Emotions realized on the trail

You Get What You Get and Don’t Get Upset.

You get what you get and don’t get upset.

My young granddaughter was singing these words today on the way to school. “You get what you get and don’t get upset”  “Where did you hear those words”? l asked her. Apparently it was the latest jingle her friends were singing. I discovered later that it came from a book  ‘Pinkaliousious’ by Victoria and Elizabeth Kann. A story about a girl who eats too many pink cupcakes and turns pink. Obviously, referring  to her greediness and I would assume, the feeling of sickness she would have experienced after. It occured to me, that this was the opposite to my parents favourite warning. “If you don’t eat everything on your plate, you can go to bed hungry” although, it wouldn’t have been pink cupcakes that I was being bribed to eat.

It might have been something to do with the school sports carnival she was going to later. Maybe all the young kids who thought they weren’t going to win anything, had adopted the words as some type of mantra. That’s hardly likely of course, as losing is almost a taboo word now. I was visiting a friend of mine who has two daughters, I was admiring all the trophies they had won at school in his display cabinet. I remarked “bloody hell mate, your girls must have been super stars” “It would seem that way” he remarked. “ The truth is, they get a trophy for just turning up nowadays”

You get what you get.

I’m not suggesting that we should go back to the so called, ‘good old days’. But I’m not sure, that allowing kids not to lose, is a good idea either. Talking to my granddaughter confirmed, that young kids still want to win, but they can also accept losing. After all, it’s the adults who decide that their kids need to be protected from disappointment. “Spare the rod and spoil the child” a proverb taken from the bible, seems harsh by today’s standards. If taken literally, it could be used as justification for punishing children unnecessarily. They were “tougher” in those days of course, so consequently, there were fewer sensitive “new age” guys around.

I don’t believe the physical punishment that often happened, was ever justified. But knowing, that it could happen, enforced a mental toughness that seems to be missing now. I can remember my mother, telling me to “wait till your father gets home, he can deal with you” which was common, among many mothers in those days. Now that really was something to look forward to, especially if it happened in the morning and you had to wait all day for the inevitable punishment. “You get what you get” It was a good idea to get upset as well, as any act of defiance didn’t go down very well.

You get what you get at school.

Punishment at school was given quite liberally. There wasn’t much political correctness happening. I often imagined meeting those teachers in a dark alleyway, but those feelings are long gone now. How could l forget the teacher, who stood on a chair and jumped down with the cane in his hand to get more traction. Or a size nine plimsoll, on our wet backside, after getting out of the shower, at the end of a gym session. Being naked, certainly added to the vulnerability we all felt. Were these teachers sadistic?  I’m not sure, probably it was seen  as normal practice, in the toughening up process. It remained unspoken, as going home and saying anything only ensured more punishment. “You must have deserved it, so here’s some more to go with it”

Thankfully my grandchildren have been “spared the rod” but it goes without saying, that this isn’t the case in many countries around the world. I can’t remember either of my parents ever  turning up to one of my sports days. In fact, it wasn’t encouraged, so I’m not sure, if it was a good or a bad idea. Although l believe it was easier to accept losing, when parents expectations and hopes weren’t on display. It’s great that parents do get more involved with their children now. But they can’t all win, if your child has a great voice in the shower, it doesn’t mean that their a certainty to win a talent show. Encourage, but don’t bring your own expectations into play. Then it will be a lot easier for them “to get what they get and not get upset”

                                                                                                                                                               

You get what you get and dont get upset
You get what you get if you eat to many of these.

 

A Personal Encounter.

Personal encounters.

On the upper floor of a city building, l am gazing quietly out of the window at the daily activities happening below me. The vastness of the view feels wonderful, as if I’m seeing everything for the first time. Tears begin to form, as the truth of being able to live within this personal moment start to overwhelm me. Over the last few days, my emotions have been very close to the surface. Any thought, or encounter, with anything that I value personally, has brought me to tears. I am surrounded by people who are looking after my welfare, they are doing everything they can to make me comfortable. It’s not that I’m ungrateful for the care and patience they show me, but my usual patience seems to have disappeared, as I try to deal with these raw emotions.

I have never felt this alone or vulnerable before, this is my personal encounter that no one can share. A TV programme the other day, sent five moderately famous people onto the streets of Melbourne, to live as homeless people for ten days. They went with nothing, which meant, they had to quickly become street wise.  They all seemed genuinely sympathetic to the plight of the homeless people they interacted with. Plenty of tears were shed by all of them, but after ten days, they would of course, return to their normal existence. I’m not saying that it wasn’t carried out with the best of intentions. But they couldn’t have possibly experienced the true feelings, of someone’s personal life, that has possibly exsisted for years.

Beginning my personal encounter.

I’m sure you remember the time, when someone tried to tell you how they felt, while going through a personal crisis. Like me, you probably nodded your head and said the usual words, “I know how you feel” without really having a clue how they felt. I have an older friend, who has had heart problems for a number of years. Up until a few days ago I said those very words often, “I know how you feel” now, I really do have a proper understanding of how he feels. This wasn’t supposed to happen to me. I’m pretty fit, look after myself and don’t smoke, I have the occasional drink and have what I would consider, to be a healthy diet.

I have said a number of times though, that as fit as I feel, something can hit me from left field, that can sit me on my arse. Well it did exactly that, the pain in my chest was without question, the worst pain I have ever felt. Very shallow breathing was the best I could manage, but luckily, good enough to get me to the hospital. Straight into the emergency ward, I was hooked up to various machines and given pain killers. As the pain started to subside, I felt like an imposter. All these machines and I only have a bad case of indigestion, what a relief. Then the words came, “your blood tests confirm, your having a heart attack.”

Personal encounter with the unknown

There is very little, if any awareness of what’s going on within our body. It’s a complex system, that has millions of processes happening at any given moment. The lungs absorb the oxygen, the blood leaves the lungs and is carried to our heart. The heart then pumps it throughout our body, to provide the cells in our tissues and organs. As the cells use the oxygen, carbon dioxide is produced and absorbed into the blood. The kidneys and liver are doing their job as well and if your like me, you probably don’t even know where they are located, let alone what they do. And this is only the tip of the iceberg. These processes are happening constantly, but we are unaware of it.

Once, during the early stages of meditation, I was following one particular practice, amongst many others, of counting my breath in and out. After a short while, I became acutely aware of my breathing. As if I came off auto pilot for a short while and had to take the controls in my own hands. It almost took me to a crash landing, as in became out and out became in. “Don’t worry about your heart, it will last you as long as you live” (W. C. Fields) Obviously the person that put this quote up on one of the notice boards in the hospital corridor, had a sense of humour. There is no doubt, helping people to have a glimmer of humour within a very stressful situation, is very beneficial.

