Thursday, June 13, 2013

Setting Boundaries

As children our parents are suppose to teach us how to make good decisions for ourselves.  More often than not, they make the decision for the children and tell him or her “Do this because I said so.”  This of course removes the opportunity to learn the decision making process.  

Many lower level jobs are designed to remove the possibility of error by employees by having the administration make all the decisions and the worker bees carry them out.  Unfortunately as we age, one’s ability to make good decisions is assumed when this is not always the case.

When one has low self esteem and self love, their confidence in their own basic ability to make decisions can be shaken.  They can be brilliant at what they do for a career choice, but in their personal lives, they are whipped around by more confident and manipulative people.

When they do seek out advice which is typical since they do not trust their own ability, the advice should always be in the form of a learning opportunity.  The Four Noble Truths of course is the Buddhist decision making tool which works wonderfully.  By walking through this tool with them and also using the Eightfold Path and Six Perfections, you will not infringe on their free will to decide for themselves.  (Links to information about these teaching tools )  But remember that just because they come to the “appropriate” decision, it does not mean they will act upon it at that moment.
When their own personal pain is unbearable, then they will act.  No one can move them until they are ready to move themselves.  You can however be supportive during the process. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

It’s All a Game

Life – it’s all a game.  Some believe there are winners and losers in life.  Those that have the wealth and power, the one percent, they are the “winners”.  Those that live below the poverty line are the “losers.”  The vast number of people between the two extremes – well we might be bluffing to stay in the game.  With a couple good hands we may win the pot and be able to continue playing or we may fold.

But living in the one percent is not without its problems.  In many ways, one becomes cut off from the rest of the world, typically this is by choice.  Their vision of reality becomes distorted and their ability to relate to normal life becomes challenged.  You may scoff at this and say “I’d like to give life in the one percent a try anyway.  I’d rather have the pain of too much money rather than too little.”  

Both extremes tend to have the same fears.
  • Security.  If you are living on the street or in a very poor neighborhood, security is an issue.  Robbery, shootings, and home invasions are problems.  This is also true for the one percent in their gated communities with security systems and guard dogs.
  • Drug usage is a serious problem for both groups.  One group’s drugs may be a bit purer than the other’s but all of it kills and destroys live. 
  • Lack of jobs.  The poor typically would like one but often lack the skills to obtain one.  The wealthy don’t need them.  So both groups have too much time on their hands and lack sources of self esteem and satisfaction from doing something constructive with their lives.  
  • Poor health.  The poor lack nutritional food and the wealthy become ill because of the richness of their food.

We could go on with these comparisons but what is the point?  The point is that moderation is the key – the middle way, as it was so aptly put thousands of years ago by the Buddha.

A recent research study found that an income of $50,000 was the break point at which we are the happiest in the US.  Above that income other issues kick in and we no longer feel as happy.

What if you actively chose to cut your consumption of everything by 50%, find your own middle way so to speak?  
  • Drive 50% less and walk, ride a bicycle, or take public transportation instead. 
  • Eat 50% less – cutting out those items that are less healthy
  •  Spend 50% less time plugged into the vast array of available electronics and more time reading and really being present with our family and friends.
  • Reduce busy work by 50% and more time spent in meditation or meditative activities like gardening.
  • Consuming 50% less material goods and saving the money that would have been spent for a rainy day, retirement, or helping others.
The game of life would be so much easier to play and be so much more rewarding if we only cut everything we do and consume by half.  A great place to start is by reducing the amount of complaining you do by 50% and increase your listening by the same amount.  Vow that for one day a week, you will not complain about anything at all.  Instead you will just smile and laugh at the situations that would typically trigger the complaint.  Gradually extend this to two days a week, then three until the complaining behavior is extinguished.  You will discover the joy of being relieved of this burden.
  • Go through everything you own and clear out everything you have not used in the last year or two.  Donate it to a charity so that the items can benefit others and DON”T replace those items with more things.
  • Talk to your neighbors, beyond just waving hello.  Get to know them for who they are.  Help each other out.
  • Find a sangha; this is a group of people that you can discuss ways of spiritual growth and development. Find a mentor, a teacher that you can relate to.  Find your connection to that which connects us all.
This is the way of the middle path.  This is the way to contentment.  Contentment breeds happiness.  Change the rules of your game and you change your life.