The Gift of Clarity

The Gift of Clarity

The festive season is upon us, a time for celebrations, seasonal gatherings and exchange of gifts.  For the little ones, Christmas is associated with everything looking a little prettier than usual, with Christmas decorations and lights everywhere. But the excitement really comes from the expectation of a visit from Santa Claus who will stop by to drop off lots of presents, assuming of course  that they have been good enough throughout the year. Adults will get presents too, hoping that Father Christmas would have enough insight to have guessed properly all the things on their Christmas list, the list they only wrote in their head and never took the time to send out!  

For me, I am pretty low key about Christmas, if you ask me what do I want for Christmas this year, my answer would be: The ability to live in the present moment and the Gift of Clarity.

Master Oogway Wisdom

There are two types of people in this world, those who see clearly, and those who don’t.

People who see clearly

People who see clearly are confident in themselves and in their abilities. Confident people know who they are, what they want, and how they should go about it. They have a road map, they have a destination in mind, and have planned the journey ahead. They have determination, discipline and a sense of purpose and they go through their life journey in a state of joy, happiness and grace.

The Quest for Clarity is an endless pursuit. We all seek it. We all want clear answers to our questions. We all want clear solutions to our problems. We all want clear paths to follow along the road to a happy and successful life. We all want to move from a state of confusion, which brings with it a lot of suffering to a state of clarity, which brings joy and happiness.

People who don’t see clearly

People who don’t see clearly are lost, they drift, they are discouraged, they keep changing their mind and instead of going forward towards the light (there is always light at the end of the tunnel) they turn around in circles, wandering endlessly and compulsively but not really going anywhere; and their life journey ends up being a journey full of pain and suffering.

The lack of Clarity triggers different types of reactions in people. Some people will opt for burying their head in the sand and continue operating on autopilot. Others will sink into despair or run around in a state of panic not knowing what to do, holding on to their anger, resentment and suffering.

Suffering is part of life, everybody has problems, issues, dramas to deal with. Jordan Peterson advocates that we should bear our own cross, our own suffering, transcend it and then try to reduce it by becoming some kind of hero to ourselves and to people around us. How do we become heroes? Not by wearing a cape, jumping from building to building trying to save the world. We become heroes by becoming a better person every day shining our own light into the world, and the gift of clarity helps us do just that.

The Gift of Clarity

All of us without hesitation would prefer, if given the choice, to be in the skin of one of those people who can see clearly. However, life is never black or white, life is a lot more complex than that and you can bet that all of us will have periods where we experience moments of clarity, where everything is in harmony, where we feel that we are on top of the world and we know where we are going; but we will also experience moments when we lack clarity -when we are filled with doubt and feel discouraged and drift, not knowing where we are going.

Buddhists believe that, “the world is like muddy water. To see through it, we have to let things settle. We can’t be disturbed by initial appearances, and if we are patient and still the truth will be revealed to us.”

Your Mind Is Like Water

If Clarity was a commodity that could be purchased, the chance is that commodity would become the most precious item one could own. The problem is you cannot obtain Clarity from someone else; you cannot buy Clarity and you cannot unfortunately receive it as a gift from someone else. You will have to find it yourself. Clarity will make your thoughts, your emotions and your actions congruent with each other. We should also accept the fact that if you are not present in the moment, you will not be able to see clearly.  Being present in the moment is a very powerful tool to you to experience greater clarity and make better choices.

I would like to wish to all my readers and followers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

May you all have Peace and Clarity,
To be the first to latch on your door,
And Happiness to be guided to your home,
By the candlelight of Christmas,
May you have the strength to take the first step of many,
To where you want to go,
May you have the grace and wisdom,
To persist in things worth doing,
And find solace in the knowledge that,
That in itself is remarkable.

I am writing an eBook about this ‘The Gift of Clarity,’ which will be coming out soon. Watch out for it!

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For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on


Celebrating Remembrance Day – 11 November

Today, 11th November, we are celebrating Remembrance Day, it is a day of commemoration and the occasion to remember the 8.5 million soldiers who died across the world during the 1914-18 war as well as those who lost their lives in the conflicts that followed.

Poppy Memorial – Remembrance Day – 11 November

Poppies are used to remember those who have given their lives in battle, because they are the flowers which grew on the battlefields after World War I ended. This is described in the famous World War One poem ‘In Flanders Fields” by Dr John McCrae. Ever since then, they have come to be a symbol of remembering not just those who gave their lives in World War One, but all those who have died on behalf of their country.

Poppies – Remembrance of the fallen soldiers

A Poem for Celebrating Remembrance DayThe Inquisitive Mind of A child

Why are they selling poppies, Mummy?  
Selling poppies in town today.
The poppies, child, are flowers of love.
For the men who marched away.

But why have they chosen a poppy, Mummy?
Why not a beautiful rose?
Because my child, men fought and died
In the fields where the poppies grow.

But why are the poppies so red, Mummy?
Why are the poppies so red?
Red is the color of blood, my child,
The blood that our soldiers shed.

The heart of the poppy is black, Mummy?
Why does it have to be black?
Black my child, is the symbol of grief,
For the men who never came back.

But why, Mummy are you crying so?
Your tears are giving you pain.
My tears are my fears for you my child,
For the world is forgetting again.

Author Unknown

At 11 am on the 11th Day of the 11th Month Germany and the Allies sign the Armistice that will bring an end to 4 years of horrific fighting and the loss of millions of lives. The reaction all around the world was one of mixed emotions: relief, celebration, disbelief and a profound sense of loss.

For this occasion, I would like to invite my readers to get re-acquainted with an article I wrote a while ago titled: Information and Disinformation – How Carrots Helped Win World War II.

Information and Disinformation – How Carrots Helped Win World War II

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For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on


What is Your Superpower? Multitasking or Mindfulness?

Distracted Multitasker or Mindful Zen Master

An indisputable fact about modern life is how busy everyone seems to be. There are always more incoming emails, more meetings, more things to read, more ideas to follow up on. Digital mobile technology means you can easily crank through a few more to-do list items at home, or on holiday, or at the gym. In addition, social media often seems to center-stage; we are under a relentless and continuous assault from Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, text messages, videos, advertising, news, etc. It’s impossible to manage this without a superpower, but what is your superpower?

Multitasking seems to be the order of the day, but as a result, our attention span lasts only for a few seconds before boredom sets in and we feel the urge to move on to the next great thing seeking our attention.

What is your Superpower? Multitasking or Mindfulness?

The ironic consequence of being busy is that we are actually less efficient, get less done, make poorer decisions, prioritize trivial tasks over important ones and end feel overwhelmed. We’re human beings with finite energy and abilities but under seemingly infinite bombardment from work and from social media which intrudes into our family and leisure time.

Is mindfulness a solution?

(I was inspired to write this watching my daughter doing her homework, complaining she was bored and seeing her check her social messages not less than once every minute. No sooner had I pointed this out she noted I was guilty of the same; ‘Medice, cura te ipsum,’ Physician, heal thy self.’)

What is Multitasking?

