Solutions Solutions Solutions

light-bulb-2010022_1920

There are many problems and challenges facing the world and no shortage of writers and journalists in the media who are only too willing to heighten our awareness of all these issues. What there is a shortage of though, are individuals finding solutions to all these issues.

Talk is cheap. Withering, junk-food grade criticism is even cheaper. I am forever bored of writing that amplifies the problems of the world without shedding at least a mere pinhole of light and solutions to these problems. This is one of the reasons why I am turned on by hearing and learning about new and emerging technologies, because more often than not they provide solutions to most of these problems. They also enable me to foresee a future that is not as dire as what is often projected in much of the media.

For example, a very real and pressing social issue in the UK is the underfunding of the National Health Service and the uncertain future it currently faces. This is a huge concern as private healthcare can be very expensive and not everyone can afford it. This is especially true across the pond in the USA, where healthcare is notoriously costly. The biggest solution I see to making healthcare cheaper, more abundant and available is the further development of new and emerging technologies. Many fear the rise of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. But the development of both these two technologies will bring unprecedented benefits in the race to making healthcare not only more affordable (or even almost free) but more advanced too. Imagine robotic surgeons much more advanced than human surgeons – they don’t get nervous or stressed, they can analyze the entire human body at the molecular level and perform surgeries with nano precision. Already robotic surgery devices exist yet the scope for further development is limitless. Nanotechnology will play a very important role in understanding the entire body at the celular level and will be revolutionary in enabling everyone to maintain optimum health at all times without any viruses and damaged cells occurring. And all this can be managed via a digital application or chip without intervention from a finite supply of human doctors. I could go on but it is solutions like these to a current and real crisis that give hope and enable one to re-evaluate their hard wired negative perceptions of a situation.

Worried about the rising costs of education? Virtual Reality will be a huge game changer. This will be an enormous boon in parts of the world where there is a limited supply of teachers. With VR you won’t even need to physically step into a bricks and mortar learning institution.

There are many parts of the world, which lack enough of the right type of land to grow crops. Vertical farming is one of the potential solutions especially at the aeroponic level where crops can be grown simply via the nutrients in the air. It is still a technology that is very much in its infancy yet would reduce global hunger levels dramatically once it gets to a stage where it is much more advanced.

These are just a few solutions. I am no engineer, scientist or inventor, but knowing that these are very real solutions with the capacity to eradicate many of the most pressing global problems fills me with hope and optimism for the future. It sure beats being constantly fed the broken-record narrative in much of the news about how awful things are and that they are only going to get worse.

 

By Nicholas Peart

(c)All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

 

Accepting Your Contradictions

red purple dots pixabay photo

When I was younger, I tried very hard not to appear a hypocrite. I would look down upon those whom I perceived as blatantly hypocritical and unaware of their own contradictions. Yet no matter how much of a purist I tried to be, holes would always appear in some shape or form. The more I tried not to be a hypocrite, the more I began to feel the weight of life on my shoulders. In the process I felt my vitality and joie de vivre being sapped.

Some of the most inspirational icons in the world were full of contradictions. John Lennon is a great example. For much of his music career he promoted the ideas of peace, love and togetherness. He got his positive messages across to millions of people with great success, but his domestic life was at times anything but peaceful. It has been said that he could be volatile and even physically abusive. He spent very little time with his eldest son Julian (even though he wanted to mend his relationship with Julian before the time of his death). Yet does this diminish my opinion of John Lennon? Absolutely not. He was a hugely talented and authentic singer songwriter who openly acknowledged his flaws and contradictions, often in his songs such as Jealous Guy and Getting Better.

Accepting your contradictions is one of the most liberating and beautiful forms of surrender. The moment you do this, life becomes less heavy and sweeter.

 

By Nicholas Peart

(c)All Rights Reserved 

 

Image: susannp4

Talent Is Cheaper Than Table Salt

Table Salt

“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.”

