Categories
Be Happy Self-Help

How Can We Find Hope Amid Uncertainty and Conflict?

Whether we think about it or not, Hope is part of everyone’s life. How can we find Hope? Everyone hopes for something. We are living in an age of despair and fractured communities where we are being forced to alienate ourselves from our family, friends, colleagues, and clients. The world currently is filled with fear, stress, and sadness, and it can become second nature to develop a negative worldview and a feeling of hopelessness. There seems to be more pain than we can heal, more dissent than we can mediate, and more uncertainty than we can comprehend.

In times like this, what can we do to comfort ourselves, and the people around us? We can call upon Hope to step into our life. Hope is a powerful antidote to feelings of despair and desolation. Hope acts as the light in the midst of darkness and will bring you renewed optimism and vitality. Hope doesn’t mean that life has to be all rainbows and butterflies, it doesn’t mean that you are always happy and that you can’t feel emotions like hurt, sadness, or anger, but it does mean that your view of your circumstances and those of the world around you goes beyond what it is actually happening.

We should try not to focus so much on all the negativity that surrounds us, but we should learn to focus instead on all the good things that are happening in the world because it is always there but it is buried under a thick layer of muck. It is not unusual to find yourself feeling down in the dumps. When this happens we let our Hope slips away. Thankfully, we do not have to let ourselves linger in a hopeless place; we can find Hope again through a simple smile, a hug, or a kind word from someone who is special to us. Some days, we feel lost. We look at the situation around us, and everything seems empty, open, and devoid of Hope. When this happens, we can almost physically feel ourselves starting to spiral into a depression. But it doesn’t have to be this way. With every passing moment, there is an opportunity for change.

How can we find hope? Hope can be found in many places.

How can we find hope? Photo featuring Alize Reed by Thierry Nikolaeff @terydiving. Dress by Nathalie Pezzotta-Davranche @lartisanecouture.

I found Hope at the bottom of a pool in Réunion Island. Meet my youngest daughter; today you can call her Hope, but her real name is Alizé she was named after the wind that blows over the Island. From the confines of my Island, Alizé had an amazing underwater photoshoot experience thanks to a scuba diver photographer by the name of Thierry Nikolaeff @terydiving and an amazing dressmaker by the name of Nathalie Pezzotta-Davranche @lartisanecouture. Those underwater photoshoots are not easy, but she got the gist of it fairly quickly. There are no tricks on those pictures, just Alizé, an amazing dress, and a scuba diver photographer.

We all had days where we are feeling down in the dumps, and if we are not careful, we can let our hopes and aspirations slip away. But don’t let yourself linger in a hopeless place; if you lift your head up and look around you will find Hope in many places; you can find Hope in a simple smile, a kind word, or a hug and some other places too. Hope triggers a sense of purpose and aspirations during desperate times. Hope provides a haven from pessimism and fear. It galvanizes our courage and mobilizes our energy and vitality. It enhances our mood and our creative thinking. Hope can be found in small successes. A lot of times we find Hope and Aspiration in big victories and accomplishments; the problem is, large-scale victories and accomplishments don’t happen that often. So, don’t forget to celebrate the small victories, you will find Hope laying there too.

Hope is the place you want to go when you find yourself sitting in a dark place. Hope is the name of the person you want to know where all the people around you are spreading fear and misery. Hope is the seed that is buried deep inside you that you want to sprinkle around like magic fairy dust. Hope is the feeling that carries you through, no matter what.”

Joanne Reed

How can we find hope? Find Hope in action.

Hope is not just a lovely fluffy, romanticized, and noble idea; hoping for things to get better without doing something about it is not enough. We have to spring into action and be more intentional about our hopes and aspirations for the future. If you think that all the problems of the world will be resolved as soon as we can all agree on how to move forward, then you are kidding yourself because instead of going to that place called Hope, you will swim in an Ocean of Despair.

How can we find hope? Photo featuring Alize Reed by Thierry Nikolaeff @terydiving. Dress by Nathalie Pezzotta-Davranche @lartisanecouture.

Asking everyone to agree on one thing is an impossibility, and the earlier we realize this, the better it will be. Being able to work together and live in a semi-harmonious manner with our neighbors and within our community is good enough. Don’t try to aim for a utopic world vision seen through pink-tinted glasses where everyone loves and helps each other. Stay real and grounded, it is not about friendship and interacting only with the people you like and the people who think the same way as you think. Life is about getting along with people who are different from you, with people you find boring, annoying, or even objectionable because the challenges that face us as a group are more important than our personal likes and dislikes. It doesn’t matter what people believe, what matters is what they do. Agree on actions.

