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Self-Help Uncategorized

Do you want to know what is the problem in the world? read on …

What is the problem with the World? There are endless problems in the world too many to list, but I was thinking that it would be an intellectually challenging exercise to try to put my finger on it. A foolish endeavor you may think. Maybe. Only a fool or a wise man could seriously pretend to know the answer to this question. I happen to know a wise and eccentric philosopher (Bertrand Russell [1]) who pondered over this question and who came up with an answer that is quite remarkable.

The problem with the world is that fools, and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people are always so full of doubts.

Bertrand Russell

Et voila, in just one sentence Bertrand Russell sums it up. So, now that we have the answer to the question, let’s look at this more closely to see what we find out when we dissect Bertrand Russell’s statement. Pretend you are sitting comfortably in a theater to see the latest production of this Shakespearean tragedy or comedy, depending on your sense of humor, titled: “What Is the Problem With the World”. There are three main characters on stage, the Fool, the Fanatic, and the Wise Man.

Act I – Do you want to know what is the problem in the world ? Ask the Fool he believes he knows best

Do you want to know what is the problem in the world? The Fool knows best – Photo by Kapone via freepik.com

The fool is grandiose (borderline annoying), confident (borderline arrogant), flamboyant (borderline tacky) and walks through life feeling absolutely certain about everything. A fool is set in his opinions and feels that he has a duty to share his way of thinking about this and that and everything important. A fool does not care to take counsel from others nor listen to their opinions, because he knows best. He has no fluidity of mind and is set in his ways.

New opinions are rejected and opposed just because they don’t fit the accepted idea and concepts that the fool has adopted as hard truth. The fool’s arrogant certainty about everything is set in stone and even King Arthur would not be able to dislodge him from that position. The problem with the fool is that he doesn’t know enough to know that he doesn’t know about the things he thinks he knows.

In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king – Erasmus

Act II – Do you want to know what is the problem in the world? Ask the Fanatic he believes he has access to absolute truth

Do you want to know what is the problem in the world? The fanatic believes he has access to absolute truth. Photo by Anna Oddi via freepik.com

The fanatic is not a fool because he is a true believer in his cause and spends a substantial amount of his time learning about the cause he is fighting for. But just like the fool, he feels absolute and resolute certainty in his belief. The Fanatic refuses to hear and contemplate opposing views. You can find fanatics in all areas of life religion, politics, sports, media, etc. Fanatics can be leaders or followers, they are people who indulge in a toxic concoction of self-affirming, know-it-all confidence believing that they have unique access to absolute truth, truth so perfect that they have to impose them on everyone.

It is not what they believe that makes them fanatics it is how they believe it – no need to provide further evidence, no need to question or doubt. They operate in an irrational and emotional manner hiding their irrationality by rehearsed arguments that have been repeated and learned over time, not refreshed, updated, or put to the test. Fanatics are rigid in their thinking. The problem with this is that nothing is really certain what is true today may not be true tomorrow.

“Uncertainty is an uncomfortable position, but certainty is an absurd one”

Voltaire

Our two main Shakespearean characters, the Fool and the Fanatic will not give a second thought to Voltaire’s adage because they remain certain and dogmatic in their beliefs.

Act III – The Wise Man believes that he knows nothing

Do you want to tknow what is the problem in the world? Photo by user 24028417 via freepik.com

According to the Ancient Greeks, the source of all wisdom and clarity is to know thyself. That Motto knows thyself was one of the maxims inscribed on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi.

“The only true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing.”

Socrates

According to the Wise Man of Ancient Greece, you may find the path to wisdom, if you start from a position of humility and if you accept the extent of your ignorance. A lot of us like to think of ourselves as pretty smart, rational individuals and funny too. But what if we’re wrong? Do we overestimate our own abilities? Are we completely blind to our own failings?

Socrates is known as the wisest man in Athens, but he doubted this very much until he put it to the test. Socrates’ favorite pastime was the pursuit of Truth. His reputation as a philosopher spread across Athens and beyond. When told that the Oracle of Delphi revealed to one of his friends that he was the wisest man in Athens, Socrates responded, not by boasting or celebrating, but by trying to prove the Oracle wrong.

