Prism Thinking – Design Your Mind

Posts tagged ‘life’

Happy Birthday to You!

“Happy” being the keyword here.  I think about many of the birthday jokes I’ve heard over the years and even decades…”another year older… another birthday…too many candles on the cake…” I even know of people who don’t want to be reminded about their birthday.  To those, it’s anything but a celebration. In fact, I recently conveyed some birthday greetings to someone I know for her husband’s birthday, to which was replied, “He says doesn’t want anymore birthdays!” Really? Then what’s the alternative?

So what if birthdays were also understood by each and every one of us as “Lifedays”?  Would we find a difference in celebrating that? I have found that the people most grateful for birthdays – another one, and yes, another one – are cancer survivors, or survivors of other life-threatening illnesses or circumstances. They know with every fiber of their being that birthdays are lifedays!

I of course realize that growing older and aging after mid-life is something to be reckoned with by most of us.  We may not feel it in our heads, but definitely our bodies have a way of reminding us otherwise. And even though we may say about age that, “it’s just a number”, well yes it is! It’s the number of years commemorating the time we’ve been here on this earth, making our marks and touching lives, as well has having our lives touched –  and we should celebrate that! So for these reasons, as far as birthdays are concerned, we greet each other with “many happy returns of the day” and “many more happy ones to come”. We Jewish people also have a birthday greeting that goes, “from now to 120+!” Not because these are mere traditional greetings, but because we know that our life and being another year older are to be rejoiced.

This also goes hand-in-hand with complaints about getting old. While I understand the hardships that many go through coming to terms with “things no longer working as well”, as well we hang on to our youth as we seek to avoid our own mortality. I often wonder how and why we pray for long lives, simultaneously not wanting to grow old.  I somehow don’t think we can have one without the other.  We can do our best in preserving our youthful mentality, appearance and overall attitude to life.  We can decide to be happy no matter what – and this of course, we now know will keep producing the happy brain chemistry, along with dopamine and endorphins, the neuro-transmitters that in turn keep us young. We can metaphorically have our cake and eat it too!

So here’s the thing: if we hope to have our prayers for longevity answered, then we must embrace our years and the prospect of future years. The thing is to keep filling the years with what fulfills us.  When we celebrate life, we can celebrate milestones, not just in our age-number, but in how we gauge what we’ve experienced, what we’ve learned and how far we’ve come since we arrived. So Happy Lifeday! Celebrate many more happy returns and l’chaim, to Life!

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Is Hollywoodland a Nexus of a Small World or a One-World?

Hollywood has always been a great part of my life. I went to college for 4 years, studying Broadcasting and Cinema. Before that I was singer from a very musical family where music had been much of a profession. Then I spent more than 15 years working in the Hollywood film industry where you might say that increasingly Hollywood became an entity far beyond a community, with its own language, politics, standards and immunities.

As a child I was also being influenced by my parents’ love of music and film, especially American movies and music.  You see, when Singapore was occupied by the Japanese during WWII, their lives were spared right at the very last moment when they had been ordered to dig their own graves to be executed the next.  The very next day heralded V-J Day when American, British and other Allied Forces won the war and it was over.  Therefore while Singapore was a British Colony, they were huge fans of everything American and rightly so.

I remember while growing up, to me as well as many others, Hollywood was America and America was Hollywood.  We learned all about American life, culture and society through American film, music and television.  We also had our equal share of entertainment from all other parts of the globe and frankly, they were never ever synonymous or indistinguishable from each other.  American movie greats, while some were of international fame, still considered the honor and privilege to be a part of an American studio production with its distinct American flair. If you were anyone at all, it all began and ended here.

Increasingly now I have come to a realization that it is becoming progressively more difficult to tell apart between an American production and an international production.  It’s not just a top billing international actor gracing our screens anymore, it’s more a strange blend of culture, tradition and philosophy, lacking in purity and changing in value a final product that would have lent a distinct flavor to further our appreciation.

I for one welcome every now and then, a multi-cultural effort in entertainment, I come from a multi-cultural country and society, but my love for American entertainment is waning as the Industry is watered down along with its influx of foreign talent, standards and ideologies, good and bad.  Has it become better or has it become muddy? It’s not just in Cinema.  American daytime television now has foreign hosts, American news has foreign news-casters, American commercials have foreign spokespersons with such thick accents they’re hardly articulate enough in their diction to actually sell a product in English! We have foreign judges for American musical talents.

