cultivating positivity and happiness; a litmus test

The day ain’t over till this bad boy is gone

I spent two years in a hospital setting watching my son get ravaged by disease and poison.  It’s also poignant to mention this is a family disease.  It was a combination of my wife, daughter, sister Hallie, sister-in-law Becky, Arthur, me, and plenty more people sitting with Jacob.  I write of my own experiences and do so very openly, but it bears mentioning there were many of us on this journey.  Watching Jacob die has hardened and dulled me.  These two words exist in the same world.  I’ve seen the “business” of hospitals and drug manufacturers.  I’ve seen smart doctors with an inability to try other options due to the litigious manner of our country.  I’m dulled too, in that, I know longer feel great joy.  Empathy used to come naturally, and this is something I must practice.  How do I find positivity?  How do I make steps to change the culture?  Nothing I write will be new.  Nothing I write will make you stop what you’re doing and want to join the revolution.  Nonetheless, these are changes I am trying to cultivate positivity for myself.


Successful people share similar habits.  The number one is the ability to live without comfort.  The human brain seeks comfort.  A typical day for me for years was as follows.  I would wake up, shower, eat, go to an unfulfilling job, go home, eat, sit on the sofa, watch tv, go to bed.  ICE CREAM.  LOTS OF ICE CREAM.  Repeat.  I wasn’t miserable but I wasn’t happy.  I didn’t challenge thought.  I got very used to staying home and leaving my “pod” was tough.  In the past 4 months, I’ve quit my job to start my own company.  I’ve also started a foundation with the hope of providing students with scholarships.  Making cold calls is scary.  I was getting a very nice paycheck.  That’s gone.  I am relying on myself again.  I’m not the same person I was three years ago.  There are doubts.  I love it!  Let’s Go!!!!  Current Grade C+


This sounds simple.  It is not.  I compare pictures of me from years back to now and I can see the depletion and sunken skin.  My eyes resemble a racoon.  I’ve been living off soda, shakes, and coffee.  I now force myself to drink a minimum of 98 oz of water daily.  On good days, I drink 128.  I still drink coffee.  Lots.  I am a work in progress, what can I say? Soda (diet) is evil.  Current Grade B+


What dud I say about a work in progress?  If anyone ever needs help understanding the science of food, seek someone obese.  I know every diet made.  I can tell you what to eliminate, and what your body needs.  I know cool buzz words like flora and micronutrients.  Most obese people do.  We seek comfort.  Right now, I am taking small steps.  I’ve consumed two quarts of ice cream in a month.  This is an improvement from a quart, daily.  Current Grade D-


I have been sitting for a long time.  Walking hurts.  My knees are bad.  With that, I feel better when I find exercise.  I have been moving for five days.  This is monumental.  My status: I can walk around the block.  I need to stop often and sit but I can do it.  I can row for about fifteen minutes.  All of this is new.  I hurt but I’m doing it.  The post-endorphin release is real.  Current Grade B


Simply said, this is the greatest enemy of us all.  Instant access to poison isn’t good.  I remember when TikTok started, and the talk was it was created so that the Chinese can control “us.”  Most people don’t know that ALL social media controls us by capturing our initial clicks and providing content based on that.  This is planned mind-terrorism.  I use Facebook reluctantly.  It’s a means to an end.  I use Instagram for promotion of the Jacob Butze Foundation.  I watch YouTube because I’m stupid.  It’s my goal to eliminate wasteful time on social media.  I do an exercise to help.  SEEK OUT A FRIEND WHO DOESN’T HAVE ANY SOCIAL MEDIA AND HAVE A CHAT.  It’s quite lovely.  Current Grade: D+


