Does the one exist?

Does the ‘One’ Exist?

Does the one exist?

Do you believe there is such a thing as the ‘One’?

I was watching a stand-up comedian recently on Netflix called Daniel Sloss.

He was a comedian with a difference, because not only was he funny, but he also talked about some very thought-provoking and uncomfortable topics which are painfully true about life, which a lot of us try and ignore. One which really resonated with me was about relationships and the way that so many of us are sold into the idea that we have to be in a relationship and there is almost something wrong about being single. He also talked about the ‘one’ that every single person is so intent on finding which begs me to ask, Is there really such a thing? And is being single really that bad?

I don’t often ask for feedback on my articles, but for this topic, I am really interested to know what you think because I have drawn my own conclusions about relationships which have come from my own personal experiences and I am interested to know yours.

Now, many people who are single and some of those who are already in not so happy relationships, seem to believe in meeting that magic person who they believe to be the ‘one’.
It sounds so romantic and amazing and there are so many movies on TV about boy meets girl, there is struggle or problem keeping them apart or at first they hate each other, but in the end, they find love and live happily ever after.

Of course, the movie stops just as the romantic couple have the first kiss…… it doesn’t go on to show the daily misunderstandings, the jealous arguments, the financial struggles and dealing with their stroppy adolescent children who are experimenting with drugs, sex and alcohol.

And as a result, many people seem to have bought into the Walt Disney films “Prince finds his Princess and they live happily ever after” scenario and feel as though they have missed out if they are single or their relationship isn’t perfect.

Now, I have drawn the conclusion that marriage and relationships are in fact just as much stress as they are pleasurable. But being single is, in fact, hassle free! Yeah, of course, it is nice to have that person to share some good times with and wake up in the morning too, but at what price do you pay for those pleasures?

Now, I am single at the moment and I have been for some years. Occasionally a woman passes through into my life which is nice, but these days, especially with all the travel that I do, it is hard to maintain a serious relationship.

But you know what? I really don’t mind. I am very happy being single and if I am brutally honest, I am always far happier being single than whenever I am in a relationship. If I ever feel stressed or unhappy at all with my life, it is always because of the relationship I am in.

In my last couple of relationships, I analyzed how much joy I was actually getting out of them and what I realized is that the stress can begin on day one…yes, even during the so-called ‘honeymoon period’ of a relationship.

They are stressful at the beginning because I don’t know the person that well or if things are going to work out between us. Then they are stressful in the middle because you are learning to adapt to another person and trying to keep not just yourself happy but the other person too. And of course, there is the inevitable end and everybody knows how painful letting go can be.

Relationships, you see, are like everything else in the known universe. They have a beginning, a middle and an end.

Because even if you stay with that person all of your life, one day the Grim Reaper is going to take one of you away first and that is going to lead to a lot of pain.

And if you are one of those people who think “But who will take care of me when I am sick?” Well, there is a 50/50 chance that your partner is going to die before you anyway and also, if you are in your 80s or 90s, how the hell is your partner going to be able to look after you anyway?

I think like everything else in life, there have to be two sides to everything. With day comes the night, with up comes down, with left comes right, with happiness comes pain. It is like a pendulum that swings back and forth. If our partners are able to bring out happiness and joy within us, they will also be able to also to bring out sorrow and heartbreak.

The other thing is that everything in the universe is in a constant flux of change. Nothing is permanent.

That beautiful young lady I fell in love with is going to change, physically and psychologically and so am I.

Will we still be compatible in years to come? Will we start to enjoy different things? Will such differences cause us to live a life of relative happiness or will we stick together because it is easier than going through the pain of breaking up?

Even the best relationships are never plain sailing and I often wonder exactly how many couples are genuinely happy in their relationships? I estimate that about 30% of people who are in relationships now, wish they weren’t.

So why do they stay with their partners?

Well, for a number of reasons: financial dependency, keeping up appearances, because of the children, fear of being alone or guilt at the thought of leaving their partners. Some people seem to accept after a while that being unhappy in a relationship is the norm and just put up with it. Better the devil you know as they say.

Also, I have met many people who believe they have met the ‘One’ only to find out a little later down the line that the person who seemed to be so perfect once upon a time is now regarded as the most despicable person on earth!

But who knows? Maybe it is just my upbringing that makes me feel that the ‘one’ doesn’t exist.

My parents got divorced when I was very young, at a time when you were expected to get married if you wanted kids. My mother had a turbulent relationship with my dad even before they got married so I am sure he wasn’t the ‘one’.

She really believed that her second husband was the ‘one’ when she first met him, but a few years after they were married and 2 children later, she realized he definitely wasn’t. She stayed with him though for another 9 years after that because of the children and financial dependency until life with him became so unbearable that she left him.

A few years later, she met another man who she hasn’t married but has been with for the last 27 years. I asked her about her relationship with him and if she thought he was the ‘one’ when she first met him.

“Oh god no!” she replied. “Yes, we liked each other for sure, but when we started dating, we were both half expecting the ‘one’ to turn up and whisk us away, but they never did, so we stuck together. But we got on well, share the same sense of humour and I think that has what has kept us together. And it certainly helps that we only see each other at weekends”.

