Thinking About Graphology

Approximately 40 years ago I was in the middle of my very first real existential crisis. All of my attachments to belief systems were being jettisoned. Nearly every single category of my California New Age conditioning was set out to the curb.Out the door went books on Astrology, Numerology, Tarot, dream analysis, and several other miscellaneous topics. It was a liberating sensation to let go of it all.

Well, nearly everything was rejected. The one subject I held onto for another couple of years was graphoanalysis.

In many ways, it seemed like crock. Yet there were aspects of it that had the ring of truth. New Age authors who wrote about graphoanalysis claimed that it was a psychological and physiological tool we could use to diagnose people. Usually, samples of handwriting were presented in order to bolster the claims.

Of course it is easy to use hindsight in order to assign certain personality traits to different aspects of someone’s handwriting. Common examples were manuscripts from Adolf Hitler, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Mahatma Gandhi. Generalizations about whether a person wrote cursive or printed were presented. The direction of slant said something else about a person’s proclivities. Letters with “tails” like the letter “j” and “g” that extend below the line were of special interest.

On the one hand, handwriting styles were broadly categorized in a manner that seemed similar to the astrological divisions of the horoscope. On the other hand some features of graphoanalysis seemed intuitively accurate. I had plenty of reservations about the subject of handwriting analysis but not enough to judge it as pseudo-science. I didn’t have the expertise to do such a subjective, complex subject any justice.

At around the same time I was ready to put graphoanalysis on hiatus, I stumbled across a library book about graphology. It presented a subject that seemed much more respectable. Graphology is closely linked to legitimate psychology while graphoanalysis is associated with pop-psychology.

I wish I had known about graphology much earlier. Perhaps I would have chosen it as a career. Graphology is an important forensic tool that certain professionals use to help understand people’s motivations and personalities. It is an important part of personnel hiring and placement, especially in sensitive jobs in security and intelligence agencies.

When we encounter someone’s handwriting in a letter, greeting card, or a memo, we instantly understand a little bit about that person’s personality, intelligence level, and how honest he or she is.

Graphoanalysis takes the leap into the generalized formulae of popular psychology books. Graphology is more nuanced and cautious.

Whereas graphoanalysis is more concerned with the appearance of individual letters like “j”, graphology concentrates on the entire page of text. How legible is it? Is the script jagged or smooth? Where is it located on the page? Generally speaking, graphoanalysis categorizes according to character while graphology considers handwriting as one clue to character.

Some parts of the two subjects are in agreement. An important aspect is whether a person writes on an inclining line, a declining line, or a level line. If the direction of writing is slightly inclined, it suggests an optimistic or happy attitude. If it is slightly downward from left to right, the person may be unhappy or stressed. An exaggerated upward or downward line is negative. A person who writes a level, horizontal line means that she or he is reasonably happy and content.

Graphology is a fascinating field of study. I wish I had the time to investigate it further. It’s certainly a subject that would have been a game-changer if I had been exposed to it in my twenties.

Due to the fact that so much of our daily communication is no longer written out by hand but is electronically transmitted or printed, opportunities for handwriting analysis have become more scarce.

I enjoy using a layman’s level of graphology whenever I get the chance to read a letter or other handwritten document. Handwriting tells the reader more than just the content of the message. Understanding the basics of graphology helps us read between the lines more effectively.

I cannot say graphology is pseudo-science.

The Blue Jay of Happiness believes that your handwriting reveals the content of your heart.

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When I see the word “cosmopolitan”, thoughts of modernity, cutting edge thinking, broad-minded compassion, and global inclusivity flood my mind.

The look and sound of the word somehow seems contemporary and very smart. Of course cosmopolitan is a quite ancient term. We can trace its origin to the Ancient Greek word “κοσμοπολίτης” (kosmopolitês). Kosmos or cosmos refers to the world and universe while politês is a person or citizen of a locale. Connected as one word, kosmopolitês or cosmopolitan is defined as citizen of the world.

When I fact checked the word by looking it up in my college dictionary, I found this entry:

“1. Pertinent or common to the whole world: an issue of cosmopolitan import.
2. Having constituent elements from all over the world or from many different parts of the world: the ancient and cosmopolitan societies of Syria and Egypt.
3. So sophisticated as to be at home in all parts of the world or conversant with many spheres of interest: a cosmopolitan traveler.
4. Ecology Growing or occurring in many parts of the world; widely distributed.
1. A cosmopolitan person or organism; a cosmopolite.”

