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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Day 672: How Time Flies

Tomorrow is the end. The day after is the beginning.

Well I suppose that's one way to look at it.

Time is a concept we created as a reference to use to track the progress (real or projected) of things like tasks, mending a broken heart, healing a broken body, when to meet someone, when something should be done by. Time has a practical purpose, yet we tend to influence our experience and perception of it with things that are not so practical.

A common thing you hear is that the time goes faster every year. Obviously time is not actually going faster, it is our perception of time that changes.

Look back to your childhood, you lived in the moment and savoured everything. The innocence of a child includes living in the moment, being present in every moment. Children rarely brood and get lost in their thoughts. Children rarely spend all their time thinking about what they want, or want they have lost. A child explores what is here in the moment with a complete awareness and presence that so many lose touch with as we grow older.

The further down the road we get, the more we're off in some alternative place in our minds and the less we're present in the moment. We tend to be thinking about the person we have a crush on, the friend we don't quite trust, all the chores we need to do or errands we need to run, the project for school or work that's due in a few days, the fight we had with our family, the argument with we had with our partner, the person we'd rather be with than our partner, what to wear... It's like the wheel of thoughts in our heads just starts turning faster and faster until eventually it's spinning so fast that we can't really see clearly where one thing ends and another begins. Within the turmoil of all this we lose touch with simply being here. We diminish our capacity to clearly consider the choices in front of us because instead of seeing things for what they are, we look at the world through the haze of all the noise going on inside us.

So - this relates to time in the sense that when you are floating somewhere in your mind, thinking about all the things you want, need, lost, miss, don't have and have to do - time seems to move faster because you're not actually present in it to a degree, you are in another place where your experience of time is different. It's almost like a dream world, and in the moments that you snap out of it and wake up, you realise how much time has actually passed. Your inner world, your thoughts, have no "anchor" in the real world to keep track of real time, so when you drift off into your thoughts your perception is moving without any references to real time. It truly is as if you create an alternate reality where only you exist.

We fill ourselves up with so much junk, so many thoughts and emotions that accumulate and compound over the years that it really is no wonder that we have to create alternate realities to try and live with it all. The solution to this problem is simple - let it go, take a deep breath in and slowly release it. Bring yourself back to reality, back to this moment. Give yourself clarity. Give yourself time.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Day 671: Dragon Age Inquisition & Free Choice

I am a fan of Role Playing games like Dragon Age and Mass Effect. What has been happening in the last few years is that game developers are trying to make these games as dynamic as possible when it comes to the choices available to the player. This includes personality, appearance, love/sex and even the fate of the world. Obviously there are limits to how many different kinds of choices can be given, games would take too long to develop and would be too big to truly offer an experience of free choice. Maybe at some point in the future artificial intelligence will be developed and dynamic enough to respond to the choices that players make in-game (without limitation, or at least with minimal limitation).

What I find interesting in games like Dragon Age and Mass Effect is that the choices that are offered to you are typically the following 3 options:
  1. You choose to be the "good guy"
  2. You choose neutrality/sometimes lack of interest
  3. You choose to be the "bad guy"
I realise that when you are working within certain boundaries your choices are limited, but I would like to propose that we, humanity, are rather stuck in our world view of seeing everything as either "bad", "good" or "neutral". In truth we know that nothing is ever that simple - and further to that, the concept of bad can only exist because the concept of good exists. We are the ones wanting to put labels on everything, wanting things to fit in their "correct" boxes. Life is really so much simpler than that - we make it complicated. Everything in life is what it is - no more, no less. Sometimes what it is is acceptable, sometimes it's not. Sometimes we can change it, sometimes we can't (we have the power and ability to change much, currently it is we who limit ourselves).

This desire to label and define everything in life comes out in all the things we participate in, like games, family, movies, magazines, culture, food, animals, actions, words, thoughts... In Dragon Age, it manifests as you as the player having relatively limited in-game options in terms of developing your character and the story line. Again, I am not saying that game developers are technologically capable of creating a game with real free choice at this stage, what I am saying is that there is more to life than good, bad and neutral. So in the game I have limited opportunities to develop my character in a way that reflects who I am, which is generally what you want when playing games like this.

One thing I must say I find rather frustrating is the limitation of choices when it comes to the development of the story line. Near the beginning of the game, you are asked to decide between two factions, the one you choose becomes your ally and the other will then be your enemy. Neither of the factions is really a nice choice and I ended up making my choice based on reviews of people who had played the game twice, having experienced both choices. This is actually quite a common things in games, where you are forced to choose between two crap options in order to advance the story line. Again, the situation may be unavoidable, but it really doesn't have to be so crap.