I asked my Dad at his 40th wedding anniversary to my step mum what made his marriage last so long.

“Bloody hard work” came his reply…and I am fairly sure if I asked my step mum, she would have said the same!

And as for my Grandfather, when I asked him how he was going to celebrate his 50th wedding anniversary, he looked at me somewhat surprised and asked “Why would anyone want to celebrate 50 years of being married?”

I know I have never met the ‘one’ and I am so used to living my life on my own terms that I think I would find it difficult to settle down now. But, I am very happy being single and I don’t think that marriage or being in a relationship is for everyone. And maybe you think differently.

Maybe you would like to tell me “Toby, you just haven’t met the right one yet”, and you know what, a part of me still hopes that you are right.

I would love to hear what you have to say because I am getting tired of turning up to family weddings and all my older relatives asking “when is it going to be your turn?”

I think I am going to start asking them the same question at funerals!! 😊

The Ego

I have just finished working in Koh Samui and during my stay there, caught up with a friend I had met in Greece a couple of years ago.

She is an interesting lady, a psychologist and Buddhist meditation instructor amongst many other things and has spent most of the last 10 years living in Bhutan. I have never met anyone quite like her and during our time together, I learnt a lot, particularly about my ego.

Yes, the good old ego. Probably about the most destructive force on the planet and yet most of the time we are completely unaware that it is there. I thought I was fairly egoless until this lady reminded me of its presence and how very much alive it is!

The ego is who we think we are. It is made up from our beliefs about the world which we have gathered by our own personal experiences and is influenced by our language, culture, family, friends, country, religion and beliefs. It is almost like a set of rules by which we unconsciously live by and will die in order to protect it. When someone challenges our ego, the first feeling we tend to experience is anger because we defend our ego in exactly the same way we would fight to protect our body, family, friends or country.

During our conversations, she would often challenge me on things that I said or believed and although I didn’t show it, I would often feel my anger rising within. I could easily have defended what I had said but instead, chose to keep my mouth closed and listen to her thoughts and comments. I am not saying that I passively agreed with everything she said, God no! But put my ego aside, listened to what she was saying and then questioned whether or not I believed it was true.

One thing she commented on was how many generalizations I used when talking about topics as though the things were accepted by everyone in the world as true, when in fact, they were merely facts that I believed were true. I am a hypnotherapist, a life coach and a meditation instructor, I know these things and I often point them out to my clients and then completely forget that I am doing the same thing!!

Isn’t it so much easier to notice other people’s faults rather than our own?

The reason it is important to question our beliefs is that if we are not happy, then there is something at fault in the way we percive the external world.

The world is the world. If we are not accepting the way it is, it means that we have a misconception about it. It is not the world that is at fault, it is our ego’s perception of it.

But in order for us to change our perception about it, it means that we have to accept that we have been wrong for so many years.

This is a painful process when it is pointed out to us, because this ego, this way of thinking is almost a part of our very personality.

I mean, let’s be honest now. Who likes to be criticized or told that they are wrong?

Nobody! It almost feels like a personal attack. Part of our brain can often feels like we are being belittled or that the person criticizing us feels they are better than us. As a result, anger kicks in.

Anger is the emotion that we experience when we need to defend ourselves
. It produces a host of fight or flight responses in the body and we start to think with the irrational, animalistic part of our brain that is called the limbic system. This is activated when we feel threatened and as a result we act without thinking. It is a very important we use this part of the brain when we are feeling physically threatened, but we must become aware of its presence and only use it when we need to.

When the ego defends itself, a big problem that we experience is that we do not listen to what the other person is telling us. The result is WE DO NOT LEARN ANYTHING NEW.

If we wish to develop ourselves, we must learn to listen and become impartial to what other people say. This is the only way you will begin to notice the faults in your personality or ways of thinking and start to change.

We must learn to listen openly to what people say and trust our own judgement on matters. Thinks, question and analyze what people are saying to us and rather than becoming angry or upset by their comments, listen and ask yourself if what they are saying is really true.

If it is, great, accept it and use the new information in your life to make permanent and positive change.

If you listen to the facts, scrutinize them and find them not to be true then reject them. But do not reject ideas before you have carefully and impartially listened to them first. Otherwise you will never change.

The Ego is a powerful force. Although it is suppose to be there to protect us, it also responsible for all the pain and anger we experience in life. Knowledge is power. Learn to understand your ego and the beliefs that are holding you back in life. Listen to what others are saying and question your beliefs. It is painful but it is the only way you will successfully develop yourself and change for the better.

Calm and angry person

How often do you have to deal with people who are angry?

It could be a partner, your children, friends, work colleagues or your superiors at work.

One of the most important lessons I have learnt in life is too simply be kind, to everybody, all of the time, no matter how upset or angry the people around you are.

Why? Because life is so much less stressful that way.

When you remain calm and kind to others, you can quell small fires and prevent them from getting out of control.