Multitasking was originally used as a computing term to describe concurrent execution of tasks in a computer’s Central Processing Unit (CPU) and main memory. Multitasking allowed a user to perform more than one computer task at a time but doesn’t necessarily mean that tasks are carried out in parallel. The operating system is able to multitask by keeping track of where you are in these tasks and switching from one to the other without losing information.

Multitasking as a term wasn’t applied to people until the 1990s. Human multitasking is also the ability to perform more than one task at the same time, for example taking a phone call while driving a car. The normal way that humans multitask, however, is more similar to the way that computers used to, by switching tasks rather than carrying them out at the same time.

There has been a lot written about multitasking in recent years and a lot of concepts mixed up so for this article I have tried to clarify my definitions below, and ask if it is our true nature to multitask?

Real Multitasking

Our brains have limited capacity and struggle to really multitask unless one or more of those tasks are ‘second nature,’ i.e. that it is so well learned that no thought is necessary to perform it. Examples would include walking and chewing on a chewing gum, driving a car and listening to an audiobook.

Task Switching

When most of us say that we are multitasking, it may appear that we are multitasking, but in reality – like computer multitasking – we are actually just switching from one task to another in rapid succession. As much as you might like to think that you write an email and talk on the phone at the same time, however, in reality you can’t and are actually taking more time and being less efficient than if you did both tasks separately.

Mindless Timewasting

Some of the things we do, our guilty pleasures – that are really easy to slip into when we are bored, are not tasks, but mindless timewasting. Posting a story to your personal Instagram account, OK – that’s arguably a task, but checking your feed 30 or 40 times an hour, playing games, posting a bunch of likes on Facebook – well that’s more likely to be mindless time-wasting – no multitasking points there.

What is Your Superpower? Wasting Time?

Myths of Multitasking

Multitasking is a widespread modern phenomenon, however there is considerable evidence for its negative impact on personal health, productivity, effectiveness and even to reduced levels of compassion. Multiple studies have confirmed that multitasking is a myth and anyone who believes that multitasking increases their productivity and efficiency are mistaken. Data shows clearly that multitaskers are doing less, getting more stressed out and performing worse than those perform single tasks at a time.

So is there an alternative?

Concentration & Mindfulness

Martin Luther, 15th-century professor of theology, composer, priest, and monk, and first translator of the Bible into the vernacular (and not to be confused with Martin Luther King) famously said: “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.

This sounds counter-intuitive, but like many other counter-intuitive practices, e.g. ‘slow and steady wins the race,’ has a strong basis in truth. The ability to focus on a subject, to concentrate deeply, to understand its nuances and interweaving complexities and its simplicities allows our minds to maximize the absorption of information.

When we concentrate, we are bringing to bear upon an activity the full focus of our minds, and this is essential if we are to learn anything. It is also very calming to concentrate, to block out all outside noises and distractions.

The advantage of concentration is that it brings us into an intimacy with what we are doing, and in that intimacy, there is learning and pleasure. It is one of the ways the mind is intended to work, and this type of concentration is called mindfulness.

What is Your Superpower – Mindfulness?

Rather than just concentration, mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. If life is feeling too busy and hectic, if you aren’t connected to or interested by what you are doing, it may be the time to slow down and practice mindfulness.

There are many definitions of mindfulness that provide further insight into what mindfulness is, my personal favorites is:

“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment and in a non-judgmental way

In addition to concentration, mindfulness also incorporates aspects of non-judgement, compassion, spirituality, curiosity, acceptance and kindness. Non-Judgment is a large part of Buddhist philosophy. There is no good and evil in Buddhism. Human problems are talked about in terms of ignorance and wisdom – the cause of the sufferings in the world is ignorance and the solution is the development of wisdom.

The History of Mindfulness

Mindfulness practices are often taught secularly, but their roots stretch back to the early teachings of the Buddha and other eastern religions.

“The secret of health for mind and body is not to mourn for
the past or worry about the future, but to live in the
present moment wisely and earnestly.”

Mindfulness was made mainstream in the east via religious and spiritual institutions such as Buddhism and Hinduism, while in the west, its popularity can be traced to particular individuals such as Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn whose system is based on a type of Buddhist meditation called Vipassana.

Buddhist monks believe that the reason a lot of people are anxious, stressed or in pain is that they are stuck on something that happened in the past or worried about something in the future. Buddhist monks learn how to practice mindfulness to help free themselves from anxiety, stress and suffering. Buddhists believe that your focus and attention should be on the present as the present is the only time we can learn, do, or feel anything. The present is the only time where we can heal and grow.

How Mindfulness Relates to Meditation?

Mindfulness is the awareness of ‘some-thing,’ whereas meditation is the awareness of ‘no-thing.’ Both meditation and mindfulness help quieten the mind but the main difference between the two is that the goal of mindfulness is to have one’s thoughts be on the present moment, whereas for (transcendental) meditation, the goal is to transcend thought itself and experience a state of ‘pure awareness.’

Mindfulness of the Body; Practicing Stillness and Meditation

Meditation is also a practice that trains the mind not to stop thinking but to surpass our own thought process. Through meditation, one’s thoughts should flow like a river. If you have time to meditate, do it; if you don’t have time to meditate, meditate for 5 minutes. Acknowledge your thoughts, know what they are, but do not engage in them. Let the thoughts be, do not attach ‘good or bad’ labels to them.

How to Practice Mindfulness

So, what is your superpower? There is a raft of scientific evidence to confirm that concentrating on what we are doing, or mindfulness is the superpower we should be aiming for. Mindfulness has a lot of benefits and can replace multitasking, if not all of the time, then at least some of it.

  • Mindfulness can help us get more done, can relieve the stress of feeling busy;
  • Mindfulness can help bring us into an intimacy with what we are doing, and in that intimacy, there is learning and pleasure;
  • Mindfulness can help cope with depression, stress, boast your psychological well-being, manage physical pain and improve your memory;
  • Mindfulness helps us switch to a more positive mindset which in turn helps us feeling happier;
  • Psychological evidence suggests that mindfulness can foster greater relationship satisfaction by increasing our ability to deal with stress when conflicts arise;
  • Mindfulness can help us become more emotionally aware and appreciative of the little things.
  • Mindfulness helps improve the way we communicate and relate to those around us. It also helps get us off the auto-pilot mode where a lot of us operate days after days, weeks after weeks, months after months and years after years;
  • Mindfulness can help us regulate and express our emotions in a way which is more thoughtful, non-judgmental and more compassionately with ourselves;
  • Practicing mindfulness helps build our resilience.

Being mindful can have a lot of benefits, not just to you but also the people around you.  One last benefit is expressed in this simple quotation from French Philosopher Simone Veil (3 February 1909 – 24 August 1943):

“Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.”

Your mission, should you accept it, is to practice sharing the fullness of your being, your best self, your enthusiasm, vitality, spirit, and above all your presence with your friends, family, with people around you. That is the greatest gift of all.

And this my dear friend is your Quest!

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For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Nobles (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on


Why Do We Cry? The Art of Shedding Tears

Why Do We Cry? The Art of Shedding Tears

Charles Darwin once declared emotional tears purposeless, and nearly 150 years later, emotional crying remains one of the human body’s more confounding mysteries.

