The Ultimate Serenity; Unconditional Self-Love

Self-love isn’t arrogant, selfish or egotistical, it is complete acceptance, caring about and believing in yourself. Laura Putman

Your Key to Joy

Beginning a life of authenticity is a journey to true happiness. Whether there are “others” in your life that expect conformity lovingly or unlovingly, no one’s opinion of you but yours matters. Unconditional love of self is about liberating your individuality with joy and acceptance from head to toe, inside to outside. Unconditional self-love is believing you’re worthy of love and accepting your uniqueness. There is no one like you, so it’s incumbent upon us to bravely and boldly peel away the false front to allow ourselves to be just as we are, that is unconditional self-love. That is the foundation for happy and healthy relationships with yourself and others and that truly transforms your life.

Oh, to love myself

I’m finally completely at peace with who I am, at long last I have confidence with my uniqueness. Even though feeling this way could have happened at any time in my life, I didn’t believe in myself enough to allow it to be. One example of a memorable life experience happened years ago when I took myself out to dinner one evening. I love Irish food and music, so one evening I decided to go to my favorite Irish pub. I was enjoying a delicious meal when things unexpectedly changed. The pub owner (who was from Ireland) pulled up a chair in a corner not far from where I was sitting to sing and entertain the diners with some of his favorite Irish tunes. For some reason he looked directly at me and asked across the room if was dining alone, I felt awkward but I answered yes. He said so you’re having dinner with your best friend. I should have been flattered, but the restaurant was full of diners and I was humiliated that my being alone was pointed out. I was so uncomfortable that as soon as I finished eating I left the restaurant. While that might not seem like much, to me it was devastating and a glaring example of a complete inability to love myself. That was one of the many experiences I had to bring me to where I am now.

Choosing to nurture your well-being

Did you know that when a caterpillar enters the chrysalis stage, their DNA completely transforms as they become a beautiful, amazing butterfly. Your DNA completely changes with self-love reversing the effects of stress, anxiety, self-deprecation and the lack of self-respect. Your brain and DNA are completely transformed with healthy thoughts, shifting from toxic/[prone to disease to healthy/prone to a life of well-being.

“You’re speaking to your genes with every thought you have. The fast growing field of epigenetics is showing that who you are is the product of the things that happen to you in your life, which change the way your genes operate. Genes are actually switched on or off depending on your life experiences, and your genes and lifestyle form a feedback loop. Your life doesn’t alter the genes you were born with. What changes is your genetic activity, meaning the hundreds of proteins, enzymes, and other chemicals that regulate your cells.” Huffpost

How your brain appears with toxic thoughts and with healthy thoughts.
How your DNA appears (LEFT) when you’re stressed and unhappy and when your DNA has recovered when you change your self-perception and ways of thinking (RIGHT).

Build your path to self-love (From Wanderlust.com)

1. Identify Your Why

If you want to make the shift from desiring self-love to embodying self-love, you must be emotionally connected to that journey. Why is self-love important to you? The answer to that question strengthens your ability to seeing it through.

2. Commit

Be 150 percent committed to your journey to self-love. No excuses. Make self-love a major priority in your life and treat it as such. Don’t let anything get in the way of you and your relationship with self.

3. Forgive

How can you expect to move forward in your life if you’re being weighed down by anger and resentment? It’s simple. You can’t. It’s time to forgive. Forgive yourself, and forgive others. You’re not condoning their behavior when you forgive other people for their wrongdoings, you’re simply giving yourself permission to let go and move on. This is a tough step, but a very mandatory one.

4. Take Back Your Power

Drop the victim mentality and take ownership of your life. No more pointing the finger at others or blaming your circumstances. It’s time to own up and take control. The moment you take ownership is the moment you gain back the power to create change.

5. Let go

Let go of anything that is not serving you in the highest good. This includes relationships, friendships, habits… Get rid of all that is holding you back. This step can ignite feelings of loneliness, but that will pass. Replace toxic people with good people; replace destructive habits with good habits.

6. Surround Yourself With Good

Immerse yourself within the company of uplifting people; people who serve you in the highest good. Surround yourself with people who truly love you, support you, and respect you. If you don’t have those people around you, find them. Seek them out and don’t stop until you do.

