The Principles of Spiritual Living

Are you still trying to find your “purpose?” The problem is not finding it. The real challenge is what to do after you figure it out and realizing what a difference having a vision and mission in life can make. I believe that having a vision and mission gives us a firm foundation for happiness and, therefore, success, though, it may not even be necessary for everyone. Vision and mission statements are tools; that’s all they are. They aren’t the end-all to all end-alls. What we really need to be happy and succeed in life is already within us.

The first principle of spiritual living is that we must stop trying to be who we are and start being who we are. It means we frequently try too hard to be something we’re not. Think about it. No one knows you the way you do. If you don’t like something about yourself, change it or figure out why you are being so critical with yourself. If you need help doing that, find help in the wisdom and advice of the great masters, mystics and sages without being biased by any religion, belief or faith. The key point is to stop trying to be yourself and just start accepting that you can be yourself. You can do so without reservation, approval, permission or apology.

Isn’t it time for us to see who we/you are? Isn’t it time to move to that next level of expression? It’s inside you, perhaps desperately seeking the manifestation only you can provide.

In this post I’d like to share with you some of the greatest lessons I’ve learned during the course of my life, in hopes that you will find them as helpful as I did. Without further ado, here they are:

This moment is all there is. The past is gone and the future is not here yet. The present moment is everything you have, so be sure to immerse yourself in it.

I don’t know everything, and that’s totally fine. To learn, you need to admit that you don’t know it all. In fact, not everything can be known, and that’s part of the beauty of life, which is an ongoing learning journey.

Pain isn’t your enemy. It’s just a messenger trying to show you that there’s something amiss. So instead of hiding from your pain or suppressing it, face it and pay attention to what it has to show you, so that you can understand why it’s there and how to get rid of it.

The best things in life are free. Here are a few examples: A deep breath of fresh air, a walk in nature, a conversation with a good friend, and a look into the eye of a beloved partner. Cherish them before someone puts a price tag on them too.

Money isn’t just neutral energy. As it exists today, money is creating artificial scarcity, which results in competition, inequality, poverty, greed, and violence (among other things). Therefore, money is quite a negative force in our world.

Peace begins on your plate. Three times a day you can choose peace over violence — that is, with each meal you eat. Is your food cruelty-free or does it involve unnecessary suffering and death?

Don’t trust the mainstream media. Most big media companies are owned by people whose main intention is to emotionally manipulate you in order to keep you hypnotized, sell you lies and empty your pockets.

Voice your truth. Speak out your mind, express your feelings and let people see who you truly are. Being true to yourself and others is the only way to build genuine relationships and live an authentic life.

You can’t change anyone. But your actions can inspire many to change.

Mistakes are part of learning. Don’t fear making mistakes, for they have important things to teach you. But make sure you don’t repeat them.

Failures are stepping stones to success. Each failure leads you one step closer to success, so don’t shy away from it. Try, fail, and then try again for as long as it takes to achieve your goals.

Simplicity is the key to living well. To live simply means to let go of what is unimportant and focus on what truly matters to your happiness and well-being.

Think for yourself. If you don’t, someone else will think for you.

We don’t have a true democracy. Casting a vote once every few years alone doesn’t give people much freedom in collective decision-making. Especially if you consider that what they vote for is nothing but power-hungry politicians who are lying to them in order to serve their vested interests.

There is no ‘free market’. In our socioeconomic system, you have as much freedom as your money can buy. And those with a lot of it have the freedom to restrict the freedom of others.

Books can be life-changing. You must have heard this countless times. But it’s totally true — some books have the power to turn your life upside down, in a tremendously positive way. Just make sure to carefully pick which books to read, otherwise they can be a waste of your time.

Use your words wisely. Words can hurt or heal, so always be mindful of how you speak.

Do no harm, but take no shit. Be kind and loving to your fellow human beings, but be smart enough to establish healthy boundaries in your relationships.

Possessions can possess you. Let go of your attachments to your belongings, for one day they will all be taken away from you.

Look fear in the eye. If you don’t, you will never overcome it.

Take responsibility for your life. Don’t just sit cross-legged and blame others for your misfortunes. You have much power in your hands to help shape your destiny.

Change starts from within. Embody the change you wish to see in the world.

No person is evil. Those who choose to hurt others are deeply hurt themselves. Keeping a non-judgmental, compassionate attitude can do wonders to help heal all wounds.

Question your beliefs. If followed blindly, they can ruin your life (and that of others).

Our economy is an anti-economy. To economize means to carefully manage resources and to avoid unnecessary expenditure or waste. Our economy, however, is fundamentally based on consumption — that is, on the mindless and constant extraction of natural resources and production of waste.

Choose your friends carefully. The people we spend time with shape our lives. Choose to spend it with those who lift you up and not those who drag you down.

There’s no such thing as the perfect relationship. But if your relationships are build with patience, love and care, they can enrich your life more than anything else.

Embrace change. Life is constantly changing, and the happiest people are the ones who have learned to adapt and flow with it.

You might die any moment. Contemplate on death regularly, so that when it knocks on your door, it doesn’t find you unprepared.

Be grateful for what you have. Your life might not be perfect, but it’s still a wonder-full gift. Remember to appreciate it and make the most out of it while you can.

Wishing you peace, prosperity and good health in the New Year.

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Honest Relationships

The concept of being faithful within a relationship is very important to the majority of people. There aren’t many people who want to be in a relationship with someone who is unfaithful to them. The thing is people tend to have differing opinions on exactly what being unfaithful means. For some, the line is drawn at anything physical. Kissing, intimate touching, and sex all constitute cheating for them. For others, emotional cheating is just as bad – or even worse. That means being emotionally intimate with another person, flirting with them, talking about or actually having feelings for them, and so on.

In my opinion, the line between staying faithful and infidelity is pretty simple and doesn’t need to be complicated. To me, being unfaithful constitutes doing anything with another person that you wouldn’t do with your partner present. If you do something that you wouldn’t have done in full view of your partner, you’re being unfaithful to some extent.

Whether it’s a glance at another person that lingers too long, flirting, or kissing another person, the fact that you’re doing something you just wouldn’t do in front of your partner means you’re not being the honest version of yourself around them. You’re holding back, showing them one side of you while being capable of doing other things behind their back. That dishonesty of character, in my eyes, constitutes being unfaithful. Unfaithfulness to your partner, unfaithfulness to your relationship, and unfaithfulness to the trust and honesty that any relationship needs are detrimental to all relationships.

I’d argue that this definition even applies to things in life that don’t constitute cheating. If you’re hiding part of yourself, part of your life, from your partner, and not telling them about it, you’re not being honest with them. You’re being unfaithful to the relationship. They don’t really know the real, full you like they think they do.

You’re someone else when you know they’re not watching.

Staying faithful to your partner isn’t just about not jumping into bed with another person. It’s about consistently holding yourself to the same standards of behavior that you would if your partner was right there next to you. No one wants to be in a relationship with someone who changes when they’re not there. Being faithful means holding yourself accountable for your actions and behavior.

You always have a choice as to how you behave. If your relationship means as much to you as a healthy relationship should, then control yourself and aim to always be the same, consistent version of yourself – regardless of whether or not there’s anyone watching.

Being faithful means that you choose your partner, every minute, every second of every day. It means being honest, being consistent, and being the same version of yourself no matter the circumstances.

When you have a relationship where this expectation is made clear by both parties, you have a strong, trusting bond as a foundation to build on. The confidence in your partner you feel when you know how much being totally faithful means to them will take you a long way in life, no matter how hard things get.

If you love someone, treat them with the respect they deserve.

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Happy Diwali

Knowledge vs. Skills

“Only the disciplined ones in life are free. If you are undisciplined, you are a slave to your moods and your passions.” — Eliud Kipchoge

Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya shattered the world record in the marathon by one minute and 18 seconds with a time of 2:01:39. This equates to an unfathomable average mile of 4 minutes, 38 seconds over 26 straight miles. He broke the record by a wider margin than any man in over 40 years. Kipchoge shared with The New York Times which did a profile of Kipchoge that since he became serious about the sport he’s recorded every single workout he’s ever done in a notebook. He’s now up to 15 notebooks, one for each year he’s been doing it.

That’s deliberate practice. And, even if you’re never going to set a world record, it’s worth understanding that even the best at what they do must work extremely hard to see improvements.

In 1908 Johnny Hayes won the gold medal at the Olympics in London in the marathon with a time of 2 hours, 55 minutes and 18 seconds. At the time it was known as “the greatest race of the century.” That time today would barely offer breathing room to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

In the 1920s and 1930s there was a Finnish runner by the name of Paavo Nurmi who set all kinds of world records (22 to be exact) in a variety of distance runs. None of his competitors could come close to matching his times for a number of years. Although he was talented, his competitors would eventually figure out it was his training that set him apart. Nurmi would pace himself using a stopwatch, use interval training to build his speed, and train year-round.

Ray Allen is arguably one of the greatest shooters in NBA history. He had one of the smoothest deliveries but it wasn’t always like that. After scouting him in high school UCONN coach Jim Calhoun (who Allen would go on to play for) said, “That’s the flattest jump shot I’ve ever seen.” Allen dispelled the rumor that he was born with the gift of a shooting touch in an interview with Jackie Mac Mullan a number of years ago:

“I’ve argued this with a lot of people in my life,” Allen said. “When people say God blessed me with a beautiful jump shot, it really pisses me off. I tell those people ‘Don’t undermine the work I’ve put in every day.’ Not some days, every day. Ask anyone who has been on a team with me who shoots the most. Go back to Seattle and Milwaukee, and ask them. The answer is me — not because it’s a competition but because that’s how I prepare.” It’s hard to envision all the work that leads up to it when you only see the finished product.

