Monthly Archives: November 2016

Not in the mood for Thanksgiving? Then be grateful for what you don’t have!

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. Rarely if ever have I seen my fellow countrymen so riled up… irritable, angry, rude epithets at the ready, bad behaviors endemic. What’s going on? Try these for openers…

A rotten economic situation that just won’t get better… and you’re afraid it never will. And so you worry (for the umpteenth time) about just how secure your job is. Is there some guy in Mumbai who’ll be glad to do it at half what you get? You’ve raised the subject with your boss… but his answer was not reassuring and now he won’t look you in the eye.

A president whose leadership style gives us no leadership… and nary a Republican presidential candidate who doesn’t cause multitudes to hold their noses, gagging, and wonder why our mind boggling lengthy and expensive campaign produces candidates we can’t stand or respect, much less admire.

Sickening scandals like the one still unfolding at Penn State, scandals that make us wake up in the middle of the night shouting, “What the…… is going on around here?”. Sometimes we wonder, and not just once either, whether anyone is honest, decent, and unarmed anymore… or whether it’s only suckers (you being one) who play by the rules.

Every day we pick up the newspaper and read about another murder in the neighborhood, our neighborhood. Are our neighbors only “good” because we don’t know their secret lives and the home truths that haven’t yet been disclosed?

We read about some drug bust at the school down the street… and are horrified to see the police photo and recognize our kid’s favorite teacher. We run upstairs and check the closet and dresser drawer to see if this has touched us even closer. You’re fortunate today… nothing out of order… but
the word “yet” comes immediately to mind… since these days you expect something bad to happen any time now and aren’t particularly surprised when it does.

We read about… and are as concerned as our busy lives will allow… another species declared extinct… another Web sex scandal… another political official with a skill for theft and plausible denial. You feel sure he’ll get off easy when his time in court comes up. Is that what the bandage over the eyes of the statue of Justice is supposed to mean?

You’re concerned about America’s unending wars in countries whose names you cannot pronounce, much less find on a map, but which you are paying for. You’ve got a friend whose young cousin, proud and handsome in his Marine Corps uniform, was killed by a sniper… a boy just 20 years old.

The thought haunts you all day… You want to believe such early death helps the country in question, America, the world… but you don’t. You see that boy’s eyes and feel them boring into you, asking one question over and over — “Why?”… and you just can’t give a good answer.

You feel increasingly helpless as the barrage of bad news, miseries, muddles, mayhem just won’t quit. You want time off from it all… but these realities, details delivered to us faster than ever compliments of the Web, constitute the unceasing rhythm of our lives.


And this is only the tip of the iceberg.

We wonder if, after a lifetime of contributing, Social Security will be there when we need it… and whether Medicare will provide the level of service we’ll need. A gal from our office had that acute breathing problem and was put on a respirator; the hospital didn’t want to pay for it… and the matter now resides in their legal department. We want care… we get lawyers. It makes us very, very nervous…. and sad.

We wonder how some shady Greek and Italian politicians can have so much influence on our lives so far away. What kind of magic powers have they got that force us (however superficially) to pay attention to what they’re doing… and doing… and doing, all of which threatens the stability and satisfaction of our lives? You want to say it’s “unfair”… but you know no one cares what you think about the matter… and you don’t want people to think you’re a wimp. So you stay quiet and unsatisfied… it’s just the way things are. And so the days pass…

… until the calendar tells you it’s Thanksgiving, the official day, sanctioned by custom and dictated by law, you get together with family and friends to eat too much and give thanks for your ability to do so. But this year, you just don’t feel like it, though you wouldn’t mind a piece or two of pumpkin pie. What’s a body to do?

I’ll share something that works for me… don’t waste your time enumerating all the good things you’ve got, especially when you realize most of them are flawed and superficial. Instead, focus on the myriad of problems, inconveniences, woeful situations and debilitating malevolence you don’t have… bullets you have dodged for another year. This will make you feel really thankful about things that really matter. Here’s how it works…

Preparation and The List

This year I attend my 64th Thanksgiving, so I consider myself a man with some experience in the matter. Put this experience to work by putting aside the usual falderals… don’t just hold hands and ask little Janie to say the blessing. Janie is probably too young to have much insight into the event… and will be unable to perform her helping role to perfection. Thus the end result will be unutterably banal, like all the years before.

Instead, seize this bull by the horns and brainstorm a long list of things you are thankful you don’t have to do, think about, or consider in any way. Be brutally frank.

Item: your boss got fired because of that restroom peccadillo, and you never have to see him again. That was huge!

Item: your estranged cousin Herbie, bete noir of many years, has gone missing, no one knows where. If he never returns, that would be too soon.

Item: Your darling daughter didn’t marry the wild idealist who always played the zither and never bathed. Delicious.

Item: your neighbor’s noisome pooch Mickey, gifted with a piecing yelp and high decibel duration, ran away in pursuit of amorous freedom. He will of course be missed by someone… but not by you.

Keep going! Don’t stint! As you get into the task, you see that the things you don’t have, that you were afraid you would have and forever are the very things you always needed to make this holiday sing.

Now type your list. You will never remember them all and since each adds its mite to the happy event, do not rely on memory. Practice, too, reciting them. Read slowly…. with deliberate cadence and gravitas in your voice.

Having recited this list you will feel, perhaps for the first time in months, truly happy for you have discovered for yourself and shown the world the ample bounty of happiness at your fingertips, Thanksgiving now and forever your favorite holiday.

