Why are we so lazy?

While much of our attention during the past two years has focused on the pandemic when it comes to public health, there is a big elephant in the room when it comes to the global public health crisis that is stretching health budgets and affecting economic productivity in nearly every country.

Most of the common diseases such as obesity, diabetes 2, and several cancer forms are preventable and caused by lifestyle choices made on a daily basis. But why are we not addressing the obvious?

Just because a close family member has died from a terminal illness does not mean that you will at some point in your life suffer from the same condition. There is overwhelming evidence that lifestyle choices have a far greater impact on your overall health and longevity than genetics.

In the United States, the adult obesity rate for the first time in 2020 surpassed the 40 percent mark – an increase of 26 percent since 2008.

Worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). About 13 percent of the world’s adult population was listed as obese in 2016, and the tragedy is that it’s affecting more and more children from an early age.

It is just not talked about, but Covid-19 was particularly lethal in persons suffering from obesity and diabetes 2. The risk factor was significantly higher, even in persons who were moderately overweight.

In Obesity Reviews, an international team of researchers pooled data from scores of peer-reviewed papers capturing 399,000 patients. They found that people with obesity who contracted SARS-CoV-2 were 113% more likely than people of healthy weight to land in the hospital, 74% more likely to be admitted to an ICU, and 48% more likely to die.

Do you want to live to see your grandchildren grow up?

Our modern-day lifestyle choices are reducing the quality of life on multiple levels and will determine whether you can still see your grandchildren growing up. The economic costs of unhealthy diets and lack of exercise are astronomical, and we are all paying for it in some way. In the United States, medical costs for diabetes alone were put at 176 billion dollars in 2012, with productivity loss estimated at 69 billion dollars.

Poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyle choices are mainly responsible for obesity and other metabolic diseases. This is increasing absenteeism at the workplace and forcing people into early retirement, mostly with much lower pensions had they been able to work to full retirement age. Expertise is lost and productivity is affected.

You simply won’t be enjoying life as much as you could be by neglecting your health. You won’t be having the energy to fulfill your purpose and your dreams.

“Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos- the trees, the clouds, everything,” according to the great Buddhist teacher Thich Nath Hanh.

The three main triggers of poor health are diet, lack of exercise, and a high-stress factor. If you eat mainly low nutrient processed foods with high sugar content you will feel fatigued and have a low motivation to exercise. This in turn affects the biochemistry in the body that influences your emotions and mental health. The bottom line: When you eat the right foods and exercise moderately you will have a higher resilience in dealing with the daily stresses of life.

How you feel affects your emotions and your emotions or thoughts determine the quality of your life.

But why do most of us not do the things that would make the quality of our lives so much better?

A study by the University of British Columbia appears to show that humans are intrinsically lazy because our brains are simply wired in such a way that we make choices on the basis of what is most comfortable.

The brain is innately attracted to sedentary behavior because “conserving energy has been essential for humans’ survival, as it allowed us to be more efficient in searching for food and shelter, competing for sexual partners, and avoiding predators,” according to Matthieu Boisgontier, a postdoctoral researcher at UBC and senior author of the study.

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The challenge, therefore, is to trick the brain away from behavior that has been programmed for generations by reframing the mindset.

You can tell yourself that the pain of suffering from a debilitating disease and poor health is greater than going out each day for a moderate walk in the woods. My body will feel and perform much better if I avoid that soda or so-called “energy drink”.

The nutrients from fresh produce and organic foods keep the biochemistry in my body at a level that makes me feel so much better – both physically and emotionally.

We need to apply more pressure on our governments to pass legislation, forcing the big food corporations to be transparent about what ingredients they put in our foods. A sugar tax could force companies to look for healthier alternatives.

However, first and foremost you have an individual responsibility not only to yourself and your destiny but also to your loved ones. They want you to be around as long as possible.

Few things in life come free of charge. What you invest in time, effort, action, and choice determine the outcome.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

P.S. You can still join our 42-day walking challenge. Walk 8,000 steps a day and keep a gratitude journal

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The spark within

“Stones are mute teachers; they silence the observer, and the most valuable lesson we learn from them we cannot communicate.” Wolfgang von Goethe

One of the big illusions of our time is the constant messaging from false gurus promising salvation and a life of bliss that can only be found externally. Letting yourself be true to your inner voice and reawakening that ancient sense of rhythm and instinct is a real challenge.