I consider my friends Ben and Heather successful.  Yes, they do well in business.  Beyond that, they are always doing cool shit.  They don’t own a television.  So, there is one in their gym, but it’s not attached to the house.  I’ve never seen the remote so if I wanted to watch, I guess I would have to scale a 15-foot wall.  I am a binge watcher.  That term never existed when I was a child.  We have (I think) five televisions in the house.  Our living room is set up with the television as the focal point.  Our house is a lovely split-hall colonial with stunning crown molding.  The inviting fireplace brightens the room.  We don’t care.  Our television dominates the room.  The basement has a perfect man-cave.  Naomi has oft said she’d be fine with not having a television.  Challenge Accepted.  January 1, 2023, the televisions are gone for 90 days!  Current Grade: Incomplete


Stop what you’re doing right now.  I mean it.  Inhale through your nose, slowly to the count of 6.  Hold that breath for a count of 4.  Exhale slowly through the tiniest hole you can make in your mouth to the count of 6.  6-4-6. Repeat three times.  While you’re inhaling, imagine the incoming oxygen is healing and positive love.  Your exhales are your fear, anxiety and troubles leaving your body, not to return.  YOU’RE WELCOME!  As for spiritual healing, I have found a G-D of my understanding.  The best explanation I have ever heard about the subject did not come from a book, religious school, converting to Judaism, or any other conventional source.  It came from the priest in the movie Rudy. “Son, in thirty-five years of religious study, I’ve come up with only two hard, incontrovertible facts; there is a God, and I’m not Him.”  Current Grade: A


Toxic people find on another.  If you’re in an office, you can find them everywhere.  They talk poorly of everyone. They blame others.  They are poison.  I have been toxic.  It’s easier to blame someone else than to own my actions.  Finding people who live in the solution is getting harder but not impossible.  Eliminating the toxic people is a task, as well.  I practice this as much as anything.  I slip into toxic behavior as well as anyone.  Toxicity was never anything I ever considered.  It wasn’t until I started to look at my own actions that I saw how dangerous this habit can be.  Take full advantage of the opportunity to talk with positive people.  This doesn’t mean that everyday is cheerful.  Limiting gossip and catty behaviors is day changing.  Current Grade: B-


Naomi is a voracious reader.  Does anyone ever use the word voracious in any other fashion?  It’s always voracious reader.  Hmmmm.  I digress.  Very few people I know buy as many books as me.  I’m the best.  I enjoy talking with family and friends about books.  Self-help.  Historical books.  Grief books.  I buy them all.  I don’t read them, but dammit if I don’t buy em.  I open and read them from time to time.  When I do, I learn.  I am sitting quietly without staring at a screen.  I feel better.  I am enriched.  This is going to change.  Current Grade: F-


I spent my life hating myself.  I never felt comfortable in my skin.  I was never overweight until I was in my 30’s.  I have great hair and complexion.  I’m not tall but not short.  I never thought I was good looking until I went to Cedar Point.  I went to an elementary school with a small group of kids who had legitimate money.  The rest of my school was in the same standing.  When I entered junior and senior high school, the “Shaker Inferiority Complex” was real.  I started to resent my father and myself.  As I grew into my addictions my self-hate raised.  It wasn’t until I got sober before I realized that a) I am good enough and b) my father did very well. 

Loving myself and affirming this love is a practice.  It starts with forgiveness. I tell myself daily that I love me.  I often feel like Stuart Smiley.  <Younger peeps, look him up> Current Grade: C


Months ago, my average grade would be an F.  I am now a D+ student and trending up.  Everything I’ve laid out to cultivate happiness is a verb.  It’s action.  Be comfortable not being comfortable.  The changes I am making are subtle but massive.  If you want to cultivate positivity and happiness, I suggest look at these criteria and take a self-evaluation.  Use the results as your baseline.  This is my first semester.  I will re-grade soon.


2 responses to “cultivating positivity and happiness; a litmus test”

  1. Michele Carney Shahbandeh Avatar
    Michele Carney Shahbandeh

    one of my daily readings is your column. yes I said, column, you are a wonderful writer

    Liked by 1 person

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