Saturday, 31 May 2014

Reflection 42 (Francis)


For many years I have chased being loved.
The more I chased it, the faster it ran away from me.

I work in Malaysia and when I came back to Europe, I expected from my closest family a very warm welcome. Small things and big things that were not done used to make me really unhappy and resulted in negative feelings that soon were translated in negative actions with more negativity coming my way.

Things changed when I read the prayer of Francis of Assisi.
He was asking in that prayer to be given the strength so that he would hunger more to love than to be loved and to understand rather than to be understood. And that was really a game-changer for me. My next visit home in Europe, I decided to appreciate greatly whatever nice things were done to me (and believe me, if your focus is on that, you detect more than ever before) and to accept with an open and understanding heart whatever expectations (even those very normal and logical ones) that were not fulfilled.

Guess what, my next trip was one of the best ones ever.

Here is the complete prayer of Francis. I hope you benefit and find as much meaning in it as I did.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek 
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Reflection 41 (sympathetic joy)

Sympathetic joy

This reflection is not about loving kindness. Loving kindness means making other people happy and this makes the doer feel as good or even better than the receiver. Imagine how wonderful the world would be if everyone is aware of this and starts to practice this. How could anyone criticize such a wonderful truth. Still people do criticize it

This reflection is also not about compassion. Compassion involves the relieving of pain.

This reflection is about sympathetic joy. This means being happy for the happiness of others. Even though most of would claim we have this, perhaps not many of us really can experience big joys for the happiness of others. We usually have something like, why not me, is he really happy, at what cost did she achieve this, how long will it last. For example do we feel really happy for those people who fly business class or first class if we fly economy? Looks like something more suitable for saints than normal earthlings like us. Yet with practice true sympathetic joy is possible. I will try it tonight.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

reflection40 (extrovert-introvert)

A very short reflection:

Extrovert people seem to lead an easier life than introvert people.
Perhaps that is not always the case.

The proper way to express ourselves is perhaps somewhere near the golden middle road.
Most of us are perhaps naturally not at all on the middle road and we may have to learn some skills to express ourselves better or to control our over-expression a bit.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Reflection 39 (bitter or sweet)

Bitter or Sweet

The memories about my mother are now experienced by me as something very sweet. Shortly after her death any of these memories caused only bitterness. Gradually the sadness made way for a big sense of gratefulness for having had such a wonderful mother and her love and care are still very much alive in all who have known her. The positive difference we make in the world never dies.

Now almost one year after the death of my dad, i am experiencing something very similar. Memories of him causing initially bitterness are now becoming sweet memories igniting a sense of grace of gratefulness.

Monday, 26 May 2014

reflection 38 (mastermind)


When people with the same vision and ideals get together and start working for a same noble aim, the output tends to be much more than the sum of each individual's achievement. Napoleon Hill described this as the mastermind. When I first read that chapter of the 'law of success' (N. Hill), I could not fully grasp it but now I am experiencing something like this myself.

With a group interested lecturers of Universiti Sains Malaysia and other colleagues we have been working together with the local foundation for disabled (YOKUK) to create a service of home nurse care for the poor people of Kelantan (state in North=East of Peninsular Malaysia). The flow of events has been truly amazing. Now we will soon move from 1 unit of a nurse making home visits to 5 units and the way it has come about is truly amazing.

The multiplicative effect rather than additive effect of people working together is among the very amazing things in this world.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Reflection 37 (adversity-story)


Today I want to share this wonderful story, I never want to forget, I was reading in a book by W. Dyer. It goes like this:

One evening a daughter came home to her mother and complained that her life was so messed up that she was losing all hope. The mother did not say a thing but she took three pots and filled them with water, put them on the stove and let them boil. Then in one pot she put carrots, in another one eggs and in the last one ground coffee beans. She let them boil for about 20 minutes before taking them of the fire and then asked her daughter to observe what had happened.

All three had undergone the same adversity, to be in boiling water for 20 minutes. The carrots were hard before and now had become soft. The eggs were liquid inside and fragile and now had hardened inside and the coffee beans had changed the water to a tasty mixture with a fantastic aroma.

How we do react to adversity. Do we become weak like the carrots, do we harden up inside, or do we manage to use the adversity to change our environment for the better, creating a wonderful "aroma"?

Friday, 23 May 2014

Reflection 36 (gratefulness)


This morning, I was enjoying the beauty of the South China Sea very much.
Suddenly I got this feeling of gratefulness for being able to see this beauty,
for being able to be in this wonderful place.
Gratefulness was increasing the joy of the moment
It added so much meaning to it

South China Sea

A simple thanks allows us to connect more fully to nature
It allows us to share more in the grace of the scene

When I drink a glass of fresh orange juice, the same goes
When I look at children playing, the same goes
When I go to bed after a day of hard, the same goes
and so I could go on and on and on.......

Thursday, 22 May 2014

reflection 35 (postponed coffee)

Postponed coffee

I think most of us have heard about the wonderful story of postponed coffee, where people pay for coffee they have not consumed for future customers who cannot afford a coffee (or some food).

This was brought up by my very bright niece, Charlotte, when I had posted reflection 31 (dilemma).
She indicated that many people thought in a real negative way about this: people do this just for themselves, to get rid of guilt feelings and to feel good about themselves.

How amazing. these people realize that performing a good deed gives anyone who does it a good feeling but instead of starting do nothing else than good deeds themselves, they prefer to criticize people who do it and continue not to  feel good about themselves.

It is so true that complete altruism does not exist. We were all made in a way that the more we help others, the more peace of mind we experience and the more true happiness and bliss comes our way. So what could be possibly wrong with that? People like Mother Theresa realized this very much and lived a life full of good deeds. I think these people are among the happiest on earth. Let us follow at least a bit in their footsteps.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Reflection 34 (orange juice)

Orange Juice
(Adapted from a text by W. Dyer)

If we squeeze an orange, out comes orange juice
If we squeeze an apple, out comes apple juice
Never comes apple juice out of oranges.
There is no apple juice in oranges

If we are teased or squeezed, what comes out?
Anger? Hatred?
Unconditional love?

It depends on what is inside.
If there is no hatred inside of us it cannot come out

Just as no apple juice can come out of oranges

All of us have unconditional love inside of us
But the difference between us and 'Saints' is that
Saints have only unconditional love inside

If anyone squeezes them, nothing else comes out
but unconditional love.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Reflection 33 (a king-story)

A king

A king was mute but he was a very good man.
He loved each of his subjects extremely much.
He was generous and forgiving.

The subjects had several ways of honouring him
Each group who had a specific way of honouring wanted to impose that way on the others, claiming that their own way was the only way making the king happy. Actually the king was so good and humble that he did not care too much about being honoured. His major delight was the happiness of his subjects.

But things got worse. Different groups got so engrossed in arguing about which way was the best way to honour the king that they forgot to do their daily tasks. The carpenters failed to produce enough furniture, the farmers failed to produce enough food, the doctors failed to provide enough care since everyone was so engrossed in the arguments.

This caused suffering among the subjects and made the king sad. Certain groups decided to give up their jobs completely and spend all of their time honouring the king in their own way to make the king happy. But the suffering of the subjects worsened and the king became less happy.

An enlightened man stood up and called upon everyone to go back to their jobs and go on honouring the king in their own way. He claimed that the king was most happy if his subjects were happy and that doing their job well was actually the best way of pleasing the king. The enlightened man got many followers and the land started to flourish. Everyone had again enough food and shelter and care. The king was happy. However some old fashioned narrow minded people persisted in their old ways and saw the enlightened man as a threat. They killed the enlightened man. This made the enlightened man a martyr and his teachings became the norm. The people went on to live peacefully, honour the king in their own way without thinking that their own is superior or inferior to others, and they went on doing their jobs to make the kingdom a better place for everyone to live.

Can our world have a happy ending like this?

Monday, 19 May 2014

Reflection 32 (stress is a space problem)


Being stressed,being stretched, being pressured, all mean something similarly
Each of the word imply a lack of space.
Increase the space and the pressure decreases: true?

So just by increasing the space in our heart, we may feel less stressed
Make more space for the feelings that occur every day
Accept the feelings as they come and give them space

Far too many of us are afraid of sadness a fear induced by the media
So what do we do? we try to push any negative feeling out by reducing its space
And it often gets trapped in this narrow space causing pressure, stress, stretch.

So give space all feelings, positive and negative.
Accept the feelings and let them move
If the space is too narrow they cannot move

This reflection is quite related to the earlier one on sadness (reflection 5)
Just yesterday I read in a book confirming that we should accept our sadness
along the lines described above (the happiness trap by Dr. Russ Harris)

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Reflection 31 (dilemma)


When I was reading my last reflection (30) I was giving an example of how one random kind act was changing my worldview and made me realise the importance of kindness in relationship to happiness.
In the same reflection I was talking about the people who went bragging and trying to pull all attention to themselves to be appreciated, which is often counterproductive.

Question: by sharing that random kind act was I not doing exactly what I was criticising?

If we do good to later brag about and get benefits of it, like politicians for votes, we are on the wrong path. That is for sure.

On the other hand, one random kind act can inspire a thousand people. If we systematically keep quiet about the good things happening, we do a disfavor to our communities as well. The media are so good at giving skewed pictures leaning extremely towards all negativity.

