Making music out of Life.

Making music out of Life.

Reading an old but pertinent article in Vanity Fair on Greece’s economic woes*, I saw the following idea: The smart person accepts; the idiot insists. This got me thinking about the concept of flow, and just how draining resistance is. In his psychological philosophy Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy, Albert Ellis takes this idea further when he speaks about how the shoulds, ought tos and musts in our thinking styles cause us suffering, and how when we subscribe to this mode of interpreting our experiences, we perceive other people and the world as letting us down. If we can instead change these negative and absolute ideas of how projects, the world, and others “should be” into preferences, then we experience the world in a far gentler way and we end up being much happier people. But besides these emotional costs of insisting the world “should be” as we want it to be, there are also great costs to our energy and effort levels. If we stop insisting things must be my way or the high way we can release vast reservoirs of energy that we can then unleash productively both in our work lives and personally. Conflict is exhausting. Jostling for supremacy is exhausting. On the other hand, in any shared activity – at work, or in close relationships, or simply out there interacting in the world – if we can put our pride aside, take what lands on us, and dance with it, we can not only build hugely positive human relationships – but by putting aside the temptation to say No, but.. and instead embracing Yes, and we can also.., we can create great collaborative projects. My own original background is theatre. The notion of Yes, and we can also.. is the essence of improvisation, which actors and jazz musicians use so creatively. So, I challenge you, take whatever lands on you and dance an improvisational dance with it. Go out – use the notes from that person’s trumpet, and add your own drumbeat. Pull together disparate elements, talents and contributions and make some beautiful music and movement in your life. *Beware of Greeks Bearing...

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Who’s the boss?

Who’s the boss?

What are your driving nightmares? Have you ever driven behind a really inconsiderate driver, the kind who on a nice road trip slows down up hills on a barrier line, and then speeds up like crazy just when you have the opportunity to finally overtake, so that you can’t? Or who parks on a red line which clearly means no stopping, let alone no parking, and so holds up all the frantic traffic behind! Or my favourite: the person turning right at the intersection who creeps forward timidly, making space only for himself – which means that when the traffic light finally changes, they are the only car that can cross the road legally, when there was at least space for three cars that could have made it. I’m sure you have many pet peeves of your own! These used to really get to me. Until I had the realisation that after this sort of experience, I was the one left feeling off balance, grumpy and out of sorts. And the angry feelings would stay a while! And the perpetrator of the heinous traffic “crimes” would go on their merry way, either oblivious or unconcerned, continuing to inhabit their happy bubble. So actually, who was I selling out to? I was giving the power to temporarily take away my equanimity and happiness to some inconsiderate and selfish idiot. This makes no sense! So I resolved to take back my Power. I refuse to allow bad drivers be my puppet master pulling my unhappiness strings. I am going to be the one to decide whether I will be happy or not! There’s that tiny moment between stimulus and reaction where we can actually choose to “respond” instead of “react”. And it’s not just about driving. It generalises to many aspects of our lives – to all the things that habitually press our buttons. So I resolved next time I had a button pressed to ask myself: So who IS the boss? This, or me? And I choose me. I’m the boss! Most of the time...

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Good fences make good neighbours

Good fences make good neighbours

Mending Wall, Robert Frost very famously said, Good fences make good neighbors. I say, fences are important even in your relationship with your significant other. Good boundaries, are a sense of where you end and others begin, and are a measure of your self-esteem and your esteem and trust in others. If on some level you doubt yourself, or you doubt your partner’s ability to show up reliably in the world, you may allow your boundaries to become blurred and try either to take responsibility for your partner or allow them to control you. Some red flags are, if you find yourself taking on more than half the responsibility for a relationship and then feeling bad if it isn’t working, the likelihood is that your boundaries are not as defined as they could be. If you find yourself trying to control your partner’s actions, or find your actions being controlled by them – then your boundaries are weak. If you feel responsible for the other person or allow them to be responsible for you, then your boundaries are blurred. Boundaries can be emotional like these, but they can also be mental, material or physical. Good mental boundaries show confidence in holding your own opinions and not needing to echo those of someone else, nor expecting them to necessarily agree with yours. Good material boundaries mean you don’t raid their wallets or read their text messages or have them do that to you. Good physical boundaries will mean that you have healthy negotiations around sex with each other. In short, you are a separate person to your partner and you respect their right to be themselves. After all, that’s why you fell in love with them, isn’t it? To quote Mending Wall: There where it is we do not need the wall: He is all pine and I am apple orchard. My apple trees will never get across And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him. He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors’. Be the boss of yourself, not of your partner – and don’t let your partner be your boss either 🙂 Pine, and apple...

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