The shadow world feeds on sowing confusion and triggering the toxic emotions of fear, hate, and rage that can easily be manipulated for ulterior motives. One of the greatest gifts we have is the power of choice.

Standing Guard

The lower vibrational field remains unaware, stuck in a fundamentalist worldview that leaves no room for nuance, diversity, individual growth, and interpretation. It finds expression in fanatical nationalism that inevitably dehumanizes everyone who is not of the same tribe and belief.

We have seen the phenomenon throughout history in the pogroms against Jews, Huguenots, Armenians, and the religious wars between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland. Mass psychosis gripped an entire population in Germany during the Nazi era. Currently, we are experiencing a dangerous resurgence of 19th-century nationalism in several countries.

Taming the wolf within is one of the greatest stories of St. Francis of Assisi. Feeding the wolf with peace, kindness, and love is moving into the higher vibrational field.

The great 14-century Mystic Meister Eckart said: “If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.”  Like Eckhart, most of the early medieval Mystics saw God in all creation, only to find themselves being persecuted and tried for heresy by the religious leaders bent on imposing an external belief based on fear and control.

Nature and landscape thrive in solitude

Self-estrangement could only be overcome by going into solitude and inner silence. God, he taught, could only be discovered in the total presence of the here-and-now. It is why the green and blue spaces of nature have such healing powers. Nature and landscape thrive on silence. Modern man is literally terrified of silence because of his disconnect from nature and soul. He has to constantly surround himself with the drumbeat of electronics to banish natural silence.

Meister Eckhart defined the spark within as authentic soul nature, the core essence of one’s being. The story of Jesus casting out the merchants and traders from the Temple of Jerusalem with the words: “It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves,” is a parable to stand guard at the doorway of one’s soul. Eckart defines the inner Temple as a divine space.

Training the mind and the intellect to be discerning is the antidote during a time when the truth is veiled by a public narrative intent on fueling the negative.

When humanity is entering the season of winter it is also an opportunity for reflection and realignment. It is an opportunity to strengthen your inner resolve and resilience. I’m inviting you to join our 42-Day Walking Challenge starting tomorrow. Register today for the Challenge in our Mastermind Group.

Starting on 11th May we will be walking at least 8,000 steps per day, practicing a daily gratitude journal, and choosing a personal challenge. It is a great opportunity to reframe and reset!

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

One more thing...If you have found this article interesting you might want to read more in my books that can be ordered at all places that sell good books in both paperback and kindle.

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Building resilience during tough times

You might be one of the many people currently feeling overwhelmed by the war images from Ukraine or the fears associated with the pandemic. It’s a general feeling of helplessness when external circumstances out of your control impact the quality of your life.

Stress always starts with a thought. During these times it’s more important than ever to build a bubble of resilience against the pull of negative distractions from the external world. We cannot individually change external events but we can control how we react to them.

Byron Katie has a wonderful method of how we discern between our business and someone else’s business. She writes:

“Whose business is it if an earthquake happens? God’s business.

Whose business is it if your neighbor down the street has an ugly lawn? Your neighbor’s business.

Whose business is it if you are angry at your neighbor down the street because he has an ugly lawn? Your business.”

What if your neighbour is abusing a child? It’s your business because you know about an injustice. You have the responsibility by calling the police. If Russia invades a sovereign country and committing war crimes we should rightly be outraged. We can support governments imposing sanctions against Moscow.

You should not be unaware of what is happening in the external world. You must care and do something, like donating or volunteering for a charity helping the Ukrainian refugees. It is what humanity is all about. At the same time, you should be aware of what is happening to your emotional state when the dosage of negative news media is taking up a large portion of your day or your thoughts.

A person said to me the other day, that he couldn’t with a good conscience go to a music concert while aware that people are suffering in a war. Should I enjoy myself while other people are suffering? Am I allowed to create a “feel good” bubble around myself?

Yes, you certainly should and must. If you want to help others and help change the world, you can and should look after yourself and do things that improve your vibrational energy. If you have a strong and resilient mind and body, you will have the strength to be proactive.

