Saturday, 3 November 2012

Mirror, mirror on the wall....

In my paid job I do what is called social marketing, which I define as good marketing - undoing the bad marketing courtesy of the corporate giants, the media and tv programmes.

This requires an understanding of people - complex creatures that we are - and why we do the things that are bad for us (and the people (animals in my case) around us) and not do the things that are good for us (and the people/animals around us). Gone are the days of just being able to tell people what to do - nowadays it requires getting right inside people's heads and helping to gently steer them in the right direction. It's nickname is 'nudge'.

Intrinsic to this is the ability to understand oneself. I'm a great believer in self-help and self-reflection- not in a mumbo jumbo sort of way but in the sense that if we can understand and learn from our own actions it makes us better and nicer people. It's probably why I enjoy blogging because it gives me an opportunity to reflect, share and off-load - it's a great outlet for the parenting challenges we all face.

I've read book after book about what makes people tick - I like authors such as Malcolm Gladwell, but one of my favourite reads is the Art of Happiness, based on interviews with the Dalai Lama. One of my favourite quotes is:

"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion."

Compassion is something that we're all born with and therefore have the ability to practice. Yet too many people, it seems, get caught in the dead-end rut of anger and blame. Such ugly, unnecessary emotions. Of course, no one's perfect, and if I was to say that I never get angry or frustrated I would be telling a big fat whopping lie. But I've learned that when I am feeling anger or frustration, it's often because I'm feeling angry or frustrated at myself.

For some reason human nature finds it much easier to look at external factors and other people as things and reasons to blame for our own failings. For example, who hasn't arrived late for a meeting, frustrated and looking for something to blame, knowing full well that the reason for being late was because you made yourself late? I speak from experience as time keeping is not one of  my strongest points.

And I know that trying to blame others if I've been in the wrong, or to make myself feel better about the actions I've taken, just has the opposite effect - I feel worse. To further quote the Dalai Lama:

"If you think everything is someone else´s fault, you will suffer a lot. When you realize that everything springs only from yourself, you will learn both peace and joy. Pride leads to violence and evil. The truly good gaze upon everything with love and understanding."
“All suffering is caused by ignorance. People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their own happiness or satisfaction” 

Having the ability to take responsibility for one's own actions is, I believe, fundamental to our own happiness and those of the people around us. I believe that a happy me makes me a better mum to my lovely daughter and if in turn I can teach her the basic principle of compassion, then I'll believe I've done a good job. I thank my mum for teaching that to me.

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