To Work or Not to Work?

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How many times have you come home from a long day of work, just getting ready to sit down and relax, and your phone rings? Or you open your email and half of your inbox is work related? Or your new co-worker or boss or employee left you seven text messages?

Does your blood pressure go up? Can you feel your irritation growing in your chest, the bottom falling out of your stomach, your shoulders tensing? Is reading this giving you anxiety that at any moment just such a scenario is going to happen to you?

Digital depression. Pow! What you feel has a name and is currently being researched. The workforce is so technologically advanced that almost every job requires computer use at some point throughout the day. Work follows us home too. Now that almost everyone has the ability to be contacted through their own phones or computers, work never stops.

Now we throw into the mix the need to socialize over the internet. Friends, family, acquaintances, strangers have access to us all the time. We feel obligated to accept their game requests and look at cat videos. We have to search for ridiculous things, like celebrity happenings, the weather, music videos, TV shows… Feeling bogged down?

Being overwhelmed and overworked by technology is the crux of digital depression.

The American workforce tremendously affects digital depression. Since 1950, American workforce productivity has increased 400 percent. Americans work harder than any other country.  American companies are not required to give paid sick days or give mandated time off for personal well-being. We work 137 more hours than the Japanese, 260 hours more than the British and a whooping 499 hours more than the French. Vacation days are used to catch up on housework, errands, all the things we neglect because we’re at work. Even crazier, we’re the only, the only, industrialized country to not mandate at least a 12 week leave, when we become parents.

Overworking is the force behind employee mistakes at work and insomnia in high performance employees. It leads to irritability, anxiety, digestive issues, high blood pressure, stress and burnout. Perhaps, just maybe, it leads to family dysfunction, to broken relationships.

This behavior is in no way healthy. Breathe a sigh of relief, turn off your phone, don’t check your email. It’s okay to take a break from work. Actually enjoy your vacation whether you’re on your own or with family. I believe, Earl Wilson, says it best, “A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking.”

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Funny how Bill Gates doesn’t get criticism

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Bill Gates and Steve Jobs raised their kids tech free, according to an article written by Entrepreneur magazine.

Let me share something else with you. Bill Gates didn’t give his daughter a smartphone until she was 14 years of age, fearing the effects of too much screen time.

What I find so ironic is the backlash that sometimes I get for promoting techno moderation in society. Some folks have said to me things like “Luis, you don’t love technology all the time. Blasphemy!”

Or, “Isn’t it hypocritical to have created the @escthemachine movement and use technology to spread the movement?”

Give me a break!

So, the late Steve Jobs said it is OK to use computers in moderation, but when I say it … many people go crazy on me, especially my own colleagues in my field when I attend certain national media conferences.

Maybe I should change my name to Bill Gates and enjoy the perks of being a big celebrity in computing rather than a critic of technology with big aspirations. I kind of like his position. Please call me “Bill” from now on, OK?

Listen carefully: All this technology isn’t good for you, period. All this fascination with smartphones will only make you more dependent on devices. By the way, how much more money have you made because of all of this technology?

Do you remember how fascinated people used to be with cigarettes? The smartphone took the place of cigarettes in this regard with the exception that we are now conditioned to using these tools 24/7. People didn’t use to smoke 24/7, did they? Technology took addiction to a new level of conditioning, and that’s scary.

It is 10:31 p.m. as I write this, and I am receiving text messages nonstop on my iPhone right in front of me. Shouldn’t I have the right to rest from work on a Friday evening prior to homecoming? I need to wake up very early tomorrow and yet … my phone is constantly blinking with new messages.

Of course, I could choose to ignore these messages, but you get the point. Smartphones aren’t always good for us, especially because they can be an intrusion in our lives.

I don’t know about you, but I like to rest a little bit once in a while, especially on a Friday evening.

Back in 2011, I had a different philosophy, I must admit. I made technology first, above my family and above my health, and I paid a high price for it. I got very sick because of my obsessive use of digital devices back then, and ended up walking with a golf club as a cane for almost a year, my body was so stressed out.

I ended up developing a systemic health problem which led to an inflammation of my middle ear, causing severe dizziness and other heath-related side effects.

No wonder the inventors of all of these technologies protect their children or say we should block these technologies from reaching them until a certain age. Good for them!

