I recently visited Tala Game Reserve, in KwaZulu-Natal, with my mother. We spent a few hours driving around looking for game, but were disappointed in that we saw almost nothing. We eventually found our way to the bird hide overlooking a small dam, with rolling hills beyond. We set out our camping chairs on the open deck and just sat quietly, enjoying the view.
It was not long before we realised that everywhere we looked there was game to be seen. Waterfowl had settled back on the water, hippos in the dam were popping their heads up to grunt and snort, birds of prey were circling overhead, monkeys were playing in the huge fig tree on the other side of the dam, ostrich, kudu, impala and wildebeest could be seen on the hills and rhino were grazing in the distance.
The lesson I was reminded of is that desire often creates paradoxical effects: The more you want something, the more you chase after it, the more it eludes you. Henry Thoreau said: “Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you; but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder."
During my travels through America I spent a few days in Boston, Massachusetts. The historic parts of the city are beautiful and on my first evening there I was charmed to see the lighting of the gas lamps.
I wondered about the gas lamps and found out that they first came to life at Haymarket Square in 1828, spreading to other parts of the city relatively quickly. By the late 1800s however, electric lamps had replaced the quaint gas lamps. The electric lamps remained until 1962, when the city, hoping to recapture the charm of an earlier era, reverted to gas lamps in Boston’s historic neighborhoods. Today the gas lamps are a big draw for tourists in Boston.
The life lesson here is that sometimes in striving for progress and the convenience of modern amenities, we lose sight of the benefits of what we already have.
It was not the modern electric lamps that turned out to be the most beneficial for the city, but rather the gas lamps. In order to capitalize on the tourism revenue, Boston had to revert back to what they originally had.
While cross country skiing in Keystone Ski Resort, high in the Rocky Mountains, I fell and a sharp piece of ice gouged a small chunk of flesh out of a finger. It was a small wound but for the next week it did not heal at all.
The ski season came to an end and my next adventure was to drive to Louisiana for the annual New Orleans Jazz Festival. I was fascinated to find that within 24 hours of entering Louisiana, which is hot and humid (the exact opposite of the extremely dry atmosphere at the ski resort) the flesh of my wound had drawn together and healing was well on its way. All it needed was the right conditions – wounds heal faster and better when kept moist.
In 1962 scientist George D. Winter found that the regrowth of skin proceeded twice as fast in a moist environment than under a scab. Wounds covered with a film dressing took about 12 to 15 days to heal, while similar wounds exposed to the air took about 25 to 30 days to heal. Our body’s cells need moisture to survive.
The lesson here is that the right things happen under the right conditions – we just need to discover and create the right conditions. This concept applies to all aspects of our life, be it physical, mental, emotional or spiritual.
This article is one of a three-part series on Transactional Analysis. It follows on from the articles “Transactional Analysis – Part I (The Masks we Wear)” and “Transactional Analysis – Part II (The Games we Play)”. This article (Part III), is an outline of two more of the key concepts in Transactional Analysis – Life Positions and Life Scripts.
Based on decisions made in infancy, we assume one of four basic psychological life positions, which to a large extent determines our pattern of thinking, feeling, and behaving. The challenge is to become aware of our life position and if necessary, create a healthy alternative.
The four life positions were developed by Frank Ernst into the well-known OK Corral shown in this poster.
Read Transactional Analysis – Part III (The Scripts We Follow) for details of the four life positions.
We live in a world of uncertainty. We are constantly trying to overcome this by making sense of things. The problem is that however good our sense-making is, it can never match the complexity of the world. As a result, the meaning that we create is always tinged with doubt. Some uncertainty always remains. Said another way, the assumptions we make and the things we do in the world all attract an element of risk.
This article is one of a three-part series on Transactional Analysis. This article follows on from the article "Transactional Analysis – Part I (The Masks we Wear)" and comes before Transactional Analysis - Part III (The Scripts we Follow). What follows in this article (Part II) is an outline of two more key concepts in Transactional Analysis – Strokes and Games.
If you look up the word ‘freedom’ in a dictionary you will see that it is a noun and has two definitions:
The Mandela Capture Site is situated in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, South Africa. It marks the place where Nelson Mandela was captured, at a roadblock, by the police on 5 August 1962, after being on the run from the South African Government for 17 months. There is a remarkable sculpture and a small (sadly unremarkable) museum to be found there. What really caught my interest were postcards and magnets depicting a thought-provoking quote by Nelson Mandela:
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
The life lesson here is an obvious one. If we truly want freedom then we must respect others. Instead of shouting others down or intimidating them if they dare speak up against us, we need to allow them to have their own ideas and opinions. We don’t have to agree with them, but we must show tolerance and respect towards them.
Some years ago I visited Oudtshoorn, a region in South Africa well known for its ostrich farming. I had a tour of a farm, as well as a ride on an ostrich – a most interesting experience! I also learnt some fascinating facts about ostriches. What struck me most was that while ostriches are not the most intelligent bird on this planet (an ostrich's brain is smaller than its eye and would hardly fill a tablespoon!), they have adapted so well that they have been on earth between 70 and 120 million years. Their lifespan is 50 – 75 years, which is an amazing age for a bird! In Mesopotamia and Egypt ostriches have inspired cultures and civilizations for 5000 years, which is more than can be said for most other living creatures!
The lesson here is that success need not be about intellectual capacity or intelligence, but rather about getting on with the job. Too often we measure success by degrees, diplomas and certificates, rather than by the ability to adapt to what's needed and getting on with doing it!