Colleen Steen

This conversation is closed.

What motivates people to move through their own pain and become teachers and role models for others?

We see many examples on TED of people who have faced incredible adversity and challenges in their lives. What are the beliefs and characteristics that cause their continued effort to educate, support and encourage others? If we could identify, teach and encourage these qualities from childhood, it seems like it would be an important, powerful force in our world.

Closing Statement from Colleen Steen

For my "closing statement", the question is asked..."what did you conclude...was the question effectively answered...let people know the final answer". WOW!

I honestly don't think any question is 'effectively answered" until every single person in our world has responded to the question. There is always more information and insight to explore...in my humble opinion. We did, however, have some great comments, which may lead all of us to more questions and explorations in ourselves, and for that I am grateful:>)
I thought my last statement was my "closing statement". Nice to have another go at it...thanks TED:>)

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    Mar 14 2011: My daughter is 5 months old and terminally ill. She started chemotherapy today. The whole experience is exhausting. We didn't want to start a blog when she was born back in October, but now we post almost daily. Here's my bullet list why:
    * updating everyone is exhausting
    * people really care and want to be updated
    * sharing stories about love and perseverance makes people feel whole
    * in order to share you must formulate
    * by formulating you work through
    * by working through you heal
    * by healing, you develop wisdom, and
    * people love learning life lessons from others who have experienced hardship
    * which makes the people teaching feel okay about sharing in the first place

    Truthfully, I can't believe I stumbled on this topic so accidentally (I was looking for a Games in Education topic). Thanks for starting the topic!

    Regan.
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      Mar 15 2011: Regan,
      Welcome to the discussion, and I am so sorry about your little daughter. Only 5 months old? She didn't even have time to settle in before her body was challenged. One of the most difficult things for me, is to see a child in pain. They are so vulnerable, helpless and dependant on us for comfort and safety. They are also unbelievably resilient. Your bullet list pretty much sums up the reasons people persevere and continue connecting with others even though it may be exhausting.

      I'm glad that you "stumbled" into this discussion, and I hope you will stay with us for awhile. My heart goes out to you and your family with love.
      Sincerely,
      Colleen
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        Mar 18 2011: Thank you Colleen, a good Irish name on this St. Patrick's Day (as is Regan). As you know (as moderator) I initially posted a link to my musings on this issue and our current culture and human nature on our family blog that is doing just what you wondered about "What motivates people to move through their own pain and become teachers and role models for others?"

        * I love Anna's comment of simply "Love" because I think it's that simple.
        * I think I'm the benefactor of what Debra referred to as a "strong foundation" and, as a result
        * I personally can't relate to the metaphor that M.A. Lucas-Green referred to as "the cave of darkness" because my consciousness refuses to go there
        * and I agree with Amy Santoso in that education could very well be the make or breaker in HOW you deal/express with your adversity, but I would argue it's a familial/interpersonal education, and nothing a book or non-emotional entity/relationship could teach you.

        For reference, my blog post is here: http://babyross.blogspot.com/2011/03/on-being-human.html
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          Mar 19 2011: 'Tis true lad, that I 'ave the Irish blood runnin' through me veins:>) I hope yer St. Patty's day was as good as can be:>) I shared corned beef and cabbage dinner with me English/Scottish friends:>)

          Thanks for providing the link to your blog, which I visited. I tried to leave a message, but was not successful. Little Gabrielle is so beautiful, and apparently has brought a lot of love to your family. What you have written in your blog is very insightful and I agree, it is exactly what we are talking about in this discussion. I highly recommend it for everyone. You are a teacher to all of us dear Regan, with the help of lovely little Gabrielle. Please give her a big hug and kiss from Colleen:>) Thanks again for participating in this discussion. I appreciate you:>)
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      Mar 3 2011: Hi Birdia...nice to see you again:>)
      ABSOLUTELY teachers should also be students. I believe every experience offers all participants the opportunity to teach and learn:>) I also agree that it's important to teach ourselves first. It's difficult to teach others if we don't have it in ourselves. I think that's one factor contributing to disappointment in education. Some people are simply going through the motions, without giving "meaning" to the process.
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          Mar 3 2011: All's well with me...same for you?