Personal heart encounter.

Well it looks like a fennel root to me, something l would buy at the local supermarket. I suppose romance, flower arrangements, balloons and the people I have seen holding their fingers up in the shape of a so called heart, require it to be more user friendly. Follow your heart, lead with your heart, have a heart, to name a few, adds to the central role it plays. My heart is certainly playing a central role, looking at it on the large screen, to the side of the operating table. Seeing the wire pass up through my groin towards my heart and being able to watch it, feels surreal. The plastic bin that’s filling up with bloody cloths and the blood hanging next to my shoulder ready for a blood transfusion, make everything very emotional.

What were those complications again? A blood clot could break off and cause a stroke. I could need bypass surgery and if things turn bad, ‘death.’ The bloody clock on the wall said the procedure took 55 minutes, but to me, it felt like hours.

An encounter with reality again.

When I returned to the ward, my fellow inmate put everything into perspective. “How you going mate, how many did you have then?” “one I answered” “bloody hell, I’ve had twelve stents over the last few years. Sometimes I need a pull through to clean the tubes out. I still have a beer and a smoke though, can’t stop living can yer” This reminded me of the neighbours dog ‘Skamp’ many years ago in England, he used to spend his whole life chasing cars, running in and out trying to grab their tyres. He ended up old and grey and couldn’t run anymore. Our other neighbours dog managed to get out once and got knocked over by a car, there must be an irony there somewhere. When l get out of here, I’m going to have a few beers, smoke a joint and relax.

Personal encounters
It looks like a fennel root to me.

Malcolm leaves a legacy.

Malcolm leaves a legacy.

Malcolm leaves a legacy
Climbing Higher in the trees than we had ever climbed before.

When I first met Malcolm, I was about fourteen years old and he would of been about sixteen, the precise details escape me now, as this took place over fifty years ago. The impression he left on me though, is as powerful now as it was back then. I remember that he was not very well co-ordinated and when we played soccer, he was just as likely to kick us, as he was to kick the ball. I can’t remember how he came to be in our neighbourhood gang, as he lived on the other side of town. His father rode a vintage motor bike, which turned out to be significant.

Malcolm was different to anyone I had ever met at the time, I was drawn to him, because he stood apart from us, he had an air of quiet confidence which I didn’t have. When the gang passed around the quart bottle of cider he refused to drink. He just smiled, as if he knew something that we didn’t and quite possibly he did. Everyone laughed, including me, but I may as well have been laughing at myself, because I realised, I didn’t want to drink either. Malcolm was economical with words, he spoke quietly and thoughtfully as if he wanted to make every word count. He was the  outsider and I felt that way too, I wasn’t particularly brave, but I had a compulsion to push everything to the limit. The best way to get me to do something, was to tell me not to do it.

Malcolm’s influence.

The differences we both felt as individuals, drew us together, he had two contrasting sides to his character and I identified with them both. Like me, he was willing to go to extremes, but unlike me, he either didn’t see any danger or if he did, he was comfortable with it. This was juxtaposed with gentleness, a love of nature and infinite patience. We would spend hours looking for a particular wild flower he had read about, but it wasn’t to pick them, or dig them out, as I was inclined to do.

I remember looking for a Lapwings nest with him, they were notoriously hard to find, they hardly built a nest site, often just in a small hollow in the earth. We spent hours and hours looking in a field that we had seen them flying over. Eventually, more by luck than judgment we found a nest with eggs, which neither of us had ever seen before. Great, at last a Lapwings egg for my collection. I can’t remember now exactly how he explained it to me, but it was something like, “Let’s just take the memory away with us, we don’t need anything else”  I don’t know how he convinced me to do as he asked, but l did. I would have preferred to put an egg in my collection and boast to who ever I could, about my find.

Malcolm gets a Motorbike

Malcolm turned up one day on a motorbike, this was typical of him. I would have announced to everyone, that I was getting a motor bike. I would have given them a countdown to the very moment it actually happened. It wasn’t a very powerful machine, but it allowed us to go farther afield than our pushbikes. It didn’t change our friendship, I thought it might, as I would have wanted to join a motor bike gang. In fact, on the bike, I became part of him, because he taught me to be his shadow. I was always to be directly behind him and anticipate everything he did as the bike pulled around the corners.

The things we enjoyed doing together were the same, but the intensity changed. The rooks nested high up in the trees and their nests could often be seen from miles around. Any thought of taking an egg was gone, we were just there to look. The strangeness of our surroundings and the distance from home confirmed that we were going to climb the trees, so we did. I was thinking, if I fall, I won’t be going home on the bike and if he falls, what the hell am l going to do. As it turned out, we were both thinking the same thing.

High up in the canopy of the tree, the branches moved erratically with our weight and the strength of the wind didn’t help. We weren’t on the same branch though, as there were dozens of nests all around us. We both laughed uncontrollably when we got back on the ground. A promise was made, that we would climb again soon, but we both knew we never would.

Malcolm’s parents house.

I only went to Malcolm’s home once and I don’t think he ever came to mine. There wasn’t a reason to be inside in those days, as there was very little technology to keep us there. Nature was preserved everywhere in his house, dried flowers from the fields and hedgerows mounted in picture frames. Examples of taxidermy were everywhere, which both he and his father had done. A large Barn owl, looked down from one of the display cases. “All the animals have died of natural causes” he explained. “What do you think?” he asked, I said, “everything is fantastic, but somehow, I don’t think my parents will like the idea of having them in our house.” This seemed to please him, as we both laughed.

I learned later, that he had never taken anyone to his parents house before. I asked him if he wanted to see my house, but luckily he didn’t. I’m sure he would have been disappointed, it would have been boring, after living in the menagerie that surrounded him. By now school was in the past for me as well and like Malcolm, I was working, but we still went into the countryside together as much as we could. We still enjoyed nature, but there was a realisation, that it wasn’t enough now. Our new found responsibility of growing up, was starting to tarnish the simple pleasures that it provided.

Malcolm’s big red motorbike.

We started to hang around the local coffee shops and pubs for the first time, pretending to have a good time, laughing at jokes that weren’t funny and buying drinks that neither of us wanted. Plans were starting to formulate in my head about traveling overseas as soon as l could. Malcolm had other ideas, he asked me to meet him on the weekend, at the usual place.

This time he turned up on the biggest red motorbike, l had ever seen. I can still see it now, a Norton 750 Atlas, a British bike that I’m sure would have met with his fathers approval. The British part, but possibly, not the size and power. The kick start pedal needed the pressure of full body weight downwards to have any chance of starting it. He threw me a crash helmet, “let’s go.” I was going to mention that we had never worn crash helmets before, but this time, it felt appropriate that we did. The very first corner we went around, he leaned the bike over farther than he ever had before, the kick start pedal hit the road with a shower of sparks. We came to an upright position before we should have and were lucky to stay on, that’s the only part l remember distinctly.

