Archive | June, 2013

The Wonder of Pooh

27 Jun
Pooh Bear

Pooh Bear

Sometimes inspiration comes from the unlikeliest of places. In my last post I talked about negative thinking and tools to help combat it. My favourite tool is when I am confronted with an experience that may be causing me stress is this, I think of a role model or a person living or dead in history that I looked up to and I think what would  they do or think if they were confronted with the same situation. I find this an extremely powerful tool. It is allows me to look at the problem with the eyes of someone who’s beliefs and values I might aspire to. Standing outside the thinking or problem and challenging it with a pair of fresh eyes.

So when the chips are down there is always one role model I turn to. Someone who manages to stay happy and calm under all circumstances. He doesn’t expend energy on worrying, he just let’s life Be!. He sees chaos all around him with the friends that he keeps but he manages to somehow to turn sunny side up every time. Who is this person?. Why it’s Pooh bear of One hundred Acre wood.

Author Benjamin Hoff   in his book The Tao of Pooh has taken AA Milne’s Pooh and has shown us how this young bear and his actions are connected very closely to the eastern philosophy of Taoism.

While Eeyore frets… and Piglet hesitates ….and Owl pontificates

….Pooh just is.

The teachings of Taoism are based in a harmony that naturally exists between heaven and earth. To Lao-tse in his book “Tao Te Ching” everything has a natural balance it is only when man interferes with this balance do we begin to encounter struggle. It is important that we travel with the flow of nature rather than trying to fight against it. basic Taoism allows us to appreciate and learn from whatever happens in everyday life. Living a harmonious existence with what is going on around us rather than fighting it is the key to happiness. Taoism allows us and Pooh to work in harmony with what life throws us, allowing us to turn what others see as negative into a positive.

The more we force something we expect or want to happen, the more we are fighting against the flow of nature and less likely it will come about. Pooh is great example of Taoism in flow,not letting worry or stress impact on his existence like Eeyore, Rabbit and those around him.

” Not like Pooh, the most effortless Bear we’ve ever seen.”
“Just How do you do it, Pooh?”
“Do What?” asked Pooh.
“Become so Effortless.”
“I don’t do much of anything,” he said.
“But all those things of yours get done.”
“They just sort of happen,” he said

The idea that Pooh is seen as what Taoism calls P’u which is the Uncarved Block. P’u is the ability to enjoy the simplicity of life and disregard complexity as something that gets in the way of life. Pooh the bear of little brain managed to find joy in the simplicity if life in contrast to Owl who carried an air of intelligence by the use of big words but providing more confusion than sense. Rabbit describes Owl perfectly here

“….you can’t help respecting anybody who can spell TUESDAY, even if he doesn’t spell it right; but spelling isn’t everything. There are days when spelling Tuesday simply doesn’t count.”

So Pooh our Uncarved block looks at life and finds the excitement in life’s simplicities as outlined here.

…When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last,” what’s the first thing you say to yourself ?”

“What’s for breakfast ?” said Pooh. “What do you say,Piglet ?”

“I say ,I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today ?” said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.

Taoism also refers to the Wu Wei which literally means without doing. Letting nature take it’s course without trying to meddle. We as humans are like corks bobbing on the ocean screaming “I must have control, I need control” when we would be better served as Pooh by allowing life to happen. As Benjamin Hoff points out. It is Eeyore’s birthday and pooh has decided to give him a jar of honey for his present. Piglet decided to get him a balloon. As Piglet runs off to get the balloon. Pooh begins to get hungry and realises that he has a jar of honey.

“Lucky I brought this with me.” he thought. “Many a bear going out on a warm day like this would have never thought of bringing a little something with him.” And he began to eat.

as he licks the last of the honey he begins to wonder where was he going.

Ah, yes, Eeyore.” He got up slowly.

And then suddenly, he remembered. He had eaten Eeyore’s birthday present!

He still had the jar so he simply called into Owl and had him write “Happy Birthday” on it. Owl being the intelligent member of the troupe managed to write

HIPY PAPY BTHUTHDTH THUTHDA

BTHUTHDY.

Pooh looked on admiringly.

“I’m just saying ‘A Happy Birthday’,” said Owl carelessly.

“It’s a nice long one,” said Pooh, very much impressed by it.

“Well, actually, of course, I’m saying ‘A Very Happy Birthday with love from Pooh.’ Naturally it takes a good deal of pencil to say a long thing like that.”

“Oh, I see,” said Pooh.