You may think that is an obvious thing to say and you probably think you are kind.

But being kind is not easy. Being kind takes great strength of character. Being kind means learning to control your thoughts and emotions and being as solid as a rock no matter what people do or say to you.

When someone upsets us or makes us angry, we naturally become angry ourselves. When this happens, do not retaliate.

When you feel the anger rising within you, keep your mouth closed and say nothing.

For to speak hastily and angrily will only make the problem worse.

Never show your anger towards anyone, ever…..unless your life is seriously at risk.

Under any other circumstance, anger will always be your downfall.

When someone is angry with you and you react with anger yourself, you are only adding fuel to the fire.

You cannot fight fire with fire, otherwise, you create an inferno. Infernos are very hard to put out and can last a very long time.

You can only fight fire with water or as the Taoist say, “The soft always overcomes the strong”.

What is meant by that? Does it mean you cower in fear and let the other person walk all over you?

Absolutely not. The complete opposite in fact.

You stand your ground emotionally. You take control of the situation by acting calmly and cultivating the opposite. It means cultivating internal strength and great self-control within, rather than losing control of your temper and letting your emotions out.

When you remain calm and in control, you do not become a victim to your emotions. You simply observe the anger inside of you, relax into it, let it go and speak calmly, confidently and clearly back to the person you are conversing with.

Reacting without thinking is easy to do. Anyone can do that, but only the wise know and understand that this will only cause you more problems in the long run. Better to keep your mouth closed. That way you will be able to listen to what is being said and then make your own decision as to whether you believe the facts to be true or not.

Wise people understand that knowledge comes from listening, not speaking.

It takes great strength to remain calm and be kind to those who are angry or criticize you. It means dropping your ego and being unaffected by the opinions of others. It means that inside, you are so strong and confident of yourself that anger and insults from others fly off you without affecting your calm, inner nature. It also means that you are open to criticism and change if you think that what is said will make you a better person.

In the West, we often regard anger as a sign of strength and a good way to get things done. In the East, it is regarded as a weakness.

Sometimes, we believe that getting angry instils fear into people and they will do as we say. But the truth is, you may get things done in the short term, but you also run the risk of people digging in their heels and doing the opposite. Even if they do comply to what you say, they will resent you and do whatever they can to make you slip and fall in the future.

You will also find yourself feeling uncomfortable in front of that person whenever you see them and that causes YOU stress!

If you remain calm, polite and show no fear, you will gain respect from others. When people respect and like you, they will go out of their way to help and support you.

I challenge you to be nice to every single person you meet for a week and see how much your life changes. Do not get angry with anyone. Be strong internally.

Be kind, to everyone, all of the time.

Rock ball struggle push

Once upon a time, there was a man. He was very successful and very happy. He had a lovely wife and children and lived in a nice big house. He was financially secure and very healthy.

Then there was another man. He was very depressed. He was struggling to cope with life. His alcohol addiction meant that he had lost his job, his wife and his children were embarrassed to have anything to do with him. His health was deteriorating and his doctors had given him six months to live.

And that’s how both stories began and ended.

“Wow, Toby…you should write a book. Your stories are fascinating!!!” I hear you say.

Well, just another one of my many talents…….. 😊 😊

If I turned these two stories into films, I don’t think I would pick up any academy awards.

So, why is it that stories about people who have a great life or a very bad life simply don’t sell at the box office or go down well at dinner parties? After all, when we watch a movie or hear a story, we want the characters to be happy in the end, don’t we? So why don’t we just skip to the end?

And why are there never any movies about people who struggle with life and never find a solution to their problems?

Because good movies and stories need to have a ‘struggle’ bit in there somewhere and some kind of victory in the end.

Whenever you enjoy a movie or hear a good story, it usually involves the following scenario:

A situation where everything is fine.
Then a problem arises.
There is a struggle to overcome the problem.
The person is at the very end of their tether and about to give up.
Then there is a realization.
They then finally overcome the problem and live happily ever after….or so we are lead to believe.

The reason why I bring this to your attention is that recently I have come to the conclusion that in order to fully enjoy life, we need to follow the same scenario.

Now, self-help books and motivational speakers often go on about abundance and attracting that perfect life that you want. And it sounds great, but the other day I sat down and tried to imagine what life would be like if I really had everything that I wanted. I imagined what it would be like if everything in my life was perfect and I could do whatever I wanted. And the more I thought about it, the more I began to think how dull and boring life would be.

Think about it for a moment. Having everything you wanted. No struggle to get it, you just said the word and you could have it. Nothing would be too much.

Now at first, I think it would be amazing. A whole new life would open up to you. You could live your dreams and never have anything to worry about again….or so you would think.

But after a while, I think boredom and frustration would begin to sink in. You would have nothing to work towards, and you would lose your sense of purpose in life. Even if you bought the most expensive, luxurious yacht and travelled the world, I think it would just get boring after a while. Because I think that after seeing the umpteenth pyramid/temple/mountain/lake/beach or whatever, the excitement of seeing another one would disappear. You would start to compare them with the other amazing places you had visited and no longer appreciate their beauty.

