Posts Tagged ‘action’

 

Choosing a surfboard for a wave in a river is difficult.

As a river is freshwater it is not as buoyant as seawater. A surfer needs more foam underneath him to keep him moving. This newly made surfboard was now sitting in the cargo area of a plane flight that had just delivered me to São Luis, a town near the banks of the mouth of the Amazon river. Although the exact time of the wave’s arrival was known, 7 AM on Saturday, exactly how it would break was not known. We would have to travel up river the day before with a stick to test the depth as the sand bar shifts as the river curves through the Amazon jungle.

The adrenaline was pumping and I was full of the wonder of being in a new country and preparing myself for the experience of a lifetime. Even though I didn’t speak the language I was learning Portuguese
bit by bit. One conversation I will never forget. As we were moving up river in the early morning before the wave, one of the tour guides taps me on the shoulder and points to the river bank and says ‘Jacare’. I followed his direction to a three meter crocodile lying on the muddy bank. My eyes open wide. I turn to him. All that comes out of my mouth is, “Crocodile”.

He smiles and looks at me nodding and repeats, “Crocodile”.

Even thought the wave is due at 7am, we can hear it at 6.45am. Standing knee deep in mud on the banks of a river, waiting for a wave is not something you would expect on a Saturday morning.

The surreal nature of surfing in a river with crocodiles, piranha and anaconda hit me full force. You see, it’s not the experiences we have in life that changes us. It is the moments in between the experiences when things sink in. Therapists call them ‘teachable moments’. Only problem is that they usually occur when there is not a therapist in sight. That leaves just one person to make sense of it. You.

The wave itself is a sight that leaves even the tour guides initially speechless. The water is the colour of iced coffee. Branches and debris are pushed in front of the wave making it twice as hard for the surfer to negotiate his line.

In the event of falling off, I am instructed to wave my board over my head as the Jacare may wander over to see this new Australian addition to their menu.

The wave lasts about 2 hours. It is rideable most of that time which means the time you stand on your board – when added up – means you surf for nearly an hour. This probably equates to a 10 kilometre wave. A novice could learn to surf in just one wave.

At one stage we are told to get in the boat as we have to negotiate around a whirlpool that has developed on the bend of the river. A whirlpool? No one told me about that.

I ride the wave past towns and local people who have lined up on the bank to see the twice yearly sight. I lift my hand above my head to wave. They wave back. I surf on. They return to their lives.

Rising early

Final part comes out tomorrow…

“Learning is to a man as the leaves and branches are to a tree, and it should be said that he simply should not be without it.” So said Takeda Shingen, one of Japan’s best known generals who lived in the 1500’s. At age 52 he was hit by a bullet and died, but not before his legacy of knowledge had been recorded for all those who wished to see what a life of warfare had taught.

So it seems that a warrior can steel himself for battle not only by hard physical training but also by improving his academic abilities. If this logic holds, we can therefore create a life that rewards us more by following the same path. We can create happiness more easily than by just ‘trying harder’ – as our well meaning friends and relatives urge. If we research and see how others have dealt with difficulty, we find the same thing. Not only does it transport us to a higher level, we actually feel less alone. We realise that others who have come before us have also struggled (sometimes more than we have.) Our pain becomes more palatable purely through comparison with the trauma of others.

The question now becomes where do we look for guidance?

If the Samurai looked to the victors of the past, so should we. We should look to those who have left a record of actions that created a fulfilling life. Surely someone else has met with similar difficulty and has triumphed through a series of actions that will allow us to experience similar results.

The Samurai knew that attention to detail on a daily basis would lead to victory in a range of activities. They would not miss their regular training as they knew that hardening their resolve in battle came through defeating common human weaknesses. They knew that each time they didn’t attend to trivial household duties left them with the knowledge that they had chipped away at their level of discipline.

‘A nine storey tower begins with the foundation’ is a saying accredited to the ancient Samurai. In this same way, our foundation of attention to seemingly little things is the foundation upon which we build a character strong enough to withstand anxiety, panic, despondency and depression.

Quite often this can be as simple as rising earlier than normal and getting organised. It can then be improved upon by a short period of reading every day. Reading for a small period of time every day will bring about more emotional intelligence than 10 hours of last minute research when confronted with psychological pain.

At that point, it is often too late.

Rising early

Justin is 54. When he was 12 years of age he started competitive swimming. This lasted throughout his teens. Five days a week, up at 5 AM to do an hour in the pool.

You remember those kids. Wet hair at school at 8:30am.

When Justin’s competitive years finished in his late teens he kept up the early morning ritual. He still does it today.

He says that the early morning ritual sets him up physically and mentally for the rest of the day.

The point is not that swimming is the answer. The point is that the ritual is the answer.

A Ritual Gives You Perspective.

Ever notice that you can see things clearly when you are distant from them? Holidays in remote locations give us the clarity that is absent when we are in the thick of things. Early morning rituals provide a snapshot and the same result.

But perspective of what? It is sometimes called a helicopter to the ceiling. It means separating yourself from your day to day life and stepping back.

