So many of us are too busy thinking of what to do or say next that we do not pay attention to what is happening in front of us. When we really see and hear this and pick up on what is being communicated or what is really going on, we can make better decisions then if we jump to conclusions and react to what we think is going on before we give it a chance to unfold.
Recently after spending time learning to meditate in the past year or two, I have noticed that I am more in the moment when something is going on in front of me and notice things that I failed to notice before. Too often we see what we think we are seeing even if that is not what is going on. The act of perception is often a filter which keeps us from taking in what is really going on.
We spend too much time thinking when we ought to be receiving information from our senses which we can then use to create a picture of what is going on when we have all the information. Endless mind chatter can block and/or distort information coming in from our senses. If we don’t have the whole picture, how can we come to accurate conclusions.
Have you ever been so angry that you couldn’t see straight. Have you then been mistakenly rude to someone who made an innocent remark? You weren’t thinking clearly were you?
When you are not overcome with emotion and your mind is quiet, you can focus on what is going on around you. You might be surprised at what you might have been missing. Others who are able to do this often have an advantage when it comes to understanding and interpreting what is going on around them.
Almost everyone experiences the deep dark night of the soul. Even Mother Teresa did. It is hard to remain positive in this life when so much bad happens. Some say it is because of the devil. These thoughts just creep into our mind often without any resistance.
You have more control over your thoughts than you think you do. Do you often say, “I can’t help thinking that way.” Depression can spread that way. It is true bad things do happen. Do we take these experiences and learn a lesson or go on just like we always have expecting the worst to happen again.
We all have an inner critic (more about that in a future post) and we sometimes let it run or ruin our lives. Be kind to yourself.
Most people have a running stream of thoughts in our heads and we think we can’t turn it off. They may be useless thoughts that accomplish nothing but make us feel worse. They may be thoughts of catastrophe or doom and gloom.
Remember that these thoughts can not only make you miserable, they can effect other people. Our inner critic can also do a number on other people whom we see and needlessly criticize in our head. It is almost as addictive as playing nasty video games.
Meditation is one way of establishing a calm mind. Another way is to constantly exchange good thoughts for bad ones. Bad thoughts can only make you unhappy or mad and what do they accomplish?
How do you treat your significant other. Better or worse than you treat yourself? Do you respect your other half? Do you say hurtful things about him or her when he or she is not around. Would you want him or her to do that to you?
Do you leave room for your boyfriend or girlfriend or husband or wife to grow and consequently to change? Do you expect him or her to let you do it too?
Are you selfish? Do you value your spouse or friend based on only what they can do for you? Are you a martyr? Do you consistently put the other person’s needs and preferences first?
You need to value yourself and your partner as human beings.
You need to do unto others what you would have them do to you.
A relationship needs to be nurtured. Relationships often get taken for granted and little or nothing is done to promote them. Even plants need to be watered. Pets need to be fed. Have you fed your relationship to day.
You have heard of the ten commandments. There are also the seven deadly sins: pride, greed, envy, lust, sloth, gluttony, and wrath which go even further. Have you set standards for yourself as well as others. It is easier
to develop a set of standards for others to follow than to create standards of your own. You can usually identify those that you set for others by paying attention to what “makes” you angry or feels unfair or by identifying what you would like others to do (knowing at some level) that this would make life easier for you.
In moral development, establishing a set of standards of your own for yourself is one of the later stages. You can identify the origin of some of these by what you think you “should” do. These are sometimes “guilted” on you by others. What can you do make them your own? This requires some introspection on your part. If you don’t like something another person has done, do you feel it is right for you to do this? Judging others reveals what we are afraid might be judged in ourselves. It also reveals the areas where we might expect better of ourselves and the standards we might set for ourselves. Do you think that you could be an example for others? Shouldn’t you judge both yourself and others by the same standards? Better yet, maybe you better clean up the messes in your own back yard instead of complaining about your neighbor’s.