Also, if you rented a comfortable, private jeep or helicopter to take you to these places, you would miss out on one of the highlights of any adventure; the struggle to get there.

I remember the trip I had Nepal to see the Himalayas. It wasn’t seeing the Himalayas that I have the best memories of, but the ups and downs of the whole experience; the amazing couple I trekked with, the cold nights huddled in a sleeping bag trying to stay warm, the freezing cold showers, the exhaustion, the blisters, the evening we got stranded on a mountain top and were taken in by a kind Nepalese family.

Yes, the morning I woke up and actually found myself staring up at the ‘roof of the world’ was spectacular, but it is only a small part of the beautiful memories I have of that trip. The struggles were a huge part of the whole experience.

I like the UNCERTAINTY of life. NOT knowing that everything will be fine makes life interesting and fun.

Although I am lucky that I enjoy the work that I do, I also enjoy the fact that I am not financially secure yet and need to work to put money away for my retirement. This gives me a reason to get up in the morning.

I think life without some sort of struggle is what drives a lot of very wealthy people to carry on working, even though they no longer have to.

And I think this carrot of ‘abundance’ that is dangled in front of us by motivational speakers and self-help books leads people to think they cannot be happy yet because they are still lacking something in life. Life is difficult and ‘wrong’ somehow because it should be perfect and it’s not!!! And as a result, they forget to enjoy the struggle and see themselves as not perfect, not happy with the way things are.

I think struggling is all part of the fun of life. Struggling gives us something to work towards. Struggling gives life meaning and a huge sense of satisfaction when we overcome the challenges we face.

So, if you are struggling with something right now, don’t be dismayed. Don’t think to yourself, “oh this shouldn’t be happening’ or ‘life shouldn’t be this way’.

It should be this way. Life would be really boring without it.

And when you come to the end of the struggle, enjoy the taste of victory, because it will taste so much sweeter.

What do you think? Do you think that a certain amount of struggling is important in life?

I would love to know your thoughts.

Opinionated

I was watching a video on youtube a few weeks ago about two American virologists talking about Covid 19.

I find the human body fascinating and these two Doctors were explaining to people what a virus is and how our immune systems create natural immunity to viruses. They also discussed the dangers of keeping people locked inside their homes for too long such as mental health issues, an increase in domestic violence and how a lack of exposure to the natural environment resulted in a weakened immune system.

Interesting, informative and educational, I thought. So I shared it on Facebook.

A few hours later I got a very angry response from someone calling me naive and telling me that it was dangerous posting such rubbish and misinformation on Facebook.

Interesting response, I thought to myself. I wondered why he got so upset?

As you are now probably aware, I find the mind fascinating and I often wonder what lies at the root of people’s unhappiness. So whenever people get angry or upset and I always wonder what is going on in their heads. They kind of become like a case study for me, an intellectual challenge, a puzzle that I try and figure out.

And one thing that sprang to mind was this:

Everything we think we know is based on the opinions of other people.

Let me explain what I mean

My Facebook page has been inundated with conspiracy theories about Covid 19.

Anyone who believes in the conspiracy theories will search for any information they can find on the internet to validate their beliefs and ignore any information that says otherwise.

On the other side of the spectrum, you have people who believe that conspiracy theorists are a bunch of crackpots and whose opinions about the virus tend to be formed by what they read in the press or watch on news networks.

They believe that anything to do with 5G and an attempt by the elite to take over the world is ‘fake news’ and search for any information contrary to the conspiracy theorists. As a results, they push their articles and videos on people that back up their opinion on the matter.

The truth is, is that nobody knows what the truth is because all of our opinions are based on the opinions of others.

Even the governments with all their ‘facts’ keep admitting that their ‘facts’ may be completely wrong.

Which made me ask myself: How do we learn things?

Well, we learn things by being presented a ‘fact’ by someone we know, an authoritative figure or institution that we tend to trust.

This authority could be our parents, friends, teachers, a book, a newspaper, a magazine, social media or the news for example.

After we have listened to, read or watched the information our minds will form an opinion depending on how much we trust the source. If we trust the source, we will then believe what we have been told which will result in an opinion being formed.

Once an opinion has been formed our minds will then only search for information that will validate this belief.

Any information that goes against this newly formed belief will then be automatically dismissed and rejected.

And so what happens is that we develop a set of belief systems that we convince ourselves is real. We start to see anyone who disagrees with us as an idiot, someone who is stupid and misinformed and the more that such a person tries to validate their argument, the stronger our opposition towards that person becomes.

And if anyone attacks those beliefs we have, it can feel like a personal attack on us as we have identified those beliefs as ‘us’.

History has shown us that people will even sacrifice their lives by defending their beliefs, especially if they are religious, national or political and yet, the truth is that no one knows what the truth is.

Our opinions are based on the opinions of others.

You may laugh at conspiracy theorists and think their views are far fetched, but just look back at the mad and crazy leaders who have already sacrificed the lives of millions because of their beliefs; Adolf Hitler, Stalin, Mao Tse Tung.

