What Is the Secret to Survive & Thrive In This Chaotic World? It’s VUCA!

[This is going to be a long story but if you read only one blog article this year, I suggest you read this one. Some deep secrets are going to be revealed… Make yourself comfortable because secrets such as this one cannot be revealed in a few paragraphs. I am going to take you on an epic journey. Off we go]

The world we are living in is chaotic and uncertain. Nothing is easy, we have to fight our way through everything. Everybody has problems, issues, and dramas to deal with and if you add to this some unexpected world events and some natural disasters then life becomes quite tricky. Wherever we are in the world, we all want the same thing. We all want to survive and thrive. We want to be happy, healthy, and wealthy. Surely, there must be a secret to stepping out of this chaotic world and getting to this Eldorado. Good news: there is a secret. It’s VUCA! You can watch the full documentary by joining UNIFYD TV where you will have access to a treasure trove of mindblowing information.

The US Army War College saw signs in 1987 that the world was becoming more volatile, more complex, more interconnected, more uncertain, and dangerously ambiguous. They put their best minds to work and came up with a military strategy known as V.U.C.A: Volatility. Uncertainty. Complexity. Ambiguity. From its very outset, the VUCA concept was put together to give US soldiers the ability to survive and thrive in times of crisis.

How to win everyday battles – Photo by Warmtall via freepik.com

This military strategy (which is unknown to most) is the secret to survive and thrive in this chaotic world. For those of you who wish to follow me on this Quest to find this Eldorado, read on; I am going to take you on an epic journey. I have in my possession the “secret” roadmap that will take us out of this chaotic world and straight to the hero’s journey. How did I come to possess such valuable information; you may ask? All was revealed to me in a documentary I watched recently called It’s VUCA – The Secret to Surviving in the 21st Century by Michael Schindler.

This article is based on this documentary and on some of the previous blog articles I wrote in the past which complement the VUCA concept quite well.

Life is a battlefield. Nothing is easy, we have to fight our way through everything; with this in mind, it would be a good idea for us to familiarize ourselves with combat strategy and learn the best tricks in the book from trained warriors.

The secret to survive and thrive in this chaotic world is to first recognize that we live in a chaotic world

We are living in interesting times. Learn to navigate between order and chaos

There is no doubt that we are living in a VUCA world where things are Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous. The Covid Era will be remembered as the age of despair, fractured communities where we were forced to alienate ourselves from our families, friends, colleagues, and clients. People were living in a state of fear, stress, sadness,and uncertainty and were bombarded by information, new regulations, and emergency decrees that were complex and ambiguous. There seems to be more pain than we could heal, more dissent than we could mediate, and more uncertainty than we could comprehend.

The Covid Era taught us all that we are living in interesting times and learning how to navigate between order and chaos is critical.  Everyone experiences the world through chaos, order, and something in between called consciousness.

Order is explored territory. It is the authority, the structured society. Order is tribe, religion, home, and country. Order is where the world’s behavior matches our expectations and desires, the place where all things turn out the way we want them to.

Chaos is unexplored territory. Chaos is the place you find yourself when things fall apart, when your dream dies, your career collapses, or your marriage ends. Chaos is when we don’t know where we are. When we don’t know what we are doing, and we don’t know where we are going.

Volatility turns our world upside down.  We live in a volatile world where we have to face changes that are unpredictable and frequent with devastating impacts on our lives, jobs, businesses, and relationship. When uncertainty reigns, no one can predict with confidence what’s going to happen next. People feel hopeless. How we can find hope amid uncertainty and conflict? In a VUCA world, the volume of information to process is complex, overwhelming, and staggering. It is like being asked to play chess every day whilst the rules of the game keep changing all the time. Ambiguity is the name of the game. What is causing the chaos is unclear and confusing. There is no roadmap to follow, no landmarks, and no signposts.

How to win everyday battles – Photo by Warmtall via freepik.com

Life is a battlefield, it is in the nature of most living organisms to engage in battles, have defense mechanisms, defeat their opponents, assert power and dominate. With humans, we see this happening in wars, in business, on a soccer field, in video games, and the chances are even when we are not waging war against our environment, we are waging war against ourselves. So how do you win everyday battles?

“If you know the enemy and you know yourself you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. But if you know neither the enemy nor yourself you will succumb in every battle.”

Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu claimed that the highest victory is defeating the enemy without fighting. Unfortunately, this ideal proposition is not always an option, sometimes you have no other option but to fight. That is why in life we ought to pick our battles carefully, we have to decide which battles are worth fighting and which are a waste of energy and resources. When push comes to shove and you have no choice but to fight, get into the arena and fight like your life depends on it, because it does.  And please don’t wait for the cavalry to come and save you. The calvary ain’t coming, you are the calvary.

In life, you need to have the courage to fight those battles. Courage is not an absence of fear, courage is the mental preparedness and ability to deal with difficult challenges, and sometimes seemingly impossible circumstances. It is the ability to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty, intimidation, and other threats.

The Secret to survive and thrive in this crazy world. Photo by Vectorup Studio via freepik.com

And this is where the big secret is revealed…

The secret is that you fight VUCA with VUCA. What you have to do is flip the script by turning the negative VUCA into a positive VUCA. Volatility can be countered by Vision. Uncertainty can be countered by Understanding. Complexity can be countered by Clarity. Ambiguity can be countered by Agility.

When you go into battle you need ammunition.

The most dangerous person – Photo by user 14901510 via freepik.com

Ammunition number 1: Vision

In order to have vision, you first need to observe. Looking at something produces nothing. Observing on the other hand produces insights. 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 our observation skills allows us to “listen” with more than our ears and make better decisions.

When we observe we can take a step back to peer into ourselves and others. Observing ourselves is crucial but observing others is essential as it 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 your observation skills will help you develop a better vision.

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

Ammunition number 2: Understanding

In order to understand the people and the world around you, you have to develop your ability to listen and to think for yourself.

 “When you talk you are only repeating something that 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 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 to bring frustration and resentment.  If you want something from someone express yourself clearly. If you use the right word, the right tone of voice, and the right body language, you are increasing your chance of having your wishes and aspirations become a reality. 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 are important. Pay attention. It means being aware of both verbal and non-verbal messages.

We all think of ourselves as rational 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.

Critical thinking. Phot by freepik cia freepik.com

Critical thinking means many things but at heart, it means a search for the truth.  Critical thinking helps us determine what is real and what is not. But before we are able to exercise our cognitive ability to think we need to have a certain base of knowledge as a starting point.  We can only think critically about things that we have knowledge of.  

