Today marks the 18th time this year that a shooting has occurred in a school in the United States. The shooting in Florida has resulted in at least 17 dead and many more injured at the time of writing. <Source CNN>
There are a number of cultural and historical objections to gun control in the United States, but there has not been an enemy on the doorstep of the worlds largest economy since the war for independence in 1773. In 1861 they endured a Civil War, that however, was not one involving invasion or international threat.
Unlike middle eastern states who have had war raging around them for decades, the threat of war on US soil has been virtually non-existent for over 150 years (Bay Of Pigs notwithstanding). At this point, logically, the argument for gun control is surely strong enough to warrant at least some action being taken to mitigate the risk of assault rifles and other high powered, high capacity weapons being easily available across the whole country to all and sundry.
This, however, isn’t an argument for gun control, or a ‘prayers for the victims’ post. It is simply posing a question.
There are myriad social problems, inequalities and difficulties faced by numerous communities in democracies across the globe. Why doesn’t the murder of innocents and children shift the needle for one solitary issue (The issue – What should we do about constant shootings)? How can we formulate plans to instigate change on far more complex, nuanced, subtle and less in-your-face issues?
How do we improve education standards across the board, across all ages, delivery methods, subjects and outcomes? How can we level the playing field of opportunity for minorities, women, people with disabilities and low Socio-economic groups? How can we address the growing wealth inequality, which is caused by dozens of factors, when a world leading economy can’t agree on how to mitigate a gun violence problem that is so glaring?
The issue here is not only gun violence. It is the lack of a coherent and sensible pathway to address and manage blatant problems in our societies today. How do we establish evidence and fact-based responses to problems, free from hyperbole and emotive over-reaction? How do we remove the bureaucratic dilution of efficacy, putting in place plans that are effective and simple, rather than ineffective and complicated?
How can Australians, and other democratic countries around the world lead the way on sensible decision making and character-led leadership?
The increasing partisanship and divisive, emotion driven politics of the day are driving us further away from environments in which positive, inclusive and long term-change are possible. While in Australia we very fortunately don’t have the problem with gun violence that our Allies in the US do, we can still lead by example by working on solutions rather than name calling. Working on bringing communities together, rather than wedging them apart for votes. We can work on being more inclusive and providing more opportunity, rather than jealously guarding our own privilege while demanding that others remain happy with their lesser lot.
It starts with electing leaders that genuinely have the best interest of people at heart. Not only big business, not re-election, not avoiding internal party factional disputes. Leaders that walk the walk and don’t just evasively talk, redirect and finger point.
Make no mistake, change is difficult. If murdered children can’t create change, what will?
At the Just Be Nice Project, we are committed to developing Character-Led individuals and leaders, we would love to hear your thoughts.
Have you ever considered how hard it is for someone who has everything that they say they want or need, but still feels unhappy and down for some reason?
Wondered how someone who seems so happy, so full of life, could ever get to a place where they could harm themselves or those they love?
Felt down and out, when logically and physically everything is actually going quite well and found it hard to find your happiness again?
Perhaps its because the binary nature of our discussion of happy and sad is a bit off the mark. The language we use to speak about these moods informs our opinions about them, informs the way we seek treatment and the advice we give to those we know regarding moods and emotions.
Rather than a dualistic relationship of happy/sad - instead; Neuroscientist Dr. Richard Davidson suggests we should consider that positive and negative feelings exist separate scales of their own.
Critical to feelings of well-being, the ability to achieve a positive state is important. Considering a standard Bell Curve distribution of attributes, we can see that it most probably looks as follows.
No doubt we all know some people that somehow maintain their effervescent levels of positivity with ease, while others have a very tough time remaining positive even for a minute at a time. In the middle of the bell curve reside the majority of the population, who either skew towards finding a bit easier or a bit tougher depending on a whole range of physiological, social and psychological factors.
The opposite of not being able to sustain a positive state is not necessarily constantly maintaining a negative one. Rather the second scale relates to our ability to rebound from a negative state.
Resilience is not necessarily about rebounding from a negative state to a positive one, it is more about rebounding from a negative state to the middle-ground. A functional place that doesn’t negatively impact your ability to live your life. It might not be a joyous, hands in the hair, dance in the street positivity, but it absolutely is not being stuck down in the doldrums.