There needs to be a foundation of past learning on which to build new learning. The better a person can relate to a new subject, the more likely, he or she will understand and retain the new learning. One gift of a teacher is that he or she can find ways to connect past learning in his or her students to new learning. Not only do teachers need the gift of knowledge about a subject that they seek to impart to their students, but also they have to know how to convey that material to their students.
I have had the experience where a professor who was very well known in her field and who had done trail blazing research was unable to pass that knowledge on in a meaningful way to her students. It was in an advanced graduate course where all the students had been at the top of their class when they graduated from college and were successfully mastering graduate work for their advanced degrees. She gave a test and all of the select group of students who were taking her course did not give the answers she expected of them. In fact, she held the students over so that she could go over the entire test and demonstrate the answers she had expected of them. What she didn’t know was that the students had regularly been getting together in order to figure out the correct answers to questions that she had raised and thought that she answered in class. Every lecture she gave was even more confusing than the last. No wonder her students did not know the answers that she had expected them to give on her test. She knew her subject, but she could not teach her subject.
It is a sad time of the year to lose a loved one. It can make succeeding holiday seasons unhappy ones. Those who have departed probably would not have wanted to ruin the holidays for you. Rather the holidays should be a time to remember lost ones with warm memories of times past when you were blessed with their presence.
It is unfortunate, but true, that we can’t have everyone to be with us our entire lifetime. Some people are with us only for a short time. It is often a gift that they were with us or we were with them that long. Often we can not predict when and where we will leave them or they will leave us. When it happens, it is a shock to the system and we are often left numb.
Sometimes loved ones hang on long after they are ready to leave. They do so to protect loved ones. They need to see someone one last time or someone needs to see them one last time or in the case of an impending birth, they want to be there and experience the birth of a child or grandchild.
The timing of a death is sometimes, but not always, chosen by the person who is leaving this earth. The person or persons who are left behind are often not aware of this and may feel rejected or guilty in response to the passing. The deceased consciously or unconsciously chooses the time of death and and who will or will not be there. This decision is usually made with the best of intentions, but often those surviving don’t know about them and can misinterpret the circumstances surrounding the death.
Sudden deaths, violent deaths, accidental deaths, are the hardest to deal with and can lead to potentially life destroying grief for those who are left behind. Those with a spiritual path can sometimes cope better with these things than those who don’t. Those who have a spiritual path, must realize how hard it is for those who don’t and sympathize with them and not make it harder on them by saying that they should have been more spiritual.
Being thankful at the holiday season for all those souls who have touched my soul and who will touch my soul in the future. Although I may have had you for what seemed like such a short time, I would rather have had you for the limited time I did than not to have had you at all. Love you, Carol, little Jennifer, and baby-to-be Polnow. You are always in my heart.
Holidays can be a big disappointment, especially if you have great expectations. They can lead to a post-holiday period of depression. If possible, enjoy people, not things. Children and animals are a great source of enjoyment at anytime of the year, but things might get a little tense during the holidays. Expect them to act up and be prepared for this by not expecting too much of them. Children might miss nap times or go to bed too late or get up way early so as not to miss a moment of the excitement. There can be too much stuff and there might be fights over possession of it. Excitement can lead to bad manners and lapses in behavior such as in toilet training in children and animals.
If possible, spread the celebrating out over the holidays and include someone who has no one with whom to celebrate the holidays. Put some of the new toys and gadgets up and bring them out later when the new has worn off the things that you left out. Plan an outing for after the holidays. Perhaps to pick out something like a pet or use a gift card. If you are going to be alone after family and friends leave, save something to do or have as a treat for yourself then.
Simply your holiday plans and delegate some of the responsibilities. Prepare for potential disasters. If you are having small children at your celebration, you might want to child proof your house, your decorations, and your tree to some extent. Remember little children often require someone to watch them and supervise them. If you acknowledge this need, you won’t be disappointed when the adults don’t have as much of a chance to enjoy the celebration. For some people, babysitting is the perfect Christmas gift.
Remember sometimes your time is the best gift you can give. Whether you have somebody over or go to a celebration elsewhere, the best thing you can do is be there, be truly present. I recently went to a Christmas program put on by a friend of mine and I watched, listened to, and appreciated the children’s performances even though I knew none of them. Afterwards, my friend said she appreciated having a familiar face in the audience for her performance.
