Original Thought · Self Improvement · Sharing Economy · Teamwork · Uncertainty

Fear versus Hope

I am afraid that the fear mongers are winning and yes I see the irony. After writing for weeks about hope and her great liberating, creative, and generous power I find myself slipping over to the dark side more often than I like. Even though I understand that choosing hope has a positive and infectious impact on my life and those around me, I feel like I have been inundated by media, social media, and conversations with a message of distrust, hatred, and terror. So much of what I hear and read has a bias towards suspicion, division, and polarization. Is our world tumbling out of control? Will the schism we are creating bring dire and fatal consequences for our species?

I am taking off the grey coloured glasses of despair and seeing the world in the brighter glow of hope. What I take in through my eyes and ears will be curated towards the best of our city, province, country. I am not going to naively ignore news but I will intentionally seek generative, positive stories. Afterall, the best and the worst are nothing more than fictions that we tell ourselves and if collectively more of us lean into narratives about responsible government and personal responsibility, climate care, equity, joyful relationships, then more coverage of those will be offered and more will be generated.
My position isn’t Pollyanna pie in the sky. It is a deliberate and intentional choice. I can be positive and passionate and opinionated and respectful with being inane, insane, or weak. Hope can raise the water for my little boat and can carry a flotilla of like minded travellers. Therein lies the rub. I am looking for people who are willing and courageous enough to say no to fear and yes to hope.

We can build a new movement; one that is democratic without being political. One that is passionate without being partisan. One that is confident without the vitriol of certainty. Are you interested in joining others to create something hopeful, even if it just adds joy and inspiration to those on the boats? What if the Armada’s positivity infects a few dozen, a few hundred, a few thousand new sailors? Are you seeking hope? Do you know others around you who are ready to stake their position and take a stand? If we created an online presence like a Facebook page (or other suggestions)
would you join and contribute? Hope won’t win if we just lurk around her edges. We need to wrap our arms around her and then tell others our stories of hope.

Today I had three conversations with younger people from early 20’s to early 30’s who seem immune to the rubbish that is being spewed through conventional and new mediums. Their outlook on today, tomorrow and the future were refreshingly expectant. They weren’t so much concerned with the trappings of the world but more interested in what they are and will experience and the value that they can add to their friends, family and community.

They believe they are and can make a difference in the world and they are. It is that simple and that complicated but it began with a choice to view the world in a light shining brightly.

Make Today Hopeful,

Bonce-you-choose-hope-anything-is-possible

Self Improvement · Uncertainty

Dear Me

I have been around some young people over the past weeks and am excited by their passion and troubled by their despair (in the same person (or maybe all persons)).
I don’t seem to have any meaningful advice for them to celebrate their enthusiasm or lift them from their anguish. Ther swings, which I suffered because of a mental illness, are wide and deep. I don’t know what to say because when I was bouncing from manic to depressive, nothing helped and almost everything hurt. If someone significant in my life reached out, I rejected them and their words because they couldn’t understand what I was going through.
I started wondering, what advice the today I would give to the fifteen-year-old? What should I tell/remind the seventy-five-year-old version? Does distance give me any perspective?
Dear 15 year-old Me,
I do remember what you are going through. The pain and sorrow that couldn’t be labelled but was tempered by pulling the blankets up over your ears and screaming in silence. The weight on your chest didn’t leave but it hurt a little less when the sights and sounds of the world were walled away. I remember the shrieking tension that rose up as a reversal of emotions waded slowly through the muck. The extraordinarily bright light, the squishiness of your palette at the touch of your tongue, the nauseating speed of everything swirling around me without seeming to make progress were welcomed because it meant that in minutes, hours or days I would be at the top of my game; unstoppable, invincible, joyous and delicious. It all passed and I survived even when I didn’t want to. The best advice is just that -” This too shall pass”. It sounds meaningless and trite but so would the medical explanation that took another 25 years to uncover. Knowing that the anxiety didn’t have a foundation and that whether some girl liked me or hated me isn’t the end of the world isn’t helpful or at 15 even believable. I could offer that when it passes, you will once again be stronger and eventually you will have the courage to share the depths and the heights with someone who cares and she will ‘insist’ that you seek professional help. After a few years of evading, avoiding and resisting you will relent and in your case that is the beginning of a more joyful and productive life. This too shall pass.
With hope,
Me, nearing retirement

