“What do you believe in? What do you have faith in?”

“What do you believe in? What do you have faith in?”

While normally my entries encourage the exploration of WHY, this entry will return to the surface level and encourage you to ask yourself a simple question: “What do you believe in? what do you have faith in?” As adults, we have come face to face with so many realities that there are things we once believed that have moved from forward inspiration, to backward myth. We no longer believe in Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy, Ghosts and so forth (many of us anyway). But if we have stopped believing in these, what do we believe in?

Do we believe in ourselves? Do we place our belief entirely in an external element, whether it is another person, or a deity? Take a moment to stop and ask yourself this question. Is there anything that you believe in? If so, take the strongest thing that you believed in at any point in your life…does it even compare? I’ve heard many describe “faith” as something that requires the most powerful of “beliefs” (I am sure others may disagree). Often, faith can be tied to religion, or God. Is it possible to believe in an idea/concept/analogy so strongly that it compares to that level of faith? I certainly think it is possible. But does faith require us to avoid exploring the question WHY, and seeking proof? Is faith simply wishful thinking brought into reality?

Sun in Hands

The journey of self-exploration is transfinite, an ocean so vast and so deep that exploring it entirely is almost impossible (imagine then how difficult it is to truly understand someone ELSE). But once you go deep enough, many things that “just were” become explainable (and as a caution, our explanations are often refined later on as we have more evidence). I’ve seen many adults question the world around them, ask WHY, which is an intellectual and spiritual exercise. But asking WHY has for some people cracked the foundations of the things they believed in because they discovered things were not as they originally believed.

Are there things that you now believe in that you did not believe in before? Has the quest to uncover the WHYs of life given you new things to believe in, while shattering old ones? If so, are these new beliefs more or less powerful than previous ones? Do you believe in them strongly? Are there things you wished you believed in more? What would it take for you to believe in them again? How do you define faith? Is it different from “belief”?

Many questions, many without answers. The ocean is always deeper than we expect…

Believe Shore

“Rather than brushing aside, ask WHY.”

“Rather than brushing aside, ask WHY.”

There are many things that we do and say throughout the day. Often, it’s just a product of our habits, and personality. Every once in a while though, we do or say something that seems to catch us off guard. It may sound like something we wouldn’t normally say, or it may be an action we wouldn’t usually take. Whatever it is, a small bit of reflection or introspection can be a great benefit when it happens.

Take a look at what you said or did that seemed ‘out of character’. When you have a chance to pause, do so, and ask yourself why you think you did/said what you did. Are you feeling more inspired than usual? Are you feeling more drained? Have the circumstances in your life recently changed? Has anything changed in the last few months? Spend a quiet few minutes reflecting on these questions, on yourself, on your surroundings, and you will slowly discover the WHY. After that, you can determine if the WHY is something to watch out for, or something to nourish.

Different

While you want to reflect, you DO NOT want to obsess. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, sometimes it takes time to process our actions and circumstances on a subconscious level. Sometimes when the incident is still fresh, we are overwhelmed by it and can’t think properly. For this reason it may be a good idea to take a few quick notes to reflect on later. And if your reflection doesn’t really come up with an answer, then accept that fact for the time being and move on. Dwelling unnecessarily can become frustrating, so its important to know yourself well enough to back off or move on.

Sometimes we just have very good, or very bad days that can momentarily make us break out of our regular patterns. And that’s all right too. There may not be a deeper layer to this break in pattern, and if that is the case, then simply move on. But if there is something to be learned, something wonderful that can be integrated, then you should make an effort to do so.

We may just have good/bad days. But sometimes, our reactions could be the start of something new, something wonderful. Understanding it is the first step to determining what to do (if anything) with it.

“Rather than indulging in habit, try something new.”

“Rather than indulging in habit, try something new.”

The other day I was at a library looking through their DVD section for a Friday night “no brainer” movie to wind down the week with. The usual movies stood out. Somewhere in the back of my mind, a list of blockbuster movie titles was slowly being scanned through, seeing if I would find any of the titles on the shelf. Lo and behold, there were at least 3 of them right in front of me. Immediately, I reached forward for them when I saw another title from a movie I hadn’t ever heard of before. “The Man From Earth” did not look like a blockbuster at all, and it was a bit of a change from the usually upbeat movies I watch at the end of the week. Still, deciding to shake things up a bit, I took the movie out and instead of watching my regular “no brainer” action or adventure flick, I watched this movie instead. By the end of the movie, my mind was racing…but not with the adrenalin that most “cheap thrill” action movies leave you with. This left me pondering possibilities I hadn’t ever considered, and that was better than any adrenalin rush. It was different. It was exciting.

Different Crayon

Routine is a fantastic thing to have. It brings order and stability and discipline to life. It helps us relax when the rest of the world seems to be chaotic. But for all of its benefits, it also has its downsides. Relying too much on routine can eventually become comfortable, and can be preferable to trying something new.

It’s important to shake things up just a bit, even if it’s minor, just to stimulate your senses, and look at things from a different perspective. If you have a set routine for winding down for the night, try shifting things around a bit. If not, try something entirely new. Instead of watching the usual youtube clips, try a TED talk (www.ted.com) instead. Instead of reading on your ipad, pick up a book and read it. Instead of jogging on a treadmill, go outside if possible. Instead of seeing your usual movies, try something different.

If you shake things up just a little bit, you will find hidden surprises that you could have never expected. That and, everyone should watch “The Man From Earth” at least once 😉

“Seek out opportunities to make the perfect gesture”

“Seek out opportunities to make the perfect gesture.”