Everybody cries sometimes, and if you don’t, perhaps you should. Humans are emotional beings, what we do is dictated by a whole range of emotion. Every one of us has probably shed tears of sadness, pain, grief, frustration but also tears of joy, ecstasy, empathy, gratitude. Tears are produced whenever emotions are strongly felt, the good emotions and the bad ones, but why do we cry, and does it help us?

Portrait by Hester Van Doornum – Tears of Sorrow or Tears of Joy?

Why Do We Have Tears When We Cry?

There are fundamentally 3 types of tears:

  • Basal tears which are a protein-rich antibacterial liquid that helps to keep the eyes moist each time a person blinks.
  • Reflex tears which are triggered by irritants such as wind, smoke, dust. They are released to flush out these irritants and protect the eye.
  • Emotional tears which are a response to a range of emotions.

Basal and reflex tears are essential to help you see clearly and maintain the health of your eyes, but what about emotional tears, and are humans the only species that produce emotional tears?

Tears of Sorrow

There is a surprising dearth of hard facts about crying, so fundamental a human experience, but we are all familiar with tears of sorrow:

Extract from the poem Tear Drops by Patricia Grantham

Into each of our lives a little tear must fall,
This is a gift from God that is common to all,
It cleanses the wounds of the troubled soul,
When the burdens of life has taken its toll.

Tears of Sorrow

One study has shown that crying releases endorphins or happy hormones, chemicals that are produced by our brain that are thought to promote feelings of well-being, although more research is required to confirm this. Another study found that crying activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps us relax.

Tears of Joy

Sometimes we cry at life’s happiest moments, but why do we cry? A further study suggested that your hypothalamus, an almond-sized region of the brain that regulates hormones, can’t tell the difference between being happy or sad or overwhelmed or stressed. All it knows is that it’s getting a strong neural signal which triggers our emotional reactions.

Tears of Joy – Puppy Storm

A girl always cries,
But she can’t figure out why,
People ask if she’s okay,
And she replies,
“yes, I am just fine,”
All her days are so fine and bright,
That is why she can’t figure out why she cries.

Crying is natural and women are known for crying more than men. Psychological studies have found that on average, women cry two to five times a month or three to five times more than men.  Remarkably, men have a tendency to cry tears of joy in reaction to positive events more often than women. We have all seen those YouTube wedding videos where the groom has a total meltdown at the sight of their beautiful bride walking down the aisle.

Grooms Crying At Weddings

What About Animals, Can Animals Cry?

You will find a lot of anecdotes from pet owners that they have seen their pet weep; a few of those anecdotal stories have been captured on camera, and it is clear when you watch those videos that pets can feel extremely emotional and distress, but according to scientists, other species shed tears reflexively as a result of pain or irritation, but humans are the only creatures whose tears can be triggered by their feelings.

Do Animals Cry?

A Sign of Weakness?

In our culture crying can sometimes be seen as a sign of weakness, people tend to feel uncomfortable when in the presence of someone who is tearing up and our first reaction is often please don’t cry. However, whereas crying frequently can be seen as a weakness, occasional crying – even publicly – is often met with huge outpourings of sympathy.

Crying in Public

Asking someone not to cry, or to stop crying may not be good advice, because crying is beneficial for you, swallowing your emotions can be hazardous to your health!

Why Do We Cry? The Benefits of Crying.

Crying can have many benefits for our health and well-being; experts believe that it is actually an important part of processing emotions and overcoming traumatic events.

1. Crying Helps Relieve Stress

There are people in the medical profession who are tears experts! Dr. William Frey, a biochemist at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, is one such an expert.  Dr. Frey discovered that reflex tears i.e. the type of tears that allow your eyes to clear out noxious particles located in the eye are 98% water, whereas emotional tears also contain stress hormones. Dr. Frey found that emotional tears shed these hormones and other toxins that accumulate during periods of stress.  So, whenever you feel stressed out, don’t fret, just have a good cry and it will release the stress.

2. Crying Signals to Others that you Need Support

Anybody who witnesses someone tearing up will naturally offer some kind of help and comfort. When you cry it may mean that you are frustrated, overwhelmed or just trying to get someone’s attention. Our body understands that the best type of comfort comes in the form of human touch and letting the tears flow will be a signal to people around you that comforting words and a hug will be welcome.

Crying Signals to Others that you Need Support

3. Crying Soothes Physical Pain

Additional studies also suggest that crying stimulates the production of endorphins and oxytocin, our body’s natural pain killer and feel-good hormones. Don’t be ashamed of crying when you hurt yourself, twist your ankle, burn your hand or cut yourself, the feel-good hormones that you produced through your tears will increase your pain tolerance and help you cope with pain.

4. Crying Lowers Your Blood Pressure

Several studies have found that after a good cry session, people experience both lower blood pressure and a steadier pulse, most likely due to the fact that their stress levels have gone down significantly.

5. Crying Helps Restore Emotion Balance

Crying happens in response to strong emotional events. Researchers at Yale University believe that crying may help restore emotional equilibrium. When you cry after the loss of a loved one it helps restores emotional balance into your body and allows the grieving process to follow its course. In the same way, when you are incredibly happy about something and cry, it may be your body’s way to recover from experiencing such a strong emotion.

Japanese Stress-Relief

According to Professor Junko Umihara, who teaches at Nippon Medical School, “crying is an act of self-defense against accumulating stresses.” 

In Japan, many schools and companies are embracing crying as a method of stress relief and are encouraging their students and employees to cry as a way to improve their mental health.  Japan even has people employed as ‘tears teachers’ otherwise known as namida sensei. Mr. Hidefumi Yoshida is one of them, he gave up his job as a high school teacher to become a full-time namida sensei touring the country to lecture schools and companies about the benefits of crying.

The Art of Crying – Japanese Style

Japan has a relatively high rate of suicide for both adults and children. The art of crying and not holding anything back has been introduced into the Japanese culture as a new tradition to be respected and complied, for the sake of public health and to help reduce the number of suicides by 30% by 2030.  Crying in Japan is now a matter of national importance, time to open the floodgates. Doctor’s prescription!

Why Do We Cry – Historical Crying

People have speculated about where tears come from and why humans cry since antiquity. The Old Testament describes tears as the by-product of when the heart’s material weakens and turns into water. Other theories have describing tears originating in the heart. In Ancient Greece, it was thought that the mind was the trigger for tears, whereas in the 1600s it was believed that emotions—especially love—heated the heart, which generated water vapor to cool itself down. The heart vapor would then rise to the head, condense near the eyes and escape as tears.

The Bible contains many verses about crying from which we learn that there are often times to cry and that everyone will cry at some point in their life.

Psalm 126:5-6: “They that sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy. He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.”

