happiness and transpersonal human caring

Part one

For most of my life I have held back on being happy when people around me are in pain. And I so want to be happy! When I am in this way of thinking and someone tells me about a problem they are having, I jump in to fix it or demand that they either fix it or suck it up and get over it already!

Part two

Then I learned that my happiness should not be dependent on others, that this makes them responsible for my happiness. So I dutifully added a new behaviour to my repertoire – keep the unhappy person at arms’ length, nod, smile, but don’t really engage: Don’t let them spoil that precious vibe. I even labelled some people as ‘downers’

Part three

I became familiar with nonviolent communication and now with caring science and learned about the joy of empathy. It is possible to just sit and listen to someone who is suffering and be with them and both of you appreciate and enjoy the connection. Sometimes an opportunity to help arises in the moment and sometimes something clears for the other person and whatever it is just becomes a little more bearable.

Part four

The thing is that the quality of my happiness has become so much deeper and more nuanced in these moments. I now know a calm happiness, a deeply deeply sad happiness, a happiness as soft and gentle as a baby’s breath, even a happiness infused with anger and purpose. It has been a long journey of learning and unlearning, and what is behind me lies ahead of me, but I will keep returning my wayward feet to this path. ❤

 

 

MVP communication

I have recently encountered the phrase: minimum viable product and its acronym: MVP. For me the phrase connotes a certain ‘hastily thrown together in a dark room by people who know little and care less’  quality. There is a more benign interpretation, but my first impression is much more fun, and I thought I’d apply it to communication, and then consider other applications. Continue reading “MVP communication”

living with adult children

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*Springtime in the garden by foam

 

I have two daughters living with me, both close to becoming adults. Unlike their older sister who left home every year from age 16 to 20, these two seem willing to stay forever. And it often bothers me that the conversations around adult children living at home are so negative. So, I am trying to think of different conversations and of ways to make it work. Continue reading “living with adult children”

In search of my human nature

It is our psychic needs and the feelings that accompany them that are at the root of human nature. (Mary E Clark)

My Gran is old and frail. For 90 years she has been tough and fiercely independent but today she finds herself in an old people’s hostel. She eats what she is fed, goes to bed and rises according to the routines of the institution and occasionally needs assistance to bathe and dress herself.  Despite the pleasant and caring hostel environment, this has not been a happy or easy time for Gran, so her extended family makes the effort to support her as best we can. We visit Gran daily, provide her with little luxuries, and bust her out for a visit to the hairdresser or cafe.

Taking care of Gran in the midst of all our other responsibilities can be quite an effort. And yet we do it. I think it is a normal human activity to look after the elderly as best we can. If you disagree, think of the deep emotions – sadness and outrage – expressed by the community when elder neglect and abuse is reported. However, looking after the frail elderly contradicts accepted understandings of human nature as expressed by Richard Dawkins that is, that human nature is essentially selfish, that we are motivated to act only to further our own interests, to ensure the survival of our offspring at the expense of others. Our behaviour makes no sense according to the selfish gene.

So, are we human beings intrinsically selfish, competitive and even violent? Mary Clark argues no. We are in all likelihood evolved with more capacity for kindness, cooperation and reconciliation than for aggression. There is much hope for those interested in nonviolence in her book: In search of human nature.

Continue reading “In search of my human nature”

Fighting Hanson is superficial

Vote counting for the Federal election resumes today but we already know that  Pauline Hanson will be returning to our Senate. Hanson’s politics are frequently labelled racist and she certainly provided evidence of this in her book The truth.  Hanson is also a climate change denier. Despite this, my heart sank when I read the headline: Greens vow to fight Pauline Hanson Why am I upset by this promise of opposition to racism and environmental chaos? It’s because I want my party to do more than fight.

I want the Greens to do more that create political huff and puff and bad feelings. I want my party to use principles of nonviolence to communicate with the people and communities that support Hanson and to participate in resolving the issues that these people are facing. I believe we could use this as an opportunity to create some real, powerful and sustained changes in our communities. Most importantly, such changes could be owned and directed by the people we make enemies of when we fight Hanson. Continue reading “Fighting Hanson is superficial”

Rosenberg’s nonviolent communication and Boulding’s integrative function of power

Boulding named an integrative function of power that operates across the three faces of power: threat, exchange and love. This integrative function acts to bind, to inspire loyalty and to create community. The integrative function acts through a number of structures. These structures include:

  • trust, communication, courtesy and
  • pride, guilt, shame,

Boulding recognised that neither power with the face of love nor the integrative structure was necessarily positive but did not clearly distinguish between the structures. The practice of nonviolent communication (nvc) as described by Rosenberg can be used to  distinguish these integrative structures in the space between requests and demands. Continue reading “Rosenberg’s nonviolent communication and Boulding’s integrative function of power”

My (most recent) nvc fail

So, Dave picked me up last night after a nonviolent communication (nvc) workshop and I was very excited about all that I had experienced. I bubbled away about it while groping in my backpack for my new phone. Ah – someone’s tried to call me, not sure about the number; I’ll call back just in case it’s one of my sisters.