The sad thing is that even though everyone wants to be special, we are so much the same that our behaviour can be predicted to the level that a company knows exactly what products to make, how to advertise them and how to price them in order to achieve high sales numbers. We are not as special as we think we are, and if you dig a little into psychological research you will find that human behaviour is actually quite predictable.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Day 670: How to Make a Box Office Hit

Think about some of the most popular movies you know - most of them involve very specific patterns and storylines, like
  • Main character = hero
  • Damsel in distress / love interest
  • Action scenes
  • Something happens to break up the lovers
  • Main character and love interest go through some sort of trial and re-affirm their love in the end
  • Action scenes
  • Sex/sensual scenes (optional)
  • Hero overcomes some kind of hardship
  • Hero is very likeable and good at everything he/she does
  • Action scenes
  • Good visual effects are a bonus
The idea for this post came from  a discussion with a friend who had recently watched all the Harry Potter movies - she pointed out a side of the movies that I hadn't considered, a side that most of us probably haven't considered:
  • His mother died protecting him with unconditional love, which continues to protect him in all the movies
  • Harry's family is not his real family (hardship, he starts off as being unwanted and unloved - symbolism for how many people feel at some point in their lives - also that he "doesn't fit in" - another common feeling in the world)
  • He suddenly finds out that he is extremely wealthy (everyone's dream)
  • He turns out to not only be a wizard, but the most special wizard in the world of magic - The Boy Who Lived
  • He is a great athlete, the youngest ever to join the team
  • He is never punished for breaking the rules when he's is "saving the day" and is actually rewarded points
These are only some aspects, I am sure that there are more. Consider how all of these things play on so many common feelings and desires within us - we are given a smorgasbord of blissful fantasies. Everyone wants to be more special than everyone else. Everyone wants to be so with an heir of humbleness and competence. Everyone wants to be that lucky.

So many movies rely on emotional manipulation in order to ensnare their viewers and get them emotionally invested in the film - this is a sure way to get people to spend money. Emotional manipulation can happen as much in a romance as it does in an action movie - the point is that the movie elicits specific emotions and feelings from people and cause a kind of a rift between their fantasy world and the real world. The fantasy world consists of all the things you have seen and want to experience, whether that desire is "rational" or "irrational" - let's face it, these days most of it is irrational. The things we see in movies, magazines and even in everyday life is very seldom a true reflection of reality. It's really no wonder that psychological disorders consisting of people "losing touch with reality" are increasing exponentially. The fact is that we are fed all of these fairytales without the knowledge or skill to assess what is real and what is not, and then to help ourselves out of our self-created delusions.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Day 669: Merry Frikkin Christmas


There's not much I can add to this, except that Christmas is one of the busiest nights for police stations in South Africa who are called to deal with drunkards, thieves, disputes and violence on this 'hallowed' day. I wonder why that is...

So, while the middle class is having tense family dinners, the lower class is taking the opportunity to vent their frustrations of all the crap that gets sent their way in life.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Day 668: Soul for Sale


The audio quality in this video is horrible, you pick up bits and pieces of what George Chakhunshvili is saying. I am not so much interested in the content of the Talk (since i can't hear half of it), so I am focusing on the concept of selling your soul.

Most of us sell our souls in one way or another, most often to survive. We do things we don't want to, we do things we absolutely despise, we sometimes even do things that we are ashamed of. many people find themselves in a position where the things they feel forced to do are so contrary to their 'nature' or belief system that they will actually change their belief system to ease the inner conflict they experience because of their actions. Do you think that every single person who has done morally "bad" things does them simply because they want to? Some, yes, but not all.

How many people have you met who are not living the life they want? How many people have you met who do not have the kind of relationships they want with friends and family? These things may not be obvious at first glance, but if you look close enough you will see signs that indicate what someone truly feels.

The reality for all but a lucky few is that in order to survive you must earn money, and often the manner in which you earn money is not what you'd actually like to be doing with your life. Many people realise later on in life that they achieved none of the things they wanted to - this is often called a mid life crisis. Have you ever stopped to take a look at your life & who you are and then ask yourself how the hell you got there? How much of yourself did you have to compromise in order to secure some form of financial stability?

What of the people who have only ever know limited choices because they were born into poverty - how much more shame do they face because of the more extreme desperation they face? There are places and people where parents will sell their child into slavery to try and make enough money to keep the rest of the family alive just a little longer. There are some people who sell their vital organs for a pittance - would this not be equal to selling your soul?