It’s easy to chalk up most people’s performance in life to their innate God given abilities but talent can only take you so far. These methods may seem obvious today but they were groundbreaking at the time. Once everyone else adopted them it lifted the competition and leveled the playing field, bringing down everyone’s times in the process.  In the past, knowledge offered much of this type first mover advantage. Technology has leveled that playing field in many ways. Almost everyone has the sum total of human knowledge in their handheld pocket supercomputer these days. It’s skill that now makes the biggest difference but even talent alone can only take you so far in life. Once a person reaches a certain level of performance, even additional years of practice won’t help them improve if they don’t approach it the right way. Going through the motions doesn’t improve your skills because you’re never pushed outside of your comfort zone.

Research on doctors, as outlined by Anders Ericcson in his book Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise, found that there is a great difference between knowledge and skills based on his findings that even those doctors who have been in practice for 20 or 30 years do worse on objective measures of performance than doctors who are just 2 or 3 years out of med school. Harvard Medical School published a study in 2005 on 62 different individual research reports on the standard of care provided by doctors and how it changes over time. Almost three-quarters of the studies found a doctor’s quality of care declines over time.  Older doctors knew less and performed worse in terms of providing care than those who had fewer years of experience. Just 2 of the 62 studies found doctors got better with more years of service.

This distinction between knowledge and skills lies at the heart of the difference between traditional paths toward expertise and the deliberate-practice approach. Traditionally, the focus is nearly always on knowledge. Even when the ultimate outcome is being able to do something—solve a particular type of math problem, say, or write a good essay—the traditional approach has been to provide information about the right way to proceed and then mostly rely on the student to apply that knowledge. Deliberate practice, by contrast, focuses solely on performance and how to improve it. The assumption that med school, reading medical journals, and attending seminars when combined with years of experience should be enough to improve their skills doesn’t seem to hold for many doctors. Ericcson’s book provides some examples where doctors are taking a new approach to ensure their skills don’t atrophy.

When you look at how people are trained in the professional and business worlds, you find a tendency to focus on knowledge at the expense of skills. The main reasons are tradition and convenience: it is much easier to present knowledge to a large group of people than it is to set up conditions under which individuals can develop skills through practice.

Knowledge is table stakes. Mindless repetition isn’t going to improve your results. Developing useful skills requires going outside of your comfort zone and determining a clear plan of attack for getting better.

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References:

  • Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson & Robert Pool
  • Making It Look Easy is Hard Work by Ben Carlson, March 2018

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Positive Thinking, Negative Thinking, No Thinking

A Talk delivered by J Krishnamurti on 12th November 1958 at Madras (now called Chennai)) India

I think almost all serious people must have thought a great deal about the necessity of bringing about a radical change in the quality of the mind. We see, as things are in the world, that there is no fundamental alteration or change in the human mind. Of course, through pressure, economic and social, through various forms of religious fear, through new inventions and so on, there is change, but this change is always peripheral, on the outside, and obviously such change does not bring about a deep, radical change in the quality of the mind. You must have noticed that society always follows a pattern, certain formulas, in the same way as every individual follows certain concepts, ideals, always moving within the pattern. You must have noticed it not only in yourself and in society but in all our relationships, and you must have wondered how to bring about a deep, lasting, integrated change, so that the interaction between the outer and the inner does not bring about corruption. I do not mean anything mysterious by the `inner’. It is the inner quality of the mind that I am talking about, not inward things which the mind imagines and speculates about. All society, all human existence is a matter of this interrelationship between the outer and the inner which is constantly fluctuating and always modifying. And if I may, I would like to talk about the possibility of a radical change because I think it is very important. After all, we are social entities and we must live by action. Life is action. One cannot just sit and speculate, neither can one merely carry on with the corruption because, as we know, it only breeds contradiction within ourselves and everlasting torture and struggle. So how is the mind to change? How is there to be a radical change in the total consciousness, not only on the upper levels of the mind but also at the deeper levels, and not along a set pattern? Following a pattern is not a change at all; it is merely a modified continuity of what has been. How is one to really change the quality, the substance of one’s consciousness, totally? I do not know if you have thought about it, or are you merely concerned with outward changes which are brought about by every form of social and economic revolution, every new invention? If we are concerned with a total change of consciousness, of the quality of the mind, then I think we must think negatively because negative thinking is the highest form of thinking, not the so-called positive thinking. The positive is merely the pursuit of a formula, a conclusion and all such thinking is limited, conditioned.

I hope you are listening rather than just hearing because I want to go into something rather difficult, if I can, and I hope we shall be able to proceed with it together. But if you are merely hearing and not listening, then you will be caught at the verbal level and words then become over-significant. Words are only the means of communicating something. So I hope you are going to listen without any desire to understand mere ideas. I have no ideas because I think they are the most stupid things; they have no substance, no reality, they are just words. So I hope you are listening in the sense of trying to see the problem, just to see it, not to struggle to understand it or resolve it, but to see this extraordinary complex problem which we have – the problem of bringing about a total change in consciousness, in the mind. As I was saying, negative thinking is the highest form of thinking. We never think negatively; we think only positively. That is, we think from a conclusion to a conclusion, from a pattern to a pattern, from a system to a system. That I must be this, I must acquire some virtue, follow this or that path, do certain disciplines. The positive thinking is always in the grooves of our own conditioned thinking – I hope you are watching your own mind, your own thought , and that way only leads to further limitation of the mind, to narrowness of the mind, to pettiness of action; it always strengthens the self-centered activity. Negative thinking is something entirely different, but it is not the opposite of positive thinking. If I can understand the limitations of positive thinking, which invariably leads to self-centered activity, if I can understand not only verbally, intellectually but as the whole process of human thinking, then there is a new awakening in negative thinking.

Most of us are attached to something – to property, to a person, an idea, a belief, an experience – are we not? You are attached to your family, your good name, your profession, your guru, to this and that. Now, this attachment invariably breeds suffering and conflict because the thing to which you are attached is constantly changing, obviously. But you do not want the change; you want to hold on to it permanently. So, being aware that attachment breeds sorrow, grief, pain, you try to cultivate detachment. Obviously both attachment and the cultivation of detachment are positive ways of thinking. Detachment is not the negation of attachment, it is merely attachment continued under a different verbal garb. The mental process is entirely the same, if you have ever noticed it. For instance, I am attached to my wife. In that there is pain, struggle, jealousy, frustration, and to escape from all that, I say I must be detached, I must love in an impersonal manner – whatever that may mean – I must love without limitation, and I try to cultivate detachment. But the centre of my activity in attachment or detachment is exactly the same thing. So, our thinking which we call positive is a conflict of the opposites or an endeavour to escape into a synthesis which again creates an opposite. Take Communism, it is the antithesis of Capitalism, and eventually through struggle the Communists hope to create a synthesis, but because it is born of the conflict of opposites that synthesis is going to create another antithesis. And this process is what we call positive thinking, not only outwardly, socially, but inwardly also.

Now if one understands the total process of all this, not only intellectually but actually, then we will see that a new way of thinking comes into being. It is a negative process unrelated to the positive. The positive way of thinking leads to immaturity, to a mind that is conditioned, shaped, and that is exactly what is happening with all of us. When you say you want to be happy, you want Truth, God, to create a different world, it is always in terms of the positive, which is to follow a system that will produce the desired result, and the result is always the known and it becomes again the cause. Cause and effect are not two different things. The effect of today will be the cause of tomorrow. There is no cause, isolated, which produces an effect; they are interrelated. There is no such thing as a law of cause and effect, which means that there is really no such thing as what we call karma. To us, karma means a result with a previous cause, but in the interval between the effect and the cause there has been time. In that time there has been a tremendous lot of change and therefore the effect is never the same. And the effect is going to produce another cause which will never be merely the result of the effect. Do not say, `I do not believe in karma’, that is not the point at all. Karma means, very simply, action and the result, with its further cause. Sow a mango seed and it is bound to produce a mango tree – but the human mind is not like that. The human mind is capable of transformation within itself, immediate comprehension, which is a breaking away from the cause, always.

So negative thinking is not thinking in terms of patterns because patterns imply a cause which will produce a result which the mind can manipulate, control and change. With that process we are all very familiar. What I am trying to convey is a negative thinking which has no causation. This may all sound too absurd, but we will go into it and you will see. We will approach it differently.

Most of us are discontented, are we not? We are discontented with our job, with our wife, husband, children, neighbours, society or whatever it is. I want position, I want money, I want love. We know all this. Now discontent with something is positive; but discontent, in itself, is negative. I will explain. When we are discontented, what is actually taking place? If I am discontented with my job, with myself, what is happening? I want to find contentment, through this or through that. So the discontent is canalized until it finds something which will be satisfactory, and then it fades away. That is what we call positive action, – to find something which will make us happy. But without the flame of real discontent – not discontent with something – life has no meaning. You may have a marvelous job, an extraordinary brain, get degrees and be able to discuss, quote, but your discontent has merely taken the shape of cleverness, and there you are completely sterile. You started with discontent, and at school perhaps you were very good, but as you grew, that discontent became stratified into cleverness or into some form of technique, and there you are satisfied because you feel you have capacity and can function. That again is positive thinking. Whereas negative thinking is just to be in a state of discontent and such a mind is a very disturbed mind. It is not satisfied and it is not seeking satisfaction because it sees that satisfaction leads only to that positive action which we all seek. To find a way to be satisfied everlastingly means to be dead. And that is what you want; you call it peace of mind and say, `for God’s sake give me some corner in this universe where I can die peacefully’. So the positive action leads always to death. If you can see that, then you will see that a negative way of thinking is taking place. Therefore the negative way of thinking never starts with a conclusion, because one sees where conclusions lead.

