Seizing Pleasure

Why not seize the pleasure at once? How often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparation! – Jane Austen

 

This was writtenby Jane Austen, which I think is worth noting. This is someone who wrote many excellent books, considered chick lit in their time, the early1800s, but which are regarded as classics now, such as Pride and Prejudice. If you read the books, rather than watch the fine BBC adaptations, you will see they are full of wisdom, philosophy and observations about human nature. Jane was clearly extremely bright and observant. We studied Pride and Prejudice for O level at school. At first I found it heavy going as a 14 year old however once it was explained to me, and as it unfolded and I got used to the old English, I was drawn in by the unfolding plot and tension between the characters. I haven’t yet read it again, cover to cover because when I started it a few years ago, I found it so fascinating and intense that I kept being inspired to write in my jornal, much as these quotes inspire me, and I wouldn’t have time to go back to read much more.

 

Anyway I digress. Notice that the second sentence is a statement, not a question and the word foolish is repeated. She is telling us that it is foolish to prepare, be perfectionists and believe we have to do something properly, having gathered all the supplies, done the research etc. I agree; it is foolish. When I used to paint with the kids, they would do no preparation whatsoever and just enjoy painting. I would spend the time it took for them to do a whole painting – all of 5 to 10 minutes, looking through books to get inspiration for mine. Next they would scoot off, bored and I would clear up. I soon learned that craft with the kids meant supervising, not attempting to do any myself. However if I too just got started, I might have actually painted something. The kids were not inhibited by any need to do something well. They were doing it for fun. At what age they stopped living in the moment, in order to seize the pleasure, I don’t know.

 

It is the same with gifts. My son will open a gift and start to use it there and then. He does not need to allow himself the time to play or to save it for later, or make sure the conditions are just right. It is exciting and he goes for it. My gifts can remain untouched for weeks, no matter how much I want to use them.

 

With one of these posts this week, I decided to mull over the quote a little first and write brief points on what I wanted to include before I started. I then lost the flow somewhat and took a lot longer to write, as I kept referring to my notes. I have gone back to just writing off the top of my head. No preparation here, foolish or otherwise. And I am enjoying the free flow, seeing what emerges from this stuffed head of mine. I don’t need to write the best essay on a subject. I need to enjoy myself.

 

Some days like today I seized the pleasure at once after breakfast, doing a jigsaw, crosswords and going out for coffee. It did bring me happiness but I had slight unease about having a day of ‘sloth’ so I punctuated my fun with results driven activities. I went for a run, did a little study and am now practising my free flow writing. Other days I start with ‘work’ – gardening or cleaning or filing. On those days I find it very hard to stop and punctuate my work with pleasure. Every time I walk to the sofa to sit down with a magazine as ‘reward’ for all my hard work, I see something else that absolutely needs fixing at that moment – a mark on the floor, some items to put away etc. And often by the time I get to that magazine, it is really late and I fall fast asleep.

 

It is foolish to procrastinate instead of seizing the pleasure, especially when you are really in the mood for something. It also works the other way. When I had assignments I was uninspired by at University, I would insist that the room had to be tidy or I couldn’t possibly work. Was that true? Or was the preparation procrastinating? If I was gripped with an idea for an assignment, I could write it any old place, tidy room or not.

 

So Jane’s statement for me could equally be Why not seize the work at once? How often is satisfaction destroyed by preparation? To just dive into work or play when you are in the mood is ideal. It will flow, you will enjoy whatever it is and time soon passes.

 

At times there is no preparation. I want to do the activity. I have allowed or accepted that it must/can be bdone. There is no preparation. So often we don’t let ourselves do that activity that makes us happy because we feel guilty. We then suddenly find other things to do, even if we want to have fun. I call it Circling our prey. I do this in shops also when I spot the exact thing I have been looking for. I circle it instead of going directly to it. And I have learned that it is common as women to feel guilty seizing the pleasure. And especially female Scanners. We imagine we need more time to make it worth while or find excuses not to start. But I have learned to set my pleasure as a to do item, like work; that it is important to have fun also. And it takes surpsingly little time to sieze the pleasure, as long as I allow myself to be bad at what I am doing and just get on with it. I only need 3 to 5 minutes to practise my terrible juggling, 10 minutes on the piano and an hour to paint or write. None of these are done with any preparation or skill. No one is judging my efforts. And I am happy, not only while doing the fun stuff, but for having done them, for remembering to value myself and my time and happiness.

 

So back to Jane’s question. Why not seize the pleasure at once? Ask yourself why you may not be. Try taking 5 minutes to seize the pleasure. Set a timer for 5 minutes if you have to and break down your resistance to even starting. Relieve the pressure of having to be good to get pleasure. That 5 minutes is not going to affect anyone else’s day but your own, and for the better.

 

The best parties and conversations are impromptu ones. No preparation, cleaning, menu decisions. Ditto with phone conversations when you just find you are on the same wavelength with someone at that point in time and you both have so much to share. Yet if you plan to call someone at a certain time, you have no such guarantees and it often at least starts a little politely if not continues that way. So will dinner parties. Who knows what energy each participant will bring at the allotted time?

 

So I think the wisdom in this from Jane is to just allow yourself the pleasure, especially if you are in the mood for it. Preparation will distract you from the flow and stilt your creativity and enthusiasm during the activity. Perfectionism will surely kill any happiness also and make you less likely to try again. If you are aware of yourself you will realise when is the right time to drop everything and seize the pleasure at once. No preparation necessary.

 

Apparently women tend to do too much research for a project and men do too little. We may get the best outcome but will have wasted a disproportionate amount of time on it. Maybe this advice was aimed at women. There can perhaps be a happy medium if an outcome is required, however I think she is talking about the pure pleasure, no outcome required activities; whatever appeals in that moment. You are being yourself in that moment, following your heart. And those moments can be rare. Don’t allow the mind to prepare. Put your heart not your head in charge of your happiness.

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Best Place

My philosophy is that not only are you responsible for your life, but doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment – Oprah Winfrey

There are two messages right here and one leads to the other. Oprah’s second statement (which says that by doing your best now, you are more likely to achieve better outcomes in the future) shows that you have this ‘power’ to affect your life, to be responsible for what happens in it in the next moment/future. This is by doing the best you can now in this moment.

It seems obvious that we are responsible for our lives and yet there are many victims out there who have given their power away. They are reactive not proactive as Stephen Covey would say. They react to events – this person insulted me, that person fired me, my parents gave me low self esteem, she made me happy, that puppy made me laugh etc etc. This implies that all those others just mentioned created our lives and we are at the mercy therefore of everything that happens and everyone that speaks to us until we can break that bond, become an observer and step outside ourselves for a while. That person may have fired you because you stole. That person made you happy because you accepted what said or happened to like what they did. That puppy made you laugh because of the experiences and beliefs you have accumulated in life that found what the puppy did was unexpected and therefore funny. We might like to examine and guard carefully this pathway to responsibility and rethink the filter on our lives and what we think about and accept as true or likely, with our mindless stream of thought. You are responsible for your life, even if it caused you to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and get mugged. This is quite contentious because no one wants to feel they have navigated life so badly that they have been injured. Bad stuff does happen to all of us in different measure, depending on how we judge it. The responsibility is more that we are responsible for how we interpret our life’s events and the choices we make from then one. Why does a piece of ‘bad’ news floor one person and barely touch the feelings of another?

