There are so many things we learn and live by from our parents. And from Mom, she gave me her 5 most valuable beliefs about people and life.
In my case, it was my mother who shared her thoughts with me because I’ve only ever had one conversation with my father before I was 45 years old (the ‘condom’ talk) – so Mom was my teacher.
I had many embarrassing convos with Mom (some I won’t share, lol), but other than those, Mom sprinkled her wisdom into my life in many different ways over many, many years.
What I loved most about Mom:
She was a straight-shooter and to the point, so I knew if I wanted to know ‘the way it is’, she was the one to go and get advice. She didn’t mess around with muddying up the lesson with emotional drama or excuses – like I said – just like an unpire (and she loooooooved baseball – Go Jays!).
A point about her opinions and parenting: when I say ‘the way it is’, I am referring to her existential way of looking at life. She wasn’t an emotional person (and she passed that down to me, drats!), and I think she saw the fakery and illusion life can dish out. She didn’t say ‘the way I see it‘ or some other attachment, she ‘gave it to me straight’. There was a strange humility about her because she never really acknowledged her wisdom because she was never aware of her own expertise based on her personal Life Lessons.
She once said to me (as she said to many) as she gave her opinion on her racism (and she was proud of her humour in it):
“I’m not a racist, I hate everyone equally!”
Anyways, back to my point of this post.
She was cynical about life too. She learned, saw, and did enough living in the big city (Toronto, Canada) to get a taste of everything urban life can offer. Like most others around her (especially her friends), they were of the same general opinion about life.
Personally, I think some people liked being around her because she spoke for them – for their frustrations, venting, saying something when it needed to be said. Like I said earlier – she is a straight-shooter, and (like I picked up from her) she didn’t care who the person was thay may have been doing something that wasn’t Ethical, Legal, or Moral – she was going to say something. She had a saying for it, but I’m getting too old to remember it now, lol.
5 FACTS OF LIFE
I LEARNED FROM MOM
1 – Everybody WANTS something.
- She was the one who gave me my first “Sales” training. She didn’t know it; but in sales, they call it “WII-FM” (no, not a radio station). That acronym stands for “What’s In It For Me”.
- That’s why marketers are very good at having our average family debt currently at about 165% of income.
2 – Most (if not all) people have ‘something going on’.
- Mom saw this cynical side of people a hundred times over. For example, I remember her telling me about all the things she saw at “Maple Leaf Gardens” which was rotten, in her opinion “from Harold Ballard all the way to the basement”. But she loved working at the former Toronto shrine at Carlton and Church.
- In her own many travels and adventures she shared with me, she explained how reciprocation worked and the role it played in life. She practiced it even at home (though we kids weren’t cognizant at the time) – and it was always a reason not to trust someone.
- The scheming of ‘something going on’ is the need for a return of the effort/favour/thing you bestowed upon another. A lot of the time, it was an unspoken and understood way of being towards expectations in others.
3 – Everyone looks for the easy way.
- “People tend to be lazy and they don’t expect much from you. Put the extra effort in and you could do anything.”
- She held those views in another rational explanation into why it was easy to impress others (“baffle them with your brilliance or boggle them with your bullshit”).
- Don’t become THEM. “Keep working harder – this mark of ‘A’ is not enough – I want an A+!”
4 – Everybody is afraid.
- If you looked up the word “persistence” in the dictionary, you would see a picture of Mom next to it.
- Mom knew that everyone was afraid of losing something (a personal thing). She used threats against systems, businesses, relationships, and every other part of her life where she may have felt oppressed, experiencing a threat to her dignity, and/or finances.
- In large conflicts with systems and businesses, she often won her issue on the basis that she knew how to fight the battle.
- Fear plays a big role in life – that’s what I was taught – just not in those words or as eloquent.
5 – Everybody NEEDS something.
- Mom believed, for the most part, that we are all in this huge struggle – and we are all in it together. If she was political, she’d probably be a NDPer (the left in Canada) or a Democrat (in America).
- Not only in her life-long critcal battle with health issues (emphasema killed her), she realized that was small compared to the massive number of needs everybody has.
- She weighed much of her opinion of friendship and other relationships on need. Not overt – but still there.
- Funny thing – she knew Maslow’s Theory and yet she never studied him or heard of his Needs hierarchy.
“My rant against the bias towards Disabilities”
I swore that I would,
if only I could
change my life completely around.