To be cosmopolitan is to embrace positive, all-inclusive attitudes, ethics, planning, and the practice of equanimity. It is a beautiful way of thinking and living to which wise people aspire. It is also an imperative for our modern world.

In times of trouble, humans traditionally or instinctively “circle the wagons” and become xenophobic or fearful of strangers. We require a more inclusive mindset in order to survive and thrive in our contemporary, hyper-connected world. As we encounter and try to cope with the raft of difficult problems, we need everyone on board as we search for and implement wise solutions. This is a rational, logical, intelligent attitude. Seen in that light, cosmopolitan people have a leg up when it comes to problem solving.

Just as the word, cosmopolitan, has ancient roots, so do the desires to solve the big problems of war, poverty, and ill-health. Philosophers, spiritually minded people, and wise leaders have been cosmopolitan thinkers and doers.

Cosmopolitan people are found in every nation around the world. They do not think provincially, but embrace a universal benevolence that is extended to people of all ancestries, ethnicities, creeds, genders, ages, and so forth.

Cosmopolitan living is not an ideology; it is an attitude that is cultivated by deep, honest thought and contemplation. When a person finds the courage to jettison conventional thought and ideology, the mind opens up to new, positive possibilities.

More and more people are cultivating cosmopolitan attitudes, even if they do not use that term. An encouraging sign of the times is that more people are mindful of the wide variety of life and the importance of respecting all aspects of it. They are letting go of narrow-minded beliefs and indoctrinated attitudes. They understand the shortcomings of anger, misinformation, greed, and self-centeredness.

It is in the culture of cosmopolitanism that the current social practice of mindfulness has taken root. This mindfulness has led to deep empathy. There is the realization that all creatures are subject to suffering and that all beings deserve to have that suffering diminished. In turn, this leads to humane treatment of all living things and human beings.

When intolerance and fanaticism subside, cosmopolitan thinking grows. This shows the positive, life-affirming seed we have in our hearts.

When we carefully analyze cosmopolitan attitudes, we find thoroughly modern wisdom that has the most ancient roots.

The Blue Jay of Happiness remembers a statement attributed to Socrates. “I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world.”

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Primitives …Floral Friday

It’s a small, crude bowl that appears to be a young child’s art project. Scratched into the bottom of the piece are the year 2016 and two initials.

I felt a bit sad that somebody abandoned the little green art project. The coil construction bears all the marks of something made by a grade schooler for her or his parent. Why had somebody donated it to the Goodwill Store so soon after it was made? Was the child unhappy with the piece? Was it something left behind at school? Worse, was the parent displeased with it?

The questions prompted me to spend the fifty-cents to bring it home to hold a posy of fill flowers.

The next day, I spotted the tiny pitcher. This was inscribed with 2012 and a different set of initials. Similar questions to those about the green bowl popped into my mind. In addition, I liked the piece. The child apparently understood more complex and utilitarian forms. I liked the glaze colors and detail work. I did not hesitate to pay the fifty-cents so it could be mine.

I foraged around my supply shelves to find one more item to fill out the theme, primitives, for today. The simple wood slat basket filled the bill. I used larger flowers and some cinnamon sticks to create a more complicated arrangement.

The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes Edgar Degas. “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.”

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The Three L’s

At the Target store the other day, I saw an end-cap, close-out display of wall decor. There was an entire shelf filled with “Live Laugh Love” plaques. I smiled at the rack of merchandise because the main purpose for my visit to the store was to pick up food and litter for my sister’s cat, Random Kitty.

He’s a feline example of the clichéd phrase. Just to watch him play, is to witness a creature who simply lives. His silliness often causes me to laugh out loud. When he rests on top of my feet, I feel the love.

“Live Laugh Love” has been printed on items from coffee mugs to sofa pillows, kitchen accessories, plus bathroom and bedroom decor. I’ve even seen it on a bumper-sticker. Normally I gripe about words and slogans that are overused, but I don’t mind seeing the three L’s frequently.

The plaques, mugs, and bumper stickers decorated with “Live Laugh Love” are well-intentioned, positive items that can cause us to remember to enhance our lives by prioritizing the three L’s.

