PERSPECTIVES: BELIEVE

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“…I BELIEVE IN ANGELS…” (“I Have A Dream” by ABBA)

 

The word “believe” has its roots in the pre-12th century Old English word “lēof”, which seems to me very much like a transformation of the word “love”.

To believe is to have confidence in the truth of something. From a positive perspective it means to have a firm conviction as to the goodness, the desired effect, or the ability of that something. And that “something” can be defined and experienced by you in different areas and to varying levels of intensity.

 

Physical

Golfers and their coaches advise that you should envisage and see in your mind’s eye the ball rolling into the hole as you prepare to putt. Go in ball! Go in!!

It is also often said – and there is proof – that positive beliefs and expectations are associated with better health or even being cured from life-threatening disease. Multiple studies on the relationship between the mind and the body show a consistent strong connection that supports the notion that body and mind operate interdependently – and thus our beliefs.

  • As the saying goes “be careful what you wish for!”

 

Social

What we believe in forms the foundation of our actions – or maybe a truer statement is that it should form the basis of our actions and behavior – which affect and impact ourselves as well as others, and for which we should acknowledge responsibility.

Two items immediately jump to mind, i.e. religion and racism. There are more than 800 religions in the world – most of them which acknowledge similar tenets, i.e. love your neighbor, treat others with respect and in the way that you would like them treat you.

As for racist behavior, the least said, the better.

 

Mental

A belief is a mental phenomenon. And there is a relationship between our beliefs, emotions, behavior and physical outcomes.

The stressed and distressed often become more so if they believe they are powerless to do anything about the cause of their misery. However, we are very seldom “totally helpless” and without any options and alternatives – although the outcomes may not always be comfortable or pleasant.

Believe in a positive outcome. Evaluate unpleasant situations calmly and logically – with as rational a mind as possible – and “go for the more positive outcome”. My Mom was afflicted with cancer at age 39. She told the doctor that she refused to die as she had four boys who needed her and underwent radium treatment for several months. She survived, recovered and lived till age 85. The lady in the same room as Mom, with the same diagnosis and treatment, did not make it past 6 months.

Can believing affect your physical health? For me, the answer is most often a resounding “Yes!”

  • Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.

 

Emotional

There are times when our reasoning, our rationale and even our judgment depend on our emotion – and strengthen our belief in things unseen, such as trust, credibility, and justice.

We fall in love and – believing that a person would make a good partner for life – get married or form a long-term relationship, based on very little rationality and a bucket-full of emotion.

  • Emotion is perchance the generator that makes the world go round.

 

Intellectual

It may be true that “all good things come to those who are prepared to wait”, however, it is illogical to “sit on a rock, clad in sack and ashes, and wait for bread to rain”. Our intellect directs that if we need something, we should “go and get it”.

The message is clear: Believe in yourself, work to empower yourself and then work harder to achieve your dreams. Ask any successful artist – be it movie star, singer, painter – they worked hard, believed in themselves, often in the face of numerous rejections and “through a lucky break” may enjoy success.

Though exceptional talent may help, hard work will at least “level the playing field” for most of us.

  • Believe and Achieve.

 

Spiritual

In the minds of many, science has taken the place of God. But what it does not do for many of us is to give meaning to how we feel and our place in the vast expanse called the universe. It does not explain transcendental moments – the feeling we experience when we hear a moving piece of music or witness a heroic act, or a mother’s joy at the birth of a long-awaited baby.

Those feelings are inexpressible in words – a personal experience of a higher dimension to what Life is all about. Spiritual, not necessarily religious. Non-conceptual and not definable by science. A belief that there is something more than the daily grind.

  • For me, personally, the beauty of science is that it underscores spirituality and the existence of a Creator. Life and the universe may be complex but is at the same time elegant in its simplicity. There have been absolute great “tipping points” in my life that I could not have planned, had I tried my best and supported with the greatest of “luck”.

In the words of The Moody Blues “This garden universe vibrates complete”.

 

KEY PRINCIPLES

  • Be careful what you wish for.
  • Our beliefs form the foundation of our actions and behavior – which we are responsible for.
  • There is a relationship between our beliefs, emotions, behavior and physical outcomes.
  • Emotion is a powerful force.
  • Sitting on a rock, clad in sack and ashes, and wait for bread to rain is no solution.
  • Transcendental moments exist – inexpressible in words and inexplicable by science.

