Social Animals

Dalai-LamaFacebook post today (5.25.15) by His Holiness the Dalai Lama:

“We are social animals who need friends. We need a community to survive. Friends are made on the basis of trust, which only grows if you are kind to people. Exploiting, cheating and bullying others will win you no friends. Kindness and compassion gives rise to self confidence, which in turn empowers you to be honest, truthful and transparent. This self-confidence brings peace of mind, which also favors good health.”

Synchronicity is one of those things that we once referred to as “coincidences” until deciding that there really were no coincidences—that everything in our lives is intentional rather than accidental.

Personally, I viewed seeing this Facebook posting from the Dalai Lama right after I had just written a follow-up to Jean-Jacque’s comment about my previous posting, as a synchronous affirmation that indeed, what I should focus on in writing was perhaps more along the lines of helping to define what “community” means, and how to help others to become caring and compassionate community members who support each other along life’s journey.

HTH III covPerhaps this also applies to re-introducing the third book in my HONORING THE HERMIT series, called: HONORING THE HERMIT III: Building a NEW World (2005), where I actually DID once define it and elaborated on what options might help to create a better living environment for everyone.

I once had the ebook available free on my website at, but when the original site died last August, I never replaced the pages where it was shown in PDF form. Maybe I can just post sections from it occasionally to make my point on how you actually do go about building that NEW (and better) WORLD.

OR….. maybe I simply start another blog just about that subject: BUILDING A NEW WORLD which defines successful social and cultural customs and practices, and others can participate in defining it and discussing working examples of supportive practices. That might be better for posting because Lord knows I’d have a hard time making that subject (or anything else) my sole focus on this blog. 🙂

So I think that’s what I’ll do. When I have it up and running I’ll mention it again here and direct readers there for that blog.  (Okay, here’s the new site address: )

Basically what Jean-Jacques and I were discussing earlier was how so many small communities everywhere have lost that societal glue that once held them closely knit—providing all community members the safety and security of knowing that your neighbors “had your back” no matter what disastrous thing occurred, and likewise, you had theirs.Building-Community

We both feel it is essential to reestablish that cohesive framework of solid community-building where members are encouraged to create caring and compassionate societies, because as the Dalai Lama so aptly describes above: “We are social animals who need friends. We need a community to survive….”

So, let’s build one on-line first and see how that goes.

A Sense of Direction

compassA 360-degree pivoting-on-one-foot scan reveals a large problem: there are so many possibilities for forward movement and yet no idea which direction to choose.

Without some sense of purpose or a specific goal in mind, we may simply head out in the direction of least resistance or head in whatever direction the prevailing wind might be pushing us.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Perhaps it depends on the intention behind it.

As kids we often heard: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

At the time, I’m sure that many of us had an answer or two that might have changed from year to year or month to month, especially depending on who asked us the question and how important to us that person was—because for certain, we didn’t want to disappoint a parent or a respected authority figure—so our answers back then were often meant to impress others and create positive feedback for us.

kids drawingsTo be a child contemplating our future possibilities for personal success and communal respect without really knowing how easy or hard it might be to do the job, was a bit like making the child’s future decision on what felt momentarily intriguing and important for career prospects, but likely left us clueless on the details of how to get there.

So our childhood future-goals changed frequently and were often tried on like vacation outfits before packing for the trip. How does this look on me? How does it feel—too confining?—Too restrictive? Will I get oohs and ahhs from those who see me? Will I be the object of mass adoration; or will I get uggs and OMGs parading around in those duds—ridiculed and pointed at for wearing the wrong thing around others?

path availableThroughout our youth, schools tried to provide a structured environment with more “realistic” goals for our future, but depending on the “career possibilities range” made available to us back then, we often felt far more limited in possibilities than we did as kids with the whole wide world stretched out before us in every direction.

I am happy to see that many of today’s youth can truly feel the future is wide-open to their every inclination for personal besting, and that a 360-degree future-career possibility is within reach for most of them.

