Let us think for awhile about “our problems in life” and what might have brought them about?
As implied in the opening Awareness topic on “Our Precious Life”, life on earth is pretty amazing; and from what we know, incredibly unique. Especially when one appreciates the possibility that life on earth may well be the only advanced form of life in the estimated 100 million galaxies out there (with our own Milky Way being just one of them). With each galaxy potentially supporting some 100 million celestial bodies, like our earth, our ever expanding universe is estimated to consist of some 2,000 billion stars. That is just mind boggling. And as yet, with all we know, we do not know if life exists anywhere else in our massive universe. What is even more amazing is just how exceptional our human life is when compared with all other forms of life on earth. We humans would appear to be the penultimate form of life ever to exist on this planet and potentially the entire universe? The probability of life occurring on earth, as we know it today, is so infinitesimally small and mystifyingly unique, that it’s probably the closest observation we have to a miracle. Even the life supporting veneer surrounding the Earth’s surface (air, land & water) is exceptional. This thin, fragile layer is precariously placed to be so easily destroyed. Some say “Life on earth is Heaven sent”. In other words, some would argue, it is hard to believe it all just came about by pure accident. However, others believe that life on earth is part of the natural order of things, fully explainable.
Our Responsibilities for Life on Earth
Whatever your view, it is worth taking a moment to be mindful of just how wonderful life is, how precious life is and how important it is that we look after ourselves, one another, our family, our community, our ecology and all the other unique aspects of our environment supporting life. In the final analysis, what is most important is “our own life”. Science has uncovered so much in recent years, adding much to our appreciation for just how special life is on earth. Yet science has also discovered disturbing evidence suggesting that many, in Western society especially, are not looking after themselves as well as they should. People have become overly pre-occupied with seeking various forms of instant gratification, to the detriment of their overall well-being and the well being of our precious planet. We have become blasé to the fact that we are slowly but surely destroying much of the finite forms of life on earth and the life sustaining elements required for life. We struggle to appreciate we are but the custodians of these earthy assets not its owner. Our preoccupations with our own short-term self-interest and needs, comforts, money, addictions, self-gratification and narcissistic behaviour are all contributing to the destruction of many unique and critical aspects of our own life on this beautiful planet of ours. Our own health, the air we breathe, the oceans & lands that feeds us, the people with whom we share the planet are all at risk. In the process, the implications of this short term emphasis are causing mankind so much misery and creating so many big hard problems that they have become virtually impossible to solve.
It appears the more knowledge we obtain from scientific research and the internet into the natural order of things, the more we discover just how little we know, how much more there is to know, how important it is to shift our current way of thinking and how serious and precarious our current situation has become. Despite all our scientific discoveries and technological breakthroughs, the knowledge gap between what we know and what we need to know is growing exponentially. The amount of knowledge that “we don’t know we don’t know” is just beyond comprehension. For herein lies all our future hope and possibilities for sustaining and bettering our life here on earth and the opportunity for passing on a better earth to our future generation – our children and grandchildren.
One thing science is now sure of is that the purpose of life is to perpetuate life. The desire of basic life to reproduce and distribute its genes is the most powerful impulse in nature. Life’s DNA is architected from a single blueprint to split and create new life; a perfect machine for the creation of new molecules. DNA holds the secret of life with the ability to create an infinite combination of life forms; (the double helix representation of that spiralling staircase structure of coloured balls often seen on the TV program – The Big Bang).
Before the advent of the mankind (the most superior form of know life form yet created), the only known predators to life had been natural events of nature (crashing meteorites, erupting volcanoes, freezing Ice Ages, etc.). Yet life on earth has been able to survive all of this despite 90% of species once being wiped out in one known catastrophic event – most likely caused by a large meteor crashing to earth. Because we human’s have been gifted with the unique ability to reverse entropy, we are not only empowered to solve complex situations but also to reap so much destruction to life on earth to the point of putting at risk the sustainability of all life on earth. An earth within which our species could no longer survive and over such an incredibly short time frame. “Humans have become life’s greatest nightmare” (Bill Bryson).
