Tag Archives: lifestyle

How are you starting your day?

Integrating positive habits into your daily life very much determines the difference between managing your life or letting others take control. Calibrating yourself positively just after getting up in the morning can keep you on a higher energy frequency for most of the day.

We have those days when we wake up with a certain emotion such as melancholy sadness, fear, anger or anxiety, often triggered by a dream. A toxic emotion can also be triggered by reading a news item on your smartphone or watching the news while still half asleep. It then sets the tone for the rest of the day.

Humans are naturally attracted to negativity

It is easy to become subsumed by negativity because it is all around us. Mass media feeds on the notion of humans who are naturally attracted to negative news. It is part of our survival instinct. By heeding the information from a lonely wanderer that he had seen robbers in the woods we were able to avoid danger by taking a different route. Access to certain information could decide between life and death.

Reasserting control

How do you reassert control in an age where we are literally drowning in information while the mind is starving from lack of wisdom?

Calibrating the start of your day with a positive habit such as meditation, prayer, or gratitude ritual makes a huge difference to how your day will be. Think of three positive things for which you can be truly grateful before you go to bed at night and after waking up in the morning. I also like reading a positive quote or spiritual text that can act as an anchor if things start getting a bit overwhelming later in the day.

A body routine such as a few basic yoga, qi gong, or pilates exercise will vastly improve your energy level. I personally like to start with the tree posture aligning with heaven and earth before doing some stretchings and going through my tai chi form – which is an excellent slow-moving meditation.

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Emotional shifting

Emotional shifting is a method whereby you lift yourself from a negative emotional state to a positive emotion. If you are angry the first step is just accepting that you are angry. The next step is then to replace that angry feeling with the opposite feeling which would be love and acceptance.

Think of anything in your life where you have felt that deep fulfilling complete joy of unconditional love. You will immediately feel a different energy. You can also use the tapping method to transmute a negative emotion into a positive emotion.

How about fear and anxiety? The opposite energy is courage, faith, and trust. Focus on conscious breathing, inhaling, and exhaling through the nose. Inhaling I feel that fear and anxiety. Exhaling I have faith and trust.

You can find out more here on my walking, breathing and other online training exercises.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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Walking into health and well-being

Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”

Henry David Thoreau

With most of us spending many hours a day glued to screens, going outdoors and taking a walk in nature is one of the easiest most simple ways of maintaining your physical and mental health, according to a growing body of research.

What avid walkers have known all along is being confirmed by science. Walking in the green and blue spaces of nature is healing on multiple levels.

Trees emit airborne chemicals, called phytoncides, used to protect themselves from insects. As we breathe in these phytoncides, our bodies respond by increasing the number and activity of a particular kind of white blood cell, called natural killer (NK) cells.

The term forest bathing or shinrin-yoku became popular in Japan in the 1980s. It is basically immersing or meditating in nature. Against the background of the increasing number of people with subhealth the Japanese researchers found that shinrin-yoku not only brings people with subhealth a healthy lifestyle but also offers complementary therapies to the sick. Subhealth is described as a condition between health and disease.

In the United States researchers monitored the intimate connection of trees to our physical health after the emerald ash borer decimated over a million trees in 15 states between 1990-2007. Less tree cover was linked to over 6,000 deaths from respiratory disease.

Stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol weaken the body’s natural defense systems, making it susceptible to cardiovascular and other diseases. By spending time in the green and blue spaces of nature you can reduce those stress hormones in your body significantly.

We can interact directly with nature by opening our senses to the sound of bird song, the aroma of herbs and plants, the rushing waters of a creek, or simply meditating on the beauty of a flower.

The British Psychological Society has studied the benefits of outdoor therapy, especially for care workers. Stabilization, mindfulness, and other sensory exercises like walking while paying attention to the five senses have been found to be particularly beneficial when compared to indoor therapy sessions.