Malcolm’s plans for the future

“I know you plan to travel overseas eventually, but I could never leave this place, everything l need is here. l can’t imagine living anywhere else” That’s how l would have liked to have felt, but I  resented, what I imagined, was an ordinary future ahead of me. My plan was to be an adventurer, but the thought scared me even more than Malcom’s bike. I told him how uncomfortable I felt for him, but l didn’t mention how I felt. Already, I had made up my mind that I wouldn’t get on the bike again. But this wasn’t something I wanted to say to him, as I knew it would hurt his feelings.

I never had to tell him, because on the following weekend, he crashed the bike and was killed. I cried my heart out for the first time ever, over the loss of a close friend. He was mature beyond his young years, a deep thinker, who was in my opinion, a genuinely good person. I think of him often, I am grateful to have known him and grateful that I have had the opportunity to grow old and experience many of the things that he was unable to experience. As I grow older, I notice his influence in my actions and my thoughts. How could It have taken me this long to think the way he did back then? I think he felt as calm then, as I am now, that’s why I realize, he was such a special person.

Malcolm leaves a legacy
I can still remember every detail of the bike as if it were yesterday

 

 

 

 

Social fear and ways to overcome it.

Feel the fear.

social fear
Enjoy dinner for one and feel the fear surrounding a simple act

Fear in social situations can contribute to physical reactions, we may shake, blush, speak less clearly or sweat, fearing this will be obvious to others, compounding the problem. Or we may have less visible symptoms such as a racing pulse, shortness of breath, nausea and dizziness. Other reactions include a fear of looking foolish, or boring, and putting pressure on ourselves to be liked by everyone. These stresses can also increase our sensitivity to perceived criticism, inhibiting our ability to cope. Most people who have social anxiety problems know that this is irrational and doesn’t make sense. Knowing something though, is not the same thing as feeling it in the moment and using this feeling constructively. For these people, thoughts and feelings of anxiety persist and usually show no signs of going away.

Fear also causes us to notice and remember negative events, which reinforces the sense that the world is a scary place. We can work to change that by deliberately noticing the positive things in our life. The joy we feel when we see someone we love, the pleasure of a sunny day, the beauty in nature, the fun of an outing, the humor in a situation. We have to slowly place ourselves in the situations we fear. The first thing to do, is to remove avoidance from the equation and let yourself feel the fear. This way you will learn to survive without safety measures and avoidance tactics. When we suffer from social anxiety, it’s crucial to take gradual steps towards healing. Putting ourselves into the situations we fear, can be counter productive, unless we introduce careful thought and planning.                                 

Fear in social situations. 

A good starting point for us, is to make a list of our most feared social situations, from the lowest, upwards, based on our anxiety levels. Then we start with the least feared situation and expose ourselves to it, until we have successfully faced the fear. It’s a mistake to move on to the next level too quickly, we have to practice and feel confident before we can proceed. Social interactions of course, are between people so truly hearing and listening to another person, has got to be the biggest act of kindness there is. Not only will they love the fact that we find them so intriguing and interesting, but as we  focus on them, we will be distracted away from ourselves and our own anxious thoughts and feelings.

Keep in mind that social fear is in our head. If we could look past the fear, we would find there is nothing on the other side. In fact there is very little in the western world that we do need to fear in our everyday lives. The “fight or flight” tribal fears are gone now, we are not going to be bitten on the arse by a saber tooth tiger anymore, but our brain is still geared up to protect us in the same way. Of course this is still very useful in certain situations. In social settings though, where most of our fears are now centered, it is of little help and more of a hindrance. If I go into the city and do a stand up comedy routine on the street. I will be completely useless, but there is nothing to fear physically.

Practice feeling fear.

We go to our nearest coffee outlet, preferably when it’s busy, and order a coffee and a muffin. When they ask us for the money, we are going to say, “I would like a 10% discount please”. This of course is going against normal social protocol, as we don’t live for the most part in a bartering economy. The first reaction we are going to get, is amazement and disbelieve that we  have asked this question at all. Who asks for a discount on an amount of  $7.95, we are not going to offer any explanation, just ask for the discount. Watch the reactions you get, feel the fear but don’t explain yourself. Our request will most likely move up the chain of command, and that’s fine we just wait patiently.

Eventually we will most likely be told it’s company policy, we don’t give discounts or a variation of this. Then we just smile sit down and enjoy our coffee and muffin. The more we do this the less we will care about the glances we receive and the imagined gossip that we think is happening. Now the venue is a popular restaurant in the evening, where plenty of people are socializing. We’re not asking for a discount this time, the only stipulation is we book a table for one. We just turn up sit down and enjoy a bottle of wine and relax. We’re there for one hour, so there is no point in rushing the meal, we can’t reach for our phone either, or a book, as we left them in the car. As we look around us, we make eye contact with people and smile, that’s all we have to do.

Fear nearly under control.

These two social situations, are ones I have used but there are many more of course. My social fears now seem to be under control. On the sliding scale of anxiety that I mentioned previously, the social skill of talking impromptu in front of an audience, is still something I’m not comfortable with, and possibly never will be. In a social situation though, it’s the closest I’m ever going to get to that sabre tooth tiger.

social fear
Order a coffee and a muffin and ask for a 10% discount and notice how this makes you feel

Why we need to build resilience

What is resilience?

Build resilience
Beware of danger but don’t hide behind a mask

Resilience, is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, also relationship problems, serious health, workplace and financial issues. Being resilient doesn’t mean we never experience distress though, emotional pain and sadness are common in people who have suffered major adversity or trauma in their lives. In fact the road to resilience is likely to involve considerable distress.
Resilience, is not a trait that people either have or don’t have, it involves behaviors, thoughts and actions that can be developed in anyone.

Can we escape needing to build resilience ?

Resilience does not automatically change us, it’s how we respond that counts. It’s our response to adversity that determines whether it will help, or hurt us. Sadly, more often than not, suffering destroys people because of their bad responses. It’s not a question of “why me” it’s more a question of “why not me.” Everyone experiences some type of adversity in their lives, so trying to wrap ourselves in cotton wool, or remaining in our comfort zone, clearly doesn’t work. We would need to live a reclusive life, or be extremely lucky, not to face serious adversity at least once, if not, many times in the course of our life.

So it’s a good thing to try and build our resilience, then when we need it for what ever reason, it’s available. You might say, “what’s the point in building resilience…. nothing is going to happen, and if it ever does, I’ll get through it somehow.” My answer is “good luck with that,” it’s far better to develop a strong mental attitude, than it is to take the chance, that we may be resilient enough to “bounce back” adequately afterwards. Life is short enough, without unnecessarily being caught in a loop of mental anguish, which could possibly have been lessened, with more attention paid to resilience beforehand.

