Thursday, February 27, 2014

Seeing it differently

Whatever happens in life always has any number of aspects, and as such any number of ways to look at it. So we all may react differently to the same situation ~ based upon our life experiences up to this point, interest, focus, and so on ~ because we see a different aspect of that same situation.
But whichever way you look at it, we do have a tendency to see the part of the situation we don’t particularly like well before we see the good in it.

Having to get somewhere in time, the first thing that comes to mind can be the traffic jams we may encounter getting there. In accepting a dinner invitation, we could be concerned whether the restaurant will be able to cater to our dietary needs. Going on a vacation, the jetlag involved might hold us back…
When you think about it there are countless examples where the ‘negative’ jumps out at us first.

Most of these things are indeed aspects of that particular situation.
The question becomes to which extend we allow these ‘negatives’ to hold us back.

For starters; it does help to adopt a ‘solution oriented approach’ to whatever life throws at us. Thinking of solutions rather than challenges or problems. So rather than getting ourselves in a situation of being late for an important meeting because of traffic, we make sure we leave in time.

However, there is another way of looking at the things we encounter in life. Some would say it is a more spiritual perspective, but in all reality it is more of a mental exercise ~ perhaps based on a spiritual principle…

The principle is that everything that happens to us in life, we encounter for a reason.
This implies that with everything we come across, there is something for us to gain from it.
The mental exercise then is to consciously find the good in that particular situation.

So finding ourselves in a traffic jam can give us the opportunity to learn patience. And it can give us the time to breathe; to center before we enter into this meeting.
If the restaurant is not quite up to catering to our dietary needs ~ it can keep us from ‘over-eating’. It can also show us that perhaps we can handle our diets a bit more loosely.
And the jetlag can give us the perfect excuse to take some much needed rest.

Pretty much any situation has something good to offer us as well!
And as soon as we decide to see it differently ~ to see what we have to gain, rather than how life is bothering us ~ things can become quite a bit easier!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The world is our mirror

It is one of those sayings that is ~ at least from a spiritual perspective ~ is seen as truth; we all tend to agree that whatever and whoever we encounter in the world is a mirror, showing us what is there in our own lives. And the images we see in that mirror that is the world around us, are not meant to be an affront; all they are there for are for us to be able to see more clearly what is happening in our own lives.
Another way to look at this is to view everything that is happening in your life as an omen; a signal that something is afoot in our our lives. A ‘heads-up’ that things may be changing…

Here is how it can work:
When you feel flustered over and over again because people around you are not specific in their directions, in what they are saying, in expressing their needs ~ chances are that you yourself may not be expressing yourself succinctly. Or perhaps you are not speaking up enough, not letting others know what your needs and desires are.
Or when you are on your way to a meeting, and you find all the traffic lights turning red as you approach… On one hand it can mean that the other party you are meeting will be delayed. Yet if you feel your ‘feathers ruffling’ at every next light that turns red as you approach; again, chances are that there is something about that meeting that you yourself are not thrilled about. It can be because you would have liked to spend your time differently (and didn’t speak up when the meeting was agreed upon), or because you feel hindered in your efforts; sort of like having a sense that the whole world is against you. Now, putting it that way, logic says that this is unlikely to be the case; so if you still feel that way, one may ask why we have a need to defend ourselves from the world around us?

Whichever way we look at it, if there is something happening to us that is truly aggravating to us; sparking all kinds of indignant reactions along lines of ‘how dare they…?’ ~ the perspective that says that the world is our mirror would point out that what we may want to look at is not necessarily outside of ourselves but rather within ourselves…
Something that is not easy to do!
However, the good news about this is that if we truly want to, it is totally within our realm of influence to change ~ creating a life for ourselves that is more smooth, more pleasant. A life that shows us more peaceful pictures when we look in its mirror.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

All packed up and nowhere to go

Every once in a while we can get to a point where we are all ready to go, yet the timing for the next step is still a ways out.
For me this happens while traveling. The moment the bags are packed, I’m ready to take off. But usually there is still anywhere from a number of hours to a couple of days before the trip is about to start.
It leaves me feeling ‘in limbo’. Everything that needed to be done is done; it doesn’t make sense to start any new project, I know what the next step is going to be ~ and I can’t take that step just yet.

It is not as much that the timing is off; one could argue that timing is perfect! After all everything is finished, no loose ends ~ and that is always a good thing. Furthermore, taking a step back from activities before starting that new project usually is a good thing as well. It allows us to truly finish whatever it was we were doing mentally and emotionally.
In other words, that time between events sets us up for a totally fresh start for whatever is coming next…

So, if the ‘in between time’ has so many benefits; if it is so good for us ~ then why does it feel so awkward?

Part of the answer may lie in the fact that we tend to be ‘always on the go’. There is always something to do, and therefore we are continually moving from one project to the next; from one event to another ~ without ever allowing ourselves time to stand still for a moment. Even our vacations can be ‘the next thing to do’…
So, this feeling of being all packed up and having nowhere to go may well feel uneasy to us because we are not used to it. Form a certain perspective, we may have forgotten what to do with those moments of time that are unplanned… Those moments of ‘nothingness’.