Whenever I ponder the three L’s, I see a lot of hidden wisdom. One might say that it is philosophy in a nutshell. The slogan reminds us to live because life is brief and we take it for granted. We enjoy laughter because it makes us feel good and vibrant. It’s been said that laughter is the best medicine. Love is self-explanatory. There’s no such thing as having too much love. The world is a better place when we love ourselves and others.

There’s something of the ancient Roman stoic philosophers in the three L’s. There is Seneca’s reminder that life is short; Epictetus’ wry sense of humor; and Marcus Aurelius’ devotion and love of his purpose.

Whether or not you’re philosophical, you can understand that Live Laugh Love is a powerful message. Taking it to heart can give you a boost if you’re feeling down. We can appreciate the very fact that we are alive. Being grateful for living is a good thing for it’s own sake. Simple, hearty laughter is pleasant when experienced alone or shared with another person. Laughter reinforces the gratitude we feel about being alive. Love, being a driving force, is the emotion that reveals the power of living and laughing.

The Blue Jay of Happiness is inspired by the pithy wisdom from Roman Emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius. “When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive–to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”

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How Insulting!

“He is a self-made man and worships his creator.” The quote from the British statesman John Bright appeared in my Facebook newsfeed this week. The short quip about a current American politician was so spot on that I had to jot it down for future reference.

The Bright insult caught my eye for a few reasons. It made a point without the use of the overused F-word. The statement was short and economical. It was deliciously relevant and intelligent without being effete.

The remark made me wonder what has become of the once grand art of insult. If you look back on historical figures a few generations ago, to the first half of the 20th century or further back, to the Victorian era, we find examples of cutting insults that are not crude.

Some of the best insults and their retorts were made by British politicians of the past.

A representative in Parliament once said to Prime Minister Disraeli: “Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease.” The PM responded with: “That depends, Sir, whether I embrace your policies or your mistress.”

One of the smart people I miss most is Gore Vidal. Whether or not a person agreed with his point of view, one must admit that he had the art of insult down pat. His insulting commentary could be short, sweet, and relevant. Many of his old barbs could easily be recycled for use by today’s commentators:

“By the time a man gets to be presidential material, he’s been bought ten times over.”

It takes a moment to understand this political jibe: “Didn’t George Washington say, ‘He who controls Afghanistan will carry New Jersey?'”

I like this one: “Television is now so desperately hungry for material that they’re scraping the top of the barrel.”

While we indulge in the Schadenfreude of hearing or reading insults pointed towards famous people, it’s important to remember that an artful insult is not made simply to hurt someone’s feelings. The best insults are attempts to awaken the intended audience to a serious fault.

Oscar Wilde once wrote, “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.” Who was Wilde thinking of when he wrote, “Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their life a mimicry, their passions a quotation.”?

Insults can be entertaining unless you are the target of the jibe. There is an ancient parable about an exchange between a crude, rude person named Akkosina and Shakyamuni Buddha.

When Akkosina heard that the Buddha did not get angry, the man decided to visit the sage and insult him over and over. Akkosina called the Buddha terrible, disgusting names.

After the lengthy tirade, the Buddha asked Akkosina if he had any friends or relatives. The man said that he did. Then the Buddha asked whether he brought gifts when he visits these people. Akkosina affirmed that he always brought gifts. Then the Buddha asked what happens if his friends do not accept the gifts. The man said that he takes them back home and instead enjoys them with his own family.

The Buddha said that he does much the same thing. Then the Lord Buddha said to Akkosina, “You have brought me a gift here today that I do not accept; and so you may take that gift home to your family.”

Enjoy wise insults and use them sparingly.

The Blue Jay of Happiness has another one from Gore Vidal. “Anybody who is stupid enough to want to be remembered deserves to be forgotten right now.”

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Pondering Dragons

The only biologically factual dragons are Komodo Dragons, which are large, very fierce lizards that we should leave alone. While these creatures are interesting from a scientific viewpoint, Komodo Dragons are not what most people think of when they encounter the subject of dragons.

It’s interesting that cultures around the world seem to have independently developed their own concepts and mythologies about these imaginary creatures. In the west, we generally think of inauspicious, fire-breathing, winged dragons that represent challenges to white knights in fairy tale like stories about the struggles between good and evil. If you look into European dragons, though, there are a great many variants. Dragons appear on many coats of arms and figure into the heroic legends of several nations.

