Life to the Max

Life to the Max?

[Audio version: Life to the Max]

I’ve got a little friend called, “Max.” Max is my neighbour’s dog. He looks like “Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy” if you’ve ever seen the Lynley Dodd books (or care to Google the image).

Max is an enthusiast. Nothing is held back. I have known him try to draw me through the garden fence by the power of his nose suction alone. This little black, wet nozzle of a snozzle finds a tiny gap under the fence and inhales as if his life depends upon it… His wagging tail causes a small tremor that can be felt through the ground… he is truly inspirational!

I think it would be fair to create a verb in Max’s honour: to be Maxed. To be Maxed means to be enthusiastically ‘assaulted’ by an energetic bundle of hairy love!

I’m pretty sure Max’s love is unconditional, or perhaps indiscriminate. It still feels nice – if you’re not wearing your posh togs.

Walking to the shop the other day, I saw Max in the distance, and thought to myself, “Today, I do not wish to be ‘Maxed’!” I wondered how I could politely avoid being pounced upon without offending him or his owner. My concerns were unnecessary. Max was ‘elsewhere’. He had found some fascinating scent along the bottom of another fence and was busy pursuing this trail. Nose down, he was blissfully unaware of anything else.

Max had found joy and freedom through single-minded focus. One thought, one purpose, one pursuit. I don’t think he has many worries, but if he did, he wouldn’t have been troubled at this time. His mind was absorbed.

Could you find joy and freedom in single-minded focus today? Could you make a promise to your brain that you’ll come back to the other stuff it’s fretting about later but in the meantime just focus enthusiastically on something lovely and absorbing?

Live life to the Max.

 

A Walk In The Park?

Robin

A Walk in the Park?

[Audio version here: Audio version of the blog]

There are many strange clichés in all cultures. English has its fair share. How about this one, “Life’s a walk in the park!” This means that life is easy and pleasant. This is a wonderful state that we’re all supposed to aspire to. Apparently.

Well the more people I get to know – really know – the more I realise that I don’t know anybody for whom this is true.

Scratch under the surface a bit and you find that all people or their friends and families face battles against poverty, ill-health and all manner of sorrows. None of them have a life that is a walk in the park.

So, should we abandon the dream? Yes, I think we should! The exaggerations of marketing professionals, fashion gurus and media moguls set us up to expect the unrealistic. When the unrealistic is continuously unattained, disappointment and disillusionment can set in… and even despair. Far better, then, to choose a better path – a path of realism.

The path I recommend is a path through the park. Not a walk in the park, but a walk through the park. By this, I mean the conscious decision to take time to enjoy the park each day. The ‘park’ can be anything you take pleasure in. Your loyal and adoring pet. Art. Music. Nature. Whatever your ‘park’ is, is must be cherished each day, at least for a few precious moments.

One of my parks is the park! There’s a recreation field at the top of our cul-de-sac. There, with space to grow and be itself, is a young oak tree. I get a ridiculous amount of pleasure from pausing and just looking at how well it is developing this year. I haven’t seen a single other person pause and enjoy this feast for the senses. For many, it seems the park is an interruption between where they are now and where they are seeking to get to.

May I recommend a walk through the park? And when you do take up this recommendation, may I suggest you pause and drink in the sensory feast prepared there for you? The clouds, the trees, the grass, the birds…

My desire is that, in taking a walk through the park, you find that your life might just become more like a walk in the park.

Making Associations

Make Link Break Link

Making Associations

In an earlier blog, entitled, “Breaking Associations,” I encouraged us to challenge unhelpful links that we’d allowed to define us negatively. The blog post was originally published on Moodscope.  In response, “Hopeful One” said, “There seems to be an underlining assumption that being defined in this way is always negative. In my opinion it’s not so much the definition or the associations but the internal judgements we make that do the damage.”

We are in agreement, Hopeful One!

Associations have their own associations! We can make them mean what we want them to.

For example, we can change the context. One of my favourite film clips is from a rather violent thriller called, “Face Off!” In it, Nicholas Cage and John Travolta swap roles as goody and baddy. In my chosen scene, Judy Garland’s version of, “Somewhere, Over the Rainbow,” plays serenely while a S.W.A.T. team destroys the flat our hero is sheltering in. The association is ‘wrong’ – it shouldn’t work. It works perfectly.

So the flip side of breaking bad associations is to make good associations – deliberately. An association is simply, “This means that,” or “This links to that.”

Naturally occurring associations include hearing a song when you’re having a good time. The song and the feeling of feeling good become linked automatically. The next time you hear the song, you feel good because the two files are linked in the library of your brain! Even more powerful is scent. You may associate an after-shave or perfume with a person. Smell the scent, remember the person.

These links happen naturally and unconsciously. In fact, all the sense data you were receiving at the time becomes linked in your mind to the event. Famous Canadian Neurosurgeon, Wilder Penfield, demonstrated the physical nature of memory by stimulating areas of patients’ brains. The memories that were triggered enabled the patients to relive experiences – along with all the senses recorded at the same moments in time.

This is good news because we can create this process consciously as well as unconsciously. You and I can choose to link a song, a scent, even an object to an emotional feeling. When we sense we are beginning to feel great, we can choose to pop on our “Feel Great” Playlist… and turn up the volume! The brain doesn’t care what comes first, the chicken or the egg! It simply splices the memories together. Do the procedure often enough and you will discover that your “Feel Great” Playlist will remind your mind what it is like to feel great… et voila! You will feel better.

Right, I’m off to find a magic feather… heard some flying elephant dropped one near here.

Breaking Associations

Make Link Break Link

Breaking Associations.

I was editing some video today. Couldn’t really get it to do what I wanted it to do when I realised that two tracks were linked together. This association meant that I couldn’t edit the tracks individually. It was a simple matter to break the association and then I could achieve the transformations I was seeking.Walking back from my local shop, it struck me how my own life had been unnecessarily brought low by false-associations. When my business fortunes had shifted dramatically, I had allowed that downturn to remain associated with my self-image. The business had failed, ergo I was a failure.I hope you’re laughing, or at least smiling, at how absurd that link is. I am not my business.The subject, however, is serious. How many of us have associated our self-worth with our relationship to someone special? If that relationship ceases for any reason, we can allow that loss to impact our self-worth. The loss of a job can have a similar effect… if we let it.

Today, I’m recommending that we break such associations. It’s time to separate the tracks in the great Editing Software of Life, and assign new value and meaning to each distinct part of our lives.

I am not defined by the success of my business.
I am not defined by my bank balance.
I am not defined by the success of my relationships.
I am not defined by my employed status.
I am not defined even by my health.

I am something beyond all these links.
And so are you.

You are beautiful because you are simply beautiful.
You are lovely because you are distinctly lovely.
You are worthy because you have worth in my sight, and, I hope, in your own sight too.
I value you.

 


[First published on Moodscope, Monday 3rd August, 2015]