You can change the world

On a collective level we can change the world if we can get more individuals to elevate themselves to higher consciousness. These are the individuals who see their time on earth as a valuable serving contribution.

How you respond emotionally to external circumstances depends on how well you are aligned on a mental and physical level. Are you being pulled out of your space by an incident that then ruins your day? Are you feeling constantly fatigued and in need of recuperation?

Setting healthy boundaries and building a bubble are crucial in boosting your resilience. But it takes practice. Research has shown that once you get started on building positive habits and keep at it for at least six weeks, the chance of success is very much higher.

As you are a regular subscriber to my weekly Blog I’m inviting you to participate in a 42-day challenge, starting on 11th May to 21st June.

  • Walking at least 8000 steps or six kilometers each day.
  • Writing down at least three positive things for which you are truly grateful during the past 24 hours
  • Choose one more positive habit of personal choice. (This can be anything from a ten-minute meditation each day, abstaining from alcohol or processed foods, or reading at least three good self-help books)

Why walk each day?

Just taking a walk is one of the easiest ways of boosting your mental and physical health. You don’t need an instructor or have to go to the gym. Moderate exercise of at least 8,000 steps per day reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke, you will lose body fat and increase your muscle strength and overall vitality. You might find yourself also feeling better emotionally and finding creative solutions to problem-solving. Some of the world’s greatest artists, musicians, and writers got their best inspiration while walking. You can read how I got addicted to walking and the many positive lessons learned while walking in my latest book: Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul.

Practising a gratitude ritual

Reframing your mind from a negative to a positive emotional state mostly starts in the morning soon after getting up. If you have had a bad dream or have slept badly it’s important to remember what good things are happening to you at the same time. Life is never only black and white. Sometimes you simply don’t see the good things happening in your life because you have been programmed with negativity and find yourself in a spiral of negative self-talk. Keeping a gratitude journal by writing down the three most positive things that happened to you during the past 24 hours does wonders.

There are not many people who are willing to commit and hold themselves accountable. If you are one of these special individuals, and I believe that you are, then I invite you to participate in this Challenge. It costs nothing except your willingness to commit.

All you have to do is apply to join my special private Mastermind Facebook Group: Living to Be.

You will be doing your training in your own time but all of us motivating each other to do this practice every day, will make this Challenge so much easier.

One more thing: At the end of this challenge we will be choosing five winners from all participants. They will be granted full FREE access to all my online courses on Mastermind.com worth over 1000 dollars (950 € or 795 pounds).

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

P.S. If you have a friend or family member who might find this challenge interesting, please feel free to share this Challenge with them. By practicing self-care you are helping to heal not only yourself but others and the world around you.

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Happiness is building strong relationships

People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges.”
— Joseph F. Newton Men

Nature is our greatest healer and our greatest teacher. When immersing in the natural world the senses awaken and go into synchronicity. From observing a bee pollinating a flower to mushrooms growing in the special moisture of soil in a shady forest, every living thing is interconnected.

God or the universe find expression in nature and we are one part and inextricably bound to its structure and underlying order. Ancient cultures were well aware of the divine within, seeing the sacred in landscape features, plants, and animals. Modern man’s disconnect from the soul nature and the spiritual has come with rapid urbanization and the disconnect from nature.

The mental health crisis that modern culture is currently experiencing can in part be attributed to the broken relationship with the self, estrangement from the community, and a “relational” crisis on all levels.

Narcissism contradicts the essence of human nature

Our culture of narcissism contradicts the very essence of human need. It over-emphasizes the needs of the individual over the collective. When we are born, we are completely helpless beings, totally dependent on a nurturing family environment. Our primary family shapes and determines how we think and behave.

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Our beliefs, habits, and actions are shaped by our closest associations and the relationship we have with our immediate surroundings. It is foundational.

The resurgence of nationalism and tribalism, the emphasis on one’s own culture and belonging, while denouncing that of the other is just a perverted expression of the loss of belonging and the disconnect from the higher self that is universal in its humanity.

Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize winner and anti-apartheid activist, explained the African “relational” concept of Ubuntu as the essence of being human.