Understanding people who occupy opposing ends of these scales simultaneously can be challenging. Those bubbly, vibrant individuals who are mostly full of positive energy, but find it nearly impossible to bounce back from a negative state. Otherwise happy people who suddenly find themselves unable to cope with the onset of a negative state.
Conversely, there are individuals who find it hard to maintain a positive state for any length of time, but always, without fail, bounce back from negative states and show incredible resilience.
Each of us has the two scales inside of us. Understanding where we sit on both allows us to better work on solutions for either resilience or positivity. If you are someone who struggles to maintain a positive state, there are many practices you can do to maximise your time there.
A healthy diet, exercise, a meaningful social life, meditation and positive reflection, gratitude, avoiding stress etc, can all help.
Likewise, if you find yourself struggling to rebound from a negative state, all the above can be of significant use, as can speaking to someone, taking positive actions to remedy a negative situation and perhaps even stoic philosopher Epictetus can offer a thought to mediate on, focusing on what is in your control;
“Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not. It is only after you have faced up to this fundamental rule and learned to distinguish between what you can and can’t control that inner tranquillity and outer effectiveness become possible.” – Epictetus
Take note of where you and others might sit on these scales, and use them to better judge what areas need the most attention. If you need help bouncing back from a negative state, there is no shame in seeking it, if you are resilient individual who finds it hard to live a joyous life, there is no shame in that either. If you rarely feel positive and can’t bounce back from a negative state, then you know that there are two separate things that you can work on, rather than needing to be positive first, you can first rebound from negativity, then find a positive state (or vice-versa).
When we look at positive/negative as individual characteristics, rather than opposite sides of the same coin, we are provided with wonderful tools to better understand not only our own needs, but the needs of others.
Keep smiling, keep looking after each other, keep paying attention and of course, Just Be Nice.
Why start the Just Be Nice Project? What is it all about? Being nice seems like a great premise for a business, but what does it mean?
The answer is relatively simple, we started it because at the end of the day, the simplest way for people to start making positive change in the world is to Just Be Nice. Not only through grand gestures, when it suits them, but to everyone, as often as possible.
Being nice is step one. Just be nice each day, wave when you’re let into traffic, smile and say thank you when you get your coffee, help your friends when they need a hand. Just Be Nice.
If everyone was nice, all the time, the world would be a much better place to live. Consistency is more important than intensity. It should become habit, so if you remember the time that you were nice, you are probably not being that nice.
Doing good however, is a slightly different proposition. Everyone can achieve the same level of being nice, because it’s about what you do. However, the truth is; not everyone can do the same amount of good.
Doing good is about helping others. Doing good is less about what you do and more about what happens for the person getting help.
In medical terms, being nice is the bedside manner. It is important, and it helps, but all the bedside manner in the world won’t cure a disease.
Doing good is treating the illness, and moving people from sick, to well.
Bedside manner, caring about those who are sick, and being nice, can be done by people with good intentions. People who want to hold hands and emotionally support people during tough times.
Treatments however, require hundreds if not thousands of people contributing to research and development, billions in equipment, infrastructure, hospitals, research facilities, studies, medicines etc. Each time we treat or cure a disease, it’s because people have dedicated their lives and skills to the cause.
In addition, the people who administer the treatments spend years at school and university to be able to treat these patients. The Doctors, nurses and support staff, are able to do more good as a result of their effort, training and support infrastructure.
The Just Be Nice Project is about bringing the two together. Bringing together the best of the big hearts, the caring and emotional support that humans need so badly, as well as bringing together the best in infrastructure and expertise to deliver ‘cures’ and ‘treatments’ to the disadvantaged. To facilitate the necessary long-term research and results driven testing to find the best ways to deliver people an equality of opportunity.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t just matter how much someone cares, you cannot ‘care’ someone better if you do not have the skills or resources to treat them. It also doesn’t work if you simply give someone a treatment, and not consider the fact that humans need more than some logistical boxes ticked to help them move from disadvantage to an equality of opportunity.
Philosopher Bertrand Russell said, “The good life is one inspired by love, and guided by knowledge”. We agree. Without love we lack the impetus to care enough to acquire the knowledge for the good of others, but without the knowledge we are just bundles of misguided, ineffective intention.
