Where to start to make it better?

These are difficult times. Some express the view that we just have to accept that it’s all going to be downhill from here.

At a recent parenting workshop my wife asked participants what they were doing to help their children deal with society as it is today. The majority told stories of the supportive, nurturing strategies they are trying to adopt in the home. They want the best for their families and are doing what they can to make a positive impact on their children.

Many said they believe it is possible that by guiding their children to be law abiding, self reliant, caring individuals they were making positive waves that can spread beyond the household.

If we take the responsibility to contribute to an atmosphere that supports mutual respect, growth and development, that is a seed that can grow into something very powerful.

Many people imagine that the problems around them can only be solved by other people, usually people in authority. But nothing will get better unless we do something to make it better.

The home is a good place to start.

The car accident that saved his mother’s life

A car slammed into the back of my friend’s vehicle a few Saturdays ago. His 8 year old daughter was in the back seat. He said she began to cry, telling him of pains in her head and back. Hospital scans later revealed nothing was broken, just bruises. He took her home. He was scheduled to be in work on Sunday, but called and explained what happened and that he would be staying home to keep an eye of his daughter.

While making breakfast Sunday morning his mother, who lives in the same house, called out saying her chest was hurting “real bad”. He found her in bed sweating. He rushed her to hospital. The doctors said it was a massive heart attack and it was fortunate he got her to the hospital as soon as he did otherwise she would have died.

My friend told me if the accident had not occurred on Saturday, he would not have been home taking care of his daughter on Sunday, so he would not have been there to take his mother to hospital.

Bad stuff happens… but it might be just the opening scene in a movie that has a wonderfully positive ending.

Do you know when you cross that line?

So the line is drawn between what is allowed and what is not allowed, or what is right and what is wrong. And everybody is cool with that. But over time, some folks decide they want to operate very close to the line. Then, when no one is looking, they move the line. Just a little, but enough to give them an advantage or in order legitimise their actions.

Before you know it, everyone starts using this new line and gets comfortable with it. After a few years the process is repeated and the line keeps getting moved. Not only that, but because so many people are stepping on the line, it’s becoming faint, barely visible. So even those who want to do the right thing have difficulty knowing the boundaries. They don’t even know when they cross the line.

Seeing others moving beyond where lines used to be they ask themselves, “Well, if everyone is getting away with it, why not me?”

And so it goes on. Is there still a line? Do you see it?

By saying, “that’s just the way it is” – nothing changes

It’s quite appropriate to accept the things beyond your control and not get overly upset about them, but it’s something else entirely to resign yourself to situations because of fear or laziness.

Most circumstances that cause conflicts for human beings are created by human beings and therefore can be changed somehow. But you will wipe out the possibility for change if you convince yourself there’s nothing you can do because you believe that’s just how things are.

By realizing that there is something you can do, all sorts of exciting alternatives open up. You’re then in a position to take action and make things happen.

Many psychologists suggest we are the products of what we choose for ourselves and we each have the capacity to make healthy choices. This can be done if we change our mind-set to what many describe as “creative aliveness”.

If you can improve your attitude and expectations about yourself, circumstances will likely take a turn for the better. Instead of simply reacting, you develop the habit of taking the initiative and getting down to business.

Don’t let someone’s bad mood make you moody

cinemaI went to the movies recently. It was a public holiday and the young woman collecting tickets obviously didn’t want to be working that day. I said something to my wife about the service at the place and the young woman started to quarrel with me as though I had been talking to her.

It caught me off guard. I tried to keep it together and told her that what I said to my wife was my opinion and there was no need for her to get involved.

The young lady turned up the heat and the volume. I told her thanks for her excellent customer service and walked into the cinema.

As I sat down I was still upset at the way she behaved. In fact, I remained fuming for about ten minutes before I realised… “Wait, I’ve paid to see this show. Yet I’m sitting here and allowing the woman’s hang ups to spoil my enjoyment. That can’t work. It’s like I’m paying money to get upset!”

Was I really going to allow this stranger to raise my blood pressure, tighten my neck muscles and crease my forehead? No way. I would not allow her bad mood to make me moody. I decided that her frustration belonged to her, not to me.

By the way, it was a great movie.

How do you deal with the darkness?