Do we not all sell our souls in this life we've created? Do we not sell our souls when we allow the pain of another when we could have helped them? Do we not sell our souls when we choose our personal comfort over the lives and happiness of billions of other lifeforms?

One thing is certain - life is certainly not priceless - not to us.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Day 667: Think Like A Child


The creativity and freedom of expression that we had as children is commonly eked out of us, our thoughts are structured into systematic-like structures, our creativity is squashed so that we see only in one dimension, from one perspective. Apparently that is part of growing up - stop acting like a child! life is serious, start acting like it! Time to man up to your responsibilities. Of course these things are important in some ways and to a certain extent, but so is creativity and being able to think outside the box.

When we leave behind our innocent exploration of the world and start to define and structure all the different parts of life into neat little boxes we tend to get stuck in our ways. We tend to get stuck in our worldview, in our opinions, in our beliefs, in our methods. We get stuck in how we perceive things, each shape and image means only one thing - we do not consider that there may be more.

This stuckness is evident not only in our perceptions in our personal lives, but in our very society. We hold on to ways of doing things that don't really benefit everyone simply because we are unwilling to investigate alternatives. It can be seen within the way governments function, the way economies function, the way we structure our education systems, the way we care for the sick, they kind of entertainment we produce - in everything really. We are all molded into perfect squares and all our views are square too - we don't even know what greatness we may be missing out on.

Imagine if we were to investigate life again, investigate ourselves. Imagine if we were to speak and share with the honesty of a child, Imagine if we did what we enjoyed without having to 'colour inside the lines'.

There is so much potential in life, so much potential in us - we need only to reach outside of our boxes and venture into the places we had previously not explored.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Day 666: Day of the Devil

Apparently 666 is an evil number - something about the devil.

If you ask me, which I deduct you are since you're reading this post, the concepts of evil and the devil as the embodiment of evil are just part of the fairytale of the life of humans. You see, we've made up all these stories that explain how we're not actually responsible for our actions. So, we can easily blame away some heinous thing we did by blaming it on the devil, or maybe the "evil part of our nature".

This is the dictionary definition of the word evil:

profound immorality, wickedness, and depravity, especially when regarded as a supernatural force.

The only evil in this world that I have seen in my life is in people. Not once have I seen evidence of supernatural influences. All there is to it is that some people have little to no consideration for the lives and experiences of others - be they human, animal or plant. It's safe to say that every single person has lacked consideration for another at least once in their lives.

To be fair, consideration is not something that comes naturally to most people. Everyone may have moments of thinking about others first, but in a way consideration is a skill that must be practiced - and this only happens when one consciously and deliberately takes points outside oneself into consideration.

Look around you - it can easily be argued that every single issue in society is at least partly because of a lack of consideration - not simply from one party, but from everyone. We cannot simply blame the government for not providing adequate education or healthcare structures as if we are innocent bystanders in the matter. The people most likely to stand up and try to change something are the ones who are directly affected by it - and the reality within this is that very often the people who are most commonly affected by truly unpleasant life circumstances are the people who do not have the skills, power or knowledge to do anything about it. People in positions of "power" are less likely to experience the unpleasantness first-hand and are therefore less likely to care enough to initiate effective action.

And then... there are those who exploit, manipulate and downright abuse whatever is in their path in order to gain power (power in this case includes position, money etc). This can be seen all over the world in pretty much every single major industry. The producers of palm oil devastate natural habitats and murder the inhabitants of those ecosystems in order to produce palm oil. Not only that, but the lack of consideration trickles down and seems to affect the employees as well, who, being forced into a position of doing or allowing horrible things to survive, will then start committing horrible things themselves, such as setting a tree on fire that has an orangutang in it because they are clearing the area to plant even more palm trees.

Consider the position of poachers - unable to earn decent money elsewhere without skills or an education, some people turn to killing wildlife in order to sell the valuable body parts. This may not be something they want to do, so what some do to block out the horror of their actions is to simply stop caring.

In a sense, most people who contribute to our broken society (most of them being low income earners) do not have much choice in terms of their work - they do what they must to survive. The other part of the equation is that there are only a handful of people in the world who care enough to stand up and say that what we do is unacceptable, that the way we live is unacceptable. Most people simply accept these things as facts of life that cannot be changed. This unwillingness to participate in investigating the causes of issues in society, develop holistic solutions and actually stand up for change is the true evil in the world. Every single one of us knows that how we live is morally wrong, and yet true corrective action is rare.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Day 665: Everything Is Connected


This TEDx Talk is quite different from the ones I normally write about, but here we are.