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 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. But that is the VUCA world where are living in.

As a VUCA warrior, you will be a dangerous person if you know how to observe, listen, think (for yourself) and act accordingly.

Ammunition number 3: Clarity

There are 2 types of people in this world. Those who see clearly and those who don’t.  People who see clearly are confident in themselves and in their abilities. Confident people know who they are, what they want, and how they should go about it. They have a road map; they have a destination in mind and have planned the journey ahead. They have determination, discipline, and a sense of purpose and they go through their life journey in a state of joy, happiness, and grace.

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

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

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

“Your mind is like this water my friend. When it is agitated, it becomes difficult to see. But if you allow it to settle, the answer becomes clear.”

Master Oogway

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

If Clarity was a commodity that could be purchased the chance is that commodity would become the most precious item one could own. The problem is you cannot obtain Clarity from someone else you cannot buy Clarity and you cannot unfortunately receive it as a gift from someone else. You will have to find it yourself. Clarity will make your thoughts, your emotions, and your actions congruent with each other.

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

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Ammunition Number 4: Agility

Life is a battlefield. Photo by freepik via freepik.com

As VUCA Warriors we should be agile, we should learn the art of mobility. In the military world, the ability to maneuver cross-country and in the most restrictive terrain is essential. In life, if you are stuck in your own self-righteous and rigid way of doing things then you will lack the mobility to advance. Stiffness of thoughts originates from an inability to think critically preferring instead to submit yourself to groupthink and an ideology without questioning it.

The world is not black and white there are several shades of grey in between. Things change all the time. What is true today may not be true tomorrow. You don’t need a group, a leader, or some media platforms to tell you how to think and how to act. Don’t let people put you into a box and stick a label on it because that makes you predictable, vulnerable, and controllable. Be your own person be curious about what’s going on, ask questions, and think for yourself.

And please, stop asking for permission when you don’t have to. From the day we are born, we spend our lives asking for permission for everything. It starts with our parents, our teachers, our boss, our spouse, or our leader, and it goes on and on. Being compliant, obedient, and asking for permission might serve us well in a civilized society as we learn how to control our wants and desires; but the irony and eventual quiet tragedy of that is that in some instances, our wants and desires might not have a possessor, a licensor or a permit giver. It may lay outside the realms of ownership. There may be broad indifference to whether we act in some way or not. There may be no law or no one to be upset by our move. The desired thing in question might just belong to whoever dares to step forward and take it. There is no formal procedure, it’s just the courage to imagine that it could be yours. I say, stop asking for permission, if you don’t have to. Learn to be more autonomous and agile.

If you have the Vision, the Understanding, the Clarity of mind, and the Agility; congratulations, you have passed the test to be a VUCA warrior.

The secret to survive and thrive in this chaotic world is to recognize the necessity to act on our VUCA warrior attitude and combat obstacles on our journey

This is where storytelling comes into play. The VUCA world is laced with dilemmas, and problems you can’t solve, problems that won’t go away. Storytelling is critical in the VUCA world because stories take us into the unknown, they teach us about facing conflicts and overcoming fear and obstacles. We are all looking for clear answers to our questions, clear paths to follow, and clear solutions to our problems. 

There are two ways to learn valuable life lessons that will teach us to become a little bit smarter and wiser. The first method is through trial, error and personal experience and the second method is through storytelling. The downside of the first method is that it will no doubt bring you a fair amount of pain and suffering, which is something that we all want to avoid as much as possible. Learning life lessons through someone else’s struggle and ordeal is a much less painful way to go about it whilst still bringing the same benefits. And this is why storytelling is so important. Stories teach us about life, about ourselves and about others.

The importance of storytelling

Do not underestimate the writers’ role in society. Photo by user 31947721 via freepik.com

We should not underestimate the writer’s 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 breathe hope into us when our spirits are broken, revive us when our bodies are weary, lift our spirits up when we lose ourselves in an ocean of despair, redeem the wrong we feel, and make us stronger than we know.

Do not underestimate the writer’s role in society, because writers bring to the world something that no one else can… they shape the world. Writers have the power through their words to educate, heal and illuminate the mind.

“A poet’s work is to name the unnamable, to point to fraud, to start arguments, to shape the world, and to stop it going to sleep. Writing is as close as we get to keeping a hold on the thousand and one things that go on in the world of uncertainty, doubts, dreams, love, deception … that go on, slipping like sand through our fingers. To understand just one life, you just have to swallow the world. 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 not absolute truth, but the truth of the tale, of the imagination of the heart.”

Salman Rushdie.

Storytelling gives us that clarity and can give us the courage to act, and the motivation to be resilient.  For sure we can turn to real and/or fictional heroes for inspiration and motivation but ultimately you have to embark on your own hero’s journey and become the hero of your own story. Remember. The cavalry ain’t coming, you are the cavalry.

The hero’s journey

Are there any heroes left? Photo by Creative art via freepik.com

Heroes are admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or their noble qualities. Heroes may be exhausted, but they persevere. They may be fearful, but they face danger courageously; still, they do not quail in the face of countless obstacles and danger. Heroes are undeterred by profoundly insurmountable difficulties and most of all they don’t allow themselves to be intimidated by destructive forces that cross their paths.

History is full of admirable heroes who fought against tyranny but in the modern era Are there any heroes left? If you live in a tyranny, would you know it? And if you did, are there any heroes left to fight against it? It is not a good idea to expect a noble knight to come on his white horse to save you. Save yourself. I believe that there is a new breed of heroes that are emerging. They are difficult to spot because they don’t wear a cape and a mask, they don’t jump from building to building, they don’t ride on a white horse; they are hiding in plain sight, they are amongst us hidden by their familiarity, they are hiding in you and me. Today’s heroes are you and me and anybody who has the courage to stand up when demoralized people are kneeling in submission.

Remember that a hero’s journey begins at the end of our comfort zone.  A comfort zone is an artificial mental boundary within which we maintain a sense of security and out of which we experience great discomfort. Each one of us has our own boundaries that delineate our comfort zone, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all-comfort-zone model, but what you must know is that all the comfort zone is concerned about is keeping you inside of it.

Definitely outside my comfort zone – Photo by Hu Chen on Unsplash

A lot of people will have a natural inclination for staying inside their comfort zone even if they are unhappy and unfulfilled, first and foremost because it is familiar and safe, but most of all because they are afraid of the unknown, the risk of failure, and/or being hurt. They would rather stay wrapped up in their little cocoon, preferring to stay warm and cozy.

