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I’ve always been intrigued by human behavior — what makes us tick. My professional background, career and business endeavors in the arena of communication have kept me involved in this to some extent. With the advertising agency I founded, we were involved in marketing products and services; and that certainly encompassed research into consumer behavior.

I found myself yearning to learn more about the foundations of human behavior at one point — and went back to graduate school to study psychology and counseling. At first, I just took a couple of courses, and then I jumped in with both feet to pursue a master’s degree. Juggling that with running a business certainly presented some challenges, although it was well worth it.

Purpose

The column was largely the result of an inquiry that kept going through my mind:

Why does it take a life-threatening accident or illness for us to appreciate life as we go along? And does this have to be experiential?

You know the stories of hostages who have been released — and they’re always so grateful for the blue sky and the green grass. It’s as if their senses have been heightened by the deprivation of life’s wonders, as many of ours have been dulled by so much access to this beauty.

Of course, there are no right or wrong answers to this inquiry. That’s what keeps it exciting as I continue to explore concepts along these lines — and share them with you.

My ongoing intention is to provide information in my columns that could be helpful to you in dealing with everyday issues in your lives — and to provide resources in case you want to dig deeper.

The second comment I hear most often from readers is, “I feel like you wrote that just for me.” I often joke that I have lots of webcams out there so I can learn what people want to explore. In reality, this is one of the greatest compliments I could receive.

To think that something I wrote makes a small difference in someone’s life is a compelling reason to keep meeting these weekly deadlines.

Perspective

On some occasions I’m able to explore an alternative view. One example that sticks out in my mind is an encounter I had in a grocery store years ago. A reader I did not know approached me to talk about a column topic, and that resulted in a change to a column.

The topic was Mother’s Day, and I had written about all the life lessons I’d learned from my mother. The tone was positive and nostalgic, as my mother had passed away the year before.

The reader shared another perspective with me, as she inquired, “What about all those daughters and sons who had horrible relationships with their mothers?” She went on to explain that Mother’s Day had become quite a painful holiday, as she reflected on the family horrors she endured.

That prompted a sidebar piece, as my editor also agreed this perspective was a good one to share. The reader allowed me to share her story anonymously, and it was very impactful. Since that time, I’ve been even more mindful of allowing for other perspectives — especially with holidays which can play a big part in triggering emotions.

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When I was first given the experience to write this weekly column over a decade ago, I was given a wide umbrella under which to operate. “Live Life Fully” has examined issues ranging from stress and anxiety reduction to relationships to life purpose and fulfillment – and lots of other topics in between.

Lifelong Learning

Doing the research for my columns, while time consuming, gives me the opportunity to continue to learn and grow. I’m often overcome with the thought that I GET to do this, rather than I HAVE to do this.

For example, my continual quest to learn about human behavior has morphed in the past year into a passion to learn as much as possible about neuroscience.

Developments on this frontier are so encouraging, especially the ability to program ourselves by laying down new “neural nets” to change ingrained behaviors. No longer do we have to succumb to the theory of “that’s just the way I’m wired.”

With my business I looked for ways to provide employee enrichment and to foster teamwork. One of the most interesting areas we embarked upon was that of personality testing. Many of you are likely familiar with this concept through instruments like Myers Briggs.

From answering extensive questionnaires — and learning of the tabulation of those results — we found that we fell into several categories with our preferences toward handling things in our lives. It’s a tremendously valuable tool because it allows for grouping people together into teams to provide different skill sets.

It can also be very enlightening, and my intention was to provide “a respect for the differences.” Case in point: every team needs visionaries who think outside the box, although those visionaries need to be grounded by coworkers who excel at executing the ideas.

These differences can be the source of friction in many businesses, as the visionaries can become frustrated that the producers are moving too slowly, while the producers may think the visionaries have their heads in the clouds.

And that’s the whole point — to emphasize that both skill sets are imperative in this living laboratory of life. It certainly keeps things interesting!

Gratitude

In closing, I want to thank each of you for being on this journey with me. And keep the dialogue coming with your emails!

Like I said at the beginning, we all learn from each other. My involvement with my column is part of my ongoing life purpose, and writing is the vehicle. I love the following quote by author Anais Nin:

“We write to taste life twice — in the moment and in retrospect.”

©2021 Linda Arnold Live Life Fully, all rights reserved. Linda Arnold, M.A., M.B.A., is a syndicated columnist, psychological counselor and founder of a multistate marketing company. Reader comments are welcome at linda@lindaarnold.org For information on her books, go to lindaarnold.org or Amazon.com.

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