Learning to live with eyes wide open

Perception is REAL.ity

Our perception determines how we [view, understand and experience] reality.

We don’t see with our eyes but our brain and create our own virtual reality that exists only in our minds. 

We interpret the world around us through various lenses. Our upbringing, values, culture, race, nationality, age, religion and many other factors combine to determine how we see ourselves and the world around us.

So how do we see?

“Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:22-23‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Our eyes are windows. We see ‘through’ them rather than ‘with’ them.

Learning to live with eyes wide open

Self-examination and humility allow us to become aware of our ideas, thoughs and perceptions through which we view, interpret and respond to the world and those around us. 

We must become aware of what is on our mind and what we choose to focus on as our thoughts determine our destiny.

“The ultimate freedom we have as human beings is the power to select what we will allow our minds to dwell upon”. Dallas Willard.

The ultimate guide to choosing the best presents this Christmas


Finding that perfect present is like finding parking at a busy shopping mall on the weekend before Christmas. It’s more often than not a painful process.

The many choice available today in stores and online make finding that special something more difficult.

There is however one priceless gift that everyone longs for and needs but is somehow in very short supply these days – our presence, time and attention.

We have unfortunately chosen to live our lives on autopilot, constantly distracted by things around us be it work, play, entertainment, social media, etc. and forgotten how to be present to each other for a real conversations to take place and relationships to grow.

Presents vs Presence?

Rather than buying more stuff, why not set aside time to do something together and grace each other with the most precious gift we can give – our presence.

“If you love someone, the greatest gift you can give them is your presence.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

How to accept difficult things that cannot be changed

Perception is reality

Our perception determines how we [view, understand and experience] reality.

We interpret the world around us through various lenses. Our upbringing, values, culture, race, nationality, age, religion and many other factors that combine to determine how we see ourselves and understand the world around us.

Self-awareness is the first step to freedom

Becoming aware of our perception and hidden biases is a continual process of self-examination. It is hard as it requires humility and the willingness to admit that you could be ‘looking’ at things through the wrong lens. But it is a necessary step if we want to grow and mature.

How we perceive and see our pain and suffering will determine how we respond to the difficult circumstances we find ourselves in along our journey.

Acceptance

Being able to accept pain and suffering as part of our universal human condition is the key to moving forward when we have done everything humanly possible.

Acceptance can keep us sane even when we do not understand all the reasons why this event has happened. This attitude gives us the freedom to CHOOSE how we respond to the situation we find ourselves.

The Serenity Prayer by theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr captures this balance between grace, courage and wisdom that we need as we travel through life.

God, give me grace to accept with serenity

the things that cannot be changed,

Courage to change the things

which should be changed,

and the Wisdom to distinguish

the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,

Enjoying one moment at a time,

Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,

Taking, as Jesus did,

This sinful world as it is,

Not as I would have it,

Trusting that You will make all things right,

If I surrender to Your will,

So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,

And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Amen.

Are you your own worst enemy?

20160213_151338 (1)

I may be my own worst enemy and toughest critic. I always have high expectation of myself and when I fail, I judge myself mercilessly…

If you can relate to that feeling then you are not alone. I can and I find it easier to forgive others and accept their faults and failures rather than my own.

Hey, hold on that can’t be right. Why would I even do that?

I know that I should love others as well as I love myself.

But how can I if I haven’t learnt to love and accept myself?

What is self-compassion?

With self-compassion, we give ourselves the same kindness and care we’d give to a good friend – Dr Kristin Neff

Dr. Neff has done pioneering research into self-compassion and speaks about it from her own experience as a mother of an autistic child. She does a fantastic job explaining what it is and how it differs from self-esteem in this TEDx talk.

I confess this was an eye opener for me. Sure I knew this was right but to have research back it up as well. I was blown away.

Self-criticism vs self-compassion

I need to stop judging myself so harshly and start practicing self-compassion. This is a prerequisite to being able to love others.

I have to love and accept myself first before I can reach out and love others.

I owe it to myself to love myself.

How to survive when you are in a hard place 

How do you survive when you are caught between a rock and a hard place? When there seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel or options to choose?

How do you keep on moving when the situation stretches from days to weeks and then months? When it seems like the only sane option is to throw up your arms and just give up?

Tough times require tough choices and a single-minded determination to keep pushing forward. (Easier said than done, I know.)

“I’ve come to believe that all my past failure and frustration were actually laying the foundation for the understandings that have created the new level of living I now enjoy,” Tony Robbin.


Here are 10 tips that have helped me weather the storm while job hunting Down Under:

  1. Stop worrying about things that are beyond your control. “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength,” – Corrie Ten Boom
  2. Stop wasting energy being angry and blaming yourself, others or God when things don’t work out as you expected.
  3. Instead focus your energy on doing a few things that will move you forward (even if it is small steps) each day.
  4. Keep positive and move forward one moment at a time, one day at a time, one week at a time. This is sometimes the best plan when that’s as far as you can see.

    CAUTION: Anger <coupled with fear and loss of control> can destroy you!

  5. Accept whatever it is that’s stopping you and deal with it. This may be the hardest step but a necessary one if you want to move forward. There may be a many reasons for why you are in this situation. Bad choices, circumstances beyond your control, etc. We don’t choose to have bad things happen to us, but we can choose how we respond.
  6. Remember that the pain (you are going through) does not equal divine punishment and it’s sometimes not about what you did or didn’t do.
  7. Network – make new friends even though you may not feel like it. Strong relationships will help you weather the storms of life.
  8. Believe in yourself. You have what it’s takes to get out of this situation and make it happen. You have done it before and will do it again.
  9. Keep your faith, keep praying and hoping for a breakthrough.

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. (‭Isaiah‬ ‭43‬:‭2‬ NLT)