What Do You Know or Don’t Know?
What we know is either based on what someone said/wrote, what we were taught growing-up or what we learned through our lived experiences. Learning through our lived experiences helps us truly understand certain concepts. Experience they say is the best teacher… During the early school years, I remember learning that 5 minus 7 cannot go. But in the higher classes, the story changed; somehow it was solvable and all of a sudden, negative numbers began to appear.
Switching gears… another example I use is; (my Cameroonian people will better understand this). We are accustomed to eating water-fufu or garri with eru. I’ve asked a few people about eating cassava or bobolo with eru and they cringed. My follow-up question usually is: isn’t garri, water-fufu and bobolo made from cassava? Another example question is; would you eat cocoyams with achu soup? Maybe yes?! Maybe no?! I know I know, I'm a little weird like that! Just a little weird! (Haha! wink)
Funny how we cringe at the thought of eating something we know what it is made of, though presented in a different form/combination from what we are accustomed to but we eat hotdogs, hamburgers and a list of other things which we don't know what it is made of. N.B Before we get all wired-up, this blog post isn't about what people should or shouldn’t eat, neither am I trying to diss the hamburger/hotdog industry/business. This is to get us to think about our thinking (metacognition). I don't impose my views/perspectives/beliefs on others. I share my thoughts which can be disagreed with, we are all entitled to our opinions! We live by the choices we make! That is the beauty of our learned habits and lived experiences which may sometimes be a barrier to our growth, thus preventing us from stepping out of our comfort zone. On the other hand, our ability to be open minded may see us through some challenging moments where we may feel ‘stuck’.
The choice of when to hold on to what we know versus being open minded is relative and situation specific, so choose wisely. Last month was a very overwhelmingly challenging one for me; especially the first two weeks of the month. By the end of the second week, I had some blank mind moments and felt the need to escape to total silence but I was postponing it until I was involuntarily thrusted into it. During my moments of silence, I wrestled with what I’ve been taught, what I’ve learned from others and what I’ve experienced thus far in order to figure out what will help me get through that challenging moment.
Inspired by my reflection on Oprah Winfrey’s books; What I Know for Sure and The Wisdom of Sundays. I resonated with certain concepts that helped me realign/refocus. What I share below is not necessarily directly related to my experience(s) mentioned above, these just came to mind because this happens to be the most recent books I’ve read. So, I thought; why not share my thoughts?! Sharing is caring! (Smily face)
“Gratitude is the greatest form of prayer when said with intent, it realigns your whole being.” The most difficult time to utter gratitude is when going through a challenging moment but when you are able to gather the courage and intentionally utter a prayer of gratitude, there is a feeling of weight being lifted off your shoulder. “Thank you because even in the eye of the storm, God has put a rainbow in the clouds.”The more grateful you become, the more you have to be grateful for (What I ‘Oprah’ Know for Sure/The Wisdom of Sundays).
Oprah categorized what she gives her time to as star 🌟 moments. Like the star ratings/reviews 5star, 4star, 3star… she finds/creates opportunities to engage in more of 5 and 4 star rated activities because it feeds the essence of who she is. Here is some of my own star ratings.
My 5star moments: Silent moments/meditation (Communication with God), reading, and writing (with a good cup of herbal tea), listening, sharing moments with family and friends, deep thoughtful conversations, taking a walk (Sunrise and or Sunset walks), being out in nature/hiking, playing...
4star moments: Exercising, cooking, music, eating nourishing/edifying foods, being an Occupational Therapist/Mental Health First Aider…
Do you have star category moments? If not, create it. This would help you reflect on what feeds you, re-evaluate what you give your time to in order to realign and refocus. It helps you get more intentional. “We get so wrapped up in doing that we lose sight of being and miss the joy of simple moments” (What I ‘Oprah’ Know for Sure/The Wisdom of Sundays).
