Evan Dwan News Blog

Information, tools, and resources for transforming your life

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Can’t find what your looking for… Just ask

I hope that you find in the news blog below information that will help you. If not and you’re looking for specific advice, please do not hesitate to contact me. I am always happy to share information and thoughts on a specific subject that my readers find useful. Of course I never reference any personal information within my news stories so total confidentiality is assured.

Wired for love: Our greatest resource

One day a man said to God, “God, I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like.” God showed the man two doors. Inside the first one, in the middle of the room, was a large round table with a large pot of stew. It smelled delicious and made the man’s mouth water,...

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The archetypes: Meeting the gods within

“Each of us contains within us the whole Olympian pantheon” Edward Edinger The Greek pantheon, writes Edinger, the immortal ones, are fundamental presences that inhabit the collective unconscious of humankind. These are the archetypes. An archetype is a typical...

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Love and care: The core of human well-being

An old myth tells the story of a time when ‘care’ was crossing a river and she saw some clay. She picked it up, and slowly began to shape it. While contemplating the beauty of what she had made, Jupiter came by and ‘care’ asked him to give it spirit, which he gladly...

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The anger/ RAGE system

At the end of the Trojan war, the victorious Greek soldiers sacked the city of Troy. They had spent the last ten years at war and unleashed all their rage and frustration upon what remained of Troy. Dispensing with moderation, they acted deplorably. This enraged the...

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Jason and the golden fleece: answering the call of crisis

Jason’s father was the King of Thebes, but one day, his own brother, Pelias, took the throne from him and threw him in prison. Pelias challenged Jason to find the famous Golden Fleece and bring it back to him. If he succeeded the King would return the crown to the...

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The story of the self: Creating coherence out of chaos

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light...

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An emotional education: Needs, feelings and behaviour

The other evening, I was walking in the mountains. It was late in the day and the sun was shining in a slanted way, making the whole world look lovely. Great greens and browns filled the hills and valleys. The air was still, the land quiet. No wind stirred, the only...

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Shifting into the ‘right mode’

“The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself” ― Henry Miller In the brain, it is the right hemisphere that is involved in the perception of anything new or...

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Wisdom: knowledge for living

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” - Confucius Two women come to King Solomon both claiming to be the mother of the same child....

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Seeking wisdom: The great traditions

Where is the wisdom we have Lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information? T.S. Eliot A university professor went to visit a famous Zen master. While the master quietly served tea, the professor talked about Zen. The master poured the visitor's...

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Activating the SEEKING system: The basis of well-being

“We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time. Through the unknown, remembered gate When the last of earth left to discover Is that which was the beginning; At the source...

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Wisdom and folly: The myth of Daedalus and Icarus

Many years ago, the island of Crete was ruled by the cruel King Minos. One day he summoned to the island a famous inventor called Daedalus, who brought with him his son, Icarus, to do a job for the King. Minos had the inventor build a great palace for him, within...

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Seeing the whole: Thinking in systems

“In a real sense all life is inter-related. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and...

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The challenge of crises: What to change

Crises confront us at every level in life – as individuals, groups, teams, organisations, nations, even the earth itself. In his book, upheaval, Jared Diamond notes that crisis, whether for individuals or collectives, arise either out of internal or external...

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Learning from literature: Ulysses, wisdom and virtue

“You were not born to be a teacher, I think. Perhaps I am wrong” “A learner rather”, Stephen said. “And here what will you learn more?” Mr Deasy shook his head. “Who knows?” he said. “To learn one must be humble. But life is the great teacher.” - James Joyce, Ulysses...

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The beginnings of wisdom

“Applicants for wisdom do what I have done: inquire within” ― Heraclitus, Fragments A jailor brought Socrates the cocktail of Hemlock. He calmly drank his poison. Surrounded by his disciples, the philosopher posed his final questions. “Will a true lover of wisdom, who...

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Odysseus: The man of many ways

Many years ago, there was a siege of a city called Troy. Odysseus was a Greek prince and the king of an island on the west coast of Greece, called Ithaca. Upon hearing news of the war, the wise Odysseus realised that the war would be long and destructive and was...

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Understanding anxiety in the context of the Covid-crisis

These are strange and difficult times we are living through. With the spread of the ‘Covid-crisis’, our lives have been turned upside-down and a lot of our supports have been taken away. We humans like routines because what we know feels safe because it is familiar....

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What is the meaning of myth?

“The latest incarnation of Oedipus, the continued romance of Beauty and the Beast, stand this afternoon on the corner of 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue, waiting for the traffic light to change.” ― Joseph Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces The world is made of...