ACTION STEPS

  • Envisage the end result.
  • Recognize that your behavior affect and impact not only yourself but also other people.
  • Act! – You are not powerless.
  • Harvest and harness your emotions.
  • Believe and work on empowering yourself to achieve your dreams.
  • Recognize the “tipping points” in life, then appreciate and build on them. They happen for a reason.

 

(“PERSPECTIVES” are excerpts from my forthcoming book of the same name, to be published by Partridge Publications in early 2015.)

 

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PERSPECTIVES: LEARNING – THE TREASURE THAT FOLLOWS

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“Learning is a Treasure that will follow its owner everywhere”. Chinese proverb

 

Learn a new thing every day. Become an expert on your chosen subject. It empowers, lights up the darkness and amongst other benefits it fights dementia.

Make use of your time when you are on the move – in trains, buses, cabs, planes. “Lost” time stays lost. It is your ever-diminishing, non-renewable, non-controllable, finite “resource”.

One of my earlier colleagues studied the stock market during his lunchtimes and became enough of an investment expert to retire from his day-job by his late 30’s.

I obtained most of my university degrees by studying on the train to and from work every day. I wrote my first book on a train and during lunch hours. All of which changed my life dramatically.

My fellow passengers are still staring at their mobile phones, play computerized games, chat or sleep.

 

Physical

People learn best through ways that fit their learning style and it is important that you identify which way lets you get the most out of it.

By far the most people – about 60% – learn visually, by looking, drawing, color-coding, writing things down, and reading.

Kinesthetic learners, on the other hand, learn by getting involved – in many cases physically – by “doing”, more of a hands-on approach.

Auditory learners get into discussions, express their views, and through listening to what is being said. The rule is “two ears, one mouth. Listen twice as much as you talk”

 

Social

Whilst working on a short contract in Indonesia, I learnt 10 Indonesian words every day for my first three months – five to and from work and five in the office during the day. Three months later the 1,000 words empowered me to now comfortably communicate with more than 300,000,000 people of other exciting cultures on the planet. Not a bad investment of taxi-and lunch-time.

 

Mental

The importance of mental preparation before “getting into the action” cannot be overstated. No-one would consider going unprepared into an important meeting or interview. And as “practice makes perfect” learning a new thing or reinforcing successful behavior every time you have an important activity to perform is helpful in reaching a desired outcome.

Sportsmen of all caliber and types are taught to “see the golf ball drop into the hole, landing the knock-out punch, serving an ace, or sliding over the bar on a high jump”. Mental preparation includes imaging, of which there are two types, i.e. internal – where you visualize both the process and the outcome – and external, where you see yourself as an observer – learning by “intense looking” (not as just a spectator).

 

Emotional

The five social and emotional aspects of learning include the ability to (a) manage our feelings, (b) be self-aware, (c) display empathy, (d) be motivated and lastly (e) engage our social and behavioral skills.

These skills help us learn how to manage our feelings such as joy, anger, frustration and anxiety. They help us place ourselves in context with our surrounding and the society we live in. They guide us to resolve issues of both an interpersonal and personal nature – help us build friendships, be co-operative and fair, and to be able to cope with both winning and losing.

At the base of it all is an awareness, followed by a mobilization of our energy and a direction to “do or not to do something” that is valued.

 

Intellectual

We are thought to use only somewhere between 0.5% and 5% of our brain but – and without any empirical evidence – I daresay it is much less, far less than even 0.5%. Humankind has built structures to visit and explore outer space and now seems set to – at last – one day wander amongst the planets and stars – but we have not yet conquered our inner space. The brain is as fascinating a frontier, if not more so, as outer space, since that is where most of our day-to-day living takes place.

 

Spiritual

All learning is transformational, more so when it has a spiritual impact.

Spirituality is a belief system that is centered in the values by which people live, and which leads and guides the welfare of both people and society – beyond the material, to a larger reality and common good – to develop an inner human quality. It covers trustworthiness, thoughtfulness, tolerance, balance, an appreciation and mindfulness of others – and openness to co-existence, which may also include meditation and prayer as sources of inspiration and a humility that drive and define us.

