The Elite and Democracy

I recently met a man who works as an assistant to a politician and he told me what he thinks about the masses who vote and I imagine he was reiterating the views of his boss as well. They both graduated from prestige universities.

He regarded the masses with scorn and apprehension. He paid lip service to Democracy in principle but NOT in practice.

Everything he stood for was an attempt to delegitimize the results of the people’s vote.

He thought that there was “too much” Democracy because it entrusts too much influence to low informed, over emotional people.

He cited two examples: The Brexit vote and Trump’s election. He favored the current establishment idea of a second referendum vote on Brexit to cancel out the first vote. And it was the great “unwashed” deplorables that elected Trump.

He repudiated the results of these two earthquakes because he didn’t like the results.

In general he thought allowing the votes of the populace to determine important issues a threat to Democracy.

He wanted more power to be exercised by the Elite Establishment which are an insulated political class.

In his mind some voters (the elite) were more equal than others (the populace).

***

So, what’s happened to: Government of the People, by the People and for the People?

It seems that the Establishment always tries to SCARE the electorate into okaying things that the electorate didn’t want and then they go ahead and do it.

After listening to this man, who fancied himself a member of the Elite, I had to write a blog on the “Elite Repudiating the People’s Will”.

So, I met up with my buddy, Tom, to have a discussion on the Elite and Democracy, on which I would base my blog.

***

“Hey Tom, give me a definition of Democracy.”

“Well Dave, it’s a system of government where the citizens exercise power by voting and the majority wins.

In our system it’s called representative democracy, where the people elect reps from among themselves and these reps are supposed to act in the interests of their constituents.”

“That just about sums it up, Tom. Now, I will give you a definition of “The Elite Establishment”.

It’s middle and upper class professionals who dominate politics, culture, education and the media. They try to enforce conformity, they want to regulate speech and distill the truth for the masses.”

“That’s it, Dave. And I would add they are a closed group that want to perpetuate themselves and their position. They are insulated from the wider population and they want to make sure their interests are met.”

***

“So Tom, what recently have the Establishment repudiated?”

“They repudiated the Brexit referendum results and the election of Trump, in so doing they denied the validity of the results and they refused to accept them because they didn’t correspond to their interests.”

“SO, THE VOTES FOR THESE TWO POLITICAL EARTHQUAKES REPRESENTED A REVOLT OF THE POPULACE AGAINST THE ELITE ESTABLISHMENT.

Then the Elite started talking about their low opinion of the judgement of the voters. They even tried to play the “Race Card”. But you can’t write off millions of voters by using the over-worked race card.”

***

“So Tom, what needs to be done?”

“In my mind, Democracy has to be lived more than once every election.

We need to defend democratic principles instead of it being a case of “too much democracy”, there is at the moment far too little democracy.”

“I think the Establishment are trying to take the people out of Democracy, by saying: The people are ignorant, the people are irrational, the people are gullible and finally the people don’t know what’s good for them.”

“So, the Elite,” Tom said soberly,” think it’s better to leave the big issues to them, they know what’s best for the people. They are the “experts.”

***

“The political debates on TV are over-rehearsed and empty.

The electorate is reduced to the role of passive spectator.

Local public debates in town halls is a lost art, it should be revived.

Maybe there could be more debates on the internet.”

“All good points, Dave. One argument against popular democracy is that voters are at the mercy of the Media. Much of the top echelon of the Media Empires are now seen as part of the Elite. The people listen exclusively to the Media and are unduly influenced by them is a Myth.

Trump was elected despite being vilified by the Media. He won the election though he only was supported by two major newspapers.”

“Right on Tom, the media reflects the issues of the day, it doesn’t dictate them.

It reflects public life and it helps to shape our perception of it, but we don’t have to be totally influenced by it. We can think for ourselves.”

***

“Tom, I believe political power is exercised from on high by an insulated political class. What’s to be done?”

“Dave, I believe we need MORE debate and participation in the Democratic process. We need to put the people back at the heart of Democracy.”

“We need to go over the basics of democratic freedom, because these basics are glossed over and forgotten in a world where everybody pays lip service to Democracy in principle while trying to deny it in practice.”

“Okay Tom, lets list some of the basics. I’ll start with:

Direct Democracy where the culture is infused with public debate, town hall style, where the people’s will is paramount. Maybe more debates on the internet where the Elite would read and listen to it and pay attention.”

“I’d like to talk about the Masses, Dave. This is the group that you and I are in and which the Elite look down on as a mob of deplorables. It’s called Mass-Bashing.”

When it comes to making political decisions the wisdom of the Masses is better than the narrow view of the “experts”. The Masses bring real life experience to the table.”

