Tag Archives: buddhism.

This toolkit doesn’t work properly!

What is a toolkit?

Toolkit

In the ‘old days’ a toolkit was considered to be :

” A set of tools to be used for a particular purpose”, or

“A personal set of resources, abilities or skills”

In our modern world we now have the addition of:

“Software designed to perform a specific function, especially to solve a problem”

With either definition I think we can agree that a toolkit is to help us perform a task or solve a problem. The skills we have been learning throughout our life to help us survive our modern world could be considered to be a ‘toolkit’, a set of mental strategies for making our way through life dealing with any hardships or problems that may occur and hopefully having a happy time on the journey.

So just for a bit of fun, here is a teeny questionnaire:

( you wont need a pen and paper!)

1. Your partner/relative/ friend is bad-tempered Angry man

and giving you a hard time, do you:

a) get angry and shout louder than them.

b) phone a friend and complain angrily about the situation

c) slam out of the door and stomp up the stairs.

d) decide they are having a bad day and be calm and patient with them.

2. You have had a piggy day / week and decide you need a coffee and cake treat. The cake, though it looks nice is dry, tasteless and unenjoyable. Do you:

Cakea) buy another, then feel sick after overeating.

b) dwell on your misfortune and feel even more fed up

c) complain loudly to the waitress in no uncertain terms

d) decide you are experiencing some unfortunate Karma and accept patiently.

3. You don’t get the job position you were hoping for. Do you:Hungover

a) feel gutted, miserable, get depressed, have a few too many drinks

b) think of all the reasons why the other person shouldn’t have what you deserved

c) feel very jealous and vow to avoid the other person forever

d) try to develop some good feeling for their good fortune.

Now here’s the scoring:

Answers a) b) c)………………………. Score 0

Answer d)……………………….Score 10 points

Results:

If you scored 0:  you are using the wrong toolkit to enable you to live a happy life.

If you scored 10 or above: you have started to collect the necessary mental tools in your toolkit which will lead you to a happy life.

Explanation:

During our brief lives we become familiar with certain mental traits or behaviours which we think will enable us to succeed in our society and establish the  life we wish to experience, we could call this our ‘mental toolkit’. Continue reading

Happiness and the Little Rag Doll.

Once upon a time there was a little rag doll sitting on a market stall in Ormskirk.

Unknown to the little rag doll there was a family on the train from Liverpool for a day trip to Ormskirk, a mother,father,baby boy and a 6-year-old girl. On these day trips the children were usually allowed to pick a present to take home, so long as it wasn’t too costly.

The little girl fell in love with the rag doll, it had a smiley face and long shiny black plaits, the best plaits the girl had ever seen.

All day the parents asked her to pick another present as the doll was a little more than they wanted to pay, yet the girl could not imagine life without the rag doll. How could she ever be happy without the rag doll? How could she leave it there and go home alone? She felt pain at the very thought of it. She loved this doll, it was all she ever wanted or needed to be happy, forever. Nothing else could ever measure up to this doll, no other present in the whole world would be the same, make her feel so full of love and happiness. She would cuddle it, love it, and her whole life would be filled with joy.

Rag doll

Her parents relented, she took the doll home on the train, amazed at its beauty, its beautiful face and shining black plaits. She didn’t let it out of her sight for some time. Continue reading

Any way the wind blows……Part 2

In Part 1  we looked at our own possible reactions to having an unpredictable teen in our family, and ways in which we could deal with any difficult states of mind, or delusions  we may be experiencing, thereby improving our ability to support our teenager while retaining some degree of sanity!

The Buddhist term ‘delusion’ refers to negative minds such as anger, greed, jealousy, impatience, selfishness and attachment, which destroy our peace and wellbeing. However, positive states of mind such as love, generosity, patience and cherishing others, result only in happiness, both for ourselves and others around us.

It is vital not to label ourself with these negative minds, i.e. we are not inherently an angry person,or an impatient person etc, these are uncontrolled states of mind which arise within us. We know from our own experience that none of these minds are permanent, we may be very angry for a period of time but eventually this subsides. Our mind is like a balloon on the wind which is carried backwards and forwards out of our control, dragging us with it wherever it goes. This is why we can feel happy one minute and then maybe sad or irritable the next.

Balloon in the sky with girl

If we choose to label ourself in any way, we are perceiving ourself as something, that in fact , does not exist. We are not fixed or unchangeable, either physically, mentally, or in any other way . Continue reading

Anyway the wind blows……..Part 1

Are you living with Jekyll and Hyde?

Jekyll and Hyde

If you are the parent of a teenager you would probably agree to this question. Even the gentlest journey through the teenage years can be an unpredictable ride, and for some its like living on “the Big Dipper” (or whatever the scariest rollercoasters are called these days).

A happy smiling teen one minute can turn into a roaring lion the next. Sometimes even the simplest question such as “Hi, how did your day go?”, produces a scowl that tells you “Just don’t go there”.

Communication lines can be intermittent or completely down when things get very icy. Either way your teenagers mood seems to change every time the wind blows. Unpredictable at best ,unmanageable at worst.

We may feel helpless,hurt,impatient or angry. Continue reading

It’s so stressful……

If it’s not one thing it’s another.