          Yes, many people are disappointed with our educational system, and speakers here on TED are reinforcing this displeasure...Ken Robinson comes to mind. It feels like our schools have become an assembly line, in that they keep running through the same information, grading the students, and sending them on their way. So maybe children don't learn how to motivate themselves? Perhaps our educational systems start the process of disabling motivation in students? In my perception, schools could offer the incredible opportunity of empowering kids to explore and be motivated in so many ways.

          I have never been drawn to formal education and was never a good student sitting in a classroom. I like to personally explore life, so probably the challenges I've faced are the only way I would have learned the lessons. It would really be nice, however, if we could empower kids to explore WITHOUT traumatic experiences.
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          Mar 5 2011: Yes, I think collaborations of any kind that will lead to people being aware, motivated, inspired, strengthened, courageous and empowered is beneficial. It takes a village to raise a child? We need to start empowering people from the time they are children:>)
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          Mar 7 2011: Hi Birdia,
          I wish I could take credit for that saying, but I cannot, and I honestly can't remember who said it, but it makes sense, doesn't it? One thing that was an important piece for me in moving through challenges, was the incredible support of friends and family. It seems like people in our world are often disconnected, and I firmly believe that connectivity could help us more in supporting each other. So, while this statement sounds good, how do we impliment it in our everyday lives?
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          Mar 11 2011: Hi Birdia,
          I think unconditional love, whomever it comes from, is a valuable tool, which helps us navigate the earth school. Although my father was violent and abusive, as the youngest child of 8, I was protected from his rath. My mother and 7 sibblings were unconditionally loving to me, which has given me a lot of strength to face challenges and explore life. I also was thought by some to be "spoiled" and I was in a way. Not with material things, but with love.

          I think the way some of our societies have evolved, prevents the interconnectedness with families, don't you think? Thankfully, I see this moving in a different direction now. In a way, the economic challenge has caused many families to move back in together as a way to conserve resources. This, of course, also brings families closer together again, which I think is a good thing.

          We have mentoring programs in this area, where seniors are brought into schools to befriend/mentor children. And other programs, where children are visiting seniors in nursing homes, retirement homes, etc. I haven't specifically heard about seniors getting hooked up with orphanages, but it's a GREAT idea. I think it helps seniors by engaging them (us) in activities they would not otherwise pursue, it helps children have good role models, and as you say, increases the sense of well-being and overall happiness for everyone.
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    Feb 27 2011: The desire to move beyond the limitations of learned helplessness. The hope that in giving back to others that will continue the cycle.
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      Mar 3 2011: Welcome to this discussion Lee. It appears to be just you and me for now:>) You made two good points, which I totally agree with. I wonder what causes some people to move beyond the limitations of helplessness and what causes some people to stay in the victim role?

      I think we have to know that we have choices. And I think we have to have confidence to move through the challenge. I also feel that in giving back to others, we may be healing our own heart.

      How do we instill this in our children? As a 64 yr young person, it would have been nice to have this information sooner, rather than later!
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      Mar 5 2011: Hi Lee,
      I have been following Seligman's work on learned helplessness for years and I think that it comes when an experience has utterly devastated the individual and the person can no longer see alternatives. It is related to the phenomenon of an elephant being contrainted by a piece of rope around its ankle that once restrainted it as a baby. Once the will is broken, some part of the brain closes out other possibilites.
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        Mar 6 2011: Good point Debra,
        I'm not familier with Seligman's work, but I believe that often experiences are so devestating that certain parts of the brain close out other possibilities. There are a lot of wounded people in our world. How do we support and encourage them enough to be able to open the mind and heart to something different?
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          Mar 6 2011: In an ideal world, repeated traumas and discouragement would not happen to people but we are still in this world. Ideally, every traumatized person would get the love and support needed right after the events.
          I am a strong advocate of redesigned education where there is a strong component of virtual reality classrooms where children can find a place where they uniquely belong, find their interests and find success and approval. We should never grade children on tasks that are not developmentally ready for. My best example is grading young boys on printing. When their bodies are not ready to do such fine motor skills we demoralize them. This is perhaps a trivial example but it points out that people absorb and internalize the judgements that are made about them and overidentify with failure.
          As for the wounded adults, the literature is not encouraging. It takes a long time to recover alone from learned helplessness and even with help the lesson is very difficult to overcome. These people are not likely to become role models and teachers to our societal loss.
          People like Victor Frankl must have had a strong foundation of self with a strong internal sense of mastery and self efficacy to emerge from the horrors he endured with such a profound sense of meaning. For people with cracks in their emotional foundation- such an outcome is unlikely.
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        Mar 6 2011: Debra,
        I agree that people absorb and internalize judgements made about them and often identify with that information. I think of my experience working with offenders in correctional facilities. I often heard them say "I am ADD...what do you expect?" Many offenders were given this label as children and never seemed to move on from that labeling. It was difficult to move on because their file carried that information wherever they went! As long as their file had that information, they were put in that catagory and written off as people who were not able to absorb and internalize new information.

