“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” -John Milton
We hear it all the time. Mindfulness. The advice to practise mindfulness as a way to deal with troublesome thoughts.
Why does Mindfulness help?
It’s impossible to stay strong when you’re rehashing something that happened last week or predicting that horrible things are going to happen tomorrow. Mindfulness is about staying present in the moment. And since the only time you can change your behavior is right now, it’s important to be able to focus on the here-and-now.
Our minds become more resilent to stress and less prone to anxiety, if we maintain focus on the here and now; meaning the present moment. The future and the past are, after all, not our reality, but only mental constructs over which we have no, or little, influence. Trying to live in two dimensions at once creates stress for ourselves.
The present moment is the only real time concept we can fully experience, with our senses.
Confucious understood this saying,
“Remember, no matter where you go, there you are.”
Buddha considered the secret of good health was not to mourn the past, or worry about the future, cautioning against anticipation and encouraging the use of each moment wisely and earnestly.
As if each moment was a priceless gift.
Because each moment is a priceless gift that will never return again.
Staying mindful removes the immediate stress for a mind that might continue to worry or dwell on what has gone before.
The present moment is a concept so very difficult to grab hold on to; for it is transient, dynamic and we might rail against letting it go. Even as we ponder its nature, it has passed us by. Gone.
Some of us keep the past, or future, alive in our minds, through repetitive thoughts. Our minds, in idle moments, stray back to past events, or happier times. If those thoughts are negative, and we think them often enough, we can do ourselves real mental damage or initiate a stress reaction in our body.
Strategies for Mindfulness
Stay in the moment
Look around you and note your environment
Notice where your focus lies and your own body’s natural breath
Is your breath short, sharp and shallow, or deep and long? Focusing on the breath is a way to stay mindful
Be Mindful and Ground yourself with the following exercise
Questions for the Self
Are you able to be mindful, keeping thoughts aligned with the present moment?
Can you break your day down and stay with those moments?
Besides Grounding, what is it that helps you to do this?
I was washing the Schnauzer Dog this morning and the young pup and rest of the family kept interrupting me, pushing open the door hitting me in the shoulder, when I was working with the dog in the tub, full of shampoo.
If it wasn’t the pup pushing open the closed door latch, it was the Moth a.k.a. ‘Man of the House,’ (New homes appear to have internal doors that don’t securely latch closed, unless you slam them).
Each time the door was opened, the very wet and soapy Schnauzer, now full of shampoo would repeatedly try to leap from the tub, and and you can just imagine how slippery a fully soaped up dog was. It was a slightly exasperating situation.
Dog washing complete, I then set about cleaning the laundry and the same scene repeated, much to my dismay. Newly cleaned floors covered with either Schnauzer paw prints or Moth footprints as suddenly everyone wanted to get into the laundry for some reason. Grr.
I felt the tension rising in my body. I was irritated by the door latch not staying closed and the laundry suddenly becoming busier than Central Station. After a few grumbles under my breath, I paused, took a deep breath and tried to remember the wise saying I read earlier this week:
If there is something you don’t like, you can either change it or change the way you think about it.
Each and every day, the real battle for freedom takes place in your mind.
Do you have a way of dissolving tension that works for you?
Before you panic, I’m not advocating opening up borders and businesses in the midst of a pandemic. Far from it, I err on the side of caution and conservatism when it comes to nasty bacteria and viruses.
Rather, I am referring to opening the door to our minds and our lives, which often stays closed, to the present moment.
The Present Moment
When old friends get together, they reminisce about the past. Older people love to chat about those heady, carefree days of youth. Their stories are tinged with regret. Regret that they didn’t do more, see more, love more.
Why is it we close our mind to really seeing the world around us, as each moment passes by, a moment that we will never be able to fully experience again? Many of us appear to prefer our own thoughts and stick with thinking that revolves around plans, or worries, for the future, and regrets or reminisces about the past.
When our minds are fixed in the mental construct that is the past or the future, we are more likely to create anxiety within ourselves.
Our Public Persona
Most of us have secrets and thoughts we stash away in the far recesses of our mind. We rarely show our complete self to another person. Presumably for fear of rejection. Because rejection hurts. So we present a public face and persona to the world and our private self is only for the movie that is running in our own minds.
It seems we now prefer to see what everyone else is doing, via the medium of a glass screen than to be involved in life, with all our senses.
Cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world that occurs when we’re afraid it will hurt us or let us down. Cynics always say “no.”
If we always say no, we miss out on learning and growing. Saying yes leads to firsthand experience and knowledge. “Yes” is for strong, open-minded people. So for as long as you have the strength to, say “yes.”
Marc and Angel
Why are we ignoring the immediate world around us?
Could we be preferencing cynicism over wisdom?
As Marc and Angel state,
“Accepting some level of risk in life is important. Everything you want to do takes daily practice.
Don’t be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams.
Live the life you want to live. Be the person you want to remember years from now.
Make decisions and act on them. Make mistakes, fail and try again.”
Some people hear their own inner voices with great clearness. And they live by what they hear. Such people become crazy… or they become legend. – Jim Harrison
Most of us have some kind of inner dialogue within our minds, that is the manifestation of our thoughts. Sometimes our self-talk or thoughts are kind and positive, supporting and encouraging us, such as, “Don’t be afraid, – you can do it!” Other times, they can become a destructive enemy, suggesting we don’t deserve any measure of happiness.
Our minds hear these inner thoughts or talk, and sometimes they get stuck on an endless repeat. The subconscious mind might then have a difficult time distinguishing between reality and imagination, as both positive and negative thoughts may stimulate neural networks and result in physical reactions in the body.
We can use mental imagery to our advantage in slowly or stopping those recurring thoughts, through simple visualization techniques. Listening to slow music and visualizing your day helps to organize your thoughts, mentally prepare you, and reduce stress. Studies on visualization techniques have shown positive outcomes whereby the subconscious mind hears and believes a suggestion leading to a boost in confidence and mental preparedness, not felt before. www.huffpost.com
I have used the following visualization to help me deal with persistent undesired thoughts, feeling of anxiety, frustration or stress and just when I am feeling overwhelmed, overstimulated or wish to calm down.
I use a visualisation that involves imagining that I am sitting comfortably on the bank of a stream, watching random twigs or branches float by with the gentle current. I imagine that a twig, branch or even a leaf, is an individual thought.
Sit comfortably on the bank of your ‘imaginary’ stream.
When a thought comes along in your mind, imagine seeing that thought as a twig or leaf, floating on the surface of the water.
Watch each leaf, or thought, approach from a bend further up the stream; imagine each leaf approaching you, getting closer and closer, until it floats in front of you.
Acknowledge its presence but continue to watch it floating by with the gentle current.
Continue watching it on its way downstream, until it slowly disappears from view and is out of sight.
You can use a leaf for a minor thought like a household chore that needs to be done and a branch for a big “worry,” if that helps you.It doesn’t matter.
What matters is the movement down the stream and out of sight.
Occasionally a twig will get stuck on the side of the bank, (ie the persistent unstoppable thought), until the current builds and builds and then you imagine seeing it finally washing downstream, too.
Sometimes you might find your focus wanders a little, or that twig gets stuck for too long behind a rock on the bank. Distract the mind into letting the thought go, by moving your focus to look further upstream again, to ‘see,’ what thought the mind will come up with next. Try it!
Feel free to adjust location, or image, as you prefer. You might prefer sitting in a field watching a animal such as a bird, (or deer) instead of a leaf in a stream. You could watch the bird come into your line of sight, watch it pause to eat and then watch it fly away.
In this way your mind allows thoughts to come, it acknowledges them, yet you remain a silent observer of your thoughts. You are not fighting to keep the thoughts away.
This allows the mind to release the thought and leave your attention. This is way better than the troubling thought! It gives your mind that much-needed break.
Visualization is one of the ways to get your mind back on track when you feel out of balance.
Another stress relief technique from another blogger:
“Lie on your back and imagine all the stress in your body is warm lava concentrated at the top of your head. Then, slowly imagine it pouring down your ears, neck, shoulders, and entire body. You should actually feel a sensation roll down your body as you imagine the stress leaving your head. I use this to fall asleep, and I have never stayed awake past my shoulders.”
The more faithfully you listen to the voices within you, the better you will hear what is sounding outside. – Dag Hammarskjold
“A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.”
If your only tool is a hammer, you will see every problem as a nail. — Gambian proverb
A recent article suggests that those who can weather the storms of life have the ability to perceive events in a different way to those who feel stressed and negatively impacted by trauma and life’s challenges.