So the negative way of thinking is the maintenance, the sustenance of the quality that is discontent – discontent in itself, not with something. Please do not get caught at the verbal level but see the significance of this. But we must understand that positive thinking is conditioned thinking and that there is no change in that; there is modification but no radical transformation. Radical transformation is only in the negative thinking, as we saw in relation to attachment and to discontent. This positive thinking leads only to a dull mind, an insensitive mind, a mind that is not capable of reception, a mind that thinks only in terms of its own security – either the security of the individual or of the family, group or race, which you can observe very clearly in world politics.

After all, this earth is ours, yours and mine. This earth which is so marvelous, so beautiful, so rich, is ours to live on happily, without all this fragmentation, without being broken up into different fields called England, Germany, Russia, India. Yet we are battling to keep up the separation. Nobody thinks of this whole world as ours, nobody says, `let us do something together about it’. Instead, we have this fragmentary way of thinking which we call positive, or we pursue some idea of internationalism, which is equally silly. If I can see that, then there is a different approach, a different feeling of the mind, whether it be the Russian or the German or whatever mind it is. Then there is no such thing as the nonsense of patriotism; there is the love of the earth – not your earth and my earth, you cultivating your little field and I cultivating mine, and quarreling over it, but it is our earth.

Now when we see that this positive way of thinking is destructive, then the negative way comes into being. To think negatively there must be sensitivity, sensitivity both to the beautiful and to the ugly. The man who is pursuing what he calls the beautiful and avoiding the ugly, is not sensitive. The man who pursues virtue without understanding that which is not virtuous, merely avoiding it, is invariably insensitive. Please think this out with me, feel it out and you will see. So appreciation of the beauty of a tree, a leaf, the reflection on still waters, is not sensitivity if you are not also aware of the squalor, the dirt, the way you eat, the way you talk, the way you think, the way of your behaviour.

Under this tree it is very beautiful, very quiet, there is lovely shade and light, and just outside there is that filthy village with all the squalor and dirt and the unfortunate human beings who live there but you are not aware of it. So we are always wanting beauty, truth and God and avoiding the other, and that pursuit is the positive and leads to insensitivity, if we are not aware of the other. And the positive way of erecting buildings for dances, having special schools for dancing, all that business becomes a personal racket, satisfying to the mind that is only thinking positively. Creation is not positive, ever. Creation is the state of mind in which there is no positive action as we know it.

So, radical transformation takes place in the mind only when there is this negative thinking. As I said the other day, the thinking that we know of is always in words or symbols. I do not know if you have noticed that there is thinking without words but that thinking is still the result of the positive word. I will explain. You always think in words, symbols, do you not? Please look. The word, the symbol becomes very important to thought. It is the basis of all our thinking; there is association through memory and the memory is a picture, a word, and from that we proceed to think, again in symbols, words. That is all we know, and also if you are very alert, aware, you can see that there is thinking without the word, without the symbol. I am not going to give an example because then you will get lost, so please capture the significance, for negative thinking is not related to thought-with-the-word. Unless you see this you will not see what follows. I am thinking aloud; I have not worked it out at home and then come here to speak it out. So please see this, not merely verbally or speculatively but actually experience that thought functions in words, in symbols and also that thought functions without the word and the symbol. Both these are positive ways of thinking because they are still in the realm of the opposites. Let me put it differently.

You must have watched your mind how vagrant it is, how it wanders all over the place, one thought pursuing another. When you try to examine one thought, another comes in. So the mind is full of this movement, the agitation of thought. The mind is always occupied with thought. Thought is the instrument of the mind; so the mind is never still. Do not at once say, `How am I to make the mind still?’ That is all too immature, stupid, because it means again a positive following of some pattern. So, realizing the incessant activity of the thought-producing mechanism, through memory, through association, being aware of that, cannot the mind empty itself of this mechanism? Do not ask how, just listen, because understanding is instantaneous, it is not a process which will ultimately get you a mind emptied of thought. If you see the positive, destructive way, – of the mind’s activity of producing thought and being controlled by it and then trying to empty the mind – if you can see the falseness or the truth of it, then you will also see that the mind can empty itself of itself, of its limitations, of its ego-centricity, of its self-centered activities. Please go with me a little. The mind is perpetually active, producing and controlling thought. It realizes that, and says, `I must be quiet’, but that generally means quiet through control, which is again positive, destructive and limiting. But you can see if you go a little further that the mind can be emptied of thought, can free itself from the past, not be burdened by the past. It does not mean that memories are not there but they do not shape or control the mind. Now all that is still positive thinking. If you see the falseness of it, the mind will invariably go further, which is, the mind then is not the slave of thought but it can think what it wants. I do not know how to put this. As I said, I am thinking aloud with you and you will have to excuse me if I try different ways of putting it.

I do not know if you have ever tried to think without being a slave to thought. With most of us the mind is a slave to thought, it pursues thought, contradictory thought and all the rest of it. If you perceive that and empty the mind, it can then think, freed from thoughts associated with memory; and if you go further into it, you will see that the mind which is free – not in the sense of the opposite of slavery, but free in itself – then that mind, emptied of memory, can think in a negative way. Then you will see that the mind, being completely empty of systems, formulas, speculations, thoughts associated with memory, experiences and so on, can perceive that there is a state in which there is action in this world, not from fullness but from emptiness.

You see we are acting now with full minds, overcrowded minds, minds that are incessantly active, in contradiction, struggling, adjusting, ambitious, envious, jealous, brutal or gentle and so on. You follow? We are acting on that level. The mind, being full, acts. That action can never produce a new mind, a new quality of mind, a fresh mind, an innocent mind – and it is only such an innocent, fresh mind that can create, that is in a state of creation. The mind sees that, and if the mind can empty itself, then the action that is born out of emptiness is the true positive action, not the other. That is the only true, positive, creative action, because it is born out of emptiness. If you have done any painting, written a poem, a song, you will find the deep feeling comes out of nothingness. But a mind that is crowded can never feel that nothingness and can therefore never be sensitive.

One sees that there can be a radical change in the quality of the mind, which is absolutely necessary now because the present society is a dead society, reforming itself through various forms of anesthesia and pumping activity into itself. If you as an individual are to change fundamentally, radically, deeply – and therefore change society – then this whole thing that I have described must take place. Then beauty has quite a different significance, as has ugliness, because beauty is not the opposite of the ugly. An ugly face can be beautiful. But such beauty is not conceived by the mind that has avoided ugliness.

So if you have really listened and do not try to do anything about it – because whatever you do will be so-called positive and therefore destructive – then it is enough. It is to see something lovely and leave it alone, not try to capture it, not take it home and smother it by thought.

If you have seen for yourself, not through my persuasiveness, not through my words, my influence, if you have felt the beauty, the extraordinary quality of the mind that is empty, then from that emptiness there is a new birth.

It is this new birth which is needed, not the going back to Mahabharata, Ramayana, Marx or Engels, or revivalism. The mind that is really creative is the empty mind, not the blank mind or the mind that merely wishes to be creative. It is only the empty mind that can understand this whole thing – the extraordinary process of thought and thought emptying itself of its own impetus. Then you will see that there is a radical, deep change which is not brought about by influence, circumstances, culture or society. It is that mind which will create a new society. And the moment it creates a new society, that society is already in corruption. All societies are in corruption because that which is created is ever dying. Therefore, recognizing that no society, no tradition, no knowledge is permanent; we can see that the mind which is empty is creative, is in a state of creation.

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Fascinating Language Facts You Didn’t Know

How much do you know about foreign languages? The world is full of diverse and unique languages, from the exotic sounds of Japanese to the romantic expressions of French. How all of these languages originated is often debated. Ideas such as the “bow-wow” theory say that language began with humans imitating the sounds animals make to communicate. Others believe that language was a divine gift, but most agree that all languages developed from a single language into the thousands we have today.

There are dozens of interesting language facts on this list that will inspire and fascinate you:

  • There are over 7,000 languages worldwide, and most of them are dialects.
  • Cambodian has the longest alphabet with 74 characters. Try making that into an alphabet song!
  • The Bible is the most translated book, followed by Pinocchio.
  • The English word “alphabet” comes from the first two letters of the Greek alphabet – alpha and beta.
  • 2,400 of the world’s languages are in danger of becoming extinct and about one language becomes extinct every two weeks.
  • The first printed book was in German.
  • There are over 200 artificial languages in books, movies, and TV shows, such as “Klingon.”
  • The Papuan language of Rotokas only has 11 letters, making it the smallest alphabet.
  • Only 23 languages account for more than half of the world’s population!
  • About 2/3 of all languages are from Asia and Africa.
  • French is the main foreign language taught in the UK.
  • Of all the language facts, this one fascinates us the most- at least half of the world’s population is bilingual!
  • Many linguists believe that language originated around 100,000 BC.
  • Basque is a language spoken in the mountains between France and Spain and it has no relation to any other known language. (They didn’t get out much).
  • South Africa has the most official languages with 11.
  • More than 1.5 million Americans are native French speakers.
  • The Florentine dialect was chosen as the national language of Italy. Most regions in Italy primarily speak their own dialect to this day.
  • Kinshasa is the world’s second largest French speaking city, after Paris. Kinshasa is the capital city in the Congo.
  • There are about 24 official languages spoken throughout Europe.
  • Other than English, French is the only language taught in every country.
  • On average, people only use a few hundred words in daily conversation, while most languages have 50,000+ words.
  • German words can have three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter. Most languages only have either masculine or feminine.
  • The United States has no “official language.” Most people just assume it’s English.
  • The language of La Gomera spoken off the coast of Spain consists entirely of whistles. (…but what if you can’t whistle?)
  • Over 20,000 new French words are created each year.
  • About 30% of English words come from French.
  • Botswana has a language made up of five primary “click” sounds.
  • Spanish contains about 4,000 Arabic words.
  • German is the most spoken language in Europe. Four countries have it as their official language.
  • Physical contact during a conversation is completely normal when speaking Spanish.
  • Papua New Guinea has the most languages, at 840.
  • Italian is a minority language in Brazil.
  • Over 300 languages are spoken in London alone. No matter what, you have a pretty good chance of finding someone to speak with!
  • The languages spoken in North Korea and South Korea are different. They have distinct vocabularies and grammatical rules due to being separated for so long.
  • The English language contains the most words, with over 250,000.
  • Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world.
  • Multiple studies have shown that learning a second language can improve the memory and slow the process of aging. This is one of our favorite language facts!
  • Argentina still has a high number of Welsh speakers, due to settlers inhabiting the Patagonia mountains hundreds of years ago.
  • Russian was the first language spoken in outer space.
  • People who speak Chinese use both sides of the brain, whereas English only uses the left side.
  • Twenty-one countries have Spanish as their official language, making it a great choice for travelers.
  • Hindi didn’t become the official language of India until 1965.
  • The Pope tweets in nine languages, but his Spanish account has the most followers.
  • Hawaiians have over 200 different words for “rain.”
  • The culinary and ballet worlds use mostly French words and terms.
  • In Indonesian, “air” means “water.”
  • Japanese uses three different writing systems: Kanji, Katakana, and Hiragana.
  • The U.S. has the second highest number of Spanish speakers, after Mexico.
  • Mandarin Chinese is the most spoken language in the world. If you speak it, you can speak to 13% of the world’s population!
  • Cryptophasia is a language phenomenon that only twins, identical or fraternal, can understand.