There is a difference to me between importing a product and importing people.  Is it still a small world, like Walt Disney dreamed, or is it one world, one vision like Mao Tse Tung dreamed? Hollywoodland has long opened her borders and given away jobs that would belong to American talent just like any other outsourced product.  In essence it may be a beautiful thing.  In reality you lose your individualism and uniqueness when you cease to maintain defined borders.  Perhaps that’s what one-world means to some.  My personal perspective on this is really – one world, many differences. It’s what makes this diverse world a beautiful place – living together with our differences.  Not eliminating our core attributes. Not by displaying our similarities as a forced all-blended people, but finding harmony within our intrinsic core similarities and learning about our exceptionalism by highlighting our diversity – like many musical notes all distinctive on their own, coming together in a beautiful piece of music.

When John Lennon’s Imagine was first released in 1971, I was a mere child of nine and the lyrics always saddened me.  It saddened me to think even at that young age that the world would be a sad place without Heaven, without countries, without something to live for, without religion, without possessions. In my childlike mind those are the cherished things that stood out and I wondered how that in order to eliminate the negative, we had to also eliminate the positive, that the result could still be peace and sharing, brotherhood and living as one.  It was a song encouraging nothingness, and that was supposed to be everything.

Well we no longer have to “Imagine” the words of John Lennon; Hollywoodland has given us a flavor of it.

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Who’s Occupying Your Mind While You Occupy Wall Street?

The Occupy Wall Street protesters going into their fourth week, is more telling about them than about the situation they seem to be protesting.  Young people being swept away by the seduction of the concept of “Revolution” without really knowing who is pulling their strings.  You can hear it in their inarticulate lack of clarity, lack of coherence and lack of congruence when asked to explain what it is they seek. If you know the differences you can tell between heartfelt originality from core passion and parrot-phrasing sound-bite answers belonging to someone else.

Quoting madmen, murderers and dictators of the past like Che Guevara, Karl Marx, Mao and even George Bernard Shaw without understanding that these men who aimed to destroy individuality had ideologies far alien to core American values of individual pursuit of happiness. How does one allude to aligning themselves with ideologies that condemn individual rights to an abundant life while at the same time protesting for their individual rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, without noticing? While these youth fight for upholding their individual rights to their futures, they sadly cannot see it slipping away from them.

Social justice, they chant? Well I would wonder if they are aware that folks like George Bernard Shaw who was a Marxist-Socialist and believed in eugenics politics, believed and advocated that if one was too sick or old to be of any more use to society, society should kill them humanely. How’s that for social justice? So with that sentiment I would wonder if these impressionable youth have diligently done their homework to research exactly what the philosophies of the Movement’s ideology that they so passionately promote and so willingly succumbed to really indicate. Will they end up getting what they wish for or will they wish they didn’t? Either way they’ll get what they wish for, but we only hope that they understand what they are really wishing for.

While we all yearn to be a part of something greater than ourselves, it would be astute to remember that it is what we bring into the cause that is unique to our Self that sets us apart, yet fits perfectly into the mosaic of respectful diversity.  Participating in demonstrations for extended periods of time may get them to change others, but how have they changed in themselves? While they prevail in getting others to change, their lives remain at a standstill with only effort going into the act of protesting. Within this period, they cease to take responsibility for themselves and stop actively pursuing their own futures. A revolution about nothing.  Can forcing change on other people really better our own lives at the core? Will they have effected change through their own individual pursuit of happiness or will their lives only improve while remaining as victims, at the mercy of other people’s actions and change?

So as the movement draws more individuals, seemingly giving up their individuality, I end with a thought worth noting.  A whole lot of living has been done according to the concept of “going with the flow”. Being flexible and going with the flow is good, but remember that understanding whose flow, and the direction of the flow first, is more important. Sometimes we have to be like the salmon and swim upstream in order to spawn life and really extend ourselves to create something more.

In this instance, I’d rather be a salmon than a lemming.

“A part of eugenic politics would finally land us in an extensive use of the lethal chamber. A great many people would have to be put out of existence simply because it wastes other people’s time to look after them.”

Source: George Bernard Shaw, Lecture to the Eugenics Education Society, Reported in The Daily Express, March 4, 1910.

“We should not say that one man’s hour is worth another man’s hour, but rather that one man during an hour is worth just as much as another man during an hour. Time is everything, man is nothing: he is at the most, time’s carcass.”

Source:  Karl Marx, Economic Manuscripts: Capital Vol. I – Chapter Twenty-Four

“The theory of Communism may be summed up in one sentence: Abolish all private property. “

Source: Karl Marx. Marx & Engels, Library 1848, Manifesto of the Communist Party: Chapter 2

 “A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.”

Source: Mao Tse Tung, from The Tyrants: 2500 Years of Absolute Power and Corruption (2006) by Clive Foss

“A revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate. We must create the pedagogy of the The Wall!”

Source: Che Guevara, Cuba Archive. The Wall is a reference to the wall where Che’s enemies stood before his firing squads.

“The revolutionary war is a war of the masses; it can be waged only by mobilizing the masses and relying on them.”

