Thursday, May 31, 2007

What is Happiness

I remember a quiet summer morning on my 650cc Triumph with the sun just starting to peep over the horizon. The wind was rushing through my hair and a grin stretched from ear to ear as I took a long gently rounded curve the world to myself. Time vanished.

I remember a fall morning with the trees a riot of color and the shafts of sunbeams piercing through the leaves. Dancing dust particles twinkled like forest sprites as I danced along .

I remember sitting at a table under an old tree all gnarled and providing a mystical music with the gentle breeze whispering through the leaves.

I used to try and capture those magical moments to preserve them for all time. The moment I tried they vanished before I could take a breath.

Happiness is not found through seeking and capturing it to be bottled for a rainy day. It is more like a sneak thief that arrives without a sound and is suddenly there.

Happiness is being at peace with yourself and totally immersed in the wonder of the universe. It only needs for us to make a place in our hearts to hold it for the moment and then let it go. It is in the unexpected moments accepting all that is that it arises naturally and spontaneously.

All we need is to just make room for it to fill us up.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Worn and Tired Relationships

We can reach a time in relationships where the luster has worn off. Where the other; a friend or significant other, has become like an old familiar warm and worn coat. Nothing special anymore but handy when we need it and occasionally we will need to mend a missing button or sew up a rip.

We don't think about it often and just reach out and expect that it will be there when we need it. In the manner of old coats they always seem to almost magically collect bits and pieces from the past. One pocket contains an shinny pebble picked up on a far away pristine beach of dazzling white sand. The other a faded and creased photo of laughing faces under the sheltering arms of an oak tree. Pinned to one collar is a faded pin that has almost lost all of its original color.

Treasures one and all of some of the magically moments in our lives and preserved but forgotten. Time has a way of doing that. The way of the world gives us no certainty of what will happen next. We may say goodbye never realizing that it may be the last one.

What would we have wished to say to them before they left forever? What would we wish to have left unsaid? How would we want to remember the last time we were together?

All we have is right now. Make it count.


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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Happiness and Goals

Do we want to make someone laugh? Just tell them that we want to be happy as a life goal. We may be told that's for kids. Don't be a dreamer. We may be told its too vague. We may be lectured on proper goals such as success, emotional or spiritual fulfillment. We can end up accepting someone else's definition of success.

But why do we want things. Things like:

  • a great relationship
  • time for family
  • travel the world
  • to be wealthy 
  • to be successful

If we keep asking the question why; we would discover that we ultimately want to be happy. If we just accept what we are told will make us happy and make it our goal then we act as if it is true. We have our route to the top of the mountain. 

We don't understand how some people are content with very little and can think that they lack ambition, opportunity, or the ability to achieve greatness. Instead they may have found they don't need to climb your mountain.

They are already on their mountain top and enjoying their life right now. They realize that goals and things do not create happiness. It is the moment to moment enjoyment and accomplishments we can have in our life right now doing whatever we are doing.

if we find we are not enjoying the ride up our particular mountain then we may need to choose a different definition of happiness. It is our life, our choice.

"People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they're not on your road doesn't mean they've gotten lost." -H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


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Monday, May 28, 2007

Experience as a Teacher

Experience can be either a good or bad teacher. 

The Good:

It can allow us to make better choices; that is, learn from our experience. Examples come easily to mind such as learning a task or skill. It can teach us what to avoid or what to pay attention to.

The Bad:

It can limit us is in what we allow to be possible for ourselves. We tried something and we had a bad experience. We hesitate to take a new opportunity because it is similar to one that in the past didn't work out for us.

We have a great desire to eliminate problems because when we have no problems by default then we would be happy. The higher the emotional level attached to the experience the more we classify it as black or white.

If we more closely examine our experiences we might find that they are usually a mixture of good and bad. Wisdom could be said to be when we realize that everything is shades of gray depending on our perceptions.

Perhaps we should as Stephen Covey said:

"Live out of your imagination, not your history."

Learn from our experiences but don't allow them to dictate a future less than we could have.


Sunday, May 27, 2007

Have a Problem With Self-Esteem

The convenient thing about classifications, patterns, habits and beliefs is that they help us predict the future; the results of our present behavior. We spent a lot of time learning growing up matching actions with results and forming our perceptions of the casual relationship between the two.

Patterns are a huge time saver for ourselves. Putting on our clothes is one example. If we have 5 pieces of clothing then we have 120 different ways we could get dressed. (5*4*3*2*1=120) So it is convenient and efficient to get dressed the same way each time and therefore only have 1 ordered way to dress.

Because of our use of patterns we try to apply it whenever possible to make life easy for ourselves. If we try hard enough we can usually find a casual relationship that we use to both predict and manage our life. We also easily adopt and use patterns that other people have discovered.

The problem comes when we try to apply standard patterns to subjective concepts. If we find out that we could feel bad about ourselves because of issues of self-esteem or self-worth; then, we look for a definition and a solution pattern we can apply.

The problem is that there are as many solution patterns as there are people. It's subjective. It's up to us. We look outside when we don't trust ourselves to have an answer. There is a $10 Billion dollar industry out there just waiting for us to go looking.

If we were to change our perspective slightly and say that self-esteem and self-worth were really about pride in our accomplishments. Then if we want more self-esteem; just do something; no matter how small, that you could be proud of. The what is totally up to us.

The accomplishment is in the action and subsequent feelings that we have. There is no need to look outside of ourselves we have all the tools we need.

Create your own patterns of success. Create your world your way.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Spectators and Participants

A spectator watches a performance or is a member of an audience. 


