Monthly Archives: April 2022

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.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under mental health, mental-health, Uncategorized

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.

Photo by Kevin Malik on Pexels.com

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

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under mental health, mental-health, Uncategorized

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.

2 Comments

Filed under mental health, mental-health, Uncategorized

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.

Photo by Abbat on Pexels.com

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

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under mental health, mental-health, Uncategorized