About problems, poverty and being human

About problems, poverty and being human.jpg
(10 December 2019)

Our world has gotten to the point where the problems we are facing cannot be solved in the same manner as they were created. What started as simple isolated changes has become large-scale issues creating systemic disasters. Modernity has brought us not only an abundance of opportunities, but also an abundance of small errors which together are creating a complexity almost impossible to manage. Against such problems, we often feel helpless.

By living in big cities, but not only, we can easily notice a wide range of people, from very rich to very poor, not only financially, but also from many other aspects such as health, education, opportunities, etc. In extreme cases, we see ill or old street beggars that are struggling to survive. We might wonder how such instances appeared and why they persist. If we consider every human life to be precious, such things are not supposed to happen, and yet, they do.

First, lets try to understand the problem we are facing, because otherwise, we might be wasting our time fighting with the wind. Why do ill and poor people remain ill and poor? Are they not aware of their situation? Or are they unable to change it, and if so, why?
First, we must understand that the situation in which we happen to be born has a huge influence on how our life develops. We might like being optimists and say that every person can decide her destiny, but for most of us, this isn’t the case. This is not because we are weak or we lack commitment, but because we actually are fighting the wind. And the wind takes many forms.

So what exactly is this wind we struggle with? Is it the people around us? Is it our psychology? Is it our culture? Is it our social and economic environment? Or is it all of them, together?
If we understand our world, then we must be aware of loops, of many kinds, in many areas of our lives, both negative and positive. Moreover, we need to understand survival, not just physically, but on various dimensions. When we see this, we realize how all of us are busy surviving.

If we can grasp the complexity of our problems and we still want to change the world around us, then we should look for new ways to solve these issues, both as one by one and with a holistic approach. The tools we have available are as broad and complex as the problems we are facing. We can take small individual steps and together reach a significant mass. We can fix one issue and make the benefits propagate in other areas. We can grow and develop ourselves as human beings so we can handle larger tasks. Or we can transform ourselves radically and influence those around us. Whatever we choose to do, it is not worthless, since we need all these solutions together if we want to create a world in which we can feel the grace of being human.

 

No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.

— Albert Einstein

 

About judgement and love – Part 2

About judgement and love - Part 2.jpg
(7 December 2019)

Here we are, in our modern and developed world, where we, as human beings, have taken control of almost all aspects of our reality. It is an interesting position to be in, especially when we consider the process of judgement. What bothers us is not the action itself, the simple act of coming to a conclusion. No. What truly bothers us is the action that is taken by humans in relationship to other humans. Why is this?

Can we cast judgement on nature? Can we criticize a flower for not looking good enough? Can we criticize an animal for acting stupid? The real question is not whether we can do it or not, but rather if it makes any sense to do it in the first place. And if we do criticize such things, how do we feel? Is our judgement anything more than a simple observation of how things are?
To understand the process of judgement, we must first realize our own role in it. The role we play is by no means insignificant. We are the main actors in this scene, to the point where we can ask: Would there be any judgement without involving our own image as human beings?

We say of an animal that it cannot be blamed for acting like an animal. We say of natural changes that they happen. And yet, when it comes to humans, we consider things to be different. The same actions of an animal, if taken by a person, are now deemed worthy of judgement. Why is this? Do we consider ourselves in full control of our actions? Do we believe that we are able to consciously decide our actions? Do we consider ourselves as equals when it comes to intention and decision making? Do we have social expectations of each other? It seems that we do.

Lets look deeper. Can we find the source of all these expectations? Can we find what separates us, the human beings, from all the other aspects of our world?
As we seek for an answer, different ideas will come up: intelligence, intention, control, desire, consciousness, soul, etc. All of them useful ideas, but in this case, lets go deeper: What is the common factor of all the types of judgement we hold? What is always present?

At some point, we will realize that the common factor is us and nothing else. We are the source of this process of judgement. Not we as humans, but we as concepts, we as holders of ideas and beliefs, we as separate points of awareness, we as flows of energy. There is no judgement without our presence.
There is a choice to be made, but the choice is not ours to make. It is already made for ourselves and for everyone else. Why? Because we are the choice itself.

