Ephemerality

I am not sure if that is a real word or not but it was what sprung to mind when I read yet another chapter in Richard Carlson’s book, “Don’t sweat the small stuff”.    In this Chapter he speaks of a Buddhist teaching which tells us that nothing lasts forever, that plants spring from seeds, grow old and die and decay back into the earth that it came from, that all living things also go from not exisiting, to living and finally dying.  He says in recognising this we can begin to accept that when things do leave us that it is a normal part of life.  If we break a favourite glass we should not worry that it had broken but simply recognise that the breaking was inevitable and be thankful for the time we shared with it.

That does not mean we become apathetic or that we do not mourn, rather that in recognising ephemerality we can then move onto acceptance far quicker than we otherwise might.

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Image from Splutphoto

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Ephemerality

I am not sure if that is a real word or not but it was what sprung to mind when I read yet another chapter in Richard Carlson’s book, “Don’t sweat the small stuff”.    In this Chapter he speaks of a Buddhist teaching which tells us that nothing lasts forever, that plants spring from seeds, grow old and die and decay back into the earth that it came from, that all living things also go from not exisiting, to living and finally dying.  He says in recognising this we can begin to accept that when things do leave us that it is a normal part of life.  If we break a favourite glass we should not worry that it had broken but simply recognise that the breaking was inevitable and be thankful for the time we shared with it.

That does not mean we become apathetic or that we do not mourn, rather that in recognising ephemerality we can then move onto acceptance far quicker than we otherwise might.

*********************************
Image from Splutphoto

Become a Better Listener

I’ve worked with a couple of people who I thought always really failed to listen what other people were saying.

“I hear what you’re saying but.”

“I understand your point of few but.”

In each case these people were so focussed on having the right answer to the questions asked or the issues that has arisen, that they couldn’t see anyone elses point of view.  They didn’t either hear what was being said, nor did they understand those other points of view.

Richard Carlson says that if we slow down our desire to respond and open ourselves up to the ideas of others by really listening to what they say that we will reduce stress in our lives.

Maybe it’s a hangover from what we learn as children which is often that “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”, or that he who laughs last laughs loudest, that sees communication become a competition.   We compete in relationships, at school, at work, and that communication competition often leads to a blockage in being able to take on board ideas that don’t conform with our own belief system.  It is easier to ignore other opinions than admit that we may be wrong.  And let’s be honest, most of us don’t like to admit to being wrong.

In learning to listen rather than just hear, we can also learn to modify our opinions to take into account the best ideas that otherspresent to us.   It is not an easy thing to do, but if you can manage it, the respect you gain from others because you value what they say, will far outweigh any negative feelings you may have because you may have to admit you were wrong.

Become a Better Listener

I’ve worked with a couple of people who I thought always really failed to listen what other people were saying.

“I hear what you’re saying but.”

“I understand your point of few but.”

In each case these people were so focussed on having the right answer to the questions asked or the issues that has arisen, that they couldn’t see anyone elses point of view.  They didn’t either hear what was being said, nor did they understand those other points of view.

Richard Carlson says that if we slow down our desire to respond and open ourselves up to the ideas of others by really listening to what they say that we will reduce stress in our lives.

Maybe it’s a hangover from what we learn as children which is often that “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”, or that he who laughs last laughs loudest, that sees communication become a competition.   We compete in relationships, at school, at work, and that communication competition often leads to a blockage in being able to take on board ideas that don’t conform with our own belief system.  It is easier to ignore other opinions than admit that we may be wrong.  And let’s be honest, most of us don’t like to admit to being wrong.

In learning to listen rather than just hear, we can also learn to modify our opinions to take into account the best ideas that otherspresent to us.   It is not an easy thing to do, but if you can manage it, the respect you gain from others because you value what they say, will far outweigh any negative feelings you may have because you may have to admit you were wrong.

Look beyond behaviour

Richard Carlson advises us to look beyond the overt behaviour and try to understand what might lie behind that behaviour.  If a loved one snaps at you does that mean they no longer love you, of course not.   It may simply be that they are having a bad day.   If a stranger doesn’t live up to our expectations it may be that we’ve set them too high.

I am reminded of two of Don Miguel Ruiz’s 4 agreements when I read this – Don’t make assumptions and Always do your best.

If we can recognise that there are days when we don’t really perform up to our own expectations we should also then remember that sometimes other people can have bad days too.  If we can remember that, then any irritating behaviour that makes us angry or anxious can be put into it’s proper perspective.

Look beyond behaviour

Richard Carlson advises us to look beyond the overt behaviour and try to understand what might lie behind that behaviour.  If a loved one snaps at you does that mean they no longer love you, of course not.   It may simply be that they are having a bad day.   If a stranger doesn’t live up to our expectations it may be that we’ve set them too high.

I am reminded of two of Don Miguel Ruiz’s 4 agreements when I read this – Don’t make assumptions and Always do your best.

If we can recognise that there are days when we don’t really perform up to our own expectations we should also then remember that sometimes other people can have bad days too.  If we can remember that, then any irritating behaviour that makes us angry or anxious can be put into it’s proper perspective.

Look beyond behaviour

Richard Carlson advises us to look beyond the overt behaviour and try to understand what might lie behind that behaviour.  If a loved one snaps at you does that mean they no longer love you, of course not.   It may simply be that they are having a bad day.   If a stranger doesn’t live up to our expectations it may be that we’ve set them too high.

I am reminded of two of Don Miguel Ruiz’s 4 agreements when I read this – Don’t make assumptions and Always do your best.

If we can recognise that there are days when we don’t really perform up to our own expectations we should also then remember that sometimes other people can have bad days too.  If we can remember that, then any irritating behaviour that makes us angry or anxious can be put into it’s proper perspective.

