Monday, November 30, 2015

Surviving Life

This is a bit about life. 

The Adventure of Life - Sailing ship at sunsetIt's about setting sail on a distant sea, for an adventure no one has clear sight of. The adventure starts and ends with singularities, called birth and death. Many believe they'll have sanctuary at the end. This belief is born of a fear of the unknowable. As the journey continues the fear grows. Are we heading for the abyss or the comfort of an island? Will you, modern day Columbus, tip over a vast waterfall at the limit of the horizon, or reach the land of plenty?

There is going to be suffering along the way. The vessel we are given for the journey is leaky. It has defects that become more apparent as the journey proceeds. Sometimes the boat fails to leave the port. Often it flounders in the shallow waters of youth. The survivors, for such we are, struggle on. Adapting to changing conditions, sheltering those closest to us, even producing new life so  the throng of sailors grows. According to universal principles - evolution by natural selection - we continue.

We've discovered some physical laws, the basic blocks that life is built on. With ingenuity forged over millions of years we've mastered certain skills, refined our vessels, even temporarily repaired them. But this competition can have no winner. And what of the triumphs? Happiness as a state of mind can be achieved. It may come to be our goal. And we also discover we are lazy, gluttony, selfish and often bad. We are creatures tuned to the habitual like clockwork mice.

The real evil comes from those whose ideology claims they are better than the rest of us. That the islands they are headed for are exclusive. These primitive ideas spring from a lack of vision, a failure to see what the adventure really is: to use your boat until you are exhausted; to make new life even if the act wears you out; to be happy, whatever that might mean, and unselfishly promote that happiness so that others might enjoy it too.

The most we can say about life is that it has momentum. If there's an island over the horizon we will plot a course. Our minds, inquisitive and based on what our developed senses show us, are capable of great things. Like self analysis and scientific enquiry. The scientific mind embraces change, it adapts to new information without judging and instead by re-evaluation forms new ideas, new comforts.

But other travellers base their knowledge on a faith that the looming horizon will bring a benefactor. They like being ruled and want their ruler to comfort them. Primal subconscious desire for the Father and a lack of scientific knowledge drives them to wreck the boats and happiness of other travellers. In the name of their benefactor they fear the very unknown the scientist looks for.

Still others believe that fulfilment can only come from devotion to the horizon. Subjugation and ritual are used to extend the journey. They take science's gains but say that whatever is ahead is great but we are here now. I say there may be lands of plenty but there is no evidence for them. There is still no word from those that have gone ahead.

And on this matter the silence from supernatural shores is deafening.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Your Quick Guide to Setting SMART Goals

Getting to the line
One of the key elements for success in ANY long-term venture, whether it be a career plan, a home project, or even a life-long ambition, is the definition and setting of goals.

Goals are the blueprint for your success and as such need to be thought out carefully. Without them your plans are likely to fail or at least go off track more often than you would like. You could end up bored, disillusioned, even bankrupt, all because you failed to plan properly.

Goals matter because they set a record of your intentions, perfectly clarified and with deadlines. If you intend to do anything big at all it's necessary to set clear and SMART goals.

Setting SMART Goals

You will probably have heard about SMART, an acronym open to interpretation by different experts or management gurus, but essentially summarised as:

  • Specific - goals are clear and well-defined, not woolly or indistinct.
  • Measurable, that is, you need to be able to check your progress as you work toward your goals.
  • Achievable - goals that your particular knowledge, skill, and determination will enable you to get to.
  • Relevant. Of course goals should be relevant to your particular ambition or overall life/health or career aim.
  • Time-bound - meaning that you set the time framework for your ambitions.

Goals can also be divided into short, medium or long term - so you have steps along the way. Setting just long term goals can be demoralising and lead to you abandoning your dreams. Not ideal at all! By setting shorter and medium term goals as well as long, you can link your ambitions and take smaller, measurable steps toward the horizon.

Your goals should also complement each other, be true to your personality and fit your perceived life-style. It's no good setting yourself radically different goals from the way you are or behave. While it is possible to change yourself completely, you should ask yourself first why you want to.

Goals should also be balanced, and physically possible!

Phew, who thought setting goals could be so complicated? Yet without proper goals your ambitions will falter, your enthusiasm wane and your achievements wilt like roses robbed of water.