  • Don't have to train to watch - no effort
  • Don't have to commit to a result - nothing to lose (unless betting)
  • Change teams, sports, performances at a whim - no investment

A participant is someone who takes part in something.


  • personal growth - learn new skills
  • sense of accomplishment from completing
  • learn how to handle reversals, lack of progress or defeats
  • learns the power of persistence
  • willingness to try new things for improvement
  • freely learns from others

Are we spectators of Life or participants in Life?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Baby Steps and Change

We have all known someone who can't seem to quit smoking, lose weight, quit gambling or change some other negative behavior. No matter what they try they stay the same. We can think that they are too lazy to make the effort.

Perhaps there is another very simple answer. We can sometimes work harder at staying the same than we do at making a change. There is a definite comfort in having things stay the same. We know what to expect.

What does that mean?

We use our past experiences with our perceptions of what is occurring right now to predict the results of our actions. If we make a change then our predictive ability depends on expectations rather than our experiences. If that generates enough fear in us then we will stay with what is known.

Sometimes this fear can mean that we stay in situations that are considered terrible. We consider the risks of change too high. We all have a great ability to rationalize and justify our actions of staying the same and believe that our decisions are in our own best interests.

If we are stuck in a behavior we want to change then we may need to breakdown our goals into smaller and smaller changes until we find that one action we can take. Without action nothing changes.

Sometimes we need to make baby steps to climb the mountain.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

May Blog Drive-Byes

First I would like to thank Lyn from Remarkable Bloggers for her kind review of my blog.

Also to mention two memes I was tagged for by Camille at her NOW blog and Theresa from Sleeping Kitten - Dancing Dog blog. I will respond in the next week.

Pearl from Interesting Observations has a Happiness Quiz that measures your happiness score from psychologist Edward Diener involved in happiness research.

Random Magus has an interesting post Mirror, Mirror about seeing ourselves through another's eyes.

Cosmicsurfer has some great digital art work at his Cosmic Photo Art  blog that I think Princess Haiku might like.

Jennifer at Goodness Graciousness has a good post on dreamers and transformers.

Last and certainly not least RT from Untwisted Vortex for teaching me about Blog drive-Byes


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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Deliberate Creativity

This is the fourth and final post of this mini series on deliberate creativity.

  1. Creativity and Thinking
  2. Problem With Problem Thinking
  3. Useful Ideas Concept

Many of us have a preoccupation with being happy and seeking to  banish unhappiness in our lives. We will use this as an example of the deliberate creativity process.

We have a problem; unhappiness, and we use our problem solving tools (logic) to find the source and stop it. We try something and it doesn't work and look around to see if anyone else has a better problem solving routine and attempt to copy it with varying degrees of success.

But the problem keeps coming back and we once more start out to solve the problem thinking that we missed something in the last attempt. Something was not right in our logic. What if the issue is the way we create the problem to solve?

If instead of starting with the concept unhappiness is a problem we changed our perspective by starting with a different idea or a different question. For example: When is unhappiness a correct feeling? We might say when we do something without thinking and hurt someone. Or when reality does not match our expectations.

Then we might say to ourselves that we can reduce but not completely eliminate it as we are not perfect. We might decide that when it happens we will first check to see if it was something we had control over and correct our behavior or realize that expectations and actuality are rarely a match and accept it and let it go. And so on.

Could we say as a useful idea that an artist is someone who sees the world with a different perspective than we do. Creativity then is seeing the same things with a different perspective and perspective can be changed if we chose to.

Then we can use our usual problem solving tools to create actions based on this new perspective and use our resulting experiences to confirm our new perspective and develop a new belief that eventually replaces the old one if appropriate.  

If we always start with the same idea then we shouldn't be surprised when we always reach the same answer. To get different and better answers we need to change the idea we start with. All problems and ideas can be approached creatively by changing the initial idea we start with and then letting our logical solving routines go to work.

Creativity then is a skill and can be learnt and mastered by practice.

If our life is our ultimate creative endeavor then how skilful do we want to be?


Our Perceptions and Reality

Thinking About Beliefs Part 1

Value of Unpleasant Feelings

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Useful Ideas Concept

This is the third post in a mini series on deliberate creativity.

  1. Creativity and Thinking
  2. Problem With Problem Thinking

One of the creative concepts that I use for thinking I call Useful Idea. This is an idea that I can use that doesn't have to be truthful, make sense or be defended but I use to find a different perspective that will change how I look at a problem or solution. 

For example Jennifer at Goodness Graciousness has a post about Truth and Reality that illustrates a useful idea that as we get older our description of the same item gets more specific and detailed and both our answers and thinking reflect that and limit us. There can  only be one truth.

Next useful idea is that we define a problem with our truths. That is our beliefs, past judgements, arguments, perceptions and methods of solving problems determines how we define the problem or solution we are seeking. 

Example adapted from Edward de Bono's books on thinking.

At a drag race there are 73 racers entered. You are the Marshall and have to determine how many races have to be run. How would you go about finding this number?  Most of us would pick up a pencil and paper and start to chart out the number of matches. However, there is another method which will solve this in less than 5 seconds. If instead of looking at winners we asked the question how many losers would it take to have 1 final winner. The answer is 72. (73-1). There would need to be 72 matches. Also works for an even number of players. A shift in perception of the problem.

Useful Idea: We see information through the filter of our perceptions; our truths. The way we hold and use our truths creates the problem of seeing new ways of looking at the problem.

Useful Idea: A child does not have a complex problem solving methodology based on truths to limit them. They are free to create and use any idea with any other idea and thus easily find new ways of looking at the world and data.