Welcome Your Tears

If you wake up feeling pain and sorrow that brings tears to your eyes, welcome those tears and tell them:

Angelus (Angelus Domini) by Jean-Francois Millet

Tears, I feel you. You make me feel like sitting down, bury my head in my hands and let my tears of sadness and sorrow overwhelm me like a torrent, but there is field to be sown, dishes to be washed, laundry to be done, food to be cooked, work to be done. I know you will wet my face several times today and maybe tomorrow too, but I have work to do. I intend to take the bag of seeds and sow and you can come along with me and wet the rows. The tears I shed today are like seeds that are planted in a field and with time and through much hard work, care and attention a great harvest of joy and thankfulness will bless me. So tears, I am welcoming you on my cheeks.”

And this my dear friend is your Quest!

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For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on


Quotes to Think About – What the World Needs

Quotes to Think About

The World needs able men and women, people who can do things that are thoroughly worthwhile; people who can think great thoughts and transform such thoughts into great deeds.”
Christian D. Larson

What do authors do? They think great thoughts then turn those thoughts into words to inspire others

Christian D. Larson knew how to use the power of words to remind people to be optimistic, to be strong, to grow, and to be true to themselves. His poem ‘Promise Yourself‘ is copied below and contains plenty of quotes to think about, please read it slowly and carefully.

Promise Yourself by Christian D. Larson

“Promise yourself to be so strong

That nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.

To look at the sunny side of everything
And make your optimism come true.

To think only the best to work only for the best,
And to expect only the best.

To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others
As you are about your own.

To forget the mistake of the past
And press on to the greater achievements of the future.

To wear a cheerful countenance at all times
And give every creature you meet a smile.

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself
That you have no time to criticize others.

To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear
And too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world,
Not in loud words but great deeds.

To live in faith that the whole world is on your side
So long as you are true to the best that is in you.”

What the World Needs is People Who Can Think Great Thoughts

Christian D Larson. (1866-1955) was an American New Thought Leader and Teacher, as well as a prolific author. Larson believed that people have a tremendous latent power within them, which could be harnessed with the right mind and proper attitude for great deeds. His vision was to have science and theology work together for the benefit of mankind.

The New Thought Movement is a movement which developed in the United States in the 19th Century.  Its fundamental teaching is that spirit is extremely powerful and the mind has the power to heal the body. The emphasis is on spiritual and mental healing without rejection of modern medicine. New Thoughts believe that Infinite Intelligence, or God, is everywhere, that all people are spiritual beings, and the power of our thoughts can help us manifest our desire in daily living.

Where do your thoughts come from? The way people are thinking and operating in their daily lives is a reflection of their upbringing, their environment, their education, the books they read, the people they connect with, the experiences they have, the religion they practice. Each of these factors will shape and sculpt each one of us into the person that we are.

Books are critical in helping people having great thoughts. Words have tremendous energy and power, they have the ability to educate, to help, to heal, to illuminate the minds.  Other book quotes to think about are from James Baldwin who said “Books are a way to change one’s destiny, ” and Neil Gaiman, who said “Books are the way that we communicate with the dead, the way we learn lessons from those who are no longer with us, it is the way humanity has built itself and progresses.”

Critical thinking is an art, it requires being able to operate with a rational mind, and it also requires being able to stay clear of conventional wisdom and socially accepted beliefs and moral standards.  Being able to think critically requires that we are also able to really listen to someone, this is an art that needs to be cultivated.  In the first few years of life, we are all taught to speak, which is an important development milestone, a sign that the child is developing normally.  But more emphasis should be placed on the art of listening. Another quote to think about is the one from the Dalai Lama who said: “When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” And remember what Aristotle said: “it is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

What the World needs is People Who can Transform Thoughts into Great Deeds

Once you have trained yourself to think great thoughts, those thoughts need turning into great deeds, “knowing without doing it is like not knowing at all.

From Japan, we can learn valuable lessons from the Samurai about how we turn great thoughts into great deeds.  Samurais were strong, fearless warriors who lived in medieval Japan. Their code of conduct was, “no fear – no surprise – no hesitation – no doubt.

  • No fear: face your fears head-on and defeat them. Fear stops people from achieving their goal.
  • No surprise. Life is changing all the time, be aware of this and you will never be surprised.
  • No hesitation: weigh up the odds and then get on with it. If you hang back, the opportunity will pass.
  • No doubt: once you have made up your mind about something, relax and go for it. Be confident. Be committed. Turn those thoughts into good deeds.
Tom Cruise in “The Last Samurai”

Part of the Samurai training was to become acquainted and to practice the 7 virtues that would guide them both in battle and in everyday life.

Rectitude – The Samurai were trained in the art of listening and were able to consider all the points of view expressed before making a decision.  They had a high sense of personal accountability and displayed great integrity on the battlefield and in their personal lives.

Respect – The Samurai were respected members of Japanese society held in high esteem, but this was not a one-way street, they were very respectful of others as well.  They aspired to be kind and courteous even to their enemies. They were not cruel or deceptive. They were strong yet gentle, they valued quality over quantity and looked for what was best for all who were involved in any situation.

Courage – The Samurai warrior epitomized courage at its best, to the point of giving their lives for a cause if they believed it was the right thing to do. They were confident and took risks because they knew that was the only way that true growth was possible. They stood up for what they believed in and did what they felt was right.

Honor – The Samurai warrior lived and died with honor. They looked within and embodied self-improvement. They did not seek judgment or validation from others. Rather they were their own person and held themselves accountable for their actions.

Benevolence or Mercy– The Samurai worked hard and endured intense training that made them both physically and mentally strong. As a warrior, the Samurai had the power to kill. However, benevolence was about making sure that they had the ability to exercise mercy when required. Despite being warriors, Samurai were also known for showing great compassion and for volunteering to help their fellow man at every opportunity.

Honesty – Honesty was essential. They did not deceive or made empty promises. Samurai valued trust and would rather die than break that trust, they knew the power of a word.

Duty and Loyalty – The Samurai held themselves responsible for all their actions and the consequences of all their actions. They were immensely loyal to everyone who relied on them. They knew the power that their words and action had, and they were careful not to misuse that power.

Interestingly, the duties of the Samurai also applied to women as well as men; women samurai warriors were forces to be reckoned with in their own right showcasing enough skill and deadly force to match their fellow male samurai. They were known as ‘Onna-bugeisha‘. They mastered the art of archery, horseback riding as well as mastery of the katana, the samurai sword.

Photo of Tomoe Gozen – A female Samurai known for her exceptional beauty and bravery on the battlefield

“What the World needs is able men and women, people who can do things that are thoroughly worthwhile; people who can think great thoughts and transform such thoughts into great deeds”

And This, my dear friend, is your Quest!

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Charlie Chaplin Self Love Poem and the Subtle Art of Myth Busting

Charlie Chaplin Self Love Poem

There are rafts of articles and posts online about Charlie Chaplin being the author of the poem, When I loved Myself Enough (also titled ‘As I began to love myself’). This ‘Charlie Chaplin Self Love Poem‘ has become a point of reference for anything to do with self-love; except that the version that is most often circulated is not the original version, and Charlie Chaplin is not the one who wrote it.