And if you believe every word you read in the press, then remember the ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ not so long ago that were never found but gave the Americans and British and excuse to invade Iraq?

I may have an opinion about why they invaded Iraq, but I DON’T KNOW if it’s true. My opinions have been formed by what articles I HAVE CHOSEN TO READ. I have never been to Iraq or spoken with any Iraqis about the war and neither have I ever met or discussed the issues with Tony Blair or George W Bush. And even if I did, then I would still be forming my opinions based on their opinions.

And if you did find out the reasons why these 2 political figures decided to invade Iraq, you would find that their decisions would have been based on the opinions of ‘government defence experts’ whose opinions also turned out to be wrong!!!

The truth is, is that nobody knows what the truth is.

Because almost everything that we have ever learned about anything in the world is based on the opinion of others.

So, what this message on Facebook has taught me is to question everything, other people’s opinions and particularly my own.

Workplace wellbeing

With people working longer hours under more stressful conditions than ever before, it is easy to forget about our health and well-being and settle for a life of “just surviving”. But by taking a step back, re-assessing your priorities, planning your life and taking action, you can live the life you always dreamed of. Here are three steps to take in order to really experience a happy and healthy working environment.

First of all, if you want to experience true well-being at work, the most important thing is to love what you do! Only when you love what you do can you truly experience fulfillment and happiness at work. On average, more than 50% of our waking lives are spent at work, so whatever it is that makes you happy, whatever it is you love to do, make a career out of it.

If you are not sure what you dream job would be, then just think about all the things you love to do with your life, your hobbies, your passions, your dreams or things you love to do in your free time. If you are still unsure, then think about your current job and the things you like about it, what your strengths are or what your perfect role within your company would be. The more time you spend thinking about it and writing your thoughts down, the quicker and easier it will be to work out what your dream job is. Seek and you will find.

The second thing is to plan your working life. Statistics show that less than 3% of people ever write down their goals in life and if you don’t know what you want out of life, then how are you going to achieve it?

When setting goals, think about what your dream life would be like. Imagine that if you woke up tomorrow morning and you were working in your dream job, what would it be like? What job would you do? How many hours a week would you work? What salary would you have? Would you be working for a company or self-employed? How much free time would you have? How many days a week would you work? How many holidays would you take a year etc.

When you create a clear picture about what you want out of life, you will tune your mind into receiving information that is relevant to your goals that previously would have passed you by. We only see the things in life that are relevant to our needs and survival. Everything else goes unnoticed. So spend a couple of times a week sitting in silence and really give some serious thought until you fine tune exactly how you want your life to be. When you know what it is that you want, then start making yearly plans on how to achieve it and ACT ON IT!

The third thing is make sure you have a work/life balance. Nobody on their deathbed ever wished they spent more time at the office, but they often wished they spent more time cultivating friendships, looking after their health or spending time with their families. So think about what really is important in your life and adjust your priorities accordingly.

In life, you can create your own destiny or be a slave to the circumstances that surround you. It’s your choice. What will you choose?

Helping hands

I arrived in Thailand at the end of September to start a six-month contract with a Hotel Resort and Spa.

The contract had been signed months ago and the week before I arrived, the company had sent me out all the appropriate documents to apply for a work permit in the UK.

And so I flew out to Phuket a week before to see some friends and find a place to live and just as I was about to put a deposit on an apartment, I received an unexpected call from the HR Manager.

“I am sorry Toby, but the Wellness department had a meeting this morning and I am afraid that as we are implementing a more medical approach to wellness, we have decided to cancel your contract”.

I was silent for a moment, speechless in fact. Six months of work pulled from underneath my feet.

I was pretty surprised at first, but after about an hour, rather than worrying about it, I started to become quite excited instead. I had money in the bank, the company were giving me a pay off and I started to think of all the things I could do, such as a month-long meditation retreat, followed by a couple of months in China brushing up on my Tai Chi.

Obviously, I needed some work to come back to and recalled that the month or so before the contract was supposed to begin, I had actually turned down several job offers. So I searched my email account and sent about 7 emails out.

A week later, my work calendar was booked for the next 12 months! Not only did I now have 12 months of work rather than 6, but opportunities had also now opened up from 5 companies I had never worked with before. This was very exciting as it was opening up doors to a whole world of new and exciting possibilities.

So how did I manage to get so much work, so quickly and with virtually no effort whatsoever?

Simple – by helping people.

I love helping people out. It makes me feel good. Not only does my chosen career involve helping people, but just being kind and respectful to people, everyone, all of the time, just seems to make life easy for me. It’s not rocket science, be nice to people, they will be nice to you, everyone is happy! It is a win/win situation. Even if people don’t seem to like me, I am still kind to them. Probably even kinder than ever, because then it becomes like a playful challenge to me, to win them over, to soften them, to make them a nicer, kinder person.

Even when I am not working, I always try and help people and over the last few years, that has included helping a lot of my friends to find work.