        You're right...it does take a long time to recover alone, which is why I keep encouraging connections between all of us:>) I believe that "these people" CAN become role models and teachers in our society. I've seen it happen enough to know that it is possible:>) "These people" are "us".
        Sometimes, it is BECAUSE of the cracks that we find the motivation to become teachers and role models...is it not? When we say "these people", we are seperating ourselves from them. I am one of "them" and I'm also one of "us":>)
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          Mar 6 2011: OH Colleen, I sure did not intend to draw any line between people or groups. The wounded are us. The broken are us. I just wish that we could rescue one generation and give them solid foundations. The cracks in the foundation can lead to the outcomes where you are doing your courageous work with but I wish that we could connect the knowledge and the resources long before the child is broken to ensure better outcomes for the kids and for society. I wish what you are finding is 'possible' would become likely.
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        Mar 6 2011: I find that when I focus on the whole, it can sometimes feel overwhelming, so I do what I can in the moment. What did Mother Theresa say? We cannot do great things...we can only do small things with great love? If I think about rescuing a whole generation, it feels beyond my capability. However, on a local level, I can make a difference with each and every person I connect with. Everything starts with a dream:>)
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      Mar 27 2011: Thank you Pabitra,
      I value your ideas, perspectives and comments:>)
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    Mar 16 2011: I think what motivates us (as a teacher) to help people and educate them is we vicariously live through them. By helping them we feel like our struggles are worth something, as we are spreading our knowledge to others. It can also go down to the intrinsic nature we have as extremely social organisms which instincts are to help individuals around you. But the main point really is that as a teacaher we are willing to help others because it just makes us feel better, it gives us satisfaction that what we have struggled for and learned from that struggle can be applied to others so they can have a less turbulent future.
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      Mar 16 2011: That is an interesting point of view! Today my colleagues and I were talking about colonization, or spreading our ideas through our students because of our own biases. I have tried to steer clear of this, but of course, it is impossible. I do agree that most teachers do what we do to help people. I know that I was initially interested in education because I wanted to change the world, and I feel that I can do that through teaching.
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      Mar 17 2011: Interesting John and Remington, and I'm glad you joined the discussion:>) I agree that by helping and teaching others, we feel better about ourselves. I think as humans we long to be connected to others, and somehow, we have often lost touch with that connection. I believe we do what we do to help others, and in doing so, we help ourselves as well. In each and every day, we have the opportunity to connect with others and perhaps change a little part of our world:>) Thanks for your insight and for being teachers:>)
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    Mar 16 2011: I really think it's because they go through adversity that they end up being so inspiring and fulfilled as human beings.

    This is really bad, but my dad used to say that pain purifies us. I do believe it is true, in a certain sense. Once we get to the bottom and have ''all odds against us'' (sorta speak), then we can truly make a difference, because it becomes not about us anymore. It's the most selfless but also selfish role one can take (as in you basically use your life to teach and help others). I cannot imagine anything more fulfilling.

