Its been a long time since I wrote, I guess I just needed time to re-process things and hopefully understand the things before me.
Life can be complicated but sometimes it can be blissfully simple. In the period I took to step away I discovered that reflection and meditation on circumstances is no longer a luxury afforded by only the wise but now a necessity of every man.
I have had time to think about family, love, wealth (money), work and religion. The more I searched, the more answers I felt I got yet in those answers new question arose. This made me come to the inevitable conclusion that no matter how much value we place on the things around us a few things come on top as priceless.
Yet, in all I see three main things a person cannot or maybe I should say, should not do without.
1) A Sense of Direction, Ownership and Belonging (D.O.B): Similar to the blessed trinity the most important thing comes in three.
A) A sense of Direction: I used to dream about days when I would wake up and not have a single thing to do or place to go. I don’t know if you were/are like me and dreamt about winning a massive lottery.
It was the best of my dreams and then one day it happened. I had taken a 6 month leave from work (lots of reasons why which I won’t go into details about) I woke up with nowhere to go and to be honest it felt great for the first few days, I stayed home, looked after the kids, did the laundry and dishes, made meals. It was amazing and then the days turned into weeks and then months. I am not saying it was all bad as I had the option to go back to work earlier if I wanted. What I am saying is that a taste of this allowed me a unique learning experience. There is no life without purpose.
I am not saying that your purpose should be work, all I am saying is that at least when I woke up every day I knew exactly what was needed of me and weekend rests felt better because they felt earned. I am convinced that a sense of direction is vital but even more so that it is only a third of a perfect piece.
B) A Sense of Ownership: This is the second piece of the puzzle. When I was home I realised that even when I was at work I did not exactly feel accomplished. I felt like I had failed to some degree. Did I hate my job? Not at all, I loved it. I loved meeting new people every month. I knew almost everyone. I was respected by my colleagues, delegates and superiors.
Yet something was missing. I realised that what was simply missing was that it wasn’t mine. It was a good job, not the best pay but good enough but it wasn’t my company. I felt no responsibility for the job. This allowed me come to the conclusion that responsibility is also a good this and it brings with it ownership.
What am I saying here? I am simply stating the obvious, My family (son, daughter and wife) are my responsibility and because of that simple irrefutable fact I know exactly what they need from me (doesn’t mean I always do it though). There is ownership in the family unity and this allowed me to enjoy the challenges that come with it. I relish the challenges and pray I am up to them but they are no longer negative. A sense of ownership is very important but even with direction and ownership there is still something missing.
C) A Sense of Belonging: I am not sure you even need me to explain why this is even important but I will all the same. Have you ever thought about the tragedy of abandonment and the evils that sometimes come from people that have suffered isolation and abandonment? Or ever thought about radicals or gangs? What makes people give up their lives for a belief? What makes life and family mean so little in comparison? It is a sense of belonging. It is such a powerful motivator than it leads people to abandon everything they see and know and in extreme circumstances to abandon morality. A sense of belonging can also be used in a positive way. An example that comes to mind is missionaries delivering food, help, health aid and charities with international reach. At this point I feel that I would be writing an irresponsible post if I do not interject and state that a sense of belonging does not in any way mean an abandonment of your own desires or who you are.
As a matter of fact I believe that they go hand in hand. A quote that comes to mind that explains it perfectly is by Brene Brown;
“The truth is: Belonging starts with self-acceptance. Your level of belonging, in fact, can never be greater than your level of self-acceptance, because believing that you’re enough is what gives you the courage to be authentic, vulnerable and imperfect.”
She also goes on to echo my discovery when she states “A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick”.
For anyone that has never heard of her, she is worth researching. My sense of belonging comes from more than just myself. I belong to my family as much as they belong to me. I belong to my friends and I belong to this world. I am responsible for how I leave this world when my time is up (no matter what day that happens).
You see, in order to fully appreciate a sense of direction you must see it in connection to ownership and belonging and then and only then do you see the full picture of why they are important as individuals yet part of a family.
2) Love: I am glad I discovered this well into the early years of marriage. The love of a wife can be a bedrock. Before I could really understand this I first of all had to understand that I am not perfect in anyway. The fact I have love does not mean I will not abuse it or take it for granted and this only helps to make me take a step back and see how lucky I am. When I talk about love here, I am in no way talking about love from Hollywood movies or from romantic books.
I am talking about love where you are hurt but still don’t want to leave. The kind you are afraid to lose and it keeps you working on yourself to become better. I am talking about the kind you know and you feel as real as your own hands. I won’t bore you by telling you all the details of how I came to this conclusion all I will say is whoever you have let them know. If you can’t say it , then write it. If you can’t write it then sing it, if you can’t sing it ask someone to help but don’t stay silent. Love breeds love. Can you imagine a faith worse than loving with nobody to love? If you are lucky enough to have someone to love and someone that loves you back then they deserve to know. Love forgives, love cares, love appreciates, love grows, love never dies, love never looks back but love also needs love to burn brightest.
3) Attitude: I guess this might come as a surprise to some, as attitude is very often not discussed as an important part of a purposeful life. Attitude is simply a settled way of thinking or feeling about something.
Why is this important? I guess it is simply because we are all a victim or product of our perceptions. We react to the world based on the way we see the world. Our attitude is governed by it. Yet we very often forget that though we may not have the best of everything or anything. We have a choice on how to behave. My friends please don’t kid yourselves the way I have always done. We have a choice in every situation. We have a choice on how to react when we get fired, when our partner leaves us, when we fail to get what we want, when someone cuts in front of us (we all know how irritating that can sometimes be). We can “chose” to rise above it or chose to dwell on it. Our attitude is our choice and ours alone. We are not even victims of our biological urges as most people like to believe. We own our attitude, we own our choices, we own it and must take responsibility for it.