We easily become disconnected from the natural world by spending most of our lives in offices and consuming digital media. This inevitably leads to a sedentary lifestyle. Coupled with lack of exercise, a poor diet of processed food and stress the modern lifestyle is exceptionally unhealthy. Average longevity has increased over the years but few people are asking the question about the quality of life. Typical metabolism diseases linked to lifestyle such as diabetes 2, obesity, cardiac disease, cancer, dementia and alzheimer are on the increase in most industrial nations.

How much low-impact exercise do we need per day?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends at least 10,000 steps per day to reach a minimum fitness level. Most people working in office jobs are very far from reaching this target. Typically people working in a Call Center walk less than 1,500 steps per day. Studies conducted by the German Sport University in Cologne found that a low impact exercise programe for adolescents suffering from depression had a significantly positive effect on their mental state and reduced the risk of them suffering from depression later in life.

As the poet, artist and writer Jay Woodman said: “When you truly sing, you sing yourself free. When you truly dance, you dance yourself free. When you walk in the mountains or swim in the sea, again, you set yourself free.”

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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The absent father and male mental health crisis

The latest mass shooting in the United States by a young male suspect in Buffalo, New York, again throws the spotlight on hate crime, and fanaticism. It is necessary to talk about how children, especially boys, grow up and what needs to be done to give them more emotional, psychological, and spiritual stability.

Criminologists Michael Gottfredson and Travis Hirschi, found the absence of fathers to be one of the most powerful predictors of crimes. The lack of social bonds and the absence of the “father figure” as a role model for sons, providing structure, authority, and discipline are attributed as some of the key attributes lacking in violent youth.

Researchers Dr. Warren Farrell and John Gray, authors of “The Boy Crisis”, postulate that boys who grow up with an absent father or who don’t have a healthy relationship with their fathers lack a role model for healthy masculinity.

The “purpose void” and ultramasculine role models

Boys’ old senses of purpose, being a warrior, a leader, or a sole breadwinner, are fading. Many bright boys are experiencing a “purpose void”, feeling alienated, withdrawn, and addicted to immediate gratification. Compounding this issue are addicting video games that lead to distraction and ADHD, according to Farrell and Gray.

As boys become young men, their suicide rates go from equal to girls to six times that of young women! Girls seem to outperform boys at every level from education to job performance.

In some cases, these boys then seek ultramasculine role models, feeling empowered by arming themselves with weapons and joining almost exclusively male extremist groups.

These young men appear to be especially drawn to demagogic macho role models offering simple solutions to their own feelings of inadequacy and discontent. Religious minorities, immigrants, or different race groups are targeted. An idealized, orderly state of the past is recalled. A dystopian future lies waiting, ruled by a “fatherly” figurehead in a reborn patriarchy.

How do we confront this poisoning of the mind?

It has to be said that many single mothers bravely and with much personal sacrifice manage to raise healthy, successful, and caring sons. But we do need to look at why most violent crime is committed by men. In the United States, more than nine times as many men (5,037,000) as women (581,000) had ever at one time been incarcerated in a prison. Men also experienced higher victimization rates than females for all types of violent crime.

It takes a village …

The African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child”, highlights the role of family and community in shaping the life of a child. A Swahili proverb takes a similar vein:  “Whomsoever is not taught by the mother will be taught with the world.”

It has always been one of the most challenging tasks to raise a child. It is why in traditional African culture this was always seen as a communal responsibility. In our modern cultures the single mother is left without a support structure, having to deal with the double burden of raising a child and earning a living. Apart from the Nordic and some European nations little to no support is provided by the state in terms of pre-school child care and education. Governments fail to realize that the long-term social costs are much higher than providing adequate child support in the first place.

Stress resilience and mental health are built in those strong communities where children are not only bonded to the primary family but to an extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and close friends. It’s where children learn social skills and values from role models who find sense of purpose in serving something greater than short-term self-gratification.

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Individual needs versus social and community needs

Our culture has lost its way in over-emphasizing individual needs over the needs of the community and society at large. It’s part of the spiritual disconnect where pseudo-religious groups are replacing institutional religion in the form of extremist political tribes.

