Categories
Self-Help

Honey, Don’t Follow the Crowd. They Are Lost.

Everyone on social media is looking to gain more followers on their social media platform. I say, stop following the crowd. They are lost. In order to stay sane, our brains 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.

Why do most people decide to follow the crowd and adopt a herd mentality?

Don’t follow the crowd. Don’t be a sheeple. Photo by Aleksandar LittleWolf via freepik.com

A herd, as defined by the Cambridge dictionary, is a large group of animals of the same type that live and feed together. Aristotle, the legendary Greek philosopher, said that man is by nature a social animal, inferring that humans prefer living within a group than alone. From this vantage point, it seems perfectly appropriate and not at all demeaning to describe herd mentality as the tendency of people to conform to the behavior or beliefs of the group to which they belong.

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.

A study conducted by Professor Krause at the University of Leeds showed that humans flock like sheep and birds. In his experiment, Professor Krause asked groups of people to walk randomly around a large hall with a select few receiving additional instructions about where to walk. Participants were not allowed to communicate and had to stay a minimum arm’s length from everyone else. As the experiment unfolded the informed individuals ended up being followed by others in the crow. Actions taken by a minority of just 5% of informed individuals influenced the behavior of 85% of the remainder of the group, and more importantly, without them even realizing.

Professor Krause’s experiment showed that in a group setting humans have a propensity for copying behavior. This copying can lead to a type of collective madness when inaccurate or harmful knowledge goes viral. The scientific term for this is maladaptive herding, which can push groups of animals, like sheep, to make critically stupid decisions like plunging over a cliff.

Some people operate under the disguise of acting for the common good of the people and take on the role of our shepherds to guide us on the right path. Sure enough, it is good sometimes not to worry about anything and follow the person ahead of us; but is this really the right path for us? If you act sheepish, you won’t even ask yourself this question because,

“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.

Sometimes following the crowd can be the smart thing to do if instead of acting sheepish we emulate the honeybee

Dont’ follow the crowd. Act like a bee. Photo by Wira Korn via freepik.com

Honeybees are known for their ability to work together in a group and collectively make decisions in the search for food or sites for new nests. Perhaps lesser known is how honeybees use their communication system to allow good decisions to spread and bad ones to stop dead in their tracks. Good decisions go viral. Bad decisions are being stopped. How do they do that?

Austrian behavioral biologist Karl Von Firsch found that worker bees use a kind of waggle dance to communicate with other bees. These waggle dances are the bees’ version of an online shopping rating system; instead of stars or good reviews, the ratings are based on the duration of the dance. When bees find a good source of food, they dance for a long time. When the food source is poor the dance only lasts a short time or is non-existent. With this sophisticated – and rather fun communication system – honeybees can skillfully identify the most profitable nectar sources amongst the sites they have visited and can rapidly shift their foraging efforts following updates from other bees in the colony.

The beauty of this system is that even if each forager only knows about its own nectar source together they generate a coherent colony-level response that enables better resources to be exploited and poorer ones to be abandoned. When bees happily dance the night away the information quickly goes viral and other bees will congregate to that spot. This behavior is neither triggered by a control center nor enforced by hierarchy, rather it results from effective communication or collective wisdom.

The madness of the crowd or collective wisdom?

Don’t follow the crowd. Practice collective wisdom. Photo by Ruksutakarn via freepik.com.

Groups of humans sometimes exhibit the madness of the crowd but at other times they are capable of exhibiting collective wisdom. As social animals, humans seek information from others when making decisions. Good marketers and social influencers perhaps know this best. When more people exhibit any given choice, be it fashion, politics, books, etc… the more people will follow in tow – in the same way, that people might choose to trust Instagram, Twitter, Facebook accounts with a large following. The name of the game these days is Trust me I am an influencer. I know what’s best for you. Sure thing, except that some of those influencers have taken residence in Idiocracy Ville, which is run by a bunch of bad actors who believe themselves as morally and intellectually superior to the rest of us, the common people. They appropriate themselves the right to influence the rest of us and tell us what to believe, what to like, and what to buy.

“People are sheep. TV is the shepherd”-

Jess.C. Scott

Studies have shown that in a large group setting, humans are largely unaware of their herd instincts or sheep-like behavior. Collective wisdom on the other hand is a source of collective intelligence that emerges from the collaboration or collective efforts of many individuals. To overcome herd mentality and its negative impacts, drop the sheepish behavior. If you are convinced that an idea is irrational or incorrect, don’t follow the crowd, they are lost, and adopt the collective wisdom of the bee, instead.