The term “entropy” is used in physics to explain the natural tendency of order is towards disorder. When entropy is applied to us humans, we have a brain that is powerful enough to reverse this natural tendency by making order out of disorder/chaos. Human entropy relates to the physical measure of energy freely available to us for conversion into work or ordered initiatives and activities. Our natural tendency might be to lay back and let life take care of itself, thereby minimising the amount of energy applied (to reversing entropy). To do otherwise would be seen to work against natural entropy; like caring for ourselves and others beyond that which nature can do. We humans have a uniquely powerful brain and conscious mind that enables us to deliberately apply our available energy to make decisions to create order where disorder or chaos might otherwise exist.
If we observe, for instance a glass vase about to break because an open window has allowed the wind in. We humans are able to reverse entropy by taking the decision to close the window to sustain current order and thereby prevent a disordered mess of broken glass and spillage occurring. Yet the natural tendency of human entropy – is to do nothing. Even taking the decision to read this text is a unique human activity, reversing entropy by directing our conscious mind to unscramble all these letters in an ordered manner to convey knowledge and empowerment to its reader. Our key tools are our ability to read, listen and absorb experiences as input to reason what we should do next and learn from our own past experiences. No other species on earth has ever been able to do this to the extent us humans can do.
In exactly the same way, humans are able to identify with “self” as being both an individual or as a member of groups of human collectives. In some ways these two natural forces are in conflict, to the point where we must choose how much energy we should devote to each. Choosing the right balance depends upon our “now” situation, in terms of balancing what is best for us and the common good, both now and in the future. Neither choice is wrong in itself, but to devote all of one’s energy to say self-identification, could trend towards narcissism – self-obsession and self-indulgence. To devote all one’s energy solely to helping others and not care for yourself could be seen as pure altruism – irresponsible do-gooder, becoming a burden on society. The importance here is to “find the right balance” at each stage of one’s life journey. No-one is perfect. By not identifying with self is to ignore opportunities for personal growth and improvement in your own life, thereby allowing unhealthy “imbalances” to persist in our life and entropy to take control of your life. To be living a good life is to identify with the required balance between the love and care of self, the love and care for others and the love and care of our precious environment. People who also believe in God might also include the love of their God as well. Focusing on what is good for self and what is good for society is integral to living a good balanced life. This choice is at the heart of “Our Problems in Life” today.
IT Contribution towards solving these Problems
If there is so much still needing to be known and so many big hard problems out there needing to be solved, why is it that most of our greatest innovations and brightest minds are pre-occupied with trivial, mundane first world problems? The IT sector, to which I belong, has created plenty of billionaires over the years. But now serious questions are being asked about what IT (Information Technology) is actually contributing to society these days.
“I think we should be utterly ashamed of ourselves right now. We are at an absolute minimum in terms of quality of (IT) things being started”, said Chamath Palihapitya, the former Facebook executive to a recent packed audience at TechCrunch conference in held New York in early 2013. He questioned, why aren’t the innovative brains of the world, key financial institutions and governments focused on solving the world’s real big hard problems (like obesity, type 2 diabetes, air, water and land pollution, broken democratic governments, energy management, addictions, etc.)? We face the very real prospect for the first time in human history that the world we are to pass on to our next generations is far worse than when we were born. We are at a crossroad in the quality of our life on Earth. Yet our greatest technology innovations are elsewhere trying to make more and more money through trivial mundane IT gadgets and widgets. We open with this as a typical example of where we humans do not appear to have struck the right balance between short term and long term needs being met. Society today in the majority is too focused on its immediate term needs and the need for instant gratification.