The only problem with this is that even if you have a strong desire to stay warm and cozy forever and have no inclination to do more than is absolutely necessary, sometimes life doesn’t give you that choice. The Covid Era is a great testimony of this.  Ultimately, the hero within you will have to leave their cozy comfort zone and head into the scary unknown. At this point, courage and resilience are required to face doubts, interferences, and weaknesses; but what the hero will gain in the process are courage, a new perspective, and some wisdom.

In life, you need to have courage in order to fight those battles. Courage is the mental preparedness and ability to deal with difficult 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 deeds but being courageous does not necessarily entail doing something dramatic or astoundingly heroic, everyday living requires courage. 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.

VUCA demands more from you. It demands more energy, more focus, more strength,and more resilience. Look at every day as being a VUCA warrior in training getting ready to get into the arena and fight as and when necessary.

Be Antifragile

The secret to survive and thrive in this chaotic world is to become antifragile. Human beings are fragile animals, but we are also resilient, rational beings with foresight, discernment, and the ability to survive and even thrive. Nobody knows what is going to happen next so we should get comfortable being uncomfortable while uncertainty reigns.

“Uncertainty is the very conditions that impels man to unfold his powers. As we navigate our own uncertain times together, may a thousand flowers of sanity bloom, each valid so long as it is viable in anchoring the human spirit it animates. And may we remember the myriad terrors and uncertainties preceding our own which have served as unexpected awakenings from some of our most perilous civilization slumbers.”

Erich Fromm
Girl Power. Kaboom!

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.

This knowledge of our own vulnerability makes us go back and forth between ecstatic optimism and sheer despair. In order to cope with that awareness and to counterweigh the heavy sense of our own fragility we often rely on the hope that somehow, we will be strong enough to withstand rare and unexpected events which the author Nassim Taleb refers to as Black Swans Events.

In his book, The Black Swan (2007) Taleb focuses on the extreme impact of rare and unpredictable events which are events impossible to predict due to their extreme rarity. As Black Swan Events may result in catastrophic consequences it is important for people always to assume, however, unlikely that they are possible and plan accordingly. In his book, Taleb urges his readers to not attempt to predict Black Swans Events but to build robustness to their negative impacts. The world is too complex for anyone to understand or predict exactly what is going to happen, and rather than naively try to predict Black Sawn Events we just need to be aware of the possibility and adjust to their existence by becoming antifragile.

Author Joanne reed, this is your quest, living in uncertain times, Nassim Taleb

In his book, Antifragile (2012) Taleb explains that all systems can be categorized as fragile, robust, or antifragile. Fragile things are exposed and destroyed by volatility. Robust things resist. Antifragile things benefit from it.

“Some things benefit from shock they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder stressors and uncertainty. Antifragility is beyond resilience and robustness. The resilient resists shock and stay the same. The antifragile gets better. The fragile wants tranquility. The antifragile grows from disorder.”

Nassim Taleb

Nassim Taleb urges people to stop using the observable past as an indicator of the future – Don’t be a Turkey! Turkey is fed for 1000 days and thinks that everything is all right and food will be coming. On day 1001 the day before Thanksgiving everything changes.

“Uncertainty is our discipline and understanding how to act under conditions of incomplete information is the highest and most urgent human pursuit.”

Karl  Popper.

Below are 4 tips to become tougher and antifragile:

  1. Become antifragile and tougher by removal. The solution to many problems in life is solved by removal, and not by addition. Living a healthy life is more about removing sugar, processed food, and unhealthy snacks from your diet. Similarly, people become wealthy by reducing their exposure to going bust. Professional athletes win games by removing mistakes.
  2. Become tougher and antifragile by being healthy. Treat your body as a temple worship it every day. Being unhealthy makes our immune system weak, which makes us more prone to disease, which in turn makes us fragile. Hippocrates is known for saying: “let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food.” According to this doctrine, the body contains within itself the power to rebalance and heal itself.
  3. Become tougher and antifragile by optionality. The more options you have the more freedom you have to respond to unforeseen circumstances, thus reducing your fragility to Black Swan 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 your and to be able to recognize favorable outcomes when they arise.
  4. Become tougher and antifragile through trial and error. Try new things and find out through a process of trial and error 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 friend is your Quest – Become a VUCA warrior!

If you wish to support my work 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

Long Story Short – Episode 4 – We Are All Explorers

We all have in mind a romanticized idea of what explorers look like i.e., a Marco Polo, a Christopher Colombus or a Ferdinand Magellan surely fit that explorer stereotype. We should also include Hollywood characters such as Indiana Jones and Lara Croft in that list. Those explorers and adventurers are truly exceptional individuals with a very special set of skills and a level of courage and determination that set them apart from the rest of us. For sure those explorers have been real trailblazers and we should give them the respect and recognition that they deserve, but from my perspective, we are all explorers.

We are all explorers. Photo featuring Joanne Reed in the desert of Saudi Arabia.

We are all Explorers. You don’t have to be a thrill junkie to be an explorer

We don’t have to be navigators, scientists, archaeologists, or adrenaline junkies to be an explorer. You can call yourself an explorer as soon as you decide to start a journey of discovery that will unveil some hidden knowledge, myths, truths, and lies about the world as we know it. What you need is a little bit of courage.

Courage is the most important of all virtues, because without courage you cannot practice any of the other virtues consistently.

Maya Angelou

You don’t have to be a thrill junkie to be brave. Being brave is waking up every day to face all that life is throwing at you with courage and determination. Being brave is being able to stand strong in the face of rejection, and criticism and continue to work on your life purpose without loss of enthusiasm. Being brave is being able to be alone without feeling lonely because it is in solitude that you can hear that little voice inside you who has been trying to tell you what you already know deep down but you were too busy being distracted by all the noise around you. Being brave is taking care of your body, mind, and spirit and make yourself strong, healthy and resilient each and every day.

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

Marcel Proust

We are all explorers. Photo featuring Joanne Reed in the desert of Saudi Arabia.

We are all Explorers. Step outside your comfort zone`

comfort zone is an artificial mental boundary within which we maintain a sense of security and out of which we experience great discomfort. Each one of us has our own boundaries that delineate our comfort zone, there isn’t a one size-fit-all-comfort-zone model, but what you must know is that all the comfort zone is concerned with is keeping you inside of it.

