What Will Keep Us Happy? Real Expectations

November 17, 2010 by  
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I think a major frustration many people feel as they jump into the self-help book, workshop, lecture world, is from the misguided idea once we do “this or that” we will be happy ever after. It’s like all of a sudden we are bad math students in search of final answers to problems.  I say bad math students because a true visionary knows our understanding of the universe is interconnected and always evolving.

What we often do is, one day we realize we need to work on some specific issue about our behavior that is creating chaos and pain in our lives.

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What About Self-Help?

May 18, 2010 by  
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EYE-4Just read an article by Deepak Chopra (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deepak-chopra/when-you-help-yourself-wh_b_578892.html).  It’s a good post about self-help really being about self-discovery if it is to have lasting changes.

What he left out is that self-help is really an American phenomenon.  Somehow we have developed a society that needs to read about, having sex, loving, being in a relationship, being happier, finding ourselves etc. instead of just being.  Why is that?

I think one of the answers is our values as a society, families, and individuals.  In the United States we live under constant pressure to work and to succeed while the rest of the world uses work as a means to have more fun. To us work is an end unto itself and success defines us.  The result is that more and more we live in our own world of trying to succeed and less and less in actually living.  And we are in a hurry, so we want immediate answers.

We want to have good sex now.  So instead of communicating with our partners, spending the time to actually enjoy the intimacy, we read books that give us step by step ways to have better sex.

We want a better relationship now.  So instead of giving the time and attention a relationship needs we read a manual on how to make it better.  We don’t have the time to just be.

I’m not ditching self-help books but am saying the answer, as Mr. Chopra has written, lays within us.  It also lays in the way we live our lives, and in the ways we have constructed our societal set of values.

Work and technology are tools to allow us to have better relationships with others and ourselves.  Not the other way around.  So if we really want to have better sex, relationships, lives, we need first to set our priorities straight.  Once we do that, we are set to take the voyage of self knowledge and most likely will not need any self-help books.


Shit Happens

September 4, 2009 by  
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My husband used to tell me all the time that I have no patience.  He always said: “you just did such and such, give it time.”

I’m always in a hurry.  I do something and I want to see results.  Maybe that’s why when I first landed in NYC at age eighteen, I felt like I was home.  Everything moved fast and I liked it.

Years later I realize that life is not about ten minutes to a better body or ten ways to feel happier.  Even though I still want things to happen fast I know there is no absolute happiness and there is no absolute anything and the world has its own clock.

There are so many self-help books and doctrines that tell us if we think positive thoughts all the time we will get everything that we want.  What a disservice to mankind!

I know most of these authors are after big sales of books, DVDs, etc. and they understand the American psyche – get it done and get it done fast – but the truth is no matter how many stickers you place on your bathroom mirror or on your closet door saying how wonderful you are, shit happens.  The reason is simple: everything and everyone in this planet has a goal and a mission and sometimes we are not all in synch and we definitely don’t all want Shangri-La.  People die, markets crash, and poverty exits.  It’s out of our control. 

What we do have control over is how we handle and appreciate life.  There are many gifts and opportunities that present themselves to us every day that if we weren’t so busy going after our lofty goals we might just draw and receive a lot of satisfaction out of them.

So while I don’t believe in ten steps to anything, I do believe in the small gifts.  I believe in slowing down and appreciating a friend’s phone call, a beautiful sky, a smiling face, a dog or a cat giving a loving lick. Silly? Don’t mock it till you try it.

I believe in picking goals that I’m passionate about so that when the obstacles come, and they will, I’ll have enough passion to keep going. 

I believe in looking at a situation from different perspectives and choosing the most positive angle to move forward.

And I believe in honesty.  What a relief to be able to share how I truly think and feel without being worried how others will think and see me.

A friend, whose husband passed away from cancer, made a documentary about her husband and a number of other people going through the process of being diagnosed, treated and eventually dying of cancer.

Of all the people she followed a particular woman’s story stuck in my head because she said she felt she had failed because there were so many books about positive thinking and the connection between sickness and frame of mind that she felt that she was responsible for her own cancer and her own inability to cure herself.  So in essence she was guilty of her death and the pain it brought to her family.  Her testimony broke my heart.  I wished I could have reached out to her through my TV set, where I was watching the documentary, to cradle this woman and to tell her it was not her fault. That the world was a noisy and complicated place where her positive thinking had only domain and control over how she felt and dealt with things but not how they eventually turned out.

I have done a lot of “soul searching” in the last few years of my life.  Not because I chose to but because I had to and I concluded that McDonald’s does not work as a meal and it does not work as a life style.  Slowing down and appreciating the daily things is what gives us power and strength to move forward, because the small, every day things are beautiful.

I have also concluded that again shit happens and after shit happens something else will happen.  It is up to us to navigate the ups and downs in the best way we can.

So don’t feel discourage if after following 10 days to a better anything you still feel the same, because the truth is there is no absolute and you and I will have plenty of crying to do before our time is up.  But we’ll also have plenty of laughter.  So let’s shift our focus to the laughing periods and when the crying periods come we will have our laughter stored up to help us navigate the difficult times.