From many time of trying,
I’m now used to the dying
when you tell me my mind is not sound.
I look in your face,
vainly search for a trace
that makes me want to believe.
I’ve heard it before,
and I’ve come to abhor
your labels designed to deceive.
Your smiles are crooked,
and your posture does show it
there’s something amiss in our sharing.
Thinking you know,
I’m not status quo
without ability for the Daring.
My abilities – yes different,
my mind – most competent
seeking out dreams – just like you.
I certainly can’t,
and most definitely won’t
humble myself for you.
Disabled you call me,
Unable you see me
But I don’t fit your profile.
I make no transgression,
I work at discretion –
your feigned ignorance reviled.
Scandalous at times,
most shameful, poisoned minds
your integrity completely lost.
Stolen power is yours
knowing patience wears,
at attempts to create trust.
Challenges – indeed,
I still look to succeed
not discouraged from daily falling.
Strength I am gaining,
towards living my personal calling.
Chasing My Dream,
Life begins to redeem
and is giving me freedom to live.
I refuse to give up,
I’ll keep getting up
I refuse to be held in captive.
I pass now to you,
a chance to renew
your desired belief in another.
I willingly stand,
to help you understand
we are, after all, here for each other.
(c) 2013 Kevin Collins
What is (Life) Purpose?
This may be the second most important personal, intimate, and profound question we all face in humankind just behind “What is the meaning of life?” and just before “What is Freedom?”. And it is most likely same the reasons it is the most difficult to answer. It takes a lot of work just to consider what it actually IS before we even consider HOW to Live with Purpose. All the more reason (especially in these times of short attention spans) to not consider our Life Purpose – it’s a lot of hard work – brain work – thinking.
Our access to this personal question is openly available to anyone who can understand our existence (we know that we are humans on the planet for less than 100 years). It is not so openly to those of us who are not aware of even this particular paradigm of life.
Life Purpose is being in control of our life. It’s knowing that we will be doing the same thing forever – in some way or another. LP is the reason for waking in the morning.
Purpose is creative. Imagination comes from looking outside the ordinary and mundane and envisioning another way of expression. Purpose is inventive and sees new possibility in things. Purpose is curiosity and always asking ‘why’. These are not things that we learn or practice like a skill. It is an internal process within each and every one of us.
We can decide this way of living for ourselves; but often for most of us, it is decided for us because we gave up option of deciding a long time ago.
The Meaning of our Life Purpose (LP) is …
… based on feelings, both physical and emotional.
It is a sensation inside our body and mind >> a collision course of creativity and curiosity. It’s a scientific and medical action that takes place in our bodies that we tag with a meaning or a name.
These feelings are found in a lot of things we do over our lifetimes. Feelings are important because they provide the snapshot of memories (both good and bad) that left an impression on our lives. These feelings may then end up being connected to doing something great, and we loved it, people around us loved it, and it was something that we felt was a genuine contribution to life.
With those feelings, which we want to replicate forever, we end up making stories about ourselves. Stories about our abilities, desires, obligations, family, competency, and any other description that would give us reasons NOT to follow through on our desires.
Nobody else can decide or define it for us. It is personal – DEEPLY personal to a point where we may not even share these feelings with anybody else – not even our families and spouses.
We decide as individuals what our own LP is and means to us.
The quest to discover our LP is an Internal Process with an External measurement.
While the issue of our Life Purpose is not always apparent to everyone at all times, it’s there for all of us. It’s already inside of us waiting to be expressed to the world. Waiting for us to ‘release the hounds’ of our secret desires. But, before we can even consider the thought of seeking our own personal LP, we have to complete other necessary psychological and social tasks to be ready for the inquiry of the mind.
First thing, we have to complete other necessary sociological processes in our lives. Have we tried things we liked and excelled – only to realize it is only ‘hobby-worthy’? Have we taken any risks to seek out our LP? Have we looked back on our lives to find any strings of similarity?
How do we KNOW it’s Our LP?
When we have found our LP, we instinctively know already that it is found. Again, as I said earlier, it is something we decide – so it is a result where we know unequivocally that our life (and the lives around us) is lit up with joy and excitement. That’s one of the great payoffs – everyone benefits.
Some ways the feelings express themselves are in the nature of who we are being. Sometimes, our thoughts can be obsessive and overwhelming. Scary! (That may be why we shy away from further inquiry – the fear factor!)