Whether you can be said to have resilience, or not, might depend on the way your life unfolds. If you are lucky and never experience any adversity, you don’t really know for sure how resilient you might be. When you come across obstacles stress and environmental threats, you discover how well you can cope with life’s challenges.
Reacting to Stress
Do you see a stressful event as traumatic, or a problem? Or is it a chance to learn and grow?
Why do some kids thrive in awful circumstances and yet others crumble despite hailing from more comfortable backgrounds?
Predictors of Resilience in Children
Who will be resilient?
According to the article, support networks are essential to resilience. A strong bond with a supportive caregiver, parent, teacher, or other mentor, who believed in them tended to be more resilient, when life threw them a curve ball.
Knowing your own darkness, is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people
– Carl Jung
Are You Having a Bad Day?
Recently a family member had a bad day. A really bad day.
Everyone has them.
Some are worse than others.
No matter how bad it becomes, a bad day is just a bad day, it is not a sentence.
It’s painful for the person going through the mental pain and suffering of a bad day and can be equally as difficult for those supporting them. Unlike a physical injury or ailment, there may be no visible cause that is obvious to others. Some folks are driven to extreme actions to stem their mental anguish.
Bad times or adversity affect us and our mood. People do bad, hurtful things to others.
We have no control over what other people do.
We CAN, however, decide not to let it affect who we are and where you’re headed, as this Native American proverb infers:
You cannot prevent the birds of sadness passing over your head, but you can prevent them from making a nest of your hair.
Native American Proverb
What We Can Do
Keep in mind that every bad day passes. What’s done is done and is in the past.
Acknowlege the setback and make adjustments to it.
Do not dwell and re-play the events over and over in your head, for this makes them a bigger part of your life.
Do not make it anything more than a bad day.
Events may be terrible and inescapable at times, but you always have choice – if not when, then how, to proceed onward.
There is always a way to take the next step forward on the path you’ve chosen. Be that minor or major. There are always options, always something you CAN choose to do.
This is where to direct your focus.
Every day brings the prospect of new hope and new possibilities.
I find there to be profound wisdom in proverbs, sayings and quotes and I marvel at the way they are so succinct in communicating messages to the reader. Mostly anonymous, they come to us from past generations and from across cultures. They speak of the experiences of lives lived and lessons learned.
Quotes, like proverbs, make us think more deeply about something.
Love sees sharply, hatred sees even more sharp, but Jealousy sees the sharpest, for it is love and hate at the same time.
“Jealousy is rubbing salt into your own wound. “
How often does a partner, family member or friend have a behaviour that makes you feel jealous or uncomfortable? Have you ever tried to change it, or them? It seldom works and often times they will hate you for it. Has that been your experience?
If someone feels they get more attention, than them, they feel less worthy because we think there is a limit to their love!
There is not.
Let them be right if that’s what they need.
Mark and Angel
It is far easier to change yourself.
What has worked for you? Join in the discussion.
Everyone’s opinion is important. Tell me yours.
Proverbial Friday – always Something to Ponder About
Tell a friend you have taken up bead meditation and said ‘friend’ may suddenly look askance, thinking you have gone ‘weird. ‘ But being in touch with your inner ‘flower child,’ can have untold benefits in combating stress and potentially improving daily life, memory, concentration and overall well-being.
I was introduced to bead meditation some years via after my yoga class, and have to say that I experienced many benefits of a daily five-minute practice. But lately, I have been too busy, too rushed to continue my practice. And now, as I face a stressful time in my life, I have once again turned to Bead meditation.
The practice can be done anyway and or anytime, as long as you can do it uninterrupted. Carry the beads in your bag and you can practise in those few minutes of down time, where you might be ordinarily checking social media on your phone, or whilst waiting in the car for someone, waiting for a bus/train, last thing before bed, even in the loo! For me, it seems to work best first thing in the morning, when I know that I should get up soon, but don’t want to, just yet.
Benefits I have enjoyed from Bead Meditation
Sense of Calm
More control in crisis or stressful situations
Lower Blood pressure
More sustained attention span and improvement in effortless single focus concentration
Relaxed start to the day
Distractions from run-away thoughts or self-destructive negative thinking
Increased sense of compassion and empathy
Increased energy levels
Improved sense of well-being & self-esteem
The secret seems to be in keeping the mind busy on a single activity, and in doing so, worry and stress can not seep into your consciousness. The mind will try to wander and intrusive thoughts will tug at you, and if this happens, gently bring it back to the task at hand (sorry no pun intended there) Do this as often as you need.
