By Clive Lindley-Jones | January 12, 2016 11:41 am
Happy (and 'lucky') New Year. January 2016.
"The harder you practice, the luckier you get."
I just purchased a Lottery ticket for the first time today. I know, my chances of winning, and having the pleasure of becoming a serious Philanthropist, are about 65 million to one! But I have been thinking about lady luck this week and decided to indulge in the most extreme form of luck consciousness, in honour of this blog, just for once. But really that is not the kind of luck I want to think about here.
That famous quote, above, linked in 1962 to the great american golfer Gary Player, has its roots much further back in time, but still has a resonance with us, for, on a good day, when we are in harmony with things, we know that we can, sometimes, make our own luck. Yet, at other times, we seem doomed to thrash around, just making everything worse with each crashing stumble. Especially when we are young and struggling to get established, finding the art of easing the passage of life and flowing with things, can often seem utterly beyond us. So much so that the very suggestion that we could, feels a preposterous slander.
At the start of another new year I would like to think about how we approach our 'luck' in all aspects of our life. So much of what we get caught up in day-to-day, may not really lead to us living in harmony with the more profound aspects of our lives.
If we can allow ourselves to truly see that, even with all the cruel and often overwhelming inequalities and injustices of our world, we are also, in some profound way, the drivers of our destiny. As we align ourselves more with the mystery of our unfolding life, we may more easily be able to see the extraordinary synchronicity that pops up in life, the more one steps into harmony.
Studying Luck: Lucky for some
In Oxford we have two great universities studying all sorts of erudite subjects, all of which are important, but still we struggle with key aspects of how to be happy, healthy and at peace, both as we go through our lives and as we come to their inevitable ends. Our city houses large number of clever people employed to crunch the evidence, to understand, to guide the policy, of how we live and why we die before, what might be seen as, 'our time'.
Over the last year researchers around the world have tried to work out how much cancer, for example, is caused by bad luck and how much as a result of choices we make. Every few months various, impressive, statistical studies come out, with different views on this, which must be confusing for those who take these efforts as a final truth, instead of well-informed, statistical guesses and useful ways of keeping epidemiologists gainfully employed.
In January last year one study suggested that two-thirds of cancer types were down to luck rather than factors such as smoking. While later in December another study suggested that cancers were overwhelmingly a result of environmental factors and not largely down to bad luck. This can be both encouraging, in that we may have greater agency over our life, but can also turn into an unpleasant and erroneous 'blame the patient' game, if not fully understood.
Seeing Life through another window
What if we were all inextricably one and everything that happened to us was for the sole purpose for us to learn? That our whole life was one big learning experience?
It is easy to say, but much harder to accept when the most precious things in our lives are snatched away from us, as they were for Jeff Olsen. Whatever you might think of his touching and profound life changing, Near Death Experiences around a terrible car accident he was in, that killed both his wife and youngest son, it provides another narrative to the dominant materialistic model that holds sway in our culture today.
When you have a chance you might want to give some time to listen to Olsen's story and witness how it has shaped him to become the impressive man he comes across as today. There is a considerable amount of scientific evidence around the whole subject of Near Death Experiences. (For more on this subject, see my book review in my blog; August 2012: Dying to Be Me: My Journey from Cancer, to Near Death, to True Healing by Anita Moorjani) Whatever you make of them, there are useful pointers to be gained from those who have had these experiences, relevant to our own life and how to live it. How we 'make our own luck'.
The School of Life
Talking of how to live our life, are you familiar with The School of Life? This is an organisation, with centres around the world, founded in 2008 by philosopher Alain de Botton and Sophie Howarth a former curator from Tate Modern, in collaboration with a number of writers, artists and educators. The School offers a variety of programmes and services concerned with how to live wisely and well: finding fulfilling work, mastering relationships, achieving calm, and understanding and changing the world. The School also offers psychotherapy and bibliotherapy services and runs small shops which have been described as 'apothecaries for the mind'".
What I wanted to draw your attention to specifically, were their impressive, and ever-expanding, list of very short five-minute films that they have on YouTube. Here they dispense sassy, calm, well-informed, non-judgemental insights on a wide variety of subjects, from mini introductions to the great philosophers to a recent addition, 'Why God says you should have sex every Friday night'! (The wisdom of the Torah. it’s a couple’s duty under God to have sex every Friday night, perhaps an insightful piece of ancient, couples therapy). You'll have to check out that one!
Making our own Luck in 2016
So how are you going to make your own luck in 2016? There are so many better ways of doing so, that are more sane and effective than my one-off, mildly ridiculous, Lottery approach.
You could do worse than check out some of the School of Life's brilliant little films, bringing some clear thinking into how we see, and maybe change, our lives so 'making our own luck'.
It only remains for me to wish you, Good Luck, in 2016.
Women, can you help with some research?
Here is a request, from psychotherapist Fia Kinley-Jones.
Have you ever brought the topic of your period to your therapy?
If so, I’d love to hear from you with a view to inviting you to participate in my MA research:
‘An exploration of women’s experiences of bringing menstruation as a topic to psychotherapy’
You will need:
- To be a practising trainee or qualified counsellor/ psychotherapist
- To be a woman of menstruating age (post pubescent and pre menopausal)
- To have been in, or to currently be in psychotherapy/counselling
- To have raised the issue of your periods or menstrual cycle in your own therapy at least once and to be happy to discuss this experience
I am conducting this research as part of an MA in Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy at the Minster Centre, London. This project has been approved by the Minster Centre’s Ethics Committee and will be conducted in accordance with the Ethical Guidelines of the B.A.C.P.
If you are interested in participating in this project or know anyone who might be, or if you would like to find out more please contact me on:
tel: 07875 007 595
Interviews will last about 60 – 90 minutes, will be audio-recorded and will be conducted at a time and place that is convenient for both of us.
I look forward to hearing from you,