“How about this: Don’t out source authority over major issues to unelected judges.

Unelected judges should NOT sit in judgement of political issues affecting the whole of society. These issues need the widest public debate.”

“The Elite want to beat us into conformity and they want us to believe they are the experts.”

***

“So, in conclusion, we need to put the people (demos) back in Democracy and give them the power and control (kratos) to make informed choices through public debates that our officials listen to and act upon. I’ll leave you with this:

AN EXPERT CAN TAKE SOMETHING YOU ALREADY KNOW AND MAKE IT SOUND CONFUSING.”

 

 

 

Becoming a Better Listener

“I have a brain that’s skating on the thin ice of anxiety, depression, depersonalization and just being alive,” said Larry.

I wanted to help people like Larry so I embarked on a journey to learn more about Listening Skills.

***

It boggles the mind how many qualities a Listener Helper needs!

They are:

Empathy—this is very important for successful helping.

It’s the ability to be in another’s shoes, to see their world from their perspective.

Gaining understanding of another’s problems.

Sincerity—being genuine means that you are what you seem.

Respect—to enable someone to talk to you about their issues you need an attitude of acceptance and respect of their struggles.

Integrity—act with honesty and uprightness in your dealings with those you try to help.

Resilience—helping people through talking is very demanding. You need strength of character to cope.

Humility—consider your own failings and remember you are NOT superior to the help-seeker.

Fairness—treat people as equals. As a helper strive to recognize any tendencies to behave unfairly and overcome them.

Wisdom—you need to be well informed and you need to have an open mind.

Courage—listening to difficult issues requires courage, you may feel out of your depth. You might have to compromise one value in favor of another.

Competence—is a combination of knowledge and skills and knowing when to use them.

Listen Carefully—so that the help-seeker can work out for themselves what the problem really is and what to do about it.

Assertiveness—the ability to stay true to yourself and what you think is right, to speak plainly and directly without being aggressive or imposing your ideas on another.

***

Then there is the problem of recognizing your own barriers to listening.

You bring your own history to the helping situation which can be a help or a hindrance. Your defenses protect your value system when listening.

Your defenses can be a BLOCK to the helping situation. Such as:

Judging others by your own set of values.

Advising—you need to be listening and just be present. You don’t have to search for advice because you might miss hearing about a person’s feelings.

Being Right and Comparing—your opinions and convictions are unshakable.

Listening is hard work because you’re always trying to assess who is more competent—you or the other person.

Filtering—you listen to some things but not others.

IT’S NOT EASY BEING A GOOD LISTENER!

Sometimes you have to CONFRONT the help-seeker by drawing their attention to discrepancies and gaps in their story.

Confronting may be uncomfortable and you will need careful phrasing to prevent confronting being viewed as an attack.

Questioning can be tricky because it puts the client in a subordinate role or on the defensive.

If you have to question, use OPEN questions.

That means asking questions that encourage elaboration.

Such questions begin with how, when, what, where and who.

Avoid beginning with WHY? Because they tend to sound accusative and demanding.

You ask open questions to fill out the story and to gain a more complete understanding of the problem and the help-seeker.

***

It’s also important to encourage the client (help-seeker) to explore their problems.

You must consider the whole person in context to give you a better understanding of the problem that is brought before you.

Try to identify the signs of distress:

Body—is there disturbances in patterns of sleep and eating or symptoms of panic. Are there facial tics and body stiffness.

Emotion—is there strangeness of feelings or the person might appear withdrawn or listless.

Sensation—are there heart palpitations or shallow breathing.

Thinking—they might have disordered thinking which is a by-product of shock and stress. Until there is catharsis (releasing of emotions) the person may NOT think straight.

Behavior—the client can act erratically or be prone to obsessive behavior. They may be snappy and negative in their responses.

Spirit—distressed people become dispirited and lose faith in life.

***

A good Listener has to recognize issues that Cause or Result in Distress, such as:

Dealing with Change—many of the issues which present themselves to you as a listener helper are concerned with CHANGE.

Many people have never learned to manage change. Anxiety comes with change.

People become paralysed in the face of change (death of loved one or illness, etc).

Working with Loss—many of life’s changes involve some sort of Loss. Loosing health or loved ones or a job leads to negative self-judgement and self-esteem.

Dealing with Life Stages—the stages are transitions such as childhood, adulthood, employee, spouse, parent, pensioner, all involve adaptation and stress.

Controlling Unmanageable Feelings—negative thinking, mood swings, depression, etc. To be in the grip of unmanageable feelings is disorientating, worrying and extremely unpleasant.

***

Points to remember:

The best place to find a helping hand is at the end of your arm—in other words, help yourself with the aid of a good Listener.