A lot of people will have a natural inclination to stay inside their comfort zone even if they are unhappy and unfulfilled,  first and foremost because it is familiar and safe, but most of all because they are afraid of the unknown, the risk of failure, and/or being hurt. They would rather stay wrapped up in their little cocoon, preferring to stay warm and cozy. But instead of staying in this warm cosy place, I propose to take you on an exploratory trip where you will get uncomfortable by stepping outside your comfort zone.

Stepping outside your comfort zone will help you grow, but it is important that you do it properly; be mindful of not putting yourself in a situation where  you will push yourself to do something that falls way outside your comfort zone to the point of jeopardy. There is a fine line between being courageous and being stupid.

We are all explorers. Photo featuring Joanne Reed in the desert of Saudi Arabia.

According to Professor Andy Molinski  who is a professor of organizational behavior at Brandeis University International Business School there are 3 zones when it comes to comfort. The first one is the comfort zone, where you are in a familiar situation and you are experiencing very little anxiety. The second zone is the stretch zone, where you are experiencing some level of anxiety but at a point where you can turn it into motivation and a good productivity level. The third zone is the panic zone where you are experiencing extreme levels of anxiety and where you are feeling completely overwhelmed.

Molinski stresses that the optimal level of discomfort is in your stretch zone. It is important to understand that comfort zone is a subjective concept, and each individual has to understand their tolerance to discomfort.  Humans react to new situations differently, it is very possible that what one considers to be their stretch zone might be another’s panic zone. There are several factors that will help you determine your tolerance levels, such as your values and interest, your personality and tolerance to stress. The key is to understand how you work. You need to know yourself. Having that kind of insight relies on a great deal of self-awareness and if you are unsure, the only way to find out is to experiment.

We are all Explorers. Start looking at life with a sense of curiosity

We are all explorers. Photo featuring Joanne Reed in the desert of Saudi Arabia.

What you need is to start looking at life with a sense of curiosity. You want to become an explorer. You want to keep learning and growing. Be open and receptive. Become involved in life. Be in the arena. You want to venture to places you haven’t been to before. You want to do things you haven’t done before.

You want to connect and engage with people you wouldn’t normally interact with. You want to taste new dishes. You want to climb to the top of a mountain, canoe across a lake, ride your bike to work, or walk barefoot in the grass. You want to sing in the shower, dance in the living room and have pajama parties with your friends. You want to wear outrageous and colorful clothes. You want to dance in the rain ad get wet.

You want to take your time to think and pause and meditate, to reflect on who you are and what you want to be. You want to gaze through a window and breathe, taking in the beauty of the scenery.

And this my dear friend, is Your Quest.

If you wish to support my work 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

Long Story Short – Episode 3 – Be Like Water

Bruce Lee’s legacy as a martial artist, movie star, and deep thinker remains very much alive today; there is so much we can learn from him, still. There was a point during his training when Bruce Lee became frustrated with his lack of progress. He was working hard but didn’t see any improvement.  His Master knew the problem was that he was trying too hard.

Photo featuring Joanne & Alize Reed. Photo by Thierry Nikolaeff @terydiving. Dress by Nathalie Pezzotta-Davranche @lartisanecouture.There are no tricks in those pictures just a mother and her daughter a scuba diver photographer and two amazing dresses.

 “Preserve yourself by following the natural bends of things and don’t interfere. Remember never to assert yourself against nature, never be in frontal opposition to any problems, but control it by swinging with it”.

Bruce Lee

BE LIKE WATER. Don’t get set into one form, adapt it, build your own and let it grow. When you put water in a cup it becomes the cup. When you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. In order to control myself, I must first accept myself by going with and not against my nature.

Photo featuring Joanne Reed. Photo by Thierry Nikolaeff @terydiving. Dress by Nathalie Pezzotta-Davranche @lartisanecouture.

BE LIKE WATER. The nature of water is so fine that it is impossible to grasp a handful of it. Strike it yet it does not suffer hurt. Stab it and it is not wounded. Sever it, yet it is not divided. It has no shape of its own but molds itself to the acceptable that contains it.

BE LIKE WATER. When water is heated it turns into steam, it is invisible, but it has enough power to split the Earth itself. When frozen it crystallized into a mighty rock. First, it is turbulent like Niagara Falls then calm like a spring on a hot summer day. BE LIKE WATER.

Photo by Thierry Nikoleff @terydiving featuring Joanne Reed. Dress by Nathalie Pezzotta-Davranche @lartisanecouture.

Be flexible in both mind and body. Don’t be rigid and stubborn about your beliefs, your practices, or your understanding of how the world operates, be open-minded, stay fluid and adapt to the circumstances.

Bruce Lee understood that the path of least resistance is to be just like water. Don’t go against your own nature, let it flow and use it to your advantage. Martial artists learn to preserve their own energy while turning the force used by their opponents against them. 

And this, my dear friend is Your Quest – Be like water!

If you wish to support my work 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

Long Story Short – Episode 2 – How Do I find My passion?

For some people finding their passion is easy, they were born knowing what it was. 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 into eveything we do. If we do this consistently, a time will come when something will stand 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 .

Find your passion. Make your life a work of art

Find your passion. Make your life a work of art. Photo from freepik via freepik.com

It is possible to have a passion and still feel demotivated and deflated because you can’t see any results. The problem these days is that people are impatient, they expect instantaneous results. That’s not how things work. Being successful at something requires hard work, sweat, tears, discipline, and patience. Don’t focus on the outcome, focus on the work itself. Pursue the things you love doing and devote yourself to hone your craft on a daily basis. Eventually, people will not be able to take their eyes off you.

If you still feel dispassionate and have no passion to create anything, take note of what the philosopher Carl Jung has to say on this subject.

“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

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!

Find your passion. Be an artist, create, innovate

I am an author, blogger & storyteller but I like to describe myself as an artist because it is more suited to my state of mind, it is more fluid.

How do I find my passion. Be an artist, create, innovate. Photo by freepik via freepik.com

I am an artist. I am a creator of ideas. Swimming in a sparkling sea of imagination. A magician of sorts turning thoughts of wonderment into pieces of originality. Each creation showcases my own personal journey. My worries, dreams and ambitions. Everything I love and everything I fear. All that I was yesterday and all that I’ll be tomorrow is neatly contained in my glorious creations. When you glance over my work, you are catching a glimpse of my soul. For a part of me is each piece I create. I march to my own beat and wildly dance ot my own rhythm. Passion runs through my veins and emotions are fuel for my craft. Certain pieces I protect and keep to myself. While others I’ll share with the world. I am a creative beacon shining my light brightly. For all the Universe to see.

