The Role of Spirituality in Living a Happy Life Oct 9, 2017
I was recently asked what role spirituality plays in living a happy life. Whether we realize it or not, we are spiritual beings. That is, like all things seemingly physical and material, at the root core of our being, we are energy, and only energy. Quantum physics has proved this, it is no longer a matter for debate or speculation. What remains to be discovered, however, is the nature and source of that energy.
Seeing It All Differently Oct 2, 2017
I was once told that when I feel dispirited and a bit down on life, a good antidote is to make an effort to notice the abundance of natural beauty all around us. I was living in Northern California at the time and, to be honest, this was not a tough ask. I immediately immersed myself in magical glades of redwoods, sunsets over rolling surf, hummingbirds fluttering outside my window, beautiful cloud formations backgrounded by enormous blue skies, carpets of California poppies, - it seemed like I was literally surrounded in endless beauty.
Have We Had Enough Yet? Sep 26, 2017
Prior to writing his “Conversations With God” series Neil Donald Walsch hit rock bottom. He lost everything - his family, his job and his health - and was living in a one-man tent in a trailer park. He was mired in the depths of despair and desperation when one day “God,” or in other words, a voice from within, asked him the most critical question of his life: “Have you had enough?”
We Are Still Evolving Jul 26, 2017
When I was playing tennis recently I was mildly shocked by the ferociousness with which one of the other women would berate herself every time she missed a shot. We all have some level of negative self-talk running through our minds and so whilst I felt compassion for this woman who was so hard on herself, I also believe that such a constant and continual volley of attacks on our self-esteem, self-confidence and inner peace has a long-term debilitating effect.
The Nuances of Beauty Jun 2, 2017
I recently encountered a woman whose physical appearance momentarily shocked me. She had had so much plastic surgery that almost every feature of her face had been pumped up, tightened and stretched to the extreme that her appearance was disturbingly distorted. After my initial shock I then felt compassion for someone who seemed to hate herself so much that she would rather have almost any fake version of herself, no matter how extreme or unnatural, than reveal to the world her real self.
Plan B Nov 11, 2016
I had an unusual experience this week. On Monday night, election eve here in the United States, I was driving the freeway home. As I changed lanes my tire hit a pothole so hard I could feel it hit metal. I was momentarily surprised by this, it had never happened before even though I drive this particular route almost every day of the week. Yet there seemed to be no adverse consequences. I was home within five minutes and didn’t think about it again.
I was recently asked this question: My daughter is neither intelligent nor beautiful. How can I help her?
Bridging the Gulf with Namaste. May 15, 2016
I was at my sports club recently and as I passed a woman on my way to the locker room I smiled at her. Her facial expression remained emotionless and she averted her eyes as she moved past me. This is not the first time this has happened at the club and in the past such interactions have prompted me to look for rationalizations for the hurt I feel with each rejection and slight. Initially I came up with the notion that the club seems to draw from an upper middle class demographic who seem to be both superior and snooty.
Do We Really Have Free Will? Apr 24, 2016
People are often confused by free will. I was recently asked why God would bother to let us live in the illusion of free will if He ultimately knows the outcome already?
Saving Grace: The Unconditional Love of a Parent Apr 15, 2016
When Benjamin Franklin was sent as an envoy to France in 1776 he took his 9 year old grandson with him, extracting him from the loving arms of his parents in order that “If I die, I have a child to close my eyes.” Two years later Franklin sent the boy to boarding school in Geneva and did not see him for four years. When it became evident the boy was not thriving, Franklin wrote to him: “I shall always love you very much if you continue to be a good boy.” It is perhaps unsurprising the boy became “shy and indolent” and “fell into the funk of a depressed adolescent.”
The Myths and Misperceptions of Friendship Mar 18, 2016
The fundamental mistake we make in our friendships lies in our very understandings of what friendship is, leading to false expectations and misperceptions both in what we want and expect from our friends, as well as what we aim to both achieve and provide as a friend.