This is an excerpt from Dr. Lant’s new book: “Thanksgiving: Some Remarks on Turkeys and Their Day”

Available at:  http://www.drjeffreylant.com/store/p55/Thanksgiving-turkey

Write to be read. What you need to know and do to turn every word you write into the word that gets results.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Allow me to  introduce myself. I am a writing machine. My first article
was published when I was 5 years old, 64 years ago; I’ve been a writing
machine ever since. I’ve made a fortune knowing how to manipulate the
incredible English language.

Sadly, I am in the minority. Having taught writing courses at many
institutions of higher learning, including Harvard, I long ago came to the conclusion
that most people would rather get a root canal than struggle with the dicey business
of writing so people will read, understand and respond to what they write. Needless
to say this costs them big bucks, since if you cannot use your own language, the
lingua franca of the world,as the essential tool it is for business and life success, you
lose much of the value of that language. And that is a crying shame.

I want to help you out, and I’ve therefore created the list below of key points
which when mastered dramatically improve the way you write and the results you
get.

1) Just because you’re a native English speaker doesn’t mean you know anything
about writing our complicated, sophisticated, absolutely splendid language.
Speaking and writing are two separate, though related, things, and must be seen
as such.

Start from the proposition that you are, shall we say, “challenged” by writing in
English. There are many reasons why this could occur: you weren’t properly taught.
Although teachers unions may strongly disagree, the fact is most teachers are not
trained to write words that get results. Thus, they are unable to teach their students,
who thereby start off their life-long relationship with writing the right words on the
wrong foot. What’s more, most never manage to overcome this poor start; instead
of trying to overcome the problem, they find ways to minimize or even avoid writing
altogether. That is surely what throwing the baby out with the bath water means.

2) Admit you have a problem that’s not going to get better on its own.

As a business writer for my entire (now long in the tooth) adult life, one of the saddest
things I see is respected business leaders not only unable to write the Queen’s
English proficiently but proud of themselves because they mangle it in both its spoken
and written manifestations. Yes, proud of themselves… each embarrassing misusage
and mistake proving their warped satisfaction that they are therefore “people of the
people”, thereby immune from proper usage. Just to state this proposition is to prove
what a zany idea that is… yet it is common.

3) Force yourself to write more and better.

Like so many things in life, the more you write, the better you’ll get. Most business
people are poor writers because, being VIPs, they delegate such “minor” tasks to
others. What seems at first glance to be something rational and efficient, upon
second glance proves to be nothing more than a means to slough off something you
strongly dislike. Now hear this: even if you are the Chief Poobah of the world, indeed because
you are that self-same Poobah, you need the ability to write the right words to get the
results you must have to expand your clientele and business  altogether.

This means no longer delegating all writing projects which ordinarily accrue to people
of your dignity and position, but accepting at least some of them, not least to give
yourself necessary practice… with the clear understanding that practice does most
assuredly make perfect.

4) Less is always more.

Brevity, it is said on the highest authority, is the soul of wit. It’s also the key to ensuring
that what you write will be carefully read and easily understood.

Poor writers are prolix writers; they write too much, edit too little, and manage to
kill any fruitful results that might come by burying the objective in verbosity thereby
suffocating the writing and ensuring its failure.

When you sit down to write any document whatsoever, your objective, 100% of the
time, is to

state what you aim to achieve

Then, succinctly, marshal your arguments, with the preeminent and clear focus
on what the recipient gets from you by taking the promptest possible action.

This means that if you want results, your invariable focus must be on the “you”
you are writing to; getting this person’s attention, interest, then action is what all
good business writing is about… such writing may never win the Nobel Prize for
Literature… but who cares? It can make you rich.

5) Use numbers to structure what you write.

Good writers, particularly good writers in a hurry (are there any others?) use numbers to
ensure readership and clarity. Thus,

“I have three reasons for contacting you today….”

“There are 6 major reasons why you must respond today….”

“Here are the 5 reasons you’ll want to take advantage of this offer now….”

Get the picture? Numbering provides structure, and it makes both writing and reading
of what you write easier.  Remember, you do not need to win prizes for your prose;
it need only be good enough to get the results you desire.

6) Always write for the “you” receiving your writing.

Good writers, and by that I mean fast, efficient, easy to read writers, know a secret
which, until now, has been unknown by you: that English prose sings when you
make it “you” centered, the you in question being the person you are addressing your
words to.

All people are egotistically and I-centered. Don’t fight City Hall on this one; take advantage
of this fact, to your substantial advantage. The words you write should always be about,
for, directed at and done (whether explicitly or not) for “you”, the person you must never
forget you are writing for.

7) Read your words aloud… and save your breath!

Want to know whether what you’ve written will achieve your purpose? Read it aloud
to yourself. If you find yourself meandering through dense thickets of words and
punishing verbosity, difficult “show off” words and elusive meaning and directions,
you need re-write (as every Hollywood director knows).

Sentences should never be longer than you can comfortably read in a single
breath, no fudging either.

Key points should be made, emphasized, stressed… but always in short sentences.

Your writing should have a cadence which reading aloud will demonstrate. The best
writing is writing that moves you briskly through the subject at hand, without a single
superfluous word.

Start today.

As you implement these steps and begin to see tangible results which will only
improve, you will be glad, even blissful, that the bugaboo of being a poor writer
is now gone… never to return.

What will fill its place is one result after another achieved by deft use of the written word
you feared at the beginning of this article… and now rejoice as one of the absolutely
essential tools for enhanced business success. And that’s a fact you can write home
about!

Get a FREE Copy of “Create An E-Book Today. Publish It On Amazon.com. Profit From It for the Rest Of Your Life!” by Dr.Jeffrey Lant Get Your FREE Copy CLICK HERE