What do you have to keep track of? Hoarders have lots of stuff. Collectors, which is a nicer name for hoarders, ditto. Billionaires have homes, not just homes, but mansions and penthouses in several big cities and exotic locations. So you can hire people to take care of these things for you, but who supervises and keeps track of them?
Paperwork can overwhelm you but so can backing up and keeping track of computer files. Downsizing is a current buzz word among baby boomers. Genealogy is a popular hobby, but how many ancestors and descendants can you keep track of?
The more you have, the less able you are to keep track of it. Can you immediately put your finger on anything you own? Have you forgotten where you put it or have you forgotten that you once even possessed it.
Keeping things within sight can be very convenient. It serves as a reminder of something you want to remember to do and it makes it hard to lose something. It is even better if the things that you keep out are things that give you pleasure to look at.
Passing things on that you no longer use or need can be a good idea once you realize that you have gotten your use or pleasure out of them and somebody else can make better use of them than you can. I have often thought that there should be a storehouse of things, perhaps collectibles, where people could check out things that interested them that they could use or keep on display for a time and then return when they became interested in or in need of something else. I enjoyed it when I lived in a city where there was an art museum where you could check out works of art and then exchange them for other works of art.
Recycling is a good idea so is re-purposing. Things go in and out of style so easily in our society that things are wasted and not used up or wore out.
I’m not me anymore. Who are these people I am with. Where did yesterday go? Most of us at some point accept that our physical bodies have changed even when we still wonder where that 30 year old went. You have his or her thoughts and ideas, but you don’t look like him or her. On top of that, some of our friends and family have changed in appearance too. For some, plastic surgery and strict diet and exercise are the answer.
I remember that girl who married my husband (oh, what a dashing fellow he was then). There are things that I did then that I wouldn’t do now. There are things that I do now that I wouldn’t have done then. I’m a different person. Is this grounds for divorce like alienation of affection? I continued to grow almost in spite of myself. I had responsibilities both at home and in my work, but I found time to do what I like to do most, read. As I read, I discovered some challenging ideas that changed my outlook on life. Life is not like cooking a pork roast where it is done cooking at a certain temperature and taken out of the oven.
There are two (perhaps not only two) approaches that one can take to life. You can hang on to the known and reject the unknown; you restrict your options more and more as you decide that you no longer can do or try certain things. Depressing isn’t it? Maybe not, if you can comfortably accept the consequences. Other people become limitless and see a world of opportunity. While they are hopefully happy with what they have, it doesn’t stop them from looking at or trying something different. Often things happen to them that seem bad; but then something good comes out of it. They are often optimistic instead of pessimistic.
The snafu. You are ready to do something and find out you have to do other things before you can do it? My major thing is cleaning supplies. When I am inspired to clean, I usually don’t have what I need and I have to go get it. Don’t let that get in your way . One is to slog through and go get what you need and start cleaning. Another way is to think ahead and leave cleaning supplies where you will need them.
To avoid making several trips, I try to make each trip pay. For example, when you make a trip to the bedroom, take some laundry back with you and if you don’t put it in the laundry room at least leave it somewhere along the way and it will be closer to the laundry room than it was.
Obey your intuition. When you think of something, do it right then. Otherwise such tasks get on an endless loop in your mind where they are played over and over and don’t get off the loop because they don’t get done. This way you avoid procrastinating and stop using your mind as a place for downer thoughts like I need to get this done and I need to get that done. You end up being preoccupied with such thoughts. Your glass is not half full all the time, it is half empty. The worst thing that can happen is that after putting something off over and over, you miss an important deadline.
Worst comes to worst, empty your mind. Make a list. Put it where you can see it and review it every so often. For me the best time to make a list is right before bed. If I don’t do it then, I have problems as my mind is usually a blank in the morning. If I have a list from the night before, then I usually get a jump start on the morning and don’t waste time trying to think of what I had planned to do the day before.