For those who are tired from their past. For those who are tired from their future. For those who are carrying over their shoulders the burden of anticipation. For all of those, and myself, I dedicate the below program called “Just for Today”, written by Sibyl F. Patridge in the late 19th century. Copy it and stick on your desk or on the wall and read it daily:
Just for Today
- Just for today I will be happy. This assumes that what Abraham Lincoln said is true, that “most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Happiness is from within; it is not a matter of externals.
- Just for today I will try to adjust myself to what is, and not try to adjust everything to my own desires. I will take my family, my business, and my luck as they come and fit myself to them.
- Just for today I will take care of my body. I will exercise it, care for it, nourish it, not abuse nor neglect it, so that it will be a perfect machine for my bidding.
- Just for today I will try to strengthen my mind. I will learn something useful. I will not be a mental loafer. I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration.
- Just for today I will exercise my soul in three ways; I will do somebody a good turn and not get found out. I will do at least two things I don’t want to do as William James suggests, just for exercise.
- Just for today I will be agreeable. I will look as well as I can, dress as becomingly as possible, talk low, act courteously, be liberal with praise, criticize not at all, nor fault with anything and not try to regulate nor improve anyone.
- Just for today I will try to live through this day only, not to tackle my whole life problem at once. I can do things for twelve hours that would appall me if I had to keep them up for a lifetime.
- Just for today I will have a program. I will write down what I expect to do every hour. I may not follow it exactly, but I will have it. It will eliminate two pests, hurry and indecision.
- Just for today I will have a quiet half hour all by myself and relax. In this half hour sometimes I will think of God, so as to get a little more perspective into my life.
- Just for today I will be unafraid, especially I will not be afraid to be happy, to enjoy what is beautiful, to love, and to believe that those I love, love me.
If we all have our worries from the past or to happen in the future; then, we all really need to live just for today.
The Self in its essential core does not brittle down unless the reason of its existence is realized. And the Self existence realization is an ongoing process not a discrete destination. This is for our good; so that we keep enjoying the realization of our Self’s existence every day rather than living tensed and miserable until that end is reached – and fret on the concept of death before reaching that destination. It follows then that Self’s existential realization is a State of Living; made possible by living in accordance to why your Self was made into existence.
The diaspora the human being is living and his pathological grip on life and fear of death is a manifestation of the diaspora of the Self and its apartness from its cause of existence. It’s when the Self is led on the course of its existence realization that everything in the universe is found to be in place. This is not to say that by then heaven shall be found on earth; however, the Self inside the human would not live in diaspora anymore yet shall be united, calmed, and secured; and proceed calmly in its due course of its existence realization.
The human has been granted the existence. Then, it’s up to you discovering the reason for your existence and realize it. First discover your true life’s calling; then, start your journey of realizing it. You will find peace in your every day living. Peace is not a life’s state where every thing in your life is great, but a very small corner in your life to which you can have a shelter from life’s disappointments and frustrations. And that kind of peace is not there for one living with a fearful Self divorced from its meaning.
A great deal of mankind psychological problems are in fact Spiritual problems. What’s the difference? Psychological problems have a link to physiological matters, represented in how brain neural circuitry and chemistry are impacting and directing you. Depression, for instance, is a psychological problem and a depressed human brain EEG or MRI imaging is differential from those not depressed. Physicians treat this with antidepressant pills; besides, in some cases, adopting psychological techniques such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) to aid the process.
However, there are no pills to treat envy. No pills to treat arrogance. No pills to treat cowardice. No pills to treat unjustified fear or panic attacks resultant from, for instance, fear of death. Such are good examples of Spiritual Diseases. Scientifically or methodically, they are enrolled under psychology Personality Theories as personality or character disorders; however, I always seen them as illnesses attacking the spirit not the personality. They are impacting your own very core; rather than a mere representational layer called personality.