How one moment changed my life Mar 1, 2016
It was midnight on a cold Autumn night in Melbourne, rain pounded on the roof of the car and the windscreen was opaque with streaming rivulets. I had just been told by a doctor that my husband would likely die the next day. He had been diagnosed with terminal cancer only 10 days before. His symptoms - largely back pain - had given no clue as to the real cause of his illness and I was in shock.
How Do We Find Happiness? Feb 20, 2016
I was recently asked this and I would suggest that we don’t really “find” happiness, rather we create it. Further, it is created on many different levels.
Priceless Solitude Jan 24, 2016
I am a complete and utter extrovert and I spent the first part of my life avoiding solitude (unless I managed to get my hands on a riveting book) and chasing social contact - wherever, whenever and however I could find it. I was fairly undiscerning and I wasted enormous amounts of time and energy trying to fit in with, and gain the acceptance of, people with whom I should never have given more than a passing glance.
Then my husband of 20 years died suddenly and all of a sudden my greatest fears were foisted upon me. All of my friends were happily coupled, and it was all very awkward and inconvenient. I no longer fit their social patterns and I quickly realized I was, for the first time in my life, truly alone.
This is what I have learned after 10 years of aloneness:
a) That my experience of solitude is determined purely by the narrative that I create in my own head. We are all well versed in the customary social commentary that not only repeatedly describes being alone as “sad and lonely,” but that the two states of being are synonymous. We have been so brainwashed into believing that no one would actually ever choose to be alone if we have options. It is assumed we are alone because we are rejected, unwanted, undesirable. I came to see that the very same set of circumstances could either be filled with misery and dissatisfaction or they could be the source of joy and peace. It all turns on which thoughts I choose to entertain about my situation.
b) It is easier to live more truly free when we are alone. To be totally and authentically free, we must be liberated from the pressures and expectations, as well as the words, deeds and behavior of others. This is particularly pertinent for those who have what Oprah calls the “pleasing disease,” or we naturally give too much weight to others’ opinions, demands or desires. For women like me, the dominant masculine culture ensured that it took decades of adult experience to finally discover the work I wanted to do (when I first entered the workforce after college I endured six long years in a job I hated just to keep a man happy), how I like to vacation, the music I like to listen to and when I like to listen to it, when and how I sleep, and what movies and books I now know to avoid. I spent so much time eating food I didn’t like, enduring jokes I didn’t find funny and conversations I found boring, wearing clothes based on other people’s taste, but most importantly, tamping down aspects of my personality so that others would not be threatened or made uncomfortable.
Of course we cannot remain permanently alone. We are social beings, and one of the fundamentals of this life is that we need to learn many of our life lessons through relationship with others. But once we have worked out who we are, what we like, where we want to go and how we want to get there, our relationships become so much more rewarding, satisfying and enjoyable largely because we have learnt how to set the boundaries in the relationship that not only protect us but also enable greater, and more enduring peace, harmony and growth of the relationship.
c) True creativity and inspiration visit when we are alone. Creativity requires that we have plenty of time to exercise, read, sleep, and therefore dream, ponder and daydream, to meditate and be in silence, to experiment and play, and finally, just be. It is only when we are alone that we can be silent long enough to allow the new and “big” ideas of our creativity to drop into our consciousness. We need significant periods of solitude to silence the constant chatter of our left brains (which enables us to survive in the practical world) and give precedence to our right brain, which enables us to tap into the ideas that are bigger than the sum of our experiences. We need these “big” ideas if we are to transform the universal experience into our own unique and original creations.
When we are no longer afraid to be alone, a whole new world becomes available to us.
The Quest for Meaning Aug 24, 2015
“What is the Point of Life?” – I was recently asked this question and the quote of Niels Bohr came immediately to mind: “If quantum mechanics hasn’t profoundly shocked you, you haven’t understood it yet.” This is equally true of the true nature of life. Life, beneath the surface, is truly shocking.