Charlie Chaplin Self Love Poem

In 2017, when I was researching my book, I wrote to Charlie Chaplin’s Office in order to request permission to reproduce the Charlie Chaplin Self Love poem. Chaplin’s Office Manager kindly responded as follows:

‘Dear Joanne,

There is a text circulating in many different languages called ‘When I loved myself enough’ supposedly written by Charlie Chaplin. The Chaplin office receives many enquiries about this text every year requesting permission to publish them. This text was NOT WRITTEN BY Charlie Chaplin. ‘When I love myself enough’ comes from a book called ‘When I Love Myself Enough’ by Kim and Alison McMillen.

Kind Regards’

Surprised, I looked into this a little deeper.

Original Authors of ‘When I Loved Myself Enough’

Kim McMillen wrote the book and the poem ‘When I Loved Myself Enough’ in 1996, shortly before she died aged only 52. Her daughter, Allison McMillen, described the book as ‘everything she believed in, and everything she brought me up to believe in. it is her autobiography, her declaration, her soul.’ Allison continued writing the book and first published it in 2001 she handed out copies to friends and word of mouth turned this into an underground bestseller in the USA.

“When I loved Myself Enough” by Kim and Alison McMillen

The book was translated into numerous languages and the most shared version seems to be an English translation of a Portuguese translation. It is unclear who arranged these stanzas into their current form.

The reason I was interested in this poem is because I included it my book. The poem is a masterpiece, I was also interested because of the personal and literary relationship between Kim and Allison McMillen and my own daughter and I. Below, I have included some extracts of the original and translated versions of the poems below:

Original Version

When I loved myself enough, I quit settling for too little.
When I loved myself enough, I came to know my own goodness.
When I loved myself enough, I began taking the gift of life seriously and gratefully.
When I loved myself enough, I began to know I was in the right place at the right time and I could relax.
When I loved myself enough, I felt compelled to slow down way down. And that has made all the difference.

Translated Version

As I began to love myself, I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth. Today, I know this as Authenticity.”

It also comes from respecting yourself: “As I began to love myself, I understood how much it can offend somebody if I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this person was me. Today, I call it Respect.”

From love of oneself: “As I began to love myself, I freed myself of anything that was not good. For my health – food, people, things, situations. And everything that drew me down away from myself. At first, I called this attitude a healthy egoism. Today I know it as Love for Oneself.

How do Myths Form?

How do myths form? How did ‘When I loved myself enough’ become the Charlie Chaplin Self Love Poem?

A myth is defined as a popular belief that has grown-up around something or someone. We encounter those myths, popular beliefs or misleading claims and statements every day in the form of constant and repeated advertisements, political propaganda from all sides and petty rumors from people all around us. Some of those popular beliefs are benign and do not have a huge impact on us but others may be more impactful.

The Illusory Truth Effect. Fact or Fake?

In psychology, the scientific term for this is the ‘illusory Truth effect’ also known as the ‘reiteration effect’, it is the tendency to believe information to be correct (even if it is not) after repeated exposure to that same information. Repeated affirmation fixes itself in the mind in such a way that it is accepted in the end as a demonstrated truth. Many studies have been conducted on this, and the conclusion is that familiarity overcome rationality, the truth does not matter. Repetition does! Adolf Hitler knew about the technique. ‘Slogans should be persistently repeated until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea,’ he wrote in Mein Kampf.

For Charlie Chaplin, it’s not entirely clear when his name was first attached to the text, but it appears to have been sometime around 2007, about 30 years after the actor’s death. There are now nearly 2 million search results if you type ‘Charlie Chaplin love poem’ into Google, there’s repetition for you!

Other myths may include:


As with any cognitive bias, the best way not to fall prey is to know it exists. Once we know how myths propagate, we can guard against them – myth buster style! Part of the checking is asking ourselves why we believe what we do – if something sounds plausible is it because it really is true, or have we just been told that repeatedly?

But if there is a myth I’d like you to start, it’s ‘this is the best blog you’ve ever read!’ Repeat, share, repeat, share…

Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to guard yourself against illusion and not to repeat falsehoods!

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For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on


Why Things Are Not Always What They Seem

“Why things are not always what they seem; first appearance deceive many, the intelligence of a few perceive what has been carefully hidden
Phaedrus, c. 444 – 393 BC

The mind is strange in the way that it picks and chooses what it wants to see. The way people let their emotions, conditions, and state of mind guide their perspective ultimately decides who they are as a person “
Maya Reed, 2002 – present

Phaedrus, whose name translates to ‘bright‘ or ‘radiant‘ was an ancient Athenian aristocrat who enjoyed the company of philosophers. Remembered as an especially attractive young man, details in Plato’s writing point to Phaedrus’ interests in mythology, science, and the nature of ‘reality;’ do we see things how they are or only how they seem to us? Is seeing believing? Can we trust our senses? How do we know how something really is?

Mother and Daughter Double Act

Last year, my eldest daughter, Maya, asked herself these questions in a paper she wrote for her AP Seminar (Advanced Placement) class. I published her essay in my book because Maya captured in a very eloquent and poetic manner the notion that ‘Why things are not always what they seem’ better than I could have myself.

The view from my window – by Maya Reed.

No matter a person’s race, gender, status, or health, everyone has a window that acts as their unique glimpse into the world. However, this window varies greatly from person to person, and any aspect about someone can determine what he or she sees out of it. The view from these windows are in a constant state of change and can be altered by something as substantial as how we are raised or our lifestyle, to something as trivial as how we are feeling on a particular day. When looking out of this figurative window, things such as the time of day can reflect a specific state of mind.

In times of happiness, the beauty of the world hits me like a truck. This is when I look out my window and see a bright sunrise marking the dawn of a new day. As the sun makes it steady ascent, it brings the excitement of new possibilities with it. Light bursts forth from the horizon in an onslaught of colors, forcing the darkness into a hasty retreat. In these moments, everything is picture perfect and it only magnifies with the growing light – the world radiates alacrity.

The sky is painted in stunning streaks of red, pink, purple, and blue, and the birds sing their delight to the heavens. With sunlight already streaming through the window, my eyes turn to a world blanketed in tranquility. Leaves dances in the wind, taking my mind with them. People amble down the street, content clear on their faces. I see a couple as they walk by my window. They stroll hand in hand, simply appreciating each other’s touch. Birds soar through the sky with effortless grace, trees sway gently in the wind, and everything is infinitely beautiful.

I can see all the wonder the world has to offer. Somewhere, in the distance, a newborn takes its first breath. Elsewhere, jobs are being offered, vows are taken, homes are found, love is declared, sickness is overcome, and countless more bring a smile to my face. It is as if the sun’s rays illuminate anything and everything worthwhile and lifts them up on a shining pedestal. In this merry state of mind, negativity is easily overpowered, but the light that ensures this sanctuary is not constant.

Light brings wonder to people’s lives, but it is not possible for light to exist without the darkness. I once again find myself taking a moment to properly look out my window. However, after a long and strenuous day, the sunset is upon me, and as I watch, the sun is slowly but surely beat back under the horizon. My eyes scan what’s below me and a vague familiarity resides beneath the layers of dense darkness, but my optimism died with the sun.