***

Criticism should always leave a person with the feeling that they have been helped.

***

It’s nice to know that when you help someone up a hill you are a little nearer the top yourself.

***

Now I need to get some practice with listening to peoples problems.

WATCH FOR THE NEXT BLOG.

I Became a Listener Helper

A friend told me, one day out of the blue, that he was looking for a listener to help with his problem of Depersonalization Disorder (DPD). His wife of 30 years had just died, and it was a great shock to him.

After this shock to his mind he felt that all that used to be familiar was now foreign to him!

***

A Listening Helper is someone who helps another to explore their issues by using listening skills.

Most people find talking to an interested listener is good therapy. People want to unburden themselves to another person.

***

My friend told me what was important to him when talking to a Listener:

He wanted to feel that the person he was talking to had some empathy for his feelings that arose in his situation.

He wanted the Listener to offer ideas but only after he talked his problem through and he is clear about the situation.

He wanted to talk to someone who can be calm, unbiased and demonstrate understanding and shows that he is listening.

***

The Listener can ask questions to clarify the problem.

The Listener can give ideas to help solve the problem.

He wanted someone with good counseling skills such as:

Listening intently to the speaker to find out how they feel about their problem.

Prescribing and setting a course of action that the speaker can commit to.

Questioning to set the agenda, deciding the course of the conversation.

***

Then my friend started telling his story:

After the death of his wife of 30 years he became very stressed. He felt disconnected from the world, unfamiliar with people, objects and surroundings that were familiar before the trauma. He felt numb, like he was broke mentally and had lost his “self”.

He tried to act normal around others but really felt like an outsider.

He wanted to unburden himself by telling me his story.

He finished and stared blankly out the window.

***

I suddenly realized I was the “Listener Helper”.

I took psychology in college and I’ve read about DPD.

Because he came to me with his problem I had to try to help him.

His name is Jim.

***

“How do you feel right now, Jim?”

“Lately, I have not felt anything but fear, confusion and despair.

Things feel UNREAL to me and I feel detached from myself.

I feel like I’m floating around. I wonder why this is happening?”

“Well Jim, I’ve read that this disorder is the mind’s way of coping with overwhelming shock or stress.

The mind detaches itself from the surroundings for the purpose of survival.”

“ But Listener Helper, please tell me why I feel so weird?”

“Jim, this disorder is called, “Depersonalization” for a reason.

It attacks the one thing that you carry with you everywhere, every day—your SELF! It destroys the things that make you a person, and it drains your ability to make things personal and real.”

***

“Sometimes, I feel like the stranger inside of me is talking to me.”

“What does the stranger say, Jim?”

“It says: “I am the stranger inside of you and I will make you feel like a stranger to yourself. I did NOT have to ruin your life. You let me do it!”

“Well, that tells you that you CAN expel the stranger with the right therapy.”

“But I think about what’s wrong with me constantly!”

“Jim, you can’t THINK yourself out of DPD!

When thoughts about your problem get stuck in your mind it becomes an obsession.

Also, mental rumination constantly mulls over problems which, in turn, creates chronic worry. Excessive self-focus only will add to your discomfort.”

***

“What can be done about my DPD?”

“I’ll make a suggestion but YOU have to apply it.

ACCEPTANCE is the key to psychological flexibility.”

“You’re telling me to accept my suffering, how dare you.”

“Struggling and fighting against suffering keeps perpetuating the distress and intensifies it”

“Carry on, Mr. Listener Helper.”

“Your mind has a tendency to present its content as absolutely “true”.

In normal circumstances this is good because if you don’t believe what the mind is telling you, you might not react when faced with a dangerous situation.

But if you say to yourself: I am depressed and feel lousy. Then if you take that as true you will create anxiety and possibly DPD!”

***

“So, what can be done about my inflexibility?”

“Well Jim, my suggestions are: Do what works as opposed to doing what feels right.

Accept you DPD and stay engaged with life.

Be willing to endure and accept DPD emotional pain and continue living your life.”

***

“Conclusion please.”

“To fight DPD you need to Let Go and live alongside it.

You will recover from feelings of detachment by surrendering to your strange feelings. Stop focusing on how weird you feel and “Live Your Life.”

“So, you’re telling me to pay NO attention to my strange feelings and just get on with my life no matter how I feel.”

“That’s right. Trust in you body’s natural healing system.

Stop caring, stop watching, stop analyzing and ACCEPT how you feel without question. Then the DPD will fade away.”

“Thank you for being my Listener Helper.”

“You’re welcome, Jim. I will leave you with this:

You have been hitting your broken arm each day with a hammer and it is STILL BROKEN! It will mend itself when you STOP hitting it!”

