Tag Archives: happiness

Why We Should Not Take Things Personally

Miguel Ruiz in his THE FOUR AGREEMENTS has a lot to say about not taking things personally (TTP) and I have found his explanation immensely helpful. (Btw, This was originally a comment I wrote today on a column about not taking things personally at Psych Central.)

The first thing is to realize and understand that each person, while we are all part of a greater humanity, sees the world from his or her own perspective, the point of view that is utterly individual and conditioned by everything that has happened to that person. We see ourselves in one way, as the Center of our own world and point of view (how could it be otherwise?) but the fact is that others see us differently, because to them we are just a player on the stage of their own drama. When for example I might say to someone, “I love you” and mean it, that person, because of their history and life narrative, could hear it with many other feelings attached, and not hear my simple words as warm and sincere! Say that person had experienced the words “I love you” as a way for a someone to “manipulate them” or even to con them into doing what they did not want? Perhaps then the person I said “I love you” to will experience my words as dishonest, or a preface to a con, or just as manipulative. That does not mean ANYthing about my intent or my words themselves; it just says that for the other person, such words to them are unwanted because he or she had a life history where they were spoken dishonestly or manipulatively. That person’s view point is different from mine, as is everyone else’s and i cannot control either what or how they feel, or their reaction or perception of me and the world.

As a bit player on everyone else’s stage, where they are of course their own “star,” the “I” that I know, that is to say me as that player in their stage, is seen from their point of view and colored or discolored by their personal drama. Of course it is necessary to remember that everyone or mostly everyone is also taking what I say personally, but from a point of view I can neither control nor truly understand, because I am not that person! If they hear my “I love you” as a threat, does it help me or the situation to take their response personally? Of course not. I know I meant the words honestly but I also know that whatever they “heard” is not under my control.

More important though is the necessity (if we want to live happily and in peace in this world) not to take others’ words or behaviors personally even when they are “intended to be personal” ! This is not easy, because as the captain of our own ships, the star of the universe of our own perceptions, we hear and see all from the viewpoint of our dramas too. However, even such an “intentionally hurtful” remark, such as, “You are so stupid!”does not need to be taken as insulting or personal in any way. In fact, I would ask how it helps the situation if we do!

If instead of reacting from the POV that hears an insult, we take that NVC pause that marshall Rosenberg talks about, we could analyse the statement about being stupid and realize that even the intent to be hurtful is neither hurtful nor “personal”. The words, “you are so stupid” have in fact nothing to do with me, but everything to do with the other person’s history, drama, and point of view. What they perceive of me comes from this and I cannot control them or their feelings. Maybe yes, they are just having a bad day, or maybe their words come from a reaction to something they heard or perceived in the past. Or maybe what I did, from their point of view, felt to them somehow “stupid.” I cannot know. I can only know that it will never help me live a happier or more fulfilling life if I get insulted and yell back because I believe they “should” not have said those words. If on the other hand I use NVC to understand that the “you are so stupid” has NOTHING at all to do with reality, but was derived from their POV alone, I can ask myself (and even them) about it without feeling rancor or insulted…

The thing is to inquire whether TTP contributes to life’s value and happiness, which I am convinced it does not.

I am sure I have not done justice here to either Ruiz’ THE FOUR AGREEMENTS, or to Rosenberg’s NVC, but I try to live life without TTP, without taking things personally, because doing so has made me happier, easier to be with, and more productive and creative. What better argument for this than that not taking anything personally makes life, as Rosenberg liked to say, “more wonderful “?

My best to you all,

phoebe

Rashid Taha: French Algerian Protest Singer/Songwriter Says “Bonjour”!

* Thanks and a hug to my new and dear friend in Iraq, Sami, for my introduction to some wonderful new music, from the one who wears glasses and has a big grin:  8D

Lyrics of “Bonjour”:

Hello Kitty, Bonjour violente femme

Bonjour Grace Kelly, Bonjour madame

Hello Superman, Bonjour solitaire

Bonjour tous les jours tout l’envers

[…]

Ola l’amour, Bonjour la fontaine

Bonjour le dernier, Bonjour la graine

Bonjour sur les fesses, Bonjour la neige

Ola le systeme, Bonjour le revers

[…]

Hello Kitty, Bonjour violente femme

Bonjour Grace Kelly, Bonjour madame

Ola l’amour, Bonjour la fontaine

Bonjour le dernier, Bonjour la graine

[…]

Bonjour, Bonjour, Bonjour, Bonjour, Bonjour…

Hello Kitty, Bonjour violent femme

[…]

Bonjour Grace Kelly, Bonjour madame

[…]

Hello Superman, Bonjour solitaire

[…]

Bonjour tous les jours, tout l’envers

[…]

Ola l’amour, Bonjour la fontaine

[…]

Ola le systme, Bonjour le revers…

By the way, the following is Google’s English version, for which I take absolument aucun credit! i.e. I take no credit for it whatsoever…)

“Hello Hello violent woman

Grace Kelly, Hello Hello Mrs.