References

  • com/blog/12-interesting-facts-languages
  • com/25-fascinating-language-facts/5
  • com/language-quiz
  • com/blog/item/interesting-facts-about-the-spanish-language
  • com/blog/interesting-facts-about-the-french-language
  • co.uk/facts-japanese-language
  • com/guides/how-many-languages
  • com/blog/9-surprising-facts-about-the-german-language
  • com/travelbeats/hindi-language-history-facts
  • it/20170203/21-mildly-interesting-facts-about-the-italian-language
  • com/10-interesting-facts-figures-mandarin-chinese

* * *

Wise Sayings from Buddha

The teachings of Buddha ( meaning ‘one who is awake to the reality’) have left a profound effect on millions across the world. Even though Buddha’s teachings are over thousands of years old they are still pearls of wisdom that have been passed on from one generation to the other. He has inspired people to lead a meaningful life and soothe the aching souls giving them a new direction in life. Buddha’s timeless teachings hold true still today especially to everyone going through tough times and those looking to find meaning in life. Buddha’s simple sayings have a profound effect on many lives. In Buddha’s teachings, people from different cultures and upbringings, age, and nationality have found answers to some of the most fundamental questions about life and relationships. Here are some of his sayings that will help you go to another level.

Buddha says, “Happiness never decreases by being shared.” Happiness grows when you share it with people just like sorrows tend to diminish when you share them with the loved ones.

Buddha says, “If you light a lamp for someone else it will also brighten your path.” When you help someone you yourself get much more in return. Not only is helpfulness a desirable quality but it also makes you truly a gem of a person.

Buddha says, “Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.” Everyone comes in this life with a predestined purpose and life plan. You are here on this earth to fulfill a task.

Buddha says, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” One must always be ready to learn. You can learn from just about anyone the only thing you need is the will.

Buddha says, “Even death is not to be feared by one who has lived wisely.” The life we live is full of various ups and downs, the only way forward is to expect every aspect of it with open arms.

Buddha says, “In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true.” Everyone is born equal. Learn to embrace people for who they are , do not judge anyone for their material possessions.

Buddha says, “Better than a thousand hollow words is one word that brings peace.” Words have the power to make or break you so the next time you speak, speak wisely.

Buddha says, “Chaos is inherent in all compounded things. Strive on with diligence.” Learn to embrace the fact that people will come and go with all the life’s complexities and chaos but you must strive with diligence.

Buddha says, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” When you get angry your emotions get the better of you and logic moves out of the window. So control your anger and use your rationale.

Buddha says, “Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own unguarded thoughts. But once mastered, no one can help you as much.” Your mind is your biggest treasure and worst enemy, it’s up to you what you want to make of it.

* * *

Self-Respect and Happiness

Self-respect means having pride and confidence in yourself and behaving with grace, honor, and dignity. Self-respect forms the foundation of all the decisions you’ll ever make, how you treat yourself, and how you allow others to treat you. Self respect is the respect you have for yourself, while ego is your understanding of your own importance. An inflated ego may be borne from too much self-esteem, or when you realized just how important and special you are inspired by mental imbalances. People with a huge ego sometimes feel unequal to others because, deep inside, they feel worthless and undeserving of respect. But when you respect yourself and believe in yourself, the ego is still naturally always present, but does not play a huge part in your actions. The person with self-respect simply likes himself/herself, which is not contingent on success or failure. Self-esteem is knowing you can conduct yourself well in every situation, and having a good grasp of various things in life. Outwardly, you are successful, which contributes to your self-esteem. But it’s possible to experience and act with self-esteem while having very little self-respect. The problem with just relying on self-esteem, or being caught up in this evaluative framework, is the moment you have a bad day and doubt yourself, you fall prone to blame, guilt, regret, and stress.

Why Self-Respect Is Important

Self-respect exhibits toughness and moral nerve. You will display strong character with the willingness to accept responsibility for your own life, and you’ll fight for your values and beliefs, no matter what. This will make everyone else take note and admire your courage.

Self-respect makes you a better person and partner. If you respect yourself, you believe you’re a worthy individual. And when you feel worthy, you believe you are deserving of love and respect. And when you command respect from others around you, they’d start to appreciate you more and take you more seriously.

No more need for comparisons. When you love yourself you feel good, you value your attributes, your talents, your skills, and  your abilities. Which means that you never compare yourself to others, and you don’t feel jealous when others shine in their own way.

To respect something is to accept it. To respect yourself is to accept yourself. So it’s only until you truly love and respect yourself, accepting who and what you are, that you can start to believe you are worthy of another person’s love and respect. So, in the end it boils down to this: accept yourself, respect your efforts, and you will in the end respect yourself. And self-respect leads to self-discipline. Now that’s real power.

Life is a series of waves, of peaks and troughs, of ups and downs. No one is happy all the time. We tend to experience more lows than highs, and those lows can be much more intense than the highs are. It’s rare to be in a low point in your life and not know it, but it’s all too easy to be living well and to not fully appreciate it. The best way to improve your life is to have self-respect. To demand that others treat you the way you’d treat them – with compassion and respect. Unfortunately, while growing up, everyone repeatedly told you to respect others. And because of this, you may have became obsessed with pleasing everyone else, putting yourself last, as you were told self-importance was wrong. You might even start to confuse self-respect with over-confidence or having an inflated ego, but that’s not accurate. And new research indicates that self-respect is crucial for happiness. The only thing that really matters in life is being happy. Not just content, not just satisfied, but fulfilled and full of meaning. This is a hard goal to reach, and one that’s impossible to live up to all the time.

Here are some suggestions which will help you to increase your self-respect and improve your life :

Don’t allow yourself to be used. People will attempt to take advantage of you throughout your life. Realising when this is happening can be difficult. People are often sly and manipulative.

Know when to say no. Part of having self-respect is being able to turn people down when you don’t want to do something. Be in control of your life. Tell people ‘no’, and stick to your word.

Don’t feel pressured to make everyone like you. Not everyone you meet will like you, and that’s okay. It would be weird if they did. People are different, people like different things. Some people aren’t nice people. Life goes on. However, don’t use this as an excuse to be rude and nasty to people because “who cares what they think?”. Treating others the way you’d like to be treated is an important part of having self-respect.

Have integrity. Integrity is perhaps the most important and elusive of those traits vital to a sense of self-respect It means holding yourself accountable to your own moral code and principles, and sticking up for what is right – even when (especially when) it’s not beneficial to you personally to do so. The high road is a tough one to tread, but it’s infinitely rewarding.

Stand up for yourself. Don’t allow yourself to be a pushover. In an ideal world, everyone would be nice to each other and we’d all get along. Unfortunately, the real world isn’t like that. When it really comes down to it, you need to have your own back and be willing to get your hands dirty to defend yourself.

Know yourself, know your worth. Have confidence in your abilities. Everyone is good at something, even if you haven’t figured out what that something is yet.  Keep trying new things until you do. You have value and you matter. Remember that.

Do what makes you happy. If being happy is the most important thing in life, then doing whatever makes you happy is the best way to ensure you enjoy your life. As long as it’s not hurting anyone else, do whatever it is you enjoy doing.

Spend your time wisely. Don’t make the mistake of thinking money is the most important commodity in life. Time is. Spend it wisely, doing the things you love and with the people who matter most to you. Once the time is gone, you can’t get it back. Don’t be a person full of regret on their deathbed, thinking of all the things they should have done with the time they had. Your life is ending one second at a time.

Prioritise the important things in your life and balance them. We often try (and more often fail) to juggle a large number of different things Prioritise which ones really matter to you and to your self-growth and focus on these, learning to balance them so that you can healthily and realistically manage all the areas of your life.

Meditate, don’t medicate. One of the most important lessons to learn when it comes to having self-respect is how to deal with life’s problems in a healthy and constructive manner. It can be all too tempting at times to drown your sorrows at the bottom of a bottle. The best thing you can do to keep yourself focused and healthy mentally is to meditate often. It’s a skill – practice it. No one is perfect at it straight away, but stick with it and it will help you to become a better, happier person in the long run. Keep in mind that the idea isn’t to silence your thoughts, but to let them come before calmly and gently reminding yourself to try and focus on breathing and keeping a clear mind.