Benefits of resilience.

Resilience gives us better coping skills, helping us deal with our negative thoughts and emotions. This makes it less likely for us to continuously focus on setbacks, that we can’t change. It’s not that we suffer any less, it’s how we deal with it and learn from it. It’s as if we need to have a near death experience, to make us realize what’s important to us. Our judgement is no longer clouded with “what if’s.” How many times have you said? “If I get out of this situation, I will never complain again”.

We may complain again, but the next time something happens, it get’s that much easier to deal with. We look back to what we have been through before and realize, we got through that, so we can get through this. That’s resilience in action. Priorities change, what we stressed about once, doesn’t seem to matter anymore. I used to worry about money once and countless petty things, but now, none of those things mean anything to me. I have come through a serious car accident, three major accidents working in the heavy construction industry, I have plural plaque on my lungs from asbestos exposure. Also my wife and I lost our baby son with heart problems. I’m not suggesting I’m special though, I also realize I have been very lucky, compared to so many other people. I guess that is part of being resilient.

Finding resilience.

Obviously, we are not going to rejoice in our misfortune, but use each incident to develop “mental toughness” There is no benefit in exposing ourselves to needless situations that can hurt us but, it’s not good to pull back from anything that may build our resilience either. There is nowhere to hide in this world and if we try to, we are bound to suffer more in the present and the future.

“My scars remind me that I did indeed survive my deepest wounds. That in itself is an accomplishment. And they bring to mind something else, too. They remind me that the damage life has inflicted on me has, in many places, left me stronger and more resilient. What hurt me in the past has actually made me better equipped to face the present.” ( Steve Goodier)                                                                                                              

Build resilience
I’m not sure what resilience is but I have lived through many heartaches and from those I have learned to be strong..

 

 

Seeking our authentic self

When you don’t like yourself for who you are, what’s the point of being liked for who you’re not.

Seeking our authentic self, is a quest for truth, as we begin to acquire the art of freer thinking, it makes it easier to drop the social mask we wear, and begin to reveal who we truly are. In society, hypocrisy is everywhere, we constantly present a false image, just to feel accepted. This causes emotional turbulence, as we never quite manage to accept ourselves as we really are, but with effort and discipline we can eventually stop desiring acceptance. Then we can begin to express ourselves without having to ask permission from others. We can learn to take control of our life, as the more disengaged from social acceptance we become, the more freedom we find. Making it easier to turn our backs to the crowd, as our way of thinking slowly stops being influenced by it. We begin to operate out of consciousness and not from suppression.

“Authenticity is not something we have or don’t have. It is a practice, a conscious choice of how we want to live. Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” (Brene Brown)

Discovering our authentic self.

seeking authentic self
Seeking our authentic self

Often, it’s not our authentic self we are looking at in the present moment, it’s a version of our past self. As we become an adult in society, we’re pretty much self sufficient, it’s easier to accept the default position. It requires no additional education, no additional development of skills, or any attempt to push through our comfort zone. We except the default status-quo position, which most people are only too happy to embrace, we are constantly changing, though not aware of these changes. Every minute, hour, day and year we’re shifting, growing, thriving, declining and getting older.

Furthermore, thousands upon thousands of actions, are functioning inside our body at any given moment, and we are completely unaware of them. At a deep level, we begin to realize there’s no such thing as constant “SELF” at all. No man ever steps into the same river twice for it is not the same river and he is not the same man (Heraclitus) It’s similar to hiking in the mountains, we can’t resist looking back to appreciate the view, and to marvel at just how far we have traveled. If we could return to the same place again, it may look the same, but time has changed, places have changed, along with the people. We encounter new things, read books, take courses and travel to new places, everything is always in a state of flux.

Our authentic self is a goal that’s not often realized.

Trying to be our authentic self, is a process, we have to push ourselves to grow every day. If we were our “authentic self” right now, we would be completely confident, assertive, disciplined and internally grounded in our values. With zero fears and no negative thoughts of any kind, as healthy as we can possibly be, open and completely comfortable with our sexuality. It doesn’t mean being overweight without a medical reason, doing drugs or any other chemical dependence. Hence the body we are meant to have, if we live to our optimum state of being.  As we progress, we realize there are many behaviours that we need to change, becoming more open minded, and willing to consider any idea or point of view. Always taking the high road rather than the low road in whatever we’re doing. This also applies to every relationship and interaction around us.

In every way we try to become the master of our life. Within society, we often have the impression that we’re free, in reality we’re a puppet, that is being manipulated by external forces. Trying to be authentic at a shallow level means, trying to “be ourselves” that “self” hopefully, is to be the best, we can possibly be. Part of my definition of authenticity, is trying to squeeze the most out of life. I have, and will make many mistakes in an effort to turn dreams into reality. Ultimately I may fail, but I will know, that I tried to the best of my ability. You may ask as I once did, “what’s the point to any of this” why don’t I just get drunk, except things as they are, enjoy myself and forget the whole concept of self-actualization.

Is being authentic a luxury that’s just too hard to follow.

Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs was proposed in a paper, a theory of Human motivation in 1943. It’s depicted as a pyramid from base level needs, to top level needs. It has 5 levels, which are, Physiological needs, Safety, love/belonging, esteem and at the top of the pyramid self-actualization. There is actually one level above this, “self-transcendence” but that’s beyond my scope at the moment. I paraphrase Maslow here, but these are my believes also. Self actualization is actually not a luxury, but a requirement of our psyche. once we get the basics in our life down, we’re not going to just sit there. What’s going to happen, is our mind is going to slowly start to rot and our soul is going to rot from the inside out because we know that we’re destined for something much greater.

(Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder) Almost everything all external expectations all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure. These things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. There is no reason not to follow your heart. While talking about death, this quote also defines what we should be seeking in life, when we are trying to be our authentic self.

 

Trying to be authentic
The right place to be sometimes

 

 

Getting grit when you need it.

Grit….what is it?

Getting grit
When everything seems lost

Bravery, pluck, mettle, backbone, spirit, strength of character, strength of will, moral fiber, steel, nerve, gameness, valor, fortitude, toughness, hardiness, resolve, determination, resolution, stamina, doggedness, tenacity. The list goes on, grit also means perseverance, endurance and passion, for a long term goal. In other words, gritty people believe, everything will be alright in the end and if it’s not alright, it’s not the end. People with grit, deal with the trials of life and problems, as challenges and potential defeat, as a call to action. In some instances, grit can be seen in another way, as it also takes grit to withdraw or give up. When situations are blatantly not working or detrimental to our health.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena. Whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood. Who strived valiantly, who errs, who comes again and again. Because there is no effort without error and shortcoming, but who does actually strive to do the deeds. Who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause. Who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. ( Teddy Roosevelt)

Getting grit.