The phone rang and a familiar voice answered… Well hello, finally. Do you know how many times I’ve rung you over the past three weeks! I’ve left five messages! And I ring all your mobiles and just get that bloody ding-dong. Continue reading “My (most recent) nvc fail”

an observation

I am lying in bed. It is dark. I can hear techno music. It appears to be coming from a particular house across the road. The house that is inhabited by a number of people who appear to be less than 25 years old. The house that about once a month emits techno music well after midnight. Continue reading “an observation”

an observation

A woman is pushing a child in a stroller up a hill and out of the park. It is afternoon. The sky is beginning to darken and the temperature has dropped a little. The child’s red face is wet with tears and perhaps snot. She(?) opens her mouth and lets out a series of high pitched, drawn out sounds. These sounds echo around the nearby buildings. As our paths cross, I offer the woman a small crinkle-eyed smile.  Continue reading “an observation”

living nonviolently in an old house that could use a few renovations that we can’t afford just yet.

20160131_070123 (1)Our house is pretty old, for Queensland. It is 120 years old, but it’s heart is 150 years old. That’s what special about our house. The original 1 room house was wrapped in a newer house at some stage. When you go underneath you can see the mismatch of timbers and joints between the two, and in the oldest part, we find hand-made nails. On the inside, part of the now-hall was once the verandah, and there is a cute proper outdoor window looking out from the oldest room to the hall, and the door from that room to the hall is an outside door, a simple hand-made front door with a key lock (the key long-lost).

My favourite parts of the house are that window and door, but also my perch on the back step. It’s kind of a humble place to sit, beside the loo pipe and the worst of the cracked paint, and all. But from this spot I can watch the chooks fuss about and I can wave at the neighbours as they pass. It’s a humble view: the view of the back yards-a-jumble of old cars (being worked on – or neglected) wild gardens, kids skating, clotheslines, veggies and chooks, bric-a-brac storage. It’s messy life and I like that.

Another part of the house I enjoy is the front verandah. The verandah is the coolest spot to be after about 11am. It is on the easternmost side, so is shaded by then and there is nearly always a good cooling breeze from the river. The verandah is wide enough for a full table and chairs and we all sit out here in the evening and eat our dinner. At first I felt a bit embarrassed about being in full view of the street, but if the neighbours thought it weird, they are now used to it and just smile and wave as they go past. My insomniac daughter also does yoga on the verandah in the middle of the night, in the dark. When I think of the verandah I realise how happy we are as a family here. It works.

Some parts of the house do suck though. The bathroom is too tiny to stand in with your arms spread wide, which is unpleasant. Also, the shower is made of asbestos and even though our builder said it was stable I hate looking at it, it gives me the creeps, so I don’t like to spend time in that room.  And the kitchen is not suitable for tall people. We have all banged our heads on the cupboards when we wash up, and the stooping over the sink hurts our backs for ages afterwards. Just 1 little sink to wash up in, it’s pretty basic.

Sometimes I tell myself We really must do something about this! and get stressed out, especially about the asbestos. If I let myself, I will lie awake at night worrying about how much it will cost and imagining running out of money in the middle of renovations and having no toilet and the bank throwing us into the street and oh my god how are we all going to sleep in the car!!  Getting myself into a state about it all. And this is where I use nonviolence to get me through. These are the things I can do…

I can breathe and be aware that I am breathing. Breathe in and out. Breathe in and calm my body, breathe out and smile (thank you Thich Nhat Hanh).

I can rephrase: We really could do something about the bathroom. And remind myself that it’s just a choice (thank you Landmark Education).

I can reach out and touch my house and be aware of the strength and character and love that lives here right now (thank you Marie Kondo).

I can think about the needs met and unmet by the house and in the space that opens up be free to consider alternate strategies to expensive renovations (thank you nonviolent communication).

So the really best part of the house is that there really is no need for me to suffer about this old house. I am free to enjoy her strength and character and quirkiness and her crumbling rambling shambles as well.

 

 

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