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A Special Series for the 2015 Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship

Each year at the Skoll World Forum, nearly 1,000 of the world’s most influential social entrepreneurs, key thought leaders and strategic partners gather at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School to exchange ideas, solutions and information.

We asked a number of speakers to discuss the critical issues, challenges and opportunities underpinning their sessions in advance of the Forum to ground a richer debate both online and in Oxford.

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Coping, Thriving and Soaring

Coping, Thriving and Soaring

March 18, 2015 | 2848 views

We spend our time living either in the past or in the future. Time is solidified through planning and expecting for the future, and worrying about the past. Rarely do we drop into the present moment.

Planning is sometimes necessary, but usually it is out of control. It robs us of our tranquility. We become internally cluttered, and lose our ability to make sound decisions. We tread water trying to stay afloat, but are nearly drowning in stress.

When we are out of balance, anger comes from out of the blue just like a knee-jerk reaction. We easily take things personally and feel attacked and hurt. We rarely use these precious challenging moments to see our inner selves. We shy away out of fear. The inner work seems too painful, requiring too much inertia.

Tolerance makes us thrive. Compassion lifts us to soar.

Turning inward is the key. It allows us to take stock of our emotions, feelings, and thoughts. They often remain opaque and hidden. Learning to turn inward is the bedrock.

Noticing our foibles requires much courage. We become Samurai spiritual warriors.

If we don’t know what is going on inside, how can we move towards a healthier life? Learning to observe nonjudgmentally is thriving. This is humming a tune and skipping with joy.

Soaring requires courage. It is not for the faint-hearted. Going to battle with destructive emotions requires strength and commitment.

We all get angry even though we don’t like it. If we pay attention, we can identify the early rumblings of anger. It might be a certain person, or a certain pattern in our relationship with loved ones, colleagues, or friends, or maybe just being overtired that can set us off.

These dysfunctional patterns may date from childhood. There may be sensations in our body. So recognizing situations and people that often set us off is the first step towards soaring. Recognizing these catalysts triggering our anger brings us closer to soaring.

Courage and commitment guard against complacency and inactivity.

Then comes the actual transformation. Suppressing anger is not healthy, for it still lurks in dark corners ready to explode. Redirecting our incipient anger towards understanding and tolerance is the goal. Eventually it will transform into compassion.

The thought process is like this. Firstly I know the other person provoking me is not happy. For if she was happy, she would not be provoking me.

Then I think, why is she unhappy? Is she having trouble with her partner? Nearly everyone has some relationship issues. Are there financial problems, which are also common? Is she worried about her health?

Following this way of thinking automatically dissipates our anger. There is no room for it to develop.

Working with anger at its early stages is very effective. But it rarely works the first time. So commitment to try again and again is very important. It takes courage and maturity.

We don’t like looking at our bad habits. So staying in the trenches and fighting destructive emotions takes courage.

Once we are committed and continue to do the work, we soar. Our destructive emotions like anger will weaken, and finally come to an end.

Then our soaring goes far beyond our imagination. Selfishness, greed, and unhappiness become history. Meaning and purpose fills our life. We harness all of our resources with this mature attitude of working for others’ wellbeing.

This is a great contribution to our community and society.

  • Felipe Spath

    Thanks thanks for this article!! The shift from looking outside to observing inwards is so important! Specially for many of us which constantly work towards facilitating well being at troubled communities. We can sometimes be very passionate about what we do, and act selflessly focussing on others, but forgetting that inner being who needs to be taken care of as well. Generating sustainable wellbeing , for communities, persons, loved ones, or yourself (at the end all interconnected) starts with the development of self consciousness transcending the ego.

    Can you recommend methodologies, workshops, activities, to be carried out with persons and groups (including children and teenagers) , without reverence to a specific religion?

    Thank you very much!

  • Barry Kerzin

    Hi Felipe, yes of course. Maybe best in person in Oxford. Most of what I do is not religious based. Rather, humanitarian. I teach healthy self-confidence that puts no one down (not ourself nor others). With this comes inner courage and strength to reduce our ego and care for others. This brings more meaning to our lives. Around the world in schools, universities, prisons, etc. I teach this stuff.

    Thanks very much for inquiries. Sorry for the delayed response. I’ve been on the road. Warmly, Barry

  • Brent Kessel

    Hi Barry. Great article. I’ve been a dedicated meditator & yogi for over 20 years, and was happy to see you’ll be leading sittings at Skoll (this will be my first year). I hope we have a chance to connect. I run a conscious impact investment firm and wrote a book on the psychology of money some years ago.


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