From the perspective of the tribal bubble, anyone who looks, believes, and dresses differently is perceived as a threat. Dehumanizing all those who are different is a hallmark of all extremist, religious, and nationalist groupings. The threshold to taking a gun and shooting those who are different becomes very thin, because empathy is felt only to members of one’s own tribe.

Where there is a spiritual connection there is an understanding of purpose. Love is experienced as unconditional and the basis of all life. God is life and God finds expression in nature.

Nobel peace prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu is quoted as saying: “Instead of separation and division, all distinctions make for a rich diversity to be celebrated for the sake of the unity that underlies them. We are different so that we can know our need of one another.”

God’s garden has never been homogeneous stagnation. It is one of beauty inhabited by diverse species, cultures, colors, religions, and beliefs in constant interaction, and interdependence with each other. We define and grow our values, heritage, and culture in a dynamic exchange between opposites. You just need to study nature in order to understand your higher calling.

Experiential spirituality is learning to understand the deeper meaning of self and how your life and purpose is inextricably intertwined with that of the larger whole. True happiness and contentment is found within, undestanding who you are, and emanating that core authenticity outwardly in kindness, love and tolerance.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

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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.

Photo by Andres Ayrton on Pexels.com

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

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 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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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

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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Thought about death today?

The Dalai Lama once said that what surprised him the most about the human condition was that “Man sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.

And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

Confronting our mortality is anathema in our western culture. We don’t talk about it and when a loved one passes we are expected to “get over it” and function again as soon as possible.

Cultural icons are expected to stay forever young. The dying are outsourced to hospitals and hospices and the dead are buried in well-manicured cemeteries far-off the beaten track.

Confronting mortality head-on

One of the multiple reasons for our mental health crisis and addiction epidemic is that we don’t confront our mortality head-on, compare ourselves with the Jones’ next door, and hope to live the “happy” life one day when we retire, when we get rich, when we find the perfect partner when we have that luxury car or that beautiful home.

There is a reason why the people in the small southeast Asian country of Bhutan are regarded as the happiest and most contented people in the world. Like in the world of our ancestors, death is part of everyday reality.

The Buddhist country encourages its people to think about death for at least a few minutes each day. Paintings, artwork, and house decorations often feature death. Funerals are an elaborate three-week event where the dead body is kept in the home before being slowly cremated over fragrant juniper trees in front of hundreds of friends and relatives.

Photo by Ming Zimik on Pexels.com

In Bhutan, death is merely seen as a transition to another dimension. The spiritual disconnect in our western culture has left no place for death or the ritual of death. I’ve had my fair share of loved family members and friends who have died during the past three years, jolting me back to reality and the age-old question: What are you doing with the rest of the days left in your life?

Because death is the big elephant in the room, we succumb to collective hysteria and grief when a well-known personality suddenly dies.

The University of Oxford Centre for Suicide Research found that the overall suicide rate in England and Wales rose by 17 percent in the four weeks after Lady Diana’s funeral in September 1997, compared with the average reported for that period in the four previous years.

A review of these patients’ case notes suggested that the influence of Princess Diana’s death was largely through “amplification of personal losses and exacerbation of existing distress.”

Talking about the human condition

We need to talk about the human condition, about death, our mortality, and that life at some point ends the way we know it. My passion is to help people improve their lives to such an extent that they have the vitality and energy to live out the life that they are meant to live.

Are you living the life you are destined to live?

Are you merely existing or living the life that you are destined to live? Are you stuck in a job or relationship that depletes most of your energy? Are you waiting for that day to arrive when you can finally start living?

Procrastination and fear is the biggest obstacle to the elevation of consciousness and spiritual growth. When you are doing things that are in alignment with your soul destiny you will, to quote Rumi, feel a river moving in you with joy.

If you are interested in diving deeper into the topic of goal setting, experiential spirituality, and an accountability coaching partner please contact me for a scheduled zoom chat and free get-to-know session.

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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