Another perspective can be that we may have forgotten to enjoy the anticipation of things to come…
When we have planned our next project or event, we want to get going with it right away. We don’t take time anymore to savor the moment. To look ahead and imagine all the exciting, new things it may bring into our lives.
After all, we have set our goals and already know the desired ~ and therefore most likely ~ outcome…

So, whenever we feel ‘all packed up and having nowhere to go’, perhaps it is time to start imagining other, even more beneficial things that may happen to us.

Monday, February 17, 2014

How we remember things

When we think of our memories, we will find that we have ‘good’ memories and ‘bad’ memories. What makes a memory either good or bad often has to do with how we perceived the situation we are remembering at the time. And unless we revisit our memories every once in a while, we will keep experiencing that situation we are remembering as if it is happening to us just now. Except, suddenly we are back in time; back at the age we were then.

For instance, we may have felt it was the ultimate putdown when we were not allowed as a five year old, to eat a cookie right before dinner. Remembering that very situation even as an adult may spark an indignation that ~ when you look at the facts of that situation way back when ~ is totally unwarranted.

It seems like what we remember is not necessarily the facts of what happened way back when; what we remember are the emotions associated with that situation as we experienced it the age we were at that time.
In other words, our memories are in essence emotional in nature, and the emotion will then bring the situation to mind…

What that tells us is that there are types of situations that can spark an emotional response, and when this happens we are put in the frame of mind of an often much younger version of ourselves.

This is both good news and bad news.
On one hand it means that the way we remember things can bring us back into an emotion and a frame of mind that may have been understandable at that time, but that don’t serve us anymore as the person we are at this point in  time. On the other hand, once we understand how we remember things ~ how it remembering things works ~ we can choose to revisit those memories in oder to see what really happened, and how valid our emotional response to it is.

This may seem to be a small thing, however, it gives us the opportunity to let go of things that keep popping up in our lives ~ often at unexpected and inopportune times. And once we disconnect our emotional responses from the factual situations we remember, we will gain a freedom in our lives. A freedom in how we react, interact, and respond to situations and people we encounter on our path through life.

Apart from understanding how we remember things, it only requires one thing from us. The desire to find a way to make our lives easier, and more fun…

Friday, February 14, 2014

Common sense

We all have it; the ability to use good sense and sound judgement in practical matters. Whether we use it or not is a free will choice.

To actually use our common sense requires us to think. To give some thought to what is happening; to the situation we are finding ourselves in. It would ask from us that we ponder the facts and come up with a practical, levelheaded solution. A solution that works for us, that makes sense to us.
As such, there are always multiple solutions to any one situation, depending on how those involved in the situation perceive it. And while one solution may work better than another ~ common sense is always about the best solution for that person, in that situation, from their perspective.

So why don’t we use it more often?

Part of the answer may lie in the fact that in our world today we have rules for pretty much anything. We stop when the traffic lights are red, and move on as soon as they turn green again. Independent from other traffic being present or not. As it turns out, we are no longer looking whether there is traffic coming from other directions ~ all we are looking at is that red light ~ often with a good dose of impatience ~ almost willing it to turn green. And as soon as it does we start moving.

And it is not just in traffic that our ‘dos and don’ts’ are regulated. Almost every aspect of our lives has its rules about the things that are ‘done’; and often more importantly the things that are ‘not done’. As long as we are following these rules, we are safe. We are doing okay.

Another thing is that we can insure ourselves for those instances when the rules and regulations fail to protect us. After all the rules and regulations are there for a reason ~ so if we are following them it cannot be our fault when something bad happens to us. And someone has to pay for that. Somehow we want ~ or even need ~ to be reimbursed for a situation turning sour ~ especially when it wasn’t our fault!

So it seems like we have replaced our own common sense with a set of rules and regulations ~ and then covered the risk with a package of insurances.
We have started to follow rules, rather than to think things through…

In all fairness, following traffic regulations absolutely makes good (common) sense.
However, it seems that when we start to ‘blindly follow the rules’; when we stop thinking about what is happening ~ we are no longer aware of the ramifications of our actions.

It is time to observe the ‘rules and regulations’ with a good bit of common sense…

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Sports bar

For those not familiar with the concept of a ‘sports bar’ ~ it has nothing to do with a cantina at a sports club or fitness centre, where you rest and have a drink with friends after having been active in the sports of your choice. A sports bar is the arena of the ‘armchair quarterback’; it is where you go the have a bite to eat and a drink while watching the sports of your choice.

That being said, it is often a good place to have a meal like pizza or a sandwich ~ or sometimes something more ‘upscale’ like a steak or seafood.
The thing about a sports bar is that you can do so while watching ‘the game’ on big television screens that are hanging in strategic positions. Often different screens will display different matches, or even different sports altogether; giving the patrons a choice as to which sports, which game to watch while enjoying your meal. Mercyfully only one soundtrack can be heard; the commentaries of the most ‘important’ match that is playing at that moment. The other audio streams are muted.

