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.
At first, we saw some garbage, the usual, a few discarded food containers, a coffee cup lid, carelessly dropped or lost by the inattentive visitor. Nothing that could not easily be picked up and collected in a small garbage bag later (and I generally do, because it hurts my eye more to see the garbage than it is an effort to pick it up and dispose of it in a designated spot).
It was a hot Sunday. We decided to go for a swim at a place along a river, where the water cascading over sheet rock is easy to access and not too deep.
Walking on we came across an abandoned campsite, with bottles and aluminum foil in the fire pit. Right next to it was a good sized box full of discarded packing material and bottles – the leftovers of a party. It seemed that someone had just abandoned the site and walked away that very morning. I looked around, but aside from a lone person walking along the shore in some distance (we had parked right next to his car) we were the only ones around. I pointed out to my husband that I was going to bring the box of garbage back and dispose of it.
I anticipated the wind would scatter it soon, and the rain would soak it. Then it would be much harder to clean it up next time around. My heart was full of resentment, and a fun day felt suddenly spoiled. I was at odds with the world and definitely upset with the person(s) who had left their garbage behind. While I realized that emotion, it was hard to shake it.
Regardless, we did our thing and explored the river. Eventually, the lone walker came towards us and I spoke to him. He told me that he was not from around here, and that he was camping out. Oh, I said, is that box up on the bank yours by any chance? He said that it wasn’t, but that he wanted to come back with a garbage bag and clean it up. I responded that I was going to take the box, and that he could come back with the said garbage bag and clean up the rest. He said, bless you, and that was all it took to put my world back on its hinges.
Connecting with just one like-minded person can change our world.
Sustainability- How to live happily while leaving the earth in the same or a better state than before – is what I strive for and educate people about
When I lived in the Yukon, I was given a handful of Haskap berries. I harvested the tiny seeds and started them. I planted the little plants in a raised bed. They survived winter after winter, and after a three years they produced their first fruit. When I left the Yukon, I took some seeds with me. The whole story repeated itself, and we had our first berries last summer. This summer, we have such an abundant harvest, which made me think that Haskap bushes are definitely my spirit plant:
They are easy going, produce fruit very early in the season and for an extended period, they are abundant, appreciative of what I can give them, they are decorative, and they are not of interest to little harvesters like chipmunks (strawberries don’t stand a chance against those neighbors).
What is your spirit plant? – Look around. What plants are doing well in your care or in your surroundings? Please contact me if you need more questions or a reference-guide.
When the fog is too thick for you to find your way around, your body knows where to go.
That might be a bit of a metaphorical exaggeration. Please bear with me as I unroll my thoughts:
Unfortunately, our area is currently experiencing dense smog from wildfires in this and other provinces of Canada. While we cannot really smell it (unlike yesterday, when the smell of a cold fire pit hung in the air), my chest felt heavy this morning, I felt reluctant to take a deep breath, and a headache was (and is) lingering. I pointed out to my daughter that there are people who spend their lives in conditions like this, where the air is polluted all the time. And how lucky we can be that this is only a temporary situation.
I also became aware how messages from my body – reluctant to take a deep breath – can be such a great guide, and how important it is consequently, to listen to somatic impressions.
As your coach with a strong affinity towards stewardship for our natural world I would ask you:
When do you feel your body telling you something you are not consciously aware of (yet)?
There is a very useful little exercise with which you can quickly gain (or regain) access to your somatic wisdom and your inner compass. Drop me a note if you are interested.
The snow is crunching under my feet. I breathe in while I take two steps. I breathe out while I take the next two steps. My mind chatters. I think: “In” (and take two steps), “out” (and take two steps). I let go of the thoughts that want to bubble up. “In…. out” (crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch).
Manuela Zeitlhofer | Mental Fitness and Nature Coach
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.
I work with people with a strong environmental conscience, who want to live a sustainable and responsible life without sacrificing what they love doing and thereby creating and strengthening their authentic self.
My target group feels stuck between the responsibilities of (mid-)life, while yearning for more self-determination and connectedness to the natural world and the freedom of their younger years. There might be stress, anxiety, burn-out, and other internal or external conflicts that seem daunting.
Through mental fitness training and coaching in, around and with the help of nature, I assist them in carving out time and energy to step into their full potential and experience their autonomy and authenticity. I do that by assisting them in reframing the problems into opportunities for growth.
I have a long history of living in very close proximity with nature. My background as a sociologist, a teacher, and a homesteader (always making the most of the limited means at hand), as well as my very analytical and empathic nature make me the ideal coach for my target client.
What sets me apart from others in the field: I am authentic in the way I live in and around nature embedded into our modern world. I am empathic, intuitive, and honest. I use metaphors and stories. I incorporate a systemic view in my approach, and I advocate for (and coach toward) mental fitness. And very importantly, I respect the power of the human mind.
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?
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?
Once there was a wealthy father who was concerned that a privileged upbringing might give his son a limited view of life. He decided his son needed to see how the other half lived. To do this, he asked his personal assistant to find a very poor family who would be willing to allow him and his son to visit and stay with them.
After weeks of searching she found a very poor farming family who lived in an impoverished country area and organized for her boss and his son to live with them for a couple of days and nights. At the end of the visit, as they were driving back to their expensive suburban mansion, the father asked his son, “What did you think of our stay on the farm?”
“It was great, thanks, Dad,” came the reply.
Keen to see if he had achieved the mission of his visit, the father asked, “Has it helped you to see how poor people live?”
“Sure has,” answered his son.
“Well, tell me about it. What did you learn?” enquired the father.
“I learnt,” his son responded, “that while we have a swimming pool fenced into our backyard, they have a creek with swimming holes, a Tarzan rope hanging from a tree, and rapids they ride on old car tubes.”
“We have one dog that lives in a kennel. They have four that live with them.”
“Our large house stretches almost to the borders of our small piece of land. They have a small house on open fields that stretch beyond sight.”
“Our patio looks out on a neatly mown lawn whereas they view their garden, fields, trees, and hills to the very horizon.”
“Spotlights turn our yard into day at night. They have nothing but thousands of twinkling stars to light their night.”
“We have to drive to the supermarket to buy our vegetables but they grow theirs right outside the back door.”
“We have servants to serve our meals and clean our house. They serve each other and clean up together.”
“Our property has walls that fence others out and us in. Their fences contain milking cows and woolly lambs.”
“We have security alarms, barred windows, and locks to protect us while they have family and friends to protect them.”
The father looked at his son in absolute amazement.
“Thanks Dad,” the boy added. “I never realized how poor we are.”
(101 Stories for Enhancing Happiness and Well-Being Using Metaphors, p.208)
Question: How does this metaphor compare to your perception of wealth?
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 (?)