So going back to Oprahs’ second statement which says that doing the best you can prepares you for the best outcome in the future. Seems clear and obvious. An example off the top of my head is that if you clean up that little spill you just made on the kitchen floor, your child is less likely to slip. Not rocket science there. If we go for that run today we will release endorphins and feel good for the rest of the day or at least feel ‘good’ if that is the judgement we place on that action. My mother would say ‘always look your best; you never know who you might meet’. Her belief was that by putting on make up, it put us in the ‘best’ place to attract any possible Prince Charming we may encounter through our day. But this is where you can examine this seemingly obvious statement. There is the inherent belief here that this ‘Prince Charming’ would be more impressed by me with make up than me without it on. Alternatively if I happen to value make up and feel better in it than without it, my attitude might change, I may smile more and that would be more likely to attract Prince Charming. Can you see the assumptions, beliefs and endless variables here? This is where we have the ‘power’ and responsibility. Responsibility for what is in our heads; our attitude to life, our tolerance for things and acceptance and openness to what goes on.

I love to look for patterns and now age 46 I hear the conversations of my teenagers with their friends. These are conversations I have had hundreds of in the past, and not just as a teenager; conversations you take for granted. You may not even realise that these conversations you are having are unnecessary, that really you are not that bothered but you are enjoying the challenge of the analysing and the drama of it all. This is when we are trapped in our mindstream. This is when we could step out and go – Yes, Shit happens, move on, now what are we DOING today, other than sitting around talking about what he said? The analysing may not help. No conclusions or magic answers may come of it. Some ideas for harmful action may come of it. We are negotiating our beliefs with these conversations. If he does this and I do this, then he will do that. But it is impossible to predict. I don’t even know how I am going to react in certain situations, let alone how someone else will. It can depend on our mood on that day.

Have you ever seen your mood change in the blink of an eye? I once stood overlooking Sydney harbour, watching the sun sparkle off the water and the ferries go by and I was overcome with joy. Joy that I had made the decision and carried through with emigrating to Australia; joy that I could come and see this sight any time I wanted – a feeling of power over my future. It was just a thought and a lovely feeling. Of course, anything could happen and I could move away and not end up enjoying the sights of Sydney or I could be ill and only see a hospital bed, but in that moment a thought which I instantly took to be the absolute truth sunk in and changed me physically. My heart literally ached in my chest. Sometimes my mood changes when I arrive at a holiday spot or at someone’s for lunch and it looks so beautiful and stimulating that I instantly predict that I am going to have a great time in the next 2 hours for lunch, or two weeks on holiday and experience all that future happiness at once. This assumption caused me to be suddenly filled with happiness. Again I feel it in my chest. Even if the meal is awful and the holiday is rained out, I am glad to have had that reaction, that joy, for however long it lasted. I am alive, I am human, I am a sensing being.

Unfortunately this can also go the other way if we are not the gatekeepers of our thoughts. I might suddenly jump to a conclusion that my life is rubbish, I talk too much, I will always irritate people and will never be truly happy. And that is how we get depression. We listened to that nonsense and take it to be true. Stop listening, say out loud ‘that’s rubbish!’ Don’t pollute your head with that. Everything passes and life is cyclical.

Anyway I digress. Back to doing the best in this moment in order to put us in the best place for the next moment. It is a lot of pressure thinking that if I am too lazy to get out of bed at this minute my next minute will not be so good. My next minute could involve more sleep, relaxation and warmth. Nice. Or my next minute could involve running out in the cold keeping myself going with the thought that I am doing my body good and might even lose weight. It’s all about how you judge the ‘best’ place in the next moment, or the ‘best’ action in this moment. I absolutely agree that by striving to do our ‘best’ we will like what comes out of it. We have judged this or that action to be better (clear up spill or don’t) and we have judged the next moment to be best (child falls versus child doesn’t fall) but it is just as well to be aware of these judgements themselves. What is best? Examine your beliefs. Was it best for me to put on make up? It could have been carcinogenic and now I have applied it every day just in case.

This thinking makes perfect sense if you are trapped in your mindstream judging every event compared to the next one. But sometimes it is good to let go and step out of that and enjoy what you are doing at this moment, not always setting yourself up for the next moment. It’s not a race. Who is judging the outcomes anyway? We only have this moment, ever! If I enjoy my run at the time for the view, the greetings and smiles from other walkers, and the fresh air instead of just thinking I have put something away for the future (weight loss perhaps) then life becomes a whole lot more enjoyable. Having said that, I am allowing myself to believe that it is doing my best to write each morning to put myself in the best place for becoming a writer someday in the future. I am only human! Take the beliefs that suit you and which make you happy, and stick with them as long as they serve you. 

Inferior Permission 27/9/12

No one can make you feel inferior without your permission – Eleanor Roosevelt

This is a saying that I like to quote. I first saw it on the wall of a hotel in the Blue Mountains and it had a lovely photograph with it and was in a large frame. I stood and looked at it a while because I wasn’t quite sure of what it meant but I soon got it and have seen this message in many forms because it makes so much sense yet the victims of this world do not get it. Actually I think we are born ‘not getting it’. There is an action and reaction we learn. You do this, and that happens. You do it again and it happens again. It becomes reinforced. Sometimes you do something and something different happens. Whoa! Wasn’t expecting that! Maybe I need to rethink my beliefs on that one. Our minds tend to the certain, in order to process and make sense of all the information coming to us, so it is easier to cling to our beliefs that there will always be the same outcome, or very likely to be so. And this is a belief that has stuck around in human beings. If someone insults me, I am wounded and feel inferior! Wrong! I first came across paradigms 17 years ago in the Stephen Covey book ‘- Seven habits of hugely successful people’ with his story of rowdy kids on a train. The other passengers were annoyed that the father did not contain his clearly out of control kids and they judged him thus. However when one spoke up, the father explained that their mother had just died and they were all going home from the hospital, the father in his thoughts and grief and the kids acting out theirs as they did not know how to respond. Instant paradigm shift.

This is another version of course of ‘It’s not what happens to you, it’s what you think happens to you” – an old favourite and one I repeat to myself regularly.

I am certainly not immune to being wounded by the actions of others. However if I am ‘aware of awareness’ as Eckhart Tolle puts it, I can see the event or insult for what it is and lessen my immediate reaction.

Recently there was a lovely fable of a similar belief on a blog that I subscribe to where I am almost the only external follower of an ex naval man in India Neil Gadihoke. The fable describes this idea that we have choice in allowing negative feelings into our lives and gives a great explanation of how to do it. When life throws things at us which we may find disturbing, be a lake! Yes, I know, Odd out of context. What he means is if imagine those events are salt and you are a glass of water – the salt will change you considerably. However if you are a lake, that salt will affect you only infinitesimally. If you are a ‘greater, more aware, enlightened person you will see life’s events for what they are – just a blip in the grand scheme of things. Now I tell my kids to ‘Be the Lake’ instead of ‘Go to the Moon’ which used to drive them crazy. Basically imagine you are sitting on the moon and looking down at the event which caused your pulse to race and your body to go into fight or flight mode. See yourself as this tiny person among a huge expanse with billions of other tiny people, all rushing around like crazy and having experiences of their own. Your event is small and one of so many. You could also speed up time from up there (If you can sit on the moon you can do anything here) and see yourself and your life with its own millions of events. Again, the one that upset you hardly registers. It is forgotten in the blink of an eye so why let it ruin your day today?