 

If we can really understand the problem, the answer will come out of it, because the answer is not separate from the problem.

— Jiddu Krishnamurti

About judgement and love

About judgement and love
(6 December 2019)

Judgement, as a process, has always been part of human life. With time, the objects of our judgement have changed from obvious things to subtle ones. But the process has remained the same. We judge in order to protect ourselves and much more. It brings us energy and pleasure. We feel superior to that which we criticize, but most importantly, we feel that we are different from it.

So what is judgement?
At first, we might say it’s an avoidance of something we don’t agree with. We might consider it superficial, we might consider it rightful and deserved, or just the freedom of speech. But lets look deeper. What is judgement?

When we judge, are we avoiding something, or are we attracted by something?
What seems to be avoidance at first, proves to be just a cover for a deeper attraction. The process of judgement can only take place when there is a separation in our mind. We must separate that which we love from that which we hate. Then we can criticize what we hate.
Are we judging because we avoid what we hate? Or are we judging because we get attracted by what we love? Can we know the difference? Lets observe the process.

What do we feel when we judge? Do we feel energetic? Where is that energy coming from?
With close attention, we can notice that our judgement is not only meant to destroy what we hate, but also to enhance the image of what we love.
We criticize superficiality because we honor authenticity. We criticize physical appearance because we honor inner character. We criticize ignorance because we honor awareness. We criticize others because we honor ourselves.
Our energy has always come from a source of love. What changes is the object of love, not the love itself. The process remains the same.

So why do we judge? If this process originates from love, why does it feel so negative? Lets look and see.
Is it really coming from the love of something? Or is it coming from the fear of losing the thing we love? What should we do with this fear?
Maybe, instead of trying to solve the judgement, we can find a way to deal with our fear. Maybe, instead of enhancing the separation between what we love and what we hate, we can create distinction without separation. Maybe there is a choice to be made, one we should choose carefully, not just for ourselves, but for everyone else.

 

If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation.

— Jiddu Krishnamurti

About social enjoyment

About social enjoyment
(1 December 2019)

The world has evolved to a point where, in many developed societies, people have a surplus of resources, such as time, money, energy, etc. It has become a cultural norm to spend this surplus on various social activities. This gives us a sense of well-being, abundance and enjoyment of our lives as human beings. Parties and celebrations are seen as a necessity for our social identity.

This symbol of pleasure has been created with a price that we usually don’t notice or simply forget. It has created a split between the activities that are expected to be enjoyable and those that are not. Even more, the pleasure is now expected to come easily or with little effort. We accomplished this by distributing our duties and it worked well for the physical ones, but when it comes to the social part, it is far from perfect.

We are expecting our casual social interactions to bring us enjoyment with little or no effort required. This expectation can sometimes be hard to meet. When we take the responsibility of organizing or moderating such social gatherings, we find ourselves in an uncomfortable situation, trying to satisfy various preferences of other people. Can we see the toxicity of having expectations without personal involvement?

Many of us are under the impression that our physical presence in a social gathering is enough to create the enjoyment we are seeking. We prefer to consider ourselves introverts or without ideas and to delegate this responsibility to an organizer or to some more extroverted or funny peers. Would it be too hard for us to acknowledge that we all share the responsibility of our well-being? Are we even aware of this issue? Or are we too attached to the status quo?

We can start by releasing ourselves from the self-imposed pressure and anxiety of failing to meet the expectations of our peers. It requires a great deal of courage to ask for new and healthier kinds of social interactions. When we try to do this, we will notice that, firstly, it requires several attempts to get it right, and secondly, it can bring a much greater satisfaction for everyone involved. In time, we can reshape the whole structure of our society in a way that our parties and celebrations are not just enjoyable, but also purposeful.

 

The more socially intelligent you are, the happier and more robust and more enjoyable your relationships will be.