We are made for complementarity

“It speaks of how my humanity is caught up and bound up inextricably with yours. It says, not as Descartes did, “I think, therefore I am” but rather, “I am because I belong.” I need other human beings in order to be human. The completely self-sufficient human being is subhuman. I can be me only if you are fully you. I am because we are, for we are made for togetherness, for family. We are made for complementarity. We are created for a delicate network of relationships, of interdependence with our fellow human beings, with the rest of creation.”

Bonding with your fellow human being and building your relationships ultimately means that you will live a life of bliss and happiness. The more you adopt the mindset of serving your fellow human being rather than what my friend, parent, employer, government, business association, and marriage partner can give to me the more connected you will begin to feel.

It is a recipe for building resilience against mental and physical exhaustion that we find in job burnout. Typical symptoms of the burnout patient are the complete withdrawal from connection to family members, interaction with colleagues, and participation in community events.

We become stronger and more resilient the more we build the bonds of our associations with those people that give us positive feedback, that nurture us with positive energy, and who care with kindness and love.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

One more thing...If you have found this article interesting you might want to read more in my books that can be ordered at all places that sell good books in both paperback and kindle.

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The power of really listening

“Listening may not be the most exciting part of the conversation, but it’s essential if you want to have a meaningful exchange with another person.” – Tania Israel

When you go with the flow and engage in an active interplay with the universe you will be sculptured into that person you were meant to be on the day you were born.

Yet, attachment to judgments, concepts, beliefs, ideas and habits undoubtedly form the biggest obstacle to personal development and soul elevation.

The renowned Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung once wrote that some of his most difficult patients were the so-called intellectuals, stuck in their rigid rational thinking. If you are unwilling to accept your own shadow, you will be unwilling to move forward.

Just tuning in for a few minutes to some of the world’s popular talk shows is revealing. (I can’t bear watching it for longer) Neither the host nor the participants are really capable of focusing on what the other person has to say. Minds are made-up before the other person has finished speaking and interrupted in mid-sentence.

Playing the tit-for-tat ping-pong game in communication never ends well. We seem to have lost the ability to really engage with our fellow human beings by deep listening. On the personal level, it inevitably leads to misunderstandings and relationship breakdowns. In the public and political arena, the word “consensus” is almost a blasphemy as each side blasts the other from its walled-off information bubble.

The ancient Greeks and the melting pot of ideas

The loudest person in the room seldom has the best answers. Deep listening is only possible if we temporarily remove ourselves from judgment and pre-conceived concepts. It requires a willingness to receive and digest new information – whether pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral.

The ancient Athenians were well aware that democracy rested on a bedrock of a lively exchange of different ideas. Aware that every individual perceived reality in a different way, the truth could only be found in an active exchange of these different ideas and concepts.

Much of the public narrative we see is not interested in exchanging ideas but merely seeking affirmation of existing ideas. It is the recipe for stagnation and the slide into authoritarianism, along the lines: “If you don’t accept my truth you are my enemy.”

Deep listening is learning

The great Buddhist monk Thich Nath Hanh, described deep listening as in essence a process of learning. It is how we listen that is truly transformative. He said in an interview with Oprah:  “Deep listening helps us to recognize the existence of wrong perceptions in the other person and wrong perceptions in us. The other person has wrong perceptions about himself and about us. And we have wrong perceptions about ourselves and the other person. And that is the foundation for violence and conflict and war.”

The whispers from the universe, that guide us on our soul path, often come in most unexpected ways from so-called everyday persons. It could be the janitor, the bus driver, or a casual remark picked up on a train.

Asking powerful questions about the who, the what, how, and when will lead to meaning and possibility and keep a thought process and conversation going. Asking questions puts you in a position of authentic authority.

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Listening leaders make listening to the ideas and inputs of their employees a key part of their leadership strategy. Richard Branson, the billionaire founder of the Virgin Group, summed up his success as a leader with the words: “Listen more than you talk.” 

Real leaders listen in order to form connections and to build trust and respect. It’s so simple but needs to be said, as I experience this often in my workshops and seminars: Stop multi-tasking! Give people your full attention and respect. Look them in the eye and put away your cell phone and laptop.