Superman, lonely Hello

Hello every day to all

[…]

Ola love, the fountain

Hello Hello last Hello

Hello seed on the buttocks,

Hello snow Ola the system,

the reverse Hi

[…]

Hello Kitty, Hello Hello violent woman

Grace Kelly, Mrs.

Ola Hello love, the fountain Hello

Hello latter Hello seed

[…]

Hello, Hello, Hello, Hello, Hello …

Hello Kitty, Hello violent woman

[…]

Grace Kelly Hello, Bonjour madame

[…]

Hello Superman, lonely Hello

[…]

Hello every day, all to

[.. .]

Ola love Hello fountain

[…]

Ola system, Hello setback”

From original article in RFI Musique 2009

________________

Rachid Taha says “bonjour”

A protest singer never dies

 

http://www.rfimusique.com/musiqueen/articles/119/article_8289.asp

Paris

09/11/2009 –

Globe-trotting rocker Rachid Taha has been flying back and forth between Paris and New York, making his eighth album with Bowie’s old producer Mark Plati. Bonjour is an album full of sparky guitars and positive vibes, the fruit of a spontaneous collaboration with Louise Attaque frontman Gaëtan Roussel. Taha, who plays L’Olympia in Paris on 10 November, talks to RFI Musique about the genesis of his new album and his thoughts on the government’s immigration policies.


RFI Musique: Why such a simple, naïve album title like Bonjour?
Rachid Taha: I called my album Bonjour – “hello” – because people have more or less stopped going round saying “hello” to one another. Even when they do say “hello”, it’s a purely functional greeting, it rarely comes from the heart. People in France are always rushing up to kiss one another on the cheek, but it’s a purely formal gesture that lacks any real depth or generosity. What I’m trying to do is reinstate “bonjour” to its rightful status, make the exchange of “hellos” a gesture full of warmth and human kindness. I want “hellos” to last and to mean something, like when you say “hello” in Africa and you take the time to talk about what’s going on in the village, what’s happening with friends and people you’ve loved who’ve disappeared, what’s going on with the kids…

How did you come up with the idea of working with Gaëtan Roussel?
I was having a few drinks in a bar in Ménilmontant! And I got to thinking about the song Bonjour. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I asked Gaëtan if he’d write a French version of the song while I wrote one in Arabic. At the end of the day, I preferred his version so we kept that and I added my lyrics. Everything happened so smoothly that I thought “OK, maybe we should take this collaboration a bit further now?” It was a question of feeling really, the right vibe passed between us and that’s how Gaëtan ended up acting as a sort of producer on the album.

Do you think Gaëtan Roussel added a new edge to your sound?
Yes, he did and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to work with him in the first place. I spent many years collaborating with Steve Hillage and then I felt the need to change tack and move on to something different. I loved the work Gaëtan did for Alain Bashung and that’s basically what I wanted from him. I was looking to him to inject a breath of fresh air, a lightness of touch, a bit of a country vibe. I wanted Bonjour to sound a bit like the sort of folk album made by Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley or Ry Cooder. I’m a big Ry Cooder fan!

You recorded part of your new album in New York with Mark Plati who took care of mixing and arrangements. What did he add to your sound?
Mark’s worked with a lot of people over the years like David Bowie, Alain Bashung and Les Rita Mitsouko… I’d say he introduced a bit of an urban rock feel on certain tracks. It was thanks to Gaëtan that we ended up in the studio with Mark and it was a brilliant experience. I’m really into the idea of travelling and exchanging ideas with people. I believe you have to reach out and look elsewhere if you want to vary your sound. I’m not into the idea of putting out the same album over and over again. Music’s like food in that respect – I’d never dream of eating the same thing every day. I don’t want to make myself sick or turn anyone else’s stomach by churning out the same old thing time after time!