7. Practice Self-Compassion

Go easy on yourself. Instead of being your toughest critic, be your own best friend. Talk to yourself the way you want to be talked to. Treat yourself the way you want to be treated. And continue to forgive yourself along the way.

8. Take Care of Your Needs

Do what you need to do to take care of your needs yourself. No more waiting for others to fulfill those needs—you can do this. Honor your needs as they arise and don’t push them aside for any excuse.

9. Set Healthy Boundaries

Boundaries are incredibly good for you. They protect your needs and honor your worth. Never hesitate to set healthy boundaries. A tip to help you recognize when a boundary needs to be set is to listen to your intuition. If an interaction feels icky, a line has been crossed. Take that as a sign that you need to set a boundary.

10. Commit to Daily “LoveHabits”

Daily acts of self-love (“LoveHabits”) are a beautiful way to show yourself the love, respect, and level of care that you truly desire. Plus, they make you feel really good. Select LoveHabits that work well for you—habits that feel uplifting, regenerative, and/or energizing. The key is to unapologetically commit to daily LoveHabits.

Self-love is your divine responsibility. When you commit to a deep, loving relationship with self, your entire life will positively shift in the most incredible ways. Follow these 10 steps to cultivate self-love and live a life that truly honors your highest good.

Real life experience

Finally, most people don’t have the capacity to love themselves because they create their lives based on what someone else perceives them to be. This TedX talk is confirmation that self-love and living authentically are creating the best life ever for yourself.

On January 22nd of this year Thich Nhat Hahn left his earthly body, leaving a hole where his spiritual teachings filled many with love, joy and hope. These are his rules for life.

Creating Joy, Nothing is Certain Don’t Skip Sweets

If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I live in the present, I truly believe that nothing is guaranteed so we must live like we don’t know if tomorrow will come so appreciate each day and have some fun.

This post is a bit different from what I usually write about because I don’t typically recommend a specific lifestyle practice. But, one morning I was enjoying a glass of iced tea with a chocolate chip oatmeal cookie I made, I relished the deliciousness and I enjoyed the break. I thought what a simple, versatile practice and anyone can enjoy it, so I decided to put it to “paper”.

Cultivating our own happiness is how we become more resilient and self-reliant. No, we don’t walk around with a smile on our face all of the time, but rather than expecting happiness to come from a person, situation or an event, make yourself happy. Happiness is an inside job that evolves by creating practices that bring joy, a smile and a feeling of pleasure, a sweet or two a day should be one way to celebrate yourself and the day and there are benefits.

About Desserts: from Szandra Szabó, Model, Pastry Chef and Business Woman

They elevate your mood
Have you ever wondered why your mood goes from drab to fab the moment you sink your teeth into a gooey chocolate cake or a chimney cake straight out of the oven? This is because desserts, specifically the sugar in the desserts, causes your brain to release endorphins such as serotonin. These hormones are responsible for making you feel happy, cheerful and calm.

Sugar reduces stress
Sugar is a great stress reliever. So, if you sometimes feel like life, work or school is bogging you down, eating a dessert can surely help you manage some of the stress. How does that happen, you may ask? Well, it has been found that sugar brings down cortisol levels to a certain degree (cortisol is the stress hormone). Although eating desserts or sugar is not a long-term solution for stress, it can give you some momentary respite.

They are a great pick-me-up.
A lot of people eat desserts when they want to reward themselves. Sweet treats offer a great pick-me-up. So, if you choose to eat a dessert after a particularly stressful week, it will instantly make you experience a sense of contentment and satisfaction.

Confections are a part of my daily routine, they are satisfying and enjoyable and prompt pleasant memories of childhood. To assure that I have the best experience, all of my sweets are homemade, with the exception of ice cream, because I use healthier ingredients and adjust the sugar. Irrespective if I eat sweets with a meal or sometime during the day, it’s an enjoyable experience that I savor, whether I have something simple like fresh fruit, breakfast sweets, a piece of chocolate or a baked good.

