PERSPECTIVES: READ

Standard

 

“Read. Learn. Become.”

 

“PERSPECTIVES” are excerpts from my forthcoming book of the same name, available from Partridge Publications early 2015

 

UNESCO estimates that the global rate of adult literacy is in excess of 84% – blessed with the privilege to read and avail themselves of the opportunity to inform, grow and be inspired.

However, the world is in many ways an unfriendly and unwelcome place for the remaining adults and their children who cannot read, many of whom yearn – nay, pray – to have a chance to join the ranks of the literate, not to mention those who suffer impairments such as dyslexia which often lead to terrible humiliation throughout life, being referred to as being “dumb and slow” by teachers, friends and yes, even family alike.

The process of reading involves many of Life’s gifts such as your eyes, hands, fingers, your nervous system and brain. It enables you to share knowledge and improve your frame of reference and decision-making whilst building character and relationships, and much more.

 

Physical

Reading – and its flipside, writing – required the development of alphabets, which was a huge intellectual advance. It meant that written records could be kept, which had a significant impact on knowledge-sharing and commerce.

The Ancient Library of Alexandria, Egypt – established in the 3rd Century – was one of the largest and most significant centers of knowledge in the ancient world, and part of a greater complex where most of the famous philosophers and thinkers studied hand-copied scrolls that were borrowed from around the world.

One version of history is that this beacon of light was sadly burnt down by Julius Caesar in 46 BC and others over time, and today stands as one symbol of the willful destructions of cultural and other knowledge.

 

Social

Knowledge is power.

Earlier political and religious authorities initially used the written word to subjugate and maintain their position of power over the masses by way of closely guarded secrets and knowledge. Religious learnings and scientific documents were written down and perpetuated by scribes and monks who laboriously re-wrote them for “internal circulation and consumption”.

Around 1439 Johannes Gutenberg brought an end to this in Europe by introduced movable printing type, heralding in the bulk book printing revolution which is widely regarded as one of the most important events in history.

It played a key role in the unrestricted circulation of information and ideas, which became a keystone of the Renaissance and the Reformation – ushering in the Age of Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution – forming the basis for our modern-day knowledge-based life and the spreading of learning to the masses.

Blessed are the children whose parents enjoy reading a bed-time story to them, tucked in, wrapped up with a good-night kiss and hug that builds a special bond between parent and child – extending their character and preparing them for Life.

 

Mental

Reading uplifting books and magazines give your brain a much-needed mental work-out. It builds cognitive ability and improves vocabulary, verbal intelligence and general knowledge.

Those who read as children will in all probability continue to do so throughout life. It is thus important to expose children to reading from an early age, and assist those who have an impairment, to help them enrich their lives.

 

Emotional

The Word is mightier than the Sword. People can be physically slayed (and libraries burnt down) but ideas cannot be undone, especially if they have been propagated by way of multiple means – word of mouth, written and otherwise.

 

Intellectual

Intellectual (and social) development is often based on critical reading which questions the purpose and content of written text, especially where and when it involves social causes.

It may ignite a spark and help grow an understanding of issues – empowering us intellectually to reach conclusions about how we – and our society – should act and grow. Two prime examples are an increased awareness of and approach to associated injustices of the ‘isms” such as racist, sexism, ageism, and how to better treat this planet – our home.

 

Spiritual

Heal through reading.

A great and longstanding friend of mine has recently been submerged for months in a dark and lonely depression. Through reading uplifting books – and writing some of the most heart-wrenching but beautifully poignant emails – she started to find solace, seeing an ever-growing light as part of her treatment and long climb back to the Top of her Mountain of Life.

The HEArt of HEAL spells READ.

 

KEY POINTS

  • Reading – and writing – required the development of alphabets and ways to “spread the word”.
  • It led to the Renaissance – the basis for our modern-day knowledge-based society.
  • Reading uplifting books and magazines gives your brain a much-needed mental work-out.
  • The Word – and Thought – is mightier than the Sword.
  • Intellectual (and social) development is often based on critical reading.
  • The HEArt of HEAL spells READ.