Humans are naturally cooperative and loving. We raise children and care for pets. Divide and conquer is a strategy that has been used since the beginning of time by a small group of people who are thriving to exert control over the populace. The more energy is expended by the public fighting among themselves the less anger is directed at the overlord class. It is a Machiavellian ploy. Do not fall into this trap.

Having said, that there are times when you have to protect and isolate yourself from the toxicity that emanates from some people. The who and what you surround yourself with dictates whether or not you have a positive or negative worldview. There is power in surrounding yourself with positive people, environments, and experiences that bring you joy and encourage you to become the person you want to be. There are people out there who are so stuck in their own way of thinking with zero amount of self-awareness that is not worth you spending your time and energy with them. They are like vampires; they will suck the energy and all Hope out of you. Instead, put some effort into surrounding yourself with elements that send you positive energy and distance yourself from negativity.

“Bees don’t waste their time explaining to flies that honey is better than shit.”

A Wise Man

But I digress, let’s get back to Hope. Hope can be found in many places, at the bottom of a swimming pool on a faraway Island, during a walk in nature, in the company of friends, family, and strangers, whilst listening to your favorite songs, or whilst giving a helping hand to those who are less fortunate than you. Hope is more than simple optimism, it is more mysterious, delicate, and elusive but it is something that we must cultivate because without Hope there is no life.

And this my dear friend, is your quest.

Personal Note

DDI Chat – Personal Growth – One-to-one Chat with Joanne Reed

In addition to publishing my articles on my website, I have also been publishing on Medium. I have been working closely for the past months with Data-Driven Investor (DDI) Publication.  DDI has recently launched a new marketplace/platform where people can book a paid one-to-one session with an expert of their choice.  DDI asked me to join their panel of advisors/experts in the Leadership, Coaching, and Personal Growth category.  Here is my profile. If you wish to book a one-to-one chat with me you can do so on this platform.

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 Booksradar.com

Categories
Be Happy Self-Help

Back home

I have always had great difficulties answering the question “Where are you from?” This seemingly innocuous question always throws me back a little because I don’t have a simple answer to give to that question without having to explain my whole life story including giving an impromptu geography lesson to the person asking the question. I was born and raised on Réunion Island, a place that most people on the planet have never heard about. Location: Indian Ocean. Tropic of Capricorn. Coordinates: 21.11 degree South Latitude. 55.53-degree East Longitude. Official language French & Creole. I am a French national married to an English man and I have spent the past 30 years living overseas (England, USA, New Zealand, South Korea.) I recently reentered my homeland to settle back on my island. Coming back to Réunion Island after so many years away has made me think about the concept of Home Sweet Home.

Home sweet home

Home sweet home. Case Creole. L’entre-Deux. Photo by Joanne Reed.

Home is a fluid concept, and it means different things to different people. For a lot of people, home is strongly connected to one particular place where you operate within familiar landscapes, sounds, and smells, a common language, with family and friends around you. It is the place where things are predictable and secure. But home is more than your birthplace; home is the place where you feel comfortable as a family member, as a member of society, as a friend, it is the place where you feel that you belong, and where you feel involved with its surroundings.

My two daughters were a bit confused about this concept of home when they were younger. We were living in South Korea at that time making regular trips to England, Australia, and Reunion to visit family members during school vacation. I remember one particular conversation I had with my eldest daughter, Maya who was 9 or 10 at the time, “Mummy, where is home?”. I knew that she was getting a bit confused with this concept, so I thought carefully about the type of answer I should offer to her and said: “Home is where your family is”. She thought about this a little bit, and I knew when she smiled back, that I somehow managed to clear all the confusion that was running through her head with one simple sentence -“Home is where your family is”. From that day onwards, everything was clear for Maya, our immediate family was living in Korea, where both of her parents were working and where she and her youngest sister were going to school; so, Korea was home. We have family living in England, in Australia, and on Reunion Island, and traveling to those places to meet up with them took us to another one of our homes. All those places were also home to my daughters whenever we visited them.

Away from home

Back Home. Case Creole. Photo by Joanne Reed – L’Entre-Deux, Ile de la Reunion

When I was a child, I dreamed of the day when I would leave my island which felt very small and very insular. I wanted to travel and see the world. Foreign lands like the USA and Europe had an iconic status to me. I wanted to go there and see for myself what it was like to live in those places.