Spiritual diseases have only one fundamental root cause: being self-centered. If you want to get rid of 95% of your spiritual problems, stop being occupied by your self only. The less you are occupied with your self, the less you would face such diseases. How to break this pattern? Live for something outside you. Live for others. Don’t say that people around you don’t deserve that you live for them. Ironically, you live for them because YOU deserve to be healthy from spiritual disease. It’s as if this entire universe is designed that we connect. No other way. And it makes sense! If it wasn’t that forced by design, no life would be there – if we had the choice to get away from people we didn’t like or could survive by eliminating others. If you are interested in scientific proof of what I just said, I’d recommend you read Daniel Goleman’s Social Intelligence book. It contains latest neuroscience research about how our brains are designed to connect to the extent that the absence of which is denounced in structural changes in our brains.
And to connect does not mean you spend time on Facebook. To connect is more fundamental than this. It’s to connect with your externals. Here are some examples that you can use to connect – AND to cure your spiritual diseases:
- Your Work. What you do and produce is a connection between you and people dependent on your output at work. It’s also a connection between you and all the clients impacted by your work. You connect to your colleagues and customers through the work you produce. From that end, think of your work everyday as being part of you getting out and linking to other people. Think of how you are tied to them. You work to connect.
- Your Study. When you study, you read for other professionals. What you read is not just words. It’s other’s hard effort and sweat. An organism breathing with their blood and mental effort. You connect with them. Not only this, you become a connecting ring in the chain yourself as you propagate forward what you learned in form of practical work you do or knowledge you teach or transfer. You study to connect.
- Your Commute. You go out everyday. Being light-weighted to those around you. A greeting. A smile. An assistance to old person or a relieve to a troubled person. You commute around people to connect.
- Your environment. Everything around you has energy level (chemistry people know this). You connect with your environment by being in the same energy band. Want an example of how that feels? Remember that day when you heard good news of being promoted or the good news of being accepted in a scholarship or that job offer or hearing a love word for the first time from the person you loved. Remember how you walked in the streets back then. It felt like everything around you is in alignment with you. It felt like you are extremely harmonized inside that you no longer perceive what’s around you as something separate from you. This is being in the same energy band with your external environment. Feel the air breathe, the birds singing, the sun rays on your face. You look around to connect.
Don’t ever have fear of living for others around you through your work or just living; concerned by living for them you would be oppressing your own self or denying her the attention or care needed. Contrarily, your own self would come to you in a perfect recollection from what you do to other. Connect and you become a better you. A person without Spiritual diseases.
Life should be lived calmly and pleasantly, as much as we can. Because it’s life. For believers, we will all cease to an end and get transferred to something else permanent. For non-believers, we will all cease to an end anyway.
Even at times of calamities, one should transcend life and realize that it’s time to understand that in whatever ugly conditions one may be living in, it will come to an end. All will end.
Live peacefully. Live richly. Work and enjoy the work. Enjoy the commitments and the responsibilities.
Live. And don’t fret much about bad things. For nothing bad is permanent.
** This article is originally published in OpEd News Network with 72 hours exclusive **
It’s been almost 10 days now since EgyptAir’s flight MS804 came down into the Mediterranean sea. However, Egypt public interpretations have been 30 days old (i.e. more mature than the elapsed time in which experts are working on deciphering the incident). In fact, public interpretations have been flying over social networks before even a single wreckage was ever found.
Aviation experts says there are three main reasons behind airplanes fall: 1) Meteorological, 2) Technical, and 3) Terrorism – and they ruled out the Meteorological. This left us with only Technical and Terrorism. Well, this is aviation experts worldwide. What happened next is interesting.
Egyptian public interpretations, and sometimes remarkably confident conclusions, have started to formulate around these two categories depending on the previous mental background of each one. If the person is from the group who sees Egypt on the rise and that there is conspiracy to bring it behind, the person will be more inclined to Terrorism as the reason; saying that there was a bomb aboard and so on. The group would mostly be older generations Egyptians. If the person is from the group who sees that EVERY thing about Egypt is shit, then, the person will be more inclined to the Technical cause and will go further by adding that it’s induced by some careless on the pilot’s part or the company’s part. This group is mostly the younger generations Egyptians. And since statistically Egypt’s 78% of population is young age, it follows therefore that the majority of the Egyptian public is now blaming the company or the pilots for causing the crash.
