Are you a glass-half-full or a glass-half-empty person? Whichever one you are, you are right, and this perspective likely shapes how you see the world in general.
Another metaphor is that every object casts a shadow in the daylight, and depending on your perspective, you might stand in the shadow or see the shadow that something is casting as dominating the whole picture.
Gratitude compares to stepping into the sunshine and seeing the “other side” of things.
It is just a matter of perspectives. Every position is subjective. We are free to change our perspective.
A few years back I was asked to raise three newly hatched starlings that had been found at the foot of a big tree by an old lady.
Reluctantly, I took on those birds, and lo and behold I was able to raise and release them successfully. Whenever I see or hear starlings since then, I like telling my daughter that those are our three starlings saying thank you. Today, a extraordinarily big flock of starlings landed around the house and well beyond the creek. They were so loud it was both amazing and a little bit intimidating. Afterwards I thought about writing about this, as in “I had rescued the starlings and they came back with all their friends to thank me”, when I remembered that European starlings are considered an invasive species in North America. That made me think about invasive species and the similarities to what humans do all over the world. So, this is what I want to write about today.
Starlings were moved from Europe, their ancestral habitat, to North America in the late 19th century, where they are now one of the most abundant birds.
Starlings are said to be very adaptable, eating a wide variety of foods and nesting in many different locations. Bottom line is that European starlings infringe on native species’ habitat. That affects the balance of the web of life, and so starlings end up with a bad reputation (Forgive me for bottom lining this so bluntly).
Stepping out of the problem zone and onto a meta-level, I am thinking that those birds do just do what birds do. They simply happen to be at the wrong place (human judgement).
It occurred to me to compare this scenario to human activity. Are we doing the same thing? If so, what makes us different? We do after all come with the ability to reflect on our own behavior and the effects of our actions on the world around us. This ties in with what I’m writing in my new book (“Freedom Within Reach” about living as part of nature and not trying to govern nature).
Some thoughts you might want to ponder over are:
In what way do we (as humans) behave like an invasive species?
In what ways do you behave, and affect the habitat and the species around?
In what way do you fit in with what’s around you?
That’s all for today thank you very much! Please drop me a note with your thoughts and answers.
The doors to the world of the wild Self are few but precious. If you have a deep scar, that is a door, if you have an old, old story, that is a door. If you love the sky and the water so much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door. If you yearn for a deeper life, a full life, a sane life, that is a door.
― Clarissa Pinkola Estés
One of my doors is behind the pain and loneliness I experienced when I was a toddler, in a hospital, for several months, tied down so I would not fidget with my leg (it was in a cast), or stand up (which might have jeopardized the healing of the leg).
I have come to learn that the greatest scars can become our greatest strengths, because they soften us to the human-ness of the people around us.
What do you think?
I am so curious to hear about your doors. Have you found it yet? Do you dare look for it?
We live on the side of a beautiful creek. In the spring, the water level is fairly high and the current is fairly strong; strong enough so I can swim in it without moving in relation to the shore line. It is perfect: cool, refreshing, clean. The birds are singing, the mosquitoes cannot get to me, and all I see is nature.
I have a tendency to forget this beautiful setting, when the water level drops radically later in the season and the flow comes to a halt, until the creek is full of long algae. That is partially due to the fact that this creek drains from a lake that is dammed up so the people with cottages around it can enjoy the water all summer, when there is less water feeding the lake. I have a tendency to feel resentful about that. Gentrification of formerly pristine rural lands into cottage country for wealthy retirees is not something that I digest easily.
Today, however, when the temperature rose to 30 degrees, I hopped into the creek, and I was swimming against the current with my goggles on, exploring the underwater world (I tickled a mussel with my toe and it clammed up, I listened to some shore birds chirping, and I enjoyed the gentle flow of water against my front, when I stopped swimming and put my feet down), I realized how much I miss out on, when I am not living in the moment. So I did.
How have you lived in the moment today?
CCO – Cool Coaching Offers
By the way, I am offering a few really cool things in my coaching services: A 6-week program to help people gain clarity about their life purpose (direct link coming soon!), and an 8-week program that builds serious mental muscles. Both have helped me and brave souls around me who jumped into the adventure with me. Feel free to schedule a nonbinding discovery call to talk about your journey.