Another way to think of this feeling inferior is to examine the word ‘no one’. Who that one is makes such a huge difference to how we take the words that made us feel inferior. The same words coming from a small child, parent or respected mentor will be received quite differently!! We give more weight to those we feel inferior to in the first place. Now I am going to look at the word inferior. I only seem to do this exercise when I am writing these blogs but it is fun, especially as I have this weird deep memory for words. Interior – In fer or infer. Fer I believe French for hell or I think of ferrous meaning the metal lead in chemistry. We may feel like lead if we are insulted however I don’t think that’s the point here! Infer – in hell? Maybe if you really are that insulted. Infer – to infer something is to read between the lines of an event and make your own conclusion. That is brilliant! How apt in this instance. Eleanor Roosevelt I only learned a little about recently. Franklin D Roosevelt’s wife, was super smart and aware and in a great position to use it. I believe she only came into her own later in life, but I am not sure. Maybe I am wishing it to be so because I am 46!

Anyway I digress – so inferior and infer are so similar! I had not noticed that before. I would think the meaning of inferior is being less than we were before that ‘one’ did something. It may or may not have even been directed at us. Some people can take offence at anything, I have discovered and you have to really watch what you say and do around them. That is the main point of this quote. I would describe those people at the far end of the continuum of being easily offended as not only being tiny glasses of water but as being filled instead with a chemical (my chemistry does not stretch that far any more, sorry) which turns BLUE when you add salt! Maybe I am mixing experiments but I believe there are two chemicals when mixed together turn blue because one of the chemicals that make up one solution react with one of the chemicals in the dry compound to form a new solvent compound which is blue. Magic! Don’t you love those commercial chemistry sets they give kids. Do they still have those? I loved doing little chemistry experiments at home as they were guaranteed to have interesting results.

Again I digress!! The main point of this saying is that if you are the kind of person who gives your consent – con means with sent, sen – related to senior, senile, old? I have no idea here – because give is a voluntary act, you have the power NOT to give that consent. We may think that’s impossible the cause and effect is in place however we have built that cause and effect. Someone tells me I am ugly, I am wounded right. They SHOULD NOT say that! I am indignant. Wrong. How about you say – now why would they say such a thing? I am not ugly, I am a lake and I am beautiful. I may be complex and full of creatures and patches of warmth at the top where the sun has shone on me and beset with weeds in places where I have allowed them to grow but it is not my belief that I am ugly. I am reminded of another quote that ‘All criticism is self-criticism” – in which case this person thinks that they are ugly! How sad. Is it the worst insult they can come up with? Is it dreadful for them to be considered ugly? Have they been told that and allowed themselves to be wounded by it? Do I care that I may be ugly? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder anyway and I am considered hideous to the tribes in PNG yet beautiful to my loved ones. We do not need such a complicated filter for everything we hear. As I said, the brain has probably instead narrowed it down instead to ‘they are insulting me’ therefore I must be less of a person because I have either caused them to feel this way in order to insult me. Don’t forget those same words; said in a different tone of voice (and a tone that we give meaning to because of our cultural values probably) will be a sign of affection. It may even be sarcastic because you are looking particularly beautiful in your eyes that day. Here’s the thing ‘in your eyes’ and that is Eleanor’s point. Change your eyes. Another great quote is something about not needing to change our lives and our world in order to be happy but to change our eyes. I think it was some Frenchman – Henry David Thoreau or someone, though I don’t know why that name came to mind. No doubt I can Google this saying later and hopefully find it. It’s a goody.

In order to hurry this essay up, I will try to keep it short . Eleanor is saying that our feelings are our own. We have some say over them. We can allow events to make us respond in different ways to what we think is given. Nothing is given. What peace we would feel if we could be the observer of events, filter very carefully against what people may ‘try to make us feel’? They may not be trying to make us feel anything in the first place. The person who seems to ignore you but actually either did not hear or see you in the first place is innocent. Your insecurities and beliefs about yourself made you take offence and it was nothing!

Many times I have replayed conversations in my mind that upset me. I may have worried that I said the wrong thing, offended someone, that they were passively aggressively insulting me, now that I think about it, that what a boy said meant he loved me/hated me/was about to break up with e! Girls and women love to analyse at length the meaning in everything, hoping to turn around their understanding to a prediction of what will happen next with the boy. And of course he is oblivious and meant nothing at all. Why would we do that unless we realised that there were different ways of looking at the same events? Everything is open to interpretation I think our lives will be a lot calmer and more enjoyable if we interpret everything as fantastic, great news or interesting. Like seeing the silver lining, or looking for the open door when the window has closed. I never realised how many sayings there are on this subject. They hang around because they simply reiterate what seems obvious but can be so easily forgotten in times of stress and disappointment.

To sum up, only because I am now short of time I believe Eleanor is saying in a succinct and super clever form (using the word inferior) that those no ones can’t make us do anything or feel anything. They do not have that power. Take back your power over your feelings, giving consent is a voluntarily action if you would only but realise it. If you do find your body reacting to something and finding you are upset, that is the perfect time, if you can take yourself out of your mindstream to analyse why you are responding this way. By breaking it down you may realised how much you have inferred by the event, what weight you have given to the person ann event and why it pushed your buttons. ‘People can only push your buttons if you have buttons to push’. That’s why people who are very like in many ways love and hate each other. Misers will find other misers unbearable because they see their own ‘failings’ or what they judge to be failings in themselves. We are continually judging personality traits. Actually to simplify even more, if we stop judging anything we can’t be made to feel inferior. I will have to ponder on that some more….

Spending Time 26/9/12

This is a very simple statement chosen by a different colleague at work for me to write about. Simple is usually good and I wonder what on earth I can write about for 40 minutes on this subject. I guess we take for granted what we do every day. We wake up, hopefully, arise, put on clothes, eat, maybe travel in order to begin some form of activity, usually in order to make money. We finish our work and go home. We eat during our waking ours. We spend time with our loved ones or friends or roomates or alone. We amuse ourselves at home or while out. We may work on chores at home. The weekend is a repeat of what we do at home – A mixture of recreation, work, eating, breathing and of course sleeping. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

 

Now it’s easy to forget that we are shaped first by society. In different cultures there may be a different pattern. A tribe in Papua New Guinea may recognise almost none of this. No commuting there. Maybe no watching TV,or using a computer etc etc. Our job will define the activity for money part and may also affect the routine substantially – what time we wake up, which part of the day is spend making money if any. We may do a three week stint on an oil rig without sleep and then have two weeks off. But the activity to attain money and/or food remains.

 

So let’s look at the variables. We all have to eat but what we eat differs unbelievably between countries, cultures and poverty levels. Much as we are all born the same – a bunch of preprogrammed DNA designed to grow, fuel itself with oxygen, food and water in order to survive, a brain which is becoming hardwired into certain patterns or grooves as we develop and a time limit – a certain death some day. That is nature. Then there is nurture which affects our hardwiring considerably. How you are touched, loved, fed and what beliefs you are exposed to. Our experiences shape us enormously as we form our beliefs and subsconsciously look for information to support those beliefs. It could be something as simple as ‘all lawyers are crooks’ or ‘all blondes are stupid’. The ego tends to cling to those beliefs and it is hard for another to convince us otherwise as our experience has confirmed these beliefs and most people will cling to being right. Of course there is no wrong or right and very few correct beliefs. They are just beliefs, which if we were continually open minded and saw the randomness of them, we would surely change daily.

 

However it is easier for the brain, bombarded with 4 billion bits of information per second, if I am reliably informed, which needs to find a way to categorise the information so that it can process it. According to ‘What the Bleep do we know?’, that mysterious part of the brain that we no do not use (don’t you love the concept? Of the unused part? It holds promise that one day we may be that much more talented, clever, perceptive to accomplish anything we could possibly want?) which seems to range from 90 to 93% of it, might be subconsciously taking in those 4 billion bits of information. Who knows, we could be seeing ghosts and spirits around us at all times or auras or words floating around or light rays in slow motion bouncing off in every direction? We could be sensing things we have to possible concept of now as they don’t yet exist in our knowledge.)

