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.
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.
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 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.
- 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
- Stop wasting energy being angry and blaming yourself, others or God when things don’t work out as you expected.
- Instead focus your energy on doing a few things that will move you forward (even if it is small steps) each day.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- Network – make new friends even though you may not feel like it. Strong relationships will help you weather the storms of life.
- 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.
- 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)
Actions are powerful, they can day after day, slowly and unconsciously harden into habits. Habits that creep in and take control of your life by kicking out your good sense and making you feel like a captive.
We all have something that we are attracted to, ensnared and then addicted to <coffee, food, Internet, TV, work, exercise, religion, etc.> but for a smoker, his or her habit is more visible.
It all starts off as fun, thinking it’s a one off moment and then slowly look back years later to see how all those little acts of innocence have become a huge mountain.
I took my first puff when I was 16. it was at a party and everyone else was smoking so it seemed cool and a grown-up thing to do.
This habit creates a powerful bonding experience that allowed me to click with strangers as I shared a light or a cigarette. And there is always a great conversation going on where people are smoking.
It’s a habit that keeps you company when you are both happy and sad, in a group or alone. Even when the you are at the end of your rope and all else fails, you can always reach out for your trusty pack of cigarettes and light up.
It’s hard to understand if you are a non-smoker, how someone can form an intimate relationship of dependence on an inanimate thing that slowly kills you with every puff. More than the carving for nicotine is this false friendship or companionship that you hold on to.
Addiction isn’t about substance – you aren’t addicted to the substance, you are addicted to the alteration of mood that the substance brings. Susan Cheever
Here are some things that helped me get unstuck and start living smoke-free:
- Deal with the root cause. Take the time to understand why you started smoking and what are the needs that this habit actually meets in your life. It helps to think back to when you first started and why you continue to pursue this habit. I have tried quitting a number of times, but it didn’t last because I had not dealt with the root cause of my addiction.
Habits form because we have used our addiction to fill an inner need or emptiness. I think for me it was a longing for deep relationships and to be accepted.
- Sit down and write a farewell letter to your good friend once you decide to say goodbye.
- Take one day at a time and don’t be disappointed if you fail.
- You have to take on a new habit to replace the old. I took up cycling or rather I started cycling and then decided I was in bad shape and needed to give up this habit so I could pursue my new hobby.
- Take back control. At the end of the day, the decision is in YOUR hands and YOU decide what you want to do. Take responsibility for your actions, your health, your body, your future and that of your family. Remember as you fill the needs in your life in a healthy way, you will be able to say goodbye to your old friend.
For the non-smokers out there the best way you can help is to be there and not be too judgemental.
All the best to you and remember if I can do it, you can too.
How does one find out the “will of God”? And is there even such a thing?
Consciously or unconsciously we may believe that there is a perfect will of God (or fate) that has been predetermined for each person since his or her birth and our role in life is to discover and fulfil that destiny.
How does our free-will and decision-making impact our future? Do we have an opportunity to create and chose our future or is it predetermined for us?
For those whose who believe in God and His love for us it becomes immeasurably difficult to understand and accept “God’s will” when “bad things happen to good people“.
How can a God who is loving, all knowing, all powerful and ever present allow this to happen? Is this divine punishment for our sins?
Or maybe an experience to teach us a lesson? But what?
Many tough questions with a few good answers. The wisdom offered in Proverbs 16: 1 – 9 below might be a good starting point;
1 We can make our own plans,but the LORD gives the right answer.2 People may be pure in their own eyes,but the LORD examines their motives.3 Commit your actions to the LORD,and your plans will succeed.4 The LORD has made everything for his own purposes,even the wicked for a day of disaster.5 The LORD detests the proud;they will surely be punished.6 Unfailing love and faithfulness make atonement for sin.By fearing the LORD, people avoid evil.7 When people’s lives please the LORD,even their enemies are at peace with them.8 Better to have little, with godliness,than to be rich and dishonest.9 We can make our plans,but the LORD determines our steps.
This podcast by Timothy Keller on Your Plans, God’s Plan sums up this paradox of free will and predestination in a way that I can reconcile with my experience and understanding of the Bible. I hope this is helpful in pointing you in the right direction.
Cycling imitates life with its ups and downs. The focus of the ride is the journey and not just reaching the destination. Both the challenging steep climbs, the rough and rugged terrain as well the sweet downhill and flat sections are all part of the ride, conquered one pedal stroke at a time.
Cycling was a childhood hobby that I rediscovered about five years ago. It’s kept me healthy, smoke-free and sane.
I can’t thank my good friend, David Teng enough for getting me started along this road in 2009 when I was living in Bintulu. He was kind enough to hand pick and send me my first mountain bike, a Fuji Nevada 1.0. It was a gun metal grey hardtail that arrived flat packed in a box from Kuching by express bus. I was as excited as a kid on Christmas day waiting to put it together and go for my first ride. My life has never been the same since.
Five years on, having moved four times across three countries and six bicycles later, I am still going strong. There is nothing that beats the feel of the wind in your face as you pedal and move forward under your own power. It takes you back to your childhood and the joy of play, the freedom to go anywhere and do anything. Exploring new territory and challenging terrain is all part of the adventure.
Canberra is a great place to cycle with dedicated bicycle lanes and laws to protect cyclist. Drivers will watch out for you and are used to sharing the road with cyclists. You can confidently ride along the main roads in Canberra with the assurance you are not going to end up as roadkill. Of course, safety rules and caution apply. Cyclists are not exempt from following the Road Rules and must ride responsibly.
I love cycling here because you get to enjoy some very beautiful scenery, hills, mountains, lakes, wide green open spaces and bush. It’s beautiful terrain with lots of possibilities and places to explore, a delightful change from the flat desert plains of rocks and sand in Qatar where I spent two years.
The 28km cycle loop around Lake Burley Griffin is one of the must do’s rides if you visit. My favourite is the 16km Western Loop which will take you past a number of landmarks and give you a feel of this city. It’s a nice leisurely ride. My favourite spot is to start at Black Mountain Peninsular. You can park and ride from here and it’s also a great place to have a BBQ or picnic.
There are many other spots to go cycling and if you are into mountain biking then Stromlo Forest Park is a must. This world class cycling facility caters to all levels of riders and is a great place to brush up your skills.
Thought I would share the pictures of my rides so they can do the talking and let you get a feel of what it’s like cycling in Canberra. Hope you visit soon.