Now the best part about attitude is that even if you have a poor attitude, this can be fixed. It is not something you were born with. It is something you develop. A very useful strategy to develop is “looking at the bigger picture”.
“Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.”
― Walt Whitman
A few examples might help. When I was 8 years old, I fell “in love” (as much as a child can) for the first time. I was totally crazy for a girl I met in school. I felt that this was the single most important thing in the world to me. I never told anyone about it but to me, she was everything. In that moment at that time I felt like if I did not get her then “life was not worth living”.
I don’t think she ever knew who I was or how I ever felt. Now, over 20 years after and it makes no difference what I felt then. It has no impact on my life and thankfully I am still here. Now before you disregard this and call it “puppy love” please note that this was very real to me. If a person perceives something as real then it will always be in your best interest to treat it as such (regardless of your own personal inclinations). I was just as hurt then as I would be now.
Another example is one that is very personal to me. Almost a decade ago (during my freshman year) I met a lovely lady who turned out to be a very good friend. She made my first year at university that much easier. She was nice and though we never had romantic feelings for each other she was as good a friend as I could ever ask for. About 3 years ago she unfortunately took her own life. It looks for all indications to be as a result of lost love. I was so devastated by this because we had not been in touch for over 2 years and I just wished I could have offered her what she offered me when I needed it. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain her family is going through even till date. She really was a saint yet in a similar situation she just could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. I cannot blame her ex-boyfriend as he has a right to pick who he wants to be with. He has a right to choice.
In the present world of social media it is quite easy to develop a negative attitude, especially when one looks at what “the rest of the world” seems to be doing.
A few realistic steps might help
1) Be careful when developing your attitude and never compare yourself to anyone. What a tragedy it will be if we ever forget the thing that makes us uniquely us. Our experience are uniquely ours and what makes us beautiful and stronger ( A treasure chest of wisdom).
2) Whatever people say is simply their opinion. They are entitled to it but it does not mean you have to take it (obviously I still recommend listening to good counsel). No one can make you feel inferior without your consent so stand firm on who you are.
3) Smile and do what makes you happy as long as it isn’t harmful to yourself or others. We still have a responsibility to others so one unfortunately must reflect on this advice more than all the others. I am in no way asking you to stay with someone you know you do not love at all for fear of breaking their heart. I am simply saying pleasure must be enjoyed with caution.
4) Ignore people who simply tell you that you cannot do it and never offer advice as to how to overcome a problem. What good is it telling someone of a problem if it is not backed with a solution? You need positive people around you especially because there will come a day that you might lose belief in yourself. You will need someone who helps you see it.
5) Enjoy yourself in everything. Enjoy the unexpected or result that were not what you expected. Many people have discovered great things in error. A positive attitude will help you see through it all.
6)Have a positive vision and be happy for other peoples success. I know it might be hard to be happy for your ex when they find someone else they love but try to understand that true love involves being happy for someone else even if they are not with you.
7) Finally, always be true to yourself. Not who you think you are or what you would like to be but who you really are (strengths and weaknesses). Never beat yourself down and never compromise or search for dodgy shortcuts. Work smart and not harder but always know who you are what you stand for lest you fall for anything.
Your attitude to success will ultimately be the thing you rely on when things go wrong. When (and not if) problems come along the way. A positive attitude will keep you focussed and goal oriented. It will give you power over your circumstances. No matter what you face in life always look at the bigger picture. Are you worrying about work? Well, If you got fired today, your company will be fine as there are several hundreds to do your job (so take a break and enjoy life). Your life has been lived many times before you by many others before you (so enjoy the ride and love the people around you while you still can). There will always be wealth on earth (so try not to spend your entire life looking for it). In work, in family in life, always give more than you expect to receive in return. These my friends is how we find real purpose in life.
“There is a magnificent, beautiful, wonderful painting in front of you! It is intricate, detailed, a painstaking labor of devotion and love! The colors are like no other, they swim and leap, they trickle and embellish! And yet you choose to fixate your eyes on the small fly which has landed on it! Why do you do such a thing?”
– C. JoyBell C.
If you have any more suggestions or comments, please feel free to leave a comment below. Thanks for reading.
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MY JURY DUTY EXPERIENCE
Ideologies separate us, dreams bring us back together
When I was only a few years old I started to ask myself questions about life. I wanted to know everything, the evolution of man, the differences in skin colour, creation of the earth but as I grew older my questions became more specific. Like what motivates us? Who are we? If not who are we then why are we the way we are? Why are we the same yet so different? Why are we (i.e humans) here? This eventually led me to pursue psychology as a first degree.
I wanted to know everything so I read about religion, not an in-depth reading but a fundamental understanding and just as each religion provided solutions they also raised questions. So I looked at science and that just seemed to complicate things even more. What was I to do?
Then a few years ago it hit me. The problem wasn’t the information I was getting but the way I was interpreting it.
This might be a little complex to understand but I will try to simplify it as much as possible. This is something I think I can term Multiple Directions theory (MDT) I realised that as I was being fed different information about different causes my brain almost quite automatically kept some aspects of the information (each theory) without necessarily synchronising it as a whole. The more I tried to synchronise it the less sense it made. My only option was to either build a hybrid theory (mixture of the two) or discard every information obtained and start again.