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The princess and the golden ball: The coming crisis

One day a princess is playing with her beloved golden ball in the palace gardens, throwing the ball high in the air, watching it sparkle in the sun, until it become a second sun itself. She gazes upon the movements of her prized possession, until out of the sky the...

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Learning from literature: Poetry for perspective

Perspective refers to the ability to take stock of life and see the big picture, in order to make sense of oneself and others. Throughout history literature has traditionally been a vehicle that has been used to develop multiple, broader and wider perspectives on...

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Lives that teach: Biography as pedagogy

All stories have the potential to hold wisdom that can offer us instruction on how to live. This holds true not just for the myths and the great works of literature, but also for the stories of great lives. The following is the story of the life of a great poet, who...

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Stories that teach: cautionary tales

Myths and folk tales can be understood as the repositories of the wisdom of the people. Folktales often grew out of times of crisis and upheaval, a therapeutic endeavour to help people make sense of and integrate extreme experiences. A function of story is the it...

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Bildungsroman: Stories of transformation

"One of the best ways to start answering questions such as “who am I?” and “what can I do in the world?” is to read books." - Meg Rosoff A bildungsroman is a genre of story-telling that is educative in nature. Popularised as a ‘coming of age’ story such stories the...

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Poem: Body unborn

Body unborn Pulled, like the seas, wandering like the wind. the mind moves in many different directions. I search for my voice; Buried - In breast, bone, blood. The body holds words that long to be born.

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The pursuit and practice of wisdom

“Happy are those who find wisdom… She is more precious that jewels, and nothing you desire can compare With her… Get wisdom, get insight: do not forget”. - Book of proverbs "After a long, hard climb up a mountain a group of seekers found themselves in front of a great...

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Servant-leadership: Bringing out the best in others

In Journey to the East Herman Hesse tells the mythical story of a group of men who travel to the east in search of spiritual renewal. Leo is the servant of the group who does the chores for the other travellers but also, through his positive spirit and singing, lifts...

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The art of attention and the transformation of the trivial

“it’s not the large things that send a man to the madhouse…it’s the continuing series of small tragedies…a shoelace that snaps with no time left … The dread of life is that swarm of trivialities that can kill quicker than cancer and which are always there” Charles...

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On the nature of good work

What is good work? It is in our nature as human beings that we are both active and social. We are active in so far as we are designed to perform certain functions. We can move, manipulate, make things, communicate. We have agency, the ability to effect and change the...

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Practice: Following the out-breath into awareness

Follow each out-breath and connect with a sense of letting go. Notice where the out-breath is moving to. Then pause, for a moment, in the silence between the out-breath and the next in breath. You can try this for 2-3 breaths, or longer if you like. What do you notice?

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Presence practice: Inhabiting the hands

In this practice we will shift the centre of experience from the head to the hands which will help facilitate a greater sense of calm and equanimity. Begin by holding your hands out in front of you and practice seeing your hands. Notice all the detail – colour, shape,...

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Practising presence: Where am I?

When we get lost in the midst of daily activity, we can come back to ourselves, to the soothing space of our own presence, at any time. A useful entry point is simply asking: ‘Where am I right now?’ This question serves a double purpose. We begin to notice our...

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To do what needs doing…to do the right thing

“Just that you do the right thing. The rest doesn't matter. Cold or warm. Tired or well-rested. Despised or honoured. Dying...or busy with other assignments. Because dying, too, is one of our assignments in life. There as well: "To do what needs doing." Look inward.”...

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Change and impermanence

“Don't let the true nature of anything elude you. Before long, all existing things will be transformed, to rise like smoke (assuming all things become one), or be dispersed in fragments...when jarred, unavoidably, by circumstances, revert at once to yourself, and...

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Mindshift: A new way of seeing and being

This exercise is designed to create a sense of ease and well-being by altering the lens through which we look at the world. You can do this sitting or moving when you are not directly engaged in any other task. Practice Begin by simply noticing the way you see the...

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Self-inquiry: Who am I in the space between two thoughts?

Who are you in the space between two thoughts? Our conceptual mind creates the idea of a self – a solid, stable, separate entity at the centre of our experience. But when we investigate and look a little closer this self is elusive and hard to find. Where is the self...

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What’s the most important thing?

Success, in any endeavour, is predicated on our capacity to recognise the most important thing and to be mindful of this fact as we move forward. By remembering the most important thing in any situation we are less likely to deviate, lose direction, or get lost and...

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The practice and pursuit of excellence

Excellence is the quality of being outstanding or extremely good at something. Often excellence can be framed in elitist terms, something reserved only for the very best in any field. However, it might be more helpful to think of excellence in personal terms, in terms...