I feel blessed that my studies, my career as a lawyer, and my husband helped make my dream of living and working in foreign lands a reality. I lived and worked in San Francisco (USA), London (UK), Auckland (New Zealand), and Seoul(South Korea.)

Living and working in those countries taught me a lot about the country itself but also about myself. I learned that I have a great capacity to adapt to changes, meet and connect with lots of different people, blend in and operate happily as a stranger in a strange land.

People develop a strong emotional attachment to the places they live because their physical surroundings play an important role in creating a sense of meaning and organization in their lives. The result is that the place where we live is closely tied to who we are as a person. Living in big cities such as San Francisco, London and Seoul fitted perfectly to who I was when I was a young lawyer working hard and trying to find her place in the working environment. Many years later, my aspirations are different. I aspire for peace and quiet, I want to live in a comfortable and close to nature kind of environment.

Back home

Back Home. La Chappelle. Cilaos – Photo by Joanne Reed. Ile de la Reunion

Life events have sent me back home on my island after 30 years of living overseas. I must be honest, I had mixed feelings about this return back home. I wasn’t sure if I could find my place among the locals after so many years away. I am happy to say that my return back home went really well, thanks to the amazing network of family and friends that I have retained here on the island. Managing to keep those connections alive over the years was so worth it. There is a special type of comfort in knowing that your friends and family are here for you, that they will back you up, cheer you up, understand you and take care of you. And it is comforting to know that whether you are near or far love will always hold you close.

After so many years spent overseas, I have learned that there is no such thing as the perfect place. The perfect place to live does not exist, there are advantages and disadvantages everywhere you go. There is always a mixed bag of good and bad. You have to make the most of what your current location is offering you, and you have to make do with the inconveniences and unpleasantness of things that irritate you with the place where you live.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Marcel Proust.

Island living has plenty of advantages. The beach is never far away, and the mountains are a drive away. Family and friends are plenty and as for opportunities, it is up to you to make them happen. I am having lots of fun re-discovery my island and looking at it with fresh eyes. I appreciate the beauty the island has to offer, its clean air, the amazing sceneries, and the people who inhabit it. When I wake up every morning I am trying to look at my new surroundings with fresh eyes and not through a veil of memory and assumptions.

People have a tendency to take people and places around them for granted. Familiarity makes us forget how blessed we are to be connected to this particular person or to be living in a particular environment. Once things become familiar to us, we no longer see them. We must become more intentional and see those things and those people with a pair of fresh eyes. It is easy for people to put a label on everything and everyone, based on some interactions that happened in the past. When we interact with someone, we should try to put a fresh eye on this particular interaction and resist the temptation to bring our past experience with that person as the only criteria to rely on, thinking that we already know what that person is all about. People changes, a good person can turn into a bad person and a bad person can turn into a good person at any given moment. Don’t make assumptions about people based on your past experience with them. Keep your interaction with them fresh.

Coming back home after many years overseas made me realize that home is where your friends and family are. Home is not a place, it is a feeling. Keep looking at life and people with a fresh pair of eyes.

And this, my dear friend, is your Quest.

Personal Note

DDI Chat – Personal Growth – One-to-one Chat with Joanne Reed

In addition to publishing my articles on my website, I have also been publishing on Medium. I have been working closely for the past months with Data-Driven Investor (DDI) Publication.  DDI has recently launched a new marketplace/platform where people can book a paid one-to-one session with an expert of their choice.  DDI asked me to join their panel of advisors/experts in the Leadership, Coaching, and Personal Growth category.  Here is my profile. If you wish to book a one-to-one chat with me you can do so on this platform.

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 Booksradar.com

Categories
Be Happy Be Healthy Self-Help

work it.

Work is part of our lives, and it starts from the day we are born. As brand-new infants, we have to figure out a way to drink that milk that will keep us alive whether it comes directly from our mother or from a bottle, and for a little person, it requires effort and hard work getting through that bottle. As a toddler, we have to work our way through a nursery. As a child we have to start doing some real hard work going through school to learn A, B, C. As young adults we leave high school with our diploma to walk straight into university. After a few years on Campus, we leave with a degree to walk straight into a job that will keep us busy for the next 30 to 40 years, whilst working on building a family and a home at the same time. Finally, we get to have a break in our olden days to enjoy some peace and quiet time during our retirement, where the only work we have to do is to babysit our grandchildren from time to time.

We can’t escape the fact that work is part of who we are and what we do. Some people say work is a curse, and labor is a misfortune, and for sure if we are given the choice to laze around or to do some work, most people would jump at the chance to laze around. But how long can you stay satisfied laying down on your sofa doing nothing? What if we can make work our passion? I say, work it and let’s make our life a work of art.

