Categories
Be Happy Quotes Self-Help

Wake up, Dress up, Show up and Do Your Thing

Today (18th October), I wake-up, dress, and show up to celebrate my birthday. Happy birthday also to Russell, my dear husband we are sharing the same birthday. I have been on this earth for a few decades, and I am grateful for every single morning when I got to wake up and do my thing. My loyal readers would know that I rarely talk about myself in my writing, because, who cares, really?! I write to educate, entertain, and inspire. I am not here to impress people and seek instant fame and fortune (a fate only reserved for a tiny portion of writers) but to impact people. The words I write are more important than the person who is writing them; but if you want to know about me, you just have to read my writing and you will catch a little bit of my soul.

I like my birthdays to be low-key, but because this is a special birthday, I decided to celebrate me through all my writings. Today is another day when I decided to wake up, dress up, show up and shine my light as far and as bright as I can.

Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save. They just stand there shining.

Anne Lamott

Every day I wake up dress-up, show up. I am passionate about life and about my writing.

Wake up, dress up, show up, run and do your thing. Photo by Thierry Nikolaeff @terydiving featuring Joanne Reed. Dress by Nathalie Pezzotta-Davranche @lartisanecouture. There are no tricks on this picture just me, a scuba diver photographer and an amazing dress.

I am passionate about life and about my writing. I like to describe myself as a law-abiding-free-spirited-rebel who just happen to write about this and that. I didn’t decide to be a writer I discovered I was one. There is an intimate relationship between the writer and the reader. The writer makes the first move and takes the leap of faith, releasing their inner markings to the world for all to see. There is a great risk when it comes to writing and releasing content freely and openly. Content can be received graciously and given applause, simply dismembered, torn apart by readers and reviewers, or just completely ignored and left to rot in the ether.

The likelihood that a word, sentence, perhaps a book, or a phrase can bring about a change in readers’ life or implant a seed that may nurture and grow into a reformative idea is an impulse that excites me as a writer. Writers can change the world for their words know no boundary. It reaches across borders and ages.

We should not underestimate the writers’ role in society. From the beginning of time, knowledge was shared from generation to generation thanks to storytellers who used their artistry to pass on information, knowledge, and wisdom to their community. Well-chosen words can breathe hope into us when our spirits are broken, revive us when our bodies are weary, lift our spirit up when we lose ourselves in an ocean of despair, redeem the wrong we feel, and make us stronger than we know.

A poet’s work is to name the unnamable, to point to fraud, to start arguments, to shape the world, and stop doing it going to sleep. Literature is where I go to explore the highest and lowest place in human society and in the human spirit, where I go to find out not absolute truth, but the truth of the tale.

Salman Rushdie

For me, writing is a search for something meaningful, a longing to create something of value; to have an impact. Whether people admit it or not, most of us have a desire to make a difference, to have an impact or some level of influence on others. It is part of human nature, and it is admirable because it implies that we want to live a life that is bigger than us and our immediate entourage. We want to leave something of value after we leave, we want to leave a legacy.

To be or not to be impactful? You may find this to be an odd question to ask, but some people are content with a quiet life away from the hustle and bustle. They are happy the way things are and don’t have any inclination to change things and even less inclination to change the world, and that is OK.

You begin saving the world by saving one man at a time; all else is grandiose romanticism or politics.

Charles Bukowski

Sadhguru (my favorite yogi, philosopher, sage) has an interesting point of view on this issue. He believes that every one of us is free to capture as much life as we want. If you capture a substantial amount of life, you will become a significant presence, you will radiate, and that presence will draw people to you. It is not the knowledge you accumulated in your head, nor the social status, the successes nor the muscle you built upon your body. It is just how much life emanates from you. If you have the opportunity to go out in the world and do something impactful. Good, go out there and be impactful. But if not, don’t worry. Concentrate on being happy and content. The world needs more of these types of people.

An oak tree sitting outside is not trying to create a significant impact on anyone. By just sitting there in a calm and assured state of being, the oak tree by its mere presence is being impactful without even trying. If someone just happened to walk past that oak tree on a hot and sunny day, wishing to rest and cool down for a little while, that person will find refuge under the oak tree and will appreciate its presence and the shade it can offer on that day, at that particular time. The oak tree has had an impact on that person, just by being there.

Every day, I wake up, dress up, show up. I am a constant work-in-progress.

Wake up, dress up, show up. Photo by Thierry Nikolaeff@terydiving featuring Joanne Reed. Dress by Nathalie Pezzotta-Davranche @lartisanecouture. There are no tricks on this picture just me, a scuba diver photographer and an amazing dress.

Something you should know about me is that I don’t like when people try to put me in a box and stick a label on it before they even get the chance to know me. I am the sum total of my genetics, my upbringing, but also the books I read, the countries I traveled to, the ups and downs that came on my path. I can be reliable and predictable and also spontaneous and unpredictable. I respect people and choose not to worship them. I am a giver, but I need to give myself enough time and space to advance my interests too. Today I can decide to be as exuberant and as colorful as I want and tomorrow, I can decide to be as dull as the grey sky if I feel like it. I don’t gossip but I read and write. I am all of that and more and I am a constant work-in-progress. So please don’t put a label on me.

Something else you should know about me is that I am nice and lovely, but I can be dangerous too.

“The most dangerous person is the one who observes, listens, thinks.”

Bruce Lee

I have always been a curious person in nature, and I like going down the path less traveled by, the one taken by critical thinkers. Going down that road requires some fluidity of mind, some discipline, and the will to get to the truth of the matter rather than the urge to be righteous no matter what. Before you assume, learn the fact. Before you judge, understand why. Before you hurt someone, feel. Before you speak, think. Before you talk, listen. If you want something from someone express yourself clearly. People are not mind-readers. If you use the right words, the right tone of voice, and the right body language, you are increasing your chance of having your wishes and aspirations in reality. I observe, I listen, I think, and I act accordingly. That makes me (according to Bruce Lee) a dangerous person.

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

If I had to write my memoir one day, I would call it – Work-In-Progress. That is how I see myself. Talking about work. 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.

[Just in case you are wondering – I have no intention of writing my memoir, because who cares, really?! But I am totally committed to continue writing and blogging about this and that and I will try my best to continue to inspire, entertain and unveil for you some interesting stories.]

But I digress, for other people 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 into 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 is all there 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.

Wake up, dress up, show up. Photo by Thierry Nikolaeff @terydiving featuring Joanne Reed. Dress by Nathalie Pezzotta-Davranche @lartisanecouture. There are no tricks on this picture just me, a scuba diver photographer and an amazing dress.

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 kink 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

I 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. If you are struggling to find your passion, then you should consider Goddess Athena’s advice – How to find your passion .

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 wort of art.

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

Don’t Put a Label on Me!

Don’t Put a Label on Me. Don’t put me into a box and stick a label on it before you even get the chance to know me. I am not the same person I was when I was 20, 30, 40 years old. I am the sum total of my genetics, my upbringing, but also the books I read, the countries I traveled to, the ups and downs that came on my path. I can be reliable and predictable and also spontaneous and unpredictable. I respect people and choose not to worship them. I am a giver but I need to give myself enough time and space to advance my interests too. I am nice and lovely, but I can be dangerous too. Today I can decide to be as exuberant and as colorful as I want and tomorrow, I can decide to be as dull as the grey sky if I feel like it. I don’t gossip, but I read and write. I am all of that and more and a constant work-in-progress. So please, don’t put a label on me.

Don’t put a label on me. The problem with stereotypes.

Don’t put a label on me – Photo by Yarruta via freepik.com

A stereotype is defined as a simplification of reality, a rigid categorizing – and often discriminatory – representation. A stereotype is a fixed, overgeneralized belief about a particular group or class of people. By stereotyping, we infer that a person has a whole range of characteristics and abilities that we assume all members of that group have.

Stereotypes are like air, invisible but always present.