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Contemplative inquiry: Content to context part 2

Our attention is drawn towards objects in the world rather than the space in which objects arise. The same is true in the mind. We notice the traffic in the mind (thoughts, emotions, sensations), rather than the road on which the traffic is moving (awareness). When we...

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Contemplative inquiry: Shifting from content to context

We can create a shift in awareness by moving from the contents of consciousness to consciousness itself. Or put another way, moving from content to context. The contents are the objects that we are aware of, while the context is the space in which the contents are...

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Contemplative inquiry: What am I aware of?

The internal landscape, or mindscape, is made up of many different contents of consciousness: thoughts, images, desires, memories, sensations, feelings, emotions. In any moment we can explore these internal phenomena by turning the light of awareness inwards and...

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Choosing to express the best that is within you

When facing into any situation one thing always lies within our control: How, or rather, who, we want to be. What happens in our lives is not always within our control but how we respond always is. We always get to choose the values we embody and express. Reflection...

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Authentic expression of your unique life force

Martha Graham writes about the creative nature of each individual life: “There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never...

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The practice of passion

“The glory of God is man fully alive” – St. Irenaeus What is the nature of passion, vitality, joy and aliveness? How can we cultivate these qualities in our lives? Passion can be understood as a strong liking, desire or devotion to a particular activity, object or...

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Creating portals of possibility

The sense of possibility is one of the most enlivening experiences we can have. Possibility is potentiality, prospect, hope. The open-ended, uncertain nature of life allows for possibility…to be possible! The future is unwritten, unknown, in which new things can...

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Faith, trust and confidence: Foundations for living

Faith is a sense of complete confidence or trust in someone or something. The story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer illustrates the power of the strength of faith, and shows how strong faith can develop deep courage. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran pastor who was born in...

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Miracle on the Hudson: Values and strengths in action

Here is a story about strengths and resilience in action: On January 15, 2009, US airways flight 1549 took off from New York heading to Charlotte, North Carolina. Shortly after take-off, Captain Chelsey Sullenberger (known as ‘Sully’) radioed air traffic control to...

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Parts of a whole – Interdependence and interconnection

The world is not made up of separate parts that together make up a whole, but rather, a whole that is made up of different parts that are related to and interact with each other. Interdependence means that two or more people or things are dependent on each other to...

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Seeing obstacles as opportunities to exercise strengths

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” ― Helen Keller Suffering becomes beautiful when anyone bears great calamities with...

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Practising courage in the face of fear

There was once a man who was terrified of his own shadow and lived in fear of the sound of his own footsteps. Walking along one day he entered a panic and tried to flee at top speed. But as fast as he ran, his shadow and footsteps kept up with him and made him run all...

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Living the questions: The key to a meaningful life

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live...

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Practicing perseverance and getting gritty

“Itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout Down came the rain And washed the spider out Out came the sun and dried up all the rain And the itsy bitsy spider went up the spout again.” Grit is courage and resolve, or strength of character. Persistence means to...

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What is the value of a human life?

What is the value and meaning of a human life? Does it lie in longevity? In achievement? Pleasure? Success? Does the value of our lives lie in the amount of happy or enjoyable moments we have? Does it lie in what we create or generate (Art, children, career)? Our...

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Acts of care and compassionate contribution

One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean. Approaching the boy, he asked, “What are you doing?” The youth replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is...

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Cultivating hope and optimism

“Hope” is the thing with feathers - That perches in the soul - And sings the tune without the words - And never stops - at all -   And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard - And sore must be the storm - That could abash the little Bird That kept so many warm -...

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Aristotle and eudaimonia: Unfolding from within

‘‘If happiness is activity in accordance with virtue, it is reasonable that it should be in accordance with the highest virtue; and this will be that of the best thing in us.’’ – Aristotle Joar Vitterso writes that the exercise of virtues, or what is often termed...

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Feelings, meanings, and the inner landscape in education

We live in an emotionally-phobic society. There is a deep distrust and fear of feeling and emotion, such that this essential aspect of our humanity is largely left out of social, educational and organisational life. When someone asks how you are do you reply honestly?...

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The educative power of presence

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ― Maya Angelou The most important element that we bring to any human endeavour or interaction is the quality of our own...

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Nature-fulfilment theory: The pursuit of human excellence

Abraham Maslow describes the aim of a humanistic education as self-actualisation, or, another way of understanding this much used but often misunderstood concept, becoming fully human. This means “the development of the fullest height that the human species can stand...

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Identity and purpose: The essentials of education

In a society that puts such value on efficiency and productivity we are often quite resistant to the practice of deep contemplation, specifically contemplating the why of things, questioning the reasons that we do what we do. Why(!) is this? Why questions are...

