Don’t be a fashion victim

When anyone mentions fashion, we tend to think of clothes, the latest designer trends and so on. Indeed, there is a huge, multi-million pound business based on fashion in clothing. But, fashion is not restricted to clothes or other relatively superficial matters. There are also fashions in thought and, because of that, fashions in behaviour. For example, think about how certain ideas have changed since your childhood. Changes in people’s thinking about same sex relationships is a clear instance of ...

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Find ‘flow’

Athletes will often talk about being ‘in the zone’, by which they mean achieving optimal performance, with body and mind operating to the full. That is when they get the best results. Similarly, psychologists have talked more broadly about finding ‘flow’, by which they mean getting to a state of mind where you are, to use the modern idiom, ‘cooking on gas’. It refers to feeling that things are ‘just right’ and you are achieving your best. This can apply ...

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You are never too old to learn and grow – intellectually or emotionally

For many years there was an assumption that learning is what children do – libraries had plenty of material about child development and education, but relatively little on adult education. Then along came the ‘lifelong learning movement’ which argued that we need to stop associating learning with children and recognise that everyone has the potential to keep learning and to keep benefiting from that learning throughout our lives.

However, it is unfortunately the case that the ageist assumptions that are so ...

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Seek out awe and wonder

The demands of everyday living mean that we need to spend a fair amount of time doing fairly mundane things like earning a living and managing a household. These can be quite enjoyable, of course, and offer us some degree of fulfilment, but we have to be wary of the danger of allowing all the mundane stuff to squeeze out opportunities for those things that go beyond the day-to-day basics.

The literature relating to spirituality (whether religious spirituality or not) uses ...

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Feelings are real, but they don’t always reflect the reality

Many people adopt a very ‘rational’ approach to life and relegate feelings or anything to do with emotions to a secondary position, as if they are somehow less important. In reality, of course, feelings are generally much more powerful sources of motivation than reasoning or rationality, and emotions are so often a key factor in decision making, however hard people will work to make the basis of their decisions appear entirely objective and rational, uninfluenced by such subjective matters as ...

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The journey is more important than the arrival

It is, of course, a very common experience to have a great sense of excitement as you look forward to something, only to have a sense of anti-climax once what you have been anticipating actually comes to pass. This is one of the ways in which the idea that the journey is more important than the arrival has a degree of truth.

In a similar vein, Buddhist thought includes the idea that it is wise to disengage from worldly pursuits, as ...

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Grief and trauma can bring learning and growth

Despite the common strong association between grief and death, grief is a reaction to a significant loss, and not just to a death. This means that we can have a grief reaction to any major change in our life, even positive ones. For example, someone excited about moving to a new job or promotion may still grieve for aspects of their old job. Gains will always also be accompanied by losses of some sort.

Grief reactions are perfectly normal responses to ...

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Look back, face forward

‘Learn from the past’ is an oft-quoted piece of wisdom. ‘Don’t look back, focus on the future’ is another one, despite the fact that the latter totally contradicts the former. So, where does that leave us? Well, as is often the case with slogan-type advice, they both oversimplify a complex situation.

Time is something we generally take for granted as a common sense issue. However, philosophers have long debated the nature of time. For example, in a sense, there is no ...

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Suffering can be positive

It is understandable, of course, that we will seek to avoid suffering whenever possible. We look dimly on people who seek to impose suffering on others and regard wanting to inflict suffering on ourselves as a form of pathology. Clearly, suffering Is not something that tends to get seen in a positive light, and quite rightly so.

However, this is not to say that suffering cannot also bring positives in some ways. There are, of course, lessons that can be learned ...

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Don’t run away from conflict

Over the years I have run very many training courses on conflict management and a common theme that has emerged right at the start has been a strong tendency for participants to bring with them the idea that conflict can be equated with hostility or even fighting (physically or otherwise). Of course, there is a significant potential link between conflict and these other issues, but it would be a big mistake to see them as one and the same. It ...

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