The other day I was
listening to a speaker who informed his listeners that he was the ONLY one with
the true facts on the subject being presented.
I didn’t agree.
The speaker, as I
am at this moment, was merely expressing an opinion, and contrary to what he
said, it was solely his, as this is solely mine, opinion, and though there are
some who would have agreed with him, his opinion was not that shared by the
Even when he quoted
the various experts and authorities that he based his premise on, he was still
just offering us his opinion, and his version or interpretation of the
material, which may have been correct, or it may not have been.
Was he telling the
truth? He thought he was. Am I?
I think I am. Yet, someone else,
with a different opinion, and different information, could come along and - with
their different viewpoint - reveal something totally different. It all depends on how the situation is
As for whether what
he was presenting consisted of true facts, well, I reserve judgement on that
too. Excuse me...but how many years did
the Europeans believe BEYOND ANY DOUBT that the world was as flat as a pancake
and the sky was an upside down bowl over their heads? That was an indisputable “fact” that everyone
I do have to
qualify that it was an European belief because pretty much every indigenous
tribe around the globe, as well as the ancient Chinese and some northern pre-Celtic
peoples, knew that the world was indeed round, not flat.
And how many of the
“facts” that we learned in school have now been proven to be false, or at the
very least, incomplete, in all areas of life?
Just because “everyone” believes something, doesn’t make it right or
As humans we love
to create, and then mindlessly cling to, certainties in our lives, yet, there is
no certainty, really. We like to think
the sun will rise tomorrow (the most certain event in our lives) - and chances
are pretty good it will - but we have no certainly it will till we see it rise.
According to folk
wisdom, if you hear a message or song, or read the same phrase in different
resources,, or see a particular sign, three times it is very important and you
should pay close attention.
Well, for the last
four years I’ve been told I need to slow down, take it easy, rest more, and
other variations of that theme.Okay, to
be totally honest, I’ve heard that message longer than four years, but it’s
been louder, and more often, in the past four years since I totally collapsed,
most particularly in the past year.Occasionally,
the message has been accompanied by an implied, or spoken, “...or else…” statement.
Now, in my defence,
I honesty thought I had slow down, and I have been resting for a good three-quarters
of my time, but still it didn’t seem enough as I kept hearing the message to slow
down and rest over and over again from various sources.And, I’d counter that if I slowed down any
more, I’d be at a stand-still.
I wasn’t...it was
The end of February
my mom fell and broke her right elbow (yes, she’s right-handed), and I wasn’t
able to physically cope with the situation on top of my own health issues, and
my cries for help were ignored.When I
reached a crisis point, I found myself - not standing still - flat on my back
unable to stop crying for a month and a half!Bone-deep exhaustion didn’t even come remotely close to describing how I
felt physically, mentally, and emotionally.
You’d have thought
I had hit rock bottom at that point, but no, I seemed to merely be bouncing
around it, as I managed to go down even further!This was, in part, because I was still doing
the paper deliveries each time, even though I was supposed to be in bed.
down, taking it easy, and stopping became my only option as I had absolutely no
energy reserves left to do anything else. I am required to rest for much longer
if I want to recover.
The good news is
that this time of rest is slowly giving my body a chance to recover, rebuild,
and replenish itself.And thankfully I
do have people helping me out now, which I really appreciate.
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.