Remarkably, members of each group have been talking confidently like experts. And this is a known mental illusion proven by Neuroscience: the brain constructs the perfect story from impressions formulated from appearances; then, gets that story endorsed by your analytical parts of the brain (thorough but lazy) based on what’s called Associative Memory – which makes available to you anything from the past memory that supports the impression at hand. When this procedure happens, what we call “Prejudice” appears. You become prejudiced about specific group or specific country or specific company.
To the prejudiced Egyptians of Group 2, I direct these questions and facts:
Haven’t the Egyptians suffered a lot from prejudiced opinions? Would you like to be denied your rights anywhere in the world because you are an Egyptian? Certainly you wouldn’t want that and for sure you are abhorring the suffer of prejudice against Egyptians or Muslims or Doctors. Then, why you are denying now the company’s right or the pilots’ rights by being prejudiced about the situation?
For instance, a hashtag in Twitter was created in Arabic, meaning #I_Will_Not_Fly_EgyptAir. Based on what? The leaked information you have from the sight, or from your ability to see the destiny, or based on the story your mind has told you in alignments with your own negative background on everything in Egypt…
If you are from those who are insulting EgyptAir (management or pilots), have an honest pause with yourself and ask yourself just this: based on what you have formulated your attack? And if your stand is based on information provided by others, ask yourself based on what they have formulated their attack? If you do this honestly, you will 100% find that your stand against the company is implausible and unfair. You will also find that those you grouped with are just imposing their own mental stories on you. They have no ground too.
The below are some pointers that should aid you in correcting your unfair stand; if you honestly care about not being unfair to someone so that no one becomes unfair to you someday:
A- Almost every airliner had incidents in its track record. For example, just last year Germanwings pilot who crashed his plane into the mountains for suicide. No one like you has commenced an attack calling for boycotting the airliner.
B- Be critical about it. No formal authority with hands-on the situation has said any conclusion. You should wait and only by the availability of the information you can start critically validating things and formulate your own conclusion. Even if a country like France came out and said Egyptians were fools, you shouldn’t take this at face value. Instead, you examine there premises on which they built their conclusion critically then see if it makes sense or not. Same with individuals. For example, some employees in the company or in the airport has said “Maintenance is shit and the plane is shit.” Question their stand. Are they experts? What the hell they know about planes and maintenance operations to make such statements? And if they do, where is this shit everywhere?
C- People makes blunt statements like experts because of two things: 1) it makes them feel good about themselves or 2) they are serving specific agenda. You should be careful and classify. A ground hostess in the airport or an office employee in EgyptAir who tweets that EgyptAir maintenance is shit is an example of group 1. She feels great about herself because this blunt conclusion gives her the illusionary satisfaction that she’s an important person in the company. Oh yeah, she’s there and knows everything. A specific country or a specific group may want to undermine your country people trust in their own national company. Don’t fall prey to these two types. As I speak here about the Egyptian public opinions; then, most of what you encountered so far is the first type: people feeding their own psychological problems by being smart ass. They are simply not because simply there are no proved information or data on which their forceful conclusions are based. Want to try? Ask any of them to present them; and you will find non-sense.
D- Remember any situation in your life when someone has judged you at face value without caring about facts or your defense. For example, one time when your direct supervisor has told the manager that your work is no good and the manager brought you for a performance meeting where you had to defend yourself to find him demanding improvements from you and blaming you. Or when your membership to a group has brought you pain or even jail without giving you the opportunity of a trial. Or when you found difficulty obtaining a visa to travel somewhere because you are an Egyptian. Remember these situations that happened to you when you were attacked or denied rights because of someone or some country or some group has made an upfront general conclusion against you like the “Will_Never_Fly_EgyptAir” you are supporting now.
E- Consider the big picture, 1) how many years EgyptAir has been operating in Egypt? 2) How many flights EgyptAir commences daily? 3) How many crash incidents in its track record?