On This is an Arabian Song, you and Bruno Maman sing “N’oublie jamais”(Never forget.) Never forget what?
Never forget the world’s problems. Never forget wars, genocide, poverty, misery, never forget the past… I’m not into the idea of nostalgia but I think it’s important to take responsibility for the world. You have to take responsibility for your behaviour towards others. And you have to be aware of the past. It’s only by reaching down to your roots that you can stand tall like a tree.

Where do you stand on the current debate about French national identity launched by the French immigration minister Eric Besson?
It takes me back 25 years, back to the time I recorded Douce France… The thing is the young generation are much more tolerant now than they were in the eighties. Everyone’s got Moroccan, Algerian, Portuguese and Senegalese friends these days. Why does a minister like Besson have to go round stoking up old hatreds if he isn’t trying to win National Front votes before the next election? Funnily enough it was Besson who revived the idea of DNA testing to crack down on immigration. That man is not living in the real world or he wouldn’t come up with such hypocritical solutions. And to think he was once a Socialist!

Bonjour

Rachid Taha Bonjour (Barclay) 2009
In concert at L’Olympia, Paris, 10 November 2009.


Fleur  de la Haye

Translation : Julie  Street

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Happiness is….

You know what they say, that happiness is not to be found in how much money you have or in the things you own or can buy, nor even in how many friends surround you or how many people love you. The poem about Richard Cory, upon which Simon and Garfunkel (remember them?) based a once well-known song, just about says it all:

RICHARD CORY

By Edwin Arlington Robinson

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean-favoured and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
“Good Morning!” and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich, yes, richer than a king,
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine — we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked and waited for the light,
And went without the meat and cursed the bread,
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet in his head.

We all know it’s true, both the cautionary tale of Richard Cory, and that money doesn’t buy happiness. At least we know it with the left sides of our brains. Alas, this is still the side that does the intellectual calculations of how many friends or about the nice car we’ll need to have before we will finally be happy. And if we didn’t know it before, all we have to do is listen to the news because nearly every week it seems there is yet another story about a celebrity who seemed to have it all – money, beauty, acclaim, adoring fans – who ended up destroying himself on drugs and alcohol or who committed suicide (“no one had any idea she was so depressed…”) at the height of her career.

But if money and things and friends who love you don’t offer a path to happiness, what does? Is there a map, a guide, an instruction manual, a recipe? One look at the number of books on the market purporting to teach you how to be happy tells me there are lots of people making lots of money trying to tell you they have the secret. And given the number of books they sell, an awful lot of people out there are desperate enough to spring for them. If you have bought any of these books and found their secrets to be The Secret, or even to be one effective secret that worked for you, I would love to hear about it. Truly, I am not being sarcastic. I am a writer, and I believe that writers are for the most part sincere. Not all of them, mind you, but most of them. And so when a writer writes a book promising happiness, I believe that he or she probably believes it. I just don’t happen to think most of  it ends up being effective.

But maybe it’s me, I dunno.

Let me explain. I have had many, many struggles with self-acceptance and self-regard over my lifetime (I am 58 years old at this writing, so you can see that I am far from young) and I assure you that I am far from winning the battle. My self-esteem is very low. So low in fact that I hesitate to say more… But at any rate, when I say my self, I mean my inner self, my soul, my – well, whatever it is that one might want to distinguish from the “self-that-produces,” the working self. What I mean is, I know that I write well, and I am learning to become a better artist as the days go on. But those skills have not fundamentally affected my self-esteem, only my level of confidence. And there’s a big difference between the two. I have a lot more confidence in my abilities than I did years ago, partly due to greater skill and long experience – though only in my writing — and partly due to caring less what others think, because there is less at stake at my age. My self-esteem on the other hand remains utterly unconnected to this, and largely unaffected by it. Whether or not I love or utterly despise myself has little or no bearing at all on whether or not I am able to write or paint or draw well. All it might do is affect what I write well or paint or draw about.

And I can be proud of my poem or essay or my drawing, proud of what I produced, without that having the least effect on how much I fundamentally love or hate myself.

But, and here is the thing: I do not believe that hating or loving yourself matters in the search for happiness. Or at any rate, it is not the sine qua non, the primary requirement before you can be happy. In fact, I think in the happiness department, self-regard is over-rated. It is not that I want other people to feel badly about themselves so much as that oddly enough     I think it has little to do with whether or not one can find happiness.

Maybe I should amend the word happiness to contentment. I do not like the first word all that much, as it smacks of little yellow smilie faces and balloons and other inanities. Happiness is decidedly not inane, but our emphasis on the importance of it has made it seem so. Contentment as a word and concept has been all but forgotten in the rush towards the seemingly bigger motherlode of happiness.