A Better World: In the Past, In the Present, or in the Future?

The world of the Past… 50—60 years ago.

We would play outside all day without fear.

We would have quiet family dinners where we talked about our day.

We enjoyed radio and used our imagination when listening to stories.

Early TV had no sex and much less violence.

Family would live close by.

Police used to walk the streets and check that doors were locked.

We had fewer material possessions but we were happy in our simple life.

There was more discipline in the home which taught children values.

There was respect for elders.

We played softball in the park, played hide and seek, marbles and built go- carts from old wooden boxes.

Life was harder because there were less labor-saving devices but people were genuinely happy on the whole.

***

The world in the Present…

A look at the recent headlines and you would conclude that things are pretty bad.

You would be pushed to pessimism.

And yet the optimists say that we live in the best of times, poverty has fallen and we have more labor-saving devices now.

But in these hyper info times we seem to be addicted to bad news which leads us to believe things are worse than they are.

The optimists say since things have been improving there is no reason why they won’t continue to improve.

But why assume that? It’s not feasible to predict future results by past performance.

***

What about the Future? Will it be better or worse?

You get different answers from Pessimists, from Optimists and from Realists!

An optimist would say the world will get better because we will get new technologies that will help us do things easier. Robots with artificial intelligence will do our work.

A pessimist would say the world will NOT get better because basic human nature is evil. Humans are predators, we eat meat and we have an instinct that enables people to kill. So we destroy our environment and create wars. Humans are evil and un-empathetic to each other. The world will NOT get better because human nature will NOT change!

A realist would say that you have to look on both sides, negative and positive.

Hopefully education will be the answer for future generations to make better decisions and be more tolerant in their views. Then humanity will continue to grow powerful and more civilized. But there is a lot of work to do if we are to make things better.

***

So lets look at human nature , is it good or bad?

Is man capable of making a better world?

Man can be very good or very bad. Man is caring at times and creative, but also man is a manipulator, exploiter, abuser and a killer.

***

So what’s the answer?

We need to prepare to cope with bad events and confront our own destructiveness. Hopefully we will become wiser and better prepared to cope with life and build a better world.

***

In approaching the topic of a “Better World” we talked about Realism, Optimism and Pessimism, lets examine these:

Pro Realist:

Assuming and expecting something that is NOT real is living in an imaginary world.

Being realistic allows a person to make decisions based on fact not on false hopes.

Being optimistic is narrowing your mind because you only see one side of an issue.

Realism sees both sides, negative and positive.

Realists are more well adjusted than optimists and they are more objective and unbiased.

Pro Optimist:

They say that optimists live healthier lives and have more hope and faith.

They say we need some optimism to live life enjoyably.

Optimism gives us determination and perseverance.

***

A Pessimist looks on the negative side of things. This creates anxiety.

***

In conclusion:

The world of the future is in for rapid change. Science is delving more into A.I. and robots. Will this threaten our own human nature?

No, it won’t. Since the beginning of time, humans have had the ability to pull through the worst situations.

Are we in for big changes?

Yes, we are, BUT these changes will bring forth a better world, hopefully.

New technologies will alter human life, BUT, human nature will always have a place in our world, because we have moral principles that we have set. Our values and morals will control change.

HAVE NO FEAR, WE WILL PREVAIL!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turning Eighty

This blog post is dedicated to all those who have turned eighty this year and to all those who have yet to turn eighty this year.

***

If, when you turn eighty, you’re not a cripple, if you have a semblance of health, if you are content even though your world has narrowed and finally if you can keep from growing sour, surly, bitter and cynical, people, you’ve got it (old age)

licked!

So many eighty year olds fear loss of physical and mental abilities to such a degree that they ruin what time they have left. They walk by a shop window and sneak a look at themselves, they do NOT recognize the image in the reflection.

After a few seconds they are forced to remake their own acquaintance. It’s a horror story, you no longer know yourself at first sight! They say to themselves:

“The past seems horrible, the present gray and desolate and the future utterly appalling!”

***

But, my friends, it doesn’t have to be like this. Your point of view can be less bleak. You don’t have to concern yourself with the future. As for the past, you have made the most of it, good or bad. All you really have is the PRESENT, but very few of us ever live it fully, which is what you should do.

When you get to be eighty you get the ability NOT to take things so seriously.

You view life as more of a comedy than a tragedy—you know, one of those comedies in which while laughing your guts out, you feel your heart breaking.

The person who takes themselves too seriously is doomed!

***

Now lets get to the nitty gritty.

When you get to be eighty, questions pop up in your head:

How to come to terms with death?