Sometimes the perfect gesture means the world to a person. It’s wonderful to receive that perfect gift, or hear the perfectly timed words you need. Even more wonderful and empowering is being on the end to give the gift, or say those perfect words. When things fall into place, everyone is happy, so seek out opportunities to make the perfect gesture.

What is the perfect gesture? Having paid attention to the world around you, to your friends, and family, and being able to do something for them at the perfect moment, in the perfect way. Maybe someone really needs guidance on something, and you find them the perfect professional to speak to. Maybe someone has secretly been eyeing a book, game, or clothing, and surprising them with it makes their month. Maybe someone close really needed a hug, but was too afraid to ask for it.

The perfect gesture requires you to look around you and be attentive to the needs and wants of others. It is a completely compassionate act that is rooted in seeing someone else happy (not that it doesn’t help make yourself happy as well). The old expression goes: “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.” The perfect gesture is more along the lines of “Do unto others as they wish most done unto them.”

Birthdays are the easiest opportunities for making perfect gestures. You have a whole year to gather information and find that perfect gift. But the joy you will be creating has irreplaceable value, and will stand the test of time. When you see an opportunity to make such a gesture, don’t hesitate, don’t second guess. Jump for it. It could mean the world to someone.

“Visualize the good in your life.”

“Visualize the good in your life.”

I’m still trying out different kinds of meditation. I know that many different techniques suggest that you try to clear your mind, but recently I’ve found that filling your mind can be equally (if not more) beneficial…But WHAT you fill your mind with is critical since it can set the tone for the rest of your day.

I was trying to clear my mind when a thought entered my mind from a moment when I was happiest. Rather than try to push it out in favour of “mind quiet”, I decided to let it stay for a few moments. It was followed by another very happy thought, and then shortly after that, another. In what felt like only a minute, 10 minutes had rushed by, and I had been thrust into a series of very positive, happy, memories.

When I was done the meditation, I found that my spirits were very high, and that there was much that I had to be thankful and appreciative of. The troubles of the day had completely vanished, to be replaced with something much more useful, much more beneficial.

Regardless of whether you are meditating or not, take a few minutes, 5-10 maybe, and let your mind wander into some of the happiest memories you have. Let yourself indulge in them, let yourself get lost in them for the moment. There are few things more rewarding than a reminder of a time when you were happiest, and knowing that simply by accessing that joy, your present can be influenced as well.

Happy Mediator

“The greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.”

“To laugh is to risk being a fool.
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out to another is to risk involvement.
To express feelings is to risk exposing your true self.
To place your ideas, your dreams, before the crowd
Is to risk their loss. To love is to risk not being loved in return.
To live is to risk dying.
To hope is to risk despair.
To try is to risk failure.
The person who risks nothing,
Does nothing,
Has nothing and is nothing.
They may avoid suffering and sorrow, But they simply cannot learn, Feel, change, grow, love or live.
Risks must be taken because, The greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
Only a person who risks is free.”

– Leo Buscalia

It’s very easy to take the path of least resistance. That’s why its called the path of least resistance. We can all sit back in our comfort zones and hope for excitement to come at us. And sometimes it does. But more likely is that it won’t as long as we are sitting back.

The brain craves stimulation. As humans, we crave new experiences, new stimuli. Perhaps our most helpful skill is the ability to adapt, but much as we can adapt, we can also get bored easily. New experiences force us to break free from our own expectations, from what we feel are the limits of our capabilities. We push back on the walls that for so long we’ve believed, and are introduced to worlds never before imagined, or even dreamed.

To life, is to risk dying. But we take the risk anyway. Why? Because it’s worth it. If we were to let the fear of death completely consume us, our lives would never progress, we would never learn, or grow, or feel, or love.

Sure, there is a part of us that is devoted to self-preservation, that says “taking risks will threaten that self-preservation”. But the things in life that challenge us are the ones that make us grow the most. Self-preservation does not have to be preservation of one state of being. People change. People grow. Times and environments change and grow also.

And when the ride of life ends and we look back, we will never regret the things we did, as much as the things we didn’t do. Take a risk. Embrace your possibilities of potential.

“We are our parents’ children.”

“We are our parents’ children.”

Pretty obvious statement right? And it doesn’t matter if we have adoptive or biological parents, we still are their children. The debate continues over whether nature or nurture is the predominant factor in determining who we are, but there can be no denying that our parents do contribute significantly to who we end up.

Take a moment right now and look at your parents. Do they have qualities that you see in yourself? These qualities can be positive, or negative. The most obvious one can be physical features (if you’re biologically related), but perhaps more importantly are personality traits. What are some of the quirky things that parents do that you’ve noticed yourself doing?

This is an important exercise because it really helps you consider the possibility of where some of your best and worst qualities may have originated from (that isn’t to say that you dump all the blame or credit to them). By recognizing similar traits in your parents, you can determine whether you’ve acquired some of their more, or less attractive qualities. It’s important to recognize this because its so rare that we get a mirror clear enough to see ourselves in it. Parents can offer this mirror (and we are mirrors onto them as well). Take a look into the mirror and see what qualities you have that you’ve noticed they also share. Are they good? Are they bad? How can you improve on both?

Of course, despite genetics, or upbringing, we are all ultimately masters of our own destiny. See a personality trait in your parents that you share which you don’t like? Acknowledge it within yourself, and change it. See a personality trait you like, and would like to integrate in yourself, inquire about it, practice it, and slowly let it integrate itself into your life.

In essence, parents are teachers, whether or not we want them to be. They can teach and influence us not only through example, but also as examples of what NOT to do. Take a look in the mirror. What do you see?

Parents and Baby