Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Passion and peace

It is a good thing to discover the things we are passionate about in life, and to pursue them. Those often are the things we find most fulfillment in spending our time and energy on, and therefore we would arguably be most productive following our hearts desires.

At the same time it is also a good idea to find peace ~ both within ourselves, as well as on the path we are walking; in the things we say and do.

When we put the two of them together, it seems clear that both of them are needed; passion and peace. And yet, each of them has a profoundly different energy.
This difference energy then, can make it easy to lose the balance between the two, as we swing from one to the other…
Being fully active in pursing the things we are passionate about, to ‘doing nothing’ as we find that point of peace ~ perhaps without even recognizing that it is the point of peace we have entered; rather than an unproductive, non-interesting, or even lazy space…

And as we tend to put a higher priority on (productive) activity than on those moments of quiet peace, we also seem to gravitate to a need to always be doing things ~ productive or just plain fun ~ and push those ever important quiet, peaceful times away from us.

As we look at others, especially those that are close to us, this seems to become more obvious. Especially when the rhythm of the other person is different, or sometimes even opposite our own. When we are all geared to start doing something adventurous and fun, while the other person really needs to spend some time in that peaceful state; it is easy to assume the other person is just lazy. Or isn’t interested in ‘family activities’.

When we would permit this perspective to take hold of our relationships, it is easy to find ourselves in a day-to-day routine where one says ‘but you always want to do things and move around so much’, while the other says ‘but you are never interested in doing something fun and interesting’…
And pretty soon we may come to the conclusion that while there is a deep friendship, and a rich partnership ~ the ‘passion’ is gone.

It often calls for a re-evaluation as to what our passion truly is.
Is it that sense of falling in love, head over heals, with all the excitement, butterflies, romantic dinners etc.? Or is our passion something deeper; a matured perspective on our heart’s desires?

Something we set out to achieve rather than a fleeting feeling of excitement?
Something that, ultimately, brings us peace?

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Cruelty to people

Whenever there is a case of cruelty to animals, the least people do is frown about it. Yet more and more often it is cause for an uprising. The perpetrators, when caught, are in for punishment which can range from ‘a slap on the wrist’ (something the public has a tendency to frown upon, again), a fine, and in some cases an increasingly severe sentence.
It has become clear that when a person is cruel to animals, there is often a bigger problem which may or may not be apparent at that time.

In other words, when there is a matter of cruelty to animals, we pay attention!

But what about when there is a case of cruelty to people?
And I am not talking about war-zones. I am talking about bullying ~ at school or elsewhere ~ or about nagging or ‘teasing’ someone who is vulnerable, and perhaps unable to defend themselves. In those cases we have a tendency to look the other way. To have an attitude that ‘they have to learn to stand up for themselves’.

It makes me wonder…
If cruelty to animals is found to often be the symptom of a deeper, more serious problem; how does that not apply to cruelty to people?

At what point does teasing become violent ~ physical, mental or emotional? At what point does bullying switch from cruelty to one person to cruelty to humanity?

Is a captain who is loading his boat with human cargo, well beyond the capacity of his ship ~ making huge amounts of money in the process ~ helping those people out? Is he just plain greedy? Or is he guilty of committing the crime of ‘cruelty to humanity’? Especially when there is an accident at sea and his ‘cargo’ is lost…

Is a pharmaceutical company pushing for a new and expensive medication to be approved to be prescribed to those that suffer from an illness, and doing so knowing that they have somewhere along the way ‘tweaked’ the test results, making them more favorable; are they helping sick people? Or are they just plain greedy? Or are they committing the crime of ‘cruelty to humanity’?

And perhaps the most important question is; are we going to continue to look the other way? Are we going to stick to our opinions that ‘they should have learned to stand up for themselves’? Or ‘they should have known better’?
Are we going to keep laying the blame on the ~ often already vulnerable ~ victims of those ‘mishaps’?

Or are we going to begin to hold ourselves and others to a higher standard. Are we adapting a ‘code of conduct’ that is compassionate; that permits each of us to live our lives to the fullest according to our unique capabilities ~ humans and animals alike?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Half full, or half empty?

We tend to see the glass as either half full, or as half empty.
Depending on the situation and, of course, our state of mind, we look at whatever is happening in our lives from the positive, half full, perspective; or from the more negative ~ or perhaps in some cases more realistic ~ half empty perspective.

As long as we realize that it is our choice how we perceive (most) situations we encounter in our lives, there is absolutely nothing wrong with either perspective. Although people who consistently choose to see the glass as half full may claim that their lives are easier; more a flow than a series of steps. Still, it is our choice.

When we apply the same principle on how we see other people, we are not looking at whether the glass is half full or half empty any longer; we are looking at qualities, possibilities, and the best that can be on one side, and shortcomings, aspects that need (a lot of) work, and failures on the other side.