Meanwhile Piglet had gone to get Eeyore’s balloon. He held it tightly against himself so it wouldn’t blow away and he ran as fast as he could so he could be the first to give  a present to Eeyore.

And running along thinking how pleased Eeyore would be…..suddenly he put his foot in a rabbit hole and fell flat on his face.

BANG!!!???.

Piglet arrived first alright with his little damp rag and handed the balloon to a surprised Eeyore. All apologetic and misty eyed as he describes the colour and size that the balloon would have been if it hadn’t burst. Eeyores favourite size and colour by the way. And just then Pooh arrives with his present.

It’s a Useful Pot,” said Pooh….and it got ‘ A Very happy Birthday with Love from Pooh written on it. …it’s for putting things in.

Between them we see Wu Wei in action in its purest form allowing what happens to just be the way it is and seeing the positives in what could be at first seen as terrible series of calamities.

“I’m very glad,” said Pooh happily, “that I thought of giving you a Useful Pot to put things in.”

“I’m very glad,” said Piglet happily, “that thought of giving you something to put in a Useful Pot.”

But Eeyore wasn’t listening. He was taking the balloon out, and putting it back again, as happy as could be….

A sweet reminder of making do and being grateful with what we have rather than mourning what we don’t.

Go with natures flow, do not spend time worrying about what we cannot change, enjoy the simplicity of life and appreciate what we have. Sometimes it’s difficult to just let life happen. But when we do, we realize that life works better when we give attention to what is happening and working with it, rather than fighting against what we can’t change.

Just think next time life seems out of sorts “What would Pooh do”

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Positive mental health -What would Gandhi do?

19 Jun

Mahatma-GandhiSometimes life doesn’t seem to offer many glimmers of hope.  Our thoughts can really effect our lives.Negative thinking can lead to negative behaviour and thus can contribute to negative feelings or physical feelings that make it difficult to see that life can change for the better any time soon.

The thoughts that we have are not always based in fact. Actually, most of our negative thinking has no base in reality at all. We might think I’m not good enough when we can write a list of all the activities we have accomplished and a large list of reasons that we are good enough.

We might think that we are not loved when we have a large number of friends and family that care for and love us.

Our thoughts might lead us to think that we will never find a partner in life because we think we are not loveable. All this leads to actions that don’t help us. We might become very inward. We might stay in rather than socialize. We might turn to stimulants or alcohol. We might even get angry at people  because of our situation. All actions that will not help with our negative thoughts and feelings.

Next time you are having thoughts like

  • “I’m not good enough.”
  • “Everything always works out for the worse for me.”
  • “No one would want me as a partner.”
  • “I’m too nervous to meet new people so I will give it a miss.”
  • “That job promotion is not for me.”

Think of someone who you look up to in life. It could be a really dear friend that you have in life . It could be your best friend or partner. What would they say to you if they knew you were thinking like this. They would tell you that there is no reason to be thinking like this and they would give you many reasons why.

Think about it like this what if you discovered someone you really cared about was thinking like this. What advice would you give them. You would outline all the great qualities they have and all the reasons that their thinking holds no truth.

Simply apply this advice to yourself. Quickly it begins to change your perception of your situation.

My favourite method for this is I imagine a role model past or present in life and I think how would they act if they were thinking like this. Your role models might be Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Eddie Vedder or an old teacher that you once looked up to. This is really powerful and helps us stop and analyze why we are thinking a certain way and if it is serving us well.

Negative thinking ruins our lives as I talked about in my article about Worry. So make an effort to stop it by

  • Think about someone you care about what advice would they give if they knew you where thinking like this. Take it.
  • Imagine someone you really cared about was struggling with negative thinking. What advice would you give them and simply apply it to yourself.
  • Take a role model past or present and imagine how would they act if they had thoughts similar to yours. What would Gandhi Do? and Follow it?

Lately when those negative thoughts start to emerge I immediately think of one person and think …….” What would Pooh do?”

Pig Of Happiness- Happy Friday

7 Jun

Happy Friday all. This is lovely.

Positive Mental Health- The Weather

6 Jun

sunny dayDon’t know what the weather is like where you are but here funnily enough it’s brilliant. The Sun is shinning it’s about 23˚and everyones mood seems to have lifted.Plenty of people are out and about and the cold miserable January weather seems a million miles away. Actually this Easter the temperature barely rose above freezing at night and 6˚during the day. This morning I did an interview for radio on the impact of good weather on our mood. Last year funnily enough the weather was the opposite to what it is now and I was interviewed by the same radio station on the impact of the poor weather on our mood.