Research shows that our brains are hard-wired to over-emphasize the negative experiences we have. Due to an evolutionary survival mechanism called the “negativity bias”, the human brain holds on to and amplifies the negative much more than the positive. It was more essential for our distant ancestors to remember the experience with the dangerous bear, than the beautiful field of flowers.
According to Dr. Barbara Fredrickson (University of North Carolina, 2009), we need three positive experiences for every negative emotional experience in order to keep a positive mindset. According to her, we can actively build a collaborative relationship between our survival minds and our thrive minds. This 3-to-1 ratio should be maintained both in thoughts and feelings, as well as in interactions with people that matter to us.
What are a few ways to build that collaborative relationship between those two parts of our minds?
It starts with awareness: Pay attention to when you are having negative thoughts and feelings, including stress, anxiety, anger, disappointment, blame, guilt, shame, self-doubt, regret, etc. These thoughts might happen in response to yourself, to others or to events and circumstances. When you notice them, counter by commanding your mind to come up with at least 3 positives:
–See the adventure around the challenge: Can you learn something new? Can you explore something exciting? Can you grow a new skill?
–Look for opportunity: What is a positive aspect of a negative event? What could be a positive consequence of the negative circumstance?
-Zoom out and broaden your view: What does the big picture look like? What do you see now that you have not seen before?
–Take small risks that take you out of your comfort zone.
–Practice self-compassion: See the beautiful essence in you! Treat yourself like you would treat your best friend.
These thoughts could be quick and simple, and they will start to shift your brain activity to the positive side.
If you are curious about this and many more Mental Fitness exercises, I would love to meet you in a non-binding chat.
Playing to your strength means doing what you are able to do well, rather than doing other things.
An example: A friend’s son was assessed for ADHD. In the process, it was found that he is simply a kid who needs more physical exercise than he was getting in school and at home. It was not easy, but the school and the parents found ways for him to get more play time outside and more time when he is unplugged from any technical devices.
This story led me to think about people in general:
– Are we living our lives playing to our strengths or are we just playing along with the structures we find ourselves in? – How can we create the lives that make it possible for us to use our strengths and flourish?
This is of course only part of the picture. As professionals, we have to be realistic: It is not always possible to use our strengths (or is it?), to embrace our weaknesses (have you heard the term “own your weaknesses”?), and to know your growth areas. As a person working with other people, you can also play to their strengths (how exciting!), and of course, we are well advised to stretch to form new strengths, and develop an authentic, informed, and confident awareness around the whole topic. In summary: To be who we are!
Judging others, circumstances, or oneself is stripping an event of its embeddedness into the system it occurred in.
– Manuela Zeitlhofer (2022)
Have you ever noticed yourself judging others, circumstances and yourself (!) with a very sharp and self-righteous mind? And has it ever happened, that – in comparable situations – you found yourself full of compassion, or curiosity over the mistakes and wrongdoings of others and yourself?
If you can relate to both, you might sense that…
…judgement comes from within, because ever external circumstance can lead you to either be judgemental or compassionate. (Some contributing factors might be the self-care you treat yourself with, and how full your reservoir of self-love is.)
…there are factors inside of you that sabotage you, your goals, your goodness (called “Saboteurs” or “Inner Critics”), as well as factors that bring out the best in you (called “Sage”).
…every problem, every circumstance, everything you might get agitated or upset about can lead to an opportunity, a gift even.
This topic lends itself so beautifully to coaching! If you are curious, please comment, or send me a note.
Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On!’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.
― Calvin Coolidge
Many times our inner critics keep us from achieving our fullest potential. Imagine what you could do if you were not concerned about failure, but if you saw every failure as a teachable moment that can only advance you toward your goals?
“You can throw in the towel, or you can us it to wipe the sweat off your face!” (Gatorade)
This metaphor was used in a Gatorade slogan in 2003. It seems to have a wide range of applications, from physical exercise to mental fitness, to goal orientation and endurance.
What does it mean to you? Where and when are you tempted to throw in a towel, and what happens when you persevere?