Advice from HoneyBee. Create a buzz. Sip life’s sweet moments. Mind your own beeswax. Work together. Always find your way home. Stick close to your Honey. Bee yourself!

Illan Shamir

And this, my dear friend, is Your Quest.

Personal Note

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

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

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

Categories
Be Happy Self-Help

Mind-Blowing!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Crace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And this my dear friend, is Your Quest.

Personal Note

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

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

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

Categories
About the Book Quotes

Do Not Underestimate the Writers’ Role in Society.

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. Writers start writing in solitude but once the work is done writers wish for their words to be read and shared with the public at large.

A book is not finished until it has been read

Anne Proulx

Getting attention from the public is what authors are craving for, not just to shine a light on themselves and their work, but to share some meaningful and impactful words with their audience. Well-chosen words 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.

Do not underestimate the importance of writing. Writers write because they contribute to society.

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

The world is full of people who make a valuable and essential contribution to society. There is no point in me listing them here because you know who those people are, and the list can never be exhaustive. But taking aside those people, I would like to highlight the importance that writers have in society.

[Full disclosure: Please note that I am writing this article with a totally bias outlook and I have a personal interest in this subject matter].

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.

Joanne Reed

The only people who see the whole picture are the ones who can step outside the frame; writers love stepping outside their comfort zone and outside the frame to get a new vantage point. Salman Rushie articulates this very well, so I will hand this point over to him.

A poet’s work is to name the unnameable, to point to fraud, to start arguments, to shape the world, and stop it going to sleep.

Writing is as close as we get to keeping a hold on the thousand and one things that go in the world uncertainty, doubts, dreams, love, deception … that go on, slipping like sand through our fingers.

To understand just one life, you 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

Why do writers write and what is their role in society

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

I didn’t decide to become a writer, I discovered I was one because of a mysterious voice that pushed me to put my thoughts on paper and turn those thoughts into a manuscript, that turned into a book and then, as if it wasn’t enough to satiate my appetite for sharing my thoughts, I decided to become a blogger and share my thoughts on a regular basis with whoever could spare a minute or two to stop by the website and engage with my writing. I write to educate, entertain and inspire.

Every writer has their own unique narrative behind the reasons why they write. One day they decide to sit at their desk and write a piece to be shared with the public. By typing frantically on their laptop they are taking a leap of faith deciding to enter the literary arena, not knowing what will be waiting for them once they step foot inside. Will the readers be gracious or vicious? Picture Russell Crowe in the movie Gladiator entering the arena for the first fight.

According to Dr. Lawrence R. Samuel (Ph.D. Psychology), the psychology behind the pursuit of literary life is not precisely clear. With rejection and criticism so much part of the literary experience and the fact that the income of the average American writer hovers around the poverty line, one has to wonder if writers have a streak of masochism in their genetic makeup to choose it as their profession. Why would anyone consent to the emotional, financial, spiritual, and even physical contortions that are necessary in order to lead a writer’s life?

Why do writers write? For posterity, money, legacy or some other reasons? All of the above and some other reasons too. Writers and storytellers write because there are passionate about writing and because they have something to say to the world.

Sharing. At a basic level, writing is about someone sharing something with someone else, making connection a key component of the pursuit. The possibility that a book can be deeply moving or at least interesting and informative to a reader is a prime motivation for writers to keep writing.

Creativity. Through their work writers have the potential of having a bond with far more people than they can in real life, a perspective that recast writing from its accepted view as a solitary and lonely exercise. From an expression of individual creativity, it shifts to a builder of relationships.

Liberation. Writing is a liberating force and something that is instrumental in allowing writers to be all they can be.

Therapy. Writing can also serve as a therapeutic release and many authors find their profession to be an ideal means of maintaining a sense of psychological well-being.

Meaning. Writing is a search for something meaningful, a longing to create something of value; to have an impact. There is an intimate relationship between the writer and the reader. The writer makes the first move and takes the first leap of faith, releasing their inner makings to the world for all to see. There is a great risk when it comes to writing, releasing content freely and openly. Content can be received graciously and given applause or simply dismembered and torn apart by readers and reviewers. Writing is a journey with its unique ups and downs.