Andrew Gonzalez gives some facts and figures about the damage we have caused to nature and the damage that is still to come in the future. His basic idea is to deliberately design the expansion and development of human society to not only consider nature, but actively include it within our designs so that humans and nature can live in a harmony, neither one encroaching on the livelihood and lives of the other.

I absolutely agree with this concept. Andrew emphasizes the importance of maintaining biodiversity as a necessity to the continued survival of the human race - while this is a valid reason - I truly wish that this was not our reason for taking action (if we do actually take action on a global scale). I wish that our reason for acting was simply that we considered the position of the plants and animals in nature and valued their lives equally to our own. I wish that every single one of us practiced putting ourselves in other people and beings' positions. I wish...

This is the kind of living I support. This is the world I want to create. This is the harmony that I promote.

Just like everything else in this world it is not enough to wish or dream. It is not enough to say "I support this" or "I support that". Action is required - actively creating the world we would like to live in. Of course creating the life we want is quite different to simply dreaming about it. For many it will be a completely unfamiliar undertaking that may require more practice than for others.

While there is growing awareness of the consequences of continuing on our current path, it has not reached the point where everyone stands together and speaks with one voice. Andrew speaks of the fragmentation of forests - the same is true within our society. There are so many different factions that, instead of finding common ground (the continued survival of life on earth), we fight and argue with each other over what is the "right" way to do something. Each faction believes that their cause deserves the most attention. Each faction believes that their solution is the only one that will work. These factions are not looking at the bigger picture - they do not see the interconnectedness of ALL of our issues - they focus only on one small part of the problem, so separating all of our efforts and reducing their effectiveness.

Everything is connected. Everything is part of everything else. The sooner we let go of our egos and recognise this, the sooner we can effect real change.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Day 664: Christmas Killed the Internet



I am not writing this as I had planned to. Internet is dead… again. It seems that Christmas time has killed the internet. Everyone is home, surfing the web at night – but in the day, madness ensues. 

I was in the unfortunate position of having to buy food earlier this week. Everyone has to eat, right? Well so do I (mostly chocolate). I usually get groceries on Tuesdays, but this last Tuesday was a public holiday so I went in on Monday. I thought I would be safe. 

I wasn’t. 

Every shopping centre was packed. Cars were moving at a snail’s pace through the poorly coordinated intersections, one of which hadn’t been working since Friday. I took photo’s of the madness. It hurts when I look at them even now. If there was a God I would ask him/her/it “WTF is up with Christmas?” I suppose it would be unrealistic to expect any kind of satisfactory response. 

Christmas is supposed to be about being grateful to Jesus for dying for your sins (think about that for a moment and you will realise that it makes NO sense) and spending time with your loved ones and singing about Santa. OK, not really the Santa part, cos he’s actually not originally a part of the whole Christmas conspiracy. 

So you’re supposed to be all humble and happy at the same time, being with your family and friends during this one special time of the year. Obviously you have to show your loved ones exactly how much you love them by giving them presents. There’s also a lot of eating. Everywhere you go you hear awful Christmas carols that make you want to stab yourself in the foot with a fork. BUT - don’t let that show, Christmas is a time for happiness and love and compassion and forgiveness and… well, doing all the things a decent human being should actually be doing all the time but doesn’t. 

There is no sense to Christmas. It is madness, simply put. People rip and tear at each other to get the last toy on the shelf for their kid. Suicide rates are highest at Christmas. Road accidents are higher at Christmas. Family disputes are higher at Christmas. No one is thinking about God or Jesus, whatever the reason for the existence of Christmas in the past, it is no longer that. 

Christmas is now about greed - companies trying to make as much money off of the fervorous shopping that takes place. Have you noticed how much the price of meat increases at christmas time?

Why can the principles that are promoted at Christmas time not be practiced every single day? Why only at certain times of the year? Why should kindness and forgiveness only be important at christmas time?

The internet is returned, partially at least... for now...

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Day 663: Stop Your Harmful Communication

This continues from my previous post, please watch the video embedded therein for context.

Unconditional positive regard does not mean that you feel or act in an extremely friendly manner all the time. It does not mean that you feel one way or another. It means that you do not judge (I am not judge and jury), that you do not allow your thoughts or emotions to influence your interactions. It does not mean that you accept everyone unconditionally - only that you do not judge them and that you give yourself the opportunity to support them to be the best they can be, while at the same time having no expectations.