It makes for an interesting environment.
Tables aren’t chosen based on the company you get there in order to get your lunch or dinner ~ they are chosen based on where you can see the television screen of your choice best. And the attention is divided between the television screen, the food on your plate, and the company you are with… And when anything exciting happens ‘on the field’, everybody in the bar will voice their reactions out loud.

The whole arena makes for an atmosphere that brings people who may not know each other ~ people who haven’t met each other before, and may not ever meet each other again ~ together in an energy of camaraderie.

It is a camaraderie that is built upon mutual interest, and an openness to express that interest. And whether you are supporting one team or the other; ultimately it is about the sport in general.

To me it is interesting to see how something like this can work. How, as soon as we transcend the details as we see them and move up to enjoy the bigger picture ~ in this case the sport as a whole ~ camaraderie is possible.

The difference with finding a common cause to ‘fight’ for, is that in this instance it is not about fighting for a cause so much as it is about supporting something that is good. Something that works. Something that can be enjoyed by many people.

From a greater perspective it is a wonderful way to look at things happening in our lives. We don’t have to keep fighting for the things we want (and don’t have); we can choose to support those things that are working for us, and in doing so expand upon them.
It may well be a way to find a camaraderie that can come from unexpected sources…

Friday, February 7, 2014

Finally, rain!

There are few things that we complain about as much as about the weather. It is either too hot, too cold, too cloudy, too rainy or too dry. And as the weather also is somewhat of a personal preference, whatever is the ideal weather for one person might be a reason to complain mightily for another.

That being said; as long as the weather is more or less the way we expect it to be ~ like cold, wet in the Winter, and warm, sunny in Summer time ~ most of us can handle the weather and its patterns quite nicely. Ultimately it is what it is…

Yet as the climates are changing, we may find ourselves facing unexpected weather patterns. Suddenly the weather is no longer ‘behaving as expected’. The temperatures can be off, making it either too warm or too cold for the time of the year. Precipitation can be so abundant that it causes problems with flooding; or it can be so low that an area can suffer from a drought situation that can become more severe as time goes on. And storms that may bring lots of snow, rain and wind on one continent, may still bring high winds and extreme flooding thousands of miles away.

Suddenly we are at a loss as to what is happening. We handle what is thrown our way as best we can, dealing with the upsets that are caused by the consequences of changing climates. And when at some point the weather ~ in whichever extremity it has chosen to express itself ~ finally transforms itself into a more moderate pattern, there is a big sigh of relief!

And it seems like this is true for humanity as well as for nature.

In California this Winter has been extremely dry and warm. Great for me as I am here on an extended vacation; yet an enormous hardship when you live here… It is most definitely the first time since I have been visiting this area, that the hills haven’t turned green in the Winter. Streams are drying up, making it impossible for salmon to reach its spawning grounds. And as lakes disappear, wildlife moves closer and closer to urban areas…

Tonight it finally started raining.
Not just a heavy fog, or a drizzle; real rain, and enough of it to soak the ground.

A big sigh of relief is heard and felt all around.
People are happy as this rain is needed to safeguard the drinking water supply. Nature is happy as it can finally quench its thirst.
Puddles are lining the streets, yet today there is nothing to complain about…

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The path

Each and every one of us are unique, and all of us walk our individual paths through life. Looking around it seems that some people are walking on ‘easy street’, while others are navigating a dirt road filled with potholes, with no end in sight.

It is one of those things where we truly cannot compare ourselves ~ or our paths ~ to others. Our path is the one of our own choosing, perfectly tailored for the lessons we choose to bring into our current life experience. And while one path may seem easy to a casual observer, it may still be hard for the person walking it ~ and vice versa.

So it is not just about the path itself, but about the situations we encounter on our individual paths, and perhaps most importantly; how we react to those situations. How we deal with them, as that allows us to learn great things! About ourselves, about the world we live in, even about the universe itself.

Of course there will always be situations we find ourselves in and experiences we encounter that will need solutions ~ while we may also find an obstacle or two on our paths that may well be inconvenient, yet our best choice could be to not try to bring them to resolution.

So if we can only truly experience our own, personal path; if we cannot realistically compare our paths to the path of someone else ~ then the only thing that is left is how we react to that which we encounter while walking our paths.
How we gauge what is happening to us on our personal scale of ‘hard or easy’ is something that is based on our personal life experience up to that point. It is colored by the lessons we have chosen to learn this time around, and how willing we are to actually work with them at this point in time. And sometimes it seems that the things that are thrown onto our paths are so unexpected, coming from so far ‘out there’ that we may feel stunned momentarily…

Ultimately though, it is our choice as to how we react to what life ~ and our individual paths through it ~ has to offer us. We can choose to come from a negative perspective; we can resist change until there is no way out anymore. Or we can come from a positive viewpoint, being curious what doors will open now that this one has been slammed shut; embracing the changes that come with it.

The one thing to always keep looking for is what we need  ~ not want or desire ~ to get out of that particular situation. What do we need to learn; what do we need to change inside of ourselves.
As long as we do that, chances are our individual paths may smooth out considerably.