Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Is Connecticut really that unfriendly?

I'm a proud nutmeger. Born and breed in the state of Connecticut. Like many other states across this nation, you'll find the good, bad, and the ugly.

Despite my fondness for my home state. I also like to travel. One of the things that I've been hearing over the years and hearing more often than not is that people from Connecticut and the tri-state in general are we're not very friendly people. On quite a few occasions I will get a backhanded compliment like, "Are you really from the northeast, you're pretty friendly." I smile and accept it, but it got me thinking. Are we really that unfriendly?

Since I was a kid I was used to hearing this about New Yorkers and it's a generalization that some even embrace. However, I've met plenty of New Yorkers that have demonstrated friendliness and kindness to me. I didn't realize other folks around the country felt this sentiment toward Connecticut.The state was recently profiled as having two of the unfriendliest cities in the country. What's your guess? If you guessed Hartford and New Haven you would be right.

Since Conde Naste Traveler released their "The 2015 Friendliest and Unfriendliest Cities in the U.S.," Hartford and New Haven have become infamous for making this year's list. When I saw the article pop-up in my Google Plus news feed I said to myself, "Hot mess," but then had to see it. It wasn't just me either. Local media had a field day with it too. While I like to see my home state making headlines, it's not when two of the states largest cities are considered unfriendly places. This can't be good for tourism in the state.

Here's the photo caption for New Haven:

"Ranked fifth in 2014, New Haven remains an anomaly: "An extremely rough town" with "questionable public safety," it's also home to one of the country's top Ivy League schools, Yale University. "The contrast between the academic wealth and local poverty is poignant," to say the least. As a visitor, start by exploring the "nine squares" of the campus, where you'll find "great architecture, a surprisingly good restaurant scene, world-class museums, and great theater."

Hartford's caption:

"Rebounding slightly from no. 3 last year, Connecticut's "forgettable" state capital "shuts down at night" and is considered "dreary, especially when it rains or snows." "It definitely needs a facelift!" Unforgiving complaints and "seedy sections" of the city aside, "it appears to be trying to rejuvenate itself." The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts and the Hartford Stage "host traveling Broadway shows and critically acclaimed plays." "Elizabeth Park's rose garden is wonderful" and the "river walk with its cultural and food festivals" are worth a visit."

Although Hartford had a slight improvement I think the state can do better and the citizens living here should want to do better to change this perception. I came up with a short list to help the cause. Here are four things my fellow state residents can do to be more friendly to others:

  • Smile -  It's a simple way to acknowledge someones presence and show the person you're happy, you may just give the person you're smiling at a reason to smile back.
  • Being Approachable - Don't physically close yourself off. Body language experts suggest not crossing your arms, holding your hands, or looking away from people.
  • Ask people questions about themselves - It's not all about you. Showing genuine interest in others helps people to open up and get a conversation going.
  • Compliment a person - If you don't anything nice to say than don't, but if you do go ahead and compliment a stranger. You will make them feel better and you may feel better too!
These tips may not change the perceptions of Hartford and New Haven overnight, but we have to start somewhere, right?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Compete with yourself

Why compare yourself with others? No one in the entire world can do a better job of being you than you.” ~ Unknown
We live in a competitive society. We work in a competitive industry. Most of us at some time in our lives probably played a competitive sport. Competition is a part of our lives and studies suggest that we learn to be competitive at an early age.
When I was younger I used to perform on a gymnastic team. At gymnastic meets I would go to my assigned rotation after I warmed up and stretched. While waiting my turn it I often common checked out the other team to see what their skills were. This would either make me happy or doubt myself; it all depended on the skill level of the other gymnasts.
When I first joined the team I was 10 and my skills were pretty basic. At my first gymnastic meet I was both nervous and excited. There were a few girls around my age, but performing tricks at a higher level than me. Doubt began to set in as I watched them. Aisha, one of my senior team members noticed and came over to me and said, “Don’t worry about them. You’re here to do the best job you can do. Give it everything you got and have fun.” I wasn't sold, but I followed her advice. Those other girls placed in the top three on every event. I did manage to place in the top six on floor and vault (my two favorites). I didn’t realize it back then, but she was telling me to compete with myself. After that meet I still compared myself to others, however, I also began to focus on the best job that I could do and that was reinforced by my coaches and teammates.
Hendrik Edberg, blogger of The Positivity Blog recommends the following five tips to stop comparing yourself to others:
  1. Be Kind –The way you behave and think towards others seems to have a big, big effect on how you behave towards yourself and think about yourself. Judge people more and
    you tend to judge yourself more.
  2. Don’t Fall Into the Trap of Hero Worship – When you start to make myths out of people – even though they may have produced extraordinary results – you run the risk of becoming disconnected from them. You can start to feel like you could never achieve similar things that they did because they are so very different. So it’s important to keep in mind that everyone is just a human being no matter who they are.
  3. Accept You Can’t Always Win – Just consciously realizing this can be helpful. No matter what you do you can pretty much always find someone else in the world that has more than you or are better than you at something.
  4. Give Up Both Sides of Comparing – If you can’t stop doing the negative comparisons then stop doing them both. Because if you’re in the headspace where you compare
    to feel better about yourself then it’s hard to stop it and not also start to compare in way that make you feel worse and inferior.
  5. Compare Yourself to Yourself – Instead of comparing yourself to other people create the habit of comparing yourself to yourself. See how much you have grown, what you have achieved and what progress you have made towards your goals.
What additional tips do you recommend?