Monday, November 25, 2013

Russell Brand

 
One of the most remarkable speakers of our time.  So much of what he says about humanity, culture, spirituality rings true for me.  Plus he is super *hot*.

Here are a few notes from a vid montage that I just watched:
  • I don't want that feeling in my stomach that I get when I know that people are being exploited.
  • We live in the realm of the senses.  But reality is beyond what we feel, hear, smell, touch, see (e.g. we can only hear within a certain decibel range, see within a certain spectrum of light); what if there are only energies out there that we are oblivious to?
  • we are just a blob of atoms within infinite space and eternal time; the physical body is not who we are
  • when we fill our head with superficial information (e.g. celebrity gossip) we forget about what's important
  • look within for the divine -- there is limitless potential for bliss through connection to other things
  • we overemphasize the individual: our culture promotes and rewards primal desires (greed, selfishness, lust)  which cause us to exist in opposition to each other and leave us exploitable by corporations
  • the self is a temporal illusion; by focusing on our individualism (which is transitory) we are losing the empathetic connection we have to the earth and to all living things
  • what's important are the things we all share -- love, unity, togetherness
  • I'm happy when I'm being nice to other people
  • the centre of your being is love, compassion, tolerance
So inspiring.  We all have the capacity for good and evil.  When I'm behaving selfishly (as I have been recently), I'm not only hurting other people, I'm hurting myself.  What I want most in life is inner peace which comes from compassion and love.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

My kind of XMas

I'm trying to keep XMas stress at bay but can feel it slowly creeping into my psyche.  I think the problem is that my behaviour is in conflict with my desires.  I'd love to finally simplify by NOT:
  • entertaining so much
  • buying too many presents
  • over-planning
  • baking/eating so much crap

I' also not living in the present right now, which is something I've decided I must practice in order to find inner-peace.  Building up one measly day of the year will surely result in disappointment. And I'm passing this on to my kids as well.

As I unpacked the tree this afternoon, I couldn't help but feel that it was only yesterday when I tore it down.  And it's always the same every year.  The same gluttony, debt, and more gluttony.

But then there's the kids ... and the happy XMas morning I want to create for them.  But what about the consumerism and buyers remorse?  And the extra pounds?  And all the crap toys that invade what precious empty space I have left in my house? I used to get on my parents case for not putting up their tree after my sister and I moved out.  I finally get it!  I am there.  How nice it would be to just ignore XMas altogether.  Or at least tone it WAY down.  We don't talk about or do anything to plan for XMas until one week before.  Each person gets only ONE gift.  We eat a nice meal together and eat ONE decadent dessert and we do ONE outdoor activity as a family.  And everything goes back to normal the next day.  Now, that's my kind of XMas.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Self Worth

 
Just read this in a blog post (have already lost the link) -- is definitely worth jotting down:

"Self worth comes from who you are internally and not from how other people treat you externally."

A great example of this is doing what you think is right because it will please others.  I'm not talking about servicing others, but instead trying to win their approval.  I still do this.  My manager is not going to give me a gold star, my kids are not going to tell me I've done a 'good job!' and my partner is not going to buy me flowers for every thing I'm supposed to do as a mother and partner.

Decide your own worth for yourself, don't let other people tell you how much you’re worth. It’s called self worth after all,  not others worth.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Parenting, the Panacea

Today, I heard myself say that my parenting is the root cause for my children's behaviour -- both now and in the future.  And my friend kind of just looked like me like I was nuts.  And he's right.  Whoa.  I've taken my parenting role WAY too seriously all these years.  I have a job to do, yes.  And how I treat my kids will definitely influence how they treat themselves and others.  But there are many more factors beyond my parenting that will guide their behaviour -- peers, spouses, opportunities, personality, education, genes, etc. 

I have gotten way too big for my britches.  In fact I am setting myself up for failure here.  Because I feel responsible for their behaviour (rather than realizing that as independent people they are the ones who are responsible for their own behaviour),  I will be devastated and feel like I have failed as a parent, when they fall.  And yes, they will fall from time to time. Jesus, how did this happen?