F- Are are you judging things through black lens because you see everything in Egypt as shit? Admittedly, Egypt as a developing country having big share in chaos could not be the best place to live; however, your “valid” opinion about the country must be kept only for your conclusion about living in the country; however, never let it pollute your ability to judge things fairly. This would be a stigma chasing you throughout your life anywhere you would go. One might be hating everything about a country because it’s all shit, but when it comes to judging things, ONLY valid, correct, and fair mentality should be applied. This is your own wellbeing; do not pollute it because you live in a country you consider shitty.
G- If you are convinced or claim that your stand or analysis of the crash is based on logical reasoning, be careful, it’s your own Self fooling you.
There are only two forms of logical arguments: Induction and Deduction. Deductive reasoning starts with a general statement; then, follows with specifics, which all must be true in order for the conclusion to be true. An example of a deductive reasoning is: All men is mortal. Jack is man. Therefore, Jack is mortal. So, Mr. Logician, if your stand is based on this type of logical reasoning; then, your argument would be like this: All EgyptAir flights are doomed by carelessness-maintenance-stupidity-mistakes. Flight MS804 is EgyptAir. Therefore, Flight MS804 is doomed by carelessness-maintenance-stupidity-mistakes. In such case, your first premise is logically wrong; because not all EgyptAir flights got doomed (consider the first point). Inductive reasoning, on the other hand, starts with specifics that all must be true such that it ends up in a general statement that is logically true. Under such reasoning approach, your argument against the situation would be like this: Flight MS804 is flown by EgyptAir. The flight got doomed. Therefore, All EgyptAir flights are doomed. Again, a logically wrong argument.
I hope you can use the above pointers (and possibly add to them) in correcting your stand and remove prejudice. And always remember that anyone can judge you (and act upon your life) with the same quickness and with partial information as you are doing here. Same as you don’t want that to be done to you, take the correct route before judging situations and others.
Have you ever wondered how humans are able to live peacefully though all the potential dangers and bad outcomes that could happen to us? What dangers and what bad outcomes? Well, we don’t know – there are just plenty of them from illnesses to relationship failure to death. All are unknown; either by case or by timing.
Hope is a characteristic paired with the unknown. It’s the unknown with its potential outcomes of good or bad that make us hope for the good to happen rather than the bad. If life’s incidents are pre-known to us, there wouldn’t be any need for hope. As such, one of Hope workings is the must of projecting into the future. You cannot hope for something for the moment; you have to throw it off one or two points in the sphere of future; then, sling to it with your hope. The other part of the process is that as you project it into the future, you envision that the good part is the one that keeps happening, indefinitely. This is basically what we mean by “I Hope”. To summarize, Hope is something about the future, not the past nor the present, and it’s about the good thing always happening as the outcome. I boldfaced ‘indefinitely’ above because it’s very interesting feature of hope: there is no end for your imagination of the good always happening. Hope is an indefinite sensation. Want a proof? Easy. Without this indefinite feature of hope, no human being would be able to live with the fact of Death.
Hope is the Sensational Defeat for Death.
It is hope that makes you expecting to live for tomorrow; you cannot be possibly dying tomorrow, not after a month, not after a year….. It keeps going indefinitely. Everybody has an internal hope to live for tomorrow, every day!
With the unknown lying at a distance, you cannot help imaging that the bad is the option to happen that you “hope” for the good to happen; then, you live up for that day. That’s how you keep going.
But hope is nothing negative. It decorates our life and gives us something to live for. It only becomes negative when hope is paired with inactivity. This is when the student doesn’t study for the exam and hopes that he still passes it. This is when hope becomes a painkiller for our inactivity and a conscience silencer for our ill-doings. And here is opens a very interesting thing about human beings: Honest action with total faith vanishes hope.
Faithful action for itself dispels hope.
When you love for itself. When you write for itself. When you work for itself. When you live your life with all what’s in it faithfully for itself, you cease to need hope because there won’t be any unknown you care for. In itself emphasizes the now; the unknown that lies at a distance is not longer important. There is no future state for which you are doing what you are doing now. Thus, you don’t need hope anymore.
Living faithfully and honestly for whatever in your life for itself is the mother of all healthy living, void of fear or expectations. It’s not living in the now as much as believing in whatever you are doing now. Stop hoping for your life. Just live that life, for now and for itself.