Maybe an example might help to explain this a bit better. If I was to explain a flight from Aberdeen to Amsterdam and I start to go into details as to how the pilot controls the aeroplane, the engineering mechanisms involved, the aeroplane speed and what makes it glide successfully, what altitude then I suddenly tell you that it goes out of the earth close to the moon, then down again directly into Amsterdam.
As a whole you should discard my theory and want nothing to do with it as you might be aware that intercity planes don’t fly out of the earth’s atmosphere but subconsciously your mind would have recorded the parts that make sense. The next question would be filling the gap/ the missing information (not starting again).
The next assumption is when you hear another theory that supposedly provides a different view of a flight from Aberdeen to Amsterdam. Your mind might seem to process the information as a whole, but in reality what we do not know is that we are processing this information in relation to our previously accepted information and trying to correlate them (It’s like hearing to different witness testimonies and trying to find out what parts are the same). Ideally as a rational being if a story is not totally complete and consistent it must be said to lack validity and reliability but I appeared to disregard that rule and piece things together based on my mixed information. This is something we are not aware we sometimes do
This basically means the more we hear, the more explanations that are provided. The less correlation we would be able to make and the further away we get from the answer we previously set out to get.
We do not realise that our confusion is not always necessarily brought about by the inability of each explanation to define a situation holistically (in wholes rather than analysis or separation into parts) but by a lack of synchronisation from the little parts of “accepted” information.
This view is in many ways different from the Gestalt theory (is a theory of mind and brain that proposes that the operational principle of the brain is holistic, parallel, and analogue, with self-organizing tendencies; or, that the whole is different from the sum of its parts, The word Gestalt in German literally means “shape” or “figure”) in psychology.
I feel I must at this point state that I do not disagree with the gestalt view of a holistic approach but I do think it applies more to visual situations than mental cognition.
Our perceptions are more individualistic and units related than we consciously realise. This can be found in situation where we say one thing and do another.
All I am trying to explain in simpler terms is that the way we interpret the information we receive is what forms our understanding of the world, it determines what we believe and what we act upon. Not the information we receive, so take a moment and realise that sometimes our interpretations might not be right even when the information is the same. It will help you avoid conflicts and lead to greater self-development.
When we mis-interpret information it often leads to mistakes that we sometimes blame ourselves for. Think of how many questions you answered wrongly during your educational development that you know were because you dint read the question right (interpretation) and how many times you blamed yourself for it.
Don’t be afraid to take a minute to re-think of an answer you think without a shadow of doubt to have gotten right. You just might have interpreted the question wrongly.
Build you competence by being willing to go back and take another look at what you think you know. Things are not always what we think they are. Trust your instincts if you have good ones. It sometimes helps.
In order to explain this properly let me draw from an experience I recently had. I tried to write about this as close to the end of the event as possible for two main reasons
a) I could not legally talk about an active case when I am a member of the jury until it is over and
b) I wanted to make sure it was as fresh as possible in my mind.
For anyone who does not know how a jury works or what it is let me give a short and hopefully clear background story.
First of all, a Jury (in the UK) is simply a 15 man or woman panel made of what society will term as responsible members of the community selected randomly to listen to possible evidence about a case in relation to the accused brought forward by the procurator fiscal (crown/city). Their sole responsibility is to decide on if an accused is guilty, not guilty or a not proven charge can be applied. In the United Kingdom as well as many civilised societies it is the responsibility of the procurator fiscal to prove beyond reasonable doubt the guilt of an individual and not the accused responsibility to prove his innocence. This means the onus of proving a charge lies on the crown/state/procurator and not the defence.
In order to decide or be a member of the jury there are a few things expected of you for the court to accept it was a fair trial.
a) You are not allowed to be biased (i.e race, age, sex, dressing, haircut etc cannot play a role in your decision making).
b) You must not bring in your own prejudices to the court either from experience or otherwise
c) Speculation or hear say in any form is not tolerated in the court which means you cannot assume an explanation to anything unless given during the process of evidence.
d) If the accused remains silence it cannot be taken as guilt.
e) Testimonies of expert witnesses such as doctors can only be taken as the presence of something and not evidence that the accused committed the crime.
g) There must be two or more corroborating witnesses that the just decides to be credible (truthful) and reliable (given a true account of what happened). This simply means there must be mutual corroboration.
h) A witness cannot corroborate themselves. i.e if witness A tells witness B what happened and the witness B is called to the stand, their testimony is the same as witness A and so does not provide mutual corroboration.
I) In a case where there is only one witness and so saying no mutual corroboration there is an exception to the rule in order to establish guilt. This however must be done with serious care. There must be at least two victims in which there is a similarity in method, timing, process used and the two witnesses must be seen as credible and reliable. In order words if for example a child is raped in a corner by a man by the strict sense of the law we only have the childs eye witness testimony against the man. There needs to be two or more victims with very similar events, similar methods and similar timing to the point in which it cannot be disregarded as a coincidence. I must admit I had difficulty believing that an event must have more than one victim if there is only one witness but this is the law as we were given.
J) Only established facts are acceptable.
H) The absence of a particular piece of evidence does not mean the presence of its opposite and vice versa (example is just because someone is not sad does not mean they are happy).
My jury duty experience lasted over 3 weeks and was made up 15 members of society (including myself). We did not have an equal representation of men and women as were made up of an odd number nor did we have an equal age representation as we were randomly selected. The case was details are irrelevant in the lesson and also I am not so sure if it is against the law to state it.
As with any case the procurator fiscal gives a statement then the defence gives the same statement. The onus to prove guilt is on the state and they need to be able to prove it beyond reasonable doubt. One of the most amazing things about my experience was that on day one after just hearing the opening statements with no evidence whatsoever. People had already formed their opinions of the case and the defendant’s guilt.
