Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Start with yourself

"Cut me down, but it's you who'll have further to fall" 
-Sia, Titanium lyrics: David Guetta

I believe in the natural goodness of all beings. No one does anything because they want to feel worse. We are all trying our best to get on with life and to feel happy, fulfilled and content. For a few people this seems to mean cutting down other people in order to bring them to their own level, rather than working on building themselves up.

If you are a genuine, enthusiastic, hard working person you're more likely to encounter these drainers. They're the sort who will sabotage another's hard work and dedication, rather than getting on with their own life in a positive and successful way.

They're not to be hated though. Hate cannot achieve a positive outcome. Through hate we become embroiled in our own thoughts and feelings. Hate is a little ball which can grow into a massive knot. It will blind us to those around us and ultimately, we will be no better than the subject of our hate because we have restricted ourselves so much.

Looking at it from the flip side, I have great compassion for those who would rather pull someone down than lift themselves up. You have to have a pretty low opinion of yourself if that's the way you live your life.

Think about it: Someone thinks so little of their own ability to grow, change and achieve that they find it easier to gossip, manipulate and cheat others for their own gain.

Not being true to yourself is hard work. When you deny your own skills and talents, you ignore your dreams and squash your own goals, you're putting an awful lot of time and energy into it. Not that living the life you love doesn't require a lot of time and energy too. The difference is, when you are true to yourself and love what you do and your ability to do it, the work is enjoyable. When the things we work at are enjoyable the effort doesn't feel so draining.

I get a great sense of satisfaction from a job well done. I may be tired, I may have had a certain level of stress, but when the outcome means I reached my goal and got to where I wanted, the exhaustion I feel adds to my sense of accomplishment.

When you work hard to tear someone else down you don't have much to show for it. If anyone does notice your achievement, what they're going to notice is that you are manipulative, two-faced and in-genuine.

The challenging bit is letting go of the grievances we have with people who would rather cut us down than build themselves up. Ultimately it's about self knowledge. If you know that you are worthy of what you've accomplished, if you believe in your skills and talents, then the petty actions of another cannot hold you back. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Judgement has a bad reputation. There seems to be an almost intense need to not, ever, under any circumstances, be considered judgemental. Well, I just want to say that there is nothing wrong with judging people, things, or situations.

A judgement is the evaluation of something before us which results in making a decision. For example:
"The clothing that person over there is wearing is inappropriate for the weather."

This is a sound judgement. If it's hacking down with rain and you see someone in flip flops, shorts and a t-shirt you can judge that their choice of clothing isn't ideal.

Judgement is based on reasoning and reasoning is tied into our experience. That means we can make some silly or unreasonable judgements.

"Red cars are terrible."

When I was twelve I went on a road trip with a friend and her dad, who was a paraplegic. His carer travelled with us and the four of us were stuffed into a red van. Her dad smoked cigars and his carer smoked cigarettes. We drove down the coast of California and through to Nevada. We stopped in San Francisco, San Diego, Las Angeles and Las Vegas. It was hot and the combination of the smoke and heat meant I was nauseous pretty much the entire time we were on the road, which was about fifty per cent of the entire journey.

I associate this feeling of nausea with the colour of the car. It's silly reasoning based on my memory of the experience.

Either way, it's my judgement based on my experience and evaluation of a situation. No, red cars aren't terrible. But for me, I have a weird association so I know to be aware of this.

Obviously there can be some really harsh judgements.

"Those clothes are stupid and only a loser would wear them."

Yes, that's a judgement, but it's not a very sound one. There's a lot more going on there than what was on the surface. That is a judgement based in a very personal opinion of what other people should or shouldn't do.

Clothes can't be stupid. Inappropriate, yes. Impractical, definitely. But stupid?

The point I'm trying to make is that we get awfully hung up on wanting to be seen as not being judgemental when there is nothing wrong with making a judgement. A sound judgement can protect us, prepare us, or put us at ease.

If I meet someone who is particularly contrary, almost the the point of it being like a hobby for them, I am able to clearly make the judgement that they are someone I find to be hard work. Sometimes I don't mind hard work. It helps me grow and change and learn new things. But other times I can see that, by choosing to socialise with them, I may be opening myself up to a lot of stress or irritation. I can make the good judgement that I would rather not spent my time with them.

The important thing is to remember that when we make a judgement it comes from a place of moral ground and personal belief. It's about you as an individual, not the thing or person which caused you to make the judgement in the first place.

When we pay attention to our judgements and why we make them, we can also do a lot to change our own outlook on life. By having more experiences and learning from them we can make better and better judgements, if we choose to. Then we can make healthy, practical and safe choices for ourselves. We can be more prepared for different outcomes and developments and ultimately, be more open to the world around us.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Change the World

You may have already noticed this clever Meme making it's circulation on your Facebook Wall or Twitter feed, if you have such things. Regardless, I wanted to share it because I really love it. Keeping in mind the original sentiment behind 'Keep Calm & Carry On' was actually quite significant at the time. In fact, it was 'raising Hell' for it's day because it was doing the exact opposite of what the enemy wanted or expected to happen.