I think sharing our positive achievements with the aim to inspire people is not wrong and even a must. How to differentiate it from bragging. Usually not very difficult, I think since the tone of both the opposing activities will soon reveal which one it is: sharing for inspiration or bragging.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Reflection 30 (third level of needs)

Tertiary needs.

We humans have three levels of needs: primary needs (food, drinks and sex, see reflection 28), secondary needs (comfort, power, control, see reflection 29) and tertiary needs.

The tertiary needs consist of us feeling good about ourselves and being appreciated by others. Most of us try to get these tertiary needs to be fulfilled by trying to put ourselves in front of others and in the spot light but do most of the time not reach any fulfillment. Chasing this need too hard, by drawing attention to ourselves will just let the fulfillment of this need run faster away from us.

This need is really what makes humans so special. We need satisfaction with what we do and get. The best way to get this need fulfilled is to help others, to make a positive difference for the people around us. Seemingly selfless service is the best way to achieve this. I write ''seemingly'' because complete altruism is impossible. Somehow if we help others without expecting anything in return, we get always so much in return: most of all, a huge peace of mind. Yes, we were somehow made like this. True peace of mind and happiness comes our way (we do not have to chase it) when we are helping others without expectations of getting something in return.

I remember very well when this truth really penetrated my mind.

 I was doing a rotation in the department of internal medicine when a very poorly dressed, completely unhygienic person was admitted. We had to clerk him, but we really experienced so much disgust at his sight and smell. He kept asking for a set of playing cards but nobody gave any attention to this request. I said he could try the gift shop, very well knowing he had no money with him. When I went back home, I pitied him more and more and took a set of playing cards and drove back 15 minutes to the hospital to bring him the playing cards. His smile was great. The next day, the playing cards were under quite some saliva and in a poor condition but he was still playing solitaire with them. The smile of this ''clochard" brought me so much peace it made my trip of 15 minutes back to the hospital really worth it. That time I thought back and could not find any present or material gain that had given me so much peace of mind and satisfaction. I had found a way to fulfil my tertiary needs.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Reflection 29 (second level of needs)

Secondary needs

This is a follow up reflection of the one on first level of needs (reflection 28)

Once we have no problems getting enough food, drink and to get our sexual needs fulfilled, we can move a level higher. The second level of needs is the need for comfort. We need to live a comfortable life with a certain level of insurance and lack of too many threats to our status and standard of life. We also need some power, definitely to control our own life but also we feel the need to control at least a bit of the others' lives. We need also a certain level of fun time and leisure and social status.

Far too many of us are caught in this level and expect happiness from ever increasing levels of comfort and ever increasing bank accounts and power.

If we are honest with ourselves, these things make us happy but only for a short while. The true happiness which include as a must peace of mind is much more to be found in the third level of needs which is described in reflection 30

Reflection 28 (first level of needs)

Primary needs

As a human we have three levels of needs
In this reflection I write about the primary needs

The primary needs are threefold
1. Food.
Essential to survive. So many of us have so much abundance of food that too much food rather than not enough food has become a threat to our health.

But still so many people in this world have to focus their full attention of all waking hours to find enough food for themselves and their children. No time to think about any luxury, about any noble high aims, just finding food, enough to survive, enough for their children to survive. It is finding food or die.
2. Water.
Similar as for food, water and drinks is the second primary need. Fulfill the need and survive or die.
3. Sex.
Sex is a special primary need. It is not essential for the survival of the individual but without it a species cannot survive. That is why it still ranks under the priary needs.
Just as many people in poor nations are hungry all the time and spend all waking hours searching for food, there are many men and women who get so attached to sexual pleasure and experiences that almost all of their waking hours are dedicated to find the next sexual level of experiences.

If we belong to the privileged group of persons who have their primary needs met without much problem: enough food, enough drink and a satisfying steady relationship fulfilling our sexual desires, we can count ourselves lucky. We do have time to focus on the next levels of needs, which is the subject of reflection 29 and reflection 30

Note:alphabetical list of topics of reflections  

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Reflection 27 (emotion)


If we see somebody experiencing an emotion,
it may be a good idea to name the emotion.
For example: you look so happy, or it looks like you feel frustrated
Most likely the other person will feel empowered by you accepting the emotion
They may open up and tell you all about the situation they experienced.

Maybe a wonderful way of empathy (?)