Now that you know this, what are you going to do to protect your kids? I protect my daughter by limiting smartphone use to one hour a day. She is only 4 years old, I must add. She doesn’t need to be on that smartphone for long. She needs to learn from Daddy about the need to love others, play and treat everyone with respect, not make her life about what is playing on YouTube.

I don’t know about you, but using these technologies in moderation makes complete sense to me.

Bill Gates’ and Steve Jobs’ kids were sheltered against all this technology, but mortals like you and I were not. But, who said life is fair?

I am pretty proud to have taken a stance against all this nonsense. This overreliance on smartphone technology, other digital devices and social media isn’t that great for you, in my opinion. Its side effects are as dangerous, in today’s society, as some would have you believe not using them could be.

The answer to all of this is moderation. As I always say, “Use technology in moderation!”

It is not complicated.

——— (Previously Published In The Cleveland Daily Banner)
(About the writer: Dr. Luis C. Almeida is an associate professor of communication at Lee University and TEDx speaker. He is the author of the book, “Becoming a Brand: The Rise of Technomoderation,” and a devoted Christian. He can be reached via his website at luiscalmeida.info.)

Funny how Bill Gates doesn’t get criticism

Don’t let technology limit what you do

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A lot of people live in a state of denial these days. What they think, and what they believe, are often a reflection of their own alter egos created by all of this technology.

There are so many people today who think they need to use technology to be known as a good speaker, teacher and influencer. Let me reveal something to you: You don’t need to use PowerPoint in order to deliver a great speech!

Let me break this to you, if I may. A star teacher must be God and student-centered, not technology centered. Influencers don’t rely on presentation software in order to be influential!

Recently, I visited with the Sunrise Rotary Club to deliver a keynote about TechnoModeration with my good old, and cool, Lee Oskar harmonica, plain paper, a collection of stories and different voice pitches. OK, I had a few slides projected onto a screen from my laptop in order to make a few points here and there about what I like to call “technology conditioning” to the audience. However, the vast majority of my speech was done in an entertaining fashion without the use of technology.

What were the results of that endeavor? My dear compatriots, I think the audience really liked the conversation. They were paying attention, laughed at times, interacted with me and themselves, and more importantly — got the point that we have a technology problem in America.

How did they do it? By not looking at their smartphones or following a collection of keynote slides, but by focusing on the verbal and non-verbal behaviors of a speaker who wasn’t reading from a PowerPoint slide.

Listen to me: The key to communicating with impact isn’t related to how much technology you use or how technological somebody believes you are. Forget this idea that you need to have Facebook to persuade an audience, or that Instagram will make others take action on the things you say at face value because they have an online presence.

What you really need is to have the ability to tell stories and make your audience think about the topic you want them to think about. This is done better without technology, and off-line.

I am getting tired of seeing so many talented young people limit themselves because of technology. We are people, and guess what? People are full of emotions!

Do you really think that you will be able to persuade anyone online without having human contact with them long term? Think again!

Mediated communication has its perks and can be used at times, but it will never replace the good old face-to-face conversation. This is precisely why conferences, events, schools and many other public venues bring trained communicators and speakers to speak to their audiences. Communication skills are still king in the age of Fedor, ladies and gentlemen.

The power of a live speech carries on, I must add. A good keynote speaker, after delivering a killer speech to any audience, without relying on too much technology, is often rebooked by somebody who heard that speech.

An influential teacher who puts students ahead of technology will build an army of followers. The result is quite predictable. These same students will eventually start coming in masses to the professor’s office to learn more.

Keep this in mind: People are relational, especially millennials. If you can’t relate, you won’t influence them. Relationship is built face-to-face, not with technology! A good teacher understands that.

Influencers are a rare breed. If you have them on your team, don’t let them go. Do what you can to keep them. Treat them with the respect they deserve. This breed usually has choices.

Although influencers are often technology literate, they don’t always rely on the latest technological advancements to be influential. Did the Rev. Billy Graham use PowerPoint to influence his crowd during his crusades?

Open your eyes to what is important. Technology is second to humanity.