These are the words of the writer Stephen King. When I first read this quote several years ago, a part of me was outraged. My thoughts at the time were something along the lines of, ‘Talent is cheaper than table salt!?! Who does this man think he is!?! Talent is an asset goddammit!

After cooling down I re-read that quote in its entirety, beyond the first sentence…. ‘What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.’ After pondering over the last sentence of King’s quote I slowly developed one hell of a reality check. The quote demythologises the notion of how talent by itself is enough to succeed. For many years I thought talent was all that one needed. All my heroes were outrageously talented and unique human beings. Besides I couldn’t care less for lesser mediocre beings regardless of how hard they worked. I despised mediocrity.

Some complain that we live in a society where mediocrity is rewarded. And maybe they are right to complain? After all some of the biggest names in the world today are quite ordinary people and one could even come to the conclusion that they have very limited talents with nothing enlightening to say. That may be. But they are successful, because they work incredibly hard and know what makes the average individual on the street tick. They work tirelessly whilst also mirroring Joe and Joanna Blogs, giving them what they want.

 

By Nicholas Peart 

(c)All Rights Reserved 

(Self) Knowledge Is Power

image

Not all knowledge (image source: http://www.leahsblessings.com)

 

All my life I have always been curious and even if I may not have always come across as the quintessential person with a lust for life always oozing bucketloads of positive energy, I have always been greedy for experiences and knowledge. I have retained much of my curiosity since day one but what about the root of my thirst for knowledge? Well I suppose it goes hand in hand with my curiosity and a mind traditionally never still and corrupted by ferocious restlessness and obsessions. When I was growing up in the 80s and part of the 90s before the internet entered our homes, I used to pester my mum relentlessly to purchase for me an encyclopaedia whenever we were shopping in town. By the time I was about 10 I had about 5 different encyclopaedias. Anybody remember Dean Tell Me The Answer? I had one of those bad boys. Before my profound interest in music entered my life when I was 12, studying my encyclopaedias, painting, tennis and collecting precious stones occupied most of my leisure time. No aimless Facebook and YouTube video trawling. I even once created my own encyclopaedia which I entered for a school competition and won the grand first prize of three English pounds.

From the age of 12 to 19 music almost had the monopoly on my total interests and I lapped up so much of it new and old; more than my brain could handle. Then at university I had a good friend who got me interested in good quality films and then a year later I became interested in literature. Even though I was taught certain literature at school, I was seldom interested or inspired by what I was taught.

Yet the big quantum leap in my thirst for knowledge began ten years ago at the age of 23 when I travelled by myself to Morocco for two weeks. That trip was the catalyst for a life long interest in travelling and exploring the world. I have spent so much of my time since then travelling and learning about different countries and cultures. My knowledge and understanding of the world was so much more myopic before my interest in travelling began.

However these last few years I have begun to question the concept of knowledge and what it means. For too long I arrogantly took to my bosom the phrase that ‘Knowledge Is Power’. Now whenever I see this quote in public places, I feel so inclined to brandish one of those spray cans and to add the word ‘Self’ before the word ‘Knowledge’. I have acquired all this bountiful knowledge but what use is it when my level of self-knowledge is next to zero? I had spent so much of my time looking out but how much had I really spent looking in. I liked to think that I was this deep person but deep down (no pun!) I was kidding myself. There’s this well known cliche about travelling to find yourself, yet I’d been travelling in many ways because I was afraid of myself and dealing with reality and society. I had learnt so much about many different countries, their histories and cultures and even though I had zig zagged across enormous swathes of the world I could seldom bring myself to search and explore myself. It is interesting how after a long time abroad, many travellers return to their home countries feeling lost, confused, depressed and out of synch with the rhythm and flow of their external environment. I believe most of the root of this is the great disconnection within themselves. I don’t believe it’s just because of their home countries being so different to the countries they visit. If you truly know yourself, you by extension are able to understand better other people regardless of their position in society: whether they are accountants, magicians, lawyers, painters, computer programmers, musicians, billionaires or beggars – this doesn’t matter. If you barely know yourself you will struggle to see beneath the facade of others. You will always become affected and a slave to other people’s behaviour: perhaps many times playing the victim role as opposed to taking more responsibility of your life.