Work it.

Hard work is always the baseline of great achievements. Photo by wayhome Studio via freepik.com

Being successful at something requires hard work, sweat, tears, discipline, and patience. In the olden days, if you wanted to enter a profession you had to find a master who was willing to take you under his wings and enter into an apprenticeship to learn the craft. The normal length of an apprenticeship was 10 years; learning the craft required patience, discipline, and dedication. The modern concept of this is the 10,000 hours required to master a skill as described by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers. Hard work is always the baseline of great achievements.

Robert Greene called this Mastery. He wrote a whole book about it. “

“Anyone who would spend ten years absorbing the techniques and conventions of their field, trying them out, mastering them, exploring and personalizing them, would inevitably find their authentic voice and give birth to something unique and expressive. Embrace slowness as a virtue in itself.”

Robert Greene

Olympians become at the top of their games by investing years of their lives into training, by getting their body ready to perform at its optimum level, and by building the strength of character and mental toughness that is necessary to become a champion; the same applies to your life as well. There is always work to be done and this is best describe by Maya Angelou who wrote a poem titled Women’s work. Below is a short extract from that poem.

Women’s work by Maya Angelou

I’ve got the children to tend. The clothes to mend

The floor to mop. The food to shop

Then the chicken to fry. The baby to dry

I got company to feed. The garden to weed

I’ve got shirts to press. The tots to dress

I gotta clean up this hut. Then see about the sick

And the cotton to pick…

Work of art.

Make your life a work of art. Photo by Wayhome Studio via freepikc.com

For a lot of people, work is just something they have to do to earn a living, put a roof over their head, pay their bills and put food on the table. For the lucky ones (a small minority) work is their passion. Who wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to turn their passion into their work? For some people finding their passion is easy, they were born knowing what it was; what is less easy is to get started and to do it consistently. For others, finding their passion is not so obvious. The problem is that a lot of people believe that their passion is hiding somewhere, maybe behind a tree or underneath a rock. The truth is that our passion comes first from doing things, and then doing them right.

We should get into the habit of injecting passion, not all the things that we do. If we do this consistently, a time will come when something stands out above all the other things, and that is the very thing that we should devote more time to doing passionately. That’s all there is to it, just do it. Work it! But what if you have no passion to create anything? In that case, the only thing you have to do is to listen to the philosopher Carl Jung.

“If you have nothing at all to create, then perhaps you create yourself. To give style to one’s character is a great and rare art.”

Carl Jung

How about turning yourself into a work of art? Maybe the healthiest person you could be? Or maybe a deep philosophical thinker? And when you got it, flaunt it.

“Consider making your life a work of art. You have yourself to begin with and a time of uncertain duration to work on it. You do not have to be who you are, even though you may be quite content with who and what you are; it will not be hard for you to think of something greater than you might become; it need not be something spectacular or even something that will attract any notice from others. What it will be is a kind of excellence that you project for yourself and then attain. Something you can look at with honest self-appraisal and be proud of. Make your life a work of art!

Richard Taylor

Work-In-Progress

I like to think of myself as Work-In-Progress. I work hard, perspire a lot during the process. I cry many tears along the way, get deflated when the outcome doesn’t match the input of energy I invested in the project, but I made it my quest to make my life a work of art. When you glance over my work, you are catching a glimpse of my soul. I march to my own beat, and wildly dance to my own rhythm, as I turn my passion into my work. Make your life a work of art.

And this my dear friend is your Quest.

Personal Note

DDI Chat – Personal Growth – One-to-one Chat with Joanne Reed

In addition to publishing my articles on my website, I have also been publishing on Medium. I have been working closely for the past months with Data-Driven Investor (DDI) Publication.  DDI has recently launched a new marketplace/platform where people can book a paid one-to-one session with an expert of their choice.  DDI asked me to join their panel of advisors/experts in the Leadership, Coaching, and Personal Growth category.  Here is my profile. If you wish to book a one-to-one chat with me you can do so on this platform.

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 Booksradar.com

Categories
Self-Help

Essential Life Lessons. Me, Myself and I.

There are many essential life lessons that we know but forgot. Practicing stillness is one of them. You may be one of those people who are feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the well-intended advice that is flowing freely on all social media platforms. There is an abundance of therapists, dieticians, life coaches, gurus, motivators who will happily share with you their best advice, and a list of 15 inspirational life lessons that you must learn and practice every day. But by the time you arrive at number 7 on that list you forgot the first 4 pieces of advice.