Dear 75 year-old Me,

Looking at you from 13 years in the past, I see a vibrant, loving, caring man. Someone who is still healthy. Someone who is joyously still married and sharing a meaningful life with your beloved of more than 50 years. The perspective from this vantage point is that all of that is possible and if you aren’t living hale and hearty and happy, it is my fault. I didn’t set you up by continuing to build on the good blessings of today.
I know you have a great relationship with your grandchildren because I strived to keep the relationships meaningful and unique. You are aging well, with little stress and still living an adventure because that is how I engineered the years between 60 and 75. Even if an illness has arisen, I took the steps to mitgate it and I battled the demon to a draw so you can live in an abundance of love, laughter and learning.My advice to you as I turn 75 is “accept your responsibilities for today – to love well, laugh loud, leap and learn, and accept your responsibility to set up the 90 year-old us for a remarkable encore with great grandchildren and wisdom and wonder and love”

With hope and confidence,

Today Me

Original Thought · Self Improvement

Perception can be Reality

What makes passionate people uncontrollably optimistic? I met with a friend a colleague for breakfast and she reminded me enthusiastically that her attitude and disposition are contagious. She is unreserved in her excitement for what she is doing and achieving. Her perception in the face of challenges is opportunities. When she sees a gap she takes the initiative to fill it and where her preferred future is threatened she seeks to understand and overcome the barriers.

This isn’t a rose coloured naivety or gushing utopian rhetoric but rather a way to frame her days/weeks/months; her life. Realty wraps itself around us but we have the pleasure and responsibility of seeing it as a prospective possibility rather than a debilitating defeat.

Life is a series of experiences and perception is the economy with memories acting as the currency. We can be rich or we can be poor. It seems that we are able to manufacture and re-craft our experiences by changing our point of view and altering our response to the circumstances we face. When we capture memories, we add to our riches because they can be revisited, revised and re-remembered and relived and relished. If we pass through the events and moments of our day with disinterest and ennui we are less likely to perceive anything worth stashing in our wallet.

In order to change our tomorrows we need to be alive in our todays. Sleepwalking through a Thursday wastes a gift but also contributes to creeping lethargy on Friday, Saturday and Monday. I encourage you to go through today with your eyes open for glee, greatness, and grand adventures. If they don’t appear, shift your intention to opportunity and watch for a small shift towards hope. It is within your sight but may be shrouded by a bias, your mood, or an unwillingness to get out of the ditch.

If you want to stay in the rut that is wrestling with you then stop reading and hunker down for a full nelson suffocation. If you are already seeing beauty and awe, congratulations and keep pressing forward. If you are down but don’t want to be out, take small chance and smile, smell roses, see something special, and say something sunny to yourself and someone else.

Begin every day with a sincere and grateful heart and eyes wide open for the best in people, events and yourself.

Make Today Remarkable, by seeing it as remarkable,

B

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The Power of a Myth

Mythology exists in all aspects of our life. We believe we are a country of intelligent, entrepreneurial, caring, radical individualists who come together to share our resources and skills and make the world a better place. It likely doesn’t matter where you live, The myth of people and place is pretty powerful. And there is some truth in every myth.
We listen to our Genesis stories; as people, cities, companies and celebrate them by rewriting them to fit our current expectations, mores, attitudes and regrets. The adaptability and flexibility of our stories reflects that we understand that they may never have happened but are definitely true.

My myths keep me safe, keep me calm, help me stay rooted and inspire me. I have absorbed some from my kin and their strange Scottish Scandinavian practices and history. I was taught some from my grandmother and mother that form the basis for my morality and responsibility. I have crafted a few myths myself so I am able to continue doing what I do and to justify my actions in the face of resistance. As the narratives become embedded they earn mythology status, for a time. They are relative to an audience that is predisposed to the lesson. Christians lean towards and love Christian narratives although most zealots would be uncomfortable with the myth reference since they see the stories as complete and inerrant.