“The mind is harder to control than the wind”, it was said. So now, not only can the mind be quieted by having something to do, the movement of your fingers on the beads, gives the body something to do and allows the body to feel more content and relaxed.
Prayer beads have a similar purpose, however this is more to do with religious devotion and counting prayers, which is not within my realm to recommend or discuss here. Rather than focusing on spiritual growth, secular meditation techniques such as this, emphasizes stress reduction, relaxation and self-improvement.
Wiki tells us, “Most of the ancient religions of the world have a tradition of using some type of prayer beads as tools in devotional meditation. Most prayer beads and Christian rosaries consist of pearls or beads linked together by a thread. The Roman Catholic rosary is a string of beads containing five sets with ten small beads. Each set of ten is separated by another bead. The Hindu japa mala has 108 beads, as well as those used in Jainism and Buddhist prayer beads. Each bead is counted once as a person recites a mantra until the person has gone all the way around the mala, which is counted as 100, with an extra 8 there to compensate for missed beads. The Muslim mishbaha has 99 beads. Specific meditations of each religion may be different.”
Start with the head bead ( the one that is large and different) and start chanting a mantra of choice ( samples shown below), and with each repetition, move your fingers along to the next bead, and repeat, until you are completely round the circle. If you have time, reverse and do the same back to the head bead again. This depends on how quickly or how slowly you chant the mantra. Choose a mantra that speaks to you.
You only have to say the mantra loud enough for you to hear. It is not necessary to sing it, or say it loudly. Don’t worry so much about your breathing technique; it is not so important in this form of meditation.
The eternal wisdom contained in the yoga texts explains that a ‘mantra’ is a spiritual sound vibration that purifies one’s consciousness and brings about ever-increasing spiritual insight and happiness. When performed as a group, you can really feel that vibration!!
A study of college students by Oman et al. (2008) found that meditation may produce physiological benefits by changing neurological processes. This finding was supported by an expert panel at the National Institutes of Health. The practice of meditation has also been linked with various favourable outcomes that include: “effective functioning, including academic performance, concentration, perceptual sensitivity, reaction time, memory, self-control, empathy, and self-esteem.”(Oman et al., 2008, pg. 570) In their evaluation of the effects of two meditation-based programs they were able to conclude that meditating had stress reducing effects and cogitation, and also increased forgiveness. (Oman et al., 2008)
Li Chuan Chu (2009), found that meditation enhances overall psychological health and preserves a positive attitude towards stress. (Chu, 2009)
Mindfulness Meditation has now entered the health care domain because of evidence suggesting a positive correlation between the practice and emotional and physical health.
Examples of such benefits include: reduction in stress, anxiety, depression, headaches, pain, elevated blood pressure, etc. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts found that those who meditated approximately half an hour per day during an eight week period reported that at the end of the period, they were better able to act in a state of awareness and observation. Respondents also said they felt non-judgmental. (Harvard’s Women’s Health Watch, 2011)
“Meditation as Medicine” (American Academy of Neurology)  cites scientific evidence from various studies which claim that meditation can increase attention span, sharpen focus, improve memory, and dull the perception of pain.
A review of scientific studies identified relaxation, concentration, an altered state of awareness, a suspension of logical thought and the maintenance of a self-observing attitude as the behavioral components of meditation; it is accompanied by a host of biochemical and physical changes in the body that alter metabolism, heart rate, respiration, blood pressure and brain activation.
Meditation has been used in clinical settings as a method of stress and pain reduction. Meditation has also been studied specifically for its effects on stress.
Some people feel meditation is an alien concept and take it like they would a bitter pill, while others embrace it wholeheartedly. Are they the less stressed?
It will be something I shall ponder about what you make of it.
What would you rate as the single most important thing in your life?
Family, your passion/hobby, right? Of course! So what would rate second to this? What do you spend most of your time doing? What would you find hard to live without?For most of us, especially the young, a truthful answer might be their Smart phone. Why? Because it is has become the primary means of communication, in daily life. And humans, being a gregarious, social bunch, thrive on communication. Whether one is verbal or non-verbal, whatever language one speaks, communication is essential, vital and pretty impossible to live without.