Instead of trying to remember 15 life lessons in one go and try to implement them all at once, I propose focusing on one life lesson at one time. This is the first article in a series of articles where I will be sharing essential life lessons you know but forgot. People know what’s good and what’s bad for them, the only problem is that they lack conviction and willpower. Constant repetition carries conviction. So, my mission in this article is to kindly remind you of something you already know but fail to act upon and push you in a gentle kind of way to take the first step towards practicing those life lessons more regularly and consistently.

Essential Life lesson number 1: Me, myself and I. Practice Stillness

Practicing stillness is an essential life lesson that is being taught by wise men. Let’s be guided by the words of two wise men, Socrates, and Blaise Pascal.

According to Socrates: “The source of all wisdom and clarity is to know thyself.” And according to Blaise Pascal “, All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone”.

Too often our minds are caught in a cycle of stimulus and mindless distractions, practicing the art of being still will definitely help you unclutter your mind and help you get accustomed to being in your own company, free to let your mind wander wherever it wants to go.

Essential Life Lessons. Me, Myself and I. Photo by Mallivan via freepik.com

Being still is not an easy state of being, humans are social creatures by nature, we dread boredom, and we are unfit to endure extreme cases of isolation. If we are alone for too long our mental faculties can degrade leading to a state of insanity and deep despair. The use of solitary confinement and exile are effective tools of punishment.

But our modern-day fears are not restricted to extreme cases of isolation, rather many of us fear being alone for any period of time, and being alone is something to be avoided at all costs. Not only are we afraid of being alone individually, but we are also afraid of those around us who seem to be very happy in their own company. We see them as dangerous, unsocial, or maybe even unwanted.

The paradox these days is that we have never been so connected to each other and feeling so alone at the same time. Information technology is everywhere, the invention of the radio, the telephone, television, mobile phone, and the internet has brought us closer together allowing anyone in the world instant access to another person via video conference call. These days, you just have to press a button and instantaneously you are transported to the other side of the world. The problem is, we now live in a world where we are connected to everyone except ourselves.

Life lesson number 1.1: Stillness and solitude allow you to tune into your intuition.

The question is: why would I want to be alone when I don’t have to? Because it is only in solitude that you will learn to know yourself and learn how to tune into your intuition. An essential life lesson is that practicing stillness allows you to tune into your intuition. It can be uncomfortable to sit quietly in a room by ourselves and most of us will use all the noise of the outside world to block out that discomfort; except that this discomfort will not go away, it is still there and will remain there until you address it.

Moments of solitude allow us to be more tuned into our intuition. Intuition is the ability to understand something immediately without the need for conscious reasoning. Intuition and insights can come to us through many forms, a deep inner feeling, an image, a word, an inspirational thought, or from a book, whatever form they take, it always gives us a deep sense of inner knowing that brings clarity and joy. If we are operating in a state of constant agitation, hustling and bustling constantly, we will not be tuned in the right frequency to pick up those insights and receive such gifts.

Essential Life Lessons. Practice Stillness. Tune into your intuition. Photo by Mallivan via freepik.com

Moments of solitude put us in the right state of mind, ready to accept the gift of insight with gratitude, humility, and appreciation.

“Solitude for the mind is as essential as food is for the body. In solitude we can forge our character away from the often-constricted external demands of others and maintain our independence in the relationships we cultivate this ensuring we do not, like many today, lose our identity in them.”

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Essential Life lesson number 1.2: Stillness is the key

What does stillness mean? Stillness means to be steady while the world spins around you. Socrates tells us that philosophy begins with wonder, and wonder is rooted in stillness. Other philosophers from various schools of thought have come to a similar conclusion, namely that the ultimate destination in our life journey is to master the stillness that is required to become masters of our own life. Ryan Holiday’s book Stillness Is the Key, describes the philosophy of stillness, or the art of being still, and how important stillness is for self-mastery, discipline, and focus in our modern noisy world.

Stillness is an attainable path to enlightenment, excellence, greatness, and happiness, it can inspire new ideas, sharpens perspective, and illuminate the mind. Stillness slows the ball down so we can hit it, it generates a vision, helps us resist the passion of the mob, and makes space for gratitude and wonder. Stillness allows us to persevere, to succeed, a key to unlock the insights of genius.

Stillness is not some soft, new-age nonsense of the domain of the monks or sages but in fact an essential component to peak performance in every domain of life. Among the various philosophical and religious schools, such as Buddhism, stoicism, Epicureanism, Christianity, Hinduism, etc., it is impossible not to find a philosophy of stillness that does not venerate inner peace or stillness of the mind.