Here is the Wiki page for unconditional positive regard. As Michelle Charfin shows, Unconditional positive regard is not just for psychologists. It is, as a matter of fact, a concept that has been around for a while and has many different names. For a number of years I have heard of and spoken of this concept, but it wasn't called the same thing. It was all about making sure that you are clear when you are talking to someone, not allowing emotional reactions to influence you.

So Michelle tells her story very well, especially in terms of getting to the point where she saw how she was actually influencing her child's behaviour, simply because of being in a state of emotional reaction when they interacted with each other. It is interesting to see how much our emotional state actually influences every part of our lives, especially when it seems to be 'out of control'.

There are some cool tips in the video, ways to shift your communication to create big changes in your relationships - what Michelle describes can be applied equally to all relationships as with parent-child relationships. It's all about developing relationships based on mutual respect, shared decision making and empathy/compassion.

When we are calm and centered we access the more evolved part of our brain which allows us to think critically, be creative and offer empathy. When you get upset you lose access to that part of your brain and operate on much more primitive programming: fight, flight or freeze. We tend to fall into emotional reactions when we don't see another way to solve our problem (even though taking a breath and looking at the situation practically and calmly will most likely lead to developing a solution). Michelle briefly mentions a concept called nonviolent communication which she describes as coming from the theory that all human behaviour is an attempt to meet a need and that we are all capable of compassion but will sometimes resort to harmful strategies when we don't see a better way to get our needs met. These kinds of theories are definitely a step forward for us - especially when considering the position of a baby who has no way to communicate and can only relay its feelings by way of behaviours. I would also consider that the term "needs" at this point in time and our society includes all sorts of things that are not actually needs, but desires.

When we are fearful or stressed it becomes much harder to empathise or be compassionate - we will be accessing the more primitive part of our brain that is designed to find and eliminate or avoid threats - but these days most of the threats we face are imagined, yet we still physically react to them as if they were real. We can develop awareness to stay calm and centered - to not go to that place of fear, anger, hurt etc. Remember that your thoughts are not truths, you can choose different ones.

Michelle describes what she did to support herself in her relationships with her kids: Every day she would write about all of the thoughts and emotions she experienced during that day. What is important to remember is that when you are starting your journey to awareness you are probably not going to have the tools/'skills' to deal with your thoughts and emotions in the moment that they come up, which is why you write about them after they happen. To use one of Michelle's examples: "I'm such a bad parent for resorting to threatening my children" - she identified this thought as being part of a pattern she would fall into after certain types of events that would basically go downhill from there and spiral out into harmful communication and manipulation tactics with her children. After you have written your original thoughts, re-frame them in an objective way so that the thought above becomes more like: "When I'm getting the kids ready for the day in the morning and we're running late I tend to resort to threats.". The realisation within this re-framing is that even though resorting to threats may serve some of your immediate needs, it does not serve your long term goals of being the person you want to be and developing the relationships you want to have in your life. Then you can plan different things you can do to support yourself and the people around you when that pattern happens again

Most importantly, stop trying to be a perfect specimen - accept that you will make mistakes and that learning is a process that takes time and effort.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Day 662: Unconditional Positive Regard

This is a very good Talk by Michell Charfin. She starts her story with her experience of parenting and reveals how she got to a place of realising how she was resorting to harmful communication techniques in part because of the thoughts that she allowed within herself. I strongly recommend this Talk, especially to parents.

I have a page full of notes on this video that I will compile into a coherent string of words, dots and what nots and publish in my next post. For now I recommend you watch the video - I will be making numerous references to it

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Day 661: Why Not Me?


David Hochman shares his experience of facing doing something he feared doing and asking himself "why not me?" as a way to face that fear and actually do it. As he describes towards the end of his Talk, this can be applied not only when facing your fears, but in overcoming some hurdle that you have been staring at for a while, like letting go of resentment.

We tend to focus so much on why we are the way we are and why we can never change - asking yourself why not me? pulls you out of that pattern and places you in a better position to make objective observations and assessments of you and your life.

No matter what's happening, how you're feeling, what you're thinking - you am responsible for the shape and outcome of your life. I'd like to take this one step further: not only are you responsible for your own life, you are also responsible for all life in the sense that your actions (or inactions) have an effect on this world and on peoples' lives.If you are focused on achieving only your personal goals and desires without regard for how that affects other people, then that is the effect you have on the world. Your thoughts, words and actions ripple out and touch so much more than you imagined to be possible.