——— (Column previously published in the Cleveland Daily Banner)

(About the writer: Dr. Luis C. Almeida is an associate professor of communication at Lee University and a TEDx speaker. He is the author of the book “Becoming a Brand: The Rise of Technomoderation,” and a devoted Christian. He can be reached via his website at  luiscalmeida.info). 

Veer away from social media for self-promotion

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Life is a riot.

The other day, I was working on a scholarly journal in my office at the Lee University Communication Arts Building when a United Way of the Ocoee Region coordinator emailed me inviting me to deliver a keynote for their interns on the topic of communication.

I gladly accepted the invitation, made the necessary arrangements, and later delivered a two-hour workshop on the topic of winning in life through creative communication.

We had a blast, I must add. We laughed, we learned, we played, we thought. We exchanged understanding! Mutual respect was immediately attained by all parties. I liked them and they seemed to have liked me back.

I simplified and clarified, which in 2018, is a strong skill to have in the midst of all of these new technologies. Being human pays off. I didn’t have to compliment myself and put it all over social media. They did that for me, which ended up being a wonderful feeling.

Due to the nature of social media, people all over the world are engaging in way too much self-promotion, which in the long run can be quite damaging.

For a short period of time, I would argue that engaging in some form of self-promotion is required if one is to attract a sizable audience to buy into their personal brand’s goals and objectives. After all, how can anybody believe that people are experts on anything if they don’t tell you that they are?

Our society has grown used to hearing people saying how great they are, reasonably. Repeatedly claiming that you are the next Steve Jobs because you have wonderful entrepreneurial or technicals skills can, and probably will, give you more headaches than rewards.

Making other people happy face-to-face can do wonders for you. There is just no way that an ordinary computer-mediated conversation would do what my face-to-face keynote delivery did for United Way of the Ocoee Region and its employees. Playing the harmonica in front of a computer screen and failing to make eye contact with your audience will simply destroy any attempt to deliver a remarkable keynote or training presentation.

We are growing used to believing that we can emulate the real world with cyberspace. I don’t think we can. Complimenting yourself too much, regardless of the medium you decide to use, will result in negative audience reactions. People want to see you speaking charismatically and emphatically with them, sometimes singing a song when they least expect. At least, this is what I do. It works wonders every time.

As Harry Beckwith once said, “Being able to listen makes you captivating.” The opposite is also true, “Failing to listen makes you boring.” I would even go further to say that those who don’t listen end up not being heard by others.

Online communication is at best mediocre, and won’t have the same impact a person has when speaking with another person. Understanding is something that we strive for and expect when speaking with others.

Do we really understand everything we are being told these days in social media, text messaging or even email? Maybe we understand more than I want to admit, but I bet you would agree with me that your smartphone auto-correct has made you uncomfortable a few times this past month.

When we try to emulate something, we rarely do it with perfection.

Life is a sale, as Christine Clifford once taught us. Every time we try to communicate with somebody, we are trying to sell our ideas, thoughts and beliefs, values, you name it. The computer puts a barrier between you and the receiver of your message.

I am so convinced that face-to-face communication is so important for you that I am writing this column presenting many arguments for why mediated communication may not be the best way to communicate with people.

Be very careful not to believe that the computer will always make your life more paramount. What makes you outstanding is your ability to communicate with other people, and let me tell you, it is best done live and in color.

Got  it?

——— (Column previously published in the Cleveland Daily Banner)

(About the writer: Dr. Luis C. Almeida is an associate professor of communication at Lee University and a TEDx speaker. He is the author of the book “Becoming a Brand: The Rise of Technomoderation,” and a devoted Christian. He can be reached via his website at  luiscalmeida.info). 

As technology fails, activities for the win

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The infusion of innovation changes the composition of any living system forever.

For some reason, we are choosing to ignore the laws of innovation, diffusion and adoption – and all for the sake of technology.

The mighty smartphone may have given us some “superpowers” such as the ability to quickly respond to messages via social media and to share photographs with our kids, but it also has helped kill shopping malls and other retailers all across America, especially in small towns and cities like ours.

Smartphones are not just killing us. They are, as mentioned, killing our malls. When we were younger, people used to go to the mall to walk around, converse, exchange ideas and buy stuff. Today, very few people go to the malls in small towns and cities, and when they do go, they go to walk, not to buy.

Our ideas are now exchanged on social media. We buy our things on Amazon. By the way, did you know that Toys R Us went out of business? Go figure.