Autocrats typically cannot listen, surrounding themselves with toadies and sycophants. Inevitably they end up making bad decisions and choices because their leadership style is based on intimidation and fear.

A frightening recent example was Vladimir Putin publicly humiliating his spy chief prior to the invasion of Ukraine. Nobody dared tell him the truth that invading another country was a horrible idea that would ruin Russia’s economy and make it a pariah nation for decades to come.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Unhappiness and the worship of false gods

The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity” – Leo Tolstoy

The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” Pablo Picasso

The famous Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung was once asked by a BBC journalist whether he believed in God. Pausing for a moment, Jung answered: “I don’t need to believe I know.”

While institutionalized religion is essentially a doctrine of what to believe, and how to behave, Jung was referring to experiential spirituality that has been embedded in the collective consciousness of mankind for eons.

Humans have always instinctually felt that there is a creative force within and beyond transcending the self. Derided as a Mystic, Jung is today regarded as a pioneer in bringing together science and religion.

For the Mystics, spirituality cannot be defined as a theology. We all have those precious few moments where we feel a sudden clarity of mind, have an epiphany, or when everything suddenly falls into place. These are rare occasions when consciousness touches authentic soul nature.

When we are disciples in service of the greater good, we will perceive that driving force within that some describe as a real feeling of happiness, contentment, and satisfaction.

Worshipping the false Gods

In the spiritual vacuum of much of our materialistic culture, we are however taught that happiness comes from the worship of things. It is all about HAVING instead of BEING. We are sold an illusion.

Self-worth is defined by what we own and what status we have in society. It is about feeling significant rather than BEING happy. Individualization, personal needs, and wants take precedence over the holistic needs of community and society at large.

We have seen to what extremes individuals took what they perceived as their “personal freedom” during the pandemic and the culture wars over issues such as environmental protection. An entitlement culture will always be at odds with collective responsibility.

The more attention we focus on the external the more disconnected we become from our divine nature within. The “selfie-culture” in the form of self-worship and narcissism inevitably leads to unhappiness, disappointment, and ultimately depression. The ego appetite to be significant, to be seen, and to be heard is insatiable. A preoccupation with the self compares and is never grateful for what is.

There is compelling evidence that the secret of happiness begins when we begin to transmute the needs of self in service of the bigger whole. It is at the root of all the great religions. Matthew 6:21 tells us: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

In Taoist and Buddhist teachings the worship of the 10,000 things is the root cause of unhappiness and one of the biggest obstacles to spiritual transformation. It refers to the human tendency in getting stuck to concepts, thoughts, beliefs, concepts, and idol worship.

Numerous studies have found that when we help and serve others the brain releases happy hormones such as dopamine,  oxytocin, and serotonin. It can help us feel that we are living a meaningful and significant life. Happy hormones counteract the effect of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline that eventually rob the body of energy and cause fatigue.

Life is ultimately spiritual practice that brings consciousness to every moment of daily living, amid all the distractions, complexities, turmoil, and challenges. When we navigate that personal path and go into alignment with the higher self, it is comforting to know that we are protected and guided, that all in the bigger picture has meaning.

There is a prayer or personal mantra I say to myself each day after getting up in the morning. It has been truly transformational to my life in a multitude of ways:

Lord grant that this day may prosper for me. Lord turn from my path all harm. Let this work on earth become thigh heavenly sacrifice. Make me an instrument of thigh will and peace.

Planning and structuring your day is important but at the same time, we have to humbly surrender when external circumstances are out of our control, and adapt accordingly. Sometimes when things don’t go our way it might just be for our own good. The universe could have a different plan and we are blind to the bigger picture.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

One more thing...If you have found this article interesting you might want to read more in my books that can be ordered at all places that sell good books in both paperback and kindle.

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Our so “easily offended” society

During recent travels with long hours spent at airports and in planes, I witnessed several people ranting over the smallest things not going their way. My impresson: We seem to have become a society infected with the “easily offended” bug.

It is not only my subjective impression. The United States Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) has reported that last year was the worst on record for unruly passenger behavior. Admittedly much of it was mask-related but I have seen passengers insulting air hostesses, punching the backs of seats, or verbally abusing fellow passengers.