Unknown Author

For example, saying that women have no sense of direction, that girls suck at math or that football is a man’s sport, are stereotypes. Stereotypes can be positive or negative. Negative stereotypes about women and minority groups are easy to spot, more pernicious are the positive ones, such as men are not in touch with their emotions, black people are good athletes. They don’t seem so pernicious because their content is complementary, but stereotypes are bad even when they are good.

“The problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”

Adichi Chimaamanda

Stereotypes can be linked to any type of cultural membership, such as nationality, religion, gender, race, or age, but it is important to note that there is a difference between cultural generalizations and stereotypes. Cultural generalizations allow us to understand the patterns of cultures to which one belongs (nation, age, gender, etc…) and it provides the basis on which one can understand other cultures. Cultural generalizations involve categorizing members of the same group as having similar characteristics. Generalizations are flexible and allow for the incorporation of new cultural information. They are a type of hypothesis or guess, of what we expect to encounter when we interact with a certain culture; and this is a good thing.

Generalization is a concept that is flexible and can subsequently lead to increased cultural awareness and thereby improve intercultural relationships. Generalizations become stereotypes when all members of a group are categorized as having the same characteristics. Stereotypes are typically inflexible and resistant to new information. They can, and often do lead to prejudice and intentional or unintentional discrimination. Cultural stereotypes do not allow for individual differences and interfere with efforts to understand an individual on a personal level.

Stereotypes make us lazy and encourage nonchalant judgment because we assume things about people based on stereotypes. It drives and nourishes racism, sexism, and all form of discrimination. I have a strong aversion to labels and being put into a box and I don’t allow people to do that to me. As soon as someone puts a label on you or throw you into a specific box, you lose your identity as a unique and free individual who may or may not fit into that stereotype, and who is free to be whoever they want to be.

Don’t put a label on me. The problem with being put into a box.

Don’t put a label on me – Photo by Yarruta via freepik.com

The problem with being put into a box with a label on it is that it considerably restricts your freedom to think and act the way you want. We are all unique and different from each other. What makes us different is not the color or our skin or our geography, it is the fact that there isn’t another person like us anywhere else. All around us, there are spheres of authority always dictating what we should do, how we should act, and what we ought not to do. Aside from the formal structure like laws, there are also informal powers dictating our actions lifestyles, speech, thought patterns, education, cultural upbringing, religion, politics, etc… This invisible current forces us to travel a certain path, act a certain way, and be a certain type of person. Much of our individualistic tendencies do not develop as freely as we think because we have to conform to societal expectations of ourselves and stay well within the groupthink model.

The next question you should ask yourself is who has an interest in putting people into a box and stick a label on it? People who seek power and control do thrive on sticking a label on you. Because it is easier to control people this way. Once you belong to a certain box you are expected to walk on a straight and narrow line. Venturing outside that path is frown upon. Dissenting views and actions are not allowed because dissent is being viewed as being disloyal to the group. Nowadays if your thoughts and ideas are not in line with the rest of the group you will have to face the new social media Thought Police, because the chance is you are going to get canceled and censored. From a difference of opinion, you can quickly move to fragments of intolerance to violent factions. And just like that you have a 1984-Dystopian-type of society where it is not very pleasant to live in and where Big Brother is watching you all the time with the Thought Police ready to storm in and take you away.

This phenomenon is very much into your face in the political arena, where everything is partisan, and where groupthink ideas are shoved down your throat. The ideas of the group are sacrosanct even if they go against your personal interest because the group knows what’s best for you. When you submit to the group you acquiesce to everything that the group asks you to do. You don’t have to use your ears, your mouth, or your brain anymore. The group tells you where to look and what to see. And if you dare to look the other way and start questioning things, they tell you what you are seeing is not what you are seeing and they proceed to interpret what is going on for you.

One way to free ourselves from the shackle of societal restrictions that impede the originality and flexibility of each person would be to develop our individualism and sense of freedom. Freedom of expression is the lifeblood and cornerstone of a free society, without the freedom to think and express ourselves freely, there is no free society. So, we’d better start thinking for ourselves quickly before it becomes illegal. Don’t get all romantic about your ideas or the ideas that the group promotes. You are not married to those ideas. Some ideas are good and others not so good. Stay free to adhere to the ideas that are congruent with your outlook in life and toss aside anything that makes you uncomfortable.

People should be able to stand for what they think is right. They should be able to fight for what is honorable and acceptable and they should have the freedom to reject what is slimy and unacceptable. The problem these days is that everyone believes that they hold the absolute truth of the matter; except that no one can legitimately claim to have such clarity of mind that they know the absolute truth. Truth is a very fluid concept, what’s true today may not be true tomorrow.

Things change all the time. It is perfectly fine to have strong convictions about this and that, but you should do this with humility. You should hold those convictions and make them contingent on whatever facts, data, arguments, life experience, etc… that come your way with the result that your original convictions can be shaken and made less potent.

You can stand your ground and be open-minded enough to seek common ground. And, don’t try to put a label on me, because I won’t let you.

Joanne Reed

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

Mind-Blowing!

If you could describe in one word the world we are living in right now, what would it be? Tricky question, right? True, but it is a useful and fun game because it forces you to gather your thoughts in a precise and concise manner and pack everything of importance into one little word! Coming back to my original question, describe the world we are living in right now in one word. I would say, MIND-BLOWING!

According to the Cambridge dictionary, mind-blowing means surprising shocking and often difficult to understand or imagine. Just looking at what is happening around the world right now, I feel like I am on a movie set taking part in a dystopian movie, full of drama, natural disasters (fires, hurricanes, floods), war (overt and covert), topped up by a worldwide pandemic. I wish this could just be a movie that I can pause or stop because really it is a bit too painful to watch; except that we are not on a movie set, we are living in this world I just described. Mind-blowing!

The anger, fear, and desperation are mind-blowing. We are living in an age of despair and fractured communities, the world currently is filled with fear, stress, anger, frustration, rage, and sadness. There seems to be more pain than we can heal, more dissent than we can mediate, and more uncertainty than we can comprehend. People don’t know what to do and where to run to. Where can we run to get away from the fires? Where can we rush to get away from the floods and hurricanes? Where can we escape from the virus? Who can we turn to when we get disconnected from our family, friends, and colleagues because we have very different opinions about what’s going on?

But underneath all that muck there is something good that is happening. Whether we like it or not these past two years forced us into a kind of rehabilitation center where we had to face our fears and come to some harsh realization. i.e there are some things that are essential and there are a whole bunch of things that are not. We have all been forced into this Back-to-basics-religious- kind -of-experience, where food, water, shelter, health, resources (including, human & financial), and connection are of paramount importance. The rest is superfluous. Maybe we had to go through such pain to become more aware and conscious of our purpose and the need for us to become stronger, healthier, more resilient, and more aware.

There has never been so much chaos in recent history, it is mind-blowing

Mind-blowing – Photo by Master 1305 via freepik.com

Life is not always a party; we need therefore to learn how to shoulder the burden of being. Everyone experiences the world through chaos, order, and something in between called consciousness. We eternally inhabit order, surrounded by chaos. Chaos is unexplored territory. Chaos is the sickness or death of a family member. It is the place where you find yourself when things fall apart, when your dream dies, when your career collapses, or your marriage ends. Chaos is where new ideas destroy old and comfortable certainties. Chaos is where your well-thought project is canceled at the last minute because of some force majeure event (pandemic) and the implementation of new regulations. Chaos is when we don’t know where we are. When we don’t know what we are doing and where we don’t know where we are going.

Chaos is a place where everything is complex and unpredictable. Order is explored territory; it is the authority, the structured society. Order is tribe, religion, home, and country. It’s the warm, secure living room where the fireplace glows, and the children play. It’s the flag of the nation. It’s the floor underneath your feet and your plan for the day. It’s the greatness of tradition, the row of desks in a school classroom, the train that leaves on time, the calendar, and the clock. We’re in there when things are going according to plan, and nothing is new and disturbing.

Order is the place where all things turn out the way we want them to. In Order, we’re able to think about things in the long run. There, things work, and we are stable, calm, and competent. We seldom leave places we understand – geographical and conceptual – for that reason. Order is where everything is certain. Order is the political culture, the government, the corporate environment, and the system.