Source: Mao Tse Tung, The Little Red Book, Chapter 8, 1964

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Why Complain?

It saddens me when I hear people constantly complain.  Why complain? If you were to ask the complainer this question, there will always be an answer; they will always justify it. They might attempt to camouflage it by reframing it as a vent, needing to use you as a sounding board, etc. But you on the receiving end know it’s a complaint, a rant, a tirade – normally fully of vitriol and venom.  There’s a reason for the urban phrase of “burning another’s ears” as a slang for venting.

My suggestion is, if you don’t like the hand you’ve been dealt, then change it; if you can’t – then change you! Rise above it! You will see the situation change or at least your perspective of it and its effect on you. The more you mull and seethe over the negatives – the aggravation, the frustration, the more it eats away at you. And whom do you call when you do? Who do you think is the lucky recipient of your venom? Sadly, not the object of your complaint but most probably a loving member of your friends and family circle.

Before we pick our lucky recipient to help make us feel better, realize that this is someone who loves us. Is this really the gift we want to bestow on those that love us the most, the ones we feel most comfortable? What about their un-ease and discomfort of being on the receiving end? How do they feel about how their love is being reciprocated? How are we telling them that we appreciate them? Certainly not by sapping their energy and spirits.

While we have to be mindful of how we off-load to those who love us the most, realize that even when on the receiving end, our boundaries matter and would serve us best to be enforced.  Even if it is your own detachment to the emotional toxicity as you listen compassionately. Remember to ask if advice is wanted. If someone is constantly complaining, especially about the same issues, they probably are not looking for solutions. Remember too, that constant complaining keeps us constant victims.  Have you ever noticed that after the complaints, you rarely receive the news of how it all worked out? Have you ever received the ‘good news’ call about the issues having been resolved? And what do you normally do when you have been the one doing the venting?

On the other hand, if you ever feel like complaining, remember when you wake up and ask how you can bring joy to someone else’s life that day, complaining to them isn’t one of the ways! If we care for others then it would make sense to be mindful of how we treat them. Confiding and sharing with someone about a problem is not the same as a complaining tirade.  What about their day? Maybe they’ve not shared with you their problems. Ask yourself, would you rather be someone that lifted their spirits, or be the one to add to their burden?

Share after you’ve at least detached from the heat of the moment, long enough to gain some perspective and resolution. Telling someone else our problems after we’ve become a little detached from the negative emotions is probably going to be more productive than just venting (even in the word ‘venting’, you can imagine steam emitting off your person in another’s direction).

So why complain? I can’t think of a justifiable reason, now can you?

 

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To Thy ‘Known’ Self Be True?

Not myself, beside myself, losing (lost) myself, finding myself, beyond myself, outside of myself, within myself.

We seem to often get tangled up in these concepts.  Yet who is the Self? Do I actually know myself to make these frames of references? How about, I surprised myself? Well, I would actually have to know just about everything about myself in order to do that! Am I and myself the same entity then or something different?

How do I treat myself? With honor? Respect? Disdain? Love? Kindness? Punishment? If I can do all those things to myself, then is there a constant incongruence or separatism? Or is there ever such a thing as harmony or a merger? Are they just different aspects or facets of my Self? Our higher selves, our lower selves and those in-between. When we put them all together who do we actually get? I like myself, I don’t like myself – well does your Self like you?

When we can “see” and “hear” ourselves saying or doing something, is that another that we see? I can’t believe I did that! Why not and who then did? That’s me and that’s just the way I am! Really? Is that all that’s you?

So much to ponder, so much to realize. How often do we take inventory of the various attributes of Self, be it human nature or human nurture? We could do ourselves a favor and revisit our Selves from time to time to get reacquainted. I’m sure they just would love a visit from you!

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Wake Up or Hit the Snooze Button?

In the wake of natural and man-made disasters that we see brewing and exploding around us, it is interesting to observe responses on the human level. We see groups claiming victimization, we see groups behaving like mere spectators, we see groups hailing the onset of Armageddon, and then there are groups stating the symbolism and metaphors in all occurrences.

No matter what your level of introspection in your own relationship to your environment – personally or globally, these events – no matter the strength of their impact upon us and our lives, serve as wake-up calls and demand that we pay attention. There has been much ridicule to the notion of wake-up calls, but really, who’s to say what is an epiphany to each of us, with each event that touches us?

Every event that touches our lives is an opportunity for introspection.  Sometimes we get little nudges and sometimes we get a kick in the behind.  We get clues, that if we’re aware enough to decipher, we get to move up or down our chosen paths and even be in harmony with the paths we choose and that perhaps chosen for us by something greater.