How much from your life is on the Autopilot?
A disruptive question that I usually ask to shake the peaceful equilibrium deep inside. This is because, in fact, your life, well, could be run on the autopilot most of the time.
Let me first attempt to put a definition first. A life run on auto-pilot is a life lived reactively. Except for the deliberate thinking activities you may be doing in your job, you live your life always responding to life’s situations; without deliberate thought. Typical examples of auto-pilot affairs are like culture, norms, social beliefs…etc. While having some of your actions/thoughts automated is something good for living efficiently, the other side of the same coin is drastic – actions and decisions taken reactively are prone to mistakes and regrets.
Auto-pilot living is not a fiction nor what I am warning you of above is something metaphorical. It’s now something we could tract and prove scientifically. Neuroscience has made a feat in increasing our understanding of our mental lives. Consider the below figure and answer the following question:
Which line is longer?
You most certainly answered that the top one is longer than the bottom one. If you got a ruler and measured both lines, you would find that both lines are of exact same length. Worse, even after you have measured it with the ruler and confirmed that they are of equal length, your feeling will keep telling you that the top one is really longer.
We can be blind to the obvious, and we are also blind to our blindness. ~ Daniel Kahneman
This is an example for auto-pilot living. You live judging things and observing them without invoking much thought; without using the parts in your brain responsible for in-depth analysis of things. You snap judge things reactively and through appearances. This is my true friend, this is my true love, this is my true job; you auto-pilot these choices and your feeling of their truth is just as real as you felt the top line in the above figure is really longer. Welcome to the world of Illusions, that only shows us how flawed our ability to engage our true faculty of mind into reasoning about things. The above figure is called Muller Illusion; and it (among many other illusions) demonstrates the conflict between two divisions in your brain, psychologists call System 1 and System 2; with System 1 being responsible for making impressions, feelings, and automated responses while System 2 being responsible for in-depth analysis and reasoning. In the basic sense, System 1 handles running your basic daily operations; however, System 2 takes over when deliberate mental effort is engaged like when you are solving mathematical problem or taking an exam or analyzing a situation in-depth.
This is no offense for System 1. Without it, after all, our lives would be like hell; and without it, failure is inevitable. The harmony of interplay with the in-depth System 2 is also a mark of success. However, the problem lies when affairs of your life are not handled by the right system; that is, when the switch doesn’t happen and you live always with System 1 that lacks in-depth analysis of things when you need one. At that time, you would see falseness in reality and swear of it – like you would swear that the top line is longer; and like you would swear that this is your best friend or true person to you.
Knowing you have two competing systems in your mental life and their purposes is a leap in understanding more about how you mentally take in things. It takes just a deliberate will to do the switch and you engage System2 as it should in conducting your life affairs. And it’s not about wrong decisions. If you weigh up things with your System2 and decide that this wrong decision is what you want; then, be it. The most important thing is that you are mentally engaged as the matter calls for and that you are true to yourself accordingly.
How much do you live on auto-pilot? That’s my question to you that when you ask yourself you will be no longer on auto-pilot.
We live in a period (and society) in which being able to do multiple things is a skill appreciated. If you tried to search Google the topic multitasking, you will find different bloggers and online content generators competing in proposing different techniques. In workspace, if you are not a multitasker, you are called inefficient or an employee of limited capabilities.
However, Neuroscience got another word – well, something scientific: the human brain is NOT designed to multitask. Simply put, your brain simply cannot multi-task. If it isn’t, then, you would say, so how I am able to multitask all that time? Well, you deluded that you are multitasking. What happens neurologically is that you brain is simply switching between tasks; however, it fools you that you are multitasking because the human brain is highly quick in doing these switches. Very well, some would say, if my brain does not support multitasking yet is able to effectively switching between different tasks; then, fair enough I am still multitasking who cares how this is being handled neurologically inside the brain. Well, no. The operation of switching between tasks comes with high cost. It’s in fact a highly resource consuming activity to juggle between multiple tasks. The human brain uses Glucose as its primary nutrition and such exhaustive switching of tasks causes your brain to burn Glucose at rapid rate. This leaves you feeling exhausted and deplete your overall energy. Furthermore, on the mental level, the human brain works via networking neurons in different patters. For example, performing a specific task would cause a specific set of neurons to fire together in a neural network. What happens when you juggle between tasks is that this neural circuity is never established to its stable form. It remains suseptible to interference over the course of time. That’s why jugglers and people who attempts to learn multiple things concurrently or over short timeframes are never masters of anything from what they learn. Thus what you think is multitasking is not only depleting your bodily and mental energy quickly, but it also hinders your mental development in what you do.