Finding the Right Balance
Much of what is actually going on in our brain and our decision making processes is not really accessible to us and at times we even forget what we know we have already learnt from past experiences? The struggle between our independence (just self) and our inter-dependence (on others) explains the conflict and confusion about what is the right and wrong thing to do in our every-day now situations. Sometimes we want to use our energy on ourself (like being financially independent, healthy, etc) – nothing wrong with this. Sometimes we want to use our energy caring for others (like being kind, supporting healthier living, on our environment) – nothing wrong with this. Pure expression of our interdependence is part of our nature – towards altruism; some of it is about caring for ourselves in not being a burden on others and being the best we can be. Yet our powerful sub-conscious mind is geared towards our self-preservation, our survival & it is all about self-interest. Having an imbalance towards purely self-interest is to tend towards narcissism. The conflict and confusion arises because our conscious mind (our free will) and animal-like sub-conscious mind are at odds with one another. The good news is that it is our conscious mind that can take control by making well informed decision to go against entropy (ie. our sub-conscious mind) or go with what our conscious mind tells us is best for us and society generally. Our unconscious mind is often associated with unresolved issues, feelings deep within us. For believers in God, this might be what our God willing us to do. But in the final analysis it is our conscious mind that makes the choice. That’s why it’s often called our “free” choice.
For those that believe in God and especially Christians, in their Tier 4 reflection they might find conciliation in the Bible writings of Paul to the Corinthians (8:7.9. 13-15) “This does not mean that to give relief to others, you ought to make things difficult for yourselves: it is a question of balancing what happens to be your surplus now against their present need, and one day they may have something to spare that will supply your own need. That is how we strike a balance: as scripture says: The man who gathers much had none too much, the man who gathered too little did not go short.”
Assessment of Self
We become human in the way that we do through our receiving from others. It is in our relationships with others through which we become aware of ourselves as a person capable of and obligated to committed responses to other people. It is in relationships that we grow and it’s through attachments that we mature in our lifelong journey of transformation. The attachment bond is the pre-condition for all meaningful human interactions, especially caring and love. In difference to Freud’s claim that this has to do with our sexual drive, it’s basically our need to be loved. These attachments are vital to our psychological well-being, just as food is to our physical well-being.
Most psychologists agree that it is during our early informative (1-7) years that a child’s interaction with their caregiver shapes their psychological development. Security is the most basic of childhood needs. If a child feels insecure it screams. Where essential love and caring is lacking from its caregiver, this gives rise to the fight/flight/freeze response. Such a response is often only soothed through a hunger that cannot be satisfied. Never having a secure base leads to anxiety and/or depression. A child in such a situation believes they are not worthy of love, are not able to trust others and develops low self-esteem. Ultimately the attachment between a child and their caregiver shapes how we go on to exist in this world. None of us have been loved perfectly. None of us love perfectly. We live in an imperfect world. This imperfection in our own up-bring also leads to inter-generational transmission of the wounds incurred from our own degrees of attachment. The degree of this attachment goes to form the initial gaps in our own life. To fill these gaps in later life, we continue to need care, love and support from others capable and willing to help.
It’s the degree of too much separation between a child and their caregivers which sows the roots of addiction. Addictions to repetitive behaviour patterns are developed at an early age, by using comfort food as our mechanism for taking our minds off our attachment gaps. These later manifest themselves when we face real problems in our adult life by absorbing in self-sabotaging (substance abuse, comfort eating, gambling, technology, pornography, etc.). Many of these behavioural patterns become entrenched for life. Serious events occurring later in adult life can easily trigger one to call upon these entrenched behavioural patterns when needing to deal with situations such as a marriage failure, a death in the family, post-traumatic stress, business failure, and financial problems, etc. If these weakness gaps are created during our early upbringing then we are susceptible to drawing upon these survival strategies during times of distress. Anything to take out minds off our problems by avoiding the pain we imagine is about to happen. The fear of immediate and imminent pain is perceived to be greater than the future pain associated the on-going consequences of resorting to addictive behavioural patterns.
To those with such gaps in their makeup, separation (from love) infers punishment, fear or even further separation. So powerful is this need to be loved. This myth of separation (the fear in the mind that isn’t real only perceived to be real) leads to strategies for hiding, running away, whereas it is really an invitation to love unconditionally, an invitation to be empowered by one’s free will and to choose what mind is in control (your sub-conscious or conscious mind) ie. yourself or your mythical fears, that typically aren’t real. They are all fears stored in one’s unconscious mind.
The solution to this world-wide problem would appear to be described simply as loving one another as we would want to be loved. For “love changes everything; how you live and how you die… Nothing in the world will ever be the same” (Aspects of Love by A.L. Webber 1989). Each of us, has the opportunity to share in the anxieties, the fears and to absorb, to some extent, the suffering of others. However, there is one major proviso to free will – those with these gaps first need to be aware they exist and secondly need to be awakened to want to help themselves to solve their specific problems and be open to accepting help from others (capable and willing to care, love and support them in addressing their problems).