Another good hint of our purpose is when other people tell us we ‘should get into’ or ‘be’ something that we’ve just gloriously and happily demonstrated. They don’t understand why we don’t do it professionally and make lot’s of money doing what is fun. Sometimes, other people can see it before we can – sorta like bad habits.
“Getting a feeling of your Life Purpose is like
having great sex for the first time.
Once we’ve experienced it,
We spend the rest of our life trying to duplicate the feeling.”
Living within our LP is a difficult proposition to consider because …
Probably the most difficult to seek and achieve, LP remains elusive to most because it involves 2 sides of our humanity at the same time:
1 – our individual Way of Being (Thinking):
– it colours our way of seeing the world and the perspective we have on it
– based on how we feel about ourselves
– being comfortable with who we are
2 – our individual Way of Doing (Acting):
– based on how we feel the world perceives us as individuals
– the expression of what we are thinking about the world
– it requires us to live with ethical and moral values
It takes a lot of conviction, courage, patience, and personal understanding to even consider the possibility of living a Life with Purpose. Worse still, there are a million reasons/excuses for not seeking our LP that let us off the hook.
It’s always someone else’s fault. And we end up at the end of our lives saying we ‘coulda, shoulda, woulda.”
Sadly, we miss the fact that it is really the fear and discomfort we are avoiding that is really taking place in our hearts. Besides, who deserves to feel this good in life (and get paid for it, too)?
Next posting …
Why is having a Life Purpose is important to us.
See you next time,
When I tell someone it is possible to live life with Freedom from Fear, an interesting look comes over their face. They twist their mouth and raise an eyebrow as if to say, “Yeah, sure … right – like I’m afraid”.
Yet, I can also sense they know exactly what I am talking about, when a moment later they look at me with this look of confusion as they ponder the possibility with wonder and concern. (I’d like to know what’s going through their mind, lol)
(Actually, this happens a lot when I talk about things I’m not supposed to talk about – especially with guys!)
In this post, I will share with you some of my insights that can lead to possibilities to actually do what many of us see as impossible: Living Without Fear. I’ll include a couple of examples to make the point (so, I hope it doesn’t get too long).
Before we continue with this discussion, let’s recap what I asserted so far about fear:
______ . ______
Fear is NOT REAL
It is just a LABEL we give to a FEELING IN OUR BODY (adrenalin)
OurMISTAKEN PERCEPTION of Fear can be changed
We call the feeling Fear if the moment it happens is a real or perceived threat, and
we call the feeling Excitement if the moment is pleasurable and exciting.
We can pick and choose either – OR NEITHER.
Fear is based on FALSE past memories
The interpretations of the feelings of fear can change over time just as the memory.
We CAN live WITHOUT Fear
Fear is only a STATE OF MIND.
All it takes is Awareness.
There is no work involved.
______ . ______
Some Great Benefits To Living Without Fear
It changes our life beyond anything we could imagine.
While the changes are subtle at first, over time we begin to see a fantastic shift in our lives.
We not only transform our experience of life by the way we approach the outside world (and the colourful mosaic of individual differences), but the internal personal experience of our essence becomes magical because we have a better understanding of ourselves.
We become “intimate with ourselves and become closer with others”
We no longer have to live the feelings of having to do things for all the wrong reasons.
Once we peel away the layers of excuses we make up about NOT doing things we really want to do, we then realize the deep-seated fears that rule our lives rear their ugly head and expose themselves for what they are: Just a feeling I am mistakenly labelling fear!
Consider this: Compare what we do for ourself personally and what we do with our money – and see if you take the same care. With our money, we know we are taking risk regardless of what we are doing with it (even spending it). When we make large financial decisions, we feel the adrenalin rush and it gets us a little excited (or scared as heck, lol). After all, we are taking risk. But what we do next (if we are doing our due diligence), we do our research and maybe hire an expert for advice. As we become more confident with information, the thought about our bodily feeling changes as the adrenalin rush (or the memory of it) dissapates.
This is what happens: As we get to the bottom of information and strip away the perceived risks (that challenge our fears), we realize we can make well-founded decisions with confidence instead of fear.
We experience no more feelings of inadequacy.
We can pursue hobbies, career directions, activities, and opportunities we truly enjoy and are good at performing because it truly lights us up – WE CAN’T FEEL BAD – it’s impossible because we enjoy what we are doing.
