I’m sure you’ve
heard, as I have, that it is better to give than to receive.
Yet, if there is no
one, or nothing, to receive, then the giver isn’t really giving.
Contrary to how we
usually view the process, the two actions are not two separate, and completely
opposite actions, but two expressions of the exact same action.
For, when the giver
gives, and the receiver receives, the receiver also gives and the giver
Thus, you would
think that giving and receiving would come easily and naturally to us all.Unfortunately, while we are born with that
ability, it seems to lessen as we grow and mature.
Because of society’s
bias towards giving being better, we are taught to give endlessly, in a variety
of ways, even to people - or especially to people - who do not want to receive
what we are giving.And, since the other
party doesn’t really receive what we give, we haven’t really given anything,
nor have we been able to receive anything, so must then try to give more and
more and more, until we are depleted physically, mentally, and emotionally.
But, the secret to
real giving and receiving, is that nothing is depleted, or lost, in the
exchange.It is an “exchange,” something
given and something received, every time, by both parties.
If asked, most of
us would say we are pretty good givers and receivers, effectively balancing the
two.So, here’s a question for you...what
is your reaction when someone compliments you?Do you say a simple “thank you” (truly receiving) or do you brush it off
(rejecting)?When someone thanks you for
something do you say a sincere “you’re welcome” (truly receiving) or do you
brush it off by saying it was nothing or not important (rejecting)?Or, we can test this in an even easier manner
- how deep is your normal inhalation?The breath never lies, so unless you are regularly breathing in full,
deep inhalations, you aren’t really open to receiving, and thus, not truly
As we tend to
ignore ourselves, start fully giving and receiving with yourself, and then
share with others.
I’m sure you’ve
heard the expression “think outside the box,” and may have even been challenged
to do just that in a job or organizational setting, or maybe even in your
How successful were
you in that endeavour, really?
While we can all
benefit from getting out of our various “ruts” - whatever form they may appear
in, getting “out of the box” isn’t beneficial to us at all.We’d be further ahead to crawl deeper into
A panorama view
takes our breath away at its majestic beauty, and knowing the big picture,
North Star, or “forest,” will help us to navigate, but to really see things
differently and move forward in creative ways we need to limit our view
Think about it, it
isn’t the forest that moves you as much as the tiny drop of dew glistening on
one individual little leaf on one tree.In
other words, it is the things right immediately in front of us, things that we
can touch, rather than what’s in our view, yet completely out of reach.
photographers know that it isn’t what is OUTSIDE the frame that creates the
power of the picture...it is what is inside the frame.The frame provides a limit, or boundary, yet
at the same time it provides endless freedom as you can focus on whatever you
want within that frame, and what you choose to focus on will achieve importance.
The best writers,
speakers, and other creative types also apply this principle.They don’t tell you everything they know, or
want to share, they limit it down to one thought or theme, increasing its
The inventions that
have had the greatest impact on our lives have been items that dealt with
processes we use every day, and objects we hold in our hands.
In order to make
changes and bring something new to your organization, job, or life, you just
need to look at what is immediately around you and decide what one item, or
area, you want to focus on.By bringing
your focus down to the tangible and visible, instead of trying to create
something new out of the nebulous, you will be able to create something lasting,
memorable, and more than likely more applicable to your situation, than
anything you’ll find in the vast “outside.”
So...is the glass
half full or half empty?Whichever way
you answered, are you really sure?Do
you want some more time to think about that before answering?
We are taught to
perceive the world, and all that is around us, in a certain way, and by and
large we never ever question those perceptions.
The drawback is that often those perceptions,
and the conclusions we draw from them about our lives, are based solely on an
artificially static state that has no bearing on reality, a reality that is in
constant ebb and flow, and changing from moment to moment.Even we are constantly changing, and the you
that just read these words is not even the same you that read the first line.
In our example, we
claim that the glass is in a certain state and assume that state never changes,
nor can it be changed. Yet, the glass is
never half empty or half full, it is only ever 100% full, perhaps not full of
the exact same substance, but nonetheless, it is always completely full.Even when the glass appears to us to be
completely empty, it is still 100% full of air.
We lock into a
particular way of viewing the glass and its contents, and are hard-pressed to
view it in any other manner, even though there are unlimited ways of looking
at, and describing, the glass and its contents.