— Daniel Goleman

About energy and importance

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(30 November 2019)

From our emotional perspective, and not only, life can be seen as a flow of energy. We, humans, want to live. We want to feel energetic and enthusiastic. This is more than a desire, it is a necessity. Everything we do requires energy. It can be physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, or of any other kind. Our lives depend on the ability to generate and transform our energy.

In order to manipulate such energy, we should first understand how it flows. We know when we have it and we know how it feels, but can we also see where it comes from?
When we observe ourselves carefully and quietly, we notice that our energy is closely related to our thoughts and beliefs. We can see that how we feel leads to what we think and what we think leads to what we feel, in an endless cycle.

Being aware of this connection between our energy and our mind, lets look at the things we consider to be important. Lets start by understanding what importance means in relationship to our energy. When we consider something to be meaningful, how do we feel about it? Does it feel valuable? Are we attracted to it? Do we feel energetic towards it? If so, can we define importance as a source of great energy? Lets take this path and see where it leads.

We live in complex societies, with many people, many perspectives, many opinions and many beliefs. Therefore there are many important things, but not all of them with the same importance for everyone. We can notice that the energy we get from something depends very much on the amount of importance it receives, not just from ourselves, but from everyone else. In this case, it should come as no surprise that we wish for our meaningful things to receive utmost attention and consideration. We wish to feel energetic. We wish to feel alive.

If we understand all this, the question becomes: Can we all feel as much energy as possible, for as long as possible, together and at the same time? Or do we have to compete for this energy? Do some of us have to be sacrificed? Or do we have to isolate ourselves in groups based on what we consider as important? We should answer carefully.
If what we are looking for is energy, do we consider this aspect to be important? And if we do consider it, what can we do about this?
We could look for other ways of creating energy and free ourselves from the limitations of importance. It is definitely worth the effort.

 

It is very important to generate a good attitude, a good heart, as much as possible. From this, happiness in both the short term and the long term for both yourself and others will come.

— Dalai Lama

About struggling with toxic needs

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(29 November 2019)

We, as humans, seek to understand our life. Not always, but most of the time. We have this desire to make sense of what is happening to us or around us. Sometimes, understanding doesn’t come easily, especially when the focus of our enquiry is what we consider to be outside of us. We might want to understand how certain things work, or how decisions are made. Most often, when we try to understand something, we do it in a pretty logical way, based on steps and consequences. This works well with objects, but not as well with people.

One of the most common struggles of understanding is when it comes to our toxic habits.
Why do we have them? Why can we not change them? Why do we continue like this even when we know it is toxic? Why do we lack the power to change ourselves?
Answering these questions can be even harder if we are enquiring about other people, since we don’t know what they are thinking or feeling. Understanding, in such cases, seems impossible.

So why do people stick to toxic habits, even when they are completely aware of them?
Lets start by asking a different question: What exactly are we aware of when we say we are aware of our toxic needs?
We can be aware of the pain we feel, we can be aware of some previous accidents, we can be aware of the culture and what other people think about this topic. We can even be aware of our previous attempts to stop. If we go deeper, we can even realize the causes of our toxic habits.
And yet, this seems to not be enough. We are still stuck with them. Why?

Can we, maybe as an exercise, stop for a moment and not see our needs as toxic, but rather as a weird way of solving certain problems?
If we do this, then the next question would be: What kind of problems are we trying to solve?
What kind of problems would require such solutions that also destroy ourselves in the process?
While we are enquiry into this, there is something else happening in the background. We have assumptions about what solutions someone has available, assumptions that we hardly see.

And there is something else that is also happening. There is a negative attitude towards the whole situation. We want to avoid it, so solve it, to get rid of it. This attitude towards the problem is actually part of the problem we are trying to solve. Can we see this?
Can we bring a new perspective, one that will generate a new kind of energy, an energy that is able to move us beyond our current needs and struggles?
Lets start our enquiry from this point forward!

 

Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.