If any of my friends, many of which are not native English speakers, are looking to find a job or better themselves in some way, I will always help them. This could mean giving them advice on how to find work, helping them write their resumes or cover letters and even putting them in contact with any spa managers that I know who are looking for therapists or Visiting Practitioners. In addition, I always help the spa managers that I have worked with to find good therapists too.

I never charge anyone for helping them. My reward comes when they tell me they have a new job and I know I have made a positive difference to someone’s life. It just makes me feel good. And I like to feel good!! 🙂

A friend recently informed me that because I help so many people out I should turn this into a business and make money from connecting spa managers and therapists. Maybe it would be a good business, who knows? But it is not something that I want to dedicate all my time too. I have other projects to get on with that I find far more interesting and are more in tune with my inner nature. I don’t have the time or enthusiasm to turn this into a business, so I do it for free, just to help people.

So, you are probably wondering, what has this got to do with me finding work?

Because when I looked into the origin of all those new job offers that had filled my diary for 12 months, I noticed that they had all received my contact details from people who I had helped out in the past. EVERY SINGLE ONE! When I had been helping those people, little did I realize that they were also helping me in return! All that help I had given to those people was being reciprocated behind my back….and I had never even noticed it until the day came that I needed help.

I had never asked anyone to help me, but what goes around comes around and for the first time ever, this experience really showed me how helping people out of the kindness of your heart without any expectations, will always come back to you when you most need it.

I remember working with a very famous actor once who despite his fame and popularity, turned out to be one of the kindest and most humble human beings I have ever met.

He said to me once: “Always be nice to people on the way up, because you never know who you might meet on the way down”.

Be humble, be kind, help others. If you are going to invest in anything in life, invest in kindness.

Building Healthy Relationships

It is a pity that our education system doesn’t teach people how to build relationships with other people. The world would be a much better place if it did.

Unfortunately, all we are ever taught at school are subjects that will help us how to get a job. We are not taught how to live. Because just like any other subject, living is an art, a skill that needs to be learnt and practised if we are to enjoy life and live in peace with ourselves and the world around us.

Some of the most important life skills we need to be aware of are those that govern human relationships. Without a firm understanding of these laws, people will always find it difficult to develop long-term, deep-rooted friendships which are the foundation of a happy life.

So today I present 6 of these laws in the hope that you might contemplate and incorporate them into your daily living.

1) Don’t bitch about anyone, ever.
This is the most valuable lesson that I ever learnt and it will bring you more peace of mind than any other strategy I know.

Bitching about others is ugly. It is telling people that you believe that you are better than them, that others have faults but you are perfect. Bitchy people are insecure and need recognition of how good they are and they do that by belittling others because it gives them a momentary feeling of worthiness.

But the truth is that when you bitch about others, you actually alienate yourself from people. People will begin to realise you are two-faced and will not trust you and before too long, you will not trust other people around you either. We judge people by our own standards, so if we bitch, we start to believe others are bitching about us too and this generates a feeling of paranoia.

Instead, spend time focusing on your own faults and do everything you can to perfect them. This will help you to become a kinder, happier person and attract the same kind of friends and people towards you.

2) Do not judge others.
When we see people who act in a different way to us, we tend to judge them. We tend to portray a fixed personality onto them such as being a “good” or “bad” person without ever understanding their full story.

“She’s lazy! She leaves work earlier than everyone else”. Maybe she is a struggling, single mother who has to pick up her daughter from school every afternoon.

“He is so tight with his money”. Maybe he is struggling to support his sick wife and 2 children at home.

“He never drinks. He is so boring”. Ex-alcoholic, desperately trying to stay sober maybe?

Do not judge people by your own experiences in life, but try and understand them. Learn to accept people the way they are. Changing a person to fit into your ideal is very difficult. But changing your attitude to someone is very easy.

3) Learn to Listen.

There is a Hindu God of wisdom called Ganesh who has a human body and the head of an elephant. He is portrayed in this way because an elephant has huge ears and a tiny mouth. This is a symbol that in order to have wisdom, one should listen more and speak less.

Listening means really listening to everything that is being said without judging and without just waiting for that person to stop talking so that you can tell your bigger and better story. Listening is like one-way traffic. You can’t speak and listen at the same time, so if you are having a conversation in your head when you are supposedly “listening” to another person, YOU ARE NOT LISTENING. Clear your mind and pay them all your attention. The best way to do this is to become genuinely interested in other people Have compassion for them and you will then find it easier to let go of your ego and focus on what they are saying instead.

4) Never Lose Your Temper
Getting angry and losing your temper helps no one! It is a sign that you are not in control and it will only make a bad situation worse.

If you can learn how to control your anger, you will be able to think in a more rational and reasonable manner and therefore resolve any problems more quickly, easily and efficiently. The reason is that when we are calm we think with a different part of our brain called the Frontal Lobe. This is known as our humanistic part of the brain which allows us to see things more clearly and creatively. But when we become angry, we think with your animalistic, defensive part called the limbic system which acts emotionally and irrationally. When you become angry, you will often say things that you later regret. This will result in feelings of guilt. It also diminishes the respect and confidence people have in you too. But learn to control your anger, people will always look up to you as a leader, a person who is in control, a person who they can depend and rely on when the going gets tough. The best way to learn how to control your emotions is by learning to meditate.