Exploration. Writing takes you out of your comfort zone. It is the push, the striving, the discomfort. Writers write because it pushed them beyond the barriers of everyday existence into a world of opportunity, an infinite variety of maybes and what-ifs. A vast plain of words that might describe the world in which we live. For a writer, no two days are the same. The path may not always be smooth and predictable, but there are always new sights to see. There is always more to explore. Like any great journey, writing is full of ups and downs. Sometimes it feels like a roller coaster, other times it is like riding a donkey. It is an isolated but far from lonely experience. With our words and fellow travelers/readers to keep us company, adventure lurks around every corner. Writing can never be a waste of time because it takes you to places you would never go.

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.

Joanne Reed

Personal Note

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

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

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

Categories
Be Happy Self-Help

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

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

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

Bruce Lee

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

Jordan Peterson

The most dangerous person is the one who observes

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

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

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

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

The most dangerous person is the one who observes.

The most dangerous person is the one who listens.

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

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

Dalai Lama

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

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

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

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

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

Aristotle

The most dangerous person is the one who listens.

The most dangerous person is the one who thinks.

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

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

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

Thomas Sowell

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

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

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

The most dangerous person is the one who thinks critically.

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

Joanne Reed

And this my dear friend is Your Quest.

Personal Note

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

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

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

Categories
Self-Help

Stop Asking for Permission When You Don’t Have To.

To seek or not to seek permission? I say, stop asking for permission when you don’t have to.

From the day we are born, we spend our life asking 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’s no formal procedure, it’s just the courage to imagine it could be yours. The reason why certain ideas haven’t happened isn’t necessarily because they are silly, but because there is a strong and always surprising lack of originality in human conduct.

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. For most of human history, it was customary to believe that permission to do anything had to be sought from the gods and superior forces that governed the cosmos. We may assume we don’t share this primitive characteristic, but our underlying attitude – in its essential form – suggests we do. We don’t quite know whom we are asking, and we can’t say precisely what approval looks like, but in an archaic part of our minds, we’re still waiting to be given endorsement for our most cherished plans. I say, stop asking permission when you don’t have to.

We want to know from some potent but undefined source that if we act this way, we’ll still be good people, that we won’t be punished that this is allowed, that we won’t bring retribution on ourselves or trouble from the Universe. 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.

Stop asking for permission when you don’t have to. You don’t need permission to think the way you think

Stop asking for permission when you don’t have to. Photo by Wayhome studio via freepik.com

In the Dystopian Novel 1984 written by George Orwell, the Thought Police (Thinkpol) are the secret police of the superstate of Oceania, who discover and punish Though Crime, personal and political thoughts unapproved by the regime. Thinkpol uses criminal psychology and omnipresent surveillance via informers, telescreens cameras, and microphones to monitor the citizens of Oceania and arrest all those who have committed Thought Crime in challenge to the status quo authority of the Party and the regime of Big Brother.

Democratic societies assert unequivocally that freedom of expression is part of our human rights. The First Amendment of the US Constitution largely protects Americans from the creepy authoritarian systems found in 1984 and so does the Human Rights Act; Article 10 of the Human Rights Act protects your right to hold your own opinions and express them freely without government interference. This includes the right to express your views aloud (for example through public protest and demonstrations) or through published articles, books or leaflets, television or radio broadcasting, works of arts, the internet, and social media.

Sadly, the scenario envisaged in Orwell’s book 1984 seems to be more reality than fiction. The new Thought Police are Big Tech and the rise of Cancel Culture. We will have to decide as a collective if seeking conformity of thought or language through public shaming is healthy or suffocating. Condoning the censorship road that is being taken by Big Tech is likely to be the road that takes us straight to that place called Tyranny.

“When you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing. When you see, that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favor. When you see that men get richer more easily by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them but protect them against you. When you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice – You may know that your society is doomed” Extract from Atlas shrugged Ayn Rand (1905 to 1982) – Novelist, philosopher, and screenwriter.

Ayn Rand

History is full of examples of crazy things you won’t believe used to be legal, slavery being one of them. We tend to think of the law as an obvious truth, the reality is that society pretty much makes things up as we go along. Thank goodness, we can rely on Natural Law which is a superior law to the Law of the State to save us from tyranny. Some big thinkers spent time thinking about this concept.

