Archive for April, 2013

Midnight Express

Balanced People Don’t Obsess.

I don’t watch much TV but last night I watched, “The Voice.” For those of you who are unaware it’s a bit like a talent quest. One performer and four judges.

In this case, all four judges passed the performer and applied to be his coach. As the performer was talking, he mentioned his struggle with depression.

Nothing special about that.

Then one coach admitted that he had struggled with depression too. Another coach admitted the same. The other two stayed quiet.

That’s 3/5 people on stage.

All of them high-performers.

I think this is indicative of all high performers. Many struggle with depression or at least OCD. How else can you explain an obsession with performance? Balanced people usually don’t obsess.

So if you typecast yourself as OCD, depressed, ADHD, bipolar, or having a psychological disorder, you are in impressive company.

And what about PTSD? A disorder arising from a trauma. Maybe if you have lived through a traumatic event, it may be just what you need to step head and shoulders above society…

To lead.

To achieve.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I think for some it should be Post Traumatic Stress Opportunity.

Remember Billy Hayes from the film, “Midnight Express?” He spent five years in a Turkish prison and the film recounted his experiences. He said that looking back it was the best thing that ever happened to him. Spending 5 years in a Turkish prison was the best thing? His comment was that he learnt things that he never would have learnt about the human condition.

It’s all about your perspective.

Get Midnight Express here

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Start with your inner circle. From there, move further out.

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The people that are closest to you are your inner circle.
This is less than 10 people … sometimes less than five.
It is only by achieving meaning with the people in your inner circle are you allowed to move to the outer circle. In much the same way as a rock hits a lake and causes ripples, the greatest impact must be on your inner circle. This will enable you to touch more people in your outer circle.
Giving meaning to those in your inner circle means making a difference.
Improving their life.
Imparting knowledge.
Being a role model.
Being a faithful friend.

I am told that if you have five people who love you at your bedside when you die, you are a success.
These five people are your inner circle. Those five are usually the ones you would die for without any thought whatsoever.
Start by saying out loud, the name of the five people in your inner circle. Say them now. You should not have to hesitate. The ones that come to mind first are the ones you would give your life to.
Say them out loud. In order.

Outside of that inner circle we can mention other people who have contact with you. They could be fellow workers, clients, customers, church members, sporting group members. The more people you can meaningfully reach in your outer circle is a measure of your career or financial success.
It’s not a requisite for happiness.

It is a fact of life that by working for a living, it means we spend most of our time with the people in our outer circle. Often customers or work colleagues. This isn’t wrong, it’s just the way the world spins.
Remember that the quality of your life is measured by the quality of the time that you have. Give me 50 great years over 100 miserable years any day.
Problem is we gotta work.
We spend 8 hours at work servicing hundreds or thousands of people.
But the one hour you spend in the day with someone from your inner circle should be the one that you put the most thought into.

Drop Falling into Water

“Parents rarely let go of their children, so children let go of them. They move on. They move away. The moments that used to define them – a mother’s approval, a father’s nod – are covered by moments of their own accomplishments. It is not until much later, as the skin sags and the heart weakens, that children understand; their stories, and all their accomplishments, sit atop the stories of their mothers and fathers, stones upon stones, beneath the waters of their lives.”
Mitch Albiom,
The Five People You Meet In Heaven

Depression is just an internal dialogue struggle.
Everyone has an internal chatter happening constantly. Those who have been struck with depression are simply experiencing a struggle with that dialogue.
So to put this in Buddhist terms, identifying and accepting that a struggle exists is half way to controlling it.
The cessation of suffering is finding an antidote for that struggle.
The remedy is to concentrate on doing things that create a positive internal dialogue.
Not in stopping the things that create a negative internal dialogue.
Take weight loss for example. To cut down on the amount you eat can not be achieved by sitting and staring at a fridge whilst thinking, “I will not eat, I will not eat.”
A new habit must be formed in its place.
It is well-documented that people who suffer from depression have a chemical imbalance. These chemicals can be replaced medically but must also be supplemented with a lifestyle change. The lifestyle change, which includes regular exercise, will change a person’s internal dialogue for the better.
This will maximise the chance of a positive outcome.

Lifestyle change.

It’s worth a shot.

I recently submitted an article about the fact that my family had a brush with death in the early 1960s.
The article entitled, “The Personal Side Of A Serial Killer” can be found at infobarrel.com.
It follows the last hanging in Western Australia.
Eric Edgar Cooke was a serial killer who was not captured for many years as his killings were random and without motive. After a killing spree he would calmly walk back into his life of being a husband and father. His family and friends knew nothing of his other side.
In 1963 he stood at the foot of my grandmother’s bed, decided not to kill her or her sister then walked outside and shot a boarder sleeping on the verandah.
He then continued his slaughter nearby.
Having said this, I need to add that Eric Edgar Cooke was a psychopath and serial killer largely because of the violence inflicted on him as a child.
His story is sad and moving.
It may be the reason behind the maniac but not the excuse.
I say this because there comes a time that you have to stop wearing your past on your shoulder. As adults we have a choice as to whether we’re going to become an extension of the trauma that we have endured or walk a different path.
Take Billy Connolly for example. His upbringing is surely a recipe for disaster. If anyone has an excuse to be violent and seek retribution on the world, Billy does.
Not so. He made a choice to forge a new path.
As an adult we have a choice how we are going to end up.
Do we let the events of the past shape us or do we define ourselves?
I say ultimate control lies deep inside of me. Not in the hands of someone who hurt me years ago.

From Trauma To Enlightenment.

It’s been 30 days since a part of my heart was replaced with a mechanism made of carbon fibre. As I sit here typing this, I can hear it click with each beat of my heart. Kids can hear it across the room and ask, “What is that sound?” Adults hearing isn’t that finely tuned as life has dulled our senses.

The clicking is a constant reminder of an event 30 days ago.

For the surgeon it was just another day at the office. He has done over 4000 of these operations. But when you are on the receiving end, it is traumatic to say the least.
To begin with, my sternum was cut from top to bottom and pulled open for 4 hours. All this so the surgeon could get his hands in.
After the repairs are done, they wire your sternum back again and stitch you up.
I explain this as a precursor to my real point. I’ve never been happier.
The peace of mind is not because of the extension to my lifespan I’ve been given.
It’s the perspective I’ve been given.
So yes, your difficulties transport you to the next level in life. They are an elevator to the next floor that has a better view.
And the view is pretty good from where I sit now.

It’s obvious that trauma causes enlightenment. But is enlightenment possible without the trauma?
Surely from where I sit, I should be able to direct other people towards enlightenment so that they avoid the trauma.
Not possible.
So those of us who have experienced the trauma, sit here and wait for others to join us. To join the brotherhood. To shake their hand and express our happiness at their arrival. We quietly look on as others bounce from one diversion to another. Chasing the very thing that prevents the happiness that they so passionately and urgently seek.
It’s only when the person exhausts all the energy through chasing these opportunities that they finally sit down and see the comfort that was at their feet anyway. Like the student of Zen who is confounded by an unanswerable question. His mind pushes him so far around the bend, that he meets himself on the way back.
The Zen master watches patiently, occasionally hitting the student with a stick to jolt him out of his present way of thinking. The timing of the hit with the stick is critical.

There is a little known Zen story of a master and a student walking in the dark. The master hands the student a candle so he can make his way home. As the student accepts the candle, the master blows it out.
In that moment, the student achieves enlightenment.
He is still in the dark but achieves acceptance of the situation.

Life is good.
06 3 days later