Does Sunny weather improve our mood?

Well here are a couple of different things that happen when the sun shines

  • Ice cream sales go up!
  • We want to do more activities.
  • We feel like spending more time outdoors.
  • We feel happier.
  • We create more Vitamin D from direct sunlight.
  • We produce serotonin from sunlight.
  • We have more energy.
  • We feel worse if we stay indoors.

Vitamin D is great for building strong bones. We get it from  exposure to direct sunlight . Remember I told you before that we get a lot of help from our bodies to naturally help us feel good like the production of Endorphins when we exercise. Vitamin D not only helps us build strong bones it can also enhance our mood and help us to produce Serotonin.

Some countries have struggled with this. In 2011 Scotland had a problem they wanted to remedy. It was discovered that The people of Scotland suffered from low levels of Vitamin D. A couple of things might play into this. As beautiful as Scotland is it’s not likely that you have booked a holiday there in the hope of getting a tan. Actually some of the Northern reaches of Scotland of Scotland like the Shetland and Orkney Islands might only experience between 1,000 and 1,400 of sunlight a year. It also must be hard to watch the BBC weather forecast and see the South East of Britain basking in 28˚heat and above at certain times of the Summer when you are lucky to hit the high teens in parts of Scotland.

Scotland actually has one of the highest of not the highest rate of Multiple Sclerosis sufferers in the World with 10,000 people diagnosed at present,. The lack of Vitamin D seems to be contributing to this. Scotland has also high levels of asthma and allergy sufferers.Direct sunlight levels are poor and I presume that most fair skinned Scots wear high sun protection once the sun comes out.  This prevents the benefits of Vitamin D from reaching our bodies.

Why then do countries like Iceland and Denmark not experience low levels of Vitamin D like the Scottish. It seems that oily fish which plays a big part in both countries diet  supplies Iceland ,Denmark and other Nordic or Scandinavian countries with essential Vitamin D.

Funnily enough there are now reports that Countries like Australia and Kuwait are reporting lower levels of Vitamin D in their populace. Two sun filled countries that you would think are brimming with sun filled citizens overloaded on Vitamin D. It seems that lust like the Scots certain aspects of Australian/Kuwaiti life are preventing the benefits of the sun from getting through.

  • Sun cream prevents the benefits of sunlight from getting through to where it is beneficial.
  • Australians and particularly Kuwaitis are spending more time indoors. Most of the Middle East is so hot that spending time outside is oppressive. People jump from air con building to air con building.
  • Sun lights UV rays don’t make it through glass as we spend more time in buildings cars and offices.
  • Traditional dress in countries like Kuwait covers up most of the body especially in women which blocks the benefit of sunlight.
  • Oily fish may not play a big part in Kuwaiti diets.

Vitamin D aside there are other contributors to our mood and the weather.

Light also stimulates a part of our brain called the Hypothalamus which controls our mood,sleep and appetite. When the first bit of sunlight hits our retinas in the morning we begin to produce Serotonin which acts like our ON button. We are ready to greet the day and get active.

Lack of light or darkness the pineal gland produces Melatonin and we begin to feel sleepy. So at night time we wind down and in Winter we do so too by putting on a few extra pounds to fend off the cold and generally sleeping longer hours than in Summer. Farmers are busiest in Summer months and activity wise so are we.

So when we jokingly say “we are solar powered” we actually mean it. We need the sun to energize us and to contribute to our mental health.

But remember that

Here are a few tips for Summer sun

  • Get out and enjoy at least 30 minutes of unprotected sun. If you live in the Sahara or Kalahari desert maybe this is not a great plan.
  • Don’t excessively cover up. Let some sunlight in.
  • Think of all the things you spent your winter wishing you could do. Surfing ,picnicking,running,swimming, playing games or just walking with nature-go do it now.
  • Don’t spend your day looking out at the good weather but not coming out actually decreases your mood.
  • Soak it up while you can it wont last forever.

Think of it like this. All those people who live in eternally sunny climates look forward to visiting countries with seasons. Sometimes the heat in these countries becomes so oppressive that the ability to do any outdoors activities is sapped.

Think of that song by WizardI wish it could be Christmas every day” chances are you wouldn’t. The same applies to the sun.The happiest countries in the world are not Saudi Arabia, Turkey or South Korea but surprisingly un-sunny Denmark,Norway and Sweden. Go to Iceland any Summer and you will see people running naked around all kinds of festivals and enjoying the short summer.

Enjoy it while you have it.

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