The Happy Middle Part II - Being Both/And

Published January 10th, 2016

Compliments of the New Year to those who mark 1 January a new year.

As promised, I am talking more about The Happy Middle; a place you can hang out in, and feel peace and joy. I said I would share more tips on how to get there. So here we go!

In my last Blog I said:

Far from being a murky, wimpy, place, The Happy Middle is a place of strong, very diverse, yet complimentary opposites, working in harmony together.

How is it possible that strong values, beliefs, thoughts, opinions, behaviors can be seemingly opposite yet work in harmony together? Especially if they are held by the same person, or tight-knit group? For example: Can you be a warrior and a peacemaker? Can you be stable and go-with-the-flow? Can you be masculine and feminine?

The answer is "Yes!" Many philosophers have expounded on this over the centuries, so I won't go too wild here with references and long explanations. Rather, I'll share how I learned this way of being at the Happy Middle.

The trick is switching your mind from always operating in an Either/Or world, to being Both/And.

I learned how to switch my mind when I plunged myself into an African culture. At first I was confused...how can such strong men cry with such emotion? In the culture I grew up in the States, crying was for women, or weak men. How did Maasai warriors, always prepared to fight, speak and behave with such calm clarity? Where I came from, fights were conflict zones, marked by a lot of mindless behavior. How did time move so nice and slowly in Africa, with very little planned events, yet the hours were filled with rich interactions and quality of life? I was raised in a place where being spontaneous and going with the flow was for irresponsible folks, people who were not interested in succeeding in life.

It dawned on me back then, almost 15 years ago, in the heart of Tanzania, East Africa (which, by the way, is a cradle of humanity, genetically speaking) that individuals and groups, CAN embody two or more ways of being in the world, in essence, embody complimentary opposites, that work in harmony together and, most importantly, allow us to live peacefully with ourselves and others.

The key, and this is important, is to turn down the ego knob. And, turn up the spirit knob.

The ego knob is the one that feels better when "I" knows its exact positions and possessions. I am a woman, I am a daughter, I am a sister, I practice this religion, I am her friend, I am his partner, I am a doctor, I own this house, this car, this phone, and so on and so on. While these positions and possessions do provide stability and security to your sense of being in the world, if you dwell in these labels too much, you can stress yourself out. And get angry at others who may threaten these labels of yourself (e.g. try and take your job, criticize your religion).

The secret is to hold these positions and possessions only to a point. Don't squeeze the living day lights out of them. Entertain the Both/And. I am all these things, AND I am a human, spiritual being, just like you. I am a woman AND I get my masculine side too. I practice Christianity AND I see the similarity in my beliefs when hanging with my Muslim friends.

Does that make sense?

Holding two or more seemingly opposite beliefs, values or behaviours at the same time does not make you schizophrenic, it makes you human. An open-hearted, open-minded human.

And that is cool. And the world needs more people like this.

Have a great day my friends. And stay tuned for more on The Happy Middle.

Ashe

A rainbow eucalyptus tree, natural harmony in diversity

Entrance to Vine Pergola at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens at the beginning of 2016

A favorite spot at the magical, primordial Fairchild Gardens