Monday, June 13, 2011

Going back, going forward

#Trust30 blogging challenge

Prompt 9: Afraid to Do
The other terror that scares us from self-trust is our consistency; a reverence for our past act or word, because the eyes of others have no other data for computing our orbit than our past acts, and we are loath to disappoint them. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Emerson says: “Always do what you are afraid to do.” What is ‘too scary’ to write about? Try doing it now. (Author: Mary Jaksch)

Going back, going forward
Carrying the past with us too much stops us from being able to grow and reinvent ourselves. Attachment to ego too often stops us from being able to say ‘look I was wrong, I feel differently now.” Once we state and opinion our ego catches hold of it and is loathe to back down or change its mind, lest we should have to explain our ‘inconstancy’ to others. The paradox is that all of life is an inconstancy. Everything changes, nothing is permanent. Why then should our minds, our ideas, our values be permanent in the sense that they are fixed, unable to change or develop? We often value what other people will think about us and our opinions more than we value what we think about our opinions, and lot of second-guessing ensues!

My scary thing to write about is that I’m afraid to go back into the dating scene, after six years out. I’m afraid I’m looking for something that doesn’t exist. I’m afraid I don’t know the places to look. I’m afraid to trust that people are basically good again. I’m afraid that people are not capable of returning the love I have to give. I’m afraid of my heart getting battered again. Eeeep!

I guess all of this would be irrelevant if I trusted myself.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Looking back, looking forward... with eyes wide open

#Trust30 blogging challenge

Prompt 8: There will be an agreement in whatever variety of actions, so they be each honest and natural in their hour. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
What would you say to the person you were five years ago? What will you say to the person you’ll be in five years?

Dear 25-year-old me,
Don't worry about getting it ‘right’, just live naturally. Don’t be afraid of going at your own pace and dancing to your own music, even if anyone else tells you that’s not ‘normal’. Who wants to be like anyone else? Be true to yourself. Don’t give up, don’t let other people’s unconsciousness and expectations bring you down. Collect nice people, and let the other ones go. Life goes fast when you are really living, but never worry about that, just smile and hold fast!

Always look to enjoy the process, not the goal! There is no end.

Dear 35-year-old me,
It’s amazing to see the vibe you give out to people. They feel like you are here for them 100%. They feel your love and they love you. The quality of your work is amazing. Beauty is in you and everywhere. I love how letting go of your anxiety has made every laugh your natural, free, deep belly laugh. Smile from the heart and it lights up the world. You are natural and in the flow wherever you direct your creativity and attention. Doubts can’t get you now. Education is love and passion! Don’t put me in a box because I’ll not go! And don’t go looking for a box, it’s only limiting. Spend your time with the highest-quality people you can find. Love doesn’t exist in one person, it exists in many, and if you can see it, in all. You are so lucky to have many amazing people in your life.

Always look to enjoy the process, not the goal!


Waiting for confidence

#Trust30 blogging challenge

Prompt 7: “Next to Resistance, rational thought is the artist or entrepreneurs worst enemy. Bad things happen when we employ rational thought, because rational thought comes from the ego. Instead, we want to work from the Self, that is, from instinct and intuition, from the unconscious.

A child has no trouble believing the unbelievable, nor does the genius or the madman. Its only you and I, with our big brains and our tiny hearts, who doubt and overthink and hesitate.” - Steven Pressfield, Do the Work

The idea of “being realistic” holds all of us back. From starting a business or quitting a job to dating someone who may not be our type or moving to a new place – getting “real” often means putting your dreams on hold.

Today, let’s take a step away from rational thought and dare to be bold. What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to accomplish but have been afraid to pursue? Write it down. Also write down the obstacles in your way of reaching your goal. Finally, write down a tangible plan to overcome each obstacle. The only thing left is to, you know, actually go make it happen. What are you waiting for?

Waiting for confidence
Rational thought seeks to justify, but our pure essence is best expressed before any thoughts of justification set in. It needs to just be. Not be because.

In this way we let the heart speak first, to be heard fully in all its unfettered creativity before the brain has a say, introduces doubt, fear or justification. Rational thought may have its place, but that place should be lead by the heart in a way that is expansive, creative and gives us energy, not the other way around. ‘Being realistic’ does not mean your dreams should not be allowed to be fully dreamt in the first place.

Something I’ve always wanted to have is a creative relationship with someone free-spirited and pure-hearted who both reflects and brings out the best in me - for whom I also do the same. But I’ve been afraid to pursue it for fear that this is unrealistic, that such a person does not exist and I will end up disappointed and disillusioned. How to pick yourself up again after a dream shatters?

