Dr. Ariyaratne has taught me that the only thing you can influence is your mind. The rest is all beyond your control. You may want to be successful, stop global warming, put an end to war, get rid of Trump and incorporate Britain in the EU but it’s beyond your influence. I’m sorry. But what you can do is meet these challenges with an open and loving mind. Always. At least you can give it a try. Those external circumstances don’t need to have an impact on your mood. It is possible to stay open and appreciative in the most difficult situations as Viktor Frankl proved in the nazi camps:
“Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.” and “We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Dr. Ariyaratne practiced Buddhism and became a force to be reckoned with during (and after) the 30 years of war in Sri Lanka. My father in his sickbed told himself: “I am not my pain. I am troubled by pain. Badly.” He found out that as soon as he pitied himself, the pain in his back from the tumor in his spine increased exponentially. He tried to bring himself in ‘another state of mind’ by using his mantra: ‘I am not my pain. Maitri is what I’m living for’. I sat beside him in awe. So an everyday practice to control your mind to have a positive outlook, is priority number one. For me the practice is HeartMath. And the wheel of awareness of Daniel Siegel is pretty good too.
But still, there is enough to do in the world. Michael Puett calls this the age of complacency (read his book ‘The Path’ if you haven’t done yet). I don’t want my kids to tell me in 20 years from now that I was complacent. So we will start a UK-Dutch CEO circle in March in which we will explore what is happening in the world and how we (internally) respond to it. We formulated these objectives:
- To break out of our bubbles of complacency
- To confront our own freedom; to go beyond our life’s programming and to take responsible action
- To develop resilience in the turbulence and uncertainty
I’m looking forward to discover new insights together and find new freedom.
The picture is from our new Global Leaders Academy office in the Netherlands. Pretty okay isn’t it?