Useful Idea: The ability to suspend the need for every step to be true has allowed a possible new belief to be generated.

Perceptions are the glasses through which we make sense of the world and how we choose to deal with it. If we change our perception we change the problem.

Now we have a possible tool for solving those problems that resist our normal methodology.

Tomorrow we will see if this works.


Spectator or Participant

A spectator watches a performance or is a member of an audience. Benefits:

  • Don't have to train to watch - no effort
  • Don't have to commit to a result - nothing to lose (unless betting)
  • Change teams, sports, performances at a whim - no investment

A participant is someone who takes part in something. Benefits:

  • personal growth - learn new skills
  • sense of accomplishment from completing
  • learn how to handle reversals, lack of progress or defeats
  • learns the power of persistence
  • willingness to try new things for improvement
  • freely learns from others

Are we spectators of Life or participants in Life?

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Monday, May 21, 2007

The Problem With Problem Thinking

This is the second post in a mini series on deliberate creativity.

Part 1: Creativity and Thinking

Most of us would agree that children display creativity at early ages as they are busy discovering the world. While they are learning about the world they are focused first on the why question until about age 5 and then the why not question until about age 10. Creativity abounds throughout this stage as any parent can tell you.

Then they start into a lifelong stage where the ability to understand and solve problems effectively becomes an important skill to master. The educational system supports this viewpoint through it's program of learning information, applying analysis and producing solutions that can measured by exams. In school and in Life people are rewarded and applauded for demonstrating this skill. No question it is an important skill to have. Creative thinking is mainly left to the Art and Design programs but treated more as a gift rather than a skill that can be learned.

Although mainly successful the problem solving process does have limitations. Once we start down the series of steps for solving a problem based on our past judgements, arguments, truths and analysis skills our viewpoint is narrowed to seeing the next step from the step we are on. If we cannot see the next step then we cannot progress to an answer. We are stuck and need a creative solution to move forward.

We are often stuck because we are locked into the way we defined our problem. There are techniques such as brainstorming etc. that we can apply but usually we use them more for trying to find the next step than it is about reexamining our problem definition.

Are we left hanging in the breeze until a flash of creativity comes out of the blue to solve our problem?

We will examine this question in the next post.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Creativity and Thinking

Someone creates a new idea that becomes a fad or a new approach that gets implemented as a better solution to problems. We simply  adopt the idea and make it our own.

We are all very good at thinking about and solving problems. A problem is something that requires a decision on action to be taken. Where are we going to go on vacation? What to watch on TV? How to pay our bills? How to get the kids to practices?

We then make a judgement as whether or not we need additional information based on our knowledge of the problem. What kind of information? Where do we get it from? When do we have enough information? What are our time constraints? And so on. Then we make a choice if we have alternatives based on whatever criteria we choose to apply. This is usually what we mean by thinking.

We admire the results of creativity and usually call it a gift. One that we either have or not. We delegate it to the arts such as literature, music, sculpture or to designers from buildings to toys to clothes. There is an aura of mystery and an almost mystical quality to it that we cannot understand; just admire.

What if creativity is just a different type of thinking skill that we could learn and practice?

This is the first post on a mini series on deliberate creativity.



Saturday, May 19, 2007

Web of Reality

We can spend our lives spinning the fabric of our world by weaving our opinions, prejudices, beliefs, strategies and emotions into our version of solid reality. But just like a spider web is damaged by wind, rain and other natural events so is our web of reality. The moment it is damaged in some way we often scurry to rebuild it without questioning until it is solid once more and so we endure a constant battle of reconstruction.

What is this need to continually repair our web answering? It is our need for a place of safety amid the chaos and uncertainty of events. This is where beliefs come into play. It is our beliefs of who we are with our understanding of what reality is that formulates our safety zone; our web, our way of dealing with uncertainty. Can we know what happens next in our lives with certainty? Expectations yes; certainty no. This is common to every human being on this earth.

If we acknowledge this truth of uncertainty rather than ignoring it; then, we can be even more appreciative of the only thing that is certain; our present moment and have the ability to review and modify our beliefs accordingly. We can also then appreciate that everyone else also suffers from this same problem of uncertainty and understand their need to find and defend their beliefs.

Life is the friction of illusion meeting reality. It can burn us up or light a fire in us. The choice is ours to make.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

I Am Right and You Are Wrong

We often act like there is some kind of absolute truth out there that we have found through thinking in a rational logical progression of thoughts. We know what it is and therefore everyone else should reach the same inescapable conclusion that we have.

But they don't and we end up with a I am right and they are wrong situation where we need to convince the other person to correct their thinking. If they don't then we will if necessary go to war to force them to think correctly.

Farfetched we might say. Then we need to ask is what then were the religious wars, civil rights, abortion, lab experiments on animals, and environmental issues to name but a few; all about. I am right and you are wrong.

Our truths are not out there somewhere for us to discover. We carry them with us. It is generated by our environment, our experiences, our perceptions and not least our emotions.

I am Woman.

I Have a Dream.

Union For Ever.

War of Northern Aggression.

For God and County.

Beat the Huns.

We start out with different ways of looking at things and then use our intelligence and education to support that point of view. The result:

  • Everyone is always right
  • No one is ever right

We are right in our perceptual world but that world is not anyone else's perceptual world. Once we understand this then we move from I am right and you are wrong stance to exploring each others perceptual worlds to gain an understanding of how they see the world. It is called insight. When this is done then perhaps a combined vision from both viewpoints would lead to a more effective solution.

Food for thought.


Our Perceptions and Reality

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Going Back in Time

The tag from Camille of the NOW blog on going back and talking to your 16 year old self. What conversation would you have?