 

Anyway I digress. I have completely forgotten where I was even going. I haven’t even touched on the original short answer to this quote. Ah yes, how you spend your time defines who you are.

 

I guess my point was that as humans we have those things we must all do. Maintain the body. Apart from the breathing and actual sleeping, everything else can be done differently. How culture and society defines that (which foods, beds etc) does not define us. We are simply programmed in a sea of culture to do it that way.

 

Nobody really wants to be defined but the next thing we can examine is what we are currently doing for work as this takes up a good portion of our time usually. I like to remember that if I work 8 hours a day and sleep 8 hours a day, I still have 8 hours a day left free. Instead of I am working today, I am free today and I will spend some of it doing a particular activity that bringsin money to fuel myself! Monday to friday is not filled with work – it’s only something I do as part of that day. I really try to make th most of the time I am not there and imagine that it is completely separate. When I go for my walk in the morning I imagine that I am rich or retired and I can do whatever else I want with my day but that this walk may be a highlight; I am doing it because I really want to. Enjoy it now. This moment need not be tainted of going to walk later in the day. I try to take myself off autopilot as much as I possibly can. It’s not a walk in order to be fit or thin that I sneak in before work. It’s simply a walk along the beautiful waterfront that uplifts me and assails me with smells of the flowers and the ocean and the smiles and Good mornings! from passers by. It is its own separate little part of my day.

 

Again I digress! How hard is it to keep on a simple topic? So, I get asked What do I do? by strangers. A common and reasonable question which I feel the need to answer honestly as with all things, so that this person can define who I am. I work in customer service. How I would interpret that answer or profession and how they might are totally different!! I see it as being someone who likes very much to help people, loves talking to strangers in order to give service but who is at the bottom of the ladder in terms of income and career, in an entry level position. I have judged myself and though I love my job for a variety of reasons, I am uncomfortable defining myself thus. So do I say instead ‘I am a writer?’ and put that definition at the mercy of their beliefs. They may think writers are anything! People who only record life’s events rather than doing them, people with imagination spending hours inbsolitary confinement. Poor, struggling creatives? Silly to think about this perhaps. Who cares what is in their minds? It can’t affect us unless we give it the power to. What’s the worst that could happen? That person doesn’t want to speak to you? They treat you in a different way because of their perception of your intelligence level? And in turn we ask them. “Oh I am the CEO of a major financial corporation, with 50,000 employees.” Do we respond in our heads thus Prat! Or “Ooh how impressive, they won’t be interested in what I have to say then! I feel all intimidated”?

 

I actually think this quote refers to how you spend your free time. What you do when you can do exactly what you want. How many people let themselves do exactly what they want anyway? I do, for one! Actually we maybe all do, even if we don’t realise it. We have engineered our lives thus far. We may think we want to go off, abandon our family and explore the world etc etc, but we are afraid and sometimes hugely limited by the perceived opinion of others and therefore have exactly no chance of ever doing what we think we really want. We don’t want to be labelled as selfish. We may feel guilty – another useless emotion – serves no one. We may be afraid or failure or success etc etc and this not doing what we want and having a good excuse for it keeps us safe.

 

I like this question by Barbara Sher – What did you do when you were too young to be useful? In some cultures you are never too young to be useful of course but how about for you? I played endlessly with my baby doll. I wrote poems and fantastical stories about dolls and magic and lovely things and other worlds. I drew pictures to accommodate my writing and made the things I wanted but could not afford, out of anything I could find. I looked in the mirror wanting to be pretty and have waist length hair. I did the splits an back bends in my bedroom wanting to be Nadio Comaneci. I painted. I played hospitals with my dolls and teddies under the piano with shoe boxes. I gathered shoes from around the house and played shoe shops, enjoying finding the shoe that fit exactly. There are probably a million more activities, as we are programmed to learn by copying, that do not remain in my memory – well not at the surface anyway – some of those only came back to me on thinking about this question – it maybe used up some tiny fraction of my missing 93% having to think back that deeply!

 

And how do I spend my free time now? Obviously I have taken up writing again and for now have found a way to make myself do it every day. Low risk, no one may ever read these, one creative blast a day or letting out my ‘stored information’. Actually there is another great Oprah Winfrey belief that comes to mind. Everyone wants to be heard. So I am hearing myself here by letting my mind wander and typing it out.

 

I am a scattered person who gets obsessed regularly by a myriad of things – losing weight, getting my house ready for the house swap, learning a new language, playing the piano, working on a piainting, dancing. I can happily spend 12 hours on one thing. Which is why I feel overwhelmed by all my unfinished projects. Like this writing I go into detail and hyperfocus with whatever it is I am obsessed about at the time and I know my day will be just gone. 8 hours of gardening even (pulling weeds, if you can call that gardening). So I guess that is another way of deifining ourselves. How much time we spend at that activity. How many activities we have undertaken in our lives – I have hundreds of courses, trips, certificates etc. So I have spent my time doing stuff, achieving stuff nearly my whole life. This statement is not a static one. How can we really define ourselves when we are so unique and a myriad of different experiences and abilities? People now change careers regularly. Are we defining ourselves at one point in time – Ah yes I am a marine biologist with 35 years experience in this field and in my spare time I am a drummer in a rock band – don’t we instantly ‘judge’ and build a picture of who this person is? (If they exist). Why define at all? Where did this word come from? It is similar to definite, finite, fine etc. People are not definite. Everything is in a state of change. Fine is just a a coincidence surely. Finite – nothing is finite. By the law of physics all energy cannot be destroyed. It simply changes. The energy stored within food becomes heat and water on our breath, which are lost to the atmosphere which keeps the earth warm and temperate in order to grow more food. That’s a weird example off the top of my head. Some of that food energy may go into sound or action or building etc etc. Who we are is not finite – our energy is not finite anyway.

 

The point is that I don’t think I like being defined. I am what I am and hopefully I have some inkling of that. Finding a definition for people is only a way to make sense of all the information we are bombarded with. A quick summary in order to shape how we interact with this person.

 

But let me ask you this – How are you currently spending your time? What have you spent your time doing in the past? With what speed and intensity? With what results? What can you possibly conceive of what you will be doing in the future? How will you define yourself then? Will it be a definition you are proud of, excited by and captures the essence of who you are, nature and nurture? Will you go to your death bed knowing who you are?

 

As I retyped this statement I realised I had not taken it apart. How is the manner you have chosen (the fast, slow, intensive, carefully, perfectionistically etc), you means anyone and everyone, spend your time, like it is a commodity to be spent. Current popular thinking says that time is linear however I believe physicists believe that all of time happens at once. Defines I now realise, involves coming to a finite belief, limiting the unlimitable. Who is a loose word, meaning so many things, you are – are is another word that encompasses so much. Bu that’s another story!

Weaving Thread 24/9/12

Begin to weave and God will give you the thread – GERMAN PROVERB

 

There is another quote very similar to this one from a group of serious mountaineers I believe which is too long to remember exactly but says that ‘once you make a commitment and there is no hesitancy, no chance to draw back, lots of things materialise which would not have otherwise.’

 

The meaning of this quote to me is that once we start to do something, things seem to appear like magic in order to help us with our task. It can be any task at all, enjoyed or not. Another well known version of this is ‘When you are ready the teacher will come’. The teacher is the thread and the weaving is the learning. I fully believe this concept works, due to human nature, not God necessarily or magic. You could say it’s a gift from God/the universe/providence because everything that exists, including the way our minds works has to come from somewhere. It works because when we begin a task we focus on it. The thread was always there but now we see it because we are subconsciously scanning for it. The thread is also is given to us because by our focus on our task and maybe talking about it to others, we invite them to find solutions and to help us. People love to help and will offer the thread they had sitting around. It is a gift to them to accept it as they will feel happier for having contributed and to have found a use for and a reason to part with something they didn’t want to just throw away!

