Date yourself

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here, Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who know you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life
-Derek Walcott

What are your tipping points?

       tipping-point

Please know that there is a lot of background noise directing me to each of these posts. And it’s not always easy, or sunny or happy. Though those feelings seem to be the eventual outcome, and reflect in these posts, mapping out my life, understanding it, and digging deep within, isn’t an easy task.

You see, how I got here is simple, I am a point, or I have reached, a tipping point in my life. There has been a few dramatic moments in the world that is my life, that has changed everything for me. (Malcom Gladwell explains this on a bigger scale of social trends, and the spread of disease etc. and how certain tipping points have affected history in points in time and the influence those points had on society and the world, in his book, The Tipping Point) I am going to apply this same theory to life. Our lives, are in themselves, their own little world, we all have tipping points as simple as points in history, where epidemics began or where they didn’t, that have gotten us to where we are now.

We reach several different tipping points at different periods in our life. Not that different from what we learn in history books, we can draw a timeline of our own lives, we can see where major things happened, good or bad, and the choices we made in each of those times that “tipped” us into one direction or another, and the eventual outcome. The peaks and the valleys. We got here, to now, by a series of events along the way. And how we get to the next point is highly dependent on what we do right now. Really every moment of our lives is a tipping point and in every single one of those moments, we humans have this amazing gift. Choice.

Gladwell goes on to say that “epidemics are sensitive to the conditions and circumstance of the times and places in which they occur”. He also explains the “broken window” theory. Where crime is the inevitable result of disorder and that crime is contagious. He uses the example that if there is a broken window on a house, and left broken, people conclude that no one cares and no one is in charge. And soon more windows will be broken. My family actually has the perfect example of this in an old farm-house in northern Ontario where we used to spend our summers. Our grandmother died, and we grew into busy adults, no one was going there anymore, It’s now condemned and not a window exists and signs of kids trespassing and partying is evident everywhere. The “broken window” theory suggests that the spread in criminal behavior isn’t coming from a certain person, rather an environment. By fixing the window, a tiny detail, we tip the direction that crime will go in that neighborhood. Had we had someone in the farm-house on a full-time basis, or at least more regularly to “fix” the window the house would be as beautiful as it was when we were innocent kids, enjoying amazing summers playing and happy.

We can apply the broken window theory to our lives. By leaving an emotional wound unattended to we invite in all kinds of negative, repetitive patterns in, and they will just escalate into our own little epidemic and spread throughout our lives and within our souls.

We can break this down even further, our tipping points that is, into our daily activities or habits, and if we look close enough we can discover the tipping point to say… eating that entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s raw cookie dough ice cream, or not. To gambling one more time, or not. To obsessive exercise and why, or over eating, under eating, over shopping, or promiscuous sexual activity. I am using a lot of addictive examples here, mostly because addiction is rampant in our day and age. It’s also applicable to our reactions to things, what makes us over react? or yell? or feel insecure, or jealous?  Hey now, what about what makes us feel good? and happy? What are our trigger points that cause us to react and feel a certain way and why? Somewhere along the line and within our own history of tipping points that projected us into one direction or another, we have a memory, it’s important that we be aware of that.  Once we figure those out, we can manage our tipping points and use the freedom of choice that us humans have and decide which way we will “tip” in any given moment.

We won’t be able to change our past to solve our present but we can prevent future broken windows by fixing them now. If we stop focusing it all on the external world, we can then start to deal with the internal one.

So here I am, at a tipping point in my life. I’d reached a threshold in a certain area of my life, that I like to call “the nail in the coffin”, I had removed myself from the coffin to gain perspective and the outcome has brought me here to where I am now. And I am exercising my right to choose which way I’ll tip this time. With small changes along the way.  There was a part of my sprirt that was reflected back onto me by both an experience and a person, and it was magical. I am choosing to nourish my life in ways that are enriching. And to create “true wealth”, which is first and foremost an inside job. And I am committed to it. All change requires a new level of awareness, and creativity is essential to this, as it all begins with imagination. It’s about living for my “true self” which literally is “truth of and to self”. I’ve shifted my focus from “goals” to “life”. Goals are future based, and generally influenced by outside “expectations” . My daily work depends on “goals achieved and targets hit”. With goal driven pursuits, happiness is depended on the never,  it creates a sense of lack, or shortfall, and an immense amount of pressure. I am going to be happy with the now. Not the “future” stress. It’s about life standards. No longer will I allow those triggers that tip me back into bad habits or suck me into a vortex of where I think I am “supposed” to be. I choose to live my true self and my souls unique impulse.