The light is gone, and with it, the happiness it brought. Now, all the wrongs the light refused to expose become painfully clear. In my mind’s somber restlessness, the shadows jump out with murderous intent, and the darkness is suffocating. The same couple walks past my window, but this time I notice the strange tightness in which he grips her hand, and her refusal to look him in the eye. The amblers’ steps are reduced to depressed plodding, and even the breeze seems to whisper threats. It soon becomes achingly clear that the songbirds fled long ago, and the silence they leave behind is defeating .

The glass is the only thing that separates me from the world where evil lurks around every corner, but the darkness threatens to break the seal. In an instant the darkness thickens, and every shadowed window hides a depressed, overworked child. It is far too easy to notice that every second, a driver’s mistake becomes a death sentence, tears run like rivers, blood taints the soil, someone takes the fatal jump, maledictions are hurled at one another, lives are shattered, and the savage reality of this world cracks down like a whip. In the same way the light blinded me to anything I didn’t’ want to see, the darkness is enough to suppress everything worth seeing.

The mind is strange in the way that it picks and chooses what it wants to see in the world. Some days it will go through the terrifying, disheartening, and even confusing process of freezing to gawk at the shadows. Other days it will inexplicably decide to turn its back to what lies in the darkness and instead ogle at the brilliance of the sun. In fact, the true nature of the world is rarely seen. Constantly fluctuating emotions act as lenses for our window. They can taint, brighten, dull, enhance, blind, illuminate and change the view of different surroundings. The way people let their emotions, conditions, and state of mind guide their perspective ultimately decides who they are as a person.”


Phaedrus’ quote and Maya’s essay both make interesting and similar observations. Perception creates our experience of the world but every person perceives the world and approaches life problems differently. Perception is important, and largely in our control, I hope that you will question yours!

Joanne Reed – Author of ‘This Is Your Quest”

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For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on


Positivity vs. Negativity – Battle of the Fittest

Martial Arts

Art takes many forms; as an author, I consider myself an artist. In my free time, I am also a ‘martial artist’. The term ‘martial arts’ is closely associated with the fighting arts of East Asia; the term is however derived from Latin and means ‘arts of Mars,’ the Roman god of war. I practice Muay Thai (also known as Kick Boxing); the word ‘muay’ comes from the Sanskrit word ‘wavya’ which means ‘bind together’ and the word ‘thai’ refers to the country Thailand. Its generic name means ‘unarmed combat,’ a true test in any battle of the fittest.

Muay Thai in Namsan Park, Seoul

Martial arts have health and spiritual benefits; the spiritual benefits include teaching self-respect, respect for others, patience, humility, self-control and modesty, the health benefits derived from the conditioning that helps keep the body fit, strong and properly toned. To be effective, a good Muay Thai fighter must keep his physical and mental condition in balance, he must move with speed, but also show common sense and intelligence, he must train both his mind and his body with dedication, concentration, and discipline. Muay Thai also develops a sense of brotherhood, a fighter will help others when the opportunity arises, and will never resort to fighting unless there is no other option available.

The history of Muay Thai can be traced to the middle of the 18th century. During battles between the Burmese of the Konbaung Dynasty and Siam, the famous fighter Nai Khanomtom was captured. The Burmese knew of his expertise in hand-to-hand combat and gave him an opportunity to fight for his freedom. Nai Khanomtom managed to knock out ten consecutive Burmese contenders. Impressed by his skill, he was freed and returned to Siam where his fighting style became known as Muay Thai and later recognized as a national sport.

Getting Balanced

If you ever feel a bit off-balance or stressed-out I recommend you find a Muay Thai class and develop your fighting spirit because, perhaps without realizing it, we are all engaged in fierce battles every day. These battles occur within us between positivity and negativity. For the sake of this article, I will call positivity ‘Yang’ (positive, bright, masculine) and negativity ‘Yin’ (negative, dark, feminine). Picture those two in a ring; if your first impulse is to cheer and expect ‘Yang’ to win, I’m sorry, but you’re mistaken, in a battle of the fittest, ‘Yin‘ would triumph.

Yin and Yang in the Battle of the Fittest

Battle of the Fittest – Negativity

Our brain has a negative bias, it loves negativity! Our brain is wired with a much greater sensitivity to unpleasant rather than pleasant news. Dr John Cacioppo, the ‘Scientist of Loneliness’ from  Ohio State University, conducted a study to demonstrate this effect by contrasting the effect on the brain of pictures arousing positive feelings (such as sport cars, holiday shots, ice creams, etc.), negative feelings (such as mutilated faces or dead cats), and, for good measure pictures to arouse neutral feelings (of everyday objects, such as dinners plate and hair dryers).

The subjects had their brain activity recorded during the experiment providing data to Dr. Cacioppo to analyze. The results showed very clearly that our brain reacts more strongly to negative rather than positive stimuli. Our attitudes are more heavily influenced by downbeat rather than good news and that information is stored in our short to long term memory. This is why ‘Yin’ has a better chance of winning against ‘Yang.’

Our weighting of negative input is an evolutionary development to keep us out of harm’s way. Back in prehistory, when humans faced life or death situations every day, it was far more important for the brain to respond to negative rather than positive stimuli. If a wild animal charged towards you, you needed to fight or run away and to take that decision in a split-second. But, in non-threatening situations, like being offered food, or a gift, there is no such requirement for speed – your brain can react very slowly. To make matters worse, not only do we react more quickly to negative experiences, we are looking for them all the time. This makes it extremely easy for our minds to get into a negative feedback loop; you are hyper-aware of negativity and when it happens, you react quicker, it impacts you more and you remember it for longer. One scientist described the brain like Velcro for negative experiences but Teflon for positive ones. 

Positive Outlook

When faced with decisions or uncertainties, it is natural to have a fear of the unknown, I confess – this happens to me a lot, which creates a lot of anxiety and negative emotions.  Unfortunately, the nature of the world is uncertain; nobody knows what will happen tomorrow, and it is important to maintain a positive outlook.

According to Sadhguru, Indian yogi, mystic, and author:

you cannot overcome something which does not exist. Your fear is always about something that does not exist. Fear is happening because of excessive imagination. It is about things that haven’t happened yet, but you are creating those things in your mind. Fear means that you are producing horror movies in your mind. Produce something else, produce a comedy, a love story, an action movie.”

In the battle of the fittest, it is important to have a positive outlook and understand that we all have a natural tendency to be negative; you must train yourself to be a ‘Yang.’ Being positive, overcoming negative emotions requires dedication, discipline, and patience – just like with Muay Thai – and just like being a successful Muay Thai fighter it is necessary to train your body and spirit to work together, so that when the time comes to do battle against ‘Yin,’ the negative spirit, the odds will be in your favor.

And this, my Dear Friend is your Quest.

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For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on


How to Have Superpowers and Remain Resolutely Human.


How to have superpowers? Galileo said: “Books are our sole means of having superhuman powers while remaining resolutely human. The power of traversing the abysses of space, time, and misunderstanding that gap between our own life, our own self, our own subjective experience and another‘s.”

Happy National Book Lovers Day

National Book Lovers Day

August 9th is National Book Lovers Day. This gives me the perfect excuse to tell you something that you may already know but have forgotten or taken for granted. For this occasion, I organized a round table discussion with some renowned authors, Neil Gaiman, James Baldwin, and Toni Morrison (RIP) in order to gather their thoughts on the importance of reading books and the role of writers in society.