Aristotle is often said to be the father of Natural Law. The Natural Law thesis holds that if a human law fails to be backed up by decisive reason, then it is not a proper law at all. This is captured in the maxim “an unjust law is no law at all”. In his treatise Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes expressed a view of Natural Law as a general rule, by which a man is forbidden to do that which is destructive of his life or takes away the means of preserving the same. According to Emanuel Kant, in a free society, each individual must be able to pursue their goals however they see fit as long as their actions conform to principles governed by reason.

Thomas More’s refusal to acknowledge King Henry VIII as Supreme Head of the Church of England and the annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon lead him to be imprisoned and put on trial for treason. During his last remarks to court – defending himself in his trial for treason and knowing in advance his fate of being found guilty for his refusal to assert in writing that the King was the Head of the Church, he made the following arguments to the jury :

“Some men say the Earth is flat and some men say the Earth is round. But if it is flat, could Parliament make it round? And if it is round, could the King’s command flatten it?”

Thomas More

What Thomas More so eloquently expressed during his trial was that the Laws of Nature will force the government to exercise a certain restraint. There is a limit to what a government and/or parliament can legitimately do. That limit is set by Natural Law. Extract from Chapters 7 & 10 of This Is Your Quest.

You don’t need permission to be enlightened or to act with reason

Stop asking for permission when you don’t have to. Photo by Wayhome studio via freepik.com

The 18th century was a period known as the Enlightenment, another term used in the Age of Reason. The concept of a social contract, limited government, consent of the governed, and the separation of power started making an impact on people. New beliefs started spreading such as “all men are created equal” and “a king has no divine rights.”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote The Social Contract or Principles of Political Right in 1762. His thinking was that humans are essentially free, but over time they become less and less free because of the mere fact that they live in a society. It is only natural in society to see a ruler emerge and to attract followers, who would happily give up their liberty to be under the ruler’s protection. The question that Jean-Jacques Rousseau asked himself was: “How can we be free and live together without being overpowered by the force and coercion of others? The answer he came up with was: “through a social contract.”

A social contract is a process whereby people will come together and agree to form a new single body called the Sovereign. The Sovereign’s mission is to act for the good of all the people and its critical element is the element of reciprocity. The Sovereign is committed to the good of the individuals who constitute it and each individual is likewise committed to the good of the whole. In the American colonies, more and more people were being influenced by this concept and started to believe that they weren’t receiving their end of the bargain and, gradually started to think that it was their duty to rebel against and disobey laws that were viewed unjustly. The American Revolution began in 1775; the root cause of the revolution can be found in the way Great Britain treated its colony, as some kind of faraway outpost, whose sole purpose was to provide for the needs of Great Britain, and for the American people to be subject to and subservient to the will and power of the Crown.

So, please stop asking for permission when you don’t have to. There is a whole raft of things that fall outside the realms of ownership. Not all our wants and desires need to have a possessor, a licensor, or a permit giver.

And this my dear friend, is Your Quest.

Personal Note

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

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

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

Categories
Be Happy Self-Help

A Mother’s wish for her daughters

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

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

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

3. Learn to think for yourself.

From the confines of my Island (Ile de la Reunion), my youngest daughter and I had an amazing underwater photoshoot experience thanks to a scuba diver photographer by the name of Thierry Nikolaeff @terydiving and an amazing dressmaker by the name of Nathalie Pezzotta-Davranche @lartisanecouture. Those underwater photoshoots are not easy, Alizé got the gist of it fairly quickly. For me, it took a bit longer to get to grip with the technique of trying to look relaxed and not out of breath at the bottom of a pool, but managed eventually. The results are literally breath-taking. There are no tricks on those pictures, just Alizé and me, two amazing dresses, and a scuba diver photographer.

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

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

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

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

Maya Angelou

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

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

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

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

Nelson Mandela

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

John Wooden

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

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

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

Barbara Bonner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thinking is difficult, that is why most people judge.

Carl Jung

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Personal Note

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

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

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

Categories
Be Happy Self-Help

How Can We Find Hope Amid Uncertainty and Conflict?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joanne Reed

How can we find hope? Find Hope in action.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Wise Man

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

And this my dear friend, is your quest.

Personal Note

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

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

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

Categories
Be Happy Self-Help

Back home

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

Home sweet home

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

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

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

Away from home

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

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

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

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

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

Back home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And this, my dear friend, is your Quest.