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Integration: The essence of health

How does a system thrive and flourish? What makes a system healthy? A folktale from the Philippines tells of a large family that lived in a large palm tree house. One day the different members of the family began to argue about who was the most important member. Soon...

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The making of meaningful moments

“I sat, a solitary man, In a crowded London shop, An open book and empty cup On the marble table-top. While on the shop and street I gazed My body of a sudden blazed; And twenty minutes more or less It seemed, so great my happiness, That I was blessed and could...

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The art of attention: How we create our experience

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” ― Albert Einstein Whether we experience our life as a miracle or not depends on the way in which we attend to our lives. What we pay...

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The cosmic perspective and the unity of life

"All I know is I was stunned in a way that was completely unexpected. It was overwhelmingly impressive — beyond anything I’d heard from my colleagues who’ve flown before. We just can’t describe it, you know? When you go to different places here on Earth and experience...

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Facing the wild animals of the inner jungle

The Inner Workings The inner working of a human being is like a jungle.  Sometimes wolves dominate. Sometimes wild hogs. Be wary when you breathe. At one moment gentle, generous qualities, pass from one nature to another. The next moment vicious qualities move in...

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The mismatch between modern societies and ancient brains

In his book, The social neuroscience of education, Louis Cozolino describes the brain as a ‘social organ’ that has evolved “to be linked to and learn from other brains in the context of emotionally significant relationships…the brain has evolved to learn within a...

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Sifting into the internal landscape

The art of resilience is learning to access and effectively use resources available to us when needed. In order to act resiliently and resourcefully we must first be in touch with what is happening so that we know what we need in each moment. We can be so busy that we...

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Invitational education: Engaging the imagination

What if we were to structure society and our education systems to conform to human needs rather than the other way around? What if we let the individual direct their own educational activity? The sad reality is that before children go to school, they are alive,...

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Education for vocation: Cultivating purpose in the young

If we were to design an educational system from scratch what would we design it for? What aims and purposes would we have? What might we hope to ‘draw out’ in the young? What kind of person would we seek to create? When thinking of education, I think it is important...

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Cultivating equanimity: Meditating on transcience

'Once upon a time there lived a man named Freddie, a wise leader, who, in spite of his great wisdom, often struggled with emotional highs and lows. Freddie was prone to periods of great elation where he would make very poor decisions, and periods of great despair...

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Resourcing yourself in the face of challenge

In 1989 during the international Antarctic exhibition, six men spent nine months crossing the Antarctic. Two days before the expedition ended, they hit a blizzard. While they were camped Keizo Funatsu went out to feed his huskies. He was one of world’s great experts...

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Our greatest gift: The path to purpose

Rumi has a beautiful passage on meaning and purpose: "There is one thing in this world you must never forget to do. If you forget everything else and not this, there's nothing to worry about, but if you remember everything else and forget this, then you will have done...

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Practice: Seek and savour

This practice is designed to increase positive emotion and deepen resilience by cultivating curiosity and experiencing pleasure. This can be done at any time in any place. In the first step we ‘prime our mind’ to seek out some positive experience. In doing so we are...

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Communicating is creating: Transforming foes into friends

Reflections (A wisdom story) Once upon a time, a Russian peasant went to visit Moscow, the big city. He arrived at its fanciest hotel. His boots were covered with mud, his clothing was torn, and his appearance was dishevelled. Despite all this, the clerk at the hotel...

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The cultivation of the peak experience

“I sat, a solitary man, In a crowded London shop, An open book and empty cup On the marble table-top. While on the shop and street I gazed My body of a sudden blazed; And twenty minutes more or less It seemed, so great my happiness, That I was blessed and could...

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The perception of possibility

A story is told of a group of blind men who heard that a strange animal, called an elephant, had been brought to the town, but none of them were aware of its shape and form. Out of curiosity, they said: "We must inspect and know it by touch, of which we are capable"....

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The mind is a place of its own: from problems to paradise

There is middle eastern story about a man who is very unhappy because his family are oppressing him. His wife constantly torments him. His children annoy and hassle him. He feels hard done by and thinks it is time he went away in search of heaven. After searching for...

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The danger of denial

'One evening, as Mulla Nasruddin was setting out to call on some of his friends, an old friend happened to come along. It was twenty years since they had seen each other. Both were beside themselves with joy. “It is ages since we met.” said Nasruddin. “I am so very...

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Independence and authenticity: To thine own self be true

One of Chuang Tzu's stories recounts the following: 'Chuang Tzu was one day fishing, when the Prince of Ch'u sent two high officials to interview him, saying that his Highness would be glad of Chuang Tzu's assistance in the administration of his government. The latter...

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