There appears to be a real decline in basic politeness and respect for the public space with the pandemic-related restrictions only highlighting what has become an increasing problem: The “right” to throw a tantrum and utter verbal abuse no matter what the consequences.

Unfulfilled expectations: The cause of much unhappiness?

We as a society appear to have become less resilient in dealing with unforeseen external circumstances out of our control. Western culture has become so accustomed to its comfortable lifestyle that a minor discomfort is perceived as a massive problem. Compared to previous generations and life in poorer countries we live in unparalleled abundance and luxury. However, the more we have the less appreciative we seem to be.

When we are confronted with a “painful” or uncomfortable situation it can mean one of several things. Person A steps back and says to herself/himself. “I can’t change the situation now. Let’s see how we can go from here.” Person B has had a certain expectation that has been disappointed. He is unable to reflect like person A, and loses control. Unfulfilled expectations from a parent, an employer or a partner could be at the root of the problem.

Ego getting in the way

The person losing control has a certain ego-based image of himself, feeling entitled to a “privileged” treatment based on an illusory image of the self. Person A might have gone through a previous painful experience but dealt with it differently. What did I need to learn from this experience? What event in the past made me feel the same way hurt, embarrassed, helpless, and angry? By momentarily removing himself from the situation, Person A could realign with the wiser higher self.

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What does the Will Smith incident tell us?

The media frenzy unleashed by the actor Will Smith slapping comedian Chris Rock on stage says much about our collective unconsciousness. Smith felt offended because the comedian allegedly insulted his wife in public. In retrospect, it appears Smith’s uncontrolled angry outburst could be related to his childhood trauma when he often witnessed his father insulting and abusing his mother.

But do we have to find excuses for inappropriate behavior? Where do we go as a society if we tolerate and accept abusive, impolite, violent, and disrespectful behavior, even from famous people? If they can do it why can’t I?

Smith’s action was that of an entitled badly-behaved Hollywood megastar, feeling entitled to walk onto a stage, slapping another person, returning to his seat, cursing and shouting, and refusing to leave when asked.

In our media-based world, we take much of our moral cues from what we see and hear on the screen. It is not just two Hollywood celebrities misbehaving whose world is far removed from the average person in the street. What happens in the coming weeks and what consequences and conclusions are drawn from the incident reverberate into society at large.

Feeling offended is so different from having to express”outrage” at what is obviously wrong. While Hollywood was dining and celebrating, Russia continues to bombard, and massacre civilians in Ukraine. Millions of ordinary people’s lives have been completely disrupted because Vladimir Putin felt “offended” by a democratic and sovereign nation on his borders.

If we are incapable of expressing our collective outrage about what Russia is doing to Ukraine and try to intellectualize it like some commentators still do with “the Russian perspective” or with the “neutrality” cop-out, we lose our moral compass. On some issues there just cannot be grey areas. Minor discomforts fade into insignificance if we reflect on the suffering of those millions of people.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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When things start falling apart

Things seldom fall apart suddenly. A leak in the roof of a house will drip by drip gradually weaken the structural walls. A country’s slide into authoritarian rule comes with many small repressive laws. A divorce is preceded by many hurts, insults, and betrayals. A company’s bankruptcy comes after years of poor management and missed opportunities.

Traveling through my home country South Africa during the past few days, I have been wondering how the ruling African National Congress (ANC) government could so utterly lose its moral compass and ruin every major state-run enterprise through corruption and mismanagement.

When Nelson Mandela steered the country to democracy in 1994, South Africa was hailed as an example to the world. A race war was averted. A new “rainbow nation” of diverse cultures was born. Mandela and his compatriots sacrificed their best years in prison for this ideal. I covered the elections of 1994 as a journalist for a major news agency and visited the country again in 1997 and 1998. There was a sense of optimism and euphoria among all race groups. Foreign investment and tourism flourished.

A serving culture is turned upside down

It wasn’t to last. The ANC always had a dark underbelly of hardened ideologues and self-serving opportunists. During the presidency of Jakob Zuma (2009-2018) the ANC elites turned from serving a country to looting a country. Literally, every municipality, hospital, school, postal service, energy supply company, and public transport system run by the ruling party today is malfunctioning, or not working at all.