A process known as SWOT analysis, often applied in business analysis, helps in gaining a better appreciation for one’s wholeness and degree of balance by reflecting upon ones strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. When a SWOT analysis is applied to your “self”, it is that the first and essential natural tendency towards better knowing yourself; knowing your own strengths, weaknesses (and gaps) together with your own opportunities and threats (and fears) in life. Your strengths are opportunities for you to volunteer your help for others with this as a weakness. Whereas your identified weakness are also opportunities for you to seek help from others prepared to share this strength with you. In the first instance, unless you love yourself and take care of yourself through various forms of self-help, you are likely to become a burden on society, have low self-esteem or worst still not survive. Periodic periods of reflection (on self and our relationships with others) is useful for determining whether there are things in our life that need to change. It’s our mindfulness of these needs for change in our every-day now situations that strengthens our self-control, our self-discipline in maintaining this balance in our life; an essential input to our moral compass. It’s hard to imagine that a person who does not look after themselves at all would be particularly good at looking after others. The idea of “getting your own house in order first before helping others get theirs in order” makes sense. Love and caring begins with self, then at home and then spirals outwards to your family, friends, associates, your local community, your nation, our world and our natural environment. We are essentially social creatures. But the better you know yourself the better placed you are for helping others. Our survival as a species is predicated upon us collaborating as a community. We humans have a natural tendency to want to be part of a community through participation and even identify ourselves through such participations eg. “My career defines me!”.
It is generally accepted that the majority (towards 90%) of adults in western society today are trending towards narcissism, being consumed by self-interest (look-at-me, materialism, becoming wealthy, even corruption, greed or addiction, etc.). You could be right in deducing therefore that currently an imbalance exists in western society, because of this obsession and pre-occupation with various forms of instant gratification – technology gadgets, pornography, unhealthy foods, sugary drinks,financial success whatever the cost. This also manifests itself in falling charitable donations, record savings, hip-pocket politics, drug addiction, alcoholism, smoking, fast foods and an overall preference for tactical benefits over the strategic. The problems has become so pronounced that this mindset has produced insoluble social problems that western society continues to struggle with. These are all individual preoccupations specifically designed to take people’s minds off their own personal problems. The success of narcissistic tools like Facebook, Instragram, Twitter, Selfies and Kardashion lifestyles are indicative of a society obsessed instant gratification behaviours – “I want it and I want it now!”. In a recent Australian report from a 10 year study into the work-life balance of 6,000 ordinary Australians, we were found to be “a basket case”; working long hours, being overweight & obese, 65% with medium to high stress levels, travelling further to work than ever before, no exercise, hooked on technology gadgets, having drug and alcohol dependencies problems, etc.
Reflecting upon “Who am I” and “Who are we” is integral to finding the right answers for ordinary people seeking to live a good balanced life. The “Who am I” associates more with reflection upon self in search of the imbalances in your own life (like being overweight, drugs usage, alcohol consumption and other self-indulgences that have become a problem for you in your own life. Such in-depth refection might suggesting certain changes to the way you live are in order. The “who are we” is an even more challenging reflection as we consider our participation in society, the common good and society’s imbalances; concern for the big hard problems like obesity & type 2 diabetes, addictions, smoking, alcoholism, pollution, mental illness, poverty, homelessness, etc. Questions that beg, why isn’t somebody doing something about these problems? In concluding that that someone could possibly be you, then you might question:-
- Do you have these types of problems in your own life and is greater self-help in order to balance with any external help soughty?
- Can you help others in solving these problems by balancing your life to find time to shift your natural pre-occupations to activities devoted to making making a contribution to society (through acts of charity, volunteering, becoming involved in community-based events)?
- Are you an expert in certain problem domains and is there more that can be done to increase ordinary people’s awareness of these problems and the potential for human-driven solutions to these problems?
