I was a little girl, I used to watch Animal Planet…a lot. Hunting scenes were
always part of the program and I would be terrified watching them. I would
always hope, in my heart, that the hare, dear, impala, baby…something manages
to outrun the big, mean predator. Sometimes they did, but most of the times,
the hunter would be victorious.
few years ago, watching these tense encounters again, through the eyes of a
“grownup”, I wondered how I felt about this “circle of life”. Was it bad that
an animal had just lost its life or was it good that another was saved from
starvation? I think most people would argue that it’s neither good, nor bad.
It’s about the laws of nature, about survival. This is how it’s supposed to
happen. One species depends on the other, some sacrifice their lives for the
perpetuation of the ecosystem. Sounds even heroic in a sense, humbling.
when we happen to be the impala, our
perspectives change drastically. I used to feel like a victim all the time.
Things would always unfairly happen to me.
I didn’t know how to prevent painful experiences, especially in matters of the
heart. For an intelligent young woman, I had made some mind-blowingly stupid
Me, myself and I
As human beings, we tend to make everything about ourselves. In fact, we feel the entire Universe revolves around ourselves and our lives. There are people who refuse to watch football or tennis matches because every time they do, their favorite players lose. There are millions of viewers, not to mention the people actually playing, but them standing in front of the TV changes the outcome. If only it were that easy.
Now, we might not be center of the Universe, but the whole world really is constantly conspiring to bring us what we need most, what is towards our highest good. Even if we hate it at first.
Some time ago, I met a friend of mine for coffee. Knowing that I don’t believe in coincidences, he enthusiastically told me this story:
He had just turned in his monthly report. He had worked so hard…in fact he even added ‘sex with girlfriend’ to his weekly calendar at some point. It’s funny cause it’s true. Anyway, he was hoping his boss, who’s actually a pretty nice guy, would be pleased with the numbers. He was actually expecting a bonus. He even went online and picked a pair of new sneakers that morning. Talk about counting your chickens before they hatch.
When he went into his boss’s office, all hell broke loose. Apparently he needed to perform a lot better. Impossibly better, some would say. He went home and the next day he quit his job. He just quit. And after walking like a zombie for a week, he got a call from an old friend of his from college. The company he was working for had an opening for a management position. And guess what? He got the job.
But that’s not all. Meeting a colleague from his old firm, he learned that an investment fund was planning to buy the company and they were hammering his ex boss to increase profits. And the day before he freaked out in that meeting, his wife had filed for divorce.
This story has many more associated to it. The
boss, the wife, the colleague, the friend. They all contributed to and were
affected by the same event. If I had met my friend two days after he quit his
job, we would’ve had an entirely different conversation. Neither of us would’ve
known that something better was just around the corner. Just like maybe his
boss is going to fall in love with the waitress serving in the restaurant where
he’s meeting his divorce lawyer. Who knows?
“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito”The Dalai Lama
a web of connections. And we’re aware of so, so little of what’s going on in
the world and how one split second can change the lives of millions. Yet sometimes,
if we hit our toe off the foot of the bed in the morning, we think the Universe
is out to get us and we’ll have a lousy day. Which we most probably will, but
that’s a different conversation and the Universe is not doing it.
what was good and bad in my friend’s story? Was he wrong acting impulsively? Was he bad for quitting after just one disappointment, adding more stress
to his boss’ already difficult situation? Was his boss bad for not leaving his personal matters at home? Or is it that
because things turned out great for everybody, both of them did good?
is it that the same situation can be both good and bad depending on associated
The eye of the beholder
is a 1913 best-selling novel by Eleanor H. Porter, a classic children’s book,
with the main character’s name becoming a popular term for someone who has a
very optimistic outlook on life. Here’s a powerful quote from the book:
That a behavior has a positive intention
in no way implies that the behavior is
the best way of fulfilling the intention.
A positive intention may be only for oneself
or a part of oneself -- not necessarily for others,
all parts of oneself, or oneself as a whole.
Behaviors include conscious and unconscious
thoughts, emotions, and responses, as well as
symptoms, words and actions which
can be observed externally.
my Neuro-Linguistic Programming training I learned that “behind every behavior
there is a positive intention”. NLP is an approach to communication, personal
development and therapy based on the connection between thought, language and
behavioral patterns. So not only do our thoughts influence the way we express
ourselves, but words can actually change our minds and actions.
idea that every behavior has a positive intention is NLP’s first
presupposition. It originated from Virginia Satir, an American author and
therapist, widely recognized as the “Mother of Family Therapy”. She allowed
Richard Bandler and John Grinder, the creators of NLP (by the way, these two
have a wacky story) to observe and model her work. They later adopted her
philosophy as one of the generally accepted principles of their work.
is also probably the most misunderstood and objected to presupposition. But it is not about an exaggerated optimism, a
surreal state of being in which you blindly discard unpleasant experiences, nor
is it an excuse or lack of responsibility for one’s actions or behaviors. It is
the mere sense of awareness of self and others, a nonjudgmental point of view
that allows for lessons to emerge kindly in times of torment or distress.
Vasudev, commonly known as Sadhguru, has a gentler, more neutral way of talking
about (bad) behaviors. He says that people perform actions. Some actions produce miserable consequences, some produce
wonderful consequences. And in pursuit of our happiness we perform so many
actions. He once asked: “Do you know what was the highest title for a man in
Tamil Nadu in ancient times? The
greatest man in Tamil culture was the ‘one who has slain a thousand elephants’.
Veerappan got half way there, but we said he was a criminal and we shot him
a notorious Indian bandit and gang member, known for killing 900 elephants as
part of his ivory smuggling. He was shot dead in 2004 by the Tamil Nadu Special
is a very powerful teaching, that has changed the way I experience life.
There is no good or bad, only consequences.
we don’t like the immediate consequences, we label that experience as bad. When the result meets our
expectations, then it’s a good thing.
But no matter how hard we try, we’ll never have the full picture. Some actions
generate effects ten years later, 100 miles away, for people we don’t even
know. That’s because the entire Universe doesn’t revolve solely around one
person. Yes, my Universe takes care
of me, but I am also a part of the whole. We all contribute to other people’s
experiences, and they play a role in our lives.
is exactly this. Understanding our own limitations in interpreting the world
around us, preventing our subjective perceptions from altering the way we
experience life, allowing things to be as they are, without casting judgement,
openly embracing the unknown, free from attachments or expectations, and in the
end fully embracing each moment, of every day knowing that the outcome will
serve us in the most beautiful way possible.