“The exponential growth of wealth isn’t directly related to the growth in happiness. He who has the most toys (material possessions) still dies”(What I ‘Oprah’ Know for Sure). I remember when I just graduated and started working in 2015/2016. My first paycheck after working for only four days got me very excited so I worked six to seven days a week and on some days, I worked in two different locations for extra hours/money for the rest of 2016. I remember constantly feeling mentally drained while looking forward to the next paycheck thinking it will make it all better but nope it didn’t. Then when it came time to file taxes in 2017, I was sooooo upset because I was told I may have to pay the State. Say WHAT?! Now I can’t remember the last time I worked on Sunday nor seven days a week. Looking back, I mostly worked weekends from 2006 to 2015 while I was in school so I think I've served my time in the business of working weekends or at least working on Sundays (haha!). If my memory serves me right, 2016 was the last time I worked on a Sunday. I occasionally work 6days/week 1-3times per month. I take at least one Monday off a month for mental wellness especially if I know in advance that the preceding weekend will be busy. Also, reading the book Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosakiwas a huge eye opener.
When we let go of the desire to acquire more things and rather collect more shared moments, we are going to live the best life. “Having the best things is no substitute for having the best life.”Collect more moments and memories. We won’t be remembered for the stuff we had… The best gift you can give is the gift of your time, it is priceless. Spending time with others teaches us more about ourselves than about others. (What I ‘Oprah’ Know for Sure).
I’m not very much into the collection of ‘stuff,’ brand names, designers...bla bla bla. This can be interpreted in varying ways, one of which is throwing out the Cameroonian slang that goes thus in Pigin English “poor man go say Guinness bitter” or the Western version will be along the lines of ... a poor person will say owning Louboutin aka red bottoms or Louis Vuitton or Tesla or Porsche isn’t all that... Affordability isn’t the issue, it is more about the necessity for me. The fundamental question I ask myself is, is it absolutely necessary and what is my underlying intention? N.B I’m not hating on those who have these things; your money, your choice! Enjoy! If a goal in life is to own a designer something or a private jet: that’s your motivation so strive to achieve it. If owning one or more of such fulfills attaining a statue of… definitely not statue of liberty if it involves getting into debt in order to obtain it because there is nothing liberating about being in debt (anyways, let me mind my business!). At least be mindful about not being greedy while striving to attain certain goals at the expense of others or at the expense of your life and health. Be mindful about taking advantage of others because the circle/cycle of life spins. Sometimes it spins faster than we may think and worse than it was spun, like a cyclone/typhoon/hurricane. Remember, my intention isn't to tell people how to live their life, it is to get us (me included) to think about why we do what we do.
Whatever choice we make in life, whether active or passive will affect someone else be it negatively or positively, so be conscious of that. When your choice is right, your whole being will fuel it, irrespective of what people may say. Act with intent to be true to yourself. Not for applause, attention, recognition nor what will they think. If you find that you wrestle with yourself about a choice, find moments of stillness to listen to yourself. Remember; He that is in you is greater...and sufficient. “ That which we crave can’t be found outside ourselves nor come from someone else.” (What I ‘Oprah’ Know for Sure).
What you give, you get. What we dish out will be served back to us. What we give doesn’t necessarily have to be material stuff and we may not necessarily receive from the person/people we give. Best believe it comes back, so give more of what you would like to receive. Your giving however shouldn’t be fueled/motivated by the expectation to receive. Do it genuinely, because you can and because you want to. Not because you feel like you have to.
Every physical encounter/interaction has a metaphysical meaning. Nothing is random… we are all connected via our challenges/struggles, loss, pain, desire for success and etc…Our life experience is a lesson to us and others, the only difference is in how it is individually experienced. (What I ‘Oprah’ Know for Sure)
The highlight of the book (What I know for Sure) for me is when Oprah describes how she feels when she reads; “Delving into other people’s thoughts, building bonds with total strangers, marvel at people coming alive on paper, travel the world mentally. Wealth of insight, knowledge, inspiration and power. Sacred indulgence, a chance to be anywhere I choose. Reading gives me the ability to reach higher grounds and keep climbing, it exposes you, opens you up, gives you access to anything your mind can handle. If reading were a love language, it will be my primary and sharing it with people who do the same will be the most depth of love/connection… When we stop learning, we cease to grow.” I had to pause, rewind, replay multiple times to absorb this paragraph because I totally agree with it.
The above paragraph and my mentioned 5- & 4-star moments are what I know for sure! Star moments don’t have to be fixed, they can be flexible, open for re-evaluation and subject to change as we evolve into who we are becoming…What do you know for sure about yourself? What concept(s) shared above resonates/aligns with you and why?