Fixing Our Problems in Life
When you have a problem you simply want it fixed. You don’t want to spend vast amounts of time and energy understanding, analysing and reflecting upon your problems……. all you need is a fix! Yes there are professional therapists, psychiatrists and the like out there specialising in these various fields of narcissitic behavioural problems, but how can a fix to your problem(s) possibly be found through “self-help? How do you find the kind of good life you seek?
Simple problems like fixing a dripping tap, a blown light bulb, sewing a button on a jacket, putting a bandaid on a cut finger, etc. are all examples of small self-help matters readily addressed through basic self-help. The seminal deployment of the Yourself Helper website is primarily concerned with the following significant challenges being faced by western society today:-
- The “Big Hard” Social problems that are primarily self-inflicted and thereby self-correctable, problems like obesity, addictions, coruption
- The “Circumstantial” issues being faced by our poor, unemployed, disabled, disadvantaged, elderly, refugees, etc; issues not necessarily the fault of self but brought about by location, genes, social situations all outside the control of those inflicted
- The growing social tendency towards “narcissism” and pre-occupation with self, self-interest and materialism. To yield to a world of self-indulgence as a way of life, creates a whole range of problems that become almost impossible to solve operating from within such a philosophy.
These problems have become so serious and all pervasive because our sub-conscious mind have become our master. When it comes to our mind, most tend to shy away from doing anything to help ourselves. We have become trapped in a pattern of narcissistic habits, struggling to lose weight, quit smoking, stop gambling, find a job, exit from the poverty cycle. Wheresas we have been blessed with the most extrordinary conscious mind in the universe which can reshape your sub-conscious mind to better serve you, better reverse entropy and better solve all of the problems we are failing to solve. Forty odd years ago a “self-help” approach called NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) was devised by Dr. Richard Bandler & Paul McKenna and is more recently explained in simpler “self-help” terms in Alicia Eaton in her book “Fix your Life with NLP” (2012). What is intriguing about the approach is that its base on the premise that our minds are like computers. A computer stores images and words that from time to time need updating or correcting based upon real world experiences suggesting certain parts of the computers stored information needs fixing. In fact, experience shows computers are far better tooled to fixing its problems that we are in taking care of our own brain.
NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) is an important part of any “self-help” approach where ordinary people need to change the way they think and have been behaving. On the physical plain, scientists call it “neural plasticity”. Our physical brain has the capacity to grow new neural connections and the more we use them the thicker they grow. You often hear the expression when someone is pondering over a personal problem “I’m of two minds”. Here they are (probably unknowingly) referring to that eternal struggle between one’s sub-conscious and conscious minds.
In summary, the NLP approach provide ordinary people with a “self-help’ tool to re-program those parts of their troublesome sub-conscious mind which are causing personal problems to persist, despite their desire to overcome them. People are struggling to solve problems in their adult life (like overeating, smoking, sleeping, etc.) because they keep falling back on entrenched strategies (such as, avoidance, instant gratification, tactical pre-occupations designed to take their minds of their real problems, etc.); strategies long held in their sub-conscious mind. Unlike our computers we did not come with a way to fix any troublesome parts of our mind, especially our sub-conscious mind. In fact almost all of the self-inflicted big hard problems being faced by western society today, together with many of the circumstantial problems people have today, require ordinary people to regain control of their own minds in order to solve their own unique problems. For example, as child you may have had bad experiences at the dentists, with a dog, trapped in a lift or being berated by a parent, teacher or friend etc. These events can produce a fear or phobia that will last for years or even a life time. Experience like these become imprinted in your mind and unless attended to in some way persist as the automatic strategies you turn to when problems arise. As with other parts of the body (like muscles), the brain responds positively to effective exercise, especially exercises that can reshape those defective imprints in your mind. Einstein provided a clue to the style of exercises required when explaining that “imagination is more important than knowledge”.
Though our 5 natural senses (of smell, taste, touch, sight and hearing) our brain typically takes on board around 2 bill. bits of information per second every day of our life. For our brain the most powerful senses are our visual, hearing and touch senses coded into to the brain as pictures, words spoken and feelings. When these experiences are received by the brain they are either ignored/deleted, distorted or generalised as images or voices stored in our sub-conscious mind. Changing the pictures in your mind also changes your feelings associated with them. Unless feelings change or are repeated they tend to stop. Like diving into cold water, the initial feeling of coldness soon passes once the body has adapted to it.