For starters, I blame and judge too much.  When another kid misbehaves, I blame it on bad parenting.  When my own kid can't control her anger, I try to think of ways I can fix that.  When I feel my own neurosis creeping up, I blame my own parents instead of taking responsibility.  Ugh, this is ugly!

My friend helped me realize that most of how we act as parents comes from emotion, not parenting text books.  And my best parenting is simply setting a good example and loving my children unconditionally.  "I get you and I love you for who you are, not what you do". And guess what?  Most parents do JUST that, regardless of what techniques they use to parent.

How humbling this was to realize that I had inadvertently created a mega-identity for myself.  Time to downplay Diane, the Mom and start being just me, for everyone's sake.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Married men who lust after other women

 
It's by no ways a revelation that men lust after women.  However I'm starting to see it more with men I know who have been married for 10+ years.  I was at a party recently where the alcohol was flowing freely and people were having a great time.  Guys I knew, who were at the party with their wives in fact, started to hit on me.  Granted, booze makes you lose inhibitions and I was probably giving off some crazy alcohol-induced 'come f-me vibes' .  But the whole experience was bizarre for me because it was clear that these guys were not planning on taking me home.  I'm sure there was a lot of crazy forbidden stuff going on in their minds.  But I know these men -- they were not looking to have an affair.  So why flirt when you know it can't go anywhere?  I started to think that perhaps the reason behind their behaviour was that they were starved for attention. Even though their wives were incredible women (and some of them were super hot themselves), and their marriages very strong, these men still wanted to be noticed and appreciated by other women.
 
In the past I would misinterpret this kind of interest by assuming it was 'me' they were interested in.  Sadly, it has very little to do with the other person.  It's about feeling good again.  The charge you get when someone different laughs at your jokes, recognizes your insight or notices your biceps.  This is what most men enjoy.  Their marriages are still sacred and their loyalty unbreakable.  Flirting does not in anyway change how much they love their wives. 

So now when a married man flirts with me I understand that it doesn't mean that they are at all interested in me or more importantly, interested in messing up their life.  They are interested in me giving them some attention.  Sad and pathetic, yes.  Women are likely doing the same thing but for different reasons.  At least now I know.  And knowing is what keeps me grounded.

Is the Internet making us smarter or stupider (yes, it is a word)

 
A great debate on Q today - how I love to listen to experts speak!  Great points on both sides of the debate some of which are worth noting:

Stupider:
  1. we have a much shorter attention span now
  2. we've lost the ability to recall facts because all known thought is just one click away
  3. we don't get exposed to opposing viewpoints because we tend to read content (and follow others) who have similar views (confirmation bias)
  4. we don't take the time required for reflective thought (which is the basis for wisdom) because we are too busy amassing tid bits of information
  5. we don't realize how much misinformation there is online
  6. we gravitate to the trivial because its lure is very powerful
Smarter:
  1. we have access to the world's collective knowledge
  2. we are actively sharing knowlege rather than being passive -- that is we can now participate in the dialog
  3. we can form deeper connections with others because we know more about them over time -- their thoughts, interests, views, etc.
I still have more of the debate to listen to.  In the meantime it's got me thinking of my own growth.  Ten years ago I rarely read.  And today I am constantly reading.  Granted, most of it is online content, but I find that because of that, my interests have expanded and it's truly enriched my life. I feel like my conversations are more meaningful and my ability to relate to other ppl's interests has greatly improved, thanks to the Internet.  And it turns out that meaningful conversations are a great source of happiness for most people, including myself!