The rot can be seen in derelict railway lines, potholed roads, collapsing bridges, and lack of basic services in once-pristine rural towns. I was aghast to learn from old friends in my hometown Dundee in the eastern KwaZulu Natal province that the water supply is switched off for most of the day because pumps have not been maintained for years. Electricity outages are almost a daily occurrence.

A culture of entitlement

What is happening in South Africa has its roots in a culture of entitlement that is a growing global phenomenon. Mankind has experienced an exceptional period of material upliftment, luxury, and comfort that previous generations could never have dreamed of. It has, unfortunately, come with a huge cost to the environment, physical and mental health. When a society is indoctrinated with a “happiness recipe” of material gain and immediate gratification, the hangover comes with addiction, depression, and fanaticism in the form of extremist political movements.

Instead of being grateful for what we have, we are constantly comparing ourselves with the happier, wealthier, younger, and more beautiful people we see in the tabloids. Instead of cherishing the present moment the mind constantly wanders to some distant future when we will be happily enjoying life with the million dollars we are earning annually.

A fertile field for dictators and demagogues

The entitlement culture is a fertile field for demagogues of all persuasions. In South Africa, influential politicians are demanding the seizure of private property and farms for redistribution to the poor – in effect meaning redistribution to themselves. Demagogues always find an external enemy to deflect from their own failures. As a result the ANC still enjoys massive support.

In Russia, a majority of people continue to support President Vladimir Putin’s horrific invasion of a sovereign nation. They seem to believe in the prosperity dream of a new Russian empire. In the United States a populist demagogue, calling Putin “smart” and “savvy”, is filling his war chest with donations from millions of supporters still believing that a democratic election was rigged. His chances of again winning the next U.S. presidential election are not unrealistic.

Tunnel vision: the hallmark of an entitlement culture

A hallmark of an entitlement culture is tunnel vision of the ego-mind. When in tunnel vision there is no evolution or progress of mind and spirit. The head-mind or “ego-mind” is caught in a belief. Its mind is made up of what is right and wrong in the world.

Head-Mind is incapable of listening to the alternative argument and will interrupt you before you have finished your sentence. They will tell you that 1+1 = 4. Nothing will persuade them otherwise. Their lives have been taken over by an alternate reality and they will be reaffirming their belief daily with similar believers in social media bubbles. Once entrenched in a tunnel-vision bubble it is virtually impossible to break down the walls the person has surrounded himself with.

What is the solution?

The worst thing you can do is try to convince a person that he or she is wrong. The ego-mind will never admit a mistake. Realization and humility mostly come after a painful process of catharsis. This is a path that only an individual will have to walk. Addiction to an ideology is comparable to the alcohol addict who will only seek help when everything has fallen apart.

The realization might come that a life of bliss is a perception. Material comforts and the satisfaction of basic needs are important elements but will never be a replacement for good health, a sense of purpose and meaning, friendships, and community. We, humans, are innately social beings and spiritual in nature. Where we feel a connection to something larger than the self, nationality, gender, and race, the journey to joy begins.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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One journey ends

The journey is never-ending

This weekend we finally managed to hold the memorial service for my father in South Africa two years after he had passed away in a retirement home at the age of 89. Even after such a time, it felt right to have a ritualized formal closure to remember a life and its final destination.

Dad’s journey through life was at times shaken with the pain of losing loved ones, confronting his own mental winters of depression, and financial challenges. The relationship between fathers and sons has a special dynamic and my relationship with him can be described as difficult at times.

As a young man, I had a problem understanding why Dad’s brothers were dynamic, outspoken, and self-confident men who had built successful businesses and careers while he in contrast preferred to take a backseat role unable to really make decisions, often faraway in thought and not really present during conversations.  He could withdraw for weeks into a moody silence.

It was only in his twilight years that he opened up and it began to dawn that the seeds of depression and nervous breakdown had already been sown in the regimental and bullying educational culture of the 1940s in South Africa, coupled with overly high expectations from his own father.

Having emigrated from South Africa to Europe in 1981, I could only come for sporadic family visits, surprised at his gradual transition to a stoic reflection and meditation on the multitude of lessons that life has to offer. He retained a sharp mental focus until his dying hours that we could witness only by remote with Covid travel bans having taken effect a few days earlier.