This is why you sometimes hear reactions to people’s problems along the lines – “it’s all in your mind, it’s not real”. What is being explained here is how other people might have processed this same input, which does not correlate with the different interpretation another person’s brain might have stored, despite it being the same event. Just like the earlier childhood traumas discussed – these experiences were real to them at the time, yet other people may well have experienced them quite differently. This why people behave differently when faced with a traumatic event (like a ship sinking). Their strategies can all be different because their past relevant experiences were different. For instance, some simply freeze, others seek to save others, while many seek to just save themselves. Why they all behave differently is often because their entrenched strategies to deal with such an event has been formed differently based upon past experiences’ successes or otherwise.
Whether you are seeking to solution to a big hard problem or even small problems in your life, you need to create a success strategy for yourself. To ensure you do not spread yourself too thinly “by taking on more than you can chew” right now, its important how you approach your problems in life for it can mean the difference between success or failure. A proven approach is to complete a chart like that below (Wheel of Life – WOL) categorising the things in life often needing to be changed and rating your problems broadly. Ask yourself. “how (rating out of 5) you are going in each of your 8 life categories (5 at the centre meaning you are perfectly fine, 1 indicating you have big problems here)”?
Next think about each category and its score (less than 5) and give another score to it identifying how many other categories would benefit as well if you could to make this category a “5″.? The category that gets the highest second score now is your top priority. For example, if you initially scored “Health” as low (1) and also realised by looking after your weight and drinking less alcohol in being healthier you would also improve “4” other categories, then focusing on your “Health” will deliver the best outcome for you to focus upon initially.
Using NLP tools it is possible to change the bad experiences associated with your priority problem(s) currently stored in your sub-conscious mind; experiences long past their “use by date”. Changing these images, change your feelings about them and thereby change the way your body responds to them in the future. Without this your brain and body invariably to continue operating off entrenched strategies; all based upon much earlier experiences. These strategies are constantly drawn upon to deal with anything remotely resembling our experiences of the past even though they may have been formed as a small child. Strategies totally inappropriate for adult situations. Other such tools also available, that work in a similar fashion to NLP, include techniques of relaxation and mindful reflection, meditation and hypnosis; all designed to first clear the brain of its established strategies (based upon past experiences), to open the mind to other possibilities and establish more effective strategies for building success in the future – techniques (like NLP) which are known to deliver the desired result. After creating a more appropriate strategy in our sub-conscious mind, we then behave quiet differently when faced which such problems next time in our more mindful now situation delivering a better outcome for ourself. Rather than repetitively resorting to use old strategies that constantly failed to deliver to expectations. The advantages of the NLP approach is that it complements the notion of “self-help” by being able to be applied freely on your own, producing results more quickly and progressively while growing in confidence from its regular use on a whole range of other social problems that have eluded a solution thus far.
Many of the problems experienced by ordinary people in western society today (obesity, addiction, etc) are common enough not to warrant a visit to a therapist in the first instance. And yet to the individual inflicted with these problems and issues, they remain serious enough to make life difficult for them. Fortunately we live in an era where sophisticated advances in brain scanning equipment and scientific research into the behaviour of the brain enables us to understand more about how our mind works than ever before. In the “Awakening” step of our self help process, regular use of NPL techniques are recommended to fix many common habit and motivation problems as well as specific personal problems like being overweight, lacking confidence, fears and phobias.
Most ordinary people are not aware they also have an unconscious mind. Scientists have long known about the existence of a person’s “unconscious mind”. And since the advent of modern brain scanning technology, scientists have been able to identify where gamma waves are produced by the brain’s parietal lobe when we are dreaming or absorbed in deep creative thinking. Human Synergistics Australia (HAS) in conjunction with neuro psycho-therapist Trisha Stratford have developed insights and tested the powers of the unconscious mind at the neuroscience unit at the University of Technology, Sydney. By wiring up 30 business executives to an EGG devise, they were able to establish baseline brainwave patterns when these executives were involved in problems solving.