But disadvantaged youth in impoverished communities still might not feel that optimistic and buoyant about their futures. However, compared to what future prospects might have been for them 40-50 years ago, there is still a far greater range of opportunity and dream-scape available to reach toward with a little extra outside encouragement and obstacle clearing for them.

Helping kids find a sense of direction and feel a deeper purpose to their lives is important for an enlightened society—a community that cares about the strength and stability of its membership.

How we all meet the challenges of the future depends completely on the quality of the community members stepping forward to create that future.

Let’s help all children see thesmilesir true future possibilities and not be subject to what might seem easiest at the time, or leave them vulnerable to the strength of those prevailing wind gusts.

Budgets and Expendables

I usually avoid writing about government policies and politics in my blog because that’s not what this blog is about—it’s about maintaining a higher-frequency focus of living with love and compassion for everyone.

However, I guess I’m still reeling at the news that our Governor (Iowa) is planning to close two of the states remaining mental health institutions and booting out the residents to use “out-patient” mental health facilities in their original communities (if those communities even have them).

silhouette of womanThis subject of cutting the state’s budget on the backs of the most vulnerable people in our society is really bothering me because I think it will adversely affect a personal friend who has frequented one of the facilities over the last several years.

To me who has known of and shared some of her lesser challenges, I anticipate that she will face a sink-or-swim, tough-love approach to coping with her daily life. While I truly hope she can master the stroke necessary to do laps across the pool, I also know the greater likelihood of her failure to do so; and that failure can result in her quickly sinking to the bottom.

What I see as the greatest benefit to residents at a state-run mental health institution is in viewing the institution as a place of sanctuary and security—which are two of the biggest issues in anyone’s mind to establish and maintain their own wellbeing. People need to simply FEEL safe. Even being contained within a locked room provides them protection from “others” when they are in their most vulnerable states of mind and unable to make rational decisions, or to physically protect themselves (and likewise not to harm themselves)

That sanctuary and security assurance will be the first casualty when the residents are booted out onto the streets. Families and friends will be faced with impossible situations of helping/not-helping and not even knowing what “helping” really is, for someone with mental health challenges.

I’ve been trained in many different healing techniques, and I’ve seen how easily the mind can be affected and altered by devices, substances, and the ill intentions of others, besides our tendencies to adversely undermine our decision-making abilities through self-doubt, self-loathing, and self-denigratimental_health_awareness_ribbon_mousepadon.

There is so much at stake when you are messing with someone’s mental health stability. I just can’t believe that these “budget cuts” in state-run mental health facilities are wise or even conscionable for an enlightened society that claims it cares about human welfare.

Don’t take away the only safety net that some of these extremely vulnerable people have. That leaves them with even fewer options, and those options are more likely suicide or jail.

A Good Story

“Never let facts get in the way of a good story.”

(There is disagreement on who first coined that phrase, which makes my point here entirely.)

News media of all kind adhere to this “good story” theory of presenting news events dramatically because it draws viewership, which for them in turn means more money.

“Facts are facts,” …is another worn-out, too-often-used phrase. But the erroneousproblem with it is that those “facts” are interpreted by individuals just like all of us, who naturally have biased perspectives, and who sometimes have ulterior motives for proclaiming something as a “fact,” when it comes closer to simply being an opinion.

In essence, we are ALL this way to some degree—ALL biased and plagued by our own motives for just about everything we say and do. It is an aspect of the human condition. That’s how we learned to make sense of our lives and our world. We tended to believe that which substantiated our already determined view of the world around us, and discarded that which didn’t.

Even now, we may tend to see the world the way that we wish to see it, and believe it to be the way that we wish to believe that it is. Another person standing right beside us viewing the same “event” may not share our interpretation of what just happened or who was at fault during any serious incident witnessed by many.

Being the “unaffected observer” to life’s dramas is a rare stance to maintain; and it is not easily accomplished because of that natural human variance in perception and interpretation of what is occurring 24/7/365 to us personally, as well as all around us.

