Friday, September 28, 2007

We Do Not See Things as They Are - We See Things as We Are

It was Anais Nin who first said these profound words. Here's an optical illusion I received in my Inbox this morning - that shows just how deceptive our perceptions can be when coloured by our own ideas...

If you look at the images from your seat in frontof the computer, Mr.Angry is on the left, and Ms.Calm is on the right. Get up from your seat, and move back 12 feet, and PRESTO!! They switch places!! It is said this illusion was created by Phillippe G.Schyns and Aude Oliva of the University of Glasgow. Does this prove that we sometimes may not be seeing what's actually there?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Anger: Hell on Wheels

Anger it seems, is on a roll. A recent survey by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation found there are 12 per cent of young men aged 16 to 24 said they were more likely to honk their horn in annoyance, while the vast majority of older drivers -- 95 per cent -- didn't use the horn when frustrated. But perhaps most alarming, the study said "some 670,000 Canadians say they like to take risks while driving, just for the fun of it." The study also found that there are over twice as many males engaging in aggressive driving as there are women.

"Aggressive driving is a broad issue that includes behaviours like excessive speeding, running red lights, honking the horn, taking risks for fun while driving, and, in the extreme, physical violence," Ward Vanlaar, a research associate for TIRF, said in a press release Tuesday. "An aggressive driver may not intend to harm others, but their behaviour elevates everybody's crash risk," he said. "Speeding, taking risks, and running red lights are all extremely dangerous."
The interesting thing is what happens when this type of driving results in what is commonly known as "road rage" - other drivers retaliating with even more aggressive driving (e.g. cutting off the offender, or following too closely), or with violence (ranging from yelling, obscene gesturing, to extreme cases of property damage or physical assault). When driving degenerates to road rage, what is behind it

If belief is the basis of action, then road rage behaviours are rooted in a belief. Typically there is a feeling that rights have been violated or infringed upon - perhaps there is a belief that the other person "meant to do that", implying a personal vendetta being carried out on the roadways. If aggressive behaviour behind the wheel is belief-based, then all the sanctions, tickets, and fines in the world will not change the motivation for the behaviour. The study shows that the most aggressive drivers also have the highest incidence of traffic offenses - doesn't change their behaviour though...

Look - 670,000 Canadians drive aggressively because they believe it is FUN. The only way they will change their driving habits is to make it NOT FUN. The only way to keep people from retaliating against other aggressive drivers is to change your belief systems about what they are trying to achieve. People are not out on the roads looking for an accident; they are out there driving like Indy 500 race car drivers because it is fun. Perhaps they are out there for the thrill of the wind in their face, and the feel of the open road. It is easy to get lost in fun, isn't it? It's easy to forget that your fun may be a source of danger or discomfort for others - isn't that true?

The same is true for people who are driving aggressively because they believe it is the only way for them to survive on the roads. "Get them before they get you" is a common attitutude, which finds its way into the driver's seat. Again, these drivers are not looking for an accident, they are in survival mode that stems from a belief that all the other drivers out there are on a personal mission to "get them", so they must drive defensively (or often aggressively) in order to get from A to B safely. If they cause a near miss here or there, it is likely the other person's fault, and they were the ones who avoided the accident.

Think about some of the beliefs that may contribute to road rage: If I do this, I will get this result. I am doing this because the other person deserves it. I have every right to be angry because of what this person did. These are all belief statements - faulty ones because they do not consider the outcome of the kneejerk reaction. If you damage someone's property or person, sure - you'll feel avenged, but you'll also likely feel handcuffs around your wrists. The other person may deserve to be punished for his/her bad driving habits, but you'd be better off taking the license plate number and reporting him/her to the police rather than trying to be a vigilante. While you have every right to feel angry, you have a RESPONSIBILITY to deal with your anger in a way that does not put you or anyone else at risk.

Think about that the next time you come in contact with an aggressive driver, or the next time you decide to be one.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Busting Stress is a Blast!

Yesterday, I held my first Stress Busters for Professionals workshop in about a year. We had a good turnout of 12 people from all walks of life, clerks, managers, real estate agents, sales executives, and small business owners. Every time I do one of these programs, I am reminded of just how much I LOVE working with people, and sharing insights that can help them improve their lives. I am also reminded of how much I learn each time I facilitate one of these workshops. One of the best parts about the Stress program is getting everyone down on the floor to do some relaxation exercises. In North American society, we are always in such a rush, and everything is always so noisy and busy, that we very rarely get permission (much less the chance) to just stop... to enjoy the silence, and to just BE.

This five to ten minute exercise, in which we just take the time to reacquaint ourselves with our bodies and our spirits, and to just BE in the moment - to me, is worth the whole day. To see people get up from that place of tranquility and to witness the changes in their faces, their posture, their breathing... it is pretty cool to be a part of that transformation.

Thanks to all attendees for the great reviews - 4s and 5s out of 5 - and I appreciate the positive comments and encouragement, some of which I'll share here...

"It was a nice, casual approach..."
"Great seminar - I will use the tools provided and it was nice to have some re-affirmation."
"Thank you for a wonderful day!"
"Excellent course content. Very useful tools."
"I was able to learn somethings new and valuable that I will be able to use."
"I enjoyed the day; happy I registered."

Our next Stress Busters session will take place early in 2008 - By then I hope to have my new book about Busting Stress ready and in print. In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled here as I talk about some of those issues that will eventually make it into the book.

What's your biggest challenge when it comes to stress? I'd like to hear from you!