What they discovered was that it is possible to tap in on the power of the unconscious mind to develop a practice they call “extreme thinking”. Rather than “working harder” to solve complex problems, far greater success was achieved by “working smarter” through relaxation (nidra yoga style) to first clear the brain to enable clearer thinking and then accessing their imaginative insights using their unconscious mind. The executives found they were the able to revisit their unique problem to the extent that EGG testing revealed a 33% increase in cognitive function, producing 63% more problem solutions. As one executive put it “Now I find that if I have a really challenging problem and it’s not something I can deal with, I send it to my unconscious mind. It’s like an order (to the brain).” Solution breakthroughs tend to occur at odd times of unrelated physical activity. Like during periods in the shower, during a jog, like taking a break away from normal concerns. One IAG executive explained “The gathering of information feeds my unconscious mind as well as information needed by my unconscious mind. Gardening a new stretch of the yard was very helpful as this required me to be outdoors and away from the office, and focused on an activity with some physical activity, and (it) literally required mental planning.” A TNT executive put it this way “After following the techniques and going for a run, I had a breakthrough while shaving. We implemented it (the solution) and it was well received. I wouldn’t have arrived at it by sitting in a room.”
So in fixing our problems in life, just as we fix our physical body when it is injured, we would do well to consider techniques for exercising both our conscious and unconscious minds as a means to regaining control of our sub-conscious mind to address the many imbalances in our life and solve the our more serious problems in life.
In Australia our GDP (Gross Domestic Product) measure does not include nor recognise the significant value of unpaid volunteering work performed throughout our communities. Caring work, community work, creative work, all types of unpaid work have all become common place; without which our economy could not function. Take the myth that our non-income earning ageing population has becoming a burden on our economy. The facts suggest just the opposite. In Australia the volunteer work, performed by non-earning Australians, contributes significantly to both the economy and health of society. A 2013 study by Patricia Edgar explains “that over 55ers contribute the staggering sum of $74.5 bill. a year through caring for spouses and grandchildren and in other unpaid voluntary work. Women aged 65 to 74 contribute $16 bill. in unpaid work inside and outside the home. Men of that age, who are fewer in number, contribute another $10.3 bill.” This generation regard themselves as being healthier, fitter, livelier and mentally more alert than their parents at the same age. When doing such voluntary work they attract much respect, recognition, kindness and compassion. So much for being a burden on society! One of the real strains on our economy is the self-inflicted problem of obesity, which is far more seriously and a grossly under-rated problem costing society $bills.
Because Government is primarily interested in the tax revenue able to be collected from the employed and businesses earning income, the overall value ($bills) of our volunteering effort is of little interest, and consequently not measured but rather taken for granted. This is a problem for the worth of our volunteer effort is a staggering sum, probably exceeding $100bill. If we could measure the full spectrum of ordinary people’s productivity and productivity value of all ages (including non-income earning volunteer work – like sports coaching, school tuckshop and parents associations, charity and church works, pro-bona work, education, community works, crisis volunteering, supporting the mentally ill etc.), our Gross Domestic Productivity (GDP) measure might give authentic recognition to the incredible value volunteering delivers to our economy and the health of society. It might also place more weight on finding ways and means to encourage much more volunteer opportunities and the identification of more that are ready and able to undertake volunteer work.
There is so much potential tied up in Australian’s fondness for volunteering. Take one example, the growing unemployment of our youth. What if there were a bank of volunteers prepared to educate our youth in “life skills”, something rarely found on our current school curriculum. Skills like, home cooking, time management, financial services, diet, health stuff, job seeking, gardening etc. Even a spot of work experience through volunteering. Such involvement in volunteer work could rescue our young from boredom, anxiety and depression by offering them a pathway for their transition from school to the adult world and meaningful employment. By those already employed walking in the shoes of another human being who is crying out for work you not only would be able to benefit the unemployed but benefit yourself through that feeling of generosity and happiness from your trying to sincerely help someone in need. The join feeling of adulation when say the person gets their first interview opportunity, first hears they have got the job is something very special. It has the potential to lead to so many other altruistic opportunities for both the giver and the receiver of help. When you see the response ordinary people make to advertised appeals for disaster relief (locally and/or overseas), you realise our vein of generosity is rich within us, needing only to be tapped. It only needs a catalyst for the connection to be made – such a catalyst platform is the Yourself Helper website.