    And as to what differentiates them from someone that cracks under the negativity of past bad experiences? Probably their will, and capacity to not dwell on self-pity.
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      Mar 17 2011: Hi Codruta, and welcome! I agree with you that sometimes hitting bottom causes us to look upward. As Kristine says, when we start reaching out to others, sometimes, it puts our own challenges in perspective. In reaching out to others, we also realize more about our connections to each other, and as you say, it's not just about oursleves any more. Good comment...thanks:>)
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    Mar 16 2011: I would add Neil Pasricha's talk to your list. He talks about: The 3 A's of awesome
    http://www.ted.com/talks/neil_pasricha_the_3_a_s_of_awesome.html

    I think there should be a reason, a very strong reason to carry on. My formula of fighting life challenges is DOING GOOD for OTHERS, even if you think you are useless.... It always helps me to recover.

    TED came to my life when I was experiencing some problems. TED talks helped me to understand that my problem is much much smaller then many of the cases I learned about from TED.....

    Sometimes when we use the energy created form a problem for something good, in other word we turn the negative energy into positive, it opens new windows for life...

    I think we should show many of TED talks to our kids. I always think WHAT WOULD HAPPEN TO ME IF I WOULD HAVE SEEN TED TALKS WHEN I WAS A KID.........
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      Mar 17 2011: Kristine,
      Welcome to the discussion, and thanks for providing the link to the Neil Pasricha talk, which is another good reminder for all of us:>) I related to him as he spoke of his challenges and the swirling, twirling chaos at a certain time in his life. Years ago, my mother died, a year later, I ended 24 years of marriage, 3 months after that, I was diagnosed with cancer, the next month I sustained a near fatal head injujry in a horseback riding accident, 5 months after that, I had surgery for the cancer, then my father died. I felt the swirling, turmoil of my life. I agree with Neil that it's important to feel all the emotions, grieve the losses and face the future. There are times when the future doesn't look very bright, but I've found that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. I agree that it helps to have a purpose. I have always believed that life is about learning, so rather than spending a lot of energy with the fear, I've learned to move right to the lessons. What is this about? What can I learn? How can I grow? How can I share my information with others? As I reach out to others, I learn that my challenges are nothing compared to what many people face every day, as you've mentioned Kristine. I appreciate your insight:>)
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    Mar 16 2011: I think that having a compassionate mind toward people help us become a role model, teacher, and mentor for others. In order to have a truly compassionate mind, however, I believe that one needs to go through serious thought processes and/or experiences which enable us to understand the fact that all of human beings are motal. If we realize that, we become to cherish what we are (existence) other than what we have (possessiveness). Then, sharing becomes all we can do, like Jacquline said few weeks ago.
    Jacqueline Novogratz: Inspiring a life of immersion
    http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/jacqueline_novogratz_inspiring_a_life_of_immersion.html
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      Mar 17 2011: Jeong-Lan Kinser,
      Thanks for joining the discussion and providing the link to Jacqueline Novogratz' inspiring talk. it was interesting to read the comments, and notice that several people said we hear this story over and over again.
      So, my question is what are we doing about it? Many people understand that we are all connected, realize that we long to be visible to each other, are taking our resources and converting them to making changes in our world. There are still too many wounded people in our world, however, so apparently we need to continue getting this message. It surprises me that people would criticize the message because they feel it has been repeated so often.
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    Mar 15 2011: I am on the internet contributing in anyway I can, because countless faceless souls had reached out for me through the net in the past. Many I lost contact with before I actually can meet and thank them properly. So.. *smile*
    It's the least I can do -pay it forward.
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    Mar 14 2011: Love.
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      Mar 15 2011: Welcome to the discussion Anna:>)
      Love is one powerful word and a wonderful foundation for life. I believe that at any given time, we are coming from a place of love, or a place of fear. Coming from a place of love in our hearts gives us strength to move through challenges.
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    Mar 5 2011: Such motivation comes from consciences, feel of guilt and share.
    People like things balanced, through empathy we relate ourselves with other people and unite to bring justice and happiness.

    My personal motivation for example starts from childhood and goes from "Barefoot Gen" animation film about Nagasaki Hiroshima bombing, strong feel of unrightness and desire to prevent such from happening ever again.
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      Mar 6 2011: Hello George and welcome to the discussion:>)
      I totally agree with what you've said. Such motivation comes from consciousness, sharing, balance, empathy, relating to ourselves and others, unity, justice, creating happiness, and a desire to prevent such from happening again.