5) Learn to see things from the other person’s perspective.

Quite often, if people have different ideas, views or opinions from us, the first reaction we experience is anger. Why? Because we are defending our long-held beliefs that we feel are a part of us. When someone challenges our opinion, we almost take it as a personal attack on ourselves and as a result, our barriers come up and we miss an opportunity to learn something new. If someone has a different opinion to you, stay calm, open and try and understand them instead of resisting their opinions. Once you fully understand them, then you are in a better position to question whether or not you feel their opinion or idea is correct or not.

6) Learn to forgive.
I remember a lady who came to see me once who said she was having problems forgiving her husband who left her for another woman. She felt angry every time she thought of him and would sometimes be unable to sleep at night recalling how hurtful and selfish he had been. I asked her how long ago this had happened.

“16 years ago” she replied.

16 years!!!
It was not her husband who had caused her to suffer for the last 16 years, but herself.
She said she couldn’t forgive him because that would be letting him off the hook.
What hook? There was no hook. He didn’t care whether or not he was forgiven, but that imaginary hook had kept her mind in a place of anger, hatred and sleepless nights for 16 years!!
Learn to let go of the past.

Forgiving is no letting the other person off the hook for what they did. It is letting yourself off the hook so you can be free from suffering. No one is perfect, not you, me or anyone else who has ever walked on this planet. That is what being human is all about – making mistakes and trying to learn from them. If you want to let go of your pain, learn to forgive people who have hurt you, not for their sake, but for yours.

How to win an argument

In the chaotic and stressful world in which we live, there is often conflict as we battle against one another to make our mark or try and prove ourselves to the world.

As a result, arguments or overheated discussions often occur that can leave us feeling angry or upset for many hours, days, or even weeks afterward.

But wouldn’t it be amazing if you knew how to win all your arguments? If you could get people to back down and back off? Wouldn’t it be a great feeling to get your opinion across and gain the respect of others rather than letting them get to you?

Well, today I would like to share with you my tips on how I have managed to avoid losing an argument now for the last 24 years.

Yes…I am not kidding. 24 years!!

Do you know how I have managed to do that?

It’s very simple….

I DON’T ARGUE!

As Bruce Lee called it, “the art of fighting without fighting”. And this is the only way you will ever win an argument and get people to understand your point of view.

Here are my 6 tips on how to really win an argument…..

1 – Don’t Get Angry!
When a person becomes angry, the emotional part of the brain called the limbic system takes over and any rational thought processes are replaced by emotional, irrational outbursts. This is what we experience during the fight or flight response when we need to protect ourselves and the mind goes into defensive mode. When your limbic system takes over, it only sees things in black and white, in other words, “I am right, you are wrong”.

You cannot rationalise with people when they are in this state of mind and trying to force your opinions on them is like showing a red rag to a bull! So don’t even try and get people to think rationally when they are angry.

If you or the other person have lost their temper, move onto the next point:

2 – Calm Down.
Not only do you have to calm down, but you have to get the other person to calm down too.
In order to do this, STOP SPEAKING and let the other person speak/shout/scream first. Do not react, do not say anything. Just wait, calmly, patiently, and quietly until they have said everything they have had to say. Do not interrupt them.

When they have finished, when they have run out of steam, then you can speak.

If they interrupt you when you are trying to speak, do not try and talk over them. Remain calm and when they stop, say to them calmly “As I was saying…..” and continue to present your side of the case.

Remain patient, calm, and polite but at all times.

3 – Understand The Problem
The first thing you must do is make sure you are clear as to what the root cause of the problem is. Be careful not to blame or insult the other person, but ask them calmly for clarification of the details. When you think you understand what they said, repeat the facts back to them so that you know you understand them correctly.

For example, “So, let me make sure I understand you correctly. You are angry with me because I left the office early last night and I didn’t complete the assignment that you think is due today. As a result, you had to stay late and cover for me and that is why you are angry with me. Is that correct?”

4 – State Your Case

If you can see that there has been a misunderstanding which is usually the case 90% of the time, then say calmly and clearly, “I can understand why you thought that way. However, the reason why I made that decision/acted in that way was that……“ and state the facts and reasoning for your action.

5 – Be Compassionate
If the other person is wrong, do not belittle or humiliate them. The best way to do this is to say something like, “Yes, I understand why you are angry and if I were you I would feel exactly the same way. However, double-check that assignment as I am fairly sure that it doesn’t have to be completed until next Tuesday”.

If they apologise, do not make an issue of it. Brush it off politely and forget about it. We all mess up sometimes and if you make a drama about it, they will do the same to you if you make a mistake.

6 – If you are wrong, admit it.
Is the person justified in the argument? Did you do something wrong? If you did, admit it and apologize. This takes great courage, but can often diffuse an argument immediately and you will gain great respect from other people for doing so. Don’t fight your corner just to save face if you know you are wrong, because this will just escalate and the other person will not respect or trust you in the future.

