than our experiences.

So says Dr. Martin Seligman in his book, “Learned Optimism.”

“Your way of explaining events to yourself determines how helpless you become, or how energized, when you encounter everyday setbacks as well as momentous defeats.”

Let me paraphrase an example used by Mark Batterson in his book, “In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day”:

You look down at your watch and it’s 7:45 p.m. Your date was supposed to meet you at the restaurant at 7 p.m., sharp. Here are some possible explanations you may conceive:

•“She stood me up” — Now you become mad.

•“He doesn’t love me anymore” — Now you become sad.

•“I bet she was in an accident” — Now you become anxious.

•“Maybe he’s working overtime to pay for this night out” — Now you feel grateful.

•“She’s with another man” — Now you are jealous.

One date night.

A multitude of explanations for why it didn’t go as planned.

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Tim Kolodziej