“The good life is one inspired by love, and guided by knowledge” B. Russell
If you want to be nice, it is simple. Show compassion, pay attention, be empathetic, be nice to everyone you can, including people doing it tough. If you want to do good, take the time working out the best way to do that. Starting by understanding what you really excel at, then speaking to us about what things you could possibly do that make sense for your skill set. At the JBNProject, each day we bring people and organisations together, using their skills to do good, not just be nice. It’s the long way, and it takes time, but all good solutions take time, infrastructure and support. Building long term sustainable programs, we determine best practice to comprehensively move people from a situation of disadvantage to an equality of opportunity.
Remember, it starts with being nice, as close to all the time as you can!
Share, subscribe, or to find out more, get in touch with us today.
What's An EAP?
An EAP (Employee Assistance Program) is a service that employers can offer to employees (and sometimes their immediate family) to provide mental health support for issues that may arise in or out of the workplace for employees. Depending on the organisation, it may include access to a counsellor in person or over the phone. Typically there is a hotline available for staff members to call to speak to someone about any issues they may be having. These conversations are confidential, while the employers will know that the service has been used, they will not know who used it, or for what issue.
EAP's were created in the late 1930's to deal with alcoholism and have the value to staff, employers, mental health and productivity inside workplaces was soon made obvious.
EAP's can be contacted to discuss issues inside and outside of the workplace. Things like
Problems at work:
Any or all of these things can have an adverse impact on how you are feeling, the EAP's are a great place to go if you are unsure of where to take the first step in chatting to someone about issues you may be facing.
For employers, EAP's are a great resource, team leader, managers or even work mates can refer each other to these services to talk with professionals about issues that might not be easily spoken about in the workplace. Happy and healthy staff always create a more functional and inspiring workplace, so the EAP's can be a part of a health and wellness framework that looks after the most important people in your business.
As an employee, if you have access to a service like this, check to see whether it is available to your immediate family as well. You may wish to speak to an EAP if you need an ear, you may want to give your spouse or kids a chance to speak to someone anonymously and from the comfort of their phone. The EAP will work to identify the issues, help put a plan in place to deal with them and potentially provide ongoing support (depending on the cover that your employer has).
Employee Assistance Programs are a great resource, and when we are upskilling workplaces on best practice for mental health outcomes, it is always fantastic to be able to refer people internally to their EAP while improving their inter-personal skills at the same time.
Keep talking, Keep looking out for each other and as always, Just Be Nice.
For more information or to have the JBNProject come and help your organisation to Just Be Nice, contact us HERE.
*Photo by Taylor Grote on Unsplash
The Just Be Nice Project would like to welcome Victoria Polytechnic to the team!
Education and educational institutions play such an integral role in leveling the playing field of opportunity for people who otherwise wouldn't have it. The TAFE system in Australia has been plagued by exploitation, unscrupulous operators and even sub-standard delivery. TAFE SA recently had to suspend 14 of 16 courses reviewed due to poor performance.
Working with lower socio-economic groups and individuals who need flexible blended delivery education, workplace experience and skills and have not finished year 12 of high school, TAFE has the potential to fill the gap between formal education, workplace readiness and employment.
With the relaunch of the amazing hospitality facility at Vic Polytechnic in Footscray, the Just Be Nice Project is bringing together the expectations of the hospitality industry for the skills required for employment, the flexibility offered by the team at Vic Polytechnic and the needs of individuals who are seeking gainful employment.
Led by Shawn and Danette, the Vic Polytechnic Hospitality team is working to provide the gold standard of pathways to individuals in need of employment and hospitality skills. Providing the Just Be Nice Project the flexibility to bring together the needs of employers and individuals to deliver the right kind of training, in the right order for maximum employability as early as possible. We are so appreciative of the opportunity to change curriculum in order to meet the needs across the board of every stakeholder and deliver the best results all around. Keeping everyone doing what they are good at, in order to have the most impact possible.
A great asset to the Just Be Nice Project team, Victoria Polytechnic has fantastic facilities, including three state-of-the-art commercial kitchens with:
The latest cooking equipment
Two demonstration kitchens
A training bar
A 150 seat training restaurant, VenU, which was awarded best training restaurant in Victoria at the Restaurant and Catering awards.
We look forward to keeping everyone up to date with our developments in Melbourne's West with our hospitality and training partners, working towards employed, housed and happy individuals.
If you or someone you know is looking to do some good, have an impact and Just Be Nice.... Share this around and get in touch!
Just Be Nice
A collection of articles relevant to pursuing the effective execution of altruism in the search for equality of opportunity.