Instead of thinking of all the reasons why you shouldn't care or do something to change the world, start thinking of all the reasons why it should be you, why you should care, what you should do. We are all interconnected and interdependent. The actions we take and the choices we make touch many lives and determine in part the path and destination of our journey together. If everyone in the world capable of change is living only for their own desires, then they are creating a world and culture that caters only for personal desires, personal enlightenment, personal empowerment. If more people were to fulfill their responsibility to mankind and all life on earth and actually live not only for themselves, but for all life, considering what would best benefit all people and lifeforms then that will be the world they're creating. Certainly it may take time, a very long time. There have been many years gone now and many people who have contributed to making the world the way it is - undoing this and creating a new foundation will not be achieved overnight - maybe not even in one lifetime.

We are all at each other's mercy. We are all waiting for each other to help create a better world. We are all waiting for each other to join hands. The more people who stand together the greater the change can be - but so long as we're focused on why we shouldn't change then we will never see the opportunities for us to actually create change. Change will not just happen to us or to the world. Sitting around and waiting for God or aliens to change our mess will contribute only to the continuation of the mess. We are the ones who have to clean it up and reorganize it into a better system that will benefit and support everyone.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Day 660: An Ocean of Voices

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xw2kR9l24C8&list=UUsT0YIqwnpJCM-mx7-gSA4Q

When you put someone in a box, when you define them as being one way or another, very often they will bend to your opinion and see themselves in that same way. When you tell someone who they are, they are more likely to continue being that way than to change. When you tell people who they are - they are likely to believe you without question. Sometimes they might pretend to rebel against your label of them, but will still see themselves that way deep inside themselves. There are very few people who have the drive to not be defined by other people and to really create themselves.

This can be applied in more than one context. In relationships, we tend to hold onto an idea of our partner, of who they are, what they usually say, what they usually do. Maybe they have a bad habit that they want to stop, something like being forgetful, as long as you keep seeing your partner as 'a forgetful person', you are enslaving them to that definition. Sure, every now and then someone has the will to change the habit regardless of what anyone else says, but that is rare.

As in the video, we can see this phenomenon happening in our society as well, most notably within the poorest and most unfortunate members of society. There are so many labels that are given to the underprivileged - 'underprivileged' being just one. In so many parts of the world the poor receive no support from their communities or governments, it is as if the world is telling them that they are worthless, they have no value. Is it any surprise that so many people then live their lives with that mentality? Is it so surprising that so many people remain most likely deliberately ignorant to potentially life threatening behaviours (like practicing safe sex)?

When the public schools provided for poor families are understaffed, underfunded and lacking in many basic amenities - what message does that convey to the children attending those schools? Maybe that only children from wealthy families are worth the money and effort of providing a decent education?

How would you live if your future prospects only went as far as working behind a till? How would you feel if you knew that you would never have the opportunity to live the life you want? How much would your world view change if you were in that position? How much would your self worth change if you were in that position? Remember to see this not from your personal base of experiences, but from the point of view of the person who is in that position and has been in that position for their entire life.

In many places there are people and organisations trying to make changes in different ways. Sarah Perez McAdoo describes what can happen if these people and organisations come together to work towards the same goals, following the same guidelines - so much more is possible when we stand together as one. Imagine now even further, if we were to stand together, not in fragmented groups of individual issues, but in one group, a community of people all together working to achieve one goal with the understanding that all other goals are part of this one primary goal. Imagine if every person were to support one holistic solution that would address all the issues we face in this life - this would be the ocean of people to bring true change.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Day 659: Life Isn't Supposed to be this Hard

I have had many conversations with people, mostly people who are in low-paying jobs without much prospects for advancement, conversations about life. The thing that everyone agrees on is that life shouldn't be this hard.

Sometimes someone might say something like "I don't know what we can do, maybe just pray harder." To this I will respond with something like I think that what will be more effective than prayer to make a difference is action. If we all take action together, united in the goal of making life better, then we will see great changes - and everyone agrees to this logic. I have not met one person who says "NO, action won't change anything!"

The worst thing within all of this is that this life is difficult because we make it so. The worst part is that we could change the world if we took action, but we don't.

One of the most popular excuses I hear is that it's "other peoples' faults". The world is horrible and I have a crap life because of all the assholes in the world. There are too many people who won't change. The world will never change when there are so many bad people. This excuse is used to justify our own inaction - because apparently any effort we make would have no results and so it's not even worth the effort. It's as if we're waiting for guaranteed paths of action, unwilling to move until we are absolutely sure that what we do will actually work. In a way this is the easy way out, because standing for change means going out into the unknown, no certainty as to what lies ahead.

