Posts Tagged ‘peace’

I sit here at 7:30 PM, at the table eating dinner by myself.
For this blog, I usually commit my thoughts to paper and talk about our attitude to the world. Change that, MY attitude to the world.
But my writing tonight concerns the life of a child in another part of the world. I haven’t met him or her yet. But I am about to change his/her life.

You see, I have created a system in my business that contributes a specific percentage of income to World Vision. Every time our client base grows by 10 people, we sponsor another child. The difference this time is that my current clients are choosing the next child.
Funny thing is, they are struggling.
They are realising that you can’t help everyone. For every child that you help, there are dozens that you can’t. Dozens of faces staring back at you from their website, dozens that will stay outside your reach.

So I sit here, sharing this dilemma with you. I have announced to the customers I have that at 9 PM I will make a choice.
Right now, I look over the list of suggestions. One lady has chosen a child because that child has the same birthday as her son. Another has chosen a child in Sri Lanka because she travelled there. Others have forwarded names of children all over the world for reasons not shared with me.

Before I sit down and make my final choice, I wish to share how this all came about.
I once read that for a person to be truly compassionate about others, they should give a percentage of their income to charity every month. The amount offered in that book was 10%. This prompted me to find my percentage. At that time, as a family, we had 2 World Vision children. That amounted to 1% of our income on a monthly basis. As I live in one of the most affluent countries in the world, my level of giving shamed me.
At 9pm, that number should move to approximately 3%.
Still not much.
But better than most.

Finally, I am reminded by writing about this, the story of a man’s experience walking along a beach. Strewn across the sand, were thousands of starfish that had washed up and were slowly drying out and dying in the sun. The beach stretched on and on. Just ahead of him he noticed a small boy picking up one starfish at a time, carefully tossing it into the ocean. The man reached the boy and asked what he was doing.
“I’m saving these starfish”, was the reply.
The man queried, “There are thousands of them. How can you possibly make a difference?”
The small boy bent over, picked up a starfish and tossed it into the ocean.
“I bet I made a difference to that one”, he replied.

Many kids will not receive my money tonight.
But one will.

If the destination isn’t clear, why start walking?
Problem is that sometimes the destination doesn’t become clear until after you start walking. It’s all about perspective.
When I wrote my blog about the meaning in life it was really supposed to be about what was going on inside of me. Since then, I have had many replies and comments. All of them remarked that it was an opinion that they share. That it was about them. The internal dialogue that I talked about seems to be the common thread that links us all. Makes us human.

Apparently the trait that separates us as humans from animals is to do with thinking. Animals think and we think. The difference is that we know we are thinking.
(Or so we suspect. Maybe they are just keeping quiet.)
So it’s control over our thoughts that is the key.

Our happiness, suffering, contentment, struggles, calmness and upsets are more to do with how we process events than the actual event.
This means the millionaire and the homeless man are both the same.
Its more about their enjoyment of where they are right now. That is all.

Old head on young shoulders?
When I was in my 20s I was a fitness instructor. One client I met was in his 70s and had a triple bypass operation. I was worried about how hard to push him and expected to see a decrepit old man. Old he was.
Decrepit? Far from it.
He bound down the hallway towards me and stuck out his hand. “G’day young fella”, was his jovial greeting.
Even then, my young brain surging with testosterone and ego, registered that here was someone who was happy in his own skin. Happier than me. Like he knew something I didn’t.
Well, 30 years has passed. I’ve had sporting success, marriage, fatherhood, divorce, business success, depression and many other excitements have passed. I’ve even had open heart surgery myself. How would I tell myself 30 years ago what I know now? What could I say to make a difference in my young life? What could I say to make a difference in your life?
Only one thing. There’s more to it than what you are experiencing right now.
Much more.
Knowing this – and that all situations and feelings pass – gives us contentment.
Best of luck to you.

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Change or be changed

Hot day today in Western Australia.

Plus a super storm also ripped through the Philippines.

It seems that the small things we did for the last few decades (at least) have had a profound effect on our life today. With global warming now an obvious fact, we are looking to the things that we can do today that will make a difference in the future.

Problem is, the changes we make today will have no effect tomorrow. We act now and nothing changes. We may even be worse off. It’s still hot in the frying pan.

It will take daily effort … for decades … to cause a turnaround.

Drop Falling into Water

The same applies for any negative situation in your life. Any emotion that you are experiencing today took years for it to become an automatic response. It probably made sense in the beginning. You were hungry so you cried and were fed. Seems easy. Next time you are hungry, you know what to do.

Comes a time though that the old tricks don’t work. You see many years of small decisions created your current situation. Finances, your circle of friends, your intelligence … everything. Problem is, any small changes you make today will have minimal effect tomorrow. The reward will gradually materialise over the long term. So why do some realise this and not others? Or closer to the point, why do I realise this sometimes and not other times.

Recently I wrote about the habits of the extremely successful. Little things done daily that the majority of people dream up excuses for. Success came to those who faced these daily decisions and triumphed over them. Staying strong in the face of laziness and apathy.

So now you know. If you want to change something about yourself it takes a small action repeated every day. That’s all. Just do it. (That seemed to be easy to say)

Back to global warming. Small acts repeated regularly bring dramatic change in the long run. That’s what it takes. Appropriate day today as it is the National Day of Climate Action as organised by activist groups including GetUp, the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and the Australian Conservation Foundation.

Big ideas over time are created by many, many repeated acts. Whether you like it or not.

Change or be changed.

The more I think about the stages of life, the more I realise no stage lasts forever. Change is constant … as they say. And that is good.