While your brain only accounts for 2 percent of your body weight, it uses 50 percent of the sugar energy in your body. Your brain loves sugar! Why does it love sugar? Because sugar releases dopamine in the nucleus accumbens, the part of your brain linked to reward, novelty and motivation. Dopamine is an important neurotransmitter that plays a key role in controlling emotional responses. In fact, not only does it help us visualize the rewards, but it also enables us to take the action we need to achieve the reward. In addition to releasing dopamine in the brain, sugar also releases endogenous opioids. These are responsible for the wonderful surge of pleasure you feel when you eat a piece of candy. Warrell Creations

Eat Dessert First: Why It’s a Good Idea from David and Carla Hays/Mary’s Fine Dining

Whether it’s cheesecake or coconut pie, most desserts have a fair amount of fat. Too much fat isn’t good for you, but a little fat with a meal serves a useful purpose – it helps you absorb fat-soluble vitamin and nutrients better. Fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamin A, D, E, and K, can’t do their jobs if they aren’t adequately absorbed from the digestive tract. Other nutrients such as the carotenoids in green, leafy vegetables and sweet potatoes also need fat for best absorption.

That’s where eating dessert first comes in. Taking a few bites of dessert before eating your vegetables helps you absorb vitamins and nutrients better – and that’s a good thing when it comes to your health.

I thought I’d share a recipe from one of my mom’s old cookbooks that I’ve enjoyed for years, it can be eaten anytime of the day.

Finnish Pancake: (4-6 servings)

Image Courtesy of JoCooks

This is a delightful custardy, souffle-like baked pancake that melts in your mouth, topped with honey or confectioners sugar and fresh fruit, it is delicious. Make sure when you remove it from the oven, you eat it immediately as it falls as it cools. (NOTE: If making for yourself, cut the ingredients in half, but must be eaten immediately)

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 1/2 cups of milk or half and half
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 4 Tablespoons of butter

Preheat oven to 425o. Put an oven-proof 10-12 inch high sided frying pan in the oven for about 10 minutes to preheat. Combine the flour with milk, whisk until smooth, add eggs, honey and salt, whisk all together. Remove the pan from the oven, put the butter in the pan, when its melted, carefully pour the batter into the pan and bake for about 25 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Thank you for stopping by.

Your purpose isn’t what you do, but who you become, while doing it. ~ Matt Kahn

How Transcending Your Thoughts Will Help Reach Peace of Mind

“Inner peace refers to a state of being mentally and spiritually at peace, with enough knowledge and understanding to keep oneself strong in the face of stress”(Barua, 2014)

For your listening pleasure

I completely and utterly believe that attaining peace of mind will open the door for you to be your authentic self. When we connect with all of the parts that make up who we are through stillness, we hear and feel our inner voice. The one part of us that we’ve been taught to suppress.

Inner peace isn’t easy to accomplish, it takes time, focus and dedication to stop the “monkey-mind” thoughts that are constantly churning through our brain. I am very aware of my constant thoughts, I work at ways to bypass the tendency for my brain to derail my peace of mind. I began working toward stilling my mind about eleven years ago, I am still working at it, the effort toward calm and peace is ongoing. There is no magic wand to whisk those thoughts away, it is up to you to be in control of what your thoughts are about.

Suggested Method to Stop Unwelcome Thoughts:

  • This is what I do, when you notice unwanted thoughts intruding into your peace of mind, bring yourself into the moment by redirecting your thoughts, I am grateful for (whatever you choose to be grateful for) I am okay, and keep repeating until the thoughts pass.

There are important reasons to attain peace of mind. It is a source for improved health, creativity, a natural state of calm, even in the presence of turmoil you’ll be able to gain control of the direction of your thoughts. We all have a choice as to how we allow our mind to think, it is up to us to make the choice toward a better life.

An important part of a journey toward inner peace and happiness is modifying lifestyle practices. The areas in life that cause a mind to continuously focus on negative and unhealthy thoughts is something that we have control of. We all have the power to choose how we want to feel and how our life should be, it is a matter of going beyond habitual behaviors that we’ve adapted to. Of course it’s not easy, but when something is worthy of our time and commitment the rewards are life changing.

My Continual Journey to Peace of Mind

I am currently faced with a personal predicament, I’ve realized I am distrustful based on past situations and somewhat cynical. In my way of believing distrust and cynical thoughts contribute to cyclical thoughts that disrupt my peace of mind. Up until recently I thought cynicism was wrong, then I discovered the philosophy of cynicism, I find it quite interesting:

Cynicism (Ancient Greek: κυνισμός) is a school of thought of ancient Greek philosophy as practiced by the Cynics (Ancient Greek: Κυνικοί; Latin: Cynici). For the Cynics, the purpose of life is to live in virtue, in agreement with nature. … Instead, they were to lead a simple life free from all possessions.

