Thursday, September 4, 2008

Choice Is Your Power In This Life

Every so often I'm struck by the simplicity of choice - the one power you have in life.  The world of cause and effect.  Everything that we do boils down to choice.

The smoker who develops lung cancer made choices that led him or her to that consequence, just like the Olympic athlete who wins a gold medal made the choice to train twice a day for four consecutive years.  Extremes like this help make the point of choice obvious.  But the concept of having a choice and consciously making one sometimes gets lost in our daily routines.  Habits (or the continuous act of making the same choice) can be both empowering and insidious.  I definitely find this to be true in my own life where in the face of having made the same choice over and over, I forget that I can in fact make a different choice.

It is, more often that not, easier to identify this kind of behaviour in others than it is in ourselves.  The perfect irony exists when people who are adept at preaching are no good at heeding the lessons the teach.  Like the overweight personal trainer or the smoking doctor.  And therein lies the human challenge.  Though we often know the right choice to make, we go ahead and make a different one that doesn't support what we're about.  The question I ask is why?

We choose to drive to the shops when we could (and now that we're the fattest nation on earth) probably should walk.  In doing so, we stay fat and propagate climate change.  We choose to stay in the jobs we detest instead of taking the courage to quit and find something fulfilling.  In doing so, we waste years of our lives and tolerate a depressed level of existence.  We skip the gym and eat pizza instead to put value on our mouths instead of our hearts.  We walk past the beggar and sneer at him for being a slacker instead of showing compassion for those less fortunate.  We complain and we whinge instead spending that energy on affecting positive change.

Every choice we make produces a result.  If you keep doing what you've always done, you'll keep getting what you've always got.

The answer then - to all of your problems - is remarkably simple.  Make different choices.  The major hurdle is fear.  Very few of us practice flexing our fear-defeating muscles, meaning that we struggle to muster the courage to make the big choices that would set us free and help us correct our courses.  I am definitely guilty of this.  But courage, strangely enough, is a habit too.  Practice it and you will get better at it.  Practice making the choice that you believe is the right one and your life will undoubtedly change.

Choice is the power of your life.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Are We Becoming Allergic to Stillness?

Each morning I walk from my apartment building, through the backstreets of Windsor, to the train station on my way to work. I actually really enjoy this walk. The morning is quiet, still and calm. Noise is sparse - limited to only a few birds chirping away in the trees. I also enjoy the solitude. Ten minutes to just walk and be by myself. No need to talk. Just a chance to listen and connect with the waking world around me.

As I get closer to the station, the noise picks up. Cars scoot past, people are walking, talking, running, working, cleaning, etc. The stillness is disrupted. I'm more accutely aware of everything that is going on around me because of the stillness that has preceeded it. The quiet allows me to better appreciate the loud.

However, as I passed a number of people on my walk to the station this morning, a thought stayed with me. Are we assaulting our senses?

Many people that I pass on my way to work are trying to fill each moment they have with something to do. Take, for example, one man I stood next to on the platform this morning (well, I actually couldn't stand next to him because he was pacing up and down). He had headphones in his ears, coffeee in one hand and a cigarette in the other. He looked quite incapable of sitting still - even for just one minute. He could well have been allergic to stillness and quiet. His brain is being sent stimuli signals from his ears, mouth, hands and nose - something being registered with each sense, allowing him to be occupied for every second.

I looked around and I saw, in varying degrees, people doing exactly the same thing. People constantly fidgeting with their phones, lighting up one cigarette after another, listening to iPods, so on and so forth. Very few people were content to just be there, still, and enjoy the morning for what it was. They somehow needed to be distracted from the 'boredom' that would ensue from having to simply not be doing something.

I found this so strange and I wondered if it was a product of the type of culture that is developing all around us. Why are people behaving like this? Are we addicted to just doing "stuff"? Even when that stuff is relatively meaningless? Where did this need for fidgeting come from?

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Maiden Post

Everyone has a first post - so here is mine.

I was hesitant to actually start a blog.

I believe the ubiquity of the 'blogosphere' is a double edged sword. Now, more than ever, anyone and everyone can have a say and share their thoughts with the people of the world. This is indeed a great thing - voices that, even just 20 years ago, would never have been heard. If you have an interest in something, there is no doubt that someone, somewhere has a blog about it.

But for every great blog there is a score of others that are total rubbish. Ranting, raving, whinging and generally carrying on. I sense that blogs are quite therapeutic for some people, allowing them to share their problems and frustrations with others - somehow sharing the load. And there are a LOT of people doing this. The internet is like a big online counseling house.

Notwithstanding all of this I think that blogs, on balance, are a great thing. It is human nature to want to share with others and blogs facilitate that want in an amazing. If you have something of real value to share with the world then others will want to read it. No doubt about it. The meteoric rise of someone like Steve Pavlina is perfect testament to this point. Steve has written more than 600 articles, on various topics, and he now makes a living from writing and sharing his ideas with others. He says the key is to just start doing what you love, right now, for free and that money will eventually follow. I think this idea has a lot of merit. I credit him for me even thinking about ever writing a blog.

I like writing. I like sharing ideas. I like asking people (and myself) questions that really make them think. So here I am. Sharing what I think with the world.

My hope is that you find what I write thought provoking - to the point where you want to come back to read more. The world is a fascinating place. There is so much to experience and even more to share, and ironically, I think that the best experiences are shared.

Time to experience and time to share. Life is too precious for anything less.