To set the stage some of the events of 1963

Civil Rights Rev. Martin Luther King and his "I have a dream speech"

USSR and USA set up the hotline link

President Kennedy visits Berlin and his "Ich bien ein Berliner"

Assassination of President Kennedy in Dallas

Dr WHO first episode on TV

A few of the hits of 1963

The Beach Boys - Surfing U.S.A.
Ray Charles - Take These Chains From My Heart
The Crystals - Da Doo Ron Ron
The Drifters - Up On The Roof
The Four Seasons - Walk Like A Man
Jan & Dean - Surf City
The Miracles - You've Really Got A Hold On Me
Paul & Paula - Hey Paula
Peter, Paul & Mary - Blowin' In The Wind
Elvis Presley - (You're The) Devil In Disguise
Bobby Vinton - Blue On Blue - 06-63
LittleStevie Wonder - Fingertips, Part 2 - 07

A59 Hello Peter

A16 Who are you

A59 I am your future self

A16 Man you look old

A59 I came to have a conversation with you

A16 Are you going to tell me what to. If so, get lost. I am finally on my own and no one is going to tell me anything.

A59 I know Peter so I am going to say a few things and then go.

A16 Make it short I got some living to do.

A59 Your focus on me first, trying to control everything so you won't lose it, and trying to live to the fullest will cause a great deal of pain for you and others. I wouldn't want you to change anything because it took all of your experiences to bring about who I am today. If you changed any little bit of it; would that still be true. I don't think so. I like who I am today and every one of the scars I carry remind me of the torturous path I traveled to get here. I promise you Peter that there will come a day when you will face and go through your fears and truly start to live.

In the meantime I will give you a few hints to help you through the years.

Practice your back roll so that you will survive falling off the bridge.

Remember when you crash your motorcycle you don't have to walk to the hospital carrying the front wheel. Just leave it there.

When you are in the delivery room for your daughters birth. Don't hold your breath because you will fall over and go boom.

Put a strap on your camera when you go to the grand Canyon; it won't survive the drop.

See you later Peter.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Optimism and Pessimism for Planning

A pessimist is a person who expects the worst  and that things are bad, and tend to become worse. There is an advantage to being a pessimist. If things go wrong then they were right. If it does go right then it was luck. As plans tend to never work out exactly and new ventures tend to fail 95% of the time; so the odds are in their favor. They have ample ammunition for their thinking and will rarely take on new challenging goals.

An optimist is a person who is disposed to take a favorable view of things. The advantage to an optimist of this attitude is believing that given time, things will work out in the end. They will take on new and challenging goals without full consideration of the risks involved. They will pay little attention as to why it failed and will tend to repeat their errors.

We need a balance between the two viewpoints when looking at our lives. We need to tread the middle way and use both mindsets in formulating our plans. Start with an optimistic plan then look at with pessimist 's viewpoint to find flaws and holes. Test and research to repair the plan.

Remember that plans are maps only and we will encounter unanticipated events that will require flexibility as we progress to our targets. This approach would more likely produce a valid plan of action.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Word traps

When we say sad do we mean: blue, dejected, depressed, desolate, dispirited, down, downcast, downhearted, dull, dysphoric, gloomy, heavy-hearted, low, melancholic, melancholy, spiritless, tristful, unhappy, wistful. Or perhaps we mean : doleful, dolorous, lugubrious, mournful, plaintive, rueful, sorrowful, woebegone, woeful.

When someone says that they are sad. What feeling or picture do we get? How likely are they to match? We understand and respond from our experiences. Is that realistic? As an experiment how would we tell someone the feeling without using the general word sad.

Feelings are a range.

If we only use one descriptive word for a feeling then we only have one response. How does that communicate to someone else? How easy would it be for us to miscommunicate? How easy would it be for us to over or under react? Does the word itself trap us into our responses?

The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the use of words. If we can better express the degree of a feeling by using better descriptive words, would we better handle our feelings? Could it possibly lead to less intensity when we label it correctly and therefore not over or under react?

We know for certain that the words we use are our choice. Perhaps we should become more fluent in the language of feelings.

Food for thought.


Noise or Conversations

Mean What You Say

Watch Your Language

Monday, May 14, 2007


A late post today as I had to run out and buy a new router.

Digital Nomads tagged me on a meme What is a Digital Nomad that got me thinking about Mindsets. What is a Mindset? It is a mentality: a habitual or characteristic mental attitude that determines how you will interpret and respond to situations.

So this led me to ask how can you discover what that mindset needs to be. A useful exercise that would apply to any major change such as a career redirection, having children, new goals and the like.

I remembered reading a post by Beth at titled What is the Personality of the Company which I thought was a good approach. Here I am using partial quote from the post "I think everyone should think long and hard about what type of environment they are comfortable working in" for this exercise.

So what would be the environment of a Digital Nomad?

  • They would need to be self-sufficient as help is not always down the hall or even on the same continent.
  • Appropriate to today's issue. How do I maintain or replace equipment.
  • What are my minimal equipment requirements.
  • They would need the ability to fit in wherever they were and adjust to local customs when necessary.
  • They would need the ability to meet people easily.
  • They would have to be able to handle sometimes long absences from friends.
  • They would need the ability to communicate well digitally appropriate to needs of their work and personal needs.
  • They would need to be able to handle periods of loneliness or being alone.
  • Attracting a significant other into their life would be difficult.

Doing this exercise allows me to determine whether or not the digital nomad lifestyle is for me or not and steps I can take to test out things in a small way first. For example book a room 200 miles away for a weekend and work from there. If I find it is too frustrating then I will need to rethink my goals.

