Is Greed The Motivator?…

While sitting down for my traditional Sunday morning big breakfast. Thanks Pauline. I came across a book review in our local paper for Raj Patel’s new book “The Value Of Nothing: Why Everything Costs So Much More Than We Think” In his book Mr. Patel shares his knowledge and insight on what’s broken with our free market society and our somewhat skewed priorities.

How many of us realize the true price of our insatiable desire to satisfy our cravings and attainment of more stuff? In his book Mr. Patel uses a $4 hamburger to get his point across. If you look at the actual costs associated with that hamburger, both monetarily and environmentally. To produce it from raising and feeding the cattle, slaughtering and processing the meat the transportation and preparation at the restaurant the bill comes to about $200. This is before the environmental costs are factored in. This example only goes to show, that we tend to know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

With our current economic climate and the ecological crisis, capitalism and our current status quo are in deep trouble. Our priorities are out of sync; there is something wrong when we put our cravings for a hamburger or the purchase of an iPod ahead of the well being of ourselves and our planet.

We live in a time in history when there is more than enough food to feed every person on the planet. And yet, the majority of the people are malnourished, while the minority continues to become more and more obese. What does that say about us and our values? Where did we go wrong? How can we fix it? In one word “Generosity”.

The opposite of consumption isn’t thrift, its generosity. We can no longer continue to put our wants ahead of our needs.

Generosity and kindness are what propel us to a higher level of enlightenment and fulfillment.

We are a happier and healthier when we give, not when we take.

The Power of Forgiveness…

Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in one of the most cruelest prisons in South Africa, not because he was a criminal but because of the color of his skin and his political views that didn’t align with those of the Apartheid status quo.

In prison Mr. Mandela was subjected to a daily dose of verbal and physical abuse and hate in a magnitude that we can only imagine. He was considered no better than a common pest. Mr. Mandela endured this for 27 very long years.

Once being released from prison no one would have blamed him for wanting revenge for what he endured, Mr. Mandela didn’t leave prison with hate and revenge on his mind, he replaced it with love and forgiveness instead. He had made the conscious decision while in prison to forgive.

One of Mr. Mandela’s favorite poems while in prison was “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

How many of us could forgive so easily if we were put through the same horrors as Mr. Mandela? We as a society are so quick to be invidious towards each other. In doing so, we carry around that hate and animosity in our hearts for no one’s good especially our own. Life becomes self centered, self serving and stagnant.

To forgive and to let go is to free ourselves from the chains that bind and cripple us.

We are the masters of our fate…We are the captains of our souls.

By: Master Tim Bell

Our Lost Values…

Where have our manners, respect and empathy for others gone?

It seems that these and many of our other values are in serious jeopardy, with so much of our time and energy spent on keeping up with the status quo, the hours of our day seem to be inadvertently shrinking.

Technology and our love of gadgets have made the world a much smaller place; in turn it has created a huge gap in real human interaction. Many of us have become unsure of how to act and react when faced with an opportunity or an unfamiliar situation. It’s somewhat disturbing how little the words please and thank you are spoken or how little respect and empathy we show not only others but especially ourselves.

The good news is that all is not lost; many of these values are making a strong comeback and are alive and well. Where? You ask.

You can definitely find them at a reputable Martial Arts school, one that teaches and practices character development and teaches good values. You can also hear and see them practiced by a dedicated teacher and role model, and most of all from those who care.

Yes, we all intrinsically have these values, it’s these that make us who we are…Human beings…The problem is that in this day and age we tend to spend very little time exercising and honing them.

You know the old saying “Use it…Or lose it”.

Without values…Life is without value.

By: Master Tim Bell

The miracle of Kindness…

Kindness – A kind act, an act of good will; as, to do a great kindness.

Kindness is an attribute all human possess, but how many of us practice it on a daily basis? My guess is, not as much as we should.

So the question is; why not?  Back in the day before technology and gadgets interrupted our daily lives, human to human interaction was more prevalent and accepted. Kindness flourished, neighbor helped neighbor, communities and neighborhoods rallied in good and in bad times. We practiced and honed kindness.

