Monday, October 31, 2011

Productivity NEVER Outweighs Humanity

An oft heard argument for continuing with many abhorrent practices, particularly in the field of agriculture, is that to change will decrease productivity and efficiency (and that this will increase the cost of products to the end user.)
This misses the vital and immutable point that productivity NEVER outweighs humanity.
There is a point that comes when the right thing to do simply must be done, irrespective of any reduction in efficiency or increasing in prices.

The same argument was used by slave owners in the American South as a justification for slavery. Of course we now (almost) universally accept that any production and cost benefits of keeping slaves can not even be considered in any sense to be 'worth it'.

I contend that the same is true of practices such as factory farming of beef, crating of sows and battery farming of eggs.
Cost can never be solely measured in dollar terms. Basic, fundamental humanity and compassion, and social and environmental costs are not even 'as' important...but exponentially more so.

The right thing to do is simply the right thing to do, irrespective of production, efficiency and monetary cost.

...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Key to Changing the World is Changing Oneself

[Excerpt from Time Rich Cash Optional ~ an unconventional guide to happiness]

Our current paradigm is not working.
We have fooled ourselves into thinking that accumulating more and more possessions will somehow, at some stage, provide happiness in our lives.
I think most of us realise that this is futile, and yet we keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again. They say that making a mistake is one thing, but repeating it is madness … so perhaps we have all gone a little mad.
It certainly seems that way when we look at how we are depleting the Earth’s resources at an ever-increasing rate, polluting our beautiful planet, enslaving other living beings and treating them with appalling cruelty, and becoming, as a species, sicker and more tired.
There’s got to be a better way!
And there is.
But to create the change necessary requires more than simply changing actions within the same paradigm we have created. It requires a ‘conscious shift’ out of the current norm of consumerism and materialism to a mindset of greater simplicity, a mindset where giving is more important than receiving, and a mindset where we have allowed ourselves to dream the lives we want to be living and have rationally evaluated what is really necessary to bring that life to fruition.
The economic crisis of the last few years has brought this to the fore for many, and I have seen in clinical health practice and in my lectures and workshops that the people I speak to have really begun re-evaluating what is most important in life. This may well have been the silver lining to the cloud of our most recent economic depression.
We need to re-evaluate life and how we live on a greater scale, and perhaps now we are at a time where a real conscious shift is happening, as more and more people rebel against the norm of working long and hard for little real reward and instead focus on increased happiness and satisfaction.
Our motivation is the primary driver of what we do and is unfortunately provided by the conditioning of the prevailing world paradigm, which is clearly shaped by consumerism and materialism. In fact I would go so far as to say that the prevailing mentality in the modern world is greed.
And whilst actions of conservation, charity and connection are absolutely crucial to even begin to enact change in the world, there must also be a fundamental shift in consciousness to change the paradigm of how we live. We need to begin to recognise what is most important in life – not just that there are problems in the world – and begin to live our lives according to what is most important.
We must absolutely begin to live our lives in a way that does not conform to the processes destroying the planet and reducing the potential of happiness in the world. Our very survival depends upon it.
We need to realise (in the epiphanic sense) that happiness and joy come from joyous experiences – joyous experiences provided by the acts of connection to others, connecting to the world around us, and ultimately connection to that which is greater than us. This aspect of that which is greater than us may be called, in esoteric circles, the super-conscious or divine, but it is being proven more and more regularly, within the realms of emerging sciences such as Noetics, to be an integral and tangible aspect of the physical universe.
Perhaps when there are enough amongst us who are more concerned with people than Prada, a ‘tipping point’ will occur and the prevailing paradigm will change.
A paradigm of thought is only so because a majority of people believe it, therefore profound, paradigm-shifting change in a very real sense can occur when enough people believe in its possibility and begin to act in concert outside the norm. This fundamental change in perception away from status, ego and greed must occur in order for us as a species and for the planet as a whole to survive.
The modern sciences are proving again and again that we are all connected and we are, in turn, connected to everything else on the planet and in the universe. By honouring this we are, by extension, honouring ourselves; conversely by honouring our own health (not just physical but emotional, mental and spiritual) we honour and improve the health of the whole.
I have been asked countless times about my seemingly simplistic attitude that happiness is the goal of an objectively desirable life.
As a health practitioner I have seen that health is equal to happiness! Health of the body is happiness of the body, health of the mind is happiness of the mind and health of the spirit is happiness of the spirit.
And so, although this seems simple, I wonder:
Why not?
Why can’t we all be happier?
What is stopping anyone from being healthier and happier?
We all live out our own karma. Certain things must occur because events of the past have precipitated them, and often they provide for the learning opportunities we need to experience in this lifetime; and yet we can still feel victimised when calamity befalls us. But we have the choice in any given moment to act in ways that improve our circumstances, and we also have a choice to begin to engender more and more the conscious shift that can literally change the entire world and the universe in which it sits.