— Albert Einstein

About lacking direction and giving advice

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(21 July 2019)

Our world has reached a point where we, as individuals, have an abundance of options to choose from when it comes to living our lives. The Internet has given us enormous power over what information we have access to. We are now a global society, we can create and reach solutions like never before. But being able to do that doesn’t mean we are actually doing it. Just having all this power is not enough if we don’t know how to use it properly.

For an increasing number of us, this access to collective knowledge and wisdom is becoming more of a burden than a blessing. We have the tools, but we are lacking the practical wisdom for using them. And even though this great power came without any manual or instructions, we are expecting ourselves to already know how to use it. We are expecting the individual to connect to this collective knowledge and figure out by himself the right choices for his life. And when that inevitably fails, sooner or later, we consider that to be due to an individual fault, a mistake of some sort, instead of understanding the whole context in which that failure took place. We seem to be unable to realize that we have the wrong expectations from our tools and ourselves.

If we look deeper into the nature of this problem, we find ourselves in a weird situation, one dominated by confusion. We have access to so much information and diversity of opinions that we perceive our life as too vague and impossible to understand. Most of the time, we feel that no one has the right or true answer for how to live. Therefore, giving advice on life issues is now considered intrusive or even aggressive. We, as a collective, seem to lack a clear direction in which we can move and evolve together.

Realizing all this, what can we do ? We probably agree that blame or shame are not part of the solution. When we look at the issue, we see a collective movement. When we look at ourselves, we see individual actions. Each collective force starts as an individual force that gets more and more momentum until it becomes big enough to create an entire environment in which to propagate itself. We can choose to get involved in building this new force or choose to maintain the existing status quo. Standing on the side or not choosing anything is not a real option. What is not against the status quo becomes part of it and therefore enhances it.

The real challenge is choosing the right direction in which to move together. Both our collective knowledge and the way we use it has to reflect this direction. But first of all, we need to find such a direction for ourselves, as individuals. Only then, we can meet others on the way.

 

There are times when a leader must move out ahead of the flock, go off in a new direction, confident that he is leading his people the right way.

— Nelson Mandela

About toxic parenting and control

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(18 July 2019)

The idea of family has always been a central part of humanity. Over time, it took many forms and, even today, it continues to evolve. One of the main factors of this evolution is the perception we have of the relationship between parents and children. We, both as individuals and as a society, are becoming more aware of the different aspects of such a relationship and we are able to make a distinction between what is healthy and what is not, what creates abundance and what destroys it.

When we realize this distinction, we usually find ourselves in one of the two sides, either as parents or as children. Most often, it is the latter. In all cases, we have to face both the good and the bad aspects of the relationship, while being unable to choose between them. Unless the awareness of both sides reach a similar altitude, a proper communication cannot be established. Our best and probably only option is to bring into discussion this distinction between healthy and toxic interactions and help the other side become aware of it.

By looking deeper into the nature of what we perceive as negative behaviors, such as emotional blackmail, unfair judgement or victimization, we realize that all of them are actually emotional strategies that have been used effectively over the course of our history. We could even consider them to be emotional technologies. And as with any technology, once a new one is invented, the old one becomes obsolete. Today, we are in the process of replacing the old emotional technology, which we consider toxic, with a next-generation one, which we consider healthy. This change is not easy, especially for those who have lived their entire life based on tradition.

Apart from that, there seems to be another factor at play that drives this toxic relationship between parents and children. In the past, one of the few sources of self-esteem has been our family, especially our children. We learned to define ourselves in terms of them. This aspect is changing rapidly, since more sources of self-esteem are now available, such as work, friends, life experiences and more. Unfortunately, some of us are having problems transforming ourselves.

When our self-image depends mainly on our children, we are forced to ensure control over them, in order to avoid the fear of losing our self-esteem. This seems to be one of the biggest causes of the toxic relationships we are facing. To overcome this problem, we need to learn how to reimagine ourselves in today’s world, for the sake of our well-being and that of our children.

 

What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.