So, now knowing this I can begin to address my thoughts more productively and instead of struggling, I can agree with the cynic within me.

Several years ago I spent my time worrying, following the media, allowing work and life challenges to control my thoughts, I made myself miserable. When it came time to go to sleep, I would relive my entire day or plan the next; my sleep was interrupted all night. Between the tensions of the day and lack of sleep I was exhausted all of the time, leading to health problems, an inability to focus and I always felt conflicted. There weren’t any specific incidents or events that made me take a step back to modify the path I was on, I just realized I could change the way I thought and feel better. I began with meditation and found other natural ways to stop the frenzy that made my life so difficult. It hasn’t been easy to change old habits but gaining control of my thoughts is vital to my serenity and happiness. Now, I focus on bypassing problem thoughts and habits when they show up, over time I’ve become better at catching myself falling back into old lifestyle practices, bring myself into the current moment and replace unhealthy thoughts.

The mind isn’t going to stop thinking. The goal of mindfulness isn’t to suppress thinking, but to surpass it. Stephanie Vozza

Your Journey to Stillness

I’d like to suggest meditation, I know that this suggestion is a problem for many, but it’s a simple way that can be done almost anywhere. Rather than sit in a room and try to force your mind to go blank, here’s a secret that may help steer you in the right direction. As you begin practicing, don’t try to quiet your mind, instead go outside and concentrate on the sounds of nature or listen to beautiful instrumental music, practice Tai Chi, listen to the movement of water or spend time on a hobby that you enjoy. There are many forms of meditation, there is even a walking meditation.

Life is a journey. Enjoy a little peace of mind on your path toward your destination.

As the late Wayne Dyer said, “Change your thoughts, change your life”.

Finding inner peace is not enough. The topping is keeping it. Jacqueline T. Hill

Stillness has numerous benefits, it allows more creativity, more ideas, more connection with your soul, reducing drama and unnecessary conflict. Remember, thoughts focused on the past (which you cannot change), worry (which changes nothing), situations out of your control (do what you can to find ways to make a difference instead), your body not only hears everything you think, but the inner workings of your body respond to stress with illness. Stillness and calm can create a level of energy that supports better emotional and physical health, you’ll gain clarity, make wise choices and remain in the present moment.

“If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place. As soon as you honor the present moment, unhappiness and struggle will dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease. When you act out of the present moment awareness, whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care and love – even the most simple action.” – Eckhart Tolle

Self-Care Has Never Been More Essential

“When we care for ourselves as our very own beloved—with naps, healthy food, clean sheets, a lovely cup of tea—we can begin to give in wildly generous ways to the world, from abundance. —Anne Lamott, author

Since 2020 there have been so many uncommon adversities that we’ve all had to deal with that self-care which was once dismissed as a luxury should now be considered a vital daily practice. It takes effort to feel tranquil, balanced and collected which happens when we create practices to care for ourselves. Self-care is a very personal and intentional practice of improving our physical and mental health.

I believe in leading by example, so I’ll share my recent journey of introducing self-care into my daily practices, hopefully it will inspire you. Since I’ve healed from my self-created back injury, I’ve taken time to reflect on how I was thinking and why I was filling my days with a rigid agenda and unreachable ideals. To change that I knew I had to take some serious steps. So, starting that week I began spending more time doing things I used to consider luxuries. Since then I’ve added an assortment of simple and doable self-care practices and so far I’m more aware, tranquil and really enjoy each day. I can now say without a doubt that I am happier than I’ve been in a very long time. Even though the chaos continues in the outside world, there are ways to soothe and pamper ourselves that I believe can only make us a better person for ourselves and those around us.

If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete. Jack Kornfield

If you’re ready to begin your journey, start by carving time into each day to indulge your five senses with purposeful self-care. There is no wrong way in doing self-care, the list I created below are my ideas, you can create from this or create your own ways of pampering yourself. Caring for yourself doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated, this is just about finding simple ways to give attention to yourself. Practicing self-care is about doing something for yourself that evokes positive emotions. I sincerely believe that if we feel good and are at peace, we can bring that into everything we do. And if for no other reason, Adam Feldman says, “Self-care also helps us sharpen our mental and physical health through better self-esteem, stress management, and overall well-being.”