 

This focus manifests for example when we see pregnant women everywhere once we are pregnant ourselves. Or when I was selling shoes, I would always check out people’s shoes when I was out and about. I don’t care a fig about shoes now!!

 

So, imagine starting a task, anything, even small. We decide to clean our house for some visitors. We think we have plenty of time and that we just have to wash up, put stuff andway and wipe down the floors and surfaces. Next thing you know, we notice that the outside of the cupboards have food or drink spilled on them, that the microwave is really in need of a clean and the glasses are quite cloudy. The weaving is the cleaning and the thread is the ability to see what needs to be cleaned. Not wildly exciting I grant you and can lead to a lack of time and a little frustration at letting it get like this, but your place will look really good long after the guests have left and you wanted to clean. You were motivated!

 

Imagine deciding to lose weight. You might restrict your intake and maybe get a little more active but you will also notice how many weight loss programmes there really are out there – and different ways to lose wight from calorie counting, prorammes where your food is delivered to you, meal replacements, TV programmes like the Biggest Loser, ads on the shopping channel for ab cruchers, tips to lose belly fat on the internet when you open Facebook etc. One of these may be just the right vehicle for you. I keep inventing new forms of exercise as I am still looking for one that I really like. So far I have invented jugglercise where every time I drop the ball (about every 4 seconds), I squat to pick it up instead of leaning over, and I have discovered laughercise where I read funny autocorrect fails on the internet until I laugh and cry at the same time and my tummy hurts. That has to do some good, right??

 

When I first read this quote it lifted my spirits because I instantly imagined a golden thread, maybe because of the popular song sung by Eva Cassidy. I imagine that the universe is giving me something spectacular with which to do my weaving, like magic, like I am powerful and invicinble and lucky and deserving. Ooh, now that’s a revelation – deserving. The concept has a huge force in my life, this deservingness of mine. I once won a car and felt so guilty, yes guilty! I thought maybe they had rigged the raffle because I was trying so hard at my job and was seeming to do so well, signing up 12 people in a short period to sell jewellery. I felt guilty because I was getting them to sign up by letting them sign up for free if they gave me the silk scarf they were being offered as a promotion. I would then pay for their signing up by buying that scarf myself, hoping to sell it later. But now I think about it, it was initiative, I still had to sell the scarf and I was taking a risk having 12 scarves I may not sell. I was worried that they might think I was this amazing saleswoman inspiring all those people to sign up when their heart may not have been in it. So I didn’t feel deserving. How daft. Conversely when our shares skyrocketed into millions of dollars worth (temporarily) in the dot com boom, I felt my husband and I were deserving, because of all the times we had been ripped off, lost his family busines to a fraudster etc. We could enjoy thinking we were rich for a while before it lost value because I felt we deserved it and it made all past wrongs right. We were good people. In this case, though I seem to digress, there is still the weaving and the thread. Stick with me. I was weaving a network of jewellery salespeople and the promtion came along to help me do it, and then the car. The very moment I won (at an event far away), I was calling potential customers, and was getting some rude rejeections. These customers had responded to an ad I placed in a bridal magazine. I had bought a load of pearl jewellery the month before in order to be eligible for the car raffle. I wondered why on earth I was doing this and then I got the call about the car. Unbelievable timing. I do not believe in ‘god’ per se, but I have seen enough coincidences or attributed enough events in my life as small miracles to see a pattern. If those patterns don’t exist but I am good at finding the thread with which to weave with and seeing thread where others would miss it, I am very happy to be me. I enjoy looking for the thread!

 

Anyway I digress. Back to the weaving thread.

 

I like to think I am weaving by deciding to write for an hour a day on these quotes, no matter what. I sit down to the task whether I feel inspired or not. I always have something to write. I thought I would find only 100 words to say on this quote for example and yet here I am! I am weaving words. The thread comes in the form of my imagination, my stored information and my ability to touch type without having my screen turned on, so that I can’t see what I am typing and can’t correct my spelling mistakes and lose the flow as I write. But I have had that thread for years. I bought that ability and this computer. The weaving won’t be good just from having a computer. Weaving is meaningful because I am happy to feel I am doing something original; giving part of me to these words, being authentic, writing something that no one else can or will because I am unique as we all are and at least I am doing it. I am a writer. Writers are people who write, not who get published, make money or get famous. I am a writer because I dare to put myself out there and put these words down.. I have an opinion. Yes I am scared to show this to anyone. I may not. I like to think that maybe my kids will read these when I am gone and feel like they know me and maybe themselves a little better because they recognise some of the beliefs I may have instilled in them by their repetition.

 

But I want to go back and explore the deserving becuase it really strikes a chord with me. I haven’t examined it before. If you don’t feel you are deserving you may not see the threads. You will be focused on your undeservedness. Say you weave the most beautiful golden cloak ever because you saw enough to find the threads and providence gave you the tools, the passion and the perseverance to finish. You may show your cloak to great acclaim and feel uncomfortable and respond by belittling it! “It has a few small holes and II only copied the design from a book or a friend had the thread going spare at home” Then what?? Will you enjoy the final product? Will you want to weave another one or can’t you cope with being admired for your work? I guarantee that when you begin to weave, human nature will show you the tools – that is the way the brain works but ‘God’ doesn’t always provide the ability to truly enjoy what you have woven or to tell anyone about it. That is up to you. Maybe this article is the thread you need to be aware of what you are thinking and to appreciate what you weave and achieve. I hope so!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(I just found a new thread for my writing. Because when I turned the screen I found that the whole essay was in capitals I did a search and replace for the all the i’s, meaning me. It told me I had over 80. Now I can tell how much I write about my experiences in each essay. I know I talk about myself a lot, because that is what I know and I am OK with writing it too because we are all unique. Plus I read a quote that says ‘Those who are afraid to use I in their writing will not make good writers’. Love it!)

Way of Travel 23/9/12

Remember that happiness is a way of travel, not a destination – RAY GOODMAN

 

This is a saying I have come across many times in slightly different forms. I know that because I like this saying and it speaks to me every time so I remember it every time. I like this particular version more than ‘Happiness is a journey , not a destination’ because it talks about the way of travel. It is a subtle difference but really meaningful.

 

I guess however it is written, it reminds us to be in the now and enjoy whatever journey we are on, be it towards wealth, fame, or saving for a holiday.

 

I realise that this saying does not quite apply to every situation because some journeys are undertaken purely to reach the destination such as travelling by plane to another country. The goal is pretty much given and the journey does not depend on us doing much but getting on board and sitting in the airplane. That’s not to say we can’t enjoy the journey. I actually really enjoy flying, because I can be utterly lazy, read,watch movies and get fed and served by someone else – like being in hospital but that’s another story.

 

Anyway, I digress. The way of travel is important. It can also bring much happiness to have a goal or destination and to see results along the way. A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step but it will not be enjoyable if the journey is completely in the dark or over steep rocky mountains etc. That way of travel is not particularly appearling. You gotta really want to get to the 1000 mile mark if you know that is coming.