I will be following the meme with interest to see what other things I need to include in the new environment I would be entering to think about.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

For Moms on Mother's Day

They guide us.

And so our mothers and grandmothers have, more often than not anonymously, handed on the creative spark, the seed of the flower they themselves never hoped to see -- or like a sealed letter they could not plainly read. - Alice Walker

Some are kissing mothers and some are scolding mothers, but it is love just the same, and most mothers kiss and scold together. - Pearl S. Buck

We are forever children in their eyes; never older than 12.

Whenever I'm with my mother, I feel as though I have to spend the whole time avoiding land mines. - Amy Tan

An ounce of mother is worth a pound of priests. - Spanish Proverb

That's a nice story, but now tell me where you've really been for the past 3 days! - Jonah's Mother

They want the best for us.

I want my children to have all the things I couldn't afford. Then I want to move in with them. - Phyllis Diller

Mothers all want their sons to grow up to be President, but they don't want them to become politicians in the process. - John Fitzgerald Kennedy

They can be a pain.

Few misfortunes can befall a boy which bring worse consequences than to have a really affectionate mother. - William Somerset Maugham

Children aren't happy with nothing to ignore, And that's what parents were created for. - Ogden Nash

They take us places.

A suburban mother's role is to deliver children obstetrically once, and by car for ever after. - Peter De Vries

They share important things.

A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie. -Tenneva Jordan

They love us.

Mothers are fonder than fathers of their children because they are more certain they are their own. - Aristotle

They get hurt by us

Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. -Elizabeth Stone

We aggravate them.

My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it. - Mark Twain

We are a comfort to them.

Children are a great comfort in your old age - and they help you reach it faster, too. - Lionel Kauffman

We are their hope.

Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see. - John W Whitehead

But without them we would not exist and for that I am forever grateful.

Happy Mother's Day.

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Blog Drive-Byes and some Appreciation

As my readers know I suffered a computer melt down which quite overtaxed my 1 brain cell in rebuilding the applications. I lost the write up I was preparing on self-hypnosis and will rebuild it this weekend for posting. I also ran into problems getting back into MyBlogLog as I forgot my password. I sent off a panic note to Robyn Tippins of the MyBlogLog squad and then remembered it (10 min later) and sent another note to Robyn who was already responding to me. So thank you for your quick response Robyn.

Mimi Lenox who I spoke about on a previous Violence and Peace post also has a hilarious site called Profile of the Day which is about humorous statements picked from dating sites and actual personal ads. Every Saturday she holds a Comeback Challenge which I would love to see answers from Ed at  The Pisstakers , Sandee at  Comedy Plus and Bee at Muffin 53.

Jennifer from The Art of Intimacy has a good post I feel Loved When that presents an interesting way to help nurture a relationship.

Marielyn at TinySigns a blog on programming CSS is running an experiment with Technorati and being a new blog could use a little boost from the community.

Darren Rowse from Problogger had a group writer contest last week which generated  893 entries including mine Top 5 Self-Help Myths. Two bloggers picked mine to add to their personal selection for their readers so I would like to thank:

Bill from Fitness health and Diet Tips for including me in his top 5 fitness list.

Maile from Breath by Breath a blog on learning to be happy and who also had an interesting entry titled 5 Ways Criminal Thinking Can Make You Happy.


Friday, May 11, 2007

Thoughts on Loneliness

There are people who just cannot be alone. They end one relationship and almost before the door is closed they are in a new one. They leap from lily pad to lily pad in an endless circle game or compromise their dreams and desires for the sense of security.

If we find out someone lives alone our minds can go into hyperactive mode until we come up with an explanation. From unrequited love to shameful secrets; the reasons can be quite creative and could bear absolutely no resemblance to the truth. We can sometimes form tag teams or flying squads whose sole purpose is to ensure that a friend or family member almost never has to stay alone. We have created an equation alone = loneliness.

Loneliness is a feeling we all get as children and is at its most prevalent in our teens and 20's. This continues for our lifetime normally getting more infrequent and of shorter duration as we age. Acute loneliness can arise for the survivor of a long term relationship and time needs to be allowed for transition. Sometimes it never goes away and they die of a broken heart.

Alone is a physical state meaning an absence of people. Period. Being alone is a rite of passage to be being comfortable with being by ourselves. When we are comfortable then we can be alone but not lonely. 

Food for thought.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Top 5 Self-Help Myths

This blog is about thinking; one of our most important skills and offers a perspective for us to consider. On to the list in no particular order and certainly not all inclusive.

#1. Change requires special techniques.

  • We buy a new house, car, boat or join a new club. When we think there is a benefit - no problem.
  • Detours, weather, our favorite coffee stop closes. When we have no choice - no problem.
  • Quit smoking, lose weight, or addictions. - When it is our choice - problem.

Sometimes we may need some medical assistance when there are physical issues involved; but, we can change the only thing that we truly control and that is our behavior. We have to give up something; our old behaviors, and start new ones. One small change leads to new experiences that in turn leads to new changes towards our goals. No special techniques required; just our power of choice.

#2. Just change our feelings.

  • Don't think negative thoughts. When we feel sad, angry, or embarrassed just think positive thoughts.
  • When we feel depressed think about happy occasions in the past.
  • When we get angry at someone else's behavior; just dial it down.
  • We can feel happy and good about ourselves all the time.

No amount of skill will stop our emotional response to anything that excites or bothers us.We feel what we feel. Period. Feelings come and go as circumstances change. We can change how we behave with our feelings when they arise. If we choose to.