A paradox of stillness is that it requires you to think very deeply, but also clear your mind. In fact, this is not a paradox as once our mind is cleared and emptied insights and breakthroughs can occur. Muddy waters clear themselves through stillness; if we let them settle the truth will be revealed to us. Another paradox is that stillness does not require that you stop moving or even to be somewhere quiet, stillness can be cultivated while chaos swirls around you. Those moments, in a busy shopping mall or airport, when somehow all the external noise is filtered out and you feel a sense of calm and can focus on what is in your control, that is stillness.“If solitude is the school of genius, then the crowded, busy world is the purgatory of the idiot” Edward Gibbon, Historian.

Stillness is an important tool on your journey to find clarity. The ability to see clearly not only when you are meditating, but in the midst of conflict when you are frustrated, angry, or scared, will help you find a more logical, less emotional response, and give you choices to do things differently, or do nothing at all.

Learn the art of being able to sit quietly somewhere and be still with just you and yourself for company.

And this my dear friend is your Quest.

DDI Chat – Personal Growth – One-to-one Chat with Joanne Reed

In addition to publishing my articles on my website, I have also been publishing on Medium. I have been working closely for the past months with Data-Driven Investor (DDI) Publication.  DDI has recently launched a new marketplace/platform where people can book a paid one-to-one session with an expert of their choice.  DDI asked me to join their panel of advisors/experts in the Leadership, Coaching, and Personal Growth category.  Here is my profile. If you wish to book a one-to-one chat with me you can do so on this platform.

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 Booksradar.com.

The audio version of my book “This Is your Quest ” is available. Feel free to check it out and use this special Promotion code.

Categories
Self-Help

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.”

Perceptions

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 Booksradar.com.

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Be Happy

Don’t Worry Be Happy – The Benefits of Music

‘Don’t Worry Be Happy’ is a popular song by Bobby McFerrin; its lyrics go like this:

Here is a little song I wrote.
You might want to sing it note for note.
Don’t worry, be happy.
In every life we have some trouble.
But when you worry you make it double.
Don’t worry, be happy.
‘Cause when you worry your face will frown.
And that will bring everybody down.
So, don’t worry be happy.”

Not Worrying, Being Happy

Music can make you happy and worry less! Listening to music causes the brain to release dopamine, a feel-good chemical. Essentially, people love music for much the same reason they’re drawn to sex, drugs, gambling, and delicious food. Music can change your mood, can help you communicate, is creative, but it doesn’t exactly have a point. Music is a highly developed art form, but one that remains essentially playful, we don’t say that we ‘work the piano’, we say we play the piano, the trumpet, the guitar and so on. Music is also not about finishing, if it were then the best musicians would be the ones who could play the fastest, no, the point of music is the music itself and the journey that it takes you on.

There is a branch of philosophy, ‘Philosophy of Music,’ that asks fundamental questions about the nature of music and our experience of it. Susan Langer, an American philosopher, and writer (one of the first women in American history to achieve an academic career in philosophy) described, “Music, through its temporal form, mirrors and reveals the inner nature of emotions, their shape, rhythm, and tempo. Music thus provides a uniquely faithful, as well as particularly lucid image of the inner life.”

As well as listening to music, learning to play music builds skills that can make a difference in both your professional and social life. Music trains your patience and discipline, it requires commitment and perseverance, but it also builds your confidence – particularly if you ever perform on stage, or even just in front of your family. Playing music can lower your blood pressure, increase your immune response, and heck, it can even make you smarter!

My youngest daughter Alizé is our family musician, she sings, plays the piano, the trumpet, and the ukulele. She’s not a professional, maybe one day, but I have really enjoyed seeing how music has helped her develop, express herself, and most important of all – to have fun. Alizé is singing ‘Butterfly’ by Little Mix in the video below.

My youngest daughter, Alizé singing ‘Butterfly’ by Little Mix

LIFE IS MUSICAL IN NATURE. The whole point of life is to live and enjoy, so do it while the music plays.  Take your time, appreciate each and every moment, try not to worry because when you do, it makes ‘your face will frown, and that will bring everybody down.’

Your Quest, my dear friend, is ‘Don’t worry, be happy’.

If you liked this post please check out my other posts or my Author Page at Amazon.com.