Apart from the fact that all of these are our opinions ~ and therefore are coming quite close to being (our) preconceived ideas and judgements ~ they spell an enormous change in how we perceive and interact with other people.
When we, as a matter of course, see the qualities and possibilities of that other person, and see the best they can become; we are more likely to encourage them to take that next step. To reach for that goal that they themselves at that point may not even see as a realistic possibility.
On the other hand, when we see all the things the other person is not; the things they haven’t achieved yet, and how they ~ at least from our perspective ~ are not working at it in the ‘right’ manner; it becomes very hard to encourage or even motivate that other person to move in any direction at all…

There is a huge difference in what the other person may do with a newly discovered skill ~ or a talent that receives some positive feedback ~ depending on the reaction of their immediate environment.
Is that reaction positive; seeing it as a chance to do something new and wonderful, and encouraging as to finding a practical application for it, chances are the other person will explore further, and discover even more of the potential they carry within themselves.
It that reaction something like: “No-one ever said you were not …” or “No-one ever said you could not …”, then the implication is that while what the other person is doing or discovering is not ‘wrong’, at least the way that person is handling it, is.
So why bother to continue?

How we approach the people we meet is ~ just as our lives are ~ our choice.
The question then becomes; are you a ‘glass half full’, or a ‘glass half empty’ person?

Friday, April 17, 2015

If it’s not one thing…

For each of us there seem to be certain periods in our lives when we feel we are focused on taking a certain direction, and yet it doesn’t happen. If it is not one thing that needs to be taken care of, it is another. And just when we think we are finished; it’s all taken care off, and now we can (finally) get back on track and start doing ‘our thing’ (whatever it is we have chosen that to be), then something else happens that definitely takes priority and needs to be handled first.

It can add loads of frustration to our, already busy, lives. And yet, whichever way you look at it, whatever makes it to the top of the list needs to be handled first. It is just that at that time we often fail to see that it ~ even while we never planned for it ~ is just as much part of our path as the things we actually have planned for ourselves and our lives.
The difficult part is to find the connection, to find how it fits in, and then to run with it from the most positive angle we can muster.

Often, when things come to a close and we take a moment to look back, hindsight may reveal a lot of the reasons and motives that had been at play all along. And just as often, it leaves us with a sense of gratefulness or having been placed in that particular situation in the first place…

Yet no matter how grateful we are, independent from how good, nice, productive even that period has been for us; it does leave us with the question whether our initial chosen direction was the right direction for our path ~ there was just something that came in between that needed to be handled first ~ or whether these things ‘keep interfering’ with our lives because the Universe is trying all it can to make us change directions. To point us in a way that is more beneficial to us in the long run ~ or even i the short term.
Especially when things, events, and situations that are ‘interfering’ keep popping up in our lives…

It will always be a signal that it is time to re-evaluate. To see whether we indeed should change directions, do different things, or at least do things differently. Or whether we are given the opportunity to clean up a lot of lose ends, and once we have tied those up we will be given the green light to move ahead in leaps and bounds…

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Living our own lives

It is important to live our own lives, to take our own responsibilities, make our own decisions, and learn about life and ourselves in the process.

And yet, probably all of us have heard from someone older than us something like: “When I was young…” And then the story starts about how those were good times, or hard times. Almost all the time things were either way better than life is now; or way worse…
But in essence things in the old days the air was cleaner, the sun was brighter, the seasons were more succinct; in short, life was simpler.

In all fairness, there isn't anything wrong with comparing notes on how different generations have grown up. It is part of our family history. It also points out the differences; how far we have come since then.
I for one, I am very happy with laptops, mobile phones, and reliable cars; things I didn’t grow up with…

It does get to be a different picture when parents start living vicariously; when they start pushing their children to achieve the things they themselves didn’t when they were young. For whatever the reason. But as soon as the generation starts living life through their children; or even start pushing to live their children’s life ~ they are not living their own lives any longer…

Another way through which we may stop living our own lives is when we start coveting the life of others. When we see something in the life of someone else we feel is lacking in our own lives; we may imagine that the live that other person is living is way easier, way more fun, way better supported than our own lives have ever been. And what begins with a wish that our own lives were a little bit easier, may become something we focus on more an more, until that point when we find ourselves being jealous  of that other person. Or at least of the situation they are finding themselves in.

The problem is twofold.
First, all the time we are spending focusing on the life of that other person, we are not living our own lives ~ at least not to the fullest extend.
Second, we don’t really know where that other person is coming from. It may be clear to us that their live is different than ours; so much so that we perceive it as being easier than ours. Yet, more often than not, that is not the case. Their lives are almost always just as hard as our own lives; they are just different. With problems in different areas (which may be easy for us to solve, but not for them…)

All in all, and for any number of reasons, there is a lot to be said for focusing on living our own lives.
For making living our own lives working for us…

Friday, April 10, 2015

Life goes on

 Whenever something ‘earth-shattering’ happens in our lives, it seems like life itself suddenly comes to a halt. It seems to stand still in that very moment. And depending on what the event or situation is, we may feel locked in place for quite some time…

While this in all likelihood is totally correct from our perspective, it is not necessarily true for people and things around us. As it turn out ~ from a factual perspective ~ life keeps moving on. And for those that were not personally caught in the ‘earth-shattering’ event, things find their balance and move on surprisingly quickly. After the initial shock, and perhaps the compassion felt in that very moment, life takes over and pretty soon the ‘normal’ routine ensues.