Black Friday is dying. Cyber Monday is expanding. Most mall managers are concerned about these new online trends. They have a reason to be concerned, I think. We need to do something about this, ladies and gents. The good news is: I have a solution to this whole mess. Are you willing to hear it?

Here we go with my solution to this whole shopping mall mess in small towns all across America, and small cities like ours:

First of all, trash the idea that malls are places where people go to buy clothes. This retail model is approaching death.

Why don’t we turn these dinosaur malls into activity malls? Seniors are already walking there anyway, right?

Don’t you think that we should expand the offerings and capitalize on what people are asking for? Listen to me: How about if we turn Bradley Square Mall into a facility with a rollerblade hall and an indoor ice skate arena?

By the way, is there a place in town for kids to play, especially during winter and early spring? Let me tell you something: Parents don’t want to buy clothing and toys for their kids every week. Parents want some sanity after working a long week at work.

Turn these dated malls into a kids’ activity place. Maybe mall managers should consider not renewing some of these clothing store contracts (which are struggling to stay in business anyway) and replacing them with a bumper-car enclosure, an old-fashioned arcade, Chuck-E-Cheese, air-bounce, trampoline, billiards, you name it!

We live in a dry county, people. Shouldn’t we make the mall the place for teenagers to go and have date nights? I bet we can turn the finances of these shopping malls around quickly.

Let me say this again: People want an activity mall to take their kids to, have fun and get some sanity. It is the No. 1 complaint I hear from people these days.

How do you monetize this idea of having an activity mall? It is simple. If people want to go to a store only, sell them a ticket for them to go to a store only. Another option? People can pay for an all-day pass. People can even buy a yearly pass and enjoy all the activity mall’s activities for a cheaper price. In a couple of years, we may witness the biggest revival in shopping malls this country has ever seen.

We need stronger leadership to turn mall operations around. Let’s not allow our indoor malls to become a place for delinquents to hang out.

I tell you this: Turning the current shopping malls into activity malls will help destroy some of the delinquency we now sometimes may see in shopping malls.

Technology may change the composition of a system forever, but our ability to adapt and reinvent trumps the side effects that new technologies have on old living systems.

Let me say this loud and clear: We can turn these malls around. All we need to do is to think differently, have people on board who believe in the vision, and survive the transition.

Are you game to make our town awesome? I am.

——— (Column previously published in the Cleveland Daily Banner)

(About the writer: Dr. Luis C. Almeida is an associate professor of communication at Lee University and a TEDx speaker. He is the author of the book “Becoming a Brand: The Rise of Technomoderation,” and a devoted Christian. He can be reached via his website at  luiscalmeida.info). 

Don’t let technology limit what you do

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A lot of people live in a state of denial these days. What they think, and what they believe, are often a reflection of their own alter egos created by all of this technology.

There are so many people today who think they need to use technology to be known as a good speaker, teacher and influencer. Let me reveal something to you: You don’t need to use PowerPoint in order to deliver a great speech!

Let me break this to you, if I may. A star teacher must be student-centered, not technology centered. Influencers don’t rely on presentation software in order to be influential!

Recently, I visited with the Sunrise Rotary Club to deliver a keynote about TechnoModeration with my good old, and cool, Lee Oskar harmonica, plain paper, a collection of stories and different voice pitches. OK, I had a few slides projected onto a screen from my laptop in order to make a few points here and there about what I like to call “technology conditioning” to the audience. However, the vast majority of my speech was done in an entertaining fashion without the use of technology.

What were the results of that endeavor? My dear compatriots, I think the audience really liked the conversation. They were paying attention, laughed at times, interacted with me and themselves, and more importantly — got the point that we have a technology problem in America.

How did they do it? By not looking at their smartphones or following a collection of keynote slides, but by focusing on the verbal and non-verbal behaviors of a speaker who wasn’t reading from a PowerPoint slide.

Listen to me: The key to communicating with impact isn’t related to how much technology you use or how technological somebody believes you are. Forget this idea that you need to have Facebook to persuade an audience, or that Instagram will make others take action on the things you say at face value because they have an online presence.

What you really need is to have the ability to tell stories and make your audience think about the topic you want them to think about. This is done better without technology, and off-line.