Imagine Yourself at Your Own Funeral

From Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, Chapter 21, in which Richard Carlson, tells people to imagine their own funeral and consider what they would like people to remember about them.    He wrote –

“With few exceptions, people wish they hadn’t sweated the small stuff so much.  Instead, they wish they had spent more time with the people and activities that they truly loved and less time worrying about aspects of life that, upon closer examination, really don’t matter all that much.”

I found when my father died in August 2004 that I had these overwhelming feelings of regret.   I wished that I had told him more often that I loved him.  I wished I’d taken the time to truly talk to him because in some ways he died a man I didn’t really know.    I wished that I’d cared enough to learn how to play golf so that we could have played together.

I had baggage that I feared I would never really be able to ditch, that I would carry those burdens with me for the rest of my life.

Then one night after I had separated, some time in the first half of 2006, I was lying in bed, alone in my unit, trying to go to sleep.  My father came to me that night and sat on the end of my bed.   I thought that maybe I was going mental, the rational man in me would never let a ghost visit me.   He didn’t speak to me and I swear that I was not asleep when it happened, but I drew a great deal of comfort from that.   A few weeks later my ex-wife told me that she had dreamt of my father.  He came to her in a dream and told her that he had been trying to talk to me but that I couldn’t hear him.  She said that he asked her to tell me that he was OK.

When I think of my funeral I think of what eulogies may be written and perhaps the one that I would like more than any is simply “He did his best.”   I am nowhere near the perfect man, was not the greatest husband, son or brother, nor perhaps the most caring father, but I did my best.

And now I am continuing to make changes to my life that make me a better person.  I don’t really care if other people believe that or not, or whether any of those changes are visible.    And the best way I can explain that is in the words of Colonel Sherman Potter of the 4077 MASH, who said “The only person I have to get better than is who I am right now.”

And on a lighter note I am also reminded of Yogi Bera who said “Always go to other peoples funerals, that way they’ll always come to yours.”

Imagine Yourself at Your Own Funeral

From Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, Chapter 21, in which Richard Carlson, tells people to imagine their own funeral and consider what they would like people to remember about them.    He wrote –

“With few exceptions, people wish they hadn’t sweated the small stuff so much.  Instead, they wish they had spent more time with the people and activities that they truly loved and less time worrying about aspects of life that, upon closer examination, really don’t matter all that much.”

I found when my father died in August 2004 that I had these overwhelming feelings of regret.   I wished that I had told him more often that I loved him.  I wished I’d taken the time to truly talk to him because in some ways he died a man I didn’t really know.    I wished that I’d cared enough to learn how to play golf so that we could have played together.

I had baggage that I feared I would never really be able to ditch, that I would carry those burdens with me for the rest of my life.

Then one night after I had separated, some time in the first half of 2006, I was lying in bed, alone in my unit, trying to go to sleep.  My father came to me that night and sat on the end of my bed.   I thought that maybe I was going mental, the rational man in me would never let a ghost visit me.   He didn’t speak to me and I swear that I was not asleep when it happened, but I drew a great deal of comfort from that.   A few weeks later my ex-wife told me that she had dreamt of my father.  He came to her in a dream and told her that he had been trying to talk to me but that I couldn’t hear him.  She said that he asked her to tell me that he was OK.

When I think of my funeral I think of what eulogies may be written and perhaps the one that I would like more than any is simply “He did his best.”   I am nowhere near the perfect man, was not the greatest husband, son or brother, nor perhaps the most caring father, but I did my best.

And now I am continuing to make changes to my life that make me a better person.  I don’t really care if other people believe that or not, or whether any of those changes are visible.    And the best way I can explain that is in the words of Colonel Sherman Potter of the 4077 MASH, who said “The only person I have to get better than is who I am right now.”

And on a lighter note I am also reminded of Yogi Bera who said “Always go to other peoples funerals, that way they’ll always come to yours.”

Imagine Yourself at Your Own Funeral

From Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, Chapter 21, in which Richard Carlson, tells people to imagine their own funeral and consider what they would like people to remember about them.    He wrote –

“With few exceptions, people wish they hadn’t sweated the small stuff so much.  Instead, they wish they had spent more time with the people and activities that they truly loved and less time worrying about aspects of life that, upon closer examination, really don’t matter all that much.”

I found when my father died in August 2004 that I had these overwhelming feelings of regret.   I wished that I had told him more often that I loved him.  I wished I’d taken the time to truly talk to him because in some ways he died a man I didn’t really know.    I wished that I’d cared enough to learn how to play golf so that we could have played together.

I had baggage that I feared I would never really be able to ditch, that I would carry those burdens with me for the rest of my life.

Then one night after I had separated, some time in the first half of 2006, I was lying in bed, alone in my unit, trying to go to sleep.  My father came to me that night and sat on the end of my bed.   I thought that maybe I was going mental, the rational man in me would never let a ghost visit me.   He didn’t speak to me and I swear that I was not asleep when it happened, but I drew a great deal of comfort from that.   A few weeks later my ex-wife told me that she had dreamt of my father.  He came to her in a dream and told her that he had been trying to talk to me but that I couldn’t hear him.  She said that he asked her to tell me that he was OK.

When I think of my funeral I think of what eulogies may be written and perhaps the one that I would like more than any is simply “He did his best.”   I am nowhere near the perfect man, was not the greatest husband, son or brother, nor perhaps the most caring father, but I did my best.

And now I am continuing to make changes to my life that make me a better person.  I don’t really care if other people believe that or not, or whether any of those changes are visible.    And the best way I can explain that is in the words of Colonel Sherman Potter of the 4077 MASH, who said “The only person I have to get better than is who I am right now.”

And on a lighter note I am also reminded of Yogi Bera who said “Always go to other peoples funerals, that way they’ll always come to yours.”

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