So how do we get grit? Firstly we have to believe in the goal we are working towards. Our values and passions have to be aligned, with what, we’re trying to achieve. If these things are in place, grit comes naturally, it’s grit that gets us up in the morning, determined to go for that run. Even if it is freezing cold and we would much rather be in bed. Make sure that grit doesn’t trip you up though, if we run that extra mile and bugger our knee up, that’s not grit, that’s stupidity.  The one thing that can not be taken from a man (or woman) is the power to determine his attitude in any given situation. (Victor Frankl)  We all possess the power of choice, and the perspective from which we view things in our life.

We can look through lenses of pessimism or optimism, hopefulness or despair, gratitude or grievance, possibility or resignation, goals or obstacles, it’s really, our choice. Many of us do our best, to try to minimize and even eliminate risks in our live. The cultivation of grit, sometimes, requires the willingness to engage in practices that may be outside our comfort zone. Conscious and responsible risk taking, is an essential aspect of this process. Living on the edge is an acquired taste, and if done skillfully, can mean the difference between success and failure.

More grit.

Grit, is consistency in doing better today, than yesterday. If something is frustrating, our natural tendency is, to give up. But we have to do things over and over again for them to feel natural, and grit is what keeps pushing us forward. Grit, can be learned, it’s a matter of facing fears, following through, keeping the vision in sight and never giving up. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint. (Doctor Angela Duckworth in her Ted talk)     

(Invictus by W. E. Henley) Out of the night that covers me. Black as the Pit from pole to pole. I thank whatever gods may be. For my unconquerable soul. In the fell clutch of circumstance. I have not winced nor cried aloud. Under the bludgeonings of chance.My head is bloody, but unbowed. Beyond this place of wrath and tears looms but the horror of the shade, And yet the menace of the years Finds, and shall find me, unafraid. It matters not how strait the gate. How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Getting grit when you need it
Another Version of grit

 

Fear rehearsing benefits

Fear Rehearsing.

Rehearsing the fear of death would be the “worst case-scenario,” but we can’t inoculate ourselves from death and any planned rehearsing would require risks. Contemplating our own death to stay motivated helps. Having a sense of how short our lives are and being conscious of how little time we have left. There is no reason to believe we will be given a second chance, at least not on this earth. So it’s important to put all the petty things in life that we worry about into perspective. I’m not advocating we walk around thinking about our own demise all the time. But use fear rehearsing benefits as a motivational tool to reflect on the things that often scare us the most.

Fear rehearsing, can be regularly micro-dosing ourselves with the “worst-case scenario” as an inoculation. It’s planned exposure to the “bad” realizing the bad isn’t so bad, we can make it less so with repeated exposure. One of the life skills that is good to practice, is learning how little we actually need to live on. Not just in a survival mode, but in a contented mode. This gives us the confidence to take a risk, because you ask the question, “what’s the worst that can happen.” Well the worst that can happen is, that we end up with a backpack, sleeping bag, and eat porridge every day. Not cold porridge either as we have our “jet boil” to heat it up.

Fear rehearsing practices.

Remember it’s not just about survival, it’s about getting by with less. Allowing this to help us conquer the fear of our comfortable life being disrupted and having to live a simpler life by necessity. “Set aside a certain number of days, during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare. With coarse and rough dress, saying to yourself the while. Is this the condition that I feared? Seneca. What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do. It’s a fear of unknown outcomes and uncomfortable conversations we may have with ourselves. Some periodic fear rehearsing we might do to simulate and inoculate ourselves from losing all our money.

This could be a period of 3 to 14 days or longer.  1 Sleeping in our sleeping bag (yes you can use your lightweight sleeping mat) this can be on the floor anywhere, but not in your bedroom. Also sleeping outside in your tent if your backyards big enough ( a hiking tent is only small )  2 Wearing one pair of jeans and cheap tee-shirts, for the duration.  3 Eating only very basic food, porridge as I mentioned before, rice and beans.  4 All cooking on the portable camp stove.  5 Drinking only water and cheap instant coffee or tea ( remember clean drinking water is a luxury)  6 Fasting for a day and only drinking water.  7 This is the toughest part, no internet, only at libraries.

Fear rehearsing  benefits.

Oddly, we are likely to feel happier after we experiment with these concepts. It takes a monthly or quarterly reminder of how independent our well being can be, when we distance ourselves from the outcome of money. There is freedom to be gained from practicing a frugal lifestyle, even for a short while. It sharpens our senses as we realize how much less we can live on, also more grateful for the things we do have. It’s working backwards from our greatest fear, realizing the chances of that happening are most of the time, unrealistic. When we grasp the idea that even if our worst fear did materialize we would be still be alright. Then it’s easier to rank and push through our lesser fears.

Life can be tough and struggling with money is a large part of that, it’s all about perspective and the situation we each find ourselves in. It’s pretty easy to live on what is just enough, but that’s not what life is about. It’s equally important to measure the atrocious cost of inaction, if you don’t pursue the things that excite you now. How will you feel  5 or 10 years from now if your living with disappointment and regret in not doing the things, fear held you back from. Your inaction could be the greatest risk of all.

Fear rehearsing benifits
Fear rehearsing It’s only a baby spider

 

The lie of lack in comparison

The lie of lack.

Lie of lack
No lie of lack here it’s paradise

The lie of lack tries to convince us we are not enough. Also we don’t have enough and can’t do enough to be seen, heard and known. The lie of lack prompts us to believe we are missing out. It also doesn’t want us fulfilled in peace and contentment, it wants us to want more. In doing this, we question that we are not where we should be or will never get to where we want to be. In comparing ourselves to others, it’s easy to see where we don’t measure up. Whenever we feel the need to provide ourselves with something, it can be an indicator we are working from a position of lack. When we lack peace, we grab something, it could be drugs, alcohol, gambling , shopping, smoking or over eating. This can cause us to confront our sense of lack and where we need improvement.

We also value scan by comparing ourselves to friends, family and others, if only we had what they have, we will be happy. We fail to understand that the individuals we envy, have the same problems of being content and happy that we have. Comparison robs us of joy and satisfaction in our own lives, dispersing our time and energy in the wrong way. Instead of focusing our energy and allowing it to help us to become stronger.

Accepting ourselves.