Whilst the PC has given us a global communication and information portal, the Smart phone is now our PC. The smartphone’s portability gives us that freedom to communicate wherever we are, but also but the power to source information worldwide, when we want it. Even in third world countries, children easily access information from anywhere in the world, without being in ‘cooee’ of a school or library, (provided there’s a cellular communication tower nearby)! Fantastic, isn’t it?
But it has its downsides too. Smartphones makes us information rich and time poor. Smartphones mean work can go with you, 24/7 and may lead to extra stress. For some children, smartphones give bullying a new dimension, unless they are strong and bold enough to turn the phone off. To be offline or ‘disconnected’ with the world today, and all the latest happenings, is a concept totally alien to youth and could even brand one an eccentric or a hippie!
For me, the Smartphone means that checking my emails and notifications from Facebook, Pinterest, WordPress and other social media platforms, has become a fixed part of my daily routine, almost akin to a ritual. This information overload and constant switching between apps, drains my focus and my concentration levels. It makes time vanish and is so insidious, it can even make me late for work!
How frustrated can we become if our battery dies, we discover there is no internet connection, or wi-fi is horrendously slow, right? In an evolutionary sense, our brains are hard-wired to seek new information, so this led me to thinking: is this incredible invention a powerful freedom-giving communication device, capable of fulfilling all our information needs, or simply an electronic panacea, capable of dizzying, visual and auditory enslavement? Does it bring happiness, contentment, or stress and anguish, or perhaps even, a little of each?
Did the inventors of the telephone, glimpse for but a moment, the addictive nature of facilitating global communication and the smart phone’s omnipresent infiltration in modern life? Cartoonists, it seems, had a small inkling as early as 1907!! Punch Magazine published a cartoon entitled “Predictions for 1907” in which he showed a man and a woman in London’s Hyde Park, each separately engaged in gambling and dating, on wireless telephony equipment.[Source: Wiki] And Karl Arnold drew this visionary cartoon about wireless telephone use, in 1926!
Who was it, I pondered, that actually, started this juggernaut of communication? Generally, I’ve got a good grasp of trivia, so I was initially thinking/blaming Edison? He certainly contributed to the phone, inventing the carbon microphone, but the electric light was his brainchild. It was really Alexander Graham Bell, wasn’t it? Well, yes, but not exactly. Even in its infancy, this communication device was so enticing, so highly sought after, the person who would clam the title of inventor of the telephone became dogged in controversy. I decided to investigate, a little further, if for no other reason, than so I could point the finger of blame at his/her feet.
My Smart phone told me that Bell has widely been regarded “as the ‘inventor’ of the telephone outside of Italy, where Meucci was championed as its inventor. Meucci, Manzetti, and Gray have each offered fairly precise tales of a contrivance, whereby Bell actively stole the invention of the telephone from their specific inventor. [I] Mmm, it seems complicated, I thought. More reading and sorting facts, was required, so I constructed a rough timeline of events to help my understanding.
Timeline of Events
1843 – Antonio Manzetti first mooted the idea of a “speaking telegraph”, or telephone, but doesn’t pursue the idea
1860 – Antonio Meucci demonstrates his apparatus “teletrofono”, in New York in 1860
1864 – to give his automaton the power of speech, Manzetti is reported to have invented his speaking telegraph –some reports state that he didn’t actually get it working until the following year. Although he didn’t patent his device, it is reported in Paris, and likely publicized, in the press, around the world.
1865– Scottish immigrant, Alexander Graham Bell visits Antonio Manzetti and examines his “device”
1871 – Antonio Santi Giuseppe Meucci submitted a patent caveat for his telephonic device to the U.S. Patent Office, but there was no mention of electromagnetic transmission of vocal sound.
1874– Elisha Gray develops a harmonic telegraph apparatus using vibrating reeds that could transmit musical tones, but not intelligible speech.
1874 – December – Gray demonstrated his device to the public at Highland Park First Presbyterian Church.
1876 – February 14 – Gray lodged a Patent caveat at Us Patent Office shortly after it opened, a few hours before Bell’s application, but Gray’s application remained at the bottom of the in-basket until that afternoon.*
1876 – February 24 – Bell traveled to Washington DC. Nothing is entered in his lab notebook until his return to Boston on March 7.