Hardly time to draw breath before the next onslaught. One problem solved (maybe), another arises. You feel backed into a corner, you feel overwhelmed, and you feel so stressed. Stressed Does this sound familiar? Stress or anxiety in some form or another are becoming more commonplace in the daily lives of millions of modern people. We attribute our stress to various types of external conditions and situations, often overwhelmed with an inability to reduce or eliminate it, feeling helpless in the face of adversity. But think again…………….. Continue reading

How can I love this monster?

“Do I really hate my own child?

What kind of obnoxious person am I, that I could possibly even think this way?”

If your T.T. (troubled teen) is now making an appearance as T.T. (terrifying teen) you may genuinely be living on the edge of your coping skills, verbally abused by somebody who is now taller and stronger than you, and is literally ‘in your face’, pulling themselves up to their full height, puffing out their chest and shouting just 15cm away from your face.

There may even be a threat of physical abuse thrown in for good measure.

Scary Hoodie

For anyone who hasn’t experienced this, it is just as frightening as if a stranger had walked in off the street.

This is a stranger, you don’t know this person anymore, they are an unknown quantity bearing no resemblance to your (ex) fluffy bundle of joy, yet you have to calmly stand your ground and maintain control of the situation. It can be like living with a monster. Continue reading

He did WHAT ??! …………….. ( Part 1)

Phone rings……………………

“Hello this is Secondary High Grammar School here, we just thought we ought to let you know your son / daughter has been …………….”

“Oh No! Surely not, they wouldn’t do that” (would they?)

“Afraid so, they did admit it in the heads office”

The first sign that your cherub may be turning into a troubled teen (T.T.) may be heralded by the start of a series of phone calls from school.
(Of course this may not be the first time, we may have already experienced this in primary school, in which case we are now about to enjoy Series 2, which is likely to have twice as many episodes now hormones have kicked in.)

Shock! Horror! Embarrassment! Shame!

You can hardly believe it. (Sick feeling in stomach). You didn’t bring them up to behave in this way. This bears no relation to the values you taught them. How could they possibly do this?
Just wait until they get through that door tonight…….. Continue reading

Money can’t buy me …………..happiness?

“But I really need that one!”

“This is the only chance I’ll get, I have to go!”

“I can’t possibly manage without….”

Your ex-cherub has hit puberty and demands are increasing. There are things they must have and must do to have any semblance of happiness in their life, or so they would like to make us believe – as they demonstrate their wrath when the desired answer is not forthcoming.

After all, as far as they’re concerned, we brought them into this world, they didn’t ask to be born (haven’t we all heard that one?), so therefore it is our responsibility to provide everything they think they need to be happy. With a spot of emotional blackmail they even have us thinking that we can’t be happy if we’re not successful in making them happy!

But have you noticed, , all the things we provided so far to make them happy, haven’t worked too well, as now they need something else to be happy – so that didn’t last did it?

Messy room

Come to think of it, we’re pretty much the same ourselves aren’t we? Even if we don’t realize it, advertising agencies know it already. They constantly try to sell us happiness in the guise of cars, phones, furniture, washing powder, fizzy drinks, hair dye, face cream, perfume…the list is endless. Continue reading

Gimme a break!

Your heartbeat is rising, chest pounding, jaw clenched tight, head about to explode, then a torrent of words leaves your mouth so quickly you forget to breathe, and what was it you just said anyway?

There’s never a minutes peace; you work all day, do the school run, try to referee the kids while doing the supermarket shop, home to the kitchen to put the shopping away, make tea and make tomorrows packed lunches, eat, wash-up and then……….STILL no peace!

Sound familiar? You must be a stressed out mum or dad. Don’t you just feel there isn’t enough of you to go around, totally drained by everybody? Your mind is splintered; permanently multi-tasking, even in your sleep.

imagesCA5ZK2A9

You need to ‘regroup’, get yourself back together, stabilize your mind. Continue reading

Enter stage left: setting the scene.

The first few seconds of parenthood must be different for everybody, for me it seemed truly miraculous. Not only was I meeting the little person who had been safely tucked away for 9 months (and a bit extra, every one, obviously far too comfortable by far!) but I seriously never believed any human could experience that much pain, yet still be alive. But like parenthood, childbirth is a very individual experience. (I’m sure the babies themselves would agree.)

Luckily for me, my three full term babies were all healthy and perfectly formed, despite having suffered previous miscarriages.
New baby

How perfect they were! Completely different, yet each completely perfect. Snuggled up in their little sleepsuits, warm and cuddly with that distinct baby smell. All my senses were totally intoxicated….that is until the highs of new motherhood were replaced a few weeks later with lack of sleep, exhaustion and another erratic turn in the hormone situation.Obviously I had the karma to enjoy the benefits of three children who didn’t believe in a full nights sleep until they were about 1-year-old.

Yet still I was totally attached to this new appearance of a permanently perfect being in my life.

How proud is a new parent? Isn’t our baby better than any other baby in the world? Aren’t they going to remain that way permanently, for ever? We just know that they will be bright, happy and perfectly behaved. We love them so much, they will love us back in return and never do anything to disappoint us, never get in trouble, never be disruptive, and certainly never hurt us. Hindsight is a marvellous thing, what unrealistic expectations we can have! (more coming later)

Once we step through the door into parenthood our lives become an emotional rollercoaster…………….. Continue reading