Category Archives: Daily Living

The Pursuit of Happiness

In the information age I am often confronted by a lack of information and awareness in the general public about certain issues – particularly when it comes to health. For most people our quest in life is similar, though our paths are different. The pursuit of happiness – is that not what we all want?

What we are as human beings is a question for philosophers across the ages in history. What is clear is that we have a physical body, we have a mind, and we feel. We may develop complex hypotheses and theories on the interplay of these three core aspects of being (I won’t say “human being” here as we share these to greater and lesser extents with other animals) and the question of soul, and we may agree or disagree. The mistake I think we make is when we conceptualise these as components of being rather than as one and complete.

The reason I make this point is that in the pursuit of happiness – the quest we are all embarking on – we must begin with that which nourishes us as one and complete. We have to start with our health. I can’t imagine any type of lifestyle – from the excessively wealthy partier to a remote Tibetan monk – that can be truly happy and truly fulfilled without good health.

Health is the ground work, the soil for everything. How can one think healthy thoughts without having the foundations and presence of the right molecules – hormones, neurotransmitters, and nutrients to sustain those healthy thoughts? How can you have the ability to feel happy and feel wealthy if you do not have the physical ability to manufacture the right molecules and enzymes needed to create and sustain those emotions?

Working yourself to exhaustion in a well-paying unsatisfying job will not bring you happiness. How can it? Money gets you stuff. That’s it. Sure, life is easier with it, and there are people in the world who do need more of it, but happiness is more than stuff.

So often too our quests for health are misguided. We think we’ll be happier or healthier with a slimmer, or tighter, or firmer body. But the outward appearance of our bodies isn’t health. Nor is conforming to societal standards or what is the “right” way to look or be. If the goal is your outward appearance, it won’t bring you happiness.

The question we need to ask ourselves more is: what will make me healthier? This is the knowledge we need to seek, this is the information we need to acquire on our paths to happiness.

 

Nahmaste.

 

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Dear Internet: Be safe, Be Meaningful.

The internet in all its worldly glory and infinite ability to disseminate information – the likes of which we have never before seen in the history of humanity – can be a venomous serpent. It’s forked tongue flickers and strikes; its opinionated fangs full of hate, hubris and vitriol. I feel the poisonous spite pierce my skin and heart and I’m left diminished, baulking, ashamed at what humanity appears to have become.

New ideas are persecuted.

Old ideas are ridiculed.

The serpent has long been used both as a symbol of knowledge and a symbol of danger or harm. It is apt to conjure this image in representation of the internet - or rather the behaviour of some of its users.

The serpent has long been used both as a symbol of knowledge and a symbol of danger or harm. It is apt to conjure this image in representation of the internet – or rather the behaviour of some of its users.

Black-Mamba

Human beings are inherently social creatures. We seek out socialisation, to congregate, to simply be with other beings of similar sentience. In this world of urban and suburban isolation where the neighbours are physically close and emotionally distant, unapproachable, and we only move in circles we’ve always moved in, more and more we retreat to online spaces seeking refuge from loneliness – to have our innate needs for socialisation met.

Yet in the anonymity and partial anonymity the internet offers we are never really known. We yearn to be accepted and supported, for someone to agree with us, to indulge our ego or perhaps to express some poorly informed opinion we are seduced into feeling righteous about. The anonymity protects us. We don’t have to be real, we don’t have to get close.

And therein lies the issue.

This guise of partial anonymity comes with an unfortunate freedom from conscience and freedom from consequence.  Just as I am less real online, so too are others to me. I need not be concerned with what may be socially detrimental to another, nor deliver my words mindfully with thoughtful respect.

Suddenly I’m more opinionated. I have a confidence of opinion and a numbness of connection. I cannot feel the direction of a conversation, nor the meaning behind the words, nor the person speaking. I need not wait my turn to pipe up or enter a conversation – all I have to do is type.

Yet I am not this emotionless, thoughtless, disconnected being. I am a person. I have heart, and soulful thought and meaning in my life. I am a whole person. My whole life in its full glorious spectrum of its many experiences has led me to this very point. And who are others to judge?

But judge they do. And further judgements I pass, fuelled by the hurt of criticism – the need of the human being to feel right, to be righteous, to build themselves high by belittling those others. So what do I do? I type at those others. I tell them what I think. I build within my language a tone of sarcasm, I slap you with a statistic, and beat you with words and logic. I armour myself with “likes” and approval of those who already agree – or at least think they do.

To what end? To insult and demean the very person whose opinions I hope to influence? To have you abhor the facts I present you with or for you to resent a particular line of logic? Some may feel the sting and bite of words and choose to rise above them, and to consider the facts within the vitriol. This is unlikely. Most will return to the safety of their self-managed newsfeeds, search for anything which validates their own opinion and say “see, I knew I was right”.