The Artist.

And this, my dear friend is Your Quest – Make your life a work of art. Over to you!

If you wish to support my work 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

Long Story Short – Episode 1- The Year Of The Tiger

This is the first of a series of blog articles where I will take a “fresh” look at “old” pieces that I published in the past, keeping it short and sweet. The main idea is to highlight the key concept or lesson that I shared, getting straight to the point and giving you food for thought. Long story short we are fast approaching the end of the year of the Tiger. So what have we learned?

Tiger Spirit

Time flies and just like that we are soon coming to the end the year 2022, the Year of the Tiger. According to people who know how to decipher those zodiac signs, the year of the Tiger is about making significant changes. It is a year of risk-taking and adventure. We are finding enthusiasm again, both for ourselves and for others. Everybody is fired up, generosity of at an all-time high and social progress feels possible again. Tigers do things their own way and hate being told what to do.

Long Story Short – Episode 1- The Year of the Tiger – Photo by user 14901510 via freepik.com

Tiger symbolism is most commonly associated with strength and courage, as well as determination and independence. Tigers travel great distances, but they also spend time resting and saving energies, in readiness for their next hunt or battle. Some fights are worth fighting others are not. Tigers are good at choosing which pursuits are worth their time and energy.

The tiger animal spirit is silent and solitary and thrives when there are no distractions. Its focus becomes more laser-sharp, and the silence makes it easier to spot any kind of movement nearby. Do not come rushing and roaring at your targets because this is the easiest way you can lose them from your grasp. Take a step back and think of the best approach. Sometimes to be successful in life, you need to forgo speed and aggression; slow down, listen closely, and wait for the perfect timing, no matter how long it takes.

The man who is free is the one who knows.

Unkwown author

Instead of relying on someone else to tell you what to think and what to do open your eyes, open your ears, open your heart, exercise independent judgment, take responsibility, and become self-reliant. If someone tells you that there is a hailstorm outside, and another person is telling you that it is bright and sunny outside; your job is not to believe and repeat those two contradictory statements, your job is to open your front door, step outside and see for yourself if it is stormy or sunny.

The opposite of courage is not cowardice, it is conformity

Long Story Short – Episode 1- The Year of the Tiger -Be courageous. Emulate the tiger. Photo by Freepik via freepik.com

Most people believe that to be a good person you have to be a compliant person and do what one is told by those in positions of political power backed up by their lackeys in the media and celebrity culture. The problem these days is that people who value social conformity are so self-righteous that they feel the need to impose their views on those who are more fluid in their thinking.

It wouldn’t be so bad if the conformists would just be happy to conform and permit those who can exercise independent judgment the freedom to make their own choices. No, that is not how things work these days; we live in an era where you are not permitted to think for yourself anymore, if you dare to do so, the thought police will make sure to penalize you, de-platform you, cancel you, censor you so that you can’t express those “unacceptable views” anymore.

We are now living in a society where you can’t say or do anything without having to ask some authorities for permission or worry about some nasty consequences if people really knew what you really think, but if you are inhabited by the Tiger spirit you would know that “a Tiger doesn’t lose sleep over the opinion of Sheep.”

If you wish to support my work 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 Mind is like a Horse. Learn How to Ride It

“The essential joy of being with horses is that it brings us in contact with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit and freedom.”

Sharon Ralls Lemon.

It has been said that the mind is like a horse, we should learn how to ride it. Horses are always ready to share an adventure with you, they stand firm and strong always willing to let you lean on them when life gets too rough.  Horses are also hypersensitive creatures, they can sense fear, nervousness and they can react to that in unexpected ways. Some horses will test you. Some will teach you. And some will bring out the best in you.

History records the physical and emotional benefits of horseback riding as early as the days of the ancient Greeks. The concept of horses being partnered with humans in a therapeutic capacity was noted in “Natural Exercise” a text written 460-375 BCE by Hippocrates, the Greek physician, and philosopher. Fast forward to today, several studies have confirmed that equine-assisted therapy may help treat autism, PTSD, depression, and pain.

The mind is like a horse, learn how to ride it

The mind is like a horse, learn how to ride it. Photo taken by Joanne Reed featuring Maya Reed. The Savannah, Reunion Island.

It has been said that the mind is like a horse, we should learn how to ride it. The analogy helps us understand how the mind and body work together. The sensations, impulses, and reactions in our bodies are like the untamed instincts of an animal, in this particular analogy our sensations, impulses, and reactions are the horse. When we get on the horse and ride it we learn how to ride this energy.

The horse within us is the animal-like part of our being. Like a horse, we have instincts, lust, and passions that drive us. Those impulses are part of what makes us human we are driven by impulses of self-preservation (i.e., food), self-gratification (i.e., pleasure), and power (i.e., money). Sometimes those impulses can go unchecked and run wild; that is why it is important to have a competent rider to ride on the ‘horse’. The rider within us can direct these passions and animal instincts. The rider can decide which passions to pursue, which to delay pursuing, and which not to pursue at all. The rider within us allows us to discern between worthwhile and less-worthwhile activities.

As the rider of the horse, we can determine what and when we eat, and what career we wish to pursue, we can control our inner passions and desires. We can control our horse-like tendencies. And we should remind ourselves every day that it is we who are in the saddle. Therefore, we can direct ourselves to meaningful activities because we are in control of the reins.

As good equestrians know, the best way to ride a horse is not to try to control it with fear, force, or frustration, but by confidently offering a partnership. We should listen and respond to the horse’s need for reassurance, guidance, and gentleness, as well as recognize its natural animal inclination to follow its instincts and act in a horse-like way. Based on what the horse tells us, we should adjust our journey as needed, not lose sight of our intended destination. In this way, riders and horses can travel in perfect harmony.

This horse analogy helps us better understand how the mind and body work. When we encounter danger our body’s response is to fight, flee or freeze. At this point, our thinking mind comes into the frame to analyze the situation and make a rational decision as to whether the situation really puts us in danger. By noticing what’s going on in our bodies and mind we ride the horse steadily instead of riding it like a horseman or woman in a frenetic and futile battle with a frightened mount.  Instead, we relax and settle in our saddle, bumpy though the ride may be, and we take control of the reins. We may talk to ourselves softly just like a horse whisperer would do and find the right words to appease our fear and calm our nerves.  We can train our minds to do things differently, and the more practice we get the better at it we become. Life becomes less like a crazy rodeo, and a little more akin to Olympic showjumping; with plenty of hurdles, but a bit more poise.

