Chalk it Down


Start with the simple things in life.

What exactly do you love?

And who?

Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality. No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him. By his love he is enabled to see the essential traits and features in the beloved person; and even more, he sees that which is potential in him, which is not yet actualized but yet ought to be actualized. Furthermore, by his love, the loving person enables the beloved person to actualize these potentialities. By making him aware of what he can be and of what he should become, he makes these potentialities come true.

Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Still


I Like for You to Be Still – by Pablo Neruda

I like for you to be still
It is as though you are absent
And you hear me from far away
And my voice does not touch you
It seems as though your eyes had flown away
And it seems that a kiss had sealed your mouth
As all things are filled with my soul
You emerge from the things
Filled with my soul
You are like my soul
A butterfly of dream
And you are like the word: Melancholy

I like for you to be still
And you seem far away
It sounds as though you are lamenting
A butterfly cooing like a dove
And you hear me from far away
And my voice does not reach you
Let me come to be still in your silence
And let me talk to you with your silence
That is bright as a lamp
Simple, as a ring
You are like the night
With its stillness and constellations
Your silence is that of a star
As remote and candid

I like for you to be still
It is as though you are absent
Distant and full of sorrow
So you would've died
One word then, One smile is enough
And I'm happy;
Happy that it's not true

Taming Hearts


“Men,” said the fox. “They have guns, and they hunt. It is very disturbing. They also raise chickens. These are their only interests. Are you looking for chickens?”

“No,” said the little prince. “I am looking for friends. What does that mean– ‘tame’?”

“It is an act too often neglected,” said the fox. It means to establish ties.”

“‘To establish ties’?”

“Just that,” said the fox. “To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world…”

“I am beginning to understand,” said the little prince. “There is a flower… I think that she has tamed me…”

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The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Once Upon a Time, A Unicorn Fell off a Bunk-Bed…


Life is hard – there’s no denying that.  We tell ourselves that the best way we can deal with it is to forget about being happy.

Head down.

Shoulder to the wheel.

If we can just be successful then we’ll be happier.

But is that true?

This talk makes a very good and comprehensive case for capsizing our conceptual frameworks around being happy.

When all your desires are distilled, you will cast just two votes: to love more, and be happy. Hafiz of Persia.


Photograph – Title: “Happy 2nd Lieutenant William Robertson and Lt. Alexander Sylvashko, Russian Army…” 04/25/1945

Persistent URL: arcweb.archives.gov/arc/action/ExternalIdSearch?id=531276

So? What Exactly Do You Admire?


The word ‘admire’ comes from the Latin word admirari – meaning to wonder or marvel at something.  It means to look at, or consider someone – or something – with pleasure and wonderment and approval.

So.  Having established that – what do you admire in other people?

At first glance you might think you admire someone who is beautiful.  But do you, really?  Are the feelings you have for physical beauty something that inspire you with absolute wonderment?  Gazing on someone (or something) beautiful can give pleasure but for most of us it is fleeting and short-lived – like beauty itself.

Perhaps wealth seems admirable?  But is your admiration for the wealth itself or is it for the hard-work or ingenuity or self-discipline that was involved in acquiring that wealth?

There are lots of human traits that we all admire – honesty, perseverance, kindness, physical bravery, moral courage, fairness – all admirable.  But what are the traits you wish you had?

Do you know which human traits take your breath away when you see them?

Which ones fill you with that sense of electric wonder that makes you say – “I so admire how brave/kind/fair/open/selfless…that person is.”

If you want to become someone you can admire, you first have to work out what that might be.

So.  What do you admire?

Shout it Out


Two psychologists, Michael McCollough of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis, conducted an experiment where they split several hundred people into three different groups and then asked them all to keep diaries.

The first group was told to record all events – good and bad.

The second group was told to record only their unpleasant experiences.

The third group was asked to make a daily list of the things for which they were grateful.