Determine which of your beliefs and values reflect your authentic self. Stick to them and you don’t need to change them for anyone. Under no circumstances should you change your values to suit someone else, as then you will let yourself down. Maya Angelou had aptly advised : “Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option.”

* * *

Let Go of a Toxic Relationship

Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain… To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices – today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity but embrace it. ~Kevyn Aucoin

Toxic relationships surround your life like a thick cloud of smoke that, at times, appears impossible to escape from. Occasionally, you experience some semblance of joy– perhaps someone complimented you at work or you ran into an old friend, it really doesn’t take much– only to have your partner crush that glimmer of joy like a herd of wildebeest trampling a single, meager flower. This toxicity embeds itself deep within your skin and, over time, affects everything you do. However, despite knowing this, you still hesitate to let go. Maybe you don’t like the idea of being alone again. Maybe you’ve grown so attached to the small bit of light buried within the person and are afraid of the pain you’ll feel if you let go. Or maybe it’s neither of those things and you simply need to work up the courage to take that first step out on your own. Whatever the reason, some incredible things happen once you’ve let go of a toxic relationship. And you owe it to yourself to let go, because until you do, you’re as good as the walking dead.

So, get up, dust yourself off, and get ready. It’s time to get your life back.

You gain a new sense of optimism. Having finally escaped the clutches of negativity, everything will appear fresh and hopeful. You’ll remember what it was like to live free before the chains of toxicity weighed you down. No longer is someone there to dampen your spirits, tell you that you’re not good enough anytime you attempted to pursue a goal, or make you think that you’re nothing but a failure. Everything is possible and you’ve now gained a sense of energy, optimism, and a steely resolve. You’re encouraged to pursue that which they forced you to bury, to do that thing they always convinced you was a bad idea, and to live the life you always wanted.

You grow by leaps and bounds. You’re not the same person you once were– even before them. Your skin is thick, almost armor-like, and you feel as though you have the power to accomplish anything. That might be overconfidence speaking, but damn…you’ve never felt this strong. You’re smarter about who you give your heart to, better at judging people, and more patient about finding the right person. You value your freedom, your voice, and all those little things that make you unique and special.

Your sense of self-worth grows. Their entire purpose at times seemed to be to destroy your entire sense of self-worth, transplanting their venomous voice where your confidence and self-belief once rested. However, now that they’re gone, the veil has been lifted and you can see clearly– that it was all tricks and mirrors, a game of deception that has fallen away and uncovered something you thought had been lost. You’re not just free from poisonous verbal abuse, you’ve now rebounded and become stronger than you once were even before it all started. You still wrestle with the ghost of the demon, but you know it’s gone and have realized a new level of strength and self-worth through mustering the courage to let go and rid yourself of the toxic relationship for good.

You renew connections with family and friends (and make new connections). Something unfortunate happens in many toxic relationships– we distance ourselves from those we love. Whether this happens because of our embarrassment and exhaustion in justifying the person’s behavior or them forcefully taking you away from them, you lose valuable connections that would have been all that you’d have needed to show you that you were falling down a very deep, dark hole before it had gotten worse. However, now, you’re free to rekindle those bonds and strengthen your connections. But more than just that, you have a newfound level of appreciation for those you love and what they mean to you. Not because of what you get out of them but because of pure, unconditional love which you could have only realized by losing them and gaining them back once again.

It’s hard to let go of a toxic relationship, but amazing things await you on the other side of courage. So, take the first step of the rest of your life and don’t allow yourself to live another day as someone else’s slave again.

* * *

Living Purposefully

How to respond from a place of clarity and strength, rather than continuing to react in anger and frustration? This is such an important question because the answer to this is something we all need to practice in our daily lives.

In almost every case, nothing is stopping you right now—nothing is holding you back but your own thoughts about yourself and “how life is.” Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, pause, and consciously decide if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the present moment.

You may not be responsible for everything that happened to you in the past, or everything that’s happening to you right now, but you need to be responsible for undoing the thinking patterns these circumstance create. It’s about thinking better so you can ultimately live better.

In order to gain conscious control of what’s really going on in your mind, you need to develop a keen awareness for this process. What helps is to hold still for a moment, take a ten deep breaths, focus exclusively on these breaths, and free your mind of the senseless chatter that’s going on inside your head. This makes room for a change of state, for something new to enter. Detached from the weight of stressful thoughts and reactions you grow capable of consciously redirecting your focus. It’s time to take it willingly away from something unchangeable that drags you down, and zero it in on something actionable that inspires you. Focus on the next logical, meaningful step. Remind yourself that there are no hopeless situations; there are only people who have grown hopeless about them.

The key is to understand that no matter what happens, you can choose your response, which dictates pretty much everything that happens next. Truly, the greatest weapon you have against anxiety, negativity and stress is your ability to choose one present thought over another—to train your mind to make the best of what you’ve got in front of you, even when it’s far less than you expected.

Yes, you can change the way you think!  And once you do, you can master a new way to be.

* * *

Winning Mindsets

Awareness is the foundation of transformation. With better daily awareness you can make better daily choices and with better daily choices you’ll experience better daily results in your lives. You can do this even if your fears born of insecurities tell you, you can’t. I know your greatness and genius to be true. These quick, actionable and valuable tactics will help you to move and break free of old patterns, stop being the victim and leap into high gear to get your giant goals accomplished.

  • Believe in yourself, your vision and gifts when no one else believes in your vision and gifts. Remember that until your vision becomes your obsession your mission will never grow into a movement. Self-confidence is the DNA of industry dominance. And global eminence.
  • Use the first 90 minutes of your workday only on value-creating activities versus checking email or surfing the net. Spend an hour a day without stimulation (no phone, no social, no people). Get to know, develop and love your self. Remember that life’s just too short to play small with your gifts. Commit to your best life today. Remember that to double your income, triple your investment in learning, coaching and self-education.
  • Take a nature walk every day. It’ll clear your mind, boost your fitness and feed your spirit. Human beings need to be in the wilderness regularly to stay at their best.
  • Write in a journal every morning. And record gratitude every night. Do a collage filled with images of your ideal life. Look at it once a day for focus and inspiration.
  • Release the energy vampires and dream destroyers from your life. They are sucking away your genius. Embrace your eccentricities. Everyone seems normal until you get to know them. Know that a problem only becomes a problem when you choose to see it as a problem.
  • Start doing projects that scare you and embracing the pursuits that terrify you. Where your fear lives is where your transformation lies. Remember that victims are frightened by change. And leaders grow inspired by it. Achieve 5 little goals each day. In 12 months this habit will produce 1850 little goals–which will amount to a massive elevation. Remember that ordinary people talk about their goals. Leaders get them done. With elegance, brilliance and finesse.
  • Make the choice to let go of your past. It’s dusty history. And polluting your future. It all happened for a reason to get you to here. Trust and know that hard work beats talent, every day of the week. Measure your success by your impact instead of your income.
  • Remember that every person you meet has a story to tell, a lesson to teach and a dream to do. Become the strongest person you know. Just battle proof and fortify your inner core so nothing can defeat you. Risk being rejected. All of the great ones do. All victory is an inside job, I think you’ll agree.
  • In a world with so much toxicity, be the kindest person you know. Smile. Forgive the unforgiven in your life. They did what they thought was right based on the level of their consciousness, at that stage of their personal journey. If they could have been more loving they would have been more loving. Be slow to criticize people and fast to affirm their gifts, talents and worth. Say “sorry” when you know you should say “sorry”. Say “please” and “thank you” a lot. Write handwritten thank you notes to your customers, teammates and family members.
  • Be a celebrator of other’s talents versus a critic. Haters never win. Stop gossiping , complaining and condemning . It drains your cognitive bandwidth and fills you with dangerous emotions. Stop being selfish. Contributing to the lives of others is a great move for more joyfulness and peacefulness in your days.
  • Be the rare-air performer who does the project no one else will do. Going to the fiery edges of your largest limits expands them. Do something that makes you feel uncomfortable at least once a week. Know that potential unexpressed turns to pain. So live your talent by applying it and polishing it through study and stretching it via doing difficult work. Know that rising into the rare-air of best in world isn’t easy. Anything extraordinary demands rigor, sacrifice and extreme courage. And yet, it’s worth it. Remember that quality is remembered long after price is forgotten and cheap costs more.
  • Remember that your nutrition affects your mood plus your production so eat like an elite athlete, really calibrate your eating plan. Drink more water and get more rest . Breathe deeply, constantly. Brain tattoo the fact that all work is a chance to change the world. And, your life matters to all of us. Become the fittest person you know. Multiply your vitality and you’ll increase your creativity, productivity and prosperity. Exponentially.
  • Stop watching TV and definitely delete the news from your days. Instead, invest your time and resources into your pro and personal growth. Because as you become better at your craft and more exceptional as a person, you become indispensable to your industry and society. Ritualize the habit of reading for 60 minutes every day. Victims have large televisions yet small libraries.
  • Don’t just parent your kids—develop them. Grow their perspective, fuel their curiosity and introduce them to what’s most inspirational in our world. Build a strong family foundation while you grow your ideal career.
  • Keep your promises. You trade in your credibility. And you diminish it each time you say you’ll do something and don’t do it. Know your values. And then have the guts to live them—no matter what the crowd thinks and how the herd lives.
  • Spend more time in art galleries. Art inspires, stimulates creativity and pushes boundaries. Travel often. It’s fantastic education. Become a purist. Read a book a week. Just a few books but great books.
  • Five true friends versus 5000 fake ones. A simpler, quieter life with more beauty. And bigger meaning. Remember that the quality of your friends will predict the size of your fortune. When I use the word “fortune” I mean everything from creative to economic to spiritual fortunes. If your parents are alive, go honor them. You’ll miss them tremendously when they’re gone.

