We have started! The Introductory Podcast!

Episode Zero

Its been quite some time in preparation, but finally we are launching the podcast that goes with this blog! 

Podcast image for iTunes

I very much hope it will widen and deepen the conversations and connection with you the reader.

We are expanding on the theme of Making Sense of Life in A Challenging and Complex World.

We have called this episode zero. Do listen to hear me being interviewed by my co-host Andrew Horton on the thinking and philosophy behind the website along with what we plan to bring you.

Specific questions in this episode that we explore include:

The difference between depression and general unhappiness in life. Why is the latter so much on the rise and what can we do to protect ourselves?

The importance of life long learning.

3 keys to living a truly healthy life both inwardly and outwardly.

Is there enough hope in the world today and what can we do about that?

What does it mean to be compassionate towards oneself?

Why is this both the best and worst time to be alive?

The transcript of this episode is available here.

Also it would be great if you felt able to rate the programme on iTunes as well as pass it on to those who you think would benefit from listening.

Thank you for joining me on this journey of making sense of life in what is an increasingly challenging and complex world!

 

 

4 Simple Questions to Ask Yourself to Develop Confidence

I’m not entirely sure of the reasons why, but for much of my life I’ve been someone who has been held back by fear, insecurity and self-doubt. confidence2(1)

Maybe it had something to do with my past and negative experiences such as being bullied as a child; growing up as an immigrant in an all-white environment; or being surrounded by others who seemed much more capable, wealthier, more attractive or stronger than me. But for decades fear, insecurity and self-doubt have been constant life companions for me.

Over the years what I have discovered is that the solution has very little to do with your past.

I’ve come to believe that every person can develop confidence by deeply engaging with 4 questions.

On the surface these questions seem simple. Maybe even simplistic. Don’t let that fool you. By deeply engaging with them your potential to develop confidence can be enormous.

8 Principles that can affect your level of resiliency

One of the most consistent and powerful findings from all the research into resiliency is the central importance of attitude and personal belief.

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It appears that the more internally directed and self-motivated you are then the more likely you are to thrive in conditions of constant externally driven change.

Or to put it more bluntly, “If you think you can or you think you can’t, then you are probably right.”

Here are 8 principles to consider and reflect on when it comes to thinking about resiliency:

What is resilience and why do you and I really need it?

I’ve come to believe that resilience is one of the key life skills of the 21st century.

Indeed over the last few decades I have been challenged in my own personal life to reflect on how resilience is central to finding true and meaningful success in life. (For more on that see How Would You Define Success? Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3).

But what exactly do we mean by resilience? it certainly does not  come naturally. Here is how the late 19th to early 20th century writer Oswald Chambers expressed a lack of resilience and its consequences:

How increasing flow increases happiness

We have been exploring this 18 minute video by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced ‘chick-SENT-me-high) that introduces the concept of flow. Flow is understood to be an important ingredient to overall levels of happiness. It is the creative moment when you are completely involved in an activity for its own sake.

Csikszentmihalyi and colleagues have interviewed over 8,000 people from around the world who enjoy their work. The range is incredibly broad from business executives to Dominican monks, to blind nuns, Himalayan climbers and Navajo shepherds. They found that regardless of culture or level of education, there were 7 conditions that seem to be there when a person is in flow:

Could there be a link between being in the flow and being happy?

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced ‘chick-SENT-me-high) is Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Management at Claremont Graduate University in California. He has researched and written extensively on factors that contribute to what makes a life worth living. The 18 minute TED talk below summarises his over 40 years of research into where in everyday life, in our normal experiences, do we feel really happy.

He points out that in the United States while 30% of people surveyed described their life as very happy, over 40 years since 1956 this proportion has hardly changed. This is in spite of the fact that in the same period of time real income has almost tripled. (For more on this see the post How Much Money Do You Actually Need?)