When it comes to working out whether on-line connectedness (such as social networking) “is good for us”, sufficient research evidence is now available to consider its various pros and cons. For Yourself helper is a social network platform for altruism. Most researches insist social networking is mainly good news – a productive and safe way for ordinary people to explore their identity, stimulate imagination and support their thirst for knowledge. The main concern is the trade-off between face-to-face time and screen time. The growing use of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instragram, etc has been shown to increase psychological distress, often making people feel sad & lonely and thereby often having a negative impact on self-esteem. Similar results arose from heavy users of mobile phones. Heavy users are more likely to have lower academic marks, great anxiety, and generally lower levels of life satisfaction. In summary too much time spent on the mobile phone, on on-line platforms comes at a cost to study time and other more productive endeavours. An infliction known as FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is a common social problem arising in heavy on-line connected users. But where a more balanced use of social media exists (ie. encouragement towards more face-to-face inter-connectedness) there is compelling research (Carnegie Mellon – 2012) that shows use of social network platforms increases social bonding while decreasing loneliness. Social on-line connections are very different from face-to-face interactions. But when blended together (as is encouraged from users of the Yourself Helper website), actively engaging and inter-acting with others, social networking can be an extremely convenient and accessible means for sharing information with one another, promoting our psychological health and general well-being. In fact some users claim that social networking enables them to be more like their real identify, rather than hiding their true identity in awkward face-to-face communication. Whereas other users feel that on-line communication enables them to hide their true identity. Even to create several identities for use in different on-line situations. As you will discover, the Yourself Helper altruistic website utilises the best of both worlds (on-line connectivity for users to not only connect with their true identity in a safe and secure environment but also to facilitate both on-line and face-to-face connectivity with others depending upon the preferred level of sharing appropriate to the now situation.
This website (“Yourself Helper”) is my (IT) contribution towards creating a platform for the above aspirations to be facilitated on a large scale. A platform to facilitate a more balanced use of social networking over the internet in addressing serious social problems arising because there is currently an imbalance. Supplementing natural human behaviour by creating a more balanced, deep and meaningful conversations to be had with self and others on both our big hard problems and are own personal problems. The fact that IT innovation has the potential to contribute so much more towards solving many of the critical and serious big hard problems facing ordinary people today, both disturbs and excites me. Rather than adding to these problems, as its currently doing, IT innovation should be taking the lead in addressing these life-distroying problems, problems that are all pervasive and ubiquitous across western society today.
In summary IT has become part of the problem whereas it should be part of the solution. There is more on this subject within the Information Technology read that follows.
Next Awakening Step
In taking the next “Awakening” step, you begin to consider your own view on the range of problems being faced by western society today and possibly yourself. You will initially be invited to answer some common questions and common issues raised on “The Problem” and be encouraged to identify with your own specific situation. Finally the questioning turns to the more important question of yourself as a social creature living in a fuzzy world of relationships with others, inextricably linking us to others – in our family, in our community, in our society and to even our spiritual connections or love of nature. Australia (and western society generally) faces many serious political problems, environmental problems, health problems especially with our aging population, our need for tax reform, the end of our mining boom, difficulties in creating new employment opportunities, welfare spending, budget-deficits, etc.
Simply “click” on the Problems in Life – “Awakening” button to take another step forward in your self-transformation journey. Even if you already feel you do not have any particular issue with this matter under discussion, then please become involved in blogging on this subject or consider becoming a contributor to the material you have just read. None of us is perfect and there is always room for improvement in our life, just as there is in other ordinary people’s lives. As there are no “Action” or “Accountability” steps on this particular topic , so please continue to consider the initial “Big Hard Problems” at the core of this current “Yourself Helper” website.
Click the “Our Problems in Life” – Awakening button below to download the “Awakening PDF questions on this important subject. You will be invited to participate in the second “Awakening” step by creating an entry in your personal journal, as you reflect upon just how you feel right now about what you have just read.
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