Trust that in the end, everything will work out. And if it hasn’t all worked out, it’s not the end.

* * *

 

 

Traits of a Strong Personality

Many people are intimidated by a strong personality . You’ll know whether you have a strong personality if people say things like, you’re too overbearing ; you’re too shameless; you’re too opinionated; you’re too intense; you’re too obsessed ;you’re too bossy; or anything worded in a similar way. People with “strong” personalities are always criticised for being too much of something. To the point where some people are irritated, annoyed, critical, jealous, or apprehensive towards you.

In a world that feeds on insecurity and fear, it’s become normal for people to be meek and hide among the herd – so it’s just natural to assume that these same people will feel triggered when they face someone who’s doing the opposite. And these rare gems who possess a genuine strength in personality are something we can all learn from. They radiate with the self-confidence we’re all bound to have, and they aren’t afraid to show their assets in an appropriate way.

The traits that make up for your strong personality and which cannot be shaken down by the insecurities of others, are as below:

You don’t let everyone into your life. Being aware of how inconsistent people can be today, you are very careful of who you let into your life. Your core philosophy of friendship is better to stay alone and true than be surrounded by fake people. That’s why you have a select number of people you can call friends, and you are happy with them. When it comes to friendship, quality means everything for you, while quantity is just a waste of time.

You don’t crave attention. You’re not the type of person who’ll do everything for a little attention. In fact, you fail to understand why people are so eager to be liked by others that they are ready to go to any lengths to gain their attention. However, your personality attracts people in such a way that most who go through all those struggles to get noticed simply envy you. It’s not you, though – it’s the people around you who want someone like you to be present in their lives.

You don’t need anybody’s approval. Sometimes people will do things that don’t sync with their personality just for the sake of receiving some approval. Others relentlessly try to reveal as much as they can about their lives to get that approval. Not you, though. You will do what you want to do and you won’t expect any kind of approval as long as you have yourself. Your strength in making decisions and following through comes from your motivation to achieve the goals you have set, not because others will like that.

You are repelled by ignorance, idiocy, and insensitivity. Your strong personality comes as a result of being thoughtful and well-informed. You don’t like to rush into irrational decisions because you always like to measure out the effect your actions will have on you and the world around you. However, this is not a quality many people can relate to, and you will be the first to notice. You simply can’t stand people who are ignorant in a world full of information and who choose to be insensitive and inconsiderate when they should be careful and rational.

You hate small talk. Small talk and all the dull and tedious expressions and words that keep on coming back – you simply hate it. Why talk about these irrelevant things when there are so many useful things to discuss? Not only do you find it a waste of time, but you simply don’t understand why people focus on staying where they are when the opportunities for growth are at every corner, in every conversation, and in every minute available.

You are a good listener. People keep on yammering about how they want to be heard and understood – but once they come across someone like you, who knows how to listen, the tables turn. You are well aware that the more you understand people, the more terrified they become. While there are those rare few who will truly appreciate your attention in the way you’re ready to give, most people like to complain about not being heard while begging that they never get to be heard.

You don’t put up with excuses. Not only do you never allow yourself to get by with excuses, but you utterly hate it when you see someone trying to place excuses where effort is due. You simply don’t have the time to listen to people whining about how they didn’t manage their time properly and place the blame on external factors. You know well that if you set your mind on it, there’s no obstacle big enough that can stop you, and you know that this doesn’t make you special in any way. Everybody is capable of achieving this – the question is, did they really want to?

You are fearless. While we all have our fears, and it’s not ‘fearless’ in the literal sense, you know how to manage your emotions and overcome your fears. You know that the odds are just odds, and they can never become bigger than you – and you are ready to march in and face whatever is trying to hold you back. This makes you fearless – your ability to cope with your fears and use them to your advantage. The sense of fear only increases our awareness and makes us more cautious, and you use these abilities to overcome any obstacle that is trying to prevent you from growing.

* * *

Building Healthy Relationships

Nothing can bring more joy to life than beautifully fulfilling relationships. The depth of meaning, understanding and appreciation that these kinds of relationships bring is almost unfathomable. And, of course, as many people find out, nothing can bring so much pain as a broken relationship with someone dear to you. Yes, relationships make the world go round. However, the exciting thing is that we can do much to increase our chances of having terrific relationships—relationships that are fulfilling and exciting, rich with meaning, joy and love.

These are the basics that govern most human relationships and a list of some essentials that I believe make up the basics of healthy relationships:

Love. Now, this all depends on your definition of love. Most people think that love is a feeling but that point of view could be debatable. Actually, the concept of “like” is really about feelings. When you say you like someone, you are talking about how you feel. But when you say that you love someone, you are not necessarily talking about how you feel about them. Love is much deeper than a feeling. Love is a commitment we make to people to always treat that person right and honorably. For those we become especially close to, we will have feelings of love, but it is time for us to re-examine what we mean by love. We must expand our definition of what love means by including the commitment aspect of love. For healthy relationships, we must love everyone. We may not like them based on how we feel about them, but we should love them based on our definition of love above which in turn determines how we should act toward them and treat them right and honorably. This is the basis of all healthy relationships.

Serving Heart. Zig Ziglar once said, “You can have everything you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want out of life.” The concept he is talking about is having a heart and life that is focused on serving other people. Life is best lived in service to others. This does not mean that we do not strive for the best for ourselves. It does mean that in all things we serve other people, including our family, co-workers and friends. We must learn to help those who deserve it, not just those who need it—life responds to deserve not need.

Honest Communication. In any good relationship, you will find open and honest communication. Communication is important because it is the vehicle that allows us to verbalize what is inside us and enables it to connect with another person. One person is feeling one thing, and through communication, another person can find that out and feel it too—amazing.  And this is a vital goal in good relationships—to communicate, to tell each other what we are thinking and what we are feeling. It enables us to make a connection. Sometimes we are speaking and other times we are listening. Either way, the central tenet is communication for the sake of building the relationship and making it stronger. And here’s what’s exciting: If we just communicate, we can get by. But if we communicate skillfully, we can work miracles!

Friendliness. Put simply, relationships just work better when we are friendly with others. Being friendly can cushion the bumpy ride we sometimes experience in our relationships. Cheerfulness goes a long way toward building lasting relationships. Nobody wants to be around a grump, do they? The fact is that the friendlier you are the more you are going to have people who want to pursue longer-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with you. So cheer up, put on a smile, say kind words to others, treat people with a great deal of friendliness and you will see your relationships improve.

Patience. People being people, we have an awful lot of time for practice in the area of patience. People are not perfect and will constantly fail us. And conversely, we will fail other people. So while we try to have more patience for others, we need their patience as well. Often relationships break down because people give up and lose patience in about all kinds of friendships, marriages, business relationships, etc. Recent research has shown that those marriages that go through major turmoil, and then make it through, are very strong after doing so. Patience wins. Those who give up on relationships too early, or because the other person isn’t perfect, often forget that their next friend, their next spouse or business partner will not be perfect either! So we would do well to cultivate this skill and learn to have more patience.

Loyalty. Loyalty is a commitment to another person. Sadly, loyalty is often a missing element in many relationships, today. We have forgotten what it means to be loyal. Our consumer mentality has affected this to some degree. People are no longer loyal to a product. And unfortunately, many companies are not loyal to their clients or patrons. Regrettably, this has spilled over into our relationships. It is one thing to switch brands of dishwashing detergent. It is another thing altogether to switch friends. Sometimes we just need to commit to being loyal and let the relationship move forward. We need a higher level of stick-to-it-iveness! This kind of loyalty takes our relationships to a much deeper level. What a powerful and secure feeling of knowing that you have a relationship with someone who is loyal to you and you to them—that neither of you is going anywhere even when things get tough. Wow, how powerful!

Common Purpose. One of the basics of healthy relationships is to have a common purpose. Oftentimes this is a component is initially overlooked but for a long-term long-lasting relationship, it is vital. Think about how many friends you have met through the years while working on a common purpose. Maybe it was someone you met while participating in sports, while working on a political campaign, attending church, at your office, or anything that brought you together to work on a common purpose. You had that strong common bond of purpose that brought you together and held you together. Working together, building together, failing and succeeding together—all while pursuing a common purpose—is what relationships are made of. Find people with whom you have common purposes and sow the seeds of great relationships, and then reap the long-lasting benefits.

Fun. All good relationships have some element of fun. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean loud, raucous fun, though that is appropriate for some relationships. But even in business relationships, there should be some fun. It should be fun to do business with those who you are going to have a long-term business relationship. Fun brings enjoyment to the relationship and that is important. Oftentimes this key element can be easily forgotten or neglected in our family and spousal relationships. The fun things we did initially in a new relationship after a while can be taken for granted or simply fall by the wayside and we stop creating the fun and joy. Remember to consciously craft fun situations and moments, for these are the glue that hold our memories together and make our lives sweet.

There are so many key ingredients to making and maintaining great, long-lasting relationships. Each of the components we discussed above brings unique dynamics and rewards to your relationships. Let’s begin to focus on improving our relationships in these areas and see what miracles occur!

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21 Rules of Life

Miyamoto Mushashi, known as Japan’s greatest ever swordsman, a Buddhist master, wrote these 21 rules two weeks before his death. Each rule teaches you to accept your circumstances in life, detach from outside forces you can’t control and be comfortable with who you are. These rules are powerful because the only way to cultivate acceptance is through continued practice in your actions and your attitude. The two things we actually have control over. And these rules give you the necessary guidelines to do just that. It might take months to rewire your brain, but it would be well worth it.