There are myths about the glories of capitalism that supporters love and myths that deride and denigrate capitalism that detractors love. Myth – Under capitalism, anyone who works hard can succeed. Myth – Under capitalism only those with a silver spoon get to eat from the golden dish. Sometimes the myth is accepted by both perspectives but for completely different reasons. Myth – We are all in the same boat.

I was raised with a protestant work ethic with tinges of puritan morals so shaking those off and seeing the world with more joy, hope and optimism was a long process and there are days that the baggage rears its head as a defense mechanism against an idea, a party, a person who I disagree with. When I am struggling to understand I can twist and turn my personal narratives with all kinds of logical fallacies. I see injustice when none exists, I hear slander in feedback, I taste opposition in diversity but on the days that I trust and hope (another area of mythology) I grow in all those circumstances.

Myth, as a social construct, is most often destructive as we are seeing in a current election campaign. The myths of race, gender, ethnicity, orientation, money creates sides and factions. And when you choose a team or are picked for a team loyalty overwhelms our senses. I have found myself accepting and then defending something that didn’t sit right because it was part of the team’s narrative. Political parties and religious factions have notorious influence on the common sense and common decency of adherents. When the narrative creates a them and us, it is time to deconstruct it and hold it up to the brightest light because it is likely in service of an agenda that is self serving and selfish.

I love myths, ancient and modern. Like the heroes of ancient myths, modern superheroes have extraordinary powers. The most famous superhero is Superman, created by American cartoonists Jerry Siegel and Joseph Shuster in 1938. In comics and on radio, television, and movie screens, he fights for “truth, justice, and the American way,” using his powers of flight and incredible strength, powers he possesses because he is from another planet. Like most modern superheroes, Superman keeps his identity a secret and pretends to be an ordinary man. Such myths suggest that anyone can have unsuspected potential for heroism.

Make Today Remarkable, because you believe the myth that you are,

B

Self Improvement · Uncategorized

Choose Optimism

“Optimism is the most important human trait, because it allows us to evolve our ideas, to improve our situation, and to hope for a better tomorrow.” ~ Seth Godin

I am not an eternal optimist but I am a dreamer. Not rose colored glasses dreaming but taking the circumstances and whistling them through my imagination.
Idealism sees the best something can be and wishes and acts it to be so. When I whistle and wish and look to a preferred future I am filled with hope. Hope is a choice that we get to make every day and the more we choose it the more we feel.
I don’t subscribe to a Utopian agenda because I believe that we live in a time and place that can be good, better, best but if we get Pollyana the menu of change becomes sappy and sugary and hard to swallow.

Optimists, enthusiasts, fanatics, admirers can be a ray of sunshine in a group or community but they need a tinge of realism so that they aren’t seen as naive empty headed zealots.

Why is the best of us and the worst of us separated by such a thin line? Have we always seen the easy going, buoyant, stargazer with suspicion if the enthusiasm was too over the top? Bryan Welch wrote “But history also gives us plenty of reason for optimism. On the humble foundation of skin clothing and bone jewelry we have built a wondrous technological superstructure to support ongoing innovation.” Maybe we only suspect the optimist when the level of uncertainty gets too high or the circumstances to dire. I imagine the guy who said ” It will all be great tomorrow” as meteors were raining down or an ice age was upon us would have been pretty hard to take.

Optimism is a motivator and a coping skill. For me it can be both at the same time. Leading me forward to good, better, best and protecting me from bad, worse, tragic.
I get to choose to be optimistic every morning and with every turn of my day. You get to accept my zeal every morning and at each turn. The acceptance has to do with me and our relationship and you and your disposition. Given that we both have a choice, I have decided that I am going to lean to hoping for the best and expecting the best. You can make your own decision.

Make Today Hopeful,
B

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Appreciation

As you continue to spend time in breathing practice, it is time to begin appreciation practice.  Appreciation has a couple of meanings, both of which are important; a fully and deep understanding of the situation and the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something.