But Order can also be the place where things are so rigid that it’s repetitive and restrictive. Order can be tyrannical when it demands certainty, uniformity, compliance without the right to think critically. Order can become tyrannical when it becomes too one-sided when you preach intolerance in the name of tolerance. Order, when pushed too far, can also manifest itself destructively and terribly and lead you straight to tyranny.

When the ice you’re skating on is solid, that’s order. When the bottom drops out, and things fall apart, and you plunge through the ice; that’s chaos. We eternally occupy known territory, surrounded by the unknown. There are so many ways that things can fall apart or fail to work altogether, and it is those with fortitude and perseverance who valiantly fight their way through chaos who will come on the other side, battered but victorious.

“Order is Masculine, and Chaos is Feminine. Therefore, to move towards Order, we all need to man up.”

John Crace

The solution is mind-blowing: Learn to navigate between order and chaos.

Mind-blowing – Photo by Master 1305 via freepik.com

Order and Chaos are the yang and yin of the famous Taoist symbol: two serpents, head to tail. Order is the white, masculine serpent. Chaos is its black feminine counterpart. The black dot in the white – and the white dot in the black – indicate the possibility of transformation: just when things seem secure, the unknown can loom, unexpectedly and large. Conversely, just when everything seems lost, a new order can emerge from catastrophe and chaos. For the Taoists, meaning is to be found on the border between the yin and the yang, between the ever-entwined pair, i.e. the Middle Way or the Divine Way.

The same idea is expressed in Matthew 7:14: “Because straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.’

To saddle that fundamental duality is to be balanced: to have one foot firmly planted in order and security and the other in chaos will lead to growth and adventure. Everyone understands order and chaos, good and evil. We all have a palpable sense of chaos lurking under everything familiar. We’ve all been to both places many times. No matter where we are, there are some things we can identify, make use of, and predict, and some things we neither know nor understand. No matter where we are, some things are under our control, and some things are not.

Order is not enough. You can’t just be stable and secure and unchanging because there are still vital and important new things to be learned. Nonetheless, chaos can be too much. You can’t tolerate being swamped and overwhelmed beyond your capacity to cope while learning what you still need to know. Thus, you need to place one foot in what you have mastered and understood and the other in what you are currently exploring and mastering. Then you have positioned yourself where the terror of existence is under control, and you are secure, but where you are also alert and engaged.

So, in order to cope, survive and even thrive in a world that is mind-blowing you have to learn the art of navigating between Order and Chaos.

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

Given The Choice, Would You Rather Be A Good Person Or A Dangerous Person?

Given the choice would you rather be a good person or a dangerous person? What an odd question to ask, you may say, of course, I’d rather be a good person! For those of you who know me and have read my work before, you would know that one of my favorite things is to tackle difficult subjects, look under the surface, lift the veil, and shake things up a little. This article definitely falls into this category, it is not for the faint-hearted. What if I tell you, that if I was given the choice to be a good person or a dangerous person, I will choose to be a dangerous person. Before you give up on me and react in shock and disbelief, bear with me a little because my whole thinking on this subject was inspired by Bruce Lee and Jordan Peterson.

“The most dangerous man is the one who observes, listens, thinks.”

Bruce Lee

“A harmless man is not a good man. A good man is a very dangerous man who voluntarily put this dangerous side of him under control.”

Jordan Peterson

The most dangerous person is the one who observes

The most dangerous person is the one who observes – Photo by user 14901510 Studio via freepik.com

According to the Oxford dictionary, “observation is the action or process of observing something or someone in order to gain information.” Our observation skills inform us about objects, events, attitudes, and phenomena using one or more senses. Improving your observation skills allows you to “listen” with more than your ears and make better decisions. We all have eyes but a lot of us don’t really use them to observe; we look at think without really observing them. Just looking at something produces nothing.

Observing produces insights. When we observe we are able to take a step back to peer into ourselves and others. Observing ourselves is essential, but observing others provides another angle. When you combine the two, the observation of ourselves and others you get valuable insights that you can use to better connect and communicate with people. Developing our observation skills is critically important.

Get into the habit of observing the world as it is, in all its variety, learning from it, and put what you learned into use in your decision-making process, in improving your intuition, in building your relationships.

The most dangerous person is the one who observes.

The most dangerous person is the one who listens.

The most dangerous person is the one who listens – Photo by kuzmich Studio via freepik.com

“When you talk you are only repeating something you already know. But if you listen you may learn something new.”

Dalai Lama

Before you assume, learn the fact. Before you judge, understand why. Before you hurt someone, feel. Before you speak, think. Before you talk, listen. Listening is the key to all effective communication. Without the ability to listen effectively, messages are easily misunderstood. As a result, communication breaks down and the sender of the message can easily become frustrated or irritated.

Effective communication also starts with the understanding that people are not mind-readers. Expecting people to guess your wishes and aspirations is only going to bring you frustration and resentment. If you want something from someone, express yourself clearly. If you use the right words, the right tone of voice, and the right body language, you are increasing your chance of having your wishes and aspirations in reality. Listening requires more than hearing; it requires focus and concentrated effort. Listening means paying attention not only to the story but how it is told. The use of language, the tone of voice, and how the person uses his or her body. It means being aware of both verbal and non-verbal messages.

Every problem big or small starts with bad communication. Someone is not communicating their message clearly and/or someone is not listening. Did you know that only 7% of communication is verbal, 38% is tone and infliction of voice and a staggering 55% is body language? Your facial expression, hand movements, gestures, eye contact, attitude, tone of voice, the way you look, listen, react, speak far more about your feelings than words will ever be able. The way you feel about a particular subject matter will affect your non-verbal expression; if you feel angry, sorrow or fear those feelings will transpire in your facial expression and tone of voice.

This is why listening is an important aspect of communication. Effective listening is not just the understanding of spoken or written information, but also an understanding of how the speaker feels during communication, it is the ability to listen with empathy. Empathy is the ability to share and understand the feeling of another regardless of whether we agree with it or not.

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it”

Aristotle

The most dangerous person is the one who listens.

The most dangerous person is the one who thinks.

The most dangerous person is the one who thinks – Photo by Jnemchinova Studio via freepik.com

We all like to think of ourselves as rational, strategic creatures, but in reality, humans are deeply irrational and are often governed by emotion rather than logic. Moreover, we have a tendency to operate within our own echo chamber, where the only information that goes through our brain is information that validates our prior knowledge, vindicates our prior decisions, or sustains our existing beliefs.

“The problem isn’t that Johnny can’t read. The problem isn’t even that Jonny can’t think. The problem is that Johnny doesn’t know what thinking is; he confuses it with feeling”.

Thomas Sowell

Critical thinking means many things, but at heart, it is a search for the truth. Critical thinking helps us determine what is real and what it is not. But before we are able to exercise our cognitive ability to think critically, we need to have a certain base of knowledge as a starting point. We can only think critically about things we have knowledge of. Critical thinking can be understood as a deep activity, one that requires the development of new habits of mind. It is not something that comes to us naturally, it requires extensive study and practice.

When we have our critical thinking hat on, we develop our problem-solving capabilities and our ability to look at the strengths and weaknesses of an argument; the result is that we are more able to see things clearly and this can help us make better decisions. We should get into the habit from time to time of walking down the road less traveled, the one taken by critical thinkers. If you decide to walk down that road it will require that you possess a certain fluidity of mind, some discipline, and be driven by the will to get to the truth of the matter rather than the urge to be righteous no matter what.

We live in a world of double standards, flagrant contradictions, and intolerance. It seems that people these days are incapable of having adults’ discussions with someone with who they strongly disagree, and have a civilized exchange based on reason rather than rage. It is a very sorry state of affairs. Preaching intolerance in the name of tolerance is a frightening contradiction that doesn’t seem to faze some people.

The most dangerous person is the one who thinks critically.

Coming back to Bruce Lee’s quote “The most dangerous man is the one who observes, listens, thinks” I would like to tweak it a little bit: ‘” The most dangerous person is the one who observes, listens, thinks and then acts accordingly” because knowing without doing is like not knowing at all.