And the state the
glass definitely has the ability to change, and is constantly changing.The glass can be filled with liquid, it can
be filled with a solid, it can be filled with a combination of materials and
substances, it can be filled with only air, it can be filled an unlimited
number of times without changing the essence of the glass at all.
But, the one thing
the glass cannot be is emptied.We can
remove the liquid, solids, or the air, but the glass hasn’t been emptied, its
contents have merely been replaced with other contents.
When we experience
a “loss” in our lives, our lives haven’t been “emptied” at all.We’ve merely had the contents of our lives
shifted and replaced with other contents, so that our lives are always filled
Earlier this year,
I was watching some old movies, including some great cinema classics. Almost
each one had the following line somewhere in the movie: “If you really love [him/her],
While that line is
great for creating tension and drama in movies and books, it is extremely
dangerous when used in real life.
The line gives the
impression that the speaker loves, and is concerned about, an individual (or in
some instances, it refers to themselves) and it is out of this love and concern
for that individual that they are addressing the other person. However, what
the line really reveals is the speaker's fear.
If they truly cared
so much, they wouldn't be trying to manipulate another person into making a
decision, or taking an action, that the person obviously doesn't want to make,
and that would only be in the perceived best interests of the speaker, not the
other people involved.
others out of fear, the speaker tries to either keep the status quo, or ensure
an outcome that will make the speaker - not the other people - happy and
feeling secure.In fact, the true
feelings and wishes of the others are not even a consideration for the speaker,
despite what they may profess, because this line is usually brought out during
a “secret” conversation between the speaker and other person that must be kept
hidden from the individual in question.
Now, the speaker
could fear any number of things, depending on their relationship to the
individual: that the individual will abandon them for someone else, that the
individual will make a horrible mistake, that the individual is growing too
independent and doesn’t need their guidance or assistance any more, that the
individual is not willing to fulfill the speaker’s dream for them and their
Any time that line
is used, and fear prevails, it is to the determent of all parties involved, and
creates more problems than whatever the speaker is trying to prevent.
“If we did not
believe in fear in the first place, no one could control anyone.” - James van
Because humans are
social animals, we have a deep need to belong.
Whether it is in an ethnic group, a religious organization, a particular
political party, a fitness club, a gang, a preferred customer club, a social
cause, or any other possible group or organization. It doesn’t really matter what the group is as
long as it keeps us from feeling like we are alone, or worse, outsiders. And, usually belonging to just one group isn’t
enough, and before long, the group identity becomes our sole identity.
The irony is that
in order to “belong” and be a member of a particular grouping of people, we
have to isolate and separate ourselves from other people.
Because, at the end
of the day, that is the purpose of any grouping of individuals - no matter how
altruistic their motives, ideals and actions - to separate themselves from
others in some way, to show how different they are from the mainstream, and to
give its members a feeling that they are more special than non-members.
As a society, we
need to have cooperation between people, a pooling and sharing of resources, to
enable us to accomplish more than we could possibly accomplish on our own. It is not possible to thrive as an isolated
But, at the extreme
end, a group’s good can get overshadowed by the need to prove that its members
are better than others, or that it knows the only right way to accomplish
something. Usually what results is a
splintering of the group into smaller groups, each vying for new members, which
in turn leads to more people being excluded, which leads to more people craving
to belong somehow. And when people feel
desperate to join a particular group, they aren’t always thinking straight, and
are very susceptible to pressure from peers, or group leaders.
While it would be
so easy to say that we just need to get rid of the extreme groups, that won’t
solve the problem. Instead, we need to
remind those around us what belonging really means. After all...“Breathing is nature's way of
saying we belong here. Otherwise we wouldn't be doing it!” - Ofosu Jones-Quartly
I don’t mean the
square footage of your house, or your workplace/office, or if you even have
multiple residences.I don’t mean how
many belonging you have and the entire square footage they occupy.And, I definitely don’t mean the size of your
physical shape - whether you are tall or short, bigger or smaller around.
Space, in the
context that I am using it, has both a macro and micro element to it.
On the macro level,
how large an area does your influence ripple out?Are you known outside of your immediate
community, or do you tend to keep to yourself?How large is your circle of friends and acquaintances?You don’t have to be “famous” to have lots of
influence, just kind.