Here in South Africa a very large part of the workforce survives on minimum wage, well below the poverty line. A large number of people live in illegal or government housing (which don't appear to be very different when you put the two next to each other). These are the people who are hurt the most by this world, who are the most vulnerable. At this stage the only ways that they can try to bring about change is through protests, sometimes violent and sometimes not. At this stage there is a diminished level of understanding as to how change can be brought about - not only by impoverished people, but by most people. There is a serious hole in the understanding of the average citizen Joe of how the system works, and more importantly, the power that each person has.

Back to South Africa, what can the impoverished and vulnerable do to change their lives? They have minimal support from public (government) and community structures - dealing with the government is like pulling teeth, but pulling the wrong one each time. These people do not know how to ask the right questions, most of the time they do not even know what their rights are and what support structures are available to them. What then can they do? They often have only limited skills in reading and writing and, if any, very limited access to public sources of knowledge such as the internet. To add to this, the leaders they are most likely to choose are the ones who stir passion in their hearts, whether the message they are giving makes sense or not.

Then there is the question of those who are more privileged - how far does their responsibility extend to the underprivileged? I would say that where one has the ability and understanding to support another then they also have the responsibility to do so. What defines 'ability'? Resources, skills, knowledge - but to what degree? Well, let me put it thins way: If you know that you can help, then it becomes your responsibility to do so. Waiting for someone else to come along and help so that you don't have to is an abdication of your responsibility to your community - and I don't mean 'community' in the smallest sense of the word, I mean it in the largest sense, the global sense.

Life isn't supposed to be this hard. We can change it. We can help each other. We can give opportunities to each other. We can support each other to be the best we can be. It's doesn't start with some other guys over there - it starts with YOU and ME. WE are the change, TOGETHER we are better, stronger. We have the responsibility to support solutions that will bring heaven to earth. We may not see the full fruits of our labours in our lifetime, but maybe our children will.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Day 658: My Monkey Said No

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WD440CY2Vs0

Vik Nithy gives an interesting and simple to understand Talk about procrastination, he uses some humourous analogies to monkeys which is why the title of my post is so...

One of the main reasons we procrastinate is because we look into the future and project what the task is going to be like. We imagine that it's difficult to do, it feels overwhelming, we fear not being good enough and failing. We imagine that this task is a huge thing that looms over us, glaring menacingly. We get lost in this nightmare of our future and get lost in fear, anxiety, overwhelmingness and self judgement. Most of the time these worst case scenarios we predict are not accurate reflections of reality. Because we get lost in the 'what if' we do not give ourselves the opportunity to slow down, breathe and look at the task practically, assessing what must be done and planning it for ourselves in a manageable way. Instead, we get stuck in our fears, like fearing that we will fail the task - at least when we wait till the last minute and rush to complete we can blame our failure on the fact that we did not put much effort in, thus protecting our self image and not becoming 'a failure' in our eyes.

Another reason is that sometimes we wait for the 'perfect conditions' to arise, like being 'in the zone' before being able to do something. In this case we will wait and wait and wait, and that perfect set of circumstances never comes. Maybe we will have moments where we can move and do the thing - but we always fall back to the point of waiting. This waiting for things to happen is a common theme in human nature across many different areas of our lives - we do not use our ability to create the lives we want, we do not take the full responsibility to do what must be done. A part of this may be due to the fear of failure again (if I never try then I'll never fail), but it isn't always.

The funny thing is that we KNOW it's stupid to procrastinate. We KNOW that it is detrimental to our experiences and diminishes us. We know that failure is no excuse, because we KNOW that failure is a learning experience, after which we are more capable of doing more and reaching further.

There are ways that we can make it easier for ourselves to do what we should be doing. We can take a moment to consider the task and plan it practically. We can stop ourselves from becoming emotionally wound up and blowing the whole thing out of proportion, leading to the experience of being overwhelmed. We can break the task down into segments and assess how long it will take to actually complete each mini-task. We can close our eyes and see ourselves actually doing the task, giving us the confidence and feeling that we have the power to do it.