How we react to our personal death has a great impact on how we live in old age.

What meaning does this life have, this death, this suffering? For what have I lived?

Some people answer with: I was productive and contributed to society.

Is there something that transcends this life? Religious people believe in an afterlife. Atheists usually say: They were nothing before they were born and after death there is nothing.

Without a personal answer or position to the question of dealing with death, a seed of unrest will remain and disturb your last years. With a position on the question there is peace of mind.

***

How to deal with the transitoriness of life?

Everything is transitory—that means NOT lasting, brief and short-lived.

We have to say goodbye to a lot of things in old age: our work, loss of physical strength, loss of mental flexibility, loss of friends and relatives.

You MUST think of the things you have done, the opportunities you took and lived, they are an integral part of your life and can’t be undone by transitoriness.

YOU HAVE BEEN IS THE ESSENCE OF YOUR EXISTENCE.

***

How to relieve feelings of isolation?

You’ve retired and your world has narrowed and you are forced back into yourself.

Can I still maintain a conversation with myself?

You can talk internally to yourself and break the isolation.

***

So in conclusion:

Don’t sour on life, there is nothing wrong with life itself, it is the ocean in which we swim and we have to adapt to it or sink!

When an eighty year old looks back at their life they say to themselves:

“ONE DOES THEIR BEST, BUT IT IS NEVER GOOD ENOUGH.”

Happy Eightieth Birthday!

 

 

Staying Sane

Are you sane? And if you are, how do you stay that way?

Two groups of personality disorders:

People in chaos, who lurch from crisis to crisis.

People in a rut who operate in a rigid fashion.

You need to be on the path between those two extremes and maintain a stable, flexible demeanor. In other words, the path to staying sane.

If we are falling deeper into a rut or deeper into chaos, we need to interrupt our fall. We need to change. We need a new focus in life. We need new behaviors and thinking.

Change Happens In Four Areas: They are the cornerstones of sanity:

  1. Self-Observation
  2. Relating to Others
  3. Stress
  4. Personal Narrative

SELF-OBSERVATION—We learn to stand OUTSIDE of ourselves to experience and access feelings and thoughts as they occur and see how they affect us.

It gives us space to decide: HOW TO ACT. We need to develop self-observation to increase self-awareness.

Self-observation is a tool that enables us to become less self-absorbed, because it teaches us NOT to be taken over by obsessive thoughts and feelings.

The ability to observe and listen to feelings and bodily sensations is essential to staying sane.

We need to be able to USE our feelings but NOT to be USED by them.

We should try to separate ourselves from our feelings. Also, it is necessary to be able to observe our thoughts.

Then we can notice the different kinds of thoughts we have, and can examine them, rather than BE them.

This allows us to notice which thoughts work well for us and which are self-defeating.

***

To begin self-observing ask yourself these questions:

What am I feeling NOW?

What am I thinking NOW?

What am I doing at this moment?

How am I breathing?

After answering, the next question is:

What do I want for myself in this NEW MOMENT?

***

These questions are the “GROUNDING EXERCISE”.

When you do the grounding exercise it helps to place ourselves in our INTERNAL EXPERIENCE. This tells us how we are functioning at any one moment.

There are two groups of people: those who externally reference and those who internally reference.

Externally referenced people are more concerned with the impression they make on others.

Internally referenced people are concerned with what something FEELS like. Do I like how it feels or do I want to change?

Internally referenced people want to feel comfortable with themselves.

***

A helpful exercise—repeat out loud:

I have thoughts and emotions, BUT I am NOT my thoughts and emotions.

My thoughts and emotions are many, contradictory and changing.

Yet, I always remain I, myself, whether in joy or pain, whether calm or annoyed, whether hopeful of despairing.

Since I can observe, dismiss, understand and label my thoughts and emotions, it is evident that they are NOT me.

I am NOT my thoughts and emotions.

I am separate from them!

Relating to Others—people need people!

We all need safe, trusting, reliable, nourishing relationships.

We need nurturing relationships, someone who listens to us and reads between the lines and even challenges us.

Would we exist if NO ONE witnessed our existence?

We need others to check in with and pass the time of day with.

We need to be affected by and to affect others.

Stress—moderate levels of stress keep our minds in condition and help keep us sane.

It keeps our brains plastic so we can adapt and cope with the changes that life brings. It feeds our curiosity and habit of leaning.

Learning gives us more things to think about so we have less time to get bored, depressed and under-stimulated.

What’s Your Story?—personal narrative.

Your autobio tells your story which you live by, but you can edit and change it if you need to.

What do you think is important in life?

We live by our stories!

***

The definition of Sanity:

You are sane if you do the daily jobs you need to do to take care of yourself and live up to your responsibilities.