Socrates decided to find out if anyone knew what was truly worthwhile in life, as anyone who knew that would surely be wiser than him. He questioned everyone he could find, but no one could give him a satisfactory answer. Instead, they all pretended to know something they clearly did not. Finally, he realized that the Oracle might be right after all; he was the wisest man in Athens because he alone was prepared to admit his own ignorance rather than pretend to know something he did not.

The Wise man is humble in his knowledge, he is open-minded and recognizes that he has limited knowledge; and because he knows that there are so many things that he doesn’t know, he has doubts. The Wise Man understands that someone else may have knowledge that he doesn’t have, and this could lead him to change his opinion on this and that. He has fluidity of mind, he is not rigid in his view and his pursuit of the truth will lead him to question everything.

Ladies and gentlemen we are coming to the end of this production, thank you for reading this Shakespearean piece. And with this said, I will give the floor to the man himself for the final word.

“A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.”

Shakespeare.

PS: If you like this piece, feel free to applaud and comment. If you didn’t like this piece, feel free to criticize it not in a fanatical kind of way but after careful consideration just like a Wise Man would do; and I will try my best not to react to your comments in a foolish kind of way.

[1] Bertrand Russell (18 May 1872- 2 February 1970), British philosopher, mathematician, historian, political activist, and Nobel Laureate.

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

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Be Happy

Graduating From High School in the Time of Corona – A Parent’s Perspective

Challenges of parenting in the 21st century when your child is graduating from high school

2020 was the year of the Corona and also the year when my eldest daughter Maya was graduating from high school. The biggest challenge as a parent is that we have to guide and prepare our children to enter a world that is very different from the one we grew-up in. Yet, as a parent you still have the challenge of inspiring, supporting, guiding your children and prepare them for a world that is messy, uncertain and full of surprises and opportunities.

There is so much I want to say to her before she leaves the family nest. The world is complex. Things are not always what they seem. Learn to swim in the sea of information and sometimes dis-information. Don’t rush to judgment. Try to discern, connect the dots. Put things into perspective. So much to say, to keep it sweet and short I wrote her an open letter.

Maya Reed – Class of 2020 – A Memorable Year

Live and Let Live


Live fully and courageously,
Let live and understand Human Nature,
Know yourself and your true essence.

Wake up, dress up, show up,
And do the best you can every day,
Until You know better,
Then, when you know better,
Do better.

Treat your body as a Temple,
Attend to it every day,
Nurture it,
Worship it.

Know that early years can be full of tears,
But I know that you are built to face those fears,
And I will always be here to send you cheers.

Do you have what it takes?
A mind of your own,
And the ability to get in the zone.

I wish you clear vision,
So that you can make good decisions,
And not be paralyzed by indecision.

To have clear vision,
Can you master your intuition?
And use it as ammunition.

So, go and shine your unique and natural light,
As bright and as strong as you can,
Be phenomenal!
Be you.

©Joanne Reed

After graduating from high school, what do you want to be when you grow-up?

What do you want to be when you grow up is a difficult question and needs thinking about carefully. Being a doctor, a vet, an engineer, a lawyer, or a scientist are all great options after graduating from high school but what if I said you should consider all of those, but also being a writer? The writer of the story of your life.

People live the story they want to tell. Your life is your story, and your mission is to write the best story you can and have lots of adventures along the way. You are both on a journey to find your own purpose and unleash your full potential.

Becoming successful at what you do should be part of your long-term plans. But how do you define success? It is a fluid concept. Success means different thing to different people. But for me, success comprises three key things:

  1. Success is an Iceberg. When you look at successful people what you see is often only the surface; confidence, wealth, beauty, relationships, seniority. Often, what you don’t see is what took them there: persistence, failure, sacrifice, disappointment, hard work and dedication. Thomas Edison said: “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration,” don’t forget and don’t be afraid to perspire.
  2. Success is a garden. Everything starts with an idea. “Your mind is a garden, your thoughts are the seeds, you can grow flowers, or you can grow seeds.” Plant a seed in your mind and care for it, work steadily towards your goal and be strong enough not to let setbacks defeat you in the accomplishment of your purpose.
  3. Success is about overcoming adversity. No journey will ever be perfectly smooth or proceed exactly as planned. There will be ups and down and unexpected turns, you will encounter difficulties. What do you do when things get a little rough? Well, I suggest that you take advice from Maya Angelou.

