Elder Wisdom: Learning from the perspectives of our tribal elders

Elder Wisdom As knowledge and experience crystallizes across our lifetimes, surely the very old have profound lessons to teach the young; lessons which may be overlooked in a youth-obsessed culture. Journalist Jane E. Brody write that the lessons may not be learned in time and this is why we have speed dating inexorably followed by speed-marriages. Young people fuelled by the oxygen of their parents’ ambition rather than their own, dive headlong into unfulfilling careers and are then spat out confused and unsettled in midlife. Maybe we need to get better at passing the wisdom of our elders to our youth- which harks back to a simpler way of life before the information age. Two recently-published books touch strongly on this theme, the first of which I will discuss is by Karl Pillemer, a gerontologist and professor of human development (Cornell University). His book “30 Lessons for Living” (Hudson Street Press) relays practical advice from over 1,000 older Americans of different economic, educational and occupational backgrounds who were interviewed as part of the Cornell Legacy Project (check out: http://www.legacyproject.human.cornell.edu). Here is a summary of their most striking observations on life: MARRIAGE While romantic love draws couples together, the most satisfying and enduring marriages occur when partners are fundamentally similar and share the same basic values and goals. These relationships are characterised by abiding friendship, an ability to communicate, a willingness to give and take, and a commitment to the institution of marriage as well as to each other. This sentiment echoes the advice of the Dalai Lama on the same subject. The true lesson from the older generation is that our young are giving up too easily, too soon. ON CAREERS Without question, happiness does not stem from working hard to making money or possessions. The consensus was expressed by an 83-year-old former athlete who had worked for years...

Ignite Your Creativity

There is a misconception that only a select few have been gifted with a steady flow of creative genius. However, this is untrue, creativity is an essential component of the human psyche. Arguably, we would not have progressed so far as a species without it. However, like your biceps and pectorals, our creative muscles need to be exercised in order to produce consistent and excellent results. If you don’t practice harnessing creative thought processes, then your imagination will begin to atrophy. So how do you unleash your creative powers? The first approach to master is that of the human leech. That doesn’t mean sucking the blood out of every living being you encounter! What we are advocating is that you should imbibe as much knowledge and learning as you can find from every source imaginable. There are the obvious outlets such as books and the internet, but also the facts you glean from conversations with friends and new acquaintances, the observations you form yourself, and the information coded in the lyrics of music and the scripts of motion pictures. In fact, there is a plethora of information out here to colour your existence and feed your hunger for new knowledge. Jimi Hendrix, the legendary rock guitarist, used to visit a vast array of gigs, sometimes to hear very lowly musicians. He would say that even the worst band would be worth hearing even if they only did one thing that he could reproduce. Just hearing other musicians would spark off his creative processes. So the question is now directed at you: what ignites your creativity? Creativity is not a magical bequest, it has to be practised and worked at every day. Even a lowly activity such as doodling is highly creative. Although you may not draw now, maybe you used to scribble on your exercise book at school during...

How To Be Happy: Finding Your Way Through Life’s Road Map

How to be happy: throughout our lives In many ways life is indeed like a roadmap, the paths we follow may be long or short, smooth or rocky, crooked or straight. We approach many crossroads, for example we may choose to follow the libertine life of the single person or marry and walk hand in hand with love. There are paths that lead to fame and glory on one hand, or isolation and poverty on the other. There are roads to happiness as there are roads to sadness, paths towards victory and jubilation, and those leading us to defeat and disappointment. Perhaps one of the most significant and perplexing moments in our lives is to encounter one of these crossroads. We have limited foreknowledge as these are paths we have yet to tread and yet we realise the significance of our decisions, even at a young age. Psychologists have found that those who live to extreme old age are characterised by a flexible approach to life, they “roll with the punches”. Conversely, those who have a rigid approach often find themselves unable to cope if they mistakenly head down one of life’s cul de sacs. Yes, there are times when we need to turn back in life. We must also strive to relinquish any expectation of guarantees. To fulfil your destiny you need to embrace uncertainty and stop trying to exert total control over the future. This experience is akin to accepting that the routes of life contain many sharp bends and times when we cannot see the road ahead. On many occasions, we simply do not know where the road will take us until we take it. We need to apply faith as we can only control some of the outcomes in our lives. Loving someone with all your heart does not guarantee that your love will be...

