Woman, Beauty and the strength of your soul

Woman’s day and woman’s month is celebrated. I like it.

Being a heterosexual man, I like most things about women. Their beauty, their strength, their resilience to name but a few obvious things. To celebrate woman’s day makes a lot of sense to me.

I know the initial reason for woman’s day is a bit more political  and socially minded – woman’s liberation, abuse against woman and their rights in a male dominated society etc. But from my point of view, these are a bit reactive and addressing symptoms.

Those who think we live in a mans world is a bit delusional. No man can exist without a woman. Since the industrial age, very few men were not raised by a woman, and the absent fathers created generations of boys with a woman’s perspective of a man. The natural reaction to this, created the complex society in which we now need to celebrate woman’s day with a political agenda.

Personally I think we should rather celebrate appreciation of beauty.

Appreciation of beauty is one of the character strengths that can lead to flow. Understanding the mechanism of this strength is important to incorporate this strength in optimal human functioning.

Boesman met attitudeIt is not necessarily just that what is acceptable to our aesthetic sense.  Yes, a sunset is beautiful. A child or a puppy is beautiful.

Appreciation of beauty is the ability to see beyond the surface.

It is to see the beauty in the man sitting in his wheelchair studying to get his degree.

It is to see the mother raising her children on a single salary. It is the father that creates opportunities for his daughter that he never had. It is the passionate spending of every last drop of energy to build a dream.

It is in the wife who protects her husbands ego. It is in the boy who looks after his baby sister. It is in the astonished laughter of a child exploring the cat underneath the table. It is in the woman who denies her rapist control over the rest of her life.

Appreciation of beauty is the ability to look past the surface of reality and see the awesomeness of life. I think this needs to be celebrated.

Reading People

Every day we interact with people. We instinctively trust some and distrust others. Sometimes we make the wrong choice. We trust someone we should have distrusted. We get our fingers burned and once bitten twice shy, so we decline into a competition of screw them before they screw me. And the world is in a sorry state because of this.

I can speak of experience. The amount of school fees I needed to pay for trusting people still runs interest. And while I pay this interest, I often envy people like my wife who sense people’s true intent within seconds. What do they have that makes them read people like they do?

Maybe we can explore together. We know trusting people will move us forward, but how to know who to trust and who not.

The ability to read people is to have the character strength of humanity, our ability to befriend (trust) others. We all have it; we just need to develop it.

The ability to read people correctly, links directly with our social intelligence. As you know there are different types of intelligence. So before you deduct that because I incorrectly trusted someone I should not have trusted, therefore I do not have social or emotional intelligence, first understand intelligence.

Intelligence is the ability to make finer distinctions. Someone that has financial intelligence will know were and when to invest money, and as with any personal intelligence it can be developed and learned. So the question is: What do I need to do to be able to make finer distinctions?

I think there are two important actions:

1. Make mistakes. Yes make them and learn from them. Go back to those events in your life you trusted unwisely. Dissect the situation. Identify what was your responsibility in the situation. Write down the lesson you learned and then write down next to it, what this lesson cost you. Don’t forget this last part. The price tag will keep you from repeating it.

2. Expose your weakness to someone that has it as a strength and make them part of your team. Yes I know. You have to trust someone to do this. I had to lose a lot of my own ego to expose myself to my wife’s strength. The question I would like to ask you is: Which is more important? An intact ego and repetitive mistakes, or a downsized ego and moving forward with a stronger team?

I suppose there are more things one can do to increase our people reading ability aka social intelligence. If you know of something that worked for you, please feel free to share. Why? You might ask – Because there is a bigger cause to this than our own protection. The need for human kind to stop destroying itself in fear, but be inspired to build up humanity in love.

A well developed humanity gives us the ability to “walk boldly into men’s hearts” (in Akira Kurosawa’s words from his film Kagemusha) and rev them up.

And who wouldn’t like to be this inspiring?

With trust


The Power of Waiting

I just came from an appointment that started a hour late. Most of us would have left within 15 minutes with a annoying taste in our mouth. We usually associate being late with disrespect of the person’s time and unreliability.

While this may be true in some situations and in some cultures, I would like to suggest something else. A big part of our reality is that we wait a lot. We wait in queues, we wait in traffic, we wait for the game to begin and so on.

While waiting for my appointment I pondered on the act of waiting. I don’t like being annoyed, so I tried to understand waiting. It is much more enjoyable exploring something.

Waiting can be dealt with positively on a practical level. We can carry a book with us and read it whenever there is a queue. If you have a smart-phone you can brows the internet or you can chat to the people around you.

But on a different level, waiting opens up a door to character strengths. Martin Seligman and his research team identified 24 character strengths that is part of our make-up. These signature strengths (unique to you as your signature), are the building blocks of our psychological resilience.

If you are interested to know more, go to http://www.authentichappiness.com and look for the VIA Signature Strength test.

Two of these strengths came to mind while I was exploring waiting – Self Control and Prudence. Two strengths that protect us against excess. After the 2008 economic crash and burn, I think you would agree this is quite relevant.

The presence of self control or self regulation helps us regulate what we feel or do. It is about controlling our appetites and emotions, it is about being disciplined (see my post on Marshmallows).

Prudence is all about being careful about our choices, not taking undue risks; not saying or doing things that might later be regretted.

For me personally these strengths are not very well developed. I have to concentrate hard to wait for my needs to be gratified and I do not always think about my choices. But the fact is, these are strengths that can be used.

The question is, how do we use them to help us function optimally?

I suspect waiting might just be a good tool to use. While waiting, we can evaluate the true need behind the one we want to have gratified “yesterday”. Understanding what we really want helps us achieve our true potential.

While waiting we can consider the consequences of our planned actions. Try and see how it fit into the bigger picture and re-evaluate alternatives. Sometimes the first alternative is the best, often a second or third alternative could just take us further. All we need is to do is contemplate a bit, while we wait.

In the end I enjoyed my meeting. Walking away with a sense of gratitude and excitement.  Grateful that I was not dependent on taxi’s to take me and my children where I want to be. Exited about the potential of someone that wants to make something of her life. So waiting an hour brought me a gift.

With gratitude.