Having talk about the mental dimension and neurological dimension, the delusion of multitasking also kills another dimension, the existential and psychological. You have to see focusing and doing one thing sufficiently at a time as a bliss and joy you are missing. When you let yourself get absorbed in a task you do, this acts as an effective way of healing life’s stresses (remember, your brain can’t do two things at a time – so focusing in one task means you won’t think of other problems). It also rewards you by feeding the human natural inclination to understand and gain knowledge. You feel that you are in more control over your task when you are fully focused in it without having to attend to others at the same time. This mental control feeds your inner mental satisfaction.
Next time, try it yourself. And remember the science: your brain can never multitask. Live in everything you do; for you breath in what you do only when you are fully engaged in it with all your senses.
You are not your acquaintances. You are not your body. You are not your clothes. You are not your job… You are not even your thoughts!
You are time. You are like the Hourglass; as one grain of sand passes through, it’s part of it went away. Each grain of sand is like a day in your life, an hour. As the time passes, it’s part of you that is passed. It’s weird after that to see people trying to accomplish something independent of that awareness; independent of the dimension of time. The best they do is to add the dimension of time as a target date or a deadline; however, this is still not adding time in the equation. Aiming for a target or creating a timelined plan about yourself or your life is not like considering how you spend your hour of time. Timelined plans can make you see what you do with the days or months or years, but not the fleeting hours of your own Today. The result could be accomplished life per plan, but a life that always missed the Today, the present. That is to add: You are not your achievements. You are the time you have taken to do these achievements.
What you do in life yes is what defines you; your actions and achievements. However, underlying these is your time. How many persons we know of high achievements who still missed their time. If you will spend 80% of your lifetime on achievements, be sure that the other 20% are aligned with your achievements. And that your time, you, is well spent. Live in Today and care for how you are spent… For that you are nothing but hours.
The incentive of recreation is loss not gain; failure rather than success. You recreate yourself to adapt to a situation or a condition, characterized by loss or shortage. Recreation is a chance given to you to rise from your loss; not necessarily by removing the loss, but mostly by adapting yourself to it thus compensating for it. This is something important to realize because some people think that you create yourself based on gain so they keep waiting for the best times in their lives to come so that they recreate themselves. This (based on gains) is not recreation, but arrogance. For example, when buying a Mercedes or relocating to an expensive neighbourhood to stop knowing your old neighbourhood friends and start bonding with new one.
Recreation is something different. You first realize the shortage or the negative part. Then, for each shortage or negative set an objective or a goal – that is, define what would be the opposite side of that negative part. I said the opposite side because not every negative in our lives would necessarily have a possible positive accessible to us. However, every negative would have an opposite side, which is your adaptation to it. Take for example the blind. There is no positive, but there is an opposite side, which could be nurturing other senses to compensate for loss of sight. Whatever your shortage or negatives, there is always an opposite side. It’s you how defines that opposite side.
Once you have realized the shortage or the negative and you defined an opposite side for each, start defining and taking daily steps to achieve that opposite side – this is the Mean. You need to know what is the suitable vehicle that would take you from the starting point to the destination potion. The mean could be a change of a habit or a change of attitude or a change of perception. Some destinations are reached by attitude change, some by exercise…etc. Choosing the wrong mean could mislead you. Based on your full understanding of what is your problem and what’s the desired end you want, the suitable mean would be clear to you.
These three elements you must reflect on and write down: The negatives in your life, what is the opposite side you which to achieve for each, and what’s the suitable mean that would carry you to there. Once you have them written down, act. Act and review on them daily before you sleep. Recreate yourself!