Most comparing comes from low self esteem, not owning our own life and uniqueness. Giving in to blind mass conformity gets us into the lie of lack. When we conceive ourselves to lack what someone else has, it feels like we are permanently obstructed from ever being happy. Until we get what they have or the position in life they have realized. Yet it’s far more difficult sometimes to see where we have grown and improved. The most satisfying thing in life is to be ourselves and to live into that and accept it fully. As we become older we start to realize that the eccentricities that once worried us when we were younger, no longer matter. Now we can be fully open and wear our eccentricities for all to see. Not only that, but love ourselves for them, uncovering our true self in the process.

Self worth doesn’t exist, nobody is worth more than anyone else, who determines what’s worth what? The whole “worth” thing, is just a label we attach to things, that in themselves, have no worth at all, but we treat them like they do. Every object that we put a value amount on, is created by us, it’s only real because we give in to the consensus of a value amount being placed on it. There is a  competition happening and we are being constantly encouraged to join in and compete. But it’s a losing position, as there will always be individuals who are better and more adept than we are. The answer is to stop competing, focus on being a creator and ground yourself in your own values. The mature adult is a creator in life not a competitor.

Our own uniqueness.

We are too complex to compare, we aren’t comparing the same things, as individuals we are totally unique. To compare two individuals is like trying to compare apples and oranges. Each of us has a different life history, a different personality, family background and the resources we had available to us as we grew up. We also grew up in different countries, different neighborhoods and with different governments. These differences mean we are not all capable of the same things, as we come from very complex origins. We also allocate our time and energy differently, focusing on the things that we deem important to us at the time. While concentrating more on one particular subject, we become stronger in that, but weaker in another.

The lie of lack is just that, it’s impossible to compare what we can’t see. You can’t see all the facets of anyone’s life and how they focus their energy and the resources they have to work with. It’s a totally unfair comparison that doesn’t allow for individuals being unique and very different. Take ownership of your life, make it a do it yourself  project with your own sense of purpose.

Being “normal” is overrated.

Life is short, we have limited time and energy, there is no sense wasting that time and energy being normal. The human herd is basically very average, most people don’t behave in an intelligent manner or lead a satisfying life. So we have no reason to live this type of life. The most satisfying thing is to be yourself, to live it and except it fully. When we are young and attending school and college, we spend a lot of our time and energy trying desperately to fit in and be normal. The things that once worried us we don’t care about anymore, this can be a very liberating experience.

We can even play into that and make our uniqueness  part of our authentic personality. Your unique and seen that way and counter intuitively this can make you more attractive than you otherwise would be if you were conforming to the “normal.” In each of us is an authentic self that deserves to be revealed, this takes time and effort but the results are well worth it.

Lie of lack in comparison
No lie of lack here I’m wearing a crown I must be important

 

A frugal heart.

A frugal heart.

We stayed silent by the brazier until far into the night. I once again felt how simple and frugal is the thing called happiness. A glass of wine, a roast of chestnut, a wretched little brazier, the sound of the sea. Nothing else. And all that is required, to feel that here and now is happiness, is a simple, frugal heart” Zorba the Greek. When we cultivate a frugal heart we can enjoy life no matter what the conditions. We know that money might enhance the number of our potential pleasures, but we can also be content with the possibilities we have for enjoyment now. This emboldens us to live more fully and to enjoy living in the present.

A frugal heart frees us to make decisions based on creating the life we want to live, instead of optimizing money at every turn. Many people dedicate their lives to something they couldn’t care less about, because it’s the most profitable path. If we have a frugal heart, we are less likely  to go into debt as we don’t need wealth to live the good life. Without the burden of debt, we’re able to make decisions more freely. A frugal heart makes it easier to act honorably and to live a flourishing life. The desire for money weakens and values change as a result.

Simple pleasures.

“Simple pleasures are always the last refuge of the complex” Oscar Wilde. It becomes harder to enjoy the simple pleasures that life has to offer in a complex and stressful world. We often tell ourselves we have no time. Clicking on social media often happens because of boredom, this subtly creates more complexity and obligations of comparison. We have and create so many obligations, ruminating on the past and worrying about the future. The needy heart  enslaves us where as a frugal heart can set us free. The less we expect from others the better our relationships. The simpler the food we eat, the better our health. The less passion we expect from life the more tranquility we’ll have. It’s not to aim for less, but to learn to appreciate less.

“Two different models, two different pictures, are held out to us, according to which we may fashion our own character and behavior the one more gaudy and glittering in its coloring. The other more correct and more exquisitely beautiful in its outline. The one forcing itself upon the notice of every wandering eye. The other, attracting the attention of scarce anybody but the most studious and careful observer. Adam smith. 

Everyday life.

It’s socially dangerous to enjoy what others consider ordinary. Shunning desire for the extraordinary life we are supposed to “dream” of, in favor of embracing the ordinary life that we normally have. It’s really about having respect for are own personal experience, as we live our everyday life. “Everyday life has been vilified as the worthless residue left behind….the coffee grounds that must be thrown out when the stimulating potion has been brewed. If the everyday is everything that is ignored by official forms of knowledge and authority, this very invisibility gives it the potential for strangeness, freedom and even subversion. Henry lefebvre. Perhaps the bravest thing any of us can do , is to be willing in the ways that truly matter, to be ordinary and embrace the concept of the frugal heart.

A frugal heart
A frugal heart

 

Grateful for being.

Grateful for being.

God, if you just let me get through this crisis in my life I will be so grateful, I will try my hardest to be a good person and never complain about trivial things ever again. “Why me” though, what did I do wrong? God must think, now that’s a question only you can answer. Ok then “Why not me” I’ve noticed bad things don’t just happen to bad people. Good or bad is a value judgement, but when I look at friends and family, it’s obvious some people have more than their share of tragedy. They don’t go looking for it either, it just arrives again and possibly again. There’s no rules involved, it’s completely random, getting through one tragedy doesn’t absolve you from another.

Are tragedies and bad luck character building, maybe that’s the answer. We don’t know what we have, until we don’t have it anymore, then we are grateful for a short while. “Be thankful for what you have. Your life, no matter how bad you think it is, is someone else’s fairytale” Wale Ayeni. Being grateful is almost a cliché now, it’s common sense and most of us give being grateful some thought, but often not for very long. Grateful for getting out of a difficult situation or averting a bad moment in our lives. But not grateful for just being and hanging on to that feeling for an extended period of time.

Grateful for health.

Well we’re all grateful for that aren’t we? When it comes to our health and wellbeing, we’re told to count our blessings. Self help books swear by the process and increasingly so does science. Ask anyone about life’s pleasures. It’s often the quality of social relationships and the purposefulness of activities which derive the most satisfaction. Put simply, gratitude is a state of being thankful or a readiness to show appreciation for and returning kindness. This can be from helping people and when you focus on the positive aspects of your own life. I have commented on this before, as I continue to focus on all the wonderful aspects and people I am surrounded by, my outlook on life has improved.