The Importance of Goals

Goals keep you motivated, because having something to focus on keeps your mind active and your thoughts clear. Your actions should all flow toward your goals. By constantly monitoring, moving along, adjusting and realigning them the stepping stones of your goals will merge into a clear and concrete path.

But goals should be fun to work toward, which is why making them SMART is the best option. Life shouldn't be a slog, but a series of great achievements and balance. With SMART goals you won't fall off the path. You'll have more energy, better intent, a clearer vision and measurable successes along the way to your dreams.

SMART goals are definitely the way to go, but...

Don't forget to enjoy yourself along the way!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Focus on the present, and life will take care of itself

Here's a question for you - why do so many people spend their free time watching TV?

Every day or evening families, loners, boys, girls, men, mothers and sisters sit down and watch hours and hours of it.

Box sets, films, Netflix, catch up, recordings, sports, drama, soaps...the opportunities for distraction are endless.


It would be easy to say TV is just that, a distraction, and it's true. It distracts us from the everyday, the humdrum, the boredom.

But it also has become a ritual, an intoxicating habit.

When did your life stop?

Of course, a little of anything is good for us: the odd drink, a night out, pizza - it makes us happy.

But take anything to excess, to prolong that fleeting pleasure and,
  1. it becomes harmful 
  2. it's not a pleasure any more. 
That's when it becomes a bad influence on you, and that's where, say, more than 2 hours TV a night sits high on my list of unnecessary evils.

But it still begs the question - Why?

Focus on the Now

Whatever the reason, and I'm not a psychologist, I've got an antidote, and it works for me. Instead of sitting back and letting the distraction, in this case TV, wash over me, I focus on the moment instead.

That's right, I zone into the Now.

It's not a new thing, a modern trend or invention. It just works.

It's Eastern maybe, but it can be Western, and it involves thinking creatively.

Now I don't mean I pick up my brushes and paint a landscape. Or take up the guitar and write a song.

Although I could do any of those things, I just think actively about the present.

The present, to me, is the only place I should be living. The past is full of mistakes, good feelings, bad memories, regrets, highs and lows, whatever they are THEY ARE GONE.

That's right, the past is another city.

And the future, well THAT'S NOT EVEN HERE. In fact, my experience of the future is a place where whatever I imagine happening, rarely happens.

The future is something we worry about. That's what the future does to you. But the only place you can affect the future is now, in the present moment. So that's what I concentrate on, the Now.

Baby steps

Now is:
  • possibly the only reality
  • the place where everything is guaranteed to exist
  • where the past funnels into
  • where the future expands from
Simply put, it's where we should be concentrating our efforts.

But how?

Well, like anything, the truth is rather easy. Don't regret the past, feel guilty about things, dwell on words said or deeds enacted. Just look upon it as experience, learn from any errors, bask in any pleasures and MOVE ON.

Likewise with the future, and this is more difficult, DON'T FRET ABOUT EVENTS THAT HAVEN'T YET HAPPENED.

I know Einstein predicted that Space and Time are interlinked, that the future is different to different observers depending where they are and if they are on trains etc. but that's his problem. Yours is just to live as well as you can.

So, if you are not happy about things - your life, your job, your relationships - the future isn't where you are going to change that.

The only place you can change that is in the present moment, the now.

So switch off the TV.

Tell your wife, girlfriend or boyfriend you love them, and make them a cup of tea.

Do something RIGHT NOW that will positively affect the future - a phone call, a letter, email.

Or learn something, read a book, play the piano, do something creative. And by creative I don't mean create a work of earth-shatteringly genius, but instead book an on line course, or start a diary.

Don't just make plans, do something fine, something positive, something you've been putting off for years.

Be happy.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

The Value of Silence

“When the lips are closed, then the heart begins to speak.” Sufi saying.


Ah, if only you could get away from everything. Take a holiday, go walking in the mountains, cycle across a continent, if only...

That's the big problem with our modern world, especially the world of business; you’ve always got to be doing something. Whether it’s checking emails, Twitter, or Facebook, looking at web stats, tweaking your website – always doing something, always busy. Busyness.

Even when not at work you are bombarded with distractions, and still can’t get any peace. Locked out from your inner self you become deflated, haggard, dejected. Yet there's no value in any of that noise unless it's counterbalanced, by silence.

It's been taught in mystical philosophies for years, the art of silence, of withdrawing into oneself through yoga or meditation. Increasing stillness, and forging that bond between silence and contemplation: thinking, contemplating, and focussing.