Personal Note

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

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

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

Categories
Self-Help

crazy things you won’t believe used to be legal

“Laws are like sausages; it is better not to see them being made”

Otton Von Bismarck

There are many examples throughout history of crazy things you won’t believe used to be legal. We tend to think of the law as an obvious truth, the reality is that society pretty much makes things up as we go along. A brutal statement you may say. But take a look back at history, travel back in time when your parents and grandparents and great-grandparents were kids, and all kinds of crazy things were legal from meth to owning people, to be able to legally cut half of someone’s brain out for being gay.

This blog article is not for the faint-hearted. It is historical, factual, and brutal. For the adventurous and curious souls out there, please read on. For the rest, stop reading now, and stay on standby for my next blog article where I will try to serve you something more tamed.

Crazy things you won’t believe used to be Legal.

Smoking everywhere used to be legal.

People used to be able to smoke everywhere from conference rooms in office places to airplanes, movie theaters, and restaurants. If you smoked, you looked cool and for women, it was even considered a symbol of emancipation and equality with men. Edward James Bernays, the nephew of the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, was an Austrian pioneer in the field of public relations and propaganda and was known as the “Father of Public Relations”. He was named as one of the hundred most influential Americans of the 20th century by Life Magazine. His best-known campaigns included a 1929 effort to promote female smoking by branding cigarettes as feminist “Torches of Freedom”. This phrase was used to encourage women’s smoking by exploiting the women’s liberation movement through to the 1970s. Edward Bernays’ campaign on behalf of the tobacco companies was extremely successful and achieved the desired objective of getting more people and in particular more women to smoke cigarettes in public. For more on this subject please refer to Chapter 22 of my book This Is Your Quest.

Drugs

Crazy things that used to be legal. Photo by Nadia Poliashenko via freepik.com

In the US, pretty much all types of drugs were legal at some point or another, from the soft ones to the hard-core type. This is because most drugs were either developed originally for medical reasons, accidentally discovered in experiments, or just plants growing out of the earth that people have ingested like food since the beginning of time. In fact, drugs as a terrifying boogeyman didn’t become a thing until 1875 when the first drug laws in the U.S. were passed.

Opium, LSD, mushrooms, heroin, ecstasy, and meth used to be perfectly legal in the U.S. You used to be able to get methamphetamines from your pharmacist to treat alcoholism and depression. The drug was FDA-approved in 1944 and became known as Methedrine in the 1950s when it became wildly popular due to its unintentional addictive qualities. However, meth abuse became so common that the government passed the Controlled Substances Act to limit the sale of methedrine – although you can still get it in small doses under the name of Desoxyn.

Cocaine was originally used in the late 1800s as a way to treat addiction to morphine. In 1884, Sigmund Freud (a chronic coke user) even penned a love letter to cocaine, called “Uber Coca,” in which he praised the drug for its “exhilaration and lasting euphoria.” When Coca-Cola debuted in 1886, it had two major ingredients: caffeine and cocaine. Why else do you think it is called “Coke?”

Slavery

Slavery has existed since the beginning of time and was perfectly legal around the world. Europeans enslaved other Europeans, Asians enslaved other Asians, Africans enslaved other Africans and Arabs enslaved other Arabs. The color of someone’s skin was not a key factor to determine whether that person could find himself in the unfortunate position of being a slave. Those who became slaves were chosen because of their vulnerability compared to other dominant groups and not because of the color of their skin.

A slave is a person who is the chattel or property of another. The etymology of the word “slave” finds its origin in the medieval Latin Words “Sclavus”, originally ‘Slav” because of the many Slavs sold into slavery by conquering people. In the U.S, if a slave master was to execute one of his slaves, it wasn’t seen or prosecuted as murder – because this was legally his property, and he could do with it what he liked. In the case of Native Americans, murder wasn’t just ignored; it was encouraged in many cases, with local governments offering rewards for the killing or capture of Native Americans. For more on this subject please refer to Chapter 7 of my book This Is Your Quest. If you don’t have time to read my book or reading history books is not your thing you could instead sit comfortably in your living room to watch “Gone with the Wind” followed by “Django Unchained” and you will get a pretty good overview of what it was like to live in those days when owning people was a thing.