Let’s see what epidemic this tipping point propels me into, now that I am consciously exercising my right to choose in every single moment.

the tipping point

Humanity has the abilty to impact change now more than ever, Social media – use it wisely

Brilliant – another reason why we must use social media with caution, and wisely. It can serve to connect people that might otherwise never connect. Let’s then take it a step further and meet each other in real space and time. As one commenter, Dan Connor, says “it solves some social needs but it doesn’t create culture, in a world where culture is sold as a commodity we must “create our own culture” to be healthy human beings”

Let it go

Unknown

Some have questioned whether or not there is such thing as non-fiction. Because one persons truth is different from another depending on how we experienced it. We are actually all more similar than we are different.  And way more similar than we think. And though we experience everything differently, or our perception of how we experience things is different, our emotions are fundamentally the same, our basic human needs are the same. If we really really knew this for sure, if the world believed this, would we still treat each other poorly? Would we still judge people? Or would we power on to make a change in our repeated bad habits and start doing things differently? Would we start believing in ourselves?

The most successful people I know, the ones who I consider successful, it’s different for everyone, when I ask them how they got there they will tell me that at some point, about when they’re success began to happen in little bits at a time, when they were doing something they were passionate about, they had to convince someone to believe in them. When asked who? They all say “me”. They had the people who believed in them all along. They go on to say they didn’t realize this then, it’s only when they looked back that they realized it. It was only then that they started to reach or feel their success and feel happy.

One of the first steps to getting to know oneself on a deeper level, and gain self-awareness or dare I say “enlightenment” is to understand where we came from and how we got to where we are now. And from that, we can better move ahead and live in every single moment onward. That’s remembering through the good and the bad. Remembering it all. Memory by memory, and doing it in a loving and understanding, of yourself, way.

Forgiving others and ourselves through a better understanding of how it impacted us, and why, realizing what we learnt, then we will be set free. We will let go, and stop letting our past dictate our future. Then we will learn that the ones we are forgiving, we are able to because we understand them now, they came from a whole set of their own memories. We all act out of all that we know, we need to understand that about ourselves and others, to stop repeating the same mistakes, and then repeating them again. Hanging onto anger, resentment and hurt harbors illness and contributes to depression, and hurts you and others further, anger, hurt and resentment hold us back.

Forgiveness is the only way to move forward. Then letting that go will set us free.

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Happiness

The healthiness people in the world, that live the longest, without disease, are also the happiest and most social.

Time rich individuals are happier than poor ones.

Did you know that in the last half century, the GDP has risen by a factor of 3, I think, but the national level of happiness has remained unchanged. That’s zero gains of happiness in citizenry. In fact, I don’t need to tell anyone this, the level of illness, anxiety, psychosocial disorders, addictions, eating disorders and obesity,  all basically, disorders of development, has probably outpaced the GDP. That’s my guess.

Society has not become happier as it became richer. Higher income does not improve well being.  While yes, it would be nice to have more money, and it improves “quality” of life, what’s not nice is to crave it. It’s the quest for more money that effects happiness, and does not create a sense of community which equals little social trust. Social and economic equalities have widened. Aristotle and Buddha both express that humanity needs to learn to find a middle path between self discipline on one side and craving material things on the other.

Finland’s schools rank near the top of international comparisons in student performance. And they do this by fostering a spirit of community and equality in schools. VS. in north america where measure, test and teacher pay drive education.

Advertising is a $500 billion a year business. Coke keeps a strong portion of that in good standing.

The human brain wasn’t built to make all the choices we have to make in a day. We are persistently bombard through incessant advertising to “want” more, to have more, there are wants and longings where none previously existed. We measure ourselves against each other, and with products with high social status rather than real needs. Think Trans Fats? Sugars? all cause cravings, if not outright addictions. BMW? Big house? All drive status. We are more restless now, more than ever. We have to say no, and make decisions so many times a day that choice has become paralytic.

I even saw material products determine social status when I lived in Botswana, a third world country that just got internet about 6 years or so ago. There, in the prosperous (for africa) town of Maun, I saw where things like TV’s, cell phones and radios, determined social status. They wouldn’t be buying the necessities of life with their newly earned money. More jobs have been created, government is in good standing so there are some funds to help too, though small, everything is relative. They would have a TV, a lot had cell phones. And some were pretty sharply dressed, albeit in outfits of a mix of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, when donations like this started coming in. My point is, it’s sneaking into developing worlds, and fast. In as few as years, the necessities to sustain life will become dire in delicate regions of the world. Like the horn of Africa, or Central Asia. Poverty, anxiety, disease, environmental destruction, and unhappiness are real and they need our attention, especially at this point in humanity. Material life must be controlled to meet human needss.

If basic needs are not the main driver of social change anymore, then what is the pathway to well-being? Happiness perhaps?

It’s a delicate time in humanity, we are at the dawn of the Anthropocene era, (Greek for “Anthropo” =Human and “cene” = New), this is the point where the major drivers of change in the earths physical systems (climate, carbon cycle, water cycle, nitrogen cycle, and biodiversity) , is entirely up to humans, we will determine which way they go, through technological advances and through population (7billion) of humans. It’s, for a simpler comparison, the TSN turning point for how long humans, and this planet, will last before we destroy each other. We are the vultures on earth, it’s like we are at war with it?

The new era will reshape our societies, socially, spirituality, politically, environmentally, and financially to name a few, In order to survive, they will have to. We risk compromising the earths life support system if humans continue mindlessly on this course.