Riding lessons for your mind

The mind is like a horse, learn how to ride it. Photo taken by Maya Reed featuring Joanne Reed. The Savannah, Reunion Island
  1. Saddle up: Mount the horse, stay mounted, and enjoy the ride.
  2. Listen to the horse. If you want a stable relationship, get a horse. If you are not a humble person, your horse will make you one. If you don’t have your own horse, go and check next door. What do you call a horse who lives next door? Neigh-bor!
  3. Acknowledge the rider. If the horse tries to buck you off, hold on tight. Chat with your horse and ask him to be nicer to you. Stay in control of the reins. As a peace gesture offer your horse some bread. What kind of bread does a horse eat? Thoroughbred!
  4. Notice the terrain. Be aware of the terrain, your environment, and of the forecast. If the weather is rainy, stormy,or icy best to postpone the ride. Don’t take a chance, it is not worth it. Be aware of those horses who like traveling around the world. They can be a handful. What do you call a horse that’s a world traveler? A globe-trotter!
  5. Come back to the center. Check your posture and state of mind. Is your mind present, awake, and attentive? If needed, re-settle by focusing on your breathing, and ask yourself why the horse was feeling so stressed. It was saddled with responsibility!
  6. Ride into the sunset. Now, ask yourself: Based on what’s here, in this body, mind, and the world around me, what course would be helpful to take right now? In which direction, toward what or whom, shall the onward journey take? Listen to your gut, your heart, your head, and the feedback you receive from the environment and people around you. Recognize that there may be more than one course to take, and remember that you can re-navigate at any time, by checking in again with the rider and horse. Allow yourself to be still, and not make a move, if this is what’s most needed for the moment.

Advice from a horse by Ilan Shamir.  Take life’s hurdles in stride. Loosen the reins. Keep stable. Be free-spirited. Gallop to greatness. Keep the burrs from under the saddle. Carry your friends when they need it.

And this my dear friend is your Quest.

If you wish to support my work 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
Quotes

The World Is A Masquerade!

What is the biggest problem with the world today?  There are endless problems in the world. Too many to list, but I was thinking that it would be an intellectually challenging exercise to try to put my finger on it. A foolish endeavor you may think. Maybe. Only a fool or a Wise Man could seriously pretend to know the answer to this question.  I happen to know a wise and eccentric philosopher (Bertrand Russell) who pondered over this question and who came up with an answer that is quite remarkable. The world is a masquerade. We are run by fools and fanatics.

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

Bertrand Russell

The world is a masquerade. We are run by fools and fanatics

We are run by fools. The fool is grandiose (borderline annoying), confident (borderline arrogant), flamboyant (borderline tacky) and walks through life feeling absolutely certain about everything. And then you have the fool-clown who is not grandiose, not confident and not flamboyant; he is just a clown. A fool is set in his opinions and feels that he has a duty to share his way of thinking about this and that and everything important. There are 2 types of fools. The first type is the one that does not care to take counsel from others nor listen to their opinions. The second one is the one who takes counsel and opinions only from people he knows will echo his own way of thinking, shielding himself (in the process) from any kind of responsibility if things gets wary.

The fool has no fluidity of mind and is set in his ways. New opinions are rejected and opposed just because they don’t fit the accepted idea and concepts that the fool has adopted as hard truth. The fool’s arrogant certainty about everything is set in stone and even King Arthur would not be able to dislodge him from that position. The problem with the fool is that he doesn’t know enough to know that he doesn’t know about the things he thinks he knows. He hasn’t got enough self-awareness to realize that what he knows is only half the story.

“In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. ”

Erasmus.

The fanatic is not a fool because he is a true believer in his cause but just like the fool, he feels absolute and resolute certainty in his belief. The fanatic refuses to hear and contemplate opposing views. You can find fanatics in all areas of life religion politics, media, and the entertainment industry. Fanatics can be leaders or followers, they are people who indulge in a toxic concoction of self-affirming, know-it-all attitude backed up by half-knowledge; they believe they have access to absolute truth, truth so perfect that they have to impose them on everyone.

It is not what they believe that makes them fanatics, it is how they believe it – no need to provide further evidence, no need to question or doubt. They operate in an irrational and emotional manner hiding their irrationality by rehearsed arguments that have been repeated and learned over time, not refreshed updated, or put to test. The truth does not matter anymore, repetition does.

“Some things are believed because they are demonstrably true. But many other things are believed simply because they have been asserted repeatedly.”

Thomas Sowell

Hence the critical role of the media who are guilty of spreading a certain type of sensational narrative that makes people either afraid or angry. Hence the need to look for a boogeyman to vent their anger on. Fanatics are highly emotional and rigid in their thinking. The problem with this is that nothing is really certain what is true today may not be true tomorrow.

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

Voltaire.

The world is a masquerade. We are swimming in an ocean of stupidity.

According to Robert Greene what really causes human stupidity is not ignorance but half knowledge. When you are ignorant you are humble, you don’t put yourself out or volunteer to do something that you have no knowledge of. I know nothing about plumbing. Knowing that, I am not going to suddenly try to fix the plumbing in my house when the tap leaks because that would be an act of rampant stupidity. Stupidity is actions that lead to unintended consequences, stupidity can lead to economic disasters, wars, and all kind of unpleasant things.

Take the case of someone who thinks that they are pretty smart because they have read a few books and have done a few searches on the internet and on Wikipedia. Based on that initial research, that person goes into full action mode and makes important decisions having only seen half of the picture.  People who are doing this, are generally falling into confirmation bias, they are looking for the kind of information that confirms their set-in-stone-belief. Low and beholds things don’t turn out the way they expected, chaos ensues, and bad things start happening. The problem is that that person became too certain. The little bit of knowledge that they’ve done makes them think they know the answer. They get filled with excitement, certainty, and conviction and they go charging into action and the opposite of what they expected happens. They react and make things worse and more unintended consequences occur with a kind of cascading effect. And now, they find themselves swimming in tumultuous waters.

People who know enough about a subject don’t actually feel so certain about it, because they realize that the situation is more complex and therefore, they kind of tamp down the emotional surge, and enthusiasm. People who act outrageous based on their convictions are usually trying to convince themselves more than anything else. And if they can drag some unsuspected souls with them into that sea of ‘certainty’ all the better because it feels ‘safer’ to be wrong amongs the crowd than be right outside of it.