#3. I know what you think and believe even if you don't.

  • Beliefs are hidden from ourselves and someone else has the ability to know what that is even though they do not have knowledge of all of our life experiences and feelings.
  • All they can possibly know is their assumptions on our behavior.

Our behavior is our beliefs in action. If we want to know our beliefs just watch our actions and feelings. Does seeing a homeless person cause disgust, pity or compassion? When you see someone with arms loaded approaching the door do you wait and hold it open? Do you greet a new day with a smile or a curse? Beliefs are not hard to find at all. Just pay attention.

#4. If we have this first then we can have that.

  • If we can be rich then we won't worry about being such a worrier.
  • When we feel good about ourselves then we can take care of our weight problem.

As if feeling good will change our eating habits or being rich would change our worrying habit. We do this because we just don't want to make the change. If we don't; then don't. If we do; then do. It's our life and our choice. Just don't waffle.

#5 We are missing some essential ingredient to make life work.

  • There is something out there that we are missing and if we had it then magic will happen and someone else knows what that is.
  • That life has rules and we just need to understand them.

Life is not a precise scientific experiment. Life is a chaotic experimental trial and error existence. We have everything we need to conduct our own experiment. Trust our own experiences and accept anything else conditionally.

Food for thought.

Thanks to Darren Rowse and his Top 5 Writing Group Project at Problogger for the inspiration for this post.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Our Perceptions and Reality

A large ornate and colorful chair appears in a jungle clearing. Eyes peer from the surrounding jungle at this object.

First to approach was a man who had never seen such an object before. He circled the chair and cautiously reached out and stroked the chair. After a period of time he reached into his pouch and pulled out his most prized possession and placed it before the chair. He then raced off to tell his friends of his discovery.

Next to appear was a cat who carefully circled the chair and after finding no disturbing odors leapt up and lay down on the chair's soft cushion and dozed in the sun. After a time it jumped down and went hunting.

An explorer came upon the chair and knew what it was and promptly approached and sat down. They glanced around curiously and wondered how it arrived. Then having places to go; got up and left.

A short time later an old bull elephant rambled into the clearing heading straight for the fruit of the marula tree on the opposite side. On the way he crushed the chair under his foot.

Which perception was right?

Reality means different things depending on our perception. We take actions dependent on our understanding. We need to understand this when we don't understand the actions of someone else.

Food for thought.

Inspired by a post at Greg's Brain and well worth reading I Object that I can be Objective

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Plans Are Like Maps

Have you ever planned a trip somewhere? I remember a bicycle trip a group of us planned from Toronto to Quebec City (809 Km/503 miles). We poured over maps and carefully planned every detail. How far we would travel in a day. Where we would stop for the night. What route we would take. What we would carry with us. What time of the year we would go. Our preparation training runs. Boy, we were prepared.

We set off early one spring morning and the weather was perfect. Our route through Toronto was carefully planned so that we would avoid heavy traffic. Well, we got through after negotiating 2 detours and 1 accident holdup and finally arrived at our first nights stop 3 hours late and barely made it to our motel before our reservation would have been canceled.

Determined we set out the next day along a old Highway little traveled. What we discovered was the towns were almost exactly 2 hours traveling apart ( a half days travel by buggy) and we would stop at each town to stretch. Almost immediately the old-timers sitting on the benches out front of the General Store would come over and start talking to us.

They would tell of sights to see and routes to avoid or better ways to get to the next town. We saw some spectacular scenery taking their advice and shortly we had decided to cancel all of our scheduled stops and make arrangements on a daily basis. On the trip we had muscle injuries, bicycle breakdowns that needed a bike shop owner to open up on a Sunday and somehow found all the steepest hills we had ever ridden.

But we had fun and I still remember it to this day with warmth as being one of my best vacations. That happened because we let go of the carefully detailed plan and adapted day by day to the surprises that life threw at us. And yes we did arrive at our destination.

We need to remember that plans are like maps. They don't represent the physical reality just our expectations. Be prepared to change the how's to match what is going on and arrive at the destination just by a different route than we expected.

Related Posts:

The Distance Travelled

Monday, May 7, 2007

Instant Fix Syndrome and Leprechauns

The media, books and shows portray a problem and a solution fixed in a page of type, within the covers of a book, or in one hour with commercials. We set out looking for instant solutions.The problem is that we can end up spending all of our time chasing the leprechaun.

Among the most popular of beliefs about leprechauns is that they are extremely wealthy and like to hide their gold in secret locations, which can only be revealed if a person were to actually capture and interrogate a leprechaun for its money. (Quote from Wikipedia)

We look for that sure golden opportunity that requires only being in the right place at the right time. That way we don't have to face our fears and doubts or the penalty of failure. We can miss even seeing opportunities because they involve those 4 letter words; work and time.

We can end up ill prepared for what life throws at us. By all means we need to chase our dreams to the best of our ability. Just as long as we don't only focus on the destination. We need to ensure we have a quality journey.

Be careful. The instant fix syndrome is an addiction and like all addictions; it steals away our lives.

We should take time for reflection and thinking on what is happening right now; right here and being present. For that is our life.

Related Posts:

Cultivate the Stillness Within

Is it the Journey or the Destination That's Important

Sunday, May 6, 2007

On My Bookshelf

I was recently asked what books I have on my bookshelf. I read at least 2-3 new books a week from the library and occasionally buy books I feel will be worth reading again from time to time. This will be updated from time to time.

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz - based on ancient Toltec wisdom and it provides me with a different perspective on sources of self-limiting beliefs.