If you liked this post, you may also like:

8 Flavors of Love – Which One Are You?
Why Things Are Not Always What They Seem
Being in a State of Flow. The Key to Happiness?
A Compass to a Meaningful Life
Positivity vs. Negativity – Battle of the Fittest
How to Have Superpowers and Remain Resolutely Human.
#1 Spot! Sweet! Thank you to my French readers for keeping me there!
Understanding The Psychology of Willful Blindness
Goddess Athena – The Art of War

If you liked this post please check out my other posts or my Author Page at Amazon.com.

 

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Self-Help

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.


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 Booksradar.com.

Categories
Be Happy

Activate Your Own Fountain of Youth

The Fountain of Youth Legend

For centuries the Quest for eternal youth, immortality, or ‘just’ a prolonged life has been a topic of various myths, legends, and quests. The Fountain of Youth is a spring that supposedly restores the youth of anyone who drinks or bathes in its waters.

Alexander the Great searched for the Fountain in the 5th century AD and was said to have found a healing “River of Paradise.” In Japan, in ancient times and today, stories of hot springs that could heal wounds and restore youth are common. Similar stories were prominent among Caribbean people during the early 16th century, who spoke of the restorative powers of the water in the mythical land of Bimini.

Explorers and adventurers have long looked for the elusive Fountain of Youth or at least some remedy to aging. Has science found the map? It seems that this dream could be at least partly obtainable! Put on your explorer hat and follow me on this epic expedition to your own Fountain of Youth!

I have found the Fountain Of Youth!

First, a stop-over in the world of science to understand the aging process

Growth and Repair; Even after you are fully grown, your body is constantly working to replace or repair itself. The body replaces itself on average every 7 years or so but not every cell’s lifespan is the same. For example, the cells that line your stomach can renew as fast as every two days, since they’re often in contact with digestive acid. Cells that make up your skin are replaced every two to three weeks, your fat cells live a fairly long time — an average age of 10 years roughly the same as your bones which also regenerate about every 10 years. Brain cells don’t regenerate as you age, tooth enamel is never replaced, and the lenses of your eyes are also with you for life.

Enzymes are biological catalysts that speed up chemical reactions in cells. Enzymes play a huge part in the day to day running of the human body and are vital for the proper functioning of all human systems, e.g. the digestive system, the nervous system, etc. Some enzymes help break large molecules into smaller pieces, such as complex carbohydrates into smaller molecules such as glucose so that the body can use them as fuel. Other enzymes help bind two molecules together to produce a new molecule. Enzymes are highly selective catalysts, meaning that each enzyme only speeds up a specific reaction.

DNA; Every cell in our body contains DNA; DNA is the genetic material that makes each of us who we are. Each time a cell divides – for growth or repair, its DNA needs to be copied. Enzymes help in this process by unwinding the DNA coils and copying the information. Telomeres, from the Greek telos (end) and meros (part), are the caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protects our chromosomes. Telomeres, like the aglet at the end of shoelaces, can become frayed until they can no longer do their job. Telomeres are shortened as we age, but can also be shortened by stress, anxiety, smoking, obesity, lack of exercise, poor diet and lack of purpose. When telomeres get too short, our cells can no longer reproduce, which causes our tissues to degenerate and eventually die.

Each one of us has a Fountain of Youth within us!

There have been many experiments which have shown to increase the maximum life span of laboratory animals. Science has found that it is possible to extend telomeres to help you live a longer and healthier life and discovered that there are 6 key triggers that can positively influence your telomere length. These triggers are:

  1. Good nutrition
  2. Exercise
  3. Happiness and gratitude
  4. Positive outlook
  5. Self-love and love
  6. Being in service.

Good Nutrition & Exercise

We all know that good nutrition and exercise is vitally important, but knowing without doing is like not knowing at all. Hippocrates[1] also known as the “Father of Modern Medicine” is credited with being the first person to believe that disease was not a punishment from the Gods, but rather the product of environmental factors, diet and living habits. He noticed that bodies grow relaxed and sluggish through sedentary lives which led to various illnesses. Those who walked more stayed well longer, so, he often prescribed exercise. Hippocrates’ medicine was humble and passive; his therapeutic approach was based on the “healing power of nature.” According to Hippocrates’ doctrine, the body contains within itself the power to re-balance and heal itself. Hippocrates is known for saying: “Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food.”

Gratitude & Positive Outlook

Be grateful and wake up happy every day, happy to be given another day, to be, to strive, to create. Be grateful for your family, your loved ones and the people around you. Be grateful for who you are and what you can do. Keep a positive outlook on life. Change the things you can change and stop worrying about things you can’t.