Yet the journey in getting to know yourself is no pleasure cruise. Especially if you are always in constant fear of yourself. Yet this fear can be transcended. With the guidance of a good therapist or healer (preferably someone who has experienced all these challenges and overcame them) then this journey can truly begin. But they can only be your guide or facilitator. They cannot be a rescuer or saviour – there can be no dependence as with dependence there can be no true awakening.

 

By Nicholas Peart

4th September 2016

(all rights reserved)

Embracing Sensitivity

 

Soap ball

I am a very sensitive person. That is who I am. But sometimes I felt that this was not accepted by others. I would hear some say, ‘you are too sensitive’ or ‘stop being so sensitive’. Perhaps this comes from people wanting you to conform more to their standards of who they want you to be. And when you display characteristics or behaviour which goes beyond the boundaries of who they want you to be, this creates problems. I know this from experience. There are people, for example, who I love and who have certain traits and characteristics which make me love them even more. But then they may also display traits which I don’t . For example this person might be too loud, brash and opinionated. Here though, it is me with the problem and not this person, since I cannot accept those traits. I cannot accept that these traits are a part of who this person is and it is me who is in fact creating new problems for myself. With a greater level of awareness, I would immediately realise that there is something that I need to work on, explore in greater depth and get to the root of.

So to get back to the issue of ‘being too sensitive’. You are very sensitive but this is fine. That is an important part of who you are. Those who say that you are too sensitive are unable to accept you for who you are. Perhaps because they cannot accept themselves and, looking into this more deeply, there may be a deep repression, frustration and disconnection within themselves. If you have this awareness, than the initial annoyance which you have towards the person telling you that you are too sensitive morphs into compassion. Think about this for a moment.

The writer Matt Haig has a chapter in his wonderful book Reasons To Stay Alive entitled ‘In praise of thin skins’ where he talks about being ‘thin skinned’ but saying that that is just the way he is. Instead of fighting it and being ashamed of it he accepts and embraces it saying that that is who he is. I find such an attitude very inspiring and also helpful. This is wise and healing advice to those trapped in doubt and confusion.

Below I am featuring a six minute video of the controversial Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh’s take on sensitivity. Love him or hate him he explains sensitivity very eloquently in this video. All of us are born sensitive but we have much of our sensitivity knocked out of us sometimes by our parents who, for example, tell us to ‘stop crying’, by our environment at school and in our work environment. Much of our sensitivity (and, by extension, much of who we truly are) is compromised as we try to ‘fit in’ in this world.

In the wake of watching the video I begin to accept my sensitivity even more and realise that it is more of a gift (not meaning this in a conceited way) than something to be ashamed of and suppressed. What’s more, I realise that real sensitivity in this world is in short supply. There is most definitely a link between art and sensitivity. Picasso once famously said that every child is born an artist yet the real challenge is to remain an artist. Every child comes into this world an artist just as every child comes into this world a very sensitive being (as I stated earlier). Yet why do so many children have their creativity and sensitivity knocked out of them at an early age? This is mostly out of fear than the parents being ‘bad’ people. The parents are most likely already struggling and see security and certainty as the tools to keep their life trajectory very much on the smooth and well travelled road. They may also not really know themselves, but that is another area for probing another time. Forsaking the ten lane highway for some obscure and seldom trodden dirt track is a shot into the unknown and an extra dose of uncertainty and challenge in an already challenging world.

So be glad that you are a sensitive. If only there were more of us.

