Learning from the Greeks

What does it mean to be Greek (or German, Chinese, Indian, American for the same reason)? How about being human or coming from Planet Earth?

Weird coincidence being interviewed right before the Greek bicentennial for an initiative called “Learn From The Greeks, brainchild of the Greek consulates in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

To be absolutely frank, I struggled with the idea. While we all use shortcuts, labels, tags categorizing and identifying traits, characteristics, attributing national identities, similarities, habits that accentuate our belonging to a tribe – I find nationalistic tendencies suspect. I am – like all of us – many things: a blond, a woman, a mother, a Greek, an American, an agnostic, a stubborn, persistent _____ (fill in the blank). Yet I was persuaded to give the interview and there is a part – right about 14′ – where I talk about the light, the sun, that color of Greece, that Mediterranean feel that touches my heart… That and the stubbornness as a Greek characteristic that I’d urge a California entrepreneur to learn and take from a Greek.

Maybe – just maybe – I am much more of a Greek than I’d like to admit:-)

Inspiration in the Weirdest of Times

It has been the weirdest year. Covid and the fear, uncertainty, social isolation, economic upheaval and all the unprecedented confusion it has brought us, has shaken our inner core, questioned beliefs, norms, habits and all those things we have been taking for granted.

Yet the blue melancholy that has sipped into my own life, serendipitously transformed into something different a few days before Christmas – the weirdest and unlikeliest Christmas of all times. Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings, for me one of the greatest sources of inspiration, reflection and pondering in my life, did its miracle: It touched me in a peculiarly profound way.

Just see this:

Simple? Yes and no… Each one of us will take some of these principles, dismiss others – and like we do with everything, we will make our own choice on how to live our lives.

The condensed version of these sort of “commandments” is below.

  1. Allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind.
  2. Do nothing for prestige or status or money or approval alone.
  3. Be generous with your time and your resources and with giving credit and, especially, with your words.
  4. Build pockets of stillness into your life. Meditate. Go for walks. Ride your bike going nowhere in particular.
  5. When people tell you who they are, Maya Angelou famously advised, believe them. However, when people try to tell you who you are, don’t believe them. 
  6. “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” Presence is far more rewarding an art than productivity.
  7. “Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time.”
  8. Who are the people, ideas, and books that magnify your spirit? Find them, hold on to them, and visit them often.
  9. Don’t be afraid to be an idealist. 
  10. Don’t just resist cynicism — fight it actively. 
  11. Question your maps and models of the universe, both inner and outer, and continually test them against the raw input of reality. 
  12. There are infinitely many kinds of beautiful lives.
  13. In any bond of depth and significance, forgive, forgive, forgive. And then forgive again. 

For those who want to dig deeper, see Maria’s wonderfully uplifting original post.

When All Is Said And Done

One rarely reaches the point of complete silence. Yet, there are times when all is said and done.

So, I have said – written – enough in this blog that kept my mind and spirit alive for several years.

I am at a stage where I’d rather listen than talk. So, reach out and talk to me… If my background fits your needs, let’s talk about it.  

Everybody Lies

You know… Everybody lies. Confess! You lie, too.

No? Really? Watch this:

Everybody lies – and you pretend it’s those white lies that you say so you don’t shock people, make them sad, angry, hurt or whatever. The excuse is always “the other people.” And occasionally, when you do speak the truth, you are accused of selfishness and self-absorption.

We are raised in what the authenticity guru Brené Brown calls a “scarcity culture,” where we are viewed as never enough. We are always afraid that others will see us as we see ourselves: not good enough. So, we think we have to play “nice.”  Adrienne Rich adds: “In lying to others we end up lying to ourselves. We deny the importance of an event, or a person, and thus deprive ourselves of a part of our lives. Or we use one piece of the past or present to screen out another. Thus we lose faith even within our own lives.”

And then there is integrity, morality, ethics, honesty and all that “good stuff.” And is there a “should?”

“The word ‘should’ in our internal narratives is very toxic – elegantly articulates Maria Popova.  This notion of, “what should I be doing?” is always pegged to some sort of expectation, whether it’s self-imposed or external or a combination of the two. It’s hard to balance those expectations of what you should be doing with what you want to be doing.”

So, in the end ask yourself what do you really want to be doing? Your truth, your lie…

Moral dilemma

Would you kill an innocent man to save 5 lives? Is it ever moral to kill someone?

What would YOU do if…

You are standing on a bridge next to a large man.

You look down and see an out of control bus speeding towards a group of five people.

If you push the guy next to you off the bridge onto the road below, his fall will stop the bus.

He will die, but the five others will be saved.

Would you do it?

Logic or emotion? Ethical or the perception of ethics and morality?

Research shows that choosing not to push the man off the bridge created the most trusting impression on others. Those who did choose to push the man off the bridge, but only after finding the decision difficult, were trusted more than those who found the decision easy. In a sense it’s all about our fear to be disliked – a popularity contest.

Just like lying… Yes, I know. YOU never lie…right? (yeah, right:-) As I have written in an older post: “…the exercise was not a morality test but an experiment in getting out of your comfort zone, listening, being bold…”

In the end, are we all terrible people?!…Take this poll to see how your answers to these classic moral dilemmas compare to everyone else’s.

And do have the guts, to share your results and comment.

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