As technology created less need for direct human interaction, kindness suffered also. We tend to shuffle through our daily lives with little desire for real interaction. The status quo has made us paranoid of letting our guard down or being noticed.

Here’s a case in point. If you ever had the chance to observe the entrance to a shopping mall or a big box store, how many of us take the time to hold the door open for others or even acknowledge the act with a thank you?  And how about when were driving, how many times have we encountered aggressive and uncaring drivers? How many of us are that driver?

Yes ladies and gentlemen, kindness is in danger, but it’s not too late. So where do we start? It starts with us, the individual. We as humans have a strong desire to return the favor when someone shows us kindness; it’s called the theory of reciprocity, the act of paying it forward, so to say.

Kindness feels good, for both the giver and the receiver, it’s a win-win. It’s what makes us human and special.

Try it for yourself today…It’s very contagious.

Kindness…

Zen and the art of breaking a bat…

Is it “Mind over Matter” or “Matter over Mind”? In the case of breaking a wooden baseball bat with a kick, it is without a doubt “Mind over Matter.”

Here’s the skinny on breaking a bat. The average amount of force that a wooden baseball bat can withstand at its weakest point is approximately 5000 lbs. The average amount of force that a martial arts roundhouse kick can generate is 4000 lbs, give or take. The amount of force to break one’s leg is approximately 550 lbs…Yikes! That’s 1000 lbs of force in the difference, and not in a good way.

With this information in hand, logic and reasoning would tell us two things. One, that the bat is impossible to break with a single leg kick, and two, that the kicker would most likely break their leg instead. As we know, history has proven that many a Martial Artist has done so successfully. So the million dollar question is, how did they do it?

We have all heard stories about amazing feats of strength and bravery when the power of the mind is fully engaged. Take for instance the story of the 100 lb mother who picked up the back end of a car to free her trapped child. Wouldn’t this defy all logic, science and reasoning?

No thanks to our prehistoric Lizard Brain (the part of the brain called the amygdala) that when faced with what seems illogical or against the laws of science we tend to over evaluate and under react, our Lizard Brain talks us out of what seems like inevitable failure, it then becomes “Matter over Mind”.

When we are faced with situations that require immediate action, our Lizard Brain is slow to evaluate and the true power of the mind kicks in. We then can experience “Mind over Matter”.  The secret is our ability to quell the Lizard Brain.

I like to use this analogy when I talk to my Taekwondo students. “To be successful in competition and in life, it takes 20% physical strength and ability and 80% mental fortitude and belief.” This holds true for anything in life, whether were breaking a bat or writing a blog.

As Bruce Lee once said “If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.”

Let’s face it; breaking a bat takes nothing more that believing in your abilities and trusting your strengths.

That’s the Zen.

By: Master Tim Bell

Why so Content?…

Contentment“Happiness with ones situation in life.”

Complacency“Satisfied with oneself.”

As a society we seem so content being average, living average lives, working at average jobs and doing average stuff. Is it from being surrounded by average all of our lives or the paralyzing fear of bucking the status quo?

Let’s be honest, being average is easy. It takes very little effort or thought and it creates a veil of stealth like invisibility. The status quo likes average, but is average genuine contentment and complacency? I think not. Contentment and complacency is a state of mind not a final destination.

Not everyone is willing to buck the status quo; it takes courage, vision and the unrelenting desire to succeed. Average folks look at this with distain and bewilderment. Who dares to buck the status quo? They wonder.

As a society we have been conditioned to do only what we have to, no more, no less. Those who do less are considered lazy; those that dare to excel are considered greedy and self serving. This is the status quo’s way of keeping us in line and average.

Unfortunately many of us will always be average; it’s just the way it is. For those of us who choose to be different we are rewarded handsomely in the end for our vision and courage.

If I had chosen to be complacent I would not have had the courage to write this blog post, become a 5th dan blackbelt or open my own Taekwondo School. In having the courage my life and those around me have become much more than just average.

The choice is yours.

By: Master Tim Bell