      You have also mentioned guilt. That is one thing I do not practice, so I'm curious about what your feeling is about guilt. Do you feel it is something like karma in that we do a bad deed, then have to do something good to make up for it?
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        Mar 6 2011: well, consciences not consciousness.
        conscience is distinction of right from wrong, it's an engine that moves motivation.
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    Mar 3 2011: "Every art and every inquiry and also every action and every pursuit is thought to aim at some good. For this reason, the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim" - Aristotle on Nicomachean Ethics

    I was motivated primarily through a self-healing process. My internal pain and discomfort send me back again and again to that dark dank place also known as the "cave of ignorance". The injustices of my own experiences force me to fight harder to eliminate or limit those challenges in the lives of anyone I encounter.
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      Mar 3 2011: Welcome M.A:...good quote...thanks>)

      It seems to reinforce what Birdia says about "meaning". If we have an aim, then perhaps how we function, teach and learn has more meaning?

      It sounds like you have used your experiences to learn about yourself and help others. Kudos to you! I often go to the "underground" where I explore my own experiences, and get energized to limit those challenges in the lives of others. Could that be similar to your "cave of ignorance"?
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        Mar 3 2011: Hi Colleen and thanks for the warm welcome! Birdia has a wonderful point. The more understanding we have of our own lives, the better we can intentionally affect others. That "learning revolution" that Ken Robinson references will include the creative capital of people who have emerged from Plato's "cave of ignorance" and fear not frequent return.
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          Mar 3 2011: I think "intentionally" is an important piece. If we don't explore and understand our own lives, as you and Birdia insightfully recognize, then it is difficult to know what our intention is. When people are in pain, it is sometimes difficult to go to the depth in ourselves needed for exploration and understanding. There seems to be fear sometimes related to that practice. So, in some respects are people keeping themselves from finding the strength, motivation and courage to move through the pain because they may be afraid to face it on a deeper level? It is a "catch 22" in that we need to know ourselves and our intention, and yet it is sometimes more painful to face it on the deep level, so we avoid it?
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    Mar 3 2011: In my opinion, what prevent some people to break through their problems are lack of educaation, information, sometimes, even cultural background. Some societies (or even beliefs) encourage their followers to 'surrender' in every situation. Of course, this notion is interpreted wrongly because there really are some things which we can change as humans. On the other hand, the lack of information and critical thinking forbid them to do so.

    As for what encourage people to move on, i believe that is the core of humanity itself. People were born with the aim to be happy. In this whole life, people are searching ways to be happy. Some people just get it right. They are able to incorporate the happiness itself into their life, perspective, and thinking. This, I believe, is the trigger for their instinctive reaction towards life difficulties which drive them to get out from the problem, and even conquer it.

    I believe that that kind of mental drive can be taught. But, the problem is, to teach such an intangible quality, we need the disciple to understand the importance of such quality and consciously willing to possess it. Most of the time, I find out that people who have those qualities, they gain it through constant adversities and survivals, not through smooth sailing life.
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      Mar 3 2011: Welcome Amy...Good points! I agree that education, information and cultural backgrounds sometimes prevent people from breaking through some limiting barriers. So, if we move through our own barriers and can encourage and support others, it empowers both the giver and reciever? That's my belief. As Lee says, we can continue the cycle:>)

      You're right, many people are searching for happiness, and maybe looking in all the wrong places? I find that people are often looking for happiness through the possession of materialistic goods. I derive most happiness/contentment by connecting with other people in various ways. I also see challenges as opportunities, which contributes to my life experience as an exploration.