“Our real blessings often appear to us in the shape of pains, losses and disappointments; but let us have patience and we soon shall see them in their proper figures.”

~ Joseph Addison

Again,I remind you that first steps are hard to take even when they may not be difficult to do. Today you take a second step towards hope and possibility.

To begin, I am not asking you to be grateful or express gratitude, not yet. This exercise is about understanding and recognition. It is a head practice not a heart (that will come later). Today we begin training our senses; sight, hearing, taste, touch to fully understand what is in front of us.

  1. grab a pen and paper. you will need this every morning
  2. take 5 minutes to consider one aspect of your life – emotional, relational, financial …
  3. in more than 5 and less than 15 words meaningfully describe reality (as you currently see it) of the situation
  4. find at least one good quality in the situation and write it in ALL CAPS
  5. Repeat the good quality three times and repeat it  again throughout the day
  6. Repeat tomorrow

That’s it a second step taken. Your commitment to changing your life has begun. You have started taking control. Mediocrity and misery won’t like what you are doing so be mindful that they may go on the offensive and try sabotage your steps. When you feel the challenge pressing – breathe and repeat the ALL CAPS good quality three times.

Step 3, tomorrow,

B

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Are You Living Your Life?

Are you living your life or merely passing through it? The world presents each of us with this great gift, every day. Each morning that I continue to breathe, there are possibilities – new challenging and exciting. Putting my head down, burying my head in the sand, eyes shut tightly doesn’t change the world but it changes how I live in it.

In a few hours another page turns and an arbitrary marker (January 1,2016) begins. This is the best time, or at least as good as any to begin living your life to its fullest potential. In the first week of the new year – do 7 things for the first time, meet 7 people that you don’t know, walk 7 miles, read 7 chapters, share something 7 times, say “I love you” 7 times, celebrate 7 remarkable things.

May 2016 be filled with possibility, passion, prosperity, and problems in perfect proportion.

B

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Are You Ready for 2016?

2016 is the Year of the Monkey which in Chinese astrology signifies flux, upheaval and change. I see hope in change. I see hope raising up and capturing our attention through the next 400 days. Are you seeking hope and responding to her urging?

What 3 goals have you set for the first quarter? Do you need some urging and encouragement to set a mind, body and soul goal? Would weekly encouragement and accountability help?

snookie's cookies

 

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If You Seek Hope, She Will Find You

I set out yesterday, ready to meet hope around the corner. She wasn’t in the places that I expected her; in my morning run or a walk along the river. She didn’t jump out of a closet and surprise me when I was feeling doubt. She didn’t whisper in my ear as I struggled to find the right words.

She was there in the kindness of colleagues voice and their graciousness towards our joint situation. She appeared in the encouragement I received from a supplier. Her shadow crossed my path with a new opportunity and the gentle closing of a long standing contract.

Hope went to battle on the sidelines with depression late in the day and held a shield to protect me from pessimism when I woke up at 2 in the morning. I will continue to seek hope and likely be surprised where she finds me.

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness. ~ Desmond Tutu

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Hope Can be a Struggle

Hope is around every corner. If we open our hearts to a hopeful perspective, it can be found. Hope has the power to change the world. But there are other forces in the world and they can have a death grip once they get a hold of us. Disappointment, humiliation, confusion, overwhelming panic and negative scripts can feel like a yoke that is holding you back or down. Hope isn’t an elixir, magic bullet or a cure all  but rather a tendency. It isn’t a trick to use to get your way. It doesn’t offer a free cure to the blues or depression but if we practice hope and lean towards it, even when it feels foolish, it will lift us and keep us afloat. The more practice, the higher we can rise.

I suffer from bipolar disorder. Most days my alternative concoction of St John’s Wort and Vitamin D keep the cycles manageable. Occasionally, I can feel the air being sucked out of my body and I need to become more active in my quest for hope or I can soon find myself with a blanket of isolation over my head and disturbing thoughts racing through my head.

Knowing hope is around the corner is both comforting and encouraging. Today I am on a quest to observe and embrace hope.

B