You need hopes and dreams.

Do you have a passion, a hobby or interest? You need them for sanity.

The world is our school. We are not alone. We are all in this asylum together!

Are you aware of yourself, your surroundings and circumstances? If you are, you are sane.

You should be able to deal with stressful situations and if you can’t, you should ACCEPT the fact and come to terms with your reality.

***

Or are you just ECCENTRIC? These are people considered strange. They have strange habits and behavior. But they are usually harmless.

They are NOT insane!

Insanity in humans is characterized by dangerous behavior to themselves and others.

***

In conclusion:

IF YOU CAN QUESTION YOUR SANITY, I’D LIKE TO THINK YOU ARE SANE!

I hope this blog was helpful.

If and Why–Life’s Game

“Hey Tom, I’m going to play Life’s Game with some “IF” questions followed up by the “WHY”. And I would like you to comment on my answers. Are you up for it?”

“Bring it on, Dave, I’ll try to be objective.”

“Great, here’s the first question:

If I could change some things about my childhood, what would they be and why?”

We both pondered the question for a minute.

“I’ll answer first and then you can comment, Tom.

Two things I would change:

First—I wish I didn’t have to contend with the affliction of clubfeet, which pain aside, affected my personality. Because of early stays in the hospital I developed the attitude of the world being hostile. Plus I couldn’t play sports as well as other kids because my feet and ankles were weak.

Second—I wish my Dad didn’t die when I was 15 and we bonded. My Dad had night work and I hardly saw him so we didn’t do much together. I believe the relationship between father and son has a big impact on what kind of man a boy develops into. A father’s influence is very important when a boy hits puberty, it’s the foundation of the boy’s development. A boy wants to look to his father for clues as to how to act as an adult. When there is no Dad there is a big VOID.

What do you think, Tom?”

“Well Dave, as far as your affliction goes, I think on the plus side, it could be something that could make you a stronger person ready to meet the challenges that life poses.

As to number two, I lost my Dad also as a child. I agree with everything you’ve said, father-son bonding is incredibly important to a boy’s development, I missed that bonding also.”

“Good comments, Tom. Here’s the second question:

If I could have stopped aging at any point in my life up to the present, how old would I remain and why?

I believe there are two ages at which I would want to remain:

First—When I meet my first wife and our courting year. I was 26 and at a low point, I was lonely even though I was living with my mother. Then, out of the blue, I met my first wife on a blind date. We hit it off immediately. We talked and talked, we had wonderful communication. We went everywhere together, movies, museums, restaurants, and walking in parks. I was so happy I actually felt that the world wasn’t hostile anymore!

The second age I would want to remain would be when I met my second wife. I was 61 and had been living alone for four years after my first wife died of cancer. I needed to have a sounding board again and the support of another partner. We met through a dating agency and we got along right away. I didn’t think I could be happy again but it happened and I was floating on air when we held hands.

Comments please.”

“Dave, I too have a tale of two wives and happiness. Everyone should have a healthy, loving relationship with the right person by your side.

You need to have a supportive partner. In a good relationship you and your partner will support each other and treat each other as equals. That feeling of happiness is wonderful.”

“Thanks for that, Tom. Here’s the third question:

If I could suddenly possess an extraordinary talent in one of the arts, what would it be and why?

Even though I have dabbled in writing, I would like to be an extraordinary writer like Hemingway or F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Why? Because I would live on through my classic books. Writing helps heal the wounds of life and clears them out.

Writing also hones your powers of observation, giving you a fuller experience of life.

Comments please.”

“Well Dave, I too dabble in the arts, my interest is dramatics, acting. I love to do plays. I also believe this talent gives you a better experience of life. I enjoy your books and blogs.”

“Thanks, Tom. I would love to see one of your plays.

Here’s the fourth question:

If I was instantly able to play one musical instrument perfectly, what would it be and why?

It would be the piano, because my Dad played classical piano. He was forced to study piano as a child for 7 years even though he wanted to go out and play with his mates. My regret is that he didn’t teach me to play, but like I said, we rarely saw each other. I think playing music would be fun. I still might try to learn the keyboard!”

“Yes, there are many benefits to playing a musical instrument.

It even makes you smarter! Do you believe it? It stimulates your brain and improves memory and reasoning skills. It also relieves stress. But, importantly, playing music is FUN! It makes you feel happy and occupied.”

“Here’s the fifth question:

If I was rich and younger what would be the one thing I would do and why?

I would travel the world. Even though I have seen quite a few states in America plus Canada, England, Wales, Scotland, Italy and France, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I would like to see the whole world!

