Archives for category: Life skills

Love as a way of being. Is it naive to suggest that love in action could be the answer to the world’s problems? It is so easy to over simplify things.
Never believe someone who says, “this product is the answer to all your pains”.
That said, how often is the way of love actually practiced?

The reference here is not to sentimentality or shallow emotionalism. The love that can make the world go round, is a conscious act of the will. It is driven by a genuine interest in the good in the other, the good in the community and in the world. It wants the best outcome for all.

Pure, unconditional love may be a bit of a stretch for us humans but with practice we can begin to look beyond ourselves. We can overcome selfishness and seek the greater good. It is not easy for it does not come naturally.
Let’s believe its possible & imagine a world running on love instead of hate.

Maybe the thin edge of the wedge is learning to love our next of kin, especially those who pitch up unannounced and abuse our generosity. There are many others. The child who resists structure of any kind, the parent whose expectations are unrealistic, the spouse who won’t allow for his/her partner’s idiosyncracies.

When irritation, impatience or assumption threatens to bring down the curtain of hatred, maybe a pause is needed. A pause long enough to provide space for reflecting on the appropriate response to the perceived misdemeanor. A teaspoon of understanding together with a tablespoon of respect may dilute the conflict and promote the growth of love.

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The driver in the following car was clearly frustrated, she gripped the steering wheel with white knuckles and her eyes were focused on the back of my vehicle.
Lady, please enjoy the ride! Feel the slick controls of your car, enjoy the view, note the passing scene, be grateful that you have your own transport.

The diner at the opposite table was wolfing down his food like there was no tomorrow. He dealt with the waiter in an aggressive manner and banged his glass down on the table.
Sir, please enjoy your meal! Cut the steak into small, manageable pieces. Chew slowly and savour the different flavours the chef has produced. Be grateful for the fact that you can afford such lovely food.

The student hurried past, attention fixed on a slim new ‘phone! There was no awareness of the autumn leaves, the dew covered grass or the homeless person lying on the park bench.
Young person, please enjoy being alive! Switch off your ‘phone, breathe deeply, walk a little slower, take in the sights and sounds around you.

A sparrow chirps from the roof of a shopping centre…
A dog barks in the neighbour’s garden…
A rose bush has started budding…
A store assistant smiles at me and bids me have a good day…
A fresh cup of coffee steams on the table in front of me…
Isn’t life great when we become aware of the small things!

When the stress is just too much…breathe
When you feel you really need a crutch…breathe

When the frustration fills your head…breathe
When you feel you need to stay in bed…breathe

When the irritation drives you mad…breathe
When you feel you will never find the peace you had…breathe

When the anger tightens your chest…breathe
When you feel you have already done your best…breathe

Reflecting on our moods can be fun. It’s good to be able to laugh at ourselves. We can be so concerned about our changing moods, fretting about feeling down and concerned about moments of high anxiety, that we may even be tempted to analyse ourselves and come up with some important sounding label.

It may be useful to simply accept that our moods fluctuate and that this is quite normal. Feeling up or down, calm or anxious is part of being alive. On reflection, we are usually able to pin point the reason for our change of mood and can sometimes have a good chuckle!

This blog is obviously not trying to make light of mental illness, it is simply saying that we sometimes take ourselves too seriously. In fact, even when contemplating our eventual death we can become far too morbid because we focus on the demise of our “important” selves and forget that we are an integral part of the great mass of humanity.

Sending up a few thought balloons on the above subjects…
Security…how we long for it! We look for it in all kinds of places. Some places are appropriate, others not.
We turn our homes into fortresses, sometimes with devastating results! We demand security from our partners, placing an intolerable burden on them. We expect guaranteed financial security from our investment advisors. We are attracted to churches that offer spiritual security, some used to call it “pie in the sky when you die”.

Certainty…a close cousin to security. We want certainty at all costs! We expect our loved ones to provide complete certainty with regard to their feelings for us; the intensity of our relationships must never change. We put enormous pressure on medical doctors to explain every aspect of our illness and give us every assurance of a good outcome. We will not pursue our dreams because there is no certainty regarding the hoped for outcome.