The French Revolution abolished slavery throughout its empire in 1794, although it was restored in 1802 by Napoleon as part of a program to ensure sovereignty over its colonies. Denmark-Norway was the first country in Europe to outright ban the slave trade in 1803. On 25 March 1807, King George III of England signed into law the Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, banning trading in enslaved people in the British Empire. Spain abolishes slavery in 1811 including in its colonies, though Cuba rejects the ban and continues to deal with slaves. In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation declaring “all persons held as slaves… shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free,” effective January 1, 1863. It was not until the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, in 1865, that slavery was formally abolished. The U.N. declared slavery a violation of global human rights in 1948, but it hung around in Niger, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, The United Arab Emirates, and Oman until the 1960s and 70s. Mauritania was the last country to outlaw slavery in 1981.

Lobotomies

Crazy things that used to be legal. Photo by brgfx via freepik.com

Partial lobotomies used to be considered an appropriate way to deal with mental illness – an encouraging procedure to handle schizophrenia, depression, suicidal tendencies, and other unwanted social problems – like homosexuality. (It was even sometimes used to treat backaches.). The procedure became very popular and in 1949, the originator of the procedure, Portuguese neurologist António Egas Moniz, shared a Nobel Prize for its discovery. The procedure could be enforced against the individual’s will.

After a relatively short surgical lifespan (the Soviet Union was the first country to outlaw the procedure in 1950 stating that it was contrary to the principles of humanity) it was noticed that dulling the emotions produced more than a few negative side effects; namely turning the patient into a vegetable, a living creature with no sign of depression, but a creature unable to focus, unable to make decisions, and unable to operate properly. One doctor described his patient following lobotomy as a “smiling, lazy and satisfactory patient with the personality of an oyster.” According to estimates, the United States was the worldwide leader in lobotomies, performing between 40,000 and 50,000. The practice was formally banned in 1967, but reports suggest that lobotomies still occurred throughout the 1980s.

Eugenics

Eugenics is defined by Wikipedia as a set of beliefs and practices that aim to improve the genetic quality of a human population historically by excluding people and groups judged to be inferior or promoting those judged to be superior. Eugenics was a popular and well-received idea in the early part of the 20th century. Its proponents claimed that the practice could create a world in which genetic disease would be a thing of the past.

In 1907, the state of Indiana in the US began a policy of forcibly sterilizing the mentally ill, in the hope that they wouldn’t procreate and give birth to the mentally ill babies. By 1938, 33 states had sterilization laws that covered not only “traditional” mental illness, but also the blind and deaf, people who were crippled. Orphans and the homeless were also added to this slate of sterilization because someone with the power to draft laws for the United States of America decided that losing your parents and/or your home was a genetic disorder. By the time the last involuntary sterilization laws were on the books in 1972 (Virginia was the final holdout), it’s estimated that over 63,000 people had been forcibly sterilized by the government for the crime of possessing “undesirable” traits.

History is full of examples of crazy things you won’t believe used to be legal. Going forward, I would be curious to read a blog article from one of my grandchildren and great-grandchildren, highlighting the crazy things that used to be legal in 2021.

And this, my dear friend, is your Quest.

Personal Note

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

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

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

Categories
Self-Help Uncategorized

life is a journey. Enjoy the ride.

Life is a journey, enjoy the ride. Sometimes the road is nice and pleasant and other times it is rocky, arduous, dangerous, and most unpleasant. No one voluntarily chooses to go down the unpleasant road, except that sometimes there is nowhere to go but down that road. Life is a road filled with hardships, celebrations, success, failure, heartaches, joy, and special moments.

Route 2020 & 2021 is one of those roads that gives you the chills when you are on it, danger lurks at every corner, there is no good visibility, it is isolated, rugged, with many up and down hills and unexpected turns. We have been driving on that road for a year and a half now and it has been rough.

Life is a journey. Enjoy the ride.

Imagine you are in your car on your way to Pleasant Ville which represents your ultimate dream destination. You put in the coordinates and drive along quite happily until you realize you are going in the wrong direction after taking a wrong turn. There is no need to panic, the GPS will re-direct you to Pleasant Ville, albeit using a different route. This little detour cost you some time, but you are now more focused on the road, determined not to take another wrong turn or to miss the next exit. You are getting closer to your destination and will get there as long as you stay focused.

Life is a journey. Enjoy the ride. Photo by Alize Reed featuring Joanne Reed.