1876 – March 7– Bell obtains patent for “apparatus for electromagnetic transmission of vocal or other sounds by undulatory electric current”* (see more on this below)
1876– March 8 – Bell and Watson, his assistant, finally got his model to work and recorded this an experiment in their lab notebook, with a diagram similar to that of Gray’s patent caveat.
1876– August 10 – The first long distance telephone call made by Bell to his assistant located some 10 miles (16 km) apart.
1877 – Hungarian engineer Tivadar Puskás develops an idea for a telephone exchange which built by the Bell Telephone Company in Boston
1908 – a Professor Albert Jahnke and the Oakland Transcontinental Aerial Telephone and Power Company developed a wireless telephone. They were accused of fraud and the charge was then dropped, but they do not seem to have proceeded with production
1918– German railroad system tested wireless telephony on military trains
1926– Telephone service in trains of the Deutsche Reichsbahn and the German mail service on the route between Hamburg and Berlin offered to 1st class travelers.
1930s – Telephone sets developed combining the bell and induction coil with the desk set, obviating a separate ringer box
1950– “Hexagonal Cells” early radio telephones created by AT&T and Bell Labs
1973 – Martin Cooper placed the first cell phone call (with a 1G mobile phone)
1991 – the first GSM network (Radiolinja) launched in Finland
1993–IBM Simon introduced the world’s first smart phone. It was a mobile phone, pager, fax machine, and PDA all rolled into one
2002 – US Congress recognises a little-known mechanical genius, Antonio Meucci, as a father of modern communications, 113 years after his death.
2009 –1.26 billion fixed-line subscribers and 4.6 billion mobile telephone subscribers [Source:Wiki]
Billions of subscribers!!!! The proliferation of this fantastic invention is so widespread, it permeates many aspects of life, today. Will books and television sets soon only be found in a museum, I thought? When I start to think like this, I had to chide myself and remember that no one would not be reading this post without the use of telephone technology!!
It is clear the history of the telephone is nearly as complicated as the device itself, involving a variety of people, patents, lawsuits, and finally, legislation. It is ironic to think that if Gray’s patent application was time-stamped or lodged with smart phone technology, he would be the classified as the original inventor of the smart phone’s precursors. Did it come down to who had the better lawyer or legal advice? Well, only until the US government legislated in this regard, in 2002. Who do you regard as the original inventor and how much do your let the smart phone dictate how you spend your time? That is Something to ponder about.
*** Additional Notes
The water transmitter described in Gray’s caveat was strikingly similar to the experimental telephone transmitter tested by Bell on March 10, 1876, a fact which raised questions about whether Bell (who knew of Gray) was inspired by Gray’s design or vice versa. Although Bell did not use Gray’s water transmitter in later telephones, evidence suggests that Bell’s lawyers may have obtained an unfair advantage over Gray.
It is alleged that Bell bribed a patent examiner, Zenas Wilber, not only into processing his application before Gray’s, but allowing a look at his rival’s designs before final submission. Bell’s application was filed shortly before noon on February 14 by Bell’s lawyer who requested that the filing fee be entered immediately onto the cash receipts blotter and Bell’s application was taken to the Examiner immediately. Late in the afternoon, Gray’s caveat was entered on the cash blotter and was not taken to the Examiner until the following day. The fact that Bell’s filing fee was recorded earlier than Gray’s led to the myth that Bell had arrived at the Patent Office earlier. Bell was in Boston on February 14 and did not know this happened until later. Gray later abandoned his caveat and did not contest Bell’s priority.
In a letter of March 2, 1877, Bell admitted to Gray that he was aware Gray’s caveat “had something to do with the vibration of a wire in water [the variable resistance breakthrough that made the telephone practical] — and therefore conflicted with my patent.” At this time, Gray’s caveat was still confidential. In 1879, Bell testified under oath that he discussed “in a general way” Gray’s caveat with patent examiner Zenas Fisk Wilber. When patent examiners investigate possible interferences between applications, it was not uncommon for them to ask questions of the inventors directed at the places of possible interference.