 

So let’s say we have a goal such as to find a new passion and spend some of our spare time doing it, now that we have more time on our hands. The destination is great – participating in our new hobby will be fun, but we can certainly also enjoy the journey toward finding that passion if we choose the right way of travel. We might participate in a few one day courses that we might think we will really enjoy. We might like them all and make new friends. Alternatively if our way of travel to find a new passion is to sit with a piece of paper and be put on the spot until we think of something it may not make us very happy along the way. So it could be important to work out the most enjoyable way of reaching that destination. Ask around if you are stuck. By having a destination in the first place instead of simply drifting with the tide in our comfort zone and unchallenged life may take on new meaning. A destination involves stepping outside our comfort zone, whatever that may be and as long as we can find a way of travel, we might resurrent those old dreams or find ourselves at last.

 

One destination could be losing weight, for example. There are different ways to do this. Apply to Biggest Loser, ask a friend to come walking with you, go it alone, join Weight Watchers, eat protein shake meal replacements etc etc. The destination of losing weight, should we reach it, may bring us happiness but seeing the weight slowly comes off, is equally if not more happiness inducing, I have found. That’s because you are on a journey and have to do something every day towards your destination that tests you, that you can be proud of, that gets results. You’re on your way. I am just as happy feeling that I can get to where I want to go, as I am when I reach my target. It is a feeling of control, of power (however illusory) that makes us feel good and brings that happiness. Not every method or way of travel to lose weight suits everyone. Find yours!

 

 

Some destiations may seem pointless to others, such as doing cross stitch. My husband pointed out that I could buy some cross stitch work, very cheaply hand made in a third world country if I wanted some. But he was missing the point. All he saw was the destination – have some cross stich to frame perhaps. I wanted the satisfaction of learning to cross stitch, the relaxation of sitting quietly to conentrate on the pattern, the joy of seeing my progress. He then understood. Some people race around in life achieving willy nilly and forgetting to smell the roses. They may even like their way of travel and reaching destinations but forget to enjoy themselves along the way. Then what? You come to the end of your life and compare notes with God? Ah yes, I went here and here, did this, did that. But were you happy? God might ask.

 

When we consciously choose our way of travel, it is likely to be something that combines our enjoyment with our aptitude or we may not undertake the journey in the first place. On the way we may have periods of being ‘in flow’ or ‘in our element’ or in the zone. This is where we tap into a greater source of energy and and creativity and become energised by what we are doing and go for hours at a time. We may be so absorbed because we have truly found happiness. Happiness generally involves the full use of our talents. This is why it is important to choose the way of travel. Find the best way for you and the most rewarding destination. Find that thing you love doing which lifts your spirits and comes so naturally to you. Practise it. Travel that road often.

 

 

 

The opposite is finding ourselves undertaking a journey that we are not keen to go on. It’s the shoulds we tell ourselves must be done. This activity will drain our energy and we may arrive at our destination completley depleted and far from happy even if it is done. The happiness comes from getting it over with. It may be a good idea to examine the kind of things that end up in our shoulds lists but also in the too hard basket. These jobs we put off forever and remain on our to do list interminably unless a matter of life, death or losing friends or money. What is it about that ‘journey’ we do not enjoy? Can we pay someone else to do it? How much is it worth to us, not to have to do it? Could we chunk it down into small palatable jobs which could be spread out over a matter of weeks? Can we avoid it without too much repercussion? These jobs will ruin our mood by their very existence and if they can’t be avoided, need to just be dealt with. Put some nice music on, eat chocolate while you are doing it, get someone to keep your company. You can still choose the way of travel. A burden shared is a burden halved or many hands make light work, if you can get someone else to help you. The way of travel need not be a solitary one if that helps you.

 

Some ways of travel are obviously going to lead to happiness more than the destination will. Think of a cruise where you end up back where you started!! Or a trip on the Orient Express, though the destination may also appeal.

 

This saying is great for Scanners – people who are interested in everything and flit from one activity to the next without necessarily completing or mastering anything. They are generally happy people unless they feel belittled when people ask them why they can’t stick and persevere at something and what’s wrong with them, show some backbone etc! But we are so happy along the way, even if we never accomplish anything with the latest hobby. If you want to compare notes at the end of your life, you can count the hours of happinesss, with nary a destination in sight. We just enjoy the way of travel! We are lucky in a way. Our destinations keep changing and we may not reach many but we see results on the way, we are growing, we have achieved what we set out to do – enjoy ourselves while we took up abseiling, or belly dancing or whatever else. We have received our reward in the form of satisfying our curiosity about a subject and then we head off in a new direction. Our way of travel is always fast and enthusiastic. Full on!

 

Richard Branson does not start companies in order to make money or because he needs another company with the Virgin name. He has more then he can keep track of. He has found a way of travelling that he loves and he keeps on and on, flying past his destinations with hardly a thought as he is reaching further and further to the next one.

 

Amateurs are people who voluntarily take up a mostly unpaid hobby. Sometimes they are more accomplished than the professionals because they love their way of travel – no pressure, at their own pace, in every spare moment etc. The word Amateur comes from Latin, to love. The destination of an amateur may or may not be to get paid for their passion but it has not stopped them this far. They love their way of travel. In fact it might ruin the journey for them if they reach for the destination of being paid. It may lost all enjoyment then if they don’t like pressure and deadlines.

 

If you can choose your way of travel (some people perform better under pressure) and enjoy the results along the way, you will find you may be seeming to ‘work’ very hard indeed, putting in many hours. You could be waking at 5am keen to continue what you were doing at midnight the night before. A hobby is something that other people cannot afford to pay us to do – or something like that. I have gotten completely energised when I have have had some destinations in sight and enjoyed the means of travel. These are such odd things as getting the house ready for a house swap which involved 3 months of manic cleaning and sorting and fixing and buying new things. I may hate all those things normally without an end in sight. I was glad to have a reason and the motivation and certainly enjoyed the results. Same with hosting parties. Housework becomes more meaningful, pressing and actually enjoyable as we imagine our guests looking around. So if you can find something you’d like to achieve, (your destination), work out what motivates you and what pace you like to move at and how you will see the results you are achieving along the way, (your way of travel) you may find that nothing can stop you. Bye.

 

 

 

 

Altering Minds 22/9/12

22.09.12 – Altering Minds

 

The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind – WILLIAM JAMES

 

This seems so obvious and yet many of us think we might like to alter our lives for what we consider better but cannot because we are hampered by time, money, health, etc etc But imagine you have two kids leaving school; both broke and both equally educated. Imagine that one has been born into a well to do family that has a beautiful home but no cash to speak of and the other has been born into a lower class family on the other end of town into a modest house and again no cash to speak of. It is highly likely that one way or another (and without intervention from the parents) the ‘rich’ one will end up with a similar lifestyle somewhere. They would not be looking to rent in the poorer part of town no matter how bad their finances. They expect to live in similar circumstances to how they grew up and will likely do so. Their attitude of mind knows what it will and won’t accept and therefore what they must do to stay in their comfort zone. It does not even register as a possibility that they will move to the dodgy end of town. Now the other person was perfectly content in the dodgy part of town and no matter how well they do, they may decide that they would not be comfortable among the rich and ‘hoity toity’. The irony here is that neither may have more income than the other but their lives are quite different because of their attitude of mind. The guy next door in the dodgy end of town may decide he wants to be rich and famous and take off to try his luck in LA. His attitude of mind invited a very altered life to either of them.

 

The only thing that sets anyone apart is their attitude of mind. Compare the tribes in Africa with the hordes in New York.

 

Key to altering your life is awareness of your state of mind in the first place.

 

Actually this aawareness is also key. Aware that you even have a ‘State of mind’ and moods and that we have created those moods with out thought.