Look at a cat, or a dog. They know when to rest, and sit in repose. You might rightly say a person is different from a dog, but for most purposes, are we? And why do we have them as pets if we don't want to learn from them?

There's a mystery in silence, in contemplation, of which most people are ignorant. Yet after a great deal of stress or activity we feel we need it more – so we strive to have a holiday, to “get away from it all”. But you don't always need to get away to relax. The peace on a beach or in a hotel room is the same peace that’s always waiting inside.

Try it For Yourself

When you get home from your office or place of work today, turn off all distractions like TV, mobile and computer and find time for yourself. Or even take part in some monotonous exercise, like running, cycling or walking – come on, we all know that exercise does us good.

Why should you do it? Because your body is whirring away doing a million different things automatically, every second of the day, and needs some respite. Listen to yourself - the body intrinsically knows what's good for it. It already knows when to breath, how to organise the biological clock, when the heart needs to beat faster, how to eliminate toxins, deal with infection, monitor millions of chemical processes in trillions of cells all at once without your knowledge. So give it a rest, literally, and help yourself while you do it.

Turn off those distractions, and allow yourself as little as 20 minutes a day, which only adds up to a couple of hours a week, to relax, meditate or exercise. With a little regular self-control, self-discipline, and self-mastery, you will begin to understand what you can really get from life.

Photo by Marina Del Castell

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The End of Prophecy

The events of December 21st 2012 are sure to signal an end to the phenomenon known as ‘prophecy’.

‘Cos nothing happened.

Zip. Kaput. Zero. Nil points.

Followers of ‘prophecy’ gathered in their hordes around ancient temples, in city centres, on beaches and in public places to witness the coming of the latest end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it disaster.

They waited, and waited, and waited. Drank some coffee, and waited some more. The skies didn’t darken. No aliens invaded. Coffins remained shut. Zombies failed to walk. The sun shone, in those places where the sun shines – in others, people put up their umbrellas and walked to the nearest bus stop. Then went home.

All had passed peacefully. The leaders of the cults of prophecy, led by thin hippies with delicate facial hair, were quick to declare the failure of the prophecy to be a ‘mistake’. 

‘This kind of thing can happen with prophecy’, one declared. ‘Prophecy, you old bugger,’ said another. A third chuckled – ‘you never know where you are with prophecy’, she said.

Running Out of Time

This latest prophetic catastrophe, or ‘non-event’ as the word translates in many languages, was tied in with the predictions of the Mayan calendar.

But it turns out it was the Mayan calendar which gave up on Time, rather than time itself. The Mayans simply ran out of stone or chisels or whatever, or were too busy trying to find water to alleviate the terrible drought that was afflicting their jungle civilization to finish their calendar.

They thought 2012 was far enough away for them not to bother too much about it.

And they were right – their civilization dwindled to almost nothing 1000 years ago.

So why do otherwise sensible people buy into and play out these dramas of world annihilations and global snuffing-outs?

Who knows, but whoever you are, I’ve got some news for you - the future can’t be predicted. And why should it be? In any one moment it doesn’t yet exist. Belief in fate or astrology or prediction takes away the better part of yourself, the bit where you decide what’s going to happen, you decide what you want and take the steps to manage that process. Not blindly relying on faith or the supernatural to get you there. Such belief takes away the essence of what you are – namely a talented, thinking, emotional being capable of doing anything in the playground of life that you wish to do.

And yes, this means that all claims by astrologers, card readers, graphologists, and other such charlatans are piffle.

In the words of a writer on the Skeptic website, writing in particular about the ramblings of Nostradamus, prophecy is "gibberish that can mean anything or nothing". Which means - the world is weird enough as it is without wishing it to be weirder.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

My Journey into Atheism - Eliza Goroya -

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A life less written

Writing has always been a passion of mine, indulged by both reading and writing fiction and poetry. And although I never pursued a career in science, I retain an interest in astronomy, particle physics and weird mathematics. I don’t pretend to understand the world modern science portrays, but it has led me to a humanist view of life that rejects dogmatic religion, and the idea of an omnipotent God, ruling and judging our lives. Whatever life is, it is more wonderful and weird than anything portrayed by so-called holy texts, which in my view and that of most intelligent thinkers are created entirely by men. Perhaps if women had been involved in their creation religion might have turned out more sympathetic and wholesome.