A reflection on Chapter 5 of our shared dream

“Orgasm is not a crime”

“Whenever I am about to fall into the trap of judging people, opening the floodgates of anger, I often think of what Usa told me that day, ‘Keep appreciating strengths. What else is there?’ “

I have often thought of the advice of Usa, “Keep appreciating strengths. What else is there?” Well, what else is there? Is Usa saying that weaknesses don’t exist? Is she saying that there is no merit in considering weaknesses? I have learned enough to know that whatever Usa says is worth thinking hard about.

If I were to recommend a book from 2016, it would be ‘I contain multitudes’ by Ed Yong. It opened my eyes to the microbes that live inside of us and the influence that they have on us. You will be amazed. In the book, Ed challenges our traditional view that microbes are bad and our immune system is there to protect us these bad things. The book shows that there is a much richer way to think about our immune system. He says, “The immune system’s main function is to manage our relationships with our resident microbes. It is more about balance and good management than defence and destruction.”

Another way of saying this is that, “There is no such thing as a good microbe or a bad microbe. A good microbe is in the right place at the right time. A bad microbe is in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

If I can change my mind about microbes, perhaps I can change them about strengths and weaknesses. How about: Strengths are skills in the right place at the right time.  Weaknesses are strengths in the wrong place at the wrong time. I don’t know if this applies universally, but as I have thought, it seems to me to cover a lot of the ‘weaknesses’ that I have been frustrated by.

How do others interpret this interesting phrase, “Keep appreciating strengths. What else is there?” And perhaps here there is a question for Usa. “What do you mean by the phrase?”

(If you would like some more thoughts about the book, you might like to try this link: https://www.gatesnotes.com/Books/I-Contain-Multitudes)

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Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on May 28, 2017 at 3:18pm

I have one more reflection on this chapter.

Often, we put people into boxes-  and on this basis make assumptions. Gay, sex workers, drug users, refugees, older people and so on. We start judging them on that aspect of their identity. I have realised that if we see them as a whole, as human beings, as those who have certain gifts as well as vulnerabilities just like me, then can connect with them at a deeper level. 

I wrote a  blog on a related  experience at a conference in Edinburgh nearly two years ago - Don't label us http://aidscompetence.ning.com/profiles/blogs/don-t-label-us

Comment by Jean-Louis Lamboray on May 24, 2017 at 9:39pm

I try to make the difference between actions, which take place in time and place (the historic dimension of life) and essence which is devoid of time (the absolute dimension of life). While we use judgment in the historic dimension to assess our actions as good or bad, we cannot use our mind in the present moment. In that infinitesimal "moment" we only can sense connection. I believe that in the absolute dimension of life there is only love. Satish Kumar in "You are, therefore I am"  quotes Vinoba who encourages us to live like the sun, spreading our energy irrespective of what is happening 'out there'. To me absence of light defines darkness. I don't experience "negativity" in the present moment. This is why appreciation only sees strengths, only sees love. Because fundamentally there is nothing else. That is how I reflect on Usa's quote "What else is there?"

Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on May 23, 2017 at 2:10pm

I have been having a constant struggle with negativity. Today I had a very nice conversation with my friend about it and here I share her wisdom, very profound words.

Being non-judgmental is the key here. WE have to stop judging our ownselves. We tend to judge ourselves on a particular scale decided by the society. We think are we meeting the expectations of the society? Therefore we have to first accept our own flaws. Infact there are no flaws, these too have been decided by others. One needs to accept oneself as one is- I accept myself as I am. 

Further, she says,  we judge others because we do not want them to judge us. When others judge us we feel bad or guilty and we again start blaming our ownselves. Understand this statement- I allow others to to judge me.  I give permission to them that they can judge me but I will still not judge them judging me. I will not feel bad because they will judge me anyway. 

Comment by Francis Pitcharan on May 23, 2017 at 1:23pm

My view of negativity and positivism evolved over years and got fine tuned and shaped by Biblical ideas. Crisply putting it, this is how I understand the whole thing: there is a supremely good spiritual being who is completely independent and we describe the being as God and his hallmark is love - the selfless and sacrificing variety of love described in Greek as agape. And then there is also something called Evil that is personified as Satan and his hallmark is fault-finding - i.e., always accusing humans of wrongdoing and demanding penal actions. Humans exercise their freewill to respond to the suggestions of either God or Satan and as a consequence become and behave either lovingly or accusingly. This is nowadays understood as positive and negative bahaviour. God intervenes to save enslaved humans who desire good. He gradually frees them completely and they shed all negativity completely and become God's extended arms in saving others. The saving process is based on appreciation and can be described as psychological liberation. All negativity is overlooked for the sake of the slightest desire for good. The liberation process commences with appreciating the good streak in someone and making them realise their hidden beauty and in the process rendering all negative things unattractive. 

Comment by Geoff Parcell on May 22, 2017 at 4:23pm

I came across this in some training a while ago. Starting at box 1 are some phrases defining negativity. If you try to immediately jump to 4, 5 or 6 in a conversation you are likely to erect barriers to change. If however you move one box at a time and use the phrases in some way, then it is often possible to lead people in to a more positive frame.

Try it!


Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on May 22, 2017 at 3:40pm

Thanks Eric for your response. Please share an example on how to convert the negative energy to positive energy so that i can apply in my life.

Comment by Eric JEHIN on May 22, 2017 at 2:53pm

My contribution would be: how can I/we transform negativity into positivity? in this way weaknesses, problems, negative things and thoughts are not denied but could be transformed. There is also energy in negativity, so the challenge is to mobilise that energy for postive purposes.


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