Joanne Reed

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

A Mother’s wish for her daughters

As a mother of two daughters, I was thinking recently about the most precious gifts I could give to them. Something useful and timeless, that they would cherish each and every day. After pondering on the subject for a little bit I came up with 3 gifts ideas in the form of a mother’s wish for her daughters:

1. Learn how to be courageous. You don’t have to be a hero. Just have the courage to be yourself.

2. Have a fighting spirit. When the going gets tough be tougher.

3. Learn to think for yourself.

From the confines of my Island (Ile de la Reunion), my youngest daughter and I 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, Alizé got the gist of it fairly quickly. For me, it took a bit longer to get to grip with the technique of trying to look relaxed and not out of breath at the bottom of a pool, but managed eventually. The results are literally breath-taking. There are no tricks on those pictures, just Alizé and me, two amazing dresses, and a scuba diver photographer.

A mother’s wish for her daughters. Learn how to be courageous.

A mother’s wish for her daughters . Courage is the most important of all the virtues. Photo by Thierry Nikolaeff @terydiving featuring Joanne & Alize Reed. Dress by Nathalie Pezzotta-Davranche @lartisanecouture.

Being courageous doesn’t mean that you have to do bold spectacular acts of bravery and become a hero. You don’t have to be a hero, just have the courage to be yourself. Courage can show up in a very quiet manner and in thousands of unexpected ways. Deciding not to fight can sometimes be as courageous as charging into battle. Forgiveness requires a lot of courage. Learning a new skill, starting a new business venture, stepping outside your comfort zone requires a lot of courage. Standing up to bullies and speaking your mind requires a fair dose of courage. Falling in love, letting your guards down can be an act of courage. Staying positive and upbeat when facing setbacks, ill-health, old age or even death requires a lot of courage.

Courage is the most important of all the virtues because, without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.

Maya Angelou

The word courage originates from the Latin word Cor (Coeur in French and cuore in Italian) which means heart; in essence, it means ‘to act from one’s heart’. The etymology of the word indicates that when we act courageously, we are activating our inner power and strength which surfaces through our heart’s desire. Courage is the mental preparedness and ability to deal with difficulty, challenges, and sometimes seemingly impossible circumstances. It is the ability to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty, intimidation, and other threats.

Courage is not a quality that you are born with. It is one that has to be cultivated and honed. Today we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds but being courageous does not necessarily entail doing something dramatic or astoundingly heroic, everyday living requires courage. So what is courage? There are many definitions of what courage is. Below are my favorite ones.

A mother’s wish for her daughters . Courage is not the absence of fear but the triumph over it. Photo featuring Joanne & Alize Reed. Photo by Thierry Nikolaeff @terydiving. Dress by Nathalie Pezzotta-Davranche @lartisanecouture.

Courage is not the absence of fear but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel fear, but he who conquers that fear.

Nelson Mandela

Success is never final failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.

John Wooden

The opposite of courage is not cowardice, it is conformity. Even a dead fish can go with the flow.

Jim Hightower
A mother’s wish for her daughters . Every day living requires courage. Photo by Thierry Nikolaeff @terydiving featuring Joanne & Alize Reed. Dress by Nathalie Pezzotta-Davranche @lartisanecouture.

We all have varying degrees of courage. Finding courage can be the choice we make every day, often in the quietest of ways. There is great courage in living life to the fullest, living with authenticity and a sense of alignment with one’s most deeply held values. And sometimes, simply getting up every day and putting a foot in front of another is an act of immense courage.

Barbara Bonner

As Maya Angelou rightly said courage is a virtue and it is the most important one to cultivate because without it you cannot practice any of the other virtues consistently. When we work to develop courage, we both empower ourselves with the ability to confront problems head-on, as well as acquire the skills required to deal with life’s inevitable challenges.

And this my dear daughters is Your Quest. Be courageous.

A mother’s wish for her daughters. Have a fighting spirit. When the going gets tough, be tougher.

We live every day with the knowledge of our staggering fragility, and we know how physiologically vulnerable our body and mind can be. We are aware that terrible outcomes are always possible and often probable. Your Quest as a human being is to protect yourself against the danger of losing your life but also against the danger of losing your mind. When the going gets tough, be tougher. Have a fighting spirit but choose your battles carefully. Some fights are worth fighting and others aren’t.

A mother’s wish for her daughters . Have a fighting spirit. Focus on your goal quietly and silently. Photo by Thierry Nikolaeff @terydiving featuring Alize Reed. Dress by Nathalie Pezzotta-Davranche @lartisanecouture.

Choose wisely which pursuits you spend your energies on. Do not waste your efforts on those that will not give you something positive in return. Be determined and independent. If at first, you don’t succeed, try again until you make it. It’s OK not to get it right the first time, so don’t let your failures prevent you from achieving your dreams. Focus on your goals, quietly and silently. And then when the time is right, trust your instincts, take action with swiftness and confidence. Be observant of people and your surroundings. Balance all the possibilities before you make a huge decision and act swiftly when required.

When the going gets tough, be tougher. Sure thing, but how? You can become tougher by removal. The solution to many problems in life is solved by removal, not by addition. Living a healthy life is more about removing sugar, processed food, and unhealthy snacks from our diet. Similarly, people become wealthy by reducing their exposure to going bust. Professional athletes win games by removing mistakes. You can become tougher by optionality. The more options you have, the more freedom you have to respond to unforeseen circumstances, thus reducing your fragility to unexpected events. If you have optionality you don’t need to be right that often. All you need is the wisdom not to do things that will hurt yourself and to be able to recognize favorable outcomes when they arise. You can become tougher through trials and errors. Try new things and find out through a process of trials and errors what works and what doesn’t. If an idea doesn’t work, make it fail quickly then move on to the next one. Play safe in some areas of your life and take some risks in others.

And this my dear daughters is Your Quest. Have a fighting spirit and when the going gets tough get tougher.

A mother’s wish for her daughters. Think for yourself.

A mother’s wish for her daughters . Think for yourself. Photo by Thierry Nikolaeff @terydiving featuring Joanne & Alize Reed. Dress by Nathalie Pezzotta-Davranche @lartisanecouture.

Thinking is difficult, that is why most people judge.

Carl Jung

Before you assume, learn the fact. Before you judge, understand why. Before you hurt someone, feel. Before you speak, think. Thinking is part of what makes us human. What differentiates humans from animals is our cognitive abilities such as fully developed language, reasoning capabilities, and the ability to make plans for the future. We are all born with the capacity to think, but not everyone is capable of critical thinking, and it is a skill that needs to be learned and practiced with discipline. We all think of ourselves as rational, strategic creatures, but in reality, humans are deeply irrational and are often governed by emotion rather than logic.

Moreover, we have a tendency to operate within our own echo chamber, where the only information that goes through our brain is information that validates our prior knowledge, vindicates our prior decisions, or sustains our existing beliefs. You should get into the habit from time to time of walking down the road less traveled, the one taken by critical thinkers. If you decide to walk down that road, it will require that you possess a certain fluidity of mind, some discipline, and be driven by the will to get to the truth of the matter rather than the urge to be righteous no matter what.

A mother’s wish for her daughters. Critical thinking helps you determine what’s real and what it is not. Photo by Thierry Nikolaeff @terydiving featuring Joanne & Alize Reed. Dress by Nathalie Pezzotta-Davranche @lartisanecouture.

Critical thinking means many things, but at heart, it is a search for the truth. Critical thinking helps you determine what is real and what it is not. But before you are able to exercise your cognitive ability to think critically, you need to have a certain base of knowledge as a starting point. You can only think critically about things you have knowledge of, you can’t really think deeply if you haven’t spent time mastering a body of knowledge related to that thinking.

The problem these days is that we are living in a world of information overload, data about almost everything is available to all who wish to access it at the click of a button. We are constantly bombarded by a steady stream of information (sometimes misinformation, exaggerations, and mischaracterizations) about a whole range of subject matters, making it very difficult to know what and who to believe. Critical thinking is important because you need this skill in order to navigate your way through all the information, misinformation, and disinformation that is being served to all of us on a daily basis on all media platforms.

