<insert issue here> is a serious issue, otherwise why would we be talking about it? Of course, like all issues, there are people who have been exposed enough to understand it, and those who haven’t been. Another problem is that today, many have learned to exist alongside these issues, and their finances are tied to the outcome of this debate. It’s difficult for people in that position to take a side they know will financially hurt them in the short run, it’s scary. What gives me comfort though, is that people like you care about this issue, and are fighting for it alongside many others. While it will undoubtedly take some time, and while it may never be totally satisfactory for all, it will always, at least over time, change for the better.
It’s okay to have different opinions as someone else, whether it be on politics, religion, books, restaurants or the best song in the world. You and the other person have taken different paths up to now, and it’s something along those paths that has lead you to your differences today. As helpful as it can be to understand the reason for your differences, it’s important never to forget that it’s more important to accept those differences and to learn to coexist. Unless you can change their mind of course, in which case, do that.
If you observe a colony of ants, you’ll find that they work together as if they were one organism. If you put a certain number of ants together, they’ll start acting like a colony, taking on individual roles that relate to the whole. The way ants communicate is similar to the way our neurons communicate, a colony of ants can be seen as one big brain.
The beauty here is that no single ant knows or needs to know what the goal of the whole colony is, they simply do the task that’s right for them, and the colony will (at least to each individual ant) magically survive.
Groups of people do the same thing, in a business, in a school, and in a family. If you take a step back, you’ll see that cities, states, and countries do the same. Step back even further and you’ll find that the human species works in sync, much like a colony of ants.
If you step back even further, every animal, plant and living organism is part of one big colony that acts as if it’s one organism, fighting for its survival. The “thoughts” of this one big organism that encompasses all living things, is what I call the collective conscious, and what I believe many people consider God.
Much like an ant in an ant colony, no individual human, animal or plant knows or needs to understand what the big picture goal is, they just have to do what seems right to them, and everything else will magically fall into place.
He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much;
Who has enjoyed the trust of pure women, the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children;
Who has filled his niche and accomplished his task;
Who has never lacked appreciation of Earth’s beauty or failed to express it;
Who has left the world better than he found it,
Whether an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul;
Who has always looked for the best in others and given them the best he had;
Whose life was an inspiration;
Whose memory a benediction.
– Elisabeth-Anne “Bessie” Anderson Stanley (1879 – 1952)
You are what you eat, or so they say.
That’s true to a certain extent.
Much of what you eat is expelled through the A,
through your blood, the rest circumvents.
For 120 days your red blood cells live,
carrying nutrients along the way.
And since what you get is what you give,
I give my body good today.
I don’t know where the origin of this story comes from, but I wanted to share it with you. I’ve accompanied this with some photos from our road trip up north.
When things in your lives seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 cups of coffee.
A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.
The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with an unanimous “yes.”
The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.
“Now,” said the professor as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things–your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions–and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.
The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.
The sand is everything else–the small stuff. “If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.
“Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first–the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”
One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked.
It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”
As I sit on a milk-carton on the side of Abbot Kinney, sipping my ice-cold whipper-snapper (what’s in this coffee? I like the name…), I wonder why I overwhelm myself with how “busy” I am.
My parents have more bills and headaches to take care of than I do, but they manage to keep their calm about it, and find the time to enjoy life.
They’re really good at not thinking about the things they have to, until the time comes to do so.
Somehow, they still manage to not miss any deadlines and keep things organized.
They must have a system.
Which comes first, the team or the idea?
A person with an idea, passion, and determination,
can collect a team, then rock out, yeah?
But as the seasons change, so does the idea,
and the path of the idea is set by the team.
But the team is also shaped by the idea,
because the team and the idea become one or perish.
When the idea is looking poor,
the team is there to adjust it’s course.
When the team is down,
the idea is there to keep them together.
And by idea, I mean vision, maybe. I don’t know.
I feel very strongly that the application of science to understanding the consciousness of meditators is very important… if the good effects of quieting the mind and cultivating wholesome mental states can be demonstrated scientifically, this may have beneficial results for others. – Dalai Lama
This is a quote from the book I’m currently reading, Train Your Mind Change Your Brain, which covers the groundbreaking collaboration between neuroscience and buddhism.
The book follows the last ten or so years of the Mind & Life Institute, a group of the top neuroscientists, a few psychologists, and a few philosophers who meet with the Dalai Lama once a year at his home to discuss advancement in neuroscience.
The forward in the book is written by the Dalai Lama himself, who has been supporting the advancement of neuroscience in ways such as convincing highly trained Tibetan Monks to receive fMRI scans.
The book does a great job of helping you understand neuroscience by starting from early studies and unraveling new findings in a somewhat chronological, and very logical order. The book is packed with studies that demonstrate neuroplasticity, the ability of our brain to change physically.
One of the findings mentioned in this book intrigues me especially. People who were shown words associated with compassion, such as love and hugs, compared to people who were shown other words (both neutral and positive), acted more altruistically in the exercise that followed.1
If simply looking at words can affect our actions, then there is no doubt in my mind that we can change who we are over time by being aware of how we grow and change as human beings, even as adults.
As someone who has been promoting and developing cognitive exercises, I’m excited to know that scientists are out there working hard to prove that happiness can be generated through thought.