A noteworthy dragon from the Americas, is the Amaru that is part of Incan culture. The Amaru has the body and scales of a snake, the head of a llama, the mouth of a fox, the tail of a fish, and the wings of a condor.

The dragons that fascinate me are the Asian dragons. There are dozens of them and they are integral parts of the cultures throughout the continent. The most famous of these are Chinese Dragons.

As a matter of fact, my interest in Asian dragons was triggered when one of my childhood friends’ mother looked up my Chinese Astrological symbol. She determined that I was born in the Year of the Water Dragon, this made me a dragon.

Dragons from the Far East generally have a similar appearance. Their physical features are blends of different earthly animals. For instance, the Chinese Lung Dragon, which is the most popular depiction, has the body of a snake, the scales of a carp, the stylized head of a camel, the horns of a stag, the eyes of a rabbit, the ears of a bovine bull, the feet of a tiger, and the claws of an eagle. In addition, most Lung Dragons grasp a “pearl of wisdom” in their right front feet.

You can generally distinguish Chinese dragons from other nations’ dragons by the number of toes they have on each foot. Japanese dragons have three toes, Korean dragons have four, and Imperial Chinese dragons have five.

Unlike malevolent western dragons, eastern dragons are thought of as benevolent, auspicious, spiritual creatures. The popular Lung Dragon is a symbol of the Sun and the Eastern direction and it has the power to generate rain.

Some of the less well-known dragons rule other aspects of nature and life. The Celestial Dragon guards the mansions of the gods. The Coiled Dragon rules bodies of water. The Spiritual Dragon oversees the weather, and the Dragon of Hidden Treasures guards precious metals, jewels, and money.

Traditionally, there is a dragon for nearly anything you can think of. Likewise dragons come in different shapes and colors. However, there are only five popularly famous types of astrological dragons. They are the Wood Dragon, the Fire Dragon, the Earth Dragon, the Metal Dragon, and the Water Dragon. These “elements” are also the variants of the rest of the Chinese Astrological animal categories. For instance, this year’s Chinese New Year will signal the start of the Year of the Earth Dog.

Today happens to be Dragon Appreciation Day. This is a good time to honor the type of dragon that fascinates you, whether it is from China, or India, or England, South America, or wherever.

We all harbor dragons in our imaginations.

The Blue Jay of Happiness likes a quip from writer Charles Dickens. “The age of chivalry is past. Bores have succeeded to dragons.”

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Public Service

One of the most humbling and heartwarming aspects of my former work in media was the position of public service director. The job required me to canvass the communities in our station’s primary signal reach area and reach out to non-profit organizations, service organizations, and other people who provide help to people in need or who advance community aid and improvement. The bulk of these groups are traditional non-profit organizations, churches, schools, and government agencies that provide direct assistance to the public.

It was my responsibility to find ways that the radio station could involve itself in the promotion of particular non-profit organizations and individuals by on-air outreach and interviews of spokespersons of the organizations and agencies. Much of the station’s involvement also regarded the allocation of free time via public service announcements.

We provided free promotional publicity about fund raising events and a space for organizations to inform our listeners about their missions and why they needed public involvement or funding in their organizations.

The most difficult part of the job was having to select the non-profits and public service events that would actually receive the free airtime and station involvement. Since commercial airtime is a broadcaster’s means for profit, non-commercial time is a very scarce commodity. The need to prioritize which non-profit efforts would get prime airtime and those that would be relegated to overnights was a hard call.

Nearly every one of my workdays included meeting with at least one spokesperson of a worthy organization or agency. I not only met some amazing, selfless people. The job enabled me to piece together the overall needs of my own city and county, but the towns and regions nearby. This overview was not only important to the job, but changed my own personal view of the world.

It was rewarding to see and hear about some of the results of the station’s collaboration with these groups and individuals. The job was a very real opportunity for hands-on learning about some of the nuts and bolts of keeping a community together. Best of all was the actual networking with people whose main purpose in life is to be of service to others.

I came to authentically understand that true success is often measured in ways that do not conform to the usual yardsticks of wealth and prestige. Public service is one way for people who don’t fit in the box, to be an important part of the community.

The question about how we can help serve our communities and our nation comes to mind today as we observe Martin Luther King, Junior Day. Public service was a primary part of his personal mission to humanity.

The Blue Jay of Happiness remembers one of Martin Luther King, Junior and how he once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”

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