There is beauty in simplicity. I invite you to be part of the beautiful change.

[Excerpt from Time Rich Cash Optional ~ an unconventional guide to happiness available at www.katoahealth.com and Amazon]

...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lover-Fighter

People always say "I'm a lover, not a fighter" as if they are mutually exclusive...
I don't see why there has to be a distinction?
I love.
And more than that I strive to love unconditionally and completely, and yet I fight. I fight in a literal sense, having competed in various combat sports and martial arts since I was a little kid, and I fight with my mind, words and actions for what I believe in.
I fight with love in my heart.

I'm a lover, and a fighter.

...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

"What if?" versus "What's Now?!"

I had an interesting conversation with a client the other day.
A common theme for her, and in fact many of the people I see is the tendency to not just think about, but become consumed with the thought 'What if?'

In relation to most situations that arise in life, many of us spend an inordinate amount of time thinking of all the possibilities that could occur, and often in the negative. And whilst having time and allowing ourselves time to plan and prepare for eventualities is crucial, when it becomes our sole focus of thinking and we begin to think about it unduly, in spite of having done all practicable analysis and planning, it becomes paralysing.

My advice to this client was to focus on "What's now?" vs. "What if?"
This thread is very similar to asking oneself "what am I doing now" – a strategy I discuss in Time Rich Cash Optional.
Stopping ourselves in the midst of worrying and paining ourselves over what could be, and instead focusing on what is, and what is occurring this very moment, and indeed what we can affect in this moment brings us back to the present. The beautiful, wonderful present...the only time that we can live.

When we constantly put ourselves in a mental state of 'if' and 'when' we never give ourselves a chance to live truly and presently. Quite simply we worry the shit out of ourselves instead of living the shit out of life!

...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

7 Tips for an Easier Life....[By Leo Babauta]

1. Do less. This is my productivity mantra, and it’s counterintuitive. I actually don’t believe in productivity, but instead believe in doing the important things. Do less, and you’ll force yourself to choose between what’s just busywork, and what really matters. Life then becomes effortless, as you accomplish big things while being less busy.

2. Having less is lighter. Start asking yourself if you really need everything you have, or if you just have it out of fear. Start to let go of what you have, so it doesn’t own you. And then, as you have less, you feel lighter. It’s wonderful.

3. Let the little things go. People who struggle often fight over little things. We obsess over things that don’t really matter. We create resistance instead of letting things glide off us. Let the little things go, breathe, and move on to the important things.

4. Clean as you go. I haven’t written about this for a long time, but early in the life of Zen Habits I wrote about the habit of cleaning as you go. Instead of letting the cleaning pile up, put things away when you’re done. Wash your bowl. Wipe the counters clean as you pass them. Sweep up dirt when you notice it. By cleaning a little bit at a time, as you make messes, cleaning up becomes a breeze, and it’s never difficult. By the way, this applies to everything in life, not just cleaning.

5. Make small, gradual changes. Most people are too impatient to follow this advice — they want to do everything at once. We have so many changes to make, but we don’t want to wait a year for it all to happen. As a result, we often fail, and then feel crappy about it. Or we don’t start at all, because so many big changes is intimidating and overwhelming. I’ve learned the hard way that small changes are incredibly powerful, and they last longer. Gradual change leads to huge change, but slowly, and in a way that sticks. And it’s effortless.