As this was my first just duty experience I assumed that this was normal. After all “do we not form our opinion of a person within the first few seconds”. The only thing is, I assumed that this would change after a while. I assumed that people will wait and see what the procurator brings to the table and then use that to determine his guilt when compared to the defence’s alternate version of the story. Little did I know that I was extremely naive in this thinking or maybe the best way to put this is that I was the only one that shared this version of thinking. Somehow as the days passed by it seemed like people used their own person experiences to come to a conclusion about the case, now I must hasten to add that this was not what everyone felt but what a good number felt. They spoke about experiences as a child, divorce experience, experience raising a child and even experiences at work and somehow seemed to attribute guilt and innocence based on this. It seemed as if our ability to independently judge a situation was impaired. Almost like hypothetical thinking was either none existent or we just would rather not consider it.
Even to the point that they decided that certain things mentioned in the charge but lacking any evidence or even mention by the procurator fiscal or defence were also assumed to happen. I learnt two very important lessons in this.
1) Changing a person’s mind is a very hard and difficult task and in some case even when multiple contrary evidence is present it still does not seem to register. It took the presence of a judge to discard some charges as there was no evidence mentioning it before people actually seemed to consider it. The charges dropped from about 15 charges to about 7 charges by the end of the trial and even then some members of the jury felt that even though there was no evidence or mention of those things, it still should have stood.
2) People seemed to prefer to believe the worst in a person before they take a second to see if there is any good in that person.
These two things made me realise certain things for my daily life.
1) Never take the importance of making a good first impression for granted. It takes a lot more to change a person’s mind.
2) Never forget to take a second to rethink something you seem to be absolutely certain about. It is very possible you have used your previous experience to make that judgement
3) Objectivity is not as natural as we think. Subjectivity seems to be the more natural of the two. It takes effort to remember to be objective.
4) Be careful when you make judgements about people. It might not matter to you but it might matter to them.
5) Rules (such as the rules for make a decision as a member of a jury) matter very little when making judgements about people. Somehow our bias seems to come into play. It is very important to be aware of this.
While a lot of the members of the jury were willing to reconsider their initial judgement when they realised that a man’s freedom was a stake. There were still two or three people that did not even want to reconsider and actually became defensive and took the case personally. They even questioned the judge’s decision to drop some charges even though they knew there was no evidence to support the charges or even a mention of it. This brings me to my final point
6) No matter how hard you try to change a person’s opinion about an event or about you. Sometimes it just does not work. They have their own opinion no matter what happens. Do not waste time on this. Do your very best and move on. Life is too short.
You see in that funny and unfortunate experience I realised that life is not always decided on what we do but what others think about what we do.
I remember the very first time I came across Emotional intelligence. I was so fascinated by it as it tied in with the ideas I felt my life had been teaching me. It seemed like someone had taken my mistakes through wrong reactions and tested them and after doing that he came up with a theory. It was brilliant yet so simple. I had made so many mistakes and taken so many wrong turns. I wished there would have been an easier journey to make this conclusions but I guess I learnt so someone else does not have to.
I should probably point out that these are just the opinions of one man and as such there is a high probability you might not agree in total. If you don’t then please by all means share with us all (in the comments section). After-all isn’t that the whole idea behind this site.
I guess before I start to talk about emotions and gaining control I should at the very least talk (even if ever so briefly) about emotional intelligence and what it really means.
Here it goes, please try not to fall asleep just yet. 🙂
Emotional intelligence is a form of intelligence rising to fame by Daniel Goleman in his 1995 book rightly called “Emotional Intelligence”. He defined it as Emotional intelligence is the innate potential to feel, use, communicate, recognize, remember, describe, identify, learn from, manage, understand and explain emotions.
Goleman identified the five ‘domains’ of EQ as:
Knowing your emotions.
Managing your own emotions.
Recognising and understanding other people’s emotions.
Managing relationships, ie., managing the emotions of others.
Emotional Intelligence embraces and draws from numerous other branches of behavioural, emotional and communications theories, such as NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), Transactional Analysis, and empathy.
Goleman believed that IQ contributes about twenty percent to the factors that determine life success.
Whether you believe that emotional intelligence as an idea is real or that it determines success in life or not, the fact of the matter remains. Human beings have over 6,000 emotions and you either control your emotions or they control you. The way I see it, emotions must be controlled to avoid making potentially bad decisions. I learnt that this unfortunately is not a magical process that occurs as you grow up. It takes time and willingness to try to achieve this and nothing shows you just how much you lack this as a relationship that doesn’t go how you want it to.
To be able to control your emotions you must first of all truly get to
Know your emotions. There are probably over a million ways we feel, but scientists have classified human emotions into a few basics that everyone can recognize: disgust, joy, acceptance, fear, surprise, sadness, anger, and anticipation.
However according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association there are four major emotions that give us the most trouble, These are anger, fear, anxiety, and depression.
After knowing your emotions we must accept that that emotions don’t just appear mysteriously occur. In other words you were not born angry or in-love. Many times, we’re at the mercy of our emotions on a subconscious level but by bring them to consciousness we are better able to control them. I have never advised anyone to repress their feelings or ignore them as it always inevitably means that it gets worse and could lead to a psychotic break (in extreme cases). A simple exercise could be to try to keep a small diary of your emotions and what triggers them and rate your emotions on a scale.