About 52% of the population is under 30, Generation Y, and that’s 52% of a population of 7 billion entering into the Anthropocene era, and are outpacing, if not already have outpaced, the baby boomers. Think about that. We call them the Millennials and they need to be taught, and they need to be taught starting right  now, the importance of living in the now, and paying attention to it and enjoying it, and to be happy. They need to know that now is where life is. This is the only way to slow down this trajectory. And stop the war on life. More people need to share this message and teach the next era to question everything, and to think critically,  to have an open and accepting mind, to stop glorifying busy, and desire, and mass consumption, all to get ahead, of what? Each other?. It’s not a race people, everyone is going to the same place at the end. Death. There is no reason to hurry to get there. If more people lived in the now, it would make us more aware of climate, water, our planet and each other. We’d be working to preserve it, humanity and the planet, preserving life. Encourage people to come together, and ultimately be happier. They’d reach their full potential by being more aware of themselves. The next generation/s need to be taught, differently, or we will keep making the same mistakes. Never in time, has this life sustaining message, been more urgent. They need to be taught now.

Then humanity will survive, because happiness and humility and patience will prevail.

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Old Habits Die Hard

Every year millions of people make new year’s resolutions about all the things they want to do or change or stop doing. We hear a lot about quitting smoking, better eating habits and exercise. I don’t, and never have, made a new year’s resolution, well, not on January 1st. I’ve always used my birthday to measure my time/year. It probably helps that it also happens to fall in the 1st month of the year, January 22nd , 1975. That makes me 38 as of yesterday.  Still, I think, even if it happened in July, I’d probably still use my birthday as my time to reflect back on the prior year, and have a vision for where I see the next year going. Something about growing a year older too.

I am probably, one of the biggest advocates I know to healthy eating and exercise. In fact I’ve made it a focus in my life. I get up at 5:30am, at least 3 times during the work week, to go to the gym and get my exercise in. I never eat processed food.  I’ve made “healthy living”  a habit. It is now just a natural instinct in me to exercise and eat well.  Too few of us, myself included, do not make a healthy mind a priority and recognize habits we have formed  in our thinking, externally and internally and try to correct them the way we do with weight, and appearance. When we talk about a holistic approach to life and health, this is what we mean by the “w-hole” part of the word. You can have a healthy body, but without a healthy mind and healthy thinking you’re not really “healthy” or whole

Webster’s defines holistic as such 

1: of or relating to holism

2: relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts <holistic medicine attempts to treat both the mind and the body> <holistic ecology views humans and the environment as a single system>

This year I’ve decided to change the way I think, to dig deep and find out who I am. I know that sounds so cliché, and I am 38, shouldn’t I have figured that out by now? Yes, and no. I know who I am. I did a fair bit of soul searching in my life, and I’ve spent a good amount of money in therapy. But I’ve let fear stop me from really accepting who I am, and really being me. Which ultimately, stops me from achieving and living my full potential.

I’ve had many a relationship where I expected my partner to fully accept who I am and love me for it. Truth is, I’ve not loved myself for who I am, so how was I supposed to expect that of anyone else?

As natural as exercise and healthy eating comes to me, so too shall positive thinking and being true to myself. I vow, in 2013, my 38th year, to spend the year getting to know me, loving me and reaching my full potential.

Oprah, in an interview, said once that when she was first starting out she thought to herself too often, “who do I think I am?”, and then one day she said “this is who I am!”… and so you know the rest of her story.

Well, this is who I am. That’s my new mantra. As is, “if you believe, it will be” , which was said to me recently with an air of confidence that I have never heard in anyone’s voice before, and it came from a person whom truly lived their life within their own happiness. I was inspired on a level that I’ve never been inspired before. In part why I am here as well.

Part of who I am, I elude to in my “about me”or on the Penny Light page. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I believe deeply that if more people talked and shared, we would expose an innumerable amount of similarities. We’re all different yes, but we are way more similar than we think, and in sharing we find comfort, compassion and understanding, and we don’t feel so alone in this world. And frankly, the world could use a lot more compassion, and understanding, and in a world with 7billion people on the planet, no one should feel alone.

My reason for this blog is twofold. One, for me to openly hold myself accountable for what I hope to achieve. Two, to share my learning’s and tools I’ve come across along the way and hopefully inspire some to start on their own path to reaching their full potential. As I come to some startling realizations and lessons along the way, I will pass them on here. I paid for a one year subscription to wordpress, and it expires on my 39th birthday. Recognizing the level of vulnerability I will have to go to in order to truly understand who I am, the demons, and old memories, good and bad, and that I will have to use pure honesty with myself as I internally explore, this isn’t going to happen overnight and it’s not going to always be easy. But I’m done with old habits, I’m done doing the same thing over and over again and, surprise!, getting the same results. Call it the Penny Paradigm shift if you will.

What would you do if you knew you would not fail?

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Don’t be Afraid to Give yourself Everything you’ve ever wanted in life