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Reflection 26 (constant)


Heat exists
Easy for us to understand
Because we can experience changes in heat
If heat is low, we feel cold, if heat is high we feel hot

Imagine now that everything and everywhere would be 25 degrees Celsius
Would it be easy for us to understand that heat exists?
Most of the time we would be unaware of heat or temperature.
If it never changes, most of us would be not aware that such a thing as heat exists

Cold and warm
Light and dark
wind and no wind

But constant things may be much more difficult to experience and observe
Perhaps that is why it is so difficult for many of us to experience God.
There is not such thing as a bit of God present or none,
God is always maximally present, unchanging.
We need to tune in into the Goodness to experience God.
Something unchanging is hard to measure.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Reflection 25 (love)


If we long for love, we have just to tune in to the love that is all around us.
If we long for peace, all we have to do is tune in to the peace around us.
If we long for kindness, let us just tune in.

If we are full of hatred we are out of tune
If we are filled with anger, we are out of tune
If we are unkind, we are out of tune.

Take a deep breath, breathe in all the goodness
Enjoy the beauty of the sky
and just love, be kind and enjoy the peace

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Reflection24 (play)


If life seems mean to you,
engage in a game

A group of lecturers and nurses in our hospital have started a play therapy program
It is a great thing
Children who or non-cooperative and depressed in the ward, open up and become almost completely different children after the play therapy.

If you have not played today, it is high time to play at least one fun game.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Reflection 23 (vulnerability)


We are all vulnerable.
We are all at risk of being hurt
Physically, emotionally, spiritually, ...

I want to focus here on emotional vulnerability.
We can reduce it very significantly by using walls
No, not the stone walls we see in our house
But imaginary walls.

If someone scolds us for something or treats us rough,
whether or not it will hurt us emotionally is entirely up to us
We can decide not to accept the insult.

If someone gives us a gift and we do not accept it
the gift stays with the giver.
If someone gives us an insult and we do not accept
the insult stays with the giver.

We do not have to let anything we hear penetrate to our core
We can draw up the virtual wall that blocks things
preventing them form entering our heart and hurting us

A good way to practice this, to analyse any toxic comments we get.
If they have a point inside that help us to improve, take it as a lesson
If there no such point, then the one making the toxic comment is wrong
overtly wrong, that one deserves really our pity for being so wrong

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Reflection 22 (Humility)


Let us be truly humble
Our knowledge is limited and our solid certainties become fast much less solid and certain if we only dare to think about them a bit deeper and put ourselves in the shoes of a person with opposite convictions. This does not mean we give up our convictions and beliefs but keep the possibility open that we may not be fully correct in our own thinking.
This will lead to a strong respect for all others.

The most famous example of the person who was wiser than others because he realized he did not know while others thought they knew, was Socrates. Just fantastic how his students came to see that nothing was as certain as they thought just by engaging in interesting dialogues with this superb philosopher.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Reflection 21 (meals)


Perhaps, a meal together with the family is one of the most important moments of the day.
Please do not let go of this golden opportunity to connect.
Especially in this IT age, no smart gadgets around the table please.

Enjoy your next meal with your loved ones.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Reflection 20 (coincidence?)

Coincidence (?)

For the last many weeks, the weather in Kelantan (where I live) has been uniformly hot.
Almost no rain since more than three months and rarely we see clouds in the sky. Perhaps something to do with El-nino phenomenon.

This morning we had a small function for Down syndrome children. One of the first things in the morning we had planned was to make sand castles on the beach. Usually by 9.30 the sun makes it really too hot to have any meaningful activity on the beach beyond that time. This morning however there was a big cloud blocking the sun out and the temperatures on the beach were pleasant at least until about ten when the clouds were gone. By that time we had planned games under the shade of trees.

Was this unusual morning cloud a coincidence or not?

Friday, 2 May 2014

Reflection 19 (better)


The world is getting better fast

If you look at the news on TV or if you read newspapers, it looks like the world is about to decompose. This is a false image based on media induced negativity. To 'sell' of course they need to make the news sensational. Everyone wants to see the latest huge crimes and accidents and from good sources, I know that many reporters are not shy to twist the facts a bit (ironically meant, actually I mean a lot) to make the news even more sensational.

I remember so well the Norwegian who went on a shooting spree and killed more than 80 people. For weeks the media were full with reporting on what he said and thought.

Literally thousands or even millions of good hearted people do fantastic acts of kindness, huge in size, overwhelming the impact of even 80 deaths. But all these good and kind acts are not seen. That is why the average TV or newspaper addicted person thinks the world is going the wrong way. It is not. Reality is rosy. Reality is that there are more caring people each day. Each day people discover that we were constituted in such a way that caring kindness is making us happy, far more happy that a holiday or a new car or house.

Every day the number of kind and caring people increases. And it goes exponentially. Have you seen an exponential curve? Initially it goes slowly until it reaches a turning point where it increases enormously fast. I am positively sure that we are very close that that turning point.

Enjoy the kindness, enjoy the world, care a bit more today and be part of a huge kindness revolution which is now happening.

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