Hiking in nature has been my passion for a while now, and something I have been grateful for. Living in an area that permits me to escape into solitude on a regular basis. The last few weeks have changed those feelings as it became painful to walk. I struggled on of cause, never one to admit defeat easily or own up to a problem. Men go to the doctor less often than women anyway. As long as we’re working and feeling productive that seems to be enough. Two hernias in my groin was the diagnosis “but” why does there have to be a “but” when you don’t want one? There is also a suspicious area that was highlighted by the scan on the pancreas as well.

Grateful for social media?

Steve Jobs, Patrick Swayze and Michael Landon all come up on social media sites. Thanks google for calming me down and bringing everything into perspective. I had a diagnosis a few years ago of plural plaque on my lungs from exposure to asbestos fibers. This wasn’t the very serious mesothelioma, but it can turn into it at any time. This involves yearly check ups to monitor the situation. Every year it’s the same, I ask and answer the same questions. If it’s all right again this time I will be really grateful and never complain about trivial things again. It has made me more grateful, but with each passing each year I gain more confidence. This confidence seems to take away some of the gratitude I had in the early stages.

Pancreatic cancer the silent killer, by the time you discover or have the symptoms it’s to late. Web Doctor could be wrong this time. I had plenty of restless nights wondering how things would turn out. I convinced myself that if somehow I managed to last a bit longer, I would do one more hike somewhere peaceful and be really grateful to be able to do that. “But” I would be even more grateful if I only needed my hernias fixed up. Well I went to the doctor yesterday for the final results of a follow up scan. I’m a freak of nature apparently. Born with an unusual configuration of the pancreas, the unusual configuration mirrored a tumor but was in fact, normal. Of course I’m grateful really grateful this time and I have a really strong feeling that I will never forget, how grateful.

Grateful for being
Grateful I’ve seen the light

 

 

 

 

Work your way into Passion

These are the good old days.

Everything sucks some of the time, everything we do has a cost, spending time on one thing is an opportunity lost to another. The question becomes, what struggle or sacrifice are we willing to tolerate? What determines our passion to stick with something we care about? It has to be our ability to handle the bad patches and ride out the inevitable bad days. Great things are, by their nature, unique and unconventional, to achieve them, we must go against the herd mentality and do what scares us.

We can’t “think” are way into our life’s passion, we have to “do” our way in, take a mental note from Nike and  just do it. To find your passion you must see that your mission is bigger than yourself, it’s knowing that you were put on this earth for a reason, if you don’t know your why yet, it’s time to fight for it, “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how Friedrich Nietzsche” 

Follow your passion?

A lot of career and life advise is built around the platitude of  “follow your dreams” “follow your heart” but if we wait for our passion, we will always be waiting, it will be pure chance if it ever happens. We have to put strategies in place to enhance the possibility of finding our passion. Trying many things for the first time with curiosity and discovery. We may have to go down blind alleys, but that’s something we need to do. We have to allow ourselves to see things differently. Gratitude can help, realizing we already have far more than most people could ever dream of. Freedom, a safe environment, clean drinking water and many other things that we take for granted. From the perspective of most of the worlds population, we already have a head start in finding passion.

Follow opportunity.

Work your way into passion
Passion at work

The notion that we can just find a passion and follow it, is a very destructive idea, very few people have any idea what their passion is or how to fulfil it. Find your passion not only by “doing” but by working hard doing something which can then, become your passion. Never giving up on your dreams may keep you from finding your passion, because your looking in the wrong direction. We have become obsessed with the idea that the only way to find happiness is to follow your passion. Passion is about authenticity, it’s partly discovered and partly created. You cant expect to have a good working life until your actually good at something.

Authentic.

Inside each and everyone of us is at least, one authentic thing. Something we are born with, that is ours alone, that doesn’t need to be taught or learned, it only needs to be remembered. Think back on your life and try to remember the things that came naturally to you. It doesn’t matter how quirky they are, a clue could be lurking there. Take a look at your book collection, magazines and CD’s, these are the things your gravitating towards. Look at the things your already spending your time, money and energy on, are there recurring things happening?

In the mundane.

You can bring this touch into everything you do, no matter what the task, do it with as much enthusiasm and energy as you possibly can. Focusing on every task, washing the dishes, cleaning your teeth or the task at hand in your workplace. You may not need a complete overhaul, if you can’t change what your doing, you can always change how your doing it. We only have two choices, stop doing it, or change our mindset and try to enjoy it. Any other choice will only bring unhappiness.

Taking action on your passion often involves little or no cash outlay, it can be a hobby that fires you up, or a cause that you feel strongly about. It can be brought to the mundane, bringing motivation to an otherwise ordinary task. These definitions of passion seem plain ordinary, aren’t passions supposed to be artistic, or inspirational, aren’t they supposed to wow !!! everyone.

EQ Emotional intelligence

Watching your emotions and making decisions.

Emotional intelligence
Fear is just a thought

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize and understand your emotions, in yourself and others. It’s also your ability to use this to manage your behavior and relationships. We have to learn to observe our emotions as they are part of our decision making process. Trying to make rational decisions without being emotional is the best way, but rationality is determined by emotions, if your being rational, your emotions still play a part in the thought process. In fact it’s impossible to make decisions without emotions attached to them. Therefore it means being intelligent with those emotions.

Being emotional, has negative connotations in the decision making process. Emotions are seen as weak and childlike, making them counter intuitive in the decision making process. If we were able to compare two people who earn the same money and the same family background and are in fact identical in everyway, their emotional intelligence would decide their ultimate success. Emotional intelligence is being able to moderate yourself, control your impulses, regulate your mood and keep stress in place. These qualities often don’t arrive as part of a high IQ. They are in fact part of a higher emotional intelligence.

Knowing your emotions

Pinpoint your emotions and how they are effecting you. Try to see beyond your perceptions and identify the truth in your own situation. How you feel, not how other people expect you to feel. Also not how your manipulated into feeling, you have to monitor your feelings as they come. Ultimately, each of us are responsible for our emotions. There may be people who we can legitimately blame. But it’s still up to us to learn to manage and not suppress our emotions. As emotions generate everything we do in life, it’s important to identify them and talk about how we feel. Don’t get stuck in behavior loops and be unconscious to the part emotions play in your life. Extraverts or confidence people are no better at emotional intelligence than introverts, who can have high EQ as well, it’s not synonymous with either polarity.

Emotional intelligence is highly developable.

It’s one thing to know your emotions and label them, but it’s another to manage and discipline yourself to control them. To have the ability to read emotions in other people and to understand how they feel is empathy. It’s also the ability to manage your intimate relationships and how well you communicate with other people. Obviously we can be strong in some emotions and weak in others, the object, is to take 100% responsibility for all of our emotions.

