Who I Am (Being) Makes A Difference


I was dropping my daughter at school the other day and noticed a hand made sign just outside the classroom. It read ‘Who I Am Makes A Difference’. And it got me thinking.

The sign has been put there because the default setting is the opposite: I am insignificant, I am powerless, I do not make a difference.  Does everyone operate on the default setting?  No.  Does it mean that many many people, probably the majority, operate on the default setting? Yes.

Given that you and I do not come into this world thinking one thing or another how is it that the default within us becomes ‘I am insignificant, I am powerless, who I am does not make a difference’?  Clearly this default gets set in the home and in the school.

If we wake up in the morning and boot up with the operating system called ‘Who I am does NOT make a difference’ then how are we likely to behave?  First and most important as sheep, as followers: we search for and follow authority figures.  Second, we be slot into games and parts that others have created and assigned to us rather than creating the games and parts we want to play. Third, we think, act and feel like victims – at the mercy of other people and circumstances. Fourth, we are unlikely to be generous, caring, inspiring towards any non-authority figures – they are insignificant as well.  Finally, we will not take good care of ourselves.

If on the other hand I woke up and played the game of ‘Who I am makes a difference’ I would strive to be someone – to be an authority figure.  Because I have learnt that authority figures get to create the games, make the rules and get the best parts for themselves.  Clearly, a small minority of us will – through determination or luck – get into authority. Once there we will strive to keep that authority and grow it.  Knocking on our inner door will be the hand of fear – fear of losing our authority and the privileges that go with it.

Personally, I advocate playing the game of ‘Who I am (being) makes a difference’.  The key to this game is being.  At all times and under all circumstances my being is entirely in my hands.  Furthermore, it is impossible to not be. I am being bold or not. I am being inspiring or not.  I am being generous or not.  I am being helpful or not.  I am being active or not.  I am being resourceful or not.  I am being passionate or not.  I am being relaxed or not.

If I played the game of ‘Who I am (being) makes a difference’ I would be mindful of:

  1. Eating – what I eat, how much I eat, how I eat, who I eat with;
  2. Thoughts: what thoughts arise and keep arising
  3. Story Telling – the stories I tell myself (and others) about myself, about others, reality, life;
  4. Resource Allocation – where I spend my time, my attention, my resources – self, family, tribe, humanity, life;
  5. Health – state of my health and particularly the role and extent of physical exercising;
  6. Being – who I am being and how I deal with the high’s and low’s
  7. Posture – how I physically carry myself during the day;
  8. Voice – the tone of my voice;
  9. Feeling – what feelings arise, which I covet and which I ignore;
  10. Mindfulness – being present, being aware, being mindful of the game I am playing, the results that are showing up.

The challenge with playing the game of ‘Who I am (being) makes a great difference’ is to keep being and doing in the foreground – together, simultaneously. In ordinarily living – at least in the West – doing is in the foreground and being is lost in the background.

On violence in day to day living


For a long time I have thought of myself as a peaceful fellow.  I arrived at this conclusion on the basis that I have not and do not seek to inflict physical pain on any living being – human or animal.  Two days ago, I changed my view.

Two days ago I was hit with a sudden insight: violence is more than hitting and killing, it arises in many flavours.  Whilst one of these flavours is obvious and gets most of the attention, the really important flavours escape unnoticed by many of us:

1) Hitting, maiming, torturing and killing;

2) Shouting;

3) Criticising;

4) Labeling – in a way that robs the other of self esteem, self confidence, of dignity;

5) Ignoring;

6) Excluding;

7) Not allowing the other ‘voice’ – to speak or to be heard;

8) Imposing one’s view of the situation, of the world, on another;

9) Failing to acknowledge what is worthy in the other.

Of these sins of violence the one that is most important – for me – is  number 9:  imposing one’s view of the situation, of the world, on another.  Even though I recognised this several days ago, I have found myself doing this again and again – it is simply natural to me and it runs me.

So what have I learnt?  I am automatically violent and I do not see this violence as violence  – it is just standing my ground, standing up for what I believe, correcting/help others to live a better life or simply not to make mistakes……..

What am I doing about being non-violent? Three practices come to mind:

a) Whole, complete, perfect;

b) Treat others as I’d wish to be treated – respect, caring, love;

c) Give up something especially my point of view.

The Game of Three Questions and Three Answers


About an half an hour ago I was spending a little quality time – some ten minutes – with each of my three children before they go to sleep. It is ritual that I started a long time ago and which each of the children value. Normally, I will tell them I love them and I will ask them about their day. Today, the Game of Three Questions and Three Answers was created. I want to share that game with you.

As I was about to say goodnight to my daughter the Game of Three Questions and Answers arose in my mind. So I asked my daughter if she wanted to play this game. She agreed. So I asked her the first question: What three aspects of yourself are you proud of? The answers I got were great. And yet they were answers to another question: What three aspects of your life can you be grateful for? So the Game of Three Questions and Three Answers became:

Q1: What three aspects of your life can you be grateful for?
Q2: What three aspects of yourself can you be proud of?
Q3: What three actions did you take to create a better world?
Q4: What three things did you learn about yourself, people around you and the world?

Whilst I was asking these questions and listening to the answers, I was struck by the thought that I should be asking myself these questions and providing answers – at the end of each and every day.

As I write this, I cannot help thinking and feeling that we can benefit from playing the Game of Three Questions and Three Answers with ourselves and the people closest to us.