Tag Archives: Empowerment

Is it true?

Oscar WildeYesterday on “work in progress”, I posted the following quote from Oscar Wilde:

“We are all standing in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

I did so as sort of an experiment. Because I was wondering if people would react to it as strongly as I did.

Here’s what I got: Nobody “Liked” the Facebook link and no-one downloaded the attached PDF as would be the usual thing to expect for any regular post. No approval, but also no aversion. I got no reaction really.

I saw the quote (written before 1900) for the first time very recently. Here is how I reacted. At first I thought: “Ah.” And then: “Huh?” And finally: “Is it true?” After thinking about it, I noticed that this short statement made me feel downright uncomfortable and I wasn’t sure why.

Then I realized. It is one of those tricky, subtle, pseudo-positive messages that we see and hear almost every day. In the paper, on TV, in conversations with co-workers and so on. The content varies and other words are used, but the modern gist is pretty much the same. In my mind, suggestions like these rang out:

This world is in a mess, but some of us (in the West) are lucky.

+++ or +++

Life is difficult, but let’s keep our heads up.

I had to ask myself these questions:

  • How much suffering are these types of seemingly harmless suggestions and our adoption of them causing?
  • How much depression and stress are related to this type of thinking?

Byron Katiee

In her process of inquiry called “The Work“, Byron Katie recommends we question our own thinking and ask ourselves four basic questions. She concludes the process with a so-called “turnaround“.

On her homepage “The Work” (http://www.thework.com) she elaborates:

  1. “Is it true?
  2. Can you absolutely know that it is true?
  3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be without the thought?
  5. Turn it around (the concept you are questioning), and don’t forget to find genuine, specific examples of each turnaround. Each turnaround is an opportunity to experience the opposite of your original statement…”


Let’s turn around Byron Katie’s process – because I find it fun and inspiring to use it in both directions…

First the turnarounds:

“We are all standing in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars” can be turned around to:

  • We are all standing in the stars, but many of us choose to look into the gutter.
  • Some of us are standing in the gutter, but we are all stars among men.

“This world is in a mess,but some of us (in the West) are lucky” turns around to:

  • The world is as it should be, but some of us are unlucky not to see it.
  • Luckily, the world is always perfectly arranged.

“Life is difficult, but let’s keep our heads up” can be turned around to:

  • Life is easy, but we keep putting our heads down.
  • It’s hard to keep our heads up when we make life so difficult.

or maybe just simply…


And now ask yourself the following questions:

  1. “Is it true? [that life is beautiful]
  2. Can you absolutely know that it is true? [write a list of evidence if you have to]
  3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be with the thought?


Now I am going to modify yesterday’s post. It practically gave me a bodily allergic reaction to post it – ha, ha. I hope I receive a reaction from some of you this time, if only in your own minds.

Until we meet again,


P.S. Add a “turnaround” of your own in the comment field below, if you think of one.



rainy beachMy recent two week holiday in Mallorca was literally a nightmare: the rental house was filthy, the bedding had been used, the toilet was broken and my favorite beach had completely been washed away by thunderstorms.

To top it off, it rained ten of the thirteen days (six hours a day!) and my friends became sick with fever, allergies, skin rashes, cold and stomach flu.

++ At this point, I devotedly want to thank God for not having been robbed or abducted. ++

The advantage of a rainy holiday is that you have plenty of time to observe things and reflect on them, which I eagerly did the full two weeks. Thanks to the beautiful bouquet of mishaps, this holiday was full of opportunities for personal advancement. Today, I want to report about my findings on education.

Besides myself and my five year old son, I had several more test subjects: moms at the beach, moms in restaurants and moms in supermarkets. Mallorca is full of people educating their children…

Six things I realized about mothers on that trip:

1)      Mothers are worrying.
Things/weather/food/… might be too warm/cold/rough/… for the baby.
Certain people/circumstances/… could cause stress/danger/confusion/… for the baby.

2)      Mothers are trying to find reasons for everything.
Why does/doesn´t the baby cry/sleep/move/…?
Who/what could be accountable for the situation?

3)      Mothers are speculating about their baby´s true purpose in life.
She/he is so keen/eager/intelligent… she/he might be a [xy] one day.

4)      Mothers are calming themselves down if their children do so called “wrong things”.
It will be over soon / It certainly is only a phase of her/his life / …

5)      Mothers are justifying their children´s behavior if somebody criticizes them.
The reason why she/he does this is the experience of / mind set about / … – therefore it is a natural reaction

6)      Mothers are busy pushing their children into new experiences to encourage them.
Snorkeling / swimming to a buoy / wading through a current / swimming without swimmies / jumping into the water / …

Jona thinking about jumping

After reflecting over my six holy, key findings I came to the conclusion that all parents I know, including my own parents, did and still do behave like that.

The topics we worry about and question may vary – the worrying and questioning stay the same. The types of speculation about the child´s purpose might change – the hopes and expectations stay the same.

The calming down and justifying might fade out and come back during certain phases. But I bet, most parents are familiar with this thinking and behavior, as well as with the fear that your child might lack an important trait, like bravery or compassion.

Obviously, all these characteristics of education are a fundamental part of people trying to be good parents and giving their children “the best they can get for their lives”. The intention probably is to assure perfect conditions and to enable a suitable preparation for every day´s requirements. Good parents simply want to make sure that their children get strong enough so they can easily jump over every hurdle in life!


… you don’t need so called perfect or normal conditions for living the highest vision of your life?