The obstacles I have are my own doubt and not knowing how to find such a person.
My own doubt I can deal with by paying more attention to and seeking out evidence that truly amazing people really do exist. I guess finding them is all about being alert to opportunities and finding new circles to move in. I am waiting for confidence, I think it will come with time and patience (as much as that sounds like waiting!).


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Come alive: love with daring, determination and defiance!

#Trust30 blogging challenge

Prompt 6: Come alive
Life wastes itself while we are preparing to live. – Ralph Waldo Emerson.
If you had one week left to live, would you still be doing what you’re doing now? In what areas of your life are you preparing to live? Take them off your To Do list and add them to a To Stop list. Resolve to only do what makes you come alive.
Bonus: How can your goals improve the present and not keep you in a perpetual “always something better” spiral? (Author: Jonathan Mead)

If only had one week to live, I think I would want to spend as much time as possible with friends and family partying, smiling, appreciating and just being with them. I would dance until I dropped. I would love until I dropped. I would hug until I dropped. I would laugh until I dropped. And that would be all.

I think in my ordinary life I am 'preparing to live' by not doing the above things freely and without hesitation all the time. I’d like to do them without fear and with ease. They are not so much on my ‘to do’ list as on my ‘to do more of’ list. It will help improve the present if I do the above things with waiting to see if people will do it back, not reject me, understand my intentions, or if I ‘should’...

It requires me to love with daring, determination and defiance!

I think I will step up to the plate and remember that there is no ‘better’ in the future than seizing whatever opportunity I have in the moment to love this way now!


Coming home again and again

#Trust30 blogging challenge

Prompt 5: Travel
If we live truly, we shall see truly. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Not everyone wants to travel the world, but most people can identify at least one place in the world they’d like to visit before they die. Where is that place for you, and what will you do to make sure you get there?
(Author: Chris Guillebeau)

Coming home again and again
I'm going to take this question sideways... the place I would most like to see in the world? The Amazon. The ‘lungs of the earth’ and all the biodiversity that goes with it would be an incredible to see. I can think of no better homage to nature than to see it in person.

However, in thinking about this question I realized that I was not desperate to see it before I die (as I once was when I was younger). I feel I grown to a point in my life where life is less about being driven to goals for the future, and more about living now.

I feel that if I died tomorrow that I could die happy knowing that I had lived a good life and done all the important things. So the place I would most like to travel to before I die is not actually a place, but more a state. A state centered in myself - where the knowledge pervades that what really matters in life is harnessing the power of our love for positive thought and action. I like to think of this as travelling home, to my real home, which has no geographical location.

The ‘achievements’ in life that I’m most proud of are the moments of kindness I have shown towards others, it seems to me that everything else is fairly irrelevant in the long run. I know I did these things when I was close to being at home with myself, in its fullest expression. I think this is living truly, and truly living!

I will try to keep travelling back to this state by reminding myself what is important and trying to drop anything that is not... with the hope of taking up permanent residency there some day.


Thursday, June 09, 2011

How being average can help both winners and the losers

#Trust30 blog challenge

Prompt 3: One Strong Belief by Buster Benson
It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. - Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

The world is powered by passionate people, powerful ideas, and fearless action. What’s one strong belief you possess that isn’t shared by your closest friends or family? What inspires this belief, and what have you done to actively live it?
(Author: Buster Benson)

My one strong belief:

I believe we need to foster, encourage and reward collaboration and sharing, not only competition, in our schools.

This is an idea in one of Ajahn Brahm’s podcasts,that I share. Ajahn Brahm has suggested one way to implement this would be to change the grading structures for students so that part of their mark is based on their individual effort – as per usual... but part of their mark is also based on an average of the class’s performance. This would encourage the top-performing students to think about what they can do to improve the learning and performance of others in the class, and give them an incentive to help others, merely than just competing with them.

In my own experience, my school years very much taught me to be competitive in all areas of life. And I was good at it. I was always doing whatever I could to seek out tactics and opportunities that would work to my own advantage. Today, with the benefit of quite a few years between me and my school days to give me hindsight, I see this model did not do much to teach me how to share or how to be of service to others – two things that probably would have done more to secure my future happiness (and the happiness of others) than coming first in the class for the sake of an impressive number on a bit of paper. A purely competitive model breeds feelings of separation between people. It sets some people up to win, while the others become the ‘losers’. It can lead to arrogance for the winners, who are left feeling they are ‘better’ people than the rest. Giving students cause to consider each other’s circumstance could help build empathy and strengthen interpersonal skills and problem-solving. Having a whole class focused on and invested in how to improve the learning for the bottom-achievers might lead to some innovative ideas and social support systems for the students who need them most.

