What is This Elusive Thing Called Happiness?

Happiness

I spruced my self up and made my way to the Business School ready to learn how to be myself. The topic sounded interesting and the speaker looked like a well rounded, successful business man. Maybe I could learn a thing or two.

When I arrived I was greeted by angelic smiles from groups of women dressed in white saris, while esoteric music played in the background and the faint scent of incense hovered in the air.

I looked around and noticed that we were a diverse group gathering in the room, from the hippy looking “eat, pray, love” types to formal business men and women and everyone in between.

The speaker was Mike George and he was advertised to speak on Being Yourself. I have a ‘thing’ for authenticity and so I was attracted to the topic.

Although I gathered by now that this was some sort of religious group, I was deeply impressed with what Mike had to say and how he said it. No hype, no hysteria, just good common sense with a profound simplicity.

Basically, we are motivated by happiness, but get distracted by pleasures. Happiness can be described in so many ways, but generally boils down to contentment, joy and bliss. Happiness actually comes from within, not the external pleasures that we spend so much of our lives pursuing. Contentment, joy and bliss are all internal, yet we chase after beauty, possessions, ego and so many other external commodities.  And the cherry on the top, in order to find this elusive thing called happiness, we need to learn the lifelong lesson of acceptance, which banishes judgement. It’s a tall order and yet it makes a lot of sense.

Mike spoke on all of these things for an hour and a half, so I have obviously mentioned the kernel of his talk that resonated within me. I found myself deeply challenged and wonderfully at peace to find such a simple answer to finding happiness. I don’t doubt that I will forget much of this in my daily living, but if I can return here each day and practice it, I will be a lot less stressed.

By Karen Lancaster

How Can We Not Say No to Xenophobia?

 

#NoToXenophobia

I look around this beautiful nation bemused and horrified at all the recent events. As much as load shedding, crime and corruption has upset me, nothing prepared me for the trauma of the xenophobic sentiments that have resulted in brutal murders and displacement of innocent people.

As always in the midst of horror the compassionate and courageous face of humanity also shines through. Thank God for the many people who are trying to do something to stop the madness and care for the victims.

Having worked in Alexandra during the riots in the early eighties and managed a shelter for abused women and their children in Midrand, I have always been caught by surprise at mankind’s ability for cruelty. My geographical travels have taken me through Pol Pot’s regime in the Killing Fields of Cambodia and seeing the results of the sex trade in Thailand from the Hill Tribes in Chiang Rai to Bangkok’s sleazy brothels. My literary travels have included Nazi Germany and the Vietnam War, to name but a few, and I am dismayed at our barbaric potential as humans.

I consider myself to be a pretty average individual, no more courageous or wicked than the next person. Yet in my very worst moments, I could not harm another creature intentionally. Perhaps I would succumb in the case of self defence or protecting my family. So what causes masses to wilfully and violently harm others as in the examples above? No matter how different a person is to me or no matter how much I may dislike them, I couldn’t bring myself to hurt them.

Or could I? Would I become violent when whipped to a frenzy in a crowd? Would I follow the crowd? Do we know how we will react in certain situations?

All I know is that we have to do something to stop the xenophobic attacks in South Africa. Hats off to groups like Gift of the Givers, Bedfordview Methodist Church, IAMAFRICA and many others who are giving us a means of helping in practical ways. It restores a little faith in humanity after all. Apart from funding, marching or volunteering, how can I make a difference in everyday life?

Remember Mother Teresa’s famous quote, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” The same applies in this situation. For every one of us who change our attitude towards people different from ourselves, there may be another influenced to follow suit.

It starts with me. How do I view others who are culturally different to me? What do I say about others? How will I say No to Xenophobia?

I will fight against labelling you and looking at our differences and rather focus on our similarities. I choose not to fear you but to try and understand you through engaging with you. Rather than look for who to blame, I will look within. I will fight all temptation to surrender to discrimination in all of it’s different forms. Please help me and join me in changing self.  Say No to Xenophobia.