Luxury at Home – Nurture Yourself

  • Get plenty of sleep, when you can, turn off your alarm
  • Spend time with your pet(s)
  • Have a good cry
  • Take time when eating to enjoy the taste of the food, savor the joy of nourishing your body
  • Scented or unscented candles and flowers can make any room feel special
  • Set some time aside to read a funny story, watch videos or shows that make you laugh out loud
  • Enjoy a midday break, treat yourself to enjoyable refreshments
  • Make your shower or bath luxurious by using a special soap, scented lotion, include items to slough your skin, play music, use soft lighting, have live plants and super soft towels
  • Give yourself spa treatments, a manicure or pedicure, a facial treatment, a foot massage, a footbath, or a soothing body massage,
  • Spend some quiet time reading, meditating or writing
  • Take a leisurely walk
  • Read a book
  • Educate yourself on something you’re interested in
  • Declutter, add live plants, some pictures or colorful items to lift yourself
  • Take some time to appreciate yourself, compliment yourself, it’s a healthy and simple thing to do that will lift your spirits
  • Set time aside to do nothing
  • Make an indulgent meal, something that you might usually have for a special occasion
  • Plate your meal for presentation as you’d receive it in a fine dining restaurant
  • Use linen spray in a scent you love
  • Enjoy time in nature
  • Rub CBD oil where you may have aches
  • Put on comfortable Loungewear
  • Take a nap

True luxury is being able to own your time – to be able to take a walk, sit on your porch, read the paper, not take the call, not be compelled by obligation. Ashton Kutcher

The following lists are from Alastin Skin Care

The Psychological Benefits of Self-Care

  • Reduces feelings of anxiety and anger
  • Reduces instances and feelings of depression
  • Improves your thought life and direct it to more positive things
  • Increases your sense of optimism and hopefulness
  • Reduces negative thoughts and feelings
  • Changes your mood from bad to good
  • Helps you build stronger connections with yourself and others
  • Increases your self-awareness and ability to self-reflect
  • Helps you respond better to challenges
  • Increases your patience and tamp down on a short fuse
  • Increases your focus and productivity (so you can do all the things!

The Wellness Benefits of Self-Care

  • You’ll sleep better
  • You’ll strengthen your immune system
  • Your relationships will improve
  • Better finances
  • You’ll be able to think clearly and refocus
  • You’ll freely and copiously give more of yourself

“Practicing self-care can help you sleep better, improve focus, and strengthen relationships. That positive daily routine can support a happier, healthier outlook so you can enjoy the good times, too.” findyourwords.com

Thank you for reading my post, I sincerely appreciate your taking the time.

Our Legacy, How Many Hearts Will We Touch?

It’s easy to get caught up in day to day life and forget about the memories we will leave behind, The sudden death of a photographer who recently shared his wisdom with me gave me pause to reflect on the fragility of life. Even though I didn’t know the man personally, my memories of him are of a magnificent photographer, a kind person who enjoyed what he did; and that he loved and appreciated his life. His passing triggered a journey into reflecting on my legacy and reminded me of how essential it is to be more mindful of the way we live, no matter the circumstances we are faced with. When we do depart this earthly life, it will not be the material possessions or money we leave but how we were as a person that will be etched in the minds of anyone we engaged with forever.

Reflecting upon the upending events of this year, I believe we’ve been given an opportunity or a silver lining in the midst of all of this to transition to a simpler, less frantic life and given more time to take stock of who we are and if we’re living as authentically as we can.

Consider setting some time aside to think about the legacy you want to leave behind: explore the recollections, narratives and reminiscences that will remain in the minds and hearts of those lives you touched and your contribution to future generations.

The Spirit of Aloha, More Than Hello or Goodbye

What I’ve done over the past several years when I am in a difficult or unusual situation is turn my attention to positive activities to reduce stress and to make my life more enjoyable.

While the world is in chaos, it is a great time to practice self-love, compassion and kindness. Years ago I discovered that the word Aloha means more than hello and goodbye it is a way of life philosophy:

“Aloha is a way of living and treating each other with love and respect. Its deep meaning starts by teaching ourselves to love our own beings first and afterwards to spread the love to others.