Our world is a collection of perpetual, individual interpretations of what is actually occurring at any given moment because people tend to see what they WANT to see, and to believe what they WANT to believe.

For every “witness” of ANY event, both good and bad, there will be personal motives involved in that “fact” interpretation—often motives that make us or our friends look more favorable in the story; and for all others, especially those who opposed us, to appear less favorable.

Whether this feels true or not to you, this is how most of us handle our world view. We tend to tell a story that makes us seem more acceptable to those whose opinions that we value. Sometimes we may unconsciously “alter” our story to make ourselves appear more favorable in the eyes of those whose opinions matter the most to us. What may have actually happened in any actual encounter will often be left unknown because of that human tendency.

So how do we as the audience to so many varied “event interpretations” make sense of what we see and hear on the media—which itself is a highly selective interpretation of events?

Unfortunately, it often comes down to the very same biases that might have plagued the witnesses of the original event: We see and hear the accounts of what we WANT to see and hear, and discard the rest as untruths.

We believe what we want to believe, because accepting something counter to our long-held belief system can radically disrupt our internal stability. It can shake us to our core. And that is not a pleasant thing to experience, so we strongly avoid it.

The proof has to be irrefutable for us to alter our internal beliefs about something important to us; and irrefutable proof is rare. It’s a bit like refuting the existence of Santa Claus on a grand scale: On some level of consciousness, who doesn’t want to believe a very stout guy in a bright red suit with reindeer on the side delivers parenting1presents to children all over the world on one short night?

Is it likely that this really occurs? But when you were a young, impressionable child, did you want to believe that it did? How did it make you feel when you first discovered that the “Santa Story” was a hoax, even though a well-meaning one?

That’s the power of personal beliefs: We tend to believe what we want to believe and discard any evidence proving the contrary. The truth of any event may exist on some level of awareness, but that doesn’t mean that we will ever know it, or even WANT to know it.

Truth may be truth, but how we perceive or receive that truth, is quite varied.

That Thankful Time of Year

Gratitude and appreciation are good anytime, but around Thanksgiving it becomes very popular, if not culturally mandatory. And that’s fine.

I feel much gratitude every day, so this day and the day that turkeys fear the most, are simply additional reminders of how fortunate so many of us are to live safely in warm dwellings with ample food on our plates; and to be thankful also for occasionally having others around us to share in our abundance.

Remembering fun holiday times with family and with friends, whether still present or long since departed, is to relive laughter spilling over at the dinner table like too-full wine glasses raised for toasting good fortunes and continued comradery. These simple times are perhaps the best memories we will ever retain throughout our lives.

We sit, during this joyful celebration of a meal well-shared, impatiently waiting with forks poised mid-stab, to hear “just one more” of those boisterously proclaimed, long-winded wishes made for continued happy times together and for the promise of even better tomorrows for us all.

So for those who gather close with friends and family during this festive season, or for those who may shed a tear wishing that they had them around to be together again, may your holiday wishes be all that you have ever imagined, and may they indeed become all that you ever hoped them to be.

But if those “good memories” aren’t exactly what your Holidays ever were, then it’s time to make some good memories to replace the old not-so-good ones!mad mags family dinner

Keep in mind “creating new GOOD memories” is always an option, for as the adage goes: While you can’t choose your family, you CAN choose your friends. And good friends can make for a good chosen family!

It’s really about caring and sharing whatever you have, and about seeing who can make the biggest fool of themselves for everyone else’s enjoyment.

It doesn’t matter that at your cooked-at-home, holiday-dinner gathering the mashed potatoes might be a little lumpy, or the green bean casserole doesn’t exactly look like the picture showed it should.

What matters is that you thought enough of the people who are gathered there with you during that meal, to share what you had with those that you cared about the most.

So here is wishing blessings, joy, and good fellowship to all. Make some fun holiday memories to savor over the years to come—just to spill them mercilessly on next year’s tablecloth.