Try to be aware of what was happening at that time and what was going through your mind. Find out what triggers that emotion. Sometimes it could be as simple as the look in someone’s eyes. Whichever way this will help you also determine if your emotions are irrational or provoked.
At this point I will have to trust that you have your best interest at heart and would like some help on this so I will need you to write down what evidence (proof) supports this emotion and to also write down what evidence supports that this might be incorrect or misplaced feelings.
Now we must move on to a little bit of introspection. Ask yourself if there is another way to look at the situation that is more rational and more balanced than the way you might have seen it before? Keep in mind first glance can be very deceiving and you just might be surprised at your own honesty and result.
Next I will need you to take time out to consider your options. There is always an alternative way to re-act even when someone tries to kill you so know that there is always an option. To be perfectly honest in most cases there are three main possible options. The first being react, second do not re-act and the third re-act in the opposite way of what you normally would have done.
After you have considered your options on how to re-act to the situation or feeling. You must make a choice. Your choice will usually be based on principles or logic. In other words what matters the most to you or what is the most rational way to re-act.
Finally, the above steps show how to not let your emotions control your behaviour, but not how to change the emotions themselves. If you want to control your emotion you must change the way you see the world.
I borrowed some of these quotes from a personality test I developed when at University and I believe that every item here is a lie
I must be perfect in all respects in order to be worthwhile. The simple fact is that not a single person can ever be perfect
Because things in my past controlled my life, they have to keep doing so now and in the future. We all know that change is possible and our past does not guarantee our future. People change and sometimes they are completely different from who they were. In thoughts and in actions. It’s simply the truth.
I must be loved and approved of by everyone who is important to me. A simple fact of life is that not everyone will love you at least not the way you might want them to; you either accept it or be destroyed by it.
I can be as happy as possible by just doing nothing and enjoying myself, taking life as it comes. I think it is quite likely that nothing will drive you closer to despair and depression like doing absolutely nothing or why do rich people still work?
Misery comes from outside forces which I can’t do very much to change. I accept that it isn’t always our fault when things don’t go according to what we want but we must learn that how we deal with it is ultimately our choice.
When people treat me unfairly, it is because they are bad people. Let’s be honest everyone is a mixture of good and bad and that includes you, so don’t be a hypocrite as we all make mistakes.
If something is dangerous or fearful, I have to worry about it. I learnt that worry adds nothing to you. Not a single thing so it surely does not help solve a problem.
It is easier to avoid life’s difficulties and responsibilities than to face them. I agree that it is easier but the truth is that it is not wise as we are who we are because of what we have been through and sometimes we learn life-long lessons in some of our most painful times.
It is terrible when things do not work out exactly as I want them to. No one can predict with accuracy the course of their life so it cannot be terrible if it is not something peculiar to you;.
You see controlling your emotions can change your life and gaining a new view on life will dramatically redirect your life. The first time I noticed this was when I went to a church in Edinburgh and I was completely baffled at how the people in the church seemed to not have a care in the world when they sang praises to God. No-one spoke to me but I could see it in them that this was real unexplainable peace. Something I had longed for, for so long and was struggling to find. I was very certain that these people had the same anxieties I possessed but dint understand how it seemed to all dissolve and then it hit me. It dissolved away because their perspective on their life changed. Their problems did not magically disappear. Their life did not change but what they felt because they knew God was in control of their life affected their outward appearance and demeanour. This is what happens when broken relationships and marriages get mended. They simply got a new perspective and then they learn to appreciate what they thought was a failure. Sometimes this is all it takes to see what was there all along and what was obvious to everyone but you.
Surrounding yourself with positive things and looking at life form a different view will certainly help you live a happier life and review everything you once thought was a train wreck. It’s simply like someone with cataract getting a new pair of eyes.
I learnt that we can spend our whole life looking for something we felt was missing and return home to find it was always right beside us. I also learnt that irrational emotions is often the reason why we never see it.
I will end this post with a story I read as I think it best describes what I hope you (the reader) will get out of this
A young man was getting ready to graduate from college. For many months he had admired a beautiful sports car in a dealer’s showroom, and knowing his father could well afford it, he told him that was all he wanted.
As Graduation Day approached, the young man awaited signs that his father had purchased the car. Finally, on the morning of his graduation, his father called him into his private study. His father told him how proud he was to have such a fine son, and told him how much he loved him. He handed his son a beautiful wrapped gift box. Curious, but somewhat disappointed, the young man opened the box and found a lovely, leather-bound Bible, with the young man’s name embossed in gold. Angrily, he raised his voice to his father and said, “With all your money you give me a Bible?” He then stormed out of the house, leaving the Bible.
Many years passed and the young man was very successful in business. He had a beautiful home and a wonderful family, but realizing his father was very old, he thought perhaps he should go to see him. He had not seen him since that graduation day. Before he could make the arrangements, he received a telegram telling him his father had passed away, and willed all of his possessions to his son. He needed to come home immediately and take care of things.
When he arrived at his father’s house, sudden sadness and regret filled his heart. He began to search through his father’s important papers and saw the still new Bible, just as he had left it years ago. With tears, he opened the Bible and began to turn the pages. As he was reading, a car key dropped from the back of the Bible. It had a tag with the dealer’s name, the same dealer who had the sports car he had desired. On the tag was the date of his graduation, and the words… “PAID IN FULL”.
How many times do we miss blessings because they are not packaged as we expected? Or love because they don’t look or act exactly as we felt the package would be? Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; but remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.
Sometimes we don’t realize the good fortune we have or we could have because we expect “the packaging” to be different. What may appear as bad fortune may in fact be the door that is just waiting to be opened.