Decisions, decisions…how hard it is to make decisions! It is much easier to vacillate, procrastinate and stay the same. We are frightened by the vast number of choices, mutations, options, alternatives. We become confused and we are either frozen by indecision and anxiety, or overcome by the vast complexity of life. We fail to grasp that the making of a decision will bring calm to our troubled minds.

In the hierarchy of needs, safety and security are near the bottom. In other words it is a very basic part of being alive. Once we have discovered a degree of realistic security, we can cope better with the demands of life and we can move forward to address our other more sophisticated needs.

Whether you are living with anxiety or you are an O.C.D. personality type, you may find it helpful to stop “looking back”. When a bout of worry or anxiety arrives, try to focus on it and develop ways of coping with it; for example, it may be helpful to re-direct your thinking. Focus on something quite different; even making a cup of tea or going for a walk in the garden may be useful. In other words do not waste mental energy on trying to work out why you are anxious.

Even when physical ailments occur, try not to think of reasons for the head ache, upset stomach, back pain, etc. Just concentrate on dealing with the symptom as best you can and try to avoid worrying about the cause. It only makes the situation more stressful.
Good luck!

The whole world is hidden in the details. Tear from one location to the next and you will miss it entirely. Don’t just stop to smell the roses, linger long enough to touch the petals, trace the veins on the leaves and register the shading of the colour.
When you rush into yet another airport, stop scratching in your bag for your documents. Pause long enough to feel the cool air pouring down the corridor, look out over the concrete expanse of the parking area and note the faces of the ground staff stationed along the walkway.
Walk slowly into the fancy restaurant, let your eyes absorb the colourful murals, greet the waiter by name and spend time with the carefully prepared menu. Smell the flowers on the table, select your wine with anticipation and excitement.
Try to “paint” or “sketch” the people and things you encounter in your head so that you may refer to them for years to come. A hasty snapshot or selfie is no replacement for a complete  immersion in the vigour of the moment. Take everything in as if it is your last day on earth!

 

Inspired by life and Alain De Botton; The Art of Travel

“He was a mate…and he would do everything to keep him alive. Because courage, survival, love  –  all these things didn’t live in one man. They lived in them all or they died and every man with them; they had come to believe that to abandon one man was to abandon themselves”

“For a moment (he) was bewildered as to where he was. Still not entirely sure, he laid the letter down next to his bed and went out into the rain. Thinking: The world is. It just is”

” …no one up there on the Line much believed in God anymore, it was hard to believe either in the devil. The Goanna (guard) just was, much as many wished he was not”

Richard Flanagan; The Narrow Road to the Deep North; Chatto & Windus; 2014

When the chips are down I believe in what is real, existential, tangible. Don’t spin me yarns about “saving grace”, miraculous rescue or God’s will! I believe in those who are present for me…I believe in you.

You know the story about the little boy who was frightened of the dark. His mother assured him that God was with him in the dark even if he couldn’t see Him. The boy replied, “but Mum I want a God with skin on!”

When things get tough, I just want to know that someone is alongside me urging me on. When the going gets tough, the tough need a tough mate to see them through!

The above quotes, from a great book that I am reading at present, sum up something of my current thinking.

In human society, especially, co-operation is an essential ingredient. People need to work together, towards a common purpose, if conflict is to be avoided and progress made.
Non co-operation takes many forms, it is not necessarily blatant. Anything that hinders, or slows down, the daily round and common task can be experienced as a spirit of non co-operation. If a member of a group is slow to act, or lazy, or procrastinates, or allows others to complete his tasks, or fails to do what is expected of him, the other group members will soon feel used or unfairly treated and group cohesion will dissolve. We need to be careful about obstructing others and thereby causing them to become frustrated or embittered.

Talk less and listen more! Yes, it is difficult particularly if you have a very active mind but life will be far richer if you try to listen actively.
Listen not only to the words of others but to the “words” of nature!

Switch off your electronic devices for a few minutes and concentrate on the sounds around you. You may be pleasantly surprised and your spirit may be calmed by the “sounds of silence”.

Enjoy the silence today.