      I agree that often people who have the qualities we speak of have gained them by facing adversity. Do you think we can learn and teach these qualities without adversity?
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    Mar 27 2011: Thank you so much to all those who shared stories, thoughts, feelings, ideas, perceptions and wonderful insight.
    I appreciate all of you:>)
    Love,
    Colleen
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    Mar 27 2011: Dear Amy and Regan,
    I just checked out your blog again, and went back to previous posts. I sincerely hope your link will still be available through this site when the discussion closes in a couple hours. You are two of the most insightful, caring, loving people I've ever encountered. And of course, there is Gabrielle, a challenged little child, who the nurses visit when they need inspiration! You are all wonderful and amazing. Thank you, and love to you and all your beautiful family:>)
    Colleen
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    Mar 27 2011: This discussion will close shortly, and I want to thank those who participated so far. I notice one big factor, when I've been challenged physically or emotionally, is the support and love of people, which I appreciate very much. So, thanks everyone for pondering this question with me. A special thanks to Ananda Shankar Jayant for joining the discussion. We can see her TED talk and realize the beauty and courage of a lovely determined person. I also especially thank Regan Ross, who joined us, and provided a link to his story with his beautiful daughter Gabrielle.
    Colleen
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    Mar 22 2011: Dear Regan,
    I hope you're still with us on this discussion thread because you have a great gift to offer all people. I just connected with your blog again, and read the submission March 12..."I am going to focus on the positive...1 to15". I'm not sure if that was written by you or Amy, and it realy doesn't matter. What matters, is the insightfulness in the pondering.

    I believe that what we focus on expands, so I believe as you do apparently, that focusing on the positive aspects of life, even when faced with a challenge, helps us move through it. I remember when I came home from the hospital after the near fatal head injury. I celebrated the fact that I could walk up the strairs in my home. Sure, maybe it took me an hour to go up 16 stairs...so what? It was something I could not do the day before. When I first could go for a walk...it felt wonderous, and I focused on the progress. Oh...I only went 20 steps today...that's double what I did yesterday...celebration! I agree with you that focusing on the beauty, joy and pleasure of each little step, in each moment, takes us to the next step. I appreciate you and your family soooooooo much. If anyone needs encouragement or inspiration, I strongly recommend checking into Regan's blog...link below. Thank you Regan for being you and sharing the gift with so many people:>)
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    Mar 16 2011: Thrilled! :)
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      Mar 17 2011: Hi Gotlieb and welcome:>)
      Care to expand on "thrilled" a little?
  • Mar 11 2011: Hi Colleen,
    I love what you said.Yes acceptance, is difficult, but only until you give cancer an emotion/ colour or attitude.I told my tumour.. hail fellow well met now be on your way!
    I think we also colour what happens to us based on what the world around us has painted it to be.
    We need to find our own colours and emotions to paint our experiences
    Im now in the throes of a new dance theatre choreography based on 19th century mystic poet Kahlil Gibran's Prophet
    He describes pain thus:
    "Much of your pain is self chosen,
    Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding"

    WOW and more power to your beautiful smile
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      Mar 11 2011: Dear Ananda,
      I love what you say as well! I talk to my body too, because I believe in the interconnectedness of all the cells.
      When I was diagnosed with cancer, I walked a lot, and while walking, would envision the body resources moving to that spot to heal it. I imagined all the little blood cells scurrying to that place in the body with extra nutrients and the immune system working to heal. I told the cancer it was not welcome in the body...be gone! That action did not eradicate it, but it gave me a sense of power over it. I knew that all my bodily systems were doing all they could to protect the body from the intrusion. The emotion that cancer often produces is fear...understandably. How we percieve it has a lot to do with how we deal with it. Because of my acting background, I like to say I'm writing my own script:>)

      And the Dalai Lama says: Pain is inevitable, suffering optional. As humans, we probably cannot avoid pain and challenge. We can, however choose to move through it, or hang onto it. I totally agree with you that how we color our world often impacts our human experience.

      I think you understand the smile, and what is behind it, and I don't want to mislead the audience. I also experience all emotions, including fear, frustration, sadness, confusion, etc. at times. I choose not to hold onto those emotions, but rather focus on my underlying feelings of contentment, gratitude and joy. The emotions caused by fear flow in and out, while the foundation of love (contentment, gratitude, joy and quest for learning) supports the life experience. I think this is a big piece of moving on for me. When we hold onto the fear emotions, there is suffering. When we "color" our experience differently, it changes the experience.

      Your new project sounds wonderful. Is there any way we may be able to see it? Perhaps you will perform it for TED? Dance is such a beautiful expression, and you do it very well:>)
      • Mar 17 2011: Hi Colleen,
        Loved what you said.Over centuries of conditioning, we are not preparing our minds to learn during set backs.This training of the mind and spirit needs to come from parents, teachers and the immediate environment of a child,to make the mind and spirit resilient. Our generic attitude of molly coddling and cossetting our children sometimes makes them invalids of the mind, incapable of riding out obstacles that is the process of life.
        Also, it is important, for all of us to have a very personal core space of "I" that will define our purpose on earth.Nurturing that personal core space, with a passion helps the driving over life's roadblocks.For eg: My core space is dance, I believe Im here to dance,dance is what I will do come rain sunshine or cancer! And dance is what helped me over my roadblock called cancer.