In a affidavit from April 8, 1886, Wilber admitted that he was an alcoholic who owed money to his longtime friend and Civil War Army companion Marcellus Bailey, Bell’s lawyer. Wilber says that after he issued the suspension on Bell’s patent application, Bailey came to visit. In violation of Patent Office rules, he told Bailey about Gray’s caveat and told his superiors that Bell’s patent application had arrived first. During Bell’s visit to Washington, “Prof. Bell was with me an hour when I showed him the drawing [of Gray’s caveat] and explained Gray’s methods to him.” He says Bell returned at 2pm to give him a hundred-dollar bill.
There’s a lot of people in this world who feel ‘stressed.’
Many of us have attended workshops titled ‘What is stress?’, ‘How to handle stress’ etc. They offer basic practical tips, but do they really address our underlying behaviours and motivation, or why we might react in this way? With a little reading, I discovered a different way of looking at, and handling, stress.
Marc and Angel recently posted on their blog about the thinking processes behind one’s own personal feelings of stress. They believe that ultimately it is one’s own behaviour, (not good luck or lack thereof), that impacts most, on whether a person feels happy and successful, or not. By ‘behaviour’, Marc and Angel are referring to:
How you react under stress. Whether you decide to meet your commitments or not. How you communicate and interact with loved ones. Your attitude toward bosses, colleagues, employees, and customers. How hard you’re willing to work to do a job right. Whether you’re focused and disciplined or scattered-brained and distracted.
Some people certainly have more than their share of bad luck; others may experience a lack of opportunity, in life, through circumstances totally out of their control, and this of course, will impact on their stress levels, and how their life pans out. Others might manage to cope and even be successful for a time, muddling through, until the pressures in their personal, or professional lives build and boil over into feelings of STRESS. It is then they might find they react with self-destructive behaviors, or other actions that cause them even more personal grief. These behaviours often affect those closest to them in a very detrimental way. Do you recognize any of the commonly beliefs or behaviours that may trigger stress, outlined below?
“It is all too hard! I don’t have time”
Do you believe life is too hard for/on you? Is it too hard to find time to exercise or get fit, resolve conflicts with loved ones, spend with your family, or follow-up on an opportunity? Marc and Angel believe that “You are where you are because of the choices you’ve made in the past.” It really is just as easy to develop good habits as bad ones.
All of us make a choice to go online, watch TV, or spend time with the family; we also have the choice to work on a special project, go to the gym or further our education, and even the choice to show kindness and concern to those around us, just as much as we have the choice to sit, sleep in, or chill out and let things slide.
It takes around three full weeks to begin to develop a new habit and building a new habit, every day, IS hard work. However, hard work pays off and this has to be a personal choice one consciously makes, and that choice is relatively easy. It might be even easier for you to think that life has thrown you a curve ball and that this effectively prevents you having any choice in the matter. If you do happen to think this, ask yourself if you really want to put in the hard yards to effect real change in your life? Then hang in there for the three weeks, and see if it is easier to keep it going, after that. Develop a habit that will help you deal with your inner stress. Use a star chart/reward system or whatever works for you. The first day you miss, in those first three weeks, might break the whole habit, so hang in there and persist!!
“It’s Not My Fault” – Shifting the blame
When we consider our motives and those of others, we often look for who is at fault and this inadvertently causes stressful feelings in us, because we feel it is unfair/unjust. Some of us blame family, friends, parents, teachers, the education system, work bosses, even the government. Many times I have been guilty of this very thing, yet I like to believe I am the one who is in full control of how I choose to deal with my life! So how can I blame external people or things for taking the ‘responsibility’ for my personal actions? I can’t as I am the one with that responsibility. If I want to grow and move on with my life, I have to accept responsibility for the whole of my life, as the only person that can really do this is ME. This gives me choice and with it, the confidence to tackle life’s crises, as opposed to feeling stressed that everything negative that happens in my life, is completely out of my control.
“Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.” [Sigmund Freud]Don’t let this be you.
When you blame others for what you’re going through, you deny responsibility – you surrender full power over that part of your life. In reality, the price of happiness and success IS responsibility. And no one else is responsible for you. [Marc and Angel]*
People Can’t be Trusted
I know a few people who find it extremely hard to fully trust anyone. Of course, some level of discernment is a natural defense mechanism that we use to protect ourselves, but most successful people don’t assume that the world is out to ‘get’ them. They are relatively trusting of others to do the right thing/task. In doing this, they build up a supportive community around them, by conveying trust by their words and actions.