Super-Learning 2000 by Sheila Ostrander & Lynn Schroeder - using music for aiding relaxation and superlearning. Also I used the techniques to enhance Hypnosis sessions.

Tai-Chi Chuan by Yearning K. Chen - I have had this book on my shelf for almost 40 years. I used some of the principles when I was teaching Martial Arts and more recently in taking up Tai Chi. It's about balance and attention.

The Tao of Tai-Chi Chuan by Jou, Tsung Hwa - provided an insight into the history and philosophy of Tai Chi and proper breathing called Chi-Kung.

The Art of Living Consciously - My first introduction to the power of awareness as a tool and started me on my adventure of self-discovery.

Kundalini Awakening by John Selby - Deals with the Charka's or energy centers and along with Essential Reiki by Diane Stein I used as a Reiki Master to add to and broaden my presentations to students from my learning material.

Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. - which I have used to enhance my hypnosis sessions for dealing with stress and pain as well as my own illness.

Why People Don't Heal by Caroline Myss, Ph.D - an excellent book on the development of consciousness and spirituality over the ages and self-healing involving the charka's and energy medicine.


On Comments
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Hi my name is Peter Haslam and welcome to my blog Necessary Skills. I am a 59 year old Leo living in North York, Ontario and sharing my life currently with my cat Cleo who is definitely Mistress of the House.

I originally started to blog to share some skills I had learned through the years on learning and thinking. It was going to be the usual how to and tips style that we see so much of around the Internet.

However, I found myself drawn to blogs where the authors were going through the same life issues and struggles as I had or are currently working on. I started writing posts almost as a response to the questions they raised.

This blog is not about advice or some miraculous solution that I only have. It's about sharing perspectives on issues generated by the fact we are all human and share the same basic emotions.

It's about understanding and dealing with the uncertainty we have and feel so deeply with others grappling with the same issues. It's about embracing and accepting ourselves and learning to find our own path through the wilderness. It's about knowing we are truly not alone in that endeavor.

It is through the struggle we find ourselves and our truths and are stronger for it. It is our struggle that defines us and enriches our lives. When we share our triumphs and set backs it allows all of us to be less than perfect and learning to accept uncertainty in our lives.

Change comes about through a change in our perspective and Necessary Skills is very much about sharing conversations on perspective so please join in.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Thinking on Addictions

I was asked a question that I feel deserves a post because it is one that has truly fascinated me for some time. This is because of my own history of dealing with my personal addictions and my experiences as a Reiki Master; with energy healing, as a hypnotist; in issues of pain and healing, and when I was teaching Martial Arts; the various aspects of Qi (Chi), prana, mana, ka, and Qigong to name a few.

The question: Addiction. Do you think it is learned? inherited? 

This deals with the field of behavioral genetics and more specifically psychiatric genetics. Studies have at best shown a 50-60% correlation in alcoholism appearing in a family tree. I would rather say that there could be an inherited predisposition to alcoholism. However there are numerous documented twin studies where one of the children becomes an alcoholic and the other doesn't.

Recent research by  Dr. Bruce Lipton and covered in his book The Biology of  Belief revealed that genes do not in fact control our behavior, instead, genes are turned on and off by influences outside the cell. These influences include our perceptions and beliefs.

Dr. Candice Pert's research into peptides has shown that the receptors we have in our brain are also present throughout our bodies. Two of her books; Molecules of Emotion and Your Body is Your Subconscious Mind, in particular cover the interaction of body and mind.

I think that we can inherit genes that predispose people to addictions but it is not a final sentence. The fact that there are documented cases where people have conquered cancer and other diseases, ended addictions and the enigma of the placebo effect have convinced me that our perceptions, beliefs and environment do matter.

My take:

    1. Cells react to their environment and modify themselves accordingly. Change the environment and they change.
    2. The cells in our bodies die and are replaced including the brain totally every 7 years. Some in minutes, some in days, etc. Over time cells adapt themselves to a new environment that is after we quit smoking or stop drinking the cells adjust and craving decreases or stops.
    3. People can make themselves get sick or die. Broken heart syndrome, witch doctors, hypochondriacs, false pregnancies. etc.
    4. Quantum scientific discoveries on the fundamental basics of energy.
    5. Rich history of yoga and martial arts in extraordinary physical and mental abilities as well as energy projection.
    6. Thinking on and changing our perceptions about our past issues changes the impact they have on us.

Food for thought. Enjoy the meal.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Number 1 Myth of Self-Help Programs

The first post of this series Thinking About Beliefs was some thoughts on how a belief comes about for ourselves and how we structure the meaning (make sense) of our feelings to external events. Our beliefs are wrapped in many layers of casual experiences that match and build additional supporting beliefs shaped by our perceptions. Once we have accepted it is our belief we rarely reexamine them unless our experiences forces us to.

The second post Fallacy of Limiting Beliefs discussed how the concept of limiting beliefs and discovering their roots using our memory is not our best source for making change. Our behavior comes from our beliefs whether we know about them or not.

Thinking on beliefs is not about I am right and you are wrong but how we come to act in the way we do and how we interpret the feelings that arise from that behavior.

Feelings arise spontaneously from the very fact that we are alive. You cannot suppress feelings. You cannot escape them. Can you stop feeling sad, happy or fearful? Can you turn up the dial on happiness or down to lessen our feeling of sadness? So trying to run away from or change the fact that we will have distressful feelings is a non-starter. We need to simply accept our feelings for what they are. Fleeting experiences that constantly change according to circumstances.

