helpgrowchange

Violence is not the answer

Violence is not the answer.

It just isn’t.

Gain vs Loss

Thus, one gains by losing, and loses by gaining.
Lao Tzu

When I first read this paradoxical quote from the Tao Te Ching, it didn’t make sense to me at all. As I thought about it more and more, I realised…we gain when we lose, and lose when we gain. The beauty of this one line is that we gain and lose at the same time. It is the natural order of things.

Bear with me a moment…picture a glass half-filled with water. As more water is poured in (gain), it reaches the brim of the glass and the excess overflows (loss). Similarly, when water is poured out (loss), this allows more water to fill the glass (gain).

As with the glass of water, we need to be more aware of how much is in our lives (friends, hobbies, social media accounts, money) and really contemplate whether we have too much, too little, or if we’re ‘just right’.

When we take on more tasks or responsibilities at work, are we lessening the quality of work we produce? When we begin a new regular activity like a hobby or gym, are we taking time away from our partner or family? If you gain more income from your investments, are your stress levels decreasing? What about new friends (losing old ones), more clothes (less value), or a bigger house (less income)?

The list can go on and on.

Here’s a little challenge for you today, consciously think about what you’re gaining and losing. Really think about what you’re gaining and what your loss could be. It can be minuscule or life changing, either way you are gaining or losing. What are you losing when you gain that second (or third) cupcake? What are you gaining when you lose your cool with the person in front of you?

It’s hard to decide what is right or wrong here. What’s right for you might be wrong for me, so I can’t answer any of the questions I’ve asked you today. It’s up to you to ask yourself the tough questions and determine whether what you’re gaining or losing is worth it.

Stop striving and start doing

Stop trying to be a good parent, and parent your children.
Stop trying to eat healthy, and just eat healthily.
Stop trying to learn coding, and code.

Just. Stop. Striving.

And start doing.

It sounds so simple doesn’t it?

Yes. Yes, it is that simple.

Easy? Hell no. But simple nonetheless.

Every day we are striving and trying to be this or that. But we get so focussed on the trying that we don’t actually do anything.

I know it’s hard. Trust me, I feel you. I fail daily. But that’s ok because I know I’m doing what actions I can and working towards being better.

Are you ready to stop trying and start doing?

Go on, you’ll be great. 🙂

See the constant in everything

There is no discrimination when it comes to the cycles of nature. The Sun still rises every day, Winter still arrives in an icy chill, and the tide still wades in and out to its perfect timetable.

Ever notice how events seem to come in waves? There are periods of time where very little is happening, then it feels like everything is happening at the same time.

"Why is that?"

It is the constant in everything.

Everything, and I mean everything, is in a cycle of some sort. The planet is orbiting the Sun, water is constantly making its way to the ocean only to be evaporated and taken back to the mountains, we are waking up in the morning – every morning – starting a new day. We breathe in, we breathe out. Life itself is but a cycle. From the day we are born we are already on our way back to where we came from.

Within these cycles are more cycles. Constant cycles within cycles. It's all around us, constantly working.

"So life is happening. What's the big deal?"

Once we realise this and learn to accept that we're in a cycle and everything around is in constant motion, we can grasp a very important concept. No matter what we are doing or where we are, it is only temporary, and things will never stay the same.

If we're happy, sadness will come. If we're sad, happiness will find a way back. If you're sick, you will get well (unless of course your cycle of life is returning to the beginning). After your shower, you will get dirty. The fully-charged battery on your phone will run flat.

No matter what we do, we cannot stop this continuous motion, these constant cycles in our lives. We can influence and delay them, but the completion of the cycle is inevitable. It is the Way of things.

"How does this help me?"

Learn to accept that the situation you're in is only temporary. You can't control what will happen. Yes, you can adapt to certain conditions and control your own emotions and thoughts to the situation. But you cannot control the outcome – it is inevitable.

Remind yourself constantly that your situation will pass (both good and bad). Rather than try control the situation, why not live it? Be in the moment and take comfort that change is around the corner.

The effect we have

As I walked through some secondhand cigarette smoke on the way to a train station this morning, the cold air kept the smoke visible for ages after this person had exhaled. I watched as it drifted and floated. How it rolled and swerved as I moved through it.