“When you live the Spirit of Aloha, you create positive feelings and thoughts, which are never gone. They exist in space, multiply and spread over to others.” (from the state of Hawaii website)

Live in a State of Love, Laura

Living in a Harmonious Society, Lessons from Ancient Egypt

 

 

In ancient Egypt, the more good deeds you did, the lighter your heart became. If your heart was not light, you could not board Ra’s board and sail away into your Afterlife.  Lin Dunn, Ancient Egypt for Kids

This quote explains how ancient Egyptian’s knew that practicing selfless good deeds, living in harmony within their community and remembering that what they did and how they treated others was the ticket to a happy transition when the time came for them to leave this earth plane. While that may appear to be selfish, in truth, it was simply a way of life and a value system that was and is handed down from one generation to the next.

Today, In Cairo as well as major cities in Egypt, a large number of old Egyptian traditions remain from the time of the Pharaohs, and contrast with pure tribal customs brought in by many invaders throughout the centuries. UNESCO

How do you view the human existence?  How do you see the relationship between humanity and nature? What do you think you can do to be more in alignment and harmony with nature and your fellow-man?

I think we can all agree that we are living in very turbulent times, chaos seems to be the dominating factor everywhere we turn. From warring countries to road rage, the world seems to be at a point where it’s clear that we have to find another way to live or humanity will disappear. This is where living mindfully is successful because it’s about being thoughtful, kind, compassionate, observant and knowing that outside events and experiences are not the guideposts for your life, but living consciously within our community to create a harmonious existence is.

From everything I’ve learned over years of research and reading, if we go back in time to a wise and experienced society like the Egyptians, through a change in belief, we can implement harmony, collaboration and cooperation. While the ancients may have had an occasional war with their neighbors; within their society balance reigned. If there were any internal uprisings, they were settled with negotiation or conformity until something changed in order to maintain peace.

One major reason for their success was the common but strong belief in a wonderful life after death. It was not an absolute, it had to be earned, the belief was so strong that all levels of society conducted themselves to assure a safe passage to the afterlife.

I’m not suggesting that everyone believe in life after death, I am suggesting that if we all believed in living in harmony with nature and the balance it can bring, we would effectively be changing the way we interact with each other. Ancient Egyptians were extremely intelligent, their engineering accomplishments are far superior to those we’ve seen in the 21st century.  If they were wise and quick-witted enough to conduct a harmonious social life, settle grievances through a spirit of reciprocation and recognize the vital links between humans, nature and the divine, then so can we.

So what changes can we make?  Of course, the world wasn’t populated the way it is now when the ancients were alive, but in my way of seeing things, change happens one person at a time.  If we choose to embrace a healthy respect for nature, mindfulness and cooperation and live that wherever we go, we can eventually recreate the same kind of world the ancient Egyptians lived in.

For instance, I recently learned that one American rancher achieved more success and connection with his community by leaving commercial ranching behind to create his own compassionate, natural and humane ranch. By following his inner guidance, he inspired many other ranchers to do the same. In another instance, a gentleman who owns a small successful farm, founded a farming coop to help his community maintain their small farms rather than try to fight each other or large commercial farms. This happened because the founder was determined to continue to do what he loved and he knew the community he lived in wanted to do the same, forging social harmony and aligning with nature.

In my life, I moved into a situation where there was stress, conflict and tension between roommates. The love, compassion and balanced approach to situations I’ve brought has changed everything, one roommate even remarked that I am a miracle. We can all be and bring a miracle to effect harmony and live in tune with nature if we let go of the old way of doing things by creating harmony and peace with just our presence.

Ancient Egyptians believed the purpose of life was to nourish the seeds of the divine within us all, they revered the natural world. It is happening slowly as more and more people are coming to understand that we are all linked. People are realizing that life is better for everyone if we live more naturally and are more aware of the vital role we play in caring for nature and each other. I believe It is the only way humanity is going to survive and progress.

Perhaps the greatest lesson to be learnt from the wisdom of sacred traditions is also the
simplest; to honor creation by nurturing a kinship with nature. UNESCO

Nature has life all figured out, we just have to understand her and live in harmony with it. Thank you for reading my post, I appreciate your time.