  1. Accept everything just the way it is. Acceptance is perhaps the most important attitude to overcome mental challenges in life. It’s a state of mind. There’s no destination or goal with acceptance. It’s simply the process of exercising the mind to be tolerant of anything life throws at us. Why is it powerful? Because instead of fighting against negative emotions like anxiety and stress, you’re actually accepting them the way they are. You’re not bitter, and you’re not creating more negativity out of your negativity. Through acceptance you pave the path for negative emotions like anxiety to become less powerful. You’re not fighting against them and making them worse. But to be clear: Acceptance is not the following: It’s not indifference or apathy. It does not involve giving up or not trying. It’s simply about accepting things without judging them. It is what it is. Whatever happens happens. It’s about being patient and allowing the natural flow of things to take place.
  2. Do not seek pleasure for its own sake. As humans, we are unhappiest when we become dissatisfied with what we have, and decide that we want more. When we seek pleasure for pleasure’s sake, we put ourselves in an endless loop of desiring that’s only temporarily satisfied when we experience that pleasure. But feelings don’t last forever. And before you know it, you’ll be back desiring again. This doesn’t mean you can’t have fun and enjoy pleasure when you experience it. It just means you won’t be constantly seeking pleasure for its own sake. You appreciate what you have in every moment, and sometimes that will be pleasurable emotions. But you also won’t be unhappy when you aren’t experiencing pleasure.
  3. Do not, under any circumstances, depend on a partial feeling. Same as above, feelings don’t last forever. Emotions are transient. You won’t be happy all the time, and wanting to be so will only make you unhappy.
  4. Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world. When you think of yourself too much, you amplify your ego and your insecurities. Happy people are the ones who focus on helping others. There’s a beautiful Chinese Proverb which describes this perfectly, “If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.” In other words: Be humble, don’t take yourself too seriously and focus on helping others.
  5. Be detached from desire your whole life long. Buddhism says that desiring leads to suffering. Why? Because when you are desiring, you are dissatisfied with what you have right now. And when you get what you want, this leads you down an endless loop of desiring. If you can forget about the idea of wanting, you can learn to be comfortable and grateful for what you have right now, which is key to inner peace.
  6. Do not regret what you have done. Regret is a useless emotion, isn’t it? You can’t change what’s happened. Yes, you can learn from what happened, but that doesn’t involve experiencing regret. Sometimes we can’t help but regret things in life, but it’s important not to dwell on it. It’s useless to do so.
  7. Never be jealous. Another useless emotion. It also means you’re insecure with yourself, because you are envious of someone else. Instead, look inside yourself and be grateful for who you are and what you have.
  8. Never let yourself be saddened by separation. It sucks to separate from someone you want to be with. But getting sad over it won’t help you or them. Sometimes you just need to toughen up and appreciate what you have, not what you lose.
  9. Resentment and complaint are appropriate neither for oneself nor others. Again, complaining without action doesn’t help you achieve anything. It only serves to raise your toxic energy. And don’t let what other people do affect you as well. You’re not in control of what they do. But you are in control of how you react to what they do.
  10. Do not let yourself be guided by the feeling of lust or love. This one’s probably a controversial one for many. For me, too. I think we can all agree that you don’t want to be guided by lust. It’s similar to chasing emotions that don’t last forever and will only give you temporary fulfilment. Love, however, is a different story. I think that love is one of the most important emotions to be guided by. Your family is everything, whoever they are, and your life is much more fulfilled when you do whatever you can for them.
  11. In all things have no preferences. Similar to desiring, by having preferences, you’re not happy with what you have right now. You’re dissatisfied and unable to enjoy the present moment. So if you can, try not to prefer something over something else, especially if you can’t control it.
  12. Be indifferent to where you live. If you can change where you live, then by all means go ahead. And don’t stop looking for opportunities to do so. But besides doing that, it’s more fulfilling to appreciate where you are right now, rather than wishing it were different.
  13. Do not pursue the taste of good food. Interesting one. Focus on eating to be healthy and for nourishment. Desiring delicious food can lead to addiction and attachment. This goes for alcohol and drugs, too.
  14. Do not hold onto possessions you no longer need. It’s easy to get cluttered with junk that you don’t need. But if it’s not benefiting your life, get rid of it. More space and clear thinking is what’s needed. Not more stuff.
  15. Do not act following customary beliefs. Follow your own common sense. Do what makes sense to your own values, not what other people think. Decide for yourself. You know what’s right and wrong. You don’t need someone else to tell you.
  16. Do not collect weapons or practice with weapons beyond what is useful. A tribute to his swordsman time, but we can apply this for our lives, too. It’s better to be an expert in one thing, than okay at everything.
  17. Do not fear death. Extremely hard to do. But it’s something none of us will escape. We can either learn to accept that our own and our close one’s time will eventually come, or fight against it causing anxiety and sadness for the rest of our lives.
  18. Do not seek to possess either goods or fiefs for your old age. What good will they do you when you’re gone? Only collect what is useful. Don’t waste your time.
  19. Respect Buddha without counting on their help. Take responsibility for yourself. Don’t count on luck or god to pull you through. Tackle the endeavors you know are within your capabilities. Keep doing the right thing and everything else will fall into place.
  20. You may abandon your own body but you must preserve your honor. Don’t do anything that you won’t be able to live with for the rest of your life. Your actions define you, not your beliefs.
  21. Never stray from the way. Stay humble, do the right thing and always keep learning and growing.

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Season’s Greeting

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Amazing Quotes from Unknown Authors

When it comes to a tidbit of knowledge, the author is more important than the message. People give weight to certain sayings and quotes simply based on who wrote them. But what about the unknown authors of the world? are their insights any less valuable? Some of the greatest quotes I have ever read came from sources that were either unknown or obscure. It’s not who said it, it is what was said that matters.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from unknown authors.

  • ‘Man sacrifices his health in order to make money.Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future, that he does not enjoy the present moment. As a result, he does not live in the present or the future, he lives as if he is never going to die, and then he dies having never truly lived.’’
  • “Spend the day appreciating every little thing that comes your way, and you’ll end the day feeling deeply grateful for your life.”
  • “The true mark of maturity is when somebody hurts you and you try to understand their situation instead of trying to hurt them back.”
  • “When you start doubting yourself, remember how far you have come. Remember everything that you have faced, all the battles you have won, and all the fears you have overcome.”
  • “Frame every so-called disaster with these words, ’In five years, will this matter’?”
  • “I’m only responsible for what I say, not for what you understand.”
  • “A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms.”
  • “Open-minded people do not impose their beliefs on others. They just accept all of life’s perspectives and realities, doing their own thing in peace without judging anyone.”
  • “You have to take the good with the bad, smile when you’re sad, love what you’ve got, and remember what you had. Always forgive but never forget, learn from your mistakes, but never regret. People change, things go wrong, just remember, life goes on.”
  • “You don’t need religion to have morals. If you can’t determine right from wrong, then you lack empathy, not religion.”
  • “Faith makes all things possible. Hope makes all things work. Love makes all things beautiful.”
  • “Generally speaking, you aren’t learning much when your lips are moving.”
  • “A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.”
  • “Let’s choose to see what we have in common.”
  • “In seeking happiness for others, you will find it in yourself.”
  • “A good life is when you assume nothing, do more, need less, smile often, dream big, laugh a lot, and realize how blessed you are for what you have.”

Readers! If you recognize any one or more of these quotes’ author(s), please make sure to point out who they are from.

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Fantasies Inhibit Happiness and Success

The older you grow, the quieter you become. Life humbles you gradually as you age. You realize how much nonsense you’ve wasted time on. What’s the biggest nonsense creator of them all? Your mind and the fantasies it likes to project into every facet of your life. You’ve likely fantasized your way into headaches and heartaches hundreds of times in the past and you aren’t alone either. We all stress ourselves out because of fantasies. We all procrastinate to the point of failure because of fantasies. We all get angry with others, with ourselves, and with the world at large because of fantasies. We all miss out on many of life’s most beautiful and peaceful moments because of fantasies. This might seem hard to believe at first, so let’s look at some common examples…

  • When we wake up and immediately start fantasizing and worrying about all the things we have to do, we aren’t really doing anything but adding stress to an otherwise pleasant morning.
  • When we fear the potential of failure, and we procrastinate in response to our fear, our fearful fantasies force us to miss great opportunities for success.
  • When someone upsets us, this is often because they aren’t behaving according to our fantasy of how they “should” behave. The frustration, then, stems not from their behavior but from how their behavior differs from our fantasy.
  • When we think about making a healthy change in our lives like getting in shape , we are initially inspired by the fantasy of how easy it will be, but that’s not reality. So when the reality of working hard to exercise and eat right surfaces doesn’t match up with our inspiring fantasy, we give up.
  • When we are having a conversation with someone, we are distracted with fantasies of how this person views us, or we are distracted by our propensity to fantasize about how to respond before they even finish talking, and thus we miss the opportunity to connect more deeply with them.
  • When we move through our days, our minds are stuck fantasizing about other times and places, and so we miss the pleasant surprises and simple pleasures surrounding us.
  • Of course, sometimes we get out of our own heads long enough to focus on the present and make the best of it, but it’s NOT often enough.

Just think about your life and how often you let fantasies get the best of you. How does it affect you? It certainly doesn’t lead to happiness and success. You start believing your own lies and your behavior naturally backs the lies up. You start procrastinating. You put your biggest goals on the back burner. You always feel guilty and regretful for not taking action. You give up when the first obstacle comes your way. You blame others. Your important relationships take a major hit. And the list goes on and on. And you know what the really scary part is? Most people don’t know they are digging themselves a hole by repetitively listening to their fantasies and the negative self-talk they produce.

To get yourself out of this mess, you need to literally rewire your brain and replace negative, distracted mindsets with positive, productive ones. For example, instead of saying, “I don’t think I have what it takes,” you must start saying, “I can figure this out!” And by doing so, you’ll stop saying, “I’m not ready yet,” and you’ll start taking action because the new mindset is something along the lines of “I am ready to learn and grow!”