I am getting tired of seeing so many talented young people limit themselves because of technology. We are people, and guess what? People are full of emotions!

Do you really think that you will be able to persuade anyone online without having human contact with them long term? Think again!

Mediated communication has its perks and can be used at times, but it will never replace the good old face-to-face conversation. This is precisely why conferences, events, schools and many other public venues bring trained communicators and speakers to speak to their audiences. Communication skills are still king in the age of Fedor, ladies and gentlemen.

The power of a live speech carries on, I must add. A good keynote speaker, after delivering a killer speech to any audience, without relying on too much technology, is often rebooked by somebody who heard that speech.

An influential teacher who puts students ahead of technology will build an army of followers. The result is quite predictable. These same students will eventually start coming in masses to the professor’s office to learn more.

Keep this in mind: People are relational, especially millennials. If you can’t relate, you won’t influence them. Relationship is built face-to-face, not with technology! A good teacher understands that.

Influencers are a rare breed. If you have them on your team, don’t let them go. Do what you can to keep them. Treat them with the respect they deserve. This breed usually has choices.

Although influencers are often technology literate, they don’t always rely on the latest technological advancements to be influential. Did the Rev. Billy Graham use PowerPoint to influence his crowd during his crusades?

Open your eyes to what is important. Technology is second to humanity.

——— (Column published previously in the Cleveland Daily Banner)

(About the writer: Dr. Luis C. Almeida is an associate professor of communication at Lee University and a TEDx speaker. He is the author of the book “Becoming a Brand: The Rise of Technomoderation,” and a devoted Christian. He can be reached via his website at  luiscalmeida.info). 

Caring about everything is techno-dangerous

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In this Facebook world we live in nowadays, it seems that people care about everything, everywhere, all the time, across cultures.

What a curse!

Really? Yep.

What if I told you that all this technology people use today in Cleveland is driving them bananas because it has reinforced this idea that people should seek to be perfect, care about everything, be happy, social, wealthy and right all the time in order to achieve higher heights in society? All, of course, nonsense.

Let me say it again. All nonsense! Why? This is why.

The moment people choose to care about everything, like how many friends your classmate has on Facebook compared to you, the more people realize that they actually don’t care about anything.

It is weird, yet quite predictable how this works. The happier people want to be, the more they discover how unhappy they are. The more social people seek to be on these social media platforms, the more people find out how lonely they actually are.

Now, this is the kicker: The more fame and money people seek, the more people realize how little money and fame they have!

This is why I believe that technology is causing so many kids to be depressed, anxious, and in some cases to commit suicide at record rates these days. Technology has allowed you and me to seek happiness, but the irony is that by seeking happiness, technology reveals how unhappy many of us are in actuality.

Don’t believe me? OK. Read existential philosopher Albert Camus for confirmation. Even better, go get yourself a copy of Mark Manson’s latest book. You won’t regret it. Just realize that his book is R-rated.

It is shocking how people today feel they need to know everything about cats or the Kardashians, and constantly trying to find ways to get more friends than their cousins on Facebook. People are getting a lot of media stimuli at the expense of living a worse life. You can thank technology for encouraging you to care about everything.

Let me tell you something. I don’t really care if I ever write an academic article again in my life as a college professor, regardless of how much technology we have available at our fingertips. I have written enough articles for my satisfaction.

I do care about writing commentary articles, like these columns I write for the Cleveland Daily Banner, because speaking with you at Food City or in church about matters of technology matters to me. Technology will never dictate how I live my life and I recommend that you do follow the same philosophy with yours. Be careful with caring about everything in life just because you have access to technology.

I am now a much more practical and common-sense type of person than I was back in graduate school and in my later days at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Back then, I was fascinated with all the latest technology, and lived as if failing was a capital sin, and that error was equated with shame.

I was incapable of seeing the obvious. I was caring way too much about everything, especially technology.

Too many schools advance the idea that if people aren’t perfect in everything they do, they lose. Nonsense! By losing you win. I don’t really care if I make a mistake. I do care about fixing it, though. By the way, why do you care about everything under the sun?

In this life, you will screw up. If you are clever, you will do and redo things. Everybody faces adversity. You are not alone. Happy are those who choose what they care about, and don’t let technology dictate how they live. Our society is addicted to unrealistic positive expectations, and technology has served as the fuel for making many believe in achieving these impossible standards.