 

I could wake up tomorrow feeling buoyed by a beautiful day and end up doing my tax return, clearing out the shed, and composeing a syymphone. You might stay by the end of the day that I have changed my life. my attitude of mind was one of confidencem, that i could do all those things and a willingness to try. i may never have attempted those before but by tee very attept, my life has altered. i would feel content, satisfied and more organised and creative. i could wake up tomorrow feeling tired and down for no reason and my day would certainly go differently. i may stay in bed all day and at the end i owuld feel useless, lazy and miserable. i would have altered my life considerably in the space of one day. so imagine what you would do with a lifetime of being aware of your state of mind and using it to your advatage.

 

so to alter our lives for our good, we first need to be aware of our state of mind (hmm i am feeling very negative today and evrything i say is defeatist – or 0 it is great to be alive 0 there is so much i want to do). next we need to notice what may trigger these moods once we have recognised them as it’s better to avoid them in the first place. period time can mean ignoring anything in your mind and not making any decision until that time has passed. if a bad mood has snuck up on us but we become aware of it, we can do what is takes to alleviate it. in my case, reading a non fiction book will often help or anyt distraction where i have to use my mind and preferably feel clever by trying something new, will do the trick. for other it’s patting a dog or cuddling a baby. whateve works is good.

 

I would say the main ingredient for fulfilling dreams and altering one’s life to exactly how they want it is confidence. It sets people apart in a huge way. I am sure there are smarter people in the world than Richard Branson and better singers than Madonna who are broke and wish dealy to change their lives. Confidence really is key – the feeling and belief that you really can do anything. Even if you can’t, you can change your life. ‘Nothing has to change for you to be happy’ says Anyjny Robbins. He means no aspect of your life needs achange and yet you can change our mood if you become aware.

 

the confidence part is somewhat harder. it would be great if we all had fantastic arents who bolstered our self esteem and gave us inner voices that said ‘ go for it, you can do it, here are examples of all the amazing things you have already done so far. but many of us do not. we need to tell ourselves these things – keep notes of achievements, not downplay our strengths just because doing something came so easily to us that we assume everyone else could do it. i would also recommend if you are prone to depression or long periods of feeling flat, that wehn you are feeling great, you write out why. it’s a simple thing and seems silly and obvious but it is not when you are next feeling down. it’s great to read it and realise you will be up again/ ‘this too shall pass” and modes will cycle like everything in life. you may get some tips for getting yourself our of your mood also. you can alter your state of mind once you know your own tools.

 

so how does one go about altering theyr life by altering their state of mind. think about it. what to people living their dreams have in common? it is not brains, or roch parents. neither can give you happuiness. what you think gives you happiness. altering your life does not have to mean getting rich, or famous or moveing to your favourite country. it means enjoying each moment, each day and acccepting everything as it unfolds. that is an altered life. some of the happiest people i know are not rich or famous. the rich man is the not the one who has the most but needs the least. a state of mind that says i am grateful for everything i have and i make the most of everything that comes my way, will need the least.

 

sobecome aware of your state of mind. joy is now. no future moment will be better than this one unless you are judging all moments. look for the good in every moment if you ahve to judge. look for the good in everything you see. it’s fun. it is so easy to do teh opposite. the law of attrction says you will get more of what you think about. so if somethone large goes past, think instead, what amazing hair or nails she has (they often take care of the things they can control).. if someone you dislike walks past, think about any aspect of them that is appealing. you will think you are having a great day, filled with so much good stuff, – nice hair, a great laugh, a nice colour shirt, crisp air. if that isn’t altering your life and surrounding yourself with nothing but good, using your state of mind, i don’t know what is!

 

 

Growing slowly 21/9/12

Be not afraid of growing slowly, be only afraid of standing still – Chinese proverb

This proverb talks about fear which is an unusual way to approach something. Current thinking and the law of attraction state that you should be thinking only in positive terms so they would reframe this something like Love growing and learning no matter how slowly as it is better than staying stuck and where you are. Either way, what I understand from this is that we are all in such a hurry these days to get that quick fix and think that if attempt something it is only worth it if we get quick results. I might have believed that if I couldn’t be a successful writer over night and prove how brilliant I was, then I wouldn’t get started today – maybe tomorrow instead. And I would procrastinate and write absolutely nothing. I would then be standing still and my life would continue on the same. In a few years or so I might feel confident again that I could be a writer and have dreams and ambitions but I let fear overtake me again and guess what, nothing gets started and I am still stuck and feeling dissatisfied again somehow. This has indeed happened to me. This does cause me to be afraid. I can see why it is a fearful thing; this being stuck.

SO this proverb offers you a way to grow – slowly, which is so against my nature. When I am motivated, I am a person of action. But there is a way this method can suit me. The saying is basically telling you to Just do it, in the words of Nike. For if you start and are prepared to give it whatever time you have, no matter how little, you will still be growing. So if I give my writing and my myriad of other interests just a little time each day, I will be growing at those pursuits. My piano, juggling, painting, writing will all improve. I may even design that fabric, write that children’s book, submit an article to a magazine, write that hit song one day. For it will never happen if I don’t do anything at all and I am standing still. But it may happen if I do it slowly. So what if I am 80 by the time one of these come to fruition? The journey is more important than the destination. Standing still involves no journey or destination.

This proverb uses contradictory terms. I could be standing still and still growing slowly. The two do not necessarily relate. Maybe something is lost in the translation. But what I understand is that standing still involves no growth at all – either of body, of mind or imagination. Growing slowly means expanding yourself through learning, doing and action. Once we grow we have expanded our world and we may not shrink again. Actually depression causes you to shrink – to collapse your world and activities etc. But I guess if you learn something and achieve something, no one can take those away from you.

If we stand still our lives would repeat year after year or as other things change, which they surely will, we will be left behind – be boring tho those around us as we have nothing new to add.

It is impossible for anything living not to grow in some way, even if it is to grow older. Our cells change by the micro second. But this refers to growing our mind, our activities, our outlook and achieving things.

At my kids’ school one of the first things they tell you about helping them to study is to ‘chunk down’ assignments so that they do not seem overwhelming. This is a common way to get our procrastination, which causes you to stand still. Obviously this way might seem slow and tedious but really the message is the same. A journey of a thousand miles starts with a step. Same thing, chucking it down and doing things more slowly so that you may get moving and grow. It doesn’t matter if you don’t reach your destination as it’s not the point. The point is to make the most of the minutes along the way and the growing is always enjoyable. It’s not what we have that makes us happy, it’s what we do. And that is ruled by what we BE or are. This proverb is teaching you to be something different – one who grows, no matter how slowly. You would change who you are (your beliefs) in order to change what you do and be a happier person. Really when we hope to win the lottery it is in order to have and do more things. Growing slowly is another way to do this. It’s not fast but it is within your comfort zone like the frog in the hot spa. If a frog jumps into a really hot spa, it feels discomfort and jumps straight out again. However if it jumps into a tepid spa and it is slowly heated up, he does not notice and gets killed eventually by the heat. This proverb is telling you to be brought to life in a similar way to this. Little by little you change yourself and your world and become happier with the goal. Tie your happiness to a goal rather than objects, or better still to realising you have everything you need to be happy.  Growing slowly simply opens your eyes.

Back to the standing still. If a business owner stands still, for example, or a singer, People will soon be bored by the offering and no longer patronise them. The customer will be on to the new thing. They need to grow, to offer more to keep people interested. A shop can’t sell 1950s underwear and a singer can’t sing the same song forever and expect people to buy it.