Love yourself and love others

Philautia[1], the Greek word for self-love. Self-love is in its healthiest form (not focused on personal fame, gain, and fortune as is the case with narcissism). It shares the Buddhist philosophy of “Self-Compassion,” which is a deep understanding of one’s own self, such that you feel comfortable in your own skin. Self-love is important, as Aristotle described: “All friendly feelings for others are an extension of a man’s feelings for himself.” You cannot share what you do not have, if you do not love yourself, you cannot love anyone else either. The only way to be truly happy is to first find unconditional love for yourself.

Being of Service

Being of service is critically important. Not having a purpose, waking up each morning with nothing to do or nowhere to go creates stress and shortens our lifespan. Conversely, studies have shown people who report a greater sense of purpose and direction in life are more likely to outlive their peers.  Older age, or retirement, is a time when we start aging very quickly and when disease and depression are more likely to set in. Having a purpose gives meaning to life, it doesn’t have to be saving the world or anything extraordinary or amazing, every person great or small has important work to do. It can be something very small indeed. Each one of us has our own path to walk and our own mission in life. Small things and big things are big in themselves.

Conclusion

The ‘secret’ path that will lead you to your own Fountain of Youth can be found within you. The ‘magic triggers’ that will show you the way is to eat well, exercise regularly, express gratitude, love yourself, love others, and be of service. Activate your own Fountain of Youth!

This, my Dear Companion, is Your Quest!


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 Booksradar.com.


[1] For more information, please see my book “This Is Your Quest,” Chapter 19, Page 214


[1] For more information, please see my book “This Is Your Quest,” Chapter 21, Page 228 :

 

Categories
About the Book

Breaking News! The Second Edition of my book “This Is Your Quest” is out!

By popular demand, the Second Edition of “This Is Your Quest” is out! In this new edition you will find some new analysis on some current events, some points have been refined, and some new wisdom has been added! There is more to it than there was before!

Watch the trailer below:

Second Edition of “This Is Your Quest” is out!

In this new edition you will find some new analysis on some current events, some points have been refined, and some new wisdom has been added! There is more to it than there was before!

Pick up your copy today and follow me on this Epic Adventure!


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 Booksradar.com.

 

Categories
About the Book

Book Review from London – The Most Interesting Self Help Book I Came Across

This Is Your Quest is a self-help book, I despise the phrase because it describes pop-psych, hippy nonsense, espousing spiritual mantras and upper colonic irrigation. If those are your tools for leading a kinder, simpler life, then so be it. However, if you want to read a book, you need something a bit more cerebral. This Is Your Quest is nothing like any other self-help book you will come across. It is an enlightening delight that defies the genre, well-written, insightful and ever so sincere. The approach is individual, the words have depth and the message is uplifting and thoughtful”.

“The book itself is a journey, and Reed excels at holding the hand of her guest readers. There is a gentle voice to the message. In between each chapter, she includes letters to the readers, recapping what’s has been learned and continually encouraging growth”.

“There is a surprising amount of depth in the presentation. I learnt a lot while reading it. I am not a major history nerd, but history was what hooked me. I think it is a really interesting way to break down happiness and comment on the idea of our worth and potential quests”.


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 Booksradar.com.

Categories
About the Book

Media Exposure – Conquer the Long & Winding Road to Happiness

Thank you  to the Indian Magazine Inidna for writing 8 articles on This Is Your Quest and for recommending my book to their readers! 

According to the journalist Dipsikha Samantaray This Is Your Quest is one of the best and most inspirational books of all time. In fact it is one of the best self-help book published in the past decades!

According to journalist Soudami Mohapatra:

This Is Your Quest will take you on a roller coaster ride through in-depth discussions on philosophy, socio-economic discourse and truth-seeking subjects. This book will entice, surprise, challenge your point of view but will also inspire and guide you to find fulfillment and find answers from within self.

Links to all the articles are below, thank you Indidna!

Boost up your self-confidence and develop the skills of learning from the failures

This Is Your Quest: Directing You Towards Success, Happiness & Prosperity

Give Yourself An Inspiration Boost With Book ‘This Is Your Quest”

This Is Your Quest – Your Guide To Happiness, Prosperity & Success

What Advantages We will Get from the Book “This is Your Quest”?

“This is your Quest”- A Book about Prosperity, Self-help, Happiness, Philosophy & Success

Gracing with ease and strengthening life using self-help

Conquer the long and winding road to happiness

What Advantages We will Get from the Book “This is Your Quest”?


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 Booksradar.com.