 

KEY PRINCIPLES

  • There are three physical ways to learn, i.e. by hearing, seeing and doing.
  • The importance of mental preparation before you “get into the action” cannot be overstated.
  • Ten words a day can empower you to interact with millions of people after three months.
  • There are five social and emotional aspects of learning.
  • The brain is as fascinating a frontier, if not more so, as outer space.
  • All learning is transformational, more so when it has a spiritual impact.

ACTION STEPS

  • Identify which way is the best way of learning for you to ensure you get the most out of it.
  • Learn to “eat an elephant, one bite at a time”.
  • Visualize the end result, but do not forget the process.
  • Become aware, mobilize your energy and direct it into action.
  • Engage as much of your brain as possible by “learning how to learn”.
  • Transform yourself and your life by learning something new of value every day.

 

 

(“PERSPECTIVES” are excerpts from my forthcoming book of the same name, to be published by Partridge Publications in early 2015.)

 

PERSPECTIVES: ZEST IN EVERY DAY

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“Carpe Diem!”

 

“Carpe Diem” – the essence of which is to do what you can to enjoy today AND act on what will make for a better tomorrow.

Today is a Gift, a Present to be unwrapped. It is what we do whilst unwrapping our allotted 24 hours a day that will shape our future and set us apart from others.

It has been said that you are a good reflection of the latest three books you have read and your four closest friends. “Carpe Diem”.

 

Physical

If you want to get something done, give it to a busy person – or do it yourself. Busy people have learnt to manage their life and get the most out of every day.

You can choose to get out of bed early and go for a walk, a swim, a work-out before you start your busy day – oxygenated and pumped with a reserve of energy – or laze in bed till you HAVE to get up and dash to work. “Carpe Diem”.

 

Social

People enjoy engaging with those who are energetic and zestful, fun to work with and inspiring to talk to.

See the world as a community, not just as 8 billion individuals. Connect with the people around you during the course of a morning or a lunchtime. You will soon feel both relaxed and re-energized. If you work in an office, go chat with a colleague rather than send an email.

Today’s tech-driven life has diminished much – including the relationships that were built and strengthened around the “Ten o’clock Tea Trolley” and a chat at the water cooler – can anyone remember those? Thankfully in later life I was blessed with a few good friends who would come around and invite me for regular tea breaks – which became an institution, cookies and all – after which we would all return to our desks, refreshed and having further cemented our friendships. “Carpe Diem”.

 

Mental

Many people – as they age – simultaneously develop a fear of ageing as well as a sense of freedom to do certain things that had been holding them back earlier in life. When Arthur Rubenstein was asked at the age of 88 why his piano-artistry had more freedom and a feeling of fun about them, he replied that he was now playing for himself, not an audience anymore. What an insight:

  • Play Life for yourself, not for the audience!

 

Emotional

Follow your passions, your purpose, and your dreams – do not hesitate or wait for a better time which may never come. In fact, go out and create your own “better time”. ”Carpe Diem”.

 

Intellectual

No-one denies that inspiration may come in a flash. But works of art are not done in seconds or minutes. Great composers do not set about working because they are inspired. They become inspired because of, and as they are working.

Beethoven, Bach, Mozart and others set about their work day after day after day writing moving music – not necessarily waiting for a flash of inspiration. Case in point: Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony was written between 1804 and 1808, frequently interrupted to do other works of art.

The masterful Renaissance statues of David and Moses took Michelangelo respectively from 1501 to 1504 and 1513 to 1515 to sculpt. It took him a further 4 years between 1508 and 1512 to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Leonardo da Vinci took four years to paint the Mona Lisa from 1503 – 1506/7.

And nothing, if anything, can beat any of these magnificent pieces of High Renaissance art in terms of beauty and inspiration. “Carpe Diem”.

 

Spiritual

“Three score and ten”. Such is our life on earth said to be measured in. Some go earlier. Others live longer. Still others linger, and may even pray to exit. If you are a spiritual / religious person, there are days when you will feel tested and days that you feel blessed.

Enjoy them both, since they are the spices sprinkled into your Life. “Carpe Diem”!

 

KEY PRINCIPLES

  • Busy people have learnt to manage their lives, thus do more in a day.
  • People like to engage with others who are energetic and zestful.
  • Many people – as they age – simultaneously develop a fear of ageing as well as a sense of freedom.
  • Passion, purpose and dreams are what should steer you.
  • Great works are not necessarily the result of a flash of inspiration but take perhaps years of “working at it”.
  • There will be days when you feel blessed and days you fell tested.