6. Learn to focus on the things that matter. This is implied in the items above, but it’s so important I have to emphasize it. Swimming (or any physical activity for that matter) is best done when you do only the motions that matter, and eliminate the extraneous motions. Stop thrashing, start becoming more efficient and fluid. You do this by learning what matters, and cutting out the wasted activity.

7. Be compassionate. This makes dealing with others much more effortless. It also makes you feel better about yourself. People like you more, and you improve the lives of others. Make every dealing with another human being one where you practice compassion.

Download Leo's e-books Zen to Done and The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life at:
http://www.katoahealth.com/e-books.html

...

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pride and Shame Must be Recognised in Equal Measure

Many people will attempt to negate the grievances of native peoples and other oppressed minority groups by saying "I wasn't there, how could it be my fault?"
Which in many respects is a fair point. 
However they will in the same breathe often say "I am proud of my heritage" and list the successes and achievements of people of their race, ethnicity or national identity. (As if achievements are a racial issue anyway...)
I can however understand being justifiably proud of our forebears. As a Pakeha New Zealander I do feel a fondness, and yes a pride for the tough men that went before me into this country and fashioned a life for themselves through grit, determination and hard work. This for me is more of a pride in my own familial line - one that is distinctly anchored in the working classes - but I grant that for many it is a pride in one's race and ones ethnicity. 

But this pride may be misplaced if it isn't mirrored by at least an equal measure of appreciation of the negative aspects of our respective cultures, and of injustices that were committed. 

the catch cry of "I wasn't there...it's not my fault!" is equally applicable to the successes and achievements of those of the same race, ethnicity or national identity that went before. 

I didn't personally cheat or swindle land off anyone, but nor did I with my own hands build the fledgling infrastructure that helped to make this the nation it is now. 
Neither the good, nor the bad was by my own hand and so I have 2 choices: I either leave both firmly in the past, or I appreciate both the rights and wrongs of the past, with part pride and initially some shame, honouring the entire morphology of my familial roots, stretching back in time. 
And come to a point when I am able to forgive those that have gone before, of all races, for their errors and honouring ALL people, simply people (not races) for their achievements. 

...

Thursday, October 06, 2011

F**K 'em!

A client came to me after having been severely criticised by someone they hardly knew. My client was quite distressed about it and wanted some guidance.

I started by asking (as I often do) if the criticism was justified, as often there will be some kernel of truth in a criticism that can be taken and used as a valuable learning opportunity.
But in this case my client swore that it simply wasn't justified and that the person really had no right to say the things he had said.
So I said plainly "Well f@#k him then! Are you going to keep beating yourself up about something someone said that has no justification at all?"

His criticism wasn't justified, there was no learning to be taken from this (except perhaps showing that at times we need to simply let go and not be so worried about what others think and to also not buy into other peoples criticism when we know our course is justified.)
...So f@#k him and what he has to say.

And this is by no means an aggressive stance. Saying simply 'f@#k it!' is a great way to just let something go in a powerful (and kind of funny) way!

So instead of hanging on to resentment, frustration, stress and anxiety...F@#K IT - let it go!




...

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Add a habit of joy to your life

[Post adapted from Leo Babauta of zenhabits.net]

Choose one little habit to add joy to your life. Just one, and tiny is miraculous.

It can be writing or painting or making music for 2 minutes a day. It can be a ridiculously easy walk or jog or enjoying a bowl of fruit. It can be 2 minutes of meditation or reflecting in a journal.

Enjoy the hell out of it.

Create this one habit, and you have a success. This is a foundation, a first step, to build on.

Then you can do a second, and a third, but you can’t do those without a first.

Don’t change your entire life. Just change this one little thing.

You’d be amazed how much that matters. I was.


Several of Leo's e-books are available here: http://www.katoahealth.com/e-books.html

...