Do not relinquish your power to think critically on someone else even if that person goes by the name of Expert. It is important to note that society needs experts because those people know a thing or two about their own area of expertise, they are specialized in their field and are being paid to share their knowledge, wisdom, and experience with the world at large. Having said that, whenever you decide to ask an expert for his advice on a particular matter, I suggest you put your critical thinking hat on to ensure that you fully understand the advice you are being given, the scope and limitations of the adviser’s expertise, his or her ability to see the problem in its proper context, the possibility that these experts may be subject to bias and in the worst-case scenario, the possibility that the expert may be wrong. History is full of anecdotes showing that even the experts can be wrong.

Trying to nail down the authenticity of anything and verify our knowledge about the world is a tall order. We expect Facebook, Twitter TikTok, and Google to filter the truth for us rather than putting in the hard work to do some thinking for ourselves. The problem these days is that the media is trying to spin everything you see and everything you hear. White is black and black is white. Use your discernment, look out for inconsistencies, trust your instinct. Don’t accept things at face value, ask questions, look under the surface, lift the veil.

And this my dear daughters is Your Quest. , think for yourself.

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

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 Be Healthy Self-Help

metamorphosis – How does one become a butterfly?

Metamorphosis. How does one become a butterfly? The butterfly has one of the most fascinating life cycles of all creatures. It starts its life as an egg perched on a leaf. When the egg finally hatches, a caterpillar emerges from the egg. The whole raison d’être of the caterpillar is to eat as much as possible in order to reach its desired growth. During this stage, the caterpillar will outgrow and shed its skin as many as four or five times. As soon as the caterpillar is done growing and it has reached its full length and weight, it takes refuge into a cocoon, also known as the chrysalis, where it can safely rest and digest all the food that has been consumed in the previous stage.

Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly

Unknown Author

Though the chrysalis appears unchanged from the outside, there is a dramatic transformation taking place inside, this process is called metamorphosis, whereby the body of the caterpillar is slowly dissolving to create a brand-new being. At last, in the final stage of its metamorphosis, the fully developed butterfly is ready to emerge from the chrysalis. The butterfly breaks free from the cocoon with wings that are folded and wet, so more rest time is necessary to allow blood to flow into the wings.

Finally, when the wings are fully dry, the butterfly is ready to take flight and share its beauty with the world. If we look closely at the process of the butterfly transformation from one state to another state, we see it is not an easy process. It takes time and each phase is necessary before the next stage can take place.

Metamorphosis. How does one become a butterfly?

Metamorphosis. Photo by Thierry Nikolaeff @ terydiving featuring Joanne Reed in the role of the Butterfly-Mermaid. Dress by Nathalie Pezzotta-Davranche @lartisanecouture – Ile de la Reunion.

From the confines of my Island (Ile de la Reunion), I 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 Pezzota-Davranche (@lartisanecouture. For a short moment in time, I felt like a butterfly who just came out of the Chrysalis; the result looks (literally) breath-taking but the process was far from easy. I was fairly nervous at the thought of doing those underwater photoshoots, because I have never done this before, and I didn’t know if I could pull it off. Being an island girl, swimming was something that I learned to do from a very young age; I have always been a good swimmer and I always felt comfortable in the water, but it took me a little while to understand the technicalities of posing for pictures underwater in an amazing dress, trying to look light, elegant, not out of breath and above all acting like a butterfly-mermaid who feels totally in her element being underwater. There are no tricks in these pictures just me, an amazing dress, and a scuba diver photographer.

What I learned during that experience of being a butterfly-mermaid is that, when you are ready to display your new you to the world, move forward with courage, while recognizing the fragility of your new wings and when things don’t work out the way you expected, best to let go of your expectation. It is natural for human beings to seek validation; we thrive on being seen and being appreciated for our work and effort. We all want to become a beautiful butterfly admired by the people around us and for the most ambitious admired by the whole world. But the reality is many of our endeavors will turn into tiny moths instead, and that’s OK. We have to resist the temptation to be driven only by the desire to create something grandiose and earth-shattering; it is OK to shoot for the stars, but if you don’t get there, it is also OK to be fully satisfied with whatever emerges from the chrysalis, for nature has a need for moths as well as beautiful butterflies.

Metamorphosis. What I learned being a butterfly for one day?

Metamorphosis. Life is a dance. Photo by Thierry Nikolaeff @terydiving featuring Joanne Reed in the role of the Butterfly-Mermaid. Dress by Nathalie Pezzotta-Davranche @lartisanecouture. Ile de la Reunion.

The butterfly is considered a wonder of nature, it symbolizes personal transformation, changes, rebirth, and the lightness of being. The butterfly as a spirit animal will remind you that life is a dance. You should not take things so seriously. Transformation and changes don’t have to be traumatic. They can be sweet and gentle, so you can accept them with grace and joy. I invite you to emulate the transformation process of the butterfly when you are working on your own transformation and growth.

The caterpillar stage.

In this stage of the butterfly’s life (which follows right after the hatching from an egg) the main task is consumption. For us, we can assimilate this stage with the stage of growth when we are consuming as much knowledge and training as we can about something new that we want to understand and master. This is the stage when we learn how to master our craft, and it is also the occasion for us to keep an open mind about how things were redone and shed old ideas, concepts, and habits that don’t work anymore. Sometimes we have to unlearn the things we learned and take the path less traveled by. This is often a stage of great excitement and energy as we enjoy the flow of creativity and inspiration it brings; but the learning process can also bring with it its fair share of hard work and loneliness.It is important that we do not rush through this stage and have the patience to go through the not-so-glamourous part of the learning process.

A house built on sand won’t last very long. In the olden days, if you wanted to enter a profession you had to find a master who will be 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.

Metamorphosis. Photo by Thierry Nikolaeff @terydiving featuring Joanne Reed in the role of the Butterfly-Mermaid. Dress by Nathalie Pezzotta-Davranche @lartisanecouture. Ile de la Reunion.

“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

We have a tendency to want to take the quickest, easiest path to our goals, we are impatient and want to see results quickly, but remember “there is no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs.” The best way to cultivate our natural impatience is to cultivate a kind of pleasure in pain – like an athlete, you come to enjoy rigorous practice, pushing past your limits, and resisting the easy way out.

The Chrysalis stage.

In this stage, the caterpillar takes refuge in a protective cocoon where they can safely rest and conduct its metamorphosis quietly and privately. Human beings tend to skip that stage or confuse it with a period of a downturn or treat it as a failure. In fact, this stage is a necessary stage where you should learn the art of being still. 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 is to master the stillness that is required to become masters of our own life. Stillness is an important tool on our 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 different of do nothing at all.

In your own journey to become a butterfly, don’t forget that the process is never easy and requires much patience, and remember …

Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly

Unknown author

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: Think for Yourself

“Thinking is difficult, that is why most people judge”

Carl Jung

Essential life lessons: Before you assume, learn the fact. Before you judge, understand why. Before you hurt someone, feel. Before you speak, think. Thinking is part of what makes us human. What differentiates humans from animals is our cognitive abilities such as fully developed language, reasoning capabilities, and the ability to make plans for the future. We are all born with the capacity to think, but not everyone is capable of critical thinking, and it is a skill that needs to be learned and practiced with discipline.

Socrates is credited for being the first critical thinker and the Socratic method is one of the earliest critical thinking instructions tools known to man. The Socratic method is described as a form of a cooperative argumentative dialogue between individuals based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presuppositions.

Essential Life lessons: Think for yourself. I think therefore I am – Rene Descartes

Essential Life Lessons. Think for yourself. I think therefore I am . Photo by freepik via freepik.com

Critical thinking means many things, but at heart, it is a search for the truth. Critical thinking helps us determine what is real and what it is not. But before we are able to exercise our cognitive ability to think critically, we need to have a certain base of knowledge as a starting point. We can only think critically about things we have knowledge of, and we don’t have the structures in place to think deeply if we haven’t spent time mastering a body of knowledge related to that thinking.