        Finally pain, suffering are only words with an association of emotions fuelled by social conditioning.Change the word, change the association,and see the whole picture change

        Ananda
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          Mar 18 2011: Hi Ananda,
          I agree with you that we are not preparing our minds to face challenges with the idea of learning. We, especially in western cultures, have become comfortable and complacent. Rather than facing the challenge with strength, we become "stressed". The idea of a life of "stress" seems to have taken on a life of it's own for many people. Stress uses up energy that could be used for healing.

          I also agree that it's important to have a personal core purpose on the earth school. Passionately nurturing that interest or purpose is essential for healing and contentment.
          I've had various passions at different times in my life, and my most recent one (the last 15 years) has been gardens. I get lost in time and space in the gardens...perhaps as you do when dancing? When I am in the gardens, working with mother earth, creating something beautiful and beneficial, everything is right with the world. When we change our thinking, we change our feelings, and we can change our life experience:>) Thanks again for being here Ananda...on this discussion thread, and in our world:>)
  • Mar 10 2011: Hi Colleen,
    That's a very interesting conversation you have started.
    My answer to this question is:We as a race have become far too reactive to the world outside of us.We give all our setbacks and tragedies far too much importance, to such an extent that they overwhelm and over power us.The average media and society around all of us, is of no help either, by constantly re inforcing every negative with sensationalism.
    What if we turned the whole matrix on its head? Thoughts finally become things.. so If we worked from inside out and kept our inside that is mind and thought happy and positive,and proactive, the world outside responds accordingly
    What if we can make a habit of this inside out thinking?
    What if we can understand the transience of all happenings and events and stay un affected/ Detached?
    By detached I dont mean inaction.. sure, do what ever it takes to remedy something that you want to, but in a non emotional way
    Pain and sorrow and illnesses are only as important as you make them out to be.
    Every setback is a challenge to learn to grow. To me they are the road blocks that life throws at us to strengthen the building blocks of our lives and spirits
    Keep smiling!
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      Mar 10 2011: Hi Ananda,
      Thank you so much for joining the discussion. Your perspectives are very valuable. Although your talk was titled Ananda "fights" caner, as I mentioned in the thread of comments, I didn't percieve you to be "fighting", but rather accepting, with the intention of moving through the challenge.

      I like the idea of turning the whole matrix on it head! Perhaps that is exactly what we are contributing to at the moment? I believe that what we focus on expands, and I agree with you that societies have become reactive to external factors. When we make a habit of this inside out thinking, understand the transience of all happenings and events and stay detached, there is often a different outcome.

      I understand what you mean by detached, and I also understand that it is a difficult concept to accept. Acceptance is also a difficult concept to accept. How can we "accept" cancer? If we are living in the moment, the cancer is part of our reality. To fight against it, or resist, simply gives it energy to exist. So, as you say, we take the steps necessary to help move us through the challenge. I agree with you that challenges are for the purpose of learning, growing and evolving, and to move through the challenges builds our strength and courage.

      I intend to always keep smiling! I'm told that while still unconscious, when the body stabalized after a near fatal head injury, I was smiling and giving visitors a thumbs up! I was still smiling when I had surgery to remove cancerous tissue from the body 5 months later:>)
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    Mar 3 2011: I think the motivation is often to redeem the experience. If we can frame some good out of a horrible experience by warning or helping others we can believe that the experience had purpose or meaning.
    This requires a reservoir of strength and kindness- in otherwords the experience could not have fully devastated the individual.
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      Mar 4 2011: Good point Debra,
      If we can learn from any experience, than maybe we can see the purpose (or meaning, as Birdia says below) in the situation. To move through life challenges absolutely takes strength and kindness, and with an open heart and mind, perhaps we will not be fully devastated by the challenge:>) That's an important piece...thank you:>)