June 18, 2020

Are you still trying to break down the closed doors?

One of my favourite quotes is by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk, who wrote “No Mud, No Lotus.” Now, the Lotus flower is one of the most beautiful flowers on the planet, and yet it grows in the grossest muck you can find. And so what Thich Nhat Hanh means by that saying is that when we go through hard times, it allows us to learn, grow, and grow in our compassion for others. Sometimes, it is through these hard times that will enable us to become better and understand maybe what we don’t want in our lives, but also understand that our lives could be better as a result of these hard times, even as beautiful as a Lotus flower.

I’m reminded of an exercise that was created by my good friend, Dr. Tayyab Rashid, and it’s called ‘The Door’s Opening’ exercise. Now, sometimes when we go through hard times, we are angry, we are frustrated, we are upset. Sometimes it can feel like a door is closed when we’ve been rejected, or when we’ve applied for a job, and we didn’t get accepted, or when we were going down a particular path, and it went the wrong way – something we didn’t want to have happened. Sometimes, we are so angry and frustrated that we ruminate about these things so much; we stand in front of that closed door, trying to pound it down, so fixated on what was taken away from us, so fixated on that loss. What ‘The Doors Opening’ exercise allows us to do is to turn in the other direction, to move away from the closed door and look towards the doors that are opening.

Many years ago, I had a terrible thing happen to me, and I was so fixated on those closed doors, so fixated on my loss, that I became depressed and anxious, and I had to see a psychologist help me get through the depression. Through that challenging time, my psychologist gave me some books to read, and he recommended a book by Dr. Martin Seligman.

Dr. Martin Seligman is considered the founding father of positive psychology, and after reading that book, I discovered the Master of Applied Positive Psychology program. I applied, and I got in, and I did my Master’s Degree, and I applied everything I learned to myself, and I never became clinically depressed again.

I went on to found the Canadian Positive Psychology Association. I went on to make positive psychology my life’s work, and now I speak all across the country and in North America about positive psychology; about resilience.

I teach practitioners – I teach everybody – about positive psychology. Had those bad things not happen to me, I would have never discovered my life’s purpose, my life’s path, something that makes me so incredibly joyous every single day. It is so meaningful to me to do this work.

Can you see, perhaps, the new path? Can you see the light at the end of the tunnel? Maybe you can’t see it yet, but can you be open to the possibility?

Dr. Tayyab Rashid asks us to think about a past event that brought you on a new, better path. If you can remind yourself of something that happened to you in the past that brought you to a better place, perhaps you can see hope today for a better future.

I want to finish by saying that the death of George Floyd was a tremendous loss. Watching the video, I was so tremendously saddened and outraged by what happened. I know this not the first time that this has happened to our African Americans community, to all African Americans who can cite many different situations of police brutality and abuse. I am grateful that the whole world is so traumatized, and is so outraged that now we are not going to let this go. I want to say that I support Black Lives Matter, and they need our support right now. We need to end this kind of police brutality. We need to end systematic racism in Canada, and we need to stop it all around the world. Know that I am with you, and I am going to continue to fight and support you all until there are changes that will take place and will take hold. Because again, this is not new, and we need to see this through.

I want to say thank you to all of you for following; for listening. I’m here to support you at this time during the pandemic and with everything going on.

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