For example: Instead of hiding your tiny art studio and work in your basement corner as a dirty little secret, you can take a risk (lol) and decide to show it publicly. You decide to show at the local community centre; and lo and behold, someone actually makes an offer on a piece. Another person invites you to show at the local artisan show. Once there, you then get another buyer for a piece and you meet 3 great people to chum around with and talk art.
This is what happens: Getting outside your head and shell, you finally express yourself and experience the rush of just having someone look at and appreciate your art work. The sales are bonus, and the new art friends are invaluable and allows you to stretch your imagination and boundaries.
Other people in our lives become more interesting and alive.
Because we know people live with their fears (just as we do ourselves), we can be more understanding and compassionate towards them. Conversations become easier to have with strangers because we know they are behaving out of their fears.
For example: A young man stands in the corner alone at a community social. You see him and imagine his possible fears (as well as the look on his face) and given the knowledge you now have about people and their fears, you can understand that he is so gripped with his fear within themselves, he cannot even talk to someone. Maybe he doesn’t want to sound silly, or say something wrong, or appear aloof. Sounds like a number of different possible fears, huh? And he feels like that just like we’ve all been at one time or another. You realize he could probably use a friend right now.
This is what happens: After speaking with the young man, you find out he is a fledgling artist and lives with his sick grandmother. He can’t go out much, so he is house-bound as well. You realize you know someone who could use an artist to do some web design. You link them up; and some months later, you find out he is able to get homecare assistance for his grandmother and is now enrolled at art school to take a program on web design – something he always wanted to do.
______ . ______
Some Downsides To Living Without Fear
It goes without saying that there are some downsides to this new way of thinking and being. But these are usually temporary and the best thing that ever happened to us (in hindsight).
1 – People are going to see a change in us right away >> and they may not like it.
They were used to us cowering, or fighting back, or screaming, or crying. Certainly not someone more confident and relaxed. You are not reacting any more. And deep down, they know the fear is gone – and that changes everything. Then we quickly see them show true colours or their true expression of their own fears.
2 – Another thing to notice as we release Fear in our life is that we may take Risk less seriously.
Risk is what makes the world go ‘round, but that doesn’t mean we could just throw away caution to the wind. Some fears are real and require the proper investigation before taking action.
This EXTREMELY IMPORTANT downside to Living Without Fear
is probably the reason why we have people do reckless and dangerous things (especially among young people). And again, it is not always apparent – but I have deep and strong suspicions. I believe it happens immediately and ends up sinking deeply inside our memories.
The worst downside:
When we confuse or mistaken
the feeling of the adrenalin rush
Here are some examples:
Someone may drive home drunk one night and is scared of getting caught. After a couple of times (and it doesn’t take long to imprint the memory) of not getting caught despite the feeling of fear, s/he decides (for some reason) that it is actually exciting to be breaking the law and not get caught.
After a few more times, the excitement causes him/her to take more and more in order to re-create the feeling again. The progression of risk keeps getting higher and becomes a habit until something tragic happens.
Someone is living in debt and is scared of losing everything. Deciding on fixing the problem by going to the Casino, s/he is getting an incredible feeling of the adrenalin activated because of the risk. Once inside and gambling, the feeling gets stronger as you maintain hope of escaping the fear of poverty.
Then s/he wins a couple, and all of a sudden, the feelings of joy are connected with winning – and boy does it feel good. Eventually, the risk associated with the feeling is exciting and escalating and we want to re-live it again and again – so regardless of the outcome at the end of the night, if strong enough, the new feeling of excitement compels him/her to come back until something tragic happens.
In the next post on Fear, I will offer some suggestions on what we can actually DO to change the paradigm of running away and actually take action in our lives so we can “laugh in the face of fear”.
Our integrity is all we’ve got. It’s “our word”, a “handshake”, a “promise”, “showing up”, and many other acts we perform in our daily lives.
Because of this, our personal integrity is what we are measured against – and the most revealing of who we are being in that relationship.
We see it in the “stories“ or “drama“ of our lives. The Grey in our black and white world.
Whenever I consider the actions of myself/others, I have this tendency to measure (judge) the motivations behind those decisions/actions.
Of course, I’m not talking about decisions to do everyday sort of things; rather, I’m talking about decisions/actions that make a relative difference in my life – especially when it comes to business with others. I’ll explain further as we go along.
So, what is this “ELM Test” and how is it used, you ask?
ELM is an acronym for:
Ethical: working in accordance with fulfilling the principles of right or wrong (especially within a profession).
Legal: a statutory obligation to exercising the principles of right or wrong.