 

ACTION STEPS

  • Do not wait for others – do it yourself.
  • Connect with the world around you.
  • Play Life for yourself, not for the audience!
  • Follow your passions and dreams – what you see as your purpose for being.
  • Do not wait for inspiration – work towards inspiration.
  • Enjoy every single day of your life – both days on which you feel blessed and days you feel tested.

 

(“PERSPECTIVES” are excerpts from my forthcoming book of the same name, to be published by Partridge Publications in early 2015.)

PERSPECTIVES: DON’T GRUMBLE

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 “Grumbling is the death of love” Marlene Dietrich

 

For those who do not know what grumbling is, allow me a short non-scientific definition: It is to make constant complaining and annoying remarks or noises under your breath about one or many things which others may take in their stride as “part of life”.

Grumbling wastes time – your ever-diminishing, irreplaceable, finite resource. Time lost grumbling is time wasted, or more precisely – Life wasted. It eats away at your emotional energy and diminishes you in the eyes of other people.

  • In short, it affects you physical, social, emotional, mental, intellectual and spiritual currency – personally and with other people.

If what you are grumbling about is really an issue, then the time is better spent resolving the issue. If you cannot resolve it, recall part of the Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr, which reads:

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference”, and the full version of which has been adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous, including “Living one day at a time; Enjoying one moment at a time..”

 

Physical

Grumbling does nothing good for you. I recall having a hang-over grumble early one morning on a ferry-ride from Greece mainland to the island of Crete and my brother suggested I jump overboard if I was not happy and at least make the sharks happy! He was fairly direct in speaking his mind – which is what I needed to cure me of my grumbling. The sharks needed to look for food elsewhere.

 

Social

Grumbling cements you in the view of other people as a negative person, someone who cannot sort out or face the pressures of life – which is not the image you would like to project of yourself. Small wonder that most people try to avoid grumblers.

The question is “Once a grumbler, always a grumbler?” The answer is “No”. It is possible to learn to be patient as well as to see matters in perspective and how to deal with pressure – internal and external – as is evident with the Serenity Prayer, which might as well be renamed the Grumbler’s Prayer.

 

Mental

Grumbling wears you down mentally and it becomes a challenge to get out of the rut you are in. With every repetition of your grumble, you convince yourself further that what you are grumbling about is true, for example “it is hot” becomes “it is very hot” and eventually becomes “I cannot stand this heat!”.

Get out of the rut. Go for a walk, come back and consider the wisdom of your three options: either approve of the situation, or fix it, or sigh and succumb to it.

 

Emotional

Constant grumbling drip-erodes your emotional energy as well as wear the people around you thin with patience. For fear of repeating myself: See above three options.

 

Intellectual

Intellectualize both the item you grumble about as well as the effect of your grumbling and you may be on the path to recovery by convincing yourself of the futility of its grumble-worthiness. There is no “Grumbler of the Year” Award.

 

Spiritual

There are those who consider challenges to be an opportunity to grow and to self-discover, a test of faith, and possibly even a visitation by a Higher Order – all of which are designed to make us stronger human beings on all fronts. We are often tempered and purified by challenges and crises out of which can be born resilience. We often do not know our inner strength until we need it. It is my belief that we are “given only the mountains that we are able – and willing – to climb”.

 

KEY PRINCIPLES

  • Grumblers are Life’s losers – in terms of most aspects.
  • People avoid grumblers.
  • Grumbling lands you in a rut.
  • Grumbling steals you emotional energy.
  • The path to recover from your grumbling is to convince yourself of its futility.
  • Challenges are opportunities to grow. We are “given only the mountains that we are able – and willing – to climb”

 

ACTION STEPS

  • Choose to not grumble.
  • Change the subject to a positive one – look at what you can be thankful for.
  • Get out of the rut. Either approve of the situation, act on it, or accept it.
  • Guard against losing friends due to your grumbling.
  • Think about your grumbling, its futility, and what you can do best with that energy.
  • Self-discover and grow. Seek your Inner Strength.

 

(“PERSPECTIVES” are excerpts from my forthcoming book of the same name, to be published by Partridge Publications in early 2015.