Contrast this with someone who is suspicious and distrusting of others, who must do or verify everything themself. These are people who are full of negativity and this closes the door to any new friendships and possibilities. This belief causes loads of stress and physical fatigue, as they attempt to analyze the intentions of those they interact with, on a daily basis. This self-destructive behaviour, which they falsely believe will protect them, will in fact cause them anxiety and stress.
Trust grows trust. Distrust breeds suspicion. There are many more good people than bad in this world. You are one of them.
Others seem to Manage
Comparing our situation with other people’s, seems to not only elevate stress levels, but also makes us feel less competent, in an instant.
Marc and Angel explain this one better than I can:
Don’t let envy (or jealousy) get the best of you. Envy is the art of counting someone else’s blessings instead of your own – there’s nothing attractive or admirable about this behavior. So stop comparing your journey with everyone else’s. Your journey is YOUR journey, NOT a competition. You are in competition with one person and one person only – yourself. You are competing to be the best you can be. If you want to measure your progress, compare yourself to who you were yesterday.*
Expectations – they ‘should’ have …
Expectations breed disappointment and stress. Has anyone ever felt every expectation was fully met? I doubt it. Many conversations I hear, revolve around working out why others around them have said, or did, this or that and what the others, in their opinion, should have done. These “shoulds” are statement that are difficult or near impossible to fulfill. Try not to have expectations of others. Rather, believe that most people are out there, trying to ‘be’ the best they can be, with what they have got, and with the information to hand, at that very moment in time. It may not be right, we might not agree with it, but we cannot expect any more than this.
A Final Word
Life is Dynamic, full of change, drama and is often unpredictable. It can be scary, but the universe has a plan and it is always in motion. This is beautifully summed up by these wise words from Marc and Angel:
Some of the great moments in your life won’t necessarily be the things you do; they’ll be things that happen to you. That doesn’t mean you can’t take action to affect the outcome of your life. You have to take action, and you will. But don’t forget that on any day, you can step out the front door and your whole life can change in an instant – for better or worse. To an extent, the universe has a plan that’s always in motion. A butterfly flaps its wings and it starts to rain – it’s a scary thought, but it’s part of life’s cycle. All these little parts of the machine, constantly working – sometimes forcing you to struggle, and sometimes making sure you end up exactly in the right place at the right time.*
Questioning our underlying beliefs may assist in reducing the extent to which we feel stressed and this, in turn, may help us to modify those undesirable behaviours that can be destructive. Eliminating expectations and comparisons with others, might change how we ourselves react to stressful feelings, and gives us confidence to take responsibility for our own life. Developing new habits to deal with stress, takes persistence, but carries with it a multitude of benefits.
At a restaurant, a cockroach suddenly flew from somewhere and sat on a lady. She started screaming out of fear. With a panic stricken face and trembling voice, she started jumping, with both her hands desperately trying to get rid of the cockroach. Her reaction was contagious, as everyone in her group also got panicky.
The lady finally managed to push the cockroach away but …it landed on another lady in the group.
Now, it was the turn of the other lady in the group to continue the drama. The waiter rushed forward to their rescue.In the relay of throwing, the cockroach next fell upon the waiter. The waiter stood firm, composed himself and observed the behavior of the cockroach on his shirt. When he was confident enough, he grabbed it with his fingers and threw it out of the restaurant.
Sipping my coffee and watching the amusement, the antenna of my mind picked up a few thoughts and started wondering, was the cockroach responsible for their histrionic behavior?If so, then why was the waiter not disturbed?
He handled it near to perfection, without any chaos. It is not the cockroach, but the inability of the ladies to handle the disturbance caused by the cockroach that disturbed the ladies.I realized that, it is not the shouting of my father or my boss or my wife that disturbs me, but it’s my inability to handle the disturbances caused by their shouting that disturbs me. It’s not the traffic jams on the road that disturbs me, but my inability to handle the disturbance caused by the traffic jam that disturbs me.More than the problem, it’s my reaction to the problem that creates chaos in my life.
Lessons learnt from the story:Do not react in life. Always respond. The women reacted, whereas the waiter responded.Reactions are always instinctive whereas responses are always well thought of, just and right to save a situation from going out of hands, to avoid cracks in relationship, to avoid taking decisions in anger, anxiety, stress or hurry.