Leadership

Psycho hygiene.

Victor Frankl, author of  “Man’s Search For Meaning” talks about psycho hygiene. As author of one of the most interesting books around which is an account of his experiences in a Nazi concentration camp, Frankl coins the term psycho hygiene. As we all know, physical hygiene means small things done on a daily basis to contribute to glowing health. Psycho hygiene would therefore mean the same thing. Small things done on a regular basis that contribute to good mental health. A good routine every morning is one of the many things that contribute to solid mental health.

Mine is simple. Meditation, Goal writing in a journal and 15 minutes on a personal project. (The actual project isn’t important)

That’s it.

Simple and effective.

Keeps me balanced and happy.

Not ‘Funny Ha Ha’… but ‘Funny Strange’.

Example:
When your life is in danger you will do anything to avoid the impending trauma.
But in the absence of a threat, we question what it’s all for.

Confused? Me too.

Enter Kevin Briggs, a California law enforcement officer whose beat covers The Golden Gate bridge. Kevin has talked to hundreds of people as they stood looking down at the water 245 feet (75 metres) below, ready to jump. His estimations are that he has dissuaded over 200 people from the suicidal leap. Of those that did and survived (low percentage) they all said that the moment they jumped, they wish they hadn’t. THAT doesn’t make sense.

More than 1,400 people have jumped off the bridge since it opened in 1937 with only 2% surviving the fall and of that small slice only 4% were able to walk again, according to the Golden Gate Bridge transit district.

Sometimes we need to turn to a professional to get some perspective when grappling with some of life’s deep questions. So let’s get some advice from Mr. Victor Frankl, a trained Psychologist and Neurologist who happened to live in Austria during the 2nd World War and was sent to Auschwitz concentration camp. When the average life span of a concentration camp detainee was somewhere between 3 weeks and 3 months, Mr. Frankl survived 3 years.
As a trained psychologist, his assessment of those that died and those that lived made him realise happiness is not the key. Meaning is. Those that find meaning for their existence are much better off than those that chase happiness.
His theory is called Logotherapy where meaning is the ‘primary motivational force in life’.

Aaah, now that is starting to make sense.

So let’s look at the meaning that others have found. Here are 5 examples of people who found a cause that drives them:
1) Adam Braun – Adam started Pencils of Promise where he builds schools for impoverished kids in third world countries.
2) Sam Kahamba Kutesa – This year Sam was elected President of the United Nations General Assembly’s sixty-ninth session. His vision of our world is far greater than any of our day to day headaches.
3) Al Gore – Mr Gore lost the US Presidential election but then went on to become the world’s foremost speaker on climate change. Instead of reflecting on his losses, he focussed on the job he had in front of him.
4) David Bryant – After retirement as a teacher and school principal, David found himself directionless. Shortly after he volunteered for a position teaching poor children in the Maldives. His passion for giving came back in an instant and at an age when others slow down, David is travelling and making a difference.
5) Team Hoyt – Fathering a cerebral palsy child is enough to give anyone meaning in their life. But Dick Hoyt motivates thousands if not millions of athletes by pushing or towing his son in countless triathlons and marathons. He says that his son Rick’s smile as they cross the finish line gives him motivation every day.

What next?

Search. Search for something that keeps you awake at night.
Something that will have you up at 5 in the morning motivated to make a difference.
Find a cause that upsets you.
Or one that fires you up.
Then find out how to act.
Then, commit.
__________________

Get Victor Frankl’s Book by clicking on this link: Man’s Search for Meaning, Gift Edition

In Thaiboxing, the brutal national sport of Thailand, fighters fight full contact for 5 x 3 minute rounds. Blood is plentiful. Knockouts a regular event. Lots of money and bright futures for the winners.

Now an interesting phenomenon happens in the last round when a fight is one-sided. Quite often the winner will stay stay away from the loser saving them both injury. They’ve effectively “give up the fight” knowing the end is near and the result obvious. Plus they want to fight again the next week.

Pretty logical.

So is it giving up when the end is in sight and the result is obvious? Is that what Robin Williams did? Was it as rational as the action of the Thai fighter?

(more…)

I have created this list as a result of looking at several lives that were wasted.

Lives that ended in suicide.

In the days after, there were signs that the person had given up. It is a sad and traumatic experience to go through a person’s room after they made the final heart-breaking choice.
However we can learn from what we see.

There are signs.

A bed unmade.
Dishes not done.
Jobs unfinished.

It is logical to think that if you don’t let the signs appear in the first place, you can avoid the result.
If you look around you and all is well, you will feel well.
If you look around you and all is in disarray and untidy, all will seem pointless.

A list to avoid depression…
Firstly, clean your house.
Then…
1 Have a job
2 Have friends of both sexes
3 Meditate
4 Volunteer to help the poor or disabled
5 Eat well
6 Fake being happy
7 Read
8 Exercise every day
9 Walk
10 Car pool to work

Action first.
Feel better second.

Guaranteed.

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