His research began with interviewing creative people like artists and scientists, trying to understand what made them feel it was worth spending a large part of their life doing things for which many of them did not expect either fame or fortune, but in some way made their life meaningful and worth doing. Here is how a leading American composer described how he feels when the composing is going well:

Is this the best news you have ever heard?

It seems strange to celebrate the death of a noble and great leader. You would be hard pressed to find any other religious or admired world leader who has more celebration and joy around his death than his life. At first glance it doesn’t seem to make sense.sunburst

We usually celebrate someone’s life and then mourn their death when they depart. And yet that is not what we see with Jesus Christ (see What Is So Good About Good Friday?). The commemoration of Christ’s death is actually called good. Or to be even more challenging if the resurrection of Jesus Christ is not the best news you have ever heard, then you can be sure that you have not grasped it. Why? Why does the Bible challenge us to think of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the best news we have ever heard?

In the last blog post we showed how from the prophet Isaiah, writing 700 years before Christ came to earth, that God while taking no pleasure in the suffering of His son did take great pleasure in what that suffering would achieve. What did Christ’s suffering on the cross achieve? There are two main points.

What is so good about Good Friday?

As a child it was a question that baffled me for a few years. Every year that day would come with predictable regularity. But what is so good about Good Friday? Why do we call it good? When I asked them, my Hindu Punjabi family did not know. When I would ask the English teachers at school none of them seemed to have an answer either. it appeared to make no sense.

154885550So I concluded Good Friday was good because it was a public holiday! Yes it had something to do with the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, but why should such a horrific and brutal death be called good? The day marking the death of no other major religious leader is described in terms of being a good event. On the surface it does not appear to make much sense at all.

However, the more you look into it the more interesting and surprising it becomes. The death of Christ commemorated on Good Friday is good because it was ordained by God Himself. As brutal, undeserved, unjust  and horrific as it was, it was no accident. But most of all it is good because of what it achieved.

Chapter 53 from the book of the prophet Isaiah in the Old Testament, written 700 years before Christ was even born says in verses 10-12:

How do you handle people stronger and better than you?

He is regarded as one of the greatest  all time world leaders. He was no stranger to personal tragedy and he suffered deeply with depression. Yet  his strength of character powerfully moulded the United States to become an eventual world super power. (For more on his personal life see here).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHe was able to overcome his inner limitations (see What Are 3 Barriers To Your And My Growth?) so as to turn around a country ravaged by a civil war.  For modern day examples comparable in brutality and blood shed just think of Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia or Syria today.

How could those violent countries of today be transformed if their leaders took to heart the life and example of Lincoln?

Abraham Lincoln deeply understood how forgiveness and reconciliation coupled with empowerment of others, even enemies, could transform the United States. He had the vision and foresight to see that overcoming the bitterness of the past could transform the United States into a country for huge good in the world.

There is a story of how he was challenged by an elderly lady for gently calling the Southerners who opposed him as ‘fellow human beings who were in error’. She described them as ‘irreconcilable enemies who must be destroyed’. Lincoln’s response is as powerful and as relevant today:

In memory of Abhishek Banerjee (Bunty)

It has been exactly one year since the sudden and tragic loss of our dear friend Abhishek Banerjee (Bunty)

Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 21.11.46Abhishek was very thankful for the multiple gifts and talents he had been able to develop through his own privileged upbringing and education. This included, among many other things, a love of literature, a talent for technology, physical fitness, musical ability and team collaboration all centered around his deep personal faith in Jesus Christ. (To read more on Abhishek’s life see here).

As friends and family we have for some time wanted to do something tangible and life giving to remember him by and to pay tribute to him.

Abhishek was originally from Kolkata. Following discussion with his parents and wife, Jayshree we would like to encourage those who were touched by his life to support the expansion of a project run by Emmanuel Ministries Calcutta called Anandoloy (pronounced ANAND –OL-OY and meaning “place of joy”).

We cannot bring Abhishek back, but we can ensure that the impact of his life is felt and experienced by those who are much less fortunate.