So let’s switch gears and say that we are on the search for contentment, which also is not found in money or friends or in being loved by others. So where do I think you can find contentment? (Clearly I write this with my own agenda in mind…why else write it at all?)

I think contentment – indeed, even happiness – does come from within, and it starts with forgiveness.

Forgiveness? Why that of all things, you ask? It seems like so many other emotions and “emotional acts” should be more important – like loving yourself and others and being compassionate etc. But I assure you that without forgiveness, you can have and be and do none of those.

Kindness and generosity were always supreme values to me, even when I was a child. It hurt me inside to see anyone going without something that I had it in my power to give them. But it was many years before I understood that forgiveness was also a crucial value, that it not only partakes of both compassion and generosity but presupposes both. Not only is forgiveness an act of kindness but it is freely given and therefore an act of extreme generosity. You cannot force forgiveness any more than you can force a “sincere apology” despite what our parents might have thought when they made us “say you are sorry and you better sound like you mean it.”

Okay, so forgiveness is critical for contentment, maybe, but forgive what or whom? And why? First of all, everyone is scarred by their pasts, everyone has baggage from childhood. In fact, while some people had more than less happy childhoods, everyone has bad memories that they cannot shake, that have stayed with them and in effect traumatized them.  Second, scars are simply an unavoidable fact of life. You can’t get through life without them, and childhood I’m afraid is a rough and tumble place where you pick up the bulk of them. Three, who “caused” our childhoods, for most of us? Answer: our parents, or whoever took the place of our parents. That is why our first job is to forgive them. I’m serious, and while we are at it, we have to forgive childhood itself, all of it. It doesn’t matter what happened, or how terrible, it really doesn’t. If you do not forgive it, if you do not forgive everything that happened to you, you cannot let your childhood go and get on with the present, which is where happiness, where contentment lies. Contentment is not in the past, that much we know, and no one knows a single thing about the future. But if you cannot forgive the past, and especially the childhood where you got all those scars you carry around now, you will never move beyond it to experience an undefiled present.

Look, I believe that forgiveness comes from inside the brain, but heals a place in the brain we like to call the heart. And I believe that forgiveness is more healing for the person who forgives than the forgiven. So I wish you could forgive all those people who harmed you too. All the people, relatives, friends, lovers, rapists, molesters, thiefs, betrayers and more…because I truly believe it would be good for you and for your heart. But I think it is essential at a minimum if you want to be happy to forgive your childhood, the entire experience of it, not the individuals or the single events, just the fact that you were a child and had to go through it. Once you can forgive it, you see, you can let it go just as it has and be gone.

After you have forgiven your parents or parent-stand-ins, and your childhood, you are well on your way. Many people would say that this is a step towards self-acceptance here, and that is how you reach happiness, but whether it is or not, is not important to me. In some ways, self-acceptance is not what I am after so much as acceptance of the world, both of the past and of the present. And when I say “acceptance” I mean such utter acceptance of it that you can forgive it. Because only when you can forgive, so I believe, can you really accept the world. And when you can accept and forgive the world both past and present, then you can be happy.

( I realize that I have put my poem below on this blog before, but clearly it belongs here, though it is for a second time. And dang, I do not understand why this program will not allow me to get it single spaced!)

TO FORGIVE IS…

to begin

and there is so much to forgive:

for one, your parents, one and two,

out of whose dim haphazard coupling

you sprang forth roaring, indignantly alive.

For this, whatever else followed,

innocent and guilty, forgive them.

If it is day, forgive the sun

its white radiance blinding the eye;

forgive also the moon for dragging the tides,

for her secrets, her half heart of darkness;

whatever the season, forgive it its various

assaults — floods, gales, storms

of ice — and forgive its changing;

for its vanishing act, stealing what you love

and what you hate, indifferent,

forgive time; and likewise forgive

its fickle consort, memory, which fades

the photographs of all you can’t remember;

forgive forgetting, which is chaste

and kinder than you know;

forgive your age and the age you were

when happiness was afire in your blood

and joy sang hymns in the trees;

forgive, too, those trees, which have died;

and forgive death for taking them,

inexorable as God; then forgive God

His terrible grandeur, His unspeakable

Name; forgive, too, the poor devil

for a celestial fall no worse than your own.

When you have forgiven whatever is of earth,

of sky, of water, whatever is named,

whatever remains nameless,

forgive, finally, your own sorry self,

clothed in temporary flesh,

the breath and blood of you

already dying.

Dying, forgiven, now you begin.