Further to Ajahm Brahm’s suggestion, I would like to see models of a similar concept rolled out into other areas of society. Imagine the difference it would make if workplace performance reviews also marked your team collectively on how you worked together, on creating a positive and enabling environment between yourselves? Quite different from the competitive atmosphere that exists in many places, where performance is all about trying outdo your workmates, undermining their work or hoarding organizational information to foster your own advantage.

Imgaine the business power and accomplishments that could be driven by a group of motivated people working together, rather than separately towards their individuals goals, isolated from their ‘competitors’ in the office?

In the modern world, competition seeps into every aspect of our lives, as our default way of being. We compete with our neighbours (keeping up with the Joneses), and we compete to have more talented children. We even compete with our partners, trying to find ways to be better than them, smarter than them, more right than them. We’re so well trained in how outdo each other that we find it difficult to create truly joint solutions to our problems. In fact, we have a hard time even defining them as ‘our’ problems, so separate in our minds do we make ourselves when we are in competitive mode. We tend see problems as their problem –which they solely caused - completely detached from ourselves. The overemphasis on competition has hampered our ability to create and sustain real partnerships. Partnerships have no room for a winner and a loser. We cannot flourish together in a win/lose model. Imagine if more married couples acted as though points were awarded every time they did something that helped create a collaborative team environment in the relationship. Unfortunately, many people act as if points were handed out for every time they triumphed in being right, while their spouse was wrong.

We need to redress the overemphasis on competition so that people can connect to other people better and create real partnerships, and a real sense of community. And we need to start young, lest we keep setting up the next generation of ‘winners and the losers’ to live unhappy lives of disconnectedness from the people in their lives.

I've started enacting my belief by my challenging myself to work more collaboratively with my work mates and examining any area of my life where sharing makes me uncomfortable. I would love to hear what other people think of the above ideas?!


Wednesday, June 08, 2011

All You Need (to do) Is Love.

I am taking part in the #Trust30 blogging challenge this month! Catching up on the prompts now..

Prompt 1: We are afraid of truth, afraid of fortune, afraid of death, and afraid of each other. Our age yields no great and perfect persons. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
You just discovered you have fifteen minutes to live.
1. Set a timer for fifteen minutes. 2. Write the story that has to be written.

Here goes...
Fifteen minutes to live. Would I be forced into the present –knowing there is no future to plan for, build, work towards? Or would I be forced (in a panic) into the future, into only focusing on the coming death and how to avoid it, and thereby miss being able to use my 15 minutes constructively and live them fully?

For the sake of the argument, let’s assume the first is true. That I have 15 minutes left to live before I die, and I know there’s nothing I can do about it.

I believe I’d spend this time loving the people in my immediate company. Sure, thoughts would enter my head that I should contact my family and loved ones, and tell them I love them dearly and thank them for every kindness and act of love they have shown me. But, I make a habit of telling them this any way… so they already know that. So I would love the people immediately around me. I would do what I could to make a positive impact on someone else’s life in that 15 minutes, or to reduce their suffering. If they will also die in 15 minutes, then I would tell them ‘it’s going to be alright’ and I would mean it with my whole being. I would try to ensure that no one felt alone in the face of death, just as no one should feel alone in the face of life. How I would do this, I don’t know, but I imagine the inspiration would come to me in the moment.

And I’d like to spend the last few moments of my life wrapping someone in a warm, heartfelt hug.

The story that needs to be told

Looking at this question another way – what story would need to be told?
Love is all that matters. Everything we do in our lives either contributes to the negativity of the world or to its positivity. We are born to be loving, creative and free. At their best, our thoughts and actions become the highest expression of the positive inborn energy that gives us life. Life energy is all around us and we are all connected in this to each other. We need to drop our perception that we are all separate from each other, from nature and ultimately, from life. The fear we have of truth, fortune, death and other people stems from our belief that we are separate from these things. Is not living in fear of death a denial of life itself- as death is naturally part of life?

We are here to live the human experience. All of it. And the most powerful energy we can infuse our lives with is love. And when we die, leaving this world and all our possessions and achievements behind, I believe we will look back on our lives and see that it was only our actions carried out with love that mattered.