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
– Maya Angelou

Story telling Time

Once upon a time, there was a Chinese farmer; the farmer was struggling to provide for his family. His hope and vision for a better future for his family was placed in a few bamboo seeds. He decided to dig hole after hole to plant the seeds then he began to take care of those seeds day after day by watering the seeds and fertilizing the ground.

The farmer decided to plant other crops around the bamboo in order to feed his family; but his real hope for prosperity remained with the bamboo. A whole year passes by … and nothing. Still the farmer continued to water the seeds and fertilize the ground every day. Another year goes by … and still nothing. His neighbors laugh at him, they mock his vision and his dreams. He begins to question himself, doubt creeps into his mind, will the bamboo ever grow?

Another year goes by … and still nothing. Three years of pouring water, energy and hope into his bamboo dream and he has nothing to show for it. One day he stands over the spot and cries in frustration. The barren ground seems to mock him yet the wind whispers hope into his ear so the farmer picks himself up and continues to water the seeds and fertilize the ground. Another year goes by … but still nothing.

Five Years have passed, and our farmer is tired. He is tired of hauling buckets of water and feeding the seeds. He is tired of seeing no results day after day. Despair rocks his soul and tears fill his eyes and he arrives home feeling defeated. But, the farmer’s darkest hour is just before his dawn as the next day, a miracle happens. The farmer sees green sprouts coming out of the ground; he cannot contain his joy and runs through the village to share the news with his family. In 6 weeks, the bamboo trees grow to 90 feet tall!

Bamboo forest -5 years in the making – Photo by @freepik via freepik.com

The Moral of the story

If the farmer had stopped watering the seeds and fertilizing the ground during those 5 years, the bamboo would have died in the ground without seeing the light of day.

If you have a vision and a dream you need the discipline to take care of your dream day after day after day even if you don’t see the result straight away.

Ignore people that tell you it cannot be done.
Learned to push back on your own doubts and fears.
Learn to have faith when there is no reason to believe.
Good things take time. To face adversity you need patience, dedication, perseverance and courage.

Life Can Be a Struggle

The journey to achieve your dream will not be perfect. You will encounter setbacks, disappointment, hurdles, and hardship. In those moments, don’t despair but try to look for solutions to your problems and a clear path to follow. Being in a state of confusion adds unnecessary pain and suffering, but being in a state of clarity, brings hope, joy, and happiness.

Clarity, see things as they are, not how you want them to be – Photo by @freepik via freepik.com

How do you find Clarity?

  1. The first thing is to know yourself. According to the Ancient Greeks, the source of all wisdom and clarity is to know yourself. You need to know where your strengths and weaknesses are so that you can exploit your strengths and improve on your weaknesses.
  2. The second thing is to understand human nature and why people do the things they do. Being able to make good decisions will require you to predict the future, accurately perceive your present situation and have insights into the mind of the people around you.
  3. The third thing is to practice the art of being still. You won’t know who you are if your mind is in constant state of agitation and occupied by mindless distractions. Moments of solitude allow you to be more tuned-in to your intuition. Stillness means to be steady while the world spins around you. Stillness can inspire new ideas, sharpen perspective and illuminate the mind.

If you do those 3 things you will find Clarity. Remember Your mind is like water. When it gets agitated, it becomes difficult to see. But if you allow it to settle, the answers will become clear.

What Makes a Great Story?

So, what you want to be when you grow up? If you want your life to be a magnificent story, you will need clarity because clarity will make your thoughts, your emotions and your actions congruent with each other. Good stories include fun, joy and laughter, but also some drama, tears and sorrow. People like stories where a superhero does wonderful deeds. Try to be your own hero, not by wearing a cape, jumping from building to building trying to save the world, but by becoming a better person everyday shining your own light into the world. So, my dear daughters, I wish you good luck and fortune on your journeys, and hope that you write the best stories that have ever been told.

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.

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 New Year Resolutions Are Doomed to Fail

Happy New Year! We’ve left the last decade behind us and are entering a new one. Every year millions will make a bunch of New Year resolutions, maybe to take a more active approach to health and fitness, improved finances, or learning something for personal and professional development. However, year after year, a familiar pattern will repeat itself, the majority of those resolutions will be forgotten by the beginning of February!

So, why are our New Year Resolutions doomed to fail?

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New Year resolutions fail for many reasons, from being too vague, too optimistic or anything in-between. However, a reason that most of us don’t stay committed is down to a lack of clarity; clarity as to who we are, where we are in life, and what we want to achieve.

