Category Archives: Lifestyle

Up close and personal with the other side of the story

Yesterday I took part in a meeting with a group of people who have to make a difficult decision. It is the kind of decision that touches people in a deep place, so we know that no matter what the result will create some uneasiness.

The facilitator for the group asked us to consider this: If we say “YES,” what are the benefits of that decision? If we say “YES,” what are the costs of that decision?

I have an opinion on the matter, so I knew that listing the benefits would be a breeze. Easy-peasy. No problem. But I thought I would struggle with pointing out the costs. I was wrong. I was surprised by how readily I was able to come up with both costs and benefits.

We were also asked to look at the situation from the “NO” side. If we say “NO,” what are the benefits of that decision? If we say “NO,” what are the costs of that decision?

the-two-oneAgain, both costs and benefits came easily to mind. I didn’t have to dig around in the recesses of my mind to find them. I didn’t have to struggle with them or make something up. Both sides of the issue were ready for plucking off the surface of my brain once I chose to look for them.

I was surprised by how up close and personal my relationship with the other side of the issue was. 

I realized that I had already, subconsciously or unconsciously, weighed the costs and benefits. I had arrived at an opinion having considered the costs but seeing the benefits as more important, on balance.

It made me wonder, how many people hold strong opinions on a matter without any awareness of how up close and personal they are, or have been, with the other side of the issue?

 

 

Hurry up and wait, at the same time

0870709593The book, Hurry Up and Waitis a collaboration between Maira Kalman, Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket) and the New York Museum of Modern Art. Described as an “anti-productivity manifesto,” the book combines paintings by Kalman, insightful words by Handler and photographs from the museum.

Handler writes:

“You’re supposed to stop and smell the roses, but truth be told it doesn’t take that long to smell them. You hardly have to stop. You can smell the roses, and still have time to run all those errands before the sun goes down and it’s dinner time.”

I say, stop and read this book. Truth be told, it doesn’t take long. You hardly have to stop. You can read it and still have time to run all your errands before the sun goes down.

My favourite passage is this one:

“I’m just standing still, and then suddenly I think I am waiting for something. Once I’ve decided I’m waiting it’s like I’m not standing still anymore.”

The idea of idling transformed into action by mere choice appeals to me. 

You know those times when you feel stuck? You know when you don’t know what’s coming next or what you’re supposed to do with your life?

No worries. You’re not standing still. You’re actively waiting.

So, what are you waiting for? Hurry up and wait, already.

 

Training ourselves to be kind

If you want to spend your day in despair over the state of humanity, the fastest route to that sentiment is through the comments section on YouTube or any other internet site.

Comments sections put the meanness, pettiness, ignorance, judgment and narrow thinking of some members of our society on full display. I simply cannot read them, or I have to spend time after giving myself a chin-up pep talk.

unfoldingSociety needs a kindness injection. And there might be a way.

Scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison suggest we might be able to enhance our tendency toward kindness. All it takes is some meditation, some training and some practice.

Participants in a study worked at building their compassion “muscle.” Those who did responded to others in need with caring and a desire to help. They became more altruistic.

Goodness knows we need more people like that.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is not the first to propose physical, spiritual, mental and emotional benefits of meditation; it has been shown to lower blood pressure, increase serotonin levels, reduce pain, and increase creativity and mental sharpness. Their study adds another motivational level to begin the practice.

Okay everyone? Let’s change some brains.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2543812/Can-train-KIND-Just-seven-hours-meditation-rewire-brain-claims-study.html#ixzz3xcdrISBE

How to make people smile and brighten your own day

OMG-amazingA year ago I bought this sweatshirt as part of a fundraiser. I liked the positive message, and I liked supporting a worthwhile cause.

When I put it on and look in a mirror, it lifts my spirits. I think, “Oh, my God. I AM amazing!”

Never fails to brighten my day.

Best of all, when I wear it out in public, people look at me and smile. Everywhere I go—the grocery store, the mailbox, the corner coffee shop—people read the shirt, look at me and give me a big smile.

Never fails to really brighten my day.  

When I wear it and reap the rewards I think, “This makes me feel so good. How bad must people feel when they wear T-shirts with negative messages on them?”

How does what you wear make you feel? How does what you wear make other people feel, and how much of that is reflected back on to you?

Something to think about. And never forget, Oh, my God. You really ARE amazing!

Can’t see the tree for the forest

When people preoccupy themselves with minutia instead of thinking “big picture,” the popular saying goes: “They can’t see the forest for the trees.” Upon hearing it, worried people step back, let go of insignificant concerns and observe situations from a broader perspective. That’s a good thing.

Sometimes, we need to flip that saying on its head: “They don’t see the tree for the forest.”

ancient-treeLast weekend I walked in Gilles Grove near Arnprior, ON, and I came upon a bright spot in the forest. The sight of one mighty ancient white pine all by itself in the middle of tiny saplings struck me. There were no other trees even close to its age and size nearby. The picture cannot give you perspective on just how mighty and ancient this tree was. When I attempted to wrap my arms around it (yes, I hugged the tree) they would not even reach half way.

This tree is hundreds of years old.

I imagined our First Nations people brushing up against it as a they moved through the forest centuries ago. I thanked the powers that be for sparing it from the blades of the lumber barons who logged the area beside the Ottawa River, felling the much-favoured white pines by the hundreds.

I spent some time appreciating this one tree, and I thought, “How often do people really notice, think about and appreciate one tree when they walk in a forest?” Usually we stride by them. They pass in a blur.

Sometimes we don’t see the tree for the forest.

It’s a reminder to take time to stop in the forest of our lives and really examine closely one extraordinary thing around us that we might otherwise stride by mindlessly.

It’s an enriching way to spend some time, even if your arms don’t reach.

Chance treasures: Waiting for the good stuff

“The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach—waiting for a gift from the sea.”

—from Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

In her time of simplicity at her beach house, Anne Morrow Lindbergh discovered that when she lay empty, open, choiceless as a beach, nuggets of insight, treasures of faith materialized in her mind like seashells gifted to the beach by rolling ocean waves.

“One never knows what chance treasures these east unconscious rollers may toss up, on the smooth white sand of the conscious mind, what perfectly rounded stone, what rare shell from the ocean floor.”

Relaxing by water opens one’s mind to ideas that wash into consciousness like waves to the shore.

For the next few weeks I’ll be enjoying some time by a lake. I aim to be patient and to lie empty, open and choiceless as a beach to see what washes in.

“But it must not be sought for or—heaven forbid!—dug for. No, no dredging of the sea bottom here. That would defeat one’s purpose.”

—from Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

new-horizons