Archive for month: August, 2011

Angels?

31 Aug
August 31, 2011
Fortunately, I not only have generous people in my life (see yesterday’s blog), but also people who keep me in check when I, occasionally:-), go a little overboard…
…may be what I was talking about yesterday was angels. And not many people feel they can live up to that standard. (If they do, they should probably have their head examined!) Because, let’s face it, is there really such a phenomena as altruism? A mindset in which one only thinks beautiful, pure and selfless thoughts, always having other people’s happiness in mind? Is the wish for “peace and goodwill to all” an intrinsic, indelible part of humans? I don’t know. The jury is still out, and has been for centuries (poor chaps). God only knows the motives one has for doing and saying the things we do. And God only (thank goodness) knows what goes on in people’s minds.
Me for one, often have problems figuring out what goes on in my own head, so just beginning to guess into the mind of others is daring and risky business!
 But the point is this, and this is irrefutable (I hope!): No matter what thoughts we may have in our heads, it is what eventually comes out  that matters to other people. The thoughts are there. We fight them and surrender, invite them and corrupt them, split them and grind them, crunch them and mix them, blend them and kneed them, and then, if you are dealing with generous people, what comes out, in deed, speech or writing is this:
A beautiful gift, a delightful little package, stuffed with what we need at that precise moment: support, courage, comfort, affection, compassion, love, encouragement, challenges, constructive criticism, you need it, you name it!
And that is what being a generous person is about. Which is good in many respects, because, not being angels, it gives people some slack; Failing and stumbling are parts of being human, even the generous ones among us:-)

Generosity

30 Aug
August 30, 2011

Generosity

One of the traits of character I appreciate most in others is generosity. Some people have an amazing ability to support and lift you. They meet your thoughts and ideas with an open mind, and when criticise do it constructively, affectionately and with respect.
They spur you on, challenge you to step out of your comfort zone to reach goals, both the ones that you knew you had, and ones you were not, until that moment, aware of.
They stay with you, even when you’re not on top of the world, and are rooting for you and your successes, when they themselves might be down in a dump. That is a hard thing to do, but for people who have a truly generous mind, this comes naturally.
These people are not motivated by personal winnings, rewards, in this world or the next. They don’t envy you your good times, winnings, successes, they enjoy them along with you, which makes them (the good things in life) even more precious
They live and breath this generosity, regardless of what relationship they have to you in the first place. You may have them in your immediate “surroundings”, but may also meet them at the other end of a telephone ”line” or in a grocery store, way out of your “neighbourhood”.
I am extremely fortunate to have several such people in my life. With all my heart I wish for you that you have too. However much I strive, I will never reach as high on the generosity scale as these people, but that shouldn’t prevent me from trying, even though I often fail.
This came to me while I was out walking today. Walking clears my mind and makes me realize many things I don’t see sitting down. But although a thought may be new to me, few thoughts are new under the sun; While I was writing this, the song You Raise Me Up, suddenly, but not surprisingly, came to my mind.
If the song is not about generosity, probably along with a heavy dash of love and affection:-), I don’t know what is.
Go ahead and listen, to this or any other recording. I know I just did:-)
Sung by Josh Groban, Westlife and many others, but written by Secret Garden’s Rolf Løvland (melody) and Irish songwriter Brendan Graham (lyrics)

Dalai Lama

29 Aug
August 29, 2011
…and if reading No Impact Man wasn’t enough, I just had to go ahead and read The Art of Happiness by Dalai Lama. What am I, a masochist of sorts or what? Ladening myself with a bunch of ideals that I either am not able to or, even worse, not willing to live up to? What I hope, I guess, is that some things will seep through to my brain, and eventually manifest itself in, if not major, then at least some positive changes, for me, people around me, and lo and behold, don’t put me down as lacking in ambition, the world in which we live.
And looking at photos of the Lama, you have to give it to him; He does look happy! To comfort me and maybe some of you, I found some quotes of his on the internet that should be possible to identify with, even before our potential future transformation.
“Sleep is the best meditation”
 “Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions”
“We can live without religion and meditation, but we cannot survive without human affection”
“All major religious traditions carry basically the same message, that is love, compassion and forgiveness. The important thing is they should be part of our daily lives”
And last but not least:
“The purpose in our lives is to be happy”
Have a great, and I wish you, a happy day!

No Impact Man

27 Aug
August 27, 2011
Oops, I did it again… Read an excellent book, but one that leaves me challenged, in many ways. Colin Beaven, a New York resident, takes on the amazing task of living a life in the city without leaving any “footprints”. Something most of his friends, acquaintances and probably most of his readers initially think is not only a crazy idea, but also an impossible one to follow through. It turns out, he has to think anew about many different aspects of living, and one can only admire the zealousness with which he goes about in trying to reach his goal. Among other things he, and his wife, stop using public transportation, walk the stairs instead of using elevators, get rid of the TV, turn off their electricity, only buy used or second hand stuff, if any, purchase produce without wrapping, eat locally produced and organic and eventually vegetarian food, eat out only as an exception to the rule (they have set for themselves), brush their teeth and wash their hair in baking soda (I can imagine my teenage daughter’s screams of agony and outrage at this), stop using paper towels, napkins and toilet paper (more cries of agony, this time also from me…).
All of this took a lot of creative and alternative thinking, in addition to courage, determination and stamina.
In return, they realised that they got more time together, both as a couple and as a family, had more time to entertain and be with friends, had more fun, got more exercise, lost excess weight, and, felt more satisfied and at ease and comfortable with their lives and about what they did, or rather didn’t do to the planet.
In spite of all these changes, Beaven found, that living a no impact life was impossible, but that a low impact life was not only feasible, but also preferable to his old way of living. In addition, he found, it is possible to pay back some of the recourses we use and harm we inflict on the planet, by taking part in different projects, like cleaning up a river or a neighbourhood, planting trees, establishing “city gardens” etc. etc.
In Beaven’s opinion, what governments, national and international organizations and committees, industry leaders etc. decide and do, is of the utmost importance, but that we, as individuals must also do our share, sweeping before our own door, so to speak. What we do, does make a difference, and by doing our smaller or bigger share, we may serve as examples to other people, creating spin-off effects in the world around us.
As I said, this book challenged me, to the point of making me feel more than a little uncomfortable. In some areas, I try to do my fair share of environmental living, but in other areas I have a loooong way to go. But instead of being overwhelmed and more or less paralyzed by the challenge, it is possible to think in entirely new ways, and to be confident that some effort is manifold better than no effort. In many cases, if one is to believe Beaven, which I think one should, often it is not even an effort, just a new, and quite often fun way of looking at and doing things. But concerning the toilet paper: I am not quite there yet!
Beaven has his own blog at http://noimpactman.typepad.com/