Normally, cigarette smoke dissipates pretty quickly. This was the first time I could physically see the smoke for any decent length of time. Other than how I feel about secondhand smoke, this got me thinking about how we, as individuals, impact our environment.

We go through our lives not realising the physical effect we impress on this world because we don’t see what happens. We are so self-centered, focused on ourselves and our future that we don’t think there is a problem.

Our trash gets picked up every week, we flush our toilets, we drive our cars, we exhale cigarette smoke. All of these are examples of how we use things, then once we’re done with them, they disappear ‘somewhere’. We don’t see it anymore so it’s not our problem.

I’m guilty of this. I’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember. It’s (mostly) not our fault as we’ve only been doing what we’ve been taught.

Maybe it’s time we started to see and understand the bigger picture. Where does your rubbish end up? What’s happens to all that shit you’re flushing away (pun intended)? What effect is your secondhand smoke having on the people around you, bearing in mind you are one of hundreds of millions of other smokers exhaling their smoke into the air?

Climate Change is a massive problem and humanity has to face it otherwise we’re in big trouble. The issue is too vast to overcome with expansive agreements and contracts. Governments have been trying that for decades – with no success. This isn’t ‘somebody else’s’ problem. It’s your problem and it’s my problem.

Change begins with the smallest step, and that means each of us individually. If you make a change now and influence at least one other person, that is magnificent. Imagine if they influence one other person, and that person influences the next, and so on. Eventually, we will find ourselves in the majority, all helping each other save our planet.

What can we do about this? Well, you can start off by separating your recyclable trash, really think about your power and water usage at home – I mean really think about it. Do you need to leave the T.V. on while you’re on the other side of the house for 2 hours? Do you need to run a hot bath every night? Maybe switch to short showers on alternate days. Switch lights off if you’re not in the room. It makes a difference. Seriously.

If you’re already doing that, then try moving to compost bins for your food waste. Or look into more eco-friendly products (cleaning, hygiene, you name it, it’s out there). Think about packaging. How much of it is recyclable or reusable. It can take a bit of effort, but it’s well worth it. The more people are living environmentally friendly, the more mainstream it will become.

Remember this is our only home, and if we run it into ruin, we are fucked. What are you doing today to help humankind survive?

On changing our views

When making a statement, I think many people hold you to that statement for a long long time. Have you ever had the occasion where someone's held a gripe (or similar) with something you said 17 years ago? I have, and it sucks. Should we be held to the same views we had when we were 17, 25, 42?

No, I don't believe we should. We can't be expected to keep the same beliefs and values throughout our adult lives. We'd be stuck in the same loop the entire time, not learning anything new, not experiencing new moments, not even loving the people closest to us.

It would be a sad existence to live without change. Not just change in general, but changing the way we view our lives and ourselves. Everyday we are exposed to new information – blog articles, documentaries, stories. This new information is everywhere, and whether you like it or not, we are absorbing this information – consciously and subconsciously.

Some of this information might cause you to actively challenge your previous views. Like when I found out how sugar is in everything, it challenged my views on 'low-fat' dietary habits. Or how I used to think watching Mindless T.V. was okay.

It's okay to say you have changed your mind.

We live our lives the best we can with the knowledge we have available to us at any given time. There is no wrong in that. So when we learn something new, our views change. All that knowledge and experience over the years will change you. Maybe not drastically at first, and you may not even notice it, but you'll look back and think huh, so Terence was right, I have changed. It happens to me all the time, where I compare what I eat, think, and do with how I was a year ago, 2 years, even 7 years ago. It's amazing the difference we see when we take a little time to reflect.

It comes down to the choices you make on a daily basis. Cutting down on coffee in your day? That's a change. Going for a short run for the first time? Another change. Reading a book on parenting? You guessed it, another change.

These might not seem like big decisions or changes, but change always starts small. It's a little choice here, another over there, and before you know it, you're not drinking any coffee, you're exercising 4 times a week, and being a fair parent.

Don't be afraid to change the way you see your world. Be bold in admitting that you have changed your views. It's all about growing and changing and adapting in our world – it's made you who you are today.

All articles