Why New Year Resolutions are Doomed to Fail?

I just returned from a family vacation to Vietnam. In Hanoi, students study Confucianism at the Temple of Literature. Before entering the gate and having access to the school they have to walk past a pond known as the ‘Natural Mirror Pond‘ to look at their reflection and take note of all their imperfections and deficiencies. Only then, could they walk through the gate to learn, to improve themselves and to become less imperfect.

Natural Mirror Pond – Hanoi, Vietnam – Mirror, Mirror, show me all my imperfections and deficiencies!

Confucian principles are a set of thoughts and ideas that refer to the teachings of the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius (551 BC to 479 BC). The objective of Confucianism is to create ethical and moral harmony to produce a just and functioning society. The development of the self is central to Confucius’ vision of a harmonized world, for society’s sake as well as our own.

Whereas Confucianism’s focus is on clearly knowing oneself, a key reason why so many of us find it difficult to stick to our New Year resolutions is that we tend to set objectives that do not coincide with who we are.

Knowing who we are should be our first and primary resolution for the New Year.

Clarity Comes With Understanding Ourselves

According to the Ancient Greeks, the source of all wisdom and clarity is to Know Thyself. The Motto Know Thyself was one of the maxims inscribed on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi (Greece). With this inscription, the Oracles at Delphi invited men to gaze inwards and discover that the essence of one’s life is not be searched outside ourselves, but within. To know oneself is to see clearly and to know the nature of the Universe.

Clarity is to Know Thyself

The path to knowing oneself, according to philosopher Carl Jung (1875 to 1961), is no light stroll. It is a dark and mysterious business; digging into oneself, climbing down directly into the tunnel of one’s being is an agonizing and hazardous undertaking.

When you embark on a journey of self-discovery, you will come face to face with what makes you whole. Every story has a hero and a villain, and in your story, you will be both. There is your hero-side who is wise and rational and will say, “this year, we are going to eat healthily, exercise more and lose weight.” And then there is your villain-side who is less rational, more impulsive, and will tempt you, “you deserve that ice-cream and a lay down on the sofa, maybe even a few hours of TV.”

Knowing yourself is crucial; you cannot control what you do not understand; so, perhaps the first thing to do before writing your New Year resolution is to know and understand yourself. You cannot count on an intrepid knight on a white horse to rescue you from your villain-side. Nobody will come and save you, but you, yourself. You are on your own; be strong otherwise your New Year Resolutions will fail.

New Year Resolution; to Know Yourself

Perhaps the key New Year resolution to work on is to know yourself and everything else will flow from there. Knowing who you are starts with asking the right questions:

  • What do you believe to be essential and important?
  • What are you really living for?
  • Why do you do the things you do?  
  • What is worth the pain?

So, if your New Year Resolution is to exercise more you should pause for a minute and ask yourself the question as to why, is it essential, is it worth the pain?

In addition to the big questions, maybe the idea of going to the gym fills you with dread. Maybe, you are the type of person who doesn’t like exercising indoors. Maybe you are the type who would rather be outside rather than being in a gym lifting weights or doing a Cross Fit class. If this is who you are, then maybe you should be going out for walks, for a jog, or getting on your bicycle from time to time instead of driving your car.

Why Don’t We Do The Things We Should

So, why don’t we do the things we should? Mark Manson answers this in his book ‘Everything is F*cked’. We don’t do the things we should because we don’t feel like it. Worse, sometimes we do just the exact opposite of what is good for us, like overeating and under-exercising, buying stuff we don’t need, frittering away time and mismanaging our money.

One of the main reasons we don’t keep our resolutions or do the things we should is because we don’t love ourselves; this is an emotional problem. In fact, self-control is an emotional problem. Laziness is an emotional problem. Underachievement is an emotional problem. Impulsiveness is an emotional problem, and emotional problems need emotional solutions.

Solving emotional problems requires self-love and self-acceptance. By accepting your emotions and working with – rather than against – them, you can change your behaviors to better align with your goals and values.

For me, I found out a while ago that the best way to avoid failing my New Year resolutions was not to make any! That’s it, I don’t make New Year resolutions, ever. Instead, I just quietly and diligently do the things that need doing, et voila, simple.

I look a little deeper into this subject in my eBook ‘The Gift of Clarity,’ coming out soon.


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.