Recently I received a message on one of my many Facebook pages. It happened to be the page related to yoga and this website…
The message told me I was using a trademarked slogan, or tagline, as part of the page. The person who sent the message, the owner of a yoga studio, claimed they owned the trademark to the slogan.
My first thought was, “Dang it! I really like that tagline and it’s been getting positive feedback.” The next thing I did was do a trademark search.
As it turns out the slogan is trademarked. Meaning I can’t use it any longer. I accept that.
Here’s the kicker…
The slogan wasn’t trademarked by the studio that contacted me in the first place. I sent a message back with a link to the site that listed the trademark and owner… just as a friendly ‘for your information.’
Then I sat back and had a little think about what would motivate someone to contact me and tell me I was using their trademarked slogan when, in fact, they don’t own it.
The whole thing seemed pretty absurd to me.
What’s Good In This?
One of the best questions you can ask yourself in a situation that seems absurd is, “What’s good in this?”
So I asked myself that question.
Can you be thankful for the absurd?
I came up with a few ideas but one of the really good things is that it was clear that I needed a new slogan. [I’m still working on that… if you have any suggestions you can put them in the comments below. Maybe I’ll even run a contest… with prizes… :-)]
The other really good thing is that although my integrity was and has been questioned… I can look myself in the mirror and know that it’s intact. Interestingly… the integrity of the person who questioned my use of the slogan is now unquestioningly NOT intact. That person blatantly lied about the trademark. Big bummer if you believe in karma…
The next thing that happened was that I decided to create a new Facebook page related to this blog/website and scratch the old one altogether. That has to do with Facebook’s rules regarding the number of times you can change your ‘vanity URL.’ I could have made a decision to feel bad about all of this extra work…
But the reality is, I had been meaning to create a new page anyway and it kept getting pushed off the list. So this little push by someone actually forced me to make it the priority. Page created. Check that off the list. I’m grateful for that.
Tiny little P.S. to that last bit… please go visit the FB page and ‘like’ it… thanks, much appreciated…
Is It Twisted To Find Gratitude For Someone Else’s Misery?
Back to the question of what might motivate that studio owner. I suppose there could be any number of reasons and I don’t want to speculate. But one thing is clear. That person is not happy. As a matter of fact, I would take a bet on that person being pretty miserable. As I stated, you could find or create any number of reasons for the aforementioned act of typing the message and sending it. There might be professional jealousy, a fear of losing business or clients or even just the desire to make another person’s life uncomfortable…
But no matter how you cook it… that turkey comes out smelling unhappy.
Find Compassion For The Unhappy…
Sutra 33 from the first part of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, called the Samadhi Pada, gives a clear indication about how to keep a calm, undisturbed mind when dealing with other people. It mentions finding compassion for the unhappy. Try it, it works.
In case you are unfamiliar… here is the entire sutra translated into English, as translated by I.K. Taimni
The mind becomes clarified by cultivating attitudes of friendliness, compassion, gladness and indifference respectively towards happiness, misery, virtue and vice. ~ Yoga Sutras I:33
Pretty cool, eh?
But I have to tell you, in this particular case I took it a step further. I do feel compassion for this person. But I also feel some gratitude. I know… that sounds a bit sick and twisted… but hear (or read) me out…
Without that person’s misery being inflicted on me at that particular moment I might have procrastinated… I might have just hung around and kept telling myself, “I’ll get to that eventually… maybe tomorrow…”
Can You Be Thankful For The Absurd?
That person’s unhappiness gave me a swift kick in the butt. Yes, I feel compassion for their unhappiness… but I’m grateful for that expression of unhappiness that made me take some action.
In a nutshell I’m grateful for another person’s misery and thankful for the absurd.
Perhaps the greatest gift of this whole situation is that I’ve made a new distinction that will drastically alter my outcomes with other people.
I’ve always felt it’s good to look for the silver lining, find the good part, find the lesson to be learned and any other number of optimistic viewpoints on life. And I’ve tried to find compassion for the unhappy, especially since I got serious about yoga all those years ago.
But this is the first time I’ve come to the conclusion that you can be thankful for the absurd behavior of another person – even if it affects you negatively – simply because it offers you an opportunity for instant growth.
Dear Unhappy Studio Owner,
Thank you for your expressing your misery – it has helped me to grow. May you find peace and happiness.
Update: 29 November 2014
The Unhappy Studio Owner in question has once again contacted me regarding the present tagline on the header of this blog and on the new Facebook page: “Helping You Live Your Purpose.”
This time the claim was made that this slogan or tagline is “similar” to another of their supposedly trademarked slogans.
Deep breath. Once again I checked trademarks, both here in the UK and in the US. As far as I can tell, the phrase the Unhappy Studio Owner claims to have trademarked has not been registered by the Unhappy Studio Owner in either country.
A few thoughts here…
First – similar is not the same and legally the Unhappy Studio Owner has nothing.
Second – If you are going to contact me and tell me you have trademarked a slogan… at least make sure that you have registered the trademark in question. Why? Because you are setting yourself up in a bad way. Somebody unscrupulous or even slightly cheeky might just go register your desired slogan right under your nose…
Honestly, I don’t want either of the slogans in question. As stated earlier in this blog post… I’m still looking for just the right one… and I won’t settle until I have the right one. As stated earlier, the present tagline is temporary… I’m still working on it.
Third – The Unhappy Studio Owner accused me of publicly “slamming” them in this blog post.
In answer to that accusation: I did not name the Unhappy Studio Owner. I could have… and I could have advertised this particular blog post and really spread this around in a big way… but my intention is not to harm the Unhappy Studio Owner. Remember the sutra from the first part of this post? Find compassion for the unhappy…
My intention with this post is to explain how much we can learn from interactions with unhappy people. The circumstances… well, they don’t actually matter that much… because many of us come in contact with unhappy people on a regular basis.
More posts about Thanksgiving 2014….