There could be times when we encounter rough terrain and end up stuck in dead-ends. Those who can only proceed in forward gear and on a smooth track cannot make it to the end of the road. Being able to turn back and reversing is as important as raw speed and moving forward. This is especially true when we encounter deliberately altered road signs that send us the wrong way.

Now, imagine that you are sharing the road with three other drivers and you all want to go to Pleasant Ville. Driver 1 is the fast-and-furious type who starts his engine and immediately speeds off, impatient to get to his destination as quickly as possible. But, after taking a wrong turn and finding himself in the wrong place, Driver 1 is now annoyed, discouraged, and disheartened by losing his early lead (who said that this was a race anyway). Driver 1 returns home feeling defeated.

Life is a journey. Enjoy the ride. What kind of driver are you? Photo by freepik via freepik.com

Driver 2 is the are-we-there-yet-type of driver who drives around not paying attention to his GPS and turns around in circles thinking are we there yet? Driver 2 eventually gets disheartened by driving around in circles not knowing where he is going. He also returns home feeling defeated.

Driver 3 is the zig-zag type of driver. Before arriving at his destination Driver 3 decides that a different place is better than where he was originally going, so he changes the coordinates, again and again, never arriving anywhere.

Driver 4 is the smart and steady type: focused, and patient, he pays attention to the road and doesn’t fret if he takes a wrong turn, because it doesn’t matter which road you take, there is rarely only a single road that leads to your destination. Eventually, driver 4 arrives at Pleasant Ville and when he gets there, he realizes that it was worth all the time, effort, sweat, and tears and rejoices in the happiness of the moment. Driver 4 had the vision and discipline to keep going on the path that he chose; his journey leads him to his ultimate destiny. His passion was the fuel that kept him along the way. I know what type of driver I want to emulate. Which one are you?

Life is a journey. Enjoy the ride and learn along the way.

Road trips are fun, but they can also be filled with unexpected events, delays, and danger, but whatever comes our way we should take stock of all the lessons that we are learning along the way. There are many roads one can take on their life journey; choose the one that defines you the most, the one which has a purpose for you.

Life is a journey. Enjoy the ride. Leave a trail. Photo taken by Joanne Reed. Saint Philippe. Ile de la Reunion.

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Being on a road trip doesn’t mean that you are on the go all the time, there will be times when you will need to stop, have some rest, refuel. Stillness is an important tool on your journey to find clarity. The ability to see clearly when you are frustrated, angry, or scared, will help you find a more logical, less emotional response, and give you choices to do things differently, or do nothing at all.

Life journeys are not always smooth, throughout our travels, we will encounter many challenges. Some of these challenges will test our courage, strengths, and weaknesses. Those obstacles could be blessings in disguise, but it is hard to realize that sometimes the obstacle is the way. All the obstacles and hardships are a test of our strength and weakness, courage and faith.

Life is a journey. Enjoy the ride. A bend in the road is not the end of the road… Photo by freepk via freepik.com

“A bend in the road, is not the end of the road… unless you fail to make the turn.’

Helen Keller

When things don’t go our way we can either focus on the fact that life is unfair and everything sucks or we can take the challenges with courage and determination; whether we end up victorious or defeated what matters the most is the way we carry ourselves when facing those challenges. If we do it with dignity and integrity we can be proud of ourselves. When on the road, do not travel with too much baggage. Excess baggage takes too much space and will hinder your progress.

“Look at life through the windshield, not the rearview mirror.”

Byrd Baggett

Value the people you meet on your journey of life. Some of the people you take on board will stay with you for life, others will ride with you just for a little while until they jump off to take another road. Value all of them, learn from them, enjoy their company whilst it lasts. Everybody we meet can teach us a lesson, open our eyes, help us look inside ourselves, and help us discover who we really are.

“Never blame anyone in your life. Good people give you happiness. Bad people give you experience. Worst people give you a lesson. Best people give you memories.”

Zig Ziglar

And this, my dear friend, is your Quest.

Personal Note

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

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

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

Categories
Self-Help

Essential Life Lessons. Me, Myself and I.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Essential Life lesson number 1.2: Stillness is the key

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

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

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

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

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

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

And this my dear friend is your Quest.

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

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

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

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

Categories
Be Happy

the problem with stereotypes

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

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

Generalization v stereotypes

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

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

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

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

The problem with stereotypes

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

Adichi Chimaamanda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bassey Elimian

Personal note.

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

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

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

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