Bottom line: If you’ve caught yourself stuck with similar fantasies and negative thought patterns, you need to take action ASAP. The longer you let these little demons linger around, the harder it is to get rid of them. And of course, if you’re struggling with any of this, know that you are not alone.

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Simple Ways to Raise Your Consciousness

George Gurdjieff was an influential early 20th-century mystic, philosopher, and spiritual teacher. He observed that most humans live their lives in a state of hypnotic “waking sleep. To combat this, Gurdjieff developed a method to transcend to a higher state of consciousness and achieve full human potential. These are his “commandments,” simple ways you can progress on your journey towards waking up:

  1. Ground your attention on yourself. Be conscious at every moment of what you are thinking, sensing, feeling, desiring, and doing.
  2. Always finish what you have begun.
  3. Whatever you are doing, do it as well as possible.
  4. Do not become attached to anything that can destroy you in the course of time.
  5. Develop your generosity – but secretly.
  6. Treat everyone as if he or she was a close relative.
  7. Organize what you have disorganized.
  8. Learn to receive and give thanks for every gift.
  9. Stop defining yourself.
  10. Do not lie or steal, for you lie to yourself and steal from yourself.
  11. Help your neighbor, but do not make him dependent.
  12. Do not encourage others to imitate you.
  13. Make work plans and accomplish them.
  14. Do not take up too much space.
  15. Make no useless movements or sounds.
  16. If you lack faith, pretend to have it.
  17. Do not allow yourself to be impressed by strong personalities.
  18. Do not regard anyone or anything as your possession.
  19. Share fairly.
  20. Do not seduce.
  21. Sleep and eat only as much as necessary.
  22. Do not speak of your personal problems.
  23. Do not express judgement or criticism when you are ignorant of most of the factors involved.
  24. Do not establish useless friendships.
  25. Do not follow fashions.
  26. Do not sell yourself.
  27. Respect contracts you have signed.
  28. Be on time.
  29. Never envy the luck or success of anyone.
  30. Say no more than necessary.
  31. Do not think of the profits your work will engender.
  32. Never threaten anyone.
  33. Keep your promises.
  34. In any discussion, put yourself in the other person’s place.
  35. Admit that someone else may be superior to you.
  36. Do not eliminate, but transmute.
  37. Conquer your fears, for each of them represents a camouflaged desire.
  38. Help others to help themselves.
  39. Conquer your aversions and come closer to those who inspire rejection in you.
  40. Do not react to what others say about you, whether praise or blame.
  41. Transform your pride into dignity.
  42. Transform your anger into creativity.
  43. Transform your greed into respect for beauty.
  44. Transform your envy into admiration for the values of the other.
  45. Transform your hate into charity.
  46. Neither praise nor insult yourself.
  47. Regard what does not belong to you as if it did belong to you.
  48. Do not complain.
  49. Develop your imagination.
  50. Never give orders to gain the satisfaction of being obeyed.
  51. Pay for services performed for you.
  52. Do not proselytize your work or ideas.
  53. Do not try to make others feel for you emotions such as pity, admiration, sympathy, or complicity.
  54. Do not try to distinguish yourself by your appearance.
  55. Never contradict; instead, be silent.
  56. Do not contract debts; acquire and pay immediately.
  57. If you offend someone, ask his or her pardon; if you have offended a person publicly, apologize publicly.
  58. When you realize you have said something that is mistaken, do not persist in error through pride; instead, immediately retract it.
  59. Never defend your old ideas simply because you are the one who expressed them.
  60. Do not keep useless objects.
  61. Do not adorn yourself with exotic ideas.
  62. Do not have your photograph taken with famous people.
  63. Justify yourself to no one, and keep your own counsel.
  64. Never define yourself by what you possess.
  65. Never speak of yourself without considering that you might change.
  66. Accept that nothing belongs to you.
  67. When someone asks your opinion about something or someone, speak only of his or her qualities.
  68. When you become ill, regard your illness as your teacher, not as something to be hated.
  69. Look directly, and do not hide yourself.
  70. Do not forget your dead, but accord them a limited place and do not allow them to invade your life.
  71. Wherever you live, always find a space that you devote to the sacred.
  72. When you perform a service, make your effort inconspicuous.
  73. If you decide to work to help others, do it with pleasure.
  74. If you are hesitating between doing and not doing, take the risk of doing.
  75. Do not try to be everything to your spouse; accept that there are things that you cannot give him or her but which others can.
  76. When someone is speaking to an interested audience, do not contradict that person and steal his or her audience.
  77. Live on money you have earned.
  78. Never brag about amorous adventures.
  79. Never glorify your weaknesses.
  80. Never visit someone only to pass the time.
  81. Obtain things in order to share them.
  82. If you are meditating and a devil appears, make the devil meditate too.

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Principles of Modern Learning

What are the principles of modern learning? Well, that depends on how you define ‘learning’ and what you’d consider ‘modern.’

Richard Olsen had put together this in a useful visual way in 2013–a chart that lays out three categories of a modern approach to learning–Modern, Self-Directed, and Social. These broad categories are then broken up into four principles per category. Each principle is then described by its Reality (its function) and Opportunity (the result of that function). Honestly, these two categories are a bit confusing–or at least the distinction between some of the entries are (the ability to participate and enables modern learners to participate, for example). Overall, though, defining ‘modern learning’ through inquiry, self-direction, and connectivity is at the core.

Let’s take a look at what it’s saying by exploring the first category, Modern Inquiry Learning. The 4 principles in of Modern Inquiry Learning, according to the graphic, are Compile, Contribute, Combine, and Change, with their respective Realities and Opportunities shown below.

Compile

  • Reality The ability to save and retrieve information in a variety of formats.
  • Opportunity Give modern learners virtually unlimited capacity to retrieve and store information.

Contribute

  • Reality The ability to participate in more complex projects.
  • Opportunity Enables learners to participate in more complex projects.

Combine

  • Reality The ability to reuse and build upon the work of others.
  • Opportunity Allows learners to move beyond individual and isolated projects.

Change

  • Reality The ability to quickly obtain feedback from multiple sources.
  • Opportunity Enables learners to continuously improve work.

While the graphic doesn’t really get at the core values of what makes each approach Inquiry, Self-Direction and Connectivity valuable and worthwhile and so misses a huge opportunity, the trifecta of the three does in fact represent prevailing movements in progressive education. Technology, for example, would be a part of each. It supports inquiry and self-direction while being both a cause and effect of connectivity.

How should you use this to guide your teaching? You could take the verbs shown here e.g., contribute and correlate and design projects or activities alongside your students. You could also present a document like these at staff or department meetings by slamming it down on the table and asking ‘Where’s the progress? ”

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Choices You Won’t Regret

Every one of us has experienced feelings of regret. We regret the chances we didn’t take, the relationships we were too afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make, the big opportunity you procrastinated on, that friend you never called, those important words you left unspoken, etc. But it’s not too late to set things straight. We’re still here breathing.

Today, we have an opportunity to change tomorrow. Right now we can choose to erase regret from our later years. It’s time to make the best of each and every day. Here are some ideas to get you started – you can start doing now that you won’t regret a decade down the road:

Let go of those who are already gone. You’re going to mingle with a lot of people in your lifetime. You’re going to have first kisses you feel all the way down to your toes and think “Oh my gosh, I love him,” but really… you loved the kiss. You’re going to meet a friend you think you will know forever, but then something will change and you two will go your separate ways. You’re going to explore different parts of your life with different people who aren’t in it for the long haul, and that isn’t a bad thing. Life is a series of stories, and the way our stories intersect is remarkable. Sometimes people are in our lives for the whole story. Sometimes they are just a short chapter or two. It takes a brave person to know when that chapter is over, and then to turn the page. Be brave. Embrace your goodbyes, because every “goodbye” you receive in life sets you up for an even better “hello.”

Work a little less and spend a little more time smiling with people you love. You’ve heard the saying, “The best things in life are free.” Well spending quality time with family and friends, enjoying the antics of a pet, seeing your son smile, experiencing intimate and heart-felt moments with your significant other – these times are precious and priceless. Don’t get so caught up in the rat race, working 60+ hours a week, to the point where you are too stressed and exhausted to enjoy your closest relationships. By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices to work on the right things, it is possible to live on less, and thus work fewer hours and enjoy more of what truly matters.

Practice relentless kindness. Kindness is always the best response to any situation. When you grow older and you look back on your life, you will inevitably forget a lot of the stuff that seemed so important when you were young. You probably won’t remember what your high school or college GPA was. You will look at your old classmates on Facebook (or some other online social network) and wonder why you ever had a crush on that girl/guy. And you will have the toughest time remembering why you let certain people from your past get the best of you. But you will never forget the people who were genuinely kind – those who helped when you were hurt, and who loved you even when you felt unlovable. Be that person to others as often as possible. And, as you know, what goes around comes around.

Pay more attention to the life you are actually living in each moment. Is there anything worse than getting somewhere and not realizing how you got there? Even worse is only realizing how great something is after it’s gone. Living in the present is a basic notion, but as with most simple things, we often find a way to complicate it. But there’s nothing complicated about learning to appreciate and notice life as it is happening. And trust me, you won’t remember the cool Instagram photo you saw on your feed anyway. You will, however, want to remember the conversations you had and the stories you lived through. So focus accordingly.

Many of us are right there with you, working hard to feel better, think more clearly, and live a life free of headaches and heartache. And believe it or not, I’m currently in the process of re-visiting and focusing my mind on these positive principles and keeping myself on the right track. And of course, if you’re struggling with any of these points, know that you are not alone.

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