The Importance of Books

Author Joanne Reed, “Neil Gaiman; you feel very strongly about the importance of reading and believe our future depends on it. Why is reading so important?”

Neil Gaiman, “Books are the way that we communicate with the dead, the way we learn lessons from those who are no longer with us, it is the way the humanity has built itself and progresses. There are tales that are older than most countries, tales that have outlasted cultures and the buildings in which they were first told. These tales have survived on the shoulders of story-tellers and people who have transmitted them forward.”

James Baldwin: “For me, books are a way to change one’s destiny.”

Author Joanne Reed, “Interesting; throughout history, access to knowledge and education was the monopoly of a very few. Literacy was inaccessible to most and prohibited to many, i.e. serfs, women and slaves, to keep them in a state of servitude and ignorance. Knowledge is power; the ruling classes kept serfs uneducated by design so they could successfully rule over them. Under the feudal system women too had little or no chance of attaining education. In a few cases, girls from upper-class backgrounds enjoyed the benefits of education as there were certain obligation for women of nobility that required them to be literate; but whatever education women had access to was purely designed to help them marry well, or to become a good wife and mother. In the USA, slaves were prohibited by law to read and write. Slave masters understood that control over slaves could not be based solely on physical coercion and it was also understood that literate slaves would eventually demand the same rights that whites enjoyed; I discuss this in Chapter 7 of my book.

James Baldwin: “You cannot underestimate the importance of writing. Writers describe things which other people are too busy to describe. I didn’t decide to become a writer I discovered I was one.”

Neil Gaiman, “Writers have an obligation to write true things. Truth is not in what happens but in what it tells us about who we are. Writers have an obligation not to bore our readers, but to make them need to turn the pages. One of the best cures for a reluctant reader is after all a tale they cannot stop themselves reading. And while we must tell our readers true things and give them arms and pass on whatever wisdom we have gleaned from our short stay on this green world, we have an obligation to not preach, not to lecture, not to force predigested morals and messages down our reader’s throats like adult birds feeding their babies pre-masticated maggots.”

Toni Morrison, “I agree but wish to add, that if there is a book you want to read that hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one who writes it.”

Toni Morrison (1931 – 2019)

Author Joanne Reed, “Exactly, I always wanted to read a book that inspires and challenges me, a book about important subjects like love, money, and health in an educational and fun to read way; a book that contains a treasure trove of wisdom gathered from people who succeeded in their own Quests, where I can learn lessons from history and can have conversation with philosophers. I never found such a book, so decided to follow the advice of Toni Morrison and wrote the book myself!”

Superpowers Conclusion

I would like to thank my guests for agreeing to participate. In closing, for National Book Lover’s Day, I hope this discussion has reminded you of the power of knowledge and to help appreciate the story teller’s contribution to this art. Books don’t write themselves, and books are how to have superpowers!

Words have tremendous energy and power, they have the ability to educate, to help, to heal, to illuminate the minds.

“Books are our sole means of having superhuman powers while remaining resolutely human.”

If you liked this post you can follow me on Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook, or you may also like:

For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on


Understanding The Psychology of Willful Blindness

The very fact that willful blindness is willed makes it interesting to understand the psychology of willful blindness.

20/20 vision is a term used to express normal visual acuity (the clarity or sharpness of vision) measured at a distance of 20 feet. Visual acuity is measured by your ability to identify letters or numbers on a standardized eye chart from a given distance. About 35% of the adult population have 20/20 vision and can see clearly without glasses, contact lenses or corrective surgery.  

Check your Vision and Perception of Reality

Vision is a broader term than visual acuity or eyesight, in addition to sharpness of sight or simply a description of the ability to see, the term ‘vision’ usually includes a wider range of visual abilities and skills which include contrast sensitivity, the ability to track moving objects, color vision, depth perception, focusing speed and so on.

Our eyes can be tested, and corrected if required, which tends to make us think that our view of things reflects an objective reality, but this is often not the case. What we perceive as an ‘objectiveperception of reality is actually a creation of our own minds, a figment of our imagination, an image we have created, and our perceptions can be wrong.

The problem is that once we have created our perception of reality we don’t like to see it proven wrong and will perform all kinds of mental gymnastics to demonstrate that we are right. Even the most objectively testable ideas can be right and wrong at the same time (according to our own personal perceptions) and can co-exist until such a time as they must be tested.

I thought about this concept of being simultaneously right and wrong while I was in Madrid last week, exploring the city with my youngest daughter Alizé. Alizé was my navigator and her mission was to guide us from El Retiro Park back to the city center. Once we’d walked further than I’d expected and noticed her confidence started to wane, I dropped some subtle hints that maybe we were going the wrong way. Alizé insisted she was right but, looking at the map, I realized that we’d gone in the totally opposite direction!

Having pointed out my daughter’s navigational errors, did she willingly change her mind to match my perception? No, she took offense that I questioned her map reading skills!

My critique was delivered in the calmest and most nonchalant of ways. I was not angry, I was not worried about being lost, nor were we expected anywhere, so everything was just fine. Using the map as an objective test of reality I eventually proved to my lovely daughter that we were indeed in the wrong place. Once her perception had been shattered, she resigned her position with immediate effect and said in a very theatrical manner, “Who needs a map anyway? This map is stupid. I can find our way back just using my intuition!

We’re lost! What do you mean lost?

I burst out laughing, proven wrong and pushed in a corner with no way out, my daughter’s reaction was to crack a joke and be flamboyant!

Willful Blindness

Willful blindness’ is the scientific term for ignoring the obvious.  Psychologist, author, CEO and part-time lecturer Margaret Heffernan explains the psychology of willful blindness in her book, Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at our Peril:’

“The psychology of willful blindness is a human phenomenon to which we all succumb in matters little and large. We can’t notice and know everything. So, this means that we train our brain to filter or edit the information we want to let in. Consequently, what we choose to let out is crucial. The tendency is for us to let in information that makes us feel good about ourselves, whilst conveniently filtering out whatever unsettles our fragile ego and most vital beliefs. Fear of conflicts and fear of change keep us that way. The problem with this is that everything outside that warm, safe circle is in our blind spot, making us willfully blind!”

Physician Robert Burton who also authored ‘Believing You Are Right Even When You’re Not’ and ‘A Skeptic’s Guide to the Mind: What Neuroscience Can and Cannot Tell Us About Ourselves’ has studied why our brains tend to reject information that challenges our worldview or broadens our outlook; he illustrates his findings with a beautiful analogy:

“Imagine the gradual formation of a riverbed. The initial flow of water might be completely random. There are no preferred routes in the beginning. But once a creek is formed, water is more likely to follow this newly created path of least resistance. As the water continue, the creek deepens, and a river develops. Over the course of our lives, our accumulation of experiences, relationships, and ideas shapes the proverbial riverbed of the mind and the water begins to flow with less and less resistance, which in turns produces a sense of certainty and ease that only deepens the riverbed.