Like Jason McElway who did six three-pointers in a row (“He was hot as a pistol”):


… there were people who upheld your vision – or would have an even higher vision of you, if you wanted them to? Without any compliance requirements or expectations?

Like for example Ben Underwood´s mother does:


… those people stuck to their belief in you – no matter what happened and no matter what you did?

… there was no-one who wanted to press you into their “perfect” idea of you?

I believe that children would then finally have the great chance to enter a new dimension of developing themselves. And I believe that this would empower them to create a new way of existence, full of trust and fulfillment on this planet.

I think it´s time to use a key for creating a new way of caring for each other: it is replacing education with EMPOWERMENT.

Later, when I pick up my little 5 yr. old son from kindergarten, I will not worry whether his conditions for today were perfect. And I will not try to find a reason or excuse for him maybe not being in a perfect mood.

Concerning his true purpose in life, I might ask him about his personal wishes. And then, trustingly, I will stick to his wishes in an even higher vision. Up to the point where he changes it. And then I will stick to this new vision. Again and again. And trustingly enjoy that it is his decision, if or when he might take his next jump in life.

Jona in the water



[I dedicate this blog post to all children in the world. And the great opportunity they are for us to create a higher vision of humanity.]

Fosbury it!

Fosbury FlopHello everyone! As Shailia already mentioned I will write in german this time 🙂

Mein erster Post ist eine Einladung an Dich.

Shailia und ich haben vor einigen Wochen festgestellt, dass wir unabhängig voneinander den gleichen spannenden Versuch gestartet haben,  mit dem wir unser Lebensspielfeld erweitern, verändern, umgestalten und sogar in eine neue und andere Qualität bringen können. Das Prinzip, dass wir dabei verfolgen, ist ganz einfach: Do something different!

Vermutlich kennst du die nervige (und bisweilen gemeine) innere Stimme, mit der Du (!) Dich gern davon abhältst, Neues auszuprobieren, ungewöhnliche Wege zu gehen oder den mutigen großen Sprung ins Ungewisse zu wagen.  Wir möchten hier einen Platz schaffen, der dazu inspiriert, zur Abwechslung mal keine gute Figur abzugeben, sondern  spielerisch zu experimentieren und einfach zu wagen, zu springen und die Erfahrungen die daraus entstehen mitzuteilen.

Wir laden Dich daher ein, mitzumachen und Deine Erlebnisse  zu teilen. Und wir freuen uns über Geschichten von dritten, die Dich inspiriert haben, weil sie so anders, mutig, zweifelhaft und ungewöhnlich waren – und gerade deshalb so revolutionär, erfolgreich oder schöpferisch, dass sie neue Wege geebnet haben.

Getreu dem Prinzip “just try something else” haben wir dieses Mal keine Strategie, keine Regeln und keine Messlatte.

Unsere Vision sind unzählige Anekdoten, Interviews, Schnipsel, Aphorismen, …, die diesen Blog füllen und eines Tages ein Buch, das wir gemeinsam an andere Pioniere verteilen können.

Just try something else oder spring doch mal andersrum!
Hier als erste Inspiration

Fosbury it!


Can’t never could do nothin’

Do you sometimes think about a certain saying you often heard when you were growing up and suddenly realize how much meaning is hidden in that simple figure of speech? My grandmother liked to say, “Can’t never could do nothin’.”

Like the time she had just repaired the hem on my favorite wrap-around skirt and asked me to come upstairs to see if the length was right. I replied, “I can’t. Oprah’s on.” And she said, “Can’t never could do nothin’.”

Of course, what I really meant was, “I am watching TV and don’t want to be bothered.” In the end, I could and did get my lazy butt up and try on that skirt because it made me look thinner and I didn’t want to do without it.

Or like the countless times she informed me she would be waking me up at 6:00 a.m. for our daily walk. I would say, “What! You know I can’t get up that early.” And she would say, “Can’t never could do nothin’.”

What I actually thought was, “Make a fuss over me and tell me how you would miss me terribly if I stayed in bed.” Again, I could and did get up, because those early morning hours alone with her were the best thing about my Summer vacations.

When I think about it, it seems to me that the word “can’t” is like the sheep’s skin which conceals the wolf in the flock. It is a powerful verbal operator which we inadvertently use to hide our lack of motivation, insecurities and dislikes but also needs, priorities and choices. When we say “can’t” we are often disguising other sentiments such as “won’t”, “didn’t”, “don’t want”, “would rather”, “please do” , “take notice” and on and on.

I think “can’t” CAN do something. I believe it is a potent word and, if we are not diligent in its use, it can reduce the quality of our communication, limit our options for action and obscure our sense of personal choice and responsibility.


I wonder, what would happen if we all decided to ban the word “can’t” from our vocabularies? Maybe we would begin to say and hear things like this:

  • “Could you please unbutton my pants.” …INSTEAD OF… “I can’t do a thing with these fake nails on.”
  • “True, I didn’t write the testimonial yet.” …INSTEAD OF… “I couldn’t find the time to do it up to now because… (insert a million excuses here).”
  • “Yes, I handed over everything because I wanted to stay alive.” INSTEAD OF “I couldn’t not give the robbers my money.”
  • “Apparently, I want to feel shitty about this situation for a while.” …INSTEAD OF… “I can’t stop thinking about how badly the meeting went.”

To me, a vocabulary without “can’t” feels like a more interesting, honest and powerful life.

Looking at the statements above, which differences make a difference to you?  What might you say …INSTEAD OF…?

Until we meet,