 

by Nicholas Peart

30th July 2016

(All rights reserved)

 

Image: CC0 Creative Commons

Who Moved My Cheese? Dealing With Change

image

Who Moved My Cheese? by Dr Spencer Johnson is a fantastic little book, originally released almost 20 years ago, about how one can successfully deal with change. The story features four characters; two mice called Sniff and Scurry and two little people named Hem and Haw. The mice represent the simple parts of ourselves and Hem and Haw the complex parts. Sniff ‘sniffs’ out changes early and Scurry ‘scurries’ into action. Hem blocks and fears change and as a result remains stagnant whereas Haw is more open and willing to adapt to change as he sees change leading to something better. Haw is prepared to ‘move with the cheese’ whilst Hem perpetually moans ‘who moved my cheese?’.

For Haw it’s not just about acquiring more cheese. He is just as excited by the journey, challenge and adventure of finding it. So even if he failed in his quest to find more cheese, the buzz of trying to find more is more satisfying than simply complaining about having no cheese left whilst feeling trapped and always remaining at the same station without ever moving.

Initially, I assumed the book to be more of a manual to achieve success professionally. A book for businesses. But it is much more than that. The story is timeless and up there with the greats like The Prophet and Aesop’s Fables.

In my life I have played the roles of all of these characters. Yet it has been the character of Hem who I’ve played the most. Those times of fear, procrastination, denial and sabotaging my happiness, which have affected my life. These emotions have always anchored me to the same station and very soon I become trapped. And even when there’s cheese remaining, it’s taste is different and it’s just not satisfying anymore. Clawing at this remaining cheese doesn’t pump my heart or nourish my soul or spice up my life.

Sometimes I want to ask ‘who put this brain inside of me?’ Some may sniff (no pun intended!) at the brain of a mouse and how it lacks the complexity of a human brain but precisely! It deals in simplicity and basic instincts and doesn’t have any of this crazy emotional baggage which wrecks havoc on our lives. Their skills to move on and adapt are more advanced than ours. They don’t waste time unnecessarily overanalysing things.

Expanding on this short story, is it enough to settle on finding just any cheese station? It is one thing setting off and finding more cheese, but more specifically, are you after a particular kind of cheese? Cheese is a metaphor for all kinds of things. This could be money, a certain possession, a fulfilling job, a certain type of partner, a new experience, excellent health, happiness, inner peace etc. – it can be anything you want.

What is my cheese? Perhaps for me the best type of cheese is the one called Self-Discovery or Self-Knowledge. The more I get to know myself the more of this cheese gets accumulated. Even if at times the journey is painful, as I navigate the maze to find more of this type of cheese, I invariably get hopelessly lost, demoralised and insecure that I will never find more of this Self-Knowledge cheese on the less travelled roads of the maze. It is much easier and less painful to search through the more accessible routes of the maze of life and look for more ordinary cheese. A station containing enormous slabs of mass produced mild bland cheddar may be enough for some and there is nothing wrong with that – each to their own. But what a thing it would be to find a cheese station containing some of the rarest, most exotic and tastiest cheeses. Rich and irresistibly creamy and tangy flavoured French and Italian cheeses for example.

Yet the paths of the maze to reach the stations containing these cheeses can be emotionally treacherous and many have lost their heads and their minds, and simply given up. The roads on this maze are not well paved and well lit 10 lane highways where one can idly cruise and be off their guard. Oh no sir! If only!! These roads are more like narrow hazardous Himalayan passes at least 5000 metres above sea level where just one minor slip could be fatal. It is challenging and demands full concentration but what a buzz to travel on those roads! Once you’ve travelled on those roads travelling on all other roads is a piece of old piss. In fact, after having successfully navigated those roads, travelling on those well lit 10 lane highways becomes an insufferably dull experience. You then almost become allergic to Hem!! Hem is fearful of change but you become fearful of ever ending up like Hem. You begin to embrace change like most people walk through their front door.

This is an indispensable book. Short, concise, to the point and it may even change your life and your ways of thinking for the better.

 

by Nicholas Peart

2nd June 2016

(All rights reserved)