Some insight to add from two of my friends who are deep thinkers.  Regarding the above points:

3. confirmation bias is easier, but we've always done it. Think of how we read newspapers -- rarely start to finish -- we naturally gravitate to what interests us.  Plus most of it doesn't even stick.  In the same way that we're not likely to make friends with people who have opposing political interests in person, we probably won't friend them on FB either.  This hasn't really changed because of the Internet.  Of course you can create a much bigger echo chamber for yourself on social media.  And that's certainly something you need to be conscious of because you are limiting your view of the world and opportunity for growth
4. the Internet did not cause the decline in wisdom:  Most people just don't make time for reflective thought, probably because their minds are too pre-occupied with activities and noise and this has been going on well before the Internet.  I agree that very few people are big revolutionary thinkers.  But how many more thinkers could there be, were their minds not filled with meaningless dribble?
5. there's always been misinformation; every study is in some way flawed, be it the sample size or composition, the research methodology, the conclusions ... research can prove anything.  The Internet has not changed that.

Some other points from my friends:
1. Were it not for the Internet, how would we be spending our time?  Is the lure of the Internet so powerful that it's taken time away from activities that make us smarter, such as reading?  I guess it depends on what you are doing online.  Looking at cat vids, spreading celebrity gossip, filling your head with factoids, surfing porn?
2. Most people's online behaviour is moderate.  The majority of my FB friends don't share their emotions. I know that I feel uncomfortable about sharing my moments of happiness, lest it be perceived as Bragbook.  Nor do I like to see myself complaining or venting too much -- I'm just polluting other people's space with my negativity.  So what's left?  Sharing a bit of humour, insight and interest -- the best parts of myself and of my friends.

Ahhhh, I loved this discussion today.  Didn't really reach any conclusions, but the discussion helped me see things differently.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Rihanna



I was reminded today of a time long ago when I first met D.  We had gone out for drinks as a gang after volleyball one night.  I was the only girl at the table and didn't really know anyone except the guy who had invited me out to play, Ryan.  Ryan was kind of cute and somewhat quirky.  I could tell that he was into me, but I wasn't sure how I felt about him yet.  Another guy, D, sat across the table and started asking me questions about myself.  I thought it very polite of him to try and strike up a conversation with me, but felt more comfortable talking to Ryan as well since we had already gone out on a couple of dates.  As we were deciding what to drink, our waitress showed up at our table wearing a very skimpy outfit, with tassels and a cowboy hat.  She was super cute and friendly.  She immediately commanded the attention of all the guys at our table, including Ryan who completely forgot about me and started shamelessly flirting with her.  She told us that her name was Rihanna -- her parents were big Fleetwood Mac fans -- you know, hippies (that's how young she was).  I remember feeling a twinge of jealousy as I sat there in my volleyball sweats wishing Rihanna would just get lost.  But then I looked up and D was still looking at me, asking me more questions about myself.  I had his COMPLETE attention.  It was as if Rihanna did not exist.  He was genuinely interested in talking to me.  Anyways, it was at that moment that D started to impress me.  I hadn't really noticed him before.  Now HE had my full attention.  And the rest was history ...
It was nice to be reminded of that today.  Thirteen years later and he's still super loyal.  I'm very lucky to have his love. xx

Monday, November 4, 2013

Contemplating Death

 
Last post on the Untethered Soul before I return it.  The book talks about the Dao -- which is the middle way, that sweet spot where you are balanced -- no extremes, just bliss.  We waste a lot of energy at the extremes.  The example of the smoker explains it well:  at one extreme the smoker is busy smoking, finding a place to smoke, buying smokes, etc.  When he tries to quit he spends the whole year trying various methods (patch, cold turkey, e-cigarettes, etc.).  Because of one extreme, the pendulum has to sway far to the other side.  Much energy and effort is wasted at both ends of the spectrum.  The key is to centre and not participate in either extreme.  That is the Dao.

The book also talked about contemplating death.  We all know the expression 'live each day like it is your last', but I've never stopped to think about what this would actually be like.  What if God told me that I had one week to settle my affairs before dying?  I would instinctively beg for more time.  But what about the lifetime I've already been given FFS?  Why am I not spending that time being the best person I can be for my loved ones. Why am I not appreciating life's beauty?  Why am I not letting go of all my resentment and complaints?

Staring death in the face is a good way to live because it keeps you grounded.  We will all die, we just don't know when.  So if you live life fully (like today was your last day), then you won't have any last wishes.  Great insight!