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Author: PianoJoshDupont

Kindness

How do I fit in the greater world? What is my relationship to my fellow people? Am I responsible for more than myself and my efforts and my wants? These are hard questions, but they are so critical to living a fulfilling life.

Kindness is a currency worth trafficking in. Feeling more than oneself. Giving part of oneself to another. By kindness, I don’t mean being nice and polite to people. That’s part of it sure, but those things are only surface-deep. Real kindness is altruism. It is giving without desire of receiving. It is empathy – not only feeling what others must be going through, but acting on those feelings and opening yourself to others.

Kindness can be a renewable resource, but it can also be draining. Altruism is tough. With true altruism there is no expectation of reciprocation – no expectation of thanks or even acknowledgement. That “thank you” goes so far, but we are to turn that desire off. When appreciation does come your way, the feeling can be intoxicating and addicting, making it painful to go without.

There has to be a middle ground. There has to be a way to be kind without just giving and giving and giving until there’s nothing left. Try to temper the thankless efforts with those that are appreciated. Show empathy and altruism to those that will not return it, but don’t throw everything into that well. Take care of yourself, too. You have to refill your kindness reserves. Volunteer with others. Bring your friends and loved ones into the circle, and boost each other as you give of yourselves.

A Year in the Life

I just noticed that it had been almost a year between my last two posts. A lot can happen in twelve months, but where does it leave me? Did my needle move? Am I happier? Am I a better person? I would like to think I am, but I can’t be sure. My life is certainly a lot different than it was a year ago. It has been a year of chaos, and it feels like I am just beginning to move out of it into more of a position of control. That is where I thrive – when I feel like I have control over my life. My stress level rises when I go too long without checking in – checking in on family, checking in on work, checking in on reading and writing (not so much, ‘rithmetic, but I do miss being a math nerd as a kid). My brain likes to wander, so when life is chaotic, my mind takes off and leaves me behind to juggle all of the little pieces it drops. I don’t make time to go on outings with the kids, or reconnect with friends, or read, because I just don’t think to. When I have structure to my day, I can relax. I can add nice little treats here and there. Like Bob Ross’s happy little trees, I can grab drinks with a buddy, go to the farmers’ market with the kids, grab an hour to write some fiction. It is all right there for me because the current of my life is churning along. I guess over the past year, I have realized how important it is to me to have order in my life – to have routine. I can’t control what comes my way, but I can control what I do with it, and I know now that I need to make it fit into an order, whatever that means. It may mean that I have to find a new work schedule to leave room for family. It may mean making time for breakfast with friends instead of drinks after work. Instead of trying to juggle all of the pieces of my life, frantically chasing new balls as they are thrown into the mix, I need to think more like Tetris and find how they can all fit together, while leaving room for the next piece to appear. Wish me luck!

Love Your Show

When I am up in front of the crowd, sometimes I get a little too deep in my own head. “Are they paying attention?” “Is this enjoyable at all?” Like so many other people, I suffer from the classic impostor’s syndrome. There is a way out that works for me. Try it yourself. Remind yourself that the audience is already there for you. They know why you are up there. You don’t have to try to win them over. You are there. They are there. Everyone knows the transaction that is taking place. Invite them into your living room, and enjoy the company.

It’s Snowing

In the winter it’s always snowing – in inch here, an inch there. We grab our shovels and set to work. But the snow doesn’t leave. We just push it around so it is in a more convenient place for us. It’s not until the rising temperatures of Spring that the snow finally melts and flows off, seeking ever lower ground until eventually joining the vastness of the sea. Or it simply evaporates away for another try at it.

I think our thoughts can act as a similar phenomenon. They constantly rain down, and we have to push them aside to get done what needs to be done in any given moment. But they are still there. Nagging at us from just outside our lines of vision. Or maybe they are too overwhelming to even push them aside at all – ever piling on, one atop the other.

We need a mental Springtime – a time to clear away these worries, thoughts, and fears. For good.

Here’s what works for me. I grab a notepad and find a quiet spot. Sitting there, I focus on my breathing. I count my breaths, one through ten and back again, and I try to clear my mind. One by one those nagging thoughts pop into my head. When that happens, I pause my count, write the thought down on my notepad, and consider it cleared. Back to the breath, rinse, and repeat. Soon the entirety of those noisy thoughts are contained in front of me on that notepad, and now I have something I can work with. I don’t have to worry about forgetting something important because I have it all right here. I can act on it, schedule it, or just throw it away.

Exciting!

“What am I excited about right now?” This is such an important question and one that I don’t ask myself enough. Not only is it important to check in with yourself and your driving forces and emotions, it can be a great hack for networking and small talk. When you discover those things that are exciting to you at the moment, you give yourself a answer to that all-too-common question – “tell me about yourself.”

So take a second to sit and think about what that thing is for you. It changes all the time, so be open to having it jump around from day to day. Most importantly – allow yourself to get excited about things in your life!

Big Things

Dependent upon the day, maybe it’s all the little things in your life that bury you in despair. When this happens it can be helpful to turn to the larger themes. Your family. Your friends. Your loved ones. The positive influences that guide you through your life can be of great help when life comes at you from all directions. Your faith or guiding principles can be a beacon as well.

Close your eyes and think about what the larger forces are in your life. Especially the ones that give you joy or fulfillment. Is it your job? Your volunteer group? Your close circle of friends? Sometimes focusing on the big picture can give you hope when everything starts piling on.

Little Things

So often in life we can get overwhelmed by the “Big Things” in life. Our debts, our jobs, and our personal responsibilities can weigh on us like stones around our necks. It’s times like these where it can be nice to think about all of the little things in life that bring us joy. Maybe it’s the pleasure of listening to music. It could be the joy of speaking with friends. Sometimes for me, it’s just the ecstasy of a hot slice of plain cheese pizza. Find a couple joys in your life. They’re often right there in front of your nose.

Directed by YOU!

I was reading the other day about good ways to start your day, and one recommendation was to start by doing something proactive like a creative project rather than reactive like answering emails. I love this idea. It sets your day up to be directed by YOU, as opposed to others.

That’s why you see me back at it on the blog. As I type this I can actually feel my mood improving (granted, it may just be a product of expecting my mood to improve, but regardless, it is improving). I am also in the process of bringing the podcast back. The piano is tuned, and I already have a couple episodes outlined. It feels good to be proactive.

Try to have your first task of the day being something you direct. Keep up the good fight, y’all! Your day can get off to a good start.

-Josh

Trust and Training

Trust your employees. Trust them to represent the company’s ideals, because you have instilled those ideals in them. Train your people to view every moment of incident from the client’s point of view. Each moment of incident is an opportunity to determine an action that brings value to the client and, in the end, bolsters the company.

A Great Team

How do you develop a great team?

It’s a big weekend for our company (pianofondue.com), but amazingly I have a relaxing Saturday of casual house work ahead of me. I know that our clients are in good hands.

Develop a great team, and you can take a breath every once in a while.

Good team members know that they have support among their peers. They are not afraid to ask for help, and that help is always forthcoming. In short, your people can depend on each other, and you can depend on that system. They are accountable to each other, and therefore to the company as well. Nurture that.

-Josh