“Ideologies are substitutes for true knowledge and ideologues are always dangerous when they come to power, because a simple-minded-I-know-it-all approach is no match for the complexity of existence.”

Jordan Peterson.

Jordan Peterson has an interesting solution to help people avoid unintended consequences following stupid acts. He calls it the the death of stupid. Let’s say you are an animal, and you act stupid in the middle of the jungle. The result of your stupid act is that you die. Imagine that there is a box with a snake in it and your coffee cup is inside the box with the snake in it. Imagine you are picking up the coffee cup. Then the snake bites you and you die. Based on this, you decide that picking up the coffee cup with the snake in the box is probably not a good idea, so that stupid idea has to die instead of you. The idea is that human beings should develop several versions of themselves, several avatars. Then they should put those avatars in various simulations/scenarios to see which one of those scenarios/projections should die and which one should be given the time of day. If you are smart enough and you live your life like the Wise Man of Greece does, you should be humble enough to let your stupidity die before it kills you.

The world is a masquerade. The Wise Man is the only one that can save the day

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

Socrates.

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

We should try to act more like the Wise Man of Ancient Greece. The Wise Man is humble in his knowledge, and because he knows that there are so many things that he doesn’t know he has doubts. The Wise Man understands that someone else may have knowledge that he doesn’t have, he is also able to think critically about things and will take time to look into things more deeply; and this could lead him to change his opinion on this and that. Nothing is set in stone. The Wise Man has a fluidity of mind; he is not rigid in his view and his pursuit of the truth will lead him to question everything. Be open to learn, unlearn and relearn.

And this my dear friend is your Quest.

If you wish to support my work 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

The 7 Most Important Lessons I Learned This Year

It is customary during this time of the year to reflect on our achievements and take stock of what we learned. In this article, I would like to share with you the seven most important lessons I learned this year. 2021 is getting to a close. Thank goodness for that. We survived another year living in a world where a lot of things don’t make sense anymore, where things are getting crazier by the day, where everything seems to be upside down.

People spent the last two years feeling worried anxious scared, and helpless. Human beings are fragile animals, but we are also resilient rational beings with foresight, discernment, and the ability to survive and even thrive in challenging times. My motto is when the going gets tough get tougher. I have no qualms about leaving 2021 behind me wishing for next year to be much less insane.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all my readers and followers. Thank you for your continuous support and love.

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

Joanne Reed

Lesson 1: We should all walk the path of the warrior – Life is a battlefield

The 7 most important lessons I learned this year. Photo featuring Alize Reed by Thierry Nikolaeff @terydiving . Dress by Nathalie Pezzotta- Davranche @lartisanecouture

Life is a battlefield. Nothing is easy, we have to fight our way through everything, and with this, in mind, it would be a good idea for us to familiarize ourselves with combat strategy and learn the best tricks available from trained warriors. In military strategy before combat units are sent to combat zones, they have first to learn the art of mobility, protection and decision firepower.

No one battlefield look-alike they come in all shapes and forms. We have a tendency to portray battlefields with imagery of soldiers being stuck in trenches firing at each other or imagery of civilians having to hunker down the basement whilst bombs are being dropped from the sky; some battlefields are not so obvious to spot but they are there, nonetheless. Whether you realize it or not you are living in a world where psychological warfare, information warfare, financial warfare and spiritual warfare is common occurrence.

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 deeds but being courageous does not necessarily entail doing something dramatic or astoundingly heroic, everyday living requires courage. 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.

In life you have to choose your battles carefully; some battles are worth fighting for and others aren’t. Some situations may require an immediate response others, may not. Sometimes patience is required. Do not come rushing and roaring at your targets because this could be the easiest way you can lose them from your grasps. Sometimes to be successful you have to forgo speed and aggression; slow down, listen closely and wait for the perfect timing. Focus on your goals, quietly and silently. And then when the time is right, trust your instincts, take actions with swiftness and confidence. Balance all the possibilities before you make a huge decision and act swiftly when required.

For a more detailed analysis, I invite you to read the full article I wrote on this subject.

Lesson 2: No one wants to hear this but most of us are being mind-controlled

Where does human behavior come from? Behavior comes from our perception of an event or a situation. Where does perception come from? Perception comes from information received be it from personal experience newspapers or media. Controlling human perception can therefore become a weapon used to control what people think. The best way to do this would be to filter or censor the type of information that the public receives, or by using deceptive tactics such as subterfuge propaganda or misinformation to make the public believe something that is not true.

We are comfortable in our echo chambers, devoid of people and ideas who challenge our own beliefs and we are rarely thinking about how our own biases affect how we think about world. 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.

And then you have repetition, which is another powerful tool to manipulate people’s psyche. There is a term for this in psychology it is called the Illusory Truth Effect also known as the Reiteration Effect which 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. No one wants to hear this but the truth does not matter anymore repetition does [Feel free to feel outraged]!

“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what is not true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true”

Soren Kierkegaard

For a more detailed analysis, I invite you to read the full article I wrote on this subject.

Lesson 3: That is why we should think for ourselves instead of letting other people do the thinking for us

The 7 most important lessons I learned this year. Photo featuring Alize Reed by Thierry Nikolaeff @terydiving . Dress by Nathalie Pezzotta- Davranche @lartisanecouture

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.

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; 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.

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.

“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

For a more detailed analysis, I invite you to read the full article I wrote on this subject.

Lesson 4: Because things are not what they seem first impression deceives many the intelligence of a few perceive what has been carefully hidden

The 7 most important lessons I learned this year. Photo featuring Joanne Reed by Thierry Nikolaeff @terydiving . Dress by Nathalie Pezzotta- Davranche @lartisanecouture

The truth is not the truth anymore. Video games aren’t real life. Gambling isn’t really investing. Social media isn’t really social. The news isn’t real facts anymore but more like a propaganda machine. If you live in a tyrannical society would you know it?

The media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and the 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

The mind is strange in the way that it picks and chooses what it want to see. The way people let their emotions conditions and state of mind guide their perspective ultimately decides who they are as a person.

Maya Reed

The eyes are useless when the mind is blind.

African Proverb

For a more detailed analysis, I invite you to read the full article I wrote on this subject.