We all need to grow and if growing slowly is the only way, then at least you are on a journey. Who’s to say if your growing will accelerate to you grow faster if you really want. This proverb is enticing you into action if even a small one. It says it’s OK to be rubbish when you first start learning something. You are growing and you have learned from what you attempted the day before. Even this, my little essay feels disjointed and uninteresting but I have learned that maybe sometimes it’s best to gather my main points before I start. Or that just typing hell for leather free flow like this is a way to make me show up at the computer and do it. I am growing – slowly or otherwise. It’s great. Better than being here in a year talking about writing having not written a word.

Sometimes you see friends take on a new challenge and you may judge them and think they will never be successful at what it is they want to do. Yet you may see them a few months later and they have really improved while you are still at the starting gate with your drams, paralysed by fear. Another year later you may see them making good money at whatever it is and feel resentful, because you have more talent or had that idea yourself years ago. But you stood still while they grew slowly. For all your brilliance you stood still, perfectionist stopping you from starting because you weren’t prepared to be bad and allow yourself to grow slowly. So get moving!!

Astounding Capabilities 20/9/12

If we did all the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves – THOMAS EDISON

Let’s break this down. We means you, me, the human race, anyone. So hopefully what I write will speak to you because you may be thinking Yes! I can do it too. I wonder even now if you the reader are thinking you might like to try to see what you are capable of. You might like to be astounded. Did – well that involves action and as cavemen we were programmed not to be too active – only enough to hunt, gather and survive. Otherwise we would have to save our energy as food was hard to come by. So this invites us to go against our nature for many of us. Doing involves action, involves pushing out of our comfort zone and probably involves change. The things – what things? Things could mean an essay such as this, haha, a painting, a piece of music, a house, a run, a dance, a pole vault, a skydive, or the less active and less creative things such as a difficult Sudoku, a complicated jigsaw or a logic puzzle. As I am thinking up these examples of things, I am picturing how these things are done. Does it involve creativity, physical effort, mental effort or plain perseverence in the face of any of those. For that is what it may take to do all the things ultimately, in order to get to the point where we are astounded.

Anyway I digress. Back to the analysis of the statement. Capable of – Cap comes from Latin for head I think and I see the word able. So our heads (minds) are able to do things that astound us. Fantastic! It’s like we are two people – the one doing things to astound the other. We cannot be astounded if we expected it. Of course our bodies will be involved in the doing until such time we can all hook up our minds and instantly create on the outside what is in our imagination. (I am sure someone out there is working on doing just that). Plus we expect people to manifest their own talents. We are impresssed by the physical action. But what technology is doing is making it easier to manifest what is in our minds. You can paint a picture on the computer, use speech recognition software to type and spell your words, turn your music into written notes etc. Disabilities can be excluded in the process of showing your capabilities, which is a great thing. Get the raw, unique talent that is yours out there. Use any tool necessary. Who cares if you can’t spell.

For now we have to use action to translate what we are capable of, including finding the tools to manifest that genius creation. We may think we are capable of climbing Mount Everest tomorrow or writing a symphony but our bodies have not yet acclimatised nor may we have learned to even read or write music in order to capture and arrange the lovely tunes in our heads.

[I have this strange ability to listen to music and see an ice skater doing a routine as the music unfolds! But can I choreograph a performance? No clue. I am pretty basic at ice skating myself. My mind may be capable but how would I translate my imagination into moves that are actually possible for the skater? And how to notate the moves? Physics, mechanics and momentum may render my attempts futile (plus I forget the choreography with each passing second – it’s just fun to do somethimes). Yesterday I found myself creating a dance to a Gangnam style song Lauren Bow Wow or something. The irony here is that I RARELY dance freestyle and from my imagination. There is a broken link between using my imagination and my body. I prefer to dance set moves, taught and carefully analysed by me, including angles of the feet, rhythm etc etc. Analysed to death in fact! No freestyle there.]

Again I digress. So back to Astound. As I said, we like to be astounded. That involves surprise, the unexpected, , joy, a lifting of the heart. When I am astounded my eyes widen, forehead crinkles upwards, I tip my forehead foreward and chin back, an expression perhaps learned from the media in a kind of parody of showing how I am feeling. Don’t we LOVE to be astounded? It widens your world and by its very nature it means your understanding of the world is expanded. We are likely to relay this new information of what is possible to others. And in this case we are astounding (delighting probably) ourselves. This would be a very good kind of astounding indeed. It’s like the One Moment in Time song by Whitney Houston where she sings ‘give me one moment in time where I’m more than I thought I could be’. She wants to be astounded though she doesn’t go on to sing that. She goes on to sing – ‘when all of my dreams are a heartbeat away and the answers are all up to me’. I couldn’t say it better. This astounding ourselves may lead to fulfilling our dreams as we are likely to attempt the kind of things that we like doing but to a degree we weren’t sure we would enjoy or were capable of.

So why don’t many of us regularly do these things to see how much we are capable of? Are we afraid of achieving our dreams? Probably. There is the quote by Maryanne Williams, now erroneously attributed to Nelson Mandela because he quoted it in one of this speeches – that we think ‘Who am I to be brilliant, fabulous, talented, gorgeous?’ and we hide our light and potential capabilities out of embarassment. But the quote goes on to say ‘who are we not to be?’ By doing these things and astounding ourselves and being successful, we give others the permission to be talented, fabulous and gorgeous themselves.

Look how the successful group together. Would we feel intimidated in their company? The only difference is that they have manifested the things they were capable of. They flicked the switch and got started. They weren’t afraid to change their lives and be seen as successful to those around them. They overcame the envy or sorrow of those they loved but may have had to leave behind. They overcame the negative expectations of them by well meaning family, teachers and loved ones. Those closest to them may have been astounded but they may not have been. And in all of us, there is something we suspect we could do really well if we tried. If we weren’t afraid to be rubbish at first in our physical attempts to create and do those things, and persevere.

The challenge is this. Lose your perfectionist way and be terrible at something for a while. Ignore the opinions of loved ones who have their own reasons for wanting to keep your where you are, either afraid you will make a fool of yourself, worried you will be upset or scared that you will do so well that you leave them behind. Once you are past that you may then want to take your efforts to the marketplace and face rejection from ‘professionals’ who can’t see your vision. (Or in the words of Seth Godin ‘pick yourself’ and get your work out there by other means). How many incredible and now famous inventors, actors, models and singers are there who joke about the negative feedback they didn’t listen to?

Where was I? Ah yes, pushing on to your dreams. So you may have done something, astounded yourself, and have created something which you wish for others to see. Your skills however may be in the creating rather than the marketing. This is where you need to find a book or other information about getting your work noticed. How to self-create anything – publish, print, create a TV station on Youtube, write a daily blog, get a book printed, plaster your artwork on posters, t-shirts, mousepads and greetings cards.

Sometimes you are content to simply be astounded and are satisfied with realising what you are capable of – completing a marathon, or solving a cryptic newspaper crossword. You need go no further except to maybe try it again – the longer marathon, or the trickier crossword. What joy in astounding yourself! You have grown. You will probably continue to grow and be all the happier for it. It’s not what we have the makes us happy, it’s what we do.

Either way, fame or inner satisfaction, it can only be good for mankind to do these things, feel this way, get started, get energised and absorbed in order to see what they are capable of. Find your capability! I leave with a quote from Ghandi which basically says that if the whole world achieved what they were capable of, all the world’s problems would be solved. But that’s another post!

Why the blog

“A writer is a person who writes” I was told at a writing class.  So now I am writing, an hour a day including editing.  It is straight off the top of my head, usually inspired by a quote.  I am a writer now.  Yay!  Another string to my bow, which is a very odd shaped bow indeed seeing as I have so many interests.  Here is a place to gather them.  I am a Scanner.  I can’t help myself.  So much energy and enthusiasm and so many interests.  Life is so interesting.