— Abraham Maslow

 

About living with uncertainty

About living with uncertainty
(16 July 2019)

At some point in our lives, we find ourselves in periods of uncertainty, in which we do not know which actions to take or which direction to choose. We are unable to continue our life as before. Uncertainty can come in many forms. It could be financial uncertainty, lacking an income, or it could be medical uncertainty, dealing with a disease or simply old age. Or it could be related to unstable relationships. Whatever the nature of uncertainty, in such situations, we fear that we might lose our life as we know it. It is both painful and scary.

In such situations, our emotional state is dominated by confusion. We do not know which actions to take in order to escape from the bad outcomes that we anticipate. Sometimes it feels easier to be in a desperate situation, than in an uncertain one, since there are fewer options to choose from. Having to make a decision can cause greater stress than just accepting a bad outcome.

When we look deeply at the cause of fear and stress that comes from uncertainty, we discover the same mechanism that is part of our daily life: the ability to imagine and predict the future. Moreover, we realize that, in such situations, this idea of prevention, a strategy that normally protects us from harm, can backfire on us. This ability that we have as human beings can be both a blessing and a curse, depending on circumstances. The more we try to avoid certain future outcomes, the more stress and confusion we create to ourselves. This can sometimes become a downward spiral from which we cannot escape.

It seems that our only solution is to temporarily give up our commitment to the future, whichever that is, and simply focus on the present. We can decide to not imagine anything and just observe what we already have in the present moment, without judging or even wanting to change it. We can decide to not use our imagination when it doesn’t help us, while causing us stress, fear and pain. We can decide to not prevent any future outcome and just accept whatever happens to us. When we do this, we discover that our mind becomes clear and quiet, and with that comes new energy and freedom to act.

If we really want to learn how to cope with uncertainty, then we must include it into our own lifestyle. We must not only consider uncertainty, but actually build our entire way of living based on it. Moreover, if we want to really succeed in this direction, we must look at death itself, in all its forms, from the death of our body, to the death of our dreams and desires. If we want to be capable of living with uncertainty, then we must make death an integral part of our life.

 

The power for creating a better future is contained in the present moment: You create a good future by creating a good present.

— Eckhart Tolle

About teamwork and duties

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(15 July 2019)

Teamwork and social interactions have always been part of our evolution as human beings. From survival to well-being, we depend on each other, as we are deeply interconnected. Today, this is more obvious than ever. Not only that, but our interactions, as well as our lives, are increasing in complexity. Our work environment is a reflection of this change.

It seems that our cooperation methods and skills are lagging behind. Our projects and duties are rapidly becoming more and more complex, while the ways in which we relate as humans are changing slowly. We logically understand the roles of our team, but we seem to lack the ability to connect with our team members in ways that enhance our creativity and results. When this happens, we end up judging and blaming each other for not accomplishing our duties.

If we pay close attention to our work environments, we see that most of them are designed in an old and simplistic way, such that they do not reflect the complexity of our current life. We tend to focus on just a few indicators to measure our work, while ignoring the real context in which those indicators are used, which is our entire life. In such conditions, it’s no wonder that our work becomes a cause of stress and our colleagues sometimes become our opponents.

If we want to solve this problem, we must first realize that forcing ourselves to be strong and deal with the situation is not a real solution, but just a way of hiding our pain. Once we are aware of this, we can start looking for solutions that address the main issue: our superficial approach towards our work environment. We need to start looking at our team as being made of not just roles, but humans with roles. Once we start integrating more and more aspects of ourselves, our teamwork will take new forms, which will reflect the true complexity of our lives.

Such a process of transformation can only start with individuals. We need to reimagine our team dynamics and get involved in reshaping them. The process can be slow and tedious, and full of mistakes, but it will be worthwhile. It will require courage and effort, as well as patience. Whether we find ourselves in a managerial position or any other role, it matters less. Our challenge is to increase our awareness of which aspects of life are involved in our work and then imagine solutions to capture and integrate them. The results can be exciting.

 

If the structures of the human mind remain unchanged, we will always end up re-creating the same world, the same evils, the same dysfunction.

— Eckhart Tolle