Whatever event or situation we have felt brought our lives to a standstill, is ‘old news’. It may even evoke the well intended ~ yet not helpful ~ comment that it is best to move on. After all, we cannot change whatever happened, so why dwell on it?

They are right of course; after all, we can see with our own eyes that the day changes to the night, and back to a new day again. The moon grows to its fullest image, and back to that point of total darkness. And given time the seasons flow form one into the other, just like nothing has happened…

Life goes on.
It is ourselves who have come to a standstill.

The moment we got caught up in that ‘earth-shattering’ event or situation, things changed in our own lives. Whether that situation is about moving ~ especially when we didn’t feel like moving in the first place ~ or because our jobs changed or even stopped. Whether it is something health related, or an issue of life and death…
Whatever it is, it puts us into a position where we need to take a second look at it. And perhaps even a third, fourth, fifth look… It puts us in a position where we need to re-evaluate; have another look at our priorities…
At that point we have a need to step back from our lives and everything in it, to give ourselves time in order to put things into place, and to regain our balance. To discover what is truly important to us in life. To  find out what really makes us happy. To ascertain where we want to spend our time and energy.

Only then do we feel we can move forward again, and move with life as it goes on…

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A thousand little things

The way our memory works is not quite as straight forward as we may think. For starters, we hardly ever remember anything the way it factually happened. We remember that particular situation the way we felt it was happening…

Now, those two may be very close together, however, often they are not.
For instance when we, as children, were not allowed to eat a cookie right before dinner, no malice ever was intended! And yet, we may remember that we were wronged over and over again, because we were never allowed a cookie.

The other thing is about our memory is that whatever we are remembering has registered on all of our senses. Therefore, input to any of our senses can bring back a specific memory. This way, when I smell de scent of fresh baked bread, it brings me right back to when I was about 8 years old and my mom took me to the bakery early in the morning to buy fresh buns ~ still warm ~ for me to take as a packed  lunch on a school outing…

As we often may not know how the memory has registered in our subconscious, we may not have an inkling as to what can trigger that specific memory either. Until it happens.
And then we may find that there are a thousand little things that bring back memories of a situation, an experience, or a person. Anything from a sound to a scent; a flower, or the way the light hits the kitchen floor. And sometimes that memory is triggered by something somebody is saying.

At first glance, all of these things are factually unrelated to that particular memory, and yet each and every one of them can bring back that memory in great detail…

And so, especially when the memory is still fresh in our minds, there are a thousand little things that may trigger it. A thousand little things that confront us with how things were, what has happened, or what we have experienced.
A thousand little things that give us the opportunity to finetune our memories; chances we give ourselves to relate our memory of the event with the actuality of what happened. A thousand little things that help us cope with what could have been, but is no more…

Until at some point that memory seems to drift into the background of our (subconscious) minds, as other events take place in our lives and new memories are being built.

And then we may only need just one little thing to trigger that specific memory…

Friday, April 3, 2015

Taking a break

Taking a break every once in a while is always a good thing. Whether it is a break from a project you have been working on for a while, a break from a routine you have found yourself in for perhaps a bit too long; or even taking a break from an otherwise regular blogging habit.

Taking a break offers us the opportunity to gain fresh perspectives. Stepping back from pretty much anything we have been involved in for a while in order to change viewpoints; to look at it differently. To re-evaluate, and maybe even redirect our focus, before we re-engage with renewed energy…

This is especially true fro blogging.
By its nature blog-posts tend to reflect ~ at least to a certain extend ~ what is important to ourselves; or even what is happening in our lives and how we may feel about it. And there is nothing wrong about that; especially when it is written from a perspective that is interesting to other people or can help them cope with a similar situation in their own lives.

Yet there are also things that while there is nothing wrong about writing about them; there is no reason to put them out there in that manner…
As soon as our inner dialogue as to topics to write about goes something like this it may be time to look a little deeper:
“Why would I write about that?”
“Because I can!”

The question then becomes whether we are writing about that particular topic because it is interesting to us at that point in time, or whether we are writing about it in order to vent our own emotions in a very public manner.
As long as it is an interesting topic to write about, we probably should go ahead and post to our blogs about it. But when it is just to vent our emotions, perhaps it is time for a break from blogging. Because while we can write about just about anything, there is hardly ever a need to do so; especially when we ~ because of our own, intense emotions ~ we fail to add a broader perspective to our posts.

And for that very reason, I have taken a break from writing.
As it turns out, I have written hardly anything over the past month or so; taking time for myself. Giving myself the opportunity to regain my footing, before continuing my blogging habit…

And now that I find myself refreshed and rejuvenated; I’m back!