Critical thinking can be understood as a deep activity, one that requires the development of new habits of mind. It is not something that comes to us naturally, it requires extensive study and practice. When we have our critical thinking hat on, we develop our problem-solving capabilities and our ability to look at the strengths and weaknesses of an argument; the result is that we are more able to see things clearly and this can help us make better decisions.Critical thinking is a skill; to be good at it, you will have to spend time practicing the art of thinking for yourself.

We all like to think of ourselves as rational, strategic creatures, but in reality, humans are deeply irrational and are often governed by emotion rather than logic. Moreover, we have a tendency to operate within our own echo chamber, where the only information that goes through our brain is information that validates our prior knowledge, vindicates our prior decisions, or sustains our existing beliefs.

“The problem isn’t that Johnny can’t read. The problem isn’t even that Johnny can’t think. The problem is that Johnny doesn’t know what thinking is; he confuses it with feeling”.

Thomas Sowell

We should get into the habit from time to time of walking down the road less traveled, the one taken by critical thinkers. If you decide to walk down that road it will require that you possess a certain fluidity of mind, some discipline, and be driven by the will to get to the truth of the matter rather than the urge to be righteous no matter what.

Skills required to be able to think for yourself.

Essential life lessons. Skills required to think for yourself. Photo by freepik via freepik.com

Rationality. We think critically when we rely on reason rather than emotion when we follow the evidence when we are more concerned with finding the best explanation rather than being right, and when we get into a habit of asking questions.

Self-awareness. We think critically when we recognize that we suffer from emotional impulses, selfish motives, nefarious purposes, narrow-minded vision, and other modes of self-deception.

Open-mindedness. We think critically when we evaluate all reasonable inferences, consider a variety of possible viewpoints or perspectives, remain open to alternative interpretations accept the new explanations, models or paradigms, because it explains the evidence better, is simpler, or has fewer inconsistencies. We cannot reject opinions just because they are unpopular.

Discipline. We think critically when we are precise, meticulous, comprehensive exhaustive, resist manipulation and irrational appeals, and avoid snap judgments.

Judgment. We think critically when we recognize the relevance and/or merit of alternative assumptions and perspectives and recognize the extent and weight of evidence. Critical thinkers are skeptical by nature. They are active and not passive. They ask questions and analyze facts and data. They consistently apply tactics and strategies to uncover meaning or assure their understanding. Critical thinkers are open to new ideas and perspectives. They are willing to challenge their beliefs and investigate competing evidence.

By contrast, passive, non-critical thinkers take a simplistic view of the world. They see things in black and white, as either-or, rather than recognizing a variety of possible understandings. They see questions as yes or no with no subtleties. They fail to see linkages and complexities. They fail to recognize related elements. They take their facts as the only relevant ones. They take their perspectives as the only sensible ones. They consider their goal as the only valid one.

Essential life lessons. Learn to navigate your way through misinformation and disinformation.

Essential Life Lessons. Learn to navigate your way through misinformation and disinformation.

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact; everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”

Marcus Aurelius

We are living in a world of information overload, data about almost everything is available to all who wish to access it at the click of a button. We are constantly bombarded by a steady stream of information (sometimes misinformation, exaggerations, and mischaracterizations) about a whole range of subject matters, making it very difficult to know what and who to believe.

Critical thinking is important because we need this skill in order to navigate our way through all the information, misinformation, and disinformation that is being served to us on a daily basis on all media platforms.Misinformation is false information that is being spread, regardless of intent to mislead. Dis-information on the other hand is false information that is deliberately misleading or biased information, manipulated narrative or facts, or propaganda that is being spread with the intent to hurt or damage a person or organization.

Trying to nail down the authenticity of anything and verify our knowledge about the world is a tall order. We are huge consumers of all types of media, but often lack the tools to think about how and why we are passively consuming what we watch, read, and share. We are inundated with news. How can one discern between real news and fake news? We are often not thinking about how our own biases affect how we think about the world. We are also getting comfortable in our echo chambers, devoid of people and ideas who challenge our own beliefs.

We expect Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and Google to filter the truth for us, rather than putting in the hard work to do some thinking for ourselves. Some social media posts go viral in minutes after they are posted whether they carry with them the truth or an exaggeration of the truth or total falsehood. There is always the option of fact-checking some of the information such as Factcheck.org or Snopes website. The problem is that if the counter-information is not shared in the same manner as the viral post the damage from the false post cannot be counteracted. Another problem that happens more and more these days is that you have to fact-check the fact-checkers who may not be as impartial as one may think. Follow the money and see who is financing those fact-checkers.

There is a scientific term for this in psychology, it is called the Illusory Truth Effect also known as the Reiteration Effect, it is the tendency to believe the 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 overcomes rationality the truth does not matter. Repetition does!

“The media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent. The media will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing. This is the sort of propaganda tactic that I would call psychological warfare.”

Malcolm X

Essential life lessons: Even experts can be wrong.

The other tendency is to relinquish your power to think critically on someone else and rely on the opinion of the experts instead. Society needs experts because those people know a thing or two about their own area of expertise, they are specialized in their field and are being paid to share their knowledge, wisdom, and experience with the world at large.

This said, whenever you decide to ask an expert for his advice on a particular matter, I suggest you put your critical thinking hat on to ensure that you fully understand the advice you are being given, the scope and limitations of the adviser’s expertise, his or her ability to see the problem in its proper context, the possibility that these experts may be subject to bias and in the worst-case scenario, the possibility that the expert may be wrong.

History is full of anecdotes showing that even the experts can be wrong. In 1968, Time Magazine made the observation that “online shopping while entirely feasible will flop.” In 2019, worldwide online shopping reached nearly 43.7 trillion. In 1876, senior executives at Western Union made the following statement: “This telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. It is inherently of no value.” In early 2017, Apple announced that it has sold 216 million iPhones.

No one, including experts, really know with absolute certainty what will happen in the future. Every time there is a national disaster, a pandemic, or some dramatic event, we can rely on television news to find an expert to come on TV and generously share his predictions and knowledge on why this happened and what will happen next. The truth of the matter is that sometimes those experts are wrong.

Critical thinking is more than important, it is vital. Without critical thinking, you will be another sheeple lost on the crowd and dutifully following the trend of the moment and absorbing the world’s accepted view. Critical thinking is a skill that should be nurtured and valued.

The world needs critical thinkers more than ever. The ability to think about things in a critical way will make a difference to you and the people around you.

“I think (critically) therefore I am (free).

Knowledge is power and thinking critically is freedom. 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.

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 Uncategorized

the truth is, you don’t know what you don’t know

The truth, is we don’t know what we don’t know. We don’t even know the questions we need to ask in order to find out because we are so stuck in our narrow-minded way of doing things.

“The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence”.

Charles Bukowski

This is a brutal statement from Charles Bukowski but it contains a lot of truth in it and it encapsulates a lot of what is indeed wrong with the world these days. It is concise, straight to the point, and quite difficult to argue against.

According to Sadhguru, I Don’t know holds tremendous possibilities. We should learn to say I don’t know more often, instead of jumping to conclusions. The moment you destroy, I Don’t know, you destroy all the possibilities of knowing. Confusion is better than stupid conclusions. In confusion, there is still a possibility.

The problem is that everyone is pretending to know things they don’t. In fact, too many people are dead certain about things that just aren’t true. The next time you hear something you are not sure about, instead of picking a side and believing or disbelieving, why not admit the truth: I don’t know. By refusing to draw a conclusion you keep your mind open, and you give the truth a chance to get in; but by drawing a conclusion you naturally become close-minded and dismissive towards all other possibilities.

The truth is, true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing – Socrates.

According to the Ancient Greeks, the source of all wisdom and clarity is to know thyself. That moto Know 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
The Truth is, true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing Photo by freepik – via freepik.com

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 are wrong? Do we overestimate our own abilities? Are we completely blind to our own failings? You probably don’t know as much as you think you do. When put to the test, most people find they can’t explain the workings of everyday things they think they understand. There is great power in knowing what you don’t know. When we accept our ignorance and limitations, we become wiser.