Self Improvement: Your Launchpad for Success In 10 Steps

Self improvement carries with it inevitable risks and failures. But it is the way we deal with these failures that determines our ultimate success. There is a wonderful saying that sometimes our greatest experiences begin with not getting what we wanted.  Knock backs, bad results, and failures can become our greatest teachers because they allow us to recalibrate. Let us look now at some of the ways in which we can develop ourselves through our experiences. 1. Think of yourself as a success. If you do this, other people will begin to see you as a successful person. This is a process akin to what motivational-guru Jack Canfield, author of “the success principles”, refers to as “acting as if”. If you take on the appearance, the mantle, of a champion, if you walk as a champion would walk, interact with others as a champion would do, then you are already becoming a champion thus paving the way for your ultimate success. 2. When you see successful, glamorous individuals on the television what is your first impression? Do you feel self pity or a desire to improve yourself? For the choice is yours. The aim of self improvement is not to become a replica of another person, but to become the best possible version of you. 3. If you meet somebody who has low self-esteem, try to avoid becoming submerged in their negativity. Instead, try and lift them up; empower them. To take advantage of a weaker person is not a sign of strength. In fact, meeting a negative or damaged person is actually a challenge. When you feel that your own confidence and energy is not diminished by such encounters then you have reached a meritorious state and it becomes easier to give freely to others. 4. Think of the world as a large classroom. You are here to...

Positive Mental Attitude: 6 Ways To Change Your Life For The Better

How to Build A Positive Mental Attitude In this article we will consider some techniques that have been used with great success to increase the positivity in people’s lives. To accomplish this goal I want you to imagine that you are playing dodge ball. Every element of your life, be it those around you or obstacles that you face, has become a ball which can be thrown at you. Imagine developing your mental and emotional agility to avoid the onslaught of these dodge balls: Dodge Ball #1: Negative Work Environment Avoid environments where people believe in the “zero sum” game. This means a belief that for me to win, you have to lose. While it may have helped our ancestors to view competition in this way (and this is why some of us still do it), it is an approach which denies the truth that we can, in most situations, co-operate with each other and all gain. So avoid unhealthy competition. Dodge Ball #2: Negative People In his best-selling manual, The Success Principles, award-winning self-improvement author Jack Canfield described his early experience of teaching in a school: The majority of the teachers in the staff room were part of what he called the “ain’t it awful” club and spent their days recriminating, disparaging, and dismissing. In short there was a terrible climate of negativity which was infectious. To avoid this he found a small group of positive teachers who met outside the staff room and supported each other in an affirmative way. The lesson is that you will eventually become like the people you surround yourself with. Dodge Ball #3: Past Experience Past experience can be a force for good or evil in your life. If we learn its lessons, accept its beauty, and then let go of it, then we will become stronger and more effective human beings....

Leadership Styles

Leadership styles exposed… Throughout the ages much has been written about leadership: rules, pointers, styles, and biographies. How do we distil this wealth of information into a handful of simple truths? Are there underlying principles that describe the behaviour of all leaders? This article attempts to answer these questions by summarising research in the field of leadership. 1. Leaders come in a variety of different “flavours”. You will probably encounter many different types of leader in your lifetime. Formal leaders are those we elect into positions or offices of power such as parliamentarians, senators, congressmen, councillors, and presidents. Informal leaders are those who we look up to by virtue of their wisdom and experience. Examples include our own grandparents, or the elders of a tribe. Informal leaders may also emerge by virtue of their expertise and contribution to a given field: for example Albert Einstein in the field of theoretical physics, or Leonardo da Vinci in the field of the art. Both types of leader practice a combination of leadership styles which have been classified in various ways: Lewin’s established three essential leadership styles: authoritative, participative, and delegative. Likert’s four styles included in their number exploitive authoritative, benevolent authoritative, consultative, and participative. Goleman’s six emotional leadership styles are: visionary, coaching, affiliative, democratic, pacesetting, and commanding. 2. Leadership is a process of becoming. Although certain individuals appear to be born with innate leadership qualities, without the right environment and exposure, they may fail to develop their full potential. Like learning how to ride a bicycle, you can also learn how to become a leader and thereby hone your leadership abilities. Knowledge on leadership theories and skills may be formally gained by enrolling in leadership seminars, workshops, and conferences. Daily social interactions provide ample opportunity to observe and practice leadership theories. Together, formal and informal learning will help you gain leadership...
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