At the end of the study the third group – the grateful group – was found to be more alert, enthusiastic, determined, optimistic and energetic.  They also had lower levels of stress and depression, were more likely to help others, took more exercise (!) and made more progress towards attaining personal goals.   In general those who practice gratitude were also found to be more creative, to recover faster from problems, have a stronger immune system and better relationships. Overall, it seems that practicing gratitude can increase our happiness levels by around 25%.

The authors of the study point out that saying we are grateful doesn’t mean we ignore our problems, just that alongside facing our problems we count our blessings.

So, on reflection, for what – or who – are you grateful today?

Watch a great soulpancake video here – Shout Out

Going Your Own Way


You have brains in your head.

You have feet in your shoes.

You can steer yourself any direction you choose.

You’re on your own. And you know what you know.

And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go. (1)

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Dr. SeussOh The Places You’ll Go!

  • Dr. Seuss (iknowwhathuntsyou.wordpress.com)

Joy Gives Us Wings


Joy gives us wings! In times of joy our strength is more vital, our intellect keener, and our understanding less clouded.

We seem better able to cope with the world and to find our sphere of usefulness. (1)

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(1) Paris Talks, ‘Abdu’l-Baháp.184

The Meaning of Life?


We run around in our lives pursuing happiness.

We worry about finding meaning.

We fret in case we never realise our potential.

And the pursuit is often in vain.

But maybe that isn’t because those things can’t be found but simply because we’ve been looking in the wrong places?

Perhaps searching for what we should do, who we are and where we should go is actually a mistake?

Instead, maybe we should stop, look around, have a think about what is needed in the world and then see how we might be able to meet those needs.

This doesn’t imply that we shouldn’t develop our own unique potential.

On the contrary.

Meeting the needs requires us to be the best individual version of ourselves possible.

Man’s Search For Meaning

Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist who spent three years in a concentration camp.  His wife and parents died in the camps and he himself saw and experienced inhuman suffering.

The conclusion he reached while in the camp about what he and his fellow inmates needed in order to survive was not the conclusion you’d imagine a victim of such horror would reach.  But it is an insightful and inspiring conclusion –

What was really needed was a fundamental change in our attitude towards life.  We had to learn ourselves and, furthermore, we had to teach the despairing men,  that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. 

We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life and instead to think of ourselves as those who are constantly being questioned by life – daily and hourly.  Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and right conduct…

These tasks and therefore the meaning of life, differ from man to man, and from moment to moment.  Thus it is impossible to define the meaning of life in a general way. (1)

It’s a lens. If we look through it hoping to see our route to (simply) personal happiness it will be blurred by all sorts of extraneous matter.

However, if we look through it to see if we can work out how we might contribute to the well-being and happiness of humanity we’ll be more likely to see our path.

Our purpose.

Happiness.

Meaning.

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Creating Our Futures


British education expert, Ken Robinson describes creativity as,

The process of having original ideas that have value.

We have come to confuse creativity with artiness and as a result we have come to believe that only some people are creative.

It is widely agreed that divergent thinking – i.e. the type of thinking that results in the generation of multiple answers to any problem – is creative thinking and then…

In a longitudinal study of 1,500 people, 98% of one group performed at genius level in divergent thinking.

Who were this marvellous and exciting group?

Children under 8 years of age.

Not special children under eight, or artistic children under eight but ordinary children under eight.

The other 2% were probably pretty good but not quite genius level.

Sadly, this same study also showed that this capacity for creativity declined steadily as these children – retested every five years – got older.

So, that means that 98% of us start off as creative geniuses.

We sorely need creative geniuses to help us solve all the problems we face.

So, OK then, how can we get back in touch with our own ‘genius’ so that we can not only better realise our personal potential but also apply our creativity to the needs of humanity?

And how can we stop today’s under eights – and the under eights of the future – from losing their natural born creative genius?

The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas. – Linus Pauling

Keep the postcards coming…

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Photograph – Christmas party at works, 18/12/1937 / by Sam Hood. Taken at Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia), Ashfield, N.S.W.  Find more detailed information about this photograph: acms.sl.nsw.gov.au/item/itemDetailPaged.aspx?itemID=21102

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