Winning an argument means a win/win scenario for both of you, not just one of you. It means that the problem has been resolved and both parties walk away on friendly terms and respecting one another.

Never let your ego take over and try to get one up on the other person! That one-upmanship means that either you have caused a person to lose face or vice versa and this will only lead to difficulties in the future.

Life is stressful enough, so don’t invite it into your backyard! If you want to have a happy life, free from stress, always put yourself in the other person’s shoes and treat them the way you would like to be treated; with kindness, honesty and respect.

Losing True Love

I was married once, to a lady who I was with for 7 years.

But she left me for another man.

Naturally, when I first found out she had been seeing another guy behind my back I was absolutely devastated, shocked.

“How could this happen to me? What have I done to deserve this? What is so special about him? How could she be so heartless? How could he be nice to my face and yet steal my wife behind my back!”

And so on, and so on…

I am sure most people reading this article have been through exactly the same experience with a partner at some point in their lives. Maybe you have gone through it recently and are still experiencing deep anger and heartache. Maybe you went through it a long time ago and still find yourself churning the anger in your head over and over again.

After the initial shock of finding out, I was left feeling very angry at them both.

My wife left me and all I could think about was the two of them dancing off into the sunset, blissfully happy, everything in their life perfect, laughing at me and ‘living happily ever after’ as I struggled to come to terms with what had happened.

Despite years of meditation, my head was in turmoil and I started to think about how I could stop the mental suffering that played over and over again in my mind day after day, night after night.

And then it happened …

One night, as I sat in my room, trying to stop those negative thoughts from happening, I started to think about my ex and how could it be possible that I loved her and hated her at the same time.

Simple…the love I felt for her was that I wanted her to be happy.

The hate I had for her and her new boyfriend was that I wanted to be happy.

And so I stopped thinking about what I wanted and started to think about what she and her new boyfriend wanted.
And then all of a sudden, I found myself thinking more clearly about the situation. She was in tears when she eventually broke the news and told me about the affair, real genuine tears. I had never heard her cry as deeply as that before.

She must have felt awful telling me. If the roles were reversed, I would feel terrible telling her. The guilt would have been unbearable.

Her new boyfriend was someone I knew and liked. I wondered why he didn’t look me in the eye when I first met him and why he seemed so uncomfortable in front of me. It can’t have been easy for him either. Although my initial reaction was that he was laughing at me behind my back, the truth is that he probably felt awful about the situation too. Love is love. You can’t choose who, when and under what circumstances you are going to fall in love with a person. It just happens.

At the end of the day, my ex and I had no passion left in our relationship. We were the best of friends, yes, but more like brother and sister than husband and wife. I then began to be brutally honest with myself.

Although I never cheated on my wife, I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about it in the last year we were together, for exactly the same reasons as she probably cheated on me. The passion was dead.

And had I ever cheated on a girlfriend in the past?

Yes.

What a hypocrite I was!

(And before you judge me, have you ever cheated on a partner????)

From that moment on, every time I noticed myself thinking about the affair, I stopped and consciously made an effort to think how much I wanted her to be happy.

Every time I did this, I noticed the pain stopped and the thoughts off her and her new boyfriend disappeared.

Within a couple of weeks, we were speaking on friendly terms again, just like the friends we had been for so long. She felt guilty and I told her not to. I genuinely wanted her to be happy and I didn’t want her to feel bad. As a person, I loved her. She was not an evil, manipulating liar, but the beautiful, warm fun, kind, loving person that I spent 7 happy years with. She hadn’t changed….just our circumstances had.

It is 8 years ago now since we got divorced. We are still good friends, speak on the phone and meet for lunch now and again. She still makes me laugh.

She and her new boyfriend split up a year later. But funnily enough, purely by chance, out of all the millions of places, there are to work in London, the man she left me for and I ended up working in the same building 7 years later!!! The first time I saw him he looked terrified. I burst out laughing, shook his hand and bought him a coffee. He’s a good guy. I like him. We are friends again now.

Do not be confused between true love and selfish love.

True Love is unconditional. Selfish love is “What’s in it for me?”

We enter into relationships because we want something from that person, whether it is sex, companionship, love, a family, financial security, or something else. Nothing wrong with any of that, but when the relationship breaks down, understand that we have to think of love as being unconditional. Don’t blame. Instead, try and understand. Put yourself in their shoes. Question your own integrity and reasons for wanting to be with them. Wish them to be happy and stop thinking of yourself.

Why?

Because it is the only way to stop your pain!!!

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Toby Author

About Toby Maguire

Hi, I'm Toby.

I’m a meditation teacher, life coach, speaker and retreat host who has spent more than 30 years studying Meditation and Eastern philosophy.

I have helped thousands of people struggling with stress, anxiety or depression to take back control of their minds and build more manageable, enjoyable and more meaningful lives.

From Olympic athletes and Billionaires to company executives and troubled teenagers, I help people from all walks of life achieve greater peace of mind, clarity of their goals and enjoy the process of achieving them