We can set ourselves up to win - make sure that there are no distractions, lay all the tools we need for the task in front of us - MINIMIZE your potential EXCUSES. If we reduce the possible excuses that we could use then we give yourselves the space and opportunity to move through the initial resistance we'll experience until self direction simply becomes a part of us. We must realise that we may run into problems and we must not allow ourselves to give up, say that we'll solve them later, later will never come. We have to be the directors of our lives. We have to create and test solutions until we find the best one. We have to act now.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Day 657: Desire for Companionship

The second Relationship support hangout is airing and the topic will be part of investigating one aspect of why people want to be in relationships: The Desire for Companionship. Come check it out and participate in the live Q&A. I will embed the video in this post after it has aired.

Here is the info:

Why is the desire for companionship one of the strongest driving forces in us? What can we learn about ourselves by exploring our desire for companionship? What can you do if you desire companionship but don't know how to go about it in a supportive way? In this hangout we continue our series with our monthly guest Cerise Poolman on how to create a successful relationship.

You are as always welcome to take part in the conversation through placing comments and questions on the LIVE Google event:https://plus.google.com/events/cujdijhsvno6bb6ikm5nq5e5tg0

The hangout will be recorded so that you can watch it later if you are not able to make it to the live event:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNYnYbw43PM

We look forward to your input!
If you have topics you'd like us to discuss as we continue with the series on the Physical Body or for future hangouts, you can let us know on the hangout comment section or send a mail to desteniiprocess@gmail.com

The Desteni I Process Hangouts are held every Thursday at 19.00 UTC

Movie night hangouts where we review movies from a Destonian perspective are every Friday at 19:00 UTC

Desteni Senior hangouts are held every other Tuesday at 19.00 UTC

Want to know what 19:00 UTC is in your time zone?

You can use these free time zone converters:
http://www.worldtimeserver.com/convert_time_in_UTC.aspx
or
http://www.thetimezoneconverter.com/
or
http://www.worldtimebuddy.com/
or
http://easyclock.appspot.com/

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Day 656: Who Are you in the Age of Information

This continues from my previous post here based on a TED Talk by Chris Dancy - please watch the embedded video for context.

Chris has some perspectives on technology and self awareness that you don't come across every day. Aside from the sentimental self definitions based on moments in the past captured onto whatever kind of media, he shares some relevant insights into how our obsession with technology is distracting us from what's going on in the real world around us. Our focus has turned to developing ourselves in digital worlds, expressing ourselves and defining ourselves there.

Technology can and should be used to enhance our lives - but it should not distract us from the real things that happen in this world. Technology can and should be used to educate - not mindlessly repeating information - I'm talking about real education: teaching someone how to ask questions to be able to get to the truth, teaching someone to consider all possibilities and to not jump to conclusions, teaching someone to put aside their personal opinions in order to get to the truth of a thing, teaching someone at the pace that they are comfortable and capable of learning at. Technology has great potential to unlock our potential - this is not something that we should squander.

It is a problem when the digital world is more real to us than the real world. It is a problem when we define who we are according to what gadgets we have (or don't have). It is a problem when we abuse access to technology for personal gain. It is a problem when we lose ourselves in each new moment of excitement. It is a problem when our lives are empty of compassion and filled only with superficial and meaningless clutter from this digital era.

We have access to so much now, yet we choose to keep ourselves busy with trivialities - most of which derive from an absolute lack of self awareness. We get lost in emotional sink holes, lose ourselves in explosive reactions, destroy the people around us in outbursts of all the nasty thoughts we kept bottled up inside, lose ourselves in trying to find ourselves.

A suggestion he makes which can be a very useful tool for many is to use what is available to you (ie technology) to look at your life objectively - meaning that you 'track' your activities and the results of those activities. The example that Chris uses is how he recorded every thing he did every day and began to see patterns in his behaviour where certain things in his life triggered some unwanted desire. He was then deliberately structured his life to reduce those triggers and increase the things that triggered 'desired behaviours'. This is certainly a useful tool, or method, to use to develop an objective and basic self awareness of what triggers for what behaviours exist in your life. I would however suggest that, instead of avoiding 'negative' triggers, work to no longer be influenced by them. This can be done by investigating and understanding why something is a trigger for you - writing about specific events that contain the trigger is useful and enables you to see quite clearly what thoughts and emotions were going on inside you. With time you uncover more layers until you can see clearly exactly how the pattern works. With understanding comes power - the power to stop participating in the pattern and consciously choose a different path to take.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Day 655: The Age Of Technologis


This will be another short post as I am currently buried in a project - I do not know when I will be able to write the follow-up, hopefully tomorrow.

In any case, Chris Dancy has some interesting ways of looking at and using technology which I would like to investigate in my next post - so watch the video and keep your eyes peeled!