—— “Essay” China Daily
If you are lucky to have a job, work hard at it. If you are lucky to have friends, cherish them. If you are lucky to be loved unconditionally by someone embrace it and don’t look back, no one said life would be easy they only said it would be worth it. All you have to do is enjoy it.
I hope in some small way I helped make your life just a little bit better and give you a little more perspective than you began reading. I hope that after reading this you would look back at the number of times in life that you fell down and see it as the number of times you stood up and fought. Reading this was another step in that direction so take heart in the fact that you chose to try and not to lie down and drown.
I know what you’re thinking, right off the bat; how can there be any ‘Best’ things about being Homeless. I also know you’re probably curious as to where a homeless guy is writing about being homeless from exactly? Do they have free iPads’ and Wi-Fi attached to park benches now?
No. No, they don’t. If they did they would be covered in vomit, dog shit, some Super Strength Lager cans, and that’s if they hadn’t already been sold to buy said lager. But I digress.
Fortunately I have climbed out of that dog shit and vomit flavoured cocktail of park benches and clambered into a shelter. I thank my stars every day as it was the single worst period of my life. I’ve been a lucky man for most of the rest of it, having had nice houses, cars, high powered jobs, and most importantly of all – a beautiful girlfriend and precious daughter.
Sadly, I succumbed to the oldest cliché of all and became a functioning alcoholic, on the way to then becoming a completely non-functioning and very ill homeless man.
5 Worst Things about being Homeless
Oh God, the fear!
It’s probably not surprising to imagine how being homeless would be a ‘bit scary’ to anyone aside from perhaps those that had done a few tours of Afghanistan or something, but being ordered to leave the comfort of your old home with nothing more than a hastily packed bag of essentials is downright terrifying. ‘Drunk’ is also not a great time to rely upon yourself to pack ‘essentials’ either btw.
Where do you even begin?
The thought of walking up to the nearest fellow vagrant and saying “Sup bro, wanna hang?” is akin to the thought of walking up to a Tiger, kicking it in the balls and calling his mother a dirty great big stripy slut.
So you decide to go it alone and ‘see how it goes’. The idea of stepping into the night with no clue as to how you ‘be successfully homeless’ makes you whimper and shake like a newborn puppy cast into a snowdrift.
However, this initial trepidation pales next to the first night, after deciding upon a bush under which to park yourself, every rustle or noise or sight of another human approaching fills your pants with the same kind of shit as you’re probably sleeping on a makeshift bed of at that very moment.
Up until this point in life I had somewhat prided myself on being ‘a bit handy’ and wouldn’t back down from a fight with all but the toughest of tough guys (OK, up until High School. I never said I was Mike Tyson, alright?!). It became apparent that within any second of that entire night, I’d have squealed away from a squirrel if I thought it had even the merest of a ‘wild glint’ in its eyes.
As a person ‘with home’, you know that if you get caught up in your average downpour, frosty night, or blowy day, you are safe in the knowledge that you can dry off, warm up, etc the second you step back inside your front door.
When you’re literally braving the elements it doesn’t matter if the weather is ‘dickish’, mild, or even pleasant; you are always one (or a combination thereof), too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry, too flustered.
Sure, some of these are easier than others to cope with, but you’re never really comfortable and are all too aware that it can (and probably will) get worse. Think of it as Mother Nature’s punishment for you soiling her trees and hedgerows day and night. I’d never known what it was like to be truly frozen to the core, appreciate what it’s like to live in the Sahara, or feel as if your skin in its entirety has actually gotten trench foot.
What’s more, when you get kicked off the porch by whomever is donning the ‘shit-kickers’, clutching just a small bag of belongings (and I was one of the lucky ones) you don’t exactly have the correct seasonal wardrobe of raincoat, a light jacket, perhaps some darling waterproof woolly gloves, the right blend of hat options for snow and sun glare, and so forth.
In all fairness, you wouldn’t want to have to lug it about anyway and would desperately try and stow it in a bush and hope you remember where you left it, and or that it didn’t get stolen by a fellow bush-pisser.
That’s why you tend to see homeless people wearing a thick coat, hat, jacket, and boots whether it be baking hot or pissing it down. And it truly feels as bad as it smells, I assure you.
Like most of us on this site, I am a regular technology user, be it Smartphone, internet, social networking, etc. I also similarly rely on the ability to contact anyone/anytime. Oh, and damn if I am feeling really adventurous I even communicate with family, friends, and colleagues – in person!
Homeless people don’t often choose to spend their money on mobile phone top-ups, but I was actually different. Sadly, one night someone managed to wrestle the phone out of my weak, sleep deprived hands, and so I was left with no means of talking to anyone, finding out about the outside World, or keeping in touch with my ‘old life’.
I’ve never been much of a crier and enjoyed my own company, but for the first week I cried a lot. I was so gut-wrenchingly lonely and just wanted to see my daughter smile for Daddy, to have my girlfriend tell me everything would be alright, to hear my Mum tell me she loved me, to make my boss proud – just one last time.
Now through a series of events stemming from my drinking, lying about drinking, or being too stubborn to seek the help to stop drinking, I had let all those closest to me down. Understandably they had walked away one by one. And now finally I was stark-bollock-nakedly alone.
If you ever wish everyone would just get lost and leave you alone; Trust me, you don’t. Not for long.
Following on from The Isolation (and remember not everyone is an alcoholic like myself) is really just the realisation and questioning of exactly what happened to your life; the people you know, the complete removal of your self-respect and self-worth, and for me obviously; the utter and complete shame of being the un-intelligent person who made yourself homeless .