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.

Too often we fall into the delusion of thinking we know a lot more than we really do, this concept is commonly known as illusory superiority. Recognizing what you don’t know actually puts you in a unique place of power. It can improve your choices in life because it’s an honest view of your knowledge and capabilities, as well as your ignorance and limitations. Understanding the limitations of your knowledge puts you at an advantage over people who overestimate their knowledge or aren’t aware of their own ignorance.

This isn’t a negative thing, this is about being honest with yourself which means acknowledging both your strengths and your weaknesses. If you are willing to keep an open mind about your beliefs and the possibility that you don’t have all the facts, you will be much better off than if you were to just take everything you believe as complete truth. See things the way they are, not how they could, should, or might be. Same with people. Look at people as they are, not how they could, should, or might be.

“Most people take their thoughts so seriously believing every thought that passes through their heads as if their thoughts represented the undeniable and irrefutable truth of the matter. But thoughts aren’t facts, what you think isn’t what it is. Thoughts are just thoughts. Just because you have a thought doesn’t mean it is true.”

Sadhguru

The Truth is, uncertainty is uncomfortable, but certainty is an absurd one – Voltaire

The Truth is, you don’t know what you don’t know. Have you heard of the Lemon Man? Photo by Mak Labs via freepik.com

McArthur Wheeler is also known as the Lemon Man became famous for his total lack of self-awareness and an incredible level of stupidity. In 1995, McArthur Wheeler was arrested for robbing banks in broad daylight, with no visible attempt at disguise. He believed that the lemon juice he wore on his face made him invisible to surveillance cameras.

The Dunning-Kruger effect is a cognitive bias characterized by inappropriate overconfidence about mastery of a subject. The term was coined by psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger in 1999 in a study called Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence lead to Inflated Self-Assessments. The Lemon Man story is an example of self-awareness, or rather a lack of self-awareness that ended disastrously. Why do people fail to recognize their own incompetence? Because people who are incompetent at something are unable to recognize their own incompetence.

Dunning himself stated that “If you’re incompetent, you can’t know you’re incompetent”, but also noted the reason for this seems to be ignorance, not arrogance. So, why is this a problem? It is a problem because if you have a tendency to overestimate your abilities you will end up making sub-optimal decisions until your misassumptions catch up with you.

Should you overestimate or underestimate your competence?

As well as showing that less-competent people tend to overestimate their abilities, the Dunning-Kruger effect study also showed that competent people tend to underestimate their own competence. This ability to underestimate our capabilities can also produce sub-optimal decisions but does have some positive impact by increasing our capacity for humility, curiosity, and a drive to improve ourselves.

The Truth is, you don’t know what you don’t know. Fake or fact? Photo by Diloka 107 via freepik.com

That drive to improve ourselves can be deeply rooted in culture; researcher Dr. Steven Hein, a psychologist at the University of British Columbia, did similar studies to Dunning-Kruger but looking at the issue from a different angle y comparing North American and East Asian People. When asked to self-assess their abilities, Hein’s study reveals that East Asians tend to underestimate their abilities, with an aim toward improving the self and getting along with others, whilst North Americans tend to overestimate their ability and competence.

There are cultural, social, and individual motives that explain these tendencies. As Western society becomes more individualistic, successful life is equated with confidence, self-assurance, and high-self esteem (often to the verge of arrogance). Conversely, East Asians tend to adopt a self-critical self-view, the downside effect of this being they tend not to feel so good about themselves. Knowing thyself, knowing your strengths and weaknesses is important so that you can exploit your strengths and seek help in areas where you are weak.

To know who you are is important, but in addition, belief and confidence are as big a part of the equation too. There is a robust body of scientific and anecdotal evidence that suggests that people who believe they will become successful at something are most likely to succeed. Similarly, there are countless stories of cancer patients who credit their survival to a positive mindset and their determination to survive this terrible illness. Inspirational quotes such as Your thoughts determine your future are popular in the self-help sphere.

So, is it better to overestimate yourself or underestimate your abilities? The truth is always somewhere in the middle. Overestimate your futures and underestimate your past; acknowledge the fact that the more you know the more you realize you don’t know, this will give you the benefit of humility, but overestimate the future, because these positive expectations will give you the benefits of higher performance.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.

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
Be Happy

the problem with stereotypes

A stereotype is defined as a simplification of reality, a rigid, categorizing – and often discriminatory – representation. A stereotype is a fixed, overgeneralized belief about a particular group or class of people. By stereotyping, we infer that a person has a whole range of characteristics and abilities that we assume all members of that group have.

For example, saying that women have no sense of direction, that girls suck at math, or that football is a man’s sport, are stereotypes. Stereotypes are like air, invisible but always present. Stereotypes can be positive or negative. Negatives stereotypes about women or minority groups are easy to spot, more pernicious are the positive ones, such as men are not in touch with their emotions, black people are good athletes. They don’t seem so pernicious because their content is complementary, but stereotypes are bad even when they are good.

Generalization v stereotypes

The term stereotype, as it is understood today, was coined by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Walter Lippmann. He defines the term in his 1922 book, Public Opinion, as “The pictures in our heads” that we have of a specific group of people. He adds that while this picture may not necessarily be complete, our habits, our tastes, our capacities, our comforts, and our hopes have adjusted themselves to it. While a stereotype may hold true for a group as a whole, it can distort our perception of an individual, who may or may not fit the stereotype.

Generalization v Stereotype -The problem with stereotypes. They are bad even when they are good. Photo by freepik via freepik.com

Stereotypes can be linked to any type of cultural membership, such as nationality, religion, gender, race, or age, but it is important to note that there is a difference between cultural generalizations and stereotypes. Cultural generalizations allow us to understand the patterns of cultures to which one belongs (nation, age, gender, etc…) and it provides the basis on which one can understand other cultures. Cultural generalizations involve categorizing members of the same group as having similar characteristics. Generalizations are flexible and allow for the incorporation of new cultural information. They are a type of hypothesis, or guess, of what we expect to encounter when we interact with a certain culture; and this is a good thing. This flexibility can subsequently lead to increased cultural awareness and thereby improve intercultural relationships.

Cultural generalizations must not however be confused with cultural stereotypes. Generalizations become stereotypes when all members of a group are categorized as having the same characteristics. Stereotypes are typically inflexible and resistant to new information. They can, and often do lead to prejudice and intentional or unintentional discrimination. Cultural stereotypes do not allow for individual differences and interfere with efforts to understand an individual on a personal level. Curiosity and flexibility help navigate the differences between generalizations and stereotypes. While generalizations serve as a springboard for greater intercultural exploration and understanding, stereotypes hinder both awareness and further learning about others and about oneself.

The problem with stereotypes

“The problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story”.

Adichi Chimaamanda

Stereotypes make us lazy and encourage nonchalant judgment because we assume things about people based on a stereotype. It drives and nourishes racism, sexism, and all form of discrimination. I have a strong aversion to labels and being put into a box; as soon as someone puts a label on you or throw you into a specific box, you lose your identity as a unique individual who may or may not fit into that stereotype.

The problem with stereotypes is that they are incomplete. Photo by freepik via freepik.com

Stereotypical biases happen all the time. Knowing that this exist can make us more mindful as to the way we treat individuals from other groups. We are all unique and different from each other. What makes us different is not the color of our skin or our geography, it is the fact that there isn’t another person like us anywhere else. So why try to put people into a box and stick a label on it? Because it is easier to control people this way. Once you belong to a certain box you are expected to walk on a straight and narrow line. Venturing outside that path is frown upon. Dissenting views and actions are not allowed because dissent is being viewed as being disloyal to the group.

I am not the same person I was when I was 20, 30, 40 years old. I am the sum total of my genetics, my upbringing, but also the books I read, the people I met, the countries I traveled to, the ups and downs that came on my path. I can be reliable and predictable but also spontaneous and unpredictable. I am all of that and more and a constant work-in-progress.