What we can change is how we handle our feelings. If we try to escape our feelings by indulging in behavior that temporarily masks it such as drinking, drugs, gambling or other activities we are doomed to a continual search for the next fix. Pain and suffering are signals that we need to examine our circumstances and determine whether our behavior caused it or was it something beyond our control. If it is something we can't control; accept it. If it is something generated by our behavior then change it and let the resulting experiences and feelings guide us. Just remember that change won't eliminate feelings.

This changing our behavior and evaluating our results will over time construct new beliefs that are more beneficial to us.Usually people embark on self-help programs to eliminate the suffering or pain they are currently experiencing or to obtain more happiness. That this is directly controllable is the Number 1 myth of self-help programs.

There is a good post by Greg at Greg's Brain titled Are You Happy that expands on this topic.

Related Post: The Value of Unpleasant feelings

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Fallacy of Limiting Beliefs

This is the second post in a three part series. Part 1 Thinking About Beliefs sets the groundwork for this post.

A large number of self-help programs talk about how limiting beliefs are preventing us from achieving the quality of life we want for ourselves by sabotaging our efforts. If we can find the source of this belief then we can change it.

In a word. Crap!

Lets take a little trip down memory lane. What were you feeling exactly 7 1/2 minutes ago? Was your left ear itching 1 hour ago? Think back to the last time you were at the park. How many people were there? What were they wearing? How many cars were in the parking lot? Our memory of events is selective and really doesn't represent reality very well at all. We could easily misrepresent what was happening at that time simply though what our perceptions allowed us to see. So using our memory to seek the causes of our limiting beliefs becomes very questionable.

Don't worry for those of us who believe it is necessary to know the cause in order to change a belief; we can if need be, make up a socially acceptable reason and claim it for our truth and have examples from memory to prove it and not even know that we are making it up.

[Note] A lot of therapies use this step for serious problems as a starting point for action and it can be a very useful tool to examine what we believe in an experts hands.

Let's look at another perspective on limiting beliefs. If you are reading this right now; congratulations. You are a survivor. Your beliefs have allowed you to live in this complex world and keep yourself alive. All of your beliefs. You notice that there is no reference to the quality of your life. That is a whole other issue. You exist today because of your beliefs and not in spite of your beliefs. There are no limiting beliefs when it comes to survival; only necessity. Enough said.

A fallacy or false belief is a misconception resulting from incorrect reasoning. That is why the post is titled as it is. Rather than worrying about our limiting beliefs; how about we acknowledge that our beliefs got us to this point in our lives and we simply want some changes.

Start from where we are; warts, wrinkles and all. Today's reality is our only starting point. It's all we have for a certainty.

Stay tuned for the next post in this series on The Number 1 Myth of Self-Help Programs.


Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Thinking About Beliefs Part 1

This is the first post of a three part series on my thinking about beliefs.

Beliefs are difficult to think about. There are all kinds of definitions as to what a belief is. The one I often use is a quote from Edward de Bono a renowned thinker. "At its most powerful a belief is a perception that forces us to look at the world in such a way that the perception is validated."

The following diagram represents my perspective on how beliefs come about. It starts with a feeling that we have. We then tend to look at our current experiences; that is what is going on in our world at that time, and we naturally assume that they are the cause for that feeling. This is our perception of the causal connection between the feeling and the experience. The next time we have a similar feeling with a similar experience we reinforce our perception (our belief).

As the accumulation of experiences that we match to a particular feeling increases the stronger our certainty that our perception is correct; it is our truth. A belief then is something about which we have the feeling it is true and is so self-evident that the idea of questioning it is just not thought about.

Over time we add supporting beliefs that support the central core belief. The next diagram represents a single belief with the light blue circle being the core belief. The other shapes represent the supporting beliefs.

Let me use an example to illustrate.
We want to belong to our family group as it is essential to our survival. Our parents believe that we should be silent around adults as a sign of being well brought up and properly respectful. We are disciplined by being forced to go to our room or to stand facing the corner until we say that we will behave properly next time. This is repeated until we learn to be silent and are rewarded by being praised by our parents when our behavior is proper. These repeated experiences forms the connection between our experiences, our feelings and our results. Our perception matches our beliefs.

Later on we start school and want very much to be part of the group. We quickly find out that speaking out in the classroom gets the disapproval of the teacher. Now we form a secondary belief that expressing ourselves in school is bad behavior and we tack it on to the original belief. Similarly it could happen with our playmate groups, team sports and so on with the accumulated experiences teaching us that the belief is true. Our perception of how the world works is firmly validated and the belief is firmly rooted as part of our survival mechanism.

Now we cannot see any evidence that the belief is incorrect in any way as our perception filters out any contradiction to the belief. We simply ignore them.

The second post will be on the Fallacy of Limiting Beliefs and the third post on the Number 1 Myth of Self-Help Programs. Stay tuned.

Blog Drive-Byes May 1

Today will be a drive-bye day as my computer crashed and I am reloading files and programs. Fortunately I have streaming online backup so it is just a a matter of retrieving and resetting up so should be back to normal by tomorrow.

Rt at Untwisted Vortex has a link exchange offer of 8-1. Good blog with interesting reading and a member of MyBlogLog. Be sure to check it out.

One blog I check out regularly is Dark Roasted Blend. Expect to spend some time here and definitely check out the archives.

For the animal lovers like myself check out Cute Overload

Read a hilarious post by checking out the 10 dumbest resume blunders on esofthub's Blog.

For scenic delights and photographs from Northern Norway check out Thomas Laupstad's Blog.

Always interesting reading is David's blog Thoughtspurs.

[note] correction on David's blog that I had misspelled. My apologies David.

Found a great blog for digital nomads about really tough notebooks at Rugged Notebooks