Here is a conversation that demonstrates the point. It was supposed to be about martial arts but it ended up being about life. In martial arts a student is confronted with highs and lows. At times the feeling is that they are actually getting worse. But each low creates the platform for the next level. Once the student realises that, he or she relaxes and understands it is a necessary stage of development. That is why the martial arts is split up into three stages – physical, mental and then spiritual. You work through the physical stage to become mentally stronger and finally spiritually calmer.

Trauma tends to have that effect on us.

Stages in life

“Surely this patch will finish soon”

It will. They always do.

“That’s a bit negative.”

It’s not meant to be negative, or positive. The truth is just meant to be the truth. It just enables you to breathe and be calm at this stage.

“But you don’t know what stage I’m in. And how long it will last for!”

I don’t need to. It’s a stage. It’s not meant to be permanent. That’s the definition of a stage. It’s transitional.

The funny thing is that each stage is meant to teach a lesson. If you don’t learn the lesson you will find yourself visiting the stage again later.

“So I have to beat it. Like in a game?”

It’s not about defeating something or being defeated. There is not you and the game. There is not you and the enemy. There is just you. You are the game. You are the situation. If you fight it, you are fighting yourself.
The idea is to step back from your emotions and see it for what it is. If you get angry, you block the message.

“Oh. Sort of being my own worst enemy.”

Not really. If you think ‘enemy’ you set up two sides within yourself. Think of the word ‘understanding.’ It’s about gaining an understanding of things.

“But if I think of all things and me as being two separate ideas isn’t that the wrong outlook? Shouldn’t I think of all things – the world – being a part of me? Sort of… the inner world and the outer world is still my world. If I think of it this way, if I think of controlling my inner world, I can change my outer world.

You will make a great teacher.

“No. I struggle too much.”

That’s what makes a great teacher. The struggle is a necessary stage.

As we become settled in our surroundings, we look to change.
My daughter told me today that she never seems to be content with what she is doing, or what she has.
“Situation normal”, I reply.
“That’s no help”, she thinks.

Acceptance is one thing. Becoming comfortable with difficulty, and letting it go, is another.

At 18 years of age she is a great example of what I felt at 18. At 50 I haven’t changed, except I have accepted this is a normal thought process. The trick is to keep striving but be happy with what you have now.

Let’s look at another culture as I am looking through Western eyes.
It seems to me that calmness has been in other cultures for thousands of years.
Buddhists have always reminded themselves that true happiness lies in acceptance of your current situation.
This doesn’t mean you don’t strive for improvement.
It also doesn’t mean pain goes away. It just means the Buddhist accepts.

Japanese martial arts aims for acceptance too. To totally focus on the situation at hand. To deal with a life threatening situation without fear. The Samurai looked to Buddhist philosophies to help them deal with an acceptance of death.
Again from Japan, the Tea Ceremony stipulates careful action, focus on breathing and intense concentration on the current move.
A famous book on Archery was entitled, ” One Breath, One Life”.
The release of the arrow symbolised the life of the target, and the life of the archer.

As Westerners we need to embrace this idea to help us stay grounded, and calm.

Your next step, is … actually … your next step.

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I’ve been reading what other bloggers have to say about depression. It’s enough to make you depressed.

I must admit, I do believe in looking at your dark side to get a handle on it. To understand the beast. But as my last counselor said, “There comes a time when you can look at the pain for too long.” (It took me 5 counselors to find one that suited me)

So now I have decided to share some notes with you. They are my thoughts from the Intensive Care Unit just after heart surgery. A pretty serious place. Lights are on 24 hours a day. There is a nurse by your bedside non-stop. Her job is to look after and watch you, no one else. You are completely vulnerable and at the mercy of another human being. Coming from a guy who has always tried to avoid depending on others, it’s a new experience.

But an N.D.E. (Near Death Experience) is something completely out of left field for most of us. A brand new perspective. A helicopter to the ceiling of your life for a brief moment.

Oh, one thing I want to share. I was looking forward to the operation as my heart was going to be unplugged for about three hours. Blood transported around my body via a machine. Breathing thanks to a ventilator. So really I was clinically dead.

My big thought was, ” Would I see a light at the end of a tunnel?” “Would I see dead people?” “Would I look down on the operating table and see myself?”

I remember being wheeled into the operating theater a little drowsy, but looking forward to what would happen next.

I closed my eyes. “Here it comes”, I thought.

Then I opened them.

It was the next day.

Nothing.

Oblivion.

Sorry I don’t have something interesting to say. But my experience was zip.

I only have my thoughts as a result of this event. After passing through ICU with 60, 70 and 80 year olds, I wrote some words down to share with friends. Here they are:

This is Sean. 
Thank you all for the support every time my wife has posted a pic …. now you have all seen me in a sexy backless gown. 

The surgeon has said the operation went well … but he wasn’t on the receiving end. He didn’t have his sternum split open and heart operated on. (Did I ask for a photo? Yes. Did he take one? Yes. Classic!)

I have had three rough days and now will be in the cardiac ward at the hospital till Friday. 

Life experiences like this are very effective in that they give you perspective. You very quickly realise what is important and what is not. 
Each time there are likes, I scroll down, read each name and think of each person. 

Remember you touch many people in your life. You may not see some of them often but it doesn’t mean you haven’t made an impact. 

Thank you again to you all but especially to my close friends, Mum, Dad, my kids and to my wife, the rose amongst the thorns. 
The road was smoother because of you.

So it seems having a brush with death is good for you. It puts daily let-downs into perspective. You appreciate everything more. The challenge now is for me to share these insights with those of you who are struggling in the hope that it will provide a much needed safety net.

By sharing it is my way of showing that you are not alone.

(Posts from Cardiac Ward to follow)