As a chronic binge drinker I’d have long periods (gradually dwindling, admittedly) of sobriety, where life was pretty damn sweet and I’d be in control. In short, I’d ‘beaten it’. Why didn’t I stop before I had thrown it all away?
Now, ironically I didn’t actually have much of anything much to do all day except drink, or think about my shame, or both. Instead, I walked endlessly around and around the park, replaying every despicable, nasty, selfish, cruel, dishonest, awful thing I had ever done. I was in a continual cycle of self-torture and persecution and I couldn’t escape it.
You can run away from home, or you can run home. Where do you run to when you don’t have one?
The Lack of Emergency Exit Signs
“Excuse me World!
Having contemplated being rock bottom for a LONG time and having stopped the drinking, I’d like to climb back aboard now please.”
Nuh uh, not quite so fast buddy…
Once more, I am sure you have seen for yourself the sheer amount of homeless people out there; with or without drink, drug, or miscellaneous issues. If not, I can tell you. It’s a metric tonne.
I’m not here to tell you why everyone else got into their own messes, or whether it was deserved like my own. However, regardless of how you dug your own hole, rest assured there are a lot of people ahead and behind you in the queue for help.
There aren’t loads of places in government sponsored rehab programmes, there aren’t a bunch of halfway houses out there offering free board. Fuck, it’s hard enough to jostle for some free coffee and bread at the local soup kitchen.
There certainly aren’t any big, flashing neon signs that say – “This way to your new life homeless dude!”
You’ll largely have to find out where you can get help for yourself, knock on a whole bunch of doors (and get a lot of them slammed back in your face), and once you do see any glimmer of help available you sure as hell better fight for it, both emotionally and sometimes physically, and make sure you don’t throw it back in anyone’s face in the process as I saw a lot of people who screwed up the moment they had a foot in the door.
Don’t misunderstand me, there are people out there trying to help, charity organisations, even kind hearted people who WILL try – if you help yourself. But it’s still a bloody hard slog and although I am now thankfully homed in a shelter, I know I continue to have a long way and plenty of time to go before I once again have a place to call HOME.
There are also some not so bad times, honest…
5 Best Things about being Homeless
It’s a bit of a revelation to sit in the sunshine and watch the world go by, completely oblivious to any of its problems. To be rid of job responsibilities, housework, clearing up baby sick. Woohoo! You are free as a bird once more to make your own choices!
After the initial horror, nay, Armageddon of being kicked out of your lovely and painstakingly house by your amazingly patient and gorgeous girlfriend who gave you your beautiful young daughter; pet your dog; watch TV at leisure, oh or eat, there is (believe it or not!), a fleeting yet blissful period where you feel the weight of the World slide away and you begin to think about this ‘opportunity’ to start over in life and make better choices.
To be honest, these ‘better choices’ often became clouded somewhat by the odd can of Super Strength Lager, but a proverbial fresh start was somehow now attainable. Much more than when I was being herded along by my rat race existence, in a job I hated, unable to swim against the tide of ‘regular life’ and do some things I wanted due to simply the perceived ‘lack of time’. Writing for example, reading a book, doing NOTHING but sit by a river in silence.
All those things were brought back to me, in the most horrid way, but I now will make sure they are always a part of whatever the future holds. In short, I’d face planted hard, but I was freshly ‘grounded’ in more ways than one.
In my previously employed incarnation, I had become a mindless middle management drone – sharing the same few conversations with work colleagues about the latest episode of The Walking Dead (how apt…), Call of Duty, the pressures of ‘having to spending time with her indoors’, and of course fatherhood. It’d been a long time since I’d met anyone who felt new, or who’d led a different kind of existence, or who wanted something different out of life.
Now I was meeting and sometime hanging out with characters such a ‘Wheelie Dave’ (he had a wheelchair – us crazy homeless sure know how to give a dude a nickname, eh?) Mental Mickey (oh yeah, they just keep-a-coming!); Stevie (OK, not so hot that one); Father Ted (UK sitcom character – GIYLF), and so many random encounters with ‘normals’, i.e. dog walkers, retirees, commuters, etc.
If you took time to speak politely, they wouldn’t always offer you money but they would often share a tender moment from their own lives, or maybe enquire about your own predicament (if they were feeling especially brave). From these tales of highs, lows, joy and woes, I (as a writer) suddenly had a whole new bank of inspiration, countless fables to regurgitate and regale. Hey, I wasn’t really a homeless alcoholic – I was simply researching for my book!
Either way (and like the corniness or not), unless I was starving hungry or jonesing for a beer/cigarette, such moments often lifted my spirits immeasurably more. There are a lot of very interesting strangers out there to meet and share your life with. Never mind on Facebook and Twitter. Talk to someone! A lot of them also still care about other people. You might just have to prove you’re not a mental or likely to get a bit stabby.
It’s worth making the effort to share your stories with others though, however that may be.
Man Make Fire, Strong Like Bull
Before my excursion into whimpering myself to sleep each day (you NEVER sleep at night unless the lagers were really flowing that day…), I was a successful videogame producer with a love of techno, comics, sci-fi, i.e. a financially affluent geek. I’d had a middle class upbringing and I couldn’t honestly say I had lived in the vague vicinity of anything resembling ‘Da Ghetto’.
As such my survival skills were somewhat limited, to things such as ordering pizza, a bit of DIY, and a pretty good range of ‘Streetfighter’ noises. Putting it bluntly I was no Bear Grylls or Andy McNab.
OK, you got me, I’m still not, but I can now: –
· Find a secluded spot in any park where I won’t be seen or smelled by passers by. Similarly, I can tell someone approaching from about 500 yards away, more if they are upwind and smoking a cigarette.