BUT, now at 80, I don’t have the energy, not to mention the money, to travel.

Why, the whole world? Because, as they say, it’s THERE!

I feel traveling provides new experiences and memories, it breaks the routine and allows you to meet people from all cultures.”

“I, too, wish I had traveled more when I had the energy. But we always had to make a living and that took up a lot of time. You also appreciate family and home more when you’ve been away. When you travel to distant places it seems it’s easier to chat to strangers and make new friends. Different social interactions make us happier and we learn a lot too.”

TO ALL THOSE READING THIS BLOG—TRY THE QUESTIONS, YOU MIGHT BE SURPRISED!

“We will have to do this more often, Tom, it clears the cobwebs when you’re old. Plus it is an excellent medium for revealing some of the truth about yourself.

Tom and Dave walked out under the blue sky feeling that the “IF” questions and their answers had left them feeling good.

Right Thinking Cures “Nerves”

Dateline: August 24th, 2018—I turned 80 today!

“Hey Tom, do you ever feel “nervy”?”

“Oh yes, Dave, it’s fashionable now days to put everything down to “Nerves.”

“When I feel nervous I become a nuisance to myself and everyone else. It’s down to having thought control to get rid of nerves.”

“So Dave, you’re saying people who have learned to control their thinking don’t suffer from nerves.”

“That’s right, Tom, most people who suffer from nerves are worriers.”

“I do tend to see the worst in situations. I am a pessimist at times.”

“The problem is, Tom, we are constantly thinking. And your thinking always comes back to you as a feeling. If you feel bad and nervous you’re thinking negatively. What you need is the WILL to think rightly.”

“So Dave, you’re saying I should strengthen my will power?”

“That’s right, the strong-willed man is the man who can face the battle of right thinking and win. And each time a fight is won the WILL is strengthened.”

“Dave, I’m going to think right and positive right now!”

“That’s the ticket, Tom, remember the way you feel is determined by your thoughts. So guess what: the more attention you put on being nervous, the worse you will feel.”

“That’s food for thought, Dave.”

“Here’s a final thought for you, Tom:

Being upset by your nerves and thoughts is like writing yourself a nasty letter—and then being offended by that letter.”

With that Tom and Dave walked out into the sunshine to face the world calmly.

 

The Third Age–A Temporary Release From Mortality

“Hey Tom, have you heard of the phrase, “Three Score and Ten”?

“Yes Dave, it’s the Biblical phrase for the span of life.”

“Ha, ha Tom, we’ve got them there, we’re both way past 70!”

“People are living longer now, life span now could be 15 or 20 years past retirement. It’s called the Third Age.”

“Yes Tom, those extra years are a sort of temporary release from mortality.

I love that phrase “release from mortality”.

But instead of rejoicing in thinking what we’re going to do with our extra time, we have turned it into a “fear topic”. Everyone is aging. People are living longer.

Is this a problem?”

“Well Dave, the fear of an increasing older population is that it is seen as a burden on society because resources have to be found to support an aging population.”

“I think we need some definitions here to clear the air.

First Stage of Life—childhood, the era of dependence, immaturity and education.

Second Stage—adulthood, the era of independence, maturity, making a living.

THE THIRD AGE—65+, the era after retirement, personal fulfillment.

The fourth age—the era of final dependence, frailty and death.”

I continued: So, after productive, paid work is finished, society seems to consign elderly people to LIMBO, the condition of oblivion, a place for forgotten and unwanted things.”

“That’s a sad statement, Dave.”

“Yes it is, Tom, but that attitude still prevails. Anything opposite to work is regarded as indolence, avoidance of activity or exertion.’

“So, what’s the answer, Dave?’

“You need hobbies and interests in retirement also some educational opportunities. You need some intellectual development and stimulation.

The inclination to learn continues all through life.”

“That’s right, Tom, that’s why the University of the Third Age was born.

Members want to learn and they can teach as well. There is no division between teacher and the taught: there are no staff and no students, only members. I’ve taken several courses myself and am in a discussion group at present.”

***

“Tom, I’m going to describe the lives of two oldies, Andy and Annie.

This will show you the stark difference between the Third and Fourth Ages.

Andy, age 87…

He starts his day at the Leisure Centre which means getting up at 5:30. He leaves about 6 and drives to the Centre.

He likes to start the morning with a swim, because it stimulates his brain and gets him thinking.

There’s other pensioners there which provides him with social contact.

He finds dunking himself in water wakes him up and he thinks about what he should be doing that day—emailing, writing, etc.

He’s back home at 7:30 and Betty, his wife, has his breakfast ready.

He then pops into the garden to see that everything is okay.

He deadheads some flowers otherwise new growth won’t come.

