Category Archives: world view

Brain Work-Outs

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After graduating from university in my early 20s, I promised myself I’d never write another paper or exam. I was wrong. I started writing research papers in my 40s just for my own satisfaction, because I was interested in things and wanted to study them to the nth degree, and then went back and got my MA when I was 50 because I wanted to work my brain really hard, among other things. Some people have a need to work out physically (not me) and others can’t go to sleep till they’ve had a great mental workout (me.) At 22 or 33 I never knew that about myself.
I wonder what drives us to do brain work.
When I was in a very difficult part of my life, as these things go, with kids at the leaving home stage and a mother getting to the needing care stage, I made a life-changing decision.  I decided to get a graduate degree.
You might wonder why I would choose this path, the path of academia, but I had simply discovered that working hard with my brain had given me a sense of competence and control that I wasn’t finding in the rest of my life and I wanted to feel competent and in control just then.  My world was changing and I could no longer take on all the problems my loved ones were having to cope with.  I was no longer in control of my little patch of the world.
Some people join gyms or run.  I knew I had to study.  I had to learn new things and find out where they fit into my mental geography.  I had to weigh, measure and compare ideas and see how they could find application in my life.
I guess it’s no surprise that I chose to take my degree in counselling, since it was in the realm of the mind that I was feeling the loss of control.  I wanted to expand my knowledge and understanding of human behavior and things about the human brain’s workings that I didn’t know, and learn what the great psychologists saw as the way we work and think and feel and relate, and how their views differed and what was true for me.  I gave myself over to studying for two years, and at the end of it I had a Master’s Degree and I also had a mind that I could rely on for clear thinking and deeper understanding of the human condition.
I’m someone who needs to exercise her mind.   Some of you jog.  I don’t.  I solve problems when I can, whether in my work or at leisure.  It makes me feel good.
And the bonus is, I became more effective in my life and can pass on that knowledge to others.
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Steve Jobs said it

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“There comes a time in life where you have to let go of all the pointless drama and the people who create it and surround yourself with people who make you laugh so hard that you forget the bad and focus soley on the good. After all, life is too short to be anything but happy.”

What do you think of this quote?  I read it and loved it right away, but I’ve been thinking it over.  On the surface it sounds very liberating.  But I wonder about the people you leave behind.  I agree that “pointless drama” should be avoided.  If there isn’t a point to the drama, then by definition it won’t lead to a new understanding or point.    And I agree that the people creating the pointless drama are to be avoided, at least at times, if you can’t remain positive in their presence. But this should not mean we write them out of our lives.

Although this quote sounds liberating, it’s a liberty gained by retreating.  Sure, you can surround yourselves with happy-go-lucky friends who make you laugh.  I bet it would be a lot of fun.  But what about those other people in your life that are not so happy?  Do they deserve to be abandoned because they don’t make you feel good?

I don’t think life is too short to be anything but happy, if it’s at the expense of other people.  Call me a do-good-er, but I love my friends even when they’re sad or angry, depressed or confused, and I like to hang out with them even if they don’t make me feel like laughing.

I think Steve Jobs is expressing a selfish attitude.  You’re number one and only things that make you happy are worth doing?  Right?  I don’t believe that.  I think relationships are sometimes very difficult, and when we’re in those relationships it sometimes becomes dramatic.  Sometimes it feel pointless.  So what?  Do you think it’s better to tear families and friendships apart because you just want to feel happy all the time?  Are you entitled to a life of pure happiness?

To me this is a selfish attitude, and frankly, one that is juvenile.  I hope we all have deeper relationships with people than what’s implied in that quote, that we care enough about others to stay with them through rough times, when they might be stuck and trying to work something out.  Don’t give up on them because they don’t bring a smile to your lips whenever you’re together.

You’d want a friend to do the same for you.

 

“music and cats”

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“There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life – music and cats.” –Albert Schweitzer, physician/Nobel Laureate.

Whenever I’m feeling low, I feel the touch of my kitty’s paw and then hear her purr, and in no time at all I feel as though there is a place of goodness and love, and it’s right here where I’m sitting.  She can make life feel worth living again.

Music has a different but similar effect.  Whether it’s a danceable tune by ABBA or it’s Paul Simon singing about bouncing into Graceland, I start to move, and soon I realize that although there is misery in the world, right here and right now I can still dance.

How about you?  What lifts you up out of life’s miseries?

 

Why Reading Fiction is Good For Us

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“If you read fiction, what you get good at understanding is what goes on between people.””

Brain scans, experiments and studies indicate that we really get better at understanding people and their interactions if we read fiction.  And if we talk about what we’ve read, perhaps with a friend or more formally in book groups, our understanding increases.  So don’t think of reading and talking about novels as simply a wonderful way for us to pass the time.  Think of it also as educational, a study in human psychology.

 

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/arts/books/why-fiction-is-good-for-you/article2159339/singlepage/#articlecontent

In 2011, Grandparents Day fell on September 11th

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If your grandchildren didn’t acknowledge you on that day, it’s probably because other things of greater importance were happening, like the commemoration of the events that occurred ten years ago.

However, if you are fortunate enough to have grandchildren, remember that they are growing up faster than you are growing old, and enjoy every moment that you can with them.  You’ll live on in their memories long after your body is used up.  Make the memories significant.  Give them the best of who you are.  It’s really the only legacy worth leaving.

Homosexuality and the Bible

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Ever thought about how relevant the writings of past times are to today’s world?  I read and re-read Jane Austen, and though society has changed a lot in 200 years, her humor, her irony, her insights, are still just right for today.

However, there are books that are full of rules for regulating society, and they lose their power when times change.  For instance, a book on etiquette that insists that men doff their hats to a woman has nothing to tell the modern man who either eschews hats or has a cap permanently pulled down on his head.

This piece points out that following the letter of a very old law makes no sense and does, in fact, lead to cruel and horrible practices that have been outlawed for centuries.  But don’t worry, you’ll have a good laugh if you read this.

Homosexuality and the Bible. Read the rest of this entry

Saving a Whale

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www.youtube.com

You have to watch this beautiful video.  If you ever doubted that whales were at least on a par with humans emotionally, you will not doubt it again after seeing this.

Was the freed humpback whale expressing exuberance, joy, at being free?  Or was she showing with her whole being how grateful she was to the humans that freed her and gave her back her life?

You decide.