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Friday, October 17, 2014

Ten Things from the Heart

1.  Your loss of any kind, illness, pain, or other worries of today
Will be covered by a blanket of healed emotions along the way...

2.  The words you utter can be forgiven, but never undone
So, think before you speak, as this is how goodwill is won

3.  Choices are always made with limited knowledge of facts
Success doesn't depend on choices, but very much on acts

4.  Culture and habit are strong but limiting guides in most everything we do
Think critically on your actions: they may lead you to something new

5. Trust is subtle and fragile. It can easily be broken
Being trusted feels good, so let your behavior be your token

6. If you're powerful or affluent you can make life a manupilation feast
But be mindful of your conscience. It bugs you when you expect it least

7.  Happiness is an inner-feeling that mainly depends on your outlook
Don't allow others to have too much to say in your life's storybook

8.  Keep yourself ready for change: it is always lurking around the bend
The less you cling to things, the less time on frustration you'll spend

9.  Rough situations come and go in life: they're not for holding on
The sooner you start releasing them, the sooner they are gone

10.  Smiles and silence are powerful allies in your life
A smile solves many problems. Silence helps omit strife

Friday, August 15, 2014

The gift of choosing the moral path

In reading some online newspapers last week, a number of disturbing facts caught my eye: a district administrator was arrested on suspicion of accepting gifts for special services that never materialized; a school principal was accused of attempted manipulation of school success rates, with a sizeable amount of money involved; a minister of Social Affairs acted as Santa Claus by granting gifts to social institutions on his birthday (not from his own wallet, but from his formal representation budget) to boost his popularity; governmental institutions are scrutinized on suspicion of corruptive actions, and a sizable part of society distrusts its political representatives and government as well as government subsidized entities.  

Corruption is a social disease that is easy to lapse into. The reason for that is also easy to see through: if everyone does it, it does not feel so corrupt anymore. Corruption particularly manifests itself in trade and politics, and with that, it has almost grown into a rule rather than an exception in many governmental branches throughout the world. There is a wide range of motives leading to corruptive actions, from safeguarding of power and influence to bypassing unwelcome rules and regulations, and from accelerating processes to paving a fast road toward affluence or power.

The common factor driving business and politics is their heavy transactional orientation. In the simplest possible wording it boils down to this: I'll give you this if you give me that. And then you may go ahead and substitute any situation you wish: “I give you the title on this piece of land if you ensure a nice sum of greasing money under the table,” “I will get you a meeting with the big boss if you want to pay the price to be moved up,” “I will speed up the processing of your documents if you speed up my wealth”, or “I will refrain from punishing you for your actions and look the other way if you want to look into my bank account”.

As you can tell, corruption usually appears in the form of a reward or punishment avoidance, but there is always a gift involved, mostly in the form of money, power, or prestige. Whatever it is that drives people to corruption, the phenomenon remains one of the weak links in our civilization, and it is hard to imagine a human society that is void of it.  That, too, is understandable: where different people come together, you will find different characters and motivations, as well as different levels of ethical reasoning. And it is a fact that you can alert people about ethics, but you cannot really teach them moral values, because moral values are strongly linked to the culture and structure of the society in which we live and perform.

No society on earth is free from corruption, but in some it is just more obvious than others. It often coincides with local economies and existing inequalities. When large groups of people feel oppressed due to economic struggles, and when leaders are continuously engaging in unethical practices, corruption will find a fertile ground.

It’s true, there are quite some weak spots in human civilization, and corruption is one of the most striking examples. And you know what? Chances are that each of us has engaged in corruptive behavior at least once, albeit more out of necessity than desire. Unfortunately, there is no rosy endnote here, other than that each of us should think critically about our conduct, and evaluate whether the steps we are about to take will be worth disrupting our emotional stability. Once we have made up our mind, we should do as we decide, and accept the consequences. And that's all I have to say about that.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The gift of now

This moment – here and now - is the only one that matters.

You may have heard that phrase many times before, but this may be the right time to savor it.

There is no other moment than this moment. All past moments, days, months, and years are just memories. All future moments, days, months, and years are projections that may or may not be realized.

This moment is the only one that matters. It’s one to be grateful for, because it is the moment all your past moments worked toward. It is the only moment in which you are your current self. In the next moment, many changes will have happened to you, physically and psychologically. Cells died off and others were created, changing the substance that is you forever. Impressions and experiences further contribute to the change: The person who woke up this morning is long gone by the time you lay your head to rest at night.

You change all the time, and that is a gift in itself. Accepting this notion will also make you more susceptible to other changes, because you acknowledge that change is an ongoing process, internally and externally, and that you are the ultimate manifestation of it.

Because you change all the time, there is no need to feel regret for situations, ventures, or relationships that went wrong in the past, because these were history teachers:  They taught you lessons you would not have learned if they did not present themselves.

Similarly, there is no need to feel excessively proud of your past achievements, because they were accomplished by someone that no longer exists. While there are elements of that person in you at this moment, the configuration has changed, and much of that past achiever has expired.

Understanding the gift of “now” can be a liberating as well as a daunting one, because it brings along the realization of its fleeting nature. It has all the ingredients of the famous quote, “This, too, shall pass”. If you are not too happy at this moment, you can rejoice in the realization that it will soon pass. If you cherish your current circumstances, you may feel melancholic about pending changes.

Yet, nothing can take away the gift of now. Anything that may happen next is not now. So, breathe deeply and be grateful for receiving the gift of now. It will soon be gone.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The "Other" Resolutions

People talk about resolutions for the New Year
And then see their determination swiftly disappear
So, here are some ideas that could mean a lot more
You can attain them much better than the ones before

  How about simply giving some more in the new year?
To those who suffer badly, in hardship and fear?
How about being more grateful for life as it is
Instead of always focusing on whatever’s amiss?

  How about more walking, not necessarily fast…
Just little strolls that will make your health last?
Or reading a book that’s different from your style?
Who knows! It may end up being worth your while!

  What about frequently telling people nice things…
So that you can witness the joy that this brings?
And what about being a bit more positive to YOU?
By ending that negative self-talk that makes you blue?

  And oh yes: you could also unplug now and then
Leave your electronics behind - regain your own zen?
You could stop seeing your life as overbearing
By simply deciding to stop comparing?

 You could motivate yourself at least once a day
And find how the pressure and stress fade away
How are these for some fun, easy plans for the New Year?
All the best to you and yours: may you be of good cheer!