Competition, Thief of Joy

Life for us has become an endless succession of contests. From the moment the alarm clock rings until sleep overtakes us again, from the time we are toddlers until the day we die, we are busy struggling to outdo others. This is our posture at work and at school, on the playing field and back at home. It is the common denominator of American life. Alfie Kohn

The title of this blog almost sounds like a misnomer because the majority of the human race thinks of competition as sports, games, fun, winning a medal or a trophy and as being a winner.  How can competition rob us of the enjoyment and pleasure we feel when it appears to bestow us with a high of being number one.

But, I ask that you think back throughout your life whenever you were involved in anything competitive, how did you feel when someone else won?

I’ve reflected on competition for a long time especially when the biggest and most well-known competition, the Olympics began.  I don’t watch the games but I realized that there are only a handful of “winners” and there are hundreds of people who no one hears about, people who didn’t place or win who worked just as hard as the few on top. People are mesmerized for two weeks with the glamour of the entertainment and energy of the games, but once they’re over, it’s all forgotten as we get on with our lives.  Interestingly, all of the people participating spend most of their lives focused on training and preparing to win and for that one big moment, then it’s over.  The winners stand on the podium and are handed a medal and the world applauds.  There is monetary gain for only a small percentage of the athletes who are given an opportunity for endorsements, the rest are forgotten and go back to their lives. Do we ever hear about or know how those who didn’t win feel or how their life went afterward?

Through my research,  I’ve learned that cooperation not competition is our natural state of being.  We aren’t born hostile with the intention of bringing someone else down, that behavior is handed down from one generation to the next. We unnaturally push ourselves to best someone because we’re taught that being a winner is the best.  But, in truth, competition is filled with selfishness while we hope for the downfall of others, it is filled with anxiety, stress and pressure. Once we start down the road of winning, once is never enough, it almost becomes necessary for our confidence and self-esteem, putting us in a constant state competitive power.

Emerging research shows that competition is deleterious in many ways.

  • With children, competition serves to dissolve self-confidence and spread self-doubt, even among frequent winners who learn to become dependent on external sources of validation.
  • Among adults, competition leads directly to hostility and greed, both of which are the enemies of progress.

If we want to advance our society and ourselves, we must learn that competition is not the path to victory — cooperation is. Tiffany Rowe

I’m  not competitive by nature, when playing games, I enjoy the process more than who wins or loses.  Putting that in context, for me the journey in any competition is more rife with tools to learn, skill building and enjoyment.

There are many tribal societies that thrive on cooperative living and have endured for centuries.  Competition as a whole encourages greed, betrayal, to be better than others, the importance of being a winner, the lack of compassion, cooperation and most of all an absence of kindness. Competition is toxic in relationships, in business, education, in all of life. There is no benefit when someone feels inferior, lacks self-confidence, is depressed or believes they aren’t good enough. I believe it is time to instill cooperation and encourage each other to be the best person we can be.

The  result of competition is radical climate change, biological and nuclear warfare, rampant habitat destruction, water shortages, and extremes in global wealth and poverty. Louise Palmer

Cooperation is beneficial not to a few but to everyone, here are some of the advantages:

  1. Cooperative Play – A bond is formed when challenge, discovery and success is shared by everyone.
  2.  Cooperative Learning and Work –  When we compete whether at work or in school, we are invested in ourselves and what will benefit us without giving thought to anyone else, we consider everyone our rival.  But, when we cooperate, we support and help each other, giving each individual value and respect. Rather than striving to be number one, the intention is that everyone succeed, it shifts us away from greed, selfishness, aggression, anger and hurt feelings. Cooperation creates an environment of unity, openness, honesty and trust.
  3. Cooperative Activities for our Well-Being  – Competition causes enormous stress, anxiety, hostility, embarrassment and tension, can you imagine the state of our health? Cooperative activities create an atmosphere of play, relaxation and enjoying ourselves without judgment, the foundation for healthy and playful fun.

I’d like to conclude with this very powerful quote:

We destroy the love of learning in children, which is so strong when they are small, by encouraging and compelling them to work for petty and contemptible rewards–gold stars, or papers marked 100 and tacked to the wall, or A’s on report cards, or honor rolls, or dean’s lists, or Phi Beta Kappa keys–in short, for the ignoble satisfaction of feeling that they are better than someone else.  John Holt

Thank you, I appreciate your time.

Laura