But what if we don’t take these generous opportunities to better ourselves and our lives? In times of crisis, regardless of what they are, we begin to take stock of our bank accounts, material inventories, water supply, our pantries and freezers and even our gas tanks.  What about our internal pantries and internal tanks? What’s missing in our lives and how much energy and courage will it take to fill? Sometimes what’s missing may be balance. Balance between the excess and the shortage – physical and emotional.  Perhaps too much drama and not enough courage? Too much guilt and not enough compassion? Too much ego and not enough confidence?

Maybe the messages aren’t for all of us, maybe for some more than others, and maybe for all affected, but the messages may be different for each.  The thing to remember is, any time is a good time for taking stock.  We shouldn’t wait for a ton of bricks to fall on our heads – literally, should we?  But oftentimes we do.  So the question remains, what does it all mean to you? In the end that’s all that really counts.  Are you directly or indirectly affected? If it didn’t touch you at all, did it touch you at all? Out of love… compassion… awe… fear… respect… honor? To yourself… to others? Do you set yourself apart from or become a part of?

Invariably and inevitably, a global calamity ultimately has a way of trickling down and seeping in, becoming a personal calamity.  Just as an exercise in relationship and perspective, think of some past and current world events, both natural and man-made and think about how it may have impacted your own life and to what degree.  How, if at all have you been affected? Could you have changed the outcome had you done something differently? Could you in the future?

While we cannot really predict what is forthcoming and we are constantly changing the future with our present actions, we can take stock of ourselves and do our best to make sure the actions we take are good ones. If we wake up and stop hitting the snooze button, we might just be awake enough to save someone, maybe even you.

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To Live ‘For’ or To Live ‘In’ the Moment?

I was recently talking to a lady I know about philosophical beliefs and the subject came to faith and religion.  My friend is mostly agnostic and professed to believing in goodness of humankind rather than in a Supreme Being. She said that if one believes that now is all we have, then we would make the best of our lives and do the best we can in all situations.  These are good ideals. However they are limited and limiting in the spectrum of our full potential.

Let’s take her belief that now is all there is. Now would that lead us to live for now or live in the Now? Is there a distinction? In prism thinking there is. In a tunnel vision they may seem one and the same.  Hear yourself say the phrases “live for today”; “live in today”. If we are to believe only in the inherent goodness of humankind, without it having to be cultivated, then we would assume that everyone would have the intrinsic aspiration to be and do the best you can be and do at all times.  So what really stops us? I perceive a slight kink in that particular machine.

When we think about living for now or for the moment, we think about wanting to do all the things that make us happy and fulfilled and as much of it as we can because we may not have another opportunity when the moment has passed, sort of like a “grab-n-go”.  While this could be true to some extent, could it also possibly lead to over-indulgence, a lack of mindfulness or maybe self-centered desires? Possibly. Remember that our beliefs become our truths and our truths become our reality.  What if someone’s reality was lack, desperation and disappointment? Would they also aspire to be all they can in that moment? Would they even want to? Would they have the ability to perceive changing their reality? What if you live for the moment and act out of desperation? Would that moment be unbearable? It is said that life is a series of moments.  Where you “spend” those moments may define the quality of your life.

Living in the Now

While living in the now may seem similar in ideals, think of it as being fully present – not being attached to dramas of the past and not being too involved in the “what-ifs” of future possibilities. I should mention here that it is important to mentally play out the different possibilities for decision-making and designing your life. While each moment has the potential to bring any possible future depending on how we act in the present, worrying about events that may not happen robs from us the gifts of the present.  What are these gifts?

In my experience of being in the present, I can perceive full awareness of everything around me (or at least to the fullest of my comprehension).  The best example I can give you would be my first experience with time-distortion I had learnt from Dr. Richard Bandler in a Design Human Engineering® Seminar, I attended and to which I was fortunate enough to staff.  I’ll never forget when Richard taught that when he slows down time, he is able to notice every movement, every gesture of every single person in the room simultaneously.  As Il followed in the exercise, I remember how amazing it was to actually see every gesture, movement; hear every cough, sneeze or throat-clearing, even smell different scents – all in slow-motion! Imagine being able to behold all these wondrous sensations and more, slowing down time, being fully present in the moment and experiencing everything that we would normally miss when we’re not really “here”! How many wasted moments do you think has been spent by millions of us dwelling in the past, worrying about the future or even living only for now? How much have we missed, living in our frenetic versions of “now”?

Oh, and should I also mention that being in the present gives us many additional gifts? Obviously distorting time that day at the seminar, slowing down time, afforded us ample time to finish our staffing paperwork duties, when just before, it seemed we were in a rush with not enough time to get it all done! I assure you, it’s an amazing thing!

Other gifts to consider when being fully present? How about you come up with a few of your own and imagine what it would be like to fully experience everything you wish you could but either don’t have the time or the opportunity.  Well it’s all happening Now! You just have to learn the technique and that’s no longer a secret!

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