Although the middle ground, would be a fantastic achievement for the majority of us. IQ is easier to learn than EQ, people with high IQ’s tend to live in their heads more. They find emotions harder to deal with, it’s hard to know where each of us fits into this framework. Possibly nowhere, because our emotions are constantly coming and going. The intelligence quotient test, measures short term memory, analytical thinking, mathematical ability and spatial recognition, but not your capacity to learn. The Emotional quotient test, measures an individuals ability to identify, evaluate, control and express emotions. IQ tests can’t measure your capacity to learn. Which means we all have the capacity to learn and to control our emotions.

Depression, anger and fear > Chartering a course to > Peace, acceptance and wholeness

Emotional intelligence
Positive thoughts help

Living in Wonder

Wonder is a feeling of amazement and admiration, caused by something beautiful, remarkable, or unfamiliar.

Wonder is sometimes said to be a childish emotion, one that we may grow out of. Unfortunately, as many of us grow older we stop wondering. Stop questioning and stop attempting to look at things in new or untraditional ways. We’re inclined to accept what others tell us and we must except, to be excepted ourselves. My hikes in nature have helped me realize how many things we believe, need to be examined, or viewed differently than the”one”way, or as the truth.

We needed to master our environment enough, to exceed the basic necessities of survival before we could make much use of this feeling. It’s a tricky emotion, it’s not easily triggered in a studied environment. It requires that you catch someone unexpectedly and surpass their ability to understand. Unlike anger, guilt and laughter that are far easier to understand and measure. Wonder is a passive emotion when we confront something vivid, large or beautiful, there is momentary contemplation. A perplexed curiosity that doesn’t lead to immediate physical action.

It’s not essential.

It’s not essential for survival, which could mean that the emotion didn’t evolve as a direct result of  a survival mechanism. Emerging with other softer emotions as needed. It tends to make us feel physically smaller when we are in awe of something. Cathedrals with high vaulted ceilings and vast stained glass windows. Intricately decorated surfaces all engage our senses in ways that are bewildering and transcendent.

But there is no greater feeling than being in the ultimate cathedral of “nature.” Staring up at a clear night sky looking at tiny specks of twinkling light. Distances from earth cannot be measured as we normally would, because the numbers are too large. The stars I’m looking at, don’t exist as they appear to my naked eye, all I’m seeing is an illusion. Now that’s wonder on a cosmic level, no real truth and mostly inspired guesswork.

Bucket lists.

Wonder has found a home in nature, there were the classic seven wonders of the world. The great pyramid of Giza, the hanging gardens of Babylon and the statue of Zeus at Olympia. As well as the temple of Artemis at Ephesus and the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. Finally the Colossus of Rhodes and The lighthouse of Alexandria. Apart from a new seven, there are the ten, the twenty and the wonder of wonders. What’s on your Bucket list? Adventure, travel, volunteerism, crazy fun, connecting with nature.? One thousand plus wonderful ideas to do before you die. I have no doubt that many of these ideas will evoke wonder in the people that visit them. Wonder often requires that you catch someone unexpectedly or surpass their ability to understand. When I hike through the forests around my home town, I often have to take the same trails over and over.

This seems to dampen my sense of wonder because of familiarity. The sunlight came through the trees in a certain way this morning reflecting onto a lone Kangaroo, that seemed to be enjoying the warmth of the early morning sun. Usually they hop quickly away before my track takes me too close. Only this time a combination of factors happened, a lack of concentration on the kangaroos part, or familiarity with my hikes. This allowed me to feel wonder, as I also realized that this moment may never happen again. It’s these unexpected experiences that create wonder, if we are constantly shown images that may evoke wonder, are we taking the wonder out of wonder ?

Living in wonder
The ultimate wonder

 

Hopium for the masses.

 


Most people understand hope as wishful thinking, as in I hope something will happen. The biblical definition of hope is confident expectation.                                

Hope
Hopium everywhere

         

We often say I hope it will rain today, I hope my car will start, I dream my children will grow up with good morals.  Has the confident expectation gone now.?  Since we can’t believe anyone anymore, what’s gone wrong, why are we feeling this way.?   What happened to a hand shake that signified trust in the completion of a promise.?   It was never perfect but the feeling was there that it could  be.  Are we hooked on hope instead of being eager for evidence.  Information is knowledge and knowledge is power to make decisions.  Helping to keep dreams under control.

Living.

 I want to have a fantastic time on my next hike, that’s my hope.  If I don’t use the knowledge I have, to plan and prepare myself physically.  Also evaluating all my equipment and making sure it compliments what I’m trying to achieve.  Then I will be living in a fantasy that everything will work out, by a magical force known as luck. It’s the belief that something is possible, and that is enough.  It’s not based on reliable data that results in trust, that the enterprise will work.  It can lead to despair as we become more confused in an ever changing world.   

Technology.                                                                                                                                           

I find myself hoping that I will be able to work things out.  Due to  moving from a product based, to a service based society.  Technology is moving us from a static to a liquid ever moving paradigm. While I feel like a perpetual “newbie” always trying to understand another add on.  Due to an already confusing technological market place.  I’m hoping that when I unpack my next item out of the box, installation will just happen and not expect input from me to solve any problems that may happen. Problems are not confined to technology, hope can quickly lead to failure in many areas.  While we are being encouraged to become solo entrepreneurs, many of us are finding the transition difficult to deal with.  Due to competition, businesses have never been easier to start, but failure rates are high.

Business.

Hope
Hopium in different places

 We’re not just hiking, we’re scrambling into business.  Be your authentic self, live the dream, follow your passion, that’s all you need to succeed.  I hope it works, I hope it makes money, with very little research and development, then hope is all we are often left with.  Grounding in essential business practice, as in anything else we attempt to do, takes away or lessens the need for hope.

Recognizing

Hope, is an emotion that isn’t found in our facial expressions.  Happiness, sadness, fear, anger, exhaustion, focus, surprise, shame and confusion, can all be readily identified.  It’s part of a smaller group of emotions that are often overlooked.  So they are harder to study, so they are not often written about.  If it could be seen more as confident expectation, we may be able to recognize that hope, while being a tremendously uplifting emotion, when needed in difficult moments.  Can be damaging if we just dream that things will be alright without the discipline and commitment.

Hard to find.

Hope is harder to find as a member of the grey community, being bombarded with change is very unsettling. Due to values and assumptions being constantly questioned.  We often look back to a past that was slower and less unpredictable.  Younger people growing up and individuals working and living in this state of constant change, are also looking to the future and finding it harder to find.  As the pace and financial constraints become tougher.  Hope is harder to find in a fast changing world but far from impossible, looking in different places through a different lense may help.