· Start a fire even in damp conditions with damp paper.
· Erect a makeshift shelter from nothing more than cardboard boxes, using preferably a waterproof groundsheet (I never said I was back in the literal Dark Ages), and make sure I remained largely dry and out of the wind long enough to attempt a power nap.
· Find food via a mixture of scavenging from the bins at one of the local bakeries, donations from kind strangers (thank you again, whoever you were), and bartering for cig/booze with fellow wanderers.
· Last but not least – Find a place to crap. As long as there are no kids about or persons likely to take offense, most men will whip it out and have a pee, but you don’t think of how difficult it is for a homeless person to find place to make number 2 until you are one.
Public Toilets aren’t around like they used to be, and the newer ones even require ill afforded payment, so you are required to either beg a local pub/restaurant/cafe owner to let you walk through their establishment and using the facilities (not easy!), or you learn to hide in the bushes, arse in the wind, and make sure you collect discarded newspapers where you can. Yup – it really is that glamorous!
Humility and Appreciation
Probably the best thing for me personally was re-learning humility and appreciation. *Stop puking at the back!*
In all seriousness though, I’d taken for granted my girlfriend and daughter, had stopped giving them the life they deserved; I’d thrown my family’s love back in their faces time and time again, they all enjoyed a drink so why couldn’t I?
I’d messed up my career, relying on the many ‘last chances’ my former bosses had given me thanks to my past glory (during the ‘dry times’) and imagining it impossible they would dare let me go.
I’d been a complete shit to any friend who had tried to just be a friend for friend’s sake or to try and help me; my ego seeming to think they would always come back because deep down I’m a great guy, remember?
Underneath it all, I had been a successful big shot at major companies, and had it all, so even though I deep down knew the success was fading, and people were becoming disenchanted; there was simply no way I could really lose it all. Was there?
This whole experience has made me remember how lucky I have undoubtedly been in my life. It has rediscovered my drive to be an honest, loving, grateful man and fix those relationships I have messed up. Most of all I was appreciative I was even still alive. I had been remind of my desire to be the Father my Dad never was (he died 3 years ago incidentally, aged just 55 years old – I’ll let you guess what of).
The Only Way is Up
Another possibly contrite statement, but true nevertheless – I have never been to such depths of hell as I have during my relatively brief time on the streets. I’ve tried to summarise it above, but there are a million other ‘worst’ things, yet not so many ‘bests’ about this colossal fall from ‘grace’ of mine.
Un/Luckily, the only way for me is up now. I don’t want to go back there. I CAN’T. I’ve been forced to remember who ‘Sober Louis’ is, and you know what? I kinda like him. Other people kinda like him too.
I am starting from scratch and hopefully by regaining the trust of those around me and with their forgiveness combined with mine to myself, maybe I can even reconnect with my own little family, circle of friends, and career path. ..
Perhaps, I can even go home.
By Louis J Hayward
If only we realised that a smile is a contagious ray of sun, we would brighten the world.
In times at best, optimism is the most valuable quality. If only we knew we would race to prosper.
In this temporary world of spoken amiss, we wish for happiness.
From the glow in a daughters eye, exposed internal bliss.
We all have the same goal, but strive to force feed our purpose, with what we assume to be and intelligent choice. When in reality it’s worthless.
Happiness is life’s lock and how frantically we search for the key.
To be eternally satisfied is to be a caged bird set free.
Equality is a tooth of our answer.
Hence ignorance is a disease which kills a heart before a soul, exceedingly deadly yet curable unlike cancer.
Contentment is the sweetest thing a life could ever taste.
A good deed erases enemies through sincerity; such a deed can never be replaced.
So hasten to success, hasten to the evil past which the latter will erase,
It’s one difference at a time which makes the earth a better place.
By May Bint Abu-Qalbain
I’ve learned that you cannot make someone love you.All you can do is be someone who can be loved. The rest is up to them.
I’ve learned that no matter how much I care some people just don’t care back.
I’ve learned that just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want them to does not mean they don’t love you with all they have.
I’ve learned that it takes years to build up trust, and only seconds to destroy it.
I’ve learned that it’s not what you have in your life, but whom you have in your life that counts.
I’ve learned that our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become.
I’ve learned that we are responsible for what we do, no matter how we feel.
I’ve learned that either you control your attitude or it controls you.
I’ve learned that sometimes when I’m angry I have the right to be angry, but that doesn’t give me the right to be cruel.
I’ve learned that maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you’ve had and what you’ve learned from them and less to do with how many birthdays you’ve celebrated.
I’ve learned that two people can look at the exact same thing and see something totally different.
I’ve learned that no matter how good a friend is, they’re going to hurt you every once in a while and you must forgive them for that.
I’ve learned that it isn’t always enough to be forgiven by others. Sometimes you have to learn to forgive yourself.
I’ve learned that just because two people argue, it doesn’t mean they don’t love each other. And, just because they don’t argue, it doesn’t mean they do.
I’ve learned that no matter how bad your heart is broken the world doesn’t stop for your grief.
I’ve learned that no matter how you try to protect your children, they will eventually get hurt, and you will hurt in the process.
I’ve learned that you should never tell a child their dreams are unlikely or outlandish. Few things are more humiliating, and what a tragedy it would be if they believed it.
I’ve learned that heroes are people who do what has to be done when it needs to be done, regardless of the consequences.
I’ve learned that you can keep going long after you can’t. What have you learnt?
Share with us all in the comments page what you have learnt…