Our minds have ‘riverbeds,’ channels through which we see things because that’s how we’ve always seen things, anything outside those channels are filtered out.

The good news is that willful blindness or ‘channel-thinking’ isn’t a fatal diagnosis of the human condition. Margaret Heffernan also explains:

Willful blindness may be our natural evolutionary cultivated tendency, but the plasticity and responsiveness of our minds is what makes each of us most remarkable and our capability to change can never be underestimated.”


Understanding the psychology of willful blindness and that our perceptions are not objective reality is important for many reasons. For instance, the world is full of conflict from nations at war, to couples fighting over who does more chores, to children fighting over a toy, or map reading in Madrid. These conflicts often occur in part because we think that we are right and that the person we are disagreeing with is wrong. But the truth is that we both are seeing our own biased perceptions of things. The other side has a different perception of how things are, but that does not mean they are wrong.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to see more clearly, be aware of your own misperceptions, and most importantly keep a sense of humor and grace whether you ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ or both.

If you liked this post you can follow me on Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook, or you may also like:

For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on


Athena Goddess of War

Last week I was in Madrid, one of Europe’s most amazing cities, exciting and dynamic, with beautiful architecture everywhere you look. Dating back to the 9th century, Madrid has a rich history and has been the capital of Spain since 1606. El Retiro Park, located in the center of Madrid was originally a royal garden built for King Felipe IV in 1632 but has been open to the public since the Glorious Revolution of 1868. At the center of the 12-hectare park is a large artificial lake, El Estanque del Retiro and a monument dedicated to King Alfonso XII. The monument itself is a grand and elaborate curved colonnade, topped with a bronze equestrian statue of the king by sculptor Mariano Benlliure and incorporates the work of 21 other artists. One of those works is a sculpture of Athena Goddess of War herself!

Athena Goddess of War and Author Joanne Reed

I am not kidding! I met Goddess Athena in Madrid; she was looking very majestic and godly sitting at the focal point of the park watching over the lake. You can imagine my excitement at the sight of her there. Goddess Athena and I have been talking for a little while and our conversations have always been through ‘dreamy channels,’ but this time, I was standing right next to her while she imparted more of her godly wisdom about the Art of War.

Goddess Athena, daughter of Zeus, was known as both as ‘Athena Goddess of War‘ and ‘Athena Goddess of Wisdom.’ You may legitimately think, “How can the Goddess of War also be the Goddess of Wisdom?”, those two attributes do not seem to work well together!  Ares, son of Zeus and Athena’s brother was also a God of War; he was the patron of chaotic battles, extreme violence and slaughter, great pain, suffering and devastation. Athena was his antithesis; she was the patron of controlled strength, strategy, organized fighting, advanced weaponry and battlefield tactics. Athena excelled at mediation and always worked to prevent war, but if war could not be avoided, she was a fierce warrior and was known for never having lost a battle.

Goddess Athena meeting Author Joanne Reed at El Estanque del Retiro, Madrid

The Spanish Empire is described as the first truly global empire and the first to be known as “the Empire on which the sun never sets.” Between the late 15th to the early 19th centuries, Spain controlled a huge overseas territory, so, I asked Goddess Athena:

Author Joanne Reed: “Spaniards were great explorers; they were the first to venture to faraway lands across unknown oceans, and went further than anyone before them. What made them so successful?”

Goddess Athena: “You already know the answer to this question; it’s in Chapter 1 of your book, ‘This Is Your Quest.’”

Author Joanne Reed:Exploration started at sea, intrepid navigators and explorers crossed oceans to venture to faraway lands in pursuit of fame and fortune. The Quest for those navigators and explorers was for gold, spices, plants, medicine, knowledge and to establish trading posts.”

Goddess Athena: “Yes, but the role of the navy in these overseas pursuits was critical. The Spanish navy used the lake in El Retiro Park as a ‘playground’ for their naval practices because practice makes perfect.

Author Joanne Reed: “Did they have to practice? Couldn’t they just devise a war strategy?”

Goddess Athena: “No, knowing without doing is like not knowing at all. You cannot learn to ride a bicycle by reading a step-by-step guide. You have to go outside,  practice, stumble, fall off, get back on and do it over and over again until it becomes second nature. The same principle applies to everything else you do.”

Author Joanne Reed: “Wouldn’t it feel a little silly to hold mock naval battles in a lake?”

Goddess Athena: “No, because even if we have the intellectual capacity to quickly grasp concepts and ideas it is a mistake to believe that we also know how to execute them right away. Learning something new is hard, especially at the beginning when we struggle and make mistakes.  The reality is that the only way to learn something new is to practice, get feedback, refine your approach, and practice again.”

Your mission, should you accept it, is to pay attention to a Goddess, identify your goals and put them into practice until you reach your objectives and claim victory.

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For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on


Advice From Athena Goddess of Wisdom – Navigating Choppy Waters

Advice From Athena Goddess of Wisdom – Navigating Choppy Waters

Life is full of ups and downs; one day we can be sitting on top of the world and the next we can find ourselves in the gutter with problems we don’t know how to solve. Some days you may feel that you are swaying unsteadily on a tightrope between one extreme and another, between good moments and bad. We all have to accept the fact that life’s journey will sometimes take us on rocky paths, through choppy waters or down dark alleys. Who better than Athena Goddess of Wisdom to help us deal with those challenging times?

Aristotle said, “It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light;” you have probably also heard “there is light at the end of the tunnel,” maybe this is the light that Aristotle was talking about.

If you read my previous post you would know Athena Goddess of Wisdom has agreed to talk to me on a regular basis to impart some of her godly wisdom. Who better to ask about seeing the light?

Athena Goddess of Wisdom

Goddess Athena is often depicted as a warrior holding a spear and wearing a golden helmet. Goddess Athena was admired and renowned for her role as judge, diplomat, and mediator, but it was as a mediator and planner that she really excelled. Goddess Athena was known for her superb logic and intellect, her decisions were well-considered and displayed great compassion. She avoided war whenever possible, but if negotiations failed, she could turn herself into a fierce warrior and was known to have never lost a battle.

Author Joanne Reed

Author Joanne Reed, “Goddess Athena, I am grateful for another opportunity to talk. Last time, your advice was to ‘Be like a River.’ However, not all rivers are calm and peaceful, some are tumultuous, dangerous, churning. How can mortals navigate these choppy waters and life’s ups and downs?”

Goddess Athena, “Tell your fellow mortals to ‘Be like a Cave.’ Tell them to stay calm, to breath deep and find beauty in unexpected places. Tell them to search inward and see the ‘hole’ picture. Tell them that good things take time and that they should look beneath the surface and hang tight”.

Goddess Athena, “My last words are to REED Joanne’s book ‘This Is Your Quest’ and keep tuned-in to her blog. I will be talking to her regularly to share more ‘divine wisdom’ to spread more joy and happiness.

Advice from a Cave

Your mission, should you choose to accept, is to listen to Nature, be like a cave, pay attention to a Goddess and just do what she says!

Advice from a Cave is part of the True Nature series by Ilan Shamir.

If you liked this post you can follow me on Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook, or you may also like:

For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on