August 2008

Everything that happens to me is Great

by Geoff Thompson

An acquaintance read my article, ‘Everything That Happens to Me is Good’ and gave me one of those patronizing smiles.
He asked, ‘What if your house burned down?
Would that be good?’
‘Everything includes everything,’ I replied. ‘It is all inclusive. It excludes nothing. If it did then it would not be (by its very nature) everything.’ He didn’t understand.
‘How (he asked) could everything that happens to you be good?’
He could see how some things that happen to me might be good, perhaps even many things that happen to me. But all things!?
I smiled (less patronisingly, more knowingly). He was obviously reading the words but not connecting with their meaning, certainly not on the right level of consciousness. I said, ‘Actually you’re right. Everything that happens to me is not good… ’
He smiled. See, he knew he was right…
‘… everything that happens to me is great!’
If he was confused before, now he was head shakingly perplexed.
I tried to explain to him that, if I allowed challenging life situations to determine my state of mind (to the negative), then my mood would always be at the mercy of chance. If, on the other hand, I practiced the philosophy that everything that happens to me – no matter what – was the harbinger of knowledge and wisdom and growth, then my life would become a 24-hour day growing frenzy. It would be like living in a bag of fertilizer.
Life is a cyclical process of distillation. It is often only under extreme pressure that we truly boil away our impurities and clarity becomes evident.
Without pressure, diamond will stay coal, and without extreme heat, iron ore could not be layered into tempered blade. Fighting spirits are not developed outside of the arena, no matter how many times we try to convince ourselves that they are. When elite fighting corps want to develop warriors, they manufacture extreme life-threatening difficulties for their aspirants to face, because they know that there is no advance without adversity. And when the matriculating few don the winged beret, they do so with deserved pride because they know it has been earned.
When bodybuilders want to develop muscle, they head for the burn. The folk that develop the keenest physiques are the ones that get into the burn fast and stay in the burn long, and because they learn to associate the pain of the last rep with massive growth, they learn to look for the last rep, and they learn to love the pain.
Life offers us similar opportunities, if only we can see them as such (instead of whinging on about ‘how hard life is’). If we can learn to see difficulty as opportunity then every difficulty will be welcomed. We will not only greet difficulty effusively, we will openly court difficulty; we will learn to love the burn that privation proffers, and marinate in the ‘last-rep’ pain of a life that always has, and always will be (as the Buddha said), difficult. Once we get this – once we really get this – the veil drops, the milieu transforms, we lean on that Chinese panel and ‘bang!’ The whole world changes and we truly can see that everything that happens to us is not only good, everything that happens to us is great.
Be well.



Nutrition Self-Defense
I recently read an article entitled, “Defensive Eating at Fast-Food Restaurants,” and couldn’t help cut think, “That’s exactly right! We must use self-defense techniques in our approach to unhealthy food.” Nutrition self-defense means knowing your options (the menu items available), the content of the items and the basics of good nutrition. Armed with this knowledge, you can make sound choices. At the very least, you’ll be empowered to choose the most healthful of what’s available.
Nutrition self-defense means avoiding places where you won’t have healthful options. It’s best to prepare nutritious ingredients you’ve purchased. Next best is to choose prepared
foods that contain healthful ingredients, followed by a restaurant’s most healthful options, followed by that “attacker” lurking in the alley: fast food restaurants. Many of us don’t have time to prepare healthful foods at home for every meal, which means we often resort to another option. This is where we must practice our self-defense techniques. Research has shown that when average people dine at so-called “healthy” fast-food locations such as Subway®, they actually consume more calories than if they had bought a McDonald’s® meal! The study found that people “reward” themselves with a bag of chips, non-diet soda, a cookie for dessert, bigger portions and caloriedense extras, such as mayonnaise and bacon. All this totals nutritional sabotage. By practicing nutritional self-defense, you will make the best food choices, given the available options available.

Back-To-School—Books, Homework and Tests, Oh My!
The transition from summer to back-to-school can be easy. You should be relaxed, ready and even excited. Any apprehension or fear can be eliminated with good preparation. As a martial arts student, you practice your skills again and again to become proficient; preparing for academic school is no different. Your goal is to stay balanced and engage your mind in activities that are stimulating, which will make you smarter, and prepare you for learning. After all, your brain is like a muscle and it becomes weak if it isn’t used. Strive for Black Belt excellence because a Black Belt’s goal is to have the ability to anticipate situations before they occur and be prepared for those challenges. Returning to school is your newest goal, so you must be ready for any academic challenges. You’ll experience less stress and earn
better grades.
Try These Five Tips for a Great School Year

  1. Read continually. Watch less TV and read more. Find a good book. It’s easy to be bored, if you are not reading an engaging and interesting book. Take the time to choose the correct book; it will make a world of difference. Read about a subject or topic that will help you learn.
  2. Practice math. Keep your mind active and ask your parents to quiz you, regularly. Make it fun.
  3. Test yourself or ask your parents to test you. Determine if your mind is just as sharp as it was before summer. Compete with your parents; it’s healthy competition and a great family activity.
  4. Study and review the subjects you will be learning during the new school year. Contact one or more of your teachers or the school to help give you a head start.
  5. Be sure you are physically fit. You are a better learner when you are in shape and take care of your body. Physical activity provides your brain with more oxygen, which leads to
  6. more energy and learning power.


“ The only kind of dignity which is genuine is that which is not diminished by the indifference of others.”

Translation for Adults
If you have a proper sense of dignity, then it can’t be “diminished” by others. You know that you deserve respect, even when you don’t receive it. If you always judge yourself as others view you, then you can never be happy. You will always be trying to fulfill their expectations and image of you. If you have a proper sense of self-respect, then you can be yourself and unconcerned how others think of you.

Translation for Kids
Dignity means that you know you deserve the respect of others. People can be disrespectful in different ways: making fun of you, calling you names or not including you in a game or group of people. If you have a good sense of dignity, then you can be yourself no matter what other people say or think of you. Don’t be dishonest with yourself, just to be a part of a group. Those in the group won’t know the real you and you’ll spend all your effort trying to be someone you’re not.
People that force you to change to be their friends aren’t worthy friends.

“Remember this—that there is a proper dignity and proportion to be observed in the performance of every act of life.”
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, one of the most respected Roman emperors (121–180 AD)

Translation for Adults
It can sometimes be very difficult to give your all to a task or responsibility. After a very long week, you may feel tired at work on Friday and must really concentrate to give your best effort. By not working to the best of your abilities, however, you are only cheating yourself. At the end of every day, you should be proud of what you accomplished, including the everyday tasks, such as waking early, exercising before work and arriving home in time to make dinner for your family. If you are proud of what you do, then you’ll have no regrets later.

Translation for Kids
There is a certain dignity that comes with being a Black Belt. To uphold this dignity, you must know whatit means to be a Black Belt: you must be disciplined, confident and respectful. Is it OK to be disciplined, confident and respectful only in your martial arts class, once you’re a Black Belt? Of course not; you must act like a Black Belt all the time, even if you are still working hard for your Black Belt. You’ll be showing your parents and instructor that you are learning Black Belt principles and using them throughout your life.