Chatting with some friends recently one said, “Have you noticed these days the world is moving in two directions? The negativity or darkness seems to be increasing, while humanity’s thirst for peace, love and harmony, the positive, is also increasing.”

Another friend said, “Supposing if all those seeking peace, harmony and things positive could cooperate and work together. Supposing if all those tiny lights realise they are not alone; that they have power; what would happen to the darkness?”

We fell silent as we embraced that thought and considered our personal responses to those not so illuminating periods in life – the times we felt the darkness closing in and forgot the power of our own light.

Occasionally we may feel as though we are in a tunnel with no possible way out. But a tunnel, by its very nature, has two openings. Therefore, there must be at least two ways out. The end of the tunnel may be a long way off, but it will eventually come into view.

When we lose hope, we also lose sight of the tiny speck of light way off in the distance. Why not focus on that glimmer of light up ahead. Even though it may be barely visible, as you continue to move towards the dot it increases in size, becoming more real with each step we take.

The more light we see, the more fuel is added to the fires of faith and hope. Protect the flame. Don’t let anyone blow out your light of hope and enthusiasm.

Humour works on so many levels

Some people take life so seriously they’re not able to see the natural humour and joy in what sometimes appear to be hopeless situations.

Students in my training sessions are often surprised with the laughter that accompanies the learning. I tell them that I enjoy what I do and am genuinely happy in sharing what I have learnt. Plus, learning often goes down easier when it’s fun.

A sense of humour is vital to all aspects of life. It doesn’t always involve laughing or being funny, but reflects an acceptance of life in all its weirdness. And you know things can get pretty weird at times.

We all seek out humour and laughter because it’s the one natural cure always available to us for removing boredom, depression or even panic. Laughs are free and don’t require a prescription from a doctor.

Have you laughed at some of your silly little mistakes recently? Try it. It will help you to lighten up and see things more clearly.

It makes good sense to develop and maintain a sense of humour.

How do you claim independence?

s ibisWhile we are happy to get some help from others now and then, we all appreciate independence.

Most people like to know they can help themselves. Life has proved to us that there are very few people on whom we can depend. But life has also shown us that no one is an island. We have to take and give assistance.

Could it be that true independence is being in control of yourself and your habits? If it is, then independence could enable us to break free of those thoughts, words and actions of others that may negatively impact our lives. We may even be able to free ourselves from the slavery to material things.

In today’s world it is easy to be seduced by the promises of an easy life that can be ours without having to make any real effort. There is the “have it now pay later” mentality. What we often forget is that later comes with a heavy price tag.

Systems are set up to keep us tied to the idea that possessions are everything; that our value is linked to how we look and how much stuff we have. With that mindset, can we really claim independence?

We don’t realise how fast we’re going until we hit something

A few weeks ago I walked into a solid glass door. It was thick and it hurt. I was left with a mild concussion.

At the time of the incident I had been working some long hours and no doubt in need of rest. As painful as the bang was, maybe there was something for me to learn, maybe even a warning. Could the glass have been like a mirror? If it was, I had been moving too quickly to see and assess the reflection.

Sharing the news with a friend he made the point that I had been pushing my self a bit too hard and I really needed to have a better balance between work and rest. Advice I’m comfortable giving out, but not often good at taking in.

He said we don’t realise how fast we’re going until we hit something. The force of the impact and the damage done usually indicates the speed at which were moving. That applies equally to travelling in a motor vehicle as to journeying through life.

Surely it’s better to stop voluntarily rather than crash into something.

Speed does not always get the job done

Image035“I just don’t have the time.” When did you last say that to yourself? Last week, yesterday, earlier this morning?

Because we feel time is tight, life becomes a rush as we try to do many things at the same time. Even when we want something to change for the better – perhaps a relationship, our work or our community – we often rush into it with our eyes and minds closed, biting off more than we can chew. Instead of managing the change we are overwhelmed by it. The result? Lots of words and superficial actions, but no improvement.

We don’t know what tomorrow holds. But if today we explore more efficient methods of doing whatever we do; begin learning improved ways of coping; then at least we will be preparing ourselves for whatever comes our way.

Being prepared helps you cope with change, allowing you to respond to unforeseen events with minimum panic and with the determination to succeed.

The world is changing fast, but speed is not always what’s required, often we need to create the time and space to exercise wisdom. And these days wisdom needs the exercise in order to regain health and strength.