 

ACTION STEPS

  • Treat books with respect – in whatever form. They represent someone’s intellect – and may help develop yours.
  • Read a bed-time story to your children. Visit an aged or sick person and read to them.
  • Expose your children to reading as soon as possible in life.
  • Read with purpose.
  • Let reading empower you – intellectually, socially, spiritually.
  • Heal through reading – and writing.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

Advertisements

PERSPECTIVES: PRAYER WORKS POWERFULLY

Standard

 

“Work as if you were to live a hundred years, pray as if you were to die tomorrow.”

– Benjamin Franklin

 

(“PERSPECTIVES” are excerpts from my forthcoming book of the same name, available from Partridge Publications early 2015)

 

In today’s high-speed world we all need to find time for inner peace. And prayer is often the way.

A short definition of prayer is that it is a conversation with God / The Higher Order or whatever name you want to bestow on Deity.

The contents of prayer provides us with a window into the spirituality of the person who prays. For some it is a way to say thank you for blessings bestowed. For others it is a way to make commitments to live by. And for yet others it is a way to ask for the strength to cope with challenges, or to accept life as it is. Many-a-time it covers the full spectrum.

Though prayers sometimes seem to be ignored or go unanswered, I believe they are answered in one of three ways i.e. Yes, No, and Not Yet.

 

Physical

Body, mind and soul – all benefit from participating in faith-based activities.

Worshippers attest to it that physical benefits – even healing – are to be found in prayer and attending places of worship. This may be the result of them receiving instructions on how to deal with anxiety and daily stress and/or it may be the result of participating in collective prayers and singing hymns, going through worship routines and socializing post the event.

 

Social

Most of the major religions involve the act of praying in one form or another and often prescribe the “who, how, when and where” of prayer – such as in groups, at an appointed time and place, whilst others allow prayer at anytime and anywhere.

Personal prayer time for us is in the evenings and mornings, but since for me God is omnipresent, I also pray whenever and wherever I feel the need, be it in the office, in the car or sitting in our garden, though praying in a group undeniably makes one feel integrated into a larger culture.

 

Mental

Prayers may differ in focus and mode.

Mental prayers – also called internal prayers – are mental dialogues, meditation on God’s word, contemplation and silence which is focused on the love of God rather than the thought of God.

Vocal prayers are formed in words or equivalent symbols and often employ set formulas of expression – such as in prescribed written format or prayer books – which concentrate on faith, hope, contrition and charity, whilst attending to the meaning of the words of prayer themselves.

 

Emotional

People who suffer from both physical and mental challenges – including depression – often recover holistically from their ailments when their spirituality and religion form an essential and inherent part of their lives and where they believe that God cares about them as individuals.

 

Intellectual

I have lived through the power of prayer.

Though some may see it as an intellectual challenge, I have witnessed several acts and outcomes – two of which involved my youngest brother and my Mother within a church-going setting – which could only be ascribed to the positive intervention of a God / Higher Order – through just a few spoken words and a short prayer.

 

Spiritual

For those with a religious grounding it is important to believe that God will empower them to overcome challenges through and in prayer, where they search for strength and inner peace as they go about their daily life in a restless world.

 

KEY POINTS

  • Body, mind and soul all benefit from participating in faith-based activities.
  • Most of the major religions involve the act of praying in one form or another.
  • Different places of worship follow different forms of prayer – being it mental or vocal.
  • Recovering from ailments is often done within the context and milieu of religion and spirituality.
  • I have seen prayer work powerfully.
  • For those with a religious grounding it is important to believe that God will empower them to overcome challenges.

 

ACTION STEPS

  • Attend a place of worship to experience a different kind of socializing.
  • Pray when and where you feel the need. Do not limit yourself to a place and time.
  • Pray to overcome mental challenges.
  • Make prayer an essential part of your daily routine.
  • Open your mind to miracles.
  • Seek strength and inner peace through prayer.