Seasons Greetings

network explosionDespite the load shedding, unpredictable weather, traffic jams and stressed out people, this is a great time of the year. Over half of the Joburg population is racing time, trying to update their work load and fit in Christmas shopping before leaving for the annual holiday. The frenzy adds to the excitement of the busy Johannesburg lifestyle, so in the middle of all of this, I would like to take time out of my frenetic schedule and wish you all the best for the holiday season. Enjoy your holiday, wherever it may be, and savour the time spent with family and friends.

Network Explosion, together with businesses that we collaborate with, took time out this week to celebrate a great year with a year end function in Fourways. Hilarity was the theme and relationships were strengthened as we laughed our way through a lunch with loads of refreshments and seasonal spirit.

Thanks to clients and co-workers for all of your support this year and may we move into 2015 with hope and anticipation of growth and good things.

Seasons greetings to you all and a Happy New Year!

network explosion

By Karen Lancaster

What is Mindfulness?

 

Don’t you think that a major part of being successful in business is being successful as a person? When we reach a place in our lives where we are more rounded and content with ourselves, we can spread that into every other are of our lives.

Recently, everywhere I turn I hear or read what seems to be the latest buzzword – “mindfulness”.  The definition of this adjective is to be conscious or aware of something, and synonyms include the following words: sensible, alive, alert, acquainted, heedful and wary.

I’ve discovered that there are whole websites dedicated to mindfulness and plenty of mindfulness apps available for our smartphones. Basically, mindfulness seems to be living a life that is more aware of the moment.  It’s a form of meditation.  A more esoteric definition would be an intentional acceptance and non-judgmental focus of attention on emotions, thoughts and sensations in the moment.

It’s quite an interesting concept and apparently has many benefits including a stronger immune system, decreasing stress and depression, improving focus, strengthening empathy, improving relationships and fighting obesity.

As wonderful as this all sounds, what on earth does it have to do with social media? Well, working in social media tends to make me the complete opposite of being mindful. At Network Explosion, we tend to be future oriented, always looking for new ideas and innovative ways to market our clients through social media platforms. The platforms themselves are changing by the moment and we are continually working at being in the forefront of what is happening. The social media space is very exciting, however it can be pretty hectic and even exhausting at times.

I was initially attracted to social media because of its supportive environment. Slowly I have seen it being consumed by all of humanity’s usual flaws, driven by greed and power. I have also noticed a recent trend where consumers have become disillusioned with corporate power and bullying and have returned to small business and local stores where transparency and relationship are important.  And this is where I see mindfulness playing a part. No matter the size of the business, being mindful, with all of its benefits, should surely improve business. As business owners are healthier, happier, more empathic, focused and less stressed, their businesses can only benefit, especially with improved relationships.

I’m going to give it a bash, I certainly can see no harm in it.

By Karen Lancaster

Hard Work – Essential Elements of Successful Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurs rely heavily on hard work, however due to the passion and love for the job, it usually doesn’t feel like work. A strong work ethic is absolutely essential to success and 100% effort is continuously necessary. Hard work is often a time consuming activity and most of the successful entrepreneurs are workaholics, despite the many calls for balance and the need for relaxation.

Successful businesses have definitely been built upon the shoulders of founders who have had an attitude of working harder than the average employee. The difference is that the hard work is seen from a different perspective and an energy seems to emanate from entrepreneurs. The time flies by and much of the work seems like play. In fact, much of the time, work and play seem to merge into living.

Without a doubt, entrepreneurs seem to work harder than most, but their attitude is completely different. Ideas for their businesses seem to pop up at the most inopportune moments, with no regard to business hours. Sleep is sometimes elusive as the mind races solving problems and coming up with new innovations.

Commitment to success is a must. It keeps the entrepreneur going when all else is going wrong.

Noel Coward – “Work is more fun than fun.”

 

By Karen Lancaster

Digital Media Coach, Social Media Marketing

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