Or perhaps they’ll type. They’ll type about why I’m wrong, and why they’re right. A self-perpetuating cycle devoid of meaning.

That is not my promise here.

My promise here is to see you, Reader, in your humanness. To consider the person behind the other screen. Whilst our choices may differ and our views be opposed, it is not you I question. It is not you I argue.

What I do question are systems. What I do debate are facts and their source. What I do challenge is logic, the lines which connect the dots. Because when the lines connect different dots a different picture emerges.

By all means question my reasoning, ask about my facts, seek to understand first (I’ll do the same) but do not persecute me.

Because safe places are necessary. Because persecution and vitriol and slander just get in the way. They get in the way of ideas, of fruitful, necessary debate.

We are running out of food on this planet. Many, many don’t have enough to eat. Or clean water. Or money for school shoes. The Earth is dying, her resources are being sucked dry. Our climate is changing. Children are being abused. Inequity in all its forms is still a cultural stain. Our health is failing. There is war. And there are many, many more problems which need solutions now.

So I implore you. Tread with care on the internet. Create safe places wherever you go. And talk about things which matter.

Nahmaste.

Elusive Perfection

A peacefulness has befallen my frazzled soul as I sit down to write this. The calmness is refreshing, healing, rejuvenating. I can feel myself relax and come to accept the morning that has gone and the day that is to come.

I had one of those mornings. You know the type – the ones that are hard to explain why they’re hard, that perhaps only another parent would really get. Those mornings when everything goes haywire and all possibility of an organised, constructive day dissolves into nothingness, like a fraying safety rope one can’t quite grasp or a ray of sunlight on a cold day that doesn’t quite warm the heart.

My morning started with yoga. It went well. So far so good. Then shower and breakfast. Little Star is starting to make her independence known. She wants out of the high chair where she throws her fruit on the floor (does it bounce?) and onto my lap where she throws her fruit on the floor. She grabs my spoon, the rockmelon I’m eating, my coffee and spreads yoghurt everywhere. I let go of the flash of impatience which threatens. Not to worry, I’ll just wipe it up when we’re finished eating.

But Little Star is finished now. She needs her milkies. Her face and hands are quickly wiped and she’s lulled into a drowsy contentedness on the couch, in my arms, safe, warm and satiated. She’ll nod off soon. It’s a little earlier than expected but so be it. We walk tenderly to the bedroom, she rouses slightly and I continue feeding her as she drifts safely into slumber. A long process but I cannot bear to wake her.

I begin placing her in her cot and our peace is destroyed by Leczy walking in, making a racket, wanting to be close to her mum.

For me, today, it is just outside my tolerance levels. Little Star is awake and she won’t be resettled. I get angry. I’m so angry. I’ve had enough. I yell at the dog as she looks at me with those big eyes, her ears pulled back, her tail moving back and forth and her head low. It’s already 10 am, there’s fruit and yoghurt over the kitchen floor, the chickens have not yet been fed, the fire has gone out as I cannot nurture it and breastfeed a baby at the same time, it’s cold, there are seedlings about to die as I cannot seem to just get them in the ground, there’s a load of wet washing sitting in the machine I haven’t been able to hang out for two days, there are toys all over the floor, Little Star needs a bath and there’s a meal that still needs to be cooked.

It was supposed to all be done by now so I could get on with my day, so I could connect with my daughter, so that I could do something productive, something more than just maintaining a house. Who can find fulfillment in perpetually tidying? Where nothing is ever finished? Where life just circles and circles and circles around the elusive idea of a completed task?

This morning hasn’t been perfect – later as I clean the kitchen and cook the meal I wanted to with my daughter strapped to my back I realised I’d forgotten to feed Leczy.

Enter guilt stage left.

Little Star is sleeping peacefully now. We’re getting warmer as I’ve finally gotten some wet wood to burn, the chickens are fed, the eggs collected, the kitchen is clean (enough), dinner is cooked, Leczy is fed (I’ve apologised to the doggie with cuddles and scratches around the ears), Little Star is bathed and the wet washing is heaped in a laundry basket – one step closer to being hung to dry. The seedlings are still in punnets stretching for sunlight, and there are still toys all over the floor.

I am learning to be okay with that. It’s not perfect, though often times I find the need to revel in the imperfection of daily living. Relinquishing to the chaotic crazy playfulness that parenthood brings.

So, my fellow mums and dads how do you do it? How do you take it all on and keep your spirit? I’d love your comments.

Nahmaste.