 

 ~~~~~~~~~~

PERSPECTIVES: PICK YOUR LEVEL OF INVOLVEMENT

Standard

“We are who we choose to be”…Spiderman

 

Spend your energy on what is of value to you. Bypass discourses and arguments that will steal your Time and Life away. Walking away from an argument is oftentimes better than spending emotional currency on something you possibly cannot change.

Then again, when you commit to something important – commit 100% and give it your all.

 

Physical

Choose to stay physically well. It gives you a sense of determination, direction and enhances your self-esteem. Learn to understand your body’s signs. Stay fit. It will help you stave off illnesses. Engage in activities that will build cardiovascular and muscle strength, increase flexibility and balance as you age and challenge yourself slowly.

 

Social

Live in harmony with fellow human beings and other life forms by developing positive relationships through compassionate behavior. Respect yourself and others, and build a strong social and support system that includes both family and friends. Become culturally astute.

 

Mental

Re-affirm your purpose in life. Be optimistic. Believe in yourself. Embrace change. Learn to face challenges and develop the skills to resolve them. Become resilient – know that Life will throw the odd curve ball and that setbacks are part of it. Never see yourself as a victim. Get enough rest and sleep but guard against becoming lazy – physically and mentally.

 

Emotional

Emotional wellness is more than just the ability to handle stress. It includes being attentive to your thoughts, feelings and behavior – both in terms of the positive and that which may be contradictory to yourself, and often includes the “isms”, such as racism, sexism, ageism and others.

Be optimistic. Make personal choices and take responsibility for your own actions. Adjust to change when and where required to enjoy a balanced life despite occasional disappointments.

Build your relationships on trust and respect.

 

Intellectual

Develop a lifelong learning attitude. Get involved in intellectual activities, stay abreast of and explore new ideas, take on challenges, start creative endeavors – and appreciate that these will make you stretch and grow – at any age.

 

Spiritual

Cultivate spiritual wellness. It is part of being well and whole. Participating in activities that are meaningful to you. Make time in your day for relaxation, meditation and appreciation of the Life of which you are in charge. Look at your values, beliefs, morals, principles – do they guide and anchor the purpose of your Life? You are not alone on this planet. How do you fit into the larger picture? Which Stitch are you in the Carpet of Life? Is there love, forgiveness, compassion and joy in your heart?

Transcend yourself on your path to find the meaning and value of your Life.

Pick your level of involvement.

 

KEY POINTS

  • Physical wellness gives you a sense of determination, direction and enhances your self-esteem.
  • Compassionate behavior leads to positive relationships.
  • Resilience will overcome the odd curve ball that Life will throw at you.
  • Emotional wellness includes being attentive to your thoughts, feelings and behavior.
  • Intellectual activities, new ideas, creative endeavors, challenges will make you stretch and grow.
  • You are not alone on this planet. Which Stitch are you in the Carpet of Life?

ACTION STEPS

  •  Choose to stay physically well.
  • Live in harmony with fellow human beings and other life forms.
  • Become resilient – know that Life will present setbacks for you to overcome.
  • Make personal choices and take responsibility for your own actions. Adjust to change.
  • Develop a lifelong learning attitude. Get involved in intellectual activities.
  • Look at your values, beliefs, morals, principles – do they guide and anchor the purpose of your Life?

 

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

 

~~~~~~~~~~

PERSPECTIVES: ANNIVERSARIES

Standard

 

”To everything, turn, turn, turn” The Byrds, adapted from the Book of Ecclesiastes

 

My brother and I had the following short conversation in mid-August 1979 whilst backpacking through Europe and the Middle East.

I: “Where do you want to have your birthday?”

Brother: “At a place on the planet where no-one can point to later.”

So we took a 3-day back-packer deck class trip for $6 (a tea, olives and bread breakfast included) on a Black Sea ferry out of Istanbul for his 25 birthday – which turned out to be quite a baptismal event for many things to follow later in life.

The significance of anniversaries can be summaries in a clutch-full of verbs: Celebrate. Create. Remember. Remind. Recommit. Review. Rededicate. Reframe.

 

Physical

Some events that shaped societies: The 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami. The 9/11 Twin Tower and other atrocities. Vesuvius 79AD. London 1666.

Etched in minds, memories and history. And the way we look at disasters now – natural or human-made. Affecting the way we live – sometimes with quiet resignation, at other times with reflection, even rebelliousness – questioning our faith in our fellowman, society, government and even The Creator.

