A little family history …

I got a pleasant surprise today when a distant cousin sent me some old photos and scans. One family member who is well known to me from stories but I didn’t ever meet her – my Great Auntie Mary. She was born in 1892 and died in 1994.

Auntie Mary Moran
Auntie Mary wrote this poem on her 92nd birthday. She was quite a woman!

She had quite a strong interest in politics too!
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Not a night person anymore!

I realised this morning that I completely messed up on my previous post. Thanks to those who ‘liked’ it anyway!

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In the past I was always at my best in the evenings – did my best work when I was studying etc. Time to review this I am afraid.

My previous post was about Machiavelli but I had the heading of Descartes. I don’t think they have much in common – especially the ‘ends justifies the means”!

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Machiavelli Continued …

We had two lively discussions last Thursday on Machiavelli. He is mostly remembered for the words “the ends justify the means” but I don’t believe he actually ever used those words specifically. In his book, The Prince, he develops something of an instruction manual for a Prince who is about to lead his kingdom.

There are around ten people in each group competing to share their ideas. I try hard to let everyone have a chance to talk.

It was inevitable that we would end up discussing some well known politicians such as Donald Trump and Theresa May. We also tried to discern if Machiavelli really supported unscrupulous behaviour or whether he was just “telling it like it was/is”. We generally believed he wrote from his knowledge and experience within the government of the day.

Since Thursday I see so much Machiavelli wherever I look. People in power presenting an acceptable face to the world but barely hiding some of the measures they take to continue in their roles.

It could be argued that we all have a dark side or shadow but hopefully most people work towards bettering themselves and not at refining their dark arts!

Niccolò Machiavelli

Tomorrow our U3A Group will be studying Machiavelli.

He is definitely an interesting character to consider and I am sure there will be some lively discussion. Consider the following quote:

It makes one think in these times when we long for strong leadership based on integrity. Stay tuned for more …

What makes you happy?

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Today we met and considered happiness (the Greek word is eudaimonia) as described by Greek philosopher, Aristotle. We each talked a little about what makes us happy. There was a lot of common ground with friends, family and nature featuring highly. I will include some of the ideas we looked at today:

Happiness comes from discovering who you are, developing your distinctive talents to work for the overall benefit of others as well as yourself.

Aristotle’s way of achieving happiness: activities that are in accordance with our virtues and the person having a noble purpose in those activities.

Happiness is having a sense of well-being that is achieved through good living. (Dr Martin Seligman).

According to Aristotle, ethics is about how people should best live, while the study of politics is from the perspective of the law-giver, looking at the good of the whole community (Wikipedia).

We talked about happiness and reflected on other positive emotions of which there are many examples as explored through the Positive Psychology field.

JOY, GRATITUDE, SERENITY, INTEREST, HOPE, PRIDE, AMUSEMENT, INSPIRATION, AWE, ELEVATION, ALTRUISM, SATISFACTION, RELIEF, AFFECTION, CHEERFULNESS, SURPRISE, CONFIDENCE, ADMIRATION, ENTHUSIASM, EAGERNESS, EUPHORIA, CONTENTMENT, ENJOYMENT, OPTIMISM, LOVE

(https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/positive-emotions-list-examples-definition-psychology)

There was plenty of lively discussion and different points of view which made it all the more interesting. Next time we meet we will be looking at Machiavelli.

Philosophy 2019

Next week I will be starting the Let’s Talk Philosophy course for our local University of the Third Age.

This year we will be using the book “50 Philosophy Classics” by Tom Butler Brown. We hope to cover just ten philosophers between now and June. It will really be an introduction to each of the chosen philosophers and we will enjoy some stimulating conversation and hopefully a few laughs!

I usually include a quote by a philosopher as a basis for discussion. Our first one is Aristotle and the quote is:

Aristotle 384BC – 322BC

Do you have any thoughts on the quote? I would love to hear them!

Mooji – The Parable of the Two Birds

Just wanted to share this post from Val at Finding Your Middle Ground. I think it reflects what I was trying to say in my most recent post.

Find Your Middle Ground

This inspiration is from Mooji and is taken from ‘Vaster Than Sky Greater Than Space’.

“Some time ago I saw a picture depicting a parable from the Bhagavad Gita. It showed two birds in a tree, and one of them was building a nest. This one is flying off collecting things, arranging the twigs – its active, doing many things.

Above this bird, on another branch, is a second bird. It looks identical to the first bird, and it’s not building anything. It is just observing. It’s not building a self-image out of its perceiving, and its not deeply interested in any aspect of what it sees. Its perceiving is happening quite spontaneously without effort or judgment. There’s a silence there, that feeling of Being without thought. Just looking.

This is a beautiful portrait of who we are.

These two birds are connected. The first  bird represents our dynamic being…

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2019 and all that …

I am thinking about next year and where to focus my interest and my energies. I am not one for New Year’s resolutions or for setting goals but I like to pause and consider what I want to include or change in my year ahead.

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2018 was a pretty good year for me. It was very busy and enjoyable year with my U3A (University of the Third Age) commitments. It was one of those years where, at times, I became more of a human-doing rather than a human-being.

For the year ahead I would like to give more attention to my relationships with people in my life. I have moved around a fair bit in my life and have often lost touch with people in the process. I grew up in Victoria and have now lived in West Australia for 36 years. I have lived in the Kimberley region, Pilbara region, MidWest/Gascoyne region, Perth, Goldfields/Esperance region and now the South West. Each time I moved I had to start again and make new friends and set up new networks. It gets to the point that I get itchy feet if I stay in one place too long.

I think 2019 will be about putting down some roots, building relationships and accepting we are here to stay. And being grateful that I can enjoy life in such a pleasant environment.

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An Orange

I sometimes find that depression sneaks up on me. I have lots of strategies for working around it (diet, exercise, pills, positive psychology etc) but sometimes it wins. Today was one of those days.

I caught myself being grumpy when reaching for my ‘after-dinner’ orange that I have everyday that we have oranges in the house. I looked at the orange and thought how nice it looked. I remembered living in a remote community in the Northern Territory of Australia and we had no access to fresh fruit at the time. That was when I realised that oranges are my favourite fruit. We had to order food about six weeks in advance and the grocery order came by barge from Northern Queensland (quite a distance away). 

I held the orange in my hand, smelled it, felt the texture and felt very grateful for it. I then proceeded to eat it while savouring the taste! It didn’t cure my depression but it was a circuit breaker letting some light in!