He then goes to his office and works on his computer. He writes a monthly column for a local newsletter

He and his wife are quite strong mentally and they never sat back and wondered what they were going to do that day.

He paces himself because he gets tired and then he has a rest.

He goes to bed at 10 PM.

Even though Andy is presumably coming to the end of his life, he is far from being a burden on health and social services as the newspaper headlines state.

He is in the THIRD AGE.

***

Annie, age 88…

She has had her left hip done. The right hip is going but the doctor won’t let her have it done because she might have a stroke. So she has to put up with it.

Apart from the hip being bad her legs are giving out. She is in pain and is allowed eight pain killers a day.

She sits in her chair most of the day. She doesn’t feel the pain while sitting.

But when she gets up she hardly can walk.

She still reads big print books with a magnifying glass.

She used to have a scooter to get out and about but then things got worse and she couldn’t get it out of the house.

So she is now confined to the house.

She has carers to get her up for breakfast and later a carer gets her a cooked meal. Her sister does her shopping. A carer puts her to bed.

Although Annie is only one year older than Andy her life is quite different. Her health is poor, she is in pain a lot and she rarely goes out of the house. She needs a lot of help

Annie is in the FOURTH AGE.”

***

“So, Dave, we’ve made it clear that ageing is not simply about decline, dependency and difficulty, it’s also about personal development and living a satisfying life as well.”

“That’s right, Tom, I guess you could say The Third Age is considered to be the “golden years” of adulthood.”

We both pondered on what we had discussed.

“I’ve been thinking, during our discussion, that The Third Age is sort of a paradox, a point in time when older adults experience life and themselves more positively even though cognitive functions undergo slow deterioration and they have aches and pains.”

“There are people that jump back and forth between the Third and Fourth ages.

If someone who was sick gets better they can come back into the Third Age for a while.”

“Tom, in conclusion, I will say:

The patterns of life have changed since people have been living longer.

Lets hope we can stay in the Third Age for a long time.”

With that, Tom and Dave walked out into the sunshine ready to face their future

NO MATTER WHAT!

Maintaining Mental Equilibrium

Have you ever wondered why some people seem to be good at living life?

They seem to glide effortlessly through life and they know how to roll with life’s punches. What’s their secret?

It’s no secret, they just know and apply the rules of mental equilibrium.

Lets go through them:

  1. Don’t try to change the unchangeable.

The only influence we really have is over ourselves, so we can only change our mindset, how we respond to our circumstances

  1. Don’t live in the Past, it’s gone!

You can’t change anything that has gone before, so turn your attention to the Here and Now. The only way to live is in the Present, it’s the only life you have.

  1. Don’t live in the Future, it’s not here yet!

Don’t let fear of the future ruin your present. The Here and Now is the moment you must appreciate, it is your Reality.

  1. Stay connected to your Healthy Mental Functioning.

What is it? It’s your Natural state of mind, your common sense, your emotional buoyancy, it’s your ability to adapt to your circumstances, it’s your sense of perspective, your internal equilibrium, your feeling of peace, it’s INNATE!

Sounds like it’s pretty important, doesn’t it?

Your healthy functioning is NOT concerned with what happens in your life. It is concerned with how you relate to what happens.

Your healthy functioning is what makes happiness possible!

  1. Don’t align yourself exclusively with your Thought System.

It is only concerned with how you compare with others, your pursuits, your intellect, your ego gratification. It’s job is to think, compare, contrast and analyse. This is inconsistent with enjoyment.

The difference between your thought system and your healthy mental functioning is:

Your thought system comes up with what “it thinks” would make you happy.

Your healthy functioning is what makes happiness possible.

  1. Every moment in your life is a Choice Point.

Do you think negative or do you rise to the challenge?

Can you direct your thoughts to good, positive thoughts?

It’s your choice!

  1. Live in the Present Moment. It’s the only life you have!

Next time you feel depressed notice where your thoughts are.

They will be in the future or reviewing the past.

BUT, life is Right Now!

You can live in three different time dimensions in your head.

The Past—“WHY” mode, you’re thinking about Why things happened.

The Future—“WHAT IF” mode-Fear of the future.

The Present—This is the only one actual time dimension; the Present.

***

In conclusion: I hope you remember this blog post because there is a lot of WISDOM in it.

The idea that has helped me let go of the past and future is to understand that:

Life keeps moving forward—it doesn’t care what I think of do, SO I might as well NOT WASTE my time on things I can’t control.

Life keeps moving forward and so WE MUST keep moving forward.

All these rules have ONE GOAL:

GET THE MOST OUT OF LIFE.

AND THAT’S THE ONLY POINT THERE IS!