These events are an ideal time to reflect on Life, our mission as earthlings and our individual reasons for being. It provides the backdrop against which we measure where we came from, where we are now and where we are headed: What has been achieved and what still remains to be done – individually, as a country, a society and as a planet – seeking for improved social, environmental, economic and personal outcomes and resilience through application of our abilities.

 

Social

Dates and events resonate with people.

Anniversaries – postcards from the past to reopen and help us bring into focus what has happened since an event – happy or tragic, individually or collective – and how experience has helped us change and grow, shaping us into whom we are today.

Countries pause in remembrance of those who fell during endless wars that humanity keep waging on itself – reflecting on the futility of it all, the value of human life and the tragedy of lives cut short.

National day celebrations become rallying points for countries and individuals to take stock – fostering respect for the values that make them what they stand for whilst building a collective memory.

The end of one year and start of a new one provides an opportunity to recommit to “New Year’s” resolutions about health, relationships, commitments and other matters.

 

Mental

Whilst looking at the past, you may recognize trends throughout your life that can help anticipate new challenges which you might face – and possible solutions to them. I found that my life evolves in 5-7 year as well as in 15-20 year cycles.

 

Emotional

Much of our relationships are built on memories. We gather for celebrations – being it a birth, obtaining a degree, marriage, even a divorce – that provide us with opportunities to meet with those with whom we strengthen relationships and to create newer memories for the future.

Times are when we celebrate the lives of those who are no longer with us – a brother, a parent or a partner. My youngest brother and I decided on his 25th birthday that the longer-living one will celebrate and toast the other one’s birthday and day of departure with two beers and 10 specific songs which we both liked. I still maintain that tradition – after many years.

 

Intellectual

Anniversaries bring more than just nostalgic reflection. They provide a point of departure for the future. Society has since the dawn of mankind marked important natural cycles and stages – being it personal, communal or spiritual in nature.

We celebrate the changing of seasons, the end of a year, a century or a millennium and the beginning of a new one – reminding us that in what may at times seem a chaotic world, there are rhythm, structure and points of reference.

Iconic structures such as Stonehenge and the Pyramids are reminders of past achievements that have historical, religious, astronomical and cultural significance beyond their age.

 

Spiritual

Whether one is spiritual or in addition practices a religion, significant events are almost certain to happen in any life – providing an opportunity around which to rally in the process of personal transformation and striving for a higher level of consciousness where mind, body and soul are in harmonious balance.

The dates of these happenings may be regarded as the beginning of a spiritual rebirth – to be celebrated on that given date in the future.

 

KEY PRINCIPLES

  • Events shape societies and their anniversaries provide ideal opportunities to reflect.
  • Anniversaries bring into focus the experiences that have shaped us.
  • It may help us recognize trends and with it, anticipate new challenges that we may face.
  • Much of our relationships are built on memories.
  • Anniversaries provide a point of departure for the future, marking important stages and cycles.
  • Most religions celebrate significant events around which to rally and recommit.

 

ACTION STEPS

  • Take time to reflect on anniversaries – and their importance.
  • Celebrate the experiences and tipping points that have shaped you throughout life.
  • Recognize the cycles in your life and use them to good effect.
  • Celebrate the living as well as the lives of those who departed earlier.
  • Let anniversaries be both points of reflection and points of departure for the future.
  • Celebrate religious and spiritual rebirths.

 

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

PERSPECTIVES: REGRET – PRISON OR PIVOT?

Standard

 

“If Only…”

 

Regret.

A kind word left unspoken. A thoughtless deed. A resignation done in anger. A love affair that rips a family apart. No-one is immune – husbands and wives, politicians and rock gods – all succumb at one point through life.

“If only…”

A way to try and conjure up alternative past worlds. But there is no way of knowing how they would have turned out. What paths they might have trodden. Frank Sinatra’s attitude in “My Way” sums it up “Regrets I have a few, but then again too few to mention”.

On a rerun of my life I would have done many things differently but I made some choices along the way which blessed me with great friends and watershed opportunities that completely redirected my life and which were – on reflection – the result of what I view as Divine Intervention. Else they must have come about by extraordinary confluence of circumstance. If so, why have I not yet won Lotto?