Times have changed and as we get further removed from how powerful it was to keep living and working in a city that was being bombed nightly, we tend to become more apathetic to how we live our lives. I find more and more often that there are a lot of people just towing the line on what they think they should or shouldn't do. I think the people at Papersaurus (to credit the clever creator of the design) are really onto something.

It's fine to remain calm in times of chaos, but what about when things are so calm they're monotonous? Do you ever feel like your life is carrying on almost without your participation? Like things are just going to keep going on the same path and you might never write that book you've always wanted to or visit that country you've always be interested in or paint that idea you had years ago?

Sometimes our lives need a little shaking up. Sometimes we get stuck doing a job we're good at, but we don't love. Sometimes we need to raise a little Hell, make change happen, and embrace the fact that our lives are ours to live.

The first step to changing the world is to look at yourself and how you're living your own life. You can't expect to change the world by changing other people. You can never hope to change those around you. You can only ever change your own outlook, ideas, and opinions. When you do, it can be scary or even downright terrifying. But it can also be absolutely thrilling.

I know there will be cynics among you. There will be those who think it's all a bit fluffy to talk in abstract and excited terms of change and motivation for the better.

Cynicism is given way too much credit. It's easy to be cynical because it's almost impossible to challenge a cynic. But enthusiasm - living with enthusiasm - now there's a challenge. To go out in the world with energy, ideas and passion is to put yourself at risk of criticism. However, it's worth it. It's worth it because it's also the only way you can expect to change the world. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Living the Life you Love III

When Kaitlyn asked guest bloggers to write a post on “Living the Life you Love”, it occurred to me that while I’m not necessarily living the life I love, I am loving the life I live.

Loving everyday life, complete with work, chores, traffic and all the other myriad of annoyances isn’t necessarily something that comes naturally.  It is easy to love a special dinner, or a holiday, but how do you love a life where 95% of the time it is more about doing the washing and putting the garbage out?  I’m lucky enough to be a happy, cheerful, optimistic person, but I’ve had some tough times and I’m well aware how easy it is to become bogged down by the mundane and difficult aspects of life.

Over the past decade, I’ve learned a lot about myself but the key realisation has been that I am responsible for my life and that I can choose to be happy.

I was a bit of a failure at being a teenager.  In years when I should have been partying, having my first boyfriends, developing as an independent person, I was studying, reading, hanging out with my (admittedly awesome) parents, generally living in my own head.  As I moved into adulthood I continued that way, waiting for life to start, imagining the brilliant things that could be happening.  I had a fabulous life in my head but a pretty boring one in reality.

It never quite occurred to me that I needed to do something to get that fabulous life.  Even as an intelligent woman, I assumed a great life would just happen by itself.  Prince Charming would swoop in and sweep me off my feet (luckily being able to find me in my bedroom) and other people would instruct me how to live a full, exciting life.  I was mired in a comfort zone, where I felt safe, but not particularly happy and definitely not fulfilled.

There were two great turning points in my life and both of them were active decisions that I made. I had wanted to dance pretty much my whole life but somehow had always found reasons not to.  Finally, I decided to do it and it changed my life.  Dancing made me fit and strong.  It improved my confidence, my posture and my social life, as I discovered some of the most amazing friendships I could imagine.  It made me happy.  Even at my saddest, I cannot be sad on a dance floor.  But most importantly it made me realise if I wanted something in my life, I had to take the steps necessary to make it happen.

The second came after one of those days where I just felt happy for no reason.  It was a normal work day and yet I floated through it in a bubble of happiness the way you sometimes do.  As I drove home that night I wanted the feeling to last, so I made a commitment to pay more attention to the ‘good’ stuff.  As with dancing, I made an active decision to focus on happy things. To document them, I started my blog.  Every day for a year I found a happy moment to write about.  It wasn’t an easy year; I got very sick, had work issues, and a close family friend was diagnosed with and died of cancer.  But even on the worst, sickest, saddest day, there was something good and noticing it made all the difference.  To this day, I seek out good things, and I pay attention to them, so that I can blog about it later.

None of us get sunshine and roses every day.  I don’t claim to be perpetually happy – there is many a day when tears are shed or I just feel down.  But what I have created for myself is a life where those days are the slim minority and where happiness is my focus.

For me, learning to love the life I live has been about learning to spot the ray of light that makes it through the clouds and focusing on it instead of the gloom.  There is light and happiness in every day, it is up to us to find it.

To read more of Lisa's blog (Which is very fabulous indeed!) visit: