Category Archives: How do you define success?

Let go of materialism, be more content: Scientific American

I’m taking a summer blog break. While I am refilling my creative well, enjoy insights into contentment from Scientific American. 

“The longest ever study on this topic finds that becoming less materialistic leads to more contentment in life—and suggests ways to get to that happy place.”

______________

“How to Let Go of Materialism”

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-to-let-go-of-materialism/

 

12 steps to your dreams: Paulo Coelho and Alan Cohen

I am taking a summer blog break. While I refill my creative well, enjoy more thoughts advice from Paulo Coelho.

“. . . a system of twelve steps to help people to rediscover their “blessing.”

___________

“Dreams: the 12 steps”

http://paulocoelhoblog.com/2012/09/25/dreams-the-12-steps/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+PauloCoelhosBlog+%28Paulo+Coelho%27s+Blog%29

 

The myth of psyche: Paulo Coelho

I am taking a summer blog break. While I’m refilling my creative well, enjoy the insightful writing of the incomparable Paulo Coelho. In “The Myth of Psyche” he ponders the elusive nature of love, and how he learned to follow the strange language of “signs.”

“Each moment shall be lived and enjoyed, but whenever we try to understand it, the magic disappears.”

________________

“The Myth of Psyche”

http://paulocoelhoblog.com/2012/08/20/the-myth-of-psyche/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+PauloCoelhosBlog+%28Paulo+Coelho%27s+Blog%29

 

The examined life: Shaw Woods

I have become an avid fan of the Facebook page of Shaw Woods.

The site posts photographs and information about the plants and creatures flourishing at the Shaw Woods Outdoor Education Centre. High-quality photographs show close-up views of the flora and fauna of Canada’s Ottawa Valley. The accompanying descriptions give background information about what is in the picture. I’ve learned so much.

When I look at the photographs, I feel like I’m on a walk with a toddler. If you’ve ever walked anywhere with a 2-year-old, you know you don’t get anywhere fast, because toddlers take advantage of their place close to the ground to discover everything along the way. Bottle caps, rocks shaped like hearts, bugs, and flowers must survive the intense scrutiny of the inquisitive mind of a young child.

The Shaw Woods photographs depict a toddler-view closely examined life of Shaw Woods: Every tree, every flower, every insect, every bird, every creature noticed, appreciated, studied and chronicled.

And I have to admit to feeling a little embarrassed. I grew up a few miles away from Shaw Woods. I spent my formative years there, and I didn’t even know that many of those plants or creatures existed in that area. How could I live there for decades and never know about a Goldenrod Crab Spider? How could I have missed a spider that stalks prey in flowers and changes colour to match its background? This spider below had just left a yellow flower.

My embarrassment makes me realize how little I closely examine my surroundings. If Socrates was right when he said, “The unexamined life is not worth living,” I’ve got some work to do.

The Shaw Woods Facebook page is a good start. Then I think I’ll go for a walk—toddler style. 

Kind signs: Kiss and Ride

kiss-rideThis is how a school in my city labelled the drop off zone for kids.

This phrase says: “Don’t leave your car unattended here.” It says: “If you want to stop and chat with a teacher, or another parent, or with your neighbour from down the street, this is not the place.” It says: “Don’t be a selfish doofus and park here, because traffic in this lane circulates.” The unspoken in this phrase says all of that, but in a warm and fuzzy way.

I can’t say for sure, but I think people might pay more attention to this simple, friendly phrase than they would to an ubiquitous “Drop Off Zone Only” sign.

drop-off-zone

Maybe we should work on making other signs kinder? 

 

Small hill, big mountain: A matter of perspective

Small hill, big mountain

Small hill, big mountain

On one of my walks last week I came upon this small hill at the same moment as a girl—about 4 years old, I’d say—and her dad. They had stopped their bicycles, and they stood at the top of the slope looking down. I eavesdropped:

Dad: You can do it, honey.
Girl: It’s too high.
Dad: Give it a try. I’ll be right behind you.
Girl: I don’t want to. It’s too high.
Dad: Would you like me to go beside you, at the same time?
Girl: No.
Dad: Okay then. Just give it a try. If you do it once, it will be easier next time.
Girl: Ooooh . . . kay . . .

The hill measured about 25 feet in length and had a grade of maybe 20 degrees. To my eyes, to her father’s eyes, to the eyes of anyone who would have passed by at that moment, it seemed a small thing. When she looked at it, she saw Kilimanjaro. 

She stared her mountain down and mustered courage. She pushed off hesitantly, guided her bicycle to the grass beside the asphalt path—to cushion her fall if she fell, I assume—and slowly rode down the slope. She stopped at the bottom and looked up at her father.

Dad: You did it!
Girl: (in a disgusted tone) Yeah. On the grass.
Dad: That’s okay. It’s a good start.

This brief interlude seemed to me a microcosm of what people of all ages go through over and over again. New challenges come up in our lives. They scare us, so we try to avoid them. Sometimes we never overcome the fear, and we live our whole lives taking routes around small hills that we see as big mountains. If we’re lucky, we have someone beside us to encourage us to conquer the feat and to celebrate with us when we complete it.

Don’t we all make new challenges greater, larger, scarier than they really are? Don’t we all start slowly, on a safe route with cushioning in case we fall? And don’t we all diminish our successes?

I have this card posted on my fridge:

pass-fear

Like the father of that little girl, this card encourages me to give things a try, so I don’t spend my life taking routes around small hills that look like big mountains. All the good stuff lies on the other side of challenges that seem scary at first.

 

 

 

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