Now, the micro
level of space is a bit different, and, of the two levels, is the most
important.It is also the easiest to
measure at any given moment, and boils down to just one simple observation - how
full and deep was your last breath?
There are only
three types of “fuel” our body needs: air, water, and food, and the most vital
one is air, yet, because it enters our bodies predominately without conscious
thought, we tend to ignore it.The vast
majority of us barely fill 20% of our lungs with each breath!No wonder so many of us - myself included
many days - feel tired and weak all the time, and when we feel threatened in
any way, we tend to shrink inward - like a turtle into its shell - to protect
Yet the only way to
really protect ourselves is to relax, inhale fully and deeply, and open our
chests.By filling more energetic “space”
with each inhale we are able to sense - with our hearts - more of the world
around us, and filling more space with full, deep inhalations is also the
secret to thriving and living a healthy life.
The size of our
houses, and the number of belongings we own, matters not if we don’t fully
inhabit the energetic “space” that we have been given to embody with each
breath we take.
Whose life are you
currently living?You might be surprised
at the answer when you take the time to stop and think about it.
If you said you are
living your own life, you might want to think again.
For example, if you
have ever made choices to make someone proud of you, then you aren’t living
your own life, you are living theirs.People
in our lives are either proud of us, or they aren’t.If they are, it is because of who we ARE
inside, not because of what we do, or other externals.And, if they aren’t proud of us, well,
chances are pretty darn good that nothing we do will change that, and it’s
Or, have you ever
said that you chose to go into a certain career, or reach a certain milestone,
or obtained something because someone in your family wasn’t unable to?Guess what?That means you are living their life and dreams, not your own.While there is nothing wrong at all by being
inspired by the actions and dreams of another, too many of us adopt those
dreams and aspirations without even considering if they are the right fit for
us, and often, they are quite ill-fitting as we don’t have the same qualities
or desires necessary for successfully obtaining them.
Have you ever gone
with the flow of society into a lifestyle or career path because everyone else
did.Just because it seems to work for
others, doesn't automatically mean that it works for everyone.We are all unique in viewpoint, needs,
talents, and skills, and what makes us unique is needed in the world, provided
we don’t let life conform us to some cookie-cutter ideal.
We think we are living out our own dreams and
life, but rarely are we.There are just
too many outside influences drowning out our own inner wisdom and guidance.
So, how do you know
when you are living your own life and not another's.Simple...do you feel happy most of the
time?Is your life simple and easy for
the most part?If so, you’re on the
right track.If not, reassess whose life
you are living.
We only get one
chance at this particular life, so why not live your own dreams?
We are now a whole
month - hard to believe, I know - into the new year. How are you doing with your New Year’s
resolutions? That is, if you are the
type to make resolutions.
Most people, even
if they don’t formally make resolutions, do have a thought or two of how they
would like to make some sort of lifestyle change, or do something different in
their lives, or just add new adventures, as it is a new year.
We feel, since the
calendar has changed to a fresh new year, that we need to do something fresh
and new too.
There is nothing
wrong with that line of thinking, however, I recently read something that
turned the whole resolution thing on its head.
resolving to make habit changes such as the typical “lose weight” or “exercise
more,” or resolving to make some other radical lifestyle change, we should ask
ourselves “what worked for me last year?”
By identifying what
habits or lifestyle choices did work, we can then bring them along with us into
the new year and build on them, creating more success.
We tend to take for
granted what is working in our lives, which is a whole lot more than we think
since it tends to get overshadowed by the one or two things that don’t work. Yet, by focusing on, and continuing, patterns
of behaviour that do work, and come more naturally to us, and create value in
our lives, we are more likely to phase out the habits and lifestyle choices
that don’t benefit us as much.
Humans have a
tendency to resist change - especially change that we think we “should” want,
but don’t really. Or changes that we just
“know” are going to be hard and challenging, and not any fun at all.
And by focussing on
how difficult it is to change, we end up sabotaging our efforts, and
subsequently just give up.
The only really
successful change is the one that leads to relaxation and ease, not struggle
and anguish. Thus, by strengthening our
good habits we create change that sneaks in the back door so the changes
happen, almost like magic without our knowing.