You don’t need to be a psychopath, meaning not caring about anything, in order to live well in our great technopoly. What you do need to do is to care about some things using technology moderately, in order to live the good life.

Be cautious with caring too much about the things society is asking people to care about in order to be happy. Chances are these things will make you unhappy.

——— (Column published previously in the Cleveland Daily Banner)

(About the writer: Dr. Luis C. Almeida is an associate professor of communication at Lee University and a TEDx speaker. He is the author of the book “Becoming a Brand: The Rise of Technomoderation,” and a devoted Christian. He can be reached via his website at  luiscalmeida.info). 

Don’t Overextend Yourself

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Put your smartphones down and listen to this! Are you ready? One of main reasons why people working jobs that they don’t like is because they are over extended financially.

The idea that having material positions makes you a more successful professional is an old scam, dangerous philosophy, which in the long run can be quite limiting. We need to set our priorities straight from the beginning. Did you just graduated from school? Don’t buy a house and an expensive car. The answer to professional success isn’t extravagance. People’s decision to live a extravagant life, in the end… tend to handicap them. If you make one hundred thousand dollars a year, you shouldn’t buy a 300K house and drive a brand new BMW 750 Series. The former will most definitely impede you from being fully strategic in the workforce.

The moment your household overhead increases, your job maneuverability decreases… and you become dependent on your current job. What is the consequence? Your professional autonomy is then affected because of poor lifestyle choices. These choices will then “prohibit” you from moving on to another organization when the time or offer is right. Listen carefully though: Compensation is far from being everything that there is about a job. You don’t have to always go from job to job to be free, either. I would argue, however, that flexibility is as important and valuable (if not more valuable) than income these days. In 2017, your ability to engage in job blitzkrieg is a necessity for survival, especially if you haven’t found your dream job yet. Be very careful when buying real estate. Most houses bankrupt employees up front or make them completely dependent on their employer’s salary impeding them from maneuvering when trouble heads their way or if they feel the time for a move is right.

People stay in jobs they hate because of titles. Titles are cool and can make you feel pretty good about yourself. However, losing your title isn’t an humiliation or a set back in your career, necessarily. Any experienced leader understands that leadership isn’t position; Leadership is action, as once stated by leadership consultant John Maxwell. Titles come and go and many times they bounce back. Just because you hold a high title in your HR department doesn’t mean that you should stay in your current position. If you choose to stay in a job simply because of a title… I would argue that money isn’t the only problem you struggle with. You most definitely struggle with ego issues. By the way: Those who are constantly applying the principles of position leadership to others will end up leading the wind. Overextended employees might work for these kinds of “leaders” but they won’t listen to them or are motivated by them.

I get it. An expensive house, kids, titles, a BMW or a Mercedes Benz… along with that “prestige” you got is too much for you to give up, isn’t it? I don’t let money or titles control my life. I make my decisions based on scripture — based in the bible. The moment that you make God the center of your life, the former struggles totally disappear. You will quickly realize that possessions and job nomenclature in this world is meaningless in the long run.

Do yourself a favor. Don’t overextend yourself. In the volatile market we live in these days, having the capacity to maneuver is without question a necessity for long-tern job sustainability. There is tremendous power in calling the shots even if authority resides in the hands of others. You can pretty much control your destiny if you don’t extend yourself financially. Got it?

The Importance of Good Works.

The Importance of Good Works.

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“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to slander no one, to avoid fighting, and to be kind, always showing gentleness to all people. For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, captives of various passions and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, detesting one another” (Timothy 3:1-3).

We Christians understand the importance of following orders and to do good much in the same way that we understand how to lead many times and how to do better things when God calls us to the task. There is no wisdom in fighting with others for nothing or to slander anyone. A believer must be gentle to his neighbor even if that person doesn’t like him. The former isn’s to say that we (Christians) need to always accept what others have to say or accept how they behave towards us but in our core… we should be gentle with others and be understanding.

There are too many people out there who live life to be malicious, envious and hateful towards others. We need to pray to God so that they can see the light. It is our duty yesterday, today and tomorrow. Being with God is a gift.

God bless.