Moral: an individual conscious decision as a human being to live the principles of right or wrong.
The process when I use this is not only for my own behaviours, but also that of others in my ‘official’ or business relationships.
Personal relationships do not usually need the Test because they don’t involve legal or ethical questions, only the question of morality. Of course, I wouldn’t want to chill with a Ponzi schemer or a wife-beater – that crosses the line for me.
The way in which I use this test is by questioning the motivation or logic behind my (our) decisions before I decide to take action. By doing so, it keeps my integrity in check and lets me gauge my sincerity behind my actions. (I am always learning about myself, too! Ackkkkkkkk!)
If I profess to love people,
I better be ‘walking the walk’
instead of just ‘talking the talk’, right?
Now let me digress just a little (my little humanistic caveat). I am by no means implying that I am this walking edifice of righteous indignation – not like I was 15 years ago when I was the top of my capitalist game. Heck NO! I am human too.
Like you, my dear reader, I make mistakes – and some of them intentionally. That’s what we do sometimes. Sometimes out of fear, sometimes out of ignorance, and sometimes out of spite.
Yup, we are always stretching the boundaries
of our moral compass – right?
And stuff will happen. But …
When I enter a relationship, I feel I have an obligation to follow the ELM Test in order to ensure the best outcomes can be reached. In other words – to get what I want. There are many benefits:
it maintains a measure of respect and dignity for each other,
it allows us to know the boundaries of acceptable decisions/actions, and
it fertilizes the trust that is required for each other to be effective in the decisions/actions.
Here’s an example of how I recently employed the ELM Test:
I was recently looking for a job, and I wanted to work in a community organization doing outreach and providing support services like resume writing. I found several opportunities (at least for summer work) that piqued my interest, so I applied. Most replied and I went on a few interviews.
Keeping in mind that interviews are a good place and time to find out more about the agency as well. I always want to ensure the agency is a good fit for me as well. I always come prepared with questions for the interviewer as well as have word prompts to help me remember to make and note specific observations within the agency as it operates day-to-day.
I didn’t get a job.
I guess I could have been a little easier on my judgment of the agencies; yet, I wanted to work somewhere that was actually making some kind of difference.
After employing the ELM Test when deciding on these job opportunities, this is what I saw and determined from one of most obvious failures:
This agency’s main focus is to offer daily meals and snacks to feed the hungry, have a space to drop-in, and have access to free computers and telephone. The typical user is homeless, poor, hungry, speaks another language, men, recently landed, and between 30 and 50 years old. The programs they offer are creative writing, painting, resume writing, how to find work, and how to write a cover letter to name a few.
FAIL ELM TEST
They failed their Ethical obligation to know the needs of the services users and offer them the programs and services they need.
To walk into the agency – and even to the untrained eye, it is obvious the service users are not in a position of using the above-mentioned services offered. Besides language barriers, literacy is an issue. Many are homeless and less-skilled. Most were older men.
They failed their Legal obligation to use public funding to provide services according to the requirements from official needs assessments.
To hire staff to fill an agency need for funding does not give us value for the money we invest in human potential. I witnessed a lot of casual conversations between staff (not with service users – they watch TV – in Spanish).
When the time came to offer the services, an announcement is made, a sheet of paper is checked, and the facilitator then goes back to the conversation at the front desk.
They failed their Moral obligation to reach into the lives of their service users and find out what they need and want to develop themselves as “productive citizens”.
Again, even to the untrained eye, it is obvious they are employed by the agency just to have a job.
Granted, government funding makes it impossible to find qualified staff because of funding restrictions; but at least those that do work at the agency must have some sense of compassion, integrity, or desire to help others genuinely in need. The staff were just floating around looking busy, but really – they were not accomplishing much more than feeding the neighbourhood.
Given this is their main intention, they would be a better agency that address the main issues that confront the services so they indeed do make a difference – as intended!
Needless to say, I ran away from that agency.
I couldn’t honestly work for someone who is just playing the game of life. I don’t want to just fill a hole – I want to make a difference in my little corner of the world. From the results of their decisions and the actions the staff were taking, my observations compelled me to make a critical decision from this question:
Do I take the job and try to make changes from the inside,
or do I walk away and pick an issue where
I can invest my time and resources into something
that will actually achieve a difference?
I had to keep my personal goals in the social struggle in perspective – and I had to invest in my emotional balance, so I chose to walk away.
Updated from 2009