Lesson 5: Honey don’t follow the crowd they are lost

The 7 most important lessons I learned this year. Photo featuring Joanne Reed by Thierry Nikolaeff @terydiving . Dress by Nathalie Pezzotta- Davranche @lartisanecouture

In order to stay sane our brain create the illusion that all our thoughts are completely rational and independent. But no matter how independent-minded you think you are it is easier and unknowingly more seductive to follow a widely accepted dogma than create your own. Human beings have a natural desire to be accepted into a group or community. Being an outsider is not a good place to be it is lonely and uncomfortable. That is why a lot of people prefer to follow the crowd without realizing that it could lead straight to the slaughterhouse.

Numerous studies have confirmed the fact that the actions of a large group greatly influence an individual’s decision. Pushed by the herd people act the same way or adopt similar behaviors as people around them ignoring their own feelings in the process. Are most humans sheeple? Sheep are docile, compliant, kind, quite pleasant animals and very tasty too; being described as a sheep has no doubt pejorative connotations. The truth of the matter is that most of us are more sheepish than we might like to admit it and we would rather follow the crowd wherever it goes than venture on our own lonely road.

Most people would rather be wrong within the company of the herd than be right outside of it.

Unknown Author

Honey don’t follow the crowd they are lost.

For a more detailed analysis, I invite you to read the full article I wrote on this subject.

Lesson 6:  And please stop asking for permission when you don’t have to

The 7 most important lessons I learned this year. Photo featuring Joanne & Alize Reed by Thierry Nikolaeff @terydiving . Dress by Nathalie Pezzotta- Davranche @lartisanecouture

From the day we are born we spend our life asking for permission for everything. It starts with our parents our teachers our boss our spouse, or our leader and it goes on and on. I say, stop asking for permission when you don’t have to. We grow up with a host of ingrained ideas about what we’re permitted to do or not do. As a child we have to ask permission from our parents to ride our bikes to town. When in school we have to raise our hands and ask the teacher permission to speak or to go to the toilet. At work we have to ask our boss and HR department permission to go on sick leave when we are feeling unwell.

Being compliant obedient and asking for permission might serve us well in a civilized society as we learn how to control our wants and desires; but the irony and eventual quiet tragedy of that is that in some instances our wants and desires might not have a possessor a licensor or a permit giver. It may lie outside the realms of ownership. There may be broad indifference to whether we act in some way or not. There may be no law and no one to be upset by our move. The desired thing in question might just belong to whoever dares to step forward and take it. There is no formal procedure it’s just the courage to imagine it could be yours.

We are creatures of tradition, systems rules and regulations and we are conditioned to think that we need permission for everything and to act within the confines of what is permitted. I say stop asking for permission when you don’t have to.  Our culture is fascinated by inventors and artists who struck out on their own went strongly against the tide of current opinion and was eventually vindicated even if only after their deaths. We get excited by the stories of their lives because we unconsciously find in them something that’s missing in us: a bold indifference to permission a reminder of our lack of courage and timidity.

For a more detailed analysis, I invite you to read the full article I wrote on this subject.

Lesson 7: And always remember that you can find hope amid uncertainty and conflict

The 7 most important lessons I learned this year. Photo featuring Alize Reed by Thierry Nikolaeff @terydiving . Dress by Nathalie Pezzotta- Davranche @lartisanecouture

The world currently is filed 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 time 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.

We should try not to focus so much on all the negativity that surrounds us but we should learn to focus 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; if you lift your head up and look around you will find Hope in many places; you can find Hope in a smile a kind word or a hug and some other places too.

Hope triggers a sense of purpose and aspiration 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.

For a more detailed analysis, I invite you to read the full article I wrote on this subject.

 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

Nature Speaks – Advice from a Lake

The best way I know to get away from the hustle and bustle of day-to-day living is to take a walk and immerse yourself in nature. Nature speaks and it has a lot of wisdom to share; but you need to pay attention. I just came back from a three-day trek in the mountain; it was one of the most difficult and one of the most beautiful experiences I had lately, and I learn a lesson or two from the various lakes that came my way.

Advice from a Lake.

Be clear. Make positive ripples look beneath the surface. Stay calm. Shore up friendships. Take time to reflect. Be full of life!

Ilan Shamir

Nature speaks – Advice from a lake – Be clear

Nature speaks advice from a lake – Photo by Alize Reed – Riviere des Galets – Reunion Island

People who see clearly are confident in themselves and in their abilities. Confident people know who they are, what they want, and how they should go about it. They have a road map, they have a destination in mind, and have planned the journey ahead. They have determination, discipline, a sense of purpose and they go through their life in a state of joy, happiness, and grace. The quest for clarity is an endless pursuit. We all seek it. We all want clear answers to our questions. We all want clear solutions to our problems. We all want clear paths to follow along the road to a happy and successful life. We all want to move from a state of confusion, which brings with it a lot of suffering to a state of clarity that brings joy and happiness.

People who don’t see clearly are lost, they drift, they are discouraged, they keep changing their mind, and instead of going forward towards the light (they is always light at the end of the tunnel) they turn around in circles wandering endlessly and compulsively but not really going anywhere; and their life journey ends up being a journey full of pain and suffering. The lack of clarity triggers different types of reactions in people. Some people will opt for burying their heads in the sand and continue operating on autopilot. Others will sink into despair or run around in a state of panic not knowing what to do, holding on to their anger, resentment, and suffering.

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

Nature speaks – Advice from a lake – Be clear – Make positive ripples – Look under the surface – Shore up friendships

Nature speaks advice from a lake – Photo by Valerie Leperre- Cilaos – Reunion Island.

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

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

Nature speaks advice from a lake – Photo by Joanne Reed featuring Alize Reed – Cilaos – Reunion Island.

“Your mind is like this water, my friend. When it is agitated, it becomes difficult to see. But, if you allow it to settle, the answer becomes clear.”

Master Oogway
Nature speaks advice from a lake – Photo by Philippe Payet – Riviere des Galets – Reunion Island

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

According to the Native Americans, in order to conduct your life as a human being, you have to watch nature and imitate it. If you watch the land, you will see that all the plants and animals co-exist in their natural environment. When you look at a poisonous plant, you will see that it is bare all around; a poisonous plant has no friends. The same applies to humans.

You watch the animal kingdom and you realize that there are no predators; there is only natural law. Animals and humans have one thing in common, we don’t want to be eaten. So, what should we do to avoid this fate? We should learn everything that life can teach us and applies those life lessons into our day-to-day life in order to not only survive but thrive.

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 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

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

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