The pilgrimage: An analogy of life

Sifting through a few memorabilia and fading photographs my thoughts turned to the Camino. The ancient pilgrimage in northwestern Spain has become a popular modern-day path of self-discovery and spiritual renewal because it is in so many respects an analogy of life.

The pilgrim faces “winter days” of emotional and physical pain. A route and day are carefully planned but inevitably turn out with pleasant and also nasty surprises.

Lesson: Take each day as it comes. It’s necessary to plan but assume that you will have to adapt and change your plan. Accept external circumstances out of your control but control how you react to them.

On the path, you will meet and bond with people in a way as if they were old friends and family. You will share deep experiences and feelings. Some will become lifelong friends, even partners. Others you will never see again and not even know their surnames.

Lesson: The impermanence of life. Some people and family will walk with you for a lifetime. Others only share with you a short chapter but will most likely have left a lasting impression, precious memory, or lesson in self-awareness.

Life is a roller-coaster of spring, summer, autumn, and winter – sometimes even in one day. But when reaching the destination, walking into the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela you experience the immense joy of having accomplished your journey. The cathedral and all its artwork, sculptures, and lighting are an expression of ultimate joy and rebirth. It is not only the joy of the pilgrim having accomplished the journey.

Life is a spiritual journey of meaning and purpose. It is a journey of grace and faith in the truth of an ultimate journey where one day the walls of the physical fall away, leaving just space for the soul that is eternity.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Leadership: The good and the ugly

The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant. —Max DePree

During these times when the images of the horrors of war are constantly troubling our senses, it is so important to remain grounded. Every major crisis at the same time offers opportunities for realignment and change.

What we are seeing before our eyes is a vivid display of two different styles of leadership: One is that which galvanizes forces into positive action and service for the common good. The other is impervious to empathy, rooted in self-aggrandizement and intrinsically destructive.

Evil eventually destroys itself

Malignant narcissists, psychopaths, and highly egotistical individuals are inevitably drawn to leadership positions where they have unhinged control over large groups of people whom they can subjugate and bully into submission. They surround themselves with sycophants because they can’t bear criticism from others questioning their decision-making or authority.

Such authoritarian leaders, who eventually convince themselves that they have been elevated to God-like status by destiny, eventually ruin themselves and the companies, institutions, or nations that they have taken charge of. For, deep inside during those lonely hours at night they are haunted by their own insecurities, fears, and paranoia.

Unsurprisingly everyone that doesn’t toe their line is deemed as the enemy. Those who believe, think, and act differently are seen as enemies, foes, and competitors that need to be destroyed. The first stage is dehumanization by language followed by ever more evil acts of bullying and physical aggression. They ultimately leave a terrain of scorched earth if it serves their own purpose.

Good leadership is one of service

In contrast, the visionary leader sees his or her role primarily in that of service to others. They prioritize the self-development of others in their institution, team, or country. They are constantly aware of their own shortcomings and thus able to delegate, train and transmute their own shadows. Primarily they have the ability to listen, accept advice, admit mistakes, and correct them. They are in acceptance of one of the principles of creation – the chaotic diversity of life, ideas, and cultures.

Photo by Artem Podrez on Pexels.com

Authoritarian leadership is inevitably doomed to failure because the imposition of an individual belief or will is anathema to the chaotic and diverse beauty that calls itself life.

The French poet and novelist Victor Hugo first coined the phrase: “Nothing else in the world…not all the armies…is so powerful as an idea whose time has come.”

Around the globe, we are seeing a collective uprising of millions of people marching on the streets for peace, humanity, democracy, freedom of speech, sovereignty, and simply the right to live the life we are meant to live.

Good leadership as opposed to bad leadership serves the truth and never its own version of reality. During a time where truth becomes blurred by falsity we need wise leadership based on the intrinsic values of a common humanity.

Without fear, no courage. Faith overcomes fear and hope springs eternal. A vision that is of service empowers, strengthens, encourages, and instills peace and joy.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

One more thing...If you have found this article interesting you might want to read more in my books that can be ordered at all places that sell good books in both paperback and kindle.

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