 

Physical

Think yourself healthy.

Regret and emotional distress can lead to vulnerabilities which result in physical and mental health challenges. For this reason alone regret should not become a central theme in your life.

“There, but for the grace of God, go I”. It has been said that those who are thankful for their blessings when evaluating their lives with others who are worse off, experience positive emotional wellbeing – and fewer health issues.

 

Social

Life is about choices. Evaluate them – and their possible outcomes – before committing.

We have all seen a colleague, friend or family member, maybe ourselves, make regrettable choices about events that could have been controlled – but were neglected – the outcomes of which eventually resulted in regret and heartache, personally and for loved ones.

However, let any regret be brief and mistakes and misfortune be learning experiences.

 

Mental

Live here-and-now.

Life does not “just happen”; it is the product and sum total of choices that we make over time – and it is thus no secret that regret about periods of procrastination ranks higher with advanced age. Procrastination about matters of health, finance and not having spent enough time with loved ones.

It is human to have a regret or two of varying intensity. But rise above it and go on living. Manage it productively and deny it becoming a central piece in your life. Let it inspire you to – where possible – repair what can be repaired. Though future events cannot erase the past, history also bears witness to a procession of famous people who accomplished much after experiencing a regrettable – even tragic – event in their lives.

 

Emotional

Who can fathom the grief and sorrow of a Mother – staring at the open grave of a child – and the regret of having left that last birthday card un-posted? Or missed making one more phone call.

If only…

A final goodbye may come unexpectedly, knowing that you will never be able to say one more time “I love you”. Those who have lost a parent, life-partner, sibling or child unexpectedly through death, often regret not having spent more time with them. Seeing the flowers on the coffin of my youngest brothers I asked “Why do people wait till you die before they give you flowers?”

Guard against depression – its darker cousin that attacks regardless of age. Two cases touched me closely. One became physically sick due to a deep depression following the loss of her father she missed saying goodbye to that morning. Another, a mother and longtime friend, sank into a dark and silent pit for months at a mature age. Both recovered – daresay with lifelong scars – and God forbid a relapse.

The events in your life play out over a certain arc. Who knows where the arc would have led should actions and events have been different. The future past of “if only…” might have presented much more regret to have dealt with.

Leave “could have, should have, and would have” at the Doorstep of Dawn as you walk out to conquer a New Day. A New Chapter. And spend the 86,400 seconds of your day wisely.

 

Intellectual

Aiming for perfection will keep you in bed forever.

Get up and create your destiny. On the way there will be reasons for reflection, possibly even regret. But keep building your legacy in spite of it.

Live every day in two ways: Do the best you can – compartmented in today – warts and all. Then leave it behind when you get up tomorrow to start a new day – but keep your End Story in mind. Remember your Legacy is the Conclusive Chapter in your Book of Life.

 

Spiritual

Live here and now.

We stand in this moment in time. Yesterday is gone – unchangeably. Tomorrow has not arrived – and for some it won’t.

Do not be kept a prisoner by the past or forever be a bride-in-waiting for tomorrow. Learn through Life’s actions – both successes and sorrows, failures and fortunes – without “If only…

 

KEY PRINCIPLES

  • Emotional distress and regret can lead to physical vulnerability that may result in health problems.
  • Life is about choices that lead to outcomes – some pleasant, some unpleasant.
  • Regret is commonplace and regret about periods of procrastination ranks higher with advanced age.
  • The past cannot be erased, but don’t be kept prisoner by it either.
  • We are all human and will make mistakes. Aiming for perfection will keep you in bed forever.
  • We stand in this moment in time. The here and now.

 

ACTION STEPS

  • Think positively. Think yourself healthy.
  • Let any regret be brief – and a learning experience.
  • Manage regret productively and deny it a central piece in your life.
  • Leave “could, should, would have” at the Doorstep of Dawn as you walk out to conquer a New Day.
  • Live every day in two ways: Do the best you can every day – and keep the End Game in mind.
  • Live a principled and ethical Life.

 

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