One area of such turmoil for me is going out into the world and approaching strangers, telling them about my services, so they have a chance to get to trust me as an ally on their self-development journey.
After I had written my previous two posts, a racoon attacked and killed one of our ducks: Dora, a little black female.
I was reminded that nature is neither good nor bad, nature just IS. The racoon needs to eat. The ducks don’t fight back. (And I failed to keep them safe, as our electric netting fence was not strong enough to keep the racoon out.)
We have been planning to get a dog in September. Too late for Dora, but hopefully the dog will deter any predators and keep our remaining ducks safe.
I am still sad about loosing that little bird. And I am contemplating what it means to be human, and to have the choice to be humane.
What does it mean for you to be humane and in what situations do you see yourself be consciously humane?
How frequently do you interact with animals in your daily life? – Chances are that those interactions are scarce, or limited to pets. Our societies might have separated humans from animals, seeing humans as superior to animals. Yet, we admire certain qualities in specific animals. What can we learn from animals?
How about patience, living in the Now, connectedness with the intricate web of life we are part of, responsibility, attentive listening, living in tune with the natural world, and sticking together.
Can you guess which animals possess then traits listed above? – This can be a rewarding activity to do with your child! Also, you might want to observe animals around you to see which traits they display!
Do you associate wealth with money? I do struggle with the concept at times. Then I remind myself that I have enough. For me, it comes down to making the conscious decision to be happy in the Now. Because NOW is all we have. The past is a memory and the future is an imagination. Most of the time, I have all I NEED in the very moment I am in. It is often the WANTS that I want (!) to pursue.
To remain still and just be, let the moment be all I want – that is happiness for me. My wealth is my happiness, the feeling of being enough, and of having enough (or more than enough), right now.
How about you? Where lies your wealth? And what are your thoughts about this week’s posts?
Have you battled internal obstacles – problems that were entirely created by your way of approaching the world in your thinking and actions? – I have!
For more than a year I had been bothered by a digestive issue: There was a knot in my intestines, always in the same spot. It never went away. The intensity of the discomfort varied. I consulted my family doctor. I consulted an Ayurvedic doctor. Nothing. I researched online. – A partial breakthrough was achieved when I found a useful video how to alleviate the symptoms temporarily. But no solution appeared. I started to despair.
Then, we went on vacation and I did not drink my tap water. The discomfort was gone.
I had stumbled upon the solution. The problem – or obstacle – had been too close to me to be visible.
Question: What is an obstacle you have come to live with, because you do not perceive there to be a way around or over it?
Flexibility is the key to common sense and success
A battleship had been at sea on maneuvers in heavy weather for several days. The captain, who was concerned about the deteriorating conditions, stayed on the bridge so that he could keep an eye on all activities. One night, shortly after dark, [the fog was getting even thicker] the lookout on the bridge suddenly shouted, ‘A light, captain, bearing on the starboard bow.’ ‘Is it steady or moving astern?’ the captain asked. The lookout confirmed that it was steady, which meant that the battleship was apparently on a dangerous collision course with the other ship. The captain then called to the signalman, ‘Signal that ship: “We are on a collision course. Advise you change course 20 degrees north.”’ Back came the response from the other ship: ‘You change course 20 degrees south.’ Annoyed at the arrogance of the response, the captain said, ‘Send: “I am a captain, change course 20 degrees north.”’ ‘I am a seaman second class,’ came the reply, ‘you had still better change course 20 degrees south.’ By this time, the captain was furious. He shouted, ‘Send: “I am a battleship. Change course 20 degrees north.”’ Back came the flashing light: ‘I am a lighthouse.’ The captain changed course. (Tales for Coaching, 133)
What cannot be moved? What CAN be moved? – Answer (?)
What represents the ‘fog’ for you? How could you lift this fog? – Answer (?)
“It is easier to live through someone else than to complete yourself. The freedom to lead and plan your own life is frightening if you have never faced it before. It is frightening when a woman [editorial comment: …or man] finally realizes that there is no answer to the question ‘who am I’ except the voice inside herself.” ― Betty Friedan
What makes you unique? What does the voice inside tell you?