All around us, there are spheres of authority always dictating what we should do, how we should act, and what we ought not to do. Aside from the formal structure like the laws, there are also informal powers dictating our actions, lifestyles, speech, thought patterns, education, cultural upbringing, religion, etc. This invisible current forces us to travel down a certain path, act a certain way, and be a certain type of person. Much of our individualistic tendencies do not develop as freely as we think because we have to conform to societal expectations of us and stereotypes.

One way to free ourselves from the shackles of societal restrictions that impede the originality and flexibility of each person would be to develop our individualism, and sense of freedom. Freedom refers to the ability to make decisions and take actions without any form of interference. Freedom comes with the dynamics of being able to change your choices and activities at any time. If you are free to do something, you should also be free to reverse it or do something else. You are free to be whoever you want to be and don’t have to stick to that choice forever. Today you can decide to be as exuberant and as colorful as you want and tomorrow you can decide to be as dull as the grey sky if you feel like it. Paint your own canvas with the colors you want. Be an artist.

Paint your own canvas with the colors you want. Be an artist.

To be free, you need courage. According to Earl Nightingale “The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice, it is conformity”. Conformity as a word means acting in accordance with the prevailing social standards, attitudes, and practices. The problem is that when people are always thinking alike, no one is thinking at all. Courage on the other hand means boldness or braveness.

With this said, I will leave you with the wise words of Bassey Elimian whose sentiment on this subject echo mine.

“I am a woman and also an individual with a brain. Please don’t put me in a box. I admire and respect other women. I am a giver and advance my interests too. I respect people and choose not to worship them. I am a woman and not a doormat or a pushover. I don’t gossip, but I read and write.”

Bassey Elimian

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.

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
Be Happy Uncategorized

Life is a double-edged sword. Learn the art of not hurting yourself

Life is a double-edged sword. A Knife is only as good as the one who wields it. You can use a knife to cut vegetables and cook a beautiful dinner, but if you are not careful you can cut and hurt yourself with that same knife. There are times when our greatest strengths turn out to be a source of weakness as well; this occurs when we overplay on our strengths or rigidly work to them.

The starting point is to know and be aware of what your strengths are and know when and how to use those strengths bearing in mind that self-awareness and flexibility will help you stay the course. Life is a double-edged sword the way you communicate and express yourself can be good or bad depending on your communication style. Every communication style has its strong points and weak points. The strength of your communication style can turn into a weakness if people rely too much on it.

For example, a reflective and cautious person is admired for her thoughtful approach to every problem and decision-making process. However, this strength can become a problem if it is exaggerated. A reflective person can turn this strength into a weakness if their reflectiveness makes them suffer from analysis-paralysis and make them unable to make a decision due to over-thinking a problem. This reflective person turns into a way-too-cautious-and-inflexible person unable to arrive at any decision without detailed and complete information. Anyone who is expecting to have complete information before making any type of decision is doomed because it is an impossibility. Things change all the time, what’s true right now at this minute can turn out to be untrue 5 minutes later. Every day we make decisions based on incomplete information.

But I digress. Let’s go back to the main point of this article which is to explain the concept of why life is a double-edged sword. To help me do this, I tapped into the wisdom of Jay Shetty and some interesting concepts that he explains in his book “Think like a Monk”. Jay Shetty explains that there are 4 types of people in this world. 1. The Leader. 2. The Guide. 3. The Creator and 4. The Maker. All 4 types have strengths and weaknesses and depending on how you play those, you will find yourself operating within your mode of goodness, or within your mode of ignorance. The rest of this article will be based on Jay Shetty’s explanation of this concept.

Being a leader can be a double-edged sword adventure.

Life is a double-edged sword. being a leader can be a double-edged sword adventure. Photo by User 14190141 via freepik.comfencing. Mixed media

Originally, leaders were Kings and warriors. Today you have politicians, military personnel, law enforcement personnel, justice personnel who occupy that position. The skillset required for this type of position is good communication, honesty, and integrity, being driven by a noble cause to defend and protect your people; being inspiring and engaging is definitely a plus.

Those who are operating in this group are natural leaders of people, movements, associations, and families. They are motivated and directed by courage, strength, and determination and are driven by the need to protect those who are less privileged. They are led by higher morals and values and seek to enforce them across the board. They provide structure and frameworks for the growth of their people. They like to work in teams. They are focused and are dedicated to a mission.

Throughout history, there are countless examples of leaders who proved that holding this function is a double-edged sword, and not in the best sense of the word.

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Sir John Dalberg-Acton

If a leader operates under a Mode of Ignorance as Jay Sheety describes it, you will witness a shift happening. That person would go from being an honorable individual to being a despicable character who gives up on change due to corruption and hypocrisy, develop a negative and pessimistic viewpoint, and loses his moral compass in his drive for power. They use their talents and influence to serve themselves and not humanity.

Life is a double-edged sword. Stay the course. Practice the art of not hurting yourself and the people around you.

Being a Guide can be a double-edged sword adventure.

Life is a double-edged sword. Being a Guide can be a double-edged sword adventure. Photo by User 14190141 via freepik.com

Guides are teachers, coaches, gurus, mentors. Their skillset is learning, studying, sharing their knowledge and wisdom. A coach and a mentor want to bring the best in the people they connect with, they want to help you be the best version of yourself and will help you find your purpose. Their quest in life is to find meaning, fulfillment, purpose, and share their wisdom with the world. They are here to serve. They enjoy intellectual pursuits and meaningful conversations.

If the Guide operates under a Mode of Ignorance, you will see a shift from sage to fool; not practicing what they preach, and not leading by example. They could also use their knowledge for strength and power and not for the good of humanity.

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Sir John Dalberg-Acton

They are countless examples throughout the world of mentors/gurus/spiritual leaders who became corrupted by the power of their position and the unconditional devotion of their disciplines. Those supposedly enlightened individuals became harmful, destructive, taking advantage of their followers, clients, disciples in the most despicable ways, because those people were extremely vulnerable, desperate, lost, and confused.

Life is a double-edged sword. Stay the course. Practice the art of not hurting yourself and the people around you.

Being a Creator can be a double-edged sword adventure.

Life is a double-edged sword. Being a creator can be a double-edged sword adventure. Photo by User 14190141 via freepik.com

Originally Creators were merchants and businesspeople. Nowadays they are marketers, salespersons, entertainers, producers, entrepreneurs, and CEOs. Their skillset gravitates around brainstorming, networking, innovating, making things happen. They have great sales, negotiation, and persuasion skills, they can convince themselves and others of anything. They are highly driven by money, pleasure, and success, they are very hardworking and determined. They are status-driven. They are dynamic, charismatic, and captivating. They create products and ideas that make money but also serve others. They provide jobs and opportunities for others.

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Sir John Dalberg-Acton

Still, if the Creator operates under a Mode of Ignorance, you will see a shift from a great negotiator to a scammer. Creators can become corrupt they can lie, cheat and steal to sell something with no value. They can burn out, and become depressed, moody, difficult, and very unpleasant characters.

Life is a double-edged sword. Practice the art of not hurting yourself and the people around you.

Being a Maker can be a double-edged sword adventure.

Originally Makers were artists, musicians, painters, writers. Today, the same list applies but you could add engineers, architects, programmers, coders, carpenters, cooks. Their skillset gravitates around inventing, creating, implementing an idea, a vision, a concept. They like exploring and experimenting with new ideas. They tend to choose meaningful goals to pursue. They are driven by stability and security.

Still, if the Maker operates under a Mode of Ignorance, you will see a shift from creative to destructive, when they feel anxious, stuck, and unworthy. They focus more on money and fame instead of focusing on honing their skills.

Life is a double-edged sword. Practice the art of not hurting yourself and the people around you.

Moral of the story

Whatever you do, whether you are a Leader, a Guide